Tag Archives: gardening

Adding Two Rooms to our Home

Jack and I have a big back yard. We wound up fencing it into two halves because, chickens. The other day, I referred to “the outside room” and Jack didn’t ask what I meant, just said “inner room or outer room?”

Twenty-five years of marriage counts for something in the mind reading department, but we also came to this conclusion out of common sense. The backyard added two rooms to our home. The inner room is for gracious entertaining, has most of my light garden (solar stuff that’s so pretty at night) and the flowers. The outer room keeps the chickens, the main gardens, the fruit bushes and the nut trees. (Black walnuts are why we have two gardens; some plants is juglone safe, some ain’t. Juglone is the stuff black walnuts put out while their roots are down there in the wood wide web talking to each other. Never mind cats; it’s black walnuts as seek world dominance, y’all.)

Neither of us were ever big gardeners. We grew heirloom tomatoes because I love to try blue and purple and green and yellow things that “should be” red. We grew potatoes because Jack is Scottish, and if you’re a gardener in Scotland, you are talking root vegetables. Gardening in that country takes place August 10-15.

Jack and I have always enjoyed turning something into nothing–which is an upscale way of saying “how cheaply can we do this?” We put down leftover fertilizer bags to kill weeds, dug up rocks to weight and drain tomato buckets, and otherwise tried to keep from growing veggies that cost $2.25 each once you tallied all that went into producing them. It’s been fun, not least because it looks so silly. Old chicken wire stuck to poles from a tent we no longer have, bound by an ancient blue polyester dress, make our gate. Someone gave us a wine-making tank and we took a piece of guttering that fell down and made a rain spout to fill it for watering. (Hauling 12 buckets a day will get you in shape fast, kids.)

And we drilled holes in the bottoms of about ninety-eleven-hundred plastic buckets leftover from kitty litter, which annoyed Jack no end. He didn’t mind drilling the holes to give the tomatoes we planted proper drainage. He just didn’t like validating my recurring theme that someday all those buckets we kept piling in the basement (some of which we MOVED with from our former bookstore home) would “come in handy someday.” When it turned out I was right, Jack knew there would be no stopping my future hoarding tendencies on household detritus.

He’s kinda right. We have milk jugs piled up so we can make self-watering drip containers, and an old gate salvaged from friends who said “you want this?” It’s leaning against one of the infamous walnut trees, waiting for its day. Gardeners may kinda by nature (no pun intended) be hoarders. Dunno; this is only our second year having fun with the inner and outer outside rooms of our home. Keep you posted. Meamwhile, we keep the inner room clean for visitors and stash all the stuff in the outer room, guarded by the chickens.

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In a VA Country Garden – –

Jack misses by a day – or as his economics professor would say ‘reverts to the mean’ – –

I have always disliked gardening. I used to think it was a hellish Calvinist punishment for past or future sins. That was probably mainly because I lived in west Fife for the first sixty years of my life where the ground is solid clay and only good for weeds. But when Wendy and I married we moved to east Fife where the soil is completely different, fertile and easily worked. So in our very small back yard we successfully grew vegetables for the first time. It was still hard work but at least with results!

When we moved here last year we found we’d inherited a vegetable garden that only appeared to have some rhubarb and raspberries in it. But we did notice that the previous owners had carefully planted lots of different flowers around the place very thoughtfully and they matured at different times through the year.

That should have hinted at something – –

With the uncertainty of the Covid 19 situation and the resultant notion of trying to be a bit more self-sufficient, we set up tanks around the house to capture rainwater and then turned our attention to the vegetable garden.

When we started preparing the ground we discovered a layer of black garden cloth everywhere so we pulled it all up and threw it away. Only later did we discover why it was there. Our yard has a number of big mature black walnut trees and they send out fine tendrils from their roots that are death to a number of vegetables. Despite that we were able to grow onions, peas, asparagus and a few other things. We also have a fresh crop of rhubarb and raspberries. Our tomatoes are either in grow-bags or as far away from the walnut trees as possible.

The other big job was converting our wee shed into a chicken coop for Thelma and Louise and that was another heavy bit of work.

So we are slowly learning what works and what doesn’t – next time the peas need to be staked better, the potatoes need to be in isolated raised beds and more of the tomatoes need to be in grow-bags.

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Filed under animal rescue, between books, crafting, home improvements, humor, Life reflections, Scotland, small town USA, VA, Wendy Welch