Evolution of .09 Acres

I've been an avid gardener/home orchardist for about 8 years, but I never had a place of my own to put down roots.  I grew things in pots and in the ground at the rental properties where I lived, but never had space where I knew I would remain for a few years.  As gardeners, we know we can grow amazing produce over the course of a season or two.  But the real joy stems from nurturing a piece of land over time, investing resources and effort into the soil and plants, and watching the garden/yard (hopefully) flourish and mature.  Don't get me wrong, it requires loads of sweat and toil, but benefits are countless and far outweigh the frustrations.

I knew I wanted to plant and develop an edible landscape when I finally purchased a home.  This played a fairly large role in the decision to purchase the home where I live.   Unfortunately it wasn't the only factor.  Budget, neighborhood, proximity to work, etc. all held more sway from a practical standpoint.  That being said, the proper layout and location of yard, sun exposure, and type of soil were important factors as well.  Every gardener knows these can be make-or-break elements of a successful garden.

I moved into my current home in October, 2009.  The property size is .09 acres, hence the name of my blog.  The overall property size includes the footprint of the house, which means my backyard growing space is probably only half of that.  Why did I settle on such a small piece of land?  Good question.  First and foremost, budget and location were the driving factors (affordability and friendly neighborhood).  Second, the yard had the right "bones".  It is rectangular and runs from northwest to southeast.  The house sits on the northwest corner of the property and the shed is on the southeast. The yard receives approximately 8-9 hours of direct sunlight per day (slightly less in winter due to lower trajectory of sun) with late afternoon shade.  A large, white 6-foot fence surrounds the backyard. The fence provides great privacy, is a windbreak, reflects sun and warmth, and offers considerable space for vertical growing. Fortunately when the development was constructed very little topsoil was removed/disturbed and the soil is in great condition.  All these positive factors eventually outweighed the small size of the yard.

October 2009. Note the rectangular shape of the yard at .09 Acres, generally open layout, and recently-built garden shed.
October 2009. The south fence is covered with overgrown shrubs and and invasive ground cover. 
The 12' x 22' "shed" is only a few years old, perfect for storing tools of the trade, starting seeds, overwintering cold-sensitive potted plants, etc.  It was previously a wood shop so it is wired with multiple outlets and has a very large countertop with significant storage.  I also installed shelving and some overhead storage.  It has great overhead fluorescent lights too.  The only drawback is the lack of sink or plumbing.

I started my work in the yard by clearing the old overgrown scrubby bushes and dead trees.  A significant portion of the yard was covered in creeping perrywinkle, which takes over everything like tentacles of an octopus. I leveled certain uneven sections of the yard, removed a beautiful mature Japanese maple (unfortunately it had damaged underground plumbing, $$), and reconfigured the gate and privacy fence at the side entrance to the backyard to provide more useable growing space. Then I built five raised beds from untreated white wood lumber.  They were 4' x 8' x 8" until I connected them with additional lumber, creating two large raised rectangular planting areas. I also laid out fruit trees and a row of berries, provided space for flowering perennials and herbs, and I've been fairly successful at smothering the grass with a variety of mulches. No chemical fertilizers, no gas and oil, no mowing the lawn every weekend 8 months out of the year.

I will update the following images on a periodic basis so you can track the seasonal changes taking place at .09 Acres.

May 2010. Scout is simultaneously sunning and guarding.
July 2010. Diego is also simultaneously sunning and guarding. And notice that I built a small temporary chicken wire fence to guard the produce from the dogs. He is a notorious tomato glutton, no kidding. He once ate 22 nearly ripe tomatoes from a single plant over the course of 2 days.
April 2011. The left fence has been moved to the north to provide more room for the fig trees, which are now planted in-ground. The raised beds are also connected and the berries are supported by a trellis (back right).
September 2011. Transitioning from summer to the fall/winter garden. The figs (left) are growing like mad. The peach tree has been replaced by blueberry bushes (near right). Note the lack of grass, hopefully I can keep it that way...
May 2012. A late jump on the summer garden; my PVC winter hoop house is still in place. The entire yard has been freshly mulched, fig trees (left) heavily pruned in early spring, pomegranate (far right) in full bloom, potted citrus trees (right foreground) also in bloom. Tomato and pepper seedlings grown in trays will be transplanted into vacant garden beds soon. Also, I replaced the peach tree visible in April 2011 photo (above) with a small herb garden (mid-right).
For specific information on the varieties of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and other plants in the yard at .09 Acres, please check out the "What's Growing at .09 Acres" tab.

10 comments:

What Pigs Don't Know said...

It's amazing to see how much the plants grew over the course of less than 3 months. Love it! -Carrie

.09 Acres said...

It is pretty cool. The tomatoes show the most growth, the peppers are in the front right bed. The raspberries in the back right of the yard also grew quite a bit. The blackberries in front of them grew slower but are now ALOT bigger, and the peach is growing at a moderate pace.

Veggie PAK said...

Great looking garden and blog! I like the tabs feature. Very nice!
Gosh, I can't wait for spring!

mike said...

LOVING the extra bump-out on the bottom photo to accommodate Diego. Oh ya, and your yard is amazing too...

.09 Acres said...

Diego is a faithful steed. Noble, valiant, fearless, understanding, and with a voracious appetite for vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes and fresh raspberries. Can't blame him, those are my favorites too.

He deserves more than just a bump-out. He deserves his own blog.

Milkweed said...

I love your blog and your garden! Great discovering you. Keep up the great work!

What Pigs Don't Know said...

Haha Mike! Good point! -Carrie

The Stay @ Home-Gardener said...

Looks great. You could add single 5 gallon pots all along the sides to increase your number of plants without adding more beds.

Megan Lambert said...

Is Scout a xoloscuintle?

Anonymous said...

Great garden! Where did you buy the Russian Pomegranate and Citrus trees?