My $20 Greenhouse/Shed Makeover & Garden Updates

Recently, my husband and I sat down and went through and organized our lists of projects that still need to be completed for our house. We prioritized things into URGENT, high priority, medium priority, and low priority. One of the things on my list was that I wanted a new greenhouse (made out of the recycled windows that I have been collecting), and I wanted a cuter garden shed. Once I realized that we literally have over 50 items on our project to-do list, and those two fell pretty low on the list, I decided it was time to be happy with what I have for now, and make the best of them. Eventually we will probably get around to building my dream greenhouse, but in the meantime, I am happy with my little popup greenhouse. I made the inside much better which helps!

The greenhouse and shed are in our downstairs yard, which is actually a secondary lot joined to our property. You can see the before pictures here. My little plastic raised beds have been moved around a few times since we moved here, but I think I am finally settled on their location. I am addicted to finding free stuff from Craigslist that I can upcycle into something cute for the garden, and the bench and bench cushion below were some great Craigslist finds. 🙂 The bench looked awful when we got it (the previous owners left their kids alone with some paint samples and the kids went wild on the poor bench), but a can of spray paint and it is now a cozy little area under the apricot tree. When we moved in, you actually couldn’t even see that poor little tree because it was being strangled by vines! I am so proud to have rescued it. 🙂
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The metal shed was a rusty eyesore. I had some leftover paint from when I painted our patio furniture, so I decided to start painting the shed. The only thing I bought for this greenhouse/shed makeover was a couple of extra cans of spray paint and suddenly they are both much better! We also recently got a second compost tumbler (found here). We loved the first one so much, and realized now that there are three of us, we are generating a whole lot more food scraps! The one bin was getting a bit overwhelmed so it is nice to have two now. We are also in the process of putting in another large wooden raised bed in this downstairs area (getting dirt down there is a tedious process and my husband is building a ramp which I need anyway).
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Inside the greenhouse is my favorite part of the transformation. I had lots of cute decor things that I have made for photoshoots over the years, and have been storing them away in my office. I typically hate reusing the same props over and over, but didn’t want to get rid of a lot of these things since I worked hard on them. I couldn’t find a spot in our house for everything, but they made the perfect (free!) decorations for my little greenhouse!
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I realized that my pitcher plant was not doing well because apparently you are only supposed to water it with distilled or rain water! Ooops! It is getting some love in the greenhouse for now while it recouperates. I also gave it a spray with some watered down fertilizer. The other plants on the shelf rack are things that need some extra love (after getting trampled by my son for example), or things I have recently propagated. 🙂
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I made a pathway out of pieces of slate that were removed elsewhere in the backyard. In case you are curious (since people always ask me), you can find his cute moccasins here.
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A little chandelier makes everything better.  🙂
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My ferns and some other plants are not always in here, but they needed a bit of extra TLC after being at the fair all week. They came home fine, but just a little sad and droopy after being in a cold, air-conditioned building all week.
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The little star lights are battery operated string lights I got at Ikea many years ago. When my husband saw them, he got upset thinking I was trying to hint that I needed electricity in there. I assured him they were just for decoration, and any time it is dark, I won’t be in the greenhouse because I close it up at night. 🙂
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My little baby staghorn fern won 2nd place at the fair, even up against big huge ones! 🙂 It is a very happy, healthy little guy.
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I am addicted to propagating new plants from cuttings. I love having lots of plants and making more for free is the best! I have found great results with starting cuttings dipped in rooting hormone, then placed in a jar of water, and then transitioning them to moist potting soil once they have roots established.
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This thermometer is the best since it also gives humidity percentage. So important to keep an eye on the humidity levels in a greenhouse. You can find it here.
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I couldn’t get E to look at the camera today. He fell again and got another nasty cut right above his eye and he is quite upset about it. He has been sad when he sees himself in the mirror.aliciainwonderlandblog

I cleared out all of my lawn care tools, which left me some room in the shed to get organized! Most of the shed is actually taken up by my husband’s stuff, but now I have my own little organized corner. 🙂 I have been having a hard time with the wildlife chewing through my bags of fertilizer, so I got this dresser to stash my bags (the dresser was another free Craigslist find!).
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Our raised beds are coming along, even though they got a really late start this year. I have recycled doors placed at the ends of the raised beds for now (to keep the dogs out), but they will be going up soon and make the area look more our style. 🙂
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My cucumbers and peppers have not been doing as well as I would have expected. They have consistently perfect moisture, no signs of disease, perfect soil fertility, full sun, and yet they were struggling. I finally figured out the problem (besides the fact that they were planted so late in the season). The darn Japanese beetles have been burrowing under the soil and munching on the roots of my veggies. I just sprayed everything with neem oil which should help deter them, and also gave the plants a folliar treatment of an organic fish/kelp emulsion to help perk them up.
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My husband keeps getting frustrated that I planted the raised beds “so sparse”. I assured him that lots more will be poking through soon. 😉 I filled up all of the extra spaces with carrot and beet seeds.aliciainwonderlandblog aliciainwonderlandblog
Our son is a tomato fiend. He knows exactly when to grab the tomatoes too. I can guarantee that he will find this one tomorrow.
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I can’t wait for this guy to ripen. 🙂
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I planted tons of corn seeds very late in the game. It will be an experiment to see how they do. 🙂
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This is another one of my mystery squash plants that came from the compost in the flower beds. This was the only transplant survivor. I am so curious to see what kind of squash comes from this one. 🙂
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My monster squash plant is starting to try to take over the whole flower garden! That is just ONE squash plant!
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After my recent miscarriage, I cut all the roses in the garden and put them where we buried that tiny little baby. The garden seemed sad for quite some time after that. It finally started getting blooms again, and just in time for the last week of the fair. My flowers won a few ribbons (more on that in another post soon).
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Remember my post about the wasp problem and disease on this rose bush? The rose bush is doing much better thanks to diligent application of neem oil, and the wasp problem is gone thanks to the Waspinators! I was very skeptical but it seems to be keeping the wasps away!
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Last but not least, it is time to start seeds already for the fall/winter! I am starting snapdragons, stock, violas, pansies, and calendula for flowers. For veggies, I am starting lots of cool season foods like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, broccoli raab, cauliflower, onions and leeks. I will also be planting lots of carrots, beets, radishes, kale, mustard, and other root vegetables and leafy greens straight into the raised beds in the downstairs garden. I use the raised beds downstairs for cool season plants since it has a cooler microclimate down there thanks to the pine trees and the way the ocean breeze comes through there (our upstairs back yard stays much hotter year-round because of the way the concrete retaining walls block the breeze).

I used to start seeds indoors, but we don’t have any sunny windows in this house where I can set up flats of seeds. Also, the last time I started seeds indoors at our old house, our pets got to the sprouts in the middle of the night and had a party. I woke up one morning and found baby veggies and dirt all over our living room. Not a fun day. I am trying out seed starting with these portable little greenhouses (found here). I have them in our patio, under the pergola for now, but like the fact that I can easily move them around if I need to. I have been closing them in the late afternoon to try to keep the temperature fairly even. I am hoping this works out! I have a variety of seed starting trays, but I like these best. Also, make sure you always use organic seed starting soil for starting seeds, not potting soil (here’s a great option).
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Garden Progress!

This project has taken way longer than we expected (of course), but here are some updates! We got everything prepped for our new ground covers. Part of the area will have artificial grass – the play area under the pergola that my husband made when we lived at our old house, and brought with us. The rest of the area will have flower beds, vegetable beds, and some type of hardscape in between. Originally we had planned on gravel, but with my pelvic instability, I have noticed that I have a hard time walking on gravel. For now, we have the layer of base and the layer of compacted decomposed granite down while we decide. It’s actually not too bad on its own, but did get a bit messy after the recent rain.

Below: trenches finished, lines run for irrigation, electrical and ethernet. Yup, my engineer husband is installing ethernet in our backyard. What outdoor living space would be complete without movies, music, and internet?

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The rotted out fence and gate had to come down to make room for the Bobcat to come through.

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All that remained was the reinforcement post that my dad put up when the fence fell down and my husband was out of town.

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E thinking, “Hey Daddy, what’s this thing?”
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E had to pretend to drive the Bobcat.
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We had two huge piles like this in our driveway, one base and one decomposed granite.
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Bringing back the Bobcat.
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Bringing in the huge roll of artificial grass.
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Sneak peek of one of my small flower beds!

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Backyard Update – Lots of Paint!

Those who follow me on Instagram may have seen some snapshots of my progress with this project this week (@apluscphotography). I have been busy painting all of our finds for the backyard in shades of white and cream so things will look more cohesive and like my dream shabby chic garden. I went through a few different types of paint before I found the ones that I liked the most. I ended up settling on two from Rustoleum (I found both at The Home Depot). I have been painting early every morning while our baby is sleeping, and again while he naps in the afternoon.
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For our bridge, I wanted a slightly textured look, so I used the Multicolored Textured paint in the cream color. For the rest of the items, I found that I liked the Ultra Cover Paint + Primer in Heirloom White the best. The add-on handle really helped cut down on my arthritis pain from when I broke my fingers and wrist (relying on a bicycle as your method of transportation in Los Angeles is dangerous business).

I tried some other paints first and the whites were too cold and didn’t provide enough coverage. I absolutely love the warm, creamy tone of the Heirloom White. I am hoping to finish up painting today so my husband can start trenching the irrigation lines tomorrow morning! 🙂

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We Are Currently Experiencing Technical Difficulties….

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The past week has been pretty frustrating. It started with an incredibly disappointing loss of photos on one of my memory cards. The weekend before this past one, we had a pretty mellow weekend, running errands on Saturday and relaxing at home before we went to evening mass on Sunday. Nothing too exciting, but we did get some cute pictures of our outfits and some amazing food that I cooked up. Last week when I went to offload the pictures off my memory card, they disappeared as soon as I put the memory card into the laptop. I did everything I could think of, including running recovery software, and nothing worked. Those pictures are gone forever. I was so sad because E had been making some particularly cute faces in some of them! I usually reformat my memory cards periodically to prevent this type of thing from happening, but I guess since I had not done that since E has been born, the cards were overdue. Very sad and disappointing.

This past weekend, my husband had the fun task of working on our main bathroom, which suddenly had developed a bunch of problems within the past week. The toilet stopped flushing regularly, the sink was leaking from the pipe (and therefore starting to rot the vanity and cause mold to grow), the sink was also draining very slowly, and the shower backed up and stopped draining. By Sunday morning, he still hadn’t gotten the shower to drain yet, so I took a shower in our guest bath. After I finished, I went into the front yard to turn on the sprinklers while I got ready to go to church, and noticed that there was water pouring out of the side of the house where the guest bathroom is located.

We initially thought there must be a clog in the main line, but it turns out that they were all separate problems, totally non-related. The timing was crazy! My husband was able to get the leak in the drain in the guest bathroom shower repaired, and after a lot of work, he got our main shower draining again. The toilet and the sink still need work, so it looks like that is how we will be spending our upcoming holiday weekend. We were originally planning to leave that bathroom alone until after we are finished with the whole having babies thing since it is handicapped friendly, and it came in very handy during my pregnancy and postpartum recovery period. We have a few things planned for it that we will do in stages, hopefully getting the most urgent things completed this coming weekend!

So, there may be a shortage of outfit posts for a little bit, since we don’t look the most photogenic while we are running around stressed out and trying to help with an unpleasant project. 🙂 Hopefully once the main bathroom is functional again, we can finish up some of the smaller projects that have been put off for a long time, like finishing the trim work in the guest bathroom and the kitchen!