Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Spring Gardening

The May long weekend is the acknowledged official start of gardening season in Ontario so first thing Saturday morning we eagerly headed out to the garden centre.

Our yard is still in the filling and growing stage - although our front yard and streetscape are filled with gorgeous, lush, towering trees that filter the light even through our third-story windows, no-one ever thought to plant anything in the backyard before we moved in so we inherited a bare naked patch of grass (and a deck we tore out and rebuilt...but we'll discuss that later.)

For our first few years in this home we are on a limited budget so that I can be an at-home Mommy until our youngest son starts school full-time, and most of the home improvement dollars we have set aside have already been spent on higher-priority indoor projects like replacing the old, worn carpet with new hardwood floors, redoing the main floor powder room, and building the boys' dream bedrooms and playroom. And, of course, our massive new two-storey deck and staircase in the backyard. There simply isn't a lot of room left in the budget for spectacular landscaping.

 Backyard garden, gardening, spring
Back Garden
So we're building our lush, layered backyard garden one plant at a time, one project at a time.

Our first full summer in our dream home we built a big back corner garden with a stone retaining wall around an existing dogwood - the only planting the previous owner bothered to do. We added a purple sandcherry, a Japanese maple and some low flowering perennials. Last year, while doing the deck construction, we unearthed some huge rocks and placed them in the back garden and framed it out on either side with cedars.

On the opposite side of the yard we built another long, low garden for vegetables. There's nothing pretty about the vegetable garden, but the kids absolutely love planting, watering and weeding the garden, watching it grow, and harvesting the crops - it's one of their favourite summer projects. And I love the idea of eating fresh organic food grown right in our own backyard.

Last summer we planted two tall columnar oaks, one near the back garden to provide privacy from the park and one closer to the house to provide privacy from the neighbours' yard. Next year we plan to plant a mountain ash in one back corner - we have one growing in the front yard and it's absolutely beautiful - and a crabapple in the opposite back corner once we find a new home for my husband's composter (where we make our own dirt.)

This spring there were no large additions - the budget won't stretch to trees this year - so our big spring gardening weekend was all about annuals. We filled in all the open areas of the back garden with cheerful purple, orange and yellow pansies which will grow into a jungle of colour by late spring.

The tomato and cucumber plants we started from seed a few months ago, first in yogurt cups and then moved to larger pots when they flourished in our kitchen window "greenhouse" were transplanted into the vegetable garden and we lined the perimeter in swiss chard. Next to the vegetable garden our strawberry patch is already flourishing.

Time to get growing! Next up: the front garden.

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 Backyard Plans

Dirt. A post about dirt. (And our organic garden.)

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