Before Planting

 I couldn’t believe how easy it was to get my property checked for underground pipes and cables.  First thing I did was go out and mark with a spray can the areas where I wanted to dig my holes.  Then I dialed 811 which connected me to the national switchboard, which then routed me to the Oregon Utility Notification Center.  

 The woman took down my information and within an hour of hanging up, SUB was already out marking my lawn for the sewer.   Within the next three days all of the utility companies had been here and sprayed their own mark on my property.  Electrical, sewer, gas and telephone/Comcast lines.    I was cleared to dig holes for my fruit trees. 

 Eventually, when it’s time to convert the remaining lawn into vegetable beds I will know to raise the beds since the telephone lines may be too close to the surface to allow deeper digging.  It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to digging in your yard, especially your front yard.  I would highly recommend calling 811 before digging. 

 For 10 years I’ve been mostly concentrating on my back yard, but this last year I started converting my front yard to food growing as well.  When I do my projects I try to kill two birds with one stone, and this row of semi-dwarf plum and cherry trees will not only provide me with fruit, but they will also create a nice hedge to give me more privacy and block out my neighbour’s big concrete driveway and recreational vehicles!  I may have to remove the two plum when they get too big, but my plan is to keep them cut low and spread them out in an espalier fashion.  Eventually I may convert the entire area to food growing and put in some raised beds or more blueberries. 

 Since I’ve become aware of the permaculture movement and adopted some of its principles into my own life, I’ve notice more than ever how little people take advantage of their properties to grow food.  Hardly anyone on my street has a fruit tree out in their front yard, and most people I know don’t even grow vegetables in their back yards, even when they do have plenty of space.  I understand that.  Not everyone is drawn to gardening.  There are millions of other ways to enjoy life, and let’s face it, gardening takes up a lot of time.  Unless you love gardening and growing things, there’s no motivation as long as we can still afford food at the grocery store that is.  You have to really love working in the soil and growing things and being a part of nature in this way before you devote so much of your time to it while putting everything and everyone else on the back burner. 

I guess what I want to say is, extreme gardening is like any other obsession.  If you find that it’s interfering with other healthy activities and your relationships, then you probably need to take a break.  I think we all need a balance.   So… should I call up a friend and get together and go out this evening?  Hum, but there are all those apples I need to turn into applesauce.  Well, I guess we know what choice I’ll be making this evening! At least I can make applesauce while watching a movie.   There I go, killing two birds with one stone again!

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