Thursday, April 14, 2011

Happy First Birthday .09 Acres!

It's officially been one year since I built the first raised beds and planted a few berries in the ground at .09 Acres.  The time has flown by so fast.  But before I even dug a spade into the ground or removed a single overgrown vine, I was running through all the possibilities in my mind.

Let me go back a little earlier than a year ago.  I want to start with a few photos I took in September 2009, a month before we purchased the house.  The yard was nice....quiet, private, and ordinary.  It was the type of yard you'd expect to find in my neighborhood.

September 2009 at .09 Acres.
The main problem I saw was that the yard was the exact opposite of what I wanted in a yard.  Grass that needed to be mowed, fertilized, and edged.  Overgrown bushes, shrubs, and invasive vines and ground cover that needed to be tamed and maintained.  I didn't want any of that.  I wanted to create an edible landscape filled with veggies, fruits, and herbs.  No grass, raised vegetable beds, a variety of different fruit trees.  This couldn't be the place for me.  Or could it?

Despite the numerous drawbacks, the property offered many things I was looking for in a yard.  Full sun exposure for 8-10 hours per day.  A manageable size.  Privacy fencing that offered seclusion and also created a slightly warmer micro-climate.  And a fairly open layout that I could configure any way I wanted.  Maybe this was the right place!

We eventually purchased the house but I didn't dive into the yard until we had spent a few months working on some DIY renovations inside. I finally got out into the yard in early spring and pruned or removed many overgrown shrubs, bushes, and trees.  I ripped out the creeping groundcover, and even moved the fence closer to the property line to reclaim some additional footage (it all counts in a small yard!)  By that point it was April, 2010 and I was ready build some raised beds and plant some edibles.

April 2010 at .09 Acres.
You can see a large difference between September 2009 and April 2010.  I gained quite a bit of square footage by removing old plants and moving the fence.  I also pruned the grand old Japanese Maple (back left in the above photo).  Unfortunately I had to remove it later on after I discovered that its roots caused some major damage to some nearby plumbing.

I worked when I could.  An evening here, weekends there, official holidays, work holidays. I even dragged myself outside when I was sick to pull a weed or water a new plant.  It borders on obsession at this point.

Here we are one year after I built the first raised beds.  What does the place look like now?  To be quite honest, it looks a bit bare.  But I intentionally provided sufficient space between the fruit trees to allow them ample room to grow and thrive in the coming years.  And hopefully they will.  Now the peach tree and berries are growing like crazy, the young fig trees are starting to leaf out, and I'm preparing to plant new veggies in the raised beds.  Within a few weeks the whole yard will be alive.

April 2011 at .09 Acres.
I added labels to the picture to show what is planted in the yard.  I selected the left-most fence (facing south) for my fig trees.  I have 5 different varieties in the ground.  The berry trellis is near the right-most fence (facing north).  It still gets great sun during the day.  I tucked a peach tree and pomegranate tree closer to the house for protection against cold winter winds and to ensure that they would stay dormant just a little longer than usual to prevent against damage from a late frost.

The original 5 raised beds have been joined together.  I added the rough overall dimensions of these long beds to give an idea of how much produce I can grow.  I opted for raised beds because the ground is very low and drains slowly after a good rain.  I also smothered the grass and weeds with layers of cardboard and mulch.  I'm not sure how effective that will be over the long haul.  Only time will tell.

I didn't really know what creating an edible landscape would take in terms of time, labor, and expense, but I went for it.  By no means am I done, but I've accomplished quite a bit.  I know the yard will continue to change and evolve.  I'll have more successes and setbacks, more elation and deflation (is that a word?), and that's what makes it exciting.  Equally exciting is the pride and enjoyment of harvesting a basket of ripe heirloom tomatoes, watching figs ripen in the sun, and plucking sweet raspberries and blackberries off the trellis.  Sure beats mowing the lawn, doesn't it?!


HAZEL said...

That looks fantastic! It is a bit bare, but it won't stay like that. It look larger too. The only thing you need is a wonderful place to sit and admire your work. I see a table next to the shed...but it has pots on it. You have to look after the gardeners too.

What Pigs Don't Know said...

1 word...dreamy. Great job! -Carrie

.09 Acres said...

Hazel, thanks for chiming in. I agree, very bare at this point, but I'm hoping that within a few months the place will look greener. Of course, it will definitely fill in over the years and hopefully produce lots of tasty things. Carrie, hope all is well down in Texas!

Sybil Mays said...

Happy Birthday, Point-o-Nine - and what a great job! It's been huge fun to follow along with the gardening adventure and I can't wait to see how this year's garden grows!

The Plotkeeper said...

You have Done such a lot of work. Here's to a great harvest of all things tasty.

Michelle said...

Happy birthday. It looks great.


rmgales said...

Wow, what a difference a year makes. I'm familiar with Tidewater somewhat, my daughter lives in Virginia Beach. Looking forward to reading more of your posts. Hope you can stop by A Diva's Garden,

.09 Acres said...

Rmgales, thanks for stopping by .09 Acres. Where does your daughter live in Virginia Beach? That's where I grew up. Looking forward to visiting your site.

Wendy said...

Great transformation!

Anonymous said...

Dave, Thanks so much for the plants and the sharing of your knowledge. The plants are looking great. Even the tomatoes. Can't wait to eat our own produce!
You are the best.

mlexky1980 said...

I love this! I live on .09 acres in Lexington Ky! I googled Gardening Blogs and BAM! I found your blog. Your yard actually looks similar to mine-- privacy fence, lots of sun, etc. So I look forward to your posts. I've been planting mostly perennials to get my yard started, but I've been toying with the idea of small raised beds for some veggies. Who knows, I could grow my very own carrot mustache myself. Keep up the good work!!!!

Anonymous said...

Dave, You are a true horticulturalist. So much work, but so much joy in your finished, the food! Eat those tomatoes.
So much love
N and G

Tom'sGarden said...

Very nice I like it...

Rob Nosel said...

I am impressed with the work you put in and kudos to you. Living in South Florida and would have had heat stroke from all that activity. I just added indoor gardening and now growing herbs, salad greens, tomatoes, and flowers all year round. Check out and enjoy growing and making some money too!
Keep on growing

Eliza Osborn said...

Your place is beautiful!
So nice to find someone who thinks like I do. We bought our house in 2009 and took up almost all of the grass and planted fruit trees, flower beds, grapes and raspberries and built raised beds for vegetables. I'm sure our new neighbors thought we were nuts.
Check out our photos on our blog.