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Showing posts with the label 2024 to-do

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

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

Planting Six Melina Fleur Dahlia Tubers In the Beds - May 2024

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I'm moving onto the 'in ground' phase of my 2024 dahlia journey.    Three weeks ago, I potted-up my six Melina Fleur dahlia tubers into one-gallon nursery pots and started them indoors .  After they sprouted, I began to move them outside and did a little bit of hardening-off by putting them out in the shade for a few hours during the days and bringing them in at night.  Eventually....I just started leaving them outside overnight and they all seemed to be fine.  Here, below, is what they look like now:  about six-inches of foliage on each one: I put three of them on the southside of the house - where I get full sun.  Tucked in/out of the Disneyland Roses along the foundation bed.    Below is one in front of the gas meter, one in front of the power meter and one tucked close to the gate, between a Karl Foerster Grass and the last Disneyland Rose.   Speaking of Disneyland Roses...I now can (sadly) say that the three from 2023 all died.  Didn't come back this Spring.  Bumme

Transplanted Cat's Pajamas Nepeta - from Back to Sideyard - May 2024

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As part of a larger " Garden Edit " to the "kitchen curved bed" in the backyard, I needed to move a few things OUT to make room for what I'd like to install.  Hence the notion of an 'edit'.    One of those edits is a Cat's Pajamas Nepeta that needs to get out of there.  I moved it here last Fall when I noticed it wasn't thriving in the shade .  Little did I know that I'd move it twice in six months.   The good news is that the Nepeta 'came back' this Spring.  Here, below is what the young plant looked like before I dug it up: Below is a little bit more context - showing the Nepeta vs some of the peonies: A few years ago, I posted about how Nepeta is listed as one of the Disneyland Rose 'companion plants', so it was a natural move to trasnplant it right in that long, foundation bed.  Below, you can see the tiny plant tucked in next to a Summer Beauty Allium:

New Bed for Cut Flowers - South Sideyard - May 2024

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The southside sideyard of our property is like most suburban sideyards.  Long and narrow.  It is also one of the very few areas outside of our front yard where we get A LOT of sun.  Over the years, I've planted some things over there including three Disneyland Roses , a pair of espaliered Sugar Tyme Crabapple trees , some Summer Beauty Allium, Karl Foerster Grasses, a few various allium bulbs, our Indiana Street Iris  and last Fall I added a small Blue Star Juniper .  Closer to the front of the house, we have a pair of Limelight Hydrangeas that are adjacent to the porch. The bed along this side of the house has been the same size since we moved in:  long and thin and hugging the foundation.  Something about 18" wide.  Below is a photo showing the bed as it looked before I started this new bed project.  One other note (to future Jake) - the orange spray paint shows where the cable line is buried.   I've been talking about growing flowers since last Fall - and pushed myself

Stripping Concrete Slab Forms - DIY Pizza Oven - May 2024

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Just 48 hours ago, I shared the details and photos of how I poured our backyard wood-fired pizza oven reinforced foundation slab using 46 sixty-pound bags of 4000 PSI concrete and a MudMixer.  I've kept the slab (mostly) wet using a garden hose and covered it in plastic.  48-or-so hours after the pour, I knocked down the supports and began to remove the forms.  Here's what was left:  an almost (for a first timer with a non-super-discerning eye) perfect 5.5" thick reinforced concrete slab: The light color (and discoloration) is from the plastic sheet touching the concrete as it cured.  I'm not the least bit worried about that as I know the slab will continue to change color.  I'm happy with the straight lines and the lack of air pockets around the edge.  I used a heavy hammer to vibrate the forms in an attempt to get the concrete mix down along the edge/face of the forms.  It seemed to have worked.   After a few more days, I'll get out there and snap some chalk

Garden Edit - Nook Behind Weeping Cypress - Hosta Replacement Project - May 2024

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Last month, I wrote about how 2024 might end up being the year of the great "Garden Edit" for our backyard .  I collected my thoughts about what I was drawn-to garden-wise and that boiled down to a few things:  planting in masses, focused on plants that work for our garden, have some appeal foliage-wise and have some four-season appeal (or at least 2 or 3 season).   I outlined a few places that I thought about editing including around the tree swing tree, the kitchen curved bed, IB2DWs and the 'hosta replacement project' on both sides of far backyard.   The first "Garden Edit" that I took on was the tree swing tree .  Where, I reorganized some things and pulled the Hakonechloa Macra (green ones) Grasses to the front and plan on carrying that drift further back.   The second "Garden Edit" was the southside Hosta Replacement Project/Stumpery .  I pulled out a number of hostas and transplanted the All Gold Hakonechloa Macra grasses from the Tree Swing

Indiana Street Iris In Bloom - May 2024

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We have a purple bearded Iris planted on the southside of our house, behind the Limelight Hydrangeas and right off the side porch.  I call these our "Indiana Street Iris" because they came from my sister - who lives on Indiana Street.  These Irises are from her neighbor Wes, who moved out and had his hosue torn down.  These were 'rescue irises'.  I planted a small clump in June 2021 - here's a photo that shows how small they were (all foliage) .    They put out a small bloom a few weeks later .   Last year, this bloomed in June and had put on some good size in the two years it has been here .  Below, is the Indiana Street Iris that has a number of shoots pointing upwards that will bloom in the coming weeks.   I haven't divided these, but perhaps this is the year - after they bloom.   These also have me thinking more about Irises - and in particular - an Iris that I came across at the Morton Arboretum Arbor Day Plant Sale called 'Gerald Darby' Iris - Ir

DIY Pizza Oven Foundation Slab Pour - May 2024

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After bending and installing the rebar, reinforcing grid and vapor barrier , it was now time to pour the foundation slab for our diy backyard wood-fired pizza oven.   As I posted about last week, I shrunk the foundation slab down to be 72" wide and 80" front-to-back.  It is 5.5" thick (2x6's for concrete forms).   This is sitting on top of six inches of 1/2" compacted gravel and a 48" deep of large rock drywell.   I used an online concrete estimating calculator tool and when you put those dimensions in, it says that I needed 42 60# bags.    I have to pour two slabs - this foundation slab and then, once I build the stand, an insulated hearth.  Each approximately the same size.   When adding those two up, I ordered 85 60# bags and had them delivered.  I opted for 4000 PSI concrete - as a little bit of an upgrade over the baseline concrete. Knowing that the labor involved in this pour is in two parts, I opted to split them up:  first...hauling the concrete

A Third Emperor 1 Japanese Maple - And a LOST Laceleaf JM - May 2024

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This post deposits two things into the [garden diary]:   the loss of a Japanese Maple and the planting of a different one.  First, the loss.  Last Summer, I planted a 2-gallon Japanese Maple that was mis-marked.  It was labeled as an Emperor 1, but was had dissectum or laceleaf foliage .  I marked it as an 'unknown' Japanese Maple - likely a Takukeyama.  That tree was purchased on May 12, 2023, so I had a decision to make.  By May 11th (this past weekend), the tree was not leaf'ing out.  The scratch test showed that the trunk was still alive, but no buds had opened up.  With the one-year warranty running out, I opted to yank it out and get the store credit.   This marks the second loss of trees this year - the first being the Silver Maple that I removed earlier this Spring .  Two trees lost, zero planted.  But, that is about to change thanks to the Morton Arboretum Plant Sale.  A few days ago, I posted about the Sun King Golden Japanese Spikenard (Aralia) that I picked up a