Sunday, April 26, 2009

Weekend warriors

The city collected all the downed limbs from February's ice storm and turned them into woodchips. Then, rather than pay a disposal company to take the chips, somebody had the legitimately brilliant idea to just give them away to the public. And so, yesterday I went out to a big grassy lot with my dad and loaded up a full pickup load of free mulch. You cannot beat that.

We took the first load to my parents' house and then went back for another load for our house. Luckily the weather was really nice, warm and sunny but with a pretty steady wind to keep it from being overly hot. We used most of the second load to add a new, thick layer of mulch to the long-neglected landscaping around the front and side of the house:

I don't have a "before" picture, but everything looked about the same, except with more weeds and maple seedlings.

Indy inspects the pile of leftover mulch and
contemplates whether or not he should pee on it.

While Dad and I were finishing up with the mulch, MB and BoMB were out buying a little grill and supplies to have a cookout. Dad, Mom, my sister, and their dog joined us, and we had a really nice time. Now that we're finally getting our yard fixed up, I think we're going to end up having a lot more get-togethers out there.

Today, MB and I went out around 1:00 and picked up a load of really nice tile bricks from another freecycler, and then I worked in the garden. I had hoped to get the entire garden plot covered with newspaper and landscaping fabric, but it was hot and I was pretty tired from yesterday, and I had to scale back my ambitions. I really wanted to get a raised bed built for the seeds I'm going to attempt to grow, so that's what I spent the afternoon doing.

pile of fill dirt, courtesy of my cousin MacGyver

Bricks from a freecycle pickup a few months ago. And look! I'm using a level and a tape measure. That means bed building must be serious business.

getting there

inspection time!

Finally done!

I planted three rows of snap peas and two rows of lettuce, and also transferred my pitiful onion sprouts. Now if only I could have another weekend to recover from my weekend!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Operation Landscaping, part two of infinity

EvilDucky snagged me a big chunk of hosta starts from one of her coworkers, and they've been sitting in a bucket in the kitchen ever since:

Today I finally had a day off with nice weather, so I wanted to get the hostas in the ground before they gave up and died. It's best to put the plants in after the landscaping fabric is down, so that meant I had to finish pulling the rocks and covering the beds.

It's sort of like performing surgery.

I couldn't find the trowel, so I improvised with a tiki torch stake and an old slotted spoon. It worked out surprisingly well.

Good God, he looks pathetic.

I spent the whole afternoon outside -- with the exception of the hour I used to take Indy to the vet for his yearly exam -- and it payed off big time. Just as the sun was setting, I got the last of the fabric pinned down and the last two hostas planted:

I didn't get rocks onto the last 12 feet of the bed, but it's supposed to be nice again tomorrow, so we'll see how it goes. In the meantime, I wish I had remembered to ask MB to take a picture of my rad and super classy wifebeater burn lines (hey, I'm a redhead. I don't tan.), cuz they are SEX-AY.

While we're here, let's do a seedling check. I wasn't very happy with the way the peat pots were working out. They didn't maintain moisture well at all, and the outsides of the pots were growing funky blue-green mold. The onion sprouts in the plastic cookie tub were doing much better than the ones in the peat pots, go figure. I pulled the seedlings out of the peat pots and replanted them in two windowbox planters that I already had, but didn't really expect them to survive the transplant.

They are still alive, though they still look pretty spindly:

Not very many basil and catnip sprouts came up, but the ones that did are doing really well:

I'm starting to get impatient for the start of the real garden, too. The weather has been going back and forth from nice to chilly, but I'm hoping it'll settle in soon. I'm anxious to get the veggies growing!

Obamas to Plant Vegetable Garden at White House

Click here to read the NYT article :)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Operation Landscaping, part one of infinity

Last April, I spent a day working on the beds that line our side yard sidewalk, and Indy & I planted some hostas in May. Four of the five hostas came back this year (hooray!), but they weren't alone. This may come as a surprise to exactly no one, but it turns out that newspapers alone are not enough to hold weeds at bay, even with rocks on top.

Since we're completely redoing the vegetable garden anyway, I decided to re-use the landscaping fabric from the veggie patch as liner for the sidewalk beds. Since I never did anything with the long thin bed across from the hostas last year, I decided to start there first.

Indy says, "This is going to take a while."
(That tiny thing down at the end is a milk crate. Hold me.)

Section one. Relatively easy since I had removed most of the rocks from this corner last year. After this it got a little harder. Whoever originally landscaped the beds put down fabric under the rocks, but it has been so long since that was done that fully developed soil with worms and everything has covered the fabric and the lower layers of stones. And thus, before putting down newspapers and fabric, I have to dig out all the rocks and pull out the weeds.

It's not unpleasant work, especially on a really nice Spring day (which yesterday was), but it sure is time-consuming. Indy and I worked from 8:30 to 12:30 and then from 1:30 to 2:30, and this is as far as we got. We would have kept going, but it started to rain.

Here's what we have left to do on the right side, before we even get to the hosta beds:

I can honestly say I now fully understand why wealthy people hire landscapers and gardeners.

It's supposed to be pretty out this afternoon, so we're going to head out and try to make some more progress. Indy is currently napping, to save his strength for the rigors of supervising me.


We went back out after lunch today and got another 6-foot section finished. We're now exactly halfway done, even though the photo doesn't show it very well.

I also found out today that EvilDucky has scored some more hostas from her coworker, so at some point, we'll plant those to prettify the now-empty side.

"Thanks for reading!"