Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Progress Report

We´ve received the survey, and now have an Architect. Whoot!

After cogitating about the house, we sent off an initial plan, indicating our ideas of distributing the space.

We expect this to change, and unfortunately the drawing isn´t to scale (at all), but it seemed like a good starting off point.

So while strides are made with the interior, that leaves me obsessing about the exterior. I added what I think is the rest of the existing infrastructure (walls, the bread oven, the major trees we probably won´t be removing), and a covered patio we´ll hopefully be adding if the budget allows. To the west, on the other side of the creek, is a heavily wooded lot. To the east is an uninhabited property separated by a crumbling retaining wall and a difference of about 5 feet in soil height. There´s a chunk of wall west of the barn which used to have an horreo (Galician grain shed)on top. Original owner gave it away.

The highest point is the SE corner with the terrain gently sloping to the NW in general. This presents some drainage issues. I think we may have to implement some kind of terracing. By the time we´ve had a septic tank and drainfield dug out, I have to try to manage the topsoil so it can get safely re-used. I´m also thinking raised beds.

For now, I´ve identified 3 zones, the one closest to the house, the section northeast of the barn, and the big open area to the south. I´m figuring that we´ll deal first with the area around the house, then a potager/kitchen garden and fruit area and finally get around to the pasture.

At least initially, I think I want some kind of gravel for paths and the driveway. We still have to figure out where to put the car. I saw crushed mussel shells as an aggregate material online the other day, that might be interesting. Bet the chickens would love it.

Placement of fruit and nut trees needs to happen ASAP, since they can take 5 or more years to produce. Also thinking I will have to have a try with grapes. And hops, which will need a 10-15´ height accommodation. Maybe an arbor?

So more posts with garden and interior design porn will surely follow. Any advice or thoughts are welcome.


  1. Some input: gravel paths are very high maintenance, needing endless weeding sessions, and quickly fill up with difficult to remove debris. Raking leaves is never much fun at the best of times, but can be especially frustrating on gravel paths.
    My father was enthusing about one at a hotel he'd been to recently, where a gardener patrolled twice a day, picking out leaves, sticks and weeds. Yeah, right.
    You can get some really nice cobble-type designs in pressed concrete these days, and in Galicia it wouldn't crack up from freeze-thaw like it would here.
    Raised beds are a right royal pain if you need to water, though that might not be an issue in Galicia ;-). Check out what kind of beds the locals use - here the beds have deep furrows that are arranged so that the whole bed can be watered from one source. I, however, put in raised beds back in the day, and was then forever after condemned to water bed by bed from a handheld sprinkler. That used to be most of the morning gone in the summer.
    I'm no expert on trees, but if your land faces NW, I'd plant them as high as possible so that they catch the most of the sun. But wait until you've seen a winter there before siting anything, to find out if there are any prevailing winds and frost pockets to be avoided.

    Planning is so exciting!

  2. Thanks PG! Paths will important, so I appreciate your experiences. I remember being made to weed gravel paths as a child and it put me off gardening for the next 25 years!

    I figure it will never be cheaper to play around with ideas, so I´m indulging.

    Judging from what I´ve found on the innertubes, it pretty much rains from November to April, and then is dry from June to August. The soil itself seems to be very, very heavy clay. I´m thinking the raised beds should help the drainage - except as you say, in the summer. Hmmmm. That, and I love the way they look, which tends to trump everything.

    I probably should have said that to the south is a cow pasture, and the entire area gets sun (when there is any) all day. The slope is quite gentle.