Sunday, April 25, 2010

Day Project - DIY Tipsy Planter

Today was such an overcast day in North Carolina I decided to do a quick day project and call it a wrap. After looking around at the yard and thinking about what it needed I came to the conclusion it really could use some more color. The biggest problem with that though is 95% of my yard is considered Full Sun and some of the best color producing plants are of course, partial sun.

So I put on my thinkers cap and came up with a crazy idea! A Tipsy Planter! Basically these are awesome looking planters that can bring a ton of conversation to any back yard event. Plus I could set it up in the very narrow strip of shade which would let me use some of the, in my opinion, better looking flowers.

So, a quick trip to Lowes and Walmart with my daughter and I had gathered everything I needed to build a great looking Tipsy Planter. Here is a picture of the final product;

I had planned on purchasing more "hanging" type plants that would flow over the sides and provide a little bit more texture to the planter. However my daughter was firm in her desire for Vinca's, Petunia's and English Daises, so of course those are the ones that came home with us.

As for the other items that you will need.

  • Garden Stake - I purchased a 6' and drove it roughly 2 - 2 1/2 feet into the ground. Be sure the one you get will fit through the drainage holes in your pots.
  • Planting Soil - I went with a pricey Miracle Gro variety but feel free to use your preferred brand.
  • 6" Terracotta Pots - I got five of them, 3 standard and 2 chocolate colored.
  • One large Base Pot - I had an old one laying around, be sure the one you decide on is large enough to accommodate the terracotta pot.
One thing I lucked out on was my base pot had offset drainage holes. This allowed me to set the first pot back a bit and gave me just enough room to plant an English Daisy in the base. If your base pot has a centered hole then you may be better off with some type of ivy or another vine.

Once you have the base pot set how you like it, start driving the garden stake down using a hammer. When I had about 1 foot driven down I stopped and filled the base with dirt and placed the first pot in place to check every thing out.

Ensuring that everything was proceeding according to my vague plans I went ahead and drove the stake down some more then placed the other pots alternating them one way then the other.

Before placing the flowers into the pots I finished driving the stake down so that it was roughly 3" from the top of the uppermost pot. The next step was simply filling in the pots with flowers and giving everything a drink of water.

The only thing I may decide to change down the line is the garden stake. It happens to be a fairly windy day and I can see the pots sway slightly in the wind. As we get closer to hurricane season I may pull the planter apart and replace the garden stake with a length of re-bar*.

*Re-bar is used for masonry work, to help hold slabs of concrete together. You can usually find a 10' length at Lowes for around $5. Whereas the stake has a steel plate around the outside, the re-bar is solid steel.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sunday afternoon, a time for gardening and protection.

Sunday was a fairly productive day for me backyard wise. Finally finished the second vegetable garden, planting onions and carrots. Wish I had the forethought to plant radishes along the carrot line, maybe next year I will remember. Radishes come up early and tend to break way for the late maturing carrots. (It also helps you identify exactly where that row is as the radish plants sprout much faster than the carrots)

Got up the gumption to rework the back "problem" bed. Using a pre-mixed bag of "Wild Hummingbird Flowers" I hope to have a small amount of color from the two corners later on in the year. All the flowers (hopefully) are perinial so next year I will be able to do something a little more permanent.

After lifting up the tarp and having a look at one month without sun light I realized that the brier was loving the added heat and not caring about no light... Pulled what I could, hoed the bed as deep as possible then just covered it with the mix.

Finished pulling the clover from the decks flower bed, was able to get 2 large clumps and one smaller clump moved over to the pond area. The pond is going to look much better once the individual clumps recover a little more. They are already sprouting up small pink flowers again, though the clover stalks are still laying on the ground.

To replace the clover in the deck's bed I pulled some mysterious purple leafy plant out of my extremely small front bed. The front bed unfortunately does not receive a lot of attention. It is small and well, I spend the majority of time in my back yard so the front has to go weeks at a time without being touched. A sprinkling of the mix I used in the back will hopefully give some color later on in the year.

On the non-plant side of things I actually got some other to-do's done. Cleaning the grill was one of my most dreaded things for this season. It had collected a large amount of... well I do not know the technical term for "food that falls off" so lets just call it "Gunk". I did notice some small amount of rust starting on my grating though, will need to pickup a can of high temp spray paint to fix it before it spreads to the top side.

Out of all my activities this last Sunday by far one stands out above the rest. While cleaning out some dead leaves between my secondary garden bed and the chain link fence a small snake startled me. Brownish / Blackish, and only about 6-7 inches long I took it for a baby snake, however not growing up in North Carolina I had no idea what kind of snake it was. I understand there are a couple poisonous varieties that flourish around these parts, so my first reaction was "protection".

I yelled to my 4 year old to get up on the deck and stay there while I, shovel in hand, went outside the fence to deal with our menace. At the time everything happened at once and my desire to protect my child took precedence over any rationale thought. A few minutes, and one 6-7 inch hole later the incident was over.

However I was left with a very confused feeling. 6 or 7 years ago, before I was married, before I became a father. I would have berated someone up one side and down another for wanting to dispose of the snake. "Why hurt it? It kills mice, and helps keep the rodent / insect population under control!" or "It did nothing to you, leave it be!" would have been my first responses. Without fear that I might end up getting bit by that same snake somewhere down the road.

So here I am facing exactly what I fought against, becoming one of those "vile" people who kill innocent animals. I think though that I have a better understanding because of this, I was not maliciously attacking the snake for fun or for sport. I was protecting something. Maybe I am finally understanding what it means to be a father, or maybe I am just getting older and more cautious with age.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The adventure continues!

Been a bit longer than I wanted since I made an update here, never considered starting a blog would be adding another item on the never ending to-do list. Lot has changed since my first post a couple weeks ago. Garden is basically setup and going, of course bi-weekly watering and daily weeding but that's the fun part! This year the main bed contains;

  • 2 Types of Tomatoes , Celebrity and some type of "super" tomato that is supposed to fruit faster.
  • Green Bell Peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • 1 Jalapeno Plant
  • 1 Cantalope plant - I have a small garden and those plants take up tons of room
  • 1 Ichiban - Japanese Eggplant I am such an impulsive shopper

Made some significant changes with the pond area this year, incorporating some clover type plant (don't know the proper name) that produces small pink flowers over top a bed of 3 and 4 leaf clovers. This stuff is basically indestructible though, no matter how you cut into it, it will continue growing happily. My hope is that the massive clover cover will be enough to get the weeds under control while providing a nice touch of greenery to the pond area. A few Iris's were mixed in for splashes of color.

At the request of my family I am also setting up a secondary garden patch for carrots and onions. It is not finished yet but hopefully tomorrow will be another bright and sunny day so I can get the fresh top soil tilled in and the seeds planted.

Along with getting the front flower bed weeded and seeded for the season and moving a couple plants to the back yard that is about all for now. I do have some pictures taken but my printer is having an issue, and it has the memory card reader! Hopefully I will have that straightened out soon and will be able to put up some pictures though.