DIY Potting Bench

So with all those seeds we decided we really needed a potting bench. You can find plenty of pre-made kits for potting benches, but we figured we could build it ourselves for less. It seemed like the perfect project for a mild March weekend. I did some research online (meaning I did lots of Googling) and found a nice plan online. I made a few modifications, calculated the lumber we would need, and we headed over to Lowe’s. We want this thing to last a while, so we bought pressure treated lumber and some heavy duty outdoor screws.

Cutting the legs

See where this is headed?

Assembling the Frame

Next up, insert the boards that create the bottom shelf and the work surface. These boards are not nailed down so we can easily remove them if we need to clean off some soil.

Steffi inserting the boards for the work surface.

Once all of the boards were in place it was really starting to take shape.

Almost done.

The final bench fit perfectly in place behind our shed! It really came in handy as our seedlings grew and needed larger pots. Having a dedicated work surface for the garden is a great addition.

DIY potting bench behind the shed.

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Planting and Growing Seeds

Wow, we’re so far behind… where to begin? Probably best to start where we left off, which was the fall of last year. Our privacy fence had just been completed and we were ready to start planting along the fence.

Every spring and fall we make a trip to our favorite nursery in the metro Atlanta region – Growers Outlet in Loganville. It is about an hour each direction, but the prices are well worth it. We’ve heard people drive much farther.

Growers Outlet

We bought a number of plants to plant between the driveway and our new fence in the backyard – roses, canna lilies, rosemary, Mexican petunias, lots of bulbs for the spring, etc.

Wall Plantings

We also bought three apple trees. One gala from Pike Nusery and a Gala and a Pink Lady from Ison’s Nursery. This allowed us to keep planting well into the winter. (Unfortunatly, we haven’t had any apples this year. Hopefully they will start producing fruit next year.)

The tree from Pike Nursery:

Steffi with the Apple Tree

And the two trees from Ison’s – these were their “instant orchard” variety:

Apple Trees from Ison's

As spring started to arrive a very generous neighbor gave us a ton of seeds to plant. These seeds came from Seed Savers Exchange. They have a great selection of hard-to-find seeds, and the germination rate was really high. We planted everything – vegetables, perennials, annuals, vines, etc.


This was our first year using grow lights. In the past we always just tried putting the seeds by a bright window, but the results were always disappointing. The grow lights did a fantastic job! We had seeds popping up in no time. The grow lights we used were OttLight 20 watt Plant growth Bulbs. Because they were compact flourescent they didn’t get hot, so this helped the soil retain the moisture.

Grow Lights

Some of our seedlings!


That brings us to the early spring. There are a lot more updates to come, so please check back often. We’re going to get caught up!

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Privacy Fence

A project we got done last fall was putting in a privacy fence – something I have wanted since we closed on the house. Well, five years later that dream finally came true! Not only does it provide more privacy, but we feel like we really expanded our possibilities for the garden. Until now our border consisted of English Ivey overtaking every possible corner. Now we can really get into planting more bushes and backdrop plants.

Speaking of English Ivey, tearing that stuff out was a whole task in itself. One that we had really been dreading! So when we got a fence estimated that included tearing it out we were really relieved. We obviously got our money’s worth too, because the company was working on it a bit longer than they had expected. I believe they commented that this was one of the hardest project’s they’d done. I guess they’re more accustomed to doing business in the ‘burbs where they don’t know what old landscaping looks like. (Ok, admittedly our English Ivey is more invasive than “landscaping,” but ya know.)

Check out some of these before and after photos:




Driveway view:



South facing view:



Looking back at the house:



Let the planting fun begin!

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Building Our Garden Path – And Almost Finishing!

It just seems like yesterday we were building the raised bed for our vegetables and planting new flowers in the yard, but today we officially started preparing for the winter. Crazy right? I really understand the saying “Time flies!” But before I get into preparing the yard for winter I should talk about the garden path.

In April 2008 we came up with a plan for a path in our backyard. The path was to be the central point for all landscaping, and it leads to our back seating area under the oak tress. We decided to start off small just to make sure we liked the look of it.

Beginning of the Backyard Path

Beginning of the Backyard Path

Everything looked promising, and when Steffi’s parents visited (still April 2008) they bought her some more pavers for her birthday. We put a few more down and then all of a sudden it was March 2009 (almost a year later). How on earth did that happen?!

With the impeding visit of Steffi’s parents coming up in April we felt obligated to get those pavers laid, so we once again got busy! This time my mom came to supervise the project to make sure it was done correctly. Just check out her face in this picture. She really has that “motherly” attitude down. Okay, okay… she actually was helping. She wasn’t just supervising, but the photo is priceless. You can also see the path in the background.

Mom Supervising

Mom Supervising

When we finished this VigRX Plus time the path made it about to the halfway point. A little progress here and there and we were eventually bound to get there.

When Steffi’s parents came to visit they saw what a fantastic job we were doing with the path, so they gave us BOTH pavers for our birthdays! This time it was enough to finish the path! What a wonderful birthday present! (I know what you are thinking, but I’m not being sarcastic here.)

Fast forward to October… the pavers were still sitting in the backyard until yesterday. We finally finished laying them and we had just the right amount to make it to the seating area. Hooray for kind of finishing projects. We still have to remove all of the bricks and put some sand down, so until then we have a not-so-level path. It should at least hold us over until next spring.

Path towards the back fence

Path towards the back fence

Looking back towards the house.

Path towards the house

Path towards the house

And just as a reminder this is what we started with.

No Path

What we started with!

Today we started preparing the garden for winter. We did some general weeding and trimming, and we started laying down fresh mulch to protect all of the plants from the freezing temperatures. Last years we had some success with a few annuals that decided to return, but somehow we lost some perennials. Go figure. This year we are trying to be a little more proactive.

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Holiday Weekend

Ahhh yes, a holiday weekend. A great way to get projects accomplished with that one extra day off!

We kicked the long weekend off in style. The new Cajun restaurant at the end of the street opened up the weekend before, so we rounded up a few neighbors and probably tested their working limits…fourteen of us ordering 20 minutes before closing time! Twelve of us made it back to our house, munching on alligator sandwiches, gumbo, and other Cajun goodies. Since our newbie neighbors moved in a few weeks ago at the end of the street we decided to invite ourselves over to check out their renovation. Somehow that turned into neighbor house hopping and we checked out the progress of two other houses. What a sight that must have been -– our mob of 10 walking down the street. (We lost some people after dinner.)

So after a fun neighbor gathering on Friday we got down to business the rest of the weekend. Most of the projects were fun, but one of them was a pain in the ass. A little over a year ago we hired a company to blow insulation into our attic. As the weather warmed up our recessed kitchen lights started overheating and turning themselves off. (Which, as annoying as it is, is probably a good thing as it keeps our house from burning down!!) We called the company to complain and they brought back the crew to put pipes around the recessed lights so they can have some breathing air. I think their excuse was “We didn’t know they were recessed lights” or something silly like that. You know, the kind of comment you’d expect from a company who spends their entire work day in an attic. *end sarcasm* Well, whatever they did it didn’t seem to be working because the lights still kept shutting themselves off. It has taken us a while to work up the energy to go up in the attic to solve the problem because the project is quite a task. It involves empting all the clothes out of the hallway closet, moving half the stacked boxes underneath the clothes out of the closet, putting in the short ladder to reach the attic door and slide it out of the way, and finally get the long ladder to climb in there. Like I said, it’s a task! Fortunately for heat’s sake the weather has been “cold” (relatively speaking) and rainy all May, so the attic was probably cooler than it could have been under normal circumstances. Unfortunately attic’s usually get hot even when the weather outside is mild. Patrick was trying to maneuver his way across the insulation covered attic beams to the recessed kitchen lights – which are thankfully near the attic opening (as opposed to all the way across the house).

The idiots from the insulation company had taken pipes that were barely as large as the recessed lights, and half ass taped them together with duct tape. Then they pretty much managed to fill the pipes back up with insulation when they recovered the area. Geniuses, simply geniuses. So we opted to remove the half ass coverings and scrape any insulation close to the lights to the side. Yes, I know that reduces our insulation, but it feels much better not to have your kitchen lights create a light show blinking on and off, and it makes us feel more at ease knowing the attic won’t catch on fire.

This is a picture of Patrick balancing on beams. It was about 5 minutes before he hit his head on a lantern he hung up from a nail, causing the lantern to plop into the insulation and me cracking up laughing. Apparently laughing at a hot, sweaty, stressed out guy balancing on a beam in an attic frantically looking for a buried lantern is not a good idea. He got mad at me for laughing and asked me to help find the light instead. Of course that only made it worse as I had to hold in my laughter while trying to explain where I thought the lantern may have fallen. Towards the end we switched places and I crawled in the far reaching corners at the tip of the roof where Patrick was having a harder time crawling into. The good news is, so far no lights have gone out since then. Keeping my fingers crossed for those July and August temperatures…

Attic insulation clearing

The next project was much more calming…and we were able to breathe a little easier. We made a new corner bed and planted Rosemary. Awwww, look at Patrick – he still has some insulation stuck on his unshaven chin! The Rosemary is next to him in the background. In the foreground is a lantana we planted last year.

Rosemary planting

This project makes me laugh…we got a Pink Knockout Rose from my parent’s friends that we’ve been trying to plant since we got it a month ago. Of course since we didn’t have a planned project we didn’t know where to put it. So finally today we ended up planting it. Only to plant one rose we created a whole garden bed. (An extension to the Rosemary bed.)

Prepping garden bed

But digging garden beds never comes without surprises in our garden. I swear we feel like archeologists whenever we get out the shovel. My biggest complaints are coat hangers (they seem to have gotten less frequent these days though) and broken glass. I swear I can’t dig without gloves because every shovel has at least one piece of broken glass in it. You can ask Patrick how often I curse because I come across another one. In any case, this uncovering was a bit more exciting as it was next to the former garage location. Some of the “artifacts” included a saw, a hammer, a tire wrench, a large hinge, and other miscellaneous items.

Uncovering artifacts

Other uncovered items included some larger rocks, which we decided to put amidst our other garden bed. I’m loving the Monte Negro Lilies by the way! The other two varieties haven’t bloomed yet. And I’m upset about this non-stop rain as it seems to be drowning my row of Lavenders.

Rock accent in flower bed

And voila, our new driveway garden bed! In the back you see the Pink Knockout Rose. We used the new garden bed opportunity to plant some other things we still had sitting around in pots. By the Rose we also planted a Weigela Carnaval that we transplanted from next to the stairs, some Shasta Daisy’s I grew from seeds over the winter, a Gerbera Daisy left over from last year, and a miniature Rose I received for my birthday. The other items you can see are the grape vine, which has grown tremendously this year, a little stepping stone path we made from uncovered concrete blocks (found from digging in that garden bed), the Rosemary, the Lantana and Lantana cuttings that I’m trying to propagate in a pot.

Driveway garden bed

Phew, so now that it feels like we got a ton of work done over the weekend we’ll see what this upcoming week brings us with the painters! *biting my nails*

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