Satisfying end to a Work Weekend at Our Little House

This past weekend was a work weekend at Our Little House. We started on that to-do list and Dale had a few unplanned projects, such as replacing that heating element in the hot water tank.

The serviceman came out last Monday, spent all of 10 minutes on it, declared the solved the problem without draining the tank and checking the element.

It worked till Wednesday and we couldn’t get them back out here until this Monday, so Dale did it himself.

So much for my praise of extended warranties. We’ve decided we will not purchase them anymore on things Dale can fix, which is quite a lot.

Everyone knows around here that the well water is extremely hard, making it hard on heating elements in hot water tanks. Dale decided if the “Yahoo” who came out here didn’t know that much, he didn’t want him back (besides, I was getting tired of not having enough hot water to even shower).

Now we know the tank is cleaned to Dale’s standards and it’s been properly fixed and everyone from here to Chicago (where the store is based) knows we’ll never shop at their store again.

Dale also got the new window air unit installed and we needed it. We’ve had three days now of near 90 degree or over temps and high humidity.

My main job this weekend – in addition to getting our paperwork ready for the tax accountant and organizing The Belle Writer’s Studio – was planting our deck garden.

Cucumbers in planter


I typically waited, as my mother had for many years, until May 1 to make sure we were past frost season. Although there is still a slim chance for a frost, all indicators with our hot weather this year are that we won’t have to worry.

I got my flowers all in their pots, the cucumber plants in and rotated the pots and dirt for the tomatoes.

When I was finished, I realized I forgot to get the marigolds to set around the tomato plants, something my mother always said would keep most of the critters away.

I try to add one edible plant per year to see how I do. Last year, I tried cilantro (huge fail) and this year, I’m trying jalapeno peppers, as Dale and I have grown quite fond of bacon wrapped, stuffed jalapenos on the grill for Sunday night appetizers.

I didn’t shake up the typical flowers I usually purchase, geraniums and begonias. I only have so much room and so many pots, so I don’t feel the need to make a garden plan, but I know many people do.

When I finished planting late Sunday evening just before the sun set, I realized how satisfying it is to get those seedlings in and how hopeful the spring planting season is.

Do you make a garden plan before planting? What have you planted, or what do you intend on planting this year? Are you planting early?   

Jalepenos and tomatoes


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31 Responses

  1. Jane Boursaw says:

    I do a mix of regular gardening and container gardening. I have a small strip next to the house where I plant mostly herbs and flowers, and mix in a few containers here and there. It’s very mish-mash, but I love it. The husband does a more formal veggie garden on the other side of the house.

    Have been thinking of getting out and cleaning out my flower bed, but haven’t quite made it that far yet. And then it SNOWED here this morning, so I guess I’m not too far behind the curve.

  2. Sheryl says:

    After too many failed attempts (we get sporadic sunlight, and it’s hard to identify “full sun” and “partial sun,” I find I can always rely on pansies, even if the weather turns cold (as it has). They are trustworthy and hearty!

  3. Alisa Bowman says:

    I used to plan–in the days before child. Now I just go with feel and hope for the best.

  4. Merr says:

    I would like to try tomatoes in a container again. Last year we were not prepared for the insects and lost our lovely tomatoes. When we try again, we’ll be more prepared.

  5. It’s so satisfying to get the garden in! I am generally pretty casual about my garden. I always add more than I should, because I can’t say no to anything. I’m struggling trying to find space for tomatoes, though. Jalapenos? Always a hit in our previous gardens. A bit of a struggle here. Trying again, though!

  6. Alexandra says:

    I’m jealous that you can start so early! No garden plan, although I should have one. In New England, we fear frost for a while still, although this year seems very different from most.

    • Kerri says:

      Don’t be too jealous, Alexandra, with the warmer weather also comes an early tornado season, as we saw in Texas yesterday. There are always the downsides. For now, the flowers are blooming and the veggies are perfect. 🙂

  7. Heather L. says:

    We’re still prone to freezing, so I could make a plan. I did that once after attending a community gardening workshop, but it sure didn’t work out like theirs did.

    I would like two raised beds – one for vegetables and one for flowers to get some color in the front yard.

    Your geraniums are beautiful, Kerri.

  8. I think I’m not going to do my container gardens this year. We joined a CSA and I don’t ever get much from them anyhow. I am, however, planting an herb garden. My chives and oregano came up and I am going to plant basil, rosemary, sage, cilantro, dill, and parsley.

    • Kerri says:

      We do buy the majority of our stuff from the local organic store, as well as the farmer’s market. Dale said he doesn’t even know why I mess with it. I love growing and I love going out and picking a fresh tomato and eating it while it’s still warmed by the sun! 🙂 I wish I could do herbs, maybe I will attempt it again next year.

  9. Bought impatiens and tomato plants last week and will be planting them in containers soon. My gardening is hampered by recent shoulder surgery, but I can handle planting boxes and pots for the decks. My raised beds are waiting till this weekend when David can help turn the soil and add some fresh gardening soil. I had no luck last year with an heirloom variety of beefsteak tomatoes, so this year I’ve decided to diversify and have three different species- surely ONE of them will produce! I hate using hybrids instead of heirloom, but really don’t feel like spending time, money and energy on plants that don’t produce. Looking forward to greater strength in my arm so that I can dig into my gardening the way I’d like!

    • Kerri says:

      Good luck with those tomatoes, Kathleen. I purchase hybrids too. I have to have my BLTs in July and I don’t have good luck with heirlooms either! Hope your arm gets well soon!

    • Mat says:

      We had 3 varieties of tomato last year, Kathleen. NONE of them produced–it was tragic.
      Take care to not overwork your shoulder…you only get one on that side!

  10. Heather says:

    Last year I did some tomatoes, banana peppers and jalapenos in pots along with my usual Purple petunias at the sunny side of the house and red impatients on the shady side. This year I am thinking of getting some boxed for the railings of the deck to plant my peppers and tomatoes in. I also planted Rhubarb in the raised area over the septic tank last year and it is coming back up already. This will be the first year I can harvest any of it. The Strawberries I tried to plant last year never came up but the peonies I got on clearance and planted are coming up this year after last year of nothing from them. Glad I didn’t plant something else there last year. My mums are all sprouting. My lillies of the valley don’t appear to have made it thru the winter. I haven’t planted my petunias or impatients yet but I will. i do have voluntary marigolds coming up in various places lol.

    • Kerri says:

      Oh, Heather, I miss my peonies. My mother gave us a beautiful peonie plant for a housewarming gift when we bought our house in the city. I loved it, but we moved at an off time of year to take it with us. The new owners once said we could come and get it, but I’ve never been back in the fall to do so. I also planted iris that a friend up the road gave me two years ago. As predicted, they didn’t bloom last year, but we’re getting beautiful purple flowers this year! Good luck with your gardening!

  11. Lindsay says:

    Since we just moved in a few months ago we will be doing a container garden this year. It’s been kind of fun using our imaginations as to what sorts of containers could hold veggies. So far I’ve only started some basil inside but it’s doing well. This small house has lots of light, if only it had more space for starts : ) We are going to do tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce in pots, as well as the basil when it’s warm enough for it to go outside (We are in Southern Idaho and it’s still 32 here this morning). And I *think* the plan is (if hubby gets to it with our pile of projects) to build a raised bed big enough to hold some carrots and onions. Then this fall we would like to build some terraced garden beds on the hillside next to our house using earth bag and cob construction. Big project though and there’s no way it’s happening before planting time. Do you start your cucumbers indoors or just plant the seeds directly into the container outside? Any garden is better than no garden for us this year. Last summer we thought we might be moving so we missed out on the garden and I missed it terribly!

    • Kerri says:

      Hi, Lindsay! Actually, I purchase the cucumbers and tomatoes already started at the garden center. I’ve never had luck starting from seed. We have large round clay pots for the tomatoes, which usually do pretty well (have to fight off horn worms, though) and a deep long one for the cumbers. I found the shallow ones don’t work as well. Good luck with your container garden!

  12. Mat says:

    We’re skipping the garden this year. The last two years have shown such promise, only reward my diligent watering and careful spacing with undersized fare. I spent some time talking with my sister-in-law (resident gardener) and she determined that our soil needs a lot of prep (too much clay) and that the beds need to be raised to get the right drainage. With everything else we need to do with the house…and the fact that we’re going to try to sell next year, it doesn’t make sense to fiddle with a garden.

    We will grow herbs again, though–and in fact, last year’s flat-leaf parsley survived the winter! Last year, our cilantro grew about 4′ tall before it fell over. The basil did alright, but seems to prefer more sun than our shady window box offers. So I think we’ll do parsley, dill, and cilantro in the shade and basil in the sun.
    To fill our veggie-void, we’ll hit up the farmer’s market more, like we did toward the end of last summer.

    • Kerri says:

      Probably a good idea to skip it, Mat, with everything else you have going on. The only reason I did it with flowers the year we moved was to make the deck at the house in the city stand out. It was a pain moving all of that though. Good luck prepping the house this year. What sized house have you decided on?

      • Mat says:

        We’re both good with smaller–as long as it’s been designed halfway intelligently. Currently we’re in 1188 square feet and the rooms are just awfully designed. So much impossible-to-use space. There’s a 620 square-foot ranch (plus loft) that I designed that we’d love to build, but I’m not sure it’ll really be an option for the next place. Still, with our family workforce (she has 3 brothers and I have 6) and simplicity of design, I bet we could go from foundation to weathertight with electricity and plumbing in the span of a long weekend.

        • Kerri says:

          Oh, I know you could, Mat. We helped my aunt get her little guest cabin up in a long weekend! There were probably 4-6 guys there (it was a long time ago) and they got everything up but the sheetrock on the inside.

  13. Vicki says:

    I have cool season stuff in now,(lettuce, walking onions, mescluns and spinach, chard)under cold frames, but I’m not going to push tomatoes, peppers yet, even though its been close to 90 here. We can have too many surprises here.
    We had a similar problem with the water heater, a temp censor went out and the dealer told us to call a plumber who (supposed) knew how to fix this particular brand of water heater. The guy they sent didn’t even know “how” and didn’t know a thing about the Rheem brand which they were supposed to carry!? So…we drained the tank, undone everything, called the main dealer back, and they talked Dan through the install process and its fixed. And the plumber sent a $70 bill, which we will send to the main dealer as the water heater we had was still under the main warranty that came with the tank. The only thing that the plumber wanted to do was sell us a tank at $1250.00, and that was just for the tank!

    • Kerri says:

      Oh, my, Vicki, the tankless systems aren’t even that much! Ours was filled with the hard water stuff and Dale gave it a much better cleaning than any serviceman would have bothered with. We’re sure this is what was wrong with the last one they told us needs replaced. Dale had never messed with them, but he can fix just about anything after being shown once. Good luck with that garden!

  14. Olivia says:

    I’ll stick to the normal planting times, I think: although we have had a milder than usual winter it’s nowhere near what you had.

    I plant a variety – lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, beets, carrots, onions, spinach, chard, beans, peas, herbs, flowers and whatever else takes my fancy. Last summer was very cool and wet and the carrots, onions and beets did not do well. For some reason I have a feeling that this summer may be drier than normal and with our fine, sandy soil, this can be a problem. Since we are on a well I don’t like to take any more water than necessary.

    Ah well, que sera, sera, I guess. Gardening is always an adventure.

    • Kerri says:

      Good luck with your garden, Olivia, no matter when you get it in. I think you’re wise to wait. Some spots in Colorado are still getting snow.