Table of Contents:
A quick and dirty satellite map of the yard, complete with labels and an abstract map, both labelled and unlabeled.
The bank restoration is progressing nicely with the pallets holding on to soil and debris that provide a niche for new plant growth. These plants then further anchor the soil with their roots and later the pallets themselves as the plants die and wilt as a net covering the pallets. This seems to be creating a positive feedback look where the initial pallet induced stability begets more stability (both for the bank itself as well as the pallets) as plants re-colonize the banks.
There were no chicken this year. I allowed the chicken run to become overgrow. Next year this will hopefully produce a more bountiful area with more plants than the once dominant grass and seeds for the chicken to eat.
With the failure of the electric fence, I planted only tomatoes and peppers this year since the animals mostly leave those alone.
The grape vines reached the end of the deck. Next year I will begin pruning the into shape so they spread out and cover the arbor.
I began "moving" the lower driveway over to the edge of the property this year. This will give me more space in the front at the expense of an almost worthless sliver of land. Next year I plan to dump the excess rocks I've collected from the old flower beds here and build a small retaining wall out of rocks.
Early in the season I mixed up a monkeyball soup and poured it into a shallow ditch, connecting the previously planted monkeyballs and the willows. They ended up growing prolifically and will need to be thinned out eventually.
The rest of the hedge progressed well, it still a little unruly. Within a few years I should have a beautifully deterring wall.
Though there is not much to see yet, I planted about 35 black locusts in a row about 8 inches (20cm) apart. This will server as another hedge to segregate the yard in paddocks.
The elderberries along the driveway shot up this year. I allowed the thistle and other "weeds" to grow almost unchecked to help break up the heavy clay soil and create routes for the elderberry to grow into. The top growth provided living mulch. I chopped back the weeds only enough to allow the elderberry maximum sun.
Not much is going on here this year. Dad added a dogwood tree that I disagree with on placement. Next year I want to add a few thirty-ish foot tall trees to shade the front of the house and provide more privacy from road.
The four front arborvitaes are growing nicely, but the fifth is lagging due to reduced sun exposure. Still, it is moving in the right direction, albeit slowly.
The area might look "weedy", but the wild lettuce is allowed to grow to help break up the soil and provide nice woody mulch at the end of the year. You can't see it yet, but there is a lot of lemon balm, oregano, and strawberries hidden under that layer of wild lettuce. Over the next few years I will selectively trim the "weeds" and allow these, more fruitful species, to dominate.
With the failure of the electric fence charge, I left the garden fallow. Wild lettuce dominated. Like the side yard, this provides wonderful soil amendment as well as good quality, woody, mulch when it is allowed to die naturally.
Early in the season I did plant a few rows of barley that was undisturbed by the wildlife.
The cicada showed up this year and did a number on many of my trees. Here is a a honey locust that has seen better days. Although the damage was quite extensive, I don't think it killed any of the trees. It did set the growth back a full year though.
The swale seems to be functioning as expected. This past winter I noticed that the area of the yard that used to be waterlogged was decidedly drier.
I planted a row of peppers along the swale ridge that grew fairly well. They needed a little extra watering until they were established since the swale mound dries out faster than the surrounding area. They are not pictured here.
The bamboo enclosures protecting the mulberries began to break down. They were replaced by metal fence posts and the netting restrung.
The mulberries will form a medium height canopy with the honey locusts will grow into the upper canopy. Along with the elderberry, monkeyball, and willow hedge, this should provide a nice enclosed area that was once fully exposed to the road.
The swale acts as a lower bound to this front-most part of the yard. The water it collects is help just below the trees, creating a moist, but not saturated, soil. Ideally I will be able to segregate this area and use it as a paddock for chickens once it is fully grown.
An overview of the front yard.
Five fruit trees were planted in the middle of the yard, but, as expected, the deer browsed them all to death.
The raised bed in front of the shed looks unruly, but as with many other parts of the yard, the "weeds" are allowed so as to improve the soil for the surrounding perennials. In this case pear and plum trees. Sadly the pear tree was greatly damaged by the cicada and I am not sure it will survive. The plum trees on the other hand were defoliated by the (japanese?) beetles.
The backyard is empty for now, but I do have plans for it.
A handful of much improved soil. My "weeds" and compost seem to be working well.
Some baseline tests from the Penn State agricultural analytical service. The first one is from the garden and the second is from the front yard.