Home In Disarray

April 29, 2009

Badass raised beds

Badass raised beds
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If I may say so myself, my raised beds are freaking badass. The Pioneer Woman’s beds ain’t got nothin on these puppies.

Craig had some lumber delivered from work. We decided against pressure treated lumber due to all the strange stuff that’s in it (copper, arsenic, etc) so we decided to use untreated lumber, and stain it. Since Craig gets smoking deals on wood, and untreated lumber breaks down fairly quickly (compared to treated), we decided to go super crazy overboard and use 4×12″ pieces. They’re also more comfortable to sit on whilst weeding the bed.

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After staining them, I mocked them up in the garage and drilled recessed areas for the heads of the bolts, as well as pilot holes while everything was all matched up and level.

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Of course I don’t have any photos of me assembling them (mostly because I got lazy and it took weeks, plus the pilot holes were kinda small and it was nearly impossible to turn the fasteners, and I was ready to set fire to them). When we had our 8 yards of topsoil delivered, I was able to fill the beds.

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My most recent project is the trellis for the head of each of the beds. The bed on the left will have peas growing up it (in the cool part of the season, then baby squash), the bed on the right will have cucumbers vining up it. Since the peas need to go in before the cucumbers, I focused on that bed first. The framework for the cuke bed is finished, but the lattice portion still has to be completed.

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After drilling and lag bolting pressure treated 2x4s (and being sure to make sure they’re quite level), I measured out 5″ sections along the inside of the rectangle that this created, and drilled pilot holes for some eye hook things to string twine through.

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Then I ran a length of twine through for a right to left diagonal.

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Following that, I strung another length of twine through from left to right. My theory is that the vining plants will be able to climb the diagonals more easily than vertical strings. I’m probably way off, but whatever, it looks pretty.

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These beds are freakin’ awesome. They’ll last way longer than 2x12s, look better, and are more comfortable to use. I may be a little crazy about over building/engineering things, but it’s done correctly, and I shouldn’t regret building them this way in the future. Unless I plan to move them. lol

Posted in: Garden, Landscaping
April 28, 2009

My herb garden

My herb garden
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I wanted to keep my herbs near the back door so I could easily get to them in bare feet or socks. My thought process behind this was if they were easy to get to, I’d be more likely to actually use them in day-to-day cooking, like snipping off some fresh chives for scrambled eggs, parsley for risotto, etc.

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From left to right, on top:
Lemon Balm
Italian Parsley
Cilantro Santo (I restarted seeds outside, it did terrible with repotting)

From left to right, on the deck:
Garlic Chives and English Thyme in the strawberry pot
Blooming Tuscan Rosemary
Mint seeds, started
Italian Basil, doing very poorly

Everything’s still very young, we’ll see if things fill in, if not, I’ll put in purchased plants.

Posted in: Garden
April 26, 2009

Pressure Washing the Driveway

Pressure Washing the Driveway
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I’ve been wanting to pressure wash the driveway for some time, it was covered in a thick black patina, as concrete tends to accumulate over time. I noticed it about a month ago when I was washing my car and it’s been in the back of my mind ever since. Knowing that we were going to have dirt delivered, I had to calm myself and wait until the dirt had been delivered and then cleared from the driveway. I don’t want to talk about the brown corner on the juniper.
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On tuesday I spent a few hours with an electric pressure washer that Craig’s mom had picked up for a song at a garage sale. If you’ve never used an electric pressure washer, just know that there’s a reason they’re so much less expensive than gas powered ones. Eventually I finished the entire concrete area though, and I feel so relieved now that it’s checked off of my list. “ahhhhhhh”
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Posted in: House
April 24, 2009

Roasted Garlic, remixed

Roasted Garlic, remixed
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I thought that I had roasted garlic figured out, you cut the top off the head, drizzle olive oil over the top, wrap it in foil, and bake at 450º for about an hour.

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Then I bought Charcuterie. Whilst sifting through his recipes for sausages, salt cured meats, and dry cured meats, I found Michael Ruhlman’s recipe for steam roasted garlic paste. I must admit, I’ve fallen head over heels and I no longer roast garlic in my erstwhile methods (I used a thesaurus for that). From now on, garlic goes, fully clothed into 1/4″ of water and covered in foil into a 350º oven for one hour, or 1:45 if I’m forgetful.

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Posted in: Cooking
April 21, 2009

Raised bed for strawberries and flowers

Raised bed for strawberries and flowers
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I stacked some rocks up this morning to make edges for a raised bed on the south side of the main deck for some strawberries that I’ll hopefully be getting from my dad. I also filled it with fresh, new, fertile, black, delicious topsoil. Then I raked out the lumps of topsoil in the bottom of the yard and took a shower.

After the shower I headed to Fred Meyer and while in the garden center “to get some peat plugs to start veggies in,” got some annuals to perk up the bed. I got a bunch of marigolds (they help ward off pests that would hurt my precious strawberries), a columbine, a clearance carnation (I felt really bad for it), some pansies, violas, and alyssum. I LOVE alyssum. I can’t explain why, except I have fond memories of climbing through my mother’s rock garden as a wee lass and feeling the teeny tiny soft petals and leafs tickle between my toes. I’m not sure that actually happened, but it doesn’t really matter, I’m perfectly satisfied with having fond memories, even if they’re not true. The covered section of the deck has a gutter that drains directly where I wanted this bed, so I left the pile of rocks in the middle there to help with drainage.
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This little bumpy round bit is where I’ll be positioning a lilac bush. I’ll make another one similar, but not connected to a longer bed on the other east corner for another lilac. This should allow them to get nice and tall and full, but I’ll still be able to easily snip off big chunks of blooms for vases in the house. Plus I’ll be able to smell them when I’m outside. Yummy.
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Posted in: Garden
April 20, 2009

Long exhausting weekend

Long exhausting weekend
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As you probably know if you follow the blog at all, I’ve been waging war against my back yard. The first battle was removing foot-thick mats of Vinca Minor, a very attractive, but very invasive vine in Washington. It’s commonly called periwinkle and sold in large box stores like the place with the orange aprons. Under the thick mat of Vinca, there were 2 stumps which were the main reason I decided to pull it out (and the dry dead grass that was sticking through it). The project ended up getting a little out of hand, and I’ll admit, there’s still a small patch in the corner that I have yet to remove. My yard waste bin is full for the next 1.5 weeks, and weighs about 900 lbs, I have tracks in the lawn from dragging it up the hill.

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We had to take 2 truck loads of the vine to a local yard waste recycling site to get rid of it, but that left me with a fairly large divot in the back yard, and more importantly, no topsoil over my sand. In preparation for this weekend, I spent last week’s mornings digging through about 750 square feet of soil on my hands and knees with a 3-pronged hand rake, sifting through the soil to pull out as many bits and pieces of vinca as I could find, and it was a lot, 2 wheelbarrows full.

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It seemed like no matter how many times I ran through the same area, I would still find chunks of vinca floating around, which is terribly frustrating. You may be wondering “Laurel, why are you so neurotic?” Well, I’m neurotic because any chunk of vinca stem/vine/etc will sprout into a full blown plant, but before emerging from the surface, will send out an impressive network of runners, spanning feet, which all will continue growth if broken off from the “parent.” I know that this stupid vine will plague me for the rest of the time we’re in the house.
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My best way to combat this is to lay down a barrier that will help to block the vinca from making it to the surface. Many people would use landscape fabric, but it always ends up poking out somewhere, and looks trashy. I’d rather deal with weeds than put that down. Plus, it’s not cheap. My best idea was to lay down a layer of newspaper, which will break down over time, is water permeable, and is easily broken through with a shovel when I go to plant something.
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On Saturday morning, I had 8 yards of topsoil delivered. I don’t how much that sounds like to you, but it’s 216 cubic feet of dirt. It’s estimated that a cubic foot of soil weighs at least 75lbs, bringing our weight total to over 16,000lbs. Awesome. Anyway, the truck came, and I took a bunch of photos.
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As you can see, it’s in the driveway, which means we need to truck it the length of our house, along the side, and down the bottom of the yard. It’s a long trip which luckily, is downhill most of the way.
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I’m disappointed with myself for not taking a photo of the pile with the truck gone. I was a little dismayed by how large it was, knowing that we’d be taking it all back to the backyard manually.
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Luckily, Craig was very helpful and manned the shoveling station, making sure I always had a full wheelbarrow to dump.
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Thankfully for our backs, by 1pm, we had to get showered and pick his Grandmother up from downtown Seattle to prepare for Russian Easter.
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At this point, we had about 3/4 of the topsoil moved, leaving a lot less work for Sunday.
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Sunday we managed to bang the remaining 2 yards out in about an hour and a half. Those went into the raised beds that my veggies shall grace, and in a big ass pile.
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The bottom of the yard has yet to be raked out, I should get that done on Monday or Tuesday, as well as build my auxiliary raised bed on the south side of the big deck, for strawberries and a couple lilacs. (Don’t let this photo fool you, you’re looking at a 60 foot length of dumped soil)
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I’m pumped about getting my veggies started. I’m going to get my peas planted next weekend, and get the lumber for/build my trellises this week.
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I’ll probably also put in a very lightly raised bed for some dahlia tubers I hope to get from Kim if they survived the freakish winter we endured. If not, I’ll put in something far less interesting, but cheap, as a place holder for when she has excess. Nothing beats beautiful red, yellow, pink and orange freshly cut flowers into November.
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Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going to take a couple ibuprophen and have a refreshing IPA.

Posted in: Garden, Landscaping
April 18, 2009

Sleepy animal photos

Sleepy animal photos
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We moved Boris’ bed out to the living room because he’s been sleeping on our bed all night, so instead of hanging out in the bedroom in the mornings, he’s been sleeping on his bed out in the living room so he can be near me.

I bought him this stupid sheep stuffed animal to replace the emu, and he can’t get enough of it. Rough life, huh?
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Him and the Perry
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Awwww
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When he lies on his side, his ear sticks up. lol
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Posted in: Cat, Dogs