Perennial Garden

Moving in to our new house at the end of April with limited time and resources prevented me from being able to have a vegetable garden this year. Or at least, one on the scale that I want to have. For next year, I want a couple of raised beds in the sunniest part of the backyard so I can plant plenty of produce. This year, I settled for some spinach, romaine, broccoli, and dill in an already existing planter box that wraps around the front porch. My vegetables are having to share their space with some perennials that were already in one section of it.


The day I planted


Lilies and columbine

What I did have, though, was the time and resources to plant a perennial garden out front.

See, I have this little island between the driveway and the front walkway.

11209695_10155529497160596_1965150593871578516_nIt wasn’t in the best shape, and things needed to change. We didn’t like the evergreen shrubs bordering the walkway. They’re ubiquitous in the Pacific northwest, but they get taller than a person and, particularly when they’re not meticulously and constantly tended, they tend to become spider traps that scream “don’t use this path!” when they line walkways. We also already have a fairly shady yard, and the front is one of the most constantly sunny places we have, so we didn’t really want to have something that would shade it. Out those went. There was also some rotting wood barriers (the past owners were terrible at regularly sealing or otherwise caring for wood outside; thank goodness our porches are roofed), and a stump. The wood came out, but the stump stayed because it’s small enough that I figured I’d just plant around it and let time take care of it.


Grass and weeds removed and grass seed down and watered

Then we tilled and removed all of the grass and weeds in the island. Even though I wanted grass in part of it, there were so many weeds and the dirt was so dry and unhealthy, I wanted to give it a fresh start with fertilizer and new grass. I raked in some fish meal fertilizer and put grass seed in along the driveway and curb edges because I don’t want my plants to be trampled by anyone who parks close to the edge.

From there, my mom and I went to a local organic nursery and went shopping. I had a number of goals for this little garden. I wanted it to be perennial, because I don’t want to spend a small fortune replanting it every year. Planting veggies from seed every year is one thing. You get tons of seeds in a packet that costs no more than a couple of bucks and will usually last at least a couple of years, and you get food out of it. But planting annual starts can get costly, plus it means places that are either bare or have dying plants once the growing seasons is over. No thanks. I also wanted the perennials to include edibles and to attract pollinators and pretties: bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies.

Manure compost turned in

Manure compost turned in

Along with getting plants, my parents have a neighborhood barn that has compost piles. There are three bunkers that the neighborhood rotates through. The horse owners bring the wood chips and dung they shovel out, and people bring things like grass clippings and dead weeds. When a bunker is full, its closed off and allowed to sit for awhile to become compost, and then people can use the compost. I shoveled a bunch of this compost into the back of my dad’s truck (on the warmest day we’ve had this year, no less), and we brought it back to my house where I shoveled it all right back out into the island.


Arranging before planting

While my little one took his nap, I turned the compost into the dirt. Hopefully between that and the fish meal fertilizer, the dirt will be healthier and life-giving.

Now it was time for the plants. I had gotten a number of plants to fit my goals. There are three blueberry bushes, which produce berries at different times of the growing season so that we don’t have too many at once. For the one spot that gets shade for at least half of the day I got a couple of bleeding hearts, and in the rest I got plants like bee balm, echinacea, aster, and lavender. Some are edible as herbs and in teas, and others are simply to attract my pollinators and pretties.

11150387_10155546855850596_6515258140420890126_nTo finish things off, I planted — which was interesting, because there are still small roots from the tree through the island –mulched, and watered.

I really can’t wait to see what this looks like when everything has had time to get established and grow.

Next year, when I have a real vegetable garden and I’m not using the front porch planter, I plan on putting some more shade-friendly perennials  in there. I already have a hummingbird feeder up, and yesterday I found fuchsia starts at Haggen so I made two hanging fuchsia baskets for the price of one established basket. That was an exciting find. I’ve already been paid off for my efforts to attract certain wildlife; I saw a hummingbird pay a visit to my feeder yesterday afternoon.


10527368_10155571268535596_1865783221978524078_n (1)

13279_10155562999955596_1826768025702838296_n My fuchsia baskets and hummingbird feeder on the front porch; My columbine blooming in the front porch planter




New House and Stuff

I haven’t had a lot to write about for a while. until suddenly I did.

We bought a house.

It’s beautiful. It needs work, but its beautiful because its ours. It was a foreclosure, and although it wasn’t a horror story as far as foreclosures go, the previous tenants weren’t exactly nice to it either. We have to fix and paint walls, replace carpeting, replace all of the outlets (we had a little adventure with one in little man’s room causing all of the outlets and lights in his room and ours to stop working on and off until my dad fixed it), and lots of other little things all over the place. They weren’t very clean and they cut holes in walls. Literally. There’s a hole in the wall from them mounting their TV and hiding the cord inside the wall.


But it’s all things that can be fixed over time, and I have my own bedroom again. I don’t have to sneak through R’s room to get into the bathroom anymore. I have a kitchen that more than one person can comfortably be in at the same time.

I have flowers.

Of course, that’s not all that’s been going on. Our little guy turned one a little while back.

2014-05-11 21.42.502014-05-11 21.46.12And he’s, you know, the cutest thing ever. He has a few words now. “Hot” is his most recent, and it’s absolutely adorable because he kinda whispers it to get the “h” sound. I think it mostly just means food — maybe specifically cooked food — to him, but we’ll get the meaning down eventually. He also says “Mom,” “Yeah,” “No,” ” ‘gain” (again), and is working on a few others but hasn’t gotten them down yet. He jumps when we say jump, he’ll kick his little legs if we say kick when he’s laying down, he runs all over the place and is up and down the stairs like nobody’s business, he chases the cats with maniacal enjoyment, and he gives kisses.

Steven completed his locomotive engineer training. Unfortunately, the railroad over-hired and things slowed down a bit, so there’s not enough positions for all of the employees and some are getting furloughed. Due to some really annoying circumstances, Steven was furloughed (temporarily laid off) a couple of days ago even though he has enough seniority to hold a position. I think he’s going to try to get that reversed tomorrow, but even if he can’t, he’s pretty sure the furlough isn’t going to last very long, and we’re okay for a while. If it goes too long, he’ll just have to find something that will pay the bills until they take him off of furlough. The particularly unfortunate part is that it’ll be a lot harder to find something that pays well enough to cover the bills while he’s on furlough now that it would have been if we hadn’t just bought a house. Oh well. I may have to get an evening job too or something, if it comes to it. But hopefully not. Prayers appreciated.