Monday, May 2, 2011

Veggie Garden is Planted and Studio is Coming Along!

Okay, I'm trying to update the blog using a slightly different methodology.

Usually, I blather incoherently for an hour or so, *then* I attempt to upload photos and insert them into the appropriate slots.

This time, I'm uploading pictures first, then blogging "around" them! (Uploading and positioning pics using Blogger is kind of a pain, I've discovered!) Not sure if this is gonna work, but I'll give it a try!

Gardening Update:

As of this past weekend....

Straw-bale bed is planted! Internal temperatures have stabilized around 75-80* and the bales are - more-or-less - starting to break-down, so I figured I'd start planting...

First, I ran a 1/4" Soaker line off our drip system. I needed to run a 1/2" line behind the studio to get it *to* the straw-bales, then I tapped off of that line with a 1/4" line, added a "T" connector and made, essentially, a "loop" with the 1/4" soaker-hose line...

Okay. I've got water! *Now* I need plants! I used a straight weed-puller hand-tool to jab into the bales, wiggled it around, and managed to dig some planting holes. I probably could have just as easily used a narrow trowel, but the pokey-weeder tool was what I had at-hand...

Pokey Weeder Tool, jammed into the straw-bale bed

Some sections of the bales were easier to "jam-into" than others, but it worked just fine for 6-pack sized seedlings, as well as some of my 3" pots... I wouldn't attempt anything larger, however...

One mistake I may have made (Oops!): I laid the strawbales down "flat" so the strings run around the bottom and top of the bales. In Googling "Straw-Bale-Beds" I have discovered that I probably should have stood them on their sides (so that the strings run around the front-side and back-side - rather than resting on the ground). One advantage to having them on their sides is that it would be a heckuva lot easier to jam planting holes into them since the "alignment" of the straw would be more vertical. Not sure if that makes any sense - but it's the best explanation I can verbalize!

Anyway, "It Is What It Is" and I'll make the best of it! I started out planting a 6-pack of lettuce, across the front of the bales:

Baby Lettuce planted in front bale

I planted taller stuff towards the back. Three Sunflowers, a tomato and some beans. I planted a pumpkin on the right-hand, "sunny" side of the bales...

There really was no rhyme or reason to my planting scheme. I just start jamming stuff in "hither and yon" and we'll just see what happens! (That's the beauty of "Experiments!").

OTOH - I'm thinking I probably should've stuck the lettuces on the left-hand side since they prefer cooler temps and that side is probably going to remain mostly shady. "Oh, well!"

Straw Bale Bed is all planted!

At the same time, I started tackling the new raised beds. All of my "warm season" veggies got planted here (and anything I couldn't find room for ended up in the straw-bale beds!). I also open-sowed a row of carrots and radishes in each of the beds. Annnd, I added a row of Marigolds across the front of each bed - because I've heard that they repel pests (we'll see about that - but it certainly can't hurt to try!)

Starting to plant raised beds...

Again, I added 1/4" soaker lines to both beds - this time in a Figure-8 pattern (seemed like the best way to cover the largest area). Somehow-or-other, I ended up with SEVEN tomato plants - all different colors, and all are "heirloom" varieties. I'm a little nervous about that since I've not had the best of luck with heirlooms - but we'll see!

Drip-lines installed and veggies (and marigolds) are planted!

Planted and mulched!

Again, there is no rhyme or reason to my planting scheme. I just planted whatever I had - wherever I could find room! And I think (hope) I was successful in not "crowding" my plants - this time around!

Yes, I know those are cheesy/lame tomato cages! I've attempted to "beef them up" a bit with stakes driven deeply into the ground. And - who knows - maybe *this* year I'll manage to make a half-assed attempt at pruning/pinching the 'maters back so they don't become completely unruly!!!

Studio Update:

In spite of Tazz's "surprise" surgery, I have still managed to make SOME progress on the studio!

I believe, where we last left-off, I had stapled some woven palm-mat to one of the walls. I was *hoping* to acquire some half-round bamboo poles, but my (semi-) local supplier was sold out with no planned deliveries until late May - *sigh.*

Well, Google found me another supplier and - let me tell you - I was *totally* jazzed beyond comprehension when I found this site! No glory or reimbursement to be had from sharing: Tiki Shack Importer. I am just WAY thrilled with their stuff, their prices, and SPEEDY delivery!

I placed my first order on, like, a Friday (I think) and it was delivered the following Tuesday! And their prices include shipping! Yep - I am thrilled!

So anyway, I bought the woven mat for the walls from them. Very happy with it!

Then I went back and bought some bamboo slats for chair-rails/baseboards/door-frame/whatevers... It arrived quite speedily - and it's awesome stuff!

Ooh! Bamboo!

So then I continued on my quest to cover the walls with Tacky Tiki Sh*t:

Progress is happening!
(I still need to staple-down the matting into the windowsill)

No, Really! It *is* progress!

So I've got the top half of the walls covered (figuratively *and* literally). Now, for the lower half (actually third), I remembered that I had a roll of bamboo-reed fencing, stashed in my storage locker. It's 6' tall x 16' long. So I dragged it out, thinking I could cut it down to size and staple it to the bottom third of the walls as wainscoting:

Reed fencing - needs to get cut down to half-height.

Google revealed that I should probably use a big ol' honkin' miter saw to cut the fencing down to size. But I didn't want to do that. I ended up using a wimpy little girly-hacksaw to cut the reed fencing in half. Nope. Not the straightest or neatest job in the world, but I plan on putting up bamboo "chair rails" to hide my shoddy hack(saw)-job! One "smart" thing I did: I left the rolled fencing *in* it's plastic shrink wrap and it actually did make the job quite a bit easier!

First look at reed-fence "wainscoting:"

Nope. I don't like this. Looks like the lady forgot to wear her slip!

What to do? What to do? Oh, I know! I think I have a gallon of "Oops" paint that is "fairly close" to the tone of the woven mat... Let's see, shall we?

Craptastic Paint Job.
But the "Oops" paint is a damn close-match, I think!

Yup. I do believe that this might work! So I slopped-on a light coat of paint....

Reed fence over "Oops" paint
Yup. I think this is gonna work!

After confirming the match was "Close enough for Government Work," I continued...

Then I stapled the reed-fencing over the crap-tastic paint!

Reed fence "wainscoting" over crap-tastic paint

Yup. This'll work! Then I held-up a piece of bamboo-slat "chair-rail" as Proof of Concept:

Bamboo Slat Chair-Rail

Yup. This is *definitely* gonna work! Now my neighbor, Brian (same guy who did the "final" texturing), has agreed to come over and help me with the bamboo trim-work. I want to use the bamboo slats around the door-frame, *in* the window-frames, and as base-boards and chair-rails (Gawd, I hope I bought enough!!!). He's coming over tomorrow to help me out.

Yayyyyy!!! I think the Studio is just-about DONE! Halle-freaking-lujah!!!

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