Category Archives: Gardening

Chicken Pox and Salsa

So it’s been awhile again, but we’ve been on vacation (more about that later though when the pictures are ready to go)!  Of course it takes time to get ready before, so it’s been busy.  The thing is it was even busier than it should have been because Mr. Tyler came down with the chicken pox about a week and a half before we left.  He came down with them on a Saturday the same day as we were supposed to go to a birthday party and had a busy weekend planned!

Tyler didn’t have a bad case tough.  They weren’t even bad enough to get a spotty dotty picture luckily!  He had had the chicken pox vaccine, but only the first one so far, so my special little boy is even more special since he’s that 1 out of 10 people that still gets it after the first vaccine.  He was better in about 4 days and got one fun day with Grandma E. and really didn’t itch much at all.  He was a bit grumpy though 🙂

Since all our plans were cancelled for that weekend to keep everyone away from spotty Tyler, it meant that some cooking could be done.  It was time for fresh salsa!

VeggiesChopped

The tomatoes, cilantro, onion and cayenne peppers

Garden tomatoes, onion, cilantro, lime and salt

Garden tomatoes, onion, cilantro, lime, cayenne peppers, and salt

The tomatoes and the peppers came from our garden.  I used:

  1. 5 small to medium tomatoes,
  2. about half an onion finely chopped,
  3. about a quarter cup of cilantro finally chopped,
  4. one lime juiced,
  5. 3 cayenne peppers,
  6. 1/2 tsp salt

I just combined them and then refrigerated for a few hours and it was time to enjoy and we certainly did!  There’s nothing like garden fresh salsa in the summer!

Digging into the fresh salsa

Digging into the fresh salsa

Rockin’ the Landscape

This is a project that has taken us what seems like forever, but I have to remind myself this wasn’t supposed to be a fast projec,t and no project is speedy when you have a 15 month (and now nearly 17 month old) to watch.  I can finally say that all of our existing flower beds are finished.  Other than planting annuals, I’m hoping never to have to mulch, plant perennials or put down weed blocker again.

If you remember at the end of this post, I showed a picture of what our back flower beds looked like in the beginning stages of “Operation Never Mulch Again”.  It was pretty sad and weedy, but it’s looking a lot better these days!

The back patio and flower beds after putting down new weed blocker and mulch. A cute puppy always helps things look better too.

We decided to go with a typical large river rock that was somewhere around 1.5″ in diameter.  We got it at our local nursery Country Arbors.  After doing some bad math and thinking we needed somewhere around 11 cubic yards, yes it’s hard to compute inches to feet and feet to yards, we finally realized that we needed about 2.5 cubic yards, but figured we could get away with 2 c.y.  My parents came up a couple weekends ago, and my mom watched Tyler while Dad helped us tear up old mulch, put down the weed block, and shovel in the new rock. As we worked, it became obvious we weren’t going to get everything done. We got all of the back done, the small beds around the garage door and the front door, and about 2/3’s of the way through our 33′ front bed. We needed another load of rock.

How far we got with our first load of rocks, starting planting of our shade plants and what Tyler, Guster and I did while Eric planted.

How far we got with our first load of rocks, starting planting of our shade plants and what Tyler, Guster and I did while Eric planted.

The next weekend we went back out to Country Arbors and ordered another cubic yard of river rock. While we were there, we decided to look for shade plants. We have a huge maple tree in the front of our house. It shades the entire front yard, which faces east, in the morning while the house shades the front in the afternoon. We had had a few hostas there that had died at some point as well as tulips which do great but are dead by the middle of May (if we’re lucky), and also some irises that evidently don’t like all the shady time either.

Our show stopper middle of the bed plant.  A beautiful purple clematis (hopefully it grows in the shade!)

Our show stopper middle of the bed plant. A beautiful purple clematis (hopefully it grows in the shade!)

Our short filler plants.  Two Japanese grasses, a blue hosta, berry smoothie heuchera

Our short filler plants. Two Japanese grasses, a blue hosta, berry smoothie heuchera

We ended up spending a good $125 on plants just for our front bed. We ended up getting 4 berry smoothie heuchera plants, 2 blue hostas, 4 Japanese grasses that evidently don’t like water very much, and 1 other hosta to match one we already had. We alternated these plants around a “JackManni” Clematis. We had a wonderful person guiding us through the plants at the nursery who said the “JackManni” was the hardiest, most difficult to kill vine they had. We wanted something tall that can actually be seen from the road. We got all of our plants in the ground that weekend. We took turns planting and watching Tyler. While all the plants are pretty short at this point, it adds a little interest to the front of our house.

The front bed filled with rocks and finished!

The front bed filled with rocks and finished!

We got our final load of rock this past Monday and were able to finish it up this weekend. Our total price breakdown was about $320 for the rocks, about $125 on new plants, and around $50 for the new weed blocker liner. In the good news, we are done with the flower beds!! Hopefully now we’ll never have to touch these again! No new mulching every three years, no nasty pulling up old weed blocker and hopefully no new perennials! All of that is totally worth nearly $500.  Our landscaping is done…well maybe we still have this pile of rock left after putting down all the rock we needed…

The rock we have left over from our second order of rocks!

The rock we have left over from our second order of rocks!  I see a new flower bed in our future!

Adding Color

Well I went two weeks without writing a post.  It was bound to happen, and really I have nothing to blame other than just needing a break. Now I’m my brain is fresh and ready for a new (long) post.

When you live in a grey house that has black trim and white windows like we do, the outside can seem a little dull and lifeless all winter long with no plants to add a little color to the curb appeal.  When spring comes around I go a little crazy adding plants to the front of the house.  This year was definitely no exception.

One of the gerbera daisy plants in a flower bed.

One of the gerbera daisy plants in a flower bed.

 

One of the hanging baskets I created for the front yard

One of the hanging baskets I created for the front yard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year, I started by adding pink and yellow gerbera daisies near our front door in an area that gets a lot of sun.  They were the flowers that were in my wedding bouquet, so they have a lot of sentimental meaning to me.  I try to plant a few of them every year.  I also create my own petunia hanging baskets to hang near our front yard light.  Every single year they had died nearly as soon as I planted them.  Not to sound like a commercial, but last year I decided to try Miracle Gro potting soil, and they’ve been amazing ever since!  They even looked great through the drought year last year, and they’re doing great again this year.  I’m all over the Miracle Gro potting soil from here on out.  It makes my life easier!

Eric's flower pot for the front of the house

Eric’s flower pot for the front of the house

 

My flower pot for the front of the house

My flower pot for the front of the house

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every year we also arrange 2 flower pots for the front of the house.  Eric picks the flowers for one, and I pick the flowers for the other.  We always follow the rule of one tall grassy plant, a couple types of flowering plants, and then one vine to grow over the side.  I always have a couple of purple plants, which are  not blooming in this picture to go with my purple potato vine.  Eric usually goes with the orange flowers.  I’m pretty sure if he could find blue flowers he liked that he would have an Illini pot every single year!

This year all our flowers are looking really great!  We’re hoping to add some shade perennials to the front of our house this year to make it look a little more interesting, but I think we really added a lot of color to perk up the drab front of our house this year.

Our first ripe tomato of 2013!

Our first ripe tomato of 2013!

Also with our green thumbs, this year our garden is doing ok.  I’ll take some pictures and do a full update later, but we did get our first ripe tomato last week!  It’s the earliest we’ve ever gotten a ripe tomato.  Usually it’s not until at least the middle of July.  It’s tiny, about the size of a ping pong ball.  It also have a sad looking spot on the bottom of it, so there’s not a whole lot to eat there.  It’s still early though.  The best part by far was that I finally beat my Dad to having a ripe tomato!

Getting ready to clean up the back flower bed!

Getting ready to clean up the back flower bed!

 

 

 

 

The last thing I’ve been working on outside is around back.  About 3 years ago we redid the backyard patio and added these flower beds.  They’re gorgeous, but the mulch was looking really sad, and the weeds were coming up through the weed blocker, so it’s definitely time to redo it.  This is as far as I’ve gotten so far getting rid of the old mulch.  The question is do we go with rock, which we won’t have to replace again in 3 years and Tyler won’t try to eat, or with the cheaper mulch again.  I’d really love not to have to redo these in just another few years, but the rock can be really expensive compared to the mulch.  I’ve already gone with a higher quality weed blocker at least, so hopefully I won’t have to rip it up again!  What do you all think?  Cheap but short lifetime or long lifetime with a much higher price tag?

 

 

 

Start of the Growing Season

It’s that time of the year again!  Time to start planting our garden.  With all the rain we’ve been getting lately, it’s been hard to find decent weather to get into the garden (maybe there will be a lot less watering than last year! Darn drought years!). When we had amazing weather this past Monday through Wednesday (always has to be on the weekdays), I decided it was time to get some of the early crops into the garden.

Rock produce from our garden and what the plot that I planted looks like

Rock produce from our garden and what the plot that I planted looks like

I actually started getting the garden ready for this year’s crop last weekend.  The first step was to clean rocks out of the plot.  We have no idea where all these rocks came from! They had to have been there last year, but they must have been buried and decided to come up to the surface during the winter. Cleaning these out took me a good 2 hours but then it started raining, so that put an end to the gardening for the day. I got a pretty full sack of rocks out of the garden even though I had to quit early. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with them now though.

Green beans and spinach are currently planted!

Green beans and spinach are currently planted!

Finally on Tuesday, the garden had enough time to dry out from our weekend rain, so I got to work on the digging.  We didn’t even have to get the tiller out this year because the soil was soft enough that one turn with the shovel was all it took to be ready for planting.  Unfortunately, that means there won’t be the annual shot of Eric battling the tiller!

Green bean seeds ready to start growing.

Green bean seeds ready to start growing.

This year we plan on having spinach, green beans, tomatoes, onions, peppers, a few herbs, and some sunflowers.  While we weren’t confident enough the weather would cooperate to break out the warm weather plants yet, we did pick up some spinach, green bean, and sunflower seeds at the grocery store. It is getting a little late in the season for the spinach, but since it has been on the chillier side, we decided to try it anyway. I got the green beans in the ground too. Since it’ll take them awhile to sprout yet, hopefully they won’t be too harmed by a late season frost.

Next weekend we’ll probably pick out our pepper, tomato, and herb plants and get those in the ground ready to go. Before then though, we’ll get the Preen down to make sure we have to do minimal weeding during the season. We’re always looking for a few short cuts! Hopefully, we’ll be able to get our annuals going outside too next weekend. I can’t wait for our yard to look green and flourishing again. The next time I post about the garden maybe there will be something green growing other than dandelions in the garden!

My adorable little helper, helping with the gardening!

My adorable little helper ready to start digging in the garden.