ORC Spring 2020 Reveal – Vegetable Garden & Deer Fencing

Here is the completed vegetable garden & deer fencing I was working on for the One Room Challenge. I’m glad that the deadline was extended because it took me so long to finish. Thinking about the design for the deer fencing was holding me back.

In the end I spent more time thinking about it than actually making it.The fencing ended up being inspired by a combination of a modern deer proof structure by Lauri Kranz of Edible Farms LA and the casual & coastal feeling of Malibu Farm – yes I’m on a California theme now that we’re living on the West Coast.

Inspiration:

Lauri Kranz – Edible Gardens LA
Malibu Farm

Here’s a reminder of what this area looked like last year – in need of some TLC. Now we can maximize our use of this designated vegetable garden area without the deer eating everything.

I started with staining the hot tub and painting the existing raised beds & house trim white (photos link to the process in Week #2)

The Finished Exterior Refresh & Vegetable Garden

These are photos from around the vegetable garden and a look at what we have growing.

Zucchini Growing in a Container
Intercropping Cucumber, Garlic, Spinach
Lettuce, Kale & Lettuce Seeds Sowed 10 days ago.
Snow Peas

 

Deer Fencing Solution

Instead of digging fence posts that may have ruined our irrigation (not to mention our car isn’t big enough to transport large posts) I built boxes to support the chicken wire fencing. I had the cedar 2×4’s cut at Home Depot and then the rest of the cutting I did with my little hand saw and plastic mitre box. I’m not going to do a tutorial on the process until I see how my idea holds up to a snowy winter.

Winterbor & Dwarf Kale
Containers- Cherry Tomatoes & Zucchini

  

There’s a small pear tree that’s in the back along the fence side too as well as two blueberry bushes in the white box beside the side fence. The Okanagan has incredible fruits & wineries and I hope that we have some success with fruit too.

In the past 3 months we have learned so much about gardening and are excited to continue growing more of our own food. Using seeds was new for us and now we are ready to get our beets, swiss chard, arugula and lettuce seeds in the ground for the fall. And now with the deer fencing we shouldn’t have to worry about the deer eating everything.

To see everyone else’s projects check out the page for the Spring One Room Challenge Reveal here.

 

 

 

ORC Week # 7

It’s almost the end of the One Room Challenge, next week is the final reveal. This vegetable garden project didn’t quite get to where I had hoped it would in terms of building an additional pergola but we have had tons of leafy greens so that part was a success.

Everyday, we go out and fill this colander with swiss chard, baby greens, kale and some herbs. I’ve been taking photos to show what we’ve harvested because it is so exciting for us!

Sometimes we pick the Swiss Chard when the leaves are almost full size like this and I slice them into ribbons for a salad.

We make lots of kale chips because that is the only way the kids will eat it.

I’m glad that I bought the Swiss Chard and Kale as seedlings in May because it gave us a head start. The seeds we grew have worked but are way smaller still.

Sometimes we pick the greens in baby size too like the mixes that we usually get from the grocery store.

This is the Candy Cane Swiss chard that I got from the nursery and I love the colour of these stems!

Now we have lavender blooming in another area of the yard thanks to the former owner – what a treat! We have been garnishing drinks with it, adding it to desserts, and enjoying the scent of it inside.

I had been procrastinating with the deer fencing plan…that was until the deer started hanging out in our yard again. I went to get cedar 2×4’s cut and some deer mesh but I haven’t built the fence yet. Getting these materials definitely reminded me of this ORC from 2017 that was featured on Apartment Therapy.

Staining the wood black was tons of extra labour but was worth it. I’m not sure if I’ll do white or the same taupe as the hot tub this time.

Our Kelowna yard with a frequent visitor.

When summer is so short in Canada we are enjoying making the most of it and I’m learning which seeds to get ready for fall planting (carrots, beets, garlic). Cooking and eating salads is way more interesting with lettuce and edible flowers straight from the garden!

Have a look at where everyone else is as the end of the One Room Challenge here.

ORC – Week #6 – Salad Greens

This week for the One Room Challenge for us is all about enjoying eating from our garden and watching it grow. My plan is to eat all of our leafy greens from our garden rather than buying them at the grocery store from June until the end of September (and hopefully longer).

Since the end of May we have been eating all of our salad greens from the garden for 2 meals per day. My Mum was telling me about how my Grandpa’s family used to grow a lot of their own produce in the yard to feed their large family of 8 and also to save money. I’m just a beginner with limited experience with kale and swiss chard but I plan to learn more!

The kids don’t eat much still, just occassional kale chips but this little one loves eating mint and the kale flowers.

We use a colander to go out and pick the leafy greens. We have let the kale get large but for the lettuces I am picking them as baby greens.

I bought these little lettuce as seedlings (Romaine, Leaf & Buttercrunch for $9 total) – I probably could have started them as seed but wanted to get started asap. There has been enough to pick salad every 2 days.

The lettuces are all in the gaps between the tulips. They don’t need a lot of space since I’m not planning to let them grow to full size. Once the tulip leaves are yellow then I will remove them and try adding some lettuce seeds to get the next round going.

We tried indoor seeding this winter but it didn’t give us a head start outside. In about 4-5 weeks the directly sowed seeds have caught up in size to the ones we started indoors in mid March. Next year we will sow seeds straight outside and start earlier in the season.

No new building has gone in this area, for the past two weeks we’ve spent plenty of time here just looking at how everything is changing. We are all learning together. I am also not comfortable digging 2 ft down where there may be irrigation lines to put posts up for a deer fence. I’m brainstorming a different idea.

This kale plant was from last summer and survived the winter and continues to bloom with hundreds of yellow flowers. We see bees going from one flower to the next every time we are outside. The seed pods are starting to form too.

I added 2 blueberry bushes and tomato plants in the pots along this fence line. I’m hoping that these will be foods that my kids will actually eat! These pots were what the trees (that I showed last post) came in. I’m going to build a couple of planters along this edge similar to what I built in ORC Spring 2017 at our last house.

We also added some cucumber seeds in the raised beds. It’s so incredible to see the leaves pop up. It looked like nothing was happening and then suddenly these just seemed to appear!

   

The mint has come back from this box! I guess I never got rid of it but that’s fine with us, at least we can make the most of this raised bed by growing kale and swiss chard here.

A reminder of how the back raised bed was full of overgrown mint when we moved in last summer.

Here’s a selection of the rainbow of swiss chards growing – Candy Cane & Bright Lights.

This is how the kale and swiss chard looked 2 weeks after planting the seedlings that I bought.

This is 2 months after planting the seedlings. Some of the swiss chard was turning yellow from bugs so we are now picking it smaller but meanwhile the kale remains nearly indestructible.

We are feeling pretty lucky to be enjoying fresh garden salads. Salad dressing is one of my Mum’s specialties – this one is based on her Honey Dijon Dressing.

There are also beautiful peonies, poppies and many other plants around the yard from previous owners that I am loving and have inspired some floral arrangements. 

There is so much to learn in the garden. Also the timing of this Spring One Room Challenge being later in the season means there’s way more to show as a transformation even though nature itself is doing the work, not me.

To see what projects everyone else is working click here.

 

 

ORC Week #4- Herb Growing Tips

This week for the One Room Challenge update (where I’m working on our vegetable garden) I have some tips for growing herbs from Isabelle at Paradise Herbs.
Isabelle and her partner Rob, moved from Switzerland to BC last year to start an herb farm. They also have animals, fruit trees and grow vegetables while using regenerative farming practices.

Herbs are so easy to grow and so expensive to buy, and they add so much flavor to a meal. I think a small balcony herb garden could benefit a lot of people.

Herb tips
– If you have a balcony and limited space, I would take 2 window boxes to plant two sets of herbs. Parsley, marjoram, savory and basil for example all take rich soil and lots of sun, so any normal potting soil will do and plant them in the sun. Some small rocks or sand in the bottom would help with drainage though. All of those herbs, except the parsley, are annual and will need to be planted again next year if you leave the box outside. However, if you bring the box inside over the winter, you’ll have parsley at least all winter too.
In the other box, I’d put perennial herbs that like good drainage and put half sand and half soil in the box. Perennial herbs that like good drainage are rosemary, thyme, lemon thyme, sage and oregano. This box should be brought inside at least its first winter (if growing from seed) and especially if you want to enjoy these herbs in the winter.
– You can grow herbs from seed but they require sometime up to 3 weeks to germinate, so do not hesitate to plant them any season inside and expect 80% germination with most herb seeds (50% with rosemary). Within a year though, your rosemary will be 20cm high even from seed.
– Lastly, if you want mint or lemon balm, plant them in a third box alone, otherwise they will take over all the other herbs in the box.
Perennial Herbs:
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Lemon Thyme
  • Sage
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
More behind the scenes from the long farming days and what Paradise Herbs is working on can be found on Instagram below: 

Fresh herbs make simple food feel fancy and even if you don’t have a lot of space, they can be planted in pots to enjoy as Isabelle explained.

Since we’re all spending more time at home cooking, here’s a simple recipe based on Whitewater CooksCool Sesame Miso Noodle Salad‘. I love Whitewater Cooks and their recipes that are healthy, often plant based and uncomplicated to make but so delicious. They’re also based in BC near Nelson and have several cookbooks available.

 

I’m not a food blogger – mealtime is too chaotic at our house to be taking decent photos but this recipe is so simple, summery & satisfying that I had to share. I modified it to only use basic pantry staples that are livened up with the addition of fresh herbs & leafy greens.

Dressing:
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 vegetable oil

Method: Mix dressing ingredients and add to cooked & cooled spaghetti noodles- (run them under cold water) before serving. Toss with fresh green vegetables and chives. Add chopped nuts and protein as desired. Keep the extra dressing in the fridge and you’ll be ready for another quick meal.

Right now in our garden everything is growing and the kids are enjoying picking and sometimes eating the leafy greens.
My older son loves going out to pick our salad greens and loading up this colander before mealtime. Now of course I wish he would eat them!
These are a couple of books that I have found to be useful resources. Edible Landscaping by Senga Lindsay has lots of different edible garden styles that look good and covers everything from rooftop gardens to potager to urban gardening ideas. Edible Spots & Pots by Stacey Hirvela has information about planting combinations, how to harvest herbs and which choices make the most sense to plant.
While my One Room Challenge is about the vegetable garden area I am also going to plant these trees and grasses. This size of pine was much easier to bring in the car than the 6 foot cedars I planted to create a hedge at our last house.
I figure that this is the ideal time to plant trees since there will be no vacation plans so the trees can be watered daily to become established.
To see what everyone else is up to for the One Room Challenge click here.

ORC Week #3 – Vegetable Garden

This week I’m sharing some vegetable garden progress. I’ve been dabbling in growing vegetables and flowers for a few years and every summer I try to learn something new, however my knowledge is still very basic.

These are some of the doube early and parrot tulips that I planted in the fall. I filled one planter bed with about 100 tulips bulbs plus I tried adding some garlic too. In the springtime I love to be able to cut flowers from the garden before planting vegetables.

One thing I learned the hard way before is to leave the tulip leaves until they turn yellow. As tempting as it is to tidy up the leaves they are needed to feed the bulb for the next year, otherwise there will be no flowers the next year.

Now that the tulips are almost done I’ve added some spinach where there were some gaps and I direct sowed some kale seeds as well.

Spinach is supposed to do better in cooler weather so I put some here in one corner of the box with the tulips (I still have to paint this side of the planter).

This is about one week after putting the seeds directly into the soil. I figure I have the seeds left and the space so we’ll see what happens. Growing from seed was a first this year and while it was exciting to watch them grow throughout March and April indoors, they haven’t been very successful.

I ended up turning to store bought these seedlings to get a jump start on the limited growing season in Canada. I definitely have a new appreciation for farmers and growers.

These are the seedlings from the nursery first planted.

Now the swiss chard and kale are filling in. I painted these raised beds with dirt in them so it wasn’t the best job but it’s better than they were before.

Also these chives came back from last year, somethingI didn’t know they did. This kale made it through winter and now we’re hoping that these flowers will turn to seed.

A reminder of what the yard looked like last summer.

Back in the early days at our previous home I would plant kale, swiss chard and brussel sprouts in the gaps between the limelight hydrangeas and cedar hedge that I planted. The trees were small enough that there were still big enough gaps between them to let enough sun in.

We also had success with planting zucchini in random spots in the yard too…like this giant one below!

So if you have an outdoor space but don’t have planters maybe there’s somewhere you could plant directly in the ground. Swiss chard and kale are so easy.

Swiss Chard in September, grown beside a cedar hedge.

 

Next week I will have some advice from my friend Isabelle of Paradise Herbs here to give some tips for growing. She has recently set up a farm in the Slocan Valley BC where they promote self-sufficient living and sell culinary & medicinal herbs.


Last summer Isabelle was visiting for a girls weekend here and suggested getting the overgrown mint out of the raised bed in our yard. That idea prompted me to move it into my front hanging baskets where it can no longer spread out of control – plus it means staying home and using what we already have.

To see what everyone else has been working on for the One Room Challenge click here.

 

ORC Week #2 – Exterior Painting & Staining

ORC-Guest-

Time for the week 2 update for the One Room Challenge. This is the stain that I picked to refresh some weathered cedar outside. These ideas can also be applied to staining a deck, wooden stairs, or outdoor wooden furniture that is looking a little run down by the elements.

I chose a semi-transparent to keep the wood grain showing. For the colour choice I went with a slightly warm/grey/taupe.

I looked through the colour chart for Benjamin Moore Arborcoat Semi-Transparent online and then made my choice. I know that wood stains on the warmer/tan side can end up looking orange so I narrowed down to three choices and picked the cooler shade of grey. I chose Rustic Taupe and was happy with how it turned out. Curbside pick up was easy and contactless when I got the paint, along with a wide brush (pictured above).

Here’s a comparison of how the stain changes, depending on what the base is. You need to sand when using a semi-transparent to make sure the cover comes out even.

The before – this was the most worn area of wood.
After Sanding – Before the Stain

 

The most Worn Area, Now Stained

The actual staining process went quite quickly since I had done the sanding prep a different day. The stairs looked way better and now water actually beads on the surface. I think this colour worked out as a good option to refresh old previously untreated wood.

Worn, Untreated Wood Before

 

After – Rejuvenated Wood

This was last weekend. Now that I have done the easy part of painting and staining I’ve got to figure out how to put up a fence around the vegetable garden area. I still have no idea how to do this, especially without consulting with the knowledgeable staff at Home Depot who I usually get project advice from and lumber cut.

Here’s a glimpse at this area from the same angle as last year. I’ve started painting the planter boxes as well with paint I had leftover from my exterior painting I had started last year.

This is a glimpse at the front door where I started refreshing the front of the house with classic white instead of the mustard yellow it formerly was.

front door shibang

This pear tree is supposed to be for the backyard but I couldn’t help but leave it here at the front door for a few days. I’m trying to be really calculated with garden purchases (I also don’t know how the cost of a tree could be the same as a hanging flower basket). These hanging baskets are filled with overgrown mint that I dug up from the backyard.

This was last summer when I started updating with paint and trying to create more of a beachy look. The yellow wood trim was getting worn in some areas from time and sun exposure. This was the perfect excuse to convince my husband that it was a preventative maintenance project, not just to beautify.

Now that the weather is warmer and we have to stay close to home but want to be outside here are some ideas to refresh what you may already have:

  • Paint the front door a different colour
  • Stain a worn deck
  • Paint a wooden garage door
  • Repair patio furniture (sanding and staining or spray painting corroded metal)

If you’re looking to use an opaque stain on wood it can be tinted any colour you want. I previously did a black from Home Depot on these cedar planters I built. Also, I have another post for painting a garage door and front door.

 

To see the other projects that bloggers and designers are working on at home check out the One Room Challenge page.

 

One Room Challenge – Spring 2020

It’s One Room Challenge time again and I am joining with a small outdoor project to refresh what we already have and prepare our vegetable garden.

Everything is different right now but one thing is the same – paint can make a huge difference to change what you already have and also to maintain materials outdoors. A lot of people are also more interested in growing their own seeds (myself included) so I’ll be sharing some of my trials and errors with gardening over the past few years.

One thing I have learned is that kale is so easy and provides green vegetables for months!

Kale from my garden – it’s so easy to grow!

Here’s a quick refresh of my ORC 2017 where I built my own planters and trellis:

How to Build Cedar Planters

 

This time we already have raised beds so I will just be changing the colour. One difference about our new home is that we have deer that come into the backyard and eat the garden so I will be figuring out a way to build a fence around this garden area. This was last summer with my Father in Law just after we moved in, late July.

Last year I naively thought that this little bit of chicken wire would keep out the deer. Two days later they had decimated the vegetables that I had planted.

I moved what was left of the vegetables into one box and made this ugly arrangement that did keep out the deer and did grow a ton of lettuce and kale.

Vegetables thrive here in the Okanagan. This little raised bed produced these large romaine leaves, swiss chard and kale despite being planted at the end of July.

This year I want to maximize what I grow in these three raised beds while making it prettier and more functional.

Right next to the raised beds is a hot tub that is in good condition inside, but the outer wood needs a new stain to protect it. This umbrella got destroyed by an animal last summer too so I am hoping to build a large pergola for shade.

Project Plan:

  • New coat of paint on previously painted wood raised beds
  • Sand & restain cedar
  • Build a fence for the vegetable garden
  • Build a pergola for shade

This is the back of the house, these sliding doors lead to the kitchen/dining/living room area. There is a large concrete slab patio which is the perfect blank canvas.

I love the look of these simplified pergolas that are an extended size. I would like to build something similar to these quick sketches and images below…we’ll see what ends up happening.

My brother now lives 5 hours away and I was hoping he could visit and help me but we’ll have to see what travel restrictions are looking like in June to know whether or not that can happen.

Fixer Upper

 

Humphrey Munson

 

Meanwhie these kale seedlings are getting ready for the garden soon. This year I had planned to try growing seeds for the first time. So far, so good but I have a better appreciation of buying plants now!

kale seedlings

Lots of other people are working on projects big and small in their homes, here’s the link to see what they’re up to.

 

Spring Branch Bouquet & Wreath

 

While this holiday weekend is looking different for everyone this year, I’m still doing some decorating with natural elements in our yard to make it feel special.

Instead of flowers, I am using branches from our two different maple trees in a vase. I also tried a method for making a wreath that my friend Risti here in Kelowna makes. She uses dogwood branches to make beautiful free form wreathes. This was an attempt in her style, embellished with some maple tree branch ‘blossoms’. The dogwood branches are flexible enough to twist into place and secure with a bit of wire where needed. 

Here are the maple branches in a vase. 

For Easter egg decorating this year we kept it simple – rubbing a frozen blueberry on the hard boiled egg for some colour. The photo doesn’t show the colour that well but this worked. We did a bit of a resist with an elastic band on one.

Happy Easter!

Fireplace Makeover – An Easy Update with Paint

 

Here’s a look at our living room in our open-concept main floor when we first moved in. I was excited to have a fireplace again but this colour wasn’t right for me.

Originally I thought I’d paint everything white, including a wash on the tiles but then changed my mind and I’m glad I went with black instead. At the time it felt like a huge risk but it’s just paint and I was happy with the dramatic results.

Here’s the progress…

Before:  Beige trim and blue walls.

After: Now the fireplace is a feature and I the room has a more modern feel.

Before: The yellow/beige colour didn’t have the same impact with objects displayed.

After: The tiles now look natural and still go with the house.

Now with the black paint, the spotlight at night and natural light during the day create a great space to make seasonal displays.

The fireplace was the first area I started painting, even before the kitchen cabinet makeover I did in December.

This is a wider view of the room before I painted the kitchen cabinets. Once you start changing one area it can start to make everything else look incohesive.

This was not my first time painting a fireplace. 7 years ago we had just moved into our first home near Montreal and this was my first project. The photo will link to the blog post showing how I used chalk paint on the wooden mantel. This is the same couch that has travelled with us from Montreal – Toronto and now Kelowna.

Instead of dreaming of a renovation someday, is there a simple paint fix that could make a big change today?

How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets

After showing this before and after photo of our new kitchen that was done with very little resources, I’ve had a few questions from people wanting to know how to their paint kitchen cabinets.

This is the second kitchen I’ve painted and yes, it takes many hours to do but the results and low cost are worth it.

Here are some before & after photos of our former GTA home. I started by painting the cabinets in 2015, then trim & crown moulding and in 2016 we replaced the counter, sink & faucet and added a backsplash. When it came time to get rid of the old counter, sink and faucet I posted it for free on Kijiji and someone came to pick it up – everything got reused.

After Photo: Heidi Lau Photography

After Photo: Heidi Lau Photography

Materials

These are the supplies I used:

  • Primer -STIX by Benjamin Moore (It is expensive but doesn’t require any sanding!!)
  • Benjamin Moore Advance Paint in Pearl Finish
  • Velour or Foam Roller
  • TSP to clean and degrease the cabinets first – very necessary!

 

I considered renting a sprayer to do the cabinets but instead used a roller since I have limited moments of time to work so I could slowly paint a little bit each day. Also if you’re using a sprayer and working in a garage you have to make sure that the temperature isn’t too cold.

 

Choosing a Paint Colour

There are unlimited colours to choose from. For our last house, I considered a dark colour but since it was a galley kitchen with white appliances I decided on white so that the appliances would blend in and the white would make the small space feel larger.

For our current kitchen, I used the same shade of white as the last time because it worked and I love the name – Vanilla Milkshake. I like classic style and for the number of hours it takes to paint the cabinets, I don’t want to grow tired of the colour.

The shade of beige/grey for the island is Pashmina, which has brown tones rather than purple tones which work with the cooler white.

There are so many shades of white if you go that route and while the paint chip may appear like a dark white it will like a bright white once it’s on the cabinets. In my experience, white and beige/grey look lighter when painted on cabinets.

Cabinet Doors off or on?

For the last house, I kept the doors on to paint because I was apprehensive about taking the doors off and not having the hinges line up properly afterward. It worked fine and I had good light to work with but some areas were hard to reach. It took me one week of late nights and one day to complete this entire kitchen (while my husband was out of town!).

This time I took the doors off and did all painting in the garage. It felt like the process went on forever because I would only work for about 1-2 hours at a time and this kitchen has 24 doors and 12 drawers.

I painted the upper doors first, then the bottom doors, then the drawers.

Each cabinet door needs:

  • 1 coat primer front
  • 1 coat primer back
  • 2 coats paint front side
  • 1-2 coats paint back side

Then you should ideally wait  5 – 7 days until the paint has cured. This step is important. I was eager to restore order and put the doors back on before the paint had cured and I chipped the paint. Even once the paint has cured, small chips happen in frequently used areas like around the knobs and door openings.

Process Photos from Both Kitchens:

The first kitchen had a few more steps after painting. The white opened up this space but it was so basic still. The backsplash was what pulled it all together and the quartz counters elevated the kitchen.

Our Current Kitchen

Priming
Removing Upper Doors – Hardware taped inside each cupboard.
Painting the doors in the garage. I used a brush to paint the inner edge and then followed up with a roller.

Upper Doors Painted

This is how the kitchen looked for one week! It was definitely a relief to have the doors back on.
The outer cabinet doors – BM Vanilla Milkshake vs the island doors – BM Pashmina

This is how the kitchen looked when I was still painting the walls white.

After – Paint, Trim on the island, stools, 2 drawer pulls.

 

More to come with how to add more details to the kitchen such as:

  • Moulding & Trim to Cupboards
  • Choosing a new counter & backsplash tiles
Before – Builder basic kitchen. oak cabinet doors, laminate counter, no backsplash.
After – Painted Cabinets, Backsplash, Trim, Quartz Counters

Photo: Heidi Lau Photography