Friday, April 26, 2013

Garden Upgrade

For the past several years, Robb and I have had this thing where we attempt to do a complete garden overhaul in one day. It's a totally exhausting pain in the ass that usually begins with high spirits and a trip to Home Depot! We then haul ten bags of soil and manure into the backyard (along with a ton of other crap we decided we HAD to have), and we spend the afternoon tilling all of the soil and planting every last seedling...all in a day. Oh, and it's usually Memorial Day weekend, so it's hot. Why do we do that? 

Last week, however, it became evident that we could do things a little differently. That, in fact, we could till maybe one little section of the yard and plant pole beans (because April is, in fact, when they should be planted). Or that we could plant lettuce in a few planters. That we could build shelves and a fence. Why wait till a sweltering Saturday in May when we can be tilling and building in the cool of a 55-degree afternoon?

And then, I saw this thing on Pinterest. And this is why I love Pinterest. Because you can pin something cool and then remember later that you want to make it and then you have the link right there that tells you how to do it and you just do it. The thing I wanted to make? This hanging plant shelf. So simple! Just a plank of wood tied up by rope! A baby could make this.
However, I did need the wood. (And here's where it gets sort of cosmically strange and Robb starts to roll his eyes.) One morning last week I thought to myself, I bet I'll find the wood I need on the street today. And then sure enough, after work, I was walking by Robb's bar and there was this big old 5-foot long beautiful plank of wood sitting outside. I picked it up and dragged it into the bar (and then Robb rode it home on his bike later, which looked sort of amazing). And then I shit you not, about 15 minutes after I found the wood, on the very same walk home, I found these trellises above sitting on my street a few doors down. Fences!, I thought, and then I picked up the whole bunch of them and walked them home. You guys, there was a lot of garden kismet happening that night. And here's what we did with it.
So, we untangled the trellises and laid them on their sides, and then we attached posts to each trellis edge so that we could wedge them into the ground to make a big, sturdy fence. Gone was the sweet (yet decidedly ineffective) little lattice fence we made last summer. Our new fence feels fancy and official, as though we have a serious homestead going on. I want to get horses now, or maybe goats.
For the hanging plant shelf, my vision was to install it under the overhang right outside of our kitchen door and have it be a home for the herb garden. In summers past, the herb garden has lived deep in the yard, so if you're cooking pasta for dinner and want to grab a handful of basil, you need to put on shoes, grab a flashlight, and hope you don't step in dog poop. But now, these perils no longer haunt us! The herbs are right outside the door, enabling us to cook barefoot once again. To hang the shelf, Robb simply filed some grooves at two ends of the plank so the rope can grip it, and then we looped the ropes through the supporting structure of the overhang. Done. I love it.

At that point, we made mojitos from our new mint plant and called it a day.
The next day, however, we couldn't resist going out to buy some flowers. Robb had a vision. Inspired by the hanging herb shelf, he decided he wanted to take a couple long pieces of wood that had been kicking around in our yard and hang those, too, making narrow little shelves. Along these shelves, we potted tons of individual little flowers. This fence was once where we propped up old, splintery wood. Now it is a haven for marigolds!
And that, my friends, is where we stopped. We built fences, hung shelves, potted some flowers, and we were done. Tomatoes and peppers will come another Saturday, probably in a few weeks. And someday we might get around to patching the lawn. But for now, I'm liking this plan of spreading out the upgrades. Of getting inspired but not burning out. And my favorite part of all? Walking down the street holding an armful of flowers, with a big, bright Gerbera daisy tucked behind my ear. That, I must say, is my happy place. Me on Sunday afternoon with all the hopefulness of spring in my arms.


  1. The marigold shelf is adorable!!! I And the herb shelf! Which will make me delicious food (and beverages) when I visit.

  2. seriously, this looks amazing!!

  3. oh and that herb shelf right outside the door is genius

    1. Thanks, Dervla! Now I just need to figure out how to incorporate herbs into everything I cook. (Any "cooking with herbs" cookbooks you can recommend??)

  4. Oh how we have enjoyed reading your blog!!