With spring suddenly upon us – at least according to the calendar as we really don’t have traditional winters here in Southern California – we decided to combine our minimalistic approach to our outdoor spaces, cleaning out all the old leaves, furniture, and general clutter inhabiting the backyard, area behind our laundry room, patio, and side entrance on the south side of our property. Out went the old plastic lawn chairs, corroded fire pit, and rusty smoker (retrieved by the unseen curbside pickers in the middle of the night), leaving behind only our patio table and matching chairs, chicken coop, and propane BBQ. Our vegetable boxes also remained, but they survived the cut due to both their productivity and attractiveness (and they occupy former lawn space).
One item we’d put off for years was removing the now-hulking Jacaranda tree planted in our backyard by our home’s former owners, which now stood over thirty feet high and was pushing against the wall dividing our neighbor’s property, threatening to topple it if left to grow unchecked. As much as we hated the thought of cutting down a perfectly good tree, there was simply no way to work around its expanding base and constant dropping of sticky purple flowers and tiny, prickly leaves in both our yards (and on top of our roofs). Plus, its canopy had grown so large that nothing would grow under the shadow cast throughout the day; hence, we jumped at our neighbor’s offer to split the cost of taking it down and, in less than a day, the space once occupied by the mighty tree was empty. Our backyard is now bathed in glorious sunlight from morning until sunset and we are anxious to fill the void with as much edible goodness as we can plant. The small patch of remaining lawn, fueled by the sudden burst of energy (and last week’s timely rain) has sprung to life and should provide a nice place to roll out a blanket for an afternoon Merlot in no time.
Turning our attention to the front, we have finally gotten serious about finishing the two vintage camper projects undertaken toward the end of summer last year. Our 1964 Aristocrat Lo-Liner is nearly finished and will make its debut in late March at a rally in El Capitan, just north of Santa Barbara. After that, it’s on to Pismo Beach in May, Burning Man in August, finally rounding out the summer at a rally in Buellton. The second camper parked in our driveway, a 1950’s Shasta “canned ham,” owned by our good friend Joe – aka the Secondhand Answerman – will be restarted in early April and (hopefully) completed in time for Pismo in May. Though at first glance Joe’s camper needs look daunting, most of the work is cosmetic, with most of the water damage already repaired and resealing all that remains. With both trailers road-ready, we are also planning on toting along our three vintage mini bikes, two of which are complete and running, with the third only in need of a working engine.
We really are spoiled here in Los Angeles, as witnessed by the almost year-round growing ability provided by so much sunlight. As an example, we acquired some seedlings from our local farmer’s market in mid-December, planted them into our garden boxes with the most sun exposure, and watched them take off and provide harvest able lettuce, chard, kale, and broccoli by late February. In January, we put the rest of boxes into service, planting everything from tomatoes to beans to artichokes and are looking forward to healthy eating all the way into fall over 2-3 cycles of planting. Once again, we’re using our hay/straw method, which can be employed over almost any soil type and yield spectacular results. Venice High School, located literally across the street, has tons of free mulch and compost we plan to pick up with our pickup over the coming weekends.
Finally, we end with our three hens, Extra Crispy, Original, and McNugget, who finished up their yearly molting ritual, causing a few weeks halt to egg laying, but giving them all gorgeous new sets of feathers to show off each day as they roam around their coop. They are all now back to regular egg production and we are considering enlarging their run slightly and adding two more hens; these would be bantams, which are miniature in size and known for their bright colors and decorative looks than egg laying. Of course, with our emphasis on minimalism, we aren’t yet fully committed to bringing on new feathered family members; however, unlike most of the stuff we’ve jettisoned in our urge to purge lately, we can easily minimize our flock via the BBQ or roaster. 😉