The Concorde

Last year, on my birthday – actually, wait, TWO birthdays ago, but still last year – Ken killed his Concorde.

See that dent?  That dent means the bike died.

Anyway, he didn’t get rid of it and ever since then we’ve talked about how he really wants to “do something” with the frame.  “We should really DO SOMETHING with the Concorde.”  Etc. etc.  It was going to be art.  But, it never became art.  Then today I decided that it should be incorporated into a trellis in our garden – most likely one for the tall telephone peas.  I think this is a great idea!  We’re totally doing it and will keep you posted on how we incorporate it into the garden and how we implement the project.

Until then, I was curious how other people have recycled old bikes and bike parts into their gardens.  Some of the things I came across were less than inspirational – but others were practical, totally doable, and are projects that I’m actually considering.  Where there is Ken, there is a bike, so it only makes sense that our garden will feature little moments of bike charm.

1.  Recycled bicycle rim trellis:  This could TOTALLY work for a trellis for the peas!  And, in fact, I just noted that in the picture (below), peas are the plant of choice.  I found this on Apartmenttherapy (which is a great blog – though I recently read somewhere that the couple who runs it is getting divorced and, I have to be honest, I kinda feel like someone just told me Santa isn’t real.)  Anyway, I like this idea, but the design definitely needs some tweaking.  For one thing, the rim needs to be atatched to the post in the center with something a lot sturdier than wire or it will never withstand a) the elements (dude, Brooklyn had hurricanes AND tornados last year!) nor b) the weight of heavier plants.

Organic Gardening (in 2009) featured a short instructional article on how to build something like this and used narrow planks instead of wires.  The planks are nailed to the rim through one of the holes for the spokes, which – with some trial and error – I think could be plenty sturdy.

Here is another, fancier, example of bike wheels being recycled to make garden trellises.  This one is pretty, but a little too involved and we dont have THAT much space.

I found the above photo here, but without much instruction (despite the site’s name “instructables”) on how to pull this off.

Here is another structure that I like quite a lot.  I dont think it would work for peas – but if I ever got some clematis, it would be gorgeous to grow it up something like this (either built out back or on the front patio, with the clematis rooted in pots.)

There is a whole bunch of info. about building this trellis, and ones like it, here.

Here is an idea:  Using the entire discarded bike as a trellis.  Plant the bike, basically.  I don’t like this idea at all – but in the interest of being exhaustive in my research:

By the way, while we’re on the subject… where did the word “upcycle” come from? My guess is Philadelphia. Either way, it seemingly came out of nowhere like last year and it really bugs me. UPCYCLE. Upcycle THIS. Up YOUR cycle.

So, in short, we could probably use the Concorde frame to make some kind of a trellis – either stuck in the ground for smaller climbers, or hung from something to support strings, or as part of the greater trellis structure.

2.  Bike Frame Planter:  This is pretty much exactly what I had envisioned.  Particularly if I decide to move our mint (three kinds) from the ground to some pots.  I know that mint will grow like a ground cover, and I was okay with that until I realized we have so many plants in mind this year and not a lot of space.  I don’t want the mint encroaching on everything we plant and being a general creep, so I may decide to pot it.  In which case, I LOVE this idea (minus the gold spray paint):

3.  Bike Frame Fence:  We’d have to kill a lot of bikes to pull this off – but, still, maybe one day?  (Also from Apartmenttherapy).

4.  A Garden Cultivator:  This person made a pretty evil looking tool – a garden cultivator – mostly out of an old bike frame.  I don’t think we have a need for this, but I appreciate the ingenuity.

5. To line the garden: We could, I suppose, always use the frame as part of the border in our garden (not in the planters, I don’t think, but maybe on the other side by the flowers) – kind of like this person in PORTLAND did.

LASTLY, while we’re on the subject of bikes & plants – have you seen these? I don’t get them. Why do I want to take my tillandsias with me as pets? And, also, if people be stealin’ bike lights, they be stealin’ air plants, too.

We’ll keep you posted on what becomes of the Concorde frame!


The roses

On last count, I think we have seven rose bushes in the yard.  When we finally cleared away the vines and weeds last August, some of them weren’t looking so healthy (mostly just spindly, thorned branches w/out leaves), but this year they appear to be coming back healthier and fuller, so we’ll see how it goes.  I was stoked to discover that they are all different colors – and did my best to photograph them as they continued to bloom into October.

The above is the first bud we had after we moved in.  I couldn’t believe how lucky we were to have moved into a place with actual rose bushes of my own.  Years ago, working as a landscaper, I used to spend entire days with a fanny pack full of twist ties and a ladder, training clients’ roses to climb across their trellises and cover the roofs of their houses (and guest houses).  I learned about the dreaded black mold and about how one of the best defenses against it is a completely-organic (provided the soap added is also so) spray – as opposed to thoroughly toxic alternatives.

To control black spot on roses:  Use Baking Soda!

Mix two tablespoons of baking soda into a gallon of water and add one squirt of detergent or soap to the mix. The soap acts as a spreader-sticker to help keep the baking soda on the leaf. The mix should be sprayed onto the rose leaves – both top and bottom – to establish an alkaline leaf surface that will prevent the fungus from establishing itself. This will have to be repeated after a rain as the rain will clean the leaves allowing the fungus a clean leaf to colonize. This mixture will last about a week in normal practice – the dew will wash it off and wind action will abrade it.  (Learn more here)

As a sometimes not-so-daredevil sort of a person, I’m still proud of being the only person on our three man crew who was comfortable standing on the top rung of the ladder and creeping around on a roof without any safety precautions (except my cat-like reflexes).

This was our first full bloom.  Kinda fuschia.  Really vibrant.

These are the blooms on some of the smaller plants that we rescued from near-strangulation by weeds and, primarily, morning glory vines (really pretty but total infiltrators.)

And bright red!

The above picture is our garden a few days ago (late March).  In an effort to nurture and control the roses, Ken built these tiny trellises and attached them to the fence.  I’m hoping we can add more and grow the roses across the fence (instead of straight up and out like messy rose branch spears or across the ground/waiting to die.)  We’re already off to a good start – they’re green and healthy, and their new growth is pliable and easy to bend to our will.