Monday, May 18, 2015

The Pond is Gone - part 2

When I put in the pond, I also created a seating area so that one could actually sit and look at the fish.  With the pond gone and a new sitting area to replace it, the "old" sitting area needed to go, too. 
The crabapple tree was behind the glider in the summer of 2009, but died a couple of years later. 

This was actually very easy and took minimal effort.   With the tree gone, the glider was sitting in full sun all day and we never used it.  While its view of the pond was wonderful, it just wasn't a pleasant place to be. 
Granted, this was taken in early March before anything started coming up, but you can see that it was a pretty barren place to be!
The barrel held oregano - like the area's largest single clump - that i have used extensively in cooking, so I wanted to maintain that, but not necessarily in such a huge clump.  And, the barrel was rotting away.  

Another blue pot to the rescue. 

This one contains a new rosemary, along with new oregano and just for fun two stevia plants.
All done and planted with Romas and Brandywine tomatoes. 
So a little soil clean up, and an afternoon of Mitchell's time making a raised bed, and voila!  A new bed for Roma tomatoes for this summer's red sauce.  I can hardly wait.
Almost Heaven!
And, finally I promised you the view if you are sitting on the glider now.  Breakfast out here is becoming a habit!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Ding, Dong the Pond is Gone!

You remember the pond ... that cool oasis that I dug in 2007 so that Mitchell would have a nice place to recuperate from knee replacement surgery.  The place he could not get to because he was not allowed to walk on grass for three months.  That place. 
Pond - July 2009
When it was first created, there was a crabapple tree nearby that provided shade for a glider so that one had a place to sit and enjoy the fish and the water lilies. 

Over time, blight killed the tree leaving the glider in hot sun all day.  The pond did not really get enough light to sustain the water lilies. 

And, a neighborhood blue heron and I developed a co-dependent relationship:  he would eat the fish and I would buy more ... he would eat the fish and I would .... well, you get the picture. 

Last fall I decided to end my enabling and force Mr. Heron to go elsewhere to dine, so I stopped buying fish. By spring the pond looked pretty bad and I decided that its time had come - and gone.  
Full of winter debris and no breakfast for Mr. Heron.

So, in April I pumped out the water [a great fertilizer for the perennials] and dug up the liner to put in the annual neighborhood clean up.  [We live in a great county.  So far this month they have provided free pick up of yard waste and anything else one might want to sit at the curb, including appliances, and a free electronics recycling day.  They will do it again in the fall.]
See the stones stacked against the fence in the background?
It took me one whole weekend to move all those stones and pull out the liner.  (I paid for 1,000 pounds of stone in 2007.  I moved them twice that year, and twice again this year.  Old math says that is two tons!  No wonder my poor body was exhausted when I finished.]  
Half filled - another weekend to do this. 
Next I re-filled the hole.  The ground in our area is heavy clay.  When I dug the hole originally, I piled it all against the back fence behind the compost pile.  So .... i just put it back.  Since it's so thick and heavy it will make a fine base for the "patio" to come. 
When it was nearly full, I started leveling the area and got some paver base and some paver sand from Big Blue Box.  Also, a nifty plastic edging that i buried, but which gave me a square to work with. 
You can see the black edging when I started.  This is all dirt, watered in well and waiting for paver base.
And then the fun began.  I took the stones that were once the surround for the pond.  [You saw them last piled against the fence.]  I turned them into a [mostly] flat pad to hold the glider and a pair of tables. 
It was fun figuring out what stone would fit in next ... until I got to the middle.  Then it got very difficult! And, the tan sand below is another paver sand that I poured on top.  I watered it in several times and swept it until all the little nooks and crannies were filled and level. 
Everything is set and ready for the glider. 
Next, I re-set some large pavers between the sidewalk and the new pad - again, they were left over from the previous sitting area.   
A place for an early morning cup of tea, or an adult drink in the afternoon.
And, finally I replanted perennials around the back (day lilies and lavender) and groundcover in the front.  Voila! a new sitting area.  This time it faces east and is shaded by the shed in the afternoons.  The view is straight down the main garden, but thru the middle of it.

Next time ... What happened to the old seating area?  and, i'll show you the view.

Friday, May 8, 2015

A Nicer Welcome

Altho we have three entrances - a "formal" front door, a side door and a back door, 90% of our guests come and go thru the side door, which opens directly onto the driveway.  
We use that entrance almost exclusively. 
 Over the years the railings had gotten loose and some of the decking had warped, so it was time to repair or replace it.  

We decided to go with a composite product instead of treated wood in the hope that it would last longer and not wear as fast this time. 
Once it was done, we needed a nice big pot of something by the steps.  We've kept a pot of mint there for years, so i just got another big blue pot and added some additional varieties of mint.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Wednesday Workday

I burned my last day of vacation today to have lunch with a friend, but since she did not want to eat at 7 a.m., i sneaked in a couple of hours in the garden. 
[Is anyone surprised by that?  No.  I thought not.]

Last summer we grew three tomatoes - Cherokee Purple (an early bearing heirloom), Brandywine (a late heirloom) and Roma - one plant each.   While both the Cherokee and the Brandywine produced fairly well from mid-May thru October, we would have used more "eating" tomatoes - especially since both had excellent flavor.  
The Romas were all either made into Tomato Jam, or roasted for Rachel Ray's roasted tomato sauce.* 

Mitchell loved the tomato sauce, but we were out of it by January and i committed to grow lots of Romas this year for sauce. 

Today was the day to plant.  But, not before I added a new raised bed, just for the Romas.
The bench used to sit on this "pad".
I took up the pavers a couple of weeks ago.
Mitchell built the new box for me yesterday and helped me move it into place.  
See how much the whole garden has greened up in two weeks.
Early this morning I was a Big Blue Box to get compost and peat moss.  For raised beds i use a combo of peat moss, vermiculite and two or three different types of composts.  Today I used "webb dirt" from my compost pile, plus Leafgro and a mushroom compost for a rich blend that will help feed the tomatoes all season.

Rolling the "ingredients" together.
It only took a couple of hours once I had everything.  Did I mention that we ended up with 12 plants this year?  Probably a bit of overkill.

All of the Romas and two Brandywine.
We have three Cherokee Purple, one red cherry, four Brandywine and four Roma - enough for a great summer of tomato eating and a winter of good sauce!

*Rachel Ray's Roasted Tomato Sauce 
Cut tomatoes in half, add desired seasonings (garlic, fresh herbs, salt and pepper), drizzle olive oil over all and roast cut side down 1.5 to 2 hours until tomatoes are soft and well roasted.

To serve immediately, put in blender (or use immersion blender) to puree, heat and serve with your favorite pasta.  
Freeze in quart or gallon bags to use later.