Chronicles of a city plot, Spokane

I should have started a thread for my stuff when I joined but I’m timid about starting threads. I guess it’s time.
we have a quarter acre of ground not counting the house. the soil is mostly silt and city dirt- I started adding mulch, compost, straw, and horse poop about 8 years ago. I focused on veggies at first.

“came with the house”
flowering bush of unknown pedigree
2 100+ year old pine/fir
tall juniper with the top cut off, 60+years old
black raspberries, unknown age
2 red barberry
quack grass, skeleton rushweed, small useless rocks
many unsightly yellow tulips

things in the ground 5+ years:
Hardy pink hibiscus
Italian plum
unknown grape vine
lilacs, white and purple
3 honey locust
2 black locust
prairie and white sage patches
devil’s club
2 large galliardia patches
slowly dying 10 foot tall Doug fir
red tulips

3-5 years in ground or container:
granny smith
unknown big box “apple tree”
2 native plums
grape hyacinths, garlic stands
bleeding heart
yellow climbing rose
red climbing rose
honeysuckle (1)
arp rosemary
alpune strawberries that never produced
alba mulberry
2 pawpaw
2 sumac (I grow it for the spice)
van Buren grapes
braeburn on dwarf
some honey crisp variety apple, unlabeled
walking onions
2 dwarf cherry
ostrich fern (likely dead, multiple)
diediers tulips
2 dead roses
2 puny shagbark hickory
schoolhouse plum

containers more than 2 years old-
CH fig, multiple
desert King fig
Celeste (drops all figs)
2 olive, arbequina and koroneiki
“American hazelnut”
a begonia or geranium thing
banana, Hungarian sweet, and hot peppers

last year;
mexicola avocado 3 year old in pot
multiple figs in containers
Orleans renette apple
serviceberry (multiple)
gooseberries (multiple)
trailman apple (dead)
gravenstein and mulberry and another dead apple
2 pawpaw seedlings
another olive variety (in pot)
mushroom pile
blue salvia, bachelor button patch
little bluestem

this year:
Jefferson hazelnut, 2
morus rubra
pawpaw sapling
chestnut crabapple
jujubes, 4
unnamed cider crab
more serviceberry
veteran peach
another peach
2 quince

things I’ve killed/that have died
blueberries, birch, sugar maple, a white oak seedling, multiple apple tree whips, removed a black locust

the front of my property is unfenced, we are in the middle of town, no deer. occasional rabbit or possum. never seen a raccoon. squirrels are the enemy here.

the front is all sun, hot and dry, exposed in winter, south facing, I planted jujube and ditch lilies and bulbs out there, and the mint family plants, and yarrow. the side is even hotter and drier, my native perennials are fighting old quack grass, skeleton rushweed and scotch broom over there. the prairie sage expands every year, luckily.

behind the house is 8 foot fencing, on the left half, my fruit trees make rows along the fence then every ten feet from that, they’re about 5 to 8 feet apart. all but a few are dwarfing rootstock or semi dwarf, but I prune short because in old and short. between them are mound beds.

on the right half is the hoophouse, a nice shed, a big keyhole raised bed, with a few fruit trees at the corners. my bulbs are along the back fence.

all the way to the right hand fence is a potting table, then back in the east facing corner is a log pile of failed mushroom attempts, rain barrels, and the hazelnuts and quince.

the gooseberries and other climbers grow up next to the house, north facing. I would like to clear off and enclose my back porch in glass for a warm area for winter, just haven’t gotten there yet.

this year I’ve got a new 7x14x8 tall greenhouse to put up somewhere and got to move/repurpose the hoophouse.

I am going to plant melons from the shed out onto the grass I’m trying to kill. we also have the junk zone where we have things I’ve got to get rid of in some way.

photos from this year.

far left damp shaded corner- pawpaws, lilacs, forsythia, fat bellied juniper, honey locust in foreground, climbers, a mulberry

looking left, mound beds, dying Doug fir, plum and other trees along fence line and between beds

containers in the sun, and some junk

down the center with the helpers

looking right- raised bed, shed
, hoophouse, other stuff

along the fence to the right- hazelnut are to the right, hoophouse to the left

climbers on the right, rain barrels are at the roof corner to catch runoff. gooseberries, ferns, teaberry, a few fancy tulips, saffron crocus, and other things

will get front and side pictures tomorrow most likely. hope this thread is ok, and always listening to ideas and advice.


This is great! Thanks for all the photos. Keep us updated.


Nice to see your spot. You’ve got a lot of irons in the fire! There’s so much potential in 1/4 acre, it’s awesome to see it being used to its potential. I’ve got ~20 and I sometimes joke that there are places I still haven’t been. Let us know how things progress.


pests we have:

squirrels (a neighbor feeds them)
occasional mice
squash vine borers
apple maggot and every imaginable apple disease
grasshoppers in August
aphids galore
several potato issues due to proximity to Idaho growers

I use beneficial nematodes, mantis, lacewing, ladybugs, a squirrel live trap, dogs, tree spray, dormant spray, neem, curses, magic spells, and occasionally sevin.

nolo bait used to be great but alas, there’s no more to be had. a real bummer.

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Somehow I imagined eastern Washington to be pretty disease free, relatively speaking. I’m sure all of the huge commercial orchards make for some unique circumstances in terms of pest pressure, and disease too. So many fungal and bacterial issues are dependent on high humidity and rainfall, though. Maybe we just need to ship you some east coast weather so you can see what every apple disease really looks like!

Also, you should consider adding incantations and possibly mantras to your arsenal (wink)

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I’ll try the incantations

the local big apple growers spray for every single thing and use traps etc, so home apples are difficult. the amount of apples grown here generally is so high that pest pressure is intense. it’s an apple maggot quarantine area. signs on the highway for it.

we don’t get the diseases of damp, which is why so many apples are grown here. it’s high and dry, very cold winter, very hot summer, edging on high desert depending on your elevation. we are at 2000ft which is high enough to be dry.

since we are in town, we don’t get deer, or wild wildlife. cats do take their place in garden pests I suppose, but it’s more digging and lying on starts than anything serious. I’ve only ever seen two rabbits here; they were escaped pets and the owner came and found them. they were OBVIOUSLY escaped pets.

If only they could/would institute some kind of system whereby they managed for biennial bearing. It makes almost no sense from an economic standpoint on its face, admittedly, but then growing something at such a scale that it’s almost worthless doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny either.

One year about 14 yrs ago we had a hard frost May 29 and another June 1. It’s was around 25 degrees, which naturally obliterated all of the fruitlets from practically every tree. For nearly a decade after that, we’d have an incredible crop of blemish free apples every other year. This used to be orchard country - still kind of is- and there are wild apple trees everywhere. Every tree, no matter how miserable it’s appearance would just be packed to the gills with beautiful fruit. You’d literally see trees tucked into the puckerbrush so pathetic you couldn’t even tell they were there, and all of a sudden they’d be loaded and you’d notice them. That huge fruit load meant the trees wouldn’t set flower buds for next year, and the lack of flowers and fruit would interrupt nearly all diseases and pests’ life cycles. We’d make tons of cider those years.

As clever as we are, It’s kind of a shame we can’t or won’t mimic the functions of nature. Masting is one of the prime ways that pests are held in check. We’d rather do things the hard way, I spose, or we’re just too concerned with self interest and the mistaken belief that everyone watching out for themselves will somehow make things better for all. Naturally there’s the sticky business of who would oversee such a system and how. Details, details

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I empathize with that. My neighbor on the south side is not convinced that her bird seed feeder is also a rodent feeder.

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oh it makes sense on a large scale- they spray for everything and so don’t have the issues. it’s cheaper by the dozen and all that

@Richard she wonders where they go. I trap them, she feeds them, my partner drives them way the hell out to my friends property to release

the neighbor just wonders where they go

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front and side, not including the driveway, behind the shed, and the devil strips. i gotta get the grass down today while I’ve got the time. been trying to kill it for 6 years

left of the front patch-peaches, sages, mints, yarrow, etc

right side-jujubes, crabapple, sage, wildflowers etc

how it looked last summer, I threw a ton of bachelor buttons and sunflowers out there in front.

I had huge Jerusalem artichokes and pumpkins in there but haven’t been able to get a good year in this patch since. my partner had leukemia so I had to go to Seattle with em for near a year to be caregiver, I couldn’t get anyone to handle the land until we got back.
2018, just before he got diagnosed:

it’s never been that nice again. maybe this year.

corner, and then the side strip; mulberry, serviceberry, tulips, nine barks, grass mayhem hiding it all

up against the house by the porch is a big bush with small white flowers that came with the house. it’s a seedling looking thing in the construction photos from 1910, so it’s old, really old

sage patch started from a single plant

dusty millers and mulch. I really gotta kill the grass back more, it’s going to seed. I weed whack because I keep mulching chips and trying to smother it and plant in native stuff among it. yarrow is doing pretty good, mint has died here.

right out front to the right, an unhappy jujube. think it got sunburn, I didn’t harden off very long. it came in like Feb when the ground was froze and had to wait heeled up in a pot and got warm and they all grew leaves and I’m hoping they do ok now,
only this one is complaining

the two sisters out front in the winter. photos of the house being built, these were taller than the roof even then. 1910

back lot again. the dying doug fir. I’ll cut all the branches off and leave a tall stump to grow beans up on, or something.


my afternoon was spent putting in a winecap bed, pruning back everything that wasn’t bright green on that Doug fir, and shuffling all the starts and less hardy figs and trees back into the hoophouse. we got a big spring storm coming, may take us down into the 60s/day and 40s/night all week. perfect for the mushrooms.

also treated with beneficial nematodes as the sun was going down, if it’s going to rain I want to take advantage.

I signed up for another chip drop. last one is finally almost done; I would love to mulch in that side strip deep in chips and cardboard and kill that grass. I didn’t get around to cutting it again today and work the next few.

the fir tree when I was finished with it. you can tell I wasn’t really glad to be trying to “save” the thing

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I would have to say that if I started a thread at or around the time I started visiting this thread my garden would look nothing like it does now. You would hear all about the flowers my grandma and mother planted, some blueberry that were not doing well, a mulberry and some cherries. You would not be hearing about the variety of fruit that I am growing now. Sometimes making threads later helps. In regards to the bird feeder comment my uncle has been trying to get us a bird feeder for years. Every time he comes out he recommends us getting a bird feeder and last Christmas he asked about getting us a bird feeder as a family present. My mother and I keep telling him no because it attracts animals but he never seems to listen. It is like the flowers in my pots conversation with my grandma where it is a continuous no but she never seems to get it.

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I started trying to get this place growing 7 years ago or so. the beginning was a terrible time! I wasn’t growing fruit or fruit trees, just veggies, perennials. it looked very different and very barren.

You’ve been very patient.

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well, it’s not a choice, it’s a corner lot where nobody tried to grow a thing for probably 50 years. lol

it has pretty spots every year, each season. the front yard is a terror and the side is a monster and there’s a corner by the back fence full of sadness and there’s a pile of things I need to get rid of by the gate, but

there’s always a few pretty spots. and it makes food. can’t ask for a lot more

I can’t convince the neighbor not to feed the squirrels but this year they’ll get fried up for dinner. she’s a nice lady and I don’t want to argue with her over it.

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In time you’ll come to understand the rest.

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oh, the rest is the stuff I like better. the messy places.

I put the hammock in the pretty spot- so that I’m looking at the disasters. it’s a good place to sit and figure

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… and watch the seasons go by. I think you understand that.


I love seeing pics around spokane. What area do you live in @resonanteye?

I was born and raised there. South hill Palouse boy. Went to UW to study chemistry and a west side girl convinced me to stay. TBH I don’t know how I did the winters as a kid. Ha, I used to be a paper boy. Brrr. The seattle side winters have made me soft. I go to Spokane to see family and friends a couple times a year. It’s always a great time.


I’m by northtown! I work down Kendall yards. it’s been interesting to watch that neighborhood change. I hate the winter here! I grew up in coal country, PA and then lived in Seattle, and then Oregon central coast, for like 20 years. my partner bought the house here years ago when they were right out of the navy, and so, I ended up in Spokane. would never have thought I’d be east of the cascades ever again, until I was