The Vegetable Garden Chronicles Part 2: Taming the Critters

It’s official: We have a rabbit problem.

This month, we planted our vegetable garden. After only one night, our neighborhood rabbits moved in and two of our zucchini plants looked like this:

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After our discovery, we developed a quick plan of action to protect the remaining plants. After researching online, we found that the best method to tame a rabbit problem is to put up a fence. Although we are not fond of the green garden fence, it was one of the most inexpensive solutions for our garden.

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For around $50, we bought two rolls of 2ft tall green garden fence and 15 3ft stakes. Just a note: if you have a deer problem, buy a bigger fence and stakes. Deer can easily scale a fence less 8ft. For cottontail rabbits, you need to install at least a 2ft fence.

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FBFS_GardenChronicles 1-13After installing the fence, we discovered that we also have a squirrel problem. We noticed a few more nibbles after the fence installation.

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FBFS_GardenChronicles 1-17Time for Plan B. We read that sprinkling chili flakes in or around the perimeter of the garden will help keep critters out because they do not like the spicy flavor. It is important to sprinkle the chili flakes at least once a week because rain and time will cause the flakes to lose their effectiveness.

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So far, the chili flakes are working and we are keeping a close eye on our plants for any more nibbles. We will keep you updated!

 

 

April Showers Brought Plenty of May Flowers

Happy Thursday! The unofficial start of summer is this weekend, but before we kick off the celebrations, I want to take a minute to update you on how our tulips did this spring.

Our tulips started blooming the week before Easter and continued all the way through mid-May. It was exciting to see the variety of tulips as they bloomed. Each week we added a new color to the mix.

I normally share photos taken with my DSLR, but I had so much fun taking photos with my iPhone this spring, that I thought I would share those with you as well.

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We also had another successful year for our hyacinths. They been coming up every spring since I planted them over three years ago. This fall, I will dig up the bulbs and split them so we can have more hyacinths next year.

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Now that the tulips are gone, it is time to trim the plants and get them ready for next spring. Look for more garden posts to come!

Bulbs, bulbs, and more tulip bulbs!

Chilly weather finally set in at our house this week, but before the frost arrived, we finished prepping our garden for the coming winter and spring. It may seem a little early to start thinking about spring, but fall is a great time to plant spring flower bulbs. After watching this DIY video from Lowes, I was feeling really ambitious:

In my ambition, I decided to buy 150 tulip bulbs to plant in our garden. At first, 150 bulbs didn’t seem like that many. They came in bags of 50, so three bags seems reasonable, right? I didn’t realize how much it would take to plant 150 tulips. Not to mention the 24 crocus bulbs I also bought. Note for next time: tulips should be planted 6 inches deep and 6 inches apart.Before we started planting, I had this grand vision in my head that we would just dig a few holes and spread the tulip bulbs out. That’s not exactly what happened after I read the planting instructions.

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fbfs_tulipsgalore2 copyIn order to plant all the bulbs in one evening, I recruited BJ to help me. He agreed to dig the holes and I would follow behind and plant each bulb, 6 inches apart and roughly 6 inches deep.

I arranged the bulbs in the on the sidewalk and in the grass near the intended homes of the bulbs. Once I laid out all the bulbs, I realized how much work it was going to take to plant 150 bulbs…

fbfs_tulipsgalore3 fbfs_tulipsgalore8 tulipsgalore7In other words, there were tulips bulbs everywhere.

We started planting during the daylight hours and had to finish well after the dark skies set in. A neighbor walking by commented that she once ran over a tree while attempting to garden at night. I’m not sure what that meant, but I was determined to get all the bulbs planted in the same evening. It’s important to get the bulbs in the ground before the frost comes so they have a chance to survive through the winter. We were getting dangerously close to the first frost of the season.

Thanks to BJ’s help, I was able to get every last bulb planted. We touch nearly every part of the garden while planting so during the following week, I added a fresh layer of mulch, to help protect the bulbs, and tame the unsettled dirt.

As I mentioned, it was well after dark when we finished planting the bulbs so I grabbed a few photos of the gardens the next day. Here is what the unsettled dirt looked like:

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And the finished gardens with mulch: fbfs_tulipsgalore13 fbfs_tulipsgalore11


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Now that all 174 bulbs are planted, I cannot wait to see how they look in the fall. Even if we only have a 50% survival rate through the spring, that is still 75 tulips!

Summer Gardening, Part 2

In our last post, I updated you on our front flower beds. Out in the back yard, our vegetable garden is really taking off. So far this summer, we’ve harvested our first zucchini and fresh parsley.

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Our basil plant is getting really big. We need to start incorporating fresh basil and parsley into our meals so we can use more of our fresh herbs.

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One thing I’ve noticed about our vegetable garden is that it does not need much as maintenance as I originally thought. Other than continual weeding, watering and harvesting, I haven’t spent much time maintaining the garden. I bought plant food when I first planted the seedlings, but haven’t used it yet. The vegetables look like they are holding their own without the extra food.

Our corn is doing really well. I did have to stabilize the stalks a few weeks ago. They were leaning after a heavy rain storm so I put a big clump of dirt next to each stalk and although I was doubtful of my “temporary” solution, the dirt clump did the trick and the corn stalks have stood straight ever since.

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We are starting to see a few ears growing on each of our corn stalks. I can’t wait for fresh sweet corn. Out of all the vegetables we planted, I think I’m most excited to enjoy our fresh sweet corn. Hope it is delicious! fbfs_corn_2

The green beans I replanted are up and hopefully we will have fresh green beans to harvest.
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Our yellow pepper is still going strong. I’m not sure when we will see peppers growing, but I’m still hopeful.

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We have a zucchini and a spaghetti squash that may be ready to harvest in the near future.

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How are your summer gardens?

Lilies!

Our lilies are blooming! Our lilies are blooming!

Can you tell that I’m excited? 🙂

I love spring/summer garden posts. It’s hard work maintaining a garden (as most of you know) so it’s always nice to share the fruits of our labor with those who enjoy/appreciate gardening.

I planted the lilies pictured below right after we moved into our house three years ago. Each year, the lilies keep getting bigger and more beautiful. The first to bloom this year is our stargazer lily.

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I think the lilies below are called “razzle dazzles.” They are a deep rich red color, which I really like.

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One of our tropical lilies is also blooming. Our red lily was the first to bloom this year. We also have a bright orange tropical lily.
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We are still waiting for our orange tiger lily, day lily and orange tropical lily to bloom. More updates to come!

Pinterest Picks: Summer Table Settings

Summer is almost here and I’m so excited! The first official day of summer is still a few weeks away but I’m already thinking about BBQs, picnics and pool parties.

I’m looking forward to enjoying dinners out on our patio again. To spruce up our outdoor decor, I bought this yellow-green hurricane for our patio bistro set during the Crate and Barrel 20% off outdoor sale.

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Inside of the hurricane, we added an indoor/outdoor battery-operated led candle from Target.

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Our new hurricane inspired me to put together a fun summer table arrangement for our bistro set. To find some ideas I searched for “summer table setting” on Pinterest.

Here are a few of my favorite pins:

I love how the table setting below incorporates red, white and blue as well as a coastal theme with the seashells. The yellow flowers also give off a bright summery feel.

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This table setting incorporates a few of my favorite summer colors. I love the bright yellow and green dinnerware and patterned napkins.

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I love lanterns and this table setting reminded me of our wedding. For our wedding, we incorporated lanterns as our table arrangements. We still have the lanterns and use them in our home decor.

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This summer table setting is simple and classy. The clear milk jug vases and white flowers are an elegant touch. I could definitely see us incorporating a simple flower arrangement in our own summer table setting.

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This last table setting is a fun way to use fresh fruit in a centerpiece. You could even put a cute little sign in the fruit arrangement that says “please enjoy.”

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After I looked at all of the summer table settings on Pinterest, I put together this setting  for our bistro set. What do you think?


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Getting Our Garden On: Take 2

So our first go around at a vegetable garden didn’t work out as planned. Only a few of our seedlings survived the cold weather.

After a few weeks of rain and cold, our garden looked like this:

IMG_5875 (2)All of the seedlings except for our sweet corn and some of our herbs didn’t survive. We were also left with a lot of tiny weeds.

To replace our failed seedlings, I bought a selection of mature vegetables and some garden soil from the Home Depot. These vegetables (and technically “fruits”) came in really neat biodegradable pots that you can plant straight into the ground. To learn more about the biodegradable pots and how to plant them, check out the Bonnie Web site.

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In addition to the mature plants, I also planted new green bean and red pepper seeds. I planted the seeds in garden soil in hopes that the rich soil will produce better results.

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Our sweet corn stalks are doing really well despite a few cold days. The stalks are getting pretty tall compared to when we planted them.

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How are your summer gardens going?

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Before I wrap up this post, did you notice anything different about our photos? I’m working on some upgrades to Frame By Frame Style and this is the debut of our new photo tag. Hope you like it!

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Patio Planning

We recently started planning out a patio design for our backyard. Currently, we have 10 x 10 concrete patio but we would like to add a more useful two-tiered patio made out of pavers.

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Before we started our design for the patio, we looked online at Houzz.com and Pinterest for inspiration and unique designs. We had some of our own ideas in mind but wanted to see how others designed their patios.

Here are some Pinterest pins of patios similar to our vision for the backyard:

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After we scoured the Web for inspiration and talked through our ideas, we came up with a plan of what we wanted to incorporate in our patio design (i.e. pergola, fire pit, gardens, etc). Next, we drew this quick rough design sketch using Adobe Ideas on the iPad (don’t judge our sweet finger drawing… we needed something quick… a more elaborate sketch is in the works).

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This sketch also helped us to decide where we are going to place our vegetable garden this year(more details to come). After the sketch was complete, we took a couple of rough measurements in the backyard so we could place the garden based on our sketch. That keeps us from having to move the garden or try to merge it in the design as an afterthought.

So what’s next? Our plan for the patio is to start building the two tiered section of the patio next year. In the meantime, we may add the fire pit this fall. With our design already planned out, we can add the sections as we want.

How do you tackle a large project like a patio? Do you hire a contractor? Do you do it yourself all at once? Or do you spread your project out and do it in smaller chunks over time?

Hello, Hyacinths. Hello, Spring.

Spring has finally arrived! It may be nearly a month since the official start of spring, but with the trees blooming, flowers blossoming and warmer weather, it finally feels like spring.

And with spring weather, comes spring flowers! Our hyacinths are back and in full bloom.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that our hyacinths were starting to peek out of the ground. I was really worried they wouldn’t survive the late winter snow storm we had in March, but they persevered. Last week, the hyacinths’ buds were starting to pop open for the first time.

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Now they are in full bloom!
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This is the third season for our hyacinths. Two years ago, I planted them as full-grown flowers and each year they’ve come back. This fall, I might add a few more bulbs so next year we have a full row of hyacinths and tulips. I planted a few tulips when I planted the hyacinths, but I’ve only had luck with one tulip coming back each year. Time to add a few more bulbs and see if they make it through winter.
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It’s almost time to plant annuals for the summer. Here is my late spring/early summer gardening to do list:

1. Plant more petunias.

I had great success with the petunias I planted last year. Despite the severe drought, they spread across the garden and were really beautiful.

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2. Mulch

Last year we added a layer of mulch to our garden, but after several rain storms, it’s time to mulch again.

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3. Plant a vegetable and herb garden in the backyard.

I’ve got big plans for a vegetable and herb garden this year.

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I picked up these seeds at Target and it’s almost time to start planting them! BJ and I enjoy cooking with fresh vegetables and herbs and we’re hoping that if all goes well, we will have many homegrown veggies and herbs to choose from!

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There are a few more items that BJ and I thinking about adding to our garden list for the year, such as edging the gardens with stone, but for now, we are going to focus on our first three items and add more as we go. Do you have any big plans for your garden(s) this year?

Spring is in the air…


It seems that I’ve caught Spring Fever. No, it’s not the latest strand of the of flu, it’s more like the longing for warmer days and plentiful sunshine.

The weather this weekend, despite cooler temperatures, was beautiful. To celebrate the coming of spring and spring flowers, I put together two new wreaths for our front door.

My first wreath was inspired by this pin I found on Pinterest:

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Here is my interpretation of the same wreath. I chose the peach, light green and white flowers because they go nicely with our cranberry front door and the white letter really pops against the darker background.

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This wreath was very quick and easy to make. To make a similar wreath, you will need the following:

  • 5 hydrangea stems
  • Grapevine wreath
  • Letter of your choice
  • Glue gun

First, I cut each of the stems down to one inch and arranged them into the wreath. Then, I turned the wreath over and used the hot glue to secure the stems sticking through the back of the wreath.

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Next, I put hot glue on the back of the part of the letter that touches the wreath and then held it in place on the wreath for a few minutes while the glue set up.

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Leave the wreath with the flowers and letter facing up for a few hours so the glue on the flower stems and letter can set completely.

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Once the glue is set up and dry, you can hang your wreath for display!

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I also made this next colorful wreath because I really like yellow, teal and green together and couldn’t pass up these flowers while I was at Michaels. These bright colors together make for a really fun color palette that works well for spring or summer. And who doesn’t love gerbera daisies? To quote Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail: “I love daisies… They’re so friendly. Don’t you think that daisies are the friendliest flowers?”

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This wreath was more complicated to assemble than the first wreath. I first organized all the flowers and instead of using hot glue, I used floral wire. After I was finished, I realized that using hot glue would’ve been easier and faster. You can use hot glue like I showed on the wreath above and it will be easier.

Next, I wrapped the ribbon around the top half of the wreath and then I clipped on the butterflies. Not terribly complicated, but using the floral wire really slowed me down.

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While I was outside this weekend, I also spotted this little guy sneaking up. I hope he is not coming up too soon because they are still calling for some and ice coming our way in the next few weeks. Keep your fingers crossed that he doesn’t freeze!

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Are you getting excited for spring? Have you made DIY projects to celebrate this bright and colorful season?