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154 year old Pennsylvania church converted to a home & artist workshop studio

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Growing projects

When we took on this incredible project, we had a 10 year plan to make it the way we wanted it without taking on any extra debt. This means budgets, priority projects and being very bargain savvy when it comes to getting projects going and completed here at The 1870.

Morton often says, "I thought we were going to...(insert a project or plan here)" about lots of things. As time goes by, my plans and inspirations can change. The project, the whole project, is pretty much my creative baby. Morton lets me pick colors, designs and is a real star about being flexible when I change my mind at least a dozen times. He rolls with it and will put in his two cents on if he thinks it is a good plan.

This spring while it was still freezing cold and occasionally snowing, I was thinking of gardens full of vegetables and a few flowers. The trouble is our only land that isn't housing a gigantic church on it, only gets partial sun on it in the morning. This will make for the ideal spot for our deck, gazebo or whatever kind of low-maintenance picnic sort of area we end up with but it makes for a terrible garden.

The ideal spot for a garden was the south facing front of the church. It's overshadowed by a huge steep stone and concrete staircase that is crumbling. It's not really safe to walk up and down on. My long term thought for this space is to have a double story Victorian style greenhouse built on to gain some much needed passive heat for the winters and a place to grow fruit and veggies. The trouble it, the cost is about $50,000 and since we haven't won the lottery yet, that isn't happening.

How about we take the crumbling rocks, build planters, fill them with soil and I start growing seeds inside? That was my pitch to Morton. I don't think he really got the picture, but like the wonderful husband he is, we started building planters.

A few short months later and we have over 100 tomato plants, peppers, green beans, yellow wax beans, sweet sugar peas, zucchini, onions, radishes, cucumbers and even a pumpkin patch growing out there. It looks incredible and we even have some marigolds, sunflowers and a few other posies growing.

Morton saw I was struggling with all the daily watering, that I've been doing by leaky old watering can, so he got the coolest faucet that allows me to have a garden hose attached to the water feed for our washing machine. It's made my watering so much easier and is saving my up and down on the still steep steps.

Watching the butterflies, bees and even a little lizard play and buzz around the plants makes me smile. I know it will be hard work in a few weeks when everything starts to come in season, but the south facing step garden is working like a charm. Weeds are almost non-existent. It's totally organic and I'm going to collect seeds from all the plants to save for future gardens.

Of all our projects we've taken on here so far, this one is my favorite.

Happy gardening!


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