Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Legend of the Black Door

Totally misleading title. There is no legend, just a shameless attempt to attract a reader or two, but there is a black door.

One day, I found E pondering the back of our front door. He turned to me and said, "What if we painted it black?" What if, indeed? And more to the point why not?

 E prime(ing)

The result? Wonderful. 

The trim will eventually be white, and the walls most likely gray, but the change from the tan door is a very pleasing stop-gap measure. Good one, E.

The Front Patch Battle Continues

Regular readers may remember the ongoing saga of the front patch garden that greets those driving toward our property. I spent weekend upon weekend weeding the area last year until I admitted defeat and just let it go, whacking what I could where I could and trying to accept it. But, thanks to some free advice from a lawn professional, we fought back in the fall, cutting back as much as we could with a weed whacker and and using weed killer to finish the job, thus obliterating good with bad in some cases, but providing a nearly blank canvas to start over.

Patch pre-mulching

Said generous lawn professional also recommended that, early in the spring, we mulch the bed mercilessly and the plant whatever we like. We've had such a mild winter than many plants are coming in already, but luckily most of them seem to be wanted ones, including this unidentified lovely:

Crocus/iris hybrid? Who knows?

Anyway, we started mulching today. We knew we would need more than the 10 bags we bought, but not how much. Observe:

The fresher-looking brown patch is the mulch.

Behold how much more there is to go.

Gratuitous buggy shot. Very hard to get this opportunity!

Anyway, I was disappointed that it didn't go farther, but optimistic about the improved look of the front area. Ultimately, I would like a lush patch with just a few mulch-spaces between, as I prefer a more natural to a heavily landscaped look. But for now, the lack of chaos is satisfying. Luckily we have some time off this week, so we can keep running out for and spreading mulch.

Mulch. Who knew how happy it could make me?

Vegetable Beats Rock

I destroyed the beginnings of a perfectly good rock garden last week. The interesting thing is that it was in my vegetable garden.

Being a bit out of practice with the blog, I didn't take any before pictures, but I'm sure you can visualize a yea-by-yea patch of earth surrounded by low wire fencing to keep the rabbits out and covered with all manner of moss, lichen, and other terrarium appropriate plant. You see, we've had such a mild winter that not much has frozen, and things have started kicking off early, even weeds. Bastards. But I have a plan.

We live a few miles from some terribly fragrant mushroom houses. Luckily for us, the smell almost always blows down into our poor, unfortunate, blighted "city." We, instead, reap the benefits of cheap bags of rich soil. All you do is drop in a random person's backyard, drop $2.50 in an honor system box, and shovel your own feed bag full o' rich, filthy earth. Steal.

So today we spread that mess over the garden, turned it all over, and put down weed barrier fabric in an attempt to prevent a repeat of the purslane invasion of last year.

Ignore the bag label – this is the mushroom soil.

Mushroom soiled and turned over

 Alternate angle


Weed barrier – we might have done more, but we ran out. This should help.

Alternate angle

So now for this years crops – we are planning to repeat the tomatoes and peppers with a few alterations. I think we'll focus on the little yellow Sunsugar cherry tomatoes that were delicious, prolific, and the most useful. As much as I like the idea of heirlooms, I will probably forego them, or perhaps get one, as heirlooms seem to be heirlooms for a reason and are probably not intended for the novice. As to peppers, last year I bought purple bell peppers that turned out the be green peppers in disguise. So this year, I'm going for any hearty, tried-and-true red pepper. and in the hot pepper department, we will probably keep a few serranos but try a habaƱero or lemon drop as well.

In herbs, we will get a lovely basil plant and I will try to do some cilantro from seed as I've learned you need to stagger plantings to have a steady supply.

New experiments this year: scallions, Stuttgart onions, Yukon Gold potatoes, and, of all things, peanuts. It's going to be jam packed, and perhaps a snarl, but what the heck.