Urban Homesteading on a Small City Lot: February's Not Too Early for Yard Work, Right?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

February's Not Too Early for Yard Work, Right?

The weather this week, was just screaming at me to come out and work in the yard.  I was a bit sceptical about how much we could really do yet, but I decided to give it a go.  We live in USDA hardiness zone 4 so we are months away from our frost date, and in some shady places there is still snow on the ground.

I was very excited to see the dutch irises poking through.  Grow, little guys, grow!
I call this our glacier.  It is our last remnant of snow in our yard.

Our boxwood are still alive after late planting in the fall.  They are showing some yellowing. I will fertilize them when it warms up a little more.

The pear tree has buds on it that look pretty nice.  It isn't time for looking for blossom buds yet.
 This is our house from the front now.  The boxwood are small, but you can see them. We have finally moved all of the extra dirt from the front  lawn area, and are ready to plant.  We are debating what to do.  Should we buy seed? If so, what kind? Should be get sod? If so, where should we buy it? I like the new water saver blends with micro clovers and other herbs in them.  Of course, the hubby does not.  We will see what happens.
Here you can see the two new raised beds we added this week.  Yay! My plan has three more.  I think we will get them done before planting time.  I am very optimistic.

I leveled off enough room for at least the next two.  We just need to buy more lumber.  Next payday....

Last year I didn't really garden at all except in these containers.  I grew some tomatoes, an eggplant, loads of basil, dill and a few onions, carrots and nasturtiums.  My mother also brought me loads of strawberry starts from the old homestead, they are in the process of selling.  I was glad to have them, but wasn't quite ready, so I tucked them in these pots here and there.  I didn't get many berriesfrom them, but they multiplied themselves very well, so when I plant them this spring in a raised bed I will have plenty.
If you remember from my earlier posts, this part of the yard (pretty much the whole back yard) was very overgrown and piled with old logs, sticks and mulch from when we had the trees cut down.  I have cleaned it up a lot this week.  Really, take my word for it.  This is so much better than it was.

My hubby cleaned up this side of the house before the winter to keep the basement window sills from getting wet and degrading even more. We will need to replace them eventually, but it is not high on our list.  I envision a bit of a rock garden on this side of the house.  It never gets any direct sun, and is already pretty well covered in rocks.  I want to plant some decorative moss clumps, shade tolerant grasses and maybe have a small experimental shade garden to try some crops.  I am thinking like a 2 foot by 3 foot area at most.

We still have this ginormous pile of rocks that we don't know what to do with, but after two truck loads of stuff hauled away it is looking much nicer.  My aunt and uncle have given us this little Chevy S10 to haul things around in.  It was my grandfathers until he died and my aunt inherited it.  We all love it.  It has spent most of its last ten years parked, though, so it has some issues, but for just taking our seldom trips to the lumber store and the dump, it is perfect.  We bought a new battery a side mirror and a steering wheel cover for it. That's all it took to get it going, really.  It sure beats having to borrow a truck from my parents who live 20 minutes away. 
This is the former home of the terrible black berry bush.  It was very determined to stay, but I was more determined it should go.  I think I won in the end, but it proved to be a formidable foe. Hopefully, none of its children have survived to try to avenge their mother. I feel like I am the heroine of an epic tale that might have a sequel

This is the future site of the chicken coup.  I have bought the foundation blocks for it.  I just need to level it off and start work, but I feel like I should get the whole yard back there level first to really see what it will look like.  I would hate to get it wrong and have to move it.  My husband and I are debating what to do about this ugly wood shed.  Obviously, we can do a lot to make it look better by taking down the random wafer board and crooked two by fours, but should we just rip the whole think down? About the only part that is not ramshackle thrown together is the roof, but even the supports  for that are questionable.  The closest corner you can see in the above picture fell victim to one of the digging dogs that lived here before we bought the place.  It was dug up and then severely chewed upon.  It is no longer lending much structural support.  I am leaning towards taking the whole thing down, straitening out the garage by jacking it up on this corner, then building a new wood shed. I have been looking up simple plans.  I guess the real problem will be trying to get that all done before we need to start storing wood for next winter. we do use the wood stove a lot in the winter for heat.
Our neighbors are constantly stopping and giving us praise and encouragement while we work.  They are very nice. I think they are glad to see this yard getting better.  I am sorry it has taken us this long to really get things done.  Last spring we had too many projects going on inside the house, and we were exhausted from moving and tapped out financially.  We definitely didn't get as much done in the yard as we would have liked last year.  This year will be much better.  I am trying to get as much done as possible before I go back to work.  I am kind of hoping I get part time hours like I did last year so I have more time for my garden.  Even with the raised beds we have so far I will have loads of vegetables to tend to.

This concrete square is where we are going to build our grape arbour.  There will be just enough room under there for our picnic table and we have room on the outside to plant grapes and/or hops to make it cool and pretty for outdoor parties in the summer.  I am still researching what varieties of grapes do well in our area and which kinds taste good as table grapes vs. juice grapes.  I think I will plant hops along the road side this year because they grow faster.  I can dig them out when the grapes get established.

There was a huge Oregon grape plant along this corner of the house.  The tree service we hired cut it down and chipped it and hauled it away, but little pieces of it were up close to the foundation so they couldn't get at them with the stump grinder.  With all these rocks it makes it very hard to get them with the shovel now as well.  I think we may have to get out some strong herbicide this summer and kill them off that way.

My new boots I bought last year are finally getting broken in.  I am getting very used to them.  At first the heels were a bit awkward to me, never having worn boots with heels, but now I love them.  They feel great even after a whole day of digging with a shovel.  I recommend getting a good pair of boots to anyone who works outside.  It is worth the investment.
Have a great day. Hopefully, weather permitting, we will make enough progress to have another update in a week or so.
P.S. My mom and I went together and ordered our vegetable seeds last week. I am starting to plan how we will start the tomatoes and peppers indoors when they arrive.

1 comment:

  1. That's amazing! Wow, you guys really did a great job, and the weather sure has been nice. We had to run to the store late last night, so we drove by and peeked at the yard! :) Even in the dark we could see how much work you had done.