Why am I working so hard in the yard cleaning up flowerbeds? There are many reasons. Because I have to….. It is healthy work, unless the hayfever from the dried amaranth kicks in or the smoke from the fires west of us blanket our skies. Making my place more defensible from Wildfire. It looks nicer
This has been a very big problem for me this year. Last year the Amaranth grew it was green it was fire resistive, it was beautiful. This year it was thicker than last year, I should have pulled last years stalks last fall/winter but I didn’t, thinking the birds might like the seeds. They didn’t. The seeds sprouted this year more than before, mother nature threw us some hot weather early , watering restrictions hit and the nice green plants turned brown and scraggly, even with the watering. If the wind was blowing the pollen kicked in the hayfever, and the smoke came in, by the afternoon. I could not breath.
The back yard had it’s own set of challenges. Large rock flowerbeds that I loved, but were… too dry, too hot, too shady, and too wet when I did water, then there is the 2 German Shepherds that would destroy the sprinkler when it is turned on. Nothing but weeds or Chicks and Hen succulent plants grew.
I have two very large decks on both sides of the house. The front deck is not covered and I don’t use it much. The back deck is covered and it has become my favorite refuge outside. It is south and southwest facing with a lot of hot sun. The view south west is of North Sister mountain. The view south is the neighbors defunct garden, sagebrush and juniper. I use large curtains to block the sun and the heat, and for a bit of privacy from the neighbors on the that side. I do enjoy looking out on my yard. While there is not a lot to burn here, the deck is the threat. (Different project for later.)
Since I started working on the drip watering system for my garden and greenhouses it seemed only natural to expand this system into these challenging flowerbeds. It was a success in a short period of time. Training the germies to leave the sprinkler heads alone has been the biggest challenge.
I have actually started planting seeds in both of the back yard beds, and I have honeysuckle and roses on the SW end creeping thyme, peppermint columbine, morning glories pansies and other greenery growing. I have hummingbirds, chickadees, flickers, and a downy woodpecker, lizards, praying mantis, butterflies, and an occasional frog. I watched a Cassin finch using my bird bath this afternoon.
Moving the rocks to place the drip sprinkler line was a great exercise program. The bigger the rock the more likely I needed move it. All good, as long as I make sure my fingers don’t get smashed, and when the air is fresh and clean .
I can put all my worries aside and Covid is not a problem in my back yard.
Well most of my worries… Anyway
This last spring money got tight and the first thing to fall was my house insurance. So I always worry….
Last September 2020 Mother Nature sent freak winds shooting west down the McKenzie and Santiam Rivers canyons, on Labor day. These winds took down big trees and power lines, on the west side of the Cascade mountains, causing many fires that destroyed small towns and homes…. Places that should have survived are gone, but the surprising thing is that places I expected to be gone survived. One place is very much like mine a double wide very vintage mobile home. I expected it to be gone. All the houses around it are gone, it is still there. Surrounded with greenery, flowers, and plants in flower pots, whirly gigs and other garden décor. The houses on both sides of this place are Gone. The house next to the river across the highway is Gone.
What I noticed was the amount of greenery that had to be watered and there may be a small stream that flowed along side the property. This place is moist and quite frankly fire resistive. The embers had a hard time getting a purchase on anything that was dry enough to burn.
I live on the High Desert on the east side of the mountains and we are in our second hot dry drought year. My water is metered and kind of expensive plus we have watering restrictions to water only on every other day depending on the last number of your address.
So What can I Do to get my place more resistive to FIRE? Yard Work and Gardening…. Changing my garden watering system from sprinklers that water large areas and the air, to drip and low spraying in targeted areas. Experiment with different styles of drip irrigation including planting clay pots ( olla’s) in the ground and filling them up with water allowing them to slowly drip, watering plants in hard to water hot, dry, and windy areas. Experiment with different plantings and try to figure out how to help them survive the cold dry winds of March and April. Learn what soil nutrients I need to be adding to my garden for bigger healthier plants, that need less water because they shade the soil keeping it from drying out. Plant more fire resistive plants and less flammable plants. Be more active in my yard and less sitting in my favorite chair looking over the yard.
For right now the flowerbeds in front of both decks are weeded for the season, other than planting fall seeds for early spring flowers and maintenance weeding. Maybe figure out some kind of mulching….
Whew I got a lot of studying and work to do. Good thing the library has books on gardening… and the internet is available cause I got 2 acres to work on.