There is this evergreen tree right off the front porch that was left untrimmed for who knows how long. It was overtaking our porch and the neighbors driveway so I had to trim the tree. There were branches cris-crossing all over the place so I attempted to make it look better last summer by hacking away a good amount of overgrowth. Afterwards it did look better but this year the darn thing is just annoying every time I look at it. For some odd reason hornets seem to like it too, got stung in the nose while trimming away. There were like 4 nests in the dam tree.
We’ve decided to replace this eye-sore of a tree but I’m having a difficult time deciding on what tree or shrub to replace it with. As you can see the area won’t allow for anything that spreads too far. We’ll be replanting a little further away from the porch which will give us a tiny bit more room.
Here are my current thoughts…
Japanese Maple – Love the form and structure of these trees, the dainty leaves and the deep purple color. The only down side is they grow so darn slow and you never really know how tall it’s going to get. Our porch is rather pronounced and a 3 foot tree would look just ridiculous sitting there for 5 years.
Weeping Cherry – OK now these I absolutely love! You can get ones that get massive and some that stay small 10′ x 6-8′. Weeping trees are just fun to look at, and a weeping cherry is just awesome when it blooms.
Lilac – Their intoxicating smell that you can smell blocks away is enough for this to be in the running. The only thing I don’t like, when they aren’t blooming it’s a boring looking shrub.
Rose of Sharon – Not much needs to be said about this tree/shrub, it’s just darn pretty! My grandmother grew giant dinner plate hibiscus (Swamp Mallow) in her flower garden and to this day it is my favorite flower. Every time I see one I think of her.
I had some other choices but they have escaped my mind at the moment. I’m pretty sure I know what we are going to end up with (weeping cherry), but I’m not sure if that’s really the right thing to plant there. I don’t really care what it ends up being as long as it either flowers, or looks pretty if it doesn’t flower.
What would you plant in such a restricted space?
Every year I plan out this massive elaborate garden that is filled with enough veggies to feed a small city. It usually consists of 15+ tomato plants, tomatillos, jalapeno, sweet peppers, lots of cucumbers ( I love cukes!), two varieties of eggplant, beans, and lots of other goodies. There is nothing better than fresh picked veggies overflowing on the counter.
Since we moved into our new house though with a tiny backyard my normal planting frenzy had to be reined in. Sadly I don’t have even close to the amount of room I normally have for growing my embarrassingly large vegetable garden. I’m positive my normal garden would take up our whole backyard.
I’ve been reading all about this new yet old trend of square foot gardening for a couple of years but haven’t until now ever needed to try to apply it. If you don’t know what square foot gardening is, it’s basically shrinking the size of your garden into small raised bed square foot plots that yield the same amounts or more compared to row gardens. I think the square foot gardening method has really taken off in the last couple years since more and more people are getting back into backyard farming and not all of us have the room for the old row planting method.
You can read all about this way of growing at Squarefootgardening.org
Cinder blocks for raised garden
So now that I’m restricted to garden size I thought now would be a good time to put to good use all the reading I’ve done on square foot gardening. I stopped by Menards the other day and they had cinder blocks on sale for .89 cents a piece. Talk about perfect timing. I chose to go with cinder blocks over wood because landscape timbers are more costly and they have to be replaced more often from rotting and such. Using cinder blocks also means no tools needed, just place and your done. You can mortar them together or use construction adhesive to keep the blocks from being pushed out when the ground freezes in the winter if that tickles your fancy.
Today the sun was out and the weather was beautiful so I decided to get things going. It’s only one more week before I can start planting my square foot garden. Let’s just hope we don’t have any more flooding! I broke out the gloves and 30 minutes later my cinder block raised garden was all set up. That was easy.
I have nicknamed this my “bomb shelter garden”, I mean really it looks like I’m preparing for nuclear war in the backyard here.
So it begins
Ready for planting!
I really only needed to go one level since I won’t be growing any deep root crops but I liked the idea of barely having to bend over to do anything. The downside is it will double the cost of filling it with dirt. Anyone have some clean soil to get rid of ?
What happens when it rains hard for over 12 hours? If you’ve been watching the news you probably heard about all the flooding that’s happening in Chicago.
It was the storm that just wouldn’t end it seems. The only good thing about the storm was all the lightning and thunder. The bad part was of course the flooding. When Chicago floods, it floods!
7 hours into the rain our backyard had soaked up all the water it could and started to flood. I had gone to bed at 3am but sleep was not to be had. Awoken at 5:30am by a jab to the side by a dog toe nail I decided to get up and check on the situation since it was till raining.
Where’s my floaties!
We had pumps going all through the night to bring water from the back out to the street but it was not enough. There was now 8″ of standing water in our backyard that spread throughout the majority of the all the backyards. Going back to bed was not an option.
The water was inching closer and closer to the house by the hour slowly just threatening to ruin my day.
It was still raining buckets of water going on 12 hours and according to the weather map, didn’t look like it was going to let up any time soon. With the water in the backyard licking the back of our house I didn’t see good things in our future.
At this point Barry was on his way to Home depot to see if they had any more pumps and to grab some pipes for a nearby friend whose basement hadn’t fared so well with the rains. Obviously there were no pumps to be had. However as any opportunist scum-bag always jumps at the chance to take money from people in need, there was a guy in the Home Depot parking lot selling $80 sump pumps out of the back of his van for $300. There’s a special place in hell for people like him. Barry called the police and I hope he got some hefty fines.
Where am I suppose to park!?
Thankfully several hours later and not a moment too soon the rain tapered off and crisis was averted. A good number of our neighbors and surrounding areas weren’t so lucky. Not sure how we were spared but I’m glad we were. I’ve had enough flooded basements to last me a lifetime thank you very much.
Oddly enough, as I am writing this it is snowing outside. What?! April is supposed to bring rain showers (got that) not snow showers. Chicago has some strange strange weather.
Were you in the path of this unrelenting storm? How did you fare?
The snow is finally gone and spring is showing itself in full form! We did get some flurries the other day oddly enough, but otherwise the bone chilling temps are a distant memory.
We’ve been having some unseasonably warm days near the end of winter so the flower bulbs got a head-start this year. The spring flowers are already filling in quickly and the daffodils are already blooming.
This means it’s almost time to bring up my canna lily bulbs that have been hibernating in the basement all winter and get ready for some spring planting. Will probably wait another week or so just in case we get some freak snowstorm. It wouldn’t be the first time that happened.
If you grow canna lilies you know the rhizomes triple and quadruple every season. So I’m going to have to figure out some new planting areas, or pass them around the neighborhood. I’m sure the hummingbirds would love that.
Last season I had planted them around the front porch and it was the perfect spot. The neighbors appreciated the lovely view as well. The large green foliage and bright red flowers look great against the dark bricks of our house.
Have you got that spring excitement flowing through you yet?
Whenever I can accomplish something for free, or close to free I’m all for it. Like most people I’m a serious pinterest addict! I usually lose about an hour of my day browsing through the garden section for inspiration.
I came across a pin that showed seeds being started in toilet paper tubes. Duh! It was one of those “why didn’t I think of that” moments. Normally I would use those little peat pots which aren’t overly expensive, but they aren’t free either. When you’re pinching pennies, recycling items into useful solutions for other projects is always a bonus.
Everyone uses toilet paper (at least I hope) so this is something anyone can throw together. I cut them in half and fill with soil, and place them inside a tray. The tray serves two purposes. The tubes are obviously bottomless so we have to keep the dirt contained. Placing the tubes in a tray also allows you to water from the bottom, which is the best way to start seeds and to water growing seedlings.
One thing I did find out, make sure the tubes are sort of tight together. Once wet the cardboard tubes can start to come apart. I had to spin a couple of them around to keep the tube from completely falling apart.
Another bonus to using toilet paper tubes for seed starting, besides being able to stick them right into the ground come planting time, is you can write directly on the seed pot what you planted in it. No messing around with plant makers and such.
Seedlings starting to sprout
Do you have a favorite section on pinterest?
Even though I pretty much grow the same vegetables every year, I always seem to forget the optimal time for starting my seeds indoors. Or what seeds shouldn’t be started indoors. The six month winter hiatus pretty much wipes my memory clear every year it seems.
Grow my babies!
To remedy this problem I started a log book of the things I grew the past year and when they should be planted. As things often go though, when you really really need something it always has a way of disappearing into some unknown abyss. Of course it turns up weeks or months later when your looking for something totally unrelated that went missing as well. At the time you actually do find the item you don’t even need it.
I found this website last time it came to starting seeds indoors but forgot about it until just now. Again I was searching for seed starting info because yes I couldn’t find my log book. Sproutrobot.com is a neat little website where all you do is enter your zip code and it’ll tell you what you should be doing this week. You can also look ahead to see what you might want to plan for. Totally awesome! No more taking seed notes, or scouring the internet for hours regathering the info you need.
What are you growing this year? No, weeds don’t count.
We have had the strangest winter (I accidentally typed summer first). We’ve had 60′s in December, severe thunderstorms, lots of rain, and zero snow. We had a dusting here and there but the next day it would be 5o and raining again. Strange.
Finally last week we got some measurable snow and Kumo our dog who loves snow couldn’t have been happier. It would have been nice to have a white Christmas but better late than never I guess.
I didn’t get a good video of her enjoying the white stuff because I’m usually laughing my butt off at her. She has this thing with running, or rather bouncing through the snow and grabbing mouthfuls of snow at the same time.
I can only imagine what fun she would have in a foot or more of snow. Of course my luck she’d disappear in it and I’d have to notify the avalanche crew to find her.
I’d like to think a person could live on guacamole alone. I’d at least be up for trying it.
Growing up I use to look at this pasty looking slop on people’s plates and thought it was the most revolting looking “food” ever. It wasn’t until I started to appreciate the different foods available to me besides the good ole meat and potatoes I grew up on that I decided to try my luck with this strange green stuff. All I need to say is after that first bite I felt I’ve been betrayed my whole life! This stuff is pure heaven!
I’d like to think its a pretty healthy snack as well. This way I don’t feel so bad when I look down at my bowl and realize I just ate half the batch.
If you try this recipe let me know what you think.
Great for a healthy snack!
- 2 Roma Tomatos (seeded and diced)
- 4 Ripe Avocados
- 1 Lime (Juiced)
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne
- 1/2 medium Onion (Diced)
- 1/2 Jalepeno (Seeded and diced)
- 1 heaped tablespoon Cilantro (Chopped)
- 1 clove Garlic (minced)
|In a large bowl place the scooped avocado pulp and lime juice, toss to coat. Add the salt, cumin, and cayenne, and mash with fork. Fold in onions, jalapenos, tomatoes, cilantro, and garlic. Let stand for an hour, then dig in! |
Here it is 6 months later and I expected to be so much further ahead on the house projects.
We seem to be stuck in a bad cycle of unfortunate circumstances. Starting a couple of months ago both vehicles started to fall apart, at the same time naturally. About 10 grand later that situation was remedied.
Then Barry decided to play monster truck driver with the newly fixed truck.
That’s gonna leave a mark
Everyone was ok, somehow, and it was the other drivers fault. Of course you know this means we are back down to one vehicle…again!
Here’s to hoping this will be the end of all the road blocks so we can get back to the house projects. I’m getting way antsy and I need to tear something down!