Sunday, April 15, 2012

Backyard make-over

Last week I got sick, too sick to work on any projects.  I hate being still, even when sick.  So I chose a task that only required wandering slowly and a lot of sitting.  I planned my backyard make-over.

The Big Plan.

I dug out a map of our septic system first, and made a copy that I could write on.  Then I grabbed my trusty 100' tape measure and marked all the important features in my yard with stakes and the hose.  I added a couple of feet in each direction just in case my measurements were off.

I marked the existing apple and pear trees, and the perennial flower garden.  Next came the re-do.

I want to make our yard more productive, but still dog-friendly and with plenty of open space for cook-outs.  First came the clothesline, and this project is completed.  Next, berry bushes.  Lots of berry bushes.  We love our chevre with berries, and a few berries from the back yard could really cut down on this expense...and give us organic berries picked at the peak of ripeness.  

I found room for 8 gooseberries, 6 currants, a small grape arbor for the two vines I already have but have neglected, and a row of raspberries.

I marked the spot for each bush with a pail.

The gooseberries and currant plants are ordered and on their way, so getting the holes dug is a priority.  I marked them off and took the sod off so the hubster can dig great big holes this weekend.  The sod was set aside to feed to the growing chicks.

Nothing is wasted....nothing!

Each hole will be filled with finished compost.  The sandy soil that is removed will be used to make up the raised hugelculture bed I'm making for the raspberries....more on this later.  I also plan on putting a chunk of firewood into each berry bush hole, in the spirit of hugelculture.

Every job requires a supervisor.  Biscuit always volunteers.

This re-do is a big job, so it will be broken up into smaller tasks and these will be wedged in between the hectic spring animal and gardening frenzy that is part of every homestead.


  1. Wow! A huge undertaking! If I had the energy for more projects, this would be one of them. Maybe one year in the future...

    Regarding supervisors, one can never have too many. At the barn there's Ernie, the free ranging Barred Rock and Herkie the barn cat. At the house there's Bryde the brainless house cat.

    When TimeBank people come out to work, I always tell them they have to do a good job, the supervisor is watching, usually Bryde. :))

    I do envy you being able to put in berries...

  2. The hardest part will be the waiting! 2-3 years before getting a crop, I think.

  3. I don't know about the gooseberries and currants but if you get raspberries in now, you should have a few this fall. Then next year will be a lot more.

  4. We just had our backyard dug up for a repair to our septic field. The other side of the yard got scraped and dirt piled there too. I took a look and told hubby not to reseed - it's perfect for 2 20' x 3' raised beds. Who needs grass to mow?

  5. Yes, I just asked the farmer next door and he said I'd get a small crop this fall and a big one in the spring. He is letting me dig up shoots from his I don't have to buy plants!

    I asked a friend who planted gooseberries and currants and she got a berry or two here and there after two years. I think they need 3-4 to get established. So I'm glad for the makes all the work more satisfying when you get an early reward.

    Our yard wasn't dug up, but I feel the same way....why mow grass and weed flowers when you can have delicious food? Although a few flowers are good for the are raspberries!

  6. Where did you order your gooseberry bushes from? I had gooseberries the first year I planted them .. of course they are tiny so it takes a bunch to get anything out of them, but I would love to plant a few more, I just can't find them anywhere!

  7. This is what I ordered: I also ordered these currants:

    The hubster started digging the holes for me today, and I started filling them with compost in anticipation of my order arriving. Also worked on the raspberry bed!

  8. Oh, and that is so cool that you got some berries the first year! I hope I do....did you do anything special?

  9. Thank you so much! Nothing special ... just planted it in the ground with some compost, and it took off! It has survived 2 winters too! I just only got 2 pints of jam from the one plant I think :)

  10. Hopefully you'll get more berries in the next couple of years. Everything I read says the plants bear at 3-5 years old. I can't wait to try them!

  11. Just out of interest, how deep do you dig your holes for the gooseberries and what kind of stuff/layers do you put in.
    I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to my 'gooseberries' facebook group which is just in its 'pioneering' stage, hope thats ok. Great Blog.

  12. No problem, the group sounds like it could be useful in exchanging tips and tricks and recipes and such.

    We dug the holes with a post hole digger and went down about two feet. I think my firewood chunks were about 20" long. I set them in vertically and I filled in around them with rich compost from the farm and mounded it up a bit.