16 March 2011

The Gardening Post

So.  The first gardening post.  First, a bit of background:  I started gardening when I was 21 (thirteen years ago, for those of you who're counting).  I've talked about the problems I've had in the last year and a half to two years; I won't launch into all that again.  Let me instead introduce you to my backyard:

sketch from March 2010

This is my backyard as of Fall 2009/Spring 2010.  The house is at the top (north).  There's an hour of shade in the southeast corner (bottom right) in the morning; and an hour of shade on almost the entire west (left) half of the yard right before sunset - but that's it. It's full sun exposure the entire rest of the day (and, for those of you who don't live in the south, it's not just about the light - the sunlight is hotter and more intense here because of our proximity to the tropics).  There's a teeeeeny tiny corner in the northeast (upper right) next to the back porch that does actually get full shade all day long.  Raven likes to sleep there. :)

The green highlighted area in the southeast corner and along the fenceline in the south is a ROCK.  That's right:  it's a slab of limestone bedrock eight inches under the soil's surface. O_O

Three feet in from the fenceline all the way around, marked with diagonal lines (  ////// ), the yard is sloped very sharply towards the fence, for drainage.  And it works...too well.  The yard holds no water at all, so it's extremely difficult to keep the grass watered.
  • In 2006 I did put in the "currently unused border" (lol) along the south fence line as a "rain garden" - a garden bed in a low-lying area that takes advantage of the moisture that accumulates there.  I built it up in the back so that it'd still drain, but retain a lot more water than it used to, and filled in with compost/soil, and planted vegetables there.  Best. Garden. Ever!  The minor tweak to the drainage situation there has really helped the yard - it still does, even though I haven't used the bed in about a year and a half.
  • The "trellis" garden in the east (left; over the giant rock) was an experiment.  Turns out the drainage slope there carries so much water runoff from my house and my neighbor's that after the first couple of really heavy rains, nearly all the mulch and soil in the bed was carried away,  and drowned all the plants there except for a single Spanish Lavender.  Oh, well. 

2011 update

This is what it looks like now.  I've removed the trellis garden, the vegetable garden, and the herb border around the patio.   The only plants that survived last year were the two trees (Mulberry and Bauhinia (Mexican Orchid Tree), a large Esperanza in the west near the bedroom window (wasn't in the original sketch), a pair of Clematis vines on the trellis on the side of the back porch (not labeled in the original sketch), and the aforementioned Spanish Lavender.  The Mulberry Tree is now big enough to cast some serious shade during the afternoon (2-5pm), thank goodness - I added that to the sketch, too.

It's hard for me not to show you pictures of my gardens from the past, but, if I'm honest with myself, it's only because I'm terribly embarrassed that my backyard has done so poorly the past two years, even though I know it's not my fault (two super-intense summers in a row, Crazy Death Fungus, too broke to put money into plants/tools/new sod/etc.); and that the only reason I want to do pictures is to say, "See?!  I don't suck!  I really CAN grow things!"  So, no...no pictures of the garden in its glory days from 2004-6. 

Instead, I'm starting here.  I spent last Fall undoing six years' work, and now I'm starting from scratch.  In fact, I officially started last night - but this post is already long enough.  Instead of launching into that story, I'll show you my first NEW gardening picture:  this is a 'Delfino' Cilantro plant that popped up this month all by itself, between my compost bin and the wheelbarrow that sits next to it, behind the trellis.  I nearly cried when I saw it there last week.  "We're here, waiting," it seemed to say.  "Come garden."   <3

hope is a thing with leafses  :')



  1. Oh my!! Cant wait to see how this unfolds... wow!!

  2. YAY! Cilantro!

    That is so weird. Every time I come to your house, I would swear it faces south,lol. Just to assuage my rabid curiosity (not that I doubted you at all, but seeing is believing), I google-earthed it(again) Sure enough, just a taaad to the northwest, lol. Weird how things get turned around in your mind.

    Anyway....*if* you had enough money, I wonder what kind of conniption fits the HOA would throw if you took out your back fence, put in a low retaining wall, put the fence back...to match the height of the rest, and then filled in that back slope...?

  3. You know, I dunno. I know I'm not allowed to change any part of my fence that's visible from the street, to begin with, because that would destroy the look of the entire block (they say)...but then:

    1. the first year, several people in the 'hood stained or sealed the fences, and while the HOA kind of gasped and clutched its pearls, they simply sent out a letter that said, "If you've already done it, don't do it again; if you haven't, DON'T."

    2. A neighbor down the street from me ripped out her entire privacy fence and put up an iron one with those Texas stars in it. I don't know her, so I have no clue if they gave her crap about it.

  4. ...but really, that's almost exactly what I did with the back fence. I built a VERY low retaining wall (about 10") with landscape timbers, on the inside of the fence, then built up the bed in front of it. THAT part is fantastic. It's just the sides that flood and erode, and the center of the yard since it doesn't retain water at all.

    But! I have another post about that exact thing for tomorrow. :)

  5. Good post..........
    I like this post Laura.The experience and info you shared about your garden is good.Thanks for sharing this post.

  6. Saw pictures of your garden at Colours Dekor and loved it. Especially the buddha and World Book collection. It's World Book, isn't it?

  7. I believe so - I kinda forgot about those encyclopedias, sitting there in the corner, hehe. Thanks, Laksh :)


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