Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Easter Weekend brings great weather for building above ground boxes.

It's early Friday morning and my neighbor Craig ambles over to talk to us.  He mentions he is trimming a pussy willow tree in his back yard.  His son is creating a vegetable garden beside the tree which will cast a shadow on the bed when the leaves sprout.  I have been looking for a willow tree to use the branches for a wattle fence.  What are the chances that I would be offered cuttings so close to home? I head over to his back yard and I am thrilled to find enough branches to create not only the small bedding fence but also plenty of thicker branches to use as  supporting stakes.  The much smaller willow branches will be used to weave planter pots to decorate the front garden.  Well, Craig got rid of his branches and I got myself a lot of great twigs.

Wattle fence preparation
The willow cuttings are sorted by size and the pussy willow ends are kept on until the fence is weaved between the upright posts.  These branches will be kept in a large garbage can filled 1/3 full with water.  I need to keep these branches alive in order to keep them flexible enough to bend without breaking.  Willows love water and will root if left long enough in the water.  These can be planted to make a live wattle fence but be careful.... these trees can grow super fast.  The two small branches I planted in the backyard 2 years ago are already 8' tall and a 3' spread. Its not recommended to grow these trees on your city lawn... they could be on the banned list, so check with your city bylaws on trees.  You can clip the pussy tips when you begin to weave the fence.

Wattle fences have been made since mankind started to raise animals for food or planting beds to keep animals out.  In Cuba, fences were made with fast growing cacti succulents.  It is a great way to reuse natural materials and very inexpensive if they are given to you. 

Sorting the willow sticks on the front line and prepping them within a short time of being clipped ensures we will have nice flexible branches to work with. 

Mitch is using the circular saw to create stakes with the larger willow branches he cut to 4' lengths.

Building the above ground boxes
Max has been measuring and marking the ground where he will be installing the boxes.  He has elicited the help of our son Mitch who is eager to use the power tools.  This has become a family project and its good to see the kids just as excited as we are!!

Measuring and marking for the boxes to be installed in our urban neighborhood.  We are fortunate to have large front lawns and big back yards.  Urban gardening does not have to be just about larger yards when you consider most new homes do not have them.  Vertical gardening in those instances are the best alternatives.

The potato boxes are getting ready to be inserted into the ground.

Making an attractive and welcoming garden includes the house.
We want people to feel that they can feel welcome to pop by and talk about our project and spend some time talking to us about their projects.  One thing gardeners love most..... talking about the gardens they love and swapping tried and true tips.  Today, I headed down the road to 'Diamonds and Toads' in St. Thomas to pick up some Annie Sloan Chalk Paint TM from the proprietor Michelle.  She is amazingly talented and has some incredible ideas.  She is sending me some information on using the paint for the great outdoors.  I have picked up 2 quarts for $90.  Yes, its expensive but a true quality paint that will cover anything you need to paint with little to no prep.  It does not need special care for outdoor use and keeps its color vibrant despite heat, cold and rain.  It is easy to paint 3 coats in an afternoon.  The paint is rich and as thick as a good yogurt and is remarkable in the coverage!!!!

I use some minor prep work by washing the door down with TSP and hot water.  I rinse it off with warm water then begin taping around the trim.  Prep time about 40 minutes.

The new look using 'Emperors Silk' Chalk Pain nicely framed by the dark chocolate trim.

The potato boxes are sporting the lovely rich 'Emperors Silk' red paint.  I have a few more projects that I painted, including our house numbers above the garage and a milk can which is recieving some other touches before it heads outside as decoration for the garden.  You can see the willow branches still in the water just waiting for me to create that new fence.... can't wait to start the weaving!!!!

The first 3 planter boxes have been levelled and screwed into stakes driven into the earth.  We have another few boxes left to build.  The Wattle fence will go the entire length and curb side of the two rectangular boxes butted up to each other.  The front lawn is sloped to the road so Max will install the remaining boxes slightly higher to offset the rise in the land nearer to the house.  

Greenhouse Plants
It has become disappointing for some of the plants to have expired (tomato plants need to be warm) with the cold air blowing through the garage with the door being open for the past two days.  Although everything was tarped and we kept the grow light on, it wasn't enough.  It is a lesson learned in this new venture.  I do have a contigency plan to purchase many vegetable plants in the spring once planting season has begun.  It will be noted for next year to create a better growing area in the basement away from the cooler climate of the garage now that we have a grow light.  When I was a young girl, my Mom only seeded her garden in the early spring.  Normally I would have put the seeds in the ground in March/April but this season has been incredible challenging with the cold and snow slowing our construction by 2 weeks.  The soil will be ordered this week and I will begin the first sowing of seeds as soon as that happens.

I have purchased some flower bulbs which will create a colourful and welcoming environment.  These will be planted as soon as the wattle fence is built and soil put in.  We will have to make sure our furry friends can't help themselves to a yummy easy meal.

Next Week - 
Planting bulbs 
Planting new seeds
Projects to beautify the garden
Wattle fence weaving

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