Sunday, April 17, 2011

garden wish list

Man, the weather here stinks, it really does. Yesterday it was actually snowing, which is a weather event I don't mind at all in the middle of January, but April? Come on. There was one consolation, though: Sarah Palin came to town for a Tea Party tax day rally, and she had to give her rambling, incoherent 16-minute speech in the snow. I wasn't downtown yesterday for the counter-protest (or rather, counter-counter-protest, since the anti-Walker protesters are the original bunch), but I spoke with several people who were, and they all said the same thing: Palin's speech was drowned out by anti-Walker protesters, who outnumbered the Palin fans about 10:1. You can read what John Nichols had to say about it here.

But believe it or not, I didn't sit down to write about Wisconsin politics. It just sort of happened.

I actually sat down to write a garden wish list for my yard. It's too chilly and windy outside to work, so instead I'm trying to do a little mental planning - or maybe it's just ambitious daydreaming.

1. Here's a small part of my front yard:



Not so exciting, huh? The dirt patch you see is where I plant several varieties of basil every year. My goal is always to make lots of pesto from it, but it also smells and looks nice. What I'd really like to do with the front yard, though, is convert more of the lawn to a garden of edible plants. I'm waiting for this book from the library, but there's a rather long wait list, so I might just spring for my own copy.

I've already got a nice little patch of herbs and perennial flowers up front, but there's quite a bit of lawn that is patchy and pathetic because we refuse to treat it with chemicals. I know there are environmentally friendly ways to maintain a lawn, but if I'm going to go to a lot of trouble with yard work, I'd much rather spend that effort on growing plants we can eat and admire than keeping the grass green. The tricky part is accomplishing this without making a mess of things and sabotaging curb appeal, and that's where I'm stumped. I'm not a landscape artist, or even that great of a gardener (though I'm determined to learn), but I have hope. I also refuse to buy into the notion that as middle-class homeowners, we are somehow required to have a perfect, green lawn. I know I don't look the part of the rebel, but I am.

2. We're going to get a rain barrel this year. I'm not sure why it's taken us this long, honestly. Inertia (or lack thereof)? Anyway, the impetus this year is that we're getting a new roof and gutters thanks to a bad hailstorm last fall, so it seems as good a time as any.

3. Here's a view of our basement windows from the outside:



I'm not sure what to do with that space right now. Eventually we want to put a patio there, but since we're spending so much money finishing the basement this spring, it might be better to put off that expense for a year and plant some flowers instead.

4. This isn't a coffin:



No, this prize piece of carpentry is a rickety old cupboard that was pulled out of the basement in preparation for the renovation work going on. We were just going to put it out on the curb for the garbage truck to haul away, but then I came up with a better idea: recycle it! I want to turn it into a planter. I'll take off the door, drill some holes in the bottom for drainage and clean it up. Then I'll put a layer of primer over the whole thing, and once that's dry, let the kids paint it to their hearts' content. I'm not comfortable letting them use outdoor paint (rather toxic and not washable), so I'll just let them go wild with all colors of poster paint and cover it later with a protective sealant of some kind. Then we'll fill it with soil and plant some lettuce in it, or flowers, or whatever they want. We need a couple days in a row of warm, dry weather because this is definitely an outdoor project, and unfortunately, it doesn't look like that's in the forecast any time soon.

5. I'm determined to compost successfully this year. So far nothing smells like a rotten diaper, so we're off to a good start.

What about you? What do you dream of doing in the great outdoors?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I spent about an hour yanking up weeds in our yard today. That stunk. Then I picked up the bottle of stuff we bought to kill our weeds, read the inside of the label, and decided to return it. I think I'm just gonna have to get a hand tool and do it that way. Our neighbors have babies.

Anyway, I just had a conversation last night with a lady in our indian christian fellowship group (though she's a white girl like me). She's an interior decorator, and she said it took her a long time to get where she could look at an empty lawn and make a plan for it. Then she figured out how to make "room dividers"--she lays out hoses and plans for sections at a time.

I'd like to make my tiny lawn more edible, also. I'll have to look into that book! Looks good!

I like the idea of planting basil in the front yard! I may try to do that in a row surrounding the bushes, or something. I love basil.

(Sorry for the super long comment. You inspired me.)

ann

Jessi said...

As I am broke and it's still way too early to plant anything I'm interested in, I'm trying not to get too worked up, but I have big plans for my yard this year. I hope.