One practice that I did not think I would take on was keeping a journal for gardening. I did not think I needed to keep track of plants or make notations about it. The practice started out of necessity. The first year I started a veggie garden, many things did not take or survive. I was puzzled because I never had a problem growing flowers and had a healthy garden in Jersey near the beach, a challenging soil. I assumed growing veggies from seed was challenging, but also found out that the crazy changing on and off weather here in Southern Virginia had a lot to do with it. I decided to start a journal to track what I did, and the results. By doing this I identified many things I could do differently and others that did not work, but also, things I could improve on. The second year was much better. I was pleased and decided to keep the practice for a few more years.
This little garden journal has evolved quite a bit from where it started. Today it serves more than one purpose. It helps me plan the next year garden, holds sketches for garden projects, and other things garden related. I carry checklists that represent garden goals for the year, materials needed, and the goals that were not accomplished by the end of the gardening season will go on next year’s list. Something so simple ended up being an important resource for me. It has also become a very enjoyable pastime.
The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.
Nature never disappoints. I was able to capture a few images of some visitors. It has been hot and dry around here, the garden is growing slowly, even lettuce is taking its time. I do what I can to provide these visitors with some comfort, a birdbath always filled, small plates of water for ground critters, and areas in the garden for them to enjoy shade. Here are a few of the visitors.
Next project will have to be one that just popped up – fixing the hydrant, which has been leaking, unbeknownst to us. It requires digging, so it will be a learn as you go project. Hope you enjoyed this post.
There is plenty to do around here; never a dull moment. We armed ourselves with motivation to tackle a short list, mostly things that have been waiting – installing a window a/c for when the heat becomes unbearably dangerous, weeding out the garden, trimming bushes, planting corn again (something plucked all my corn plants, one by one), caulk porch columns, and do some minor painting retouches. The caulking and the painting had to wait because of rain that never showed up during the day, but poured at night. We will tackle those later on. However, I was able to do a quick and easy project with left over materials – a bird/critter feeder, and my husband was able to work on something for his trail project.
The bird/critter feeder was something that I thought of buying but instead I decided to give it a try by using some recycled items – old metal cookie plate, leftover 2×4 wood, and foam planter bottom. It was quick and easy, and it works – zero cost. We gave the wood a coat of paint. The planter bottom serves to prevent weeds and to keep it clean around the base. My husband drilled small holes on the metal plate for draining the water when it rains. Eventually, I might plant some flowers at the base. Could not have been easier.
My husband decided to make a sign for the lighted trail entrance. This is a project that he started last year, will be time consuming and hard work, but he is obsessed with it, and will work on a small part of it when he gets a chance. My vision for it was two 4×4 poles with a wood beam across and a burnt wood sign in the middle, but he wanted to go the more natural and less expensive route, and use the trees already there; after all, it is his project, not mine.
There is always time to admire favorite plants, and this garden has come a long way from the morass of abandoned overgrown vegetation it was.
We will continue to add to this garden; it has been a labor of love. I hope you enjoyed this project.
It was a rainy day, nothing to be done outside. It was the perfect day to tackle a chore that had been put aside for some time – bringing back to life old garden sculptures. People tend to discard garden sculptures because paint has faded over time or the elements have taken a toll on these; however, with a little effort these can be brought back to life. We purchased a few garden sculptures over 15 years ago for our previous home, and when we moved we took them with us to the farmhouse. Although I love the weathered look of garden sculptures my husband likes a more clean and painted look, so he took on the task on a rainy day, and I joined in the effort. We sat on the porch, enjoyed the sound of the rain in the old tin roof, and painted away. A cup of hot chocolate made the task more enjoyable.
It doesn’t take much effort, other than dust them off and make sure the sculptures are not wet, or at least almost dry, but we had put the job aside for years, and because I like the weathered old look there was no rush; however I have to say that these really look good painted. After painting them, we sprayed a light layer of clear coat to protect the paint. The paint and clear coat will help the sculptures last longer, and also prevent the concrete from eroding faster. Here are a few pictures of the project.
We have a few more sculptures to restore to beauty. Old things are lovely, and can be made lovelier with a bit of effort.
I know that there are things on our To Do List that should have priority, but sometimes, we cannot help it and an idea just hits one of us and we both run with it. This little garden project was born in my head while sitting on the porch as my husband was talking about things he would like to do around the future rain garden. He liked the proposed change and we went with it. One of the front bushes was looking sad despite many attempts to make it become more full. It wasn’t working. It was one of the original bushes we uncovered and tried to make healthier. Here is a picture of it.
After trimming it very low to the ground to force it to fill up a bit, it did not do that, so we decided this year to remove it and move one of the stone benches on the porch to that area. Here is the result. We like it better that way. We thought it would be a difficult task to remove it, but to our surprise, it was very loose and came out easily. Maybe this was the reason for it to look a bit unhealthy.
Once you start you just keep moving, so my husband decided that he wanted to try something – moving the porch hanging solar light to one of the entrances that he is cleaning up to continue a few short trails. I thought about moving the solar light somewhere else but was not sure where, so that worked out.
From there it was natural to move to something else, so I decided to make a little habitat for garden critters at the Faerie garden. I repurposed an old table stand and used it as a small trellis for an ivy, and under it I placed one of the chimney halves I had found before. As the ivy grows and becomes fuller it will turn into a cozy retreat for critters.
As the garden wakes up, we keep helping it look better every year. This section is looking better after tending it with hope, working with the existing area, and adding a few things.
All seeds have been planted on the veggie garden area, and they are coming up. The seeds for the flower circle are planted as well, and hopefully, we will be able to clear an area in the back for planting cantaloupe, corn, pumpkin, and sunflowers. That part requires a bit more work. As the garden grows and changes we also grow and change with it.
Following up on my latest blog post about future farmhouse projects, we have taken one off the list, or should I say, it took itself off the list yesterday. The large dead tree fell, and that left us with one less tree to take down, however, with a large mess to clean up. Because I started the Twelve Farmhouse Projects series of posts, I thought it would be natural to share the update. Here are a few pictures.
That takes care of one tree, two to go. The most important one is the one near the home. Slowly but surely.
The previous posts on “Fixing an Old Farmhouse” series gave an idea of where we are as far as how much work we have done on this 1910 farmhouse. We started by clearing and cleaning up the outdoor spaces, followed by fixing up the interior of the home, and now we find ourselves going back to focus on the outdoors, as there are many things we have to handle. This post is about those future projects, which will be tackled little by little, as this has been and continues to be a cash-only renovation, hence why it takes longer. Patience is a virtue.
The most expensive project will be the installation of a new metal roof. This is a task for roofing professionals, and we wouldn’t take a chance with it. Any slight mistakes would eventually become expensive issues. For now, the roof is coated and will last a few years.
Another important project is the removal of an enormous tree that is not looking too healthy, and is in proximity to the house. We have two other dead trees to remove, large but those are far away from the house. This is another project that is a bit expensive and must be done by tree experts.
Another item on our list of outdoor “must handle” issues is the driveway. Over time, the soil changes. When it rains the driveway becomes very muddy with two large areas that retain water. A couple loads of gravel should take care of the issue. For now, we have been collecting pinecones and pine needles from the property and placing them in the problem area. It works temporarily. In addition, we have to patch the old cement part that was uncovered.
The porch ceiling needs to be repainted eventually. The cement floor needs to be tiled to prevent further deterioration. Right now, it is cement that we fixed, patched, and painted. Ideally, I would like to place slate tile or brick on top.
The well has come a long way from what it used to be. We would like to enclose the well with a small shed-like structure. It will provide more insulation from the cold weather. So far, we fixed and painted it, but it needs that extra step.
Although we have two small storage sheds on the property, one of them an existing original old log building, those are being used to store garden tools, heat pellets, and other outdoor items. We need a larger building where my husband can work on his wood projects. This will be its future site.
We need to prepare an area at the back (right side) of the property where we can grow larger things such as corn or pumpkins. We tested an area this year, where we grew pumpkins and cantaloupe, and it seems a good area for that purpose. Although we will not enclose it, we will have to clear some stumps and grass before planting.
The Christmas Tree
Last year, we cleared and cleaned up the area at the entrance of the driveway. It was full of overgrown shrubs and weeds. During the process, my husband discovered a medium size pine tree that he liked, and he decided to leave alone. This tree has been growing healthy and free of weeds and is looking very nice. My husband wants to dress it up in white solar lights that can be left on year round. His obsession with this tree puzzles me, but I am going along with it, and he doesn’t know it yet, but I already ordered the lights. This will probably become the first project on our list.
The Rain Garden
As much as the Christmas tree is my husband’s obsession, the rain garden is mine. There is an area at the front of the house, near the veggie garden, where there seems to be a dip or slope on the terrain. When it rains, it seems to retain water. This area would be perfect for a rain garden. However, since it is at the center, I would like it to become a focal point. I am envisioning a water feature (solar, of course) a small bench, a few pavers, one or two spot lights, a few larger stones, and of course the plants. Maybe one or two stone critters as well. This is the future site of the rain garden.
Side Steps Entrance Concrete Area
Although there is grass on this area, when it rains it becomes very muddy. My husband wants to place pavers or pour concrete to minimize the muddy mess.
This is a project that I am excited about, however, I am not sure if it is practical because sometimes, we bring material through the area where it would be placed. My husband doesn’t like when someone comes down the driveway, bypasses the parking area, and ends up parking very close to the house. He says that if a vehicle were to disengage the parking gear or someone miss applying the brakes on time, they would land in the living room. I can see his point. The arbor would signal the end of the driveway, and would serve as a pretty stop sign. In the past, (not around here) I have seen this happen to two people. Their cars were not in parked gear. My husband, being a mechanic, has seen this scenario many times, hence his insistence. If the arbor idea were to be implemented, wisteria would be a good choice and it would have to include an area for the name of our place – Black Crow Cottage.
The Woods Trails
I am not sure, but I think this will be the last project to be tackled. It is something that my husband wants to do in the future. He wants to create pathways around the wooded area. He wants the pathway to end where the “Christmas tree” is. He already started the three entrances, and placed a few logs from fallen trees. It will take time and effort, and he knows it, but it is something he envisions and would love to do. I like the idea, although not so much the type of work involved.
These are twelve future projects that I will share here when we are able to complete them, one by one, little by little. We have come a long way from where we started, and there is more to do. I hope you enjoyed this post.