Sunday, July 20, 2008

 
Cats being cats, it was only a matter of time before Starr found her way through the ventilation ports from the top of the great room into the upstairs guest room and bath. Here she is walking the truss:


She’s claimed the guest room as her own, by the way, sacking out there most of the day. And as those of you who have cats know, NOTHING sacks out like a cat.

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We’ve started planting on the property, something I’ve been anxious to do for some while. There are some real problems, including the fact that the earth in what had been a fairly dense woods isn’t particularly good for growing anything.

To start, there’s a lot of sand in the soil from the unstable, shale-like volcanic rock. Then there’s the fact that actual soil is composed mostly of decomposed leaves (oak, shag-bark hickory, beech, birch, and black maple for the most part) and pine needles. The result is a dry, powdery soil that doesn’t retain moisture well because it drains easily or runs off, creating gullies.

My first planting took place in the retaining walls for the berms on the east and west sides of the house, which had been created by our excavator with me picking out the boulders to be used and deciding how they should be dropped. I used either sizable crevices between rocks or created pockets by adding smaller stones, filling them with good, composted soil to make rock gardens.



The relatively few vegetables we’d planted on the hillside leading up to the site of the photovoltaic array are doing well enough. The wood chip mulch we’re spreading gradually over the whole area is holding the soil during heavy rains (which are frequent lately) and keeping much more moisture available for our tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, and green peppers. I think we’re going to have to use MiracleGro or some other fertilizer because I don’t believe there’s much nutrition in the soil. Friends of ours who farm in Candia--the next town to the west of Raymond--have, however, offered us unlimited amounts of their composted manure for the taking, so we should be able to plant in some fairly decent stuff next year.

Another friend put us on to the fact that a local nursery was selling well-developed, roughly two feet high flowering bushed on a buy-one-get-one-free basis.


We went down and bought four bushes right away: two hydrangeas with flowers in a lovely shade of mauve, and two holly bushes, one male and one female. The tan/gold flat rocks between the bushes were all dug up when planting just these two bushes, which shows how much rock this property is sitting in top of.


The female holly already has a nice crop of berries coming as well as a new flowers, so she should be a strong bearer. I was particularly anxious to have holly growing here, because I love to give it away during the winter holidays and to have it in the house as decoration.

We spent all of Friday morning breaking up big clumps of day lilies in Fritz’s old gardens and planting them up here on the leach field for the septic system. We can’t allow any trees to get established there, but shallow-rooted day lilies and iris, which spread quickly, are perfect for the location and within a couple of years should give us a spectacular field of brilliant color.

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Our first attempt at dry setting stone, and not too shabby, I think:


Fritz set this one by himself. It’s the front wall of one of the planters that will eventually span the areas between all the piers across the façade of the entire house.

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The Wit and Wisdom of George W. Bush

It's exciting; I don't know whether I'm going to win or not. I think I am. I do know I'm ready for the job. And, if not, that's just the way it goes.

(That’s the way it went, Georgie, unready (and downhill) all the way.)

Comments:
Wow, free composted manure. I hate to think about how much I've spent on it over the past few years.

You really ought to pony up for some peat as well. It is great for holding moisture and it sounds like you are going to need that.
 
Hey the place is looking lovely buddy. It must be great to have so much space there. We only have a little garden but we keep it nice too. :-)
 
Nice job on the planting. I also really like what Fritz did with the dry stoning in front of the house. Looks amazing :)
 
I want to know what sort of tomatoes you are growing. I am always intrigued by heirlooms and other varieites.
 
The stone looks great! And traditional stone walls and such weren't set by specialists; they were set by the owners, so why shouldn't you (or Fritz) be able to do it. Clearly, you can do it well!

Love that Starr worked that out. I love when our pets puzzle things out!
 
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