Monday, July 21, 2014

How Does My Garden Grow?

   We planted our corn seedlings that we grew from seed on July 5. They were looking a little wan, and scorched.

   NOW, look how they have grown in a few short weeks! We also have our pumpkin seedlings planted, and are attempting a sugar snap pea tepee (they 'no looka so good' though). Note the photo bomb by my stalker-dog, Kosmo, in both photos.
   I hope the corn continues to do well. Last year, we had about 10 yummy ears, so this time, we planted more. At the bottom left corner is a pumpkin plant that sprouted on its own. The little stalks at the bottom are green onions I have resprouted from the bottoms of  onions we used, instead of throwing them away or putting them in my compost bin.
   Because I am crazy (or a glutton for punishment), I am attempting to grow another artichoke. Last year, the ants' aphid farm and the gophers killed my artichoke, when it had about 6 baby chokes growing. Crossing my fingers I can defeat the pests this year. The bushy plant you see on the right are my asparagus plants, which are being allowed to grow now that 'picking season' is over.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Yup, I Built a Fire Pit!!

   "What have you been up to?" is what I hear a lot. Well...this week, I built a fire pit! It only cost about $60 for the materials, and took about five hours over two days. It all began with Pinterest. I have been pinning homemade firepits. Then, I saw a pin that showed sticking a wading pool in it for your doggies when you're not using it. Voila!
   Here is the first step I took: using the wading pool to dig out the size/shape of my pit, making sure it allowed room for the bricks. While purchasing the pool, I used it to estimate the number of bricks/pavers I needed (I was a little off, but came close).
Next, I began digging the hole. The pile of rocks are from my property. Some of the rocks came from the hole as I dug it. Notice the photo bomb by my weimaraner...
   Once I was happy with the depth of the hole, I placed a layer of rocks at the bottom.
   Next, I added two 50 lb. bags of gravel on top of the rocks. I also used 32 cement bricks on the side.
   Since I dug the hole so deep, I realized I needed more bricks. I figured I would also double check the pavers. Aha! I was short about one.
 
   This is how it looked after adding the next horizontal layer of bricks (17). Note that I chose NOT to use any mortar. We shall see how it holds up during weather. I just didn't want to make it permanent at this time. If it ends up needing mortar, I'll rebuild it, and do that next summer.
   Because of our mountain location and the drought (did you notice my amazing view??), instead of logs, we are using the bottom of our fire bowl (it was free, from my friend Ellen!). It has a screen cover to catch sparks. But, if we get a good snowstorm this winter, woo hoo! Oh, notice the photo bomb by my other dog at the bottom.
   As the sun went down, it was time to fire her up!

    I don't know about you, but MY family loves a wienie roast! Yum!
Sorry about how blurry the photo is (my iPhone is the 'jitterbug' old lady version; i.e. a 3G).
    We have these neat chairs/tables we bought from Sportsman's Guide 6 years ago, and some log 'tables' from a tree that blew down a few years back.
   The hub put some railroad ties for sitting close. My friend gave me some gravel. I am going to gravel this entire part of the property that is now dirt. It is going to look GOOD...
   So, there you have it. An EASY project (the most difficult part was getting the materials up the hill from our driveway), that cost well under $100!!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Great Graduation Gift

   I found this idea on Pinterest! Tomorrow my nephew is graduating from Loyola H.S. (he'll be attending USC.!). I thought this would be a fun way to give him money, without it being obvious what he's getting (wrapping up the pizza box). I used a glue stick to glue it down, since my experience as a teacher tells me it will be easy to remove... Hee hee!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Our Class Garden!

   This is the garden my students and I planted on Friday! I have always wanted to have a class garden, but never got around to it. We have tomatillos, onions, cilantro, tomatoes, marigolds and jalapenos. So far, it is actually surviving! We also planted radish seeds. It was SO ugly before!!
   On Monday, as I watered the corner of the raised bed, I turned to water the apple tree, and surprised a 3 foot rattlesnake. It was about a foot away from me. Luckily, it slithered past the tree, into a bush on the other side of the fence.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

First Asparagus Harvest

   Despite the gophers' best efforts at decimating my yard, and my neglect of my garden beds, I had my first real asparagus harvest. I planted asparagus two years ago, and you can't begin harvesting until the third year. They were very yummy, and I have more shoots coming up. I wish I had planted more!
   Tomorrow, my students and I will be planting radish seeds in grow trays my friend/student's mom donated. We will also be planting seedlings of cilantro, tomato, tomatillo, onions and jalapenos. It's going to be fun!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Busy Spring Break!

    I pin a zillion things on Pinterest, but rarely make them. However, I DID do the Peeps centerpiece! Didn't it come out great?? You put a smaller vase inside a larger one, and line the space between them with Peeps.
   So last week, the monkey & I worked at my classroom, & took a break to check out the poppies on the 138. Yowza!!
    This shot is my favorite. I think it looks great despite being taken with my old iPhone.

   It really is breathtaking...
   Besides taking the monkey to the beach (& I swear having PTSD from memories of my last visit which was the whale watching seasick episode), we visited CALM. Here is a cute porcupine!
   The adorable beaver was out, too!
   The best part of our visit was watching the bobcats play with a paper bag. I will be back to visit with my class this week!
    One of the things the monkey & I did (besides tormenting me with figuring out how to turn footage on a mini-dvd into an edited movie suitable for his mission project) was cleaning up the garden area outside my classroom. It made a great 'graveyard' during the Halloween season, but we are ready to actually renovate it. Here are the before photos:

   So, I took out the fencing on the raised bed, so little bodies can actually use it, pulled the big weeds, dug out the dirt by the gate, so it can now be closed, trimmed the trees and rabbit brush, AND, put up chicken wire along the ramp & around the perimeter, leaving an opening for a gate or removable partition. Voila! Here is how it looks now:






  I know it still looks very bare, but in a few weeks, it's going to be sprouting! I busted my rear pounding in the stakes & stretching/hanging the chicken wire. The kids are going to be super excited.  This week & next week, we'll get fresh soil & plant the bed!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Central Coast Jaunt

  Last weekend, we took a quick one night trip to San Luis Obispo to do research on the monkey's California mission project. It was a great excuse to spend a night at Avila Beach...
This is one of the piers. There are seals or sea lions hanging on that weird contraption, that were making a ton of noise.
   Hotels in Avila tend to be pricey, but I nabbed a decent room at the San Luis Bay Inn for a reasonable price.
   The monkey was in heaven...
Of course, I had to stop at the Avila Valley Barn for some yummy treats, like Paso Almond Brittle. This is what remains of the old shack I photographed a number of years ago. It's completely collapsed.
   There was NO way I could visit the area without doing a little wine tasting! We had never gone through Edna Valley, so we cruised through on our way home. This is the view from Edna Valley Vineyards...excellent wine, and lovely grounds. In fact, HGTV was filming there.
   On the recommendation of the nice local at Edna Valley, we visited the tiny Autry Cellars. They only produce about 1,000 cases a year. This is where the magic happens! The machines in the back are a bottler, and corker, as I recall. A little pricey, but fantastic reds.