Work on The Cottage, Lasagna Gardening and More


Work on The Cottage

We had a productive couple of days this past weekend.

On Saturday, we worked out in the yard for several hours, took a break, and then worked on it some more in the early evening. We are cutting up the downed trees and clearing brush.

I don’t know where in the world my brain was. I actually thought it might take a “couple of hours.” Pollyanna has nothing on me! Instead it was hours of hard, hard work. Dave manned the chainsaw and alternated with using the loppers. I worked with the other set of loppers and kept pulling the pieces over to a fire I had started burning.

I woke up to the sound of rain and low thunder on Sunday.

I love the sound, it connects me to the natural world and is so soothing!

I could still smell the smoke from the fire pit, so it hadn’t been raining long. Once we get a fire going in that, it can be a week before it goes out. And I made sure to build a nice large fire pit that can handle some big stuff going into it!


On Sunday we first focused on working in the attic. We definitely needed dust masks for that – thick dust mixed with raccoon feces – gross!

We dismantled a couple of boards covering the window to the south, and discovered that the rotted frame’s glass was missing. At the other end of the attic we discovered a box with slats and it fit the window opening perfectly. Which was great, because now we know where the attic fan will be mounted!

We also pulled off the plywood covering the windows in the back enclosed porch. It looks as if it started as a covered porch and then was enclosed 20-30 years ago. The materials they used are crappy, so I have no problem tearing it all out. I just need to decide whether we want to repair the roof or take it off and just have an open back porch (we will be putting up a railing).

We had discussed insulating it and putting in a washer/dryer hookup, but I think the hookups would be better off in the basement. It will be slightly inconvenient for the renter, due to the narrow stairs, but better than having the pipes freeze in winter.

Later on Sunday we downed a couple of smallish trees in the back, hopefully preventing the varmints from accessing the house through the windows since they don’t have trees to climb.

A girl can hope for that, right?

And we finished by doing even more work and deciding to burn the hugelkultur piles instead of keeping them. And speaking of that …

Lasagna Gardening

A month or so ago, I taught a class called “Who Ya Callin’ Dirty? Make Your Own Dirt!”

It was all about lasagna gardening, something I have done on a small scale over the years, off and on. For those not familiar with the concept, it is basically a type of no-till, no-weed, gardening. You create layers of different materials – paper/cardboard, barn litter, straw, peat moss, wood ashes, and more. Then, when it is time to plant your garden, you simply dig in a small amount, plant the crop, and then let it grow through the different nutrient layers.

Lazy gardening at its best!


And it got me to thinking. I had several large piles of brush that I had been planning about making into hugelkultur (I talk more about it here:

After making two piles earlier this year from the downed cottonwood trees, I decided to change my mind this past weekend, and instead burn everything I could (except for the logs I’ll have my hubby cut into stepping “stones” for our wood and concrete pathways).

Again I find myself so very thankful that folks in the neighborhood are okay with us burning brush and don’t call the fire department! I have now had the fire burning for four full days.


Yes, you heard me right,four days. There hasn’t been any real wind, and the ground is still quite damp from our soaking last week, so I’ve got nothing to worry about. At night we let the embers continue to glow, but only really feed the fire during the day.

I’ve gotten most of one pile stripped of the smaller stuff and now I’m working on the other hugelkultur pile. After that, I’ll hit it with the remnants of several large trees we downed in recent days. As long as it doesn’t get too hot or too windy, I’ll keep burning.

Next year I hope to have a PHENOMENAL garden going!

Playing Monopoly for Real

I wish … I wish … I wish I had $60k available right now. I would buy two more properties and start fixing them up. Or even just this one shown above.

They are so close to us, one is a four-plex directly behind our house that was recently partially rehabbed. They are selling it for $30,000 and it comes with a double lot right next to it. Room to make a parking lot AND a small play area for kids, how cool would that be?

3226 e 11th st

And at the corner of that street, a 2,500 square foot house that I’ve seen inside of. It needs work, but is bank-owned and the asking price is $25,000, but I happen to know that they will accept $19,000 for it.

Of course, I’d probably need at least $20k more than that for all of the rehab work, or a total of $40k if I planned on developing those two lots into a parking area and kid zone.

And sadly, I don’t have money for any of that. Which makes me sad, because they are great buildings that deserve to be filled with families and laughter again.

corner of 11th st


I look at this house and imagine Emily or Danielle living in it in the years to come. It is on a double lot, too. The second lot is directly behind the house and goes all the way to 10th Street.

I joke that I want to play Monopoly for real. I figure that way, if I’m a landlord, I can be a good steward for the homes I own, have some built-in playmates for my kiddo, and help make sure this neighborhood continues to improve. I dream of putting in a outdoor stone fireplace and a couple of picnic tables in the back yard of the apartment complex for folks to grill out on in the summer.

Yep, I want to play Monopoly for real. Who knows? Possibly soon, I’ll get a chance to do that.


This entry was posted in Classes, Community, DIY, Green Living, Historical Home, Kids and Gardens, Permaculture, The Cottage. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Work on The Cottage, Lasagna Gardening and More

  1. If I had the money, I’d do the same thing! I can’t stand to see pretty old houses just left to rot. I lived in England for nine years, and noticed that over there, they repair and maintain buildings so that they will LAST. Here, we just build them, break them, and throw them away. It’s a shame, really.

    Great post…love the info about the lasagna gardening! Definitely going to have to check that out for my back yard!

  2. Cranky Puppy says:

    We have the same ideas and are looking at the same properties. Neither of them are worth what they are asking for them. The apartment building has some serious structural issues both inside and outside. We tried to buy the house before it got broken into and trashed. The house is not owned by the bank – they never completed foreclosure and it’s now a zombie house that no one can buy.

    • Christine says:

      That just makes me sad. Hopefully Land Bank will seize it before it is too far gone. The apartment building behind us has been purchased, by the way. But not by us!

Comments are closed.