Tuesday, May 6, 2014

May 2014 Garden Update

This is a busy beautiful time in my yard.

I got the lawn organically treated a few weeks ago and I finally trimmed the monster tree in the front yard - I wasn't spending $250! M is still not thrilled the roots of the tree are breaking through the grass, but now that the lawn is healthy and green he doesn't notice it as much.

just a little difference between my yard on the left and the neighbors on the right

The African Sumac got a long overdo hair cut.
It'll grow back, right? right?

The pond plants are in full bloom. Not only did I finally figure out how to fix the waterfall (the water has to go away from the rocks instead of down and behind or it will cause the liner to bubble up) I found a treatment for the sludge build up, so hopefully I won't have to drain the pond and clean it out by hand. A few more treatments and I will go buy more fish. PetSmart had an adoption event when we went by the other day and it was mass chaos! Hopefully lots of animals found homes.

The natives look "berry" good. The birds already ate most of the Manzanita berries I wanted to try when they were ripe, so I think I will leave these for them too. All-natural bird feeder with no mess to clean up.

coffee berry

California lilac

Toyon berries
Salvia - butterflies and hummingbirds love these trumpet shaped flowers as well as the bees.
Edibles aren't quite edible yet, except the beets, which I finally harvested and planted a few pumpkin seeds yesterday.

beets of different varieties


green beans

red table grapes

Thompson seedless grapes

tomatoes - forgot to label the early girl and the beefmaster - oops.
I have 3 of each.

lovely lavender

lots of pomegranate flowers, hopefully more than one tiny pomegranate this year

yarrow slowly becoming a ground cover where the citrus trees that never grew were
And a few just for fun treats:

Taken through the patio door - this beauty wasn't letting me get much closer.
We are lizard central right now, don't tell my friend Mary.

We have added Shiver City to Mushroom Kingdom this month.
I asked Little Master if he wanted me to cut the holes into doors, but he preferred them this way.

Hope you enjoyed your little tour of my yard. Come back next month for more updates.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

DIY Mushroom Kingdom for Your Yard

As I may have mentioned a few times, J has a slight obsession with Super Mario right now. He has also noticed me Pinning cute pictures of Fairy Gardens and he immediately wanted one! So, I put the two together and came up with this.

I also thought it would be a great time killer project for Spring Break. And there was the fleeting hope that if he helped make it he would take care of it better.

We went to our local home improvement store and bought:
  • seven 4" clay pots
  • seven 6" clay saucers
  • one quart of "oops" glossy white paint
  • samples jars of red (Calypso Berry), green (Peacock Green) and brown (Rich Chocolate)
  • cheap sponge paint brushes (I already had small paint brushes for the details)

After conferring with the "paint guys" at the store we opted for the samples even though they were interior paint which were planning on using outside mainly because of the price. The cost of the samples was less than $4 each and exterior would have been much more. I splurged on the white because I wanted leftovers to touch up some baseboards in the house. I also knew I had a can of Glossy Clear Polyurethane that I was going to use to spray the pots inside an out.

You can choose exterior paint, or get acrylic paints at the craft store specifically for outdoor crafts. I wanted one stop shopping.

Cost for these supplies was about $40, $16 for the pots and saucers, $21 for the paint and poly, $3 for brushes. But, I have plenty of extra paint despite the big OOPS! details below.

The very first life lesson I mentioned in my post 5 Life Lessons Crafts Can Teach Children is "Life is messy, clean it up". But there is a very important codicil to this.
If you do some pre-planning and preparing you can avoid some of the bigger messes.
First, I set up to paint outside both for the smell and because paint spills outside are not going to upset me as much as they would inside. Then I covered EVERYTHING, the table as well as the ground underneath it, with an old drop cloth.

And I covered the kid!

look at that concentration!

And despite all of my precautions, we still managed to get green paint on the patio.

Did I forget to mention that you want to have wet rags on hand for quick cleanups?  Luckily I managed to dash into the house and get one before that dried. Learn from my mistake, have clean up materials ready before opening the paint cans.

And another little tip for those that want to work with children: always follow the "spill rule". Only give a child as much liquid (to drink or to paint with) as you are willing to clean up.

half a jar of red decorating the drop cloth
Ugh! Despite that OOPS, we still have plenty of red left over. Which is a good thing because less than 24 hours after showing it to him...

This is why I bought seven pots and saucers even though I only planned on using six: 3 for the Toad Houses and 3 for the Koopa Houses and 1 for the inevitable breakage. I know my kid.

I let him do the base coat for the houses and roofs and paint the white circles on the Toad Houses with a circular sponge paintbrush we have. I did the rest of the details: doors, windows and the pattern on the Koopa houses.

top view of the Toad Houses

top view of the Koopa Houses

Then I sprayed both the inside and out with the Polyurethane to protect it against the rain and sprinklers.

I used what we had around the house for the extras:
  • a piece of 2 x 4 for the road
  • a green bubble bottle with the top sawed off for the pipe (I still may get some PVC pipes to add a few more).
  • figurines from the toy store 
The Toad Town section of our garden

The Koopa Village section of our garden

I set it up while J was otherwise occupied. When I finally showed him he was thrilled with all of our hard work! Ten seconds later he announced we needed to make Shiver City and Bowser's Castle and... sigh! no rest for this weary Mama. ;)

For more fun ideas and recipes check out
Fabulously Frugal Thursdays
Wake Up Wednesdays
Wine'd Down Wednesday

Saturday, April 5, 2014

April Garden Update

I have been busy busy busy in the garden, hence there haven't been many blogs the last month. The pile of dead grass is gone and the space leveled. The freesias and plum tree are done blooming for the year, but there are so many beautiful and exciting things happening in the rest of the yard I don't mind too much. Since it is almost bed time here, I am just going to get right to the photos. 

Jerusalem Sage

Seeded Red Table Grapes
Thompson Seedless Grapes

Artichoke playing peek-a-boo!


Tuscan Kale

One of the six tomato plants

Lettuce going to seed.


Pomegranate flower

The one remaining green bean plant out of 9!!! Planted 8 more today, fingers crossed.

Native Plants

The new plants haven't died yet! And looking back at the photos in February when I planted them, the Goldenrod and Aster are growing well.
Zauschneria cana - "Hollywood Flame" California Fuchsia

Solidago californica- Goldenrod

Corethrogyne filaginifolia Silver carpet - California aster

Galvezia speciosa - Island snapdragon

Fallugia paradoxa - Apache plume - starting to open up
Fallugia paradoxa - Apache plume - starting to open up

Fallugia paradoxa - Apache plume - here come the petals and pollen - the plumes will follow in a few months

Ceanothus - California lilac - pollen for the bees and berries for the birds

Salvia Bees Bliss

Coming soon
more vegetables once I cover the bottom with something to prevent roots from the neighbors tree from creeping in

An above ground pool is going where the pile of dead grass was.
And in this corner...
well you'll just have to come back to find out.