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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Big Plans for the Coop!

Hi there!  It’s been a busy couple of weeks around the DBDT household.  I had to travel around the state last week for my day job and have been playing catch up ever since.  Luckily the weather is finally turning warmer and the snow is melting, so the Hubs and I have been working on cleaning out the greenhouse and getting it set up for it’s first season!  I’ll share an update on that project soon.  The other big project on my radar at the moment is the chicken coop.

The Hubs added the roof to the chicken yard in the fall, which was a great improvement over the thin netting we had originally.  The new metal paneling has held up well over the winter.   Because it’s open panels allow the snow to fall through we had to shovel out their yard a couple of times during the snowy season and now that things are melting it’s getting pretty soggy in there.  Unfortunately there’s not much drainage in this spot so I’m planning to till up the ground and add in some gravel or sand to help with that for future seasons.

Last summer I added the cinder blocks along the edge of the yard as planters.  The canvas curtains I made to keep the cluckers from demolishing the plants didn’t work as well as I hoped, so I’ve tossed them and will be getting some clear acrylic panels that can slide into the space between the blocks and the metal fence panels.

That will keep the sight lines open for both the chickens and the dogs, but they can be easily removed when I want to give the cluckers access to the greens I’ll be growing in the blocks for them.  I gave up on having flowers here and late last season planted grass seed in the blocks along the side of the yard instead.  I’ll plant lavender and mint along the front blocks since those are more protected by the hen house wall.  Hopefully those aromas will help keep things smelling fresh on this side of the yard and provide herbs to freshen their bedding too.

I’d like to make some kind of hanging pocket planters for each of the posts down the side of the yard where I could have some trailing flowers.  The cluckers won’t be able to get to the plants that high up and it would help make things a little prettier.  I’m also thinking about making some kind of hanging planter for the wall at the back of the run since it’s a big open space there.

Of course the big to-do with the chicken yard is installing a gravel walkway from the deck steps to the coop and then over to the gate on the side of the house.  I’ve got lawn edging that we picked up last year that should be enough to do this distance, but I’ll have to wait for the ground to dry out so we can get the wheelbarrows of gravel back here.

Another functional improvement is to level out the area in front of the run’s door and add pavers in that corner to help with the mud that develops there.  Luckily I have pavers I picked up last season to get that project started as soon as the ground allows.

I also plan to do a few simple updates like adding a tire under the hen house with sand for the cluckers to use for dirt baths.  That should keep them from making holes in their yard for that purpose.  I’ll add a few stumps in the yard and some branches across the back corner for them to roost on and have a spot to get up a bit higher and see the surrounding area.  I’d like to dress up the storage cabinet and side of the hen house a bit with some trim to give it a more finished farmhouse style look and am considering adding metal to the cabinet roof so it matches the run and helps the cabinet last a bit longer.  And if I get time to get really fancy this might be the season I get a sign made for the coop!

I considered adding a compost area in the yard so the ladies can help break down the materials, but I can’t seem to find a plan that works in the space we have so I’m currently planning to have a compost tumbler behind the green house instead so it’s convenient to dump kitchen scraps the chickens won’t eat and their coop bedding.

I’m hoping to start some of these tasks this weekend if the weather continues to cooperate so stay tuned for an update post!

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!

A New Roof for the Chicken Yard

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Hi everyone!  I hope you had a wonderful Christmas.  Now that we’re through the big holiday I thought I’d catch you up on several projects that happened around the house in the past few months as we prepared for winter.  The first was replacing the netting over the chicken yard with something sturdier.  The netting had started to tear in several spots and had actually come loose from where it was attached to the wall of the house, leaving our flock vulnerable to attack from above.  The Hubs wanted something more permanent that would stand up to snow, so he found these metal fencing panels at a local fence company.

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First he removed the old netting (note the large ball of it on the roost to the right in the photo above).  Then he cut the panels to fit the space and zip tied them together where there were seams.  He also used zip ties to secure the panels to the support beams of the run.

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Over by the run door he had to get creative to make enough room for the door to open but still work against the laundry room window.  He decided to create an angled panel for this section and it works pretty well.

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He had to trim down the hen house doors so they open underneath the support beam on the front of the run.  It’s so much nicer being able to open these doors all the way without worrying about the edges catching the netting overhead!

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He also added a small metal flashing to act as a gutter along the roof of the run.  This keeps the large amount of water that comes off the run’s roof from flooding the chicken yard, which was a constant problem this summer.  Now it drains right over the blocks I placed around the yard.  This might be too much water for the plants in the blocks next summer, so I’ll have to watch it and decide if I need to set up a water barrel to collect the water and reuse it for the chickens or watering the garden.

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We may eventually cover the panels with clear plastic roofing panels, like those used on greenhouses, to help reduce water pooling more but for now the upgrade is the perfect protection for our cluckers and blends in well with the panels we used for the sides of the yard.

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And it’s been holding up to the snow very well, even when it gets a bit thick.  Looks like another great job by the Hubs!  It’s a good thing he found me so he has reasons to use all those mad skills he’s got. 😉

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Quick & Simple Hanging Lanterns

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Yesterday I promised to share the second little update I did to the brick pillars, and here it is!  We originally planned to build an arbor over the pillars but the Hubs started to get concerned that the high wind we occasionally get might require additional support with a post behind the brick column.  That didn’t fit with my vision of the original plan so I came up with a simpler option.

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I’d been eyeing these cool lanterns at Lowes all season and finally had a spot to use them.  I picked up two along with metal Shepard’s hooks and some battery operated outdoor candles, which were on end of season clearance.  I knew I wanted one lantern to hang over each of the pillars so the hook needed to be positioned in the middle of the back of the pillar.  Unfortunately they have a second support stake that sticks out forward from the main post so I couldn’t just push them in and call it done.  I tried turning them sideways so the two support stakes were along the back of the pillar but I couldn’t bend the hook enough to have it hang over the pillar like I wanted.  So I finally conceded that I had to take apart the pillars in order to install the hook with the support stake inside the pillar space.

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Luckily, I realized I could take off just the back of the pillar by carefully removing the bricks that overlapped every other row.  Once I had the stakes in the ground I put the bricks back together over top the connecting bracket for the two supports.  It was a little extra effort but it works perfectly and ultimately makes the hooks more stable because they are held down by the stack of bricks and sit flush to the back side of the pillar where they shouldn’t get pushed or moved.

I put the two potted plants on the ground next to the pillars so the tops of each can be used like a side table when relaxing in this spot.  I like how they make the columns look more permanent so I might be placing my burlap pots over here next year with some trailing flowers!  As for that faux rock we started this whole project with, it found a use covering the leech field pipe nearby.  If you look closely in the photo above you’ll see it beyond the fence.  From a distance it looks real and keeps the whole area from being cluttered while you’re supposed to be enjoying the view.

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The Hubs had already purchased materials to build the arbor we originally planned so we’ll re-purpose that idea and supplies to a similar project over the back gate or perhaps for a new special project he’s been talking about recently.  I won’t spill the beans on that just yet, but it will be a big project for sure if it does happen this season and of course I’ll share it here once it’s done.

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!

Garden Art From the Faire

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Today I’m sharing the fun new pieces of garden art I picked up at the Palmer Midsummer Garden & Art Faire I told you about yesterday.  One of my favorites is this little rusty flying pig stake.  At $10 he wasn’t a bargain, but I couldn’t say no to his cuteness.  He’s a perfect fit for our farmhouse style, but his wings give him just the right amount of whimsy for the garden.  I put him in the watering can planter which provides the perfect launching point for him over the pink lobelia.

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If you were paying close attention last week when I shared our septic pipe disguise project you probably already saw the willow and birch dragon fly I added to the wheelbarrow planter.  I’ve got a few other dragon flies around the garden – including some very large live ones! – so he fits right in.  The vendor making them had larger versions available for $15, but I spotted this guy as part of an arrangement and knew he’d be better sized for where I wanted him.  Luckily, I was able to get the vendor to agree to break up the arrangement and sell him separately for just $5, which I thought was a fantastic price!

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This glass crow is probably my favorite find from the faire and was also the first I bought that day.  I absolutely love the iridescent colors on his wing and tail that catch the sunlight.  He was only $20, which I thought was an amazing price, knowing the skill and time glass work take. The vendor also had other designs as yard stakes and wall hangings.  I told him if he makes puffins and salmon as yard stakes in the future I want to add them to my garden.  I may eventually paint Mr. Crow’s stake a dark color so it blends in a bit more, but for now I love how he’s perched over top of the dianthus.  Even the Hubs commented on how he looks good there!

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Crow

And lastly was this sweet metal wheelbarrow planter I scored for just $16.  It turned out to be a perfect fit for the crock I already had on the deck.  Now that I know it gives the crock good height, I’ll pick something that trails down the sides for this planter next season!

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Notice that little rusty bee in the crock?  That’s a bit of garden art I DIY’d.  I did a few others as well which I’ll be sharing soon, so watch for that.  Until then, I’d love to hear what you think of my garden art haul from the faire, so leave a comment below.