A Little of This & That… Renovating, Decorating, DIY Projects & Family
A Little of This & That… Renovating, Decorating, DIY Projects & Family

Our Summer Garden Box

I’d like to start this post with a moment of silence… I lost my 128gb camera card last week to a terrible fall (it snapped in half while sticking half way out the side of my laptop) and with it several months of favorite photos. Thankfully, I had backed up some of the bigger events – mostly in part to this blog to share T’s first birthday, Memorial Day and others – thank you blog! But so many other visual moments are now gone. I sent my card off to DriveSavers (my favorite so far, nope this isn’t the first time this has happened and now I have two auto backup systems) hoping that perhaps something could be saved, but alas not possible. Sigh. Tear, tear, sigh. Today’s post is affected in a minor way because a good chunk of my planting and ‘in progress’ garden bed photos were amongst the lost.

But, ultimately the tale of our veggie garden is such a happy one! It is one of high expectations, then temporary mourning when my first round of seedlings failed… and then suddenly of a garden resurrection! and now a bustling gem of a home veggie patch.

A Garden Box Harvest | PepperDesignBlog.com

Against all odds, our little garden box harvest has been plentiful.

ourhome_yard_gardenbox_800

A Garden Box Harvest | PepperDesignBlog.com

A Garden Box Harvest | PepperDesignBlog.com

We are watching our yellow squash just explode. I mean, it truly is exploding. Everything else is coming along little by little and it’s been fun to observe with Liv by my side. She is sure to update me daily as she waters and carefully inspects each small growing bud of a veggie (her little job) in her garden.

A Garden Box Harvest | PepperDesignBlog.com

We made dinner one night last week using just the ingredients we picked fresh from the bed. It was neat to show her a tangible example of ‘farm to table’ and to enjoy our yummy harvest. That solo strawberry was so sweet! We split it.

If we start from the beginning though you can really see the transformation of this space. It all started when we took down the jungle that was once a side yard and installed a wraparound deck, flagstone path and a block wall.

A Garden Box Harvest | PepperDesignBlog.com

It was Kevin’s idea to initially add the raised garden bed to the yard. Our deck sort of runs into it with the sandbox partitioning off the space. That’s Taylor’s preferred zone :).

A Garden Box Harvest | PepperDesignBlog.com

Last year Kevin filled the bed with cabbage to give it a little something. We didn’t even harvest the cabbage and by fall, almost every head had bloomed with a big purple center.

A Garden Box Harvest | PepperDesignBlog.com

Somewhere along the line the cement wall was capped with saltillo tile (it still waits for stucco but there’s a bigger project happening over here that’s in the works).

This spring I was excited to revisit the little garden bed and wanted to start from scratch with Liv. We went to our local Armstrong garden (a nursery in our area) and she was able to pick out a handful of seed packets. I’m pretty sure she chose by picture only, but we planted starter trays of cherry tomatoes along with red and golden beets.

A Garden Box Harvest | PepperDesignBlog.com

And then they grew and they grew and they grew! Liv watered regularly and treated them like little babies.

A Garden Box Harvest | PepperDesignBlog.com

Here’s where a bit of the the womp, womp happens. I lost so many great in-progress of photos of Liv with her seedlings with my damaged camera card. Imagine the above 3″, then 5″, then… suddenly… dead.

I’m not sure where we went wrong but we lost our seedlings six weeks in. Life was too busy to start over, this is the part of the story of failed expectations. :(

I finally let the garden go emotionally and physically (and I had really hung my hat on creating a garden this summer) and realized that if there was an item on my list that was just too overwhelming in our crazy little life, the garden was it.

My mom was awesome though. She takes the girls every Tuesday afternoon (plus some) and part of one of their afternoon adventures included a trip to the nursery.

A Garden Box Harvest | PepperDesignBlog.com

Soon we had tomatoes, strawberries, squash, cucumber, peppers and one of each of all of the major herbs in the ground and growing. I’d insert a photo of 1 gallon transplants here, but just imagine the below about 1/4 in size.

A Garden Box Harvest | PepperDesignBlog.com

We tilled the garden, mixed in fresh, healthy soil meant for garden beds (about four giant bags from the home improvement store) and added a soaker hose. The wire u-shaped stakes holding the hose in place are just metal hangers cut into 8″ lengths that we molded with our hands.

A Garden Box Harvest | PepperDesignBlog.com

The soaker hose (basically a hose covered in itty bitty holes) connects to our regular garden hose via a snap on, quick connect transition piece.

A Garden Box Harvest | PepperDesignBlog.com

A Garden Box Harvest | PepperDesignBlog.com

It’s not an automatic drip system but with Liv’s diligent reminders to turn the hose faucet on, it’s just as well. It waters each little plant spot on with brilliant results and we can walk away for twenty minutes while it gets the job done.

A Garden Box Harvest | PepperDesignBlog.com

Two additions in the last few weeks have made a world of a difference, too. The first is cocoa hulls over the entire bed (now walking near the garden smells like pure chocolate!) at the nursery’s suggestion.

ourhome_yard_gardenbox_cocoahulls3_800

ourhome_yard_gardenbox_cocoahulls2_800

The second was adding blooming flowers which we think has encouraged visits from more bees and subsequently more pollination.

A Garden Box Harvest | PepperDesignBlog.com

A Garden Box Harvest | PepperDesignBlog.com

Suddenly veggies and fruits began to grow.

A Garden Box Harvest | PepperDesignBlog.com

With more on their way!

A Garden Box Harvest | PepperDesignBlog.com

A Garden Box Harvest | PepperDesignBlog.com

Those summer yellow squash amazed the most. In just a few weeks these little blossoms grew into squash of crazy sizes.

A Garden Box Harvest | PepperDesignBlog.com

A Garden Box Harvest | PepperDesignBlog.com

A Garden Box Harvest | PepperDesignBlog.com

Seriously?

Plus, no pesticides (you can tell from some of the leaves) and no additional fertilizer yet. Man, this garden has been one of those sweet summer surprises that, every time I pop my head outside, makes me smile from ear to ear.

PS just for fun, our entire yard makeover chronicled right over here.

Guest Blog Interview: Cassie of Kent Heartstrings

Guest Blog Interview: Kent Heartstrings | PepperDesignBlog.com

I have a friend here in San Diego that I’ve been urging to start a blog for some time. She’s so creative and is such a great hostess, and I knew she would enjoy sharing her crafts, personal style and home-making with others. Well, happy news! She pulled the trigger and launched her own little creative slice of the blogosphere last month.

I thought it would be a nice introduction to have Cassie run through my favorite five interview questions as a part of the larger series. Cassie is also the crafty mind behind Kreative, a monthly diy night for all of our friends that allows us to enjoy time together (we celebrated my birthday this year making string art).

Cassie is mom to two little ones (Gigi & Charlie) and is in the process of transforming their 1940’s family home little by little. Hop on over to check out her new site.

Guest Blog Interview: Kent Heartstrings | PepperDesignBlog.com

I’m partial to her new backyard pallet succulent garden. Follow the jump for the full interview.

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Kitchen Breakfast Nook: A New Pair of Chairs Found

I’ve been on a serious chair hunt over the past few weeks…

A New Black *Ikea* Chair for the Kitchen Breakfast Nook | PepperDesignBlog.com

Actually, replacing our one solo consignment store find has been on the to-do list for ages (one chair isn’t really that functional in here) but July has been my get on that month. Happy to report that I’ve found two that I’m really excited about for price, look and general kid-friendly-ness for our breakfast table in the kitchen.

It took a while, but when I finally narrowed my options down to anything and everything black (was toying with white or a colorful set of chairs just a couple of weeks ago), ideas began popping out at me left and right.

A New Black *Ikea* Chair for the Kitchen Breakfast Nook | PepperDesignBlog.com

1 | 2 | 3 |4

Those top two photos helped to solidify why I thought black would be a terrific neutral color in a space full of warm tones (which our kitchen has plenty of). It became my goal first to happen upon a set of chairs that were unique in design – a cool shape, maybe a cool back, maybe a bentwood just like our previous solo chair…

I thought that these were kind of awesome:

A New Black *Ikea* Chair for the Kitchen Breakfast Nook | PepperDesignBlog.com

But price was restrictive and suddenly my two new breakfast chairs were feeling like a focal point in the space rather than a functional element that would just sort of ‘blend in’.

To help with price (and I really found fun options that could break the bank all over the board), I decided to peruse Ikea’s website.

A New Black *Ikea* Chair for the Kitchen Breakfast Nook | PepperDesignBlog.com

Not bad, right?? Ikea, you have outdone yourself.

I’ve read so-so reviews about the quality of materials of many of the more design-oriented chairs that Ikea has recently released (and we’ve had cheaper chairs crack or even smash apart on us – one particular dinner party rings a bell…), but I was willing to give them a shot for a space that is more of a ‘breakfast nook’ for the under-5-year-old crowd in our kitchen rather than a regularly used dining space. Plus, I was really wanting something that kids could destroy and that I wouldn’t care too much about.

Suddenly kid-friendly became the focus of my search. Durable became something that I considered for every chair. The image below of a basic chair became very appealing (love that they also have a yellow settee sort of bench set up!):

A New Black *Ikea* Chair for the Kitchen Breakfast Nook | PepperDesignBlog.com

I visited Ikea with the intention of trying out the 2nd from the right in the top row above chair and found that they actually don’t sell that model on the floor at my store. What I did discover though were these ‘classic’ black wooden chairs discounted to $39/each (Ikea family deal through July 29th) which could potentially mean that my kitchen investment would be less than $100 for two chairs that would sort of ‘blend right in’.

A New Black *Ikea* Chair for the Kitchen Breakfast Nook | PepperDesignBlog.com

That online description makes me chuckle.

I made an onsite decision (rare) to bring them home and give them a shot. I loved that they were made of wood and that if sometime in the future we did want to have a bit of fun in the space we could spray these guys cranberry, sage or even orange. Liv was keeping an eye out over my shoulder while I was searching Houzz and fell for these kitchen chairs hard:

A New Black *Ikea* Chair for the Kitchen Breakfast Nook | PepperDesignBlog.com

Begged me to paint the two chairs orange right then and there.

The chairs came in a box each and weren’t all that terrible to assemble.

A New Black *Ikea* Chair for the Kitchen Breakfast Nook | PepperDesignBlog.com

Especially with this one making sure that I didn’t lose any key parts (we’re assembling in my parent’s backyard to keep cool during these warm San Diego afternoons).

A New Black *Ikea* Chair for the Kitchen Breakfast Nook | PepperDesignBlog.com

At a reader’s suggestion after my last post about debating color vs. black chairs, I visited Crate & Barrel recently to view their selection in person. I regretted choosing a really basic, black chair almost immediately.

A New Black *Ikea* Chair for the Kitchen Breakfast Nook | PepperDesignBlog.com

Liv specifically requested a photo with the blue chair.

In person, oh the adorable options. Those black, orange or green bentwoods! Or the slatted modern farmhouse in red… Most of the chairs have a shiny lacquer quality and are actually pretty reasonably priced (I’m thinking between $110-$150 if I remember correctly). Oh tough decisions!

I was more than tempted to make an Ikea return at that moment. But at the end of the day I decided to give my new set a chance for a while. With all of the little home updates we’re making around here, the Ikea price tag feels about right at this moment. I’m going with my gut to see how these guys hold up (they are already regularly pulled across the floor for counter climbing and I’m anticipating some serious tipping/rocking by a certain little someone in the future). I’m crossing my fingers that their current durability will last longer than any of my Ikea furniture in college ever did. But these two chairs feel solid and tough, I’m pretty sure they will.

A New Black *Ikea* Chair for the Kitchen Breakfast Nook | PepperDesignBlog.com

A New Black *Ikea* Chair for the Kitchen Breakfast Nook | PepperDesignBlog.com

I’m really digging the black in this space (especially with the black french doors, the chalkboard…). In person, it feels really right and not too dark at all.

PS more kitchen transformation (this room used to be a carpeted and paneled den, she’s come along way!) chronicled right here.

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