Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Place I Live: The County Fair

I haven’t been to the OC Fair in about 10 years. What I remember is rides with flashing lights, carnival games and cowboy style crafts. Nowadays the rides are pretty extreme and the food bigger than the big top. They had 18 inch corn dogs! The carnival games don’t take paper tickets anymore and the balloon dart game was disappointedly played with a hacky sack ball.

The one thing that has stayed is the animals and I was super excited to see all of the babies. We first visited Centennial Farms where we pet a little brown calf and saw a litter of 7 piglets. There was a short presentation on vermicomposting where we learned that you can germinate your seeds in the worm generated compost for the extra nutrients. We’ll totally put this to use when we plant our fall garden.

We made our way to the other side of the fair where the show animals were on display and caught the end of the Alaskan Pig Races. They were pretty cute running their little track. At the petting zoo we fed goats in the mom and baby pen. One of the handlers lifted up one of the kids so we could get a closer look. That was the tiniest animal we saw that day. I’m pretty sure the largest animals were the pair of oxen that each weighted about 3,000 pounds.

I was very impressed by the “There’s No Place Like Home” exhibit that was next door to the wood crafting area. I snuck off with my sister Stacie to check out the cakes and chocolates on Sweet Street while Jeremy voted for his favorite woodcraft.

Already on a sugar high just from the smell of all the sweets, I was wide eyed as we passed the last of the cake displays and I took in all of the vintage eye candy. They had a wonderful display of vintage kitchen appliances in beautiful pastel colors, accessorized with Pyrex bowls and mixers. As I looked around I realized there was literally vintage from floor to ceiling!

Vintage aprons hung from the ceiling with twinkling lights and colorful Bundt pans were displayed on makeshift walls. It was magical! There was a place setting competition with very elaborate themes. My favorite was Alice in Wonderland by far.
The beer competition entries were displayed in the same area and included many vintage elements like a Chevy trucks, charcoal grill filled with beer bottles and hub caps and license plates hanging from the walls. Jeremy was impressed by the amount of entries and is looking forward to finding out about a local home brewery for his beer reviews at J’s Workbench.

Although we didn’t experience any of the extreme rides and Stacie was the only one to win a prize, we had a fantastic time ogling the vintage displays and petting the larger than life animals. They have a really cool deal on Saturdays and Sundays…$2 entry!  We just might have to go again.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

DIY Container Irrigation System

If you are anything like me you might forget to water the garden and plants every so often. And by every so often I mean that Jeremy spends more time asking me if I watered the garden and plants than I actually spend watering. When he suggested an irrigation tool to help me limit how many times I’d have to water the tomatoes we planted in our bucket containers I was all about it.

Lunch Meat Containers
¾” PVC Pipe

Grab one of those lunch meat containers that you have lying around your kitchen and drill some holes into the sides and top, turning it into a colander.  You might have to use small bits and work up to ¼” like we did since the plastic is so soft. This is going to be your water reservoir. The holes are going to allow water to enter the container and essentially feed water to the plant from the bottom up.

Drill a drainage hole into the side of the bucket, level with the top of the water reservoir. This hole acts as a guide to make sure the plant isn’t overwatered. When watering the plant, the water level inside will reach the height of the hole and seep out, letting you know you’ve added enough.
Next cut a piece of PVC pipe. The piece should be the length from the top of the water reservoir to just above the top of the bucket. The PVC pipe is used to get the water to the reservoir directly. 
Since your water reservoir is holding the water delivered by the PVC pipe you won’t have to water your plant every day. Depending on how hot your summers are you can skip 2 or 3 days between watering your plant. The soil around the reservoir will actually draw the water up to the plant roots. Neat stuff right?
You don’t need anything fancy to keep your pieces in place. Some lightly packed soil will do the trick. Place the water reservoir in the center of the bucket and the bottom of the PVC pipe opposite and level with the drainage hole. Scoop the soil in and it all should stay in place. If it is still loose, pack the soil a little by hand.  When the bucket is ¾ of the way full with soil, add your plant. If you are transplanting from a container like we did, remember to separate the roots a bit before placing the plant in the soil. Add more soil to keep the plant in place and you’ve put together a nifty container irrigation system.

The last step is getting the water into the water reservoir. Take your hose and fill the PVC pipe slowly by just barely opening the hose valve. Give it time to drain so that the top of the plant doesn’t become flooded. It will take a few minutes before you see water seep out the hole on the side of the bucket. Note: it will be water seepage. I was expecting a stream of water out of the hole but as Jeremy pointed out, the water isn’t under pressure so nothing spectacular here.

Monday, July 2, 2012

DIY Painted Bucket Planter

When you are given two tomato plants and have nowhere to plant them you can decide to turn up the creative vibes in the garden and create a colorful planter out of buckets, paint and tape! Follow along for an inexpensive project to give a pop of color to your garden.
Bucket or two

Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch spray paint

Sand Paper (emery paper works best on plastic)
Painter’s Tape

Soil for container planting


For the buckets you can visit your neighborhood bagel or donut shop and ask if they have any spare ones. There's a chance they throw them away so they don’t mind giving them to their favorite customers for free. Lightly sand the entire exterior of the buckets to remove that glossy look and help bond the paint. If you are using Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch that bonds to plastic there is no need to primer your buckets. If you are using a paint that does not bond to plastic try Rust-Oleum spray primer before painting. Be sure to let the primer dry completely before continuing. Note: We primed our buckets before we bought our paint so we ended up with primed buckets and paint that bonded to plastic. Oops! Try not to make this mistake or you’ll end up with peeling paint when you remove the painter’s tape.

Decide on the look you want – vertical stripes, horizontal stripes, two colors or three? We went with vertical stripes and chose summer squash, granite and lagoon as our color palette. Using a flexible measuring tool like a seamstress measuring tape, mark where you want your stripes and what color they will be. If you choose vertical stripes make the marks on the bottom of the bucket so they won’t get lost while painting.


After choosing your first color you can paint the entire bucket or only where you marked out for that color, whichever is easier depending on your design. Don’t forget to paint on a work surface like cardboard so you don’t make too big of a mess. Make sure you let the first color dry at least overnight. Check that the paint is no longer tacky and then position the painter’s tape over the areas of the bucket that you marked off for that color. This will give you your first set of stripes. Follow these directions with the next colors and you will end up with a bucket lined with painter’s tape and great colors underneath.

When you’ve painted all of your stripes and let them dry, carefully peel back the painter’s tape to reveal your colorful bucket planter! If any of the paint peeled away with the tape don’t worry – spray some paint on cardboard and use a paintbrush to apply it to the bucket. Two coats should do a great job at covering up any imperfections. If you are a daily waterer drill a few drainage holes in the bottom of the bucket. Now you are ready to plant away!

Don't want to water everyday? Come back tomorrow for step by step instructions on the irrigation system we added to our bucket planters.

Like this post? You'll love the Scrap Wood Planter project over at J's Workbench.
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