Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The 2020 Miracle!

I have long wanted a more powerful and larger range.  However, it is hard to justify installing one when you've just moved into a new home and there are so many other things that need to be done.  It is especially difficult to justify when you have a working stove and oven that gets the job done.

Well, then a miracle occurred.  Our oven stopped working this year and it wasn't reasonable to repair.  Therefore, it was essential that we buy a new stove :)

In comes the dream range, followed by the installation of a vent hood and backsplash!  We went with the dual fuel Kucht range, NXR hood and NXR full stainless chimney cover.  The backsplash was custom fabricated by Commerce Metals.

This project tested our skill level.  Retrofitting the house for the hood took much more work than we originally anticipated.  We watched countless videos before making a hole through the lath and plaster ceiling to ensure that we did not damage the surrounding plaster.  We designed custom brackets for the back of the hood to allow it to be secured to the existing wall studs.

I have thoroughly enjoyed cooking on it, and appreciate having the high power burners for searing and for high heat cooking applications.  We also installed the shelving to the left which puts pots and pans, essential kitchen utensils and oils and spices near the stove.  We are extremely pleased with the outcome.

There is much work to be done in the kitchen, but after living with it for a year we plan to keep the exact same layout.  It is a great cooking triangle and has proven to be an efficient space to cook in.  We will be refacing cabinetry by building custom shaker doors, replacing counters and installing new floors.  Much of this work will be DIY in the months ahead.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Water Water Everywhere

 Water water everywhere!  That is if you took the time to plan it.

Southern California presents some interesting irrigation challenges.  Water does not naturally fall out of the sky most of the year, and therefore you pretty much have to irrigate.  A large portion of the decision to go native was to conserve water.  Therefore, does it make sense to plumb water water everywhere?

I went back and forth in my mind on whether to cover this topic on the blog.  I am not an expert and the more I read about the water requirements for natives, the less I understand.  Everyone has an opinion on this topic and yet no one has actual information you can easily use.  

Like I did in the Pacific Northwest, I am installing a system of drip irrigation, as well as mini spot sprinklers.  I have added a number of new functions, such as shrubblers and plant pot sprayers.  In a good year we are out of town frequently, and I prefer that the landscape be self maintaining.  Just last year we lost most of our potted plants after we were out of town for one week in the height of summer.

I am not going to give a comprehensive overview of the installation of our irrigation system in this article.  Instead, I am going to mention some of the products we used, and then I am going to offer to post updates about the irrigation methods after we've used them for 6 months, 12 months and so on.

Almost all of our irrigation products are from  They are an Oregon based company, and I absolutely love them.  Get the catalog and study it.  Order a kit to start, and that will inform the parts and part numbers you need to expand it further.  Here are some of the products that make up the basis of our system so far:

Shrubbler on 5" Stake 360°


Micro-Jet 90°, 180°, 360°

MAJ90 MAJ180 MAJ360

1/4" Soaker Dripline 12" Spaced




There are dozens of other product numbers for EasyLoc connectors, tubing, etc, but again I'm just covering a few of the products I use in the system overall.  I'm happy to answer questions in the comments section about other products/parts in use.

I ended up using hose end timers, and have purchased a number of the wi-fi connected b-hyve Orbit faucet timers.  Again, might not be the easiest solution long-term, but so far they are serving my needs well.  Irrigation companies are not geared for low-water native landscapes and my biggest question was whether I could set it for interval watering with values greater than 7 days.  Good news -- the answer is yes with the b-hyve faucet timer.  I was able to set it for 15+ days between watering cycles.  This will allow me to decrease the watering intervals as the plants mature and their water requirements reduce over time.  Goal is to only have to water most natives once every 30 days.

My advice is to start out with a plan.  Understand the watering requirements of the different planting zones in your landscape.  We have a kitchen garden, the native landscape beds, potted plants and a drought tolerant grassy front yard.  Each of these areas has specific watering needs that differ from one another.  You will have to take this into consideration as you design your system.  A healthy dose of planning will ensure less frustration and failure during and after implementation.

As I learn more from our experience with this system and getting the native plants established, I will be sure to revisit this subject in future posts.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

New Plant Babies

 Few things excite me more than new plants.  Just finished a trip to Tree of Life nursery and brought back the next batch of native plants to round out our landscape plan. Today's finds were:

  • Juncus Patens
  • Satureja douglasii
  • Dudleya Brittonii
  • Dudleya Hassei
  • Ceanothus Julia Phelps
  • Archillea Millefolium
  • Festuca Idahoensis
  • Baccharis Emoryi

We had a good lesson in patience and thinking out of the box today.  Many of our native wish list plants were not available.  Sometimes the nursery has propagation failures or the plants are not rooted well enough to put out into the nursery for sale.  This was the case for many of the plants on the list.  That's okay, as we plan to do this project in layers and who doesn't like repeat trips to get more plants.

Also, we discovered that there are many different Ceanothus varieties.  We were ultimately looking for a Joyce Coulter which is lower growing with a greater spread.  We decided to try a Julia Phelps which is a bit more upright.  Our plan is to train this plant into a larger spread with careful staking and weighting of the branches.  

All of this is a reminder to remain flexible, do plenty of research and be open to alternatives and other ideas.  The world of natives can be a tricky when it comes to sourcing.  There are far fewer nursery's specializing in these plants and therefore they can be more challenging to obtain.