For a few weeks, I was convinced that all the effort we put into our gardens would amount to nothing this year. The month of May was hot. Too hot, for Indiana. Despite the added water retention from sheet mulching, and employing hugulkultur, our gardens struggled to get moving. The relentless heat combined with a lack of rain had me chewing my nails off. It’s one thing to build in moisture retention, but if there’s no water to retain, and nothing in the rain barrels to supplement, it makes for stressful growing.
As if the rain dances I did in the back yard, not producing results, weren’t enough, we constantly battled wildlife to keep our seeds safe. Squirrels seemed to attack from all sides, taking advantage of the convenient berms that resulted in me throwing my arms up in the air in concession. I cursed the foxes I’ve allowed to remain in the back yard for not doing their job and thinning the squirrel herd. But there wasn’t much I could do except wait, so we occupied ourselves another way.
We got a dog.
I’ve protested getting a dog for years, citing we didn’t have a fence, nor could we really afford one. But something about the little cinnamon, four-legged guy told me he needed a home and it should be ours. So on a whim, I pulled my wife away from work and went to the Humane Society. He was adorable, and shy. And he just felt like he would fit into our little family.
So we got a dog.
Initially we thought he was a mix of Boxer and Pit Bull because of his build, color and facial features. After a little sleuthing, my wife discovered he’s actually an American Staffordshire Terrier. As far as we can tell, he’s pure bred, which is pretty awesome for a shelter dog. He’s great with our son, ridiculously loyal and listens. Most of the time. We are very lucky with our new addition to the family. Meet Wicket. (Named after an Ewok from Star Wars, for the uninitiated.)
The bonus for me was that I had to come up with a way to fence in part of our yard that was relatively cheap and looked nice. A challenge I welcome, and a skill I love to hone. I found a video on YouTube from Michael Bronco where he shows how he built his garden fence. Not sure why exactly, but it appealed to me. It’s a simple method and I was able to adapt it enough that it I could build almost 200 ft. of fence for a quarter of the cost for a professional install.
We added privacy panels on the street side, mostly because I didn’t want the dog barking at every thing that passed by. But also for, well, privacy. You can see the panels that we built for the fence turned out alright. I won’t go into the amount of swearing involved with digging the post holes. If you’ve ever done it, no explanation is needed. Suffice it to say that my dad and I ended up having to dig the holes twice, and it just so happened to be one of the hottest days of the summer at the time.
This is a better photo of the space as a whole. You can see the fledgling strawberry and mint plants in the swale. It’s actually nice to have now that it’s all grown in and full of color. I’ll have to post more about that later. We ended up creating a cozy little area that feels like a “yard,” and not just an overwhelming space. The spare piece of plywood we attached to the stump makes a nice serving area, and is conveniently located near the grill. I left the posts high to string lights between them. The minor division in the yard created by the swale makes a great corn hole area.
The garden, despite taking its time to get moving, has taken off. I’ll post more about that soon. But for now, our family is relishing in our annual “improve the back yard” project.