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The Back Garden Project: The Lay of the Land

This is the second post in The Back Garden Project, one GOOD community member's effort to turn a neglected corner of the city into a thriving...



This is the second post in The Back Garden Project, one GOOD community member's effort to turn a neglected corner of the city into a thriving garden.

This is a view looking down the fire escape catwalk in my new back yard. The garden is on the north side of the three-storey building, so it doesn't get great light. The amount of light you can see in this shot is, at this time of year at least, as much as the yard gets. I've begun trying to track the light's movement across the sunnier south end of the plot at different times of day (illustration to come).


In my first few trips down to the plot I have been doing nothing but picking up trash and clearing dead brush. Every time I reach my hands into the soil to grab what looks like a small piece of metal or cloth, it ends up being just the corner of some huge piece of debris that's half buried and half decomposed. I've found everything from car parts to women's clothes.

The picture to the left is an example of the general state of things when I first climbed down there. The only difference is that I took this picture after I had already begun to collect all the random bricks and pile them up (they were all over). The metal tracks are still of mysterious origin to me at the moment, and they're too heavy and buried to move.

In the meantime, I also made a first attempt at diagramming the garden, using some (pretty sketchy) impressions from the Google maps satellite image. Here's take one (my plot is the green space in the middle; my building is the pink one):



Oddly shaped, eh? So it's somewhat clear where the various obstructions to the sunlight are. The big problem is the blue building to the right, on the east side of the garden (a "pet boutique," filled with yappy dogs). The white space immediately to the west of the garden isn't a building, just another back patio (for the restaurant next door), so some light does get in that way in the afternoons.

Anyway, with the snow gone and the last chance of frost pretty safely past, my challenge now is getting more of the trash out to the street and actually clearing a couple patches enough to start planting. I'm going to need to find some shade-tolerant flora and harness my inner landscape designer.


















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