It’s here. Moving Day. As you read this, I’m watching four super-strong men load all of my worldly possessions into a moving truck. I’m selling my house today, and tomorrow I’m buying a different one. My new house isn’t too far away – two towns from here to be exact, but in terms of our way of living, it’s a world apart. Life in the new house will be different for sure. For starters, it’s a very old home (built between 1800-1820), something my current home is not. It’s located in a small village instead of a suburban neighborhood. And best of all, there aren’t any zoning restrictions keeping me from having chickens and setting up a roadside stand.
For a while now I’ve wanted to raise hens and honeybees and expand my vegetable garden. I had maxed out my potential at my current home. The sunny spots in the yard were filled to the brim with tomatoes and peppers every summer and my homeowners association rules strictly prohibited backyard chickens. Finally my husband and I realized that the time to move was upon us. As we looked at homes I ruled out those with too-small, too-shady yards, and made sure that chickens were legal. If we were going to move, I was going to make sure my goals would be met – no compromises!
Here I am on Moving Day, excited about moving into my new home. Think of all I can do in my new backyard! I’m finding though that part of me is hesitant about jumping into my dreams with both feet right away. Do I know for sure where the sunniest spots in the garden will be? Where is the early morning sunshine? What about the soil? The map tells me it’s a fertile loamy soil – great for producing a strong garden – but have chemicals been applied to it in the past few years? I have a lot of questions about the yard that I can only answer after observing it for at least one whole year.
By the way, you can find out loads of information about soil all over the place! Go to this link and fill out your AOI (area of interest). I like to use an address under “Quick Navigation” on the right. Use the red AOI rectangle tool on the toolbar to select your backyard once your map comes up, and then look on the next tab (“Soil Map”) to find out more about the type of soil you have. Yes it’s complicated to use, but once you figure it out, you can find out amazing things about the brown stuff outside your back door.
I think about where I’ve lived for the past six years. I know where the sun falls on any given day of the year. I know where the beans were planted last year and where the squash wants to go this year. I know that garlic will come up in one corner of a raised bed in the spring, that hornworms will likely crawl out of the ground in another corner of the garden as the summer heats up, that squash borer visits the garden every summer, that sungold tomato volunteers will grow strong in the very spot where seedlings were planted last year. I know that the irises on one side of the house will burst with purple blossoms one day next June and the others, which get slightly less sun, will follow a week or two later.
I know all of this because I have spent six years out in my yard and I’ve watched, waited and watched some more. I love the process of getting to know what happens out there during different seasons. Watching perennials come up again and again each spring is gratifying and helps to ground me. I know what will grow, where it will be and when I will see it again. I depend on the cycles of my garden to keep time for me, to give me comfort and a sense of stability, to be there for me over and over again.
I don’t know any of this about my new backyard. The first four seasons will be a honeymoon phase for me: I’ll spend them getting to know the land, seeing where the sun falls, and finding out what hidden treasures grow and bloom on their own in the spring. It’s a new adventure, one that takes time to unfold. Like many of the From Scratch Club contributors, I keep a personal blog. Part of the reason I like to post to it is to keep track of the happenings in my garden. This first year in the new house will provide ample opportunity for observation, for photos, for questions and experiments. Come, join me on this new journey.