Friday, May 27, 2011

Two Steps Forward...

The season of no progress continues!

Last weekend I spent a fair amount of time getting most of the tomatoes and peppers in the ground and getting mulch down in the foundation planting bed.  While doing this, I occasionally heard a strange sound...almost like two sticks being rubbed together.

It turns out, that is exactly what it was.  The maples in the yard, no doubt peeved that I have started planting hosta's in their root zones were plotting against me.  It couldn't have been two hours after the time I got the last bag down when a gentle breeze picked up, and the maples took their revenge.

The picture below was taken before the subsequent storm hit, which not only dropped 29834729 more maple seeds, but also planted and watered them nicely.
What this means is that this weekend, I get to spend more time on this same bed, getting up the propellars before they sprout and make their evil maple roots.

Unfortunately, this is not the only bed that has been attacked.  They all got nailed, along with the gutter covers.  You know those things that are supposed to keep  stuff out of the drainpipes by embedding them in mesh?  yeah

The original plans for the weekend were supposed to surrounded recovering the balcony in the patio with some lovely Timbertech composite decking.  We wanted to get that done before the patio project started.  It was supposed to be a fast job.  Take off boards, put on new boards, put on rail, done.
That would have been way to easy.  I should have known that their would be complications, it is the norm for our home.  The complications were pretty bad.  The boards coming out of the house are rotted, badly.  So badly that they pretty much disintergrated when we started pulling off the tin cover some put over the to make sure they never dried out.

What this now means is that we have to get another permit because now we have to cut these off, dig 42" holes in the ground to fill with concrete so that we have something to place the posts on that will now be required to support the deck.  The materials for this project were delivered 30 minutes after we discovered this mess and now are in the garage.  One of the cars will have to be in the driveway for the next month or so.  :P

The patio?  Well we dropped  chunk o change for a deposit on the project.  Then found out that the permit process here requires sign off by the health department, possibly our bank, and a pre-inspection from the county.  The turn around time of that is a couple of weeks, which mean the goal of starting that is pushed back to the end of the month.  The contractor laughed at me when I asked if we could have our money back for awhile.  :)  The frustrating thing about this whole permit thing is that this isn't a crazy project.  Expand an existing patio a bit, put in some edging of existing plantar beds, re-fence the area that is nowhere near any property line.  Why the heck they need the health department to make sure the water supply is A-OK boggles.  

Oh well, I hold out hope that we have something done by July 4.  That still leaves a good chunk o summer left for enjoyment. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Photo Theft is so Sketchy. I'm talking to YOU!

This morning I remembered that I had this thing on my blog called statcounter.  I put it on there when I first started the blog and promptly forgot  about it.   I found a link to it this morning when digging around my email.

Statcounter, logs the traffic on your site.  It also tells what images have been downloaded.  I noticed that my chocolate stripes tomato image was rather popular so I got curious and went to google to see what I could see.  What I found is that my photo, taken on my kitchen counter, has been poorly reproduced at an heirloom gardening site  What this tells me is this:  1) This company is sketchy.  2.  This company apparently is unable to grow its own decent chocolate stripes tomatoes.  Every tomato on that plant is a work of art.  Thus I must deduce that since they have had to resort to stealing an image, they are incapable of growing their own fruit and must be getting seeds from who know's where.

I've heard about this sort of thing happening from other tomato growers.  Never thought I would see one of my pictures stolen though.  Shame on you .  If I could get your email link to open I'd tell you directly.  For now I'll have to just call you out on multiple tomato and gardening forums and hope someone gets the message and corrects their mistake.

Here is the link to my post about MY tomato.

Update:  Found an email for them and sent a request to remove the image.  Also posted my complaint at tomatoville where it looks like they may read.

Update #2  Wow, that was fast.  They did not respond to my email, however the photo has now been taken down.   Good.

Update #3 Got a nice email from the site owner.  I'm removing the links to the name.  I'm terrible at holding a grudge.  :)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Another Wet Weekend

The entire weekend can only be described as gross, weather wise.  Very cold, very wet.  I had really hoped to get the rest of the tomatoes and all of the peppers in this weekend, but they would have been ticked at getting put in that cold goo that is currently my yard.  So I spared them that, though they'll still have to deal with their current cramped quarters another few days.

Plan B was to get the old plum tree down for the fence expansion.  Plan B went out the window with the rain.

Plan C was to get more patio planning done.  That went well.  Our guy we were hoping on came thru and his schedule is looking OK for getting this done soon.  The permit process it turning into a huge headache, but that wasn't unexpected.  I won't be posting any more about THAT in case they read blogs.  Hey they fly their planes over houses to see if you added decks so it isn't that far of a stretch.  :)

We did make a trip out to to a landscape supply place or two.  Good thing we made that trip.  Pavers look different in person than in the catalog.  We changed our minds in what we wanted and this change will likely save us a bit of dough!.  Next stop was to check out decking materials.  I'm interested in the third generation composite stuff that is out there for decks now.  I particularly like the Ipe inspired deck from Fiberon.  Unfortunately I HATE all the deck makers composite posts and railings.  The shiny plastic thing-yuck.  Right now we are leaning towards composite decking and cedar posts with aluminum balusters.

I spent a few hours working on the plumbing research for the pond.  This is WAY more complicated then I originally thought.  We are not going with an Aquascape kit or their typical layout.  I want low maintenance which means skimmer and sieve and UV and bottom drain and about a thousand different valves.  Hubs is going to freak when he see's all this.  I wonder if stealth pond plumbers can be hired.  I got a promotion on Friday.  Seems like that could be a good way to spend the pay raise!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bid Update:

Another bid on the patio project came in last night.  Its frustrating this contractor thing.  How is it that you can give someone a list, a picture of what you want, spend forty five minutes giving details and you still end up with a missing path, two extra columns and the wrong stone?


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Foundation Planting-Backyard

This spring has been a struggle.  I have been unable to get outside to do anything due to almost the entire month of April being rainy.  The other issue is completely unrelated to rain.  It is the issue of the patio project.  I don't want to plant in areas that are going to be ripped out or improved.  That limitation has messed up my whole flow!  

Last weekend I finally got a break in the weather and was able to get outside and get something done.  The back beds were still too wet.  The ground was still to cold for bringing out the tomatoes but the foundation area at the back of the house was ready for some action!

This area had three large yews removed last year from the area in front of the meters.  They were getting old and ratty looking so we took them out.  For this year, I wanted to put in a mixture of edibles and perennials in this bed.  The plum tree that currently partially shades it is coming out (fall hazard) so I'll have more light soon.

A trip to my favorite nursery started off the project.  I only went for some grasses to cover the meter.  Like most trips to the nursery, that didn't go exactly as planned.  The $82 bill added up fast.  I had a really nice variety to choose from and I leaned towards the newer and cooler which made for higher prices.  Since my plan was to divide each plant to get more for the money, I actually ended up with almost three times as many plants as shown here.  The impulse buy was the Valentine blueberry.  A pink blueberry?  How could I resist.  The most expensive?  The fern leaf peony at $40.  Hey at least I put back the big bird peony that was $117!

Weeding this bed was a quick job thanks to the fall clean-up we did on it last year.  Planting took a little longer thanks to the residual evil lava rocks that are still found in our foundation beds.  I also found a huge crack in the rain barrel that needed to be dealt with. In that same area, I had to again deal with the ugliest bush in the world.  It is trying to make a come back.  I removed the rocks, dug it up again, covered the area with four layers of landscape fabric and then the rocks again.  Take that Ugly!
I took a break from the foundation plantings mid-day to get one of the self watering containers set-up.  I wanted to get the soil and water in it, so that it can start warming up this next week.  Then the tomatoes will be less shocked when I put them in.  The color scheme for this bed was accidental but might end up being kind of cool looking.  I ended up with a lot of red leaved plants.  Pennstemem, red chard, Red cabbage, molten lava amaranth, rhubarb.  Then I also have multiple bright green perennials.  I added a potato leaf tomato just to try and push things a bit (Galinas cherry) and then topped the area with a non-dyed mulch (I'll save the mulch rant for another day).

The end result doesn't currently look like much.  Dividing perennials doesn't tend to give you instant wow factor but I'm pleased with the potential here.  I post pictures in a month to show you were it went.