Thursday, March 13, 2008

Enter the Backyard Farmer!

This evening as I was weed-eating my minuscule patches of grass in the backyard, at 7:30pm I might add, I was struck by agricultural epiphany-let's call it an agriphany. I am a self proclaimed backyard farmer. To make myself a little more clear, the patches of grass I was destroying with one of the pieces of my farm equipment, my electric weed eater, surround my meager 10 x 8 piece of farmland. Can't say its much, but my pride can still match that of any 70 year old farm pro.
Last fall, my girlfriend and I decided to make something of our humble 30 x 30 postage stamp of a backyard. We wanted to combine function with beauty and so agreed to create a garden surrounded by flowers. Living in a new townhouse development in Brentwood, I knew the soil was gonna be a challenge. Weeds tend to be the only creatures which inhabit an untreated patch of ground around here. After being in the landscape and garden center business for almost 6 years now, I now know this is all too common for new homeowners. For those unaware, before foundations are poured, the housing contractors will scrape off all of the natural topsoil. This most likely was previously the result of thousands of years of forest decay, full of rich loamy soil. Although great for growing things, not great for building thousand pound homes on. The contractor needs firm ground to build on, hence scraping until bedrock or churt, packed clay, is reached. Other than the standard landscaping, which often struggles to live, homeowners are left to fend for themselves when it comes to gardening and landscaping. They soon find that digging in clay and rock is no picnic, neither on their back nor on their tomato plants. Whether a home was built within the last year or within the last 10 years, the soil result remains the same, since soil structure and biology can take years to improve. That's where the backyard farmer comes in.
I will now periodically update my progress, beginning from last fall, of transforming crap for soil and space into an organic flower and produce garden. I hope to cover a broad range of topics from composting to cover cropping. Once we find the memory card for my girlfriend's camera, I will be photo equipped. Stay tuned.

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