Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Couldn't resist putting up a couple of these pictures of Pepper that Travis took with my camera tonight while I was messing with the Simple Garden. It's so hard to get good pictures of long haired black cats. You usually end up getting their skin under their fur but these were adorable :)


Green Thumbs

I don't have them. Or light green thumbs. Or cyan. Or teal even. Nothing close. In fact, I kill plants. I forget to water them. I don't put them in the right sunlight. I always want to plant too many, too close together. The only plant that lived for more than a few months was a Dieffenbachia plant that I got the summer after 8th grade when I was at the Joseph Baldwin Academy. I think it lasted for several years before it kicked the bucket. I keep trying to grow something every now and then though because growing things is just so satisfying!

Last week I found an all-in-one planter at the store for 30% percent off. I figured if I wanted to give it a go again in the new house this would be an easy way to do it. I got everything set up tonight and took some pictures so you would know how easy it was.

According to the booklet, growing plants in raised containers (in pots like this or raised beds) helps with three vital things: air flow, absorption of nutrients, and water management. Because the air, nutrients, and water are all managed better, the plants produce 1-2 times as much as plants grown in the ground. That is, if I don't kill them...

The Simple Gardens come in lots of varieties. I chose one that had a beige planter and came with tomatoes and basil seeds.  As you can see in the picture, it really is all-in one. It even comes with the soil!

One of the most helpful things is the booklet that came with it. I can't believe all the useful information that's in here. It goes over preparation, planting, seed germinating, watering, sunlight, transitioning to a bed, etc. That's the part that I need the most help with. Okay, okay I need help with all of it!

This is the spacer. It fixed my problem of wanting to over plant. The planter's about 12in x 12in. Left to my own devices with just a pot, soil, and seeds, I probably would have planted seeds in about 9 places, probably about where the brown circles are in the picture. I found out that really I was supposed to plant them pretty far apart. In the booklet, you just look up what you're planting and it tells you which circle to put the seeds in, the depth to push the seeds down, the hardiness, the sunlight need and any other special instructions. Both the tomatoes and basil need to be planted in the orange circles.

Under the seed spacer was the seed pusher (the green stick) and 2 soil bricks. I have heard of soil bricks before but never used any this big. It was really cool to watch!

It came with 2 bricks but you're just supposed to use one in the beginning. The other is just extra right now. It's really hard and when you brush your finger against it it doesn't even get dirty.

Then you start adding 1.5 gallons of warm water slowly. The brick bubbles a bit and then the water sinks in. After while the brick starts to look a little bloated. When you've added about half of the water then you flip over the brick.

Penny was helping me. She enjoyed licking some of the water out of the watering can and hanging out for moral support.

After adding the recommended 1.5 gallons of water, I still had a few pieces and one big chunk of soil that weren't dissolved yet. I was really cautious about deviating from the directions. I want these babies to live! But soil isn't much good if it's dehydrated in a hard clump. I added another cup slowly and that did the trick. Then you fluff the soil so it's mixed well and smooth it down. Now I was ready to plant my seeds!

You're supposed to put 2-3 seeds through each hole in the spacer. I was glad they told me that. I would have just put one seed in hole. In the back 2 holes I put the tomato seeds. In the front 2 holes I put the basil seeds. Then you push then down however far that particular seed is supposed to go with the seed pusher (it has handy depth measurements on it). Both the tomato and basil seeds were supposed to go down 1/4 in. Then I smoothed over the soil and added the cover.

I bought the recommended green house lid separately. It's supposed to keep the seeds moist. Then they recommend you cover the vents with tape to help trap the heat and moisture.

Now, I'm supposed to leave it covered, make sure it gets at least 4 hours of sunlight per day and wait for the first two leaves (called seed leaves) to show up. Then, I think I can uncover it and just make sure I water it about every 5-7 days. I may get the Fertile Earth Water Stick, Thirsty Light, or a moisture meter. I think it may help keep me from over watering.

I'll let you know how it goes. In the mean time, I'm going to transition myself to bed! ;)

Monday, July 30, 2012

TV and The Olympics!

The 2012 Summer Olympics are here! I missed the opening ceremonies because I was working (gotta pay the bills!) but was able to catch some of them tonight.
Before today, if you turned on our TV you would see a blank screen until you either turned on the Blu Ray player or hooked up the laptop. We mostly get our TV watchin' done through Netflix that we can watch on our Blu Ray or online from shows that stream live or that we've downloaded. Today, however, I went to Best Buy and was going to get a converter box. I learned that you don't need a converter box if you have a newer, digital TV. We just needed an antennae. Did you know that those can cost $70? They have all kind of crazy technology like "omni-directional" and "amplified" that add $$ to the price. The guy working there asked where in town we lived and what kind of house we lived in. I guess if you live right by the towers you don't need one that's as strong. Also, if your house if older, like ours is, you can get a lot of interference from old wires and such. According to him. I haven't done really any other research on this.
I ended up getting one that wasn't quite the most expensive but also not nearly the cheapest. When I had the TV scan for channels, it found 26!! We got really excited that we could again watch TV for "free" (minus the cost of the stupid antennae). We didn't get all 26 channels though. About 8 or so of the wouldn't come in well, even after adjusting the device.
In the end, we decided that it would be worth it to pay $70 for the top of the line one to at least see if it gives us the other channels. Tomorrow I'll return this one and we'll try the other one. Worst case scenario, we end up buying this one again. We already know it works for the most part.
It was so great to be able to watch Olympic gymnastics again! I did gymnastics for awhile when I was younger and have always enjoyed watching it. In fact, that's how I broke both the bones in my left arm. Oops! My mom even stood in line for hours with me to get Dominique Moceanu's autograph after seeing her perform. What a mom! I think I may have Dominique Dawes's and Shannon Miller's as well. I would have to double check. It's on the Wheaties Box in my old bedroom at my parents' house.

Wow! It's late! Almost 2am already. I better get to bed. Tomorrow our neighbor is going to take us over to another neighbor's house and show us her garden. We've been hearing a lot about it so I'm excited to see it. I'm imagining something like the Secret Garden :)
Night, all!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Our First Home Repair

There are lots of small things that we need to do to our home (add screens to some windows, put up some shelves, keep organizing, etc) but we have been able to put them on a To Do List until now. The sink in our master bath almost completely stopped draining. It was getting really gross.

We went to the store and got a sink plunger and some Drain-O. Travis tried with all his might and even used half the bottle of Drain-O but nothing happened. Then he removed the stopper, which involved unscrewing something under the sink (as opposed to the normal kind where you just unhook it). Turns out all the gunk was glued to the stopper and in the pipe right around it. We didn't have a way to get the gunk out but I had an idea- my crochet hook! Sick but functional. He pulled out a lot of nastiness and cleaned off a lot of crap out of the crannies of the stopper. Now it's flowing like a river again, thanks to my husband, the wonderful Travis!

Here's a picture of the travesty: