29 January 2011

Community Garden: Destroying the Junkie Den

We've been talking with our landlord for some time about the possibility of taming our backyard, and things are finally coming together.  The man who manages the property just to the west has experience in agroecology and the likes, and we have agreed to make a community garden shared between the two properties, in an old dog kennel that was previously occupied by a tangled nest of cyclone fencing and ivy that served as a den for a group of junkies.  Today marked Stage 1 of the project: clearing out the kennel and hauling out foliage.

The old dog kennel, about 3/4 of the way through clearing out the nest.
One of our first tasks was to figure out where the property line is between us and the Valero next door.

A lovely view to our Valero neighbors.
My landlord downloaded a metal-detecting app on his Droid and amused us all by trying to find the survey stake by running his phone over the ground for several minutes before giving up. A real metal detector managed to pick up about ten screws of various sizes, but no survey stake yet. No treasures either (sigh).

Yup, there's an app for that!  No guarantee it works though.

 Today we focused effort on getting rid of the nesting materials, clearing out nail studded boards and salvaging coiled lengths of chicken wire from invasive foliage.  Luckily the man who owns the property next door cleared out the syringes several months ago, so we a had slightly less disgusting mess to contend with.

Look at this mess.

Our friend from Astrocamp days yanking old-growth redwood boards off of the dog-kennel foundation.
This morning when we ripped out an old tree, it revealed a lovely view to the Valero bathroom, so we've been brainstorming ways to get our privacy back in a nice way.  We're thinking of putting up the old chicken wire and then growing Asian Jasmine up it.  Aromatic, drought-resistant and fast-growing: sounds perfect.
View to the Valero bathroom.
The destruction of the tree also devastated a volunteer Calla Lily, so the flowers ended up in our living room in an old pickle jar.

So pretty!  They grow like weeds around here.
Meanwhile my little garden is loving the weeks of heavy rain followed by long stretches of sunshine.

My excitement for saving the seeds from my food will hopefully pay off now that we have a vegetable garden, as they never seem very happy in these tiny little pots.  This came from a butternut squash we had for dinner.

The orchid our ex-neighbor gave us is about to bloom!

The euphorbia is super-pumped about the sunny weather.  I love gopher-proof plants!

So goes Stage 1 of the community garden project.  We're hoping to get seeds in the ground in the next few weeks, so we can start harvesting in late Spring.  Fresh vegetables! Every day!  I can't wait.

11 January 2011

Things to do with your books now that you have a Kindle

I don't have an e-reader, but I assume you, my sophisticated, cloud-ready reader, probably do.  So what do you do with all those piles of books sitting around?  You can hoard them, as I do, ignoring your boyfriend's pleas to downsize.  Or you can get creative, like these folks:

Juniper Books Christmas tree from Museum Muse.

Headboard from Instructables, featured on Ohdeedoh.

Desk from Delft University of Technology, featured on PhDAZZLE.

Reader's table from This Into That.

Book page vases from Country Living