Monday, March 23, 2009

To Do List is Shrinking

My office is just inside the sliding glass doors off our deck. It used to be the dining room, but whoever built this house must've thought nobody used dining rooms anymore. It was so small that when our family was at the table (every night for dinner) people were trapped until the first person was done. LOL So, we put the table in our family room (hearth room?) and made this into my office. The point being, I work from home and from my desk, I see the patio all day long. The patio is our junk drawer. We have several projects that are being worked on plus stuff being stored and it just becomes a mess. It's depressing to look at a junk heap everyday. This was near the top of the list to be tackled this week. I'm happy to report, the shed got cleaned out & painted, and became my potting shed. So, all the gardening equip is now in the shed! The chicken brooder is completed and awaiting meat birds. The horrid shrubs got pulled out and in their place will be the raspberry bushes. The smoker found a new home. All the other projects got relocated so now we can use our patio for meals and relaxation ~ as it was meant to be!

I've been collecting materials to make more square foot gardens. I like the look of the concrete block beds. You can grow flowers or herbs in the blocks and veggies in the bed. We got these free off Craigslist. Lined with cardboard to kill the grass, filled with top soil mixed with compost and leaves. I tucked in the rest of our seed potatoes and onions around the perimeter. I plan to grow tomatoes inside it and basil in the blocks. You just can't have too much basil!

Here are 4 more new SFG beds. One for green beans, one for carrots (the deeper one in front), one for spinach/lettuce/leeks and the 4th one for cabbace and broccoli. We have enough lumber to make 3 more beds. If we measured correctly, this side of our yard can hold 15 raised beds total.

Also found on CL - 3 water barrels! They appear to be soap barrels, maybe from a carwash? The concrete pad was here already. We found a shed on CL and took it apart, moved it home and put it back up again. It wasn't as big as the concrete pad, so there's about 4' of concrete on the backside of the shed. That's where Jerry is going to install the rain barrels - one for intake, 2 for overflow. These bushes have to go to. We've been slowly removing them and replacing with edible shrubs.

Oh, and can't forget the curb find. A perfectly good double sink with legs that Jerry is going to rig up to be our outdoor sink using rain barrel water. The drain will empty into the garden.
We got the yard picked up and the first mowing of the year done. It's always so nice to have the brown gone and green grass appear. Tonight, we are expecting severe weather - 1" hail, thunder, lightening and wind. Oh the wind! It's been gusting so much it's hard to get anything done outside. Tornadoes are also a possibility - so I'm off to prep our tornado kit. I learned from a good friend who survived her house being blown apart (she was under it at the time) to ALWAYS make sure to have tornado preps in place. Ah, spring in Kansas. Gotta love it.


Karen in Wichita said...

A word of advice on those barrels: that kind of plastic is susceptible to UV damage, and if you leave them out in the sun they'll eventually get very brittle. Paint them (hint: free paint at the Sedgwick County hazmat facility) and/or put them in the shade and they'll last much longer.

They're really tough, so even in full sun you'd likely get years of use, but if there's stress around a faucet installation or something they'll eventually crack/leak (and if they get tipped over, they'll shatter).

And of *course* it's going to rain, because I don't have my own rainbarrels in place yet. Soon as I do, the drought will begin. I'm skeptical about the hail: last year it didn't start until I planted cabbages, and I haven't done that yet.

Also, vermiculite is really helpful in the SFG, for holding water (perlite will also keep the soil from compacting, but won't hold water as well). Johnson's carries it in laughably small bags, Valley carries it (usually) in larger ones, but I'm told that pool installation places (who use it under in-ground liners, I guess) have it in bulk. Couldn't get a one of those to return my messages last year, though. It's a bit pricey, but makes a world of difference.

Jenni said...

I love your concrete block beds. What a cool idea to plant things in the holes around the borders. Now I know what to use if and when we run out of the salvaged concrete steps dh and fil had stockpiled. There's plenty of concrete block around this place.

Melissa ~ Wife to 1, Mom to 5 said...

Karen ~ the current idea is to put the rain barrels on the north side of the shed. I think if we set them towards the east, they'll be in shade almost all day. I did think about painting them but wondered about needing a specialty paint since they're plastic. I'm still a bit concerned about the fact they held soap. Hubby didn't read the MSDS attached to them before buying. Guess we'll see. They are hard to come by if you're wanting them cheap.

On the vermiculite, I got a 4 cu ft bag from Brady's for $23.98. I don't know if it's good or bad, but I wasn't about to pay Johnson's for their teeny bags. The soil in the beds came from an alfalfa field that they scraped the top off to make a pond. I didn't mix any vermiculite in it, but I still can. It's a soil/mulch mix and was so gorgeous (our dirt is pale brown - definitely not that fertile) that I guess I thought it might not need anything. I'll have to see about the pool places. That's a great tip! Thanks.

And, yes, the same thing happened to me with the hail storm last year. We had swiss cheese leaves on everything. I decided to wait a little longer before planting.

Jenni ~ I was hoping that the concrete blocks wouldn't disenegrate as fast as the wood will. I'm using untreated wood and am a bit concerned about attracting termites. It's always a compromise. LOL

Melissa ~ Wife to 1, Mom to 5 said...

Okay, I know the vermiculite is good - just didn't know if that was a good or bad PRICE. Why can't you edit your comments? lol

Hot Belly Mama said...

I love this post! My husband just talked about creating our first garden beds and finding rain barrels this weekend! Thanks for the inspiration!

fullfreezer said...

We've only got one rain barrel currently but if we get our new place we plan to pick up more at our local cheese factory. They have 55 gallon plastic barrels that they will sell for $10 each. I'm not sure what came in them though, although I'm hoping that since it's something associated with the making of cheese, that it's food safe.
The raised beds look great!

Jennifer said...

I love the concrete block beds, that is really neat! I want to get a few rain barrels set up too for water for the garden.

Sue said...

Good score on the rain barrels. I can't find any used. And I REFUSE to pay the ridiculous prices they want for new.

ATW said...

WOW!! You guys have found some awesome things. Im so jealous. I to am looking for rain barrells. The idea of using the concrete as beds and and using the holes around them to plant herbs is brilliant. What a way to utilize space efficiently. I can't wait to see what you guys produce this year. Great Finds!!!

TheOrganicSister said...

I love all your beds. Can't wait til we can add more. Oh and water barrels too!! We don't get much rain but it would be awesome to harvest it.

PS Thanks for linking me...uh twice. lol

No name said...

You're way more organized than I am though, in my defense, there is still two feet of snow on the ground here at Howling Hill. Today was in the 50s so it won't be around for much longer!

risa said...

GREAT doings!

>You just can't have too much basil!


J and J Oxrieder said...

I love the idea of the sink hooked to the rain barrels. I will have to go out hunting for one. I am pretty sure I have a spot for it next to my rain barrels that would be perfect. Thank you for the idea! That will make a wonderful way to wash veggies.

Melissa ~ Wife to 1, Mom to 5 said...

Hot Belly Mama ~ your welcome!

Judy ~ ahhh I'm so jealous of the $5 barrels.

Sue - I KNOW! They had some at the garden show, but they wanted well over $100 for each of them. TOO MUCH!

ATW - I can't take the credit for the concrete blocks - I saw somebody elses blog post last fall and I just had to try it too.

Tara - Funny about the links - I have NO idea how it does that! I've never even tried to link to anybody - maybe it snags it automatically when I read a post or when I comment? I don't know but yeah, I saw it did that...

Howling Hill - I'm not exceptionally organized, I just knew if we didn't get a lot accomplished on Spring Break, it wouldn't happen.

Risa - I agree!

J&J - I saw the sink idea on The Deliberate Agarian's post on meat birds... thought we'd give it a whirl. I love those mesh baskets aka Maine Hods, but they were $45 and hey, I prefer free!

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