Loving the Daily Grind!

29 06 2009

So I requested that Starbucks save some of their coffee grounds for me so I could use them for my garden. Let’s face it, I’ll never make enough coffee to supply enough grounds for my garden. I just picked some up from the store and put it all over my garden and around my tree. It makes it look very rich and one of my neighbors even came over and said “Wow, it smells so good over here!”

Look how rich and fertile the soil looks with the grounds! Tomatoes love acidity and this should also keep squirrels at bay!
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This is “clean” after trying to get as much of the coffee grounds off me! My nails were nasty!
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Thanks Starbucks!!

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Lemongrass Saga

26 06 2009

3 stages of Lemongrass from my rooting of the the stalks for about 2-3 weeks and planting them at the beginning of April to now. These guys need lots of sun and water. It’s best to water things when the sun goes down in the afternoon or really early before the sun beats down so that you don’t sizzle up your plants. It’s like asking the sun to bake the plants!

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Continuing the Tour Around the Garden & Stuff in Front!

26 06 2009

Today I woke up and saw water dripping from the windows. I guess I shouldn’t have fertilized the garden last night! I don’t want to keep water-logging everything! We had about a day or so of non-rain, which was nice for a change. Below are some pictures from around the outside of the house and backyard:

Here’s a little flashback of where it all began. Essentially we had mud, weeds, leaves, branches, poison ivy, a bazillion petals from the cherry blossom tree and tree roots instead of grass.

Yes, this was our backyard 2 years ago. Just this summer have we really put more attention to fixing it up.
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We spent forever ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​cleaning it up to make it to look like this. A slight improvement.
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Building the raised garden planters and planting the first herbs/fruits/veg (May 29, 2009)
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We positioned the planters at the very rear of the yard since that is where the most sun comes in. We were a bit limited since there is a tree in one area of the yard and the yard isn’t huge. It’s actually a good size since I don’t like to mow lawns. (Sorry the pictures were askew.)
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The “babies” waiting to be planted. I purchased everything from Hickory Grove Nursery except the flowers.
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Front and side of house – mixed planters with a bunch of things that I don’t remember the names of!
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On the front porch: Lemon Catnip, the Palm plant that Toonces keeps devouring and a bunch of these other things I can’t remember the name of. The rocks are from places that I visit and bring home because I like them. The black one on the left was from Jen & Steph’s wedding. Also, it helps keep the squirrels from digging. The cat grass I aptly planted in the cat pot. Looks hilarious to me!
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This is what the tree base looked like for about a year or so. The people who owned the house previous to us would scrape all the leaves up against the tree I guess to mulch it. We got rid of their mulch as there was too much to decompose and we put rubber mulch. That eroded after about a year so wound up doing the same thing they did and raked the leaves against the tree until we figured something out. This is to the left of the garden area.
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We now have 2 birdhouses and a hummingbird feeder. The chairs and stuff are temporarily there and are going to be refinished. Eventually we’d like to install a paved sitting area with a table and fire pit. That will have to come when we have time to do it and an afford it! The Coleus on the side of the tree is there so that it can help cover the exposed roots. Those roots are extremely annoying because they reach the ENTIRE yard. There are no level surfaces basically.
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These are 2 bird baths or squirrel drinking fountains. They get muddy when it rains a lot. I paired up a cute lime green iron side table with the iron bird bath. They are heavy enough to be secure when it is windy and I stuffed the legs about an inch into the ground just to be safe..
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My Coleus grown from seed – took like 3 months for it to start to look like this! I almost threw it out since it seemed like nothing was happening. On the right is my Thai/Asian Basil that I saved from a take-out bowl of Pho! This one was another late-bloomer. It took about 6 weeks of keeping this guy watered for him to grow a nice root system. I almost just ate him but when I lifted him out it was like “Whoa! When did you grow these roots?!?!? You are spared….for now…”
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The 2 girls watching us from the bathroom!
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Burying Our Unsightly Rain Downspout

24 06 2009

The house we bought has so many things to repair it feels like “The Money Pit” sometimes! Some things are big fixes, some are little, with varying degrees of annoyance. We recently turned our attention to the outside of the front of the house where there is a flexible rain downspout extension that lazily lies on the concrete sidewalk. This sidewalk is all cracked and damaged due to years of water constantly being directed onto it. The previous owners had a good idea by trying to divert the rain water away from the foundation of the house but they didn’t go far enough away to protect the walkway. Also, they didn’t have it extended as far out as in the picture, instead having it sit right under the bushes – makes no sense. They had it propped up on all sorts of random bricks, rocks, etc. Additionally, if you want to walk on the sidewalk, you are always tripping over this piece – super annoying accident waiting to happen! And OK, if you want to get right down to it, it is pretty fuggetaboutit ugly!

Here’s what it looked like:

BEFORE
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We decided to try and improve on the rain downspout by doing several things:

1. Replacing the flexible hose with 4-inch diameter PVC pipe, which our friend Althea gave us. We used a solid pipe since it was going to be under an area that we walked on and we wanted it to be stronger. Plus, roots and such can’t grow through solid pipe as easily as they can through a thinner wall like flexible hose. We cut it to size with a hacksaw. That took forever so we then trimmed it with a sawz-all (reciprocating saw).
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  1. 2. Adding a downspout adapter that connected the vertical downspout to the PVC pipe (or flexible pipe) smoothly.

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3. Adding a PVC coupling that had a mini-Y leg that allowed for for access in case something were to clog up the pipe we could route it out. There’s a cute little screw-on/off cap.

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4. We spent the time making sure that the pipe was angled correctly so that it had proper drain flow when it rained. It drains to the road, far away from our house. We poured water into the Y-access point and watched it run out the front. Kinda fun!

AFTER
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The front area still needs a lot of work, but the next step will be removing the concrete and installing some pavers that look nice and allow for proper drainage and stability. That piece of wood that is in front isn’t exactly level, nor is the entire front zone, so we will have to add some dirt and what not to improve it. We also want to replace some of the plants that are in the front as they aren’t doing much. I added the planters in order to try and beautify what we could until we had the resources to continue. Nobody really does anything with their yards or fronts of their homes around us. I’d like to be a positive example for our nook of a community. I know we aren’t even close to perfect, but I take pride in my home and I want that to show.





Those Pesky Bits of Soap Love Dressing Up in Knee-High Hose!

24 06 2009

I think we all have several bits of tiny used bar soaps in our bathroom showers. In the past I have thrown them out to make way for the brand new bars. I’ll admit I like trying new soaps and get excited to finish one off. I started to feel bad for abandoning those used specimens before their lifespan was fully up. I bought a dollar store pair of knee-high hose. (I chose white since it seemed cheerier than the typical tan.)

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I slipped my tiny bits of soap into it and tied it to an “oh crap” bar that is existing in my shower. When I want to use it it is easy access since the hose allows water and soap to mix effortlessly. You can see I have been doing this for some time as there are like 10 bars of mini-soaps in there!
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If you have any ideas to help recycle or extend the life of something, please let me know and I will post your ideas!





The Bounty!

23 06 2009

I did my first “official” harvest of everything except the tomatoes, green peppers, melon, eggplant and cukes. Fuggetaboutit, they are going to be a while yet. I noticed that what I did pick was very dirty and needed to be rinsed like 10 times. I kept wondering where the dirt was coming from. At least everything is organic! Below are pics of the goodies:

Basil & Curly Parsley
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Mexican Coriander & Chives – both were VERY tasty!!
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Sage – drying out to make smudge sticks and just to use for cooking (the texture reminds me of the skin of those bright green lizards I used to catch in Hawaii)
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Spearmint & Asian Coriander (one of the herbs you’d see on your plate if you ordered Pho)
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Rosemary – smells great! Willow already was trying to eat it!
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I was also pondering all the rain we’ve been having the last month or so and thought what if Mother Nature is trying to stimulate more growth to counteract all the pollution and global warming issues? Like, trying to heal herself. Or trying to replenish or filter the diminishing water supply. Alternatively, I guess She could be trying to drown us….





Re-Use Metal Cans or Found Objects in Your Garden or Yard

22 06 2009

Hello hello! I have many planters outside my house and decided it was getting way too expensive to keep buying them! Also, I had extra plants and herbs that I didn’t have homes for and needed to plant before they died. Typically we recycle all paper, plastic, glass and metal, but I thought it might be cool to re-use some of my “garbage” in a fun way. Here’s the easy way to do it:

I had a couple of used metal cans that I washed out (Lavazza espresso can and an Asian nut snack can). First I used my favorite tool, the wonder bar, to punch out holes in the base for drainage.
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I then added a tiny bit of gravel to the base to add some weight and aid in drainage.
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Good soil comes next! It is a challenge to plant things in these tiny pots, so expect dirt to go all over. You might want to add a drop cloth or do it outside.

The finished can-planters look so cute!
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You can do the same with any found object. I had an extra paper recycle bin that was too small for any realistic household to use. I could have drilled drainage holes but instead I just added some loose gravel at the bottom. Then, I added some good soil and packed it down. I planted my Thai/Asian Basil in the center and flanked it with garlic bulbs. I hope they grow well together!
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