The Dead Zone Revisited…

This Friday and Saturday were so hot, we decided to skip the island and put a little more work into the dead zone. We planted some perennial bulbs in the planters, but they looked very sad. After a trip to the nursery, we also found out that unless we wrap the boxes for the winter, all the perennials will not survive the winter anyway.  The planters are to large  to move and we hope to fill the boxes with some evergreens in the winter so it looks nice all year, we decided to fill it with some annuals.  I am disappointed that we will have replant every year, but I do love he result.

did a lot of work on the island…I’ll try to post again this week with some updates.

I have not done much knitting lately….I just started remaking my Captain Kirk beer cozy.  I gave my last one away.  I really think I need to get started creating some patterns for some of the other Star trek seasons soon….

Considering how little I have been posting about knitting, I think i need to change the name of my blog.  Any suggestions?



Long Time No Post

Work has been crazy!!!! To many projects going on at the same time!  So what (other than work) have I been up to?  Island stuff of course!  🙂

Until this spring, the island only had two types of trees…Silver Maples and Black Walnut.  So this spring, we planted a bunch of fruit trees (apple, cherry, peach, plum, pear and apricot).  I may have to remove some black walnut trees from near the fruit trees….I have been told that silver maple is one of the few trees that can survive near black walnut trees (they put out toxin into the soil around them).  So far, so good.  The peach tree has peaches on it already!  🙂

We took Friday and Tuesday off around Memorial day, so we have 5 whole days on the island!!!!  I spend one whole day pulling out nettles….I HATE those plants (they sting) !

Now we are finally on to building on the island.  First up…a bathroom please!!  I was torn on this one for a long time….do we put in a septic system or go with an outhouse or a composting toilet.  Well, after reading that a septic tank has to be pumped out from time to time, I thought it was a bad idea…I don’t think any company can get to an island to pump it!  Our last trip to St. Martin, we stayed in a cabin that had a outhouse on the side, and I hated the way that smelled!  And composting toilets have to be emptied out….gross!  So I found one more solutions….a tree bog!!!  It is a composting toilet that you NEVER have to clean out!  Basically, you build an outhouse that is at least 3 feet up off the ground.  Underneath, you have hay, wood chips and/or ashes and around the outhouse, you plant willows and other nutrient hungry plants.  The waste from the outhouse falls into the wood chips below and turns into compost for the willows!  Just add more wood chips/ashes after using the outhouse.  I hope this does not smell like a outhouse smells….  Also to help with the smell, we are building the outhouse with cedar siding 🙂

So to get materials to the island was a challenge…we had to boat it in…

It took three trips to get everything over!

So far, we rented a pole digger,

it was difficult to use….on our first try, it got stuck and we had to dig it out.  We found that adding water as we went helped a lot….

and used 8′ long 4x4s that we place 4′ feet into the ground) and added some support of 2x4s around the structure and have the  floor in place.

I have the frames completed for all the walls except the one with the window, Menard’s did not have the window in stock last weekend, and I wanted to wait to put the frame together until I could see the window actually fits i the space.

After working very hard (and getting very sore), the last thing  I wanted to do was cook, so we ordered a pizza…and they delivered!!!  We just had take the boat and meet them across the river.  AWESOME!

Last weekend I also found the biggest spider ever on the island..huge and creepy…..he was as long as a D battery!  I was in the tent and he crawled up the screen (on the outside thank goodness), so I got his picture:

But other than the work and the spider, it was a great long weekend on the island!

Tom caught a big catfish

We had a huge bonfire

The dog had a great time….she love the mud and the boat

Heading back there this morning for more work and play!

The Dead Zone – “It’s alive!”

Last weekend, Tom & I did a lot of gardening to add some life to the dead zone.  I built the planters from y previous post.  I think the came out pretty good!

I am so excited, some of the plants that I was sure died last year are coming back.  I the top right corner of the picture above are Geraniums!  They died off completely last year, but the Geraniums in another area of the courtyard stayed green all winter, so I was sure these were goners.  But there they are! Last year my mother-in-law wanted to get rid of some ferns (score- free plants).  They turned brown and dies after the transplantation, but they are popping up this spring!


Here is the work on the planters.  They are both constructed with 2×6’s and 2×2’s.

For the larger planter, we cut 6 pieces of  2×6’s at 5′ each, 6 pieces at 2′ and four pieces of the 2×2 at 16″ for the inner corners.

For each of the smaller planter, we cut 4 pieces of  2×6’s at 2,5′ each, 4 pieces at 1,5′ and four pieces of the 2×2 at 10.5″ for the inner corners.

A little stain goes a long way!  I love the color 🙂

We cut holes in the back of the planter to run a soak house through the planter so no watering will be required.  I filled the planters with some bulbs that like shade, I hope they come up soon.

I also got new stones for a path back to the bird feeder by the planters.

Heidi likes gardening, it means she gets to hang out outside all day!


Today, I am planing on adding some more dirt to the planters (there has been some settling), planing more seeds on the roof, and plant morning glory seeds along the fence.  If I get the time, I have more stones for a path back to the hose.  It would be nice not to have to walk through the plants and dirt every time you need to get the hose!

I will have re-post when all the planters are up!



The Dead Zone

Our courtyard has an area I call “The Dead Zone”.  It is a large area were nothing has grown since the building did tuck pointing 2 1/2 years ago.

Another problem with this area is inconstant watering.  So I am planning on getting some soak hoses with a timer, luckily, the current house is just around that right corner!  I have some plans for this area that I hope to complete this spring. I think added some planter boxes can add some height and interest to this spot.  My husband needed a visual ot make my palns more clear, so I created this in paintbrush on my Mac (sorry, it is not very good, I am no graphic designer!)

I also need to update the path on the side, I am hoping to get some thicker stones…maybe read to go with the bricks of the building. 🙂

I need to look into some more shade friendly plants, but I  planning on using periwinkle as ground cover for some large brown areas..

The area used to be filled with ivy, which looked great, but it keeps climbing the building and causing damage.  But periwinkle not only does not climb, but has some nice flowers all spring and summer long!!


I know I have not picked up my knitting needles in some time…today is so nice outside.  There were cardinals, robins and starlings everywhere! I took a ton of flower pictures!Happy St. Paddy’s Day!!!!!!

Beautification Commitee

We live in a condo in a building that was converted to condos in the ’90s.  It used to be a very old factory so it has some great exposed brick walls and high ceilings with think beams.  Last year we started a beautification committee to try to get some of the community areas looking a little better.   We have a very shady courtyard in front of the building and a rooftop deck with a grill.  The roof only had one old plastic picnic table that was starting to bow and a grill and some plastic chairs that you would have to bungee to the railing so the wind would not move them around.  Last year, my husband and I focused on the roof top.  We build some slated benches, an planter bench.




All of the plans for these benches are from the book

Big Book of Home How-To (Better Homes & Gardens (Paperback))Big Book of Home How-To (Better Homes & Gardens by Better Homes and Gardens






We added a picnic table and recycled the old picnic table. We took the old picnic table apart and replaced the plastic with wood.  We repainted the metal and stained all the wood.  I love the result.

Here is the before for the rooftop last year

and the after:



In the courtyard, I tried planting some free plants I was able to get and bought some 50% off bulbs.  He bulbs were on sale, because it was the end of the season and most of these bulbs did not come up.  We also have a big problem with too much shade in the courtyard.

We added some bird houses and bird feeders and a  bird bath as well. I put some old yarn in a suet holder for the birds.







I think the birds are appreciating it!


We also had one member find this great sculpture.  I think it looks great.



We tried adding a path, but the stones are very thin, and it seems to have sunken.

We bought some large planters and filled them with some bight flowers for the summer.  This winter, we but some evergreens in there so there was still some color for the winter.

Today was such a beautiful day (60’s and sunny!!!!!), we bought some flower seeds and painters plastic.  I am hoping this woks so we can save some money on plants for this year. We planted the seeds in the pots on the roof and covered it with the plastic and some painters tape to create a little green house.  We see what happens!


This year, we need to do some replanting in the pot on the roof and in the courtyard.  I also would like to find some more shade appropriate plants.  I am also planning on adding a soak hose a with a  water timer for the largest area of the courtyard.  The hose would not have to cross the sidewalk here. and this area is looking really bad because we did some tuck pointing that killed everything.  We know refer to this area as “the dead zone”.  I am really hoping I an fix this.  I will have to post more when I have more definite plans for this year.