Monday, February 23, 2009

Our Victory Garden (или Скучаем по даче)

We have a large backyard - a third of an acre (I'm guessing about 12 соток?). But it's overgrown with ivy, brush, and tall pine trees (то, что кажется называется мачтовые сосны). The benefits are many - no need to mow grass, smells of fresh pine, lots of birds and squirrels. But of course as far as the entertainment goes, the backyard is useless - dark, uneven ground, no grass, lots of mosquitoes the size of a hummingbird.

At first we thought about doing something about it. But with one and a half jobs between the two of us and the scary economy, we decided to postpone this project until some unspecified later date. Instead, we're going to concentrate on a more manageable front yard.

The big plan is to take the old trees out - they are ridden with some desease anyway and plant fig trees and blueberry bushes instead. There's also some talk about a miniature pomegranate tree and flower beds. Of course, first we need to borrow a chain saw from one of the neighbors...

In the mean time, we decided to start our own vegetable garden. Oh, the dreams of self-sufficiency, even if for only a couple of weeks in summer. Is there such a thing as partial self-sufficiency? Not having to pay $1 for each red pepper, $3/lb for decently-tasting tomatoes, and $2 for each eggplant would save us a bundle. Plus we would finally have very fresh, great-tasting, organic produce!

But since the backyard conversion is out of the question, we started very small with 3 small raised beds right in the front yard. So we're gonna put some tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cukes, and some herbs.

We already cleared up the area (Mark was helping to pull out weeds). Chris put together 3 frames for the beds (again, with Mark's help). And I'm busy germinating the seeds. I used Chris's old Army T-shirt to soak the seeds in. So quite literally we are beating swords into plowshares (перековываем мечи на орала).

Now Chris is turning one of the beds into a cold frame and we're thinking about where to get cheap uncontaminated top soil (we don't have nearly enough compost to fill all the beds). So far it's a pretty expensive project! But Mark loves it and it promises to be a lot of fun (as long as we don't have another bad drought this year).