That's The News From Wherever This Is

Someone recently told me I should be taking more 'before and after' photos of our house and garden renovations. I didn't have a professional photographer handy this morning, so I snapped some crooked ill-lit shots on my iPhone.

On another note, I've been thinking recently about how people name their homes or their farms. How many square feet does a house have to be before it can be named "Snooty Snoots Estate"? Or how many acres does a farm have to be before it gets a rusty welded sign reading "Double A Bar None Long Steer Ranch"? We have a 1600 sq ft house on a scant acre- would a name be too pretentious? Even if it was a humble name like "A-For-Effort Farms"? Maybe we could give a nod to the ever-modest Winnie-the-Pooh and call it "One Acre Wood" or "Ashdown Acre". Anwyay, if you have any name suggestions or opinions on the subject, let me know in the comments.

Above, a large cereus cactus grows next to our garage and provides us with delicious fruit a couple times a year. Below is the cactus and succulent garden in our backyard, also where we feed songbirds. Love that the previous owners left a potted echeveria that looks like a giant brain. Behind it, a large antique bird cage we found at an estate sale is filled with succulents.

Over the winter I tore down a decaying shed and built a weather resistant plastic one. And this is the first peek anybody is getting of the Province shop in its current iteration. These objects will see the light of day soon, I promise! Until then, they are protected by locks, booby traps, and Mia the wonder dog. Actually, this isn't even all the inventory. Yikes.

When the shed components were delivered on a large pallet, I finally got to attempt an upcycled pallet project. This was a particularly long pallet, so I turned it into a vertical succulent garden that has its own pebble pad along our house.

Above, our inaugural and obligatory banana tree. Below (2), two of the raised garden beds I recently built partially of reclaimed lumber from our house renovations. The first one is perched precariously on the side of our hill just taunting the earthquakes... or vice versa. The center strip of tilled land is the very beginning of our English garden project. Our entire side yard will be stripped of turf and replaced with pebble paths, flower beds, vegetable beds, and sitting area.

english garden.jpg

Last week I installed one of two rain barrels and was able to capture a day of rain. They use a diverter tube running from the gutter, making it an enclosed system and therefore mosquito-free. That opening in the top of the barrel isn't a hole- it's a flower planter.

The pics above and below might be considered the mid garden. Steps lead down a steep hill from our backyard and the landings are being turned into garden areas. Above, I packed in some rogue mystery seedlings that sprouted when I wasn't looking (squash? melon? who knows!). This area will also have a trellis of Amish snap peas.

I built this dragonfruit arbor a few months ago and the cuttings are finally starting to show new growth. This type of cactus is prolific, if not downright overwhelming, in their growth once they get started, but I can't wait for baskets full of my favorite fruits!

Above, the cutout foundation for my double compost bin. Below, an old garden area will be our new chicken yard. Both projects waiting for a dry weekend when I can buy a truck full of lumber.

From the lower garden looking up the hill covered in flowering succulents. This photo doesn't capture the enormity of the pine tree in our side yard. So tall, in fact, we can spot it from miles away when we're on the freeway or walking along the L.A. River.

Last week I planted 40 mounds of alternating heirloom corn and sunflowers, covering the mounds in black plastic to prevent water loss and keep the critters out. Some of the corn is already a couple inches high. Yesterday I treated all the mounds with a homemade boiled concoction of hot peppers, garlic, grapefruit, and geranium. Hopefully the spicy, bitter, foul-smelling brew will keep all types of pests away.

And that's the latest from "Wherever This Is" farm estate acre.