From the Garden…

15 09 2011

It’s been a rather fruitful summer in my garden – I’ve gotten more tomatoes than I can count, lots of jalapenos, and finally two cantaloupes!

Finally, I have roses too!

Someone's been nibbling on my cantaloupes!

Could it be bunnicula?

No, it's this woodchuck!

Don't worry, I totally salvaged them by cutting off any nibbled bits!

I still can't believe these came from my garden...from seeds!



The Current View in My Yard and What’s Next

14 07 2011

I have actually taken some time to sit down and enjoy the garden as it’s progressing – it hasn’t been all work! Both Barney and I are really enjoying it…

The view from the swing

It's no yard crashers, but it's getting there!

He's happy to just sit in the grass and smell the air (and he's being very good not eating any of my plants!)

Barney running in the yard - because a running basset shot never gets old (though I think this might even be my parents' yard!)

So, what’s left to do?

Plenty. But there’s no rush.

I’ve got to figure out what to do in the back left corner – I may not be permitted to put up any kind of structure, though that’s ideally what I want. Something that will block out my creepy neighbor (who in fairness has now absolutely left me alone) because I’d just like the privacy and not having to look at all the garbage in his yard.  I’d love a small pergola type structure that I could put those outdoor shades on – c’mon Ahmed, where are you when I need you?? Yard Crashers would love my yard!

But I may put up some privacy trees instead – Home Depot has a pretty good deal on fairly big ones down here.  I just have to save for them and also motivate myself to dig humongous holes and plant the trees by myself.  Without keeling over.  So that might be a fall-time project, or next year.  I’m also still undecided as to whether I’ll put a little bistro set there, or a fire pit and a couple of chairs.  We’ll see how it goes.

I did discover that those wire towers I love so much are actually a Pottery Barn product, and I can use American Express points to get a gift card there.  Though I then discovered that the towers are actually about five or six feet tall, so that is slightly taller than I was picturing :).  We’ll see what I decide for those!

I’ll also be adding tire “stones” to the yard, and the bench will sit on top of some as well.  I might get them in advance of the bench and just find out the measurements first.  But I’m still thinking about that one too.  I’m also considering one of those screens for the air conditioner, so I don’t have to look at that when I’m outside either.

And the major project I have coming up is staining and sealing my deck.  I’m pretty sure that the woman who lived here before me NEVER did that, so the deck isn’t well maintained.  And I should talk, I haven’t done it in the three years I’ve lived here either.  So I’ll be doing that soon – I have everything I need to do it (I picked a beautiful redwood color!), but it’s a question of it not raining for five minutes down here and being able to do it properly.  So that will have to be a judgement call, and I’m kind of afraid to make it and end up with a ruined deck.

I’m also considering moving the indoor/outdoor carpet out of my office and on to the deck.  I love the idea of an outdoor carpet, and the one upstairs is bugging me because it’s always sliding all over the carpet in my office.  But I’m not sure if I want to do that or not, so that will require some thought as well.  I’d probably have to take it up and store it for the winter, which would be a pain, so it might be easier to leave it the way it is.

So those are the plans! Ambitious, I know, but I’m working on them a little at a time, periodically weeding the garden to keep it looking fresh and healthy, and learning more every day, so it’s keeping me busy. I really didn’t know I’d enjoy it so much!

Continuing my Garden Plan – the Grape Vine

11 07 2011

You may remember from my garden plan that along the wall of the shed facing the grass, I wanted to put up a lattice with clematis.  I love the look of lattice against walls, and it was one of the things I picked out from my magazine perusals as a “must” for my garden.

I saw the lattice at Home Depot in my early garden work and realized it wasn’t too expensive.  That got me thinking I could add that into my garden this year too instead of having to wait. And though I was going to use clematis originally, I realized that I had bought this grape vine that probably would need more room than it would get in my raised bed.  (Of course, it turns our that my cantaloupes do too, but that’s another story).  So rather than buy something else, I decided to stick the grapes there.  I realized that they’d get the requisite six hours of sun in that spot, and it would look beautiful.

I picked up my supplies at Home Depot (this was extra topsoil day)

Reasons I shouldn't be allowed to shop at home stores.

And I created a little bed for my grape vine and stuck in the lattice


And post-planting!

Isn't it lovely?

I’ve heard that it can take a year after first planting for it to actually produce fruit, and that definitely seems to be the case – no flowers or anything yet.  My mom also pointed out that the birds may take an interest in it, particularly since it’s *right* next to the bird feeder, so I may have to keep an eye on that and cover it with cheese cloth or a protective netting of some kind.

But in the mean time, it’s looking good and healthy, and I’m excited to get my first set of grapes next year! I’m not even sure whether they’ll be green or red yet!

Raised Beds – The Beginning

28 04 2011

So raised beds – what a headache! And I haven’t even started building mine yet!

There are plenty of options out there – you can just build your own from scratch, you can get the metal stake connectors and get your own wood, or you can get a kit.  I decided that I preferred going with a kit, as long as it wasn’t too costly.

I got a gift card to Home Depot through my credit card points, and set off with my parents’.  I’d done some internet research in advance, and just wanted to see what they had there.  With my parents’ help, I found this cedar raised bed kit for about $80.

This box is heavy, by the way!

The kit comes with pieces for two four x four sections – one that is ten inches high, and another that is seven inches high – they’re connected to each other.  The section of my yard that I want to cover is about 4 feet by 11 feet – but after talking with my parents, I decided I’d start with this kit.  First, I’ll put together the taller four x four section and see how that works for the plants.  I’ll keep the pieces for the other section and add them as needed or wanted.  I can always re-seed the part that I won’t be covering, add on more beds, or put down some sod.

So along with this kit, I picked up three bags of 2 cubic feet of garden soil with Miracle Gro in it, and ten bags of 3/4 cubic feet topsoil.  (The full 4×8 bed holds 22 cubic feet)  Soil is heavy! Fortunately, my parents were there to help me!

The cedar kit is now inside, to keep it safe from the rain (not the wood as much as the cardboard box), and the soil is just over the fence, ready to go.  I didn’t pick up any additional plants, because it’s still too chilly to plant them, but I’ll get started on putting the raised beds together as soon as it looks like it will be a bit warmer and less rainy!

Hopefully by then, my little seedlings will be hearty enough to go outside as well!

A Garden Project

27 04 2011

I’ve struggled for a while with what to do with the outdoor part of my home.  I definitely can’t afford to do a major re-do all at once (and who wouldn’t love to do that!) and I’ve found that doing things piecemeal is leaving me a bit discombobulated.

So I finally decided the other day that I was going to draw up a plan for what I ideally wanted to do in the garden – what would be my perfect backyard for the space that I have?  Then, I could prioritize it, and work on doing parts  of it at a time, with the goal of completing it over a few years.

I’m really happy with what I came up with – some of it may/will change, but right now, it’s a good starting point:

Here's the plan!

It’s not drawn to scale, but it gives you an idea of what I have planned.  Here are some of my inspirations:

This would go against the shed on a trellis

I love the way these look, so I want to incorporate them around the finished yard

I love this DIY bird bath/planter from Lowes

This is a sample garden, but I'm going to use my own choices for plants

The next step was for me to prioritize the areas of the garden. Since I had already started my seedlings inside, I decided to go with the raised beds in the back corner.  I’m very excited to get them going!

So soon, this will no longer be my boring garden:

What do you think?


1 03 2011

To keep in the theme of flowers and spring, I wanted to talk a little bit about my orchid. The phalaenopsis.

Orchids are notoriously tough, but I got one because it was part of the Trash it or Treasure it tasks.  Plus they’re pretty – how hard can it be, I thought?

Well, it’s not a simple plant, that’s for sure.  Fortunately, I live next door to some orchid experts, who have probably 20-25 plants, of all different species.

Mine is a phalaenopsis, which is the most common one you’ll see.  I’ve had it for several months now, and it’s still alive.  But it needs maintenance.  They really like the same temperatures we do, but would prefer high humidity, which is not what’s in my house.

And apparently, they need to be re-potted and cleaned out. Who knew?

So on Friday, my neighbor came over to help me.  We laid out newspaper on the counter, and he pulled the orchid and it’s “stuff” out – it’s a New Zealand moss that the orchid was living in.  They don’t live in soil.

The moss was starting to deteriorate, which was starting to affect the root coverings of the Phal (I won’t go into the technical terms for everything, because I don’t remember them :)).  So it was good that we were cleaning it – this should be done after it’s finished blooming, which mine had.

It turned out there were two orchid plants in there, but one had died, so we got rid of that.  Then my neighbor pulled out all of the old moss from the roots of the plant while I washed the pot with soap and water.  He pulled the stalks off of the leaves – he said we were done with them, they wouldn’t flower again. Then, it was time to re-pot.

First, you place some fresh orchid mix in the bottom of the pot – I was using some I’d picked up at Lowes which looked like mulch.  It’s got to be specific to your orchid though.

Next, my neighbor placed the orchid in the pot, while I filled around it with the remaining mixture.  While doing this, he used a regular pencil to push the mix down among the roots of the orchid – he said we’d know we were finished when we could pick the orchid up by its leaves and it stayed in the pot.

This went on for a few minutes, and finally, we were finished!

I asked about watering – when I plant most things, I water them right away.  Not so with the orchid.

He said that the next morning, I was to water it with a light shower from the kitchen sprayer for 2-3 minutes.  Then leave it for about 10 minutes, and do the same thing again.  This kind of watering is what should be done every 10 days or so.

In terms of fertilizing, he suggested I do that when I can see the roots starting to grow over the soil, and can see that the tip is a different color to the rest of the root – that’s when the orchid wants to be fertilized.  Good tips.

So now my orchid is fresh and ready for new blooms next year!  If I don’t kill it, my neighbor said he’d give me a cutting of his mount hood orchid when he separates it next year – it’s really beautiful, so let’s hope I can keep this one alive!

Lookin' good!

Let’s Talk Spring!

28 02 2011

Since it’s been so cold and miserable around here (with only a couple of warm-ish days to remind us that spring will eventually come again), I thought I’d focus on some pretty-ness for this post.

What are your garden plans for this year?

I’ve got high hopes for my garden – despite the fact it seems my creepy neighbor has moved BACK in…ugh…I still plan to focus on the garden this spring.  Soon, I need to plant some seeds indoors for my garden. I want to put in a raised bed where I can grow some herbs and veggies!

In March’s Better Homes & Gardens, they say we in the northeast can:

Step up spring’s flowering debut with some perky cool-season plants. Early-bird blooms – primrose, pansy, English daisy, wallflower, poppy, stock, snap-dragon, calendula, and alyssum – are popping up in garden centers now.  Plant these tough guys in pots or in the garden as soon as soil thaws.

I saw some great inspiration in their magazine too:

Check out the lattice work in the background!

As you know, I have lattice work on my deck for privacy screens, and I’m working on growing some ivy there.  It’s working its way up, despite the harsh winter. But I really like the idea of adding some in against the house like this. I’m not sure where I could do this yet – I’ve got to get out there and check it out – but I think it would be really pretty. I think she’s growing peonies there.

And here’s some more – these are ‘Nelly Moser’ clematis.  Now that I’m thinking about it – maybe I could put these along the fence.  Since it’s not ‘fencing,’ I can make them as high as I’d like to – I’ll give that some thought.

Another idea I had for along the fence are these:

These are Baily Nurseries’ Hydrangea Vanilla Strawberry and they can grow up to 6-7 feet tall! They are stunning looking – according to the magazine, “Beginning midsummer, large creamy white flower heads turn pink and then become strawberry red or even burgundy.  New flower heads continue opening into late summer, so plants display all three color stages at any one time.”

I just love hydrangeas – I’m hoping my ones in the front come back in the spring after this winter – and these are so beautiful.  I think it might be just the thing to plant there or maybe along my next door neighbors’ fence!  I have some nice grass in my yard, but I need some more color!