Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Blank Slate

From the bean of Green Bean.

It wasn't long ago, my tight little yard boasted an overflowing vegetable garden. Brassy French heirloom pumpkins lounged along the sidewalk. Grapes groped across the arbor, eagerly seeking to be plucked. Cherry tomatoes flaunted their wares to any passerby not willing to avert their eyes and herbs peered through the slats in our white picket fence.

Those days are gone though. We left that little house, where sun only graced the front yard and where fruit trees and a chicken coop were pinched in between backyard fences.

Our new yard sprawls and wanders. Neglected fruit trees and a newly built, large chicken run dot the landscape. I fell in love with this yard when the house was last on the market - a mere two years ago. Nothing else since compared to the promise, the prospect that this yard presented. To this blank slate. When the house came back on the market, we pounced.

And yet, there is something about blank slates.

Figuring out where to start can be paralyzing. Oh yes, there are things like sun exposure to calculate in but pretty much everything else is open to negotiation. And so, I stand here on the steps of our back forty and wonder.

What fruit trees should I plant? Besides a lemon and mandarin orange, which I want to put in a flower bed along the fence behind me (goodbye ivy!), what should join the apple, plum and fig tree? An Asian pear? Yes. Pomegranate, probably. But what else?

And the dry, cracked dirt that spreads beneath my feet. Certainly, I know how to rejuvenate it. Nothing a little lasagna can't cure. But that task seems overwhelming. Perhaps just in certain spots?

One spot yearns for a pumpkin patch - pumpkins clambering and twisting toward the playhouse. But where should the flame seedless grapes go? An arbor over the stairs? Along the back wall?

And I'm not tearing out the wild blackberries that bramble aimlessly through out the yard but perhaps they should be joined by friends somewhere in a quiet corner?

And finally, should I do raised beds? I rather like having a couple for greens and carrots and such. But where? Hidden behind the fruit trees? Along the side for all to see? After intermingling my flowers and veggies for so long, I know no other way to garden.

So you see the dilemma of the blank slate. Where do I start writing on it?

I'd love to have a farm feel to this yard and to keep open space for the boys to dig and explore. Please share any ideas, sites, books or what not you might have for this former front yard garden who is delighted to have a backyard garden but hasn't a clue to go about getting one.


panamamama said...

I find myself in that place a lot of the time. Last year I started by having a landscape designer do a plan for us. Then, I started a section at a time. I am only two beds/garden plots into it, and changed some things already but it is a start.

Jenn the Greenmom said...

That'd be my approach too--if you can get a sort of "plan" for the whole thing, great...but then just take small bites, challenge yourself to even complete 1 or 2 each season. In 5 years you'll have your dream garden.(Or 7, maybe.:-) We feel paralyzed too, and our yard is fairly small--but our tabula is anything but rasa; many BAD landscaping choices lurk 3 inches under the evil cypress mulch...

Green Bean said...

Ladies, I think you are right. And I like the idea of having a landscape designer come up with a plan. Design is not my strong suit - but I cannot wait until we can afford to redo everything to get some fruit trees and raised beds going. Must. Plant. Now. (or at least very soon!)

Daisy said...

Start small. Choose one place to build up lasagna layers, and then plant that spot. Start the trees earlier rather than later, but plan them so you'll still have sun for the raised beds. Every time I start a new bed or make the original bigger, I start slowly. I don't fill it right away the first year.

Green Bean said...

Thanks Daisy. Good advice. I forget that I started the garden at my last house bit by bit. Here, I just want to be caught up but that's not possible. I'm thinking that I need to work on trees first because fall/winter are good times for planting trees or bareroot. Appreciate the advice ladies!

Honey said...

Square foot gardening would allow for mazes, tunnels, protected lands that can only be accessed at the joint of 4 beds. Trellis, arbors and sunflowers, teepees with peas,beans,tomatoes,melons, and pumpkins hanging down...magical... blessed... beautiful... art.



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