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Posts Tagged ‘REAL Renovations’

When we moved to Texas I was thrilled because we had a big backyard and lot of space to put a garden in. Before I did anything out back I waited to see what was growing back there in the “flower” gardens. The previous owner had said, “oh the back gardens are beautiful with so many blooming things,” so I waited and watched. Hmmmm….. looked like a huge unkempt mess to me, all over the property, and after waiting and watching, that is mostly what it was – a mess. As  I slowly made my way through the mess I also started planning the vegetable garden. Lots to do.

When it came time to put tomatoes in, I got out my old tomato supports – you know, the galvanized support that is round and bigger on top, then tappers done to 3 or 4 spikes to anchor it in the ground. They had served me well in the past, but after using them here, they just weren’t big enough or heavy-duty enough to support the tomato plants.

A roll of galvanized wire

A roll of galvanized wire

My neighbor showed me the cages he made. They were made from reinforced concrete mesh. It is really rusty, but it worked. So I picked up some hog rings, borrowed my neighbors bolt cutters and a special pair of pliers (that he modified to secure the hog rings) and I was ready to make my own tomato cages.

The tools I use

The tools I use

These cages have worked great for all of my tomato plants, and I even use them for some of the pepper plants like Anaheim and bell peppers that tend to get real tall. The other peppers I plant (banana, cubanelle, jalapeno, Serrano, cayenne get bushy, but so seem to need the support of the cage so I just don’t cage them.

If you do a quick search on the internet for “tomato cage images” you will see 1000’s of examples. The cages I make and use are just one example.

Originally, I bought a roll of the concrete reinforced mesh and I still have those original cages today. A few years ago I bought a 300′ roll of galvanized wire and have been using that roll as I needed more cages and other things around the yard.

The supplies I use:

  • Sturdy wire mesh/fencing
  • Bolt Cutters
  • Hog Rings
  • Hog Ring pliers or tool
  • Gloves

I usually do this kind of stuff on my own, so to keep the unrolled section of fencing from rolling back on top of me and (biting me as it springs back,) I take two rocks (see photo above) and to anchor the ends down as I unroll the fence just enough to make one cage at a time. I count the squares off and stand on the section of fence that makes up the cage. I have found that using bolt cutters cuts the wire so easily for me. You can use a wire cutters, but since I struggle with tendon issues in my hands the last thing I want to do it aggravate that, so I use the bolt cutters – no problems. Cutting off the raw endsMake sur I am have picked them all upOnce I have cut my section of fence, I cut off the the exposed, raw ends.  You can use those ends to wrap around and secure your cages with those end, I just don’t want those rough ends – I tend to scratch myself up on them while picking tomatoes.  Before I finish my tomato cage, I pick up the raw ends I just cut off. I count them each time to make sure I didn’t miss one. The last thing I want to do is run over one of those with the lawn mower!

How I keep it togetherNow, it is time to connect the ends of the wire fencing to make the tomato cage. I use three hog rings per cage. You can use more if you want, that is up to you. I get one hog ring ready in the special pliers. My neighbor cut notches in a normal set of pliers so the hog rings wouldn’t slip out as he was using it. I think you can buy a set of pliers specifically made for this tasks, I am just using the tools that my neighbor has. I start by securing the middle section of the cage first, that way I don’t have one end of the wire gaping and flopping around ready to scratch me up. I roll the wire fencing into a tube and hold the two ends together near the center. My other hand is ready with the hog ring. Then is is just a matter of securing the two ends.

doneDone.

Your cage may be a bit out of shape. Just roll it and push down on the wire to get it formed into a nice circular tube.

These make very study tomato cages and they will last for many many years. My neighbor just started replacing a few of the cages he made using the reinforced concrete mesh that he made 15-20 years ago.

What do you use to support your tomato (or pepper plants)

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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I am a member of the San Antonio Herb Society and we do several outreach events each year where we work at educating people about herbs. The display we have is called Everyday Herbs and it is made up of many examples of boxed and packaged foods that you can buy in your grocery store that contain herbs. Along with those boxes and packages we have pots of each herb to show people what that herb looks like before it is added to those foods, and educating them how herbs are a part of their everyday life. We also focus on 12 basic herbs that grow well in our area.

Herb Market 2012 006

Last year three of us worked at freshening up the display and finding more healthy and organic examples to use in our display. We used to use these neat ceramic plant marks, but they were so heavy that the 4″ potted herbs would end up falling over a lot of the time so we decided to take a normal terracotta/clay pot and use blackboard paint on them and use a white marker (to look like chalk) and write the herb on each pot. Those pots would make a nice strong and steady base to place the 4″ potted herbs in and help them remain upright throughout the day.

Herb Market 2012 002

This is a really simple way to label your potted plants. We used two different pots shapes and sizes to give the display some variety. The blackboard (chalkboard paint) paint in permanent and the white marker we used it also. We will be using these pots over and over again, so it was important that they would hold up. You could also use regular chalk, but just remember that it would wash off in the rain.

We only did the 12 basic herbs that grow well in the San Antonio area to keep the focus on what herbs are easy for people to start with if they were interested in growing herbs. The pots turned out great and the display turned out well.

The pots have really freshened up the display. This is an ongoing display as we continue to to switch out the older boxed foods with examples of more organic and healthy options.

Do you have a creative way to label your potted plants?

Sincerely, Emily

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The three water gardens we put in a few years ago are doing really well. In the one that is lower to the ground, we have frogs and toads using it and singing happily on various nights. The little minnow-type fish all also happy and multiplying in all three water gardens,  keeping them clear of nasty mosquito larva. I also have one open 55-gallon drum that catches water from a leaky rain gutter that I have also put those little fish in and they are working hard in there too.

Last spring when 2 mama deer decided our fenced in backyard was a perfect spot to have their babies. They thought it was great. I thought something completely different. since then there are a few deer that frequent the back yard every day…. munching their way through this and that (including all the native and “deer resistant” plants I have back there.

Oh Deer - water garden

I know there is never a guarantee to the “deer resistant” things, what makes me so mad is that things were going along great until these two mama deer had their brilliant idea.  While these deer make their daily and nightly visits one of them favorite treats seems to be the lily pads and water lilies!  Well, I fixed that. I put a piece of hardware cloth over each water garden. HA! it isn’t the prettiest things, but the lily pads and water lilies are able to grow  and do their thing.

This was a great quick fix. One of the water gardens has a metal cage around it and the hardware cloth is raised up above the water lever about 7″ giving the water lilies room to pop up out of the water and flower. The hardware cloth on the other water garden sits right on the top and the water lilies try to come up and bloom, but are scrunched and squished. So my husband built a quick little frame that would raise the hardware cloth up a bit so there is enough room for the water lilies to bloom.

watergarden project 2

What is great about this little renovation is that everything we already had everything that we needed sitting around waiting for just such a project! We didn’t have to buy a thing – that is always a great thing.

watergarden project 3My husband built a PVC frame that would raise the hardware cloth up higher and then he bent it down on two of the sides and trimmed excess off one end and added it to the front. That enclosed three sides so the deer couldn’t nose their way in between the top of the frame and the water garden to get at those scrumptious lily pads! So far, so good, The water lilies are able to pop up and bloom with all the room they need and we get to enjoy them.

One very small REAL Renovation success for us!

Do you have to protect something in your yard from deer or dogs? What is your solution?

Sincerely, Emily

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Here at Not Dabbling, we suddenly realized we were all knee deep in sawdust and paint chips, so we thought we’d explore the idea of REAL Renovation. For us, that means DIY, sustainable materials, creative reuse and enhancing sustainable lifestyles.

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I (Alexandra) have had renovation somewhat forced onto me; I took my husband’s departure as an opportunity to downsize, turning my house from a 10-room family manse into a one-floor “apartment” with an in-law space on the second floor (currently inhabited by my daughter). Over the next month I’ll walk you through the painting, stripping and furniture moving involved not so much in renovation of a house, as in renovation of a family to meet new circumstances.

DSCN9780

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For me (Sincerely, Emily), there is always a list of things to do around our house and property. Some big projects and some smaller ones. Since I am still unable to do so many things right now I will focus on some of the smaller “renovations” that are happening around here.

Shadow2

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You may’ve seen the renovations I did on my kitchen earlier this year. Just wait until you see what I’ve been up to outside!

Every spring brings about several renovations here at Tanglewood farm, but it seems like this year we’ve done more than ever and still have several in the planning stages as well! Many of the renovations going on here are on a fairly large scale (well, not huge, but large). Whether it is redoing a room in our house, adding a new feature in the yard or learning and attempting a new skill around the farm, I am sure to stay busier than ever this season!

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Are you planning any major or minor renovations in your life, this month?

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