Gardens and Sheds, Oh My!

I used to think my favorite season was Summer, but I need to finally admit...my most favorite season of all is SPRING! The days get longer and lighter and everything starts growing and blooming...the birds sing their songs so early in the morning and the frogs get loud late into the night. I LOVE Spring!

Of course, as soon as Spring rolls around, we're all anxious to get outside...and that's when the projects kick into high gear around here. Here's a little glimpse at what we've been up to this Spring.

Here we have our shed (note that Hailey took the picture above - pretty good!). It's a big shed.

From the get go I wanted the shed to be rustic and charming (all 10x20 of it). And I'd found 6 perfect windows for the job. By perfect, I mean windows that were taken off a house that was built in 1916. Well.....the windows weren't actually perfect, they were a big project in and of themselves (they needed just a little help being restored to a usable state). Upon bringing the windows home, Pete pointed out that our projects often take a long time to complete (something about having 2 young kids 19 months apart?) and Pete didn't think window refinishing was on the top of the priority list (it wasn't). So my dreams were crushed and I was put on task to find inexpensive 'newer' windows that we could install right away. I promptly found some used square windows listed on Craigslist, swung a deal, and brought home our much newer - ready to install - little windows. Pete was happy.

Somewhere along my quest for replacement windows, I discovered that my brother, Jason, had a random *new* window on hand that he had no use for. We graciously accepted his window and voila, we had 6 little windows and 1 big window to figure out where to install (we didn't use all of them).

Now, when you are building a shed like this it's easy to come up with a plan on paper. Then you build according to your plans...and of course, once it's built, you have the opportunity to stand and admire it and also to find any problems with your plan. Once the walls were raised I decided that we'd placed all the windows and doors in the wrong locations (no joke). NO, we are not going to redo the whole thing. I guess I just wanted to admit it, we goofed a little in our planning phase. Oh well, if I hadn't said anything, no one would even know! ;) 

So anyway, the windows went in last year and I finally listed the old windows on Craigslist and sold them to a couple who plans to use them on a shed they are building. Full circle! It feels good to get rid of random stuff that's been laying around.

I have another point somewhere in all this. Maybe a picture will help.

There it is. Siding. To be honest, we had NO idea what to do for siding on the shed. Well wait, we had about 1,000 ideas, just no clear direction and we didn't want it to be plain run-of-the-mill siding (that would have been way too easy!). We really wanted to use pallet boards (this goes with the whole rustic theme I was pretty set on), but once we realized that pallets are made out of pine (not great) and that pallet collectors are super hard core and actually stake claims at 5am in dark alleys....well, that idea was a little crushed. Seriously, large quantities of pallets can be hard to come by (unless you form your own gang at 5am and prepare for battle) and we were having our doubts.

So one day in the Fall, we were at Home Depot looking at materials (brainstorming) and decided that we would use cedar fence boards on our shed. We had no idea if it would work - or even how to put it up (so many options!). Winter rolled around and our shed sat outside in it's ugly white & green weather wrap. I was getting so tired of looking at it - it was as if it was screaming "FINISH ME!" every time I looked out the window.

Let me tell you, the sun comes out around here and we run out and get to work! So up the boards went (and I used a miter saw for the first time in my life). We hung a few boards, stepped back and were thrilled! It didn't look all that bad - we realized that this idea might work. We had been planning on staining the boards a semi-transparent color, but once we got some boards up, we quickly decided that we needed to put a natural (clear) stain on and call it good. Once I started staining the shed, I learned that 'natural' stain is actually NOT clear (It isn't clear in the can, but I was hoping it would soak in and the color would disappear or something). It's quite orange and though I didn't really like it, it was a quick nap time project one day and I kept applying it since I was determined to be productive during the tie I'd set aside for it. I was really set on the clear gloss kind of look, but thankfully the color has grown on me a little (mostly because I don't want to do anything to change it!). And we love the look of the boards as siding - it's finally getting finished!

I am so proud of Pete by the way. This is the first building he's built and he's doing a great job (he's kind of a perfectionist, so you know, it has to be done right). For the little bits of time he gets to work on the shed, he's making some great progress. 

On to the gardens...

We've been at our house for 4 years now and I've longed for more space to plant vegetables (I had two 8x8 beds at my old house). Well, I was struck with an idea as I was standing in this random dumping ground area that the previous owners had left us (it was a wood pile that became a rather ugly site over the years as more wood (rotten old deck boards and the like) was thrown on the pile). I decided to move all of the wood. We built that shed for something, right? Okay, so I didn't put the wood IN the shed, I put it behind the shed where no one will ever see it (maybe it will go away if I put it there?)! I worked for hours and hours moving wood, clearing debris, moving other random stuff and finally, I had a nice little sunny area to set up four 4x4 garden beds (I bought cheap cedar kits at Home Depot).   

I even went to the hardware store and picked up enough bags of compost, vermiculite, and peat moss to mix up some Mel's mix. My SIL, Kari, has a drip watering system and I was feeling inspired after seeing hers on Easter. I should have studied her system a bit harder before I jumped in. I bet I could have learned a thing or two. I ended up getting SO confused in the drip watering section at the hardware store. I bought a bunch of stuff and even set quite a bit of it up and eventually got so frustrated at it, I had to quit working on it for a while. The box my vegetable garden watering kit came in said "directions inside the box" ....well, there were no directions to be found! Ugh. I finally decided that I needed to hook up a 1/2" main tube and right before I decided to install a 1/2" tube, Hailey and I had returned the 'extra' parts - including a 100' roll of 1/2 tubing. Anyway. It was confusing and I made quite a few (frustrating) trips to the hardware store to buy and return various parts. It's all set up now and I gotta say....it's nice not having to water it all every day! Er, manually that is. My vegetable garden is being automatically watered every morning (I already had a timer - perfect!). I have a little more area cleanup to do, then I will dump more wood chips around the beds (we just got a big load of wood chips delivered for free)!

 My deck garden is still in use, but it's quite cramped for space. I've been over planting my raised bed for quite some time now... so I'm super excited to have more planting space!

FYI - I should have some tomatoes to spare this summer....I have 8 plants in different varieties! Last year my tomatoes never did produce before Fall (the season was so weird!). There are already have a ton of flowers on my plants, so here's hoping we have lots of spinach and tomato salads this summer.