Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Our Garden

Here is a little 360〫tour of our garden.  We started off with only the three beds on the right last year and we quadrupled our garden size this year.  We used pebble rock around the edge and created a stone paver path with stone pavers that were in the greenhouse when we first moved in.

The first bed has green onions and our second round of lettuce is starting to sprout.

The next couple of beds have cherry tomatoes, Italian Heirloom sauce tomatoes, and Little Blonde Girl yellow cherry tomatoes.

 These are the giant Italian heirloom tomatoes.  I can't wait to make homemade spaghetti sauce with these!

Here's my hunny, Jared, pulling out the white onions that were ready.   

And of course his garden helper, Lola.

Such a good helper!  This is his ideal day off, working in the garden with a good beer and his faithful companion.

A happy farmer and his onion harvest.

The zucchini's have been extra bountiful this year!!
As well as the cucumbers... we built an arch out of some rabbit fencing this year in order to take the vines up off the ground for extra space.

Its been great, we will definitely to that again next year.  They've really done well, and the bees seem to love the arch area for some reason.

We used the long middle beds for the extra-viney plants such as pumpkins, melons, and squash.   We used a technique called the "Three Sisters" which is something the Native Americans did.  They planted corn first, then beans and squash so that the beans grow up the corn and the squash grows down along the ground.  

This is a growing spaghetti squash...

I'm extremely tempted to paint these pavers yellow.  I kinda need a yellow brick road in my garden.

And a butternut squash and spaghetti squash...

This is an ornamental corn called Japanese Maize.  Its got beautiful colors running through the leaves and purple kernels.  It can be used for popcorn and I think the critters around our house will love it as well.

These are cantaloupe and honeydew melons...

And little three pound "Golden Midget" watermelons that are super sweet and turn yellow when they are ripe.

Yellow mini bell peppers...

And green bell peppers.

Pretty little eggplant blossoms and beans.
 And my favorite little bistro table right out in the garden.

This has been our harvest so far: 
White onions...

 Paris market carrots...

Cherry and yellow tomatoes...

Tons of zukes and cukes...

And mini-yellow bells.

I hope you enjoyed the tour!!  
As Audrey Hepburn said,
"To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow."

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Fort Kit

What kid doesn't love building a fort.  My sister and I took up the entire second level of my grandparent's tri-level home when we were young, and we spent hours in there.  We were master fort builders.  Using anything that we could get our hands on that wouldn't break: blankets, towels, hair ties, jump ropes, tables, piano benches. You name it, we probably used it in our fort building endeavors. These memories were the inspiration for one of my nephew, Keller's Christmas gifts last year.  This fort kit has everything an aspiring young fort builder needs.  Sheets with ties, clamps, rope, clothes pins, a flashlight and head lamp.  I added the K in green felt to the outside of the bag that the sheets came in, which was perfect for holding all the equipment. They live in Colorado and we don't get to see them at Christmas time so I had to ship it to them.  
Fortunately I got to help test it out in March when I went out there to visit. These shots are a little blurry, because of course its dark inside a professionally built fort.

The tiger was enjoying the fort as well.  We had this thing going from all corners of the room.

Here we are in the backseat, as usual.  Keller and I always get stuck in the backseat, so usually a photo shoot happens.

This is more realistic.

Driving through the mountains... more for good measure!

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Monday, July 29, 2013

No Way In H%@# Martha Made These

There is no way in hell Martha Stewart made these:

My friend Phoebe and I had seen an article in Martha Stewart Living the year before about how to make these beautiful concrete hypertufa pots.  What a great idea, we thought, and it looks so easy!
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Ha!
Boy, were we in for a surprise.  I always crack up at the pictures of Martha in that magazine, and yes I have a subscription. She and I have a love/hate relationship.  That brilliant little bitch sure knows how to come up with some amazing ideas, and she is probably the best in the biz when it comes to marketing and branding yourself.  But, do you honestly think she has participated in every project that she is pictured doing?  I believe she participated in posing for that project, but partaking is completely different.

In case you are wondering if we followed the instructions correctly, we did.  To the "t".  Here they are in case you dare to defy our "Martha Fail" and prove us wrong.  Don't say we didn't warn you.

The Martha Stewart Show, January 2010
Make beautiful garden containers that will last for years with this wonderful hypertufa technique. The term "hypertufa" refers to a type of artificial stone, and is a conglomerate of the words "tufa," a natural volcanic rock, and "hyper," a prefix meaning excessively or extremely; hypertufa are extremely rock-like containers.
You can use almost anything that has an interesting shape for a mold, such as an old tub, bin, or nursery pot. Keep in mind that this mixture is an approximation, and not an exact science -- you can play around with the measurements.
This recipe will make really light pots; if you want heavier, sturdier pots, simply add more cement to the mixture.
  • Rubber gloves
  • Dust mask
  • Perlite
  • Peat moss
  • Portland cement
  • Cement pigment (optional)
  • Acrylic fibers (if making larger-size pot)
  • Plastic tub
  • Water
  • Spray cooking oil
  • Mold (Martha used a nursery pot)
  • Small wooden dowel (optional)
  • Plastic bags
  • Wire brush or sandpaper
  • Buttermilk (optional)
HYPERTUFA POTS HOW-TO1. Wearing rubber gloves and a dust mask to avoid breathing cement dust, mix 3 parts perlite, 3 parts peat moss, and 2 parts Portland cement in a plastic tub. If desired, add cement pigment for color. If making a large pot, add acrylic fibers for strength.
2. Add water to tub, a bit at a time, until the mixture has the consistency of moist cottage cheese.
3. Spray inside of mold with cooking oil. Push a handful of wet hypertufa mixture firmly against the bottom of the mold. Repeat until you have made a bottom base that is approximately 1 inch thick. Push handfuls of wet hypertufa mixture firmly against the sides of container approximately 3/4 inches in thickness. Continue until rim of mold is reached. Press bottom and sides firmly to remove air pockets.
4. Create drainage hole by pushing finger or small dowell through the bottom of mold so that it penetrates the hypertufa mixture.
5. Cover with plastic bag, let dry for about 48 hours.
6. Take off plastic bag and remove pot from mold (pot with be slightly wet). Using a wire brush or sandpaper sponge, rough up the surface of the hypertufa for a more rustic appearance. Let sit for 2 to 3 weeks to dry completely.
7. If desired, coat pot with buttermilk and moss; the moss will grow around the pot.

This concrete bag is rediculously heavy.  Thanks to Jesse for saving our backs on that one.

 Here are the molds we chose:

 Talk about doing things right, of course we had a Blueberry Thyme Collins to ease the work load a little bit while covering our baskets in duct tape.

 We did everything very precisely, we measured and mixed and poured exactly according to instruction.

 Lily was an excellent assistant.
The mixing was the absolute worst part.  It was heavy and tiresome.  We had to keep switching off because our arms got so tired.  This project was way more labor intensive than we had anticipated.

 Despite all of our good efforts and precision, our pots didn't make it.  The instructions stated to let them dry for 48 hours before handling, it was weeks before they were dry enough to handle.  And by the time we were able to handle them, they had cracked and broken apart.  I didn't even get a good picture of what they looked like.  So if you see an idea like this and think it might be fun, be ready to sweat, lift, and cuss.  Was it worth it?  I'd personally rather purchase a nice pot than go through that again.

The pots did not survive, but we made it through! Now we are spreading the word about this "easy" Martha project, hoping to perhaps spare even one poor soul who might dare think of attempting this concrete/pete moss monstrosity.

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