over the past few months, i’ve been doing various things around my yard – primarily involving what seems like a lot of unnecessary work digging out a garden bed.

i’ve told the story behind what’s going on here more times than i can count, to various people in various places, and every time, this little voice at the back of my head says “hey you should start a garden blog”. and then, earlier this week, somebody asked again on the twitters, and i said, “fuck it, let’s do this!” and here we are.

our story thus far…

about three years ago, we bought this house. it stands on 0.6 acres of land in south salem, oregon. the way the house is situated on the lot, about 0.5 acres of that is in the backyard.

it’s a big backyard. there’s an apple tree, a fig tree, a grape vine, and more ornamental plants, trees, and bushes than you can shake a pruning saw at. it’s also, from what we can tell, been pretty neglected by the prior owners.

last year, at the beginning of the summer, we had our yard crew put down some mulch in the front yard. there had never been much grass there, just a lot of randomly placed iris and other flowers, so mulching it all seemed like the easiest thing to do. i asked them to rototill the area before putting the mulch down, hoping that would reduce the weed growth up through the mulch, at least a little.

out in the backyard, there’s a nice spot around 15 or 20 feet square, nice and level, that was supporting a healthy crop of grass. it has great southern exposure, and at the height of summer, basically gets sun all day long. it screamed “garden” to me. so, since the yard crew had the tiller, i figured i’d get them to jump start things for me by tilling up 3 or 4 rows. my plan was to mix in some potting soil and fertilizer and see how some raised bed gardening would work.

what we didn’t realize until after the tilling was that the prior owners had “improved” the area, and that would looked like an ideal garden patch was actually only a few inches of dirt, over a few inches of river rock, followed by the toughest landscape fabric in the universe. which, after the tilling, had become a mixed up jumble of grass roots, rocks, scraps of landscape fabric, and despair.

last year, i just ran out of time to deal with this. this year, i have resolved this is gonna get handled. i’ve got my trusty soil sifter, and i’m slowly working on digging out the patch, sifting all the junk out of the dirt, and dreaming of home-grown caprese salads.

so, what’s next?

once i get the whole patch dug up — which might involve expanding the boundraies a little bit to try to extract more of the damned landscape fabric — the plan is to put down some cardboard and/or newspaper, backfill the patch with sifted dirt, and then black tarp it until next spring.

then, next year, untarp, till out beds, mix in some potting soil and/or fertilizer, and put in a proper garden. before planting, i’ll probably also try to put up some sort of fence around it to discourage the deer that like to hang out in our yard.

wait, so what’s the “this” that’s going on here?

one of my goals for this year is to spend more time making things and less time preparing to make things. “less polishing tools; more using tools” is the way that goal reads. so, rather than spending a bunch of time evaluating blog engines and static site generators and pondering writing a new one or updating an old one or whatever, i said “fuck it let’s do this”, and started editing a file directly on my web server.

that’s right, kids, quality 1997 old school weblog style, just like dad used to do.

eventually i’ll convert this content into something more maintainable, get it under revision control, make it less aggressively ugly, alla dat stuff. for the moment, though, i’ve got something i can point to when people ask me what’s going on in my yard. i’ve got something i can update.

i did the thing.

and that’s gonna be good enough for today.