Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Tour of the Future Oasis

Since we have such big designs for our yard, I thought I'd let you see what we're working with. It's actually like a blank canvas--there are exactly zero other plantings we have to consider and the yard has been more or less graded for good drainage. The one element to consider is the trunks left behind by the huge Siberian elms. They really want to live, but we're slowly removing the bark and continuing to cut back the suckers. The trees (weeds?) that just won't die.

This "tour" will go from East to West. I didn't bother taking any pictures of the northern side of the yard because it's less than 5 feet from our house to the fence. Not much to work with there. Here, however is the eastern side of the yard. We're doing some rainwater harvesting-note the barrels--but we currently have no where to put the water. I guess it's recharging the aquifer and keeping the water off the stucco. It started to discolor the stucco before we installed the gutters/barrels. Someone at the nursery told me that the composition of rainwater changes here due to the electrical activity during lightning storms. Pretty wild.  Speaking of rainstorms, the tarp on the roof is for a small leak we discovered during a real gully washer. It's a quick fix, but we haven't gotten around to it yet. The white trail around the perimeter of the yard and house is food-grade diatomaceous earth. We are trying to keep the neighbor's ant infestation from infiltrating our space. 

What are our plans here? I'm not entirely sure but maybe a small tree and some currant bushes; a gate/fence to keep the chickens out of the garden; a path of some kind. This is not our first priority. I'm really getting a feel for patience with this project. As much as I want an instant yard, I know that's not realistic on many levels. This is a process.

Moving along we come to the front yard, the eastern side.  This is really not a picture representative of the space we have to work with. It is also still torn up from the irrigation project. Update: the neighbors now have water lines on their side of the property! The distribution box should be finished in the next week or two. The big green umbrella was to shade those (un)fortunate enough to have to work on this project (i.e. Lane).

This is where the water from the acequia will run onto the property. My hope is to have 3 vegetable beds here, about 4 feet wide and 10-12 feet long. I also want to experiment with sunken, ground-level and raised beds. I think they all have their place in this climate during different seasons. That will be a work in progress, too. I don't think we can get anything planted for a fall/winter crop. The first frost date is in October, which is fast approaching. I think we're going to concentrate on our infrastructure and getting the fruit trees established and then plant for spring.

Here we come to the western side of the front yard. The south side is a "fence" of firewood. The strange white thing in the right corner is our wood stove. It needs to have 2 of its lets welded back on as they were casualties of the move. We love this stove. It's designed to heat 1200 sq. ft. so we should have no problem keeping our 900 sq. ft. studio toasty warm.

The mounds of earth are sitting next to the holes for the future semi-dwarf/dwarf fruit trees: apricot, plum, apple, peach; we haven't decided yet. All of the trees and most of the plants will come from Plants of the Southwest. They are right up the street and everything is geared toward our climate. Along the picket fence in progress we're going to put up a covered patio/porch. It will be really rustic and somewhere to have a cup of coffee or fire up the grill. If you are in just the right spot you can also see Sandia. Of course you have to look past the telephone wires and the industrial building, but it's there!

At our final stop on the tour is the western side yard. It came with a "driveway" which has been useful for car projects and keeping one vehicle off the street.  That may become a covered carport. Where that bucket is we'd like to put up a fence/gate to keep the chickens in the back. They'll get full range of the yard sometimes, and under supervision, once the garden is planted. Their voracious appetite could destroy our crops in a blink of an eye.

We'd like to put up a shed along the property line. It would be rustic as well, using more reclaimed barn wood from our generous neighbor. I had originally thought of strawbale, but the thickness of the walls would really cut into our available space on this dinky lot. Our thought is to get it started this fall and get the tools out of the house. I'd also like to put a cold frame along the southern side of the house and the shed for winter crops. That's a ways off, too.

We have a lot of work ahead, but it's enjoyable to see the space evolve and change. As things progress I'll keep posting pictures so you can witness the transformation, too.

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