Gardening – Summer Project #2

Well, I’m not sure if the first one was an actual project. Seven yards of compost on all the gardens in April. Eight yards of dirt around the yard and filling in the round bed in May and a lot of Preen in those areas that I don’t want things growing. (Spring Project) While compost is usually a bi-yearly job for most, I haven’t put any down in a very long time, and you could tell. Now everything is growing wonderfully. I do think the two or three weeks of hot sunny weather we got om April helped a lot. We usually aren’t in the 80’sF that early. It also meant a wet cold spring. Well, actually the cold went until halfway through July. Nice and hot now though. We still have some areas where the grass is having issues, but we plan on reseeding in the fall.

For project number two, we decided to put a Pergola on the hot tub pad. When we moved in there was a hot tub under an eighty foot cedar tree. While I loved the hot tub I did not like the spiders or the mess, even with a lid, in the hot tub. It was also old, so after a few years it decided that it wasn’t going to work anymore. So it went bye bye not to be replaced. The tree was damaged in a huge storm and had to be cut down before it fell down. So since then the pad has been tiled, untiled, then black rubber squares that you piece together we bought a Costco. Something to make it not look like a giant square of cement.

What is great about this product is that it covers a multitude of issues. Like all the grout we were too lazy to chip off. It worked until we finally figured out what to do with the space. After a few years the black rubber comes off and we spend hours annoying the hell out of the neighbors and every animal within a mile radius by grinding all the grout off. (By we, I mean my husband. he he he) But now we have a clean slate. Time to put up the Pergola we bought off of Amazon.

This product is engineered. We wanted something like our deck where we did not have to worry about staining and rot.

Although under the posts there are wood 4×4’s that are bolted into the cement to hold it up.

Then you wrap those posts with wood so the sleeves you slide over these posts do not wobble.

After that it’s a puzzle you put together. As you can see we also re-tiled the floor with lite non-slip tile that has a wood look to it.

Then we added lights and furniture we already had for the space. Now all we need is the world to return to normal so we can have a party! *sigh*

On to the next project so we can keep some semblance of sanity as we try to survive the pandemic!

Stay safe!

Heidi

© 2020

Gardening – Spring Project

Spring sprung early this year, and with Covid 19 shutting everything down a lot if people were able to get ahead start in the yard work. I have posted a couple of projects. The seven yards of compost, the back corner with the shed that has filled in nicely.

Because seven yards of compost wasn’t enough, I ordered seven more yards of 3-way. (For those who don’t know what that is, it is a compost/top soil/sand mix.) Like the compost, when I ordered it it was sunny. When it arrived it was raining….. Sigh. So what I ordered this dirt for was to fill some holes in the grass that refused to grow and to also fill in an area of the garden that has slowly sunk down. Mostly due to weed pulling over the years and taking the dirt with them. Here is a picture of the before. It’s the path within the roundish bed. There are roots showing and the ground is rock hard. You can see where the rocks in the back are layered and holding in the dirt around the Rhody. It also goes down at the back of the patio.

Also, by a large stump we have the ground has sunk down about a foot.

You can see how much dirt I had already put in this area, and I wasn’t done. My husband also voiced his dislike of the rock boarder. To him it was too messy. To me it was a cheap natural fix for a problem. Every time I dug up a rock it went into the border. Ta da! Now I will admit when it comes to my garden that I have worked hard in for many years to make it look the way it does, I may be a little touchy when someone suggests a change. I know, for those who know me, what a surprise!

As it turns out he was right. (Don’t tell him I said that out loud.) It does look much better without the rocks.

We were going back and forth on what to put down for the path to help with the weeds – pavers, stepping stones, gravel – but the more we look at it the more we like the natural look. Yes, it will have weeds and maybe we will change our minds later, but for now I think it’s an opportunity to buy some more shade loving plants to soften up the edges. Such a hardship. 😉

Until next time,

Heidi

Time on Our Hands

Morning everyone. I hope you are all staying safe and at home as much as possible. For those of you who are out working I thank you for putting yourselves out there to make sure the world keeps turning, albeit slowly, and we have food and supplies so we keep moving.

I have been keeping busy by editing and yard work. I thought I’d talk about the gardening because I have not done that much in the last couple of years.

This year I decided that I would finally put down compost on my garden beds. We also decided to bring in topsoil for those areas in the yard that need some help in growing grass or leveling. There are a few other things we’ve changed too. I’ll start with the back right corner of the yard.

This part of the garden has gone through many changes over the years. When we first moved in there was a play area and a few more trees. The only picture I was able to find of it was during one of our snow storms, but it gives you an idea what was back there when we moved in.

The boarder for this area was firewood. Not very safe or stable. So we had put in 4X4 pieces of lumber around the area to keep the pea-gravel in place. A few years later, when the kids had out grown it, we found that it was pretty rotten, so off it went to the dump.

Now what to do with it. Moving all that pea gravel was not high on my do to list so we decided to turn into a garden for my oldest. Through Grandma Frank, he had become very interested in growing his own vegetables. We put in a shed, water and fence to keep the critters out and four raised beds. All along the outside I planted a flowerbed to soften the edges. Unfortunately I could not find a picture of that phase of life, which lasted about five years. My son became too busy with school and work to be able to tend a garden. So we took down the fence and I put in large wine barrels to keep my few vegetables up off the ground in an attempt to keep the critters out. (Mainly slugs!) The first picture was taken when I decided that this was not going to work. Too much gravel and not enough pretty. The second is from the outside looking in when when everything is in bloom.

So I decided that the plants that surrounded the graveled area needed to be inside the gravel area. As I planted the plants I brought in soil to put in the hole as I placed each plant. As the years have gone by I have put a couple of layers of compost on top of the gravel to help. The one thing that stayed the same was the 4X4 boarder and the water, which I re-vamped to fit the new layout. I also added a few accessories.

Jump a few more years later and we decided that the wooden boarder was too choppy. That it needed to go to make for a softer edge, making it part of the yard instead of a separate entity. And here it is.

Aside from throwing down some Preen in hopes to keep the weeds to a minimum, the garden part in this area is done. There is still some gravel, but we are playing with the idea of putting down brick to finish it off. There is one item left over from the Garden Era. The rhubarb that is surrounded by brick because it originally was in a raised bed. I didn’t want to chance killing it by digging it up and replanting it.

So now, even though it is gorgeous outside, I am taking the day off from gardening and maybe working on some editing. Tomorrow I’ll be back out to finish the one bed that I did not have enough compost for, but has a wonderful array of weeds.

Have a great day and stay safe by staying at home.

Heidi

Wabbits!

Elmer Fudd Wabbits
Image: Google

I…..it…..they….GRRRRR!!! We have now four rabbits in our yard. My dog is 13 and all he does is look at them then goes to do something other than chase them, and the coyotes seemed to have disappeared. I was content when they stayed in the grass. But this!!!

rabbit carnage

Guess what’s for dinner boys! It’s wabbit season!

Grass, grass and more grass.

Summer is here with a vengeance. It’s suppose to be 93F today. Bleh! While I like heat, that is a bit too much heat, and it won’t help my new grass any.

I know I haven’t blogged in a while about my garden, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been busy. After weed & feeding, putting lime and a layer of 1/2 & 1/2 mix of compost and sand down on the spots that can’t seem to grow grass if it’s life depended on it, we seeded the entire lawn. Then commenced the watching, waiting and endless watering. Of course once we laid the seed, it turned 85F and the rain that never seem to end came in sporadic spurts. Go figure! 😛 After a month and some change, we now have grass in areas that haven’t had grass in a long time. A lot of that had to do with the fir trees. Needles do not help growth of grass. In fact, it can kill it. That and not enough sun. Now that the trees on one side of the house are gone we have lots of sun and a lot less needles.

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Before: This is an area I weeded and meant to seed last year.

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After: Finally seeded, it’s looking a lot better.

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Before: There are dead spots in the yard.

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Dead spots gone!

As you can see, there are still some areas that need to grow. Those are the areas that have a lot of sun and were hard to keep wet when we were working all day. I figure we’ll put seed down this fall and see what happens. Although, as I was mowing the lawn the other day, I realized something. I have added a 1/4 again the grass I once had, so more to mow. Maybe I should have thought this through a bit more….. 😐

The rest of the yard is finally coming under control. It was hard to get out there with all the rain. Although, I did go out in the rain a couple of times. I figured, why not? If I didn’t I’d still be under the weeds.

We just had some of the fir trees limbed up because they were too close to the house, and a couple taken out behind the shed because they were dying. The down side, what was once shaded and so planted for shade is now in the afternoon sun. I can hear the plants cursing me now. 😛

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SUN!! Well, there will be this afternoon.

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There is a Hemlock missing and the other two trees have been limbed up about 10 feet so they are off the roof of the house.

Well, that’s all for now. Summer is just beginning and there is lots more to do.

Have a wonderful day. 🙂

What’s a Little Rain?

Lovely day today. It’s no secret that it’s been a bit…wet in Western Washington. The whole Pacific Northwest has been either wet, frozen or buried in snow. The one thing we haven’t seen much of is Sun. Yes, Washington State is known for it’s rain, but this year Mother Nature has decided to make up for those three months two summers ago when we had no rain whatsoever. Then there were the days where she didn’t know whether it should rain, snow or sunshine, so she decided to throw it at us all at once and see what we would do. Yeah…. Fun times, fun times.

Yet even with the weather going every which way, Spring has arrived. Trees and bushes are starting to bud out, Crocuses are almost done blooming while the Daffodils and Tulips are getting ready for their turn to shine. We even got up to a blazing 60ºF! I told my best friend who lives down in Texas this, and she said she was not going to comment on that. I told her rather drily that no, no she wasn’t. (Again, lives in Texas.)

So Spring is here, and it’s technically the raining season even if it is on steroids. What this means is IF we do get a sunny day it is in the middle of the week when most everyone is working. At least I am. On the rare nice weekend I was so sick with the cold that was circulating in the school I work at that going outside, no matter how nice it was, was not an option. Frankly, getting off the couch was not an option, but I digress. (See Cold From Hell poem.)

This week we managed to squeak in two and a half nice days before the deluge began once again. Early this morning I looked outside to see water pouring out the end of one of the gutters. This tells me that the drain is plugged. I am of the I’ll clean the gutters tomorrow, but when tomorrow finally comes it pouring down rain society. There are a few of us living in this wonderfully green land with lots of pine and fir trees that fill up our cutters with needles. We all probably have the same conversation when we see the tell-tale sign that a gutter is plugged. “Ah, damn.” Which is followed by a deep sigh and “I really don’t want to go out in the rain” whine with a smidgeon of resignation and muttering as we put on our rain gear and head out for our first or second shower of the day. I am here to tell you that rain water in March is COLD!

As I am hauling the ladder around the yard I notice that along with the plants and flowers I actually want in my garden,  the shotgun weed is doing wonderfully. For those who do not know what shotgun weed is, it’s a small leaf weed with pretty little white flowers. All good, until it goes to seed. Then it’s dangerous. Why? Because when a slight breeze or hand touches it, it shoots seeds far and wide. If you let the weed go this long I highly recommend protective eyewear and make sure your mouth is closed while pulling it out. Yes, it’s that bad.

After I finished with the gutters and my hands are nicely numb I think, what the hell. I’m already out here and wet, why not get some of that weeding done that is quickly piling up. An hour later my husband comes home from running an errand and sees me out there. Here is the conversation that follows, me outside in the downpour, he and the dog by the now open window inside where it’s dry.

“What are you doing?” There is a fair amount of disbelief in his voice.

“Weeding,” I respond as if weeding in a downpour is an everyday occurrence.

“You’ll catch cold.”

“I already have a cold.”

“Well, then you’ll make it worse.”

“Possibly. I was already out here cleaning the gutter and wet so I thought, what the hell.”

He’s was not sure how to respond to that, so he shrugs and says “Okay,” and closed the window.

One thing I noticed, now this may not be new to most of you but bear with me, moss is so much easier to scrap up when the ground is saturated with water. Usually it’s rooted deep and is a pain. I pulled moss out of plants that I’ve been struggling with for years. I also found that my new rain coat that I bought at Costco is wonderful! It kept me nice and dry and warm. Now I wouldn’t recommend it for below 40ºF, but it did just fine for 46º. Much better than being drenched all the way through.

Tomorrow is suppose to be nice. In fact, shortly after I came in and took a shower it decided to stop raining and I did eventually see sun. Maybe I can begin cutting plants back. I heard or was told you should never cut plants in the rain because it gets into the wood from the new wound. We’ll see how it goes. Lots of work still to do.

Have a wonderful evening. 🙂

 

Copyright © 2017 Heidi Barnes

 

Gardens. How quickly they get away from us.

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It’s June already and it’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything on the garden. That’s not saying haven’t had ideas running around in my head. Recent health issues have been getting in the way. I’m doing okay now, so maybe I can start getting caught up.

Hopefully I can now get back into my yard and do work. At this point with the rain and heat mix parts of it have turned into a jungle. It doesn’t help that said rain has been happening on the weekend, keeping me inside. May need to add a machete to my arsonal of gardening tools.

Spring started in the middle of March, which meant I started weeding and pruning shortly thereafter. Now I have areas that need more attention.

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Where this doesn’t look to bad in the picture, in order to walk down the path you have to sort of fight your way through. There is also a vine maple that needs to be pruned up so we can walk under it without ducking.

The worst is the back. I had it all cleaned out last fall, ready for grass sees. Now, not so much.

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It’s full of forget-me-nots and stinky bob, among other weeds. What is stinky bob? It’s a weed with little pink flowers that look nice among the blue of the forget-me-nots but is very evasive. It’s choking out the meadows so we are suppose to pull it out. As you can see, I’m a little behind.

I’m thinking pulling weeds is on my list for this weekend. I can sit and it’s easy.

Well, that is all for now in the garden. Have a wonderful weekend.

© 2016 Heidi Barnes

So it Begins

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      Armandi Clematis Source: Heidi Barnes

 

Spring has sprung in the Pacific Northwest. Well, actually it sprang… sprung in February. That was when the frogs started croaking the trees started to show signs of life. Now the Roses are almost done leafing out along with the hydrangea. My tree is about to burst into bloom and the rhubarb is growing. All about a month early. The weeds, however, have been doing just fine since it started raining again in September.

Between life and the rain (btw: Washington State is no longer in a drought. Mother Nature fixed that by the end of September. It’s amazing we all haven’t drowned!) I haven’t really had time to go out and work in the yard. I did weed the garden by the shed in November because the amount of shotgun weed that bout to bloom was getting out of control, so it is doing better than the rest of the gardens. About two weeks ago I finally was able to clean up the front gardens but not the lawn. At the time I only had weekends to work outside and the only day it didn’t rain was Saturday so I wasn’t able to finish. When I saw that it was suppose to be nice this weekend and we had nothing planned I knew I had to take the opportunity. The problem was, where do I start?

Like most gardeners, by the times January rolls around I start thinking about what I would like to do this year in the garden. Are there any changes that need to be done, projects that I have been mulling over the last 15 years that I want to tackle? What I did know was I needed to mow what can be in the vaguest sense of the word be called a lawn before it rained again. As I was cleaning the landmines our dog and a few other critters so graciously placed around the yard I realized what my project would be.

Last years drought took a toll on our grass. No rain for three months with 90F pretty much every day made keeping plants alive almost impossible. You just could not keep them watered enough. So something had to go or I would end up with a $500 water bill. No thank you! So the lawn was sacrificed. We weren’t the only ones. Not many lawns survived last summer.

Now to bring it back to life.

My knowledge of lawn care is simple. You mow it twice a week in the spring, maybe once a week to knock down the weeds the end of summer. You kill the moss then weed and feed it at various times in the year. Keep it short in the spring when everything stays wet and keep it longer after July 4th so you don’t have to water it as much. (July 5th is when summer official starts in Washington. Ask anyone who lives here. They will tell you it is true.) Usually the only part of the lawn that does get watered is what is near the flower beds.

Here is what a couple areas look like now.

I have more, but I think you get the idea. Pretty sad. This is mowed. I spend the rest of the day raking storm debris, leftover fall leaves and pine needles. Pine needles are the Bain of my existence. They get EVERYWHERE. Anyways, now the yard looks better, except for the grass. I’m hoping the rain holds off long enough tomorrow that I can go buy some moss/weed and feed and put it on the lawn tomorrow. Crossing fingers and toes.

So aside from maintaining and moving a couple of plants, this is my project this year. As always I may add to it, but we will see how this one goes first.

Have a wonderful weekend. 🙂

Heidi

 

 

It Never Ends – Gardening

Winter is upon us. Everything in the garden is asleep. Or at least they are suppose to be. Even though it has been cold here, the weeds are doing just fine. I finally had the chance to do my fall cleaning and ended up weeding. But I digress.

The one thing, at least for me, that is year round is cleaning out the gutters. I love fir, pine and cedar trees. They are beautiful and stay green all year round. I hate their needles. They get everywhere! On one side of our house they are close to the house, so the gutters fill up quite quickly. The way our gutters are set up is they drain down into corrugated tubing that hooks each drain into one tube that then takes the rain water out to the ditch by the street. About a year ago the corner drain clogged up so badly that I had to dig the  tubing out and replace it because all 5ft of it was clogged. It wasn’t easy. That part of the yard was covered in years worth of gravel and is where we store our boat in the summer. So it was pretty compacted.

I now have another drain that is clogged. I was hoping all I had to do was clean out at the base of the drain pipe that goes into the tubing, but no such luck. So today I spent a couple of hours digging. Where this isn’t hard compact dirt, it does have a few obstacles. Like the very thick pad from the old heat-pump, a small privacy fence and the garage side door cement pad. It also has the roots of those damn trees. As of now I have it somewhat dug out. I have yet to find the end where it hooks into the main pipe and it worries me because the tube is going deeper and I am right next to the fence.

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As you can see there are a lot of roots. A couple of big ones run across the top of the tubing (which I swear it’s in there but the dirt keeps covering it up) and I’m hesitant to cut them. The tree I think they are attached to is rather big and I don’t want to compromise it. If it fell on my house it would hurt it. 😦

I have also been strongly reminded by my body that I am no long 20. That digging a trench is not something I can do in a couple of hours. So this is as far as I got today. Tomorrow, if I can move I will go back out and try again. I know I am close to where the connection is. I just want to get this one done and hope that the clog goes no further. Digging out the entire system is not something I really want to do.

As for the other… let’s see, 1,2,3….5, I hope they will wait until summer when it’s warmer outside and I have more time to spend playing in the yard.

Have a safe and Happy New Year. 🙂

 

Heidi

Cave Trolls – Gardening

I have recently discovered I have a cave troll. What is a cave troll you ask? And why is it here and not in Middle Earth where it belongs and there are elves with longbow and dwarves with axes to dispatch them? A cave troll is what I lovingly refer to  moles. Those black little blind rats that dig through your gardens and lawn wreaking havoc.

Over the summer we had… well, no rain. So the trolls  were either digging deep or decided there were not enough grubs in my yard to waste their time. Now that the rain has returned in buckets, so have the cave trolls. Nasty little buggers that evade my well place traps with the ease of a nimble mosquito evading a fly swatter.

What I need to do is go out and tramp down the hills and valleys so I can see where the little buggers are burrowing now. It seems they have been working hard for some time. That is what I get for paying more attention to the inside than the outside. (We are doing a little remodeling, which a whole different story.)

So the war on the slugs has ended and the war on cave trolls has begun. I thought winter meant time off from playing in the dirt so I would be ready for next year. Apparently not.

2015 Heidi Barnes