Monthly Archives: January 2012

Label maker

I never thought I would own a label maker, much less get excited about using it. Then I bought a toolbox on sale and realized it would end this needless searching for tools if we were actually organized. Forget that we are still living out of boxes while the house is worked on. The reality is we are doing projects and need to find things when we need them. Hence, new toolbox and label maker.20120126-223221.jpg

Label tape is not cheap and it takes a bit of time to print and apply each label. Time that I could actually apply to using one of those tools in the box. So after a bit of this I decided to caste a bigger net with my text by making one label per drawer if the contents of the drawer fit into a category. It saves tape and time. For example: “Things that pinch and grab”.

I thought it was ingenious & creative.
Paul said those are “girl labels”.



Categories: Moving In | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Replacing garden skeletons

So now a garden has somehow materialized in the past few weeks. Skeletons replaced by dirt, then compost, then leaves…now plants and a fence. Cold vegetables only can be planted in the winter (planted in the winter was not something I said when living in the Midwest)! The token artichoke & asparagus that came with the house, a new bed of spinach, kale, collards, some broccoli, and a bit of carrots, beets and red Batavian lettuce. A few empty beds remain which are saved for tomatoes and peppers which can be planted in the Spring. Yum!!!






Categories: Garden | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

My dad

I’m behind on all the posts and all the new things. My days are filled with a new job and my evening filled with projects or family time. Suffice it to say that less than half of the things would be done around here if it wasn’t for my dad helping us. He is living with us for a few months and he has been here since the move in day to help with projects. Thanks dad.




Categories: Moving In | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Vacumm leaves

I despise leaf blowers- they are loud, whiny, obnoxious, cause spillage of gas & oil, and pollute the environment.  Yet somehow I find one that I bought in my garage. It is electric, so no pollution and gas spillage, and it is 65 decibles which means no loud high pitched whine ( I don’t even need to wear ear plugs, but do anyway).  I caved for a few reasons…

1) I have 4 large old oak trees plus other deciduous trees on our property that are dropping mounds of leaves everywhere. They blanket the irregular rock paths that we have and make it dangerous to walk around without slipping or twisting an ankle.

2) I need mulch. Currently the city wants you do pile your leaves into their refuse bin and they take it (for a fee every week) to mulch and then sell it back to you for purchase. That means I pay twice for something that is already found on my property…

Enter Toro the blower/vacuum. I will not use the blower option much…but today I vacuumed leaves all over the property and used the mulched leaves in the garden.

It was awesome.

I hope this novelty never wears off.

“Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.”  ~Stanley Horowitz

Before/after pictures:

Categories: Garden | Leave a comment

Black Gold

I am so fortunate to have bought a house where composting has been in full swing for some time. The old bin is ready to spread, the new bin was basically a pile of leaves and twigs, so I am working on converting that one into something useable.

Today was the first day I actually pulled from the compost to cover/mix in with the soil. It was super easy. I scooped the pile onto a screen that is over a wheelbarrow. I shook the screen around so the loose stuff falls into the bin, which is what goes into the soil in the garden beds, and the course stuff that stays on top can be put into another bin and used as mulch ontop of soil or fruit trees or placed back into the bin for further composting.

Categories: Garden | Leave a comment

Clearing garden skeletons

Update Jan 2012: garden fencing around the garden to keep rodents & dogs out of garden. Garden is mostly planted with winter vegetables of spinach, kale, collards, broccoli, beets, carrots, and Batavian lettuce. Summer veggies like peppers and tomato get planted in April/May. Here are the best before & after pics of my progress in Jan:

Dec 2011
I decided to make some progress on the raised garden beds. Once built with the hope of a juicy tomato dangling from the end of a dark green stalk, its weight heavy on the thin stem, it’s aroma rich with sweet ripeness…now only dry wrinkled shards of fruit remain on the desiccating brown skeletons propped up on rusty wire supports. Tomato plants, artichokes in their second season, dried asparagus ferns…time to clean house.

The artichokes. Here is a story on that one. I love to eat them…in a restaurant…with loads of garlic butter. I don’t care to cook them due to the time intensive effort & amount of waste generated. There are several plants actively growing in their second season right now. They are taking up valuable real estate in these raised beds and I would rather have tomatoes, peppers, garlic, basil…really anything else growing there. Paul is very intrigued by growing them and has asked that I leave one plant so that he “can experience the miracle of the plant growing it’s little artichokes and spike of flowers”. Like a dog who you don’t spay until after a litter of puppies. Sigh. So the garden is all cleared out except for the token artichoke plant.

I pulled and cut everything out of here, took a hoe and shovel to each bed, then sifted compost onto each bed and raked in. I ended the day by adding mulched leaves as cover. It was an awesome day. I have the smell of earth in my nose and the water ran dark off my skin in the shower.

While I am doing this work I am wondering how I have come to know this stuff. I did it as a kid I guess, and I read and have picked up things at school…but it is a bit amazing to me tat I can just walk out and see what needs to be done and then know how to do it. How can something feel so far away yet so right and knowing at the same time? Fascinating.

“The highest reward for a person’s toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it.” ~ John Ruskin

While hoeing I discovered more things that surprise me. Our buyers agent said “Surprises with houses are never a good thing.” I am only beginning to understand. All the beds had chicken wire baskets with the tops submerged under the soil about 1 inch. So as you hoe, the edge grabbed the wire and stopped my hoe cold. I am sure the tomatoes were put into the ground that way, maybe she never heard of cloth or screen…it made it very hard to work with the soil and I had to dig and pull all of them out. They went quite deep so this project took longer than intended. I am sure the neighbors heard some choice words come out of my mouth.

Another surprise was one of the boxes had a bunch of semi-digested white pellets lying on top of the soil. They had little flecks on them and I have no idea what they are. I might be completely fine with them or appalled, but without information they can not stay. Is is organic calcium or some toxic crap that she dumped on the soil? So weird. I removed the top layer that had these pellets on contact with the soil. Does anyone know what this was?



Categories: Garden | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Alchemy Grove is officially named

Made a sign today to officially name our house. Of course it had to be from something reclaimed from the yard…ideally something that we were planning to throw away.

I found the perfect worm-eaten dry rotted piece of wood along the back fence.  I put a diluted latex whitewash over it, painted a few words with some craft paint, found a few twigs from a tree in the backyard to attach to it, and hung it with some found wire. Insta-sign for free. Hung an old oxidized string of bells near it and now it looks old, quaint, and feels very much like me.

I found another piece of wood with a bit of lichen in it, so I made one for the front garden/pond area as well.

I am home.

Categories: Garden | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Highbush Blueberries

I went to Nopalito Nursery in Ventura. They are this great locally owned nursery that carries drought tolerant native plants.

I love that.

What I love even more is that they had blueberry plants 2 for 1 in December.

So I bought myself 8 blueberry plants for $60.

Turns out you need more than one type of blueberry if you actually want any fruit off of them.  Not sure if this is all blueberries or just the Highbush kind that I bought (Vaccinium sp.).  I bought 3 varietals.   “Misty“, “Sunshine Blue“,  and “Jubilee

Can’t wait.  I already learned that I probably planted them too close together. I am banking on that they are often grown in patio pots

I made little hand painted rocks so I know who is who.  I used “black gold” (compost) for the soil mixture and mulched with redwood/cyprus debris from under those trees to keep pH low.

Time will reveal the color of my thumb.

Categories: Garden | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: