Posts

Couple of Wood-Fired Pizza Oven Hearth Construction Tips Via YouTube - May 2024

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Last week, I posted my latest update on our backyard pizza oven build where I mortared in the first course of the cinderblock stand .  I'm on my way this week to swap out some of the blocks and to pick up the rest of the angle iron so I can drystack the rest of the stand.  At risk of getting things out of order, I'm going to talk a little bit about the suspended hearth.  That hearth sits ON TOP of the stand.  It is reinforced concrete that is framed up with a 2x6.  That means - at the VERY MOST, the hearth is 5.5" thick.  But, because you overlap the forms with the block stand, you lose about an inch - so it becomes something like 4.5" thick.   I'm thinking about the hearth and the materials required as I run to the hardware store and I found a bunch tips that I'm going to use in my hearth build via the  Blood Sweat and Beers YouTube channel  -  this video where he walks through his reinforced hearth forms and setup .   I thought it was worth documenting here

What Prairie Dropseed Looks Like After Two Years - May 2024

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I bought and planted a couple of Prairie Dropseeds ( Sporobolus heterolepis ) in the Spring of 2022.  They're highly sought-after from all kinds of gardeners - native folks, new perennial movement people, even more formal gardeners.   And they did...nothing.  Like..nothing. They looked like a short clump of Kentucky Blue Grass that was out of place in a garden bed.  That's how they looked in their first year (2022) and their second year (2023).   This Spring, I cut everything back to the ground and suddenly...the Prairie Dropseed is showing itself with a lot more growth and a bunch of seed heads.  Here, below is the one that I can identify - IB2DWs.  Looks lovely: I can see the appeal in these now.  Can they be divided?  I hope so.

A Look At Some Backyard Conifers - Junipers, Hemlocks and Mugo Pine

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Conifers should come first.  That's advice that I've (now) adopted.  But, I'm seven-years down the gardening path and it is too late.  But...looking around, I *did* get it right - somewhat.  I planted some tiny Canadian Hemlocks, some creeping Junipers and a tiny Mugo Pine in the 'understory bed' over the years.   Below are a few photos that show how they're doing.  First, is a Youngstown Juniper amongst some hostas and a look at the bottom of one of the Hemlocks.  The juniper was planted in Fall 2019. These Hemlocks started out as 12" tall trees.  Now they're six-feet tall and growing.  Pretty great to see: Below is another creeping Juniper - that's smaller than the first.   And here, below, is the Mugo Pine.  Planted as a tiny one-gallon evergreen shrub in the Fall of 2021 .  It was ravaged by the dang rabbits, but has since rebounded - thanks to some wintertime chicken wire.  This is its third growing season in the garden and is now about 12&quo

A Few Autumn Ferns - Backyard Shade Garden - May 2024

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First came the Ostrich Fern.  Then, I realized there were BETTER ferns that I could grow in my garden.  The one that I seem to be drawn to most?  The Autumn Brilliance Fern .  I planted three to start and then each Fall, I've added more small ones.  Unfortunately...most of them don't over winter that first year, so I end up having far fewer than I start the Fall with in the backyard. But, where do we stand today - late Spring - in terms of Autumn Ferns? First...the three originals - they're all here today.  And looking mighty fine in their Springtime splendor: In the Fall of 2022, I planted 12 (yes...twelve) small Autumn Ferns.  I thought ALL of them died, but turns out that four remain - all in front of the Hicks Yew Hedge in the back.  Two photos below show two apiece.  These are, well....small.  But they get very little supplemental water back there. That makes seven so far.   Last Fall, I planted five more quart-sized Autumn Ferns .  I dug up four this year and it seems

Firefly Japanese Maple - Winter Dieback - Spring Color - May 2024

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Last year (2023), I bought three one-gallon Japanese Maples from Mr. Maple and planted them in mostly-shade spots in our backyard .  Of the three, two of them died back almost all the way to the graft.  One of them had a lot of die-back at the top, but re-emerged this Spring with enough foliage to consider it 'alive'.  That one - that survived the best - is the Firefly Japanese Maple.  Acer plamatum 'Firefly' .   Firefly has what is known as 'reticulated variegation' and that's showing this Spring. See below for a couple of photos: In that second photo, you can see the dead stems that rise above the foliage.  I'd say that more than HALF of the tree died-back, but based on the foliage, this CERTAINLY is NOT the grafted rootstock producing leaves.  This *is* Firefly.   I can't say the same thing for the Seriyu and First Ghost Japanese Maples from Mr. Maple dot com .  Despite giving them 'Five dollar holes', baby'ing them with water and see

Mortaring In First Course - DIY Pizza Oven Construction - May 2024

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Last I posted about my backyard DIY pizza oven construction project, I was showing the foundation slab after I had stripped the forms .  The pour went well - thanks to the MudMixer.  Now that the reinforced slab was done, I can move on to building the stand.  That stand is made out of 8x8x16 cinder blocks.  If you go back and look in the archives, you'll see that I went back-and-forth about the dimensions of the slab and stand and after a bunch of thinking/tinker'ing, I ended up deciding on these dimensions : Slab: 72" wide x 80" deep. Stand: 4 blocks wide x 4.5 blocks deep - 62.5" wide x 70.312" deep. Hearth: Same as stand. Oven: 39" interior, 51" exterior side-to-side x 64" front-to-back. That's the slab that I poured: 72" wide (6 feet) by 80" deep (6 feet, 8 inches).  And, so I could go about building the stand with four blocks wide and four-and-a-half blocks deep.   Setting these blocks square is important and I had to pl

Sarah Bernhardt Peonies - Cut Flowers - May 2024

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It is peony season around here.   When we were first dating, Nat was a blogger.  Her url was iheartpeonies dot com.  The very first thing that we planted in our first garden was a Sarah Bernhardt peony that was a division from Nat's mom's garden.  The story goes that the peony was her great aunt's peony that had been divided a number of times to be planted in various family member's gardens.   That peony ended up back in Nat's Mom's garden when we moved out.  I said - back in 2017 - that it was being 'fostered' .  But, it has stayed there these seven-plus years.   Our new garden didn't have any peonies.  Until 2018 when I bought a couple of tubers.  The first one was Sarah Bernhardt .  The pink peony that you think of when you think of peonies.  It has moved around a few times, but ended up IB2DWS and has grown quite a bit up there.  Last year (2023), I declared was our first REAL 'Peony Season' .  It was the first time that we had blooms; or