Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I Am Pant-Peeing Excited About My New YardFarm Garden!! OMG OMG OMG!



Forty years of writing-- nearly 75% of those professionally-- has allegedly taught me how to organize and present my thoughts to get my ideas across clearly. But my head is spinning from the excitement that's been going on over here for the past couple of weeks. I promised the source of the excitement I would wait until now to reveal the details, though I've been bursting at the seams during this forced period of patience and silence. Now that I have the green light to do the big reveal, I find myself wanting to touch on about 90 different points including: gardening, bartering, radical homemaking (and the related temporal abundance), not to mention the joy of waking up every morning to find a backyard full of enthusiastic young men busting their asses to make my life better.

Prior to the amazing new garden, we defined "exciting backyard events" as crashing tree branches.

Okay, I know, I'll start with the garden. Well, no, wait, better mention the barter first. I was visiting my friend Sarah awhile back, admiring several gorgeous raised beds she'd had installed which were yielding like crazy. I had the good fortune of stopping by when the guys who created this masterpiece-- Zach and Dare of YardFarm-- were also at the house. They specialize in urban gardens. I was lamenting how, despite my love of gardening (or at least my love of the fantasy of gardening), I almost always wind up with a low yield, thanks in part to the brutal summers and my forgetfulness re: watering. Sarah, forever the presenter of great ideas, suggested that YardFarm and I might be able to scratch each other's backs. Maybe they needed help with marketing? Maybe I needed help with gardening? Maybe we could remove money from the equation and do a flat out trade.

My heroes: Dare (l) and Zach (r) didn't even flinch when they saw what they had to do to transform my shredded yard into a garden paradise.
Sarah's gardens.
I liked this idea very much, since a huge portion of my wildly fluctuating income goes to the mortgage. Zach liked the idea, too. So he came over to look at the yard and talk. I showed him my existing box garden and said that if he would simply irrigate it and get some plants going, I would gladly help with anything he wanted-- blogging for him, Tweeting, etc. Zach, immediately demonstrating his true and beautiful colors, gently explained that, if I didn't mind, he really likes to do things the right way, and he would much prefer to put in better designed gardens, take into consideration my lifestyle (ha!) and come up with a well thought out plan. Our planned short meeting turned into an hours-long discussion as we talked about everything from small businesses to local farms to bartering.

Early on-- boards being stained for the new raised beds. 

Over several visits, Zach got very acquainted with my big, torn up backyard (which was mostly the dogs' domain), and my dreams-- a chicken yard the dogs couldn't get into as they had before (leading to the Texas Chicken Massacre), a real French drain to replace the ridiculous joke of a French drain I'd installed myself that does nothing to keep the west side of my house from flooding, and a garden that might yield enough food that I could start plotting to go off the grid as that is seeming increasingly a good thing to plan for in These Hard and Crazy Times.

Zach drew up CADs, talked me through possible scenarios, and listened to my scheme to win him thousands of new clients with a daily gardening haiku series distributed via Twitter.

Note the irrigation system which is now all invisible and makes the watering seem like magic.
And then the work began. As noted, the guys (note that "guys" should be considered gender-neutral here, as on a couple of days some women employees also helped out) have shown up day after day, even on weekends. They put in three beds which are hooked up to a timed irrigation system that drips water into the beds every other day. They created an elaborate fencing setup that will allow my soon-to-be-acquired chickens a nice chunk of free range real estate, gives the dogs their separate area, and keeps the beds from being trampled by said dogs or eaten by imminent chickens. They also used the wood from my old box garden to make gates, exhibiting MacGyveresque skills that left me in awe. All of this was done with great cheer and dedication. As a bonus, they allowed me to cook for them, and I think the six of you know that few things please me more than feeding people.

Remember the old joke: What's a farmer plant first in a garden? His foot! Well Rebound says,  "Au contraire-- first you plant your derriere!" 

In the end-- well, in the middle I should say because they are coming back to put in a rain garden and privatize my outside claw foot tub, which my son calls the White Trash hot tub-- I wound up with far more than I allowed myself to even dream of at the start of the project. I'd gone into it thinking I'd trade 365 haikus for a few tomato plants and some well-placed hoses. But no. YardFarm has pretty much prepared me in case the Rapture comes and all the grocery stores close due to all the clerks being sucked up into heaven.

I mean, seriously-- can you believe this? The middle bed is full of greens. Soon the flanking beds will be seeded.

Can you tell how happy I am? I AM SO HAPPY.

I am happy for other reasons. As I detailed here awhile ago, I really dug the book Radical Homemakers, which is all about how temporal abundance can equal or even trump cash in the bank. Time is money but making money takes time and frankly, the older I get, the less time I'm interested in spending working. Funny thing for a borderline workaholic to say, I know. But I relish when I can work from home, set my own schedule, and take care of some of my own basic needs: knitting garments, using a clothesline instead of a washer dryer, baking my own bread, making my own yogurt, and growing a lot of my own food. (Since I don't eat land/sky animals, and only eat fish about twice a year, I seriously can grow the bulk of my own food.) Having the guys here reconfiguring my backyard dovetails with a much bigger vision I have-- self-reliance, exchanging services for services, creating an outdoor space where I can just sit and knit or read or meditate or hula hoop.

Rebound and Dante test out their new play area.
I'm going to post more updates and pictures as the garden grows. I know Zach and Dare & Co. are booking up their spring gigs pretty quickly, but I also know that if you want them to help you realize your own initial go-off-the-grid-via-a-garden dreams, they'd be glad to talk to you. You can reach them through the YardFarm website or drop me a note and I'll put you in touch. And you can check out more pictures of other gardens they've done right here.


Yrgal Tidge said...

Inspiring Spike, I have thought of converting my (dogs) backyard and you helped me decide. I already have 6 Marijuana plants ready to go outside and I considered doing a garden of vegetables, you have convinced me, I have to terrace anyway so Box gardens are normal for me(BTW I have a script for the weed),
Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

This is such a stunningly beautiful thing, I'm going to do it too. I've always wanted chickens. Show lots of pictures please and give more details. Thanks for sharing.

cohutt said...

You are smarter than this 50 year old was; my 2 year backyard transformation process has been powered by a single gray headed laborer with the exception of tree removal.
Still, after 20 something raised beds and hundreds of pounds of fresh produce later, I find myself this spring squeezing more growing space into my "backyard farm".

Be prepared for some disappointment along the way; killing a plant or three is part of the learning curve.

Best of luck and thanks to Instapundit for linking....

Ron Malibu said...

I know the timed irrigation would be a big help for me to grow vegetables. Left to my own manual devices, things get brown and crispy before I remember the hose.

c3 said...

1) Absolutely love the photos!
2) Thanks for the inspirational essay -- maybe this will be my year, too!
3) Smartass comment: I hope you mean clothesline instead of dryer; I'm not sure how you use the clothesline instead of a washer, but I suspect that keeps more people upwind of you.

indigo warrior said...

That's so cool! We've been adding a bed every year or two - it's really a battle with the clay, the rocks, and the crab grass for us. You're really getting your haikus-worth.

Barbara Shallue said...

Gorgeous! I've been garden-challenged myself. This has me inspired!