A Tour of my Yard

One thing I worried about moving in to this house was yard work.  I’ve never really done yard work, having lived in dorms and then apartments for the last ten years.  My parents did all the yard work growing up, so my only real experience was helping my mother and my grandmother tend vegetable gardens when I was between the ages of about eight and fourteen. 

I didn’t really consider myself a yard person.  So I was quite surprised to discover that I actually enjoy maintaining our little piece of land.  I enjoyed looking at what was there and figuring out how to add to it and maintain it to turn it into what I want it to be.  It’s an odd feeling, like it’s a little stewardship–and if we maintain it properly, we will benefit from it.

It took several weeks, but I’ve gotten all the summer projects done, and have settled us into a maintenance routine.  I actually remember a startling amount of gardening skills that I learned from my mother and grandmother.  To fill in the gaps, Google has been my friend. 

Here are our raspberry bushes, which are my favorite thing about the yard.  They were mid-berrying when we first moved in, and I had the most astonishing experience that first week.  I walked out into the yard and pulled a bowlful of tasty berries off this bush, washed them, and ate them.  And I didn’t have to pay the bush.  Guys, seriously.  Food comes from plants.  It just grows there for the picking.  The actual maintenance of the plant seems like suck a small price to pay for free food, especially when that food is something like raspberries that taste ten times better than the ones you buy at the store.  We pulled about sixty dollars worth of berries off this bush, and we weren’t even here for the whole harvest.  (It helps, of course, that someone else did the hard work of getting them to grow in the first place.  I hear starting raspberries is a lot harder than maintaining them.

Last week I googled trimming bushes, and then went through and cut down all the stalks that berried this year, as apparently they won’t berry again.  The bushes are looking much healthier and under control now than they were.

These are my irises.  A very kind friend had extras, and let me dig them out of her yard and transplant them.  I was worried they wouldn’t take, since you’re supposed to do that in the fall, but they’re starting to give off fresh shoots already.  I’m really excited about these.  Hopefully they’ll survive the winter and we’ll have flowers next year.

This is my rhubarb plant.  It looked about like this when we moved in.  I can’t tell if I’m supposed to be harvesting it; some accounts say you only harvest before July, while others say it doesn’t matter.  I’ve cut a few stalks, though, and made cold rhubarb soup, which I hadn’t had since my grandmother made it when I was a little girl.  It tastes just as good as I remembered.  I threw in some raspberries, which made it even better.

This is my sad, sad strawberry patch.  When we moved in the strawberries were barely visible under the raspberries and the weeds.  So I moved them into one of the garden boxes.  I’m pretty sure I wasn’t supposed to transplant them in July, so I won’t be surprised if most of them die, but they were dying anyway, choked as they were.  We’ll see what survives the winter; I can always fill in with extra plants in the spring.

We have six tomato plants which probably shouldn’t be.  A friend gave me cuttings off her thriving plants, and I figured I might as well throw them in the ground, since they cost nothing.  The plants are thriving, but I’m not sure if we’ll get fruit before the end of the growing season.  I’m hoping we’ll get at least of few.  If not, it was good practice.

Sadly, no gardening center had tomato cages left, so we’re making do with stakes and plant tape.  It’s working so far, at least.

This sunflower grew spontaneously.  I almost pulled it, thinking it was a weed, but recognized the stalk in time.  Now it’s shoulder height.  I’m excited to see it bloom.

And here, hanging out on my sunflower, is my tiny nemesis: the wasp.  We’ve gone through six cans of spray.  We have a wasp trap, but I’m not impressed with its trapping rate.  The good news is that we’re winning the war.  I see far fewer wasps than I used to, and most of those are coming out of our neighbor’s yards.  (Living between two empty houses is not helping, I think.)

We have a pretty crazy ecosystem going on, here.  There’s at least one very large garden snake living under our patio.  When we mow, grasshoppers run for cover.  The gnats and flies glue themselves to our windows at night.  (Also the mosquitos, unfortunately.)  And then there’s the spiders.  Oh, the spiders.  I’ve been completely desensitized to spider fear.

I’ve already ordered tulip and crocus bulbs to plant in September, and we’ll be planting three fruit trees sometime in the fall.  If that goes well, we’ll probably do a few more next year.  I also have plans for next year’s vegetable garden, since we’ll actually be here during planting season.  Yay, yard.