Love my backyard, but after a rainstorm it turns into a lake! I've decided to completely get rid of the grass and transform it into a beautiful, peaceful flower garden retreat. I will not
only be adding soil to the low spots which will help redirect the water, but I will create a beautiful space where I would much rather spend my time with the flowers and plants than cutting the grass :) Huge undertaking, but I am psyched up for it!
So far, I have used some "lasagna gardening" techniques- covered all of the grass (and weeds!) with newspaper, cardboard or paper yard refuse bags. Second step, top that with garden soil mix. I am waiting until I'm sure there are no more frost advisories before I start to plant my flowers and vines. I've started collecting the seedlings I'm going to plant as well as growing some from seeds. (I've got an ENTIRE back yard to fill with flowers!!!) I've been planning my secret garden layout and I can't wait until I can actually start planting my flowers! Wish me luck!
I installed half round gutters and corrugated downspouts on my house recently ... (I have an old house and I wanted to maintain this look). As I was doing this, and since I knew I had
some nearby yard work planned, I incorporated a rain barrel.
After some research (through which I learned there is no shortage of techniques for making rain barrels nor in the shear number of rain barrels now on the market), I chose a 60 gallon rain barrel made by a company called EarthMinded. I picked it because 1) it looked good 2) it was comparatively large 3) it looked easy to install and 4) it could be bought through a local conservancy that subsidized the barrels bringing their cost down.
With rain barrels (like real estate) location location location is everything. Screened (at least partially) from the road, I set the barrel just downhill of last year's Vinca planting and just uphill from a bit of grass I intended to overseed (I completed this this past weekend and plan to post on it). I purchased 2 bags of pea gravel, used scrap (ground-contact-rated) 4x4s (further treated) and a spare piece of blue stone. Together, this/these provided a solid, level and elevated base (all very important).
Assembling and installing the barrel was a snap (Earthminded's instructions were excellent) BUT I did have to request beforehand a kit that would work with my new round downspouts.
I may write more about this project on my blog in the coming weeks but for now if you have questions, don't be afraid to ping me. Thanks for reading. ~jb
There is nothing like having fresh asparagus from your own garden! Asparagus is just one of those crops that no matter how fresh it may look or feel in the supermarket - the taste of home
grown can't be beat!
Asparagus is different than most of the vegetable crops planted in the garden. Unlike annual varieties such as tomatoes, cucumber and peppers that need planted each year - asparagus is a perennial. Once established, they can provide a good crop for 20 to 25 years for you and your family to enjoy!
They also differ because plants are either male or female. The males are known to have larger and more abundant spear production, while the female varieties tend to be thinner and produce seeds in the fall for reproduction. Most prefer to plant only the male for the added production levels. Popular male varieties such as Jersey Giant and Jersey Knight are great choices for those looking for maximum yields.
Asparagus can be started from seed or from what are called crowns - which are nothing more than the roots of 1 to 2-year-old asparagus plants. Most, (including us) really prefer starting them with the crowns and not from seed. Growing from seed can take up to 2 to 3 years to have edible spears formed - while starting with crowns can give you a few spears to enjoy by the second year. It's also easier to start and maintain the crowns - as their growth is more defined early on, making it easier to keep weeded.
How To Plant :
With the long crop cycle of 20 or more years - it is important to prepare your bed space accordingly. Work in generous amounts of compost to the soil before planting to provide a good starting base for your crop. Asparagus will do best in a nice, sunny location. They can tolerate some partial shade, but grow and thrive much better with full sun.
To plant asparagus, you will want to dig a trench about 6" deep and about 8" wide. We like to space ours about 18" between crowns. Place the crown at the bottom of the trench, and cover with about 2" of topsoil. As the crown begins to grow through the soil, keep adding a few inches of soil until the soil level has filled in the trench over the course of a few weeks. This process allows the asparagus to develop a deep root system to provide for years of crop harvests.
For your first year, allow the plants to grow tall. Resist the temptation to cut a few spears - you want all of the growth to go to the plant and root structure. In the fall after they have died off, you can cut them off about 1" above the soil and place a little straw or compost mulch over them for the winter.
In year two, you will begin to see some small spears shoot through the earth in the spring. You can harvest the first week or two of spears, then allow the plants to once again grow tall and build up strength. The year 2 spears will be smaller, but still very tasty!
Year 3 is where the fun begins! You should be close to full harvest - enjoying fresh spears each and every spring for many years to come. After each spring harvest, let your asparagus grow tall in the beds and repeat the process of cutting back after they have died off in the fall.
Upkeep and Maintenance of Beds:
The biggest key to good productive asparagus is to keep your beds weed free. Weeds and grass compete for valuable nutrients, and a weedy bed will result in smaller, less productive harvests. We use either straw or compost mulch to keep ours weed-free throughout the year. It's also a good idea each fall to put on a two-inch covering of compost on top of your beds to give some added nutrients. Other than that - once established, your asparagus beds will provide you with years of fresh and amazing tasting crops each spring!
Happy Gardening! - Jim and Mary
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If you are anything like me, than you are likely on a budget. Times are tough for many
of us, and going out and buying new and expensive shelving and storage units aren't always an option. So what do we need to do to give ourselves the space we need for storage without going over our budget?! We need to open our eyes to seeing items we already have (or can find for low cost at a thrift/antique store) in a whole new way. We need to upcycle something old into something new that will work for us- most of the time, using an item for a purpose it was not intended for – like this ladder I hung up and turned into a bathroom storage unit for my skinny upstairs bathroom.
The idea for this project started brewing early last week, when I found an old red license plate out in our barn. I brought it into the house knowing I wanted to create something with it. A little bit later the same day I was cleaning my bathroom, and bothered by the fact we never have anywhere to set our little items or hang towels because of the skinny narrow shape of our bathroom.
Then.... I thought of the idea to turn the ladder on its side, and add some hooks so it will double as a shelf for small items, and as a place to hang a few towels for guests when they step out of the shower.
Here is the ladder before:
I simply nailed in two small finishing nails to attach the license plate to the ladder to give it some added character:
Next I attached two oil rubbed bronze Dragonfly hooks I purchased at Target a few years ago and found again in my project supply room today:
Final step was to hang the ladder on the wall and use!
As I had mentioned above, this is a great solution for storing smaller items like tp, lotions, makeup, and hanging towels, when you don't have a large vanity cupboard and a floor storage unit isn't an option. The bathroom ladder doesn't take up much space and doesn't cost a ton of money!
Need or want something new in your bathroom or home?! Take a look around your own home first, looking at everything with a new set of eyes and think 'how can I use this differently?!'