Monday, February 25, 2013

Plant Room

The last couple of days, I've been spending most of my time in our plant room. I hadn't been meaning to post about this until I finished the interior, but it's been more tedious getting all those pictures together than I expected, so after much debate, I decided to tell you about it early.

I believe it was the end of January. We didn't take the best notes in the beginning unfortunately, so the dates are a rough estimate. We started by pulling in a couple of our container plants from the deck and putting them under lamps, when they started thriving, we got a little excited and planted this list of seeds.

By the way, when I say we got excited, I really mean, I, I got excited. D.Burnett and B.EA do all the heavy work, but I handle the plants. Oops. So after planting a round of seedlings and watching them sprout within days (Our arugula had sprouted by the second day, scouts honor.), we decided to plant another round. Planting the second list of seeds.The third list is my attempt at decent documentation.

With all this expansion of the plants, we needed more space in the plant room. So, my hubby built our first structure. Three tiers built out of leftover wood from our renovating. This was around the beginning of February. It didn't take long for us to realize that we got a little hasty with our garden because they were quickly outgrowing the seed starters we had planted them in. This was awesome and frustrating at the same time. We loved seeing the growth and were amazed by the speed in which they flourished, but as fast as they were growing, we needed to transplant them into bigger containers, taking up more space. Soon they'll outgrow the plant room before it's warm enough to plant them outside. Dilemmas. But they haven't outgrown it yet, so until then, we'll just keep nurturing them as best we can.

The three plants that had suffered the most from being planted in such small containers were the lettuces, which had been the first to sprout and fastest to grow since; the tomatoes; and the cucumbers. To deal with the lettuces, I decided to just fill a tray with soil and plant them directly into the tray. I didn't thin them well enough to begin with, so I need to go through them again. They seem to be okay with that space, except the soil dries too quickly with such a large number of plants, I'm hoping thinning them will help take care of that. I found a larger seed starter kit that I transplanted the tomatoes and cucumbers into. I'm sure we'll have to transplant them again before we can plant them outside in may.

We had a spider mite crisis occur in the bushes that we had initially brought in. We didn't want to kill the bushes, honeysuckle, but we didn't want them infecting our other plants. We wanted to stay green, so no chemicals. We ended up cutting off the infested branches and burned them, we already had a fire going, so easy solution. Then I used soapy water mixed with rosemary oil, spraying and wiping each leaf with a sponge. It worked pretty well, but I still saw evidence of spider mites on the other bushes and it seemed to really stress out my plants. I think the mixture made them burn easily under the lights. In the end we took out all of the honeysuckle bushes and they're now hanging out by the door. They seem to be making it, so I'm pretty pleased. Plus, it's too cold for spider mites out here, so problem solved. Taking the bushes out of the plant room opened a lot of space, so B.EA built the beginning of our next structure. I plan on adding a permanent root garden area and small platforms with wheels to set containers on so I can move them out of the way when I need to tend to the plants.

When I transplanted the tomatoes, most of them were weak and flimsy, so I had the problem of finding a way to hold them all up, the weight of their leaves would have damaged their scrawny little stalks. I also had the problem of climbing vegetables like beans, peas, and melons, so I initially thought of adding trellis board to the back of the structure, but finding trellis board in the middle of February was not likely. I did find some trellis netting though, so I hung that up with nails in the ceiling and then I tacked it onto the structure itself to provide some rigidity for the plants. I then tied the tomatoes with stretch vinyl and voila! I think it looks pretty neat, too.

I have a lot more room to expand with our upgraded structure.

 Now, I'm planting a new batch of seedlings for all the extra space that opened up. I'll also be planting a lot of our containers for the deck. My petunias are getting too big, so I'll have a bunch of flowers hanging around everywhere for a couple of months. Oh well. Expect the post for the interior soon!


Monday, February 4, 2013

Grand Tour - Exterior

In 2011 or 2012, my parents had the idea that they wanted to do something more with their property. They started fixing up the house and exploring their hobbies and talents to see where that would take them. We seem to have found our category, and several others in the process; for the time being, we're calling ourselves a Nature Resort.

We don't have an exact definition for Nature Resort. We chose that specifically so we might have some wiggle room on the final verdict of our focus. It fits us because we believe in being close to nature, simple. A vague list of our plans include growing our own vegetables, having farm-fresh milk and eggs, hunting and fishing, carving, wine and beer and cheese making, green and organic living, co-existing with the local wildlife, bee keeping, etc. Besides the nature part, we're also committed to enjoying life. We often entertain ourselves with river sports, golfing, outdoor sports, cooking, baking, sewing and knitting, etc. I will admit, that as your narrator, you'll likely see a lot more of my specific interests, which means you'll also hear about my daughter. But, I promise, in advance, I won't talk about baby diapers or anything. This blog is not only meant for women, but for a variety of people that might share the same curiosities as us. We want to have a life that's close to self-sustainable and independent living and still be able to enjoy all that life has to offer. A natural resort experience.

So, today I'm going to show you some of the things we've done on the outside of the house and maybe around the yard. I may stick to the exterior depending on how long this post gets; I wouldn't want to bore you to death with home repair talk. That's not a good way to repay your interest.

First things first, we re-did the siding on the house. My dad, D.Burnett, took off all the original white pine siding and replaced it with cedar and used gigantic redwood for the facia boards. He added the green board and Tyvek, because apparently they hadn't used it in the original construction of the house. We've messed with the siding so much by now with sanding them and adding batons and resanding them and adding clear stain to preserve the wood, cutting them to add trim, etc. etc.; D.Burnett could probably do it with his eyes closed, so if you would like a more detailed post on this topic, please let me know.

He also replaced the glass panes of our bay window and rocked the bottom.

He added genuine railroad lanterns. Back when railroads were the best way to travel long-distances, the station workers would hang lamps that had significant meanings to the train conductors. The more you know, people! I'll have a separate post with more information on this later.

He had a crew help him replace and re-frame the sliding glass door in the upstairs bedroom, which was only the beginning of our problem, which I'll tell you about soon.

Replaced all the soffit and facia, with those huge redwood boards, I told you about. He also found hundreds of wasps nesting in there! D.Burnett is terribly allergic to bees and wasps. "I had swollen to the size of 6-month pregnant lady in two hours." - D.Burnett. Amazingly, he was only stung once, we're all in awe of his wasp/bee prowess.

And the last job he did before moving inside, he replaced the roof with new cedar shakes and added skylights with a couple of hired guys to help muscle things around.

There's more work to show you on the inside, but I titled this "Exterior," so that's what I'll stick to. I'll continue with the Grand Tour soon, so please, feel free to follow along.

See you soon,