Monday, May 28, 2012

Fairy Garden

I've just had a wonderfully sunny 5-day weekend, where I did a lot of things in the yard like taking care of keeping the vegetable garden watered, buying and planting flowers in ground and in pots and weeding a little bit. After a very satisfying few days, I decided to use today's time to focus on a little project I've had in mind for a long time.

I've always liked faerie folks and miniatures, and the two interests happen to go very well together. I had a lot of fun making, and am very excited to present this little fairy garden, complete with hut and fairy!

The hut is made of a clay flower pot and its under plate. I carved out the hole / door using my Dremel tool. It is decorated with small gems, mini pine cones and a couple of the snail shells I cleaned and varnished a few weeks ago (click here) The little fairy is made of polymer clay and is sitting on a small piece of drift wood I found in Denmark during one of my first visits back in early 2000's. I decorated with a few mini baskets filled with greens or mini gems. I used mini glass bottles as "ingredients" bottles, and used some sort of dried and varnished shell as water container. ( I wish I knew from what plant it came... it's a very woody shell, and I got it in the craft section of a store around Christmas time). 

It is my plan to ask my husband (who has knowledge in electronics)  to help me bring lighting to this little garden. My idea is to light up the inside of the hut as well as a couple of mini garden lamps using LED and a battery, which will draw its power from a mini solar panel. I hope he will have time to help me complete this fairy garden. 

I always enjoy doing that sort of projects. I find it relaxing and it makes me feel so happy and joyful... I guess there's still a little girl in me. ;)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Vegetable Garden

Thanks to my lovely husband, when I came home yesterday, the garden patch had been evened out and was FINALLY ready to receive seeds and baby plants! How exciting! So, based on the needs of each plant I want to grow, I divised a plan that would make the best possible use of my small garden.

I spent the whole afternoon (with some help from my husband) working on the project and am now proud to announce that my very first vegetable garden is in place! :)

Veggie garden - View from the balcony

I sowed and planted corn, cucumber, onion, garlic, tomato, iceberg lettuce, parsnip, carrot, peas, yellow beans, green beans, spinach, zucchini and pumpkin.

I don't necessarily have a lot of each, but seeing as this is my first garden, I really wanted to just explore and see what happens. For instance, I only planned for one pumpkin and one zucchini plant, as they each take up a lot of space. However, I am still waiting for the sprouts to be big enough to be transferred.

I decided to try only 2 of my 4 cucumber plants, as I am not confident they can thrive in their new environment. I have been preparing them for a little while now to be outside, but it is just SO windy here sometimes. We'll see. If in a few days I see that they are still fine, I will add the two last plants.

The onions are just a few onions that started sprouting, so I had put them in a pot until I could transfer them to the garden. As for the garlic plants, they were given to me by my neighbor about a month ago. I had planted them somewhere else until I could also move them to their permanent spot.

Here is the disposition of my garden. Note that he number of icons does not necessarily represent the number of plants / seeds used.

I really really hope this will work out and that at least some of the things will grow and produce successfully. I must say, though, that regardless of the end result, I feel I have already learned SO much this year about gardening. That's how it goes, I suppose... A little experience here, a little experience there, and perhaps at some point, I'll actually feel like I know what I'm doing out there. ;)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Gardening Update

Well, it took nearly 2 weeks of working on my new garden patch whenever time and weather allowed it, but I am finally nearly done with its preparation. I removed all the weeds that were growing there and successfully relocated a "weigela sunny fantasy" and a dark pink peony plant. My lovely husband removed grass to make the patch rectangular as opposed to a half-moon shape and we picked up two trailer-loads of rich soil. All that is left to do is even out the soil and sow/plant! :)

The garden patch. Cleared and almost ready to use.

Meanwhile, the few plants I sowed at the very end of march are doing quite well.... almost too well! The cucumber plants started growing their fruit. The plants were growing so fast, I had to transplant them (for the second time) into bigger containers, as the weather is not yet good enough for cucumber plants to safely be outside 24/7. I am quite happy to see small cucumbers, but I think I will sow them a little later next year.

How cute... tiny cucumbers!

The tomato, decorative squash, chili and gooseberry plants are also doing quite well... and since the end of march, I also sowed different kinds of herbs. Most of the plants have been in my mini greenhouse for a good while now. I open the flap during the day, and close it at night. But today, the weather was so nice, I took them all out for a few hours.

My  baby plants got some fresh air today

The squash are producing flowers, and today, I took the 2 best looking ones and transplanted them into a huge clay pot. I am hoping they will do fine with being outside (out of the mini greenhouse) day and night. I did cover with plastic for tonight, and will probably do so for a few nights, to help their transition.

I also transplanted the biggest of my chili plants into its permanent pot.

As for the garden itself, I am still debating what I can and can not sow at this time of the year in my part of the world. Because making a garden was kind of  a last minute decision, I did not sow many garden things in advance, so I have to rely on sowing directly in soil. I think I am too late for some stuff, but can still make it for some other things. Hopefully I will have all of this sorted out within the weekend and week ahead, otherwise, I will completely miss my chance of a garden for this year!

So much to learn.... but it is so much fun! :)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Garden Snail Shells

In the process of clearing the spot for my future vegetable garden, I came across a LOT of garden snails, most of them alive and well, hungrily crawling around or clinging onto yummy green leaves... or crawling onto my rubber boot.

A garden snail crawling on my rubber boot

But I also came across empty snail shells, which I actually find to be quite pretty. I wondered how nice they would be if I cleaned them up, so I decided to gather a few.

Empty snail shells before cleanup. 
As you can see, they were pretty dirty upon collection. The first thing I did to clean them up was to pour boiling water a couple of times on them in order to get rid of any small bug that may have crawled and hid into the shells. This worked out fine, as it took care of 4 little crawlers and probably killed other bacteria that might have been present.

I then used warm soapy water (dish soap) and plunged the shells in it. Using an old soft toothbrush, toothpicks and ear cleaners, I cleaned the shells as good as I could, removing as much of the dirt as possible.

Cleaning the shells. This has to be done gently

It is impossible to get to the very inner part of the shells without breaking them, so in order to get as much dirt out as possible, I then plunged the shells again in warm water, but this time I shook the container gently from side to side, though enough to make the shells bounce around into the container. I changed the water and repeated the process many times, until no more dirt (or nearly no more) was falling out into the water. This step takes a lot of patience.

Gentle shaking step

When I was satisfied with the level of cleanliness of my shells, I put them on a paper towel and let them dry.

In order to give them extra protection, I used an all-purpose indoor-outdoor glossy hobby varnish and applied it to each of the shells' surface, as well as inner side, to as far as I could get with my brush. I let the subjects dry once more and voilĂ !

Cleaned and varnished empty garden snail shells
I had fun doing this, and now have 14 cute glossy snail shells to use in future craft projects.

To be continued.... :)

Update: Click here to see how I've used those pretty shells. 

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Preparing a Vegetable Garden

The month of May has arrived and given us some very lovely sunny days to do some more projects out in the yard. With my baby plants growing fairly well and the temperature getting better and better, I have been trying to plan where I would plant what.

Decorative squash, tomato

Basil and mini cucumbers. The cucumber plants suffered from the temperature fluctuations, so I took them back inside until the outside temperature gets more even.


Originally, I wanted to use the small beds around the new terrace for growing peas and cucumbers and what not. But I quickly realized that my ideas were too big for the size of these two small patches and a few flower pots. I also noticed that with leaves growing in the nearby trees, my "garden spot" is way too much in the shade!

However, THIS spot is perfectly located!

The future vegetable garden

It has sun all day, is on the side of the yard we use the least (so is out of the way) and is close to the compost corner, as well as being easily reachable with the water hose.

The only issue is that we have never touched this flower bed since we moved into the house, and as you can see, it is completely overtaken by weeds. A huge cleanup is in order! So my husband and I worked on this project yesterday and today. It is not done yet, but I should be able to finish the clean up during the week so that we can do the last details next weekend. This will be just in time to sow, as most of what I want to grow apparently needs to be sowed mid to late May if it is done directly outside in the garden.

Clearing weeds out
I'm still unsure of what we'll do with the small tree. It can't stay there, obviously, so I am hoping we can move it to a new location.

I am so excited about this project! I have never had a vegetable garden before. I am eager to see if anything good will come out of it! I sure hope so. My grandparents used to have a garden and I have such lovely memories of going there in the summer and eating freshly picked carrots or tomatoes. Mmmmm!  I wouldn't mind using my own home grown vegetables in my salads this summer.  

I'll be posting updates (hopefully very soon) about the new garden patch. :)