Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Move

In moving to California we went from owning our home to renting again, while doubling our monthly housing expenses. At the end of August we moved once again – this time from Suisun City to Fairfield, California. In the process we tripled our housing expenses (from Tucson) and now are proud owners of a 30,000 gallon pool (and a home). In reality, a pool was the last thing that I wanted, but when picking a place to live the need for garden space did not come up #1 on the family’s “needs” list.

Our new home

So, now that my family has physically (but not emotionally) settled down in Fairfield, I’ll describe my yard. The front yard is small, with a towering Ash tree of some type that needs some large dead branches removed. Three smaller trees lined the side fence. A pomegranate (which I took out), a peach tree and another tree that looks like it could be some kind of fruit tree. There is a 6’x6’ grass square in the middle of the yard with black chipped wood bark as mulch.

The pool (aka: backyard)

Another view of the backyard

Having established the existence of the pool, which takes up the majority of the backyard, I would like to take a moment to point out possible locations of other growing areas. Around the pool are tall Cyprus trees (which can be planted around and under) and we do have a balcony that I could put some large stainless steel troughs on to garden. The final area, which is most hospitable to gardening is a 10’x20’ plot surrounded by a fence on the south and west sides, a make-shift chicken coop on the north and a pool to the east.

The most likely spot for a garden

At this time, I would like to say that there was another property (howbeit not in the ideal spot) that we saw while we were looking to purchase a home that had a much larger yard, whose seller had already been working on gardening in the spacious backyard for some time. However, in order to better take care of the family’s needs, I accepted that a meager 186 square feet with less-than-ideal lighting would have to make do. I know – I should be grateful!

Rocks, cat poop and debris are no fun.

The first while in the new house was pretty rough for me. I talked things through with my wife and others while unpacking the house and not able to take care of the yard. After 3 or 4 weeks, I was able to start picking at the yard, slowly taking out rocks and cat poop left by a combination of the previous owners and the neighbor’s bazillion cats. It stunk – literally and figuratively. So, when a friend from church stopped by and asked what he could do to help, I filled him in on my plight.

After digging out about 12" of dirt

Within a week, thanks to my friend’s help, we had some men (young and old) come help haul dirt onto a tarp in my driveway over Columbus Day. We dug down about 8-10 inches using a rototiller, shovels, a pickaxe, buckets and two wheelbarrows. After that, I continued to dig out more of the dirt while I priced out compost from local sources and patiently waited for the right time in our schedule to pay to have some delivered. Then, a short time later, a miracle occurred. Another friend from church, despite his health problems, was able to help me get 10 cubic yards of compost delivered straight to my driveway. I cannot express how grateful I was for that! Finally, I could get started on my garden!

After digging out even more dirt

The day of Compost has arrived!


Black gold is a beautiful thing to behold

My three younger children helped me to finish moving the compost out of the driveway within the first week of having it delivered. There was a big rainstorm we were trying to beat, and they did an incredible job of helping me to finish moving the compost to the backyard. Despite their complaining of the smell (which to me smelled more like barbeque potato chips than manure), they did a fantastic job helping without having too much compost spilled into the pool.

A poor shot of us finishing up on the pile of compost.

So now I can finally say that I have a garden. Well, I have a pile of compost in a garden area. With all this done now, the near-term plans are to wait until the apple tree goes dormant (so I can move it into the front yard where the pomegranate tree was) and sift some of the soil from the driveway back into the garden area. I have been dabbling with the idea of starting some winter veggies in soil blocks, but I just haven’t made it a priority yet. My youngest son decided to get into the gardening spirit and has been planting mushrooms that he finds into my compost to make his own little mushroom garden. I had no idea that this would work, but the result is quite pleasant to behold, so for the time being I am happy to let him have a mushroom corner.

I am so grateful for everyone who helped make this little plot into a garden.

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