Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Work in Progress (part 1)

I think it must be five years that we have been wanting to renovate our yard behind the house. That area was an eyesore (at least to me) with never ending Forget-me -nots, weeds galore, poor grass or really almost non existent grass (see weeds galore), and big dips in the ground where some old poplar stumps were left to rot. There was also some issue with drainage which caused erosion along one side of the property. 
But I had a vision.
In mid September, a wonderful work crew of two plus one, and a husband, turned the backyard into a mud field and a reality.

I have come to realize that I do not have many 'before' photos of the yard. So I am presenting some photos with bits left out. 
Below:  First a side view of the house looking back. Not much to see but it may help with perspective later. To the right of the window will be a new shed. A flagstone path will link the shed to the door and window on the side. Notice the stone below the tree, it is part of the steps to the side door. You are on the south side facing east.

 A decent if not chaotic look at the yard. Hubby was removing a dead apricot tree at the time. Along the north side of the garden are some rhododendrons. You are on the south side facing due north.

A winter picture to fill it in a bit. You can see the left over stump of the apricot to the left of the photo. Again, you are on the south side facing north.

A view you may remember, and the most important one for me; the large green bush is a forsythia that sits on the crest of the slope to the next yard. The slope was muddy in spring and not much grew around it.  I wanted a true grade change between the two yards. This photo is facing east.

Now for the fun part.
Below: remember the side window of the house ? that corner square area on the right is where the shed will be. The oval is going to be the patio. The grading has been completed at this point. Notice the forsythia is gone. You can still see part of a cedar trellis hubby made for me on the very left side. It is also in the previous photo behind the golden mock orange (also now gone).

This is the left side of the yard. Gone is the apricot stump, but the rhodos at the back are kind of still visible. The outline of the patio is just beginning to take place in this picture.

Facing west and the back of the house. The grade is dramatic now between the two yards. No more sloping yard. The stone at the fore of the photo is left over Credit Valley limestone that made up the original front porch, now long gone. It includes 4 large steps treds which will be used in this project. We have been hoarding this stone for years. Now hubby will turn what we have into wall and stairs. More stone is on the way as what we have is only a fraction of what is needed.

Here is hubby at the start of the wall creation. We are on the south side looking northeast, the house in behind us and to the left. He has made the corner of the wall here.

And then before you know it the wall is complete!

What a piece of work is a man. Thank you hubby!

Yes, other stuff happened in between, but I wanted to give us all a sense of satisfaction for making it to the end of the post.  Next time you will see the finished sod work, what the garden will be like and a glimpse of the patio in progress. I am not sure how much more will get finished this year. The paths to the house and shed may wait until next spring, and the shed too perhaps. Hubby starts a new work contract very soon and the timing of this job worked out perfectly when he was in between contracts. He is working on the patio as I write - I am not allowed near it. Not allowed to move a stone or open my mouth. 
Until next.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A 'Small' Crop of Garlic

Garlic. I love garlic, hubby loves garlic. I purchased Canadian garlic two years ago and have now had two crops. Two crops of disappointing garlic. At first I wondered, is it me or is it them. Well that's a no brainer, it is me. Well not me specifically but rather where I planted the bulbs and the conditions under which they have thrived.

The property on which we live is large and yet only has pockets of sunshine through out the day. Most of it is in varying levels of shade, and that is of course problem number one - not enough sun. Where there is sun is where I have been planting my sun loving plants and so that relegated the garlic to the less than premium location. The soil in that location is pretty good and it is fairly quick draining as the tiny vegetable plot is in a raised bed. I harvested the bulbs (all 6 of them) in mid August as the leaves were yellowing and I think that was the right thing to do. So, I think the lack of required sunshine may be the main reason the bulbs I carefully removed from the ground are so small. 

This fall I will shift their location to improve the sun deficiency and we shall find out next year if that helps. The photos that follow will show you their growth and eventual harvest.

Looks are deceiving. The largest bulb is only 2 inches across and the smallest 1 1/4 inches with only two cloves. Oh well. I will plant the larger cloves for next year and the rest will end up on some garlic toast along with a glass of wine. Bon appetit.