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The Tomato Experiment

Updated: Nov 12, 2019

The backyard landscaping is now on hold until next year, since we recently spent our landscaping budget on a sorely needed new mattress. The weather lately has been too beautiful not to enjoy the yard, though, so I bought a hammock stand and pulled the hammock out of the garage. It certainly lends a sense of scale for our planning efforts – the hammock takes up most of the yard. Many of our big ideas may be too big to fit.

Not only will the delay give us more time to plan the overall layout, we can also assess where to grow vegetables before we build raised beds. Friday evening, we lucked into a couple of cherry tomato plants perfect for gauging the yard’s potential. (Thank you, Heather!) I suggested that we plant them in the sunniest area, in the main part of the yard next to the gate, and try some more shade-tolerant veggies in the side yard. Timothy insisted on a controlled experiment, in which we try out both spots. We got a couple more tomato plants, large plastic pots, and potting soil, and planted the tomatoes early this afternoon.

Timothy’s pot was in full shade by 1:00, while mine was just starting to creep out of the sun at 2:00. It will also get sun earlier since it’s further from the fence. Despite my doubts, I hope Timothy’s plants fare well since side yard beds would leave us with much more usable space in the backyard. We’ll let you know how it works out.

Elsewhere in the development, extravagant houses are being built for the 2009 Parade of Homes. The first Parade of Homes in Austin was held in 1953 to showcase the work of local home builders’ association members. While the houses were more elaborate than the average middle-class home of the era, the ideas they presented were not completely out of reach. By the Parade of Home’s 50th anniversary in 2003, they were. (See this analysis by a fellow Austinite.) While this year’s homes are still out of the question for most of us at just under $1 million apiece for 3,000 to 4,500 square feet, they are somewhat more modest than last year’s $1 to $4 million, 3,000 to 10,000+ square foot suburban homes. And it’s a very positive sign that the home builders’ association is paying attention to sustainability: all of the houses will receive a 5-star rating in Austin’s green building program.

Our favorite is a very modern design by Michael Hsu, and we also really like the house designed by Barley & Pfeiffer (click on House at Mueller). All of the houses have green features we could only dream of in our 3-star home, and they have beautiful views of Lake Park.

We’re excited to have my parents come for a visit and see the finished homes this May!

Also, take a look at the Statesman’s interactive coverage of the Mueller development! We were at the Superbowl cookout in the Garden Court, though it doesn’t seem that we made it into any of the photos.

Update: I take it back, we did make it into the Statesman photos. Or at least my cat did! Check out photo 21 in “A Look at Mueller Today.”

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