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Our Move Back to Riverside and our Square Foot Gardening Project

It just occurred to me that I have never written a blog update about our epic move back to Riverside. When I say "epic" I don't mean it in the sense that it was a long distance trek or that we moved into some grand dwelling. Actually, it's much to the contrary. But to us, it was very special because we moved into what we consider our "dream home" (besides, a tiny house, that is - which isn't very practical at this point in our lives with three teenagers to care for, but we hope will be someday) and the significance of the relocation was pretty "epic" to our family.

You might recall a post I wrote a few years ago about my love for the City of Riverside and my regret in leaving "home" and moving out to Tract Home-Land in 2003. At the time I wrote that blog, moving back to our roots seemed nearly impossible given the ages of the kids, the grades that they were in school, and our situation at the time; but my oh my, how things can change within the scope of 18 months or so.

As we entered into the summer of 2011, we realized that the school year approaching found us with our oldest, Brynn, ready to enter her senior year of high school, and the twins preparing for their freshman year. We recognized that we had a window of opportunity to make a change. With Brynn now driving and her ability to commute to school to finish up her last year there, this previously pressing issue regarding her high school situation, found itself solved.

We then turned to Aidan and Shea to see how they felt about relocating and starting their 9th grade year at my high school alma mater in Riverside. Being the cool and open-minded gents that they are, they were both completely down for it, and actually excited about new beginnings. With Steve's job now permanently based in Riverside, it seemed as though everything was falling into place to journey back to our home turf. And so we enlisted the help of April Glatzel, our sweet, fun, and stellar real estate agent (who also happens to be a vegan and now one of my close friends), and began our home search.

Many, many viewings and offers later, we found the 99 year-old beauty that we now call home. A cute little California bungalow, built in 1912, by J. H. Oldendorf. Quaint, cozy, and about one-third the size of the homes we resided in when we lived in Eastvale, we instantly loved it and were so thrilled when the deal went through and we began packing up to move east.

Once we got in the house, we had lots of work to do to make it our own. We began by giving it a new exterior coat of paint (in addition, I have been painting the interior, room by room, and still have a few to go); as well as removing all of the lawn in the front yard and replacing it with California Native plants, which are drought-tolerant and cut back big-time on the amount of water needed to keep things in check. Here are a few before & after photos of the transition from grass to Xeriscape.

With the front yard feeling pulled together, Sunday morning, we decided to move our attention to the backyard and embark on a new project. For this area, we decided to turn the small, yet practical, space into a garden. Since our family is vegan, we eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, and have always dreamed of cutting our grocery bill down by harvesting our own crops. After reading about the various methods of growing your own food, we decided to follow the Square Foot Gardening system and after grading the yard and restructuring planters and such, we measured our land, Steve drew up blueprints and designs, we bought our lumber and materials, and set up construction by building our cute little garden boxes.

With three already-existing boxes in place, we built an additional eight 4x4' boxes, four 2 x 8' boxes, and two 4 x 6' boxes. Here are some photos of the assembly and step one of our little garden. Next week, we will roll out our weed control fabric, lay the boxes down, and gather together the soil mixture ingredients. I hope to document each step of the process, with some harvesting of produce being the utlimate goal ...so stay tuned for more of our gardening adventure.