Updated: Feb 22, 2019
Friends...the results are in. I'm sorry to tell you all, but I have spring fever. I've got it bad. BAD. I really like my job but this whole week I have wanted to run from the building screaming, off into the woods, never to be seen again. I find myself just staring out the window. Give me a window and see what happens, right? I think this sudden onset of restlessness is a full blown case of spring fever. Does that mean I can take sick time? Fresh air treatment...like they used to do in the 1800's!
In the (long) moments when I am staring out the window, I have been thinking about spring/summer projects and garden planning. Given that 3/4 of the fun of any thing is planning (the nerdiest thing I have ever put in writing quite possibly,) this process has lifted my spirits. So without any further ado: THE PLAN
Part I: Expansion
It seems that each year since I have started this project, I have had a singular focus. In Year One I built the garden. Year Two was all about the ducks! In Year Three, we are looking at reasonable expansion. The plan is to take what I have learned so far and expand upon it. So spoiler alert for future posts...that means more ducks, more building projects, and more garden. The good news is that my poor, sweet husband has -it would seem- given in to the fact that if I want to do something, I am going to do it. He used to fight me on the idea of giving our whole back yard over to my mini farm aspirations, but this year it was met with far less resistance than before. Dare I say he may even like being a back yard farmer? I think the fact that the ducks have turned the whole yard into a mud pit might have helped.
Part II: Building Projects
I have a few low-key building projects planned for this season. They're not really that low-key, but compared to trying to figure out how to build the duck run last year, it feels like I can accomplish just about anything with some determination. We are going to add an extension to the duck run to create additional square footage of outside space. The current run will then become their sleeping quarters where we will lock them in at night, and the new part will be open during the day to provide them with a little more space to play. I am also planning on adding a small elevated platform in which I can put a plastic tub for swimming and bathing that can be up high enough to attach a hose to the bottom. My biggest disappointment last year was how much water we wasted filling their kiddie pool each day. If I can reuse that water in a meaningful way, like watering the garden, I will feel much better about it. Finally we will add the roof to the original duck run.
The second building project is upgrading the fencing around our garden. The chicken wire wrapped around the boxes has served us for the last two seasons but it's looking super raggedy and I think an upgraded fence will make the yard look a lot nicer. I have a plan, thanks to pinterest (where else) that seems like something we can complete in a few hours. I'm sure that will be the understatement of the summer. Sit tight for the inevitable "we got in over our head but figured it out eventually" post!
Part III: The Layout
My job gave me an iPad and a pencil, which is pretty amazing. The funny thing is, it's the same iPad and pencil that I own, but for some reason I use this one every single day for all sorts of things, and I almost never used my personal one. One thing I have very much enjoyed is using it to sketch out plans! Because I love planning. Have I mentioned that yet? Anyway, I had used it to plan out the shelves in my kitchen previously and now I have planned out my entire backyard! It is absolutely not to scale but it gives me a great visual of how I could use the space. And it was really fun.
How cute and fulfilling is this?! As I have been thinking further, I am going to substitute creating a new cinderblock and wood bench for fixing the swing that we broke last year, because fixing instead of throwing away is an important tenet to homesteading! This also shows the duck run extension with patio/pool area which will go in the space that exists between the current run and the garden boxes.
The plan also includes the new garden fences which I will build. These fences will go around the existing garden boxes to replace the chicken wire shown to the left of the photo here, and will also expand the garden area to the right of the existing boxes. This area will be home to leaf lettuce (L), collared greens (C), chives (Ch), cucumbers, tomatoes (Tm), peppers (P), spinach (SP) and peas (ps) which will grow up a tall portion of fence.
I have been doing a lot of research on container gardening and it struck me that all the various plastic containers that Marcel has been bringing home from work to clutter up our basement would make excellent mini garden boxes. These are represented in the above drawing as housing our spinach, peas and beans.
I am also planning to add a new area of fencing to the corner of the yard between the fence and the patio. That area, which is basically a muddy no-mans land right now because someone likes to dig out big holes to nap in, will house zucchini (ZC), as well as potted raspberries (Rb), potted blackberries (Bb) and a potted lime tree. I had originally planned on putting an easy-up greenhouse over here, but I am legitimately concerned about my ability to remember to water the potted plants inside the mini greenhouse so...I am currently undecided. I may just build some cute shelves to keep the berry pots on. This area will be finished off with three strawberry plants hanging from hooks on the fence.
I am really excited about trying running twine from planters beside the patio to the canopy and growing pole beans up the twine, in essence creating an organic shade for the corner of the patio that gets full sun 99% of daylight hours. If that doesn't work, I will just run the beans up a pole, as they are meant to grow.
Finally I am planning on doing some herbs in planters, including basil, parsley, and cilantro as well as sunflowers along the fence line and many bright, happy marigolds all around to keep everything fun and pest free.
The proposed garden, as you can see, has at least doubled and possibly tripled since previous years, but I am also trying to be reasonable about what I plant and how much space I am giving my plants. And of course, this is only a plan created on an iPad during my least favorite month of the year. What the yard actually looks like will remain to be seen.
Part IV: Make Way for Ducklings v.2
About six week after we got our ducks outside, I started talking about getting more ducklings. I hope to add two more females to the flock. By adding two, we will be able to spend a lot of time with them while they're living inside and bond so that when they move outside, they will be a bit nicer than our current ducks. That's my plan anyway. We'll see. I would also like more eggs so that I can start my duck egg side hustle. I would like to get two Ancona ducklings because they're beautiful and great layers, but I have not yet found a place that sells only two at a time. If I can't find someone to sell me two Ancona, I will likely purchase Buff or Saxony, both of which are listed as "threatened" on The Livestock Conservancy's Conservation Priority List. I have been working on a separate post about heritage breed livestock, and why purchasing/breeding threatened breeds is important, but that is for another day.
So I guess that's it for now, folks. A very long-winded description of everything I cannot wait to accomplish this spring and summer! Living in a Zone 6 climate is pretty frustrating when I want to get out there and plant, but have to wait until May 1 for most things. I'm thinking of getting the lettuce and peas going early, since they're pretty cold hardy. And I can start the berry bushes inside. We'll see!