Photo Friday: here and there, then and now

When we first moved here I was so exited about how green and lush everything is.  I was also excited to have so much room to plant in and couldn’t wait to get started.  HA!  The first time I tried to put the garden fork into the soil it bounced back and almost knocked me out!  We tried to use the Mantis to till out a garden spot and it just bounced along on the surface while the weeds and grass laughed at our folly…  So we went out and bought a BIG BOY Cub Cadet garden tiller.

I am afraid to use it. 

It is a seriously big and powerful machine.  When cranked up it sounds like a tractor and puffs huge blasts of air out of the front exhaust.  It reminds me of a bull getting ready to charge… I envision that the mighty beast will knock me to the ground,  sit on me, all the while huffing and snorting in victorious laughter.

If you like this and need one, you can click the picture to be taken to their site… (and NO, I am not being sponsored nor receiving any monetary compensation for this.)

For this reason Bob preps the areas I want to garden with the Cadet, and then I come in with the little Mantis to wage war on all the weeds.

Sometimes I get frustrated by the way, seemingly overnight,  the weeds come and take over my garden.  I think about my gardens in California and I get melancholy…  seems that with less water there was more control.  However, there was a cost too.    Water restrictions and the expense of watering the portions of the garden that needed it (my herbs and roses) made the price of gardening high!  Water rates were hiked 40% over a span of 4 years!!!  Hence we hired someone to design a native garden for us.  One that could live off of the average rainfall in Southern California.  We, of course, did all the work to save money!

It looked like this before…

Needless to say, this is not practical in an area that was desert before it was irrigated and overpopulated!

Enter Brian Swope from Tierra Seca Landscape Design who did some wonderful planning for us.    So, when we got done planting the yard looked like this!

Once established we never had to water it!  There are more pictures HERE

By the way, you can see more of his finished projects HERE!  He has since moved to the vicinity of San Francisco, if you live up there I strongly urge you to contact him.  You will not be disappointed!


And so it is, bit by bit, I have been trying to work a miracle.  Trying to turn all the weeds and wild grasses into gardens.  It is a slow and labor intensive process with nearly 6 times the area to cover.  Seems I start at one end, turn around to look back and…

More weeds!

Sigh.  I look for the day when the weeds have given up and the gardens have taken over.

In the meantime, I pick away at it…

Weeds and grass out!  Some new plantings in.

From back to front:  the sunflowers, tomatoes, peppers are done, but the bush beans are still waiting!

A neighbor came by and bulldozed the giant, grass-covered, red clay mountain behind the vegetable patch for us early this morning (red area in photo above)!  Now we will begin the process of sheet mulching to make it healthy, plantable soil!

With the exception of the rock drive, I have stuck to my plan of no chemical agents (Roundup).  I wonder if I will I ever gain control.

How do you conquer your garden nemeses?

NOTE:  Strictly speaking, if you sheet mulch you should not be rototilling.  However, with our hard-packed, concrete, red clay soil we feel the need to get things softened up before we turn 90.  Hence, we sheet mulched for two years, then rototilled, then planted.  The soil is now very friable, allows better drainage, and good deep root structure on the plants.  Over the winter months, we will sheet mulch again and then, hopefully, we will not need the rototill in the areas that have been worked over the three-year improvement time!


People who live in areas with red clay soil,  and own kitties who “knock” at the door,  should NOT have white  doors on their house.

While white doors may look lovely, the fact is evident,  that they are magnets for ugly paw prints.   No matter how often you clean them, well, eventually the grime just stains and won’t come off!

Unpainted back door!  GAAACK!

After three years of battling the never ending grunge I finally decided on a different plan.


Newly painted front door

I think the color works both aesthetically and functionally.    I will still have to wipe it down, but at least it won’t show the stains anymore!

So, I guess I’ll be painting the back door next!