Monday, June 29, 2009

Front yard environment

Mike and I have been pretty serious this last year about reducing our environmental footprint. We are done most of the easy "change your light bulbs" stuff, and much of the medium "compost" stuff, and we are starting to move into the deeper and more challenging commitments, also know as "that really weird environmental stuff." One of our big changes in that direction has been growing as much of our own food as possible.

Our garden, square foot beds and greenhouse have been a part of that transformation. Our next stage has been reducing our grass in the front yard to reduce the need for watering. We've been avoiding fertilizers and chemical weeders for about 5 years, and our grass shows it. Mike also under waters it because he secretly hates large front lawns.

Anyway, we had our second half of the retaining wall built last weekend and started to lift the turf. I first tried this method when I was 8 months pregnant with Leora (in Meadow Lake). You cut up thin strips of turf, maybe no larger than a brick. Then you pick up two of the strips and alternate scrubbing and banging them so that a lot of the dirt is removed from the turf. This has two advantages:
  1. You keep a good chunk of your top soil so you don't need to buy more
  2. There is a theoretical possibility that your compost pile can keep up with all the turf you are adding.

I made Mike dig some last week in a rainstorm, but this weekend we had great weather, and girls and I dug up the remaining grass in our bed on Saturday. The bed has kind of a strange shape (Jaime says its phallic, but it might be her preoccupation) because we had to dig it to cover the tire tracks in our lawn.

From Garden june 26
After we dug the bed, we added 4 wheelbarrows of compost and 1 large bale of peat to improve the soil and I was ready to plant. We put in two saskatoons and two blueberries as foundation, then build the bed around it. I added 5 tomatoes we'd been growing on the deck, romaine lettuce, basil and a variety of perennials and annuals. I also dug up and transplanted perennials from the backyard.

My mom is planning to send me some bulbs for the fall and I left room for them, but I am really pleased with the result. It looks like a flower bed (which it partially is) but also acts like a vegetable plot (although a sparsely planted one). I am going to keep working on this principle as we lift more turf over the next several years.

On a side note, the back yard garden is doing really well. The peas are now flowering and we are eating lots of strawberries. Mike is relieved to see baby apples on the tree and we've been eating lots of lettuce. I think we'll eat our first zucchini this week. Click on the link under the picture to see garden pictures from this week.

From Garden june 26


  1. If we put some peppers in the front, it could be our salsa base!

  2. Don't be too sure you're doing "that really weird environmental stuff" until I've gifted you a copy of "The Humanure Handbook." Or you can read it for free here:
    If I didn't frequently confess to finding everything interesting it would mean something to say that I've found what I've read to be very interesting. :-)