Monday, April 28, 2014

April in the Garden

It's been a busy month on the yard work front.

At the start of the month we pulled down the ivy from our trees. I don't have very good pictures from before, so I stole this one from Google Earth.

The ivy was a good 30+ feet up the trees. We cut it at the ground and waited a few months for it to die off before pulling it all down. We got all but one of the trees de-ivy-ed.

That's a big ivy pile. About 20x20x3ish.

On Saturday we got around to picking up this pile so we could work on the stuff growing underneath it. This patch was pretty solid ivy.

We had some helpers and they were key in the ivy removal process.

One day of work and DANG it looks so much better. We got out almost all of the sprouts and a heckuva lot of roots, but I'm sure we'll be pulling pretty frequently for the next few months, with less and less over the next few years.

We exposed some plants I didn't even know we had! Discovered a red huckleberry under the forsythia, and discovered that the other plant is a mountain huckleberry. Sweet! (Also ID's a plant in the backyard under the hemlocks - it's a Mexican Orange! Not a mock orange because it has five-petaled flowers, not four and more evergreen foliage)

Last week we worked on the weeds in the back yard.

We got a new "action hoe" (I call it a D weeder because the end is shaped like a capital "D") and it made quick work of the soft weeds. 

I got my lettuce, carrot, radish, and herb seeds into the raised beds, too. The radishes, at least, have sprouted. The lettuce is just now starting to pop. It's sunny and 60 today, so I bet I'll get some growth today.

I also put some starts in from the basement grow operation. I planted a couple marigolds, broccoli, and a couple kinds of kale.  Everything else is still perking along under the grow light.

I just transplanted the tomatoes last weekend when I did the planting in the beds.

I was able to retrain myself from separating too many of the tomatoes, but I have to admit, I did separate one or two. But I do have intentions of giving them away.

I had been watering the starts with a spray bottle, but it was such a small bottle that I had to keep refilling it. I finally got so frustrated I came up with a new device.

A 2-liter with about 7 tiny holes drilled in the lid! The holes are small enough that not much water comes out at a time and it doesn't wash away all the soil from the starts. So perfect. And FREE!

Apparently the weather report is calling for 80 degrees on Thursday and Friday. Time to start watering the raised beds!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Bandwagon - Stitch Fix version

I read about Stitch Fix online a while ago, but didn't think any more about it.  Then, a few weeks ago, a friend posted about her shipment on Facebook and I realized that real people actually use the service.  And they like it. I've been thinking about trying to turn my wardrobe a bit away from comfy cotton laying tees and cardigans towards a bit more professional attire with some blouses, etc.  I've had a bit of a hard time, partly because I don't go shopping all that often, and partly because when I do go shopping, I totally gravitate towards little cotton tees, with the occasional dress, and an even rarer jacket with fun details. 

So, long story short, I signed up for a Stitch Fix shipment and got it on Wednesday.  I have three days to try them on, decide what I'm keeping, and mail back what I don't want.

And they send you a little style card with recommendations on how to wear your items.

Please excuse my open closet in the background in all these pictures.... apparently I wasn't thinking about posting photos when they were taken...

Collective Concepts - McKinley Tribal Printed Short Sleeve Blouse - $68

I like the pattern, but man. This is one of those loose flowy blouses that are in right now. While I can get behind the flowy, the flowy combined with the sleeves and the high neck... Nope. Not for me. 

Status: Returned.

Splendid - Ruben Tab Sleeve Open Cardigan - $78

I actually like the blouse better with the cardi over it. This is your basic long open cardigan. It's really soft cotton, and I dig the coral color. How much I have in my closet to go with it though.... I'll have to check.  On the docket for tonight. But is it worth a whopping $78???

Status: Debating.

AV Max - Hammond Clover Stud Earrings - 38

Nope.  $38 dollars for earrings, and studs at that. I normally wear drop earrings due to my earlobe size, and I think I could find silver studs I like just at much for half the price at the Rack.

Status: Returned.

41Hawthorn - Madox Tribal Print Fit and Flare Dress - $68

Hello, well fitting dress. It fits like it was meant to be. And with all the baby showers and bridal showers coming up? Calling this one a win.

The dress is pink and blue.  Look how well the coral cardi goes!

Status: Kept.

Pink Martini - Moises Colorblock Sleeveless Dress - $68

This dress is thin stretchy cotton, with a polyester skirt. Obviously the top is really thin and see through (hello black bra). It's cute. But... I kind of feel like the tulip skirt makes my bottom half look even bigger than normal. If the dang tissue paper wasn't in the way....

Maybe if I had a lil jacket over it? I don't know if that would mask the balloon butt syndrome though.

The man liked it. He brought up all the upcoming showers that will require dresses. Not sure if it's worth the $68 though.

Status: Debating, but will probably go back.

If I didn't like any of them, I could return them all and just be out of the $20 styling fee, but I think I'll keep at least the tribal dress, and maybe even the cardi if I can convince myself it's worth it.

If you decide to try it, use my link and I'll get a $25 referral credit!!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Soil Mix

Home Depot is having their "Spring Black Friday" sale all week.  That doesn't necessarily mean that what I wanted was on sale, but it does mean that I keep hearing ads and it really motivated me to go purchase the soil mix for my raised beds.

My math is a little sketchy, but the beds are 4 feet by 4 feet.  The boxes are 12 inches tall, but after positioning and an attempt at leveling, they are more like 6-10 inches deep.  Under the assumption that both beds were 6 inches deep, we would need 4' x 4' x 0.5' times two.  So 16 cubic feet of fill.

The Square Foot Gardening manual says to use 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 peat moss, and 1/3 compost. For my beds, that would mean 5.3 cubic feet each. Right? Right.

Well, that's not quite what we bought.  There was some discussion and little debate about what we really needed to fill the beds.  Some of it was regarding the math, and some what about how deep the beds would be, etc. Our final tally included:

- 4 - 2 cubic foot bags of compost from one manufacturer
- 2 - 1 cubic foot bags of compost from another manufacturer (Cedar Grove, the place that processes Seattle's yard waste)
- 2 - 2 cubic foot bags of vermiculite
- 3 - 3 cubic foot bags of peat moss

How our math came out to mean that 10 cubic feet of compost, 4 cubic feet of vermiculite, and 9 cubic feet of peat moss was the right amount? I have no idea. But that's what we came home with.

It was 70 degrees out in Seattle yesterday, so I declared it yard work day. We managed to get both beds in their final locations and mostly level.  Then I pulled out the tarp and we got to mixing bags of soil.  So far, into each bed went 1 bag of 2 cu. ft. compost, 1 bag of 1 cu.ft. compost, 1 bag of peat moss, and 1/2 a bag of vermiculite.  Before adding water, that about filled one bed and was a little low on the other. 

Then we brought out the hoses.  Which, of course, meant finding hoses, checking to make sure they worked, and rinsing out all of the soap (??!?!) that was in one of them, before we could actually spray the soil mix.  I gave them both a good spray, mixed them up a bit, gave a bit more spray, and then let them sit over night.  It's supposed to rain the next few days, so on Thursday when it's sunny again I can top off both beds and start planting!

Next up on my list are a planting plan, creating a grid for square foot gardening, and researching mosquito repelling plants and how to attract animals and bugs that eat mosquitoes. Last nights mosquitoes were at LEAST the size of a nickel!