We conquered the hillside with garden terraces

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Exhausted and pleased, we celebrated our new garden terraces with a fire in the fire pit and a glass of wine as the sun went down.

When you walked out the back door of our house, you used to see a small wood fenced backyard. Behind the fence, the ground slants steeply down into a drainage area. Pretty boring, and certainly unproductive.

See?

Before we took down the fence and began building, the hillside was just an unproductive rocky slide.
Before we took down the fence and began building, the hillside was just an unproductive rocky slide.

So, we’ve spent the last year making some improvements that will increase our food production and certainly our quality of living. The biggest change recently is the garden terraces pictured at the top of this post, which Austin and I built with the help of a couple friends.

I cut quite a bit of the wood myself using our handy mobile miter saw. Not gonna lie — I’m pretty proud of myself. I feel like I should get in touch with my high school shop teacher, and let him know that his C+ student is doing okay for herself.

Here’s another view (from the top), which includes the chainlink fence we had someone else install.

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The chainlink fence is great, because it will deter some of our bigger chicken predators, like coyotes. (Yes, we have coyotes! When the weeds and brush were high back in this area, the boys say they spotted one at dusk. And our naturalist neighbor reported a sighting in the area as well.) And when I’m not worried about the large wild predators, then it’s the domesticated ones. I’ve tangoed with two roaming dogs that appear to be someone’s pets who escape frequently.

It was one of those critters that leaped over the chicken run fence — in the one spot where that is possible — and broke the necks of our 2nd round of backyard chickens. (Of the first round, two of the three we had were eaten by either a hawk or an owl.)

With the additions of the fence and the garden terraces, we plan to do quite a bit more planting. Along the fence, I’m going to transplant some blackberries I got from my mother. We hope to also add raspberries and perhaps grapes. I’d really like to get my hands on some mustang grapes, but it looks like I might have to travel south to acquire them from a nursery.

In the garden terraces, I’m hoping to purchase some ollas for irrigation (see video below). Then we plan to plant them up with all kinds of goodies — from greens to peppers to tomatoes to edible flowers and herbs. I’ve already ordered and acquired enough seeds for the next two or three seasons, but I’m still debating how I might start some early seedlings indoors or with the help of a cold frame.

Decisions, decisions.

Also, deadlines. Our wedding is coming up mid-March, and I’m feeling the pressure to get the backyard in tip-top urban farm shape. Got to put my permaculture best foot forward. Fortunately, it’s a good kind of stress, the kind that really satisfies my soul.

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