{Home & Garden} Garden Fence

I completely love House Beautiful. Without a doubt EVERY SINGLE TIME I have a design decision to make, it almost always has the answer for me.

Take for instance our Vegetable Garden fence.  Now we do not have a large garden like this. We do not have a dinner table in the middle of our garden, and we do not live in the Hamptons.

Nor do we have deer that need to be kept at bay.

But we do have a little garden that needs to be protected from little hands. Little hands that LOVE the vegetable garden and all that it has to offer. For the sake of the little veggies trying to make it on the vine, a fence was needed. And we really like this one from House Beautiful.

So Hubs took the article I shared, grabbed a friend (because 2 can make a job go a whole lot faster than 1), and they winged it. No plans, no major carpentry skills, just a wife that’s a slave driver and sheer will to keep her happy (God love the man!)

We obviously had to make a few modifications. No need for it to be as tall, and Hubs also found a sprinkler line he had to work around that made the posts more challenging to place. But in the end, he made it work. He has a funny knack that way!

And we have a fence.  Actually we’ve had a fence. I took these photos back in May…just now getting my act together to post them….

I love it and I’ve loved our garden!  I highly recommend growing a garden sometime. Even if it’s just kitchen herbs, there’s nothing quite like walking outside to grab something you’ve grown with your own two hands.

And having a nice fence to keep it safe isn’t bad either!

{Home & Garden} Ladybugs!!

I can’t help but share this. I am so very, very, very behind in posting on our vegetable garden, but I LOVED this little tip and just had to share.

A few weeks ago as we were getting our weekend house chores done, and the kids were making very legit mud pies in their sand box, Hubs happened to check his phone and freaked me out all to pieces when he realized we were an HOUR late to a very dear friends birthday party….

(oh the joys of losing my phone at the beach, and now have no daily reminders….).

Hubs jumped into the shower and I threw 3 little Punks into the bath for a 5 second wash job, got them dressed and packed a bag…..(oh and sprayed 5 tons of perfume to mask my night before beach bonfire smelling hair as I chose a cute t-shirt to hide the fact that I was still wearing PJ shorts….and really it was the best thing as I had no brain cells to come up with an outfit, just sayin’). We were out the door in under 15 minutes.

Anyway, off to the party we go, little lost, but we make it and thank the dear Lord that they are some of our dearest, dearest friends so they totally understand my not so together brain at times.  We end up getting their just in time for pinata, cake and fun and the girls have a fantastic time.  We learn about a new park, and we play and play and play and play.

And then Addie picks up this bag of Ladybugs.

“Huh???”

These little red doodles are alive and kicking. It looked like their were 100s of them just as happy as can be.  Our friend clued us in that it was a birthday gift  someone had given  their 3 year old. That you are supposed to let them go in your garden.

WHAT  A FUN IDEA!!!

You are correct, it was ALL Addie & Hay could talk about the entire way home. So we stopped at Ace Hardware, threw down about $7 and left with a bag of ladybugs. After a quick Google search we learned you should refrigerate to calm them down and then release them into your garden at night. That the cooler weather helps them adjust, grab a drink and put their feet up.

Now ladybugs or not, I’m not much of a bug girl, and I think Addie was with me on this, BUT HAYDEN???  That girl was IN.TO.IT!!  She LOVED letting the bugs go and likes to search for them in the garden to this day. Note in the photos below that she chose to wear SPIDER PJS, and that she has ladybugs crawling in her hair and on her back…didn’t phase her for a minute!

(For the record, I stood back and used a big lens to take pix…..)

GREAT, GREAT, GREAT activity for the Little Punks in your life!! (Click on pics to enlarge).

{Home & Garden} Garden Update Part 5 ~ Almost there!

Time for the real work to begin on the garden.

In Part 1, we removed the old garden.

Part 2, we marked out where we needed the new boxes and moved out the old plants we were keeping.

Part 3 was more of a funny update, as I realized how many of the Little toys we were using in preparing for the new garden!

In Part 4, a WHOLE lotta dirt got dumped onto our driveway.

Which brings us to this update.

This is when we are REALLY glad we live near family!  Hubs went to work on the irrigation. We had sprinklers in this area for the grass (that was removed in In Part 1). Hubs did a little self teaching after speaking to a local John Deere supply warehouse on how to build a drip system, tapping into the current sprinkler lines. I’m honestly so lucky to be married to a “self-starter-gotta-figure-it-out-and-do-it-myself-guy”!


Grandpa (AKA “Farmer John” to us these days). Moved our exisiting artichoke plant to its new location.  I like this move for a number of reasons. For one, artichoke plants are HUGE, and it used to shade other plants a little too much.  In it’s new home, it has more room to grow. Also, the taller it gets, the more it hides the stuff on the wall!  Win-win!

Addie got busy with her digging.  This was a whole family affair (I particularly liked my jobs: Take photos & feed people.  DONE!)

Along with the irrigattion, Hubs was also tasked with moving the existing trees to their new locations.

Hi Honey!  Need any help with that??

These are citrus trees that we already owned. None of them had done very well in their old locations, but after seeing the lemons popping through the trellis in these photos, I was convinced we could do something to cover the ugly cinder block wall.  So these have all been moved against the wall and we are training them to grow along it. (AKA Espalier)

Hayden helped with the digging too.

And then the girls danced inside the new raised boxes.  Entertainment, I tell ya, pure entertainment around here 24 x 7!

Then it was time to place the new boxes.  We chose to make these a little taller than last year’s in hopes that caring for everything would be a little less back braking. I’ll let you know how that goes. (‘Cuz carrying around 3 little toddlers does NOTHING at all to my back already, nope, doesn’t bother it a bit…)

The girls tested the boxes out and thought they would work just fine.

Piper: “I’m Queen of the Woooooorld!”

Addie: “I can help! I can help!”

Though there were no plants in the boxes yet, watering the new soil helps to compact it and also makes sure that new plants and seeds will feel welcome in their new home. (Or so I’m told, remember, we’re only 2 years new to this…).

Then that big pile of dirt started finding it’s way back to the new garden. Thank goodness!!

Addie went around to all the boxes and double checked Dada’s work, tightening things up as she went along.

Hayden too. Hubs is so lucky we have these little helpers to keep him in check!

Piper?  Well she supervised!  She was part of my work detail. Entertain and keep everyone happy. We had a really tough job!

If you know my dad, then you KNOW his Farmer John outfit was in perfect form for the day. When my dad gets involved with a project, he researches things completely and then immerses himself in full detail!

Love ya Dad (AKA Grandpa, AKA Farmer John!)

Hayden followed up with Hubs and Grandpa and made sure the dirt was all transported from the driveway.

And soon it was time for a well earned Margarita!!  (I mean seriously folks I’m not sure about the work the rest of my family did, but taking pictures is EXHAUSTING!).

The next weekend we planted.  It was a HOT, HOT, HOT weekend, but the satisfaction of seeing the garden was awesome!

OHHHH, and then there was the fence. I saw it in a magazine. Strategically placed said magazine photo under Hubs nose. The next weekend we (read = HE) built a fence. Lord love that guy!!

Stay tuned!

2011 Garden Update ~ Part 4

I’m a little slow to post the Garden Update, but BOY does it need posting!! If we’re not careful, the vegetable garden is going to be growing through our bedroom window…

Which I suppose is to be expected when you tear up the side of your yard and then with a half listening ear (it tunes out easily to winy kids and such…) you ear something about “a truck”, and “some special soil”, and “Saturday”.

“Um, hmm Hon…sounds good”.

And then that weekend you hear, “BIG TRUCK, Mama!!”

“Well yes Dear, that is, and it’s making a mess of our driveway!!”

Oh my, Really!?!?

Dirt? On the driveway? You sure Honey???

I mean. that’s A LOT of DIRT!??

And it’s still getting dumped!

More? Really? There’s more!!

Please tell me that’s it, right?

Oh no, not done yet. Let that ole truck just scoot forward a bit to really get the last few bits out…

Yes Hay, you’re right. It’s BIG truck and a BIG mess…

And it’s leaving.

But it forgot to take it’s dirt.

Seriously? WHAT have we done????

2011 Garden Update ~ Part III (Sort of)

Just curious how many of you have found multiple uses for your kids things even when they are not around?? We found many multi-tasking items with our little garden project

As Hay just pointed out to me (she’s sitting on my lap “helping me” write this post).

Hayden: “Das Hay-Hay’s park Mama!”

Yes, it is and it made a mighty fine staging area last weekend.

Hayden: “Das Piper’s chair!”

Yes, and it held all the tools very well.

Hayden: “Stwawberries!”

Yes, and they were yummy.

Hayden: “My rado!”

Yes, and it kept everyone tapping their toes.

Hayden: “My big payhouse!”

Gosh, I wish it was a “pay-house”, but unfortunately it just helped hold shirts last weekend.

Hayden: “Das my buck, mine, my buck-it!”

Yep, and it’s definitely coming in handy holding the cilantro for a few more days…

Who knew the Littles could be so helpful! Thanks girls!

2011 Garden Update ~ Part II

So this is where we left off in my last garden post with our little project.  Kind of left us wondering what we had gotten into when we went to bed that Saturday.

But then on Sunday we headed back out to the crime scene. Grabbed a can of marking paint and traced out the new bodies….errr, raised veggie beds, that might fit. (Forgive me, I’ve watched to many late nights of Castle…)

We did this for a couple of reasons…

1. For Hubs to know what size boxes he would need to build

2. And to help us watch the sun on the “new boxes”

With the crime scene laid out, Pipes and Addie double checked the supplies for the coffins. We opted to go with a thicker 2″ x 8″ so that the beds would stand 16″ tall when 2 boards were stacked, making it a little easier on our backs when tending to the new garden.

Then Hay helped dad move the old beds….

And all the Littles and their friends very happily looked for more bodies…thankfully not dead. Signs of a happy & healthy garden ~ BUGS! And it was exciting! (for them…).

We moved the strawberry plants to a temporary location.

Well, those that we didn’t eat.

They were red. They were ripe. They were delicious.

There were a few lone Romain heads left where one of the raised beds once stood. They didn’t last long though.  Few salads, few green smoothies, and they were gone.

That just left the artichoke plants.  They needed a prop up to stay in place until they could be moved.  But they waited patiently for the next weekend when they next big installment would happen….

Remember this artichoke I said I found? Yeah, there were a few of them. We cooked those up this past Saturday. They were YUUUUUMMMMMY!

Stay tuned…

2011 Garden Update ~ Part I

So it has begun.

I mentioned back in January that we might be tackling a little gardening project.  “WE” to this point mostly means me photographing and Hubs and Grandpa doing A LOT of work ~ while Grandma helps me wrangle in the Littles. FULL team, FULL family effort!

This is where we started a few a few weekends ago…

Then the Littles helped Hubs bring in a sod cutter (did you know you can do day rentals for most home improvement equipment?) We used Home Depot ~ they don’t know us from Adam. I take that back, we are there so much, they totally know us…but our projects are all our own doing. Darn it.

Addie thought the wheel barrel made for a good necklace holder…and the Home Depot bag made a good purse too.

Hubs gave the sod cutter a trial run. Who knew it would be such a cinch? Cut it, roll it, load it and go.

Then life got a little interesting. The girls noticed when rolling back sod, it brought LOADS of “cute” little worms to the surface!

“WHOA! Mom, did you see these!!??”

I did, I did. I’m focusing on them being a sign of a healthy garden and not on how slimy they are…

While Hubs tackled the sod removal…

Grandpa (who I’ve nicknamed “Farmer John” for this little garden project…even though “John” has nothing to do with his name.  The Littles like to call him “Ole McDonald” sometimes too….hee, hee!) Anyway, Grandpa took on the ugly cinder brick wall that our neighbors built before we moved in.

We are planning on growing our current citrus trees, and the new avocados, beans, cucumbers, apples….loads of goodness, along this wall. So Grandpa set out drilling screws and running wire to espalier (meaning train the trees, etc. to grow along the wall).

Still looking ugly, but I have high hopes!

I took on photographing, pointing out things they might not have thought about, and proclaiming the obvious…..

“Look! one of the artichoke plants from last year has an artichoke!!”

And then photographing it. They are all so lucky I was there.

OK, kidding aside, I might have actually helped a bit on this particular project day. I might have rolled about 20 of these sod loads to our driveway for Hubs. This after I had finished Erica’s boot camp for Team Tiny Oranges in the morning. Oh, and Piper came with me to boot camp because it had been a rough night for all of us. Didn’t feel right leaving Hubs with all 3 Littles. So Pipe’s came and I did the boot camp with her on my back.  Then I came home and rolled a billion of these to our driveway.

And then my body ceased to function for all of Sunday.

Literally, I could not move and would have taken the ENTIRE bottle of Advil had it been legal (or if there had been more than 6 pills in the whole bottles…).

OK, enough about me.

But by the end of the day, I was wondering what on earth we had gotten ourselves into….

Stay tuned….

Veggie Garden, Here We Come…

It’s that time of year again. Are you thinking of having a Spring or Summer Vegetable Garden? This is not to say that you can’t last minute plant one as a weekend project if you feel like it in say, June. BUT it’s kind of fun to start thinking about it now.  Last year was our first year attempting a vegetable garden.

Totally Novice. Totally Clueless. Totally Winging It.

But you know what, we did alright! And I’m pretty sure you can to if you’ve never grown one before. Last year, we (read = my Hubs and sweet Little Punks) built 2 raised beds.  We grew red and green peppers, jalapenos, lettuce mixes, strawberries, tomatoes, corn, artichokes, beans, yellow squash, zuchini & loads of kitchen herbs.  Outside of the beds we grew also pumpkins.

The most important thing we learned is that with watering and at least 6 hours of sun, even a black thumb (ME) can grow anything!

We also learned:

  1. That we need to keep squash (zuchini, crooked neck, and pumpkin) leaves away from excessive water.
  2. That peppers need to be able to see the sun and not be shadowed by the tomatoes.
  3. That corn is easy to grow with a few tricks of a paper bag .
  4. That snails and slug like lettuce. But they are easy to combat.
  5. But most importantly ~ that growing your on veggies is REALLY fun and REALLY tasty! It made us appreciate where we live to be able to say, “Salsa sounds really good right now. Can you go grab some tomatoes, cilantro, and jalapenos from the garden?”

I did not post as much as I should have on our garden last year which was a cumulation of lack of time and inexperience with the garden.  BUT….

And this is a big BUT (no not mine, even if it is big too, I swear it’s shrinking….)

BUT the garden this year WILL be photographed and will be posted about regularly and that’s because my Dad has decided to join us in this task. And well, when Dad sets his mind to something you can be sure he is going to do it!!

This is the corner of our backyard that we are dedicating to a larger vegetable garden.  Currently our raised beds are growing a few different lettuces, along with strawberries and artichokes that were planted last summer.

We are planning to remove the grass and fence off the entire area (which makes it easier for me to care for it, it keeps the plants away from the excessive sprinkler water, and gives everything room to grow.

Now remember, I’m not a gardening expert. Neither is my Dad. But we both love to get into a project and figure out the best way to tackle.  This is the book that became my gardening bible last fall.  I’ve mentioned it before.

It is LOADED with useful, easy to understand information.

It brakes down the western region by zones, making it easier for you to know what will grow best for you.

Then each vegetable/fruit has it’s own Encyclopedia description helping you understand (in layman’s terms) the necessities that plant needs.

See, here’s a page on Cabbage (not that I’m growing any, it just happened to be the page I landed on).

But we will grow Corn again now that I know the handy dandy paper bag trick which I’ll be sure to share with you when the time for corn comes!

We really loved the Peppers, so we’ll be doing these again too…how fun would it be to have purple ones?!

Berries.

I can’t even imagine. All we have done is strawberries and there is really NOTHING like a fresh picked strawberry. I’m thinking we may attempt something else this year….just not sure what yet.

Oh man. Just remember this picture of the lemons. I’ll tell you why in a sec…

Then there is this section, the Garden Design section, of the book. It is not overflowing with tons of design but rather just enough to get your brain thinking.

OK, this picture. Remember the lemon photo above? It’s lemon trees that have been trained over a trellis!!  I love this! So fun to pick lemons through a magical trellis. Although we have the space for this, we don’t have the time to grow it, plus it would give us too much shade. But certainly think about this design if you’re ever planning a shaded sitting area.

This little clean box design shows you can grow anywhere. You really just need sun.

The book even shows you how to make raised beds.

As well as shows you a few garden plans to consider.

You can plant from seed (which we are planning to try this year). Or of course buy starter plants like we did last year. Lowes and Home Depot offer great selections.

Training, staking, pruning…all important lessons to learn.

The Western Gardener Book of Edibles has been invaluable to me as Dad and I set out on this adventure. (Don’t let me kid you though..Hubs and my Mom will also be involved heavily in this!! Dad and I need all the help we can get!)

Are you planning a garden this year? Do you have any favorite things to grow, or favorite gardening tips??  Would love to hear them!

how does your garden grow ~ part 3

When you leave your kids and your husband for 3 days, your always a little nervous to what you’ll come home to….there is always good and there is always bad.

Now the bad wasn’t soooo bad as far as the house and kids were concerned…

Nothing a little straightening couldn’t handle.

No broken bones.

But the garden had a few hiccups…

The Powdery Mildew we’ve been fighting on the Zucchini and Yellow Neck Squash has won.  We could continue to fight it, but we opted to remove the plants as it was just getting too tough to keep ahead of it.  Plus we’re just too new to growing veggies and truly have enough on the plate with the Littles not to have to “babysit” the squash too!  We started again with little plantings tonight and will try diligently to keep those little guys safe!

So very sad. this is not Powdery Mildew, not sure what it is.  I just know I don’t plan to eat it!

But THESE I plan to eat!  Are you kidding me?

This falls into the “Good” category!  We are growing corn, who knew!?!?

There are currently 5 ears and we are thrilled!

And Red Peppers…though they aren’t red yet…

And Jalapenos….which would be hot I think, even now.

Oh Jack!  Have we got some beanstalks for you!  We picked some beans tonight…hysterical, they look like alien fingers…just wait until I post them!  These suckers will grow to the moon and back….give em something to climb and they are off.  We had to save the Avocado tree that is next to this raised bed as they started wrapping around its branches and climbing it too…poor thing!

Would you believe artichokes?  I’m still in awe over this!  Seriously, who knew we could grow this!?!?

Raised bed #1 (this is where it started)

Raised bed #2…

Loved seeing this!  The cinder block wall holds a dear place in my heart now (not when we moved in) because of the heat it gives the garden.  What I like in this photo is the vines growing pumpkins, the nasturtiums growing strong and the sunflower baby leaves….this should add so much more life to this dreary wall!  And loads of fun for the kids come fall.

Picked a tray full of veggies and fruits when I got home.

Stay tuned for a post on a super easy Zucchini Carbonara,

and a scrumptious Buttermilk Plum and Peach Cake!

how does your garden grow ~ part 2

OK, I NEVER would have guessed this is where our garden would be at this point!

I posted 2 weeks ago about the vegetable garden we had planted around Mothers Day.  Thought I would give you a garden update.

This is where it was the day we planted.

This is where it was a month later.

This is where it is 2 weeks after my last post.


HELLO!?!?!?

Needless to say, when “they” tell you all you need to do is have good soil, lots of sunlight, and water, “THEY” are right!

It has been such a fun project that has taken off so well (though I’m sure this is where the tough part comes in…keeping it alive, knowing when to harvest, when to thin things, when to stop things from going to seed….yeah, all THOSE things that “THEY” didn’t tell you when “THEY” told you how easy this all was to do.

Honestly, I’m not going to lie.  So far we LOVE the vegetable garden and can’t wait to enjoy the fruits of the labor.  Everyday we talk about something else we want to plant.

Did any of you plant a garden??  I would love to hear about it.  Please comment below and share any tips and tricks you have learned!

Here are a few things that I’ve learned….

  1. When you have an ugly cinder block wall that your neighbors built before you moved in, and that you curse everyday, you will learn to LOVE it when you realize that its reflecting LOADS of sunlight on your raised beds!  You just need to be sure to water much more diligently.
  2. And when it comes to watering, using a watering wand on the end of your hose is VERY helpful. It lets you get to the actual base of the plant, rather than showering the leaves (which could bring on a host of other problems), but mostly it makes sure that each plant is actually getting the water each needs.
  3. That you should not plant mint directly into a vegetable bed as it will take over your beds from under the soil.  Who knew???  I actually read this tip from Homegrown LA, who suggests you plant mint in its own pot outside of a vegetable bed.  However, my mom gave me another tip, which is that you can keep it in the bed, but plant the the mint  IN the pot, IN the bed!  Brilliant!  Now it looks like its part of the garden, but it’s actually in it’s own little pot under the soil.
  4. That cucumbers can grow in a trellis. SERIOUSLY??  This seemed so bizarre to me!  But after reading this tip, I’ve actually seen quite a few examples.  They are natural climbers.  So if your limited on space, give ’em a ladder!
  5. Love this post by Homegrown LA on Apartment Therapy ~ Homegrown LA on Growing an Edible Garden, in particular these tips,

“When space is sparse, I recommend planting multiple veggies in every pot – a single tomato plant can be flanked by 2 pepper plants and 2 basil plants in an 18-inch deep pot. I also recommend sending any natural climbers up, such as cucumbers, melons, and pole beans. A simple lattice structure behind these plants will do.”

I’ve also found a few books to be very helpful.

52 Weeks in the California Garden

This book is about all areas of gardening in California, not specifically vegetable gardens.

Western Garden Book of Edibles

The Western Gardening book is a bible in the gardening world.
And this particular book focuses on edibles.

I have not tried this book, but it has high marks and I’m planning on ordering.

Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces

We are so excited to start really enjoying things from the garden!  The Littles think it is so fun…Addie goes running to the beds each day to see what else has grown.  I’m planning on making a big salad for our Father’s Day pool party this weekend from the garden, YUM!!

And truly, I’VE NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE! I was a certifed black thumb.  If I can do this, so can you!!  Remember that tip above?  In an 18′” containers you can grow a tomato plant, peppers and basil…so GO FOR IT!  You don’t need raised beds to grow things…

Happy Tuesday everyone!!