Sep 192016
 

full-sun-bed-with-garden-shed

Even the most beautiful of gardens will still require things that may not be so beautiful – buckets, gloves, shovels, wheel barrows, pots waiting to be used, compost piles in the process of breaking down, etc.  Whether these items must be seen or hidden in side a building or container, they are all a part of the business of gardening.

Knowing these items are needed, how do you then keep them being an asset to your garden rather than a distraction from the beauty you are trying to create? Sometimes all it takes is some consideration before moving forward.

In the photo above, you can see the top of the garden shed.  Instead of distracting, the materials used, the shape of the roof, and even the color of the building itself compliment the garden.  At some point in this garden’s history a decision was made to build in this style.  They could have just as easily put up a cinder block building with a green metal roof.  The function of that building would have been the same, but the visual impact would have been vastly different.

Instead of trying to hide a building that would have been an eye-sore, they chose to build something from the start which would add to the enjoyment of the garden.  Even in winter, when all the leaves on the trees have dropped, the flowers have faded away, and the tall grasses are not so tall, the building stands as a welcome sign, inviting you come visit.  Not often found on garden sheds, the small porch and its overhang have provided both shade and protection from the elements to more than one visitor, my family included.

This post contains affiliate links.

Jun 042016
 

2016 Garden Update

Several changes have taken place around the garden and yard this week.  Most were due to a domino effect.

For starters, I can now pull into my own side of a garage, a first in almost a decade.  It gets even better.  I can pull into my own side of a garage using a garage door opener AND without having to drive through mud.  Yes, folks, the driveway width now matches up with the garage we have.

This little update was supposed to happen a few weeks ago.  However, the guy doing it had to delay things a few days while the underground utilities were marked.  Then it came to be planting time.  Where I am, nothing much takes precedent over planting  time if you are a farmer, a family member of a farmer, a friend of a farmer who can drive equipment, or any in any way associated with the farming community.  So we waited.

A call on Tuesday morning changed all that.  By supper time I was able to pull into my garage without having to drive through the ever present mud puddle.  I also no longer needed to use the fairly redneck style of a ramp setup I had in place to get my car over the several inches difference between the ground level and the garage floor.  Oh the issues you run into when updating old parts of a house.

While planning the extension of the driveway, I asked if he would be willing to leave the dirt on site.  Turns out that little question fill a need we both had – I needed just a bit more dirt in low places along the garage and he needed somewhere for the dirt to go.  By keeping it onsite the job also was a bit cheaper and was faster to complete.

With the dirt spread and rain in the forecast, the next morning I knew what my focus would be – spreading grass seed.  This satisfied something my husband has been wanting me to address – the weeds in the yard along the side of the garage.  This is the place where a very deep trench was dug to put in the foundation for the garage part of the house.  With a deep trench comes a lot of dirt to move.  This had been piled along the edge of the trench, thereby killing any grass that had been there.  Over the past few months, the weeds have taken over.

driveway dirt collage

Having the dirt from the driveway spread out in this area meant that I did not need to spend time loosening up the dirt and filling in depressions.  Rain meant that I did not need to spend time every day watering the seed.  So, while it is not the best time of the year to plant grass seed, it was the time I had available unless I wanted to wait several months and let weeds take over.

With grass seed spread, I moved on to getting ride of several buckets of wood chips sitting by the shed.  These were added to the shade garden at the front of the house.

After dumping the buckets I decided to take “a few minutes” to address some issues in this bed – mulch needing spread out, weeds and tree sprouts removed, sticks picked up and stepping stone laid back out.  Amazing how “a few minutes” to finish a gardening task never takes just those few minutes.

With the driveway installed, I no longer worried about leaving the spray painted marks from the utilities.  However, when I went to mow the grass, I found out that my weed eater no longer seems to be working.  Flashbacks of The Great Replacement washed over me.  After a breath or two I calmed down and moved on.  Hand pulling weeds in the worst areas would not be the end of the world.  Also, our edger will take care of the ones along the curb.  A new weed-eater will be in our near future.  These are the things of life that I never envisioned being a part of being an adult.  Sort of like property taxes and insurance.

Time was saved not using the weed-eater, so I spent it instead spraying the weeds that have popped up in the driveway.  I used to pull these by hand, not liking to use chemicals for every little problem I come across.  I may still do so, but wanted to see if I could save time right now by using a spray and perhaps save time later by them not coming back as quickly.

This is a point where my husband and I disagree.  He is all for spraying.  I want to see if I can find other solutions.  It may have to do with our backgrounds, or with various studying/reading I have done over the years, or maybe the difference in how we view our time.  Either way, we have finally come to an unspoken agreement – as long as I do not complain about it, ask him to do it, or leave it so it starts looking really bad, he does not care one way or the other.  Some areas I have succeeded in, others (like the violets in the yard) I have failed at.  I guess we are not all perfect. 😉

blackberry bushes bloom

In other parts of the garden, the onion sets planted last week have sprouted, little tomatoes are beginning to appear and the blackberries are blooming.  The radish seeds have begun sprouting.

My strawberries also have slugs.  Once the rain stops I will try putting a trap out for them.  I did not think they were too bad till I saw The Big Guy.  He was so fat and slimy, he would have covered the finger nail on my pinky finger.  That was the point where I resolved to do something about it, these were not just one or two little guys doing the damage.

strawberry grub collage

I also went gung-ho on trimming up a fairy rose bushes that are in the middle of a side yard.  They have really needed trimming, not exactly a job I jump for joy at though due to all the thorns.  Last month I did a poor job of beginning the trimming, in hope that new side canes would form where I wanted them before I cut off more of the canes where I did not want them.  In the end it only looked bad.  So, I jumped in … well, not literally. Remember, thorns.

rose bush thorns

I did a more aggressive trim this week, also removing a lot of virginia creeper and hackberry sprouts that had been hiding among the canes.  Once it was all cleaned out it looked much better.  Emptier, but better.  A few days later I noticed the roses blooming, so apparently my trim job did not shock it too much. We will see if I think the same thing come the end of summer.

 

 

 

Jan 282016
 

mailbox mail

It is that time of year again.  Garden catalogs are beginning to show up in the mail box.  Soon it will be time to get my seeds out to start for this upcoming year’s garden.

With the break in gardening last year I am sure that several of my saved seeds are too old to use with good results in this upcoming year.  At times I can take the chance with older seeds, not requiring a high germination rate.  Other times I need to know that most of what I plant will come up; that is where I find myself this year.

Several catalogs have already found their way to my mail box and are awaiting previewing.  The tough choice ahead is to now narrow down the choices as my garden only has so much room, and I only have so much time, to grow all the potential beauties.

I have updated the Garden Catalogs page, containing over 30 different gardening catalogs you can request. Some are specialty catalogs (ex: heirloom) or focused on a particular part of the country.  Some are catalogs you can request through the mail, while others are online only.

If your favorite catalog is not on the list, let me know and I will look into adding it.

Happy Shopping!

Jan 262016
 

Science Kids on the Loose

Sid The Science Kid: Growing Plants takes a look into a preschool classroom or daycare as kids plant and compare lima bean plants.  This short video shows kids how to plant a seed.  The kids then take a look at plants grown from seeds, started at various times in the past; some are seedlings and others are almost a foot tall.

If you are looking to do something inside with your kids when you actually want to be outside in the garden, starting plants on a sunny window sill is a fun activity.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not.  Gardening is always an adventure.

May 262015
 

this week in the garden october 2 2014The garden is starting to come along.  My green bean plants are coming up, as are the cucumbers, radishes, and zucchini.  The spinach, okra and sweet peas have not appeared and I am thinking they may need to be replanted.  Several of my herbs have also not appeared.  With rain expected several days this week, I plan to try a second around of plantings.

The grass I seeded most recently is coming up great.  I am attributing this to having spread more seeds than I might normally combined with the rain that followed.  I am hoping to do the same again this week with some other bare spots.  Rain is so much better for plants than the water from the spigot.

This year has also been a reminder as to how dry the past years really have been.  We have had actual Spring rains.  It is amazing what this done for  your plants and garden.  Not only have we had Spring rains, it has kept raining.  The past several years found us drowning in water, only to have it not rain again for 3+ months.  That makes it hard to grow a good crop, unless you are willing to irrigate and pay the higher water bill.

I have been posting more on Facebook. If it ever seems quiet on here, check there for any updates or shared articles.  It is quicker, and easier, to post there if I only have a few minutes or am on my phone.

blackberry bush

The picture at the top is from last Fall, not right now.  While the trellis for the tomatoes is up, there are no tomatoes that tall yet.  I also have the tiki torches up to drape bird netting on soon.  The blackberry plants are blooming, so I really hope berries will follow soon.    The above picture is from one of my two starter plants last year.  Now, they have filled in the space nicely and are looking fabulous.  There is still a noticeable difference between the size of the plants on one end of the bed (where there is just a bit more shade) compared to the other (where there is almost no shade).  Sometimes it really is a matter of moving a plant just a few feet one direction for it to explode in size.

strawberry plants may 6 2014

The strawberry plants have green fruit on them, so I need to get that netting installed in the next few days.  First, though, I have to finish fencing around the bed.  I am about 4 feet shy of it being finished.  I used old fencing to block the gap, hoping it would at least keep our the rabbits.  I was late removing the winter covering from the plants because I had no fencing up.  This meant the plants got a later start growing and several did not make it.  Seems my problem of too many plants last fall was solved without me having to choose who stays and who goes.  Once production declines, I am going to start the bed on a rotation, removing the old plants from a forth of it and allowing the runners fill that area in with new plants.

shade hosta forest garden

 

I spent Monday afternoon in the area I plan to put in a shade garden.  The choice was to go outside or stay in the house and do something.  The family decided for me, as my husband needed to do some homework and the kids were rambunctious.  Outside it was.  I was not sure how far along in the process I would get, but chose to just start.  First came the edging.  I had planned to have it curve, making it look more natural.  However, I did not want to take out places where grass was actually growing well, and there were a few trees in the way if I went the other direction.  After digging the trench for the edging, I decided I did not like how it tied into the existing edging.  So I dug a new trench.  It is straighter than I liked, but over all it looks better.

By the evening half of the weed barrier was installed, it was covered with leftover straw I had here at home, and a row of hostas was planted.  The hostas I planted were actually 5 I had bought from the produce auction.  When I began planting I noticed that I could divide what I had, thereby making 10 plants instead of 5.  They  may be a bit on the smaller side now, but by this time next year they should fill out beautifully.

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The expected rainstorm came through today, though it did not produce as much rainfall as I thought.  It was still enough to give the grass seed its first watering and a drink to the garden plants.  I am headed out to continue working on the shade garden.  Not sure if I will get it finished today, but I am hoping to make great progress on it.

 

 

Sep 112014
 

Bird feeder hanging from tree 2

After many tries, and threats of squirrel stew, I have decided that a bird feeder with seeds just is not for our family right now.  Birds have never shown up to eat from these feeders.  Our resident squirrels thank us for the buffet, though.

So, they were taken down earlier this summer.

On a day when I felt unusually optimistic, I took Jack and George with me to the hardware store with the promise that they could buy something with their money.  After I did my shopping (not finding what I was looking for) we spent the next HOUR looking for something for them, which they could get for under $5.

One of the items George was really interested in was a hummingbird feeder.  We had the “if you buy the feeder, you also need to buy the food” discussion.  Turns out he did not quite have enough and moved on to something else.  The seed was planted in my mind though: humming bird feeder = no seeds, no seeds = the squirrels won’t steal the food.

The purchase of a feeder was not high on my list, so I decided to be patient and wait for an end of season sale.  That is exactly what I found last month.  The boys were very excited to mix up the ‘nectar’ and hang up the feeder.  My husband asked if I was becoming my mother.  🙂  (She has about 10 feeders of various designs in her yard. The picture below is from her yard.)

bird feeders for gold finches

“It is close to the end of the season, boys.  We may not get any birds this year.  Just wanted to let you know there may not be any birds till next Spring.”  They were still okay with that, so the feeder was hung outside our dinning room window, awaiting a humming bird to bless.

George was been keeping an eye on the nectar level.  He was determined to see if a bird had visited while he was at school.  A few times he told me the level was going down.  Honestly, I was thinking it was evaporating.  As I did not know one way or the other, I agreed that it could have been a bird, which would have been “Awesome.”

Last week I kept seeing flashes of something out my window.  By the time I looked nothing was there.  “Maybe it was a car driving by?”  Then I caught sight of it … a humming bird!!

A few days later, while sitting down at supper, a humming bird landed on the shepherd’s hook that held the feeder.

“George,” I said calmly, “I want you to stand up and slowly go to the window.”  He was confused but complied.  As he was standing up I continued, “There is a humming bird sitting above the feeder.”

He almost jumped to the ceiling with excitement.  As we have 10 foot ceilings, that is saying a lot.  Jack almost hopped right from his chair to the window.

Of course, the bird flew away.

Smart bird.  I would have too.

As the days have passed, I have pointed out several times when a bird has flown to the feeder or away.  The boys have always missed it.

Last night, they got to see the bird!  Then they saw 2!  Then they saw them eating!  Then they saw them fighting!  Yes, that is a lot of exclamations points going on.

humming bird feeder

Changing over to a feeder that did not require a food source which the squirrels would  also eat was a great decision.  The main goal of having a feeder was for the boys/kids to get to see birds closer than just flying overhead.  They are learning to walk slowly towards the window to look, what birds eat and how to fill the feeders, as well as what does not work.

Do you have bird feeders at home?  I would be interested in hearing what you do to keep squirrels out, whether it be a certain design or other tip.

birdfeeder

 

Linked up at:

a-wise-woman-builds-her-home

Apr 202013
 

Today is going slow and easy.  I’m not rushing through anything and have found myself enjoying the lack of guilt I have about it.  🙂

This also means that I’m stopping to enjoy time to play or talk with my kids rather than telling them to “wait a minute while I finish XYZ.”  Not every day can be like this, some days really have to be more time sensitive due to what needs to be done those days. Today isn’t one of them, neither was yesterday for that matter.  I really need to work on having more days like these past few have been.

A side effect of this is that the posts I have in my head have not gotten written.  There have been several websites, posts and links I’ve come across that I wanted to share with all of you.  Instead of making each a separate post, like I started to do with the Gardener’s Idea Book, I decided to put them all in one place.  Some have to do with gardening, some with Earth Day, and some have absolutely nothing to do with either.  Grab a cup of your beverage of choice and peruse through them.  Make sure to stop and smell the roses along the way.  There isn’t much that “absolutely must be done today or else the world will cease to revolve around the sun”, though there are days that contains items like this.  Been there, done that.  Still there some days.

Enjoy.

Insects Printable Pack

Gift of Curiosity has an Insect Printable Pack that can be downloaded for free.  This is geared for ages 2-7.  This pack contains so much information.  I was very impressed when I looked through it.

You may also want to check our Gift of Curiosity’s showing their experience making “Earth Day Crayons“.

handful of crayons

Project Noah was a find this morning that was made completely by accident.  I had told one kid that there was going to be no t.v. this morning.  One thing led to another and we ended up on the computer looking up pictures of scorpions.  (Doesn’t this ever happen to you?) This led us to Project Noah.

From their website: “Project Noah is a tool to explore and document wildlife and a platform to harness the power of citizen scientists everywhere.”

Scorpions were quickly left behind as we found more and more things to look at.

Bug Printables Update

3Dinosaurs is offering a free printable Bug Pack that goes along with three different book about bugs.  The Bug Pack is geared for ages 2 – 7.  I’m seeming a summer activity here. What a great way to take the reading of a book and expand upon it.

Speaking of reading here is a unit study around the book Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder, that may interest kids who are a bit older.

Confessions of a Homeschooler has a unit study on Animal Classification.  I love how she has taken all the beautiful photos and put them into a check list you can take with you to the zoo.  Field trip anyone?

Bible Based Homeschooling on a Budget has compiled a list of Bible Based Gardening Resources.  I thought this a very timely with Spring being here and gardening in the beginning stages in a lot of Zones.

Previous experience has shown me that a summer with no schedule is tough on a mom. Our morning routine involves ‘getting ready for the day’, eating breakfast, Bible Time and then some sort of learning activity or field trip or errands (can also be a ‘field trip’). This is where all of these resources come into play.  If I can keep a few library books in the house and a some field trips on the schedule, boredom can usually be staved off.  It also helps keep the skills learned during the past school year fresh in their minds.  So, even if you don’t homeschool, these resources can still be used.  Kids home for the summer, scout group working on a badge/patch, book reading group, VBS and more can use these.  Please, don’t be limited by the label “homeschool”.  Think creatively.

MarthaStewart.com has several Small Space Gardening Ideas.  I am going to be looking at these again as I work on containers for my deck.

I have been searching for a trellis idea for a front bed of mine.  The plan is to put beans and zucchini here, but I need something for the beans to grow up.  This search result produced quite a few images of trellises to give me ideas. My mind had a picture of what I was thinking of doing.  Here is an actual picture of what I was thinking of.  My only concern is that these would be situation so that one side would be taking the brunt of all our winds.  My other idea was something a bit more 2 dimensional that could be put close to the house..  I already use this same concept for my raised beds and was hoping for something a bit more … free to use this year for the beans.

Giveaways:

Hip Mama’s Place is hosting a VeggieTales: Bible Heroes Triple Feature DVD giveaway.  This ends 4/22.

Sugar & Spice by Celeste shares not only a great recipe, but also a giveaway – Quinoa with Pork, Parsley & Bell Peppers + A Gourmet Garden Giveaway! Giveaway closes at midnight (CST) on 4/30.

Enter for a Chance to Win a $50 Gift Certificate PLUS a Seed Library Membership on Horticulture’s website.

C.R.A.F.T. is giving away a $50 American Express gift card.  END TODAY! So if you are wanting to enter, go do it now.  Then after you enter, or before, take a look at her post about the raised bed she ‘found’ at  her new house and what she did to reclaim it.  (She turned it into a salsa garden.  What a great idea.)

Plan to Eat talks about Harvesting Your Kitchen Garden and is giving away a copy of the book ‘The Kitchen Garden Cookbook’.  ENDS TODAY!

Story partnered with several other are giving away a half bushel full of items, literally.  The prize pack includes: basket, hand tools, plants, planting labels, soil amendments, 20 gardening books, Inkling enhanced digital editions, and an interactive garden planning app.  Entry is easy and ends April 30.

Good Reads is having a Book Giveaway For Garden Insects of North America: The Ultimate Guide to Backyard Bugs.  Unlike many of the other giveaways, this is open to residents of US, CA and GB.  The giveaways ends April 30.  (I’m not sure what it is about bugs today, but between this and some of the printable packs and unit studies above I think today is just a ‘buggy’ day.)

Well, this post spilled over into the night/morning.  I woke up in the wee-hours of the day and couldn’t sleep.  There was also quite the bird chorus going on this morning before the sun was even up.  Now that the sun is up, they are almost all quiet.  Another reason that getting up early is a good idea.

I hope you all have a great day and enjoy some of the links posted here.  If you know of anymore, even ones you have posted, please share them in the comments below.

Mar 162013
 

I was looking around the Internet for something today and got side tracked.  Oh, that happens to you too?  I can’t blame it on the Internet though.  The same thing used to happen to me before the Internet existed and we had to use these buildings called Libraries.  (Am I dating myself yet?)  One of the things I came across were ideas to introduce kids to or involve them in gardening.  Since there are several of you out there that like to garden, I thought I would share some of my “finds”.

Hannah, at Like Mama ~ Like Daughter, shares an idea on how to let kids plan their own garden.  Even better, it uses up the seed catalogs you may be done with or no longer need.  This would also be a great way to use up catalogs from years past.  Recycling and garden planning at the same time.  What could be better?  It involves glue sticks and scissors.

Do you have a budding artist in the house?  Or perhaps one who just likes the feel of paint and the pretty colors? (That would be my house by the way.)  The Homeschool Village has a post showing how your kids could create signs for the garden.

Nourish Interactive has quite the list of printable pages that you can use with your kids.  These range from  gardening journal pages to coloring pages talking about different parts of a plant you can eat  to a “Green Thumb Award” for children.  Print a few of these off, assemble a garden journal and let your kids anticipate the upcoming garden season right along with you.  This would also be a good way to introduce your seed starting activities and explain what is happening.

Kiddie Gardens also has several ideas for childrens’ garden crafts, ranging from painting pots to making wind chimes.  Depending on where you live, you could also have them start some seeds in those pots.  Kids love to see something “appear from nothing” out of pots they  have added soil to.

TLC has a page of “Easy Gardening Activities for Kids“.  There are several that can be done now, like learning about respiring plants.  There are also some that need to be planned now so you can do them when warmer weather shows up, like Floral Advertising.

Between the 5 links above, there is a huge assortment of activities that kids can do.  Actually, very few of the activities were repeated.  With a little bit of planning, kids can be ‘included’ in the gardening.  This is true even if you don’t yet trust them to weed without pulling up your plants.

Did you see an activity you thought you would like to try?  Do you have other ideas of things kids can do?