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September, 2009 | Manolo for the Home
Archive - September, 2009

Winter’s Chill Means Even More Work In the Garden

winterizing a garden

Thought you were done, eh? Not quite! When things get chilly, it’s time to put your garden to bed for the winter. What, you didn’t know that gardens hibernate just like squirrels and bears? I kid. Winterizing a garden is less about cleaning dead things up and more about prepping your flower beds and vegetable rows for the growing season that’s months and months (and months and months if you live where I do) away.

The specifics will vary by region and by preference, since when you winterize will likely be determined by your climate and what you like to plant in your garden, but there are certain rules anyone can follow when winterizing a garden. First, if you have a bit of yard to your name, don’t expect to be able to do everything in one day or even in one weekend. Schedule plenty of time so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Second, when you’re done dealing with the flora, remember to put things like planters and hoses in a shed or basement.

So what does winterizing a garden actually entail? Here’s a basic to-do list for those planning to put their gardens to bed in the near future.

  • Pull weeds, dig up the roots of invasive plants, and pick up any debris like twigs, if you haven’t been doing these things regularly. Raking isn’t a bad idea, either. This gives you a blank slate to start with.
  • Cut down the previous season’s annual plants, like flowers and veggies, then trim your perennials. If any of your perennials need to be divided, now’s the time to do so.
  • Dig up any bulbs unlikely to survive the cold. Cannas, tuberous begonias, gladiolus, dahlias, and quite a few other summer-blooming bulbs cannot make it through the winter in USDA Zone 9 and colder. Then plant hardy spring-blooming bulbs.
  • Prior to the first ground freeze, water and apply antidesiccants to any vulnerable evergreens.
  • Apply a winter mulch to perennials, evergreens, and newly planted trees if you live somewhere where winter temperatures generally fall below minus 10 degrees F. These can also be covered in burlap to avoid common wintertime damage.
  • If you have a vegetable garden, cover it with weighted lack plastic to discourage early weed growth or unwanted seeding in the springtime.
  • Water all remaining plants and apply fertilizer as necessary, but consider that fertilizing later in the season can spark new growth that simply dies when temperatures drop.

Photo by Johan van Beuzekom

Who Doesn’t Love Lego… Just Not Quite This Much

What’s this? An ordinary striped house, albeit one with a somewhat unusual exterior color scheme? Hardly! Once upon a time it was British TV personality James May’s house in in Dorking, UK — he loves Legos so much… well, let’s just say the Top Gear star wanted to surround himself with them.

James-May-Lego-House-1

That’s right, the entire house was constructed using more than three million Lego pieces. With the assistance of 1,200 people, a whole domicile was created, complete with lots of Lego furniture and a Lego toilet that actually flushed. What did the helpers do? They put together full-sized bricks, each one consisting of 272 Lego pieces. Whew!

James-May-Lego-House-6

But May’s Lego house was a temporary one, and the whole thing was disassembled and transported to Legoland, where the pieces will be part of a display that visitors can use to build scale models of whatever.

james-may-lego-house

*sniff* Gone too soon, I say.

A Little Bit Country

Your home can be a little bit country without animal heads on the walls, lots of dark exposed wood, or being a little bit rock and roll. Just like you can be mod without plastic chairs or inflatable furniture. Not that there’s anything wrong with going a really rustic route.

Check these country interiors out for down home inspiration without the gun rack:

country art

A recipe for rustic: take one piece distressed furniture and combine with old world landscapes, vintage art pieces, and crisp white furniture. (via)

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Fantastic Plastic, But Not Really

No, they’re not models. Not entirely plastic, either, even though they look rather like something that came out of an injection molding factory. Jasper Van Grootel‘s Fantastic Plastic furniture collection is in fact classic furniture pieces coated in soft RealSkin rubber.

plastic fantastic 2

I can’t say whether the chairs and sofas are nice to sit on, but I do know that their coating allows them to be used both indoors and out. You can finally fulfill your dream of bringing indoor furniture outdoors!

plastic fantastic 1

Each is available in a whole palette of colors…


The designer Jasper van Grootel, founder of JSPR, keeps expanding the collection every year with new furniture and accessories, completely covered with a thick layer of rubber! The quality of the rubber has now reached its highest level yet because of the new production techniques at JSPR Production. The rubber feels soft and is very flexible and therefore more durable. Any combination of colours is possible.

And all Fantastic Plastic pieces are individually crafted by the artist.

plastic fantastic 3

Any combination? Really? Yes. Besides the 18 standard colors one can choose from, there are apparently an infinite number of custom colors (had for a fee, of course). I’ll take the sofa in the dark pink, thanks!

What Is It?

Look at all that metal… now what do you suppose that is? A paper tray for the modern desk? An extremely low minimalist chair? A little something for the weighty steel set?

ron arad

ron arad design1

Give me your guesses in the comments, and I’ll link to the answer here. Need a hint? Whatever it is, it was created by Ron Arad.

Would You Like Some Books to Go With That Wine?

Looking for a unique storage solution?

Ten Green is a modular shelving system that’s perfect for enterprising highbrow college students, almost everyone in their 20s, my mom, her girlfriend, my MIL… basically anyone who finds themselves with extra wine bottles lying around. Zero-Waste Design, in collaboration with Coach House Trust, designed shelves made from empty bottles and wooden planks, with no glues necessary. That means the shelves are adaptable, eco-friendly, easy to put together and take apart, and portable enough for those moving in and out of university apartments.

wine bottle shelves

You can find the DIY instructions linked off of Zero-Waste Design’s web site — both the technical drawings and the assembly instructions are there. It’s up to you to find the wood and the bottles needed for construction, but a combined trip to Home Depot and the local package store should net you everything you require.

The shelving system is designed for very simple construction, appropriate to the Trust’s facilities such that it could in the future be produced through one of their workshops. It uses reclaimed bottles and wood, and no adhesives, thereby becoming extremely simple to disassemble and reconfigure or reuse for other means.

See pics of different permutations of the Ten Green wine bottle shelves here!

Getting Ready for Fright Night

I just received the season’s first invitation to a Halloween party. I know, I was just as surprised as you no doubt are. Autumn won’t even begin for another twelve or so minutes. But now that I hang with mommas and babies more often than I hang with 20-something hipsters, I guess I’m going to have to get used to extreme advance warning when it comes to holiday parties. Fair enough.

The invitation did get me thinking about Halloween and Halloween decorations and especially Halloween candy, but mostly about decorations since I do write a home and living blog. A quick sweep of Amazon reveals just what I thought it would: goth coffins, bloody handprint cling film, angry cats, severed heads, and goofy grinning pumpkins. There are even Halloween trees and Halloween treesHalloween tree decorations, if you can believe it.

Luckily, decorating for Halloween and other holidays doesn’t have to mean throwing good taste out the window. Suzanna Frosch and Blake Tovin‘ of New York’s lower Hudson Valley demonstrate that you can get ready for a night of ghosts and ghouls without sacrificing your home’s exterior to the Great Pumpkin.

halloween decorations 1

Following their lead involves little more than a pair of scissors and some paper. Country Living has great Halloween decoration templates from white chocolate spiderwebs to upscale jack-o’-lantern designs, and of course, spooky bat stencils.

Let the Fur Fly (Into Your Coffee)

With five cats, it sometimes feels like there is no avoiding cat hair in food and in drinks and on candy and in one’s morning coffee cup.

breakfast in fur

Méret Oppenheim, a German-born Swiss, Surrealist artist, and photographer incorrectly associated with the Dada movement, may have been thinking of this non-perk of mammalian pet ownership when she created Object (Breakfast In Fur) in 1936. While her cup was apparently created from the fur of a Chinese gazelle, it could just as easily been crafted from the leavings of cats or dogs or any of the other animals that shed their fluff into modern homes.

To avoid having one’s breakfast look like a piece of Surrealist art, I heartily recommend that pet owners purchase one of these:

Roomba

Because having a Roomba means never having to say you forgot to vacuum.

Note: Art featuring coffee, tea, and hot beverage accessories is quite abundant. One wonders why… is it their ubiquitous nature perhaps?

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