June 22, 2007

Let’s try this one again, shall we?

Posted in The musings of Erin at 9:57 am by Erin

OK, back to the gardening stuff.  I’ll make sure to save frequently because damn, but I am NOT doing this one a third time!  Keep in mind as I talk about gardening that we’re under drought restrictions and I can only water outdoors on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays between midnight and 10 a.m.  I suspect soon I’ll only be able to water on Saturdays, as the drought isn’t getting any better.  Also keep in mind that we have red clay soil in Georgia and it’s difficult to grow things in it–it doesn’t drain and doesn’t easily allow roots to grow.  So it can be frustrating–it’s a huge amount of work to keep plants growing well in it.

Here’s a picture of the front of our house from February.  At the time, we had two large trees (a Bradford pear and a sweet gum) that resided in our front yard.  The sweet gum has never been healthy–you can see the trunk of it on the far right of the house picture.  We’d lost a very large branch from the Bradford pear about a year and a half ago and knew it needed to come down, but were hoping it would wait until the fall when I will have a paycheck again.  Alas, a couple of weeks ago, a vicious little afternoon thunderstorm came through and half of the pear tree came down, blocking half the road.  We were at our other neighbor’s house at the time, and the neighbor who helped us last time came over and had the entire road part cleared when we came out a few minutes later.  He’s been wonderful.  Two days later, we had both trees taken out.  Now the front of our house looks like this.  Having such big trees was lovely for the shading but horrible for growing grass, and so we have huge bare spots on our lawn.  So I’ve planted grass seed, which is supposed to be watered twice a day.  Once a day is more than I can manage with our restrictions, but I’m watering it when I can and we’ve had several very convenient storms that have dropped enough to keep it going.  It’s filling in.  A big problem is also that our land is VERY steep and if it rains too much at once, half the dirt on the lawn starts flowing down.  So getting the grass filled in is pretty important.

One of the things I do over the summer is as many little projects as possible.  Take Project Baker’s Rack.  We have had the ugliest bookcase in our kitchen for the last 3 1/2 years.  It’s functional, but really ugly.  Plus, it blocks the heating vent.  So we (read: I) decided to replace it with a baker’s rack.  I ordered it on Eb@y and it came in a million pieces with but a single picture of how to put it together.  Keep in mind that boxes are very good entertainment for children when you’re trying to get something done.  It took about two hours, but it was worth it.  This is so much prettier!

Another project currently going on is Project Basement Renovation.  It’s a big one.  We’ve finished almost all of the paneling and built the half-wall.  The front half (where the weight bench is currently residing) will be a playroom space, while behind the wall will be the weight bench and treadmill.  We (read: almost entirely J) cleaned out the back part the other day, so next week I’ll be putting down stick tile and setting it up.  Then we can carpet the front part, move the futon downstairs, and set that part up.  It’s not a lot of money when we’re doing most of it ourselves.  Most of our projects are done in our garage–we have a lot of supplies and tools.  I’m also working on a gate to keep the dogs out of the garage so we can park the car there, but still allow them access to the backyard.  It’s nearly done.  And yes, I use the circular saw more often (and better) than J!

Our biggest project by far has been the greenhouse.  It took us forever, though we could have finished faster if we’d put in the time.  But it’s done now and I love it.  The windows on the top can be opened to let in a breeze.  This is what it looks like inside.  J got me this potter’s bench last year for Mother’s Day, and I love it.  The bench is where I do all of my gardening since another summer project that I haven’t yet done is to build some low tables for flats in the greenhouse.  My IL’s got me this planter a year ago and I love it.

I’m growing a lot of things in there.  Since it’s inside, it’s not subject to outdoor watering restrictions (but I’m trying to keep it to a minimum for water’s sake).  I have morning glories that I planted as seeds, which have since been transplanted out to the fence in front of the greenhouse.  They’re still alive but don’t seem to be growing a lot in the clay soil.  Still, I’m hopeful.  I’ve just noticed two that are sending out shoots to start climbing the fence.  I’ve got coleus from seeds that are being transplanted to individual containers, and hypoestes that I rooted from other plants.  I’ve planted seeds for carnations, violas of different kinds, ice plants, and some others for my fall hanging flower baskets.  I’m recycling the flats and containers from plants I’ve bought, so the hypoestes are in primrose containers and the coleus flats used to house petunias.

Even better, though, are the upside down tomatoes and peppers.  I’ve got two pepper (one red and one yellow, though I know the caption says green–that’s actually the red) and four tomato plants upside-down: two grape, one Big Boy, and one Roma.  The grape tomatoes have been producing for a month already (that’s an old picture–I potted them in February) and are great–they’re on our back deck.  The others were all in the greenhouse, though I think it’s too hot in there for them.  So I moved the Big Boy to the front porch along with the red pepper basket.  I saw a house that had upside down tomatoes a few years ago, so I decided to try.  With the soil here, it’s hard to grow veggies.  Plus, I’m anal about eating as much organic produce as possible and who knows what’s in the soil!  So I bought some organic seedlings, organic soil, and organic fertilizer, along with hanging planters that already had a hole in the bottom.  I took the seedlings and poked them through the hole, then covered them with soil and fertilizer.  And they’ve been great!  I’ve also got beans growing out on the back deck in containers, but I forgot to take a picture of them.  There’s a watermelon plant in the greenhouse that needs to be planted as well, but I still need to build the flat and fill it with soil before I can do that.

The only disappointing thing has been my flower garden.  At the end of February, we (read: both J and I, really!) spent a ton of time in the front garden, weeding and breaking in the soil and putting down topsoil, and then planting seeds and pre-grown flowers.  The entire area that’s not red in the picture was prepared and planted–I had a TON of seeds in there.  Ten days later, I had lots of seedlings germinating.  A week after that, we had a freezing spell that lasted for several days.  The grape tomatoes survived because we brought them inside and hung them on the shower curtain rods (it looked pretty redneck having plants hanging from our shower curtain rods).  The beans that were going then died (I’ve started new ones).  And probably 2/3 of the seedlings shriveled.  Those that didn’t were in stasis for months, and when they finally grew, only about half actually floweredThese were bought and planted.  I have some others near our mailbox, but J killed off several of those when he didn’t water while P and I were in Florida.  His excuse: "Oh, I thought you only wanted the ones in the greenhouse watered!"  I saved the others in the front garden, but the mailbox flowers didn’t fare so well.

Anybody still alive after that marathon?  Tune in tomorrow (or Sunday) for a post about our trip to Florida! 


  1. My Reality said,

    I am in love with the upside down veggies. I might just have to give them a try myself!

  2. Maren said,

    Wow! Both the baker’s bookshelf and the upside down tomatoes look great! Wonderful, inspiring ideas.

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