Friday, June 25, 2010

More Veggies/Less Grass 2

We only have a very small patch of lawn in the back yard. Now it's even smaller. I took an existing planter and made it bigger by removing some roses, a boxwood hedge, and about a five foot strip of grass. Roscoe our dog and Rosie our rabbit only need a little patch of grass. I wanted to rip almost all of the lawn out, but my husband wasn't keen on the idea.

I compromised and only removed about a third of my original plan. About two months ago my friend Kristy let me borrow her rototiller to make short work of the grass and I gave her the roses. My husband helped me transplant the hedge to the other side of the backyard. I bought nine 8'x 1' non-pressure treated redwood boards and a box of 3" screws at Lowes. The wood and screws cost about $84. If you're going to make veggie boxes don't use pressure treated wood. The chemicals will leach into your vegetables. Lowes was nice enough to cut three of them in half for me to make four foot sections for the ends. I hauled the wood into the back yard and made the boxes on the concrete slab.

I drilled holes and attached each corner together with three screws. Then I placed the boxes about sixteen inches apart from each other. Just enough room to walk in between them. We have a truck that holds a yard and half cubic feet of soil. I had to make two trips to the nursery and haul all three yards into the back yard. I used an organic compost/soil mix and added worm casings. The whole project was very easy to do. It just requires a little muscle. The hardest part was leveling the boxes.
We ended up with three 4' x 8' planters. We planted several different types of peppers and tomatoes, string beans, sugar snap peas, butter nut squash, cucumbers, corn, chives, basil, cilantro, parsley and some nasturtium for some edible color. Also some trailing flowers just for prettiness. We have already enjoyed the herbs. Everything else needs some warm weather and time.
If I did this over again, I would have put wire mesh in the bottom of the boxes. We had a gopher episode, but that's another story. So far I have only had one snail. When his friends show up I'll be ready.

More Veggies/ Less Grass

I don't have grass in my front yard. We have lived in our house for almost nine years and we have never had grass in our front yard. Grass to me equals more watering, more fertilizing, and a lack of imagination.There is a landscape architect I like. His name is Fritz Haeg. He is a huge proponent of edible gardens, especially front yard edible gardens. I decided to try something easy in my front yard. I planted a pony pack of six zucchini plants.
Five out of the six plants looked good. The fifth one bit the dust on the way home in the car. For the next three to four weeks I battled the snail invasion form hell!

I don't use herbicides and pesticides, that includes snail bait, especially where dogs can get it. It's like candy to them. Several years ago I almost killed my dog with snail bait. I put it where I thought she couldn't get it, but she did. Many tears later and $700 poorer I learned a hard lesson.

Anyway, I diligently hunted snails every morning and most evenings and still lost three plants to the hungry beasts. I also tried placing a copper "hula hoop" around the base of each plant, that didn't work. Hand picking seems to work the best. I still find a few, but I think I have decimated the ranks for now.

I have been left with two healthy plants. The flowers are beautiful too! We have already been able to pick and eat them. Yum!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bling For Your Chandeliers

Here is an easy way to dress up your chandeliers. I make magnetic crystal drops and embellished starfish to hang on my chandeliers and sconces. They are an easy way to dress up a plain chandelier. The magnetic embellished starfish make great gifts. For my friend Kristy's baby shower we made the starfish for all her guest with a "Thank You" ribbon tied to it as a parting gift. The pictures don't do the starfish justice. At Halloween I hang embellished miniature skeletons on my chandeliers. I can't dig them out of the Halloween boxes right now. I will post pictures of them when we get closer to fall. . The possibilities are endless

Here are some of the starfish.
I bought the magnets and the jewelry tool in the jewelry making section at Michael's(Sorry the label is cut off the magnet boxes. They wouldn't fit in my jewelry making storage container.) The magnets come in silver and gold. I bought the crystals at a lighting store. They have many styles and sizes to choose from. The small round crystals are purchased buy the yard. When you buy the crystals specify whether you want silver or gold wire. When doing a whole chandelier, count how many arms your chandelier has and determine how many drops you want. I add 1-3 round drops to the larger pear shape crystals. Make sure before you buy your materials that your chandelier and all its parts you want to hang drops from are a magnetic metal. Magnets will not work on brass. I have two silver painted brass chandeliers hanging next to my bed and I had to drill holes for the hanging crystal drops. It's easier to drill before you paint so you don't scratch your new paint job.

Add the round crystals to the pear shaped ones and add a magnet to the end. You will need the jewelry tool to make the loops for the magnet and attaching the crystals together. I tried needle nose pliers before I bought the jewelry tool. The tool works much better, it was worth the $10 investment. I drill small holes in one arm of the starfish to attach the magnets and crystals to. I will show you how to embellish the starfish in another post. They are fairly easy, but I have learned a few tips that are helpful.

Monday, June 7, 2010


Last winter I saw terrarium pictures in a magazine while I was waiting in line at the grocery store and I thought they looked fun. I had just taken down Christmas and my house felt cold and lifeless. Live plants were just what I needed to bring in spring and the terrariums were a perfect project. I didn't have any live plants growing in my home. I love to garden but in the past I often forget to water my indoor plants and end up killing them. That's probably one of the reasons I have always loved succulents. They're hard to kill and thrive on neglect.

I remember terrariums when I was a kid in the seventies. I went a little crazy and made six of them! They were so fun to make, one just wasn't enough. Making these satisfied my gardening urge. It's not much fun to garden in January even in sunny San Diego and I found a new use for our old fish bowls. We used to have Beta fish in the bowls perched on urns on my kitchen counter. Our fish lived a long happy life of four years. Being on my kitchen counter helped me remember to feed them so I figured I wouldn't forget to water my terrariums if they occupied the old fish hangout. I didn't buy the magazine so I'm not sure how they made theirs, but this is how I made mine.

I purchased a good indoor potting soil, sand, small pebbles, moss, a ceramic mushroom(very 70's), and about 2-3 small plants for each bowl. I layered from the bottom up sand then pebbles for drainage. Then I cut sheets of moss and lined the inside of the bowl about 4-5 inches up the side (skip the moss step if you are using succulents.) I then filled the moss well with soil and planted the little plants. I then folded the moss edges over the soil and topped with more pebbles. I watered and spritz the plants with a spray bottle.

Because the bowls don't drain and they create their own little micro-environment, be careful not to over water. One day while admiring my terrariums I noticed the soil was moving. No crawling! I had little gnats infestating one of the bowls because I had over watered it. If this happens, spray with insecticidal soap. In my case I took the whole bowl apart and started over. So far no more bugs. Every two weeks I fertilize with a liquid fertilizer and I spritz with a spray bottle whenever they look dry. Customize with shells, rocks, drift wood, candles, etc.
These are so easy and fun to make I did this project with my ten year old daughter's Girl Scout troop.
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