Monday, February 23, 2009

Building waterfall

I have been toying with the ideal of a water feature in the backyard for some time now. When we had the sprinklers put in I had the contractor set up a separate zone for a water feature and had him run the electrical and water lines. I did all this just in case I was ever motivated to put the water feature in. I think in the back of my mind it was something that sounded nice but at the same time sounded like a lot of work.

Not sure what motivated me to start on this water feature. It is not as if I didn’t have other projects to work on. The north side of the house still needs to have some walls built and flower beds put in. Oh now I remember, a good friend of ours gave us an outdoor fireplace last fall for our birthdays. It is one of the square metal ones you can get from one of the big box stores. The fireplace is a great gift, don’t get me wrong. But right now my back and muscles don’t think so.
My ideal was to create a flat place it the backyard and on one end have the fireplace and the other a waterfall. So how hard could it be to dig a hole fill it with water and put a pump in it? Oh my head is spinning from all the reading and looking at pictures on line. I think the best site I have found so far is According to her website she has several years of building ponds for a living. She seems straight forward on what you need for your pond and how to build one.
Now let’s talk about the waterfall/pond design. I thought I would get some ideals offline or borrow ideal from others who have posted pictures of there handy work. I guess it depends why you are building your pond as to how it will look. This brings me to the only thing Scott said about the pond “make it look natural”! Most pictures I came across didn’t look natural to me and maybe they weren’t built to look that way. If you look at a waterfall in the woods you have a low place where the water collects and runs downhill. The waterfall is created when the water washes the dirt off a rock and drops down from there. I have the hill for the water to run down. Sounds simple enough but that lead me to the next problem. How do I make where the water starts to flow look natural. I was thinking that well I could just happen to have a natural bubbling spring at the top of my hill where the water comes from. Not sure that people would buy this. The springs I have seen are at the bottom of the hill.
Then there is the question of what pump to buy? Do I need a skimmer or a preshaped plastic waterfall? How many gallons of water will the pond and waterfall take? Do I want fish and will I feed them or let them find there own food?I will leave you with a before picture and what my progress has been so far. Look for another post to come for the finished project

Friday, February 6, 2009

Worms, worms, oh glorous worms!!

I happened to order my worms on a day that was nice but then the temperatures took a nose dive and we were below freezing for the next couple of days. I was lucky the worm farm waited until the temperatures returned to above freezing to shop the worms. This was good since I hadn’t gotten the bed ready for them. The worms came on a Thursday and I happened to have that Friday off so I could make their home.

My mother had bought me the book Worms Eat my Garbage by Mary Appelhof and Mary F. Fenton several years ago. I have read it a couple of times, each time before I thought I would start the worm farm. Surprising enough the book didn’t contain much about using rubber totes. I ended up look online at different websites and reading how to make the bin from them. The consistent thing I read was that they need ventilation and drainage. Worms will drown if the material is too wet or suffocate if they don’t get enough air.

Construction of the bin began by drilling holes in the bottom of the bin. I used a quarter inch drill bit and drilled about 20 holes (estimate). One site recommended drilling holes in the side of the bin. I was concerned that since I would have the bin in the storage room of my basement that the worms could crawl out and die on the concert floor. Next I tore up newspapers, well the ones I hadn’t sent to recycling the Tuesday before. I tore them in about 1 inch strips. Then I took some of the paper from the paper shredder along with the newspaper and wet them down. You want the paper to be the wetness of a wrung out sponge. To me it didn’t look like a very comfortable place but I guess if you eat garbage it could be a sweet deal. I also added some vegetable scraps and put the worms in their new abode.

I looked in to see what was going on the next day and I found worms had crawled up to the top and had settled where the lid snaps on. Then I remembered that I needed to put a piece of cardboard or news paper on top of the compost to make sure the worms were in the dark all the time. I also took the lid off so they could have air movement from above. This has helped keep the worms in the shredded newspaper and doing their work of composting.
Some of the things not to give your worms are meat scraps, onion, garlic, dairy products and any citrus fruit. You can give them coffee grounds but too many will make the compost to acidic. I have so far given them I batch of coffee grounds a week. I have read somewhere that if you blend the food up in a blender or cut it up small the worms will eat it faster and multiply faster.

Will try and do a post from time to time to let you all know how things are going.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Get on your mark, start planting!!

I am almost beside my self! A couple weeks ago I started to clean up the storage room in the basement in anticipation of starting seeds. I was able to pull out some old items and got Scott’s approval to take them to the goodwill store. There is still more stuff that I want to get rid of but I didn’t want to push my luck with Scott. Getting rid of a few things was better than none!
This last weekend we went out and bought a new set of shelves. You can't see but I picked out a set that has wheels under them. I think it will help if I can wheel them around if I need to. I even had time to get the grow lights hooked up and tested to make sure they still worked.
Last night I carried the potting soil in from the garage so it could warm up. Tonight I am hoping to get some seeds planted. Last year was the first time in many, many years that I started seeds indoors. I just started with the easy Marigolds, Datura(angel trumpets), ornamental peppers and zinnias. This year I am going to try some impatiens in addition to what I grew last year. I usually buy 8 to 10 flats of impatiens each year. I plant them along under the trees at the back of the yard. I try to buy white since they help lighten up the shade area. Sometimes I settle for other colors if they are on sale. Oh lets not forget I will plant some basil and orageno.

The other thing that has me as giddy as a school girl is I finally ordered worms to start my worm farm. I think it has been 4 or 5 years now that I have been talking/thinking about doing this. I have had a container for at least 3 years. So why has it taken so long? I usually put it off thinking I don’t have the time but I will never have the time at this rate. Anyway this will be another post.