Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Transformation: Vineyard and Garden

When Aaron and I were searching for properties before buying our place in Waconia, we had very different search criteria. Our styles were a nice complement to each other because if we had gone based solely on his criteria, we might have ended up living in a tent on a gorgeous piece of land, and if we had gone solely on my criteria, we might have ended up living in a gorgeous home on a piece of land with poor soil for growing grapes.  The balance was nice. As we went and looked at properties, Aaron would walk the land, survey the property and do soil samples, while I would cruise the house for interior quality and decorating potential. We were able to identify some key characteristics that were important to both of us:   A minimum of 10 acres, good elevation, hardy soil, southern facing land, on the west side of the twin cities (by my request since I grew up on this side), and a house with good bones...aka, comfortable liveable. Taking on a complete fixer upper at the same time we were going to start growing a vineyard could have been trouble. And the big kicker-this all had to fit in our price range.

When we came to our place in Waconia...we knew we were home:
A cute little house sat at the top of 12.42 acres of southern facing sloped land overlooking a little lake. Hills on the other side were filled with trees giving it a beautiful skyline. And to top it off, the soil was great. We had heard it was a former horse pasture and the manure supplied great nutrients imbedded in the soil. Mmmmm...

The Vineyard

The raw land.  This was before we started anything!

Okay, fine one more shirtless picture!  Sorry, honey! I can't help it...this is just how he looks when he is hard at work!  Here is Aaron with our first little ghetto lawn tractor we bought off of Craigslist.  We decided it didn't quite cut it and have since upgraded. 

This was our first spring...little vines in growing tubes in June 2008.

We planted 220 vines on a small plot and let a local farmer plant corn on the rest of the property. We traded him the use of our land for the use of his BIG tractor for tilling up the land to get ready for planting grapevines.

Grapevines and the corn field

September 2008

And this year we expanded....
Thanks to the help of our committed planting friends and family
who came out on the coldest day in May to help us plant...

This is our vineyard THIS year...2009

The Garden

This is our ridiculously overgrown garden the first summer we moved in 2008.  All those green bushes are weeds!

This is Aaron putting a torch to that animal of garden. Seriously. We really burned it down.

Did you think I was kidding??? 

Here we are enjoying our garden bonfire at LAST fall's harvest party...

And here is the garden started from scratch in April 2009.  We cut down most of the trees to open up the view to the vineyard and covered the garden with black tarp to control the weeds.  Worked like a charm!

Believe it or not, those are all tomato plants in the front corner of this picture.  But no more weeds!

I'll keep this post to just the outdoor transformation.  Up next, before and afters of our slow transformation as we get the old farm house repainted, refreshed, and rearranged!