Thursday, January 31, 2013

By Popular Request: A City 'Stead update

It is still winter here.  Very, very winter today, in fact.  Roads are icy and everything is snow covered.  Not enough snow to be meaningful and give the kids something fun to do outside, just enough to be annoying.

Out the window behind me right now.  Exciting, isn't it?
The past couple of days, it wasn't so icy and ucky.  It was record-setting warm!  It got all the way into the 50s, so I took advantage by doing things like taking a walk wearing a skort and a t-shirt (it's what I happened to be wearing to teach my Zumba classes, so I just wore it for my walk), taking out the compost from the kitchen bin, and scoping out the yard to start formulating plans for my garden, town farm, urban homestead, City 'Stead, yarden, or whatever you want to call it.

Since people have been asking me about my plans for the garden, I figured I'd go ahead and share, even though there isn't much to see yet.

One of the first things I want to do is take down that bush thing and put up a privacy fence that will hide all this from the road.  Everything beyond that fence will be food, so I don't want anyone from the very busy street we live on to get any ideas while driving by (I'm going to assume anyone walking by is more likely local and someone I'll be meeting eventually).  I also want to get rain barrels under all of our downspouts so hopefully I won't have to use any water we have to pay for in order to keep the garden watered. 
I placed these PVC pipes where I'm going to want to put the stick fence that will separate the driveway/parking area from the garden/yard area.  Where there is a break in the fence, that is where I'm planning on putting an arch.  That bush in the picture above?  Yeah, this is its destiny.  All that space between the vehicles won't be wasted either.  I'll be putting something there of the raised bed variety, but haven't decided exactly what yet.
With a lot more raised beds going in this year, I'm going to have some that have unfinished compost as the lower levels of soil, so it can keep composting while being used already.  (Don't worry, the trash in this picture has since been buried)      
This is where our actual compost heap is.  This will be a priority project as well, since I want to put in a nice compost bin, rather than just piling it up (which can become yucky looking, as demonstrated here).  All that stuff piled under tarps are going to find new places to belong as well, but we kind of had to rush in here before winter came, so we put it under the tarps as temporary shelter.  Eventually, pending landlord approval, I'm hoping to put our chicken coop in this part of the yard.
This is probably a second, third, or possibly fourth year project, but eventually, I want to put a grape and/or kiwi arbor over this picnic area.  For now, I'll have raised beds nearby and maybe a firepit will be going in fairly near here as well.
I still haven't decided for sure what I'm going to do with my berry bushes.  I'm thinking I may have a number of berry areas around the yard.  Maybe one here by my bathroom window, perhaps something that will climb high enough to start to obscure the window if I let it.  Maybe one behind the picnic area for easy snacking and to thicken the barrier between our yard and the vicious pit bulls (no, I don't think all pit bulls are vicious, but there have been several accounts from the neighbors that these have snapped at men and kids.  So far, they seem to like and listen to me, but I'm not taking any chances) that live kiddie-corner to us on the other side of a fence, in case they get loose.  For now, they stay in their buckets and planters.
A question I get asked a lot is "if your entire yard is/will be garden, where do the kids play?"  Well, for one thing, my garden isn't the conventional row type of garden, so there are lots of fun paths and things to play in and explore, but I also plan on having a little play area off to the side of the yard.  The kids love climbing the trees that overhang the yard, so I wouldn't want to put anything hard under there, like wood or rocks lining a garden bed, in case they fall.  Plus, they have little things like their slide and sandbox that will be incorporated into the landscaping somehow without their function of play things being compromised.  
So that's mostly what I have figured so far, at least what I have figured that will show in pictures.  I have a lot of ideas that I plan on incorporating, like keyhole gardens, Three sister areas, and much more, but those are mostly things for future posts, although you can get a sneak peek of some of my thought processes on my Pinterest boards.  In the meantime, spring can't come soon enough for me!


  1. It's sad that those pit bulls next door have been raised improperly. Have you talked to their owners? It could be that the aggression towards men and kids comes from their first home, and not their current home.

    Also, I thought I'd mention that each breed has their own hang-ups and for pitties, the big thing is food. If they are not food aggressive (check with owners), then you can easily get them to be uber-friendly to your family with the smallest application of food. If they realize that every time your kids come out to play, they get a treat, then they will look forward to your children and it will curtail any possible aggression before it happens.

    Seriously, they will do ANYTHING for food. Our Trouble has a serious hang-up for generic Honey Comb cereal. Show him a single piece of that cereal and he is your devoted slave. I've discovered that I can even get him to sit still while a squirrel scampers five feet in front of him, just by holding up a single Honey Comb and saying "stay". I know your husband hunts, so if you have the ability to make venison jerky (without seasonings), those dogs will be your devoted neighbors and will even guard your home when you are out.

    I had a friend who gave venison to the neighbor's pittie on a regular basis. Her ex-husband came over one day and started screaming at her and hit her - once - across the face. Before she could get her bearings, that next door pittie had jumped his fence and took a stance between her and her abuser. Didn't bite, didn't attack, but made it VERY clear that if the man tried to hurt her again, he'd regret it!

    1. I haven't met them yet, but figured I would, along with all other neighbors I haven't yet, once the weather gets nicer to stay. You bring up some very good points that I will have to remember to discuss with them!