Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I'll Follow the Sun (or what is that weirdo neighbor doing now???)

While we have some wonderful things growing here right now, we are still very much at the beginning stages of converting our property from average suburban lot to a homestead. I have been drawing up some plans for things we can do with our property, mainly focusing on the back yard. In an effort to fully utilize our space, I realized that I really need to evaluate what our options are for the whole yard, especially since we are financially going to have to do this gradually, and need to have a grand scheme in mind as we place plants and shrubs around our home.

So, today, I decided it was time to evaluate our sunlight hours. I placed some bamboo stakes in the yard at the points where the house shadows our front lawn at 8:30 in the morning. My short term memory is not what it used to be, so I decided I would make it very obvious to make it easy on myself. I also went out and took pictures of the whole yard for reference. I went out again at 9:00 and roughly measured (using my big ol' feet) what was now in direct sunlight. I will continue to do this throughout the day, marking both the front and back, taking pictures, and making notes in my notebook. I am also pulling my mortgage info so that I can get the square footage of my yard without measuring it. ;0)

Other things that must be taken into consideration when you are evaluating what you have available in your space:

soil--generally, with raised bed gardening, problem soil is not of too much concern, but if you are wanting to put things into the ground, obviously, you must consider what will grow in your soil.

zone--we are in zone 5. It gets cold here in the winter. First frost dates tend to be between early and mid-October. Most seed catalogs provide zone information to help you figure out what will grow where you live.

sun--my house faces west. The front of the house is shaded during the morning hours, and the back is shaded in the afternoon. The north side of my house is about 10 feet from my neighbor's garage, and we generally do not use that side of the house at all. The south side of my house has no windows (unfortunate for keeping any plants inside). The garage is also on the south end. We have a square of lawn next to our driveway that is problematic in that it seems nothing but weeds grow there. It is also unsuitable for any beds, though we might be able to add some containers out there, because the door to the fence is here as well as the door to the garage workshop. We have a large strip between the curb and the fence that is also problematic for lawn-growing, but I am thinking if we put beds all along there, we solve the issue of trying to get grass to grow there and can put some heat-loving veggies here where they can benefit from radiant heat from the fence.

Water--We live in an area where water is not rationed. However, if we were watering with city water, it would be pretty much cost prohibitive. Fortunately, we have a well for watering, so we're only paying to run the pump. If we did not, and from a sustainable perspective, it would benefit us to set up some sort of collection system. I am seriously considering putting in a couple of collection barrels for rainwater. There are a couple of places where water from our gutters is actually washing away (very sandy) soil from around our foundation, so this would serve two purposes.

What do you eat? What do you want to grow? There's not much point in growing things you will never eat. Now, certainly if you know someone that loves zuchini or have a food bank nearby that will gladly take your excess and you have the space, then grow some zuchini, even if your only consumption might be two or three zuchini muffins a year. Otherwise, reserve your space for things you will use and love!

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I am really inspired! (not sure I can take any action yet - but inspired still!) Especially your drying on the line! Very impressive. That requires little to no cost - in fact saves.....Why am I not doing that??? Thanks for being the pioneer of Peach Tree!