Gardening Tip – Mulching the Garden with Straw

Gardening Tip – Mulching the Garden with Straw

We got a very late start in gardening - when we were in Michigan and raising kids, we tried raising a garden. I still remember that photo that we took of the one lone ear of corn. The ground was apparently empty of neutrients because nothing grew - N.O.T.H.I.N.G. Of course, it didn't help that we had no idea what we were doing.   But three years ago we bought a house on an acre of land in Wisconsin that had an old overgrown fenced in garden with grape vines along one side. We tripled it in size last year and have been working on improving the soil.  Why Mulch With Straw? 1. The straw helps keep the moisture from evaporating rapidly from the soil in the heat. 2. The straw helps keep the weeds at bay by limiting the sun Continue reading

Direct Composting – Improving Garden Soil

Direct Composting – Improving Garden Soil

No Bin No Way We considered buying a rotating compost bin for our garden to use scraps from the kitchen to improve our garden soil, but they were all pricey and I didn't like the idea of having to dump our scraps into a stinky bin and having to turn it to keep it aerated.   You may call it lazy, but I call it efficient. My schedule is so tight, I'm all about quick and easy with few steps in between. Plus, we have a lot of winter here in Wisconsin and I don't like tromping through the snow!   I did a search (naturally!) and came up with the term "direct composting," or "trench composting." Basically you just dig a trench in your garden and dump in your scraps and bury them. Easy peasey! We tried it Continue reading

Keep Your Lettuce Sweet – It’s all in the timing

Keep Your Lettuce Sweet – It’s all in the timing

  Keep It Sweet – Lettuce   Last year's lettuce was fabulous. My mom had told me a couple of years ago that I shouldn't plant my own lettuce because it becomes bitter. Her experience left a bitter taste in her mouth (pun intended) So, as always, I wanted to find out why and did a little research and experimenting.   This is what I discovered: If you are having problems with your lettuce tasting bitter, pick it in the morning, wash and dry it and put it in the fridge for a day. It should sweeten up. The hot sun of the day can dry it out and make it bitter. It usually recoups over night in the dew. Be sure to water the lettuce in the morning - the water helps the lettuce survive the hot sun later in Continue reading

Fab Fall Projects & Blog Hop 2015

Fab Fall Projects & Blog Hop 2015

Welcome to The Autumn Gatherings Fall Blog Hop Six days full of online fall home decor goodness! (Links to other blogs are at the end)   My fab fall front yard & deck project   We bought our house two years ago and it was in a shambles! The yard looked (and still does in some areas) like it was a back woods farm that hadn't been touched in years.   Here are before pictures of our house just before we bought it. Pretty sad, no?     The front was non-descript with overgrown greenery (weeds) and stones full of dirt and dried up greenery (weeds).   After a year of not addressing the stones in front, tons of weeds took root Continue reading

DIY Tomato Cages – Save the Maters!

DIY Tomato Cages – Save the Maters!

We made our own tomato cages   ...because those tomato cages you buy at Menards are so stinkin' expensive!   We started out with the skinny wire ones that were left in the garden by the previous owners. FAIL.   Then we graduated on to the heavy duty ones - but only bought two - $8 each is crazy, don't you think? In my uber-frugal mind that is a FAIL.   When you have 50+ tomato plants there is no way you can justify $400 for cages.   No way. We'd already put a grand into our new garden so there was no way we would put out another $400 for cages.   So we made our own...out of concrete reinforcing mesh. We cut up a big roll of the mesh and made about 35 of Continue reading

Celery on Your Windowsill – Lettuce Rejoice!

Celery on Your Windowsill – Lettuce Rejoice!

Do you throw away the bottom part of your lettuce stalk? I used to, but not any more.   Once you learn to scrap, you will never go back.   As a matter of fact I beg for everyone else's table scraps now.     Make yourself a little vegi garden on your windowsill and have reproducing vegis at your fingertips.   When I decided to give this a whirl, I looked back on a guest post from my early days: Cut the stalks off as you normally would, and place the root end in a shallow bowl of water – enough to cover the roots but not the top of your cutting. Place it in a sunny window position, occasionally spraying your cutting with water to keep the top moist. After a Continue reading

Building a Balcony Garden – Guest Post by Dane O’Leary

Building a Balcony Garden – Guest Post by Dane O’Leary

A Step-By-Step Guide Even the urban dwellers among us should know the joys of gardening. In fact, balconies are a wonderful opportunity for you to unleash your inner botanist while utilizing your outdoor space in a functional, beautiful way. You may not see that limited outdoor space as being capable of sustaining a miniature Garden of Eden of your very own, but just about any balcony can become an urban oasis with a little planning and these simple steps.   Step One: Planning Before diving into gardening therapy, you need to plan your balcony garden. This is a very important step that will determine how your space will be organized and what you’ll need to pull it all together. It’s a good idea to measure the space so you can figure out what Continue reading

Are you tired of expensive planting supplies?

Are you tired of expensive planting supplies?

Here are two DIY planters you can make with trash. Yep, that's right. Trash Free, easy, and green - literally.     Cut the bottle in half.    Remove the cap. Flip the top half and stuff it into the bottom half.   Grab a coffee filter and place it in the top half.   Fill it with potting soil.   Plant a seed and watch it grow! See how the water drains into the bottom but no dirt falls through? Genius! You can cut off the bottom of another pop bottle and place it on top to create a green house affect. We did this back in May when we started our Continue reading

Canning Tomatoes for the First Time – DIY Fun!

Canning Tomatoes for the First Time – DIY Fun!

I honestly didn't want to garden. I told my family I would watch with a lemonade in my hand while sitting in a lawn chair as they worked the garden. But I actually enjoyed the planting and working with the flowers and vegis. It was a bit disappointing when the surprise frost took the lives of half of our tomatoes, but you know what they say, as long as you learn from your mistakes... Now my kitchen table is full of tomatoes in various stages, waiting for them to ripen so we can can them. So I will be canning only a few at at time over the next couple of weeks. I'll keep you posted. Of course I will have to show you a picture of all my filled mason jars when I'm done. We had a dozen or so tomatoes that were ready, so my mom Continue reading

Sixteen Foods You Can Grow from Kitchen Scraps

Sixteen Foods You Can Grow from Kitchen Scraps

Guest Post by Andy Whiteley, Co-Founder of Wake Up World Looking for a healthy way to get more from your garden? Like to know your food is free of the pesticides and other nasties that are often sprayed on commercial crops? Re-growing food from your kitchen scraps is a good way to do it! There’s nothing like eating your own home- grown vegies, and there are heaps of different foods that will re- grow from the scrap pieces that you’d normally throw out or put into your compost bin. It’s fun. And very simple … if you know how to do it. Just remember … the quality of the “parent” vegetable scrap will help to determine the quality of the re-growth. So, wherever possible, I recommend buying local organic produce, so you know your Continue reading