One of the most interesting and frustrating things about moving into an old house is dissecting how things are put together. After many years and different levels of code adherence, every aspect of our home is a mishmash of projects and approaches. This is incredibly apparent in our garden.
In the vegetable garden, while we might have had some complications, we were mostly able to construct what we wanted with relative ease. However, we’re now starting to tackle all of the other beds. And, well, we’re not loving what we’re finding.
We decided early on that we were only going to be able to focus on the backyard this year. While our neighbors suffer by staring at our decidedly un-pretty front yard, we wanted to get as much as we could set in the back this year with the hopes that it would be the more functional space for us in the future. And, miraculously, we’ve gotten most of the work done before baby. However, we wanted to turn the bed right up against the back of the house into an herb garden, potentially with some perennial vines to add some vertical interest. (In particular we were thinking a hardy kiwi and a flowering clematis vine.) And herein lies our stumbling block. It is gravel. And tons of it. It appears that a former owner added 1) a layer of plastic, 2) about 12 inches of gravel, 3) three inches or so of top soil and, finally 4) bark mulch. To the entirety of the existing beds.
So, of course it would be easiest to simply build a raised bed over top of this mess. We could easily ignore it all. However, we never do anything the easy way. Plus, all that gravel will come in incredibly handy when we make the patio that we’re planning on for next year (or maybe the year after that, we’ll see). So, with the help of some hardware cloth, we’re sifting out all the gravel and removing the plastic. It is, as you can imagine, very slow going. This made even slower by the fact that I can’t do much at a time (that whole big belly thing again) and that Bolt has been focused on making sure the veggies are growing just fine. Needless to say, our herbs aren’t getting into the ground anytime soon. Certainly not before baby Bug, who is coming any day now. Really, the midwife says that she’d be very surprised if I make it to my due date (May 23rd).
So, that is not exactly the fun part of unearthing the hodge-podge of an old house. However, it has been interesting to see what comes up in the rest of the yard as Spring springs out. I have heard several times that you shouldn’t do anything drastic to the landscaping in a new house until you’ve lived there for at least a full season-cycle. For instance, we have this crazy rose bush that is growing like crazy (plus one that I keep expecting to be dead, but isn’t). And tons of lilies everywhere I look. I’m watching the side yard closely this year, because it is the only area I don’t have a good plan for yet. It offers a fair bit of space (if a very narrow space) with full to partial sun. It all remains to be seen!
Also noteworthy, lots of things we’ve actually planted are coming up! The beans are almost all germinated, as well as chard, zucchini, cucumbers, carrots and okras. I think we’ll be able to actually harvest some arugula next week (we got that in late, so we won’t be able to harvest much before it bolts. Unless of course it stays so cool.) We planted Waltham butternut squash seeds this weekend too. We were going to buy some seedlings to replace to the ones that didn’t make it (tomato and peppers mostly), but we had a frost warning for last evening. So, we decided to wait until next weekend. We did get a marathon weeding session in too, in between all the rain.