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Articles Tagged “Outdoors”

A Shed And A Cold Frame

Now that fall is here I thought I would post a couple of photos of what we were up to outside this past summer. I actually worked outside a lot this year and although it still feels like we have a long way to go, I’m happy with my progress.

Not only did I work outside, but I also put Jason to work :) My favorite project we tackled was our shed. Since we don’t have a garage at the Club House (one of the things we miss the most from our previous house), we needed some storage space for lawn and garden items.  We decided a shed was the best way to go and there was even a cement slab on the property from where a shed previously resided but was removed before we bought the house. That made things a lot easier!

shed 1

Our cement slab was odd dimensions and rather than have a custom shed built to fit it exactly, we just bought a shed kit from Lowe’s that was a bit smaller than the slab and it worked great. The main criteria I had is that I wanted a wood shed and we didn’t want to spend a fortune. This one fit the bill perfectly :)

shed 2

Isn’t it cute? Jason and I spent one day putting it together and another was spent doing the roof. After that came the painting and we were done. And of course I painted it white! We actually had a lot of fun building it and it was a pretty simple project. It’s only an 8′x8′ shed and we don’t even have it full yet. I thought for sure it would be stuffed to the brim but not yet :) That will come with time, I’m sure!

Since the slab is bigger than the shed, I also had just enough extra room to put my potting bench on the side. It’s still kind of messy on that side but eventually, it will be cute! Just to help you get your bearings, the shed is to the left of the house (if you are facing the house from the street) and the doors open towards the house. So, from the street, you actually see the side of the shed if you are looking head on.

Another project Jason worked on for me was a cold frame. I have been wanting one for a while and so I’m really excited to use it this winter!

cold frame 1

We found this glass door on the side of the road for free. I originally had other plans for it but this ended up being the perfect thing. Then my Dad had some nice thick wood that he wasn’t going to use and so it hardly cost us anything to build.

cold frame 2

Jason painted the frame for me but I still need to paint the door. We are also going to patch the holes where the handle was and add a door pull.

cold frame 3

There it is, right next to my little shed :)

cold frame 4

This week we moved some of our plants to it. It finally got cold enough! For those of you who don’t know, a cold frame acts like a mini green house. You can keep things in it over the winter (like my succulents) and also grow lettuces and spinach. I am definitely going to try to grow some spinach and lettuce this winter. It will be an experiment!

cold frame 5

Last photo… I love it now that it’s full of green stuff. I can see it from my kitchen window and it makes me smile :)

If you are interested in your own cold frame, there are lots of DIY tutorials out there. There are also lots of different ways and materials to build them with. I’ll give you an update with how my mini winter garden works and maybe you will want one for yourself!

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On The Farm

At the beginning of this year I had made a few goals for myself. One of them was to eat more vegetables. I have always loved them (some more than others) but I didn’t eat much of them because my husband doesn’t like almost all veggies. It seemed like too much work to cook them when I was the only one eating them so I just didn’t. But this year I resolved to change that. I knew I needed more veggies in my diet and it was a silly reason keeping me from eating something I enjoyed and that was so good for me. I have been doing pretty well and now I eat way more veggies on a regular basis than I ever have before. Even better, my husband eats some now too :)

One way that I have branched out a bit and started trying new veggies was because of some friends of mine. A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that our friends have a hydroponic farm called Glo n Gro. Recently I made another visit out to the farm and this time I brought my camera. It wasn’t a very pretty day for photos but that didn’t stop me. I was a little mad at myself though because the last time I went the trees were all covered in gorgeous leaves and it was a sunny day. Why didn’t I bring my camera with me that time?! Silly me! But, it is what it is.

First of all, driving out to the farm is simply breathtaking. They have the most beautiful setting. It makes me want to move to the country! When you see the organic produce sign, you know you’re in the right place:

As you pull in you will see all of the plant towers.

Don’t they look cool? Right now they aren’t as full and they are during the summer because somethings are starting to wind down for the year but they still look amazing. And check out those storm clouds! It was cool because it was raining on the way out there and then as soon as I got there it stopped. I took my photos and it started raining again just as I was leaving. Perfect timing :)

I believe this tower has cilantro on top and I can’t remember what is on the bottom. Each tower has a pump in the bottom that circulates the water through the tower to get it to the plants. They also have heaters in them which allows for growth during the winter as well. Not everything grows in the winter, mostly just lettuces.

They also have some animals that will greet you when you come visit. Three dogs, three parrots, and a cat. The dog pictured above is named Buddy. The birds were also outside in their cage and I could hear them talking most of the time. It makes for a fun experience :)

The cilantro is so pretty! I have some of this in my fridge right now!

 

This tower is all filled with spring mixes and kale.

This tower has kale and bibb lettuce. I have tried so many new types of greens. I had never had raw kale before and I have found that I really like it. Today we used some in a smoothie and we have also made kale chips which we really liked. It’s good for me to try new things!

The bibb lettuce up close. We have been eating this on all of our sandwiches lately.

The swiss chard is gorgeous as well. This is another veggie I hadn’t tried before. The one that I took home had red, orange, and yellow stalks. It was so pretty I had a hard time eating it!

The cabbage is fantastic too, isn’t it?!

Who knew veggies could be so pretty?

Each of these plants start off as seeds (duh!) and then they first grow like the photo above until they are big enough to be put into a tower. These are mostly lettuces now since that is all that will grow in the cold.

When you come out to purchase your veggies, this is what you are given. They take the plant (this is a spring mix) directly from the tower, roots and all. You can actually take these home and put them in water and they will keep for up to 3 months! It’s great for us because I never could eat some veggies fast enough before they went bad (I don’t get much help from Jason!). Now, I can eat them at my leisure.

And that is my little tour of a hydroponic farm. Every time I go out there I wish I had a tower for myself. But for now, I will just be glad I have friends that have them so I can eat fresh stuff year round!

What about you? Have you ever been to a hydroponic farm? How was it the same or different?

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How Does Your Garden Grow: Attack Of The Birds

One thing I can say for sure is this whole gardening thing has been an experience. A learning experience. It has mostly been good but there have also been some rough patches which are probably the parts I learned the most from. The most recent thing I’ve learned is that birds like gardens. I didn’t know that before. I thought birds just ate worms. Boy, was I wrong.

We have a little bit of wildlife in our backyard. Lots of squirrels and some cute rabbits as well as birds. When I started the garden I was worried about the bunnies (come on, hasn’t everyone read the story of Peter Rabbit?!). Because of them, I put plants on top of things to keep them out of harm’s way and put wire fencing around them because I definitely didn’t want anything to get eaten by anything other than people. I hadn’t counted on the birds.

My first clue was when I replanted my spinach and after I got a few little plants going, it disappeared. I knew bugs hadn’t gotten it because the whole thing was there one day and gone the next. I was a little bummed but I decided maybe I just wasn’t supposed to have spinach this year so I gave up with that.  Next I decided to try some more basil and cilantro since it seemed to be doing so well and the first time I grew it it didn’t get bothered. Nope, same thing happened. At this point I still wasn’t sure what was eating these plants. Then, something started working on my tomatoes. That’s when I started paying more attention and decided to retaliate.

As soon as a tomato would start to get even the slightest bit of color it would get eaten. One day, I actually saw the birds eating them and that’s when I knew what did it. My first thought was that it is time to get a gun but I restrained myself and settled with netting. I covered every single tomato plant and it has been working! For the first few days those crazy birds tried to figure out ways to get under the netting but I won that battle since I tied it up really good. Now, they can’t get in… and neither can I :) Well, not without a bit of work!

Here are my netted tomato plants:

They still like to grow through the netting and then I have to readjust it so they don’t grow outside of the net and the birds eat them again. Whew! Who knew a couple of pots would be this much work? And so far, I have only gotten about 6 or 7 tomatoes because the birds ate the rest. But at least there are more that are growing so I should be getting some more here pretty soon.

The other plants seem to be doing well though. The above shot shows the peppers. For some reason the birds don’t want to eat those :)

My basil also seems to still be doing well but the cilantro is starting to die out.

The oregano is also still thriving. I need to harvest some soon and dry it or freeze it so I will have some for later.

Now you know the happenings with my little garden. Have you ever had a problem with birds or other creatures? If so, what did you do about it? The more advice I can get the better!

Have a good weekend everybody! Enjoy the last few weeks of summer!

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How Does Your Garden Grow: First Tomatoes!

If you haven’t guessed by my previous posts, I’m ridiculously excited about my garden. I know, it’s probably getting to be a bit annoying how much I talk about it :) But you will have to suffer through my talking about it a bit longer because I just got to eat my first tomato today! Is it crazy that I become giddy over little things like eating a tomato?!

Last week I saw the first signs that the tomatoes were changing color. And I have been waiting these last few days for the right opportunity to eat one. Today was the day :) And it was good timing because I actually needed it for a crock pot recipe that I prepared this morning (if anyone cares I am making carne guisada and it’s really really tasty, try it sometime!). I picked a couple of tomatoes for the recipe and I had enough left over to put on top of my homemade pizza that I ate for lunch along with some basil from the garden. That’s what it’s all about, right?!

And here is my first tomato harvest. There was only one jellybean tomato ready so I brought it inside, washed it, and ate it. I just had to try it out! So I guess my tomatoes are a success. More of them are turning red as we speak and pretty soon I will (hopefully) have tomatoes coming out of my ears :) Here are some pictures of the garden now:

A little sampling of the tomatoes. This is one plant but I actually have 4 plants that I am tending to.

The jellybean tomatoes are so cute! I can’t wait to eat them like candy :) I have 3 of these plants.

My parents are away for a little bit so my Dad brought over his garden stuff as well. So I got to add these poblano peppers (above) and jalapeno peppers to my mix. He also brought over some flowers and oregano. Now my little patio is full of green stuff and I love it. It’s fun to have everything in pots too because I can move them around and decorate the patio with them!

The jalapeno peppers. I used one of these in my recipe as well. I have been eating the poblano peppers more often (mostly in omelets, yum!) but this is the first time I have gotten to use the jalapenos. Soon though when more tomatoes are ready, I will be able to make salsa and then the jalapenos will get eaten more often!

My cilantro and basil are still doing really well. They look a little puny now because I just harvested them. I have been using them a lot and I have found that I love having fresh herbs on hand. It makes everything taste better!

And because I messed up the first time, I replanted some spinach and here is the new little plant, just popping up. Hopefully it will work out better this time :)

So there you have it, a quick little garden update. It’s a thrill to finally be at the stage where I get to eat it. I mean, I have been going at this since the end of March! I have never been very good at waiting and being patient but I guess with a garden you don’t have a choice but to be patient. That is why I am going to enjoy every minute of it :)

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How Does Your Garden Grow: First Harvest

My gardening project has been such an experiment for me this year. I really have had no idea what I’m doing and I’m learning as I go. I keep my little gardening notebook handy so I can jot down my notes so next year I will have a handy cheat sheet. I also google questions that I have… a lot! This week I had to do a little google research about my spinach. And I didn’t like the answer.

I learned that I had let it go too long without harvesting it and it bolted (gone to seed) and once it’s bolted it is apparently too bitter to eat. Sad day for me. But I guess that is what happens with experiments. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. But I have learned something and next time it will be better!

Once I learned that little piece of information about my spinach, I wondered about my other plants. I didn’t even know of such a thing as bolting so I figured I better look into a bit. Which brings me to today and my first harvest. Once I looked into cilantro and basil I learned that to keep it growing and not letting it go to seed too early I need to prune it regularly. So I pruned my cilantro a bit today with the hopes that it will keep growing. The basil can wait a bit yet but the cilantro was ready for a bit of pruning. And I’m super excited about it.

It’s not a ton of cilantro, only about a half cup, but it’s something :) And I grew it, all by myself. I can hardly believe it. This is from a girl who, in the past, has killed many house plants. It’s pretty amazing!

My plan is to try the freezer method to save it a bit longer. I really want to use it for fresh salsa but I have to wait until my tomatoes are ready. So, I’m going to chop it up and measure it out into ice cube trays. Then I will add water and freeze it until my tomatoes are ready. Then I can just add an ice cube to my salsa and it will be like having fresh herbs! If I can harvest enough cilantro we can hopefully have fresh cilantro in our salsa and other recipes all year long. Wouldn’t that be sweet?!

Has anyone tried this method of freezing herbs? I hope it works!!

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Hello, and welcome to my little blog! What started out as a blog to show some of my scrapbook pages ended up being a blog that shows all of my projects, ranging from scrapbooking to decorating to sewing to photography. I also run a little online shop called every jot & tittle where I sell handmade paper products. Take a look and leave me a comment to say hi! (Photo by Heather Smith.)

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