Urban Homesteading on a Small City Lot: April 2012

Sunday, April 15, 2012

First Things First: Before Pictures

Well, I am having trouble finding true before pictures as we have had some things done.  We had all of the overgrown, half dead trees and shrubs cut down, chipped, and hauled away by a nice company called Dale Gullickson's Bush and Tree Removal.  They were very nice, licensed and bonded and had very competitive prices.  They brought out the boom truck for one of our trees.  It was very exciting.  We are having them come back soon to grind out the large stumps. Then we will level out the lot, filling in the holes left by large dogs that used to live here.  There is so much work to do before we can start putting in the raised bed gardens and stuff.  I don't know if we are going to have much of a veggie garden this year. We'll see.  We had been waiting until I started working again to make all these large projects easier on the budget, but that has happened so now we have to get to work.

This is the front view from the street.  Ours is a corner lot so there is a side view from the street as well:

Before the bushes were removed you couldn't see the house from this angle at all.  When the Oregon grapes were removed we said, "I didn't know there was a sidewalk along this side of the house.  They truly had grown past the eves and out into the street.  There was also a huge yew tree/bush on this side of the front porch.  It totally blocked the window there next to the porch.

This is the side view of the back yard.  There is a little garage with a sheltered firewood storage area.  The metal shed is going to be removed.  Here you can see the large stump of the larch tree that was at the corner of the lot.  These are deciduous conifers.  They look absolutely awful in the winter, dead in fact, and this one was way to large for the proportions of the lot and house.

This is the back yard from the driveway.  On the right you can see the stump of the white birch.  It was mostly dead and badly pruned, as well.  It was also much too big for the small yard.

This is another view of the front from the opposite corner.  Most of the sun exposure and gardening space is on this side.  I figure it will be a perfect fit for 4 foot by 8 foot raised beds to be arranged side by side along this whole side of the house.  I will try to keep the beds in the front planted with perennial plants that will make the street front view aesthetically pleasing without sacrificing the potential food production.  Although, I have been reminded that many pretty flowers are edible like roses, pansies, bachelor buttons, sunflowers, flax, and nasturtiums to name a few.  So the view from the front should be very nice while the beds towards the back will be more utilitarian.  In the height of the season they will be very green and lush, though.

I have drawn out plans in Excel and read a lot about constructing raised beds, crop succession, compatibility, composting, chicken keeping and landscape planning.  I hope I am ready for what I am getting myself into. I have found some great chicken coop designs at www.backyardchickens.com.  They have loads of different coop designs people have posted, but my favorite is the Witchita "Cabin Coop" at http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/wichita-cabin-coop :

I liked this one because it looks nice while being relatively easy to build.  The dimensions are right for about four chickens and the roosting/laying box portion is well suited to our northern climate with the appropriate raccoon, skunk, dog and cat proofing measures.  It uses hardware cloth instead of chicken wire, and has windows that close for cold seasons.  I can only hope that mine will turn out this nice.

I also plan to build a small grape arbor on the cement patio area in the back yard.  I want it to be big enough to fit a table under for those summer evenings when we barbecue with friends and family. I think the previous owner had a hot tub there, so we can have lights or music or anything that takes power.  Here is an example of what I want to build:

This lovely picture is from gardenweb.com and was posted by eric_wa the address is:
I want to make one like this but smaller.  It has to fit on the cement patio.  To tell you the truth I don't think this one would fit in my back yard at all. The picture label says it is 11 feet by 14 feet.

We are planning on really getting to work next weekend after the stumps are ground out this week so expect to see more posts after that. TTFN