A Brief History and New Beginnings!

Welcome to Poppy Corners, a tiny house on a smallish lot, about 20 miles east of San Francisco. We've lived here about 10 years and we love our neighborhood!

Here's what you need to know about the history of our yard:

I've always gardened, mostly flowers. About eight years ago I got interested in native and drought tolerant plants, so I replaced a lot of our overgrown, weedy yard with those sorts of plantings. About five years ago, I started with a very small vegetable plot, about 5x7. I grew greens in the winter (kale, chard, spinach) and corn and tomatoes in the summer. We also harvested from the peach, apple, and quince trees already on the property. (Well, maybe not from the quince. I still need to know what to do with that stuff.)  Then the veg area got too shady from trees growing large. So, this year, we decided to make some changes.

California is in the midst of a terrible drought, so we knew that the sprinklers wouldn't be running as frequently as usual. Our lawn (which isn't really a lawn, it's a collection of various grasses and weeds, mostly weeds) used most of that water. So we knew a good portion of it had to go. We decided to sheet mulch the sunniest area and build new raised beds. Last winter, I sacrificed some of my sunniest flower beds to two 4x4 veg beds, and that's where I grew our winter crop this year.

I grew two kinds of kale, spinach, chard, and romaine in the front bed. The back bed has carrots and peas. Those will remain until they are ready to eat, and then I'll plant something else. Meanwhile, I've harvested the last of the greens and replaced them with tomatoes. That was a fun day - washing and storing all those greens.

But they'll get eaten quickly. I eat about a pound of greens just by myself, each day.

Anyway! Here's a view of the sheet mulch in progress.

First I went begging for the cardboard from my neighbors. They had some. Then I went to a local plant nursery and went through their recycling (with their permission). Then I resorted to skulking around my local recycling center and diving into dumpsters for the cardboard I needed. This project took a LOT of cardboard!

Then we starting hauling compost. Truckload after truckload of compost, shoveled out onto our driveway and then wheelbarrowed into place. We also sheet mulched in front of our house (these pictures are from the side yard), but that's a project to tell you about another day. All told, we shoveled in 7 cubic yards of compost this year. Some of that went in the raised beds, as you will see.

I called around to local tree companies and one agreed to drop me a load for free.

We estimate this was about 20 cubic yards of wood chips. We're down to our last few wheelbarrows. Every plant in our yard got a shovelful (or two) of compost, and a layer of mulch. This should help immensely with water retention, this summer.

Then the building of the new beds began! Tom was the workhorse of this project, and it took him one day.

He made these of redwood, and they are 4x8. (I recently read about Mel Bartholomew's method http://www.amazon.com/All-New-Square-Foot-Gardening/dp/1591862027 and I liked the idea, but I tweaked it a bit). Then, we filled them with organic compost. Today, I finished up the planting, and here's how it looks now.

It's been a whirlwind these past three weeks. Can't wait to see seedlings come up!

Just for fun, here's a picture of the side yard, shortly after we moved in. Kate was not yet 2. There were large privets and an Elm that came out in subsequent years.

That little girl is pretty cute, yo.