Gardens and trucks and designing, oh my!

When I first met Cane, he had an little old pickup truck that he loved dearly. He often expresses longing for it, especially when we have a project that would be easier with one. Such was the case this weekend, which we’d scheduled for the next phase of our vegetable garden project. (You can see the first phase here.)

This (sorta) Old Life:  raised garden beds

Last weekend we built these and put them into the ground.

We needed some good dirt to fill up those vegetable beds. Also, while I was waiting for Cane to finish doing something last weekend, I noticed the horrible state of the bed surrounding the lawn and started pulling weeds and taking out dead stuff. We decided that whole area was sorely in need of mulch.

This (sorta) Old Life:  garden needs mulch

(Of course, I didn’t get a good “before” shot. This one–with Cane triumphing over his cheapy sawhorse–will have to do.)

So far, we’ve been filling our soil and mulch needs with bags from Home Depot that we can carry in the back of one of our cars (a Honda SRV and a Jetta wagon), but that wasn’t going to be cost- or time-effective when we needed a large amount of both.

What to do?

We’ve got a great local source for dirt, mulch, firewood, Christmas trees, and other kinds of stuff (Boring Bark). A yard of their 4-way mix for gardens is $35.00, but to have it delivered is $85.00. Ouch. And we needed mulch, too. That would add another delivery charge. Delivery was not an economical option.

(Cue Cane’s longing for his old pickup truck.)

Boring Bark does provide a free trailer with dirt/mulch purchases, but neither of us has a trailer hitch on our vehicles.

That left us with a third option, renting a truck.

This (sorta) Old Life:  garden rental truck

Which is just what we did.

At first, this went down a little hard with us. Adding nearly $60 to the cost of our soil/mulch (that price includes the gas we used) didn’t feel great. But, we decided we needed to look at it a bit differently.

When you own your own pickup, you tend not to factor in those costs. You already own the truck, right?

But if we owned a truck, we’d really need to factor in all the on-going costs associated with a truck–insurance, maintenance, storage, licensing. Suddenly, the U-haul truck looked a lot better to us. In fact, it started looking like a great deal.

It got us thinking about how many times we buy things we need only occasionally, and how much smarter it is to pool resources with others, or just rent the item we need when we need it.

We know that’s not always the best option; we’re still glad we bought a tile saw back when we were working on our bathroom renovation because it gave us the time we needed to go slowly.

This (sorta) Old Life: Cane cutting tile

But much as we would occasionally like a truck, we don’t need one. (Not right now, anyway. We do have two 15-year-olds in the house, and if I find myself getting another vehicle for them, I’ll have to consider making it a truck.)

Because we had the truck for just 6 hours, we had to make the most of our time.

First we got a load of soil, which we put into our garden beds.

This (sorta) Old Life:  garden soil

This (sorta) Old Life:  garden soil

My workout shoes haven’t seen the inside of the gym in a while. Much prefer this kind of exercise anyway!

After putting the soil in, we took the piles of lava rock we removed from our front yard parking strip and created paths between the beds.

This (sorta) Old Life:  raised garden beds

Then we hightailed it back to Boring Bark, where we got two yards of mulch.

This (sorta) Old Life:  garden mulch

By the time we finished spreading that all around the back yard, we still had a few hours left. Is there anything else we should do while we have the truck? Why, yes!

old grill vertical

This nasty old grill has been hanging out in the back of our driveway ever since we rehabbed our new(old) grill last spring. Yesterday seemed like the perfect time to take it to the recycling center (aka known as the dump, which is what such places were called when we were kids). Along with the grill, we cleaned out a bunch of yard debris that’s been sitting at the side of our house since last fall, and a basketball hoop that no longer stays upright.

This (sorta) Old Life:  truck loaded for the dump

You can see Cane’s knees peeking out from the base he’s detaching.

By the time we got back from the dump and had returned the truck, we felt pretty darn good about our progress.

This (sorta) Old Life:  Cane in the garden bark dust

Someone felt good enough about the barkdust to lie right down in it! :-)

And our backyard now looks pretty good, too.

This (sorta) Old Life:  backyard garden

This (sorta) Old Life:  Backyard garden

Of course, we still have some areas we want to improve on. Taking photos helped us see how much our side neighbor’s back yard piled with junk is an eyesore for us. We’d like to plant some taller things along the fence to visually block that. (We’ve been here nearly two years now, and we’ve never seen any of that pile change.)

Lest you think we are perfect in our own yard (hah!), right around the corner from our hammock, you see this:

This (sorta) Old Life:  backyard garden

Not a super-nice view for our neighbors on the other side when they are in their back yard. (In our defense, they are rarely in their back yard, and we cannot see this when we’re in ours unless we go around the corner.)

And there are small things, too, like this sad barrel:

This (sorta) Old Life:  backyard garden

Cleaning it out and freshening it up would make this little corner so much nicer:

This (sorta) Old Life:  backyard garden

(That’s one of Cane’s easy-to-make Adironack chairs. You can find the how-to for that right here.)

But we’re getting there, all in good time. Next weekend we’re planning to put in vegetable starts, which we’re really excited about. Maybe I’ll take care of the barrel this afternoon. (Or maybe not. It’s supposed to be in the mid-80s here again today, which might be a little warm for plants to adjust to a new home.)

Today, we’re feeling pretty great about how much we were able to get done, for not too much money. It felt great to realize that renting was a better option than buying, it felt great to be able to re-use the lava rock instead of buying something new to put between the garden beds, and it felt great to get rid of junk that’s been hanging around here for too long.

This (sorta) Old Life:  backyard garden

It also felt great yesterday to get the first set of our design class assignments in on time!

After our long day of shoveling, we each had just a few hours to get our design prototypes made. If you’re interested in knowing more about what we’re planning for our kitchen and family room, you can see Cane’s design here and my design here. But you can get the gist of where we’re going with it right here:

This (sorta) Old Life: cane's prototype

Cane’s prototype for the kitchen table/storage benches.

This (sorta) Old Life: rita's prototype

My prototype for the family room media nook.

The best part of all our productivity yesterday?

Sitting here at the end of it, together.

This (sorta) Old Life: garden

How was your weekend?

Now that we’ve told you all about ours, we’d love to hear what you were up to. How was your weather? We were in the mid-80s all weekend (with more of the same expected today). Don’t really want to complain about sunshine, but our split-level sure gets uncomfortably warm once we get above 82 or so. Was a great excuse to go buy a sundress on Saturday! And might be a good one for spending some time afternoon just chillin’ in the hammock, enjoying the fruits of our weekend labors.

This (sorta) Old Life: backyard garden