Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Mail-order Citrus

By the way, part of the reason I ordered directly from Four Winds by mail-order was to evaluate the quality of their mail-order service.
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Four Winds gets an A+. The trees came quickly by UPS, were well packaged and are very, very healthy! One even had (until I... oops...knocked it off) a huge orange on it! These folks know what they're doing. And get this... the trees came bare-root! They were packed in sawdust! How often do we see bare-root citrus, right? Also, all six trees were ingeniously packaged in 2 boxes no bigger than about 6" x a foot x 4 ft. total (boxes were taped together).

I probably could have saved a few bucks by buying from a local retail nursery selling dwarf citrus, but I had a feeling I'd have to hunt around for some of my 6 varieties.

Ideally, you want to plant citrus in spring so they'll have longer to establish before a potentially frosty winter... but I don't mind keeping an eye on them this winter. I want to pick fruit!!! Grow, trees, grow!

The two limes are on a west-facing wall. I'm hoping the reflected heat from the stucco house will help warm them in winter. Limes need more protection than most types of citrus.
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Got O.J.?

With today's delivery from Four Winds Citrus Growers, my citrus collection now includes: Improved Meyer Lemon, Eureka Lemon, Trovita Orange, Valencia Orange, Washington Navel Orange, Bearss Seedless Lime, Mexican Lime, Satsuma Mandarin and an Indiomandarinquat.<
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The orange trees were selected for flavor and a very extended harvest. Washington navel ripens in winter, Trovita ripens in spring, and Valencia ripens in summer. How delicious is that?!!!

Friday, August 27, 2004

Smith & Hawken Umbrella Base

So much for saving money... The only umbrella base I could find that fits under my teak table costs as much as the umbrella! Oh well... at least it'll keep the thing from spinning (I hope... there is a little screw thingy on the side) or impaling one of my neighbors during a freak wind storm. ;-)

Smith & Hawken Disk Base for 1 1/2"-Dia. pole Item # 758474

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Costco Love

Teak patio set (Costco) with newly arrived patio umbrella (Costco). In foreground is Smith & Hawken portable firepit.
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I researched umbrellas for awhile before purchasing. I found a lot of nice umbrellas locally and online, but didn't see any prices I liked until I checked Costco. My taste runs on the teak & Sunbrella side, but my budget can't always support my impeccable taste...

Along with this rectangular off-white umbrella for the back (Olefin fabric), I got a round 9 footer with black Sunbrella fabric for the front yard sitting area. Both umbrellas have a metal pole with faux wood-grain pattern (ew!) and a beige plastic ball on top (ew!). The overall effect is still pretty and quite umbrellariffic. The total cost for both umbrellas was around the same as one umbrella at most other stores I checked. Did I mention how much I love Costco? How else would I have been able to afford teak dining sets?

BTW, the crank mechanism on both and the tilt mechanism on the round umbrella work great! Super easy and impressive technology.

One minor disappointment: The rectangular umbrella got to spinnin' a bit in today's breeze. Wouldn't be such a big deal on a round umbrella, but it is on this rectangular one. Will have to find some way to stabilize it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Birth of a Greenhouse

Greenhouse footing (forms still attached).
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Check out all the empty concrete bags in the background!

Monday, August 23, 2004

Impulse Purchase

Impulse purchase of the day... Went to Home Depot for some Round Up (yes, I'm mostly organic except for Round Up) and came home with this planter (around $28). In it I planted a 1-gallon purple fountain grass (Pennisetum 'Rubrum'), a 1-gallon Angelonia angustifolia and 3 lovely 4" 'Lemon Symphony' Osteospermums. The fountain grass needs to gain some height and girth, but I can already tell the combo is gonna be great.
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The landscapers are done!

All I have to do now is plant an aesthetically pleasing yet quite edible landscape. ;-)

For now, I'm having fun putting up birdfeeders. Thanks to Cheryl at Wild Bird Center on Sunrise Blvd., I now have the ultimate hummingbird feeder (not too big, not too small, easy to clean, dome cover, ant trap), a really nice seed feeder (with already shelled sunflower seeds), and a refillable niger thistle sock. I can't wait for the birds to discover their new eatery!
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Clearly, I need more "arms" for my birdfeeder pole. I'm workin' on that...

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Oh, sod it all...

Quick update: The landscapers were shorted on their sod order so they couldn't finish yesterday or today. Said sod comes from Lodi, so we must wait until tomorrow for lawn closure.

Meanwhile, I've been having fun fidgeting with my garden ornaments. Birdbath. Gazing ball. Firepit. Bird feeder hook thingy. Etc. I know it's a little early to be placing the finishing touches, but I just couldn't help myself. Plus, I can always move them again. And again.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Flagstone sitting area and lawn... LAWN, with real live sprinklers and everything!!!
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Just needs grass, plants, lattice screening and a greenhouse... ;-)
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Crushed rock and flagstone. The rock is still a little dusty. After rinsing, it's more of a peachy color.
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Friday, August 13, 2004

Flowerbeds edged with Epic border, mow strip and veggie bed. They're gonna hate me on Tuesday, when work resumes, cuz I'm gonna ask for the veggie beds to be shortened by around a foot so there's more room to walk around them at the ends. A peachy colored crushed rock is going down in the pathways. Flagstone will be set in the crushed rock in the long, straight stretch near the house.
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Flagstone sitting area... Still being laid out, but you can get a sense of the flagstone color and sizes. They were nice enough to use the table and chairs as a guide for setting the stones for minimizing awkward dips and bumps.
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Playground Bark! As for that weird box sticking up in the foreground, it controls the pool lights. Was it put in a dumb place? Yes. You know those hokey fake rock covers? That's what I'm thinking of "disguising" it with.
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Monday, August 09, 2004

An Impulsive bit of lawn!

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The cool thing about not working from a plan is that you can design in real space and real time! When I decided to add a small patch of lawn between the pool decking and crushed gravel paths around the rectangular veggie beds, all we had to do was lay out the shape we wanted with a hose!

BTW, I plan on growing veggies in the "flowerbeds" along the house and fence too, so I'm not limited to the 2 4 x 10 ft. rectangles. They'll come in handy for sprawling things like melons and squash, though. Mmmm... 'Ambrosia' cantaloupe and yellow crookneck squash... Get this-- the veggie rectangle beds each have their own spigot, AND will be tied in with the irrigation controller. This means flexibility for watering (by hand, drip, etc.) and freedom to leave town without losing everything or having to hire a plant sitter!

The foreman and his assistants are being very accomodating and pleasant, especially considering the last-minute nature of some of my requests. I'm having a blast!

The mow strips are in!

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There were a few unexpected glitches, the worst part being that they occurred before I was properly caffeinated, but in the end everything went well! The mow strips are curing (it was hot today, so we had to mist them a bit) and most of the irrigation is in. I like the color of the mow strip... "Flagstone Brown." Yay! The pool decking is "San Diego Buff", which you can see on the same page as the "flagstone brown" link. We're probably going to have the pool decking sealed, which will restore some of the richness and darkness of the San Diego Buff.

The mow strips were the most critical aspect of the job because nothing else is "set in concrete." The flagstone sitting area will be in d.g. and edged with Epic Bender Board, so we can scoot things in here and there. The veggie beds (2 @ 4 ft. by 10 ft.) will also be edged in Epic.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

On Playground Bark and Concrete Tinting

Decided not to use recycled rubber mulch under the play structure. At first glance, it seemed like pretty neat stuff... comes in fun colors and is nice and spongy... but guess what it smells like? Tires! Duh...

Imagine how it smells on a hot day! No way. Also, a little online sleuthing dug up the fact that rubber mulch is toxic to plants, which will be nearby, gets hot enough for there to have been a lawsuit in which a child was burned, and the fumes aren't so healthy either. Back to good old playground bark.

I picked a color for the concrete mow strip: Flagstone brown! The mow strip will be poured or, rather, extruded on Monday.

Friday, August 06, 2004

future veggie garden and greenhouse
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play structure under trees, to left of pool
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It's great having the play structure under trees. The only disadvantage of the tree cover is that it gets pretty webby without regular blasts from a hose.

view from patio, looking right
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View from patio, looking left
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In between the gate and first post, the flagstone in d.g. path will begin (right off the patio) and end in the new flagstone sitting area for the oval teak table. To the far left (up against the fence) will be flowerbeds. Beds will pretty much be around the entire perimeter so I can "disappear" the fence. To the right of the first post, picture sod. Instant lawn. Can't wait. Well, I have waited... 9 years! My little boy, who isn't so little anymore, is finally getting grass to play on, and cushy bark or rubber mulch under his play structure (which he will outgrow in the next 5 minutes).

View of Pool and Patio Cover (Under Construction)
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This shot was taken in late afternoon. You can see how much wonderful shade the trees provide later in the day. You can also see the partially constructed patio cover. When finished, it'll have a sort of wraparound, multi-level quality. The as-yet-unbuilt section will be a little higher. Paint, which isn't finished, is a blue and navajo white combo. Oh, and see how the round patio section just outside the future French doors (aka 6' slider) slopes weirdly? It's a little exaggerated because I used a wide-angle lens, but not much. I still have to figure out a new use for the space. Firepit? Hmmm... probably not a good idea under a wood patio cover. Lounge chairs or Adirondack chairs maybe? Ooh, maybe those really cool Sky Chairs you see every year at the fair and that I saw again at the S.F. Flower & Garden Show!

Monday, August 02, 2004

Will Somebody Pinch Me?

Things are actually running ahead of schedule. Clearing and cleanup begin on Thursday of this week! My job is to water the back so the soil is more workable and to dig up the sad little citrus trees and rose bushes I planted in desperation, before the irrigation went in. My tomatoes are in half-barrels this year, so they're safe.

One thing I've been going back-and-forth on is lawn edging. Landscape companies like to use extruded concrete mow strips because they're fast, easy and economical. There's hi-lo, flat and wedge-shaped. I'd prefer a more natural edging material, like cobble or brick, but have to admit that a hi-lo mow strip is pretty practical. The low side provides a nice level footing for mower wheels and the high side helps hold in bark and mounded soil. Still, I know I'll never get that timeless garden look with a visible extruded concrete mow strip. Since budget is an issue, it's really hard to ignore the extruded strip's practicality.

The manager on the job made a suggestion that helped me to feel more ok about the mow strip-- we'll tint it a natural brown or tan color. It's easy enough for them to add color and it'll only add about $50. I appreciated his suggestion.

He's also going to show me some samples of recycled rubber mulch (which also comes in different colors) as an alternative to playground bark under our son's play structure. My son wanted sand, so I had to provide him with the image of his play area being used as a giant kitty litter box. With that image, he's less opposed to bark. The rubber stuff might be best.

Re: flagstone

We're going with flagstone in d.g. (decomposed granite) for a smallish sitting area featuring an oval teak table (from Costco, btw). The pieces are to be large and with narrow spaces between the flagstone pieces. In another area of the yard, 4' x 10' (probably) vegetable beds will be surrounded by crushed rock in a similar color (peachy/purpley/buff tones).

More later...