Saturday, April 22, 2017

Finally, Shed Started

We had a beautiful sunny day last Thursday so Jeff, Eric and Aaron got started on our chicken coop/garden shed. They spent about half a day and got the base built. It has started raining again, so who knows when they'll get back to it. This is all pressure treated lumber so it should be fine exposed to the rain until we get more good weather.
After the busy day working out in the yard, Bailey found herself a nice spot to rest up.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Do NOT order from Wholesale Nursery Co.

The plant order arrived today from Wholesale Nursery Co. and sadly, as predicted, we received a bunch of basically dead plants. I'm making a separate post so hopefully if other folks are bright enough to do a Google search before they order from this company they may pick up this post.
This is how they claim to package the plants before they ship them.
But this is actually what I received. A paper wrapping taped on, with holes punctured in it by the stems.
Frankly, I'm at a loss why they bother to ship dead plants. Do they think this is a good business practice?

The twigs look like they have some green, but they are dry, and break easily with practically dry roots. We have popped them in a pail of water, hoping we can tempt some of them back to life. I debated just taping the box back shut and returning it; I probably should have, but I refuse to eat the cost of shipping this back. I would have refused the delivery if I had the opportunity, but the delivery guy just left it on our front porch.

The 100 ferns and 100 bleeding heart were stuffed dry in gallon bags.
Again, we tossed them in a bowl of water to see if we can get any of them to live.

I plan to dispute this charge, which was actually posted under the name TN Nursery. This company is really unethical. It seems like they harvest these bareroot plants then leave them sitting around for weeks while they wait for orders. This is just sad.

It appears they also do business at the following websites:
Quick Growing Trees
Tennessee Wholesale Nursery
Garden Delights

There are even more names listed at the Better Business Bureau site. Why do they need so many websites? It looks like once they rack up enough bad reviews on one website, they just start a new one. Wholesale Nursery appears to be one of their newest ones because there are not negative reviews for it. Perhaps I can help with that.

There is an excellent series of reviews on this company at Dave's Garden. I wish I had seen it before I ordered. And there are another few reviews at Judy's Book, including one that lists several of their numerous websites they operate under.

Their Better Business Bureau rating is F (as in the worst rating they could get).

Honestly, I don't think I'll ever order from another online nursery in Tennesse because of the risk it is one of theirs. Though, perhaps, at some point they'll start fabricating a new location because they can no longer get away with their petty crime.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Bulk Plant Order

I did a possibly crazy thing. I ordered 225 plant starts from an online wholesale nursery.

I found Wholesale Nursery Co. online and they offered fern starts for 76¢ a piece. The main downside: the minimum order was 100! Now, we didn't actually need 100 fern starts, but I couldn't find bareroot ferns around here that were competitive. Most nurseries sell them in one-gallon pots and are five to ten times more expensive. Even if we give away half the ferns, we'll still be getting a good deal.

Because of their tolerance to full sun or shade exposure, I chose sword ferns. I would have liked to get some other varieties to mix it up, but with a minimum order of 100 for each variety, I couldn't justify buying that many ferns. (I tried to.) :)

I also found they carried bleeding heart. They were 78¢ a piece. Again, the minimum order was 100 plants, but is it possible to have too much bleeding heart in your yard? lol

One last plant I ordered was their Blueray Blueberry Bush. They were $1.40 each for 1'-2' twigs. The minimum order was 25. I doubt we'll plant all 25 in our yard, but we may plant the extras in pots and give them away to our friends.

The order is due next week, so we'll see how it goes. We're not real good at watering over the summer, but we can hope at least a decent portion of these plants will survive. We'll try and report back after we receive the order.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Beautiful Day

Our spring weather finally arrived, and the guys got the mulch spread out in the yard. Yeah!! We got our driveway back.
The front planting strip.
We're starting to have a little problem in the backyard with a new invasive, Lesser Celandine.
It's pretty but also, apparently, evil. It will take over the whole yard even worse than the mint we battled last year. So, today, the guys removed it the best they could and mulched over the area. We need to find a source for a TON of cheap ferns. They should keep the ground shaded in spring. Or, hopefully, the chickens will take care of it for us.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Sunny Day

Jeff hasn't made much progress on the mulch.
Until today, it's rained most everyday and also last week Shasta got hurt. She hurt her back and started limping last week, and when Jeff took her to the vet, he was instructed to put her on bedrest for a week. Keeping a border collie on bedrest is not easy. They are working dogs...not couch potatoes. So Shasta and I spent the past week confined down in the basement in order to minimize the number of stairs she'd have to use.

Anyway, today she went back to the vet and is feeling better now. She gets to start exercising again.

We were treated to a nice sunny day today, so while Jeff was at the vet, Bailey and I went out and took pictures of our new flowers.
Bailey impatiently waiting for Daddy
If I had been thinking clearly, I would have gotten started sanding and staining the last wood we need to install in the master bathroom.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Free Tree Mulch

I'm impressed; we signed up with Chip Drop three days ago and we already have a delivery! It's possible we just got lucky, but I'm pleased we got a load so quickly. Of course, the rain is back and so it will sit in driveway until we get some clear patches of weather.
Much of this mulch will be laid down on the planting strip in order to kill the lawn and get it ready for flowers later this spring.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Red Dragon Update

Four years ago we planted an ornamental hazelnut tree, called Red Dragon (corylus avellana contorta) contorted filbert tree. At the time it was more of a twig, but here it is four years later.
The tree is pretty cool looking. I'll have to try to remember to gtake a picture after it leafs out.

The front yard still needs some cleanup, but it's been raining so much we haven't made it out yet. The soil is still quite saturated. There are still several ugly roses that Jeff plans to dig out and replace with something more attractive. (The roses are growing out from their root stock. The hybrids long since died.)

The wisteria has not woken up yet, but the bulbs are starting. I think the large shrub leafing out is an elderberry.
Last fall we also planted four cornus alba hessei shrubs in the front. They are just starting to look like they're getting buds. They were already dormant when we brought them home. We bought them because they turn purple in fall.

I think this year we'll put in a vegetable garden again. We're waiting on the Master Gardener's Incredible Edibles sale in May. In past years we always bought too many plants.  This year we'll try to pick up much fewer plants. We just don't have that much consistently sunny space in our yard.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Spring Planning

First off, most important, Happy Pi Day! Jeff is currently in the kitchen making some Pi Day creation, so if there's a picture later, I'll add it.

We found a website to sign up for free wood chips from tree removal companies, called Chip Drop. Last time we got free chips we called around to different companies, but this time we're going to try and see if this website works. I'm not sure how active this site is, but if it works we'll let you guys know. If we don't get anything in the next few weeks, I'll probably go back to calling around.

We especially want mulch to cover the front planting strip to kill the lawn in preparation for filling it with flowers.
The before photo of the planting strip
This year we've had record-breaking amounts of rain, so we still haven't been able to make headway on the chicken coop/garden shed project. We have most of the materials staged in our garage, but we'd like about a week of dry weather to put the structure up.
The shed/coop design we're planning to build (with different windows)
The crocus bulbs I planted last fall are starting to come up. I'm really looking forward to some sunny weather.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Front Planting Strip

With the world so scary right now, we decided we needed to make something beautiful in our lives. I decided to plant up the front parking strip with flowers so I had a bit of a shopping spree. I decided on a purple and orange color scheme. The perennials are coming this spring, the bulbs won't arrive until fall. But, for about $100, I figured it's worth a shot to make this bland piece of yard prettier.
Purple Sensation Ranunculus
Hot Summer Coneflower
Aggressively Forward Reblooming Tall Bearded Iris

Monday, March 6, 2017

Nursery Adventure

Today started out with snow, but it didn't stick. And, surprisingly, by the afternoon the day had turned sunny.  So, we finally made a long anticipated visit to One Green World in Portland. Primarily, we wanted to purchase kiwi vines to plant on our pergola.
We also picked up six different blueberry plants and one asparagus.
We got a variety. I'm going to list them here, mostly so we retain a list. LOL

Anna Female Hardy Kiwi
Ken's Red Hardy Kiwi
Male Hardy Kiwi

Purple Passion Asparagus

Aurora Blueberry Bush (late ripener)
Bluecrop Blueberry (mid-season ripener)
Chandler Blueberry (mid-season ripener)
Duke Blueberry (early ripener)
Earliblue Blueberry (early ripener)
Spartan Blueberry (early ripener)

After these plants start producing, we'll try and report back on how they do.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Rearranging Family Room

Our basement is a pigsty and has been getting steadily worse for a couple of years. We have too much stuff down there. We've been meaning to clean it up, but it never makes it on the task list. The desire to get ready for seismic bracing finally inspired a bit of effort this past week.

The before pictures are really bad and the after pictures aren't much better. We're still sifting and trying to get rid of stuff. We gave away the huge oak entertainment center. It looked nice, but it really wasn't working with the doors. We couldn't close them because then the remote controls wouldn't work—Why do they design entertainment centers like that?—so the cabinet was filthy inside.

Since it was so difficult to clean, we decided to try something more open. We swapped out the cabinet with a sofa table we've had for like 20 years. We're hoping this will be much easier to clean.
Before
After
We also had to shift all the bookcases to interior walls from the outer walls so we can open the walls up and install the bracing.
Before
After
The futon is too large for the basement, so I'm keeping an eye out on craigslist for a Murphy bed we can replace it with. And I need to figure out how to get rid of more stuff. Ugh. Sifting is such an unfun job.

We also went and bought the wood for the garden shed/coop and it was delivered last night.
We're hoping for several days this month with decent enough weather to make good progress on this project. I still need to track down green roofing to match the house.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Selling the Cherry Wood

It's been 3.5 years and we haven't done anything with this huge pile of cherry wood. We need to dig some space out of the garage so we've decided to sell this wood. Do any of our followers have any clue what kind of price we should ask on craigslist?

We have finally almost unburied ourselves of the huge pile of tile we bought in 2015. We used the subway tile in the bathroom and after months of listings, we've managed to sell most of the colored trim tiles. Whatever is left at this point will probably get donated to The Rebuilding Center or I'll put a free ad on craigslist.

We have too much stuff. We have so much stuff to get rid of. I pretty much have ads on craigslist all the time. We definitely have to participate in the Laurelhurst garage sale this year. (Yes, we could donate a lot of stuff, but it turns out when you have almost no income a tax write-off is worthless.)

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Plant Shopping Season

I would like to do something with this part of the yard, under the black walnut tree.
Most plants can't live under black walnuts because the tree produces juglone. I've been hunting around plant lists to find some shrubs to start getting them established this spring.

East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District (EMSWCD) has an annual native plant sale. This year's sale just opened up for orders yesterday and most of the plants are only $3.  I ordered shrubs that are supposed to survive under black walnuts: Vine Maple, Mock Orange and Red Stem Ceanothus.

I also ordered an extra Vine Maple to replace the overgrown mystery bush we took out to make way for the French drain in summer.

We bought many of our original rain garden plants from EMSWCD, but sadly they don't sell ferns and flowers anymore. We'll have to visit some of the other local nurseries to pick up smaller plants.

I've also started shopping for some vines to plant on the pergola. While I'd like to buy grape vines, I suspect we're going to end up with kiwi because grapes are poisonous for dogs to eat.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

So Much Snow

In the 20 years we've lived in the Portland area, we have never seen this much snow. Ever. In past years we could usually count on about a week of snow, and that was it.

This year, however, we have had snow and ice almost everyday since my last post on Dec 8. Though we haven't had snowfall since a week ago, our streets are still covered with ice pack. The City of Portland has shown itself to NOT be the City that Works as they seemed to adopt a policy of "let it melt," so most arterial streets are still covered with icepack and dangerous to travel.
During the day, our temperatures just aren't getting warm enough to make much headway in melting the snow.
January 16 at noon.
January 17 at noon.
And, sadly, we didn't get the wood cut for the bathroom during the tiny one-day window we had in December. The dogs were way too stir crazy and Jeff spent the day outside wearing them down and restocking our provisions.
Last Tuesday, we had an eerie night when it was so bright outside, Jeff took this photo at 11PM.
For the most part, our fur children are going stir crazy inside as they are no longer getting daily visits to the dog park. But sometimes it is nice enough to play outside.
video
View out in front of our house this morning.
Today's forecast calls for freezing rain, on top of this snow already there. At this rate, we can expect to dig ourselves out of winter sometime in April. :)

I wish I knew what pile of boxes the bird feeders were in, I'd go and try and dig them out. I feel sorry for the birds who are quite unaccustomed to winters like this.

For now, we're just hoping the power stays on.