Trials and tales of a not-so-advanced gardener--both in the dirt and beyond.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I win.

As I was leaving for work this morning a Wright Tree Service truck with a chipper attached to the back was pulling up by my house.

They were there to clean up what was left from the installation of a new pole and rerouting the line to my neighbors. We'll see how much they actually clean up.

But, nonetheless, I WIN!

Monday, March 30, 2009

My brand new vegetable garden bed

Thanks to Mr. Nolen's comment to my previous post about Vegetable Garden plans for 2009, I've come to learn of Square Foot Gardening.

Thus it has come to be in my backyard.

First I measured and dug out a 4X8 section. Then lined it with concrete pavers (I chose these because they will last longer than wood, but were cheaper than composite wood-like material).

"Mel's Mix" from Square Foot Gardening consists of 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite and 1/3 various composts. I found all of these ingredients at a local garden center.

Then once it was well mixed, we hoisted it into the freshly dug bed. Four inches in the ground and four above.
One down, one to go.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

More beautiful spring blooms

Daffodils and hyacinths blooming everywhere! They started opening their buds over the weekend of the 20th.

The aroma near the front of my house where all of the hyacinths are is amazing!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Why IPL is on my bad side...

Last fall, we had the Great Back Yard Clean-Up of 2008...limbs were cut down and chipped, brush was cleared and I was feeling pretty good about the way things looked in the "thicket that was."

Enter IPL (Indianapolis Power and Light)...

After calling a few times to ask about limbs hanging over power lines and the neighbor's power line being a bit too low, I never got a response. I figured it must not be a big deal or they were overwhelmed with requests, etc.

But no -- this was not the case. Over the winter, they came out and trimmed back all of those branches and they even installed a new pole to re-route my neighbor's line into their house (woot!). What they didn't do was take a single branch of what they cut down.

No, they left this mess for me to clean up:

And this is only half of it. There are 3 larger and taller than me piles as well as random limbs, branches and even large logs. I've called and called and actually talked with a few people regarding this issue.

According to them:
1. they don't cut down limbs on non-primary lines, which these are
2. they don't clean up after themselves during unscheduled maintenance, which this was

So here's my question...If you don't cut down those limbs, why did you come out and cut them down? Someone could have taken 2-3 minutes to explain this to me and I would have said: FINE.

Here's my other beef. Since you did come out and cut these down, why didn't you let me know that you'd be doing it? And why did it take you 3 months to do it?
If you'd come and taken care of it when I called you, I would have simply chipped this up when I rented a chipper!!

Now I have to spend even more time and money to clean this mess up again.
Thanks IPL!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

How to Build a Compost Bin (and it's cheap, too!)

Aside from the compost tumbler, I need another location to "store" lawn, garden, and kitchen waste to make beautiful compost.

Enter: the compost bin.

I wanted something durable (the old homeowners left a compost area of deteriorating chicken wire and metal rods), but not too expensive.

Here's what I used for my compost bin:
  • 4 wooden pallets (thanks, Mom!)
  • 2 metal "L" brackets
  • 3 metal hinges
  • 1 gate hook
  • several screws
First I cleared the area. Then I put two pallets at 90 degree angle. I secured them with metal "L" brackets.

One bracket on top and one on bottom on each of the sides. Four in all.

It looked decent with just the 3 sides. But I wanted to have a hinged "gate" on the front.

So I added a pallet on the front and raised it a few inches to ensure that it would swing freely. The front pallet is attached with 3 hinges.

Here is a view from the side to see how high the front was raised. This is supported with a concrete paver on the ground.

And here is the final product, with lots and lots of fun yard things inside. The front latches to the side with a simple hook and eye closure. I can open it easily and use the pitch fork to stir things up a bit.

All together I spent less than $20 on all of the hardware. The pallets were free. It took me less than an hour (all together) to build.

*Note: it will save you some time and energy if you drill pilot holes in the pallets before drilling in the screws.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dwarf Iris just missed bloom day

This little guy and several of his friends came out on the 16th (just after Bloom Day this month). I haven't been home in a few days (traveling for work), so I'm not sure if there are any more delights blooming now. But I had to share this....

Purple Dwarf Iris
First bloomed 3/16/2009

Friday, March 20, 2009

I made compost!

Last summer, I built a compost tumbler out of a trash can. I added all sorts of fun things to it: grass, leaves, dirt, spent plants, food waste, etc, etc. I added a few things over winter as well, but things didn't get moved around too much since it was cold.

This week I finished the compost bin (a future post, I promise!) and I decided to see just what was in the compost tumbler. After digging out some leaves, what was left of the Halloween pumpkins, and a few other bits and pieces, I saw it: COMPOST!

I always wondered how I would know it was ready. How will I be able to tell it's compost? What will it look like? How long will it take?

Well, it was obvious what was ready once I got to it. In total I have about 1/2 of a trash can. So far I've used some to amend soil that was dug up where I am creating a new vegetable bed. I used the amended soil throughout my flower beds.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Things to never plant -- Sweet Gum Tree

I inherited a Sweet Gum tree with the purchase of my first home. Last summer it had big, green spherical seed pods. And in the fall, the foliage was beautiful. But then winter came and the interesting green pods are now brown and spiky.

And the seed pods are making a mess in my back yard!

They are prickly and hurt my feet when I'm walking around in flip flops.

In addition to this, a large branch fell out of this tree last fall when we had some strong windstorms. At some point before I moved in, the tree lost it's trunk. It's a wonky tree with lots of stubs because it's close to the house, many branches have been trimmed back.

I think the sweet gum tree's days are numbered. And it's a small number.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

March Bloom Day 2009

Today was beautiful and my crocuses thought so, too. So much that they decided to bloom today!

While picking up a couple of items to finish the compost bin (future post about that coming soon!), I noticed that my local Ace hardware had pansies. I picked up a couple of pots and was on my way.
It was a big day of working in the yard: raking and mulching the back flower bed, raking and seeding the front side yard, and working on the new compost bin.

I love spring.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Also...another blog by me!

You might notice my blogger name has changed to longer Greenthumb Guthrie.

That's because I decided to start a second blog!! This one is more general...not as focused on my gardening endeavors. I'll keep posting here, but feel free to enjoy the other one.

"I want to go to there..." -- made famous my Tina Fey in 30Rock.

The first buds of the year!

The very first touch of color has arrived in the garden! The crocuses haven't bloomed, yet, but the yellow buds are out in full force! I will definitely have something for bloom day this month.

And if that wasn't enough, there are buds and bits of green of all kinds throughout the garden beds...

Spring time --one word -- WOOHOO!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Seeds, magical seeds

I just received my order from Botanical Interests. I didn't buy too much from them -- starting seeds and successfully seeing them though to true "plant hood" has been somewhat of a challenge. So I'm going with the "easy" seeds this year.

Carrot Asian New Kuroda -- I chose this one because it indicated that it's "one of the sweetest carrots your will ever eat." (First year for growing carrots)

Bean Bush Tavera (French Filet) Organic Seed -- I chose this variety because it is a bush bean (I'm just not sure we have room for a pole bean) and because it had french in the description and I knew what they meant by haricots verts. (First year growing beans)

Cucumber Marketmore Organic Seed
-- These were new this year and they just screamed "I'm delicious and easy to grow!!" So I bought them. These will be trained to grow up a trellis. I've not decided if I'll start them inside or just wait until it's warm enough outside. (Second year growing cucumbers, first time from seed)

I also purchased a packet of the
Real Shady Mixed Seed in hopes of turning what was an overgrown area into a pretty area of blooms. We shall see!