|One of the littles with our mini snow shovel,|
digging a path on the sidewalk next to the side garden.
Our property ends at that little sidewalk--yes, there
actually is a garden smooshed up there against the house! :)
Winter blues can set in heavily around this time of year for those of us in cold and snowy climates. Our gardens are bare, the world outside alternates between frozen and just plain wet--but always frigid--and some days the sun never comes out. Many people become very depressed in the dead of winter and for good reason. The Ojibway Indians called the month of February the Hunger Moon, as their food stores from the summer and autumn dwindled, game could be difficult to find, and fresh food was only a distant memory. Though I have the treasured ability to get fresh vegetables year round from the grocery store, my heart hungers for my own veggies. Hunger Moon is the last leg of the winter marathon; we know that the chill will be gone soon, and that suddenly it will be warm and green once again, but getting to the end means focusing hard, with steel resolve. Our physical survival may not be at stake like it was for the Ojibway, but our mental and emotional endurance can be challenged in very real ways.
Though the snow is oppressive, and the bare branches on trees are dismal, there is a really great aspect to winter, and a huge incentive for walking around and quietly observing your little homestead.
The landscape has been wiped clean! A clean white canvas lies before you, and vivid images emerge; of garden beds, and pots, and spirals, all filled and lush with green growing food. And flowers, too, of course! If you are like me and working with a small suburban lot, where every inch of space has potential, the clean slate is very encouraging and exciting. When living on a little lot, there is no such thing as wide open spaces...yet, when the snow erases all the imperfections below, the space seems so much bigger.
Projects start to form in my mind every time I go outside in the winter snow. The layout of new beds, additions to old growing areas, and novel ideas come alive in my head like no other time. In summer it's sometimes overwhelming to make new plans. My backyard has several areas that always become wildly overgrown, remnants of a previous owner's landscape dreams that now have become a nightmare to keep at bay (*note to self: never, ever, ever plant decorative vines. EVER). In winter, however, the vines are dead, unwanted wild shrubberies are bare and it's easy to visualize cutting them down for firewood. Everything looks so bare and clean and easy to manipulate.
Come join me on a photo walk! I took my camera out on a frigid but beautiful February morning, and my creative juices started flowing. Each photo below has an area or two circled, and you get to peek inside my brain to see what I think should happen in those circles. :)
Backyard from the far south corner.
We had potato towers and we grew in straw bales
along the fence to the right (south)...the evidence is nearly erased by the snow!
Oh, and that little brown shed? It WILL be a chicken coop! But not yet.
|Another view from the south corner. The ONE open space in the yard.|
I plan to add two or three raised beds in this open space....
but still leave some room to play in.
Been mapping out various ideas, over and over!
|The north fence in the backyard has some potential.|
More brush to cut out, and narrow beds can go along the entire length.
|The circle on the left shows an old playhouse we have really outgrown.|
It makes me sad to think of letting it go, but this could really open up some growing opportunity.
The circle on the right of the photo is a ridiculous tree we've cut out several times
and it keeps coming back...
it needs to go.
In summer it gets overwhelmingly overgrown and completely in the way.
By the way, the medium sized tree trunk in the middle-ish of the photo--
that is our beloved mulberry tree!
|View from the back door--the shrub line all along the back fence|
has been slowly dying through the years. It's great for privacy and I've resisted
the idea of cutting it all out.
But last year hubby mentioned replacing it all with edible stuff (like blueberries or hardy kiwi or grapes, etc),
and I thought 'genius'!
I'll be honest though...this project seems huge and scary.
We don't have a lot of power tools, and it may not look like it, but there is
a lot of gnarly stuff growing there.
|Finally, the back patio. The wall faces south and gets tons of light each day.|
A gutter is right overhead.
I'm thinking of a system of Earth Buckets for this spot.
(click here for Earth Bucket instructions!)
Actually getting these projects started? Much less, finished?! Ohh, that is the hard part! Dreaming is fun...doing takes discipline. I know that I'm going to have to prioritize what I want done the most, so I don't jump in and make a bunch of messes that never get completed.
Things will be picking up indoors as I start the garden's seedlings, and start making plans for summer (a very, very busy time for my daycare). Life in all other areas never seems to slow down (don't we ALL know that). Can't I just be a full-time gardener and homesteader...please??? ;) Finding the time and the motivation to make these ideas come alive will take some will power, especially when the snow melts and reveals all the imperfections in the yard; the vines--oh shoot me now, the vines. The overgrowth, the pesky unwanted plants. If I can commit to taking care of the cleanup before everything starts exploding with green, then hopefully I can expand and evolve some areas around this little homestead into valuable growing spaces!
Stay tuned, and please share: What have you imagined in your blank slate this winter? Do you have a project or two in mind for your garden this spring?