Sep 7, 2010

Garden Tour Insanity

What was I thinking, agreeing to be one of the stops on the first annual Bend Backyard Farm Tour? It's all Duane's fault. A week and a half ago, he came to deliver my new cold frame. After we carried the cold frame in through the carport and next to the vegetable garden to await final placement, he spotted my raspberry vines loaded with fruit (which he sampled), my jungle of cherry tomatoes (which he sampled) in the greenhouse, my apple trees with fruit falling on the ground (which he sampled), not to mention my chicky girls in the run he had built ..... he turned to me and said, "wow, this is a real urban farm. I want you to be on the tour!" Blinded with flattery and a completely unreasonable concept of how much time was left to get things looking presentable and how much there was to do, I said, well, um, ok.

One of the things I have since realized is how many unfinished projects I have accrued, through the, er, years. Another thing is how much of a difference it makes, being 60+ years old, and not 20 or even 40, when doing formerly easy tasks as hauling and setting 1/2 ton of rocks for a sitting area ...... cleaning out grassy perennial beda ...... or just plain weeding for hours on end. Yikes. I have been taking a hot epsom salt bath nightly for days now and the end is still not in sight. My hands are sore, my back is sore, every muscle in my arms, neck and upper body is sore, but I can't stop yet. I used to whip such tasks off in half a day and never feel a thing. I guess I've been procrastinating on some of these jobs for longer than I thought -- the decades seem to be flying by. But it's amazing what fear -- and the expectation that possibly hundreds of people are going to be traipsing through MY garden in just a few short days -- can accomplish.

I have to admit I have never thought of my garden as a 'farm' before this. Well, we have joked about it being a farm since the chickens arrived. But I have read Nigella Carpenter's book 'Farm City: the Education of an Urban Farmer' - and that is not me. To me, it's just my garden. I love it, but it seems very ordinary to my eyes. And weedy. But maybe not everyone has all this stuff I take for granted in my yard: vegetables and fruit trees and chickens and herbs and the 30+ years' worth of composting that has created some amazing (for Bend) soil. It all started as lawn, with a few overgrown trees and shrubs around the edges. In those 32 years we have buried, ripped out and just plain starved out all the grass, built terraces and built paths and beds everywhere. And, probably the biggest factor is that, I talk to my plants and the garden itself, and I listen when they talk back. It's a lot easier to figure out what to do when you have the biggest garden expert of all (Nature) on your team.

Here's the latest progress on the biggest current project (also the biggest current source of sore body parts):
This is the ultimate 'before' photo: the weedy, rocky plot planned as a gravel path with flagstone sitting area

Here it is last week: rocks gone, weeds out, soil leveled and smoothed:

Here it is a couple of days ago, covered with the horrible plastic weed barrier that set back my environmental conscience at least 25 years:

And here is the beginning of the sitting area, with official tester.

Stay tuned. And if you're in my neighborhood between now and Saturday, stop by and I'll hand you gloves and a garden tool. I need all the help I can get!


  1. WOW!!! I jumped here from Gloria at Dakota Garden....and (finally) found an honest depiction of gardening work, age, etc.,....and one that I can affirm. You've convicted me to add my "before" photos of my Monster Boulevard Project on my blog -- I think that my posting the photo may also keep me accountable for finishing that project (some day ;)

    I have to admit that one of the reasons I am pushing myself to get a few projects done each season is that I don't think I have the 30+ years to develop my yard and garden into the "vision" I have for my property....oh well. I do realize that I do need to wait for some help on certain projects...or I tend to get frustrated at my lack of energy to complete it on my own...hope the backyard farm tour goes well...

  2. Hello Kathy,

    So glad I read this post! I don't know if you remember me- I moved here just last November and took a year off blogging. I've been watching the weather, what is coming up in our new year and making plans for next year. I haven't planted much. I know that my soil is a mess and that is first on my list. My hubby has been traveling so much this year that not a lot got year!

    I may just pop over and check out your mini-farm! What a perfect time to introduce myself and meet a fellow garden blogger!

  3. Sharon, Thanks for stopping by my blog. Please do post the 'before' photos -- after all, if you are of a certain mindset (and most true gardeners are), parts of any garden, if not the whole, are in some ways 'before' -- we are always changing things!

    My main problem right now is that I really am trying to do a whole bunch of projects all at once. Dumb. And I still forget that I can ask someone else (younger, stronger, with more time and/or different talents) to help with the things that stop me in my (mental) tracks. I look forward to reading about your garden.

  4. Hi Tessa, I've been wondering what happened to you. Glad to hear you didn't vanish into the desert dust, up there in Redmond. I wish you success (and fun) working to improve your soil. It can be done, and you are fortunate to have slightly warmer temps than I do, even just 18 miles away, and a slightly longer growing season. Go for it. And do come by -- it would be totally fun to meet a fellow blogger.