Our First Baby

Welcome to the world, Tomato!

Welcome to the world, Tomato!

ON August 13th (yes a full month before posting this – judge me), we picked out first beautiful tomato from our home garden.  It was love at first sight… so we ate him. Ba-dum-cha.

 

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Beautiful Blooms

When Kevin & I were looking for our new home, we considered it a sign if there was a Yucca plant.  Why? you ask.  Because our Dogs like to ..well..water… (read: pee) on them.  We had one in our backyard of our last apartment and that was their watering hole of choice.  So much that we split off a piece of it and planted it in a pot to take with us.  Needless to say, we kinda had a mini (totally sane) freak out that the home we ended up making ours had FOUR out front.

Dog urine aside, the yucca is an amazing plant.  I am sure it’s got myths and legends and all of that awesome jazz, but I mainly like how it looks.  Rugged and desert-like when not in bloom, crazy and teasing during the weeks upon weeks that it grows the stalks and flower buds, and then unmatchable in beauty once those buds finally open up.  Don’t take my word for it, let’s enjoy some more of my half-rate photography.

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Small Changes Out Front

…that may some day have flowers.

The last owner(s) of our home had hired a professional landscaper to take care of their grass cutting needs.  The grass was a beautiful emerald green when we took the keys in March.  It was perfectly trimmed and edged without a weed in sight.  That was March… it’s now September (holy crap) and it totally doesn’t look like that anymore.  It was a hot summer and things happen.

In May, we started doing some yard work, itching to get outside and into shorts.  It quickly became evident that this was not the summer of outdoor labor for us as temperatures got to the triple digits here in Western PA.  Naturally, before we realized how hot it was going to be, we started ripping things apart with big plans for beautiful flowers to greet us and our guests.

I mentioned how nice the lawn was.  Key to this story is not the lawn, but the front garden under our big living room window.  It was ugly.  Things weren’t planted right and they definitely were not taken care of properly.  It was a sad story out front and it didn’t make me happy.  Still in my YAY SUMMER mindset, blissfully unaware of how sweaty and miserable I would soon become, I vowed to make it a much more inviting front flower garden.  Here’s the before (from our very first house tour)…

House on First Tour

House on First Tour

Here’s a close up of just the front garden.  It’s a really great picture that I slaved to make sure was the perfect white balance and everything as I am known to do.  Just kidding, I just took the previous picture and cropped it close in on the garden.  Enjoy.

Bush Closeup

Bush Closeup

Photography awards I will not win.

But, as you may possibly be able to see, there wasn’t much to love about this front garden.  Half-dead bushes, no color, no structure, all blah.

I took a shovel and dug up the bushes, most of them were falling apart and dead.  Three of them looked like they may be able to be revived.  The roots of those three bushes were still shaped like a pot so I sprayed them with the waterhose and tried to unclump the dirt around them.  Then I just took them back and planted them around our fence.  Months later, they still look exactly the same, so I don’t think thats a good sign.  Wait, no thats a lie, Kevin mowed over one of them, so two of them look the same, the other is just a stump.

So what did we do with this space?  A whole lot of nothing really.  After ripping the plants out, I started hand-tilling it with a shovel.  Basically, I would just shovel up a clump of dirt and then dump it someplace else, then stab it with the shovel a couple times to break it up.  I did this for about an hour and had managed to move around the dirt in about 3 square feet.  It was exhausting. Then, something was donated by the in-laws…

International Harvester

International Harvester

Yep! A tiller!  It threw Kevin around a lot… I have a video of it, but it was after he had basically gotten the hang of it, so it’s not nearly as entertaining as watching him learn.  This little 3hp workhorse made the job much much easier though.  Soon enough we had freshly tilled soil.  Kevin tilled in some peat and it was soft and lush and beautiful.  The next day, we got to work moving some random stones that weren’t serving any purpose around the back yard, until…VOILA!

New front flowerbed

New front flowerbed

It doesn’t look like much here, but once there is grass around it and some flowers in it, it will look amazing.  That’s right, we started this in May and it’s still empty. Well that’s only kinda true.  The part that is supposed to be grass is full of weeds (we’re awesome).  As for the interior of the bed, Kevin dumped multiple (I think around 5..seriously) boxes of old wild flower seeds into it before we left for vacation.  There may be one flower growing in there now.  It may be a weed.  We bought some gladiolas bulbs to put in it, and the end goal is to have it full of perennials so each year theres beautiful color out front with only weeding+mulching work to be done.  Really, the less work the better.. we kinda have our hands full.

Have you started any projects thinking they’d be quick and easy only to be foiled by the elements?

 

 

 

You know..that weird place out back.

How The Yard Was When We Moved In

How that yard was when we moved in – full of trash and vines.

When we first moved into our new home, the yard had this awkward fenced in area inside of our fenced in yard.  It was full of broken junk that was overcome by vines that were slowly creeping into our yard.    We debated on what to do with it, after staring at it for two months.  The initial reaction was to take down the fence and just keep the parts for spares.  “What are we going to do with a cramped fenced in area in the back corner?”

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Bear with me – I still haven’t figured out how to keep the images I already posted alone out of my slideshow.

Anyhow, as you can see, we ripped out the vines.  Not a fun job.  Then we discovered a bunch of border stones underneath.  Yay!  We decided to use these border stones to build up a small vegetable garden.  The main perk of building up and filling in with dirt was that we knew our veggies would get at least some great dirt to start in.

So…step one.  Ripping out all of those vines.  There isn’t really much to say about that step – as  it is pretty self explanatory.  My main piece of advice is WEAR GLOVES.  The vines are sticky and really kinda creepy.  I think I said more than twice how alien-like they were to me.  The way they grow was just so invasive that it made them seem less plant-like and more alien-like to me. haha

Step two…empty out the trash.  This is the fun step where we discovered all of the border stones stacked along the fence.  We also discovered a broken patio chair, parts to two different broken patio tables, and some random lawn equipment that, you guessed it, was all broken.

Step three…till!  Kevin & I are fortunate enough that we inherited an ole’ rototiller that has a slight mind of it’s own – but it gets the job done!  So after removing all that vine-age and garb-age, Kev got to work wrasslin’ the tiller to do his bidding.  Yay dirt!

Step four…border stones become slightly raised garden.  One thing Kevin noticed after tilling was that the large tree in our yard + the small tree in the fenced in area = a lot of random roots.  As a result, the raised garden was an especially good idea.  There really wasn’t much skill to this step, just manual labor of stacking the stones in a shape that fit inside the enclosure.

Step five…fill with fresh garden soil and till again!  Self explanatory really.

Step six…regular ole gardening time.  We ended up planting while it was pouring down rain.  But we wanted those plants in the soil as soon as possible.

It’s been about 6-8 weeks since we’ve planted and we now have big plants with lots of flowers and some even with some vegs on them!  We planted a variety of tomato and pepper plants.  Plus we have 3 cauliflower plants that we didn’t expect much of that surprised us and are doing rather great. We’ll post a progress shot soon!