Daydream Believer

Still chained down by my body and life… which means that my dreams are in full flight.

Came around to thinking… you know, I live here and daydream about living somewhere else.  But what if I fixed the things about here that drive me so bonkers, and made “here” the paradise that it could be? Or at least got busy and started making positive changes?

I listen to youtube when I do chores.  My crew has slowly started including more and more homestead bloggers.  They led me to videos about permaculture.   And THAT led me to daydreaming about gardening again.

There are two main barriers to my gardening efforts

  1. I suck at maintenance
  2. Water (I live somewhere 10″ of rain a year is exciting stuff)

So.  If I could set up a system where the watering and maintenance largely took care of themselves, and I just had to trot up and pluck food or cut flowers… wouldn’t that be good?  Oh, and knowing me, it has to be PRETTY.  If it’s not pretty, I’ll lose interest.  (Just being real here – we all have weaknesses, and that’s one of mine).

The soil is sad here, but I don’t mind doing soil amendments. (I will dig.  I will haul.  I will design.  I will compost.  But weeding, let’s not).  Actually, it’s not bad-bad, it has good soil fertility, but it has no biomass.  So, once you get it composted and fluffed (takes a few years) you have some good soil going on.   (Look closely at the cracks in the soil.  And this was garden soil some years back … I tell you, I could make bricks from this stuff.  This is what it looked like once we ripped the foxtails out, I haven’t been watering over here, and DH mowed).

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Pixels of my daydreaming:

This is the backyard/hill as is.  (There is a slim strip of lawn between the woodpile and house).  We are planning to take the rest of the pepper trees out.  Yes, they are nice and big and the bees like them – but that’s the end of the good from them.  They’re weed trees and their leaf litter kills anything under them.  No fruit, no useful flowers, no bueno.

Erosion control is a THING for the hill, obviously.  It’s very steep.

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This is the path that MIL put up the hillside.  It needs repair before I can get up there and play, because my legs are not long enough to hit the footholds to climb up the hill without these stairs.  Yes, there are stairs under the wisteria somewhere.  (It needs taming).

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A closer pic of the hill.  On TOP of the hill is a 10′ wide flat area, perfect for an orchard/garden.  If I could get up there… if there was water up there… if those awful trees were gone…

The bare spot is where DH has been skidding the tree bits as he chops them off.  There wasn’t much there anyway except weeds.  See:  Pepper Tree Kills Plants Around It

We’d tried to make this side of the hill into an herb garden.  It gets direct sun much of the  year (west facing hillside) and herbs don’t mind not getting much water, and shrubby herbs can do some erosion control too.  Not culinary herbs you’d want to get at, so much, as things to draw butterflies and hummingbirds and the like.

There’s a retaining wall at the bottom, where we keep our roses.  Um, some of the roses.  😀

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First steps:  Pepper tree down, stairs repaired, water pipe of some sort (I’d be happy with greywater from the laundry, if we could find a good way to filter it and pump it up the hill, I think DH is thinking of just piping proper water).

Second steps:  Plumbago (to which my husband is allergic, and has no real function) removed.  Succulents removed (if DH doesn’t save them).  (I will make 16yo do this.  He likes swinging the machete, and what else is a 16yo, almost 17yo boy for, if not heavy yardwork?)

Third steps:  Planting large things – trees/shrubs.  We have a *impervious* Meyer lemon up there under the pepper tree – it will probably go nuts with a little TLC, since being completely ignored hasn’t killed it.  We also have a not-very-happy pomegranate.  But it’s a good spot for more trees, and we have a perfectly useful chain-link fence which practically cries out for more vines (it has some wisteria on it too).

Fourth step:  Planting herbs/small shrubs/putting together some vegetable garden.

I have this all on paper, and today I picked up a book on permaculture, which will no doubt force me to reevaluate everything (totally fine).  What I want to create is a space where you can sit and watch the world go by, and I want a yard full of flowers and fruit and shade and herbs and all the good things.  And I want it to work in tandem so that I don’t have to do much messing, and the messing I do is all joy.  Oh, and I don’t want to double our water bill.  :p

(And if the neighbor decided to remove the fire hazard eucalyptus tree you can see, that wouldn’t upset me a bit).

Anyway.  I’m daydreaming again… beware!

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12 thoughts on “Daydream Believer

  1. Susan

    How much land do you have? It’s hard to get a sense from your photos. I love, love, love growing things, but it’s a lot of work. I live in the hot, humid South, and that’s the hard part. The plants are okay with it, but it’s awfully rough on me!

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    1. hearthie Post author

      This is a suburban backyard circa 1970s, so maybe 50 ft by 100ft, much of it hilly. it is very hard to convey HOW hilly that hill is – I’d guess about a 75% grade in spots.

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      1. hearthie Post author

        Yes and no. I did, but I got this permaculture book and there’s SO much I didn’t take into account, so with joyous aggravation, I’m back to the drawing board. 😀

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  2. Elspeth

    I’m in Susan’s boat, as you know. Hot, hot, hot, and humid. In fact we don’t even go out to tend our (very small!) garden bed until the heat of the day has passed. When the rains kick in, I’ll probably go out before the heat of the day kicks in.

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    1. hearthie Post author

      I won’t want to do much when summer takes hold either. But it’s late spring here – the weather is darn near perfect, I have about a month of do-able weather before it’s all early morning or nothing. (August/Sept/Oct contain rather a lot of 90+ days. But our humidity is about 10% … do you prefer an oven to a sauna?)

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  3. hearthie Post author

    BWAHAHAHAHAHA! My husband came home and wanted to talk about plans to fix the stairs and pipe water up the hill, and put on his sun shirt so he could get some chainsawing in after dinner.

    THAT’S what I’ve missed. Glory Hallelujah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  4. goingtothefields

    You could do so much with that yard. I’m already envisioning a terraced slope around your Meyer lemon and pomegranate trees (absolutely save them both!). Terracing would solve erosion and drainage issues and open up more space for understory fruiting shrubs and lots and lots of herbs and veggies and flowers.

    Of course, planting natives is best as the water requirements will match what’s available, but you could look at rain barrels or a cistern if those are legal in your area, collect the runoff from your roof and hillside as emergency reserve.

    I wish I was out there to see it! You must keep us updated, so exciting.

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    1. hearthie Post author

      The lemon and pom trees are up top, where it is flat. 🙂 I am hoping/planning to make the center hill into an area with trees and shrubs that are pretty and draw hummingbirds/butterflies. I’ve read up on natives and soil erosion, a mix of trees/shrubs/groundcover is supposed to be the best thing. It’s nearly impossible to access the middle of the hill, it’s really really steep and the soil is fragile and… no. However, yes to sage, tea tree, butterfly bushes, butterfly weed (monarchs eat it/reproduce on it), etc, and a cassia tree (nitrogen fixer). On the lower hill somewhere, I want an elderberry tree – didn’t even know they grew here. (They’re mad for attracting pollinators, apparently).

      We don’t get a lot of runoff from the hill. That’s the one nice thing about clay – it soaks, and takes a long time to dry out. I’ve still not watered the grass on the bottom of the hill, it only just dried out a few weeks ago. It was squishy for a long time (I turned off the grey water system in the beginning of winter, no point in flooding).

      Cisterns from the roof and rainwater are (I think) legal, and there are ways to set stuff up so you’re even collecting the morning dew (we are coastal so we get that 9 mo/year) but I’m not sure DH is ready to get that fussy about things.

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  5. goingtothefields

    PS: chickens.

    You probably can’t have them where you are but they are Masters at transforming soil if you put them to work properly. I’m amazed at how my bigger birds are already turning over compost. The baby birds are too small and would get buried, but in my beds they’re eating up weeds and keeping the soil churned. The key is rotation which is work. But I’ve needed work for a while now.

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    1. hearthie Post author

      You’re allowed to keep chickens a certain distance from all your fences, no rooster. That would end up as a very small box in the middle of the yard, and we run to birds-of-prey here. So, no chickens for me.

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