A Little Extra Support

Apparently the little tropical plant I have on my desk at work is very happy in it’s home, because it has grown like wildfire.  It had spread so much that I’d started using nearby picture frames and awards to support the new growth!  It was getting a bit out of hand and the drooping stems weren’t growing strong enough to support the new growth.

PlantBefore

So I decided to give my little purple plant some extra support with a trellis of sorts.  I picked up some copper tubing used for plumbing at the big box hardware store.  I planned to make an upward spiral, but realized I didn’t have a lot of height to work with in this spot and that plan would require tools to cut the tubing, which I didn’t have at my disposal while at the office.  So instead I curled the tube around and then arched it over so I could push the ends back into the pot.

PlantTwist

I added the new twisty trellis to over the plant and started fishing the stems up and threw it.  No rhyme or reason, just gently pulling each through the loops until it seemed to sit well.

PlantStart

A few minutes later my little plant looked like this.

PlantAfter

I showed off my handiwork to my co-workers who were pretty darn impressed and then placed my newly supported greenery back in it’s usual spot.

PlantFinished

Not bad for a few dollars of tubing and a break spent creating something. 🙂

How Will My Garden Grow?

As I mentioned last week I plan to install our garden in the alcove created by the side of the house and the back of the third garage bay.  The space measures 12′ wide by 22′ long, which is a great space for a garden.  Here is the space as it sits.

GardenI knew I wanted the garden fenced off from the rest of the yard so the dogs wouldn’t be in there when we’re not home, but I hadn’t really decided what kind of fencing to use until I saw this community garden here in Anchorage!  Can you say AH-MAZE-ING?!

CIHAGarden

CIHAPostAnd the construction seemed simple enough – hog panels stapled (with heavy duty staples) onto posts and trim supports. While I love the arbor around the top, that might come in “Phase 2” but it would provide a great spot for plants such as strawberries or even tomatoes to trail!  I also plan for the pergola over the gate to come later.  It’s more important to get the garden going and producing than making it super pretty right?

Granted, my garden won’t be this big, (and if it was I might have to quit my day-job just to maintain it!), but the overall layout and design is a perfect example of what I want.  I took the hubs by to make sure it was doable on a smaller scale and he liked it.  He even mentioned how their raised beds were probably the exact design he’d suggest for our garden!

RaisedBeds

Although I’d love to have a green house right away, I know that likely won’t happen until next summer.  But when it does happen, I plan to use these Ana-White.com plans!  I’m thinking the green house will end up somewhere to the right of the garden where it will get sunlight all day.  Until then I will use hoops over the raised beds to extend the growing season on either end.

Right now I plan to grow chard, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes (regular and cherry), bell peppers (different colors for salsa!), carrots, green and yellow onions, potatoes, jalapenos (not sure how they will fare in this climate, so I might have to wait until we have a green house), garlic, snow peas, green beans and broccoli.  I also recently inherited a purple cauliflower plant which will find a home in my garden if it survives the move.  I also plan to have stacked planters like these on the back deck in which I’ll transplant my current salad bowl and create an herb garden with basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage, dill and cilantro, which can be moved during the winter.

BarrelI recently found this plastic barrel for free on Craigslist and plan to create something like this with it to plant my strawberries in.  A planter and compost all in one?  Sounds great!  Made with a freebie barrel – even better!

RainBarrelWe will also be installing rain barrels with rain chains around the house like this.  Luckily, I have a previous photography client who used wine and whiskey barrels as their wedding decor and no longer needs them, so I’ve got some earmarked for me at a discounted rate! 🙂  I also found this super simple and inexpensive tutorial for a copper rain chain that I plan to make.  And because we are working with the rain garden program, any money spent on these rain catchments counts toward our overall budget, of which half will will be reimbursed!

Now we just need to fast forward to move in day and put all these plans into action!

A Sweet Freebie!

I love browsing the “Free” section of Craigslist because you just never know what you might find – like a hot tub!  The other day I spotted an ad for free raspberry plants.  I’d been planning to add raspberries to our landscaping and/or garden at the new house and thought even if they weren’t in great shape I just couldn’t beat free, so I called the number.

The lady told me they were growing behind a trailer she was renovating and I could go anytime to take as much or as little as I wanted.  She also said that they were producing berries already, they just weren’t turning red.  I told her I’d come by the next day to get them.  And the next day it rained.  All day.  I decided to hold off and see if the weather cleared, which it did the following day so off I went, with boots, gloves and shovel in hand.

When I arrived I was shocked to see a thicket of plants along the entire back side of the trailer.  They were almost as tall as me and growing like weeds.  I picked out the plants with the most berries that were the easiest to get to and started digging.  They came up fairly easily, so hopefully I got enough of the roots for them to transplant well.  I took about 5-6 plants as that’s all I had containers for at our rental right now and kept a few of the feeder branches that broke off but had small roots.  I wish I’d taken a picture of just how full the back of my truck was, but here’s what I ended up with once they were planted!

Bushes

It’s hard to tell from this angle, but the tub in the back is just as full as the one in the middle.  The first tub holds the iris I traded tulip bulbs for in Kodiak and was able to bring with us when we moved this winter.  You’ll notice there are also some tall purple flowers in the back of that tub.  I collected those from the same place as the raspberry bushes since they were right next to the bushes and would have been demolished in the process of me digging.  Hopefully they take and can be transplanted into our yard next season.  They seemed to be growing on their own all around the site so I’m thinking they might be a local wildflower.  Here’s a closer shot.  Anyone know what they are?

Flower

The raspberry branches I kept ended up in their own planter.  That little bucket was the only thing I had left to plant in!  I’m not sure if any of them will take root, but I figured it was worth a shot.

Branches

The hubs and I wondered if they might be salmon berry bushes rather than raspberries and set out on an exhaustive Internet search to see if we could confirm that theory.  I’ve come to believe they are in fact raspberries based on the leaf shape, but if they develop purple/pink flowers next year they might just prove me wrong.  And just to prove that they do in-fact produce fruit, here’s a shot of one of the berries.

Berry

I decided to leave everything be for now and let them settle in.  If it looks like they take root I might prune them a little in the fall, just before winter to clean them up before the move.  If we get into the house before the first frost I’ll get them planted in the ground, but if not they can winter over in these tubs once I wrap them. Either way, I’m now planning for a sweet harvest next summer – provided that the dogs or the moose don’t get to the berries first! LOL

Our Little Oasis


Summer time has finally arrived here in Alaska and that means it’s time to get outside and soak it up before winter descends again in a few short months.  Luckily, our rental house has a little balcony right off the main living room that is a perfect spot to sit and enjoy an evening chat.  Unfortunately it was looking a little sparse when we first moved in this winter.  So I decided to make it a bit more inviting.

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I had already picked up two strawberry plants at the farmers market last weekend, which would be hung in the two square baskets I already had.  But I was going to need a lot more than two strawberry baskets to save this sad little balcony.  The first thing I knew I wanted to add was some chairs, because you can’t sit and relax without those!  I contemplated purchasing some plastic chairs but didn’t want to spend almost $20 a pop – especially knowing we probably wouldn’t use them again when we move.  Then I remembered we had ‘camping chairs’ which would fit well in the space.  Although the chairs have a cup holder built in, I still wanted a little table in between to hold a few little things when necessary.  I also knew we needed some flowers to liven up this space.  So list in hand, I headed for the largest nursery in town.

Bells

I was literally amazed at this place.  Not only do they have a HUGE green house full of every type of plant that grows in Alaska, they have 3 HUGE green houses!  Plus they had a coffee bar and cafe along with a large gift shop!  They are are so big they even do bridal registries!  I could have spent all. day. long. here and still not seen everything they had.

TableThe first thing I found was a little stool that I thought would work nicely as a table for the chairs and can later become a photo prop or garden stool.  At $26 it wasn’t a super bargain, but I thought it was fairly priced. I knew it would compliment the blue chairs and make a perfect spot for one of the little citronella pots we brought with us from Kodiak.  I love how the blues and greens all work together – creating a natural soothing palette.  It’s almost like I planned it! 🙂

I picked out marigolds and lobelia to fill the rail baskets we already had, but when I went to hang them I realized the hooks were for a smaller top rail.  Lucky for me, my ingenious hubby figured out how to tweak the hooks so they would work on this taller board. Love that man! Hopefully the marigolds add to the citronella and keep the bugs at bay so we don’t spend our evenings swatting the air.  BerriesI also snagged a lavender plant for the pretty grey pot I had planted seeds in, which never spouted.

After I’d planted the strawberries in the hanging baskets I had to figure out where and how to hang them.  I had these pretty bird brackets I’d purchased on DecorSteals.com for our new house several months ago and decided we should start enjoying them now.  The hubs put up the brackets where I asked and I think they look great.

Near the check out we spotted a stand of nautical bell wind chimes and tested them all out to find the perfect tone (hopefully the neighbors agree!).  We selected one with a dog at the end of the chime rather than the typical Alaskan bear, moose or salmon because it was more symbolic of our little family.  Granted neither of our girls have tails, but they didn’t have a chime with a ‘nubby’ dog! LOL  Although it was a bit of a splurge at $68, I’ve wanted one for a long time and I knew that was the standard cost for something of that size and weight, Dogespecially when you don’t have to pay shipping!

I brought a wrought iron piece out from inside to give the space a little extra flair and then placed the cherry tomato plant I snagged during another trip to the farmers’ market for just $10 under it.  We already have a few tomatoes about ready to be picked and enjoyed!

I topped everything off with the little rug we already had so there’s a comfy spot to wipe any dirt off your feet before coming back inside.  The hubs replaced the ripped screen so we can also enjoy the breeze from outside even when we are inside.  But the best part is that everything we’ve done (except the repaired screen) can be taken down and brought to our new house as soon as it’s ready.  So here’s the finished product.  What do you think?

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I think I’ll light my little citronella pot, sit and enjoy a nice little chat with my hubby after dinner tonight!

Tiki