Monday, April 8, 2013

Spring has sprung

Mini Kitchen Remodel
In our Brady Bunch-chic kitchen resides one of the dumbest set of cupboards in existence.  When standing at the sink, one has to stoop to see people sitting at the kitchen table.  Not only are the cabinets too low, there appears to be an air-filled soffit above them.  In a few years we'll remodel the kitchen and take down the soffits, but until then I cannot handle the cabinets.  We won't lose any storage space when we rip the cabinets out because we converted the wall oven area to cupboard.

The cabinet was secured with just a few heavy duty bolts into some 2"x 4"s mounted to the ceiling.  The damage was repaired with some spackle and paint.  There is no way we would be able to match the paint color in the rest of the kitchen, so it will have to do for a while longer - but having the cabinets gone makes us so happy.
Everyone keeps chairs on their counters, correct?

Much more open and far better.  Immediately after the
completion of the project I applied a layer of debris to the
exposed counter top.

Our mailbox before was white, with numbers on only one side and a mildewey post.  We painted the box, stenciled some numbers on both sides (!) and painted the post.  An easy upgrade that looks much better.
Fire-engine red for the win
Grow all the things!
Our first summer in the house was spent getting trees and shrubs in order.  This summer we're working on a proper garden.  Next summer: chickens.  I want to do raised bed, square foot gardening.  We decided that our lawn is garbage anyway, so may as well ruin it by growing corn.  The minimum area required is 10' x 10'...and since we're rototilling, perhaps we should have some space to grow potatoes.  So the project spiraled into what I'm calling the Oyer Family CSA.

To build the raised beds I considered pressure treated lumber (not nuts about the idea of the chemicals in the growing soil) and recycled timber (Trex).  The cost of the Trex was so high we couldn't bring ourselves to load the 8' $20 lengths onto the cart.  The next best idea we came up with was using reclaimed lumber from pallets.  It's not pressure treated so it will eventually decay, but at the cost of free it's hard to argue.  We got some pallets delivered from the Princeton loading dock (thank you Dave!) and found that the Sear's by our house gave us cart blanche to take pallets whenever we want them.
Corner detail
Borrowing my Dad's rototiller turned the project from a multi-day affair into something we accomplished in a few hours.  We tilled the grass into the dirt to keep the organic matter in the soil, but mostly because we tried removing the sod and found it incredibly time consuming (read: we were lazy).  After the initial till at around 12" depth we spread manure over the area and tilled it again to a 16" depth.  I'm sure we'll have some grass and weed issues, but we'll deal with them as they show up.
The layout.  Some of the limbs on the trees to the left of the garden will get pruned so they don't smack us in the face while we mow and also to increase the amount of sun the garden gets.

Seedlings, getting started!
Our veggie roster:
  • Thai chili peppers
  • Sweet peppers (of five different colors!)
  • Big boy tomatoes
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Spinach
  • Summer squash
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Sweet corn
  • Pole beans
  • Potatoes (two varieties)

The flower list, mostly perennials unless otherwise noted:
  • Hollyhock
  • Chinese lantern
  • Foxglove
  • Johnny jump up
  • Black-eyed Susan
  • Lupine - We had the book Miss Rumphius growing up and loved it, despite calling it The Lupine Lady which isn't even close to the real title
  • Marigold (annual)
  • Morning glory (annual)

Of course we chose some difficult specimens (hollyhock, foxglove and lupine) so it will make for an interesting challenge.  We'll try to do more frequent updates as the projects start to pick up again.