A garden update

It was my intention that my next post would regard something inside the house. But truthfully, not much progress has been made on any of our indoor projects. I just can't wrap my head around demoing kitchen walls knowing their is such sunshine and fresh air going on. You understand.

The garden is a haven of activity! There is progress every single day, it's amazing. I forgot how rewarding a garden can be. and relaxing. and simple. It's my therapy. Let's see how the seeds are doing...

First up was broccoli, something I've never grown before. The mirror-image leaves are precious!

Then carrots! I have lots of experience with these guys thanks to mom.

The beets are the prettiest. That red line is so rich. Everyone else has popped up as well (these pics are actually a couple weeks old). We're almost ready for thinning. Conceptually, thinning makes me sad. I hate to destroy all those babies! Nature is a cruel beast.

My seedlings are booming! Here's the romaine. I was worried about these at first because they just wanted to lay down. I propped them up every morning. But now, they stand all on their own. Doesn't it look like they are waving? What a happy lettuce!

My yellow squash is about three times the size. I can't wait until it starts pouring over the side of this somewhat-ugly pot. The rest I'll save to show you when the garden is bursting. Every day is more and more green...

I want to keep this garden completely chemical-free. I found Dr. Earth at my local nursery. Phew, this stuff is stinky! We also found some aphids on the artichoke yesterday, ew. I'm thinking they came home with me since I bought that plant at the drugstore, impulse purchase. But Mike gave them a dose of Organocide and today they are gone.

I want to leave you with a couple backyard details. These are all things that make me happy...

Our Ikea patio set in place. See my little lanterns hanging from the pergola? They were a HomeGoods find, perfect for citronella tealights. This is the ideal spot for lazy afternoons with friends. That's a potted Kangaroo Paw in the foreground. I scored two of these at Target a while ago, am completely obsessed.

This little bird feeder has provided hours of entertainment, not only for the kitties, but for the two squirrels that live in my neighbor's tree. Oh yeah, a handful of birds too.

Of course, no American backyard is complete without a grill. We bought the biggest Weber they make. Somewhat overkill for just us two, but it absolutely completes the vision.

Here's sort of a patchwork of the whole space from the view of the sliding door. See that long empty bed on the left, I'm thinking this will be a border of ferns and herbs. The dirt is all prepped and ready to go. On the far right you can see our two citrus trees, a lemon and an orange. They have a funny history I will tell you about later. Can you spot the two feline beasties patrolling the grounds?


Raising Vegetables

Ahh... this was fun. Once we tore out all that concrete, the next big thing was to build a raised vegetable garden. Pretty standard idea around these parts: have dirt, grow vegetables. I had been fantasizing about this since the first time we saw the yard. The back corner is the perfect locale as this spot gets sun all day long.

Other blogs got me motivated. It seemed everyone was out there building, growing, even harvesting! Time to stop thinking and just start doing. My default resource for anything garden is Sunset and their method of building the box seemed reasonable. I wanted mine to fill a corner so I did a little modification to the design. My box ended up being 8', both ways, from the corner and 3' wide so I can still reach the far back.

This was too easy. We were able to cut all the wood using a borrowed table saw, then you assemble it upside down on a hard surface. For the beams, we used redwood as suggested, and the 4x4 posts were salvaged from the part of the pergola that we tore down. The 4x4s are chemically treated wood, a big no-no, but since they are so old and have been outside for years I'm not concerned about them seeping into my veggies. The redwood is gorgeous. (I would like to point out that I went alone to purchase this redwood from the Home Depot. The beams were on a high shelf and not ONE employee helped me. I gathered the big yellow metal staircase myself and dragged each board down one by one. Thanks guys!)

{a couple of my corners aren't perfectly square because the 4x4s were wavy. I'm trying not to let this affect my OCD.}

Then you screw everything together with 3 1/2" wood screws. This was the only hard part because sadly, my drill that I've had forever and a day is dying. Even with new batteries, it won't hold a charge. I was in denial and stubbornly refused to accept its death. This meant I could get about 5 screws in at a time, then have to wait a day to charge the battery. Ridiculous. Mike stepped in as the Voice of Reason and we checked out a drill. Once I had that, I banged the rest out in minutes.

Positioning the box was harder than I thought. That mother is heavy, and leveling the ground is no picnic. It became really obvious how NOT square our fence is too. I'm pretending its imperfection is beautiful in a way. Right? No? Oh well.

Next up was placing the mesh screen. The idea being to prevent rodents from digging up and eating the goodies. Crafty little buggers they are.

After that, dirt! We got all our dirt from American Soil & Stone in Richmond. LOVE this place. They suggested a combination of dirts to aid in drainage and nutrients. One was called Local Hero, genius. It took two truckloads with the S10, but cost less than $80. We don't own a wheelbarrow so Mike hauled all this in using our trash cans. Thanks honey!

All set for planting! There's something about this new dirt I find cleansing. I take pride in enriching soil that had been neglected for so long. We literally have no worms, you can dig and dig and find nothing. That's amazing to me.

We chose a combination of seedlings and seeds. I wanted to feel a certain amount of instant gratification, but also need to hone seed skills.

Our ready-mades:
Green Beans
Green Peppers
Red Peppers
Romaine Lettuce
Yellow Squash

Our seeds:
Yellow Onion

Melissa, one of my dear friends, hooked me up with an EarthBox. I planted two tomatoes here, a cherry and a sandwich variety (Big Boy maybe?). So far so good, the plants have doubled in size!

You can also see the crushed granite we used to fill the gap between the box and the old concrete. Also from American Soil, I chose Blue Pathway. I like the permeable qualities of crushed granite as well as it's modern aesthetic. I plan to use the same stuff along the side of our house currently being taken over with weeds. Growl.

Ta Da! Isn't it lovely? I couldn't be happier. So far everyone seems happy except the green pepper, which has wilting leaves. I'm thinking it's too cold at night so I need to come up with a way to keep the roots warm. Otherwise, all seems well. I come out every morning to water and just stare at it. Happiness.

Oh hey, you can see the pergola all painted black. Swanky right? Don't tell anyone, but we still need to paint the tops. I need to do this before they update the Google satellite pics.


Ikea score!

I've been eyeballing Ikea's Ammero patio set for weeks. It was just a bit pricey, too pricey? Should I be spending that kind of cash when I don't even have a kitchen?

{Loving the clean lines, the stark black and white, sigh...}

So in an attempt at being frugal, I started hunting craigslist. This being the Bay Area, the good stuff goes fast and I wasn't finding much by way of modern and cool. I spent a couple days considering a redwood picnic table. It really was a good deal and the ad promised near mint condition. I tried to convince myself this was "classic" and once it got a bit worn, I could paint it a funky color or something. Yawn.

Then yesterday Mike and I were in line at the Tool Library and in unison we decided to just go for it. Let's plunk down the cash for what we really like. It's out first yard! We headed to Ikea and went straight for the outdoor goods. To my horrible dismay, Ammero was SOLD OUT. Incredible! Tragic! We were here just one week ago and they must have had 20 sets (like I said, this being the Bay Area).

Feeling defeated I made the obligatory trip to the As-Is section. I round the corner and what do I spy, 3 Ammero chairs (heart starts to race) and just beyond, the dining table! All at half off. Did you hear me? Half off. We immediately staked our claim, which was a good thing. Literally as we were walking to the checkout someone offered to buy the chairs off us. Sorry Charlie!

The only hitch was 3 chairs, not 4. But an Ikea helper told me there were 9 at the shop in Palo Alto. So guess who hopped in her car and made the trip on a Friday afternoon? That'd be me. And just in the nick of time too, I got the last one.