An update!

OK, so we have been bad…. REALLY Bad about updating this blog.  So starting now, we will be dedicating more time to this.  Stay tuned…

Retaining Wall Planted & Irrigation Installed

I’m very happy to say that as of 7 PM tonight the retaining wall is fully planted!!  Phew.  I finished up by planting the remaining hostas.  All that is left is to plant a few containers for the deck and we are ready to roll.

The weekend started off not so great as I threw my back out on Thursday.  I don’t know how “throwing it out” in this case applies though because I just woke up with a weird kink in my back on Thursday.  I stretched at work that afternoon and almost buckled from the pain.  I’ve been dealing with it ever since.  I really need to just break down and go to the doctor, but I’m not a big fan of doctors!  Shifty eyes and all.  Not really.  It’s quite a bit better now which meant I could plant the hostas tonight, but I digress.

On Saturday we bought some insecticide and clear plastic to do more of the “wagon tops” for the vegetables (I really need to get a picture of these).  This cold weather has really been taking a toll on the peppers and tomatoes so I decided since the forecast didn’t seem to be improving any time soon that we should just cover all the plants.  We have lost six of the peppers and one tomato, plus the peppers were looking a little nibbled on.  It took a long time picking out the right insecticide as there is really nothing that does everything you want.  We also stopped by Garland and got a few ground cover plants for the retaining wall and some plants to do four or so planter boxes on the deck.  We got back and covered all of the tomatoes.  I mostly did a lot of standing as I couldn’t bend, fun times!  We then moved on to planting the retaining wall plants and putting in the drip irrigation.  I planted (as I could reach them from the lawn without bending) while Andy did the drip irrigation.

We finished up the drip irrigation on Sunday and it was a little nerve-wracking to see if there would be enough pressure.  We initially left the emitters off and ran water through it but it wouldn’t even get to the end.  We decided to put half the emitters in and see if the water would reach the end of the system.  Luckily it did!  We put the rest of the emitters on and it works like a charm.  We are both very pleased.

Today Andy started building on the planter boxes using the scrap wood we had left over from building the deck last year.  They look really good!  I should be able to plant these after work this week.  Then we will hook up individual lines of drip irrigation and attach the drip soaker-hose in each planter.  I can’t believe how much we’ve gotten done!  This means we should be able to actually vacation on our vacation next week 😉

Planting Almost Done– Time to cross fingers!

We had such high hopes to start out last Friday and get everything planted over the weekend.  Andy and I were both off early but the weather yet again decided to be too wet to do any work outside.  We decided to get as much done on Saturday as we could since Sunday had potential for worse weather.

Saturday ended up being very productive!  We got all of the tomatoes, peppers and herbs transplanted.  We had been progressively hardening the plants off all week.  We also got some pole bean seeds started.  It took quite a while digging the trenches for the tomatoes, laying the plants on their sides in the trenches (having already broken off all the lower leaves) and planting so that only about the top 4 inches of the plants were exposed.  We got this done early enough that we decided to go ahead and give tilling the sunny half of the retaining wall a try.  We didn’t know how well it would work since it had rained so much all of Friday but it ended up working out fine.  We got the remainder of the retaining wall tilled with peat moss mixed in.

Sunday ended up being questionable as far as weather.  It alternated between rain and sun the entire time.  We would wait for the sun to come out and dart out to get as much accomplished as possible.  Without fail I would put my fleece on just to have the sun come out and by the time I took the fleece off because I was too warm it would start raining again.  We managed to get both of the magnolia trees planted in the yard and decided to chance planting as many of the bulbs as we could in the sunny half of the retaining wall.  We ended up getting all of the peonies, phlox and daylilies planted before the weather took a turn for the worse and we headed inside for the day.  I had really hoped to have all of the planting done so that we could install the drip irrigation system but unfortunately the weather really messed everything up.  I was getting off work early on Tuesday and the forecast was for beautiful weather so I hoped to finish up the planting so that we could work on the drip next weekend.

On Monday work ended up intervening and I had to cover closing shift at work.  I left at noon to return to work from 5-9 PM that night.  I had from 12:00 – 5:00 off along with Andy who was working at 3:30 so we decided to get as much planting done as we could.  We found that the weather was not doing wonders for the tomatoes and pepper we had planted.  It turns out we planted them too early (with too short a period of hardening) and they really needed to be enclosed to keep them safer from the elements.  The peppers were too cold and were wilting while the tomatoes’ leaves were turning white from all the rain and wind.  It hadn’t been frosting at night but it was still unseasonably cold and wet which is exactly the opposite of what tomatoes and peppers like.  This weather is really starting to bother me.  Andy had gotten plastic to cover the peppers up and some fabric mesh to cover some of the tomatoes so we put it up.  There are probably 4 or so plants that are on the cusp of dying which is better than it could have been.  We finished setting up the plastic covering and hoop system (it looks like a corral of covered wagons) and set to work planting more of the retaining wall.  We ended up getting all of the gladiolas, lilies, potted day lilies from Garland and cana lilies planted before I had to head back to work.

At this point all that is left to do is to plant the remaining hostas and buy some ground cover.  Once these are planted we can set up the drip irrigation and the retaining wall is planted and checked off our to do list!  We should be able to do everything this weekend.  I’m very happy to have both the vegetable garden and retaining wall projects almost complete!

Lots of Bulbs!

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Went to Costco to see what they have for bulbs. Boy did they have a lot! I got everything I needed including the Peonies that were $24 at Garland. Except they were 12 for $12. Now all I need to find is some ground cover for the sunny side of the retaining wall and some Cala lilies.  All total I got 134 bulbs for $85 including Peonies, Phlox, Gladiolas, lilies, Canna lilies, day lilies and sun tolerant hostas.

I also picked up enough Preen to last the year. Now to see what planting I can get done!

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Retaining Wall Planting Started

We purchased a mini-tiller yesterday and tilled up the retaining wall with an added bag of peat to hopefully break up the clay soil. The tiller worked incredibly well, even better than the larger rented one.  Plus it is much more maneuverable which is perfect for what we needed.  We also used the Garland gift cards and purchased two Magnolia trees for the yard and a bunch of plants for the retaining wall. I was a little overwhelmed by the prospect of doing the entire retaining wall so I focused on the shady half of the retaining wall. We bought two Camelias, three Hydrangeas a bunch of Hostas, Jacobs Ladder, Coral Bells and a bunch of creeping ground cover. We also got five day lilies for the sunny side. I’m going to look for some Peony bulbs (the potted plants were way too expensive), Hibiscus and sun-loving shrubs. I also want to pick out some more lily bulbs like cana and cala as well.

I got home from work tonight and planted all but the Magnolias, ground cover and sun lovers. Hopefully I will get these planted tomorrow so I can put down fertilizer, bug killer and Preen.  After that is installing the drip irrigation.  I’ve been waiting two years almost to use the kits I bought for a steal on Amazon.  I’m very excited!

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Fenced Vegetable Garden is Ready!

We put up the fence this Saturday.  It was a somewhat stressful event (as I suspected it would be) as fence building is not easy.  Andy had purchased all the supplies earlier in the week.  We started putting in steel T-posts for additional support that once pounded in only stood about 4 feet from the ground.  We then stretched the wire fence as best we could with a wooden broom handle (I know this is not best way to do it but it was the equipment we had– no wench unfortunately) and nailed the fence to the wooden posts.  The short T-posts left the top two feet unsupported in the gaps between the 6 foot cement-anchored wooden posts.  It didn’t look very good.  I came up with the idea to use turnbuckles and wire to cinch up the top two feet between wooden posts.  This proposal made us all feel more at ease… some more than others 😉

We hurried to Home Depot and bought the wire, turnbuckles and eye bolts.  The plan mostly worked, however the cinching up left bulges near the wooden posts where the resulting slack appeared.  We decided to try cutting the fence at the wooden posts and re-attaching to the wooden posts once it was re-cinched.

On Sunday we went about building the garden gate.  Luckily Home Depot was open on Easter and we got all the needed supplies.  It went rather smoothly!  We installed the gate and latch and the fence was done.  We even tried cutting the fence and taking up the slack and it seems that the method will work!  The garden is now 100% ready for planting.  Now if only it would stop freezing!!  We are already past the last frost date but we will have to postpone planting the transplants until the weather improves unfortunately!  Hopefully we can transplant around May 14th which is about a week later than planned.

I took some more photos of the transplants today.  They are definitely ready to go, they took off like a shot the last few days!

Fence Posts Placed & Happy Tomatoes

Andy and I decided to take a risk looking at the ominous clouds overhead and try to dig holes and place the fence posts for the garden.  The garden needs a fence due to a rather sizable population of deer.  We need a tall fence so we are anchoring 8 foot tall posts 2 feet in the ground in cement.  I seem to be the better digger (looking back at childhood it all makes sense) so I went to work with the post-hole digger.  I found that the clay soil just stuck to the post-hole digger and made it impossible to use so it was back to my old friend the shovel!  I made quick work of the 7 holes I had to dig.  Of course by that time it had started to rain (and proceeded to rain for the entire rest of the day).  The holes were starting to fill up with water so we quickly mixed bags of cement and got the posts finished.  It doesn’t look like we will be able to put the fencing up tomorrow as planned as we don’t want to spend another day in the rain.  A nice long soak in the tub and I felt much better!

I wasn’t able to get good pictures of the posts with all the rain so I have photos of the tomatoes, peppers and other starts we have.  Andy transplanted the rest of the tomatoes (including the two I thought I killed that survived!) earlier in the week.  They are doing quite well now!

Tomatoes Transplanted (mostly)

The tomato starts have been coming right along and are ready to transplant into a larger container.  I got home from work tonight and decided to try it out.  I had mostly success but snapped one plant off and another plant’s stem kinked part way down.  I put the snapped off plant in water, but I have no idea whether either damaged plant will survive.  The tomatoes were so weak because we put them too far away from the grow light and I think the Miracle Grow “Moisture Control” potting soil kept the starts too wet.  Definitely will have to transplant into different potting soil with the next batch of transplants.  The plants wilted really quick but once watered they perked right back up!

Garden Beds Built and Retaining Wall (mostly) tilled!

Andy drew out the plans and purchased the lumber so we were ready to go.  We heard that Saturday was supposed to have phenomenal weather (in the fourth wettest and coldest April on record!) so I mowed the lawn super short on Friday so that we had a cleaner surface to work with.  On Saturday morning we set the survey stakes out where we wanted the garden fence and set to building the raised bed frames.  We struggled somewhat in that we didn’t have proper power tools to cut at an angle so all those non-90 degree angled corners of the bed were cut by hand!  Not a fun tasks considering how many had angles less than 90 degrees.  We individually placed each of the 12 raised beds and did a lot of measuring from the survey stakes and adjusting the beds accordingly.  Finally we got things good enough and marked the outline of the beds with spray paint on the lawn.  We then sprayed the lawn inside the beds with herbicide.  We tried just breaking the sod up by hand but it didn’t work very well so Andy rushed off to rent a tiller before they closed.  They ended up giving us a deal since we rented it so late.  We moved all the frames out of the way and Andy tilled very neatly inside each spray painted lawn area.

While we had the tiller we also tilled inside the retaining wall since it was so heavily compacted from the home building process.  Hopefully once it stops freezing at night (can’t believe I’m saying this in April) we will be able to plant the retaining wall.  I also included a picture of the third morel mushroom I found in the retaining wall.  This time it was growing in the gravel right below the heat pump.  I’ve never seen a morel as large as these before and I can’t believe they are popping up like crazy right next to the foundation of our house!  One of them was 4 inches tall!

This morning we returned the tiller and rented a dump-trailer to bring in gardening soil with.  We had to bring dirt in as the dirt under the beds was pure clay.  The trailer worked really well, however we did end up getting Andy’s truck stuck in our own lawn.  Luckily we met a new neighbor across the street who saw our predicament and hooked up the trailer and pulled it to safety.  We are so lucky to have the neighbors we do!  We finished filling the garden beds and actually only used half of the dirt we planned to.  Overall we ended up saving several hundred dollars on the project which was a nice surprise!

Next up is digging post holes and placing posts in cement for the garden fence around the perimeter of the garden.  It will be 6 feet tall and should keep all the deer and cats out!  If only it would keep gophers out!

Grow little seeds!

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Grow little guys. Lots of tomatoes, peppers and herbs planted.

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