Friday 20 December 2013

Outdoor Christmas Tree

We are enjoying a snow day today!

My daughter and I started a new tradition of decorating a tree in our front yard.  The big bobbles show up the best.

And a few cute pics of my little man in his new sled:

Monday 9 December 2013

DIY Maple Slab Coffee Table

We try and keep our posts on DDS focused on  yard and garden topics.  Though you might say a DIY coffee table does not fall into the general scheme I will attempt to justify my DIY coffee table post as follows: 1.  Technically the Maple Slab came from a yard (my parent's actually) and it is indeed organic. 2.  The ground is frozen making time spent digging in the yard more challenging right now!

Though a natural coffee table is not everybody's style I am very pleased at how it all turned out.

Several year's ago Dad had to take down a large Maple Tree in his back yard that was diseased and beginning to rot.  I requested a hunk of wood be saved  to be reborn as some form of furniture.  Dad chainsawed me two eight inch slabs from the base of the trunk where the tree "v"d into two.  The slabs then sat in my garage getting in the way for several years, drying and curing while I procrastinated from starting to work on them.  Finally last year I started to literally chip away at the project, first planing off the deep rough chainsaw cuts with a power planer. I then used an orbital grinder, starting with an 80 grit sand paper and working up to a fine 240 grit.  Finally, I gave it a coat of Beeswax polish (Clapham's Beeswax Salad Bowl Finish).  The legs were pre-cut and threaded galvanized pipe from a big box store that I just screwed together with half inch fittings in the plumbing aisle and then spray painted black.  My HH helped me with the tricky part of attaching the legs to a very unlevelled underside which involved much shimming  (this is adding little wedge pieces to level out the leg where it is to be attached).  Overall this project cost less than $30 for the galvanized pipe legs and spray paint.  Shannon loaned me the beeswax which is about $16, though I had to promise not to use too much. 
 One winter project off the list!

Monday 2 December 2013

all i want for Christmas...

Lauren's wish list:

Gardeners wash basket: A functional harvest basket that looks good

Light weight hedge trimmer: An excellent bush wacker for my box woods

Outdoor chairs from ikea: Shannon and I might be fighting over these.  Unfortunately they are sold out of these very mod yet comfortable composite chairs until March of 2014.

The pit of despair, under the deck project to be complete!

Shannon's wish list:

Wall garden planter from Lee Valley: I've wanted to put a wall planter on my west exterior wall that is below my cedar pergola to bring interest to the big expanse of stucco and for the fun of growing vertically.  I know there are lots of diy options out there but I like the watering system with this one and that it doesn't allow the roots to grow through and cause problems with the stucco. 


Rapid Reel hose reel: I fist spotted this hose reel in the background of a picture on a blog I frequent: Chezerbey.  I'm tired of my plastic hose real that I'm always fighting with that is located near my front door, this would provide a much better looking and hopefully smooth reeling option for years to come. 

Floating row cover from West Coast Seeds:I've wanted to try a row cover to protect my cabbage from cabbage pests.  Last year I spent too much time pulling and squishing green guys off my cabbage.

Book: All the Dirt: This book looks like a good read and will hopefully provide some useful information.

Sunday 17 November 2013

diy modern shed -finally complete

The old rickety shed that came with our house is past its expiration date.  The roof leaks, the floor is rotten, and it building a replacement shed has been on to do list for a while.  Of course I had grandiose plans of a cool westcoast modern looking shed with a green roof.  As usual, my original plans have changed because of cost.  According to my HH, the structure would have had to be much stronger to handle the weight of the green roof which would have ended up costing considerably more and Lauren pointed out that you wouldn't really be able to see much of the roof anyways.  So I let the green roof dream go.... at least for this project!

As mentioned in a previous post, we poured a concrete perimeter and used left over concrete paving stones for the floor.

Next we framed up the walls.  As I held the front wall upright so HH could level and secure it I kept thinking, man this seems really tall, I need to step back and take a look at this.  So when the wall was secure and I stepped back, there was no getting around it; the front wall was GIANT!  Somewhere in HHs calculations he thought we might want to put a asphalt shingle roof on it instead of a metal roof which would require a steeper slope, apparently this is how the front wall ended up so tall...  After reiterating that I prefer a metal roof he agreed to cut the front wall down by 15 inches, I think he was also worried what the neighbours would think of the GIANT.

 Our 3 year old decided she was going to help, she strapped on her tool belt and headed outside, I caught this picture of her checking the squareness of the wall....maybe she has been subject to a little too much diy?!?

We decided to clad the shed with one side good exterior plywood and use pine trim to cover the plywood joints and to make an interesting/modernish looking exterior on the cheap. 

The metal roof was a bit of a pain.  Since I had conceded on the green roof, I was determined to have a good looking metal roof.  Of course the roof I wanted was one of the pricier options...  Ordering the metal roof proved to be painful, after getting quotes and talking with numerous sales people at big box stores and a local hardware store, it became apparent that none of them could answer questions about the correct flashing and installation requirements. Eventually after contacting the manufacturer and numerous special orders, we ended up with all the parts we needed and put the roof on before winter...whoohoo!
Here is the completed shed (minus a few touch ups) in all her glory:

We added windows along the top row of the front wall to allow light to enter the shed but still allow for lots of wall space for storage.  HH made the windows from old glass and wood from his dads.  I think they turned out great.  I painted the door yellow as I had left over yellow paint from when I painted our backdoor.

 We used 5 inch tongue and groove cedar for the soffit. 
The black metal roof.
Now to move the stuff out of the old shed and attempt to organize it in the new shed!  Anyone have any good shed organizing suggestions?

Tuesday 5 November 2013

Seed sharing shout out

I recently received this email from my Aunt.  It reminded me that Shannon and I are not the first dirt digging sisters.  Auntie E. wished for and received a Kubota tractor for her 50th birthday.  Here is my Aunt's email made public:

Every year, in an attempt to have a wide variety of things in my veggy garden I buy too many seeds that I don't use. I am looking for people with a similar problem to share their excesses and also try some different varieties to come ripe at slightly different times. If you know of such people, please let me know.

The Dirty Auntie
This year I'm drying out and saving seeds from my own harvest so I have bachelor button seeds (a cute blue annual flower), marigold and pumpkin to share. I happen to know Shannon has an abundance of white sweat peas.   These seeds might be hybrid which means they could produce recessives or plants without the same growth as the original.  My mother in law just gave me Portuguese beans that she saves from year to year and grow amazingly well. They must be heirloom seeds in order to produce the same great plant down the line.  I wonder if gardening is a dominant trait?
If you would like to trade seeds and are interested in any seeds mentioned please leave a comment with your email on this post.


Saturday 26 October 2013

pumpkin harvest and garlic planting

This past weekend, my brother's family, my sister's gang and my motley crew all met up at our parents place to harvest the pumpkins, plant next years crop of garlic and chop fire wood.  The pumpkin vines had grown rambunctiously across the entire garden but only produced three giant pumpkins.


Once the photo shoot of the pumpkins and cute cousins was done, we pulled out the vines and weeds and added some compost.  Dad started to rototill the garden but was interrupted by running out of gas and instead of driving 10 minutes to the closest gas station decided to remedy this by siphoning gas out of the car.

Rototilling complete, we planted four types of garlic: red Russian, white porcelain, a Spanish variety, and a soft neck variety mom had picked up in Montreal. 
Here are  few other random shots of the day:

Thursday 24 October 2013

A Bamboo Story

There are not many plants that I admire and fear as much as bamboo.  The Zen quality of the rustling sound and shadow made by the tall strands as well as the potential to create a quick privacy screen have intrigued me.  However, I've also been warned - be careful it will bust through concrete and take over your yard, then the neighbours yard and then the world.  Still not completely deterred I did some research and found out that running bamboo is probably the most aesthetic kind (versus clumping varieties) but running means just that, roots that will take over unless control methods are taken (special barriers etc.)  So I set out to find bamboo to pot on my deck at which time I discovered it was very expensive, which seemed puzzling - if bamboo is running amok - shouldn't there be lots of it around for people to give away?   In the spring I was very excited to find an add on craigslist for "you dig, you take" bamboo within blocks of my house.  I call my DDS for an emergency plant escapade, dropped one kid off, found HH's reciprocating saw and our best shovels and off we go. Now the DDS' had yet to meet a plant that they couldn't wrangle, though the bamboo owner was impressed with our power tool she still had a bit of a smirk when we asked us to lead us to it.  The "grove" was a serious example of a hostile bamboo takeover.  The backyard was very small and had thick bamboo extending from the back fence with roots now approaching the foundation of the house (it had been allowed to free range for 10 years).  The home owner wanted it gone and was at the point of bringing in heavy machinery if it was not vanquished that weekend.  45 minutes of back and shovel breaking labour we were not able to get out any of the tall premium bamboo along the awkward area of the fence, the roots were too fierce.  We opted to take some baby roots with signs of possible shoots home for our own propagation.  After witnessing what bamboo can do I was nervous potting my little shoots for fear they might escape and wreak havoc.  Below you can see the potted golden bamboo roots have grown to about 24 inches after 5 months, still a few more years until they can make any kind of privacy screen.

Yesterday on my way home I spotted something on the side of the road.  I think visual acuity for all things free on the side of the road might be hereditary.  Anyway, there it was, big tall bamboo pre-dug with tidily bundled roots with a "free" sign.  I went back later convincing my daughter we were going on an adventure.  The bundles were definitely heavier and more awkward to lift than my toddler.  After getting the roots into the vehicle  we drove the 3 (well maybe 5) blocks home with about 15 feet of bamboo trailing out behind us.  This afternoon I lugged it up onto my back deck to admire my score, 20 foot bamboo is a wee bit more than I bargained for, so I chopped it down to about my height.  Here is the glorious free bamboo with a Maple tree in the background:

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Autumn pile of leaves

We are lucky enough to have a tree in the neighbouring yard that dumps heaps of maple leafs into our backyard.  Right now the leaf piles are strictly for fun but eventually once completely dropped they will make their way into the veggie patch where they'll decompose to add lovely organic matter to the soil.  Here are some pics from this past Thanksgiving weekend.

Friday 4 October 2013

20 minutes between fall down pours in Lauren's yard

So nap time happened to coincide with a  short rain free period  and I managed to take a few pics of what's happening as things wind down in my yard.

We grew these mini pumpkins ourselves.  I think they came from pumpkin's that were put in the compost last year.

Nine bark shrub was given to me as a shower gift when my baby b. was born.  Baby and shrub are both thriving.

 I love the ornamental grasses this time of year, these are Japanese blood grass and a miscanthus swaying in the winds brining in the next storm.

This is the beginning of a long neglected under the deck project, stay tuned to see how the "pit of despair" turns out.

Cauliflower has finished up but the New Zealand spinach in the foreground needs to harvested before the first frost.

Mystery squash or pumpkin (also likely from compost seeds), may have naturally cross pollinated with other squash.  You can see asparagus fronds draping over.  This is my asparaguses first year - apparently only a few more years to wait until we'll get to harvest asparagus.

Sunday 29 September 2013

fall garden

I snapped a few pictures of my garden a few days ago before the rains arrived...  The weather forecast says we won't see the sun for another 4 days, I guess fall has arrived on the rainy westcoast!

I have a few young apple trees, by far the best producer this year was my Honeycrisp tree; the apples were giant and tasted great.
 My dahlias are still blooming strong although the rain will probably knock lots of the blooms over.

 A tuberous begonia that I left in the garden and it came back on its own from last year.
 Fall crocus.  I thought I had dug them all up from my front border and moved to my back but apparently I missed a few.
I planted this pineapple sage in the summer and it is growing like crazy, I love the chartreuse colour of the leaves.  Apparently it makes good tea, I have yet to try it.
 Asters in bloom.
Scarlet runner beans that I planted in August, they are blooming but I'm not sure if they will produce with the cooler temperatures and rain.
With the pouring rain outside, I guess I really have no excuse not to clean my messy house!