a Raised Garden Bed, Reel Mower, and Grilled Sliced Portobellos with Steak!

Yesterday was very sunny and warm!  Of course this meant yard and garden activity.  First I had to go buy some items.  When my friend was here she determined that the old garden bed was too shaded to grow things very well.  I am still going to use it, but I’m adding some raised beds in the most sunny part of our yard.  There is going to be very little sun once our neighbour’s trees have leaves, unfortunately.

So, I set out to buy soil, a raised bed kit, and some odds & ends.  I found that Home Depot had the most cost effective kits, so I planned on the 45$ one.  Once there I saw a  better option of 4×8′ which can be configured to a larger layout, but between the higher price that day and the cost of a lot more soil… I didn’t go for it.  Perhaps later?  I’m sure that it could be cheaper to construct raised beds oneself rather than kits, but… I just wanted to do it easily.  It only took a couple of minutes to set up, which was nice, but with a router I could DIY.  For now I am happy with the kit.

raised bed kit raised bed assembled and filled

Another idea was to use large oval tubs for the tomatoes and peppers.  I could put one on the raised section of deck along the house and perhaps another below, and they would look great, but they are rather expensive.  The 20$ round tubs, like the pair I have bulbs in, are also an idea, but I think that a single oval would have more usable space not to mention look nicer?  Maybe another year…  I don’t know if this is enough space for all my pepper and tomato dreams, but I suspect more room would be welcome.

While at the store I saw these and thought they looked neat although too colourful for my yard unless perhaps I stuck to grey.

plant cages

I should have photographed the matching plant stake spiral things too.  They were neat.

My seeds are growing well now, but a few bigger shoots have dried out or something.  Oops.  At least the most stubborn peppers are beginning to sprout.  Here are two of the tray:

seed tray starter tray

I ended up going ahead and buying a Scotts reel mower.  This was planned and researched even before we found a house to buy, but then the previous owners surprised us by leaving a gas powered mower between our final walk-through and closing.  Growing up we had a very big yard, and it was generally my job to mow for several hours on the riding beast.  Using a gas powered push mower seems intimidating to me and too loud and nasty for a small yard.  Still, I appreciate their generosity and expect it would be useful… except that there is a long flight of stairs from the garage to the yard, and I don’t think that I could bring the mower up myself.  That would cause a lot of logistical problems and probably some ill-will with my husband at times, so when I noticed that the HD price was the same as Amazon’s yet included the grass catcher and a slightly upgraded ball bearing design I went for it.  Very soon we’ll have to start mowing after all, and I had some store credit to use.

I assembled it and just had to try it out.  Luckily we have clumps of wild chives in abundance, and they were already quite tall.  I whirred around the yard, and probably made our neighbours worry about my sanity, mowing a dead-brown lawn.  Haha.  Then I emptied the grass catcher, strewn with chopped chives, onto my very new compost pile.

Using the reel mower wasn’t exactly as I anticipated.  It does make a noise, for one thing.   It also seemed heavier than I remember from the antique sort I tried as a kid, and since it is 20″ wide it certainly is larger (especially with the grass catcher attached.)  It may not be perfectly suited to our yard either, but then again the difficulties of our yard would also be an issue with the gas mower, such as the fact that the yard is a hill.  I really do think the reel will be easier.  At least it was fun, quiet, and novel.  Plus, if it was a slight struggle to take it down to the garage then I don’t want to think of how difficult the heavier and bigger gas mower would be!  The yard may have a steep slope and some tree roots, but it is so mossy that I don’t expect much grass to keep up with.  I’ll certainly write about the reel mower again after I have more experience.

Last night I took advantage of the gorgeous weather by grilling steak, rings of onion, and sliced portobello mushrooms.  It was delicious!

supper from the grill grilled meal

The steak had nothing but garlic salt, fresh ground pepper, and MSG on it.  The mushrooms were salted and drizzled with olive oil after grilling.  I served it with a bit of my simple tomato salad (topped with dill) and in my case with a few dollops of homemade hot sauce.  Yum!

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