We’ve mentioned here and on Instagram that we recently purchased a home. Finally, after 4 long years of renting! It is so nice to spread out, for us and the kids. They have really flourished since our move here. We have 3.4 acres right on top of a small hill, which is less than a mile from a major river. This means we have a lovely view through the trees of the hills on the far side of the river, and majestic sunsets. It also means that the back half of our property is all on an incline, heading down into the river valley.
The land has a mature fig, mature blueberry bushes, mature and cultivated scuppernong and muscadine, pecan, walnut, hickory pignut and wild dewberry (in abundance!) We planted a Chicago fig, a jostaberry, a Glencoe raspberry, a Prime Ark Freedom blackberry, and three gooseberry bushes in the past month. Gooseberry and jostaberry don’t really like to live outside of Zones 4-7, and we are pretty sure that all but one gooseberry bush has died off. (We are in Zone 8a.) We’ve been babying that gooseberry bush along, but with the unseasonable heat and mini-drought, we may need to start over again in the fall or spring. That would give the bush time to really establish routes and adjust more slowly to the apocalyptic heat.
We’ve also put in a huge garden, just above where the property begins its first decline. It stretches the width of our property. The trees that top the decline give partial shade in the early morning and late afternoon. Otherwise we might have lost a good part of the garden as well. We planted sweet corn, several varieties of tomato, pepper, and cucumber, okra, eggplant, cantaloupe, bush beans, cow peas, and watermelon. Everything is struggling with the combined heat/no rain/poor clay soil. We have been watering the bushes and the garden most nights, and praying for rain!
The soil here is red clay, full of rocks, and hard as a rock unless it has rained in the past 24 hours. There are patches of sand, leftover from building the current house, and a lot of compacted areas. The previous owner had a lot of trucks and things parked around the property.
Our neighbor plowed up the garden plot for us, and arranged the dirt in four main rows. We are leaving it as-is for this year. We want to transition it to no-till, with layers of cardboard-compost-hay-topsoil-mulch over the next few years. We have to find a source of bulk topsoil and compost, or at least make our own compost in great enough quantities to cover the garden. That will take some time. We also need to find a good source of bulk mulch like straw or hay. A few farms around here sell some so we need to just buy it and let it sit and rot for a year. There is also a tree cutting service down the road that will probably sell us wood-chipped mulch – or maybe even give it to us for free. We have talked about mulching the garden heavily with a couple of round bales (of hay) and just dealing with whatever weed seeds might pop up.
Other plans for the place: replace a majority of the grass with native grasses and wildflowers, establishing several areas of meadow. Plant a full orchard of native and non-native fruits: paw-paw, kumquat, sour cherries, Japanese plums, apples, pears, mulberry, more figs, possibly olives and avocado. Plant a patch each of blackberry, raspberry, and blueberry. Find other fruiting bushes that we can add, especially if the gooseberry just can’t handle the heat. Build a tiny house with separate garden in the back for guests. Create a full kitchen/herb garden up between the house and the shop. Build on to the house and add: a mudroom, a pantry (a biiig pantry), an actual dining room, at least one more bedroom, and possibly a study/library. The current house is a semi-open floor plan with no separate dining area and only two bedrooms. Renovate the shop for better insulation/energy-savings. Get it better set-up for woodworking and gardening.
We have quite a few more possibilities still under discussion but those won’t get posted unless we move towards making them a reality.
Next up: a blog post on preschool planning for this summer. Maybe I’ll include preschool planning for fall/winter, but not likely. I haven’t gotten anywhere near finished with that. Actually, I haven’t even started! But I do have June planned out and a few ideas floating for July, so I’ll write it all down and get it posted in the next week or two.
Somewhere in the deep future: Mr. Norseman will be talking about setting up a powerline network in our house. It is essentially allowing you to access internet in various areas of the house via your home’s electrical wiring. It’s pretty cool.
Also if you have any ideas/tips/recipes whatsover for what to do with an overabundance of muscadine and scuppernong – DM us on Instagram, or email us! Please! We’ll be up to our ears in them soon! Fair warning – we respond rather slowly to email. But we will get to it eventually.