A Revamped Freebie Planter

Anyone else amazed that it’s already May?  We’re just flying through this year, but at least it’s almost time to start planting and getting our yard ready for the summer season.  Here in Alaska the temps are still pretty chilly overnight so I don’t dare plant anything outside just yet, but that doesn’t mean I have to sit around and wait.  I’ve been cleaning up the flower beds, looking for signs  of life from my perennials and getting my plan for where things will go together.  That plan includes a few new pieces like this freebie planter I got from someone I bought another item from.  They were moving out of state and were purging items so she said just take all the pots and planters on the porch too!  I was all too happy to help!

The other pots in the freebie group didn’t really suit my style so I grouped them with other pots I no longer needed and traded them on the buy/sell page as part of a deal for another item I’ll share on the blog soon.  But I had a plan for this little gem.  While the bright orange was cheerful it needed a new coat of paint and I knew it would have a classic farmhouse style if I painted it ORB.  So the first sunny day I had time I drug her out in to the driveway and sprayed away.  Here’s how she looked after!

Luckily I’d been hoarding saving a large planter liner for quite some time and it was a perfect fit!  Since I already had the spray paint and liner the only cost I had for this project was the plants I’ll be putting in it!

Now she’s all ready for summer in the front flower bed.  I’ve got two Bacopa set aside just for her.  She also hides the cord that comes out of the garage wall in this corner – which will all but disappear once the plants start to grow and trail over her edges.   One planter down, and a few more to go before the weather cooperates and it’s time to plant! 🙂

Shared on Savvy Southern Style’s Wow Us Wednesdays and Knick of Time’s Talk of the Town.

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Getting the Green House Ready

As I promised last week I’m sharing a little update on the progress we’ve made in getting the green house ready for the season.  But before we get to the progress, let’s take a look at how things looked when we started.  Since the Hubs finished the structure as fall arrived last year we used the space for storage of all my pots and planters, along with some of the patio furniture and accessories.  We’ll call it organized chaos.

Luna decided to join me in the greenhouse as I started clearing it out.  She seemed to appreciate the warm cozy temps inside and made herself quite comfortable.

While Luna took in the warmth I harvested the dried blooms from the lavender I’d stashed away in the fall.  It was a decent little harvest, which I used to give the chicken’s nesting boxes a bit of freshness.

After that I made Luna move off the table so I could drag it out to the deck.  When I returned she had found a new favorite spot in one of the planter boxes.  I let her be as I sorted and dug out everything else to make room for the new set-up.

We purchased large plastic totes to serve as our planters in the greenhouse.  I filled the bottoms of each with plastic containers from our recycle bin – plus a few from the coffee shop at work – to help fill some of the space to reduce the amount of soil I had to use and provide space at the bottom of the containers where moisture could settle and then be wicked back up.  There are no drainage holes in the bottoms of the totes as that would become quite messy on the floor of the green house so I’ll have to water carefully.

And here’s where things are now.  We’ve got four totes down each side which sit on plant dollies so they can be moved easily, allowing me to work on the plants from all sides – a feature that might come in handy during harvest.  On the left side I brought in the two rusty bed frames I’d used as trellises in the wheel bed last season.  They worked well for the peas in the wheel bed, but this time one will be for green beans and the other will support cucumbers.  The tote in the back corner will be for dill and the one in the front corner will be for peppers.  The Hubs plans to secure them to the wall just to be on the safe side.  This side of the green house will also get vertical strawberry planters in each corner to maximize the space.

The right side has a shelf where the Hubs will be setting up a hyponic system for the buckets you see there.  Those will hold 4 varieties of tomatoes and a squash.  Below them will be yellow and red onions, asparagus and peas, which will get a smaller DIY trellis to climb.

In the back I added a large galvanized trash can under the window to hold extra dirt and the Hubs installed a wire shelf above it to serve as a potting bench.  That way when I’m preparing pots for the deck and porch if I spill it can fall right back into the dirt bin.  Plus the way he installed it I can lift it up against the window if I want it out of the way for any reason.  The ledge created by the wall framing was the perfect spot to store all my garden decor over the winter.  Once the yard finishes thawing out I’ll be moving those items out to their ‘summer homes’ and that space can hold any extra pots awaiting occupants.  My hand tools will be kept in the small tub you see on the shelf, which will be filled with sand to keep everything sharp – an idea I found on Pinterest of course.

It’s still getting pretty cold overnight so I haven’t put any plants out in the green house just yet, but I have purchased the first round of veggies and a couple of flowers which are pretty happy in the laundry room sink and on the kitchen counter for now.  I’ll be going to the big annual season kick-off sale at my favorite nursery this weekend to buy the rest of my stock and will test out a DIY trick I learned on the local garden club page to heat the green house up a bit at night to make sure it’s ready for planting.

I’ve also got a few things planned for just outside the green house, including moving the gutters I used last year for strawberries and potato towers, but I’ll share those once we get things set up a bit more.  It’s going to be a lot of work but if it all goes well we’ll have a great crop of fresh food because of it!  I’m so excited to see what works and what we can improve for next year.  If you have ideas, tips or suggestions on what might be an improvement please share them below and I’ll try to test them out this year.

Shared on Savvy Southern Style’s Wow Us Wednesdays and Knick of Time’s Talk of the Town.

DIY Indoor Herb Planter

Continuing my willing of Spring to officially arrive in Alaska, I’m sharing the indoor herb garden we recently installed.  We love having fresh herbs to cook with and give the chickens during the summer and preserved some to continue using over the winter at the end of last season but nothing beats fresh, so I decided we should have an indoor garden just for that.  With that in mind we picked up these hanging containers and rods at IKEA on our last trip down south.

They are a perfect fit for this small wall in the dining room and as you can see, this spot gets good light from the window across the room.  The Hubs made sure to secure it to the studs since the plants will have a bit of weight.

For now I just have a few faux plants, also from the same stop at IKEA.  The local nurseries should begin offering herb starts within the next few weeks, but until then the fake stuff provides a bit of greenery.  Unfortunately I didn’t have enough to fill the large containers in the middle, but it still looks ok for now.

I’ll be creating some DIY plant stakes once I have our herbs selected.  I considered a few ready to purchase options I’ve seen in the stores but wanted them all to match and wasn’t seeing all the options I was considering which includes oregano, basil, parsley, rosemary and thyme.  I may try lavender in the larger containers just for the scent, but I’m not sure it would give the plant enough room to flower.

If anyone has used these containers with live plants I’d love to hear about how they worked for you.  I plan to water sparingly at first since there are no drainage holes (good thing since we’re indoors), but there are small trays at the bottom that would provide a place for water to collect below the dirt and the plant to reabsorb the moisture.  Hopefully that keeps the roots from getting soggy, but there may be a learning curve.  I’ll share the finished project when everything is planted and growing!

The Greenhouse Plan

Although there’s still more than a foot of snow on the ground and temps have been on the negative side of the thermometer the past several days, I’m already planning what we’ll be doing in the greenhouse for its debut season.  Obviously these pictures aren’t recent, but they’ll help you visualize the plan as I go over it. 🙂

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On the right side we will install a hydroponic system similar to one our friends have used in the past with 5 gallon buckets on a wire shelf at chest height for cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and squash.  This will be the Hub’s first project of the season since I want to get things growing as early as possible due to our very short season.

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growthTwo photos courtesy of Anne-Tiques.  Hopefully, we have results as good as theirs!

Below the hydroponic system will be 4 tubs where I plan to have garlic, dill, onions and carrots.  Each of these tubs will be on a plant caddy so it can be wheeled out for tending when needed.

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There will also be 4 tubs on caddies on the opposite wall.  I will have two varieties of peppers – one on either end and the two tubs in the center will contain green beans and peas.  I plan to use the two bed frames from the wheel bed last season to act as trellises for the beans and peas.  I’ll also hang large PVC pipe with holes cut out for planting strawberries in either corner on this side.

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The gutters that held the strawberries on the fence last year will be attached to the side of the greenhouse for lettuce, spinach and chard or kale.

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Another wire shelf will be installed under the window on the back wall to serve as a potting station.  The large metal trash can will hold my potting soil and will sit underneath the wire shelf so it can catch dirt as it falls through.  It will also be on a plant dolly so it can also be moved easily when needed.  My pruning tools will be kept in a container of fine sand on this shelf as well to help keep them clean and sharp, as well as easily accessible.

I’d like to try a potato tower or crate planter on the back corner of the green house past the gutters.  It’s an out of the way spot, but I can water it from inside the yard and the dogs should keep any inquisitive moose away since it’s between the fence and the green house. The set-ups I’ve seen on Pinterest look fairly easy to set-up and maintain so I’m game to have ingredients for stews come fall!

I may add some flowers beds around the side and back of the greenhouse, but we’ll see how far I get with our edible crop this season.  I’m thinking either dahlias or peonies since both are great for bouquets and could be cut easily while I’m already out harvesting food items in the greenhouse.  Plus, being perennials, they would come back year after year.  Luckily the faux rock we got for the septic pipes inside the fence, worked perfectly out here to cover the leach field vent pipe so it’s not an eyesore next to my pretty green house!

And of course there will be plenty of pretty flower pots and garden décor out front of the greenhouse.  If you looked closely at the pictures from my last post you might have noticed two wooden chairs off to the side of the building site.  I have grand plans to make one into a planter using chicken wire to build a basket where the seat used to be and the other will be a stand for containers of flowers.

Of course moving all of our edible crops to the greenhouse leaves the Garden Box in the back yard available for other things.  I’m thinking it might become my cutting garden for bouquets.  It would be something pretty to look at out the family room window and would be convenient to use, but I’ll have to plan out which flowers are in each tub since the middle window opens out and we use it quite often during the nice summer weather.

Our herbs will soon have an spot inside the house where they can grow year-round for continued use, so I don’t need a spot for them in the greenhouse.  I’ll share that project once it’s installed and finished.  I plan to have parsley, oregano and basil.  I may do a few varieties of basil if I can find them available locally.  We’ve already got mint and chives out in the rain garden so that should give us a good variety to work with and we’ll have room to add other items as we learn what does well and will be used the most.

It’s an ambitious plan but I want to give it a good shot with our first season.  If you have suggestions on other crops we should consider or tips for any of the ones I mentioned I’d love to hear them.   I also want to hear thoughts on if it’s worth the effort to paint both the interior and exterior of the greenhouse white.  I think it would give it a nice clean farmhouse look, but I’m not sure improves functionality or practicality, so I may hold off and do that at the end of the season when we close up the greenhouse rather than before  when I need to focus on getting things started.  Tell me what you think with the poll below.  I look forward to hearing your suggestions and sharing the progress when spring arrives!

Our New Green House!

At the end of last summer, the Hubs was suddenly motivated to build a green house and although I had lots of ideas on what I wanted, I didn’t have a plan fully thought out for the project.  But I definitely wasn’t going to take advantage of this unexpected desire to build when it was in my favor and so the green house building began.

I did know where I wanted the green house – behind the raspberry bushes where it would get the most exposure and I could see it from the house and driveway.  Unfortunately this spot is slightly sloped so it’s not an ideal building site, but the Hubs worked that out by building a platform for the floor of the green house with a support for one side to cover the difference.

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He used a large pressure treated board for this support since it would sit on the ground.  The floor itself was made with pressure treated 4×4 joists topped with 3 sheets of plywood.  The lack of a permanent foundation allows us to move the green house should we determine there’s a better spot for it in the future, but provides adequate support for the current location.

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I wasn’t sure on the size so based on the spot the Hubs suggested 8′ x 12′ and that seemed reasonable to me, so I went with it.  He framed up the walls for either side and I helped hold them in place while he nailed on supports.

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Working from the plan in his head based on pictures I’d shown him of designs I liked, he framed out the front and back walls and started adding trusses to create the roof.  He also created a support frame for siding that would go half way up the sides of the all 4 walls.

3It really started to look like something when the siding went up on the lower walls.  He had to get creative with the front corner due to the slope of the ground, but he made it work.

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The siding will provide a great spot for me to attach the gutters I used for strawberries last year.  This season they will hold lettuce, spinach and chard or kale for salads and the strawberries will move inside the green house to give them a longer growing season.  You’ll notice the large water tank we added next to the shed last year is nearby for easy watering.  The front yard hose reaches the tank fairly easily so filling isn’t too difficult and the natural slope of the yard provides a gravity feed for watering the raspberries and filling watering cans for the green house.

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Next came the clear plastic siding and a window in the back that can vent heat if needed.  He used the contoured wood slats designed for these clear panels to support the pieces and provide spots to secure them to the frame.  I added some paver blocks we had on hand in front of the the doorway.  I may add a few more once I get things set up, but for now it creates a nice little stoop for the structure.

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One of his last steps was installing a storm door, which also has a window and screen that can be used to vent excess heat if needed.  He lucked out finding this door on a “returned” clearance rack for much less than it originally sold for. A brand new door for a fraction of the price – he’s learning my bargainista ways quite well!

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He finished off the open space on either side of the door and we purchased a piece of low cost linoleum to cover the plywood floor.   I chose the grey stone pattern for two reasons: A) I liked the look of it for a green house floor and B) the dark colors should absorb heat during the day and release it back out to the plants during our very short nights during the summer.  Somehow I neglected to take a finished picture of the exterior but here’s some views of the finished interior.

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Finishing the project just in time for the season to end last year it provided a spot for me to move plants that were starting to struggle with the temps and spots for my garden art I was starting to collect from the yard.  Several pieces found storage spots along the top of the wall, where they fit perfectly.

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Even at the end of the season it was still getting pretty warm inside the green house so it should work well to extend our growing season which is sadly very short due to being next to the mountains.

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And here’s how it looked during the final weeks of summer before fall arrived.  Having these containers in the space temporarily really helped me develop a plan for how we’ll set up everything come spring.  With our first snow of the season in late October we opted to leave everything in here and store the patio furniture in here for the winter as well, so it’s a hot mess these days, but come the first sign of spring I’ll be pulling everything out to get my plan in motion.  I’ll be sharing that here on the blog very soon so check back and feel free to make suggestions when I do! 🙂

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DIY Plant Stakes

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Hey everyone!  I know it’s been quiet around the blog recently.  Life has been a bit more hectic than usual and we had a death in the family last week so I chose to take some time to rest and reflect.  Finding time to prep material for the blog is still a bit challenging and we’re currently working on a couple of projects that aren’t ready to share just yet, including one I didn’t plan on tackling this year, but I’m excited about what it means for my garden next season!  In the meantime here’s a fun, quick DIY I did earlier this summer.

Back when I had a holiday tree in our entryway I collected an assortment of cute ornaments for each season and holiday.  Now that I’ve given up the tree I wanted to reuse the ornaments in a new way so I could continue to enjoy them.  I decided they would make great plant stakes for my potted plants on the deck and couldn’t be happier with how they turned out.

This sweet little rusty bee (which ironically is the name of one of my favorite local makers!) was the first I transformed.  Although I didn’t document the steps of his transformation, it was fairly simple.  I removed the small loop at the top of his head  which was attached on the back by bending it back and forth until it popped off.  Next I dug out my E6000 glue and applied some to both the back of the bee and a small rusty rod I had in my supplies that matched perfectly.  Following the directions on the glue tube I adhered the rod to the bee and let it cure for 24 hours.

Bee

Once cured, I tested him out with a couple forceful shakes and he held tight so I found him a home in my vintage crock planter.  He turned out so cute that I decided to do the same to the other ornaments I had in my stash.  Each had a little different set up as each was unique but they all followed the same process – remove any hanging loops or cords and glue a rod to an appropriate point.  Since I didn’t have enough potted plants to keep them all I set aside my favorites to be used in my garden and put the rest up for sale at the recent Urban Junktion show.  I sold several and still have a good inventory available for other shows next season.  Here’s the current inventory as they were displayed at the show.

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There’s a little birdhouse with a heart shaped opening.

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Several dragonflies, who may just stay and live in my garden alongside their relatives that I already decided to keep. 🙂

Dragonfly

This little beetle has the same patina as the bee, but I already have a lady bug plant stake so I’m helping this guy find his own home.

Beetle

There’s also a few nautical themed stakes, including these blue and green glittery seahorses.

Seahorse

I had two mermaids but the red head sold at the show, so now this blonde “girl fish” as my nephew used to call them is all alone with the other sea creatures, including this glittery little fish.

Mermaid

Fish

I still have a good inventory of ornaments for other holidays including Easter, St. Patrick’s Day and Thanksgiving.  I may revamp them for this purpose as well, or I might just find another option since those holidays don’t often correlate with having potted plants to decorate here in Alaska.

Stay tuned for more projects.  Posts might be a little few and far between for a while but don’t worry, we’re working on some fun stuff and will share it soon.

A Garden Bench

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Today I’m sharing the new garden bench we added between the brick pillars we recently added to the side yard.  I found a metal bench online that I liked but of course they wouldn’t ship to Alaska and the local store didn’t have any in stock, so I went into the store to see if they had anything similar hoping they’d have a decent option or two on sale for the end of the season.

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They had this bench which is very similar to the one I saw on the website but it was $30 more!  Luckily I had printed the online option and taken it with me so I sweetly asked the sales guy if he could price match their own website since they didn’t carry the one I really wanted.  He must have wanted to clear out the last one they had because he quickly agreed and offered to carry the big box to the register for me!

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On the way to the registers I realized that the outdoor pillows I’d been eyeing were on 50% off sale so I snagged a couple of those as well when I noticed that several of the options available tied in the navy, green and aqua I already had going on in the yard.  My favorite is the little bird pillow, which I got two of!  They look pretty great on the fire pit chairs.

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And they coordinate perfectly with the two over-sized navy pillows I got at Sams club earlier this summer.  I plan to paint an aqua pineapple design on the drop cloth pillow I have on the sectional and will add navy grain sack stripes to the ones on the table chairs over on the deck so there’s a cohesive color scheme throughout the area.

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Stop back by tomorrow to see how I finished off the brick columns with some more fun aqua accessories!