May 062015

This is a cute story for young children. While it can be used to show, in an imaginary way, how a seed grows, it can also be used to talk about other topics – change, trying new things, being yourself/different, etc.

I enjoyed the clear, steady reading that made it easy to listen to. Colorful illistrations were well done. The video is 5:21 minutes in length.

Jul 302014

Kid Garden Helper

I was reminded last week of the importance of including your kids in your work.  How else will they learn a good work ethic and the importance of doing these jobs around the house.  Also, I hope to train them to be actual helpers and not just get them out of the way.  My attitude in this area needed to be renewed recently.  I could not believe my own self when I had the thought, “I can’t wait for school to begin  ….”  I knew right then my attitude was getting in the way of enjoying my kids and was partially to blame for the attitude issues we have been having around the house lately.

While George and Jack are helpers in certain areas, something I was very much aware of when Simon was here for a few weeks,  I have stopped training them to do more.  Why?  I am not sure.  I still try to teach them new skills, like cleaning the bathroom sink and toilet, but am not as purposeful about it as I used to be.  This is something I think I have talked about several times as of late.  If I haven’t, it is certainly something that has been going on in my brain.

kid shredding zucchini

So, imperfectly I have been making an effort to include them and have them focus on doing a better job at things I know they already have down. (Ex: making your bed with your sheet made up first and your cover not on sideways.)  I am also hoping this will help decrease the “you must do this for me NOW Mommy/Daddy because I want it NOW” attitude.

Monday afternoon I had a few dozen ears of corn to get into the freezer.  Sitting outside while the kids played, I took off the husks and silks.  George asked to help, but I declined.  I wanted to do this quickly and not worry about a bad job costing me more time.  Later, I realized that he probably would have lost interest after an ear or two, but I though of that too late.

While shredding up some zucchini Monday night, I thought about how nice it would be for the kids to be able to do this themselves some day.  {light bulb comes on}  Tuesday morning George woke up to find me shredding some more zucchini.  After he got dressed and came back out I asked if he would like to learn how to do this.  His eyes shone with this “new” responsibility and he quickly said, “Yes!”

I showed him how to hold the zucchini and the grater.  We also talked about what I was going to do with these and the fact that there were different sized holes he could grate with.  After I gave him the warning of not letting his fingers get too close to the grater, he took off.  Slowly, as every 10 seconds he had to stop and tell me something.

Move zucchini downward twice.

“Look.  It makes lines.”

4 strokes downward.

“Mom, did you know if I do it this way, the lines are different.”

children gathering marigold seeds

2 strokes.

“See, Mom.  I’m doing good.  My fingers are not close to it.”

1 stoke and some staring.

(At this point I honestly stopped listening as I was labeling bags.)“Did you know …”

“What do we use this for?  Is there such a thing as zucchini soup?”  (See my weekly meal plan and the “cauliflower soup” we had last week.)

Okay, so perhaps he is not the quickest helper at this time but he helped and that is what matters.  As for his fingers, notice the large chunk of zucchini at the end of the pan?  Yeah, he wanted to make sure his fingers did not get anywhere near the grater.  🙂

While I may still not be perfect at having the kids do everything they are capable of, I am trying to remember to offer them the opportunity to help with whatever it is I am doing.  Who knew that gathering the trash from the bathroom would cause sounds of elation and “I can get mine before you get yours!”  Ah, boys.  They can make a competition out of anything.

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May 272014

Ohio buckeye collage

Thanks to the squirrels in our yard, there are an abundance of tree sprouts appearing in the garden and flower beds every Spring.  While this can be annoying, it does give an opportunity to view the intriguing process of a plant coming from a seed.  All the information needed to produce a plant is contained in each seed.  Even the smallest of seeds contain all the cells needed to produce the desired plant.

As you an see, the top of the plant does not come out of the top of the seed while the roots come out of the bottom, though that is often how I imagine it.  Instead, the seed sprouted and from there the appropriate cells began to do what they were programmed to do.

Some plants are sensitive to gravity,Gravitropism, with their roots going down and their tops going up.  No matter which way you plant them, the appropriate parts will grow either towards or away from gravity.

Other plants are sensitive to light, Phototropism, with their tops growing towards the light.  These plants will grow towards the greatest source of light, even if it is to the side rather than up.

This post was part of:

Prudent Living on the Homefront
Mar 212014

Here are links to several places concerning gardening that I have been to recently.  I haven’t had a lot of time to focus on gardening these past few weeks but have found these places to be worth the limited time I did have.

The Free Mulch Program by is an easy method to potentially receive free wood chips at your home.

I love using wood chips around the yard.  The problem I face is that my source is the local city’s yard waste disposal site … and I have a car.  To get wood chips currently I have to drive there, shovel wood chips into conatiners, put them into my trunk, bring them home, dump them and do it all again.  All this while usually taking a couple kids with me.  Let’s just say it takes a while, though the kids have fun sliding down the piles.

When I was sent the link to this site I was thrilled.  I’ve tried calling tree companies on my own, but have yet to actually hear back from any of them.  Yesterday I drove past a tree company who had a large sign out in front of their yard – FREE MULCH. A tree company, or even a large municipality like one I have worked for previously, produces a lot of wood chips and can find themselves in the situation of not having anywhere to dispose of them.  Good for us gardeners, though, if we can find such companies. Unfortnatnly the company I saw yesterday was about 30 minutes from me or else I would be visiting them asking if they would deliver.  Even though a truck load of wood chips is a lot, I would very easily use it throughout the yard.  Added that it is free and it is even better. (The link to the sign up page also had a video showing you what the mulch will look like, if you have never seen wood chips straight from a tree company before.)

When I saw the Free Mulch Program website I knew immediately that this would be a great resource if any of the local companies in my area also participated. It took less than 30 seconds to sign up. Click here to a wood chip mulch delivered free of charge!


Unsure of which growing zone you are in?  Check out the Hardiness Zone Finder map on the National Gardening Association’s website.  Enter your zipcode and it will bring up exactly which zone you are in, as well as some other local links relevant to you.



Apparently you can use almost anything as a container for your garden, even a shopping cart.


How to get free seeds from the government seed bank. Checking on a common gardening plant – tomatoes, resulted in a listing of plants from many different countries.  The link is to billy and anuttama’s blog, as they gave a great description of how to use this resource.  I really could spend all day on the government site, so you may want to set a timer.  

Oct 012013


84 Days Till Christmas!  When put that way, it seems so close and I feel so far behind.  Yet in my mind it is 3 months away, which seems so much further and allows me to relax.  I’m not rushing time.  Fall is my favorite season and I plan to enjoy it to the fullest while it is here.  After all, it only happens once a year.  Still, I also plan to enjoy the Christmas Season once it comes.  For me, a large part of enjoying it is planning ahead so I won’t be rushing around or stressed.

A few weeks back I had a post showing some items I had gotten at a clearance sale at a second hand store.  Some of those items were for Christmas gifts and cost $1 each.  I’m not saying that I only buy cheap presents, but I do look for things the recipients would like and try not to spend $20/$40/$100 if I can get them for less.  (It doesn’t work all the time, but some savings is better than no savings.)  This is one of the benefits of starting early.

Today I want to share with you some things you may be able to get for free.  If they are no longer available, don’t be disheartened.  Keep your eyes open.  They may be available again or you  may find something similar.

groups of various colored tulips

Here are some examples of things I have done:

  • Request samples – recently Twinings Tea company was offering to send a sample of three bags of their tea.  I was able to choose which flavors.  These will actually be used as a part of three different gifts.  I have seen and requested offers such as this before.  There have also been offers for coffee and hot cocoa, oatmeal and cream of wheat, granola bars, etc.  This is also a great idea if you need something to include in a card.  You could also request a variety of k-cup samples and put together an assorted box to share with someone you know has a machine which uses these.  The cup can be expensive when bought in a store and this way there will be a unique variety for the recipient.  It does take time to receive these items, so start now requesting them if you haven’t done so.
  • Use a free bag as part of your wrapping or gift – Every so often I happen to get a free bag.  Sometimes it is a “free” offer, others were being handed out, or they may have come from point redemption from one program or another.  Use it in place of a gift bag or wrapping, or include it as part of the gift.
  • Worms from your  vermiculture bin – you will really have to make sure that the person you are giving these too loves to garden.  Not everyone will appreciate the gift of worms.  I do not often share my worm, to be honest, because my worms haven’t multiplied quickly in the bin.  (They multiply a LOT more in my raised beds.)  Actually, it has only happened once.  Another gardener gave me a great tip and so I returned the favor with the gift of worms and some vermicompost (which included worm eggs).  When sharing or transporting worms, place them in a box or bag that has air holes, then add moist but not wet bedding.
  • Share a gift certificate – a co-worker of my husbands had gotten a gift certificate to a gardening store but wasn’t planning to use it as he was single and lived in an apartment.  The value of the certificate was large enough that I offered to share it with a neighbor.  We turned it  into a Girl’s Afternoon Out and enjoyed looking at all the plants an items in the store.  In the end we both got things we wanted, never would have bought ourselves, and had a great time looking around,  (Okay, this one did cost some gas, so may not technically be considered ‘free’ by everyone.)
  • There are sometimes ebooks that you can get for free.  The sharing of ebooks can be a bit tricky, legal wise.  In the case where I was able to gift them to others I checked before hand to make sure it was okay.  I also made sure the books I shared were ones I had not read.  If this is something you are thinking about doing, please check with your source first and clarify that the book(s) you are gifting are ones you have not read yet.  This can also be a great idea for a long distance gift with no shipping required.
  • worm found in old raised garden bed box

Here are some ideas, but may not necessarily be things I have tried.

  • Divide plants in your yard or garden.  If you are already needing to do this, why not wrap them in a cellophane bag, add a bow and a note saying what the plant is and how to take care of it.  If you don’t happen to have cellophane bags at home, look for a box or sandwich bag that will work.  You could even plant a bulb in an old coffee mug (just make sure it still looks good and isn’t cracked).
  • Share something you have two of – After calling a company asking about a missing piece to their product I just bought, they sent me the piece … in form of the whole product.  It was only a small piece I needed and in no way affected how the product worked, so I was surprised by them sending a whole brand new replacement.  They did not request I return the product I had bought, so I ended up with two of something I only needed one of.  This product was a nice one and would have made a great gift for someone.  (I wouldn’t have gifted the one with the small piece missing.  In the end I used the product in a different part of my yard.)
  • Autographed postcard from a Disney Character – I have seen mixed review on this, as to whether it has actually worked.  Noting that the expected turn around time is 4-6 weeks, if you are interested in doing this, then you will need to do it soon.  This one isn’t technically free as you will need to use a stamp to mail your letter. It is very close though, and takes some time, so I chose to include it in the list of free gift ideas.
  • If your garden is still producing, find information on how to save seeds from some of your plants.  Right now on my kitchen counter I have yellow squash, watermelon, and tomato seeds from plants this year.  A friend also keeps small sweet potatoes to use for slips.  Once correctly stored these will be great to use for next year.  They would also make a nice variety pack for a gardening friend or someone who is interested in starting out.  You may even swap some with other gardeners you know to increase the variety of plant seeds you have.  For wrapping, use an old gardening catalog.  Make envelopes or rip and glue pictures to the outside of a box.  Don’t forget to label the seeds.  Some can look very similar once they are outside the fruit (think yellow squash and zucchini, or roma tomato and beefsteak tomato, etc.).  🙂

This list is by no means all inclusive.  It’s intention is to get you thinking about ways you can give thoughtful gifts without spending a lot of money.

What are some gifts you have given in the past that were free or close to it?

Mar 152013

Splitting seed orders or trading seeds to save money in the garden  may be one of the easiest ways to save money.  This is especially true if you have a small garden or want to plant just a few of something.  I have done this several times and recommend it if you are willing to take a bit of time to plan.

Seed packets come with a range of seeds in them.  It may be 25, 50, 100, or even 150.  Unless you have a large garden, it is unlikely that you will be able to plant 50, 100, or 150 of something.  Perhaps you could plant that many onions as they don’t take up much room.  If these are green bean plants, however, there is just a bit more space involved. And unless you really love green beans, or plan on selling them, you probably don’t want 25 green bean plants in your garden.  Yes, you could keep these seeds to use for next year.  I also do that.  What I find it that this requires me remembering where the seeds are, packing them so they don’t go bad, and remembering to use them while they are still good.  Not a bad options, but it does take a different kind of planting.

I have several friends who garden.  Some live right next door and some live in different states.  I have shared seeds with both.  Let me show you an example of how I share seeds with one friend who lives in a different states.  There are several things to take into account.

  1. Zones – are you in same or different zone?  Does it matter which kind of plant you are growing? (Not all green beans, for example, do well in cold or in heat.)  Think about the time of year you will need to start your garden.
  2. Plant selections – heirloom versus non-heirloom, type of tomato/green bean/squash/etc (it can be fun looking through a catalog together, while over the phone)
  3. Mode of sharing

So in respect to my friend, who we are using as an example, we are in similar zones, but differ by one or two.  My growing season starts a week or two earlier and lasts a bit longer.  This doesn’t really affect plant selection, but it can affect when I need plants to start.  If we were to share a complete seed order, then I would need to do the ordering or she would have to plan in time to have them mailed to me.  That goes into “mode of sharing”.  It has worked out before that we are getting together about the time that we need seeds.  During those time we just bring them along and exchange them in person.

Other times, like this year, we won’t be seeing each other for another month or so.  It is easier and faster to mail them to each other.  The seeds, if there are more than one kind, can be placed in little envelopes or somehow divided so they don’t mix, then placed in a larger envelope.  A note reminding the receiver of what is in there is very helpful, as is labeling the smaller envelopes.  In years past I have made my own smaller envelopes with paper and a stapler.  You can also buy them at a garden or craft store, I believe.  The next time my friend and I get together, the balance of what is owed is exchanged.

How exactly you do the splitting of a seed order will depend on you and the person you are splitting the seed order with.  There is no right or wrong way to do it.  Do what works for you.


Mar 062013

In the past I have posted about Abe’s Market before and how much I love their items. When I think of merchants who sell natural products I think of medicines and beauty products. Abe’s Market sells these products, but many other products as well. Just take a look at what they have to offer gardeners.  We gardeners are often in the out of doors and like knowing that what we use on our gardens is a natural product.  Likewise, a lot of gardeners have the same desire for items they use on their bodies.  Abe’s Market is a great place to look for those items, even the harder to find ones.

Valley Green Naturals - Gardener's Glee Dry Hand Remedy

Gardener’s Glee! Dry Hand Remedy

Dr. Dandelion - Gardener's Gift Set

Gardener’s Gift Set

Burt's Bees - Burt's Bees Natural Remedies Poison Ivy Soap 2 oz.

Burt’s Bees Natural Remedies Poison Ivy Soap 2 oz

Limegreen - Bug Repellant Spray (8 oz)

Bug Repellant Spray

Are you looking to liven up your garden with some decorations?  Or maybe you, or someone you know likes crafts.  Here is a kit that contains it all.

Artterro - Garden Art Kit

Arrtterro Garden Art Kit

Or maybe your garden looks great, but you feel the need to add a bit of color to your outfit while attending to those garden chores.

ASD Living - Half Apron Multi Pattern 49-005w

Multi Pattern Craft/Garden Apron

Sometimes the whether keeps you from the outdoors, or you want to garden when it is the wrong season. Here is something to add green and freshness to your winter dishes.

Handy Pantry - Handy Pantry Sprout Garden -

Handy Pantry Sprout Garden

Here are a few items that most gardeners could use.  I actually do not know of many gardeners who have a source of fresh manure  in their back yards.  If you are like me, wanting but not having this, then dried manure or tea bags are a great alternative.  You use the tea bags to make a tea for adding to your container plants or around you plants in the garden.  They provide the same great benefits without having to take care of the animal or wait for the manure to mature.

 Sagebrush Valley Ranch - Sheep Manure Tea Bags - Set of 6 3"x5" Tea Bags

Sheep Manure Tea Bags

Sagebrush Valley Ranch - Sheep Manure - Bulk in bags

Dried Sheep Manure, Bulk 5 lbs

 Abe’s Market also has a selection of seed balls.  These are not only  handy, but would be a great way for those little helpers to help plant in the garden without wasting most of the seed packet.  Here is a bit of an explanation given on Abe’s Market website:

“SeedBallz are just that: hand-rolled balls of seeds! Wildflowers, herbs, lettuce or any of the mixes, SeedBallz are hand-rolled by people with disabilities. “Changing lives one Seedball at a time.””

Here are a few of the 11 different mixes they have:

SeedBallz - SeedBallz, Poppy, 2 Packs of 8 Balls

SeedBallz, poppy

SeedBallz - SeedBallz, Herb Mix: Basil, Parsley, Chive, Cilantro, 2 Packs of 8 Balls (2 of each per pack)

SeedBallz, Herb Mix: Basil, Parsley, Chive, Cilantro, 2 Packs of 8 Balls (2 of each per pack)


These were just a few of the results you can find by searching Abe’s Market for “garden”.  I was pleased at the variety of selection Abe’s Market had for gardeners.

As always, shipping is free on orders over $49.



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