We finished the side yard project this week. This used to be a real mess, with waist-high weeds along the fence in spring and mud in the winter. We wanted it to be more usable, and for there to be a cleaner surface to walk on as we went back and forth into the camper. When we camp, we have to load in our fresh foods and our clothes for the week. We also use the camper fridge as our extra fridge when we buy a large quantity of something that was on sale. We also use the camper for a guest house on the rare occasions that someone visits us over night. Where the raised beds are now, there was a grassy area that was an inconvenience to mow and a wasted area to water, but it’s hooked into the sprinkler system. I wanted to grow more food there instead.
We started last fall. Patsy worked on it for a while, and was paid for her efforts, and then decided it wasn’t her favorite thing, so Rob and I took it on. There were concrete stones, weeds, roots, rocks and dirt to move.
As the fall and winter progressed, we worked at it when we could. There are pebbles where the camper steps stop and red bark for the rest of the area.
Rob built the first raised bed from reclaimed lumber. He had to buy part of the lumber for the second one, but using the scavenged lumber helped bring the cost way down. We saved all the dirt we dug up from the area by the camper to help fill the new beds. The bags are some dirt that was dug up before Rob got the beds built. We saved all the concrete edging stones for another future project. Rob has a plan to put in drip irrigation connected to the in-ground sprinkler system that is already there, and make it as easy to water as the rest of the yard and garden.
We covered the grass under the beds with old cardboard from boxes to discourage weeds, then shoveled in dirt.
A few weeks ago, I put some purchased, enriched soil and some bone meal in the first bed and stirred it up. Then, I planted baby strawberry plants in half of it. This weekend, Rob finished filling the second bed with dirt and more enriched soil. I spread out the rest of the red bark chips and he trimmed off the neighbor’s bushes that had been growing through our fence. The branches were starting to lean out toward the camper, and were a real trial to brush up against after a rain…..quite startling I’ll say when the water went down my neck!
I plan to plant some peas in the empty bed before too many weeks pass. The other half of the strawberry bed will be filled with early spring veggies such as boc choi, spinach and cabbage or more peas. I bought a big package of those. It’s just easier around here to get into a raised bed in early spring since they dry out sooner. The main garden is way too wet. There is good sun here, so I’m excited about what might grow.
The arborvitae look dismal now, but they will leaf out all too soon. I don’t want them anyway–they are the neighbors. He does know we trimmed them off on our side. Rob thought it was just common courtesy to ask permission even though they were growing through onto our side of the fence, and of course he was fine with it.
Since the camper is not at home now, we decided to hustle up and finish the job while it was easier to work in that area. How Rob does it, I’ll never know, but he will back it in there and the steps will open up right where the gravel is, every single time. The door will just barely open, but the slide-out will also open exactly enough to not hit the gutters on the house (about 3 or 4 inches) and there will be enough clearance to get in and out the door. It amazes me every time. Now that the project is done, we won’t track as much mud inside, and I’ll have 2 more beds to grow food in. I should not get water down my neck any more, and Patsy won’t have to man-handle the mower into that inconvenient place anymore. It’s nice to have it done.