Big-girl gardening

July 27, 2011

I’ve missed you blog. And I’ve been very busy. My sad little collection of random planters from last year has been getting a facelift – and a backyard transformation has been in progress.

Our handsome handy-man dug-in, literally, and helped me dig out the massive tree root that I, in a silly delusion, thought I could get out myself. He called it a dinosaur. My favorite quote of his: “Some men like to drink beer. I like to cut trees.” He also likes to jump out of planes and took his 70-year old father with him last summer – but that’s another story for another time.

With the monster tree stump and roots out, I got on my big-girl pants, hauled out the power drill and built myself an above-ground planter box. And then I proceeded to spend a small fortune on garden soil to fill the 4’ x 12’ box. Ouchy – but totally worth it to have a fertile, dedicated vegetable growing area a foot off the ground (and out of the puppy potty path).

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I started all of the seeds for my produce myself – Cherry tomatoes, yellow pear tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes (culled from Danielle’s CSA box last year – thanks pop tart!), orange bell peppers, sugar daddy sweet peas, zucchini, yellow summer squash, cucumber, regular chives and garlic chives, oregano, cilantro, basil, parsley, and mint. Everything took. I’ve even been trying to give away plants to anyone who wants to jump on the home-growing bandwagon.

And even though I transplanted all of my tiny plantlings late in the season (July 4th weekend) they’ve rooted in and shot up. This weekend I noticed tiny green fruit on my cherry tomato plant! I’m keeping my fingers crossed for so much bounty that I can give it away in random acts of produce throughout the summer. Here’s looking at you, tomato!

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Not-so-secret garden

August 11, 2010

I posted a couple more photos of the house Sunday night – just the living and dining rooms for now. The upstairs is way messy – so no photos to share yet. We still don’t have a functional closet in the master bedroom, so we’re borrowing the little closets in the guest room and office for all of our hanging clothes – which means we can’t actually store anything in these closets yet – which means that all the stuff I would like to put into these closets is piled up outside the closets in the guest room and office, hallway or still packed and tucked away in the basement. Blargh.

So, as you can see, we’ve been focusing mainly on the first floor common living areas and, when I have the energy and it’s not a thousand degrees outside, the back yard. Since we only have one to two more months of summer left, I want to be able to enjoy our little deck and my attempt at a garden while I can.

I’ve been deforesting the overgrown foliage over the past several weeks, and think I’m making pretty good progress – despite all of the killer mosquitoes! The veggies that I’ve been trying to keep alive are flourishing. And, no, I still don’t know what the mystery squash is! It’s bigger, and appears to have faded a bit in color (photos below). I’ve gotten a few emails from people saying that it looks like a giant cucumber (not a squash), or a roundish zucchini. The mystery continues…

Ayesh had a cute little table and chair set from her old condo that we’ve set up on the deck, along with our new outdoor bench that we got at World Market for a STEAL! Hooray for close-out sales! Flanked by the lovely tropical trees that were gifts from John and David (thanks guys!) the deck is becoming a cozy little retreat from the craziness inside.

And Dottie LOVES lounging outside with us, sunbathing, rolling around in my garden and keeping an eye on her jungle of weeds that I haven’t tackled yet.

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Buds! (and a six lb mystery “squash”)

July 29, 2010

Yay!  I can literally see the fruits of my labor…uh, veggies, that is.  I have buds! It’s very exciting.

The vast majority of my plantlings came from my wonderful friend and neighbor, Karla, who told me that this is some sort of squash:

Mystery Squash

I’ll be very interested in seeing what it grows into.  In case you can’t tell from the photo, it’s HUGE already. I swear it weighs a good six lbs.

Everything else is growing too! I have what appear to be two different kinds of peppers, tiny buds of sweet tomatoes, basil GALORE, dill that is growing amazingly tall, lettuce that is also growing surprisingly upwards rather than round (shows how little I know about gardening, I guess), and little round green beginnings of what will be beefsteak tomatoes that I started from seeds in Lauretta’s kitchen.

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Last weekend I removed the lattice that I had placed behind the plants.  I had second thoughts. It looked sort of cheap.  I’ll need to invest in some other means for the climbing plants to climb.  I was considering transplanting some of the plants directly into the ground for maximum growth, but at this point, I don’t want to shock anything that is budding, and besides, Dottie likes to lie in the dirt between all the pots and I don’t want her to squish anything (or pee on it).

Have good gardening tips for a novice? I want to hear about how to organize my garden to the max.  Write me some comments!

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Garden epiphany

July 11, 2010

Because the whole of last week was miserably hot and humid in Chicago, I spent the entire week working on the inside of my house. By the time this weekend hit, so did the restless stir-craziness. On Sunday the temp cooled down just enough for me to justify spending some time outside to try to make the backyard mayhem into some semblance of a tranquil garden – my total fantasy.

And now I can say that I get it. I finally get it. I never thought I’d be the gardening kind, spending hours outside in the hot sun, swatting at bugs, getting mosquito bites, having to pull dirty clumps of weeds out of the ground…But I totally am. I spent the entire day outside yesterday and loved every minute of it.

The back yard hasn’t gone through any radical changes like the rest of the house. It’s always just sort of been there, under utilized. About a month ago my friends with a beautiful, bountiful garden asked me to take some plants off thier hands so they could thin out thier over-growing plot, and I graciously accepted tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, basil, squash, dill, parsley, and sage. All of these have been sitting (and thankfully growing) in containers out against the garage wall. On Sunday I set to clearing a prime patch of weeds out of an area I thought would be perfect to transplant them all.

This is just the beginning…

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New roof in two days? Done.

January 27, 2010

Yes, they totally got the roof done in just two days.  On Saturday Ayesh and I got up early and walked over to the house to see the whole bunch of roofers already hard at work.  It was crazy to see debris literally falling all over the yard.  Two hours later, we drove past the house again on the way to to the home supply showroom to look at faucets and fixtures, and were stunned to see a guy with a giant pitchfork stabbing at the layers of tile on the front porch roof.  Another two hours later, after our errands, the porch roof was completely bare and the guys appeared to be finishing off the top of the house.  Last stop: just before sunset, we drove past a quiet, serene and clean house and yard.  All done.  Too dark to take photos, so I went back Sunday morning to snap a final shot.

Three layers of old shingles were removed; new decking installed and brand new Timberline shingles in a sleek shade of dark gray now adorn our new roof.

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