And it begins … my first garden update.

Now that some of the stuff inside has been completed, we are finally getting around to doing some work outside the house.  While I like when things are finished inside, I am much more at home playing in the dirt!  So, here is a little update of the things that we are doing to make our yard into a garden (and the outside of our house into our home).

First, one of our goals is to incorporate as many perennials, edibles, and natives as possible.  Second, it has to look good and be functional for our family.  Third, cheaper is better and free is best.

So, let’s start in front of the house … 

The biggest change that we have made is the fence (which may get its own post soon) to keep the puppies away from the driveway.  The first plantings we put in were the four Endless Summer Hydrangeas (light blue squares).  Then we put up the planters on the porch (green squares) which are full of herbs and strawberries.  My favorite plant that we put in them were little boxwood basils.  Then, most recently, we added a thornless Black Satin Blackberry (burgundy square), a Fall Gold Raspberry, and two Blueray Blueberries (dark blue squares).  We got all the hydrangeas and the fruit plants with Groupons from Merrifield Garden Center; and we only purchased one blueberry (the pot contained two plants that I split).  The future of this area includes more mulch to smoother all the grass and a raised bed for herbs and veggies.

Our raised bed was installed last year before we even moved into the house, but this year I have been slow getting things planted in it.  I roughly follow the square foot method and have a number of empty squares still available this year.  In the front, we have dwarf sugar snap peas (yellow), leeks (green), blue hubbard squash (blue), and some swiss chard seedlings (white).  In front of the row of dwarf marigolds (red X’s – which are just sprouting) are more leeks (green) and some seedling radishes (gray).  Behind the marigolds, I have planted tomatoes (red) and a specialty eggplant (purple).

The tomatoes are, from left to right, Black Plum, Early Girl Hybrid, Black Cherry, and Sweet 100s.  I don’t remember the variety of eggplant, but it is one of those special skinny eggplants.  That contraption around the tomatoes is my newly constructed tomato support.  It is constructed from completely free stuff – two bed frame struts, some spare screws, and a couple of large plastic ties.  The plants are supported by some jute twine by twisting them around the stems.  The big blue box in both photos is our compost bin, which is getting close to full again and needs to be dumped … giving me another reason to build the second raised bed for this part of the garden.

Every year the Northern Virginia Soil & Water Conservation District sponsors a native seedling sale for residents of Fairfax County and this year, I purchased their small tree and shrub package.  For $15.95, I got 10 seedlings – 4 American Hazelnut (Corylus americana), 2 Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis), 2 Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis), and 2 Cranberrybush Viburnum (Viburnum trilobum).  These were planted around the back and side of our house.

Those hazelnuts will eventually form a screen to hide us from the neighbors and their driveway/parking area.

Along the back of our house, the other six seedlings are getting established.  Along the kitchen part, I have put the two Cranberrybush Viburnums (pink) and one of the elderberries (blue).

Along the rest of the house, the other elderberry (blue) and the two serviceberries (white) are getting established. In a couple of years, all 10 of these will be providing us with a decent amount of fruit and nuts, while providing color and shade.

Having gotten a garden post up finally puts me in good company!