Here's a little photo essay of the happenings around my home lately. Spring is here and I'm enjoying planning my own garden, and discovering what's coming up from the prior owners garden. If you remember, our entire back yard was a garden, so although it looks pretty bleak with no grass, it does seem that most things popping up are intentional and not just weeds. The fruit trees are, obviously, the most identifiable and interesting things right now - here's a picture of the buds on the plum tree - it should be glorious this weekend:
As for my own garden, I'm experimenting with a straw bale garden this year. The video I've linked to is a great companion piece to the article in Fine Gardening that got me started on this idea. I like that it gives me all of the benefits of a raised bed with none of the permanence. And, it's just so cool, I can hardly wait to start planting! So here's what our Sunday looked like:
Straw bales are a bit hard to come by in the spring - I had to call around a bit to locate these four, and they only had six bales in total, I'm glad we didn't wait any longer to get started! On the left are the four bags of compost and sheep manure (and you thought this wasn't a wool-related project!)
Chris raked away enough wood chips and dog poop to clear and level the sunniest spot in the yard. We rolled out a foundation of chicken wire to prevent burrowing critters from underground sneak attacks. Hope it works.... And yes, that's the plum tree in the foreground, and in the back corner are raspberries. Oh, and that big rectangular block that the rake is leaning on? Its a block from the Minneapolis Opera House - I'll show you in more detail another time. The prior owners left behind all of the neat stonework you see.
Straw bales organized, and a failed attempt at a silly posed shot with the dog - a good time for scratches and smooches anyway. After we set these all out, we had a bit of a debate on whether we wanted the baling twine to run horizontally (as shown) or vertically (as we ultimately settled on). I read a few arguments for horizontal that claimed the twine wouldn't decompose as quickly and the bales would have a better structure for a longer time. However, I found many photos (including the Fine Gardening article) with the twine running vertical, thus, resting on the ground and more likely to decompose faster with all that wet straw on it. We were ultimately swayed by the idea of more surface area and ran the twines vertically.
Our neighbors across the alley were playing hip hop music the whole afternoon and I occasionally had to break into a dance. Here I am showing you a number of exciting things: the bales are now wrapped with chicken-wire for critter deterrence and some extra structural support; there's granular fertilizer all over the straw, to promote decomposition over the next week; and we filled in the middle with hay and potting soil, for growing carrots.
Finally, we spread the compost/manure on the top and watered the whole thing with a liquid fertilizer. Now, we let it cook away for ten days and then start planting. Over the ten days, the straw will begin to decompose and create a perfect environment for plant growth.
One final garden update for you - remember my Yankee Tipper bird feeder? It definitely solved the squirrel problem, but somebody new has discovered it:
One very sneaky chipmunk has taken up residence in a woodpile that we hope to get rid of soon, and has been chattering loudly and making frequent visits to the feeder:
The cheeky devil isn't nearly heavy enough to tip the tray and fall off. So far, he's not consuming the insane amounts that the squirrel did over the winter, but its only a matter of time before he brings friends and we have a wild chipmunk party in our yard.