A Garden Box Update: Summer 2015

A Garden Box Update: Summer | Edyn | PepperDesignBlog.com

The veggies garden has exploded since I last shared about it here. Those cute little quart-sized plants have spread out to fill every spare inch of space allotted and the tomatoes (oh the tomatoes!) are now clinging to anything and everything.

A Garden Box Update: Summer | Edyn | PepperDesignBlog.com

A true jungle for the treasure hunter (aka Liv) in search of red tomatoes to pop into her mouth.

A Garden Box Update: Summer | Edyn | PepperDesignBlog.com

It always amazes me that it takes just a couple of months for so much to happen.

A Garden Box Update: Summer | Edyn | PepperDesignBlog.com

I love this garden! I never thought that I would love a garden so much. I don’t spend all that much time on it, but it’s one of those hobbies that I’m willing to make time for when it needs it (aka pruning once a month).

Despite the success in growth, we’ve run into a few problems this summer.

Problem 1: the technical term is ‘powdery mildew’ (it’s true) and it’s been slowly taking over the squash plants.

A Garden Box Update: Summer | Edyn | PepperDesignBlog.com

A Garden Box Update: Summer | Edyn | PepperDesignBlog.com

This happened last year and a little internet research confirms that you can clean plants up with vinegar (and other household products) but as I did last year, I found the best solution was to prune out the bad leaves and to cut like crazy. The positive is that this sort of fungus doesn’t jump from variety to variety. It usually stays contained on just the plant it started on.

A Garden Box Update: Summer | Edyn | PepperDesignBlog.com

Many gardeners would disagree – the purpose of the giant canopy leaves is to protect the growing fruit underneath from the sun and you can’t just remove those leaves. I don’t worry about too much direct sun right here though and since it was a problem that I didn’t want to monitor, I thought it best to remove the source and to encourage blossoms that were still protected by unaffected leaves.

Problem 2 has been getting those blossoms to produce veggies. Believe it or not, the zucchini and squash have each produced one massive veggie each (it was pretty odd looking!), and that’s it. Just one each.

Cool fact: the squash plant produces both male and female blossoms. The female blossoms grow with a baby fruit attached (see first arrow) and the male sans any produce (second arrow). But if the pollen from the male doesn’t reach the female, nothing happens.

A Garden Box Update: Summer | Edyn | PepperDesignBlog.com

Previously my garden bed has been lined with flowers. Marigolds last year and nasturtiums this year. I had to pull the nasturtiums just a couple of weeks ago due to them not looking so great and I think that’s the problem! No bees, no veggies.

So I’m off to purchase some more flowers for the edges of this box soon.

Problem 3 has to do with water and nutrients. It is so challenging to figure out if you are supplying your garden with the right amount of nitrogen, oxygen and so forth. Some plants thrive in depleted environments, some will die. Short of sending a sample of dirt off to be tested, there’s not too much that can be done.

Or so I thought.

A Garden Box Update: Summer | Edyn | PepperDesignBlog.com

A company called Edyn recently reached out to see if I’d like to test out a garden sensoring system. This little gadget is placed right into your veggie box and is connected via wifi to your smart phone.


Edyn started via Kickstarter and is now available at Home Depot (the explanation video on their homepage is awesome).

Here’s what I learned: the nutrients in my garden are actually right on (hence the overzealous growing, I think.) The moisture level is really too high though, I’m hurting my plants probably with root rot. In our drier climate, my go-to to solve ANY gardening problem has always been to water. I have a nifty little drip system set up within the box and it’s all connected to my hose:

A Garden Box Update: Summer | Edyn | PepperDesignBlog.com

We’re in a drought here in California and water conservation is really top priority. I’ve been pretty lean with our lawn out front (which is now mostly tinged brown and green) and the rest of the landscape is more mediterranean desert so it’s holding on well. The garden box is the only little plot of land that receives a decent dousing. But that’s completely not necessary.

I have been really watching water usage over the past few weeks and have cut back drastically. If Edyn tells me to water, I do, but it’s not often.

A Garden Box Update: Summer | Edyn | PepperDesignBlog.com

I have been experimenting with the best placement for Edyn. Not surprisingly I’ll get slightly different results at different spots.

A Garden Box Update: Summer | Edyn | PepperDesignBlog.com

Another cool feature of the tool is that you can ask the Edyn app if a particular fruit or veggie will do well in your space. You can virtually add it to your garden and read all about the light, moisture, nutrition and humidity that it requires.

A couple of notes: the sensor is SUPER EASY to use and to set up, but it does have to be connected via a 2.5ghz wifi network. That didn’t make any sense to me in the beginning, either, but my network is a 5ghz network. It’s possible to create a 2.5ghz network from your 5ghz network though and it’s a rather quick process (you probably won’t even have to). I’ll let Google answer any questions that you might have there.

My artichoke is reaching for the sun, my newly pruned squash is cleaned up, my tomatoes continue to climb up and over the wall.

A Garden Box Update: Summer | Edyn | PepperDesignBlog.com

A Garden Box Update: Summer | Edyn | PepperDesignBlog.com

I did lose my beans this year (as I have every year before). Next year maybe I’ll try them with the Edyn sensor right at their roots.

Now it’s time for production! And to enjoy homegrown veggies at our dinner table come August. That’s the goal. (Here’s how we took full advantage of last year’s garden.)

I collaborated with Edyn on this post however thoughts and words are all my own. Thanks for letting me share about products that support this blog.

Wardrobe Style Board: A Work-From-Home Uniform

Wardrobe Style Board: A Stay-At-Home Mom Uniform | Cropped Light Jeans, Tan Sven Clogs, White Madewell V-Neck T-Shirt, Colorful Necklace, Gold Earrings | PepperDesignBlog.com

tan clogs | pocket tee | light jeans | gold disc earrings | colorful necklace

It’s not uncommon for people to come and go from our house all day long, even mid-week. Subs for the new remodel, our sitters for the girls, a neighbor who pops in to say hi, a colleague for a meeting. Occasionally during the week I’ll take a break from the home office to race to an appointment, attend an event or to meet a work partner for lunch. Almost all of these events require more than yoga pants + tank top, which I’m grateful for. I feel much more like a human being if I’m wearing a teensy bit of makeup and a clean t-shirt.

Decision-making requires brain juice and rather than be caught stressing over each day’s personal outfit, I really should be using that time to get breakfast made, children walked to preschool and electrician questions answered. And so I’ve sort of developed a little uniform that has served me well. (This started as a way to live off of a limited postpartum closet while our bedroom has been all packed up and has turned into a sort of awesome solution.)

These days I’m mostly sporting cotton v-neck t-shirts (this one is my favorite – even after a little A/B testing with a few other brands, I have it in grey and soon-to-be other colors), rolled or cropped jeans (shorts for around the house but jeans for a quick meeting. found the above jeans at a neighborhood garage sale of all places for $5. best find ever), comfortable flip flops or wooden clogs (I scooped a super comfy pair up over here for $25) and basic but fun jewelry (the top necklace in this collage is still one of my favorites).

Slightly oversized cotton tee + cropped jeans + clogs + fun jewelry.

Purchase in multiples or wash and repeat. But maybe with a different necklace or scarf.

I’m traveling this weekend for work and am also packing dark denim, clogs, shirts with scarves. I think that the work environment continues to allow for a more casual day and I love that.

PS tips for selling your clothes online (easy and totally possible), two more style staples.

Master Bath & Bedroom Remodel: A Walnut Vanity

Just a little while ago I shared that we were working on three different exciting wood working projects for the master bathroom/bedroom remodel. One of those projects is a new vanity – and it’s come a long way from just inspiration/paper!

Kev and I tend to collaborate best when we have LOTS of visuals going. I build Pinterest boards and collect big portfolios full of images, he flips through them and comments on the ones he loves, says ‘no way’ to the ones that he doesn’t. We haven’t perfected that line of back and forth over the past eight years :) but in the end we always end up with a solid compromise. And we usually both fall in love with that solution when all is said and done.

Here’s a snapshot at the inspiration board for our vanity:

Master Bathroom: Vanity In Progress | PepperDesignBlog.com

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

That last larger image was the ‘yes!’ on both of our parts. It’s what we have really ultimately been inspired by for the end result, except perhaps a few shades darker in color.

After considering a lot of different wood choices (here’s a nice breakdown of many of the options), we ended up settling on walnut (which is the wood in #3 above – the round mirror image). More specifically, we want it to look just like this in color.

Kev turned to SketchUp to create a more formal design. We love the idea of even adding a live edge (or raw, oiled slab) below the vanity as a shelf. Sort of like the above inspiration image but a bit more organic.

Master Bathroom: Vanity In Progress | PepperDesignBlog.com

When it came to the right size, it was very hard to find anything out of the box. Make that size AND overall aesthetic. We don’t really have the budget for custom, but given the odd layout of the bathroom, what we really needed was a custom piece.

One of the awesome bonuses of living in a neighborhood where everyone is really very good friends with everyone else is that we have neighbors with crazy talents and inspiring back stories. One of those neighbors happens to be a retired carpenter (in a former life sort of thing). He’s one of our closest ‘hood friends and he loves to create beautiful works of art, even building custom furniture for others in our neighborhood. He actually made the girls’ built-in bookshelves a couple of years ago, which to this day is probably the most functional upgrade I’ve wanted in a room.

So we took our thoughts to him and began to lay out ideas.

Master Bathroom: Vanity In Progress | PepperDesignBlog.com

Words cannot express how amazing it’s been to craft this vanity together. And by together, I mean that we bring him beautiful pieces of walnut and good ole regular plywood and he shapes those pieces into a treasure.

Master Bathroom: Vanity In Progress | PepperDesignBlog.com

I’ve been able to snap a few pictures as the piece progresses. The wood is quite cherry in this photo but when the tung oil was applied that walnut color came right out.

Master Bathroom: Vanity In Progress | PepperDesignBlog.com

Woodworking is so much more of an art than I ever anticipated. There is such precision, such detail, such careful crafting. A door that is just a little off will never function properly, a face frame with the wrong size reveal (that edge there around the drawers once the unit is installed), will always look out of place. It’s perfectionism in the most functional way.

Master Bathroom: Vanity In Progress | PepperDesignBlog.com

PS the organization of his garage is just amazing.

Master Bathroom: Vanity In Progress | PepperDesignBlog.com

Once the piece was built, Kevin helped with finish sanding (that very, very fine sanding that produces a smooth, polished feel) and oiling. I think three coats were applied by the time the color felt just right.

Master Bathroom: Vanity In Progress | PepperDesignBlog.com

Meanwhile, we’ve been dreaming up that lower bottom shelf and have been shopping slab yards. If you’re in San Diego, check out Made Lumber. It’s a whole lot of awesomeness.

Master Bathroom: Vanity In Progress | Made Lumber Supply, San Diego | PepperDesignBlog.com

Can you see the full vision? We’re so close.

More bathroom renovation stories, the full Pinterest board, the original inspiration (so much has changed!).

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