Terrific Broth

Beijinger in Denver | 北京人在丹佛

Tag: Sunroom

Evergreen Sunroom Garden

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The growing season in west Colorado is pretty short. Evergreen, where we currently live, is in zone 4b. The last frost is in late May, and the first snow fall is usually in September. Compared to central North Carolina, which is zone 7b, the growing season is cut down to half. And the plants and vegetables we can grow in the mountains are very limited.

To extend the growing season and get more fresh vegetables, many people here have green houses. As you might remember from this video tour, we have a pretty large sunroom included in our rental. The tenant who lived here for 14 years built a big rock flower bed in the sunroom and maintained a very successful garden.

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The sunroom can accumulate a lot of heat. It only takes a couple hours of sunshine for the inside of the sunroom to reach 70 degrees. Therefore, I have never seen the water in the dog water station freeze. I have never had a green house before, so I am pretty shocked by the magic a simple structure can do to change the course of nature. Or look at it in another way, how amazing is the sun, that we just need to steal a little bit of its wonder to sustain our living.

As soon as I returned from my oversea trip, we brought back a bag of soil, gathered the egg shells we had been saving since moving in, and grabbed some herbs from a local nursery.

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This rental is a temporary stay for us (we have found another place in Evergreen – cannot wait to show you the pictures!), so we decided to plant herbs instead of vegetables. We picked out lavender, basil, rosemary, thyme, sage, mint, chives, stevia, and a couple annuals to mix in some color.

Almost all of these plants require full sun. But I do not want to under-estimate the power of a few pieces of glass windows. Without proper ventilation, the sunroom can get to 90 degrees in a couple hours. To make sure that these tender plants are ready for hot and dry afternoons, I left them at their designated spots, and watched them for a few days.

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The new soil was worked in, and the eggshells are grounded and added into the soil as well. The herbs got a good nice drink every morning. After a few days, almost all of them showed new growth, as if they were saying,”we like it here!”

Planting a garden is always a precious moment. Holding young, tender plants in my hands, just like holding a new baby, brings gratitude, a sense of new hope, and excitement. Regardless how well they may grow in the future, at this moment, it is good. After planting, the scent of lavender and mint lingered on my figures for hours. Mixed with the smell of fresh, wet soil, it is really the happiest perfume in the world.

The first I planted is the mint. We had such a wonderful mint garden back in North Carolina and it reminds me the happy days there.

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I never had stevia before and am excited to try it out.

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Lavender, basil and chives

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Rosemary

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Sage

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Thyme

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A couple weeks have passed after planting. We since had a couple snow storms, but the herbs are doing very well. Here are them today:

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They have shown quite some new growth and the flower seeds I planted right after moving-in sprouted as well. We might not be here long enough to enjoy all the fresh herbs and flowers, but I am glad that we made this place a bit sweeter than that we came to.

Outdoor Water Station for Dogs

Outdoor water for dogs

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Roxie and Charlie love to stay in the yard. As long as it is not raining, they always prefer lounging outside to sleeping inside.

We always had an outdoor water station for them at our last rental. It was a big glass bowl that takes about two liters of water, which we refilled once a day. Here in Colorado, the dogs started drinking a lot more water due to the dry weather, and the water we put outside evaporates very quickly.

Soon after we settled in, we started to search for a more updated outdoor water solution for our dogs. We had a few criteria in mind when we started our research:

  1. > 1 liter in volume with a big opening.  Charlie drinks a lot of water at a time. And due to his floppy cheeks, he spills just as much. It is better to have a water station that is shallow and big in diameter, opposed to being small and deep. A big opening of the water bowl not only limits spills, but also allows Roxie and Charlie to drink at the same time.
  2. Automatic refill.  To keep the water fresh,  we would like to keep the water under a relative small volume but refresh it frequently. An automatic dispenser that refills itself saves our labor. We have a faucet in the sunroom to which we can connect the water station.
  3. Can be mounted at knee-height.  Roxie and Charlie have no problem eating/drinking at the floor level. However, we would like to have the option to mount the water station higher.
  4. Inexpensive and easy to fix.

After some research, we ordered a low-end automatic water bowl in which the water can be replenished by the hose after each drink.

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Two screws hold the top down onto the tank compartment, which houses a float.

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It is basically the same mechanism that toilet tank uses. And on either side, there is a vertical edge with two screw holes for the option of mounting it higher.

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All the plastic parts can be taken apart and the water level can be adjusted relatively easily by adjusting float adjustment screw.

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After reconnecting everything and to the faucet, we turned on the faucet and watched the water bowl filled.

(It was raining when I took the video. So the water sound you hear from the beginning is the rain, not the faucet.)

There it it. We have used it for almost a month, and it functions as expected. It refills when the water is low, sometimes while the dogs are drinking from it. Roxie and Charlie do not seem to be bothered by the noise it makes during refill.

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Do you have an outdoor water station for dogs? How expensive is your setup – and is it worth the money? For long-time users, do you notice any pros and cons for your setup? We are pretty satisfied with this $15 little station now, but would like to learn how other system performs. Our tap water is pretty good (from a well). But at some point, we might need to filter the tap water before giving it to the dogs. Anyone has experience with water stations with a filtration system?

Video tour – Evergreen sunroom

We spent quite a few weeks looking for rental in Colorado. Our demands are high. The landlord has to be OK with us bringing in two dogs, there needs to be a large yard, the rent needs to be reasonable, and the place needs to be kind of cool. We are always attracted to places that are not ordinary. And renting an “regular” 2b/1b apartment is never an option to us. As you could imagine, there were only handful of places we contacted. And what sold our current rental to Slav, who visited the prospective rentals in person, is this sunroom.

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This sunroom was built as a greenhouse, attached to the southern exterior of the house. It spins more than half of the length of the house and meets the garage on its side. When our landlord bought the house 15 years ago, it was only one story in height. He was impressed how warm this greenhouse got in Winter, and therefore decided to extend it all the way to the roof of the house for heating purposes. Even in a snowy winter night, it is above freezing. When it is sunny outside, which are most of the days here, the sunroom warms up quickly and can get to 80 degrees in Winter and over 100 degrees in Summer. It helps to reduce the heating cost in winter.

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A fan is installed between the sunroom and the garage to distribute the heat accumulated in the sunroom. When it is above 75 degrees in the sunroom, the fan turns on automatically and pumps hot air into the garage. We leave the sliding door open on the other end of the sunroom so cool breeze comes in. A set of stairs leads to the patio above the garage, which also helps the hot air to escape.

Because the sunroom stays warm at night, it is possible to grow flowers and vegetables year-around. We are told that one of the previous tenants, a lady who lived here for 14 years, grew her own vegetables and herbs in these rock beds. In March it still snows in Evergreen. But the days are getting warmer, and we already saw seedlings peeking out of these beds. The first a couple days we got here, I have planted Morning Glories and Moonflowers, and hope to see them sprouting soon.

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At the end of this sunroom, it is the front door to our ground floor apartment. We created a small mudroon under the stairs to keep our shoes and coats out of the main living space. We are also able to fit Slav’s tools under the stairs.

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We have already enjoyed a few evenings here star gazing in our camping chairs. The sliding door lets in cool breeze and the flowers and herbs we are planting in these rock beds should provide additional fragrance in summer nights. North Carolina gets was very humid in summer and has lots of mosquitoes. We expect the summer nights here to be cool, dry and bug-free, which are ideal for dining out in this cute sunroom of ours.

As you can tell, I love this sunroom very much. I love it so much that I shot a separate video for this little space and the attached patio. Do you have a favorite patio set for two that you can recommend?

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