Happy Hen Farm


This photograph was taken from the top of the swingset.The vines on the fence are some of the wild muscadines that sprang up in various places around the yard. The berries are far to sour to eat, but the bees love the flowers in the springtime.

Photographs lie. I'm always amazed at how much better our gardens look in photographs than they do in person and I have to stifle the urge to put a disclaimer under each picture on this website. Right now that backyard doesn't look nearly this nice. The stretch of 100 degree days and no rain has taken its toll.

Even though we know that the camera tends to omit a multitude of sins, it is still a small consolation for us as we work towards the seemingly manicured nirvana of the gardens pictured in magazines. Just as we think we have finally reached some semblance of order something steps in an changes our focus. It might be a hole in the middle of the shade bed dug by a dog looking for a cool place to nap. (Paco, I'm looking at you!) Or perhaps an escaped chicken practicing her scorched earth technique by scratching up every tiny bean sprout that has been lovingly nurtured. Or maybe it was something else entirely. Whatever it was, it forces us to change our focus from the big picture to the little things. We say to ourselves, "Ah, yes, the chicken has scratched up all my bean sprouts, but isn't the dark soil lovely." Of course, we might follow up by squirting the chicken in the butt with the garden hose, but the fact remains that we have to slow down and start over.

In this section you will find links to the individual components that make up our gardens. When planting we prefer to mix up our beds. Herbs are next to the tomatoes which is next to an amaryllis, and so on. We like to reserve spots in what would be considered a perennial bed for annuals. We believe that this method allows for greater biodiversity. However, when organizing this section of our website we felt that it would be easier for our readers to break out the different components into the categories you see at the left. Whenever possible we have provided 'before' and 'after' pictures so you can see how far we have come!

The Nature of the Backyard

We're sure that every gardener feels their soil is the worst and their weather is the most unpredictable. Weather is unpredictable everywhere, but when it comes to soil we feel that ours really is some of the worst. At one time our house was subdivided into apartments and served as a boarding house. The backyard was the parking lot and was covered with gravel, bricks, chunks of cement, bits of glass, and lots and lots of shredded asphalt roofing shingles. When the house was returned to a single family dwelling the parking lots was not removed -- it was simply covered over with some very poor soil. Digging in our yard requires the use of a steel concrete breaker and lots of hard physical labor. Here's a picture of one of the chunks of compacted asphalt shingles. Isn't it gorgeous?

We have also included two pictures of the west side garden. See the winding concrete wall? Every single piece of concrete used to make the wall was removed for our yard as we dug our beds. Ignore the garbage bags in the background. This photo was take before we installed the cedar screen to shield this service area.




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