Deuce Cities Henhouse

Perennials : Bleeding Heart

Growing Perennials : Bleeding Heart
Remember how I was doing that indoor plant feature-thing throughout the last few months? I decided to extend it into the summer, sharing my favorite perennial plants, and then getting back to featuring indoor plants again in the fall. The idea is that I’d talk about perennials from my garden as they are blooming, that way you guys can get a feel for how I choose plants and edit my flower beds – and maybe even apply it to your own. I’ll be including all important info like the size of the plant, sun preferences, watering, and blooming cycle. It should be noted, because we live in Minneapolis, these suggestions will work especially well for people living in northern part of the United States.

My favorite spring perennial in the garden is the Bleeding Heart. It is almost always the first plant I see emerging, and it grows very quickly in the early spring, making for fun garden watching. The plant starts as a few pink or green shoots, and within days tiny feather-like leaves begin to appear, before you know it, arching branches of heart shaped flowers hang amongst lush green foliage.

Typically this plant prefers a shady to partial sunny spot in your garden – think cool and moist. In my garden my Bleeding Heart is located in a spot that boasts nearly full sun, I’ve read that is possible because we are located so far north – lucky for me. My particular plant is a monster too! It becomes very bushy, and it can grow to at least 3 feet wide and 3 feet tall (larger than typical)! Bleeding Hearts can be found with dark green foliage and pink flowers, and lighter green foliage and white leaves, I have both.

You will notice as the summer moves forward that the stalks will begin to yellow, it’s at this point that I will begin to trim the Bleeding Heart back, sculpting it as I go to make sure to keep the most interesting looking branches, the leaves are nearly as pretty and architectural as the flower. It is also okay to cut the plant back completely. Please note: don’t cut back your plant before it yellows as it is storing food reserves for the next years growing season.

To propagate, divide Bleeding Hearts in the early spring when they first begin to emerge from the ground, gently separating at the roots.

Botanical name:
Lamprocapnos spectabilis

Growing Perennials : Bleeding Heart

Growing Perennials : Bleeding Heart

Light:
Prefers shade to partial shade, but in norther zones can handle being in fuller sun.

Watering:
Likes moist soil amended with compost.

Size:
Can grow up to 2 feet wide and 2 feet tall.

Growing Perennials : Bleeding Heart
For anyone who wants to start a perennial garden or add something new to an existing garden, I highly recommend this plant, it’s easy to grow and, really enjoyable to watch in the spring.

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in gardening

Stoop!!!

Deuce Cities Henhouse | Curb Appeal Before & After
This post has been such a long time in the making. It makes me so happy that I might fill this post with overly positive words and phrases. You guys!, six year, that’s how long it’s been since we moved into this house. Six years ago I was staring at an ugly white house decked out with lots of mint green trim, green stairs, green awnings, and no landscaping to speak of. I swallowed hard when I agreed with my Jeff that this was the best house for us. Was it my dream house? Let’s just say it had potential, I could envision a future for the interior, but the one thing I wanted more than anything was curb appeal (and gardens) and it was hard to see past the ugly. I wanted a cool Minneapolis house, not this old grandma hangout!

Of course our plan was to tackle the major eye sores in the first few years – that’s how he we got each other to agree to buying the house. But then you quickly realize that everything costs tons of money, and you prioritize. I’ve wanted new front steps since the jump, I could see that it would do so much for the curb appeal of our home, but concrete is expensive. So, this is what happened instead. First summer we were broke, second summer we had a baby on the way and opted to try and repair and repaint the steps ourselves, third summer we painted the exterior, fourth summer we got a new roof cause part of ours blew off, fifth year we got a new fence, 6th year we got a new basement and here we are, the start of the seventh summer. New steps are happening!

I know I talk about waiting out expensive decisions a lot. This for me, is just another example of how really stewing on something can work out. If we had these stairs replaced the first year we would’ve replaced them exactly with what was there, having 6 years to walk around the neighborhood and drool over other peoples front steps gave us (me) the time to really dream up the perfect stoop.

Also, now we have a Grandmpa Rick (aka my best friend’s dad). Rick has been in the concrete business forever, and was super generous in helping us get these stairs realized. The plan was that I would put in the sweat equity, but soon after the project started it became clear that my only job was to make sure his coffee cup was full – even though I would’ve loved to get in his Bobcat. There is not much chance these steps would’ve happened this year if it wasn’t for him being so generous with his time.

Deuce Cities Henhouse | Front Steps Before
Alright friends, here is the before. I’m sure you can see how bad off these steps (aka pile of rubble) were, there was no way that they were getting cut off the to-do list for another year. These stairs had taken all the abuse they could handle, I mean, they were most likely 100 years old.

Concrete Front Stoop | Deuce Cities Henhouse

Deuce Cities Henhouse | Front Steps Progress
ON THE LEFT : The demo takes about 5 minutes. Bobcat’s can do lots of cool things including tear up your yard, but I don’t mind. Look, it’s gone! Cool things revealed during this process; there are footings under each side of the steps and a shadow on the block columns to the left and right of the door suggesting that there was some sort of similar stoop situation here when the house was built, most likely removed during the later part of the 20th century to modernize them. Anyways, I’m feeling really positive about where things are headed.
ON THE RIGHT : The guys spend the afternoon doing lots of hard math stuff and coming up with these forms. There will be two concrete pours, the first being the sides of the stairs (aka the baluster, aka the stoop part), the second being the stairs and walkway.
Deuce Cities Henhouse | Front Steps Progress
ON THE LEFT : I let my kid stay home from school so that he could watch the cement mixer come to our house and do it’s thing. He was losing his mind over it, and I felt like it was a good mom move. I mean, a little truancy in the name of big trucks ain’t gonna hurt no one. However, that cement mixer is on my shit list, there has to be a better way to deliver cement than to maul my lawn, especially when you have at least two more of those cool extender things hanging off the side of your truck – you know those tubular things that are supposed to be used to make it easy not to destroy stuff? The balusters are all concrete with little to no backfill, they go right on the footings.
ON THE RIGHT : First pour is complete, steps are left to dry overnight. They remove the forms from around the caps so that they can smooth them out. Because the balusters are so large, my dudes wait until the next morning to remove the forms from the sides.
Deuce Cities Henhouse | Front Steps Progress
ON THE LEFT : Bright and early, the forms are removed from the side columns and work begins to frame out the steps and walk. I was freaking out at this point because it was all coming together and looking so awesome.
ON THE RIGHT : The stairs and walk are back filled and the second round of concrete is poured. This concrete driver did a much better job of avoiding the yard and taking out my boulevard garden instead.

Concrete Front Stoop | Deuce Cities Henhouse
I’ve never gotten to be in the front row to a concrete pouring situation. I was pretty impressed with how it all went down. The concrete goes in the forms and everyone works like crazy to get it smoothed out before it begins to set. Even the concrete driver has to make a mad dash to get his truck cleaned before the concrete begins to dry. Also, everyone on the site does this dance with a cigarette hanging loosely from their lips, which is truly amazing.

Concrete Front Stoop | Deuce Cities Henhouse
We need to come up with a nickname for our gang, right now the best thing we have going is “Stoop Group” which a Michelob Golden Draft guzzling bearded neighbor came up with. It might stick.

Tell me something, are concrete steps unique to Minneapolis, or are there other places that subscribe to this sort of entry point? In Minneapolis nearly every old house was built with concrete front steps, whereas I feel other cities have wooden steps. Like if you google “concrete front steps” your options are very limited, and it’s kinda like google doesn’t know what you are talking about. Am I using the wrong terms? What’s the deal. If someone could shed some light on this, I’d be very happy. Also, all the front steps in Minneapolis are about 90-100 years old and are all falling apart, the concrete biz is about to boom.

Concrete Front Stoop | Deuce Cities Henhouse

Concrete Front Stoop | Deuce Cities Henhouse
So it might not be perfectly realized yet, but it’s getting there. I spent the better half of the last week digging out my flower beds, removing and installing the edging (again) and grading the front lawn. I’ve moved at least a yard and a half of top soil, and am feeling buff (and sore). Now I’m waiting for grass seed to grow, and thankful that we got this taken care of at the beginning of the season, allowing lots of time for healing during the summer.

Sometime in the coming weeks I plan on taking a trip to the architectural salvage place and finding a pained storm door. Maybe one day we will spend all the money to remove the asbestos siding and restore the clapboard siding, trim and soffits, maybe we’ll restore the porch windows at the same time, and maybe someday the the big dream would be realized. Maybe.

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in Around the House, Outdoor

Soaker Hose Irrigation System

DIY Soaker House Irrigation System | For Raised Bed Gardens
Guys! Sorry for the lack of posts lately, but it just turned spring here, like yesterday, and I haven’t been able to do anything except stare at small green things that are growing in my yard. It makes for very boring blog talk. However, I have been up to a few little projects that you guys might be interested in, like creating a new irrigation system for ma raised bed gardens, installing landscape lighting in my backyard, and watching some very hard working dudes build me new front steps. Patience grasshoppers.

It has taken me everything in my being to come inside and write this post, but you are my internet bros, and I won’t leave you hanging.

So, today I’m talking about how I’m really bad at watering my veggie gardens. In the past, I have been known to either forget to water my gardens (’cause it’s just such a pain to hook up the hose and turn the tap on), OR I’ll turn the water on and forget to turn it off, for like, days. Sorry environment.

My focus for this garden season is to get a handle on watering and general give a shitness. After I sow my seeds, I kind of just let it go, and forget to weed and water. I have decided to go back to good old straight rows, instead of the square foot method (which I had been using previously). For one, I am a crazy person and I much prefer the order of rows, secondly and most importantly is that I can water the garden much more effectively if I have it planted in rows, and thirdly I hope to become a better, more efficient weeder. In the past I would just throw a soaker hose in the garden snaking it back and forth and keeping my fingers crossed that it would water a decent amount of the plants. It didn’t. With this new watering setup, I will ensure that all my plants are getting watered at the roots, and the timer will ensure that I don’t leave the hose running for days and days. Win.

DIY Soaker House Irrigation System | For Raised Bed Gardens

DIY Soaker House Irrigation System | For Raised Bed Gardens
There are three main parts to the system; a soaker hose, a traditional garden hose, and couplers. Basically, use a scissors to snip the hose to yer desired length, this makes it super customizable, bros! There also all sorts of accessories and parts that go with it so that you can make it into whatever cool shape or design you like – you can even add a drip system if you have big plants like tomatoes to water. I do not have plants like this, so the soaker hose seemed pretty tryll for what I was going for. I buried part of my hose under the pathway between the garden bed and the spigot, this means I don’t have to unhook the hose every time I needed to mow the lawn. Also, I added a splitter to the tap so that I could have a dedicated spigot for the veg gardens, and another for everyday watering. ALSO, there is a timer, and that is essentsch for my situation. All I have to do is turn it on for half an hour in the morning when I go on my daily garden inspection. Just like Ron Popeil use to say, “set it, and forget it, budz”. So now we wait and see if it this plan really works, if I am a gardening genius, or if let myself down and still forget to water and weed. Only time will tell.

PS I’m sure I forgot to mention a bunch of stuff, but I’m just so antsy to get back in the garden. Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll try and answer them. Also, I hope you guys have a great weekend.

PPS, I found this system over at one of my favorite gardening sites, Garden Supply Company – what other sites are cool to look at if you love looking at gardening stuff??

DIY Soaker House Irrigation System | For Raised Bed Gardens

DIY Soaker House Irrigation System | For Raised Bed Gardens

DIY Soaker House Irrigation System | For Raised Bed Gardens

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in gardening, Outdoor

My March Garden

Sedum


I’m getting so excited that it’s almost garden time. Spring is my favorite time of year, and I am dying to get my hands dirty. I especially love that gardening is one of those things where there is always room for improvement. I couldn’t be happy if it was just done and there was nothing to do or improve upon.

I’ve just ordered some soaker hose for irrigation in my raised beds. It’s not a super pro set-up but it will be more sophisticated then what I have going on now. I’m excited to see if this new system will have big effects on this seasons veggie crop. I’m also going to be trying my hand at DIY landscape lighting. Now that the gardens are becoming more mature, I think it’s the perfect time to add lighting, like real-deal grown up lighting. Don’t worry, I’ll post about that too. Also, the front steps will be finally replaced this summer with new concrete steps, which in turn will effect the shape of the surrounding garden beds. Our front steps are a huge embarrassment and have been on our to-do list for years, so to get them taken care of will be a huge relief and a big improvement to the curb appeal of the house.

So, things are happening, and this March garden is just the start. I can’t wait to share lots more as the season progresses.

 

Bleeding Hearts

 

Lamium

 

Rose Buds

 

Hosta

 

Day Lilies

 

Heuchera

 

Allium


I planted two bulbs last fall and have only seen one so far – still have my fingers crossed.

 

Peony

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in gardening

House Plants : ZZ Plant

House Plants to Love : ZZ Plant
Hey Guys! I wasn’t expecting to take so much time in-between-posts, I had put this one all together and hoped to finish it during the course of a long train ride, but instead I just decided to not finish it. The fam and I went on a much needed vacation last week. The boys have finally reached an age where the make decent traveling companions. We headed out to the west coast to start our vacation journey in Portland, however we made the mistake and took the discount airline, Frontier. Due to a delayed flight we missed our connecting flight and the airline was unable to book us on another flight (so lame). So, we scrambled, emptied our wallets, and somehow made it to Seattle at 2AM, just in time to hop on a train. At least we got to see the entire west coast from top to bottom, which bt-dubs, was insanely beautiful. Did you guys know that spring exists in other places? We got to Seattle just as the tree buds began to open – so jealous. We ended up a few days later in Palm Springs where we rented a beautiful house. I don’t want to tell too much cause my plan was to do a whole trip recap sometime in the near future. For now I am in bed with a cold (cause that’s what happens after the best vacay) and struggling to finish up this post.

On to business, today I’m sharing a newer favorite house plant, the ZZ plant (aka Zanzibar Gem). Let me start by saying that I have four of these things, and have never had as much as a wilted stem no matter how much I neglect them. I purchased my first plant about two years ago, enough time to learn that these guys are slow growers. Here in the midwest, the ZZ Plant usually puts out a few new shoots around the new year which take about 2-3 months to be fully realized (warmer temperatures will typically result in more growth). The thing I love about them is their vibrant green, glossy, symmetrical leaf pattern. It’s so perfect it can often be mistaken for plastic, but don’t be fooled my friends. For all you brown thumbs out there, this plant can tolerate low-light and neglect, and still pull off babe plant status.

These should be easy for you to find, almost every big box hardware store, and blue and yellow swedish wonderland sells them. The ZZ Plant prefers moderate to low light preferring to be kept out of direct sunlight. Shoot for anything but a south face window and they should be okay. If you notice curling brown leaves your plant is getting too much light and should be placed in a shadier locaisch. They prefer to be watered lightly and appreciate drying out between drinks. Too much water can cause the potato-like rhizomes to rot, and the leaves to yellow. If you see yellow leaves take this as your sign to take it easy on the water.

Please take note that this plant is poisonous, give it a home on your mantel or tall dresser and don’t feed it to your kids for dinner.

Botanical name:
Zamioculcas zamiifolia

House Plants to Love : ZZ Plant

Light:
Keep this one away from direct southern light. This plant will be happier in indirect light or a moderately shady section of your home.

Watering:
If you do anything, underwater this plant. Make sure to let it dry out between waterings, and water it lightly.

House Plants to Love : ZZ Plant

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in Indoor Plants