Spring

I’m not ready for spring yet. However, the buds are swelling, the plants are starting to green up and it will be spring whether I like it or not.

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This is an out of control Komatsuna. I planted it in August and then built the greenhouse around it. It’s past the point where it’s actually good for eating, but it’s is super pretty.

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I’ve got lettuce, flower, and beets coming up too. I planted these in December. They’ve been super slow to grow, but lately, they have been taking off.

Things in the home have been a bit ridicules lately. We had some plumbing issues that turned into more problems. I know way more about plumbing now than I did two weeks ago. Hopefully, the bathroom will be put back together and functional again by tomorrow. But with our luck, we will just find another problem.

We decided to paint the tile in our bathroom blue. (It does look more purple in the pictures, and it did turn out more periwinkle than the light blue I was expecting.) It took forever but does look better than the stained mess we had before. Here’s during the long, six-hour process:

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Greenhouse

We’ve been spending a lot of time working on a fun project outside our home. Bet you can’t guess what it is…I’ll give you a hint. It’s the title of this post.

Yep, we built a greenhouse. I have had plans to do this since moving into our home. And this year, I decided it was going to happen. I would like I nice, permanent, engineered structures, but I realized the time and cost meant it might never happen. So we built it inexpensively and built it to fit the site to save time.

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It’s 1 inch PVC. To attach it to the house, we screwed 2×4’s on the home and drilled large holes in the 2×4 for the PVC to lock into. The bottom is on top of rebar that is pounded into the ground. We framed it up and used white felt over the PVC, and then put the plastic film over the frame. The plastic frame is connected by snap clamps on the bottom, and sandwiched between two pieces of wood on the top. (Clamps, felt and film were bought from here.)

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Anyway, super simple, it cost right around $300, and took around 15-20 hours to build.

Someone asked me recently what I was going to plant in the greenhouse. And I didn’t have an answer for them. (I am a horrible horticulturist, I sometimes overlook the plant part.) We built a greenhouse to plant plants in right? Kind of. We also built it to contribute to the passive solar heating of our home. The wall it is built against is under-insulated, with leaky windows. And rather than upgrading any of that, we built a greenhouse instead. We’ll see how it works this winter. And I will get around to planting some plants in there too.

My Way

I loved the first nice camera I ever bought. I loved up to the point that the lens became very scratched and pictures would end up with smudges on them. Then I bought a series of cameras that were supposed to be good, but I didn’t like.

I finally went back and bought a used seven-year-old camera. The specs were probably not the best for the price point. I didn’t care. I’m more than happy returning to that original camera that I like. It takes pictures like I want it to. Simple, but still lovely.

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My Garden

This is my own garden. I post pictures frequently, so this is mostly an update. It’s still young and very much in development. And wild. I always sit around thinking about what I could do to make it less weedy and wild, but the truth is, I love it wild. I want it to feel kind of like I’m up in the mountains hiking, not in some over-manicured boring greenville. I want to grow food. And, I really want my garden to be a place where I go to have fun and relax: not just a place I go to do yard work.

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In the foreground is my strawberry patch that has been very productive this spring.

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More strawberries, hardy kiwi and a sandbox.

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The pond is constructed! It is in need of plants, fish, and we have plans to surround it with planters. The construction job is not the best, (it was the first-time ever laying bricks) but I’m really enjoying it.

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The herb spiral has a whole bunch of herbs I don’t ever remember to use.

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Butterfly weed with chamomile in the background.

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A different kind of butterfly weed, that appeared spontaneously. So it’s technically a weed, but what a gorgeous one!

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So lots of weed, some fruit trees, and also tomatoes and peppers. You can back a lot into a space.

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Clover, chickens, and more fruit trees and vegetables hiding in there as well.

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The tail end of the spring garden. Broccoli, lettuce, parsley, with melons in the background that should fill in over the summer.

Checking…

Back in 2011, I needed extra money and did quite a bit of landscaping. Mostly design, but some labor and installation as well. I was headed down south to headed family, close to where I worked then and decided to check up on a couple of gardens.

I was a bit nervous. Being a landscape designer is hard. I install or design a landscape and it looks great…but you never quite know how it will actually turn out. Gardens take years to fully develop. Much of my design work is actually in the hands of the gardeners. If they take proper care of it and love it, the garden thrives. But if not…well a good design can only go so far.

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First up: I talked briefly to the owner of this lovely garden. It is well loved. I love it too. When I came up with that lovely curved design, I knew it would look pretty good. Curves are usually all floppy and too tight: this is loose, structured and actually rather functional as well. There’s a pathway for the mailman, small patio, and tons of gorgeous flowers. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This garden looked pretty good too. I did space plants a bit too close together. (It’s very easy to do when plants are small, even when you are designing for mature size.)

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All of the shrubs in this bed flower, but right now it is in between. The shrubs have mostly taken off and they are huge. I think I should have planted more dwarf varieties of shrubs:  it’s currently a lot of pruning to keep everything as small as it should be.

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This garden is lovely. Although I think my only contribution is the ninebark shrub in the background. Most of the other plants were existing or weeds turned perennials. (Yarrow is good like that.)

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Next up is my own garden!

 

 

Strawberries

After finding out during a college research project that Evie-2 strawberries did well in our climate, I planted a bunch. That was a year or two ago, and now I’m loaded with strawberries. We’ve been picking a few pounds daily.

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I had just enough rhubarb to make a crumble that was delicious.

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The front pond is now a pond. It still has a lot of work to go, but it is getting there. Next up is the top portion to hide and tack down the liner.

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I had chipping painted concrete on the front porch. Lots of ideas to fix it, most of which were expensive and time-consuming. So when I saw on an outdoor rug for $20, I decided to just do that. The boys loved it.

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Snow

Last year it was hail, this year snow. I raided the stash of bed sheets and used some plastic sheeting that had been sitting around in the shed. And the plants did just fine. Luckily, I only had my tomatoes and peppers planted that needed protection: all the other warm season crops will go in this week.

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Randomness

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I love this picture. We took my family up to the waterfall. My brother just came home from his mission which made it extra cool.

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We volunteered at Peter’s school with the bike rodeo. And our kids didn’t actually do it. Fun anyways!

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A Quick note on Home-Grown Transplants

This year, I’ve received more questions about growing your own transplants than I ever remember. So I’ve got a few tips for you

Use lights: 

Even a sunny window isn’t that sunny. Light levels indoors are drastically different than those outside. Getting grow lights is not that hard. Any fluorescent or led bulb works, even a clip on desk lamp with a compact fluorescent bulb works. I personally have under-cabinet lights that have been hard wired to an automatic timer. I have used shop lights in the past. I don’t feel like I have quite enough light right now, but it’s worked. I made a light reflector with aluminum foil and cardboard to concentrate the light as well.

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Use fertilizer: 

I picked up an organic-based liquid fertilizer from my local garden center. I dilute it weekly for irrigation. Potting-mixes don’t hold onto nutrients that well: fertilizer is really helpful.

Water right:

I water daily. But not too much. Every time I’ve had plant-sitters they tend to drown the plants. It’s good to dry out just a bit between irrigation. But obviously, not watering is also the easiest way to kill your plants.

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Acclimate plants:

I wait until the temperatures are warm, and then acclimate my plants on my east facing porch for about a week before planting.

I just barely planted two flats of tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant that I started inside. Excited for the garden this year!

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Spring Madness

My average last frost date is about this week. Which means that I suddenly feel very behind gardening. It’s a magical date where everything must be planted in order to get as soon of a harvest as possible. The danger of frost has passed. (Actually, maybe…we had snow last week…there are no guarantees with the weather.) So all plants must be planted.

But…turns out plants will grow just as well even if they are planted several weeks later. So I’m not stressing out that I don’t have everything ready to go. Well, actually, my tomatoes have outgrown their shelf under my lights, so I’m actually pretty happy I can put them outside.

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I don’t remember planting Alliums. But happy to have them!

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There were way too much fennel and yarrow in the herb spiral. We ripped it all out, and have almost a clean slate. 

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Kale that should probably by torn out soon, transplants, and seeds on the left. 

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Potatoes! Purple ones, because I like planting things you can’t buy.