Thursday, June 16, 2011

There's a parenting analogy here somewhere.

Here's why gardening is so satisfying:
You put the plants where you want them.
You can cage many of them, and tie others to stakes to ensure proper growth.
It's approximately a one-hour-per-day commitment.
Water daily.
Feed weekly.
Allow time to grow.
Shelter from cold.
Protect from pests.
Produce fruits.
Take the winter off.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


What's this? ANOTHER home improvement project? You got that right. We are on a roll.
Our deck formerly had an incredibly ugly privacy "screen" on two of its corners, protecting us from the prying eyes of our neighbors. Here's the thing, though: there's nothing to see but an ugly privacy screen. Our house sits so far back from the street and other houses that we are fairly secluded and have no need for the ugly thing.

Once again, I forgot to take a real "before" picture, but looking at this, you can probably get the idea.
Finished tearing down.
Pedro's checking out Richard's work.
Tear down from a different angle.
Helping Daddy build!
Two sides finished. Third railing almost fabricated.
The Richards.

Next weekend's project will be to paint the deck all the same color as the fence, and then I think we may be--dare I say it?--finished with our big projects for the summer.

More Projects

Our neighbor gave me a flat of Snapdragons last week and said, "I think these would look great in front of your house."
Subtle, right?
Not one to look a gift dragon in the mouth, however, I got to work.

First, I had a hosta to plant.

Before the Snapdragons:
They will grow to be 18-36 inches high and be very colorful in front of the house. I can't wait to see them in full bloom!
Updates to follow!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011


Little else has given us as much satisfaction on this project as what we accomplished today:

We finally got rid of the pile of sand and the pile of busted up concrete today. In 100 degree weather, no less. YEAH! Also, you would not BELIEVE the creatures we found living in our pile of concrete. It's been less than a week! I should charge Toad Rent.

Little else has given us as much satisfaction as getting rid of the sand and concrete... Except maybe this:
These are my sunflowers. They are literally tripled in size from this time yesterday. This is so exciting!

Monday, June 06, 2011

Urban Experiment: Raised Garden Edition

When we moved in to our house, there was a hot tub in the back yard. We kept it for about a year and then sold the stupid thing. What a pain in the rear. After that, though, we ended up with an empty cement slab threatening the safety of our family and friends. Richard and I have been talking about what to do with it for a long time, and this spring we finally decided to tear it out and build a vegetable garden.
Here is a photo journal of each step of the back-breaking project. I don't really feel like they convey the amount of work that went into each step, but aside from being able to make YOU lift a shovel, I guess I won't be satisfied that you truly understand.
I only wish we had thought to take a picture of the slab in its original state, but I forgot until it was too late.

This is what was left underneath the slab off concrete.

Here is the pile of concrete...anybody need clean-ish fill?
Under the cement slab we found a startling amount of sand and rock. In order to reuse the landscaping rock we had to build a rock sifter and sift out the sand into the wheelbarow. The day pictured here was the day after it had rained, so every. single. shovelful was very heavy.
We tore out the wooden walkway leading to the gate. We will use the sifted rock to make a path to the gate with decorative pavers. More photos of that project to follow.
The neighbor graciously gave us left over black dirt from his order. It was so nice of him!
It saved us a lot of time and money. I paid him back with baked goods. Once we have produce, I will be sure to share with him!It was enough to fill our garden half way!
What a mess!

You can see the rock sifter leaning against the AC unit.

Garden Girl is sitting on the newest wall of the garden. She is an accomplished rock-picker.

DIRT! We were so relieved when this was in. What an accomplished feeling!Shirley and I planted three flats of marigolds to keep away the rabbits! I'm not working this hard to offer snacks to the neighborhood rodents.
Planting the marigolds was sweet and bitter because it brought back memories of my Gram. She always planted marigolds around her garden. I think she would be excited about our effort.
I have also been thinking a lot about my grandpa in Nebraska. His garden always had tomatoes and corn. I have wished several times that I could call him up and ask his advice. I never realized how much growing things would make me think about my loved ones. I can't help but feel like we are connected through the earth in this way. God loves me so much to bless me like this.
Finished marigolds. Green, yellow, red bell peppers and jalapenos.
In the top left corner, I planted carrot, parsnip and beet seeds. The towel is for my poor knees.
Along the top of the photo, to the right of the seeds are four rows of onions. In the top right corner of the garden are two watermelon plalnts. Below those are two cucumber plants. Gross. I'll be planning to give most of these away...unless maybe I decide to make pickles. Maybe I can wear rubber gloves so I don't smell like a cucumber all summer.
In the bottom of the photo here, you can see the beginnings of Tomato Alley. From left to right we have Heirlooms, Grapes, Romas, Early Girls and Better Boys.
Finished planting!
In the center of the garden you can see cilantro, rosemary, basil and Greek oregano. To the top-right of the oregano, marked by a rock are green beans.
Along the deck-edge of the garden, I planted sunflowers. I hope they will grow to be about four feet tall and make a natural barrier between the deck and the garden to keep the four-legged family members out. Caged and fenced.

I know it sounds silly, but I just can't believe food will come from this toil--especially the seeeds! We prayed over our garden that God would be honored in our hard work, and after the enormity of the project I honestly feel like we can take on any project!
We are planning to finally get rid of the sand and cement today or tomorrow, and then we can rake the landscaping rocks into place and have a nice walkway from the deck to the gate. I want to add a few more touches to the garden, and I will post pictures of our progress over the summer. We are all very excited about this change to our back yard.