At long last, the overdue post about my garden! Every time my neighbor sees me tinkering with something, she says, “You should start a blog or something about your garden!” Then I smile and let her know it is not so much starting a blog about my garden, but sitting down writing a post for my ancient (in Internet years, anyway) blog. So here goes.
Aaron and I moved into a house with a neglected side yard. It was sad and overgrown, but had lots of potential! I have been wanting an “outdoor living room” for ages, so we rolled up our sleeves and got to work.
Week 1: We went completely scorched earth on the weeds with a large container of Round-up. I’m not nuts about using chemicals in landscaping, but it was so overgrown that this was the quickest way to achieve a clean (or relatively clean, anyway) slate. I wanted a fence to frame the garden and give the greyhound some boundaries, so I started hitting some of the re-use centers around town for ideas.
Week 2: Aaron got rid of the weed carcasses, and I started digging fence post holes with a fence post-digging tool I borrowed from the Southeast Portland Tool Lending Library. This is the perfect place to borrow a tool you will only need for a weekend. Once the posts were in, I filled in the holes with dirt (we are renters, after all) and started assembling the shutter fence. I used 2 sets of hinges to connect each pair of shutters into a long accordion of shutter panels, then started attaching them to the fence posts. I used a heavy duty fence post (Also found at the Restore!) to hinge the shutter gate.
I painted the wood fence posts with red stain and attached on random metal and glass pieces found at SCRAP. I also attached a brass fireplace match holder to the fence after drilling a hole in the base so it could drain. It is perfect for holding a couple of hand tools.
Week 3: Added a planter box (the one thing I bought first-hand) and started filling it with plants.
Week 4 and beyond: Used lumber from SE PDX Restore to build a trellis for the sugar snap peas — painted it a vibrant blue! Discovered that the Beaverton Restore has an awesome selection of fancier tiles (you know — like the ones used when building tract homes) as well as garden furniture. Score! Picked up a selection of granite tiles and paired them with 3″x3″ concrete sample tiles (found at SCRAP) to create a path around the planter box. I also used some of the scrap wood left over from building the fence to build a trellis for green beans.
In my head I was hearing what Steinbeck wrote in East of Eden, “Can you imagine? Just think what this land would raise with plenty of water! Why, it will be a frigging garden!”
And so it is! All told, we planted corn, sugar snap peas, jalapenos, poblanos, cubanelles. zucchini, 3 types of tomatoes, green beans, onions, garlic, lettuce, collard greens, 2 types of mint, basil, cucumbers, rosemary, lavender, sage, and thyme.
The lettuce is growing like mad in its gutter planter, and the decorative something or other is really happy in the yellow sink I found in the free pile at the SE PDX Restore. While cleaning out the garden plot, we found a lot of random bricks and cinderblocks, so we tried to utilize those wherever possible.
I have picked up a standalone laundry sink that will be home to carrot seedlings pretty soon. We will need additional container space to start our fall and winter garden, so I tried my hand at making a planter box with unfinished floor boards. It is a really cool concept, but walnut is hard to work with when you have a limited set of tools. With a full woodworking workshop at my disposal I might try it again sometime.
I also melted down old candles into a new batch of citronella candles (poured into old pottery plant containers!), as well as fashioned a gazebo chandelier from random stuff in my craft area. Our “outdoor living room” makeover is a huge success, and it would not have been possible without the incredibly cool reuse centers around Portland.