Updated: Mar 12, 2022
We moved into a new home a little less than a year ago. Our goal is to make as many ecological changes as we can to the yard, within reason (since we don’t own the home and need to work on a budget). I’m so inspired by friends, family, and random people on the internet who have turned their yards into sustainable and beautiful oases. With three small ones at home all year (thanks, Covid!), it’s been a bit of an uphill battle, but with summer on the horizon, I thought it was a good time to share our progress thus far.
The Square Foot Garden
Awhile back I wrote about starting a square foot garden with my daughter in one of the raised beds my husband built last fall. My daughter planted the garden with snap peas, kale, mesclun, and cauliflower first, then added chives and basil, and finally tomatoes and peppers. She mulched it with straw after she saw me mulching my big vegetable plots at the community garden. Everything in her garden is very green and happy-looking, we’ve been eating kale and greens from her garden all spring, and she has been harvesting snap peas with her little sister this week.
My daughter is very proud of having her own garden. She even eats kale salads when they come from her plot.
The Herb Garden
The herb garden in more of a work in progress than I’d like to admit. I planted a few perennial herbs last year and some came back (the lovage came back a lot stronger than I intended). I’ve also planted some basil, parsley, and hot peppers we raised from seed. I don’t have a solid plan for this bed yet, so I’m fine letting the giant sunflower that popped up have its year in the sun for now.
The herb garden is a bit wild this spring. You can see the volunteer sunflower and the giant lovage plant are taking over the near corner. We still have a couple trees and bushes to plant (the black pots) and the plants in the foreground are broccoli for my big garden.
The Pollinator Garden(s)
My big project for this spring was establishing a pollinator garden in the back of the house. This took up a big portion of my yard budget and I’m only two thirds of the way done with it because I got over-ambitious and started planting other, smaller flower gardens all over the yard (and because my husband had to remove a whole truckload of gravel from the garden area).
Luckily, my mom keeps giving me pollinator-friendly plants from her many gardens, so I don’t have to buy as many myself. The main garden is still a work in progress, but I plan to buy some plants later in the summer when they are half-off to finish it up. I did this last year for my front garden and it worked pretty well.
While I’ve been hard at work on my pollinator garden, Mother Nature effortlessly made her own in the field behind our yard, which is beautiful and diverse. It was humbling and inspiring to see this come up and to remember that, if we just leave Nature to her own devices, all will be well.
We are the proud owners of six new chicks this Spring – three Easter Eggers and three Australorps (if you’re a chicken person). We weren’t really ready for them when they arrived and have been playing catch up ever since, first needing to buy another metal tub and heat lamp (because they needed more space) and then realizing that housing chickens would require more effort than we thought.
BUT, my husband is almost done with the chicken tractor and the chicks have been perfectly happy recessing outside for weeks with a tarp for a roof. We will build them a chicken coop with nesting boxes this summer. Meanwhile, the children have been loving their chicks and we are looking forward to eggs!
The Battle of Green Desert
You may have read my post a few weeks ago about how grass is the least productive and sustainable option for a yard. We are slowly working to seed dead areas of our lawn with clover, while allowing “weeds” to spread wherever they will. We are also planting trees, bushes, and flowers to convert more dead grass area. My daughter and I planted a sunflower ring in a particularly dead area and filled in the inside with clover for a soft place to sit inside the sunflowers.
We seeded some areas with red clover earlier in the summer and some with white clover more recently. It’s a big job! The sunflower ring is coming in nicely. We left a big dandelion plant in the middle for some wish-blowing potential.
Clearly we still have a lot of projects to finish. We need to plants the rest of the trees, seed more clover, finish the second half of the pollinator garden, put the second half of the roof on the chicken tractor, and build the chicken coop. Not to mention, continue planting, weeding, and harvesting the vegetable garden (here and at the community garden). I think that’s probably enough to keep us pretty busy all summer and into the fall, but I’m already dreaming about next year. A strawberry patch to go along with the blueberry bushes and raspberry bushes we planted this spring. Bees (we already bought a hive, but we didn’t build it in time).