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The gardens are starting to produce some produce!  As silly as it is, every little harvest makes me smile.  Some days it is just watering and weeding and sending the plants some encouragement but other days there are handfuls of beans or a summer squash or maybe even a pepper or two.  Every harvest brings a little victory but also has me looking up some recipes.  My one zucchini plant has produced 5 large squash already and another couple on the way so you have to get a bit creative.  Also, I have a mental note to only plant ONE plant because double this amount would have me dropping them off to all the neighbors!  Not that they would mind but I want to get the maximum variety for the space I am using.

Here is a shot of the gardens today:

Raised beds after 2.5 months of growth! Zucchini, Summer Squash, Green Peppers, White Peppers, Sage, Rosemary, Corn, Yellow Wax Beans and Eggplant!

cHere are some of the items harvested:

Summer and Zucchini Squash

Yellow Wax Beans

Patio Tomato

The herb garden today (albeit after a harvest of oregano):

Herb garden (mid-July) and although it looks a bit messy… the plants are all thriving. Comfrey and baby’s breath join in with the culinary herbs of basil, oregano, sage, thyme, and onion.

Some of the herbs harvested:

Sage and Thyme

Happy gardening!!

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It took some waiting for weather to improve but I finally got the entire deck completed.  Pretty happy with the results and another major project is off the list.

Upper deck before stain/ waterproofer

Upper deck after stain/ waterproofer

Second half of upper deck now done. I had to stop due to rain for several days.

Finally… all complete. Now to pick up the mess and move everything back to where it belongs!

Aside from a small wasp’s nest found under one of the corners and some angry inhabitants… who were evicted… this was a great project which was gratifying to complete.  But man am I sure glad it is done… so sore!

After Hurricane Sandy and a tree hitting the house it has been a long road of minor and major repairs to contend with.  The deck sort of got lost in the shuffle… so it was in desperate need of a cleaning and staining/ waterproofing.

The deck needs to be properly prepped for staining/ waterproofing.  This entails cleaning out between the boards which can be a long and tedious process.  However, removal of debris such as dirt, leaf matter, sticks, stones and dog hair (I have plenty of that) is very important to keep the moisture level down and decrease the risk of rot.  Once this is done the deck needs a good scrubbing.  I usually purchase a commercial wood cleaner (and READ the directions).  A good scrub brush is also important to really clean off the surface grime as is a hose.  The cleaner and cleaning will brighten the boards as well as remove old stain and it will improve the absorption of the new stain.  Finally, a good rinse is needed to remove all of the chemicals and grime… I call it green sludge.

Cleaned and dry deck ready for staining.

I then let the deck dry out completely.  Usually picking a very warm, dry and sunny day has this completed all at once.  Some stains do not require the deck to be completely dry for application but I let it completely dry out of habit.

A deck repair in 2013 was necessary due to a rotten board.  It had been a problem for a few years and I finally had someone who could fix it properly.  The deck is redwood.  Getting one board on the east coast is impossible so I had to replace with pressure treated.  Because of this the repair was very obvious.  I also had to let it cure a bit before staining.  Usually a month or two.

Very bright repair board on cleaned deck.

In choosing a stain it was important to pick a semi-transparent so it would still let the redwood shine through but also cover the repair with some success.  Once this was selected, pick a day you can complete the job or segment of the job in one shot… so you can have the end result look even.  Now for the muscle work!  Staining the deck is a long process because I make sure to get between the boards (note to remove all items UNDER the deck due to drips) and I also have park benches at the edges of the deck which require more detailed brushing.

Stained lower deck – semi transparent red wood color

This little bit took a total of 4 hours due to the benches and the railing making it painstaking detail work.  But the end result on the coverage of the repair board came out nicely.

Repair board is still different but not as bright.

Hopefully I will get to the upper deck before long.  I need to let this lower deck cure for 24-48 hours before heavy/ regular foot traffic (four hours for paw traffic).   I have to move window boxes and planters back into place and move the grill to clear the upper deck for the staining.  So much to do!  As with everything… I am learning to pace myself.  There is no sense in killing yourself to get the whole thing done in a day.  I’m just happy the pool is blue!

If you are ever in Gloucester Massachusetts this is one of the must visit places.  Built in several styles, Hammond Castle has been featured on the program “America’s Castles” and was built as a wedding gift for John Hays Hammond’s young bride.  It was never completed but a large portion is open to the public for a small fee.  It is also the site of a Renaissance Faire: Abbadiamare Festival which literally means Abbey by the Sea.

The museum’s gift shop leaves a great deal to be desired but this is where entrance tickets can be purchased.  I highly suggest watching the short video from “America’s Castles” which will give you some insight into the castle’s construction as well as the interesting man who built it.

The drawbridge (over a dry moat)

The center atrium from the balcony.

The opposite side of the atrium and entrance into the dining area.

Center shot of atrium and the entrance to the great hall.

 

 

There is nothing better than spring here at Fisher Farm!  After another brutal winter it is always a happy day when the first flowers bloom.  I am sure the neighbors think I am nuts clicking pictures but I use them on my computer desktop or share them with fellow gardeners and friends.  Here are a few of my favorites…

Lilacs which waft on the breeze and smell amazing!  Sadly they are here for such a short time:

Mom’s Peony which bloomed for the first time the year she passed… this year I got two blooms!

These peonies are a bit different from others I have seen as they close at night:

The mailbox garden with Cheddar Pinks, Blue Bells and Salvia:

And the final shots are of my beloved clematis vines:

Rebuilding a Wind Chime

This was a quick afternoon project that took a little thought and the ability to tie a square knot.  Other than that, it was quick and easy!  This was a wind chime that was my Mom’s.  After a severe windstorm early this spring one of the cylinders broke off as well as the clapper and wind catcher.  A trip to the local hardware store for some nylon string the problem was nearly solved.

The original broken cylinder no longer had the string so I removed the next cylinder and kept it in order from the original broken cylinder.  Using the salvaged string I now had a rough measure to cut a new replacement strings so they would all hang about the same distance from the ring.  I needed six so I cut them all at the same time.  I then strung the original missing cylinder and hid the knot in the tube.  Continuing around in order I replaced the remaining cord so it would all be new and fresh.  This would guarantee that it would hold up another 10 years.  The final piece was the center cord which holds the clapper (that makes the cylinders make noise) and the wind catcher.  This required a larger knot so the clapper wouldn’t slip down the string.

The final product was a happy sounding chime that reminds me of my Mother’s smile.  I had it all fixed and hung in time for her birthday this year making it extra special.

After the raised beds were up and planted… I moved on to the next project.  I needed to replace the planter at the end of the pool.  The planter was one that my Mom had purchased for my birthday several years ago and it had served its purpose and was on its last legs.  So, with an online sale, I found a replacement that might last a bit longer near water.  I chose a replacement made of PVC materials.  It was a bit smaller so I had to work out the differences but overall I am pleased with the result.

Here is the original planter:

As you can see, it really was in poor shape:

This is what I call the “big ugly” that I have to hide to protect little feet that run around the pool.  It was the original diving board mount:

Here is the planter.  I used some weed fabric so that it would hold the soil in place.  The planter had some substantial gaps that soil would have fallen through easily.  The duct tape was used to simply hold up the sides to make the filling easier.  It eventually pulls away or is hidden by the soil.  Be sure to use container soil for your planters!

Once filled and planted and my Pembroke Welsh Corgi garden art back in the place of honor:

I did add a couple of small trellises behind my Top Hat blueberry bushes and planted some morning glories.  This will add height to the planter and a pop of color.  They are a bit hard to see but once the vines climb I will add a picture.

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