Weeds, Grass, and Lead Paint

Normally, it is the grass in my “garden” that annoys me the most, but this season the weeds have taken over also. Every year DH suggests placing weed barrier down and planting in little holes, but I have refused. This year is different! Last week, I read an article about soil testing and ammendments that suggested if you live in an older house your soil most likely is contaminated with lead from paint chips falling from your house. YIKES!

If you have read any of my other blog entries about the house, you may already know that even our soil has a chemical odor to it….so this is yet another catostrophe for us. If money were no object living in this very old house would be no problem, but we are poor civil servants on moderate wages. Well, DH is on moderate wages….I am purposefully unemployed as you may also remember. Even if I WAS employed the money still would not be there to do what needs to be done to this house. If money grew on trees, I would have someone come in and remove the top several feet of soil around the house…lol…and replace it with totally organic compost. Since Donald Trump is definitely not interested in my small piece of real estate, nor the Rockefellers knocking on my door, I have to continue my cobbled life.

I decided to cover the ground surrounding my one raised bed with weed barrier. Sadly, I had to dig up the few perrenial herbs that I had established , in hopes to replant somehow, somewhere. I am not certain why I am sad…I never used the herbs in cooking for fear of what was in the soil, but they were lovely…well, that is until the grass and weeds were coming up through the clumps of herbs. It wouldn’t be difficult to radicate if the yuk was coming up around the plants, but grass was coming straight up the middle. Anyhow, because of the fear of what the soil my bring, I have decided to plant my tomatoes in buckets on top of the barrier.

Yesterday was a very windy day (Duh!….it IS Kansas….every day is windy), but we finally finished covering the larger portion of the small area. Placing the barrier down is not a difficult task, but we also had to dig a small trench to allow for proper water drainage. Originally, the plan was to construct a type of dry river bed that would allow proper drainage away from the house when the “monsoons” came. In the past, we have had a problem with water standing near the foundation of our home…not good when you have a basement.

I hope to get some photos posted soon, and I am kicking myself that I didn’t take photos prior to adding the weed barrier.  

Spring is in the Air!

Spring is in the Air!

Gosh, I have been so busy outdoors that I have not taken the time to sit down and write about our progress.  My backyard has always been a subject for embarrassment to me. Although it is in much better shape than what it was prior to us purchasing the house, it is still an eyesore.

A little history of our home. The best that we can tell it was built around 1912. Considered one of the finer homes at the time, it has suffered years and years of neglect and disrepair. In the 1940’s or 1950’s a basement was added and it served as a florist. A building was added to the backyard, which in my estimation, was built entirely too close to the house, which resulted in water flow problems in and around the house. We call this the PINK building…or that is what the town called it for years. We have since painted it white. Half of the building was originally used as a hair salon and the other as storage (I think). There are huge picture glass windows in the front of this other half, so the original use is debatable.  Currently, those windows are broken and boarded up, in hopes of eventually putting in a double garage door when I hit the lottery. Of course, I have a suspicion that you actually HAVE TO PLAY first before they give you all of that money. Back to the building…for a long while the grandson lived in the beauty shop portion of the building so that he could assist his grandfather.

The first time we saw the house, it was full to the top with boxes and boxes of family collections. Several auctions were held to clear it all out.  Neighbors have told us many times that the backyard was full of junker vehicles and machinery. The brush and vines were allowed to take over the yard and the Kansas winds brought everyone else’s trash to this lot. Until we get a fence built, I feel we will be dealing with the neighbors’ trash for a long while….just as we continue to deal with their dogs’ daily duty presents deposited in our front yard every day! ‘Nother subject for ‘nother day.

Now the house is filled to the brim with our junk.  The first spring after we moved in the house three years ago, I hired a painter to paint the exterior of the main home and the trim of the pink building. DH had boarded the windows and painted over to help camouflage the ugliness. The neighbors were deeply saddened to find that we were not going to tear down this hideous pink  monstrosity, so to appease we did all that we could afford to make it look a bit better…to the street side anyhow.

This last week, DH removed the boards from the back of the building and we got busy scraping and painting while he replaced glass panes. The result is not perfect, but progress can be seen. I am looking for alternate methods of repairing the bottom of the siding where it has chipped away, as we cannot afford the panels to replace them. I hope to hang colorful curtains or at least fabric inside, to hide the inside of the building.   We felt that the backdoor to the beauty shop was too large of an undertaking, so I will hang a fabric curtain between the storm door and the wood door for now.

We chose a lovely shade of gray to paint the trim to coordinate with the gray porch on the main house.  My thought was that mistakes wouldn’t be as glaring with a soft color. I must admit that my hand is not very steady when painting small areas.

I am almost embarrassed to show the photos of our backyard, but hopefully it will serve as a record of our progress this spring. 

This is the north end of the west side of the “pink building”….before….

This is the middle of the west side of the “pink” building….

And this is the chicken house…before……