Saturday, August 15, 2015

What We Did On Our Summer Break

I can't believe how fast the summer went - my last post was in early June and it's already mid August! Whoops. I guess we just got wrapped up in home life here in Bend. Although it doesn't feel like we're getting much done, when I look back on the last couple months, we have been moving forward, slowly but surely.

We've taken a little break from interior home remodeling and moved our attention to the outside, which is really refreshing. The inside stuff started to feel like homework.

Mike mowing the lawn with our new lawn mower.
We put in an all new fence, which you can see was desperately needed! The old fence was original from 1992, had never been taken care of, and the posts were just plain wood, so it blew down in a storm we had in February (our neighbors put up the lovely black plastic to show where their property line is). 

Side fence and back corner, before

Side fence and back corner, after

Mike did all the work of clearing the yard, getting rid of the weeds, raking up the gravel, and supervising the fence guys (who we found off Craigslist - we never learn). They weren't the most professional, but hey, they did the heavy lifting. And now our yard is a blank slate to start designing!

Back yard and fence, before

Back yard and fence, after

One thing I'm working on is making our whole yard edible. In with food - out with grass (mostly). We will have one little area of grass in a shady spot in the backyard, where the cats can lounge. But I'd like for everywhere else to have native plants or fruit/veggie/food bearing flora, and pavers/woodchips/etc. 

We have a good starting point with our fruit trees. We've got three - red plum, large crabapple, and Bartlett pear. The plum tree is being strangled by an aspen, and our neighbor hates the crabapple (and keeps bribing us to remove it), but the pear tree is doing well.

the plum tree in the background and the one delicious plum I ate!

the crabapple tree - I'm going to attempt crabapple jelly.

the pear tree in July

the first pears I picked, in mid August

I'm already learning so much about pears - for one, they have to be picked unripened, because otherwise they ripen from the inside out, and get all mealy. You turn them 90 degrees and if they snap off the tree easily, they're ready to be picked. Then you put them in cold storage, and after that, take them out as you want to ripen them. Whew! If you want to can or preserve them, that's a whole other process (which I'm going to attempt here in a few weeks).

In the meantime, we have lots of fallen, wormy pears and crabapples, so we got going on our compost bin. Mike built it from all the scrap wood and leftovers we had from the fence.

Having a garage is the best!

Framing it out - these are leftover 2x4 scraps.

Creating sides with leftover fencing strips

repurposed the old fence for slats in the front, which slide in and out

I love that the sides and the top are all thin slats, I think it gives what could be a very rustic and disgusting compost bin, a little bit of modern urban flair. 

Mike in his handiwork!

In the backyard and ready to be filled!

We still have to get some chicken wire or something for in between each bin, but I have already started filling box #1. I saw this method online and it sounded awesome - basically you start with one box, and once it's filled, move on to box #2. At some point, you can shovel out box #1 and dump it into the next empty box (hence the sliding front pieces). This way it gets turned/aerated, and composts faster. Once you're done filling box #2, the first box you aerated should be done composting and you can empty it into your garden. Then just repeat!

Hopefully by next growing season, we'll have some nice compost for our raised beds. It's pretty awesome to have this box for our veggie/fruit/coffee/egg/paper waste. We're cycling stuff back into making our food, which is way better than having it sit in a landfill somewhere. Our garbage has already reduced by half.

Now I'm off to go chop up some of our tree trimming pile to throw in my new bin!