Greenhouse turned Shadehouse

We planted Morning Glories along one side of the greenhouse and tied bailer twine from ground anchors to the top of the greenhouse roof.  The plants just found their way – and once they reached the top, they grew downwards.

Bathtub “Upcycling”

Here is a relatively quick garden project – literally done in one afternoon – with just minimal help from some strong guys:  create a small pond from an old discarded cast iron bathtub.

We did have all the necessary supplies:

  • cast iron bathtub
  • fiberglass resin and reinforcement cloth
  • left over spray paint in shades of black, brown or dark green
  • pond pump and access to electricity 
  • spade shovel and digging iron
  • slate or other larger stones
  • water hose
  • optional: fountain and goldfish
Our project was not planned at all.  It started out with us cleaning up all the junk metal to be taken for recycling.  Among those metal pieces was our old bathtub, which we had taken out when we installed the whirlpool tub. Later that day, as I was weeding a flower bed, I was bothered once again by the fact that our pretty “pouring-lady” fountain really should be put back to use, rather than just leaning against a tree stump.  I mentioned this frustration to Jeff, who suggested re-using the old bathtub.
We had a perfect spot already, in the extended herb garden on the side of the house.  I carried the “lady” fountain to this area and we experimented with the perfect position.  Once we determined where the pond should be, I started digging a hole that looked suspiciously like a grave, while the guys (Jeff, Jens and Lars) where doing manly things, fortunately involving the tractor.  

They brought the tub over (with the tractor) and used fiberglass to close the drain and the hole for the faucet. It did not take that long to dig down 30 inches for a 3ft by 5ft hole and as soon as I had this done, the fiberglass had dried.  The guys brought the tractor back and we used it to lift the the bathtub, which Jens helped guide into the hole.  

We leveled the tub, which just took a few smaller rocks, and then I back-filled around the tub with the help of a digging bar to get the dirt into all the cracks.  I used the other end of the bar to pound the dirt tight around the tub.  

I found several nearly empty cans of spray-paint, all conveniently in shades of camouflage, and spray- painted the tub in a muddled pattern.  I was careful to keep the top edge very solid dark, so that no white would show once it is filled with water. 
While the paint was drying, I gathered a stack of slates (we have a rather large rock pile, including slate from my previous pond at our old house). It took a while to arrange the slates and smaller rocks around the tub, to disguise it’s shape, and make it look more like a pond…it’s kind of like a puzzle – to make odd shaped rocks fit together.
Jeff helped connect the pump to the fountain (which took some finesse), and then I filled the pond and planted more herbs and some flowers around it.  By Sunday evening, the “lady” was pouring water into the little pond and it looked like it had always been there! 

Backyard Spring Cleaning

We transformed the back porch from its winter purpose of covered fire-wood storage back to our summer sitting area – complete with flowers and mulch. That took some serious muscle, as left-over firewood had to be moved back to the wood pile and re-stacked. We scrubbed and swept until it was “back to normal” and then brought out the patio furniture.

This weekend was also perfect for cleaning the backyard flower beds and doing some serious lawn-mowing.  Though it was pretty cold:  by Sunday afternoon I needed two seatshirts and a travel mug with hot coffee to stay warm on the riding mower.

Getting Ready for Springflowers

Today I filled up the first wheelbarrow load of weeds for 2013! After the snowy weather on Saturday, I felt like cleaning up the herb garden and planting some pansies.  A lot of the herbs needed to be trimmed back, which generated the bulk of my wheelbarrow load.  A surprising number of daffodils were already poking through in between the herbs. It will look pretty in just a few weeks when they bloom!

I also moved the overwintered geraniums from their make-shift shelter in the barn.  We had pulled out all the geraniums in the fall and put them into pots on a large table at the back corner of the barn. The downstairs of the barn stays relatively warm with all the thick stone walls.  We covered the table with plastic sheeting and then placed two lamps, with the light bulbs pointing upward, underneath the table.  The two light bulbs supplied the only heat throughout the winter, but it must have worked, as only 2 out of 32 plants did not survive, though some of the plants looked pretty rough.  I trimmed all the dead leaves off the plants, watered them thoroughly and placed them on a table by the large window in the barn.

Visit to PA Garden Expo

Had a great time visiting the Garden Expo at the Farm Show Building this evening with Gracie. We met after work (for me it was just a stop on my way home) – and they offered a reduced $5 after 5 rate, which is pretty reasonable 🙂

Some of the landscape exhibits were remarkably elaborate, considering they were all set up inside just for this event.  All of them featured outdoor kitchens, and outdoor fire pits or fireplaces.  Some had extensive stonework – and most had water features. Ponds, streams and lots of artsy light and water focal points.  Definitely got some great ideas.

The expo did not have quite as many garden related merchandise, like seeds, shovels, food processing type of things, which was a bit disappointing.  But they had PA wineries, one meadery, and several other PA specialty food companies – all with tasty samples.  There also was a fair amount of yard art, and some very pretty pottery and tons of jewelry.

Gracie’s Favorite
Tina’s Aspiration

Grace and I each bought a “starter bonsai” – with instruction and lots of good advice from “Nature’s Way Nursery” .  I also bought these Peruvian Wonderflowers – these bulbs, which basically look like black carrots,  are supposed to bloom profusely, all through the summer, and the bulbs are winter hardy.  It almost sounds too good to be true – we’ll see…