Friday, May 17, 2019

Green House: Lemons to Lemonade

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We have become adept at making lemonade out of lemons around here.

Two weeks ago, I posted April Midwest Gardening-not so pretty! and showed you all the damage and how far behind Chicagoland is from Spring. Since then we have had two 5-6" snowfalls, an icestorm and over 5" of rain in the last week. 

Our NEW 8'x10' Greenhouse was wrecked over the winter--so hubby decided to work off the heavy tubular frame and use it for a new greenhouse--more stable then the 1 year old UV destroyed fabric used in the zippered greenhouses. (that company is out of business)

He's been dodging rain deluges, snow and wind and managed to get this far. He built an exo-skeleton of treated wood over the existing tubular frame. This REDO was done by meticulously drilling through the pipes and bolting the boards on. Technically this green house is portable, as the only thing attached to the ground is the metal frame which can be unbolted. 
Maybe six guys will be able to move it, lol.

With our huge snow accumulations and drifting here in windy Chicago-land, he chose corrugated aluminum for about a third of the way up, all the way around. We chose basement windows which open from the outside. We've been rolling up plastic canvas windows for over 10 years---so this is just as easy.

The greenhouse is straight-but the ground slopes. Hubby put in four basement windows and in the back, one sash window. All this was designed around our shelving and work areas. A storm/screen door will be used on the front. The ground beams were put in a year ago as was the gravel, sand, pea gravel floor. This is designed to drain water into the ground at GREEN thing to do.

 Our excessive rainfall, has been so huge they have asked people to forego washing machines and unnecessary showering to help the already taxed drainage systems. I don't ever remember that happening before.


Do you ever roam the big box hardware stores looking for something that doesn't exist?

Hubby used some left-over brown roofing flashing---he trimmed and added a bend to create a waterproof surface for the corrugated plastic panels to sit on. Water from the inside or outside will just roll out. All the trim will be painted brown outside, to match the house. Brown windows would have been a custom order and would have cost over double.


From inside you can see the framing around the windows. This side is all ready for the clear panels which are easy to install. 


This looks metal looks critter proof, but of course they can simply dig underneath and have a nice home for the winter. I'm hoping to try and grow late fall crops in here---fresh lettuce and maybe a few tomatoes and peppers too.


Hubby took these photos today, May 9th and you can see the neighbors perrenicals are barely out of the ground.


Hubby is improvising as he goes along, tweaking and making changes. I'm hoping I can she-shed it a bit---we will see, if nothing else it is very 'Farm' looking. But the point is to be able to grow our own plants from seed.


The flashing is brilliant----making do with what you have---we had some left over from the roof repair, last year.


We know there may be some gaps when all the panels are on---but we will work with that when we get there! Our extra length of patio lights is right above and in front of the greenhouse. Electricity is 
just a post away--so we can use a heater if necessary.


Now if the weather will only cooperate, hubby could get this done. Hopefully on Mother's day the boys can help with the roof panels!  He's doing a great job and soon we will be able to move our plants from our improvised plastic hut off the front porch. 

Is  this going to be winter-proof? I'm sure some caulk and maybe some expanding insulation foam will be utilized. After all-WE-are the 'McGyvers' as my husband calls it.


NEW Greenhouse is Done!

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~Spring is elusive in the Midwest~

Hubby finished the greenhouse with a little help from a friend and took some photos for me to share. I still can't get out and about---and probably won't for a month. He moved our plants out there yesterday before the bad storms hit the Chicago area, again.

My last few posts have been on the disaster our ruined purchased greenhouse suffered, but we are resourceful and decided to take the metal frame and build around it with wood and corrugated clear panels. 

Hubby found out that cutting the poly panels with a shears was easier than with saws. The hardest construction issue was drilling holes in the metal frame to bolt the wood too. Technically this entire structure is removable, piece by piece. 


Today is in the low fifties, so the plants are quite happy inside their new home. I can't wait to use this in the Fall to prolong our growing season.


The windows open from the outside, except for the door and the sash frame in the back.


The metal on the bottom is to fight the snow we have in the winter...hubby designed his own flashing from some leftover roof flashing that he bent to fit the ledge over the ledge above the corrugated metal. 


He used a screen storm door for the entrance. The long flip out windows are basement storm windows with screens on the inside.


once all the trim is painted brown..I hope to do some cute stuff on the outside and inside. I have lots of vintage goodies that will work.


Here you can see the backside. The space behind is actually a utility easement of 6 feet, Nothing permanent can be placed there.


The wood shelves are from our old greenhouse. 
This building is 8x10 now and very high, more than enough room for us to plant.
We have a sink in here that will be hooked up by hose--and drain into the garden. We will put a moveable drain hose to direct the outflow where we want it to go.


Finally the garden is coming to life. These photos were taken on May 15--and we are so far behind again this year.


We had a couple of inches of rain yesterday---so the garden won't get tilled until it dries out-again. 
I hope Hubby got all the equipment put away.  

I will post a list of materials and midwest prices, once Hubby gets it done! PS the frame from the defunct company I can't put a price on, original greenhouse was over $450.00. I'm sure this will last a lot longer than a year now!

Maybe something with a lemons theme for here...
SMILES...In our Lemonade Greenhouse.


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

When Life gives you Lemons....

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...Or the best laid plans of mice and a woman...?
 It's been nine days since I wrecked my knee, to be exact--tore my medial collateral ligament on my 'good' knee. We are hopeful it will heal, in a month or so. The other knee has already had two knee replacements.

Hence, I have all the gear for being laid up.  See the huge lump on the knee, there, --yep that's still swelling after 8 days. 

Some things have changed since my 2010 knee replacements---like available drugs. And, let me mention that TYLENOL does squat, for an inflamed knee, swelling, and sharp(shudder) pain. Since I'm a senior citizen...other medications are no longer acceptable. I have to love my Doc, though, and he has prescribed a muscle relaxer which helps with all the cramping and I have had two decent nights of sleep, finally.

This is my window view---out there is all the Spring yard work, and planting that needs to be done. Poor hubby will really have a work out. I had managed to clean out the front flower bed, plant some perrenials that needed to be split. But, golly---4-6 weeks is a long time in the Spring of the year, to be laid up.

This what my bedroom view looks like---I can't really even get over there...the walker won't fit. Who knew how precious where your underwear drawer should be? The computer is set for an automatic duty---so I just cross my fingers it's working. 
The pic on the tv...cracks me up--looks like a mashed up knee. 

I've been putting my blogging laptop here, so I can get to it, and then slide it back down safely without having to strain.

Sigh---oh, yea---my blogging. For those viewing my doll blog---barbieoldnewgreenredo, it will be down for at least a few weeks, unless I recycle photos, etc. All my doll and craft supplies/equipment are down in the basement craft room.

My blog-oldnewgreenredo---I might be able to recycle a few photos and post, but, I won't be taking any new photos. (Hubby will do some--he just finished the greenhouse), but none of my Spring projects will be completed. After our awful long winter, we finally have a chance for some nice weather and hopefully I will make it to the porch when it's nice.

I've put my Etsy shop, BarberryLane on Vacation---until I'm able to go to the basement and do the shipping again. 

Well, making tons of lemonade here---and I'll post when I have something useful to share! I am enjoying viewing all the wonderful posts of my fellow bloggers.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Spring time brings GREEN!

It's Spring in my Doll World---if you have been missing my Doll posts---here's bits.

It's Spring in the HFIM (Homes for Impoverished Millennials) Neighborhood. 


There is a new mini garden center....


custom...plantings--  all in 1:6 scale


Right outside of Vickie's Vintage.


Trish says, "Welcome to the Blue Sprinkling Can"

Lots more here on my always AD FREE Doll blog

Thursday, April 11, 2019

April Midwest Gardening: Not so Pretty--Spring

It's April 11 and this week in Chicagoland, we have had 70 degree temps to below 30 several nights, rain, wind (35-45mph), snow, sleet, and well---meatballs--basically.

Such are the seasons here in Illinois. Spring???? Not Yet!

This little protected corner---actually produced some blooms on Monday, it was 70 degrees. I don't know what has survived the crazy winter yet, last year I lost a third of my perennials. 
We will see what survived, soon I hope.
We try to garden GREEN.

Two weeks ago, I started on winter clean-up in grass areas of the front yard. In the backyard here is one of three carts full of branches and twigs picked up on our front lawn. Our lot is 80x120. So far, I have picked up 2 1/2 carts and 4 garbage cans full of twigs/branches. It was a tough winter.

There are still a lot branches on the roof---it's so windy today---we will probably have another cart full. We don't have a fireplace (no hydrants in our area), so they do get burned in a firepit. We use the ashes for fertilizer.

I don't clear the flower beds of leaves in Fall, or in Spring until past the frost date, May10 or so. This is because, bees, butterflies and other helpful bugs need places to nest over the winter. If you remove everything---they have no place to winter over. 
Then you have no insect activity for pollinating.
Lots of GREEN tips on the site below, 

In Fall, we ran the lawn mower over everything and the excess chopped leaves were dumped in the garden or into flower beds. Honest it was clean. But so much wind and ice this winter---these leaves are probably from Iowa.

This used to be our lettuce bed---but it has too much shade, now. A rethink, we can remove the railing and add it to the garden. Hubby is a lover of wood and our exterior wood is non-harmful.

Shade and water is a BIG issue in this back area---the walk on the right is sand, gravel and smooth river stones. Great for drainage.

This week I cleared all the leaves and branches to see what was left in the backyard. We added the NW roof extension last year--and a final post solution is on the list for this year. You can see we  rerouted the drainpipe...which puts it away from the house. 

Much of the problem is due to the clay soil and the gentle slope. We have been averaging 3 or more 100-year rains, in the past few years---and that much water, 6-7inches at a time, is not what our lot was designed for. One year we had 19" in two weeks. 

Behind the grill and deck, you can see the water pools here, we have to improve drainage.

It's sunny now---but it is basically 1-2 hours of filtered sun a day here. The tree is a Silver Maple and last year had spotted leaves. The plan is to make a curved sand, gravel, and river stone pathway down the hill for our cart---and then a softer solution for under the playground equipment. 

You can see how bad the grass is---we have seeded, reseeded, sodded, re-sodded constantly since 1984. Nothing has grown here now for three years now, except moss. Grass Seed is drowned or washed away and sod just dies after one season.

In the way back corner, the neighbors started a huge wood pile 
on the lot line next to our compost pile.
So this area is also on the list. This area has also become too shaded 
for planting and seems to be a slug farm.

Our biggest disappointment this winter was this, below.

We paid over $400 for a greenhouse---we basically setup in Spring 2018. We had bought from this company before. Our previous greenhouse we used for over 10 years---It had only one issue with the door zipper and size. It needed to be moved out of the shade---so we decided to expand and buy a bigger one, since we had to move it.

This is the state after one summer and one winter ---the plastic totally deteriorated.

Unable to use it as is---with our horrible temps---we covered the roof with plastic to at least protect the equipment and wood shelving inside. The company's website is basically shut down. 
It's there, but no replacements or new products are for sale. 

We usually plant all our own plants from seed---so this is very disappointing and our tomatoes are now, 12" high inside of the house. (next post---what we came up with temporarily.)

Hubby thinks we can use the frame and build plastic corrugated paneling around the frame and have a semi-permanent house---as the frame is heavy tube aluminum. 
Not for this growing season, though as it will involve lots of ladder work.

This is another item to fix. I've been hiding the condition of this seat with cushions---but I think I have to replace the canvas this year....The frame is still in great shape, it needs a refresh of paint.
You can see the covers we put on the legs to keep wasps from nesting in them.

Another area that needs attention is our back stairs and deck. North side exposure holds snow and leaves until it is well, 70 degrees. We still had snow here two weeks ago.

We have more than a few bad spots on the deck. These we will replace with composite planking. Probably not the whole deck though. $$$$$ 

Here's the garden. Hubby never got the fall tilling done because of heavy rains. I'll dump the leaves I remove from ALL the flower beds---when frost is no longer an issue.

List for this year---in order of importance.

DIY List for Spring 2019. 
  1. Dig out a pathway wide enough for the cart to steer and also slow drainage. Terrace the rest of the slope for shade plantings. (I have plants to transplant for this as well as started Hostas from roots in pots.) 
  2. Deal with the Greenhouse---make it usable in two weeks with plastic at this point, and then a permanent solution later. 
  3. Get all the clean leaves from the flower beds tilled in or placed into the garden and tilled in. (This is great for replenishing the nutrients in the soil)
  4. Finish off the posts for the roof and come up with a design solution for the drain pipes.
  5. Fix or ditch the swing! It will need some new paint also. 
  6. Replace the back stairs and at least half a new deck in composite.
  7. Replace the roof on the grill gazebo---it's here and ready to go. 
  8. Raise the roof on the play set the Grand is so tall now! no pic for now.


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