I need to clean my cabinets because we trimmed our trees. That may seem like weird logic but proves to be entirely true. Remember that issue I mentioned in a former post concerning too much shade over the garden because of the overgrown tree? Well, tree trimmer Jim visited and took drastic measures. Drastic as in my yard looks completely different and there is more light than I ever imagined possible. So much light that my kitchen and bathroom, both of which have windows at the rear of the house, are now bathed in light. While I appreciate the extra light it drew my attention to the fact that my white cabinets are not nearly as white as I had thought. Three kids living in the house means that I wipe the cabinets down often but apparently not well enough. It's kind of like when you only realize how dusty your house is once unexpected visitors show up. Maybe I should have garden baby wash them since she sure loves bubbles!
Now back to the trees - the root of my sudden need to clean. The canopy of leaves that shadowed my itty bitty backyard is 100% gone. Gone as well are the cute arches over the pallet garden which took a hit from a falling tree limb. Luckily, however, the fall plant babies survived. The husband promises an even better design to replace the arches using...can you guess? Branches from the tree of course! I think it will look quite charming when all is said and done. As for the state of things now...far from charming. The yard looks much like a person rudely awakened by someone throwing back the blinds - kind of shocked and confused.
Admittedly I was upset by the shocking transformation but now I see the good that will come from this. One, tree trimmer Jim promised that my trees will come back stronger, more evenly shaped, and probably faster than expected. Second, I see a perfect spot for a chicken coop! Garden baby and big sister Bella will absolutely love having their own chickens. Third, Tom and I have come up with some really great ideas on how to expand the garden and make it more productive. All will be well. Our backyard oasis has a bright future ahead of it...literally!
The bucket tomatoes did really well so next year I will grow them again. To renourish the soil I have chosen to compost directly in the buckets in hopes that it will become beautiful soil by spring. Wouldn't a time lapse video be interesting?
Please, no more photos!
"Rain, rain go away. Come again another day," so says the song anyway. My garden welcomed the rain this past week and a traipse through the paths led to many happy finds. Well, mostly happy anyway. How about those mushrooms above? These fungi are everywhere except in the fairy garden where they would be perfect. Take a look at what else is popping up along the Green Brick Road...
They are finally blooming and oh so pretty! These gems are edible too but I have yet to try them. Too pretty to eat.
The marigolds planted from High Mowing Organic Seeds are starting to bloom and neighbor Steve brought me some beautiful geraniums. My grandmother's poppies bloomed during the rain but I still caught a glimpse.
Wee tomatoes, itty bitty peppers, and hints of beans and cucumbers to come. The pallet garden looks just dandy and we're picking strawberries and raspberries. The ugly? Scrawny zucchini that may or may not produce, rabbit nibbled spinach, and holes in the beans. Naturally I only photographed the pretties...
Fairy Garden News
Disaster has struck the fairy garden! I kinda knew that I should have coated the fairy houses with something awful and toxic but was trying to avoid it. As a result, our houses look prematurely weathered. On a positive note, we have some new entries!
Last but not least!
At first glance the poppy plant is raggedy but closer inspection reveals its beauty. What will that green cone become? We will soon find out. Stay posted!
Sometimes you have to make things work with what you have available. This is good for a number of reasons in my opinion. The first reason that comes to mind and the one reflected in this blog’s title is money. Blah. Let’s not talk about it because I think you get the idea. The next reason is dear Mother Earth. Maybe it’s just us but we get a kick out of reusing things in a new and clever way. Not only do we reduce waste but we force ourselves to be creative. When we succeed we also have a nice talking point when guests visit. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve begun a conversation with, “This used to be _______.” True, owning a construction company gives us more access to “waste” building supplies than the average person, but from other blogs that I have read people often find sources on their own. More often than not reusing materials gives the final project a nice rustic appearance. This is another plus if you ask me. That rustic look blends with natural surroundings so much better than something shiny and new. Take a look at some of our creations for ideas and feel free to reproduce them. After all, imitation is the best form of flattery. And what is the best way to garden on a budget? Be creative!
The Garden Structure
The result of another deck tear down and some old pallets for the greens garden. The bricks for the path were salvaged as well.
Tom fashioned our tin man from cans originally destined for the recycling center. The owl was rescued from our neighbor's trash can. The hope is that he helps scare off other birds.
Other Odds & Ends
The blocks were relocated from our front flower beds to a shade garden in our backyard. Sometimes simply moving something from one location to another gives it a fresh new look. The tulips were given to me last Easter. Rather than pitching the pot once the flowers had died, I planted the bulbs in a flower bed. Beautiful! Our woodpile was originally just that - a pile. A big messy looking pile. When the kid's playhouse became rundown and dangerous, we dismantled it and gave the house a new purpose.
Every yard needs an airplane, right? My son sure thought so when he was about 5 years old and lucky for him his Papa had a pile of scrap wood with "airplane" written all over it. Our youngest now uses it for very serious missions.
Our porch was boring and after a "few" ideas found on Pinterest and subtly placed in the husband's head via text and email, he presented me with the perfect solution. It has rustic charming appeal and even gives me another place to pop in some flowers. Thanks dear husband!
Have I mentioned how much I love composting? Our version is nothing fancy but it works. It's made of some pallets and miscellaneous boards. To the right of the bin we have a birdhouse also fashioned out of scrap wood.
The Beloved Dandelion
How else can you save money and help preserve our beautiful planet? Skip the lawn treatments! Dandelions are beautiful and provide endless fun for children.
Meet Tom - the guy who make my ideas happen. He's an all right guy. I guess you could say I'm fond of him. He also happens to be a great Papa and master of fire pit pizza and bread baking. The stone and brick around the fire pit? Salvaged of course!
Time for a little reflection…
Back in March we started with a pile of seed packets from High Mowing Organic Seeds, a few bags of organic seed starting mix, and a bunch of containers. I should mention the folding table and light leftover from a restaurant remodel as well. I had my doubts about the set up but with the aid of aluminum foil for reflective purposes (the husband’s idea) the seeds became plants under their artificial sun. Without fail a seed becoming a plant amazes me every time!
Fast forward to the present and we have a forecast full of warm weather mixed with some rain throughout the week. To prep them for their big move into the garden, the plant babies went through a transitioning process from inside to outside over the past couple of weeks. Cold turkey isn’t recommended so gradual sun and wind exposure it was for my little green friends. And on Sunday, a gorgeous sunny day, they made the big move. In anticipation of this grand event, I had plotted out my garden on graph paper old school style. Following that plan I set out each plant in their designated spots and then gathered some beautiful wormy compost from the bin. I added a bit of compost into the bottom of each hole before placing the plants and packed a little more around them after planting. Congratulations my lovely plant children! Now please don’t die.
Scenes from The Green Brick Road
Back to reflection…
Once all of the plants were tucked into place the kids and I headed over to my Dad’s house. Essentially this is where the Green Brick Road starts because his land is where I grew up and where I had my first little garden bed. For the sake of full disclosure I was a terrible gardener as a child and soon lost interest in tending my plants. Thank you Mom for saving their lives! Watching my children run around in my old stomping grounds always brings back great memories of a happy childhood. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to grow up.
I leave you with an inspiring video. I am in awe of what she has created!
As good as it is possible to be. That is the definition of 'perfect' and the word most suitable to describe Monday. The kiddos were home from school, the weather was absolutely gorgeous, and the day was ours to enjoy. And enjoy it we did! There is that saying that goes "a picture is worth a thousand words." Monday holds true to those words so luckily I had my camera in hand. Our day in pictures...
March is a tricky month and this year is proving no different. One day all signs point to “yippee spring is here throw open the windows and doors” but the next day our hopes are dashed and that white stuff falls from the sky again. You’ve gotta enjoy the good days outside when they are here and do some spring cleaning inside when the days dip back to winter. Or you can be one of those people that promptly throws on shorts and flops as soon as we get the first warm day and then never looks back even if winter creeps back for a moment. What? It’s only 40 degrees outside? Nah, I’ve got my shorts on so that thermometer must be wrong! Yeah, those people belong to a different flock of birds if you ask me. Dress weather appropriate ladies and gents! So, where are we on the green brick road? Let me give you a tour!
A quick peek around the yard on this sunny but still chilly day shows much work that needs to be done but also happy little signs of spring. The garden still has old vegetation haunting the raised beds and cages from last year’s garden. Some people would have cleaned all of that out before the cold weather hit. I will tell a small white lie and say that I left it all purposefully so that the old plants would leave all of their nutrients in the soil. In reality, I just never got around to doing it so let’s hope that my nutrient theory holds true for the soil. Speaking of the soil…I need more, more, more! The raised beds are only a couple of years old and the dirt has settled considerably. I know that the local garden store has bags of organic garden soil but it would be nice to find a source that would allow me to get a big truck full of nice, healthy, as toxin free as possible dirt. I really need a farmer friend! Are you a farmer? Be my friend. Well, if you live far away I guess that doesn’t help with the dirt problem but new friends are still nice. The moral of the story here is that we have two important tasks on the garden To Do list: clean out the old vegetation and find more dirt.
All that talk about dirt brings me to fond thoughts of compost. I love compost! Basically it’s a real life backyard science project that results in beautiful worm filled dirt all for very minimal effort. Supposing my compost pile were bigger, I could fill up my raised beds with it. Right now I should have enough to spread over the tops for a nutrient boost. Other composters are very precise about their compost piles but I take a more relaxed approach. After all, who wants to get all caught up in rotten banana peels and egg shells? What is my approach? A little bit of this (food scraps) and a little bit of that (brown, dry stuff like leaves) and then let it sit. By let it sit I mean really let it sit for a good long while. When it looks rich and dark in color and when hopefully wriggly wormies are living in it, you know it is garden worthy. The current pile in my backyard may look like that underneath but it has a very thick layer of food scraps on top that have accumulated over the winter. Also we see solid evidence that this family eats a lot of eggs, bananas, and apples and that our coffee consumption could keep Starbucks in business. We would have to actually buy Starbucks coffee for that to be true but you get the idea. I can easily bring the compost ratio to a healthier state when I clean out the yard. Never fear little worms!
The next stop in our garden tour leads us to amazing green things popping up from the dirt of their own accord. The process amazes me every year. How do the daffodils, tulips, and other early birds know when it is safe for them to make their entrance? However they do it, I am always so happy to see them!
Welcome to The Green Brick Road. My name is Valerie, and I invite you to join me and my family on our gardening adventure. We hope that you will learn with us and grow with us. Pun intended!