Backyard Garden Tour – Furniture

These chairs were old Craigslist finds that we had from our old house. I painted them a while back, and we recently got new cushions for them. They are fun and colorful in E’s garden area. 🙂


These chairs float back and forth between our firepit area and the patio table. I found them for the firepit, but they happened to come with a table, which we then decided we wanted to use anyway.

Once we found this amazing patio umbrella (Pier 1), we really started enjoying using this patio table. We can have some snacks at the table while E runs around in his garden. 🙂

Originally, we wanted to find Victorian style circular tree benches that would go around each of the dwarf fruit trees. We couldn’t find any anywhere, even after contacting companies in England. We looked into having some made, but did not like the idea of spending somewhere in the range of $10,000 or more for a few benches. So instead, we found three benches like this at the Rose Bowl Flea Market (for a total of $110!), and circled vintage chairs around the other two trees. I like the end result much better than our original plan.
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We are really into hammocks. We have a few different hammock chairs around the pergola now, and we also put up hooks for our big hammock as well. We have a stand for the big hammock in our downstairs yard, but that area is not as nice as the upstairs now so we are using it more up here. We have had some great weekend afternoons with all of us cuddled up in the big hammock.
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I also have my little reading area set up, so I can read while E runs back and forth on the fake grass area. He loves to run laps around the little area. 🙂
We also got a chimnea that we move around the garden at night since our firepit table isn’t very portable. We initially tried a propane powered one but it was absolutely awful (didn’t produce any noticeable heat) and we much prefer this wood burning one.

Gardening Lessons Learned the Hard Way: Young Fruit Trees

Many fruit trees need a pollinizer of a different variety in order to be productive and fruitful.  The variety of dwarf avocado tree that we purchased said the tree is self-fertile, but we purchased two anyway, just because we love avocados so much. 🙂

I planted both trees with the same planting method (described here), they are in the same area of the garden, with identical light exposure, and have been given the same amount and frequency of watering.  All of a sudden, one of the two twin trees started dropping all of its leaves.  When I tested the moisture level of the two trees, I noticed that the dirt around the distressed tree had moisture levels that were through the roof, while the dirt around the other tree had normal moisture levels.

Young fruit trees need tons of water to establish their roots, but too much water can lead to root rot.  Since I had been giving them the same amount of water, I was pretty upset.  We aren’t 100% sure what caused the variation, but are hoping that better amending the soil in the future will help prevent similar problems from happening again!

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How To: Plant Dwarf Citrus Trees in Recycled Wine/Whiskey Barrels

When I originally planted our current garden, I didn’t put a lot of thought into mixing in some of our dwarf citrus trees in with our vegetables.  Upon second thought, it wasn’t a very good idea.  While they may need similar watering now, they will not later on.  We also do not want the citrus trees to start cutting down on our vegetable bed area.  We decided to quickly move them out of the vegetable beds and into containers in the patio.

The trees that are planted in the grassy area are going to stay, and we are just moving the dwarf trees that are planted with the vegetables.  They haven’t been planted long, so luckily the roots have not extended much past their root balls yet.  We picked up a bunch of half wine/whiskey barrels, and got them ready for planting.

Step 1:  My husband drilled holes in the bottom of the barrels for drainage.

Step 2:  I cut small squares of screen from our old kitchen window that he recently removed (to replace with a double paned window).

Step 3:  My husband nailed the screens in place, over the holes, to prevent the soil from draining away.

Step 4:  We filled the barrel with potting soil, and relocated the dwarf trees!


How To Guide: Moisture Metering

One of the most important aspects of gardening is making sure that each plant gets the right amount of water.  Too little and the plant may die, too much and the roots may rot.

As a general rule, cactus and succulents are some of the only plants that thrive in the very dry conditions, shown in the red zone on the meter.  Most houseplants, vegetables, and other garden plants thrive in moist soil, shown in the green area on the meter.  Only certain aquatic and bog-like plants thrive from regularly being in wet soil, shown in the blue area on the meter.

With the new baby fruit trees, I try to make sure that they stay consistently moist, watering every 3-4 days.  I aim to have the meter read just past the green zone, slightly into the wet blue zone immediately after the watering, and then generally in the high end area of moist.  With the majority of my vegetables and other plants, I try to keep the moisture reading in the middle of the green zone.

As you can see in the first picture, the baby plum tree is still moist but due for some additional watering.  The baby orange tree and tomato plant in the second and third pictures do not need to be watered at this time since they are plenty wet.  They are actually a little more wet than I would like due to a recent irrigation accident (which I will cover at a later date in more detail).  The extra watering was along the lines of an unexpected rainstorm, which shouldn’t be too bad in the long run, but in the meantime I am holding off watering these until they actually need the water.


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It is important to push the meter deep into the soil to test the moisture where the roots of the plants are, and not test the moisture at the surface of the soil since that is not where the plant gets its water.  As you can see in the third picture, the surface of the soil looks dry (more mulch is needed and will be coming soon), but the soil underneath is actually still quite moist.