I got a request from a long time reader (hi, mom!), that I post about something other than a goat. She said maybe a post about a chicken would be okay, but no, not really a chicken either, something other than an animal. Something different. Luckily, there is something I've been directing my thoughts to lately that isn't a goat. I've been working on our back yard. Brandon and I agreed - our back yard is ugly. It doesn't help much that the siding on the back of the house turned green over the winter, and that that the dog spends her time chewing up sticks and old bones and trampling the grass so it looks like the home of cave men who are surrounded by a bone yard. Add a muddy dog house, the ever present uncoiled hose, un-trimmed weeds, a tarp covered hot tub, a bucket of fireplace ashes, some strange ceramic sculpture, and a pile of dirt, and the resulting look is one that could some curb appeal, for sure.
I spent some time recently, attempting to turn the pile of dirt into the herb spiral that has been it's destiny. We dumped a load of top soil right by the back door when we were excavating for the swimming pool last summer. In a desperate attempt to save a potted tomato plant from certain death through neglect, this pile of dirt became the home of the biggest most spreading tomato plant I have ever seen. A single plant covered the entire mount of dirt and gave us dozens of tomatoes. It was ugly, for sure, but I didn't want to disturb it last year so I waited to create the spiral of stone until now.
The herb spiral is touted in all the permaculture books as a way to cram a lot of herbs in a small space which is conveniently located near your cooking area. The long pile of dirt we generated when excavating the pool is sprinkled with big stones. Now that the rain has helped the dirt pile settle and the vegetation is dead, some of the stones were exposed, and Brandon and I could collect them to use for the spiral.
I covered the pile of dirt with donkey dung and old straw stall bedding, and then wheeled loads of rocks to the mound with the wheel barrow. It didn't take much rock hauling before my winter muscles were exhausted. I went to bed after the first day of this project feeling like I was getting the flue - my entire body ached and I couldn't lay still. Why are rocks so heavy?!
I recruited Brandon to help with the biggest stones to place around the base. I cut down all the dead stems from various flower beds, pulled a vine off the siding, and picked up the dogs collection of chew toys. It already looks better to me. I'm not looking forward to scrubbing the green off the siding, but I am looking forward to planting the herbs and taking a stab at improving the aesthetics with some landscaping. What evergreen shrub grows in the shade, but isn't toxic to goats?
When I asked Brandon if he thought I should line the edge of the flower bed around the cistern with stones too, he said he would like to wait to see how the spiral looks before he decides. What do you mean? The spiral looks like it looks already! Ha!