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Experimentation Before We Move - Urban Central Arkansas

Posts: 12
Location: Central Arkansas - USDA Hardiness Zone 7b/8a
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Okay, I'm tossing this here while we figure out a blog set up for our projects and thought exercises.

Our set up:
We are currently in an urban setting in the middle of Conway, Arkansas. We have a house on less than 1/4 acre (haven't done the math to figure out the exact size, but it's not tiny, and not big, either.)
There is a house right in the middle of the property.
There is a large front yard (if you include the chunk that really belongs to the city as part of the "boulevard" road that is really only 2 lanes.)
One side yard is tiny (between our house and the neighbors to our west.) The other side yard is tiny by property line, and "okay sized" by "add the 'yard' portions that connect our property to the access road to our east."
The back yard is a decent size, but it's pretty shaded.

When it rains, our front yard is wet for a little while, but not horrible. The east side is a "wash" area where the water flows toward the back yard area. The back yard turns into a mini swamp for days while the water evaporates or gets sucked up by plants.

There are "flower beds" that the previous owners installed next to the house on the west front, front east, and east sides of the house. These beds have been neglected for the most part.
In the north end of the east flower beds, there is an access to under the house. This is the location of a blackberry bramble that a bird left as a present one year. We have cut it back every spring so that the termite contractor can get under the house for inspection purposes. We'd like to get rid of it (and maybe plant a cultivated variety in a different spot on that side instead, but not right away.)

The cause of procrastination:
We've been considering moving for the last few years. There is a college that is buying up land on our block, and a few blocks near ours, and we know they want our house eventually. We want to sell our home for enough money to outright buy the next property and lose the mortgage debt in the process. In other words, we want to sell this place for enough to cover the mortgage ON this place, and still have enough left over to buy the next place without a loan being involved. That has been the challenge... finding a property in our price range that fits our needs. There was one home that was appealing a while back, but someone else snatched it up before we could get our home on the market to make the switch. This desire to move has caused us to piddle instead of produce, and we're tired of pissing away our possible procession of plants and pie.

The plan - outdoors:
This coming year we still have dreams of moving. We still know that the college may approach us about buying. We will continue to search for a property that meets our needs as well. But we're through procrastinating.

My wife loves black currants. We will put some in. I'm currently in the process of cutting out some of the "junk" trees to clean up the beds around the house in preparation for Spring. We'll get several bushes of black currants and some will go into these beds, some will go into the side beds, and some will go into the back yard.
I love hazelnuts. We will put some in. I'm considering making a "hedge" row of these either in the west side flower bed, or along one section of the east side bed. I may add one or two to the back yard or near the roads as a landscaped hedgerow instead. I don't know yet, but they'll be given a home somewhere...
For support species, I'm thinking of doing a pygmy variety of peashrub as well as seaberry (sea buckthorn) to complement the system.
In the back yard, we will expand our "kitchen garden" (very small plot) to do tomatoes and such this year. Last year we didn't plant and the lemon balm from the year before took over the whole bed. A couple of volunteer basils survived to poke their heads through, and the peppermint and chocolate mint plants found a path to the sunlight as well, but for the most part the whole bed was ... lemon balm. We're going to cut the whole kit and kaboodle down to mulch (and throw some leaves from the yard on top as well) and check the compost in the tumbler to see if we can pile it up even more. Come Spring, we'll do a proper kitchen garden in there.

Several years ago the utility company dug up the east side yard to do some maintenance on an underground utility pipe. It was during the rainy season. The ground was mud. They drove on it with their big heavy trucks. The sun came up days later and it turned to dry dirt over a couple of days' time. That part was never properly re-graded so there are ankle twisting holes in that yard. One plan to deal with that this year is to take some of the trees I'm cutting out of the flower beds and putting small pieces (limbs, twigs, etc) into the holes along with some rabbit manure we acquired from a friend, some compost, and leaves from the front yard to fill them in. We'll even tear up some mushrooms to try to help inoculate the area to help break the wood down faster.

The plan - Indoors:
We've ordered a couple of grow light systems (4 footers) that were on sale on Amazon. When those get here, we plan to do an indoor kitchen set up for salad greens and cooking herbs. We'll do lettuces, spinach, basils, thyme, parsley, and so on and see what does well and what doesn't. We'll also use one of the grow lights as a "plant starter" set up for getting tomatoes going before the frosts are over so we can get a head start on our kitchen garden outside.

All of this is experimentation. We figure if we do finally find the right place and move this year, we'll dig up a few (or all) of what we want to take with us and, well, take them with us of course. And anything that screws up is okay because we won't be here for a LONG long time (this plot is in that college's 8 to 10 year plan, so we know it'll be less time than that.) We're using this time as a learning phase. I know what should work "in theory" from my PDC, but we want to get our hand dirty and play, experiment, and learn. This is our kick start for making that happen.

Posts: 1172
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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Sounds like a good plan to me. I've had good luck moving trees that had been planted about a year. Our soil has enough clay here that you can usually keep some soil attached to the roots. Still, it might be good to plant several kinds of berries since they produce fruit so much quicker than trees. Figs might be good too. They're so easy to grow from cuttings that you could leave the original plant in the ground and just take cuttings. They do great in pots too. You might try some berries in pots. I grow a lot of strawberries on my deck in Earthboxes.

Do you have a source for pygmy Siberian pea shrubs? I'd like to try some.
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