Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ahhh... Springtime!

Yeah, we already know I'm a lousy blogger.

Deal with it!

So the Big Fish Tank Project turned out to be less of a project than originally anticipated. I've got it up and running and only experienced one significant loss (A baby black [waaaahhhh $35.00] Clown Fish). All the corals are fine and it's really just a matter of "maintaining" the tank now (testing and doing water changes). And waiting for the "stuff" to grow.

It did it's job and kept me occupied thru the darkest days of winter. And yes, I'm still maintaining it! But it's definitely not a huge time-suck.

So it's Springtime already (Yay!!!) and here in Sunny California - well - it's SUNNY! (Double-Yay!). In fact, I am sitting at the Tiki Bar, with Sugar-Free Margarita in-hand, while I update this sorry excuse for a blog!

Plum Blossoms

Sooooo... What's New and Exciting?!

Thank God the Tiki Bar is Open (well, partly anyway!)

Well - aside from the fact that I have revived the Tiki Bar (mostly, anyway - it's not completely festooned with tiki-krep yet since I'm sure we'll get more rain the coming weeks) - I did manage to pull out all of the Summer Furniture! Single-handedly even! Last fall, I decided I was too lazy to re-jigger the storage shed in the backyard and opted for the "Easy-Out" and rented a 5x5 storage locker around the corner from our house. I tallied it up today: I figure I spent just over $250 to store $200 worth of K-Mart Lawn Furniture! "D'oh!"

Oh well, at least I got it cleared out before another month's rent was due!!!

Annnnnd... One thing I've been *wanting* to do for the past several years is "claim a space" in the backyard that I could dedicate to Artsy-Fartsy Ceramics Crafty sh*t. I do belong to a "real" studio, but somehow the muses seem to strike me more when I'm here - in Tiki Central - than when I'm up at the studio. I want to be able to create stuff HERE, then bring them up to the studio for firing/glazing/yada-yada...

So anyway, the storage shed is far too small (10x12 - but it's divided in the middle so it's got two 6x10 rooms). I did attempt to do some sculpting under the gazebo one summer, but it was too bloody hot on the patio. The gazebo roof just doesn't provide enough shade. Soooooo... I stumbled onto the Most Brilliant Idea of buying some El Cheapo Plastic Blinds from Home Depot. I've hung them along the sides of the gazebo and now I can create shade "at will!"

My Summertime Studio

Yay! I've set-up a sturdy folding table in there, and I've got a slab roller buried in the shed, so I hope to get my ersatz backyard studio set-up in the coming weeks...

Let's see, what else?! Ohhh... Was it last weekend? Or maybe the weekend before? Hell, I can't remember! Anyway, I cleared out a pretty big planter bed (Yay me!). See, there was this long bed - I wanna say 20' x 2' - that ran along the fence-line in front of the shed. It was supposed to be an ornamental bed and, the first year, I threw a bunch of bulbs and rhizomes and whatevers in there - all Willy Nilly - and hoped for the best.

Well, that method worked very well in other parts of the yard (ergo, I think we have about 800-million cannas now!), but this one particular bed always looked like sh*t. I've tried different things through the years. One year, I did a buttload of annuals - with lots of coleus sprinkled in. It still looked like sh*t. Now I've got Morning Glory Vines planning a coup, and weeds galore, and the bed ended up becoming a dumping spot for whatever potted plants I couldn't find homes for (because it became so overgrown - you couldn't see the pots!). And what's this?! Two potted orchid plants? And they're still alive?! Oh - and what the hell?! Two freaking Washingtonia filiferas have infiltrated a 2' wide bed?! (Uhh, that would be those GINORMOUS California Fan Palms - à la L.A. - for those who may not be hip on Latin-speak).

Much grunting, digging and cursing transpired. Blood was shed - even! (Yes, those palm trees have SHARP edges and SPIKES! They're like Ninja Trees!). So I ripped out the fan palms and EVERYTHING else.

Oh, this particular bed was *quite* moist owing to the fact that Princess Annie likes to chew through drip-lines. And I have yellow irises that LOVE soggy soil. I think I had about 200,000 of those when it was all said and done (and I pawned EVERY LAST ONE OF 'EM off on neighbors and friends!). Basically, I ripped EVERY DAMNED THING out!

And since, ummm, I'm - ahem - over 40. And - cough-cough - let's say a tad overweight. Well, I've discovered that kneeling and digging for extended periods of time doesn't exactly agree with me. Well, it's not the kneeling so much as it is the getting back up again. "WTF?!"

So - during this whole ordeal - I had to run to the drugstore for something. And while I was there - even though I SWORE I wouldn't wander through the Garden Section because there isn't a damn thing I need - well, I happened upon one of these! And it was only $19.99. Ahhh what the hell, right?

Let me tell you... This thing is the Coolest Thing since Sliced Bread! It looks goofy as hell, I know - but it is comfy, and it let's you maneuver around and lean this way and that (with minimal grunting and cursing) and, honestly, I don't think I would've finished the job without it!

So I managed to clear out the ENTIRE bed in ONE afternoon! Yayyy Me!

Annnnd I completely replaced the drip-lines! Annnnnd I added a fence to deter Princess Sprinkler Eater (and Digger Extraordinaire!) from claiming MY fresh new fluffy planter bed!

I have since spread a layer of newspapers on the dug-out bed, and added a thick layer of compost and fresh planting mix. I'm letting it "rest" for a week or two now, then I'll probably use some kinda weed barrier (much as I hate the stuff) and start re-planting the bed.

Fresh, fluffy new garden bed - and my Garden Rocker!
And Tazz (the Spazz), my Secondary Sprinkler-Eater (though she much prefers her tire!)

So what are ya gonna plant?!

Welllllll... The yard "theme" is tropical - and I am still very-much undecided about what I *ultimately* want to do with the bed. So I think - given my lack of veggie-growing space in the back garden (and my love of home-grown tomatoes - which will take up every last inch of space!) - I'm probably gonna grow big-leaf viney plants like melons and squash in the new bed. I'm curious to see how it looks and I'm only committed for one season that way. We'll see what happens!

Hopefully this year's garden will be more - umm - "fruitful" than last year. Last year kinda sucked eggs - to be honest. But I took solace in the fact that it was almost universally bad for everyone in San Jose - even the Santa Clara Master Gardeners agreed when we went to the Harvest Festival last year...

Anyhoooo... What else-what else?! Ohhh, I've started seedlings in the bathroom window again. No funky planter experiments this year. I pretty much started the seeds in Jiffy Peat Pellet thingies which - once the seedlings start to show roots - get transplanted into slightly-larger Jiffy Peat Pots which - ultimately - will get buried in the ground someplace. Still a little too soon for that. I figure I'll start working on "hardening off" in the greenhouse in the next week (after I eradicate the bug population - sheesh!). I'll start misting the babies with chamomile tea tonight (don't ask me why - but ever since I started doing that I have had far fewer fatalities w/my seedlings)

Ooh, that reminds me, I think it's time to unplug the heater out in the greenhouse. I think the "marginals" need to get acclimated to colder nights now that the danger of "freeze" has passed...

:::trudge trudge trudge::: Done!

Mmmm - Ate pea while I was back there and discovered that my broccoli has bolted. Ooops!

Hint: If you plant cool-season veggies, you really oughtta go out and check 'em every once in awhile!

Soooo, the plants I have started so far include: Melons - Normal stuff like Honeydews and Casabas, and not-so-normal stuff like Jelly Melons, inspired by Finny Knits (I like to place blame where it's deserved!). And I've started some funky pumpkins (Lumina and Jarrahdale) and a "normal" orange one. And squashes: Zuch's, Yellow crook-neck and Spaghetti. And, of course, 'maters (I forgot which varieties I started this year). I also bought a pre-grown Beefsteak of some sort at Home Depot (don't wanna hedge my bets!)...

Jelly melon babies - looking eagerly out the window!

Squashes and Pumpkins

As usual, I'm sure I'll have FAR more plants than I have space for. And that's why my Gardening Friends love me (or - at least put up with me!).

Okay, that's the latest! Spring has officially sprung and I am looking forward to another (hopefully awesome) growing season!.

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