I have a large 16′ x 16′ deck off of my back door that has served me well, but it’s time for a change.  It’s been a great outdoor room to use for entertaining, especially since the rest of the yard has been either jungle or mud.  But, the deck has also been limiting.   The design of the deck was such that when you came out of the back door you were cut-off from the rest of the yard by the high and heavy-looking railing, the stair placements were also awkward, and there was no shelter so the deck becomes slimy and slippery most of the year.

I’ve had this vision of simply cutting off a corner of the deck and moving the stairs to open up the flow while leaving enough room to BBQ and sit at least 6 people.  Then, covering the remaining portion of the deck with some sort of shelter.  My hope is that by covering the remaining deck I can keep the slime factor down, extend the usable season of the deck, and make it easier to bring Murphy in the backdoor on rainy days (that would be everyday here in the sunny Pacific NW).

Stage 1, completed this last week, was to remove the corner of the deck and move the stairs to see how it feels.  So far, so good, there are a few tweaks I want to make but overall it has a much better feel to it….and it’s passed Murphy’s initial inspection.

Stage 2 will be to tackle the design and construction of the shelter, the railings, and the permanent stairs.  I don’t want to recreate a “closed in” feeling so keeping the railing and overall design as open as possible, while keeping it safe, will be critical.

I think I’m going to take some time to “sit with” this new open feel and see what comes to me….meanwhile I need to turn my attention to the large pile of hazardous nail littered wood that Murphy finds so irresistible.

Square Foot Gardening Templates

I ran across a blog the other day that was touting the benefits of making your own square foot gardening template out of left over plywood.  Great idea I thought…but somehow, between the piles and piles of wood I have, I didn’t have any random pieces of plywood.

by Chiots Run

I really didn’t have anything that would work.   I gave up on the idea for a bit and then ran across a comment on that same blog that suggested using a muffin tin for a template.  Brilliant!  I love it when I can use kitchen type things for multiple purposes.  The result?  Perfection!

In the photos above, I used the standard muffin tin for beets and the brownie pan (in this case it’s silicon) for radishes.   I just depressed the pan into the soil the desired depth, dropped in my seed and put a handful of seed starting mix on top.  Done!

I haven’t tried square foot gardening before so I’m excited to see how it works.  The OCD part of me LOVES the “order” inherent in the system!  Let me know what creative templates you’ve come up with and/or your experience with square foot gardening!

Also, if you are interested in building raised beds, you find find the design I used (bed partly shown above)  here!