Love shack, baby love shack

Ever since we bought our little country bungalow ten or so years ago, I have wanted to update a little outdoor building I refer to as my plant shack.

I’ve loved my little plant shack from the very beginning. I’m not sure why. It should have been torn down, it was so ramshackle. I guess I fell in love with the idea of having a grown-up place to play – a place I could call my own.

So, Brian and I have looked at it for years, wondering if it was salvageable or if it should be torn down. It always took a back seat to the gazillion other projects we worked on in our spare time. And, during all that time, I dreamed about all the fun stuff I would do if I ever had my very own woman cave.

So, for 10 years, even though there were no walls on this building, I kept my plant supplies, gardening supplies, pots and tools stored on the shelves.

One year, Brian wrapped the building in heavy plastic (as a temporary solution) and I overwintered a myriad of plants in there. The plastic walls lasted only a year and did not keep out the cold temperatures as much as I would have liked, so in subsequent years, I dragged all of my plants inside my tiny house again for wintering.

But, then, just last week Brian finished a job several days early and had a few free days to work around the house. He suggested that he could begin the work on my plant house or finish cutting out some overgrown brush and stumps in our front yard.

Well, we all know what I wanted to do.

First, I emptied out the old hen house of all the old windows we had been saving, sorting them according to size and quality. These will be the new walls of my plant house.  Pictured above is about half of out stash! Then, I moved all the contents of my plant shack to the now empty hen house for temporary storage.

In the “before” photo above, you can see the tin roof and covered porch. And, in the photo below, the concrete floor. This is where we begin.

(Oh, yes, and Sam Dog wanted to get in on the picture, too! He’s such a ham.)

So, after two days, here is what we have to show you.

Oh, yeah, baby, I’m already loving it and everything it represents! My very own charming, shabby chic, funky junky love  plant shack!

Soon, very soon!



The fall garden

I live in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 8 – the “Lower South.” On average, our first frost occurs between November 1 and 10 and our last frost between March 21 and 31. This growing season is long enough to have two seasonal vegetable gardens – the spring garden and the fall garden.

The spring garden usually starts in February, with prepping the soil and then planting the early, frost tolerant crops. The fall garden begins in late August with prepping the soil and starting seeds for planting in early September.

I grow a spring garden every year. Every year, I learn more about what I’m growing and the weather conditions and pests that affect production and I get better at it.

This year is only my fourth attempt at a fall garden. My previous three tries had not gone very well and rather than invest any time or money in it, I’ve skipped it rather than fail at it.

But, this year, I decided to give it another shot. I mean, the whole purpose of living in the lower south and having a 5+ acre chunk of ground and living more simply dictates that I learn to get better at it.

So, on a smaller scale than previous attempts, I planted a fall garden and finally, I am having a bit more success this year and am learning a lot, so I will do even better next year.

I’ve planted green cabbage, red cabbage, collards, broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. Looks good, doesn’t it?

Here is one of my green cabbages. A nice head is starting to form.

See the buttons on the stock starting to emerge? These will be brussels sprouts!

This is my second growth of broccoli on this plant. I learned on You Tube, to cut the main crown off and then let the small shoots grow for a bit! Below is a photo of the main crown that had been cut from the center of the plant.

We’ve eaten broccoli and collard greens several times now and I’m getting very excited to pick some green cabbage heads.  My red cabbages were getting eaten by bugs, but I think I’ve finally got them under control and they are perking up. The cauliflower isn’t doing much yet, but I’m still optimistic.

I’m thinking I just might get the hang of this fall gardening thing yet. Now, if I can only figure out how to get my indoor Christmas cacti to bloom.


How to plant your fall garden

Hi everyone! You haven’t seen a post from me lately because I’ve been away on the yearly sister vacation! I had a wonderful time and there is much to write about and many pictures to share.

BUT, I’m overwhelmed with just living right now – busy at work and busy at home that I haven’t even begun to write about the sisters’ adventures.

One very pressing project right now is planning and planting the fall garden. Yep, it’s that time of the year for me and I am behind schedule!

 Brian and I had planted a fall garden our first year here and although it wasn’t super productive we learned a lot and are optimistic this year will be better.

 There’s a wide variety of crops that do well in our mild lowcountry fall and winter climate. Here’s a sampling of some of the crops we can plant: pole beans, half runner beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, carrots, radishes, lettuce, onions, red beets, turnips, rutabagas, southern peas (crowder peas/black-eye peas), collards, spinach, cucumbers, winter squash.

We won’t plant all of these things and will actually decide what to plant based on what we find at the garden center  Hopefully, there will be a bigger selection available for the fall garden since more people are trying their hands at home gardens.

I had included a statistic in “Life’s Vignettes” a few months ago that said that $70 spent in a well tended garden yields over $500 in produce. Remember that? Well, I’ve estimated that our $70 spent on the spring garden yielded us about $350 in fresh vegetables and canned tomatoes. Not bad.

I hope the fall garden does at least as well.