Sunday, August 26, 2012

What I'm working with....

This week we cleared the spot for the vegetable garden.  There used to be a garage in the side bit of the back yard, but it was torn down long ago.  All that remains is a cracked concrete pad littered with weeds and tiny saplings.  We started with this:

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It is difficult to see what is in this tangle of weeds, but we found a shoe, parts of a toy scooter, several empty tuna cans, and assorted aftermath that comes with neighborhood kids playing in the yard.

Yesterday, we trekked to Home Depot to make a realistic budget for the raised beds.  We chose 2x12x16 pressure-treated boards for the beds, at about $25 each.  The beds will be 8 feet by 4 feet.  Three boards will build two beds, and we want four beds of that size.  Sixteen brackets at $5 each will be needed as well.  We also want to build a bin for growing potatoes, but this year, we might be relegated to growing them in an actual bin.  It may look like a pretty steep investment to start with, but we eat a lot of vegetables, all organic. I just paid $7.56 for two knobs of organic celery root, and another $5 on 3 lbs of organic potatoes.  We can see how quickly the investment will pay for itself.

The other plan for the garden is to cover the pad with weed blocking fabric ($15 for 100 feet), and cover that with either bark mulch or pea gravel.  I'm still in the process of getting quotes on how much that will cost.  The problem with mulch is that it would have to be replaced every other year or so, and tends to be dyed in our area.  I also don't want a friendly environment for mice, voles, and moles to be able to get around in.  I could leave it uncovered, but I would still have the issue of uneven concrete to resolve (it is an eyesore).  Lastly, I'd like to enclose the area in a chicken wire fence to keep stray cats from using my planting beds as a litter box, as well as deter skunks and raccoons from getting in for a midnight snack.

Stay tuned for progress reports!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Seven Weeks In...

We arrived on the 4th of July to an empty, musty-smelling house.  Immediately, we surveyed for damage, noted the clean kitchen that our good friend was kind enough to get into shape for our arrival, and threw open all of the windows.  Since both electricity and water weren't going to be hooked up yet, and the movers were coming in the morning we sped off to our lovely friend Lola's house.

The next morning, all hell broke loose.  

The water department guy turned on the water main in the house, and it rained in the basement.  Not good.  We had the house winterized, so no pipes should have split, but according to our plumber, cast iron pipes have a thin side that can fail when water decides to shoot through them.  In our case, there had likely been a very slow leak started just before the water was turned off, and ripped through the pipe when the water was turned back on.

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See the rusty line there?  That's the crack in the pipe.
Two days of plumbing work (for under $400) and a very large PVC pipe later, the leak was fixed, and we had both water and electricity.

And gaping holes in the drywall in both the bathroom and the kitchen.  Overall, though, it was a lovely glimpse into what the original kitchen somewhat looked like.

One of the plumbers didn't close the basement door completely, though, and for a couple of nights, we had a bat situation in the house.. they came right up through the small space left by the new PVC pipe created, and out through the bathroom/kitchen escape hatches.  A couple of small mammals swooping about your house isn't quite the most comforting feeling, but I opened the front door and it soon flew right out.  Since the basement door has been closed and the holes temporarily patched up, we haven't had an issue.

While on the list of things to do, remodeling the kitchen wasn't high up there.  In fact, it wasn't even in our top  ten.  It has moved up by leaps and bounds, though, and it's just after the garden prep, fixing the furnace, and the upstairs bathroom remodel.  I really hated the birdhouse and potted plant wallpaper that was in the kitchen, so this is the perfect excuse to get rid of it:
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Seriously ugly wallpaper, and a seriously large hole.

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