Friday, August 12, 2011

That Was Then. This Is Now.

       There’s so much I want to do here that the overall task can be daunting and discouraging. Finding a photo like this can convince me that I really am making progress.
       This is the section to the north of the front yard as it appeared when we inherited. The photo was taken from the back corner of the house.

Northeast Front Yard, circ 2001
This is a more recent photo taken from the same position.
Northeast Front Yard, circ spring 2011
       The transformation began before we moved in. There was no drain field for the septic tank. Overflow from the tank puddled in the lower left corner of this area. My brother-in-law told me that putting in a drain field would cost $5000. I didn’t have $5000, but I refused to move out here until this problem was taken care of. I studied up on the subject and put it in myself. I built it to code using a shovel and some matches. You can’t see them, but there are a lot of stumps (and roots) in that tall grass. Riley pushed wheel barrels of stone for me and Chris and Randy helped one day, but I figure I did at least eighty-five percent of the work.
        I like to think of myself as focused. Others might describe me as, well, nuts.
       The line of trees to the north is still there, as are most of the trees along the road, which is straight ahead in the photo. My daughter, Chris, helped a lot in removing trees and roots in the garden, which now measures 40X115 feet. This was the vegetable garden for my husband’s family for more than forty years. I realized last year how depleted the soil is. My vegetables are planted elsewhere this year. Here, I planted peas this spring, followed by buckwheat as a green manure crop. My plan is to clean out a neighbor’s barn and build a nice big manure and straw pile that will get spread over the entire garden once it’s composted. Haven’t started that task yet.
       That’s grass in the foreground. I can tell the drain field works well, because this is usually the lushest grass anywhere on the property, which means more frequent mowing. A niece suggested planting Zoysiagrass so I wouldn’t need to mow.. This is a warm-season grass. In Michigan it would be green and invasive for two and a half months, dead-looking the rest of the year. My Master Gardener Manual says Michiganers should avoid its use. One of these days (years?) I’ll get around to experimenting with thyme, lawn daisies, evening primrose and other ground covers. Probably not sweet potatoes, though, since the drain field would contaminate anything grown underground here.
Herb Garden
      Those big bushes on the right are lilacs. The closest one has been there for eighty years or more. Between the lilacs and vegetable garden is my herb garden. I dug that out with a shovel five years ago. My husband and grandson made the boxes. The contents as well as the ground around them are mulched. The herb garden’s west side is edged with a stone path from the lilacs to the veggie garden. I'm working on deciding what herbs I want in the boxes and what I'll put elsewhere.  I like the boxes for table herbs because they're safer from doggy unpleasantness.
       Note the large rock in that path. Many years ago, my father-in-law put that rock on the other side of the lilac bush to hold a sundial. He never got around to putting it together. I had it moved because the lilac bush grew to shade it too much, but the sundial Dad bought is upstairs. Finishing that project is on my to-do list. It’ll be the perfect "finish" to my herb garden.

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