Home > What's up in your garden? plus gift cards, and the ultimate diy patio

What's up in your garden? plus gift cards, and the ultimate diy patio

April 19th, 2013 at 03:38 pm

I'm totally amped about my new kitchen garden and patio projects this year, but let's just say the hard reality of hard labor to make it all happen is sinking in!

I started all of the seeds for our massive (and still under construction) kitchen garden about 10 days ago, and so far so good. Everything has sprouted except for a Basque-region heirloom pepper called Corne De Chevre. Fingers crossed on that one! I'm using a new set-up with heat mats and inexpensive Walmart plant grow lights this year, in hopes of getting healthier, stronger seedlings.

Our raised beds are constructed, but still empty. Our grand plan was to move some of the soil from our new patio excavation into the raised beds. We're planning to dig out and install a 16 ft by 20 ft flagstone (in sand) patio this spring, with a sunken fire pit and seating. It will be awesome when it's done, I swear.

Our estimates from pros to do the patio job were $8,ooo to $12,000. We can't afford that, so we're doing as much by ourselves as possible. We think we might be able to pull it off ourselves with a lot of sweat and less than $4,000. We found a local quarry with beautiful stones, and they are less expensive than the places by us that ship stone from all over. And local!

Dh insisted on digging the area out with a shovel by hand. I admit he goes into a zen state when digging holes and chopping wood, but it's a big job. I'm going to let him try, but I think it will be tough! My plan now was to rent a tiller, till up the area, then move the hopefully much finer soil into other areas in the yard and garden where we can use it. It should be easier to shovel out than unbroken packed clay earth! We have to clear 8 inches down to lay our foundation of rock and sand.

There is no deadline date, but we do have to have the kitchen garden beds filled, amended and ready to plant by our last frost date, which is May 15.

On the tiller front, after a little bit of research, it was actually cheaper out of pocket to buy a tiller than to rent one locally. I found a highly-rated moderately sized tiller on craigslist (still new in box) and bought it for $45. We'll see how it goes. Hopefully it will make the job easier! And, if I don't have a return deadline, I can take the time to do the front garden as well.

So yes, much happening at our house.

Thanks to craigslist, I've also done a fair amount of spring cleaning and clearing. I got rid of three scraps of drywall and a box of wood lumber scraps from last summer's renovation, got rid of the kid's old car seat, then sold two toddler bike seats and a fireplace screen. I made a dent in the garage and put $50 into the piggy bank.

There is actually a clear space in there! I still have more to list as well-- a cool vintage cruiser bike with a light that's powered by your pedaling, a stroller, tricycles, etc.

The garage clearing out reminded me that my home improvement mantra needs to be -- do the projects you already have the supplies for! I have the pieces to do a lot of little things around the house, and they're just gathering dust. things like shelves we always meant to hang, new toilet seats, things to paint, etc. that have gotten lost on the every-day to do list. Their time is near.

Now, onto the gift cards. In my sorting, I've run across and now have in one place more gift cards than any one person needs.

We have
-$150 in restaurant cards
-$80 in Macy's
- $50 in Barnes and Noble
-$70 for Jo-Ann Fabrics
-$10 in local plant nursery
-$25 in AMC movie cards
- $20 target card.
Just sitting in a drawer. Any ideas on how I might use these to stretch the budget? They aren't places I usually shop, but I have to come up with a plan lest they be wasted.

My only thought: use some of the restaurant cards for our anniversary in May, for a fancy steakhouse we like to go to. It should use up a good chunk.

But I'm open to ideas!

10 Responses to “What's up in your garden? plus gift cards, and the ultimate diy patio”

  1. pretty cheap jewelry Says:

    Hope you are including a permanent area in the new garden for --- COMPOSTING
    It is the best, no cost, eco, good resource thing fertilizer.

    JoAnns - has great storage things (tubs with compartments/lids) to use for garden supplies, also garden decorations but usually of a short-life (ie rust out). They run a coupon almost continuously for 40% of one thing and other deals.

    Barnes Noble - has a very good adult toy/puzzle section. I was just there to get a bday gift for a teen and came out with an optical illusion book. Look for unusual family gifts.

    Macy's - I hardly ever go in due to the perception of high price, and am almost always pleasantly surprised at good deals on the rare occasion I do go in. Today they have an ad in the paper for diamond hoop earrings for $99 (1/4 ct total weight so the diamonds must be very very small, bring a loupe and look very closely to inspect). Still - a very nice wedding/graduation or similar gift. This sale is one of those 9am-1pm Sat morning only things.

  2. ThriftoRama Says:

    All good thoughts. We do compost. We have two giant bins!

  3. JulieA Says:

    I received 2 or 3 gift cards for Christmas that I just wasn't very interested in using for whatever reason. I sold them on Plastic Jungle for cash -- about 90% of face value for most of them.

  4. MonkeyMama Says:

    We usually sell or regift gift cards. Regifting is simpler. Selling is more useful financially. I Second Plastic Jungle.

  5. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    Joanne's might have window quilt fabric, which as the same says, puts three or more layer of insulation on your windows. (My sister used them and her window quilts look much nicer than my totally homemade ones.) Or you might be able to buy a spun poly, gauze, or something to use as row cover and/or filter material for garden projects like making compost tea.

  6. ThriftoRama Says:

    I was thinking of using Joann's to buy some picture frames. We need many more. But, I have been picking up nice like-new frames at thrift stores lately for not much money, so I'm wondering if using the gift cards for that is wise. Even though they are technically free money, I'd like to wring the most value out of them.

  7. Beawealthywarrior Says:

    I've had success with Plastic Jungle

  8. snafu Says:

    For projects whose supplies are already on hand... I've been successful in noting one project each weekend on Phone's To Do list. I don't care if it's done during the week or weekend as long as it's done by 7PM Sunday! We've had to juggle a few if weather related/impacted. At some point Sunday I've prepped for the upcoming week, printed instruction [if necessary] and loaded tools and supplies I figure needed on an old cookie sheet - just like they prep for TV shows. Super important to plug in the cordless drill/screwdriver if that tool is needed for the project.

    The worst part is that some jobs lead to another...can't do X until ABC is replaced.

  9. ThriftoRama Says:

    That's a really good system, snafu!

  10. rob62521 Says:

    You are very busy with great plans. Hope the tiller works out.

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