Killing The Lawn: Phase 1

It began innocently enough with laying out an outline of what might be nice and a promise I’d think about it for a while. Two weeks later, phase 1 is complete.

My goal was to create an excellent soil base to replace what is now pretty much cement hard clay. The previous owners used a chemical lawn service for at least a decade, that left the soil depleted and hard as a rock. Over the past four years, I’ve been amending it with compost, manure and aeration. A record drought this summer proved that none of those measures were enough to reinvigorate the lawn and the soil was still like granite.

I had several choices: use chemicals to kill (just no), or a bobcat to scrape, the grass and bring in a large amount of good soil and replant the grass, or add sod, or xeriscape. I was definitely leaning towards creating an area of low-water native plantings. But the cost of scraping a lawn and bringing in yards and yards of compost/soil was cost-prohibitive.

Then a bit of research led me to the Sheeting Method. Better soil would be achieved by killing the grass and weeds with a sealed layer of cardboard and mulch. Leaving an excellent base for native plants and bushes to replace the grass.

The next step was a hunt for cardboard.

Thanks to neighborhood apps, I was able to relieve multiple neighbors of their cardboard just before recycling day, so it was already flattened. They didn’t have to drive it to the recycling center, and I got several carloads of boxes.

Continue reading

Tomato Season: Mortgage Lifter

I came home after being out of town for a week to an abundance of ripe and ripening tomatoes.  I only planted four plants, but I think it will get us through the winter.

This large tomato is a Mortgage Lifter. My local greenhouse carries a very few tomatoes and they are always unusual heirloom varieties. Last year it was San Marzano – and they were amazing. I think I’ll try to start some from seeds next year.

This year it was Mortgage Lifter and Amish Paste tomatoes.

This is the first ripe Mortgage Lifter – about the size of a softball – heavy – just under a pound. Definitely the biggest of this year’s varieties. Continue reading

Red Poppy: My Favorite

My red poppies always bloom faithfully at the end of May, usually in time for Memorial Day, but I think this year, because it came so early in the month, they hadn’t bloomed yet.

But, like beautiful little memorials, they have arrived. I don’ t have anything planted close enough to them to give perspective, but they are huge.


 

There’s Always That One Rose: Updated

… that stands out:

Just finished tuning up the front yard. Amazed how the constant rain has changed things. My xeriscaped rock garden is looking more like the forest floor. My roses are struggling and I may have to look into treatments for their waterlogged and spotted leaves.

I’ve cleaned out peonies and poppies early to give the other plants some room to dry out.

I’m “enjoying” watching the bindweed and spurge in a battle to the death. I’m sure I, and my garden, will be the loser.

My yard snakes have quadrupled in size and I’m wondering if I should be concerned that I have enough food for four snakes to grow so quickly. There are two little ones one little one* wandering around, too.

*I just found one dead by the front door. I’m thinking he drown in the downpour last night.

So that’s the front yard. I’ll tackle the jungle in the backyard tomorrow. The veggie garden is looking good, but the lack of sun may hinder production.

Until then…


 

Tidbits

20170223_111706-1600x1200Breakfast pr0n!  Not what we had for breakfast, actually.  More a breakfast for lunch.  I don’t eat breakfast and Mrs J contents herself with a bagel but we both love waffles.  The bacon is thin sliced porchetta.20170224_092427-1600x1200I didn’t dump all the patio herbs, I wanted to see if they would come back in the spring.  The chives are doing great but the sage next to it still looks dead.  The bare twigs at the far right are rosemary that I am still hoping will show new growth but nothing yet.20170224_092346-1600x1200The front gardens are just barely showing some color – the scilla can be counted on for a touch of early blue.  The day lilies are greening, as are the daffodils and sedum.dsc_2191-1600x1200More meatballs!  I made several, there are two left.  Not enough for a proper sammich but I guess I can do a couple of meatball sliders.20170223_115130-1600x1200These were out for a last rise before baking.  I busied myself about making that breakfast-for-lunch while they were out and they really puffed up before I could get them into the oven.dsc_5597-1600x1200Here’s Ollie, watching me compose this post.  He’s already made himself at home.  He is fitting in rather well with no apparent animosities developing with any of the other cats.dsc03901-1600x1200One of the shelter cats.  The eyes in the original picture were highlighted by a stray beam that prompted me to play that up with a few tweaks.

This Week In Photos

Evening Harvest

Last night’s harvest. I processed the batch in the blue colander today. I’ll do the rest tomorrow and start the jelly. I should have plenty.  I think I’ll give away the rest of the harvest.

Green door

No recipe exchange this week. Been very busy. Today I bought a door. I love our local salvage yard, got a great deal. I may be sacrificing a bit of energy efficiency with the window, but the living room needed the light. It is an upgrade from the plain wood door to insulated steel, so there is that. I need to touch it up a bit and then paint it before it’s installed.

The animals are settling in. Jake is back to his favorite spot:

Don't touch my bunny

Zander is always up for a belly rub:

Belly rubs

And looking for a game of laser light:

Who's a good kitty

He and Bixby play it together and I need to get video, but it’s tough to capture the action. Speaking of the Beast:

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He happily has his own couch (for now). We’ll see what happens when I find the new sectional. But for now, he’s comfy. LOL

The yard is coming along. I had a surprise gladiola hiding in the chard that made a smashing debut yesterday:

Glad for Glads

The window box outside my office that has been host to butterflies, bees and a hummingbird:

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That’s it for tonight. I hope you have a great holiday weekend.  – TaMara

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Figs!

DSC02956 (1600x1200)Mrs J’s SIL gave us a pair of rooted  fig cuttings last fall.  To survive in our zone they have to be cut back every year and mulched in.  She over wintered these in the basement and planted them in our new garden this spring…20160506_141144(1600x1200)…where the deer or some other critter browsed the leaves.  Cages and chicken wire to the rescue!20160817_102914(1600x1200)They’ve been liking the rain and the heat this summer.  They are making a lot of figs.  We aren’t too sure when they usually ripen or even, for that matter, how to tell when they are ripe.20160817_102931(1600x1200)There seem to be a lot of them coming on so I suppose we will find out.  All I know is that when the sis-in-law brought us the cuttings last October she also brought a bowl of ripe figs.