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[personal profile] ravensgarden
As some may remember or not, I FINALLY sold my house in GA and took too little money and moved to my property in Arkansas.

I did not have enough to build like I wanted, but I did have enough to almost put up a liveable portable building on my property, so I can live mortgage free.

YAY! With all the work that requires, you would think I would put gardening on the back burner, but that is NOT who I am… one of the first things that happened was gardening.

For years I have been coming to my property and girding trees, planting flowers etc and basically preparing the way for living here. I had a huge circular “drive”

that centered around the largest pine tree I have ever seen. I called her big mama.

That one tree kept the entire area round the mouth of the spring shaded. Big mama was what is know here as a virgin pine, one that had not been clear cut way back when pine was harvested in great numbers.

When I got here this time, moved back home I was shocked to see piles of bark at her base, and whole patches of bare wood on her trunk. Looking around most of the pine trees around her were dead. Standing but dead.

For the next two months I went to the extension office and had the forestry service come out to see if there was anything I could do to keep big mama, and the answer was always the same, the tree is dead already (pine beetle infestation) it just does not know it. With a tree that size, it could stand for years, but eventually it would fall, and I would have to run a long way to avoid being hit… so I made the decision to cut her down.

I hired a logger to come in and cut the pines to make a little money, and because the entire area has pine beetles, and once the trees are dead, they cannot be sold. He had a size requirement of six inches diameter to be sold for plank wood, but luckily I had a large amount of still living trees that could be sold. He knew the guy that I hired to do the dirt work, and were going to work together on the area where the house would go, but would let the backhoe take down big mama, then he would cut her up and haul her off.

The dirt guy’s backhoe broke down the day before my job and he double booked, so he left a kid with a bulldozer. I had to be in another town that day so when I came back that afternoon… the damage was done. I don’t know if the kid did not have clear instructions on what was to be done, or if he could not maneuver the bulldozer… but he pushed down all but four trees around the house area, and three little winged elm in the middle of the circle drive… and he left big mama because he refused to take down a virgin pine.

I am getting off track here, he was supposed to cut two 16 foot wide “roads” for the building to be delivered, and that was it. I only marked the trees along those roadways to be saved, because taping 100 trees was unnecessary, the dirt guy understood what was needed. The kid only left the marked trees. I mean he took down the dogwoods, redbuds, tupelo… ALL OF IT.

SO, I am left with no trees to put my little cabin in the woods in, and one big dead tree. Dirt guy (who discounted the job due to the miscue) kept trying to come back to push big mama over, but when he got here, he could not cut deep enough on the hill with the backhoe to start her fall. I called the logger who said he could take it down, and then the dirt guy would remove the stump. Logger came after hours one day to take her down, I would have LOVED To see it. But when I came to the property the next day and saw how level and flat big mama’s stump was I decided to use it as a shrine of sorts, and to start the first in ground garden around her.

IT took me a few days to find the great big pot that formerly sat on its side in my rose garden in GA, but when I did I brought it up to the property.

In the mean time I realized that I was not going to have time to create and plant a veg garden this year, and I had such great success last year with tomatoes grown in giant pots that I brought a loan of those up and made dirt

to mix with potting soil and planted store bought tomato plants in them.

I made dirt by sifting the pile of rocky soil left by the dirt guy

through a homemade screed,

and turning it into a pile of rocks, a pile of gravel

and garden carts of heavy clay and tiny pea gravel “dirt”. I mixed that with purchased garden soil and a little bit of potting soil with plant food to start the tomatoes in the pots.

I put chicken wire over them to protect them from the deer.

And I kept potting them as I could bring the large pots from the storage building three hours away from the property.

I then added peppers in pots and basil seeded then transplanted.

Back to big mama’s pot. I purchased a geranium, purple petunias, a lavender mission bell, a pot of tiny blue cape daisies and a sweet potato vine. I also picked up something called a blue daze, and I am not sure what it is, but it has a small blue flower on it the same size as the mission bell. The first pot I put out there was way to small. The larger clay pot fits so much better.

I filled the bottom of the pot with empty water bottles, then put garden soil, home made dirt and potting soil in to fill it up then planted the plants.

The first night the squirrels dug up the petunias trying to get at the wet dirt. I has only rained here twice in the four months I have been here, so water attracts everything.

The butterflies started hitting that pot before I even finished potting it. Particularly the little blue cape daisy. It is such a cute little plant!

None of the petunias survived, and the geranium does not appear to like the situation although it is still alive, but I am surprised how well the pot has turned out.

As you can see from that last photo that I have planted a blue agave pup on a hill (to keep it dry, I don’t know if it will take the cold in the winter here, time will tell) in that same area, to start building on that garden. My first in ground garden. Big Mama’s Garden.

When the building was delivered, I started on the flower bed in front. All through this 10 acres that are old walls of stacked stone. I have been pulling them up for use in other areas. I hauled carts of stone up the steep hill to the house, so stack to make that flowerbed.

I then filled it with homemade dirt, a bag of manure and the soil from around the bulbs and iris that I brought with me from GA, and from the flowerbed out in the woods at big mama’s base that has held iris and daffodils for years. I also planted some cardinal creeper seeds that my friend Papoose sent me years ago in GA. They are growing nicely up the chicken wire on the porch. I had to get a second air conditioner, a window unit that in this heat condenses between five and seven gallons of water per day. I use that captured water to keep the plants going nicely. FREE WATER!!

The little bed in the woods (you might see the iris in the pictures of big mama at the beginning of this entry) It also had surprise lilies in it, but I don’t know if any of those survived. I had planted surprise lilies (Lycoris) in the natural meadow but they dirt folks put the out of control and completely insane burn pile where that meadow was.

There is no way I will ever be able to burn that thing… it is bigger than the house, and it is too close to the surrounding trees. There is no way to burn it and not kill the trees around it. I have lost too many trees already!

Besides, the wildlife that lives and plays in that pile is entertaining to me. There is a burn ban over the entire state that will probably not be lifted this year, so the point is moot anyway. I don’t like looking at it, it blocks some beautiful scenery from the house, but *shrug* I do enjoy the blue buntings that play in it and the woodpeckers that feed on the buggy wood.

Before the building was delivered, I started placing some of the surface rock that the dirt guy saved in an area that I want to be a natural stone patio.

In the area of the only four trees left around the building but I had to stop.

My mother was here at the time, and was trying to help, but she would not listen to reason and when I had jacked up or rolled some of the largest rocks, she would do things like put her head under it or reach her arms under them. If I dropped it she would have been badly hurt. Now it is too hot to move large rocks, but I will get back at it in the fall.

This is the rock I want to be propped up for a table,

but I have not figured out how to get it raised high enough, or what to put under if for legs.

Any Ideas?

I have slowed my frantic pace down some now, as I try to learn how to live in a 500 square foot building, while I try to finish it out, while I figure out what gardens to create… etc.

I was holding myself to hard to follow through deadlines and realized that it is only me, and I wanted to move slower. That is what retirement is about, is it not?


I am enjoying finally being HOME for the first time in 30 years.
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