A Black Thumb?

12 05 2011

Okay, so here’s the thing. I left for a few days last weekend, and had put my little seedlings outside to harden.  Well, I forgot that they would still need constant water at this stage, and when I came back, they were almost dead.

Very depressing.

I thought I’d try to revive them by watching them carefully and watering them twice a day.  A few of them have come back a little bit, but others (my poor carrots and cantaloupes) seem to be total goners.

I’m really bummed about it.

So here’s my question. Unfortunately, I leave today again, but this time for a week.  I haven’t transplanted the seedlings that survived into the raised bed, and understand that when I do, I’m supposed to water them a lot and watch them closely and shade them from the sun for a few days.  My dilemma is do I try to plant them today, in the hopes that the three days of rain we’re supposed to get over the weekend will make up for my not being here (and at the worst, they all keel over).

Or, do I just call the project a total loss, get rid of the seedlings, and start fresh with already established plants from Home Depot when I get home and can devote more time to them?

I’m at a loss…

And really bummed about my cantaloupes in particular!

Any thoughts?


Wordless Wednesday

11 05 2011

Raise Your Hand if You Have an Overly “Helpful” Neighbor!

6 05 2011

You all know my saga with the creepy neighbor (who is back, by the way, if I haven’t mentioned it).  But other than him, I’ve been fairly fortunate with my neighbors. I really like the couple next door, her sister on the corner, the guy who owns the Domino’s who lives on the other corner…they’re all nice.

However, my next door neighbor can be a bit…shall we say…”helpful.”

I generally let it go, but some days, I just want to bang my head against a wall.

For example.  I’ll be outside chatting to him about the spring weather and how pretty our front yard looks with the trees in bloom, and he’ll say “That tree is going to need pruning back pretty soon.” Which is really code for, “you’d better get on that quickly.”

I used to let this kind of thing really bother me when I first moved in – not because I was annoyed, but because I thought I was just letting things go that I was supposed to be on top of.  Until I realized that he’s just as guilty as I am of only doing things when he gets the chance (which is often well after his girlfriend has nagged him over and over again).  As in, I’ve been the only one to put mulch down out front in the last three years, though he always talks about it.

So now I just try to laugh about it, and when I’m talking to him, I’ll just agree with whatever it is, and mentally add it to my to-do list.  I will actually prune the tree this year.  But if he asks me one more time if I plan to separate the irises out front finally, I think I’ll tear my hair out! Good thing I’m planning to move them to the backyard, which will get him off my back.

That being said, he actually is truly helpful – whenever I’m away, he’ll get my mail and the paper, put out the garbage if he notices it’s full, and put one of their four cars in my driveway so it looks like someone is home.  He’s also plowed my driveway in the snow, offered me free firewood logs from the clubhouse and helped me retrieve them, and always offered his tools or to help out my dad if we have any projects that need an extra hand.

So I’m very lucky to mostly have good neighbors.  But sometimes those casually critical comments can drive me nuts – no, my dog has not continued to put on weight, no he’s not unhealthy, yes, he sees the vet regularly who doesn’t think he’s chubby, etc. (he’s a basset hound. Whose mother was 70 pounds. So it’s not weird that he’s 68 pounds).

Anyone else out there with an overly helpful neighbor? I really do appreciate his help, but sometimes his tips for homeownership make me want to scream!

My Dining Chairs Finally Arrived!

5 05 2011

So the dining chairs I needed for Easter (yup, only eight days late) finally arrived!

The box was HUGE.

It wasn’t overly heavy, but it was awkward. Unfortunately, it wasn’t my very nice UPS man who delivered it (because he would have put it inside for me, like he always does with big or heavy packages). Instead, it was some company Target has doing their shipping now.

The same company that left the box sitting in Philadelphia for two days before just scanning it.  Awesome.

But anyway, I digress.

So the box arrived and I delayed opening it for a while. According to the website, a few people had had some trouble putting the chairs together – it was really time consuming, they all said.  Being sore still from the raised bed build, I really needed to find some motivation to open up the box and get started.  Around seven tonight, I finally found it, and opened the box.

I found….two assembled chairs!

Woo hoo!

So I hauled the chairs out of the box and put them around the table.  They’re a bit wider than I expected, but I think they look quite nice!

My dining room table is finally complete!

The chairs are a really nice, soft leather

So, what do you think?

Wordless Wednesday

4 05 2011

Over at Mommy Musings, every Wednesday is Wordless Wednesday – As the title implies, she posts a photo or photos that day.  Over here at Handy Homeowner Girl, I’m going to be doing the same thing on Wednesdays.

So here’s my first Wordless Wednesday photo!

Putting Together a Raised Bed

3 05 2011

I’ve been wondering when I was going to get the chance to put together the raised bed for my plants in the yard because I’ve got a lot of weekend commitments coming up.  As I mentioned yesterday, we’re expecting three days of rain here, so when I arrived back home this afternoon around three-fifteen, and it was still sunny and fairly warm outside, I decided that there was no time like the present!

However, I will say that I *may* have pushed myself a little – I’d already pulled a muscle in my back over the weekend, and definitely aggravated it with all the clearing out and lifting of soil bags, so I think I’ll be suffering some lovely muscle aches for a few days!

But, it was worth it.

This is what I started with – an overgrown corner full of weeds (and a snake as it turned out!  When I moved in, this corner was separated by logs which also surround the rest of the yard.  I’m not sure what, if anything, was ever grown in there. I’ve left it for so long because this corner gets a lot of water – so it wasn’t practical to put a garden there.  But with the raised bed, this won’t be a problem.

The first step was to clear all of this out – no easy task. I pulled out my little while fence (which keeps the pup out of there), and worked on pulling out weeds.  A lot of the weeds were quite well entrenched, so I ended up having to use a hoe to turn the soil over and pull out the roots.

It was starting to look much better already! I also took one of the logs from the front of the corner and put it along the fence to continue what was originally there and protect my neighbor’s fence a bit better.

Next, I smoothed out all the dirt that was there to make it more level.

Once I had finished that, I had to decide exactly where the raised bed was going to go.  I planned it out without attaching anything permanently – you can see that it’s not flush in the corner of the yard. This is because as my parents pointed out, with a four x four bed, I’d want to be able to get to all sides so I could reach them for gardening.

You can also see that the bed would be covering a big part of the grass. So I decided to pull that grass up and relocate it to the bare spots.

This was no easy task, let me tell you. I used a small shovel to cut the grass into strips (after having a few misfires and pulling up strangely shaped sections of grass).  There wasn’t enough grass to cover everything that was bare, but enough that it helps cover the dirt a bit.  I’ll have to pick up some sod for the rest, or use the grass from the flower bed I plan to do to the left of this to finish it off.

The next step was to actually put the bed together.  There were pre-drilled holes in each of the posts, and three of the cedar planks went into each side.  Of course, I forgot to charge my cordless drill before starting this project, so I had to take a bit of a break in the middle to charge it so I could finish up.

It smelled so good – I love cedar – and was really coming together nicely.

I screwed together the remaining corners and planks and set the bed where I wanted it.

Next, I wanted to put down a layer of that garden fabric which helps keep the weeds to a minimum. Fortunately, I still had some leftover from last year’s sump pump project. I cut enough off to make sure that some of it came up the sides.

Then came the worst part – adding the soil.  My muscles were so fatigued, it was NOT easy to drag the bags of soil over to the bed and pour it in.  I had ten smaller bags of topsoil that were 3/4 of a cubic foot each.  I did a bit of internet research, and while I’m not sure how accurate it is, it seems that each of these was about 59 pounds.  I also had three larger bags of MiracleGro gardening soil, which were two cubic feet each – so, about 156 pounds each. Although the bags were HEAVY (and the soil was all wet from being outside) I’m not sure that they weighed that much!

I finally got all of the soil in there – and it looked fabulous!

I’m very pleased with how it came out – but what’s a girl to do when she has a dog highly interested in checking the soil out…and eating it?

Use those white picket plastic fencing pieces to edge the raised bed!

Someone was a bit disappointed that his curiosity was foiled.  But I’m happy about it!

The next step will be to transplant my little seedlings.  I may plant them in there this week if the weather isn’t too bad!

I’m so excited that I’ve taken some steps to get my back garden in shape!

Creepy Crawlies

2 05 2011

Although I was away at my parents’ this weekend (I was nerding it up by checking out the Harry Potter exhibit in NYC with two friends from high school), I managed to get some Handy Homeowner work done today.

I haven’t gotten too much sleep this weekend, so I was tired when I arrived home, but we’re expecting three days of rain here, so I thought I’d better work on getting my raised bed at least started.  I’ll be posting the play by play for that tomorrow.

But first, I wanted to mention something else I’m not fond of as a Handy Homeowner Girl – creepy crawlies.  I don’t love bugs, though I generally don’t worry too much about them (I know a few people who scream until someone kills them, even outside).  And then today, while I was clearing out the brush in the corner of the yard, I thought I saw a big slug – they’re pretty common around here, but usually only at night.

But this thing moved a little too quickly…and was a bit longer than a slug:

Here snakey snakey

As you can see, I was brave and picked him up.  I did toss him right after this picture was taken, because as you can see here…

He tried to attack me – reasonable, since I’m sure he was more terrified than me.

I was startled, so I tossed him, but then I picked him up and relocated him to the front yard just on the other side of the fence, so he wouldn’t find himself “playing” with my basset hound at any point.

I would much rather someone else was here to deal with this little guy!!