Photo album: Creative use of umbrellas, new raised beds, wine barrel planters, and metal roof

We’ve had a number of projects going lately and I wanted to share the results of some of this work.  Here goes in a quick photo album.

New raised beds and wine barrel planters

Gardeners must be among the most optimistic of people.  This weekend, with the help of my brother, father, and nephew, we spent a good amount of time preparing beds that will be planted this spring.  This involved the construction of the beds, moving heavy wine barrels, and filling these with combinations of soil, goat and chicken manure, and fall leaves.  Out of all of these, the one that requires the most patience and optimism is the asparagus bed.  We put in a lot of work into this bed this fall, will plant it in the spring, but will then have to wait about three years before we can really start harvesting crops.

Raised beds and wine barrel planters

Raised beds and wine barrel planters

Row of eight rain barrels covered in leaf mulch

Row of eight rain barrels covered in leaf mulch

Creative use of umbrellas

So I was thinking about the wine barrels and how to cover them in the spring and fall to extend the season.  I’ve seen cloches and other items on gardening sites, but they tend to be pretty expensive.  Then I thought about umbrellas.  I found some inexpensive ($6) bell umbrellas and they fit right over the barrels.  I’ll give this a try and see how it works.

Umbrella over wine barrel

Umbrella over raised barrel

Phase one of major infrastructure improvements

We’ve written that we need to replace our roof prior to making any investments in solar.  Well, we can check this one off our list.  As of today, our new metal roof has been completely installed.  It looks great, will be low maintenance, and will serve as a great foundation for future solar installations. 

New metal roof

New metal roof


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11 Responses to Photo album: Creative use of umbrellas, new raised beds, wine barrel planters, and metal roof

  1. Sinfonian says:

    Looking good! Glad to see you have a supportive family like mine. And great work you all did at that. Can’t wait to see how your lasagna composts down into healthy soil for spring. Give any thoughts to what’s going in them?

    Love the cloche idea. Very cheap and creative. And they fit perfectly.
    How’s the greenhouse garden doing? I bet better than my hoop covers.

    And that roof, what a dramatic change! I love it. Have you researched what rebates/tax credits you’ll get going solar? How much you’d need and how that compares to wind? Curious because my brother is interested.

    Great pics, thanks for sharing!

  2. Dan says:

    It does take allot of optimism to be a gardener with all the waiting. Its like planting rhubarb and not being able to pick much for the first couple years.

    Your new raised beds look nice. They are by fare the best system for vegetable garden, the first areas to drain & warm in the spring.

    Good thinking with the umbrella’s, practice and eclectic at the same time!

  3. We considered going with wind power, but the issue with trying to harness wind in our area is that given the height of the trees around our house, we’d need to put the turbine on a 200+ foot tower, which would cause all sorts of easement problems.

    Given the current state of the economy, we’ve put any new large-scale projects (including PV panels and/or geothermal heat pumps) on hold (although we may still try and do the solar water heater). Renewable energy rebates / tax credits will expire in December, so we’ll have to wait and see what the 2009 US Congress and the 44th President of the United States come up with. If the Chevy Volt tax incentives are any gauge, the rebates should only improve over current numbers.

    – Derek

  4. sinfonian2 says:

    Hmm, I’m pretty sure you’ll see expansion of green tax credits, especially with our state congressional delegation. And there’s even the possibility of a bulletproof majority in both houses. Very interesting prospects for green energy. Good luck with your projects. I can understand putting big ones on hold, especially after that new roof, which I expect was pricey. Worth it but a bit of the ouch factor. Well done!

  5. DoubleD says:

    Holy smokes! You have been extremely busy! The roof, new beds, and the whiskey barrels all look great. Pretty exciting to be looking at a solar installation too. We would love to do that – but our house, garage and shop are all too shaded from the trees surrounding us to make that a very practical idea.

    I am most impressed with the umbrella cloche. I have several whiskey barrel planters throughout the place – and will be interested in how that works out for you.

  6. Abigail says:

    I love the planting ideas. I showed the umbrellas over the whiskey barrels to my hubby. We would both like to know how that works out for you.

    We are starting to prepare for a raised bed garden for next year by bringing rocks from our creek bed to make stone walls around them. We have not been able to garden since we got here, but hopefully we will be able to next year!

    Best wishes on your endeavours!

  7. Pingback: Making friends with our Big Leaf Maple « The Zero Fossil Fuel 10 Year Challenge

  8. P~ says:

    Sandy the wine barrel cover is brilliant!! I just got a new wine barrel from my aunt that she wasn’t going to use, I’ll be planting in it next year and now a clear plastic umbrella is totally on my list.
    Everything is looking great as usual! We are the optimistic sort aren’t we? I just did some major garden expanding at my place too, no better time to get ready for spring than in the fall right?!

  9. jengod says:

    The umbrella idea is genius. Nicely done.

  10. Jamie says:

    Love the umbrella idea. I intend to create miniature wine barrel greenhouses and start seedlings with them.
    I am looking at relocating away from the big city. Do you or others have ideas about places that are more sustainable,
    as far as growing plants, raising goats, and political awareness in local government?

  11. Diana Noonan says:


    My name is Diana Noonan. I write for the New Zealand ‘Kiwi Gardener Magazine’. I am writing a snippet about cloches. If you own copyright to the photo of the umbrella cloche on your website, I would be grateful for your permission to publish it alongside my text. I would be sure to acknowledge the copyright holder.

    If you are comfortable with this request, would you mind emailing to me the original of the photo as, for a print magazine, the image downloaded from the Internet would be too small to publish.

    I look forward to your reply. Thank you very much for your time.

    Diana Noonan

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