Do you ever have one of those days, where you just can’t get your to-do list completed, and eventually you end up in tears because there have been so many obstacles? Yeah. Today is one of those days. At one point, I rolled back from my desk, grabbed a hummus packet in my right hand and tucked a bag of gluten-free crackers under my right arm — keeping my left hand free to grab, scoop and shove in mouth. I did this while I checked the mail first; nothing. Then went out back, crackers under arm still, crunching away, and went to check on our new “babies” as I’m calling them. (Hey, we can’t make humans, so we might as well get some help from Mother Nature.)
As my bare feet touched the dirt, and I stood looking at our almond trees, a little yellow butterfly fluttered in and landed on a branch of the one we are calling Aria. (Just… don’t ask… we are quirky.) And suddenly, I felt my shoulders relax and I took a deep cleansing breath. The troubles of the day didn’t seem quite so important anymore.
Some of you may remember back in March of 2014 when we did Adventures in Gardening Part 1. We created two raised garden beds so we could grow our own veggies. It was a ton of fun, not a lot of work, and we did get a lot of great produce — but over time life got hectic and the garden took a backseat. Mostly because we needed to replace about half of the dirt, which we are doing this weekend! And secondly because we quickly found out that the raised bed location is only good for a Summer garden here in AZ. In Winter, it is TOO protected by the house and doesn’t get enough sun. There are plans to create a second set of beds, but first, the TREES. The trees are the whole reason this post is going up on the blog!
Years ago, when we kickstarted this project with the raised beds, we had this vision of our huge backyard full of fruiting trees and raised garden beds. But as I said life happened and let’s be honest – we knew it would be a huge undertaking. So nothing ever happened… until a week ago Sunday.
It all starts with my cousin, Anne, telling me about this guy Jake Mace, a vegan athlete who lives in Tempe, AZ and grows fruits and vegetables in his front and backyard.
😱 What!? How the heck did I not know about this guy yet!? LOL
She then proceeded to send me video after video on YouTube, where Jake was giving tours and gardening tips for AZ, in his backyard. Seriously, where have you been all my life Jake? I am not a good reader; I’m more of a podcast listener and video watcher. So this is JUST what I needed. As we both went further down the rabbit hole of YouTube videos, we also noticed Shamus O’Leary popping up a lot. Shamus owns a private tree nursery in Phoenix, and Jake buys his trees from Shamus, so he was featured in many of his videos. (And I should also state, Anne found out about these guys from her friend too… community is so important everyone!)
After a few days of watching online and getting excited for the possibilities in our own backyards, it was time to head over to the nursery ourselves. (Anne said she was going to make an appointment, and I asked if I could tag along! haha)
At the nursery we both had saucer eyes at the possibilities of growing tropical fruit in our backyards. 😀 That’s when we met Brandon from Greenie’s Garden. He answered a ton of questions we had (including many from my curious “nephew”, aka cousins’ son) and we both walked out of there with 3 trees each. We even managed to squeeze them into her little car!
Our backyard is FULL of big, heavy, hot rocks (see below) — along with a huge patch of pointless grass. I had no plan for how we were going to move all the rocks and start planting the trees, I just figured we’d make it work. So, I bought an almond tree, tiger fig tree and blueberry bush as a way to kickstart our vision — finally. I kept thinking; the time is going to pass anyway, just get moving and do SOMETHING. A little progress is better than no progress. Even if we had to hand shovel rocks into wheelbarrow’s and move them closer to the side gate for professional removal later. And that’s what we’ve been doing. Slow and steady progress with a big push this last Sunday.
It would be hard for me to accurately express in words how grateful I am for all the people who have come into my life this past week. I have not met Jake in person – yet – but every time I’m watching his YouTube videos, I think of how grateful I am to him for sharing his knowledge and journey to creating a backyard garden, or technically microclimate, with his viewers. I’m grateful for Brandon for being so helpful all the times we’ve stopped by Shamus’ nursery. I’m grateful for Shamus and his clear passion for growing trees, and helping to empower people to grow their own food. And of course I am grateful to my cousin for kickstarting all of this, by sharing her friend’s experience. It’s been like a beautiful domino effect and I’m so happy the chips are falling into place!
Below is a slideshow with a little more details on the process, and how it came to life! I’m so excited this ball is rolling and we are working towards that dream of having a backyard full of trees and more raised beds! I’ll keep you posted!
Do you have a garden or do you like gardening?