Friday, October 17, 2014

Using Eggshells in the Garden

Recycling . . . I love using something that is usually thrown away in useful ways.  Eggshells are free and so beneficial in the garden.

As long as I can remember, eggshells were always put in the soil mixture when first planting tomato plants. We sprinkle eggshells as a mulch when slugs become a problem.  Those are the ways we have used eggshells in our organic garden.

I never used an elaborate technique for preparing the eggshells . . . just dried them out before using them. However, I have since learned it is important to prepare them for use in the garden.  Here is an excellent article on how to prepare your eggshells before using them.

11 Ingenious Uses for Eggshells from Good Housekeeping

Other links with information on using eggshells in the garden . . . from eHow and How Stuff Works.

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Sunday, September 7, 2014

How to Root Basil Indoors

If you love to cook using fresh basil, here are some ways to start new plants.

I've had great success propagating basil from cuttings . . . take a cutting and prepare as shown in the photo, dip in rooting hormone, plant in a container with well draining soil, water regularly and keep in indirect sun.

Here is another method from Birds and Blooms . . . click here.  

Photo source is Birds and Blooms.

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Fall Veggie Gardening for Florida

Although this was prepared for Florida gardeners, it would also work for those states with similar fall climates, like certain parts of Texas.

Click on the graphic for a larger version.

I've been able to grow tomato and pepper plants all year long in Florida.  Fall is one of the best months to grow veggies in my area!

The source for this illustration is University of Florida, one of my favorite resources for Florida gardening information.

Click here to go to my Florida gardening page on my website . . . includes lots of informative links.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Awesome container gardening ideas

Simply gorgeous!  I love it :)  The photo is from the website The Garden Glove, their link is at the end of the post.

I have thought of using a tub as a container garden, but never had one to put into action.  What I did have was a toilet that I thought would make an awesome container display, but my husband threw it away before I had a chance to use it for a beautiful display.

Recycling old objects in the garden is one of my favorite things.  I've used old coffee pots, tea kettles, painted tin cans, old shoes . . . before it got thrown away it was put to the test in the garden.  We have even used old displays from when we had a retail store.  The spinner rack is my favorite . . . from paperback books to the garden!

These are old photos from my garden, but my staghorn ferns are still thriving in the spinner rack.  I'll have to take some new photos.  

It has been through tropical storms, hurricanes and time.  My estimate is that it has been used in the garden since 1998.  One of my favorite things!

For more inspiration on unusual items to use in the garden, click here for an awesome article and website, The Garden Glove.

From this blog, Subtropical Gardening, click here for a post on upcycled and unusual container plants

101 Container Gardening Ideas from Southern Living . . . click here

30 Container Gardening Ideas from . . . click here

I will be adding more links as I find them!

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Cozy Spot

There is no better therapy for stress than to have a cozy spot outdoors to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature.

Back in the day, we had "rooms" set up in the garden for different times of day as the sun would hit the area a certain way.  Then we had the spots that were perfect for watching the stars at night.

We are blessed to live in Florida when we can enjoy a meal outdoors just about any time of the year.

Fine Gardening is a great website to gather inspiration for creating a new spot in your garden.  I love spending time going through all the awesome photos of gardens from all over the world.

This photo is from a garden in Connecticut . . . so comfy and cozy, yet very simple.  To see more photos of this beautiful garden, click here.

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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Amazonica Alocasia

Love my new Amazonica Alocasias!

This is one of those plants that I have wanted to buy for the longest time, but they are so expensive.  Well, as luck would have it, The Captain and I discovered the garden center at the MacDill Air Force Base Commissary.  Just about everything at the commissary is much cheaper than anywhere else and we got one good sized plant for $1.99.

Yes!!!  I am doing the happy dance for sure.  These plants will grow beautifully in containers and since they don't like full sun, but bright light or partial shade, they are perfect for the Carport Jungle.

So far we have three of them and will continue to buy one or two every time we visit the base.  They have a great selection of tropicals at very reasonable prices, so we have found our source for fixing up the Carport Jungle beautifully.  I have my eye on their gorgeous selection of White Flower Bird of Paradise.

We will start taking photos of the progress and will do a page of the transformation on the website.

More to come on these beautiful plants . . . care, propagation, etc.  I love all types of elephant ears!

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Upcycled and unusual container plants

Trash cans as containers for plants are something I love to use in my garden (except mine are used and much older looking with lots of dents and dings).  I paint mine to make them prettier!  Love the idea of rollers on the bottom . . . great idea since the bigger ones really get heavy and difficult to move.

Before you go out to the store and spent way too much on new containers, check out DIY's website for some great ideas for items you may already have at home . . .

Click here to go to DIY's gallery of upcycled and unusual container plants.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Crinum Lily

The drought tolerant and virtually maintenance free crinum lilies have been blooming like crazy, as shown in an older photo from our garden. We have them all over the yard and when they are in bloom, it is a color splash explosion during the warm months.

The foliage of the variety of crinum lilies shown in the photos are not very attractive in the landscape (in my opinion) . . . but they make it up with the explosion of colors when they bloom.

The irritating thing about this plant is that it attracts the huge grasshoppers that are such a problem to get rid of, although they don't do much damage to the crinums.  They are shameless!

What I love about the crinum lilies . . . they multiply profusely once you get them established.  They are easily propagated by dividing the bulbs.

Here are some links featuring crinum lilies . . .

Pacific Bulb Society 

Floridata Crinum Page

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Beneficial Insects

Using beneficial insects has been one of the most effective ways that I have found in maintaining an organic garden.

Ladybugs are my favorite, but there are many beneficial insects already in your yard or you can purchase them at an organic garden center or online.  I always purchase mine online and have never had any problems!

I'll be adding articles and website pages of interest pertaining to beneficial insects as I find them.  Keep checking back for more information!

Click here to go to the article "6 Very Beneficial Insects: To Know Them Is To Love Them!".

Click here to go to the article "Good Bugs for your Garden" from Birds and Blooms

Click here to go to the article "Garden Bugs: Ladybugs for Aphid Control" from Birds and Blooms

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Raised Beds . . . The Ultimate Guide

I wasn't meaning to write a post today,
 but I found an awesome article on raised beds.

Click here for "Raised Beds . . . The Ultimate Guide"

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Toss the bare lawn?

Our once gorgeous and lush green grass in the front yard has turned to bare spots and mass plantings of a variety of weeds.

When I saw the photo of an interesting and beautiful non-lawn yard scene, I thought "why not?"

One of the why nots is that succulents don't do well in our climate and that is one of the things that I really like about the scene.

With a little imagination, I guess one could set out those pavers, do some research and find a ground cover that would thrive in these conditions.  The flashiness could come from the colorful tropicals that can be planted and do so well in our climate.

The area in the photo is small and our front yard is huge.  One paver section at a time I guess!  Another idea would be larger structures here and there, like bird baths and benches to take up some space.  Large containers strategically placed would also take up space and add to the texture.

Anyway, when I found the photo, I thought it was a good starting point for inspiration.  I'm sure we are not the only ones who are wanting to get rid of the lawn!

Click here to go to an article, "How to Use Ground Cover to Cover Bare Spots in the Lawn" . . . which is where I also found the photo.

Click here for another article, "Lawn Replacements: Kick Your Yard in the Grass" which includes a slideshow of many non-lawn inspirations.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Peppers ~ Southern Summer Favorites to Plant This Week

The following tips are courtesy of Home Depot's Garden Club.  Click on the source link at the end of the post to join.
Peppers are easy to grow in the garden and containers and thrive in long, hot summers with a weekly watering of 1-2”.
Huge, sweet red bells, mildly hot Anaheims, petite purple sweets, and wildly hot yellow habaneros – take your choice or plant them all in the garden or containers.
Peppers love hot weather, so pepper transplants, seeds and seedlings should be set out only after soil temperatures are above 65 degrees. Once the plants have flowered, give them a dose of Epsom salts (magnesium) to produce bigger peppers and more of them.
A note about hot peppers. Be mean to them, especially as they approach maturity. Quit watering as much, and don’t worry if leaves go limp in the afternoon sun. Lack of moisture concentrates the capsicum in the pepper, raising the heat level.
  1. To speed germination, place the seeds between a few damp paper towels and put in a zippered plastic bag in a warm place. The top of the refrigerator works fine.
  2. Add a 1” layer of compost over the planting bed, or scratch an organic vegetable fertilizer into containers before planting. 
  3. As soon as the pepper seeds sprout, carefully plant them in individual containers or directly into the ground spaced 12-18” apart.
  4. Water deeply, 1-2” every 5-7 days, unless plants are in containers, which require more frequent watering.
  5. When flowers appear, scratch a tablespoon of Epsom salts around the base of each pepper plant. Or spray the tops and bottoms of leaves with 1 tablespoon of Epsom salts mixed with 1 quart of warm water.
  6. Mulch flowering plants with 2” of organic mulch.
  7. Cage or stake plants as they grow taller and begin producing peppers.

Another excellent post about growing peppers

Source of featured article
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Friday, April 11, 2014

DIY Concrete Containers

Making concrete planters has to be one of the most satisfying and useful crafts ever.  

I love the selection of molds in this video!

Once you make a couple, your imagination will go wild with all kinds of stuff to use to for molds to make not only containers, but pavers and decorative border pavers for your plant beds and excellent for raised beds!  After a couple of years, they become awesome memories of previous seasons.

With so much to do and so little time to devote to the garden, I sincerely hope that I can get my hand in the concrete to make some memories for my garden.

This video is an excellent guide from HGTV . . . check it out!
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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

It's finally here!

Up until last week, the arrival of Spring was questionable with night time temps dipping into the 40's.  I don't remember a winter lasting so long in my part of the world!

The Captain has been busy taking down the huge tree that fell on our storage shed.  What a mess it is!  Vines have grown all through the branches and over the roof.  I can't bear to go out there, it breaks my heart.  We already had a huge task at hand before the tree catastrophe.

I've finally accepted the fact that I am disabled and can't garden the way I used to.  There was a time not too long ago when I could get as much done out there as any man and sometimes more.  

The path that I set out all those years ago is still there and in great shape, although it is now covered with ground cover and weeds.  The guys told me I could probably pull off doing the path, but it would not last more than a year or so.  Haha . . . I made each paver out of concrete, using meat and fruit trays from the grocery story as a form.  Each was painted with enamel acrylic.  I wanted it to look wild.  Even the paint endured years of wear and weather.

The way it was . . . a photo from 1999.

The plan is for The Captain to clear the paths and we will begin to build raised beds here and there to make it easy for me.  I can still walk, but can't be on my legs very long, so I need to sit a lot.  

It is not fun starting over again with the hindrance of a disability and the wrath of nature.  We still don't have running water . . . another hindrance!  Long story told in some of my other blogs . . . difficult to garden without water.  So, this will mainly be the year of building what we will call the infrastructure of raised beds built around the paths and start on a pond or two.

Having a disability should not stop me completely . . . and I hope to show others with disabilities that they too, can have a garden.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Make a Backyard Pond from a Tire!

This has got to be the most ingenious trash-to-treasure project for the garden I have seen yet!

The photos were found on Pinterest, unfortunately, they were linked to just a photo since the original blog it was posted to has been removed.  So . . . no instructions or tutorial . . . just awesome inspiration.

When we get around to making this pond, we will take lots of photos and make a tutorial for this project.

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Monday, March 10, 2014

Paper Pulp Seed Starters

It is that time of year when we can't wait to plant our seeds and get a head start on Spring.  

I've been looking for inexpensive ways to start seeds and especially love it is something that can be recycled.

Would you believe these seed starters were made out of junk mail that you would normally toss in the garbage?  How about using newspaper instead of throwing them away? Ingenious idea!

Chris at 365 Days of DIY came up with this awesome idea.  Click here for the tutorial with photos.

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Recycling in the garden

Don't throw away those toilet paper or paper towel rolls!

This has got to be one of the best ideas I've seen for recycling items for starting seedlings.  My favorite is egg cartons!

How to make it:

1. Using scissors, cut six to eight small slits in the end of your toilet paper roll (if using a paper towel roll, cut the roll into three pieces before beginning this step).

2. Fold the strips down so they overlap.

3. Fill carefully with wet soil, and set in a baking sheet.

4. Plant one seed per roll. After germination, just plant the whole thing in your garden! If you don’t mind transplanting your seedlings, you can use all kinds of recyclables for germination: Takeout containers, plastic cups, soda bottles and shoe boxes – just to name a few.

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Winter Sowing

Moving our clocks forward is around the corner which means so is spring!  Here in Florida, there is already a change in the air and it has been very pleasant to get out there and do pre-spring clean up.

Get an early start on spring by starting your seeds indoors.  There are so many methods and don't necessarily have to be expensive.  Utilizing egg cartons is my favorite method for seed starting.  The following article from HGTV Gardens has some other great ideas.

In the past I purchased my seeds from the popular catalog companies, which can get rather pricey.  Last year, I ordered lots of seed from which saved me quite a bit of money.  Check them out!  Even better . . . do a search on free seeds and you will find lots of offers for limited amounts of free seeds.  

Join a seed swapping group and get tons of seed for the price of postage unless you find a local seed swapping group that organizes get togethers.  In the past I've even swapped plants with other gardeners with great rewards of getting a ton of new plants for free and making some awesome gardening friends.  Back in the day, we hosted some awesome plant and seed swaps complete with BBQ grill going and everyone bringing a cover dish.  Loads of fun!

Gardening doesn't have to be fancy or expensive.  Just use your imagination and do your research!

I'm so ready for spring!!!

Winter Sowing

by Julie A. Martens, HGTV Gardens

"Get your hands dirty this winter by starting seeds outdoors using a practice called winter sowing. This method forgoes supplemental lighting and pricey seed-starting kits and lets nature’s rhythms coax seeds to sprout. Winter sowing is simple and yields sturdy seedlings that are ready to grow. If you have avoided starting seeds because you lack space or sunny windows, check out winter sowing.

To get started with winter sowing, you’ll need supplies you probably have around the house. Plastic containers, like milk jugs, 2-liter bottles or clear-lidded clamshell-type containers serve as a mini-greenhouse for the seeds. Use a box cutter or pen knife to cut around the middle of the container. Leave roughly a one-half inch section uncut to act as a hinge. What you’re doing is creating a hinged container that opens. Clamshell containers don’t require cutting.

Punch drainage holes in the bottom of the container. Use a lighter to heat the tip of the screwdriver to make punching through plastic easier. The container forms a mini-greenhouse for your seeds. Cut slits in the lid of the container to provide ventilation and prevent heat build-up. If your container has a lid (milk jug, 2-liter bottle), remove it.

Fill the container with 2 to 3 inches of soil. Winter sowing works best with a soil a mix that’s light and drains well. Bagged commercial peat moss and perlite mixes work great. Avoid mixes that feature water retention agents or moisture control properties. Wet soil thoroughly, place seeds on the surface, and add additional soil as needed to cover seeds. Pat the soil lightly to ensure good seed to soil contact, and close your container. Use a piece of duct tape to hold the container closed. Be sure to label containers with planting date and seed."

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Light the Way

I love what lighting can do for the nighttime landscape!

Here is some inspiration . . . love those lights.

A complementary mix of outdoor lights illuminates the path, all while keeping the focus on the luscious landscape . . . photo from DIY Network.

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Outdoor Fireplace

This photo is for inspiration only since the article I originally linked to on Pinterest has been removed from the website.  I hate when that happens!

There is something about this backyard scenario that is so cozy and inviting.  From my experience, even a small terracotta fire pot chimney in my back yard sets that cozy environment.  There is something about an outdoor fire on a chilly night that is so inviting!

Click here for an article on the Better Homes and Gardens website that features 20 outdoor fireplace ideas that will get your inspiration going if you are ready to add that cozy mood to your back yard.

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Plant a Spring Container Garden . . . Lettuces

It is never too early in the season to start thinking about spring plantings, especially if you live in a subtropical climate as I do.  

I found the following article very interesting since I love container gardening and have been meaning to give growing lettuces a try.  You may want to try growing lettuces this spring after reading this article!

Growing Gourmet Greens
Of all the planting I do each year, I think my spring container kitchen garden is my favorite. Maybe it’s because the containers are conveniently placed right outside the kitchen door or maybe it’s because it’s so easy to plant, maintain and harvest.
Whatever the reason, I look forward to the first cutting of container-grown spring greens. I prefer to plant and grow baby lettuce mixes because they grow quickly and a packet of seeds yields enough for many salads or sandwich toppings. They’re also inexpensive, too. These are the same pricey gourmet blends found in up-scale grocery stores, specialty produce markets and farmers’ markets.
I buy packets of mesclun which are mixes of small salad greens that vary in color, textures and flavors. Traditional mesclun salad mixes include chervil, arugula, lettuces and endive, but they can also include dandelion, mizuna, m√Ęche, radicchio and sorrel.
Look for salad mixes that offer assorted colors, textures and flavors. I like combinations that include bronze and lime-green leaves, curley and leafy textures and flavors that are tangy or peppery. Baby leaf spinach is also a good choice.
The tender leaves will grow quickly and can be cut and recut several times. For a continuous harvest, sow successive batches until the weather gets too hot.
In addition to planting from seed, consider adding small transplants, like chives. The chives in my container are perennial, so they’re the first greens to appear in my container garden each year.

Planting is Super Simple
One of the advantages of planting in containers is that you can plant 4-6 weeks before the last killing frost in your area. Another advantage is that you don’t have to wait for the soil to warm before planting. Just fill a container with new potting soil and you’re ready to plant.

Planting Instructions
  1. Fill a container with soil to within 2 inches of the rim.
  2. Tear open a small corner of the seed packet.
  3. Sprinkle seeds lightly over the top of soil, with seeds landing about a half inch apart.
  4. Cover with a thin layer (about 1/4 inch) of soil.
  5. Pat down the soil gently.
  6. Water with a fine spray to keep seeds in their place.
Grow the plants by placing the container in a sunny spot and keeping the soil moist. When leaves are about 5 inches tall, grab a small section and use scissors to make a clean cut; leave several inches of plant remaining. New leaves will sprout from the roots you’ve left behind.
Wash greens carefully and blot dry. Use immediately in a spring salad or to top sandwiches. Refrigerated greens can be stored in a plastic bag for several days.

Disclaimer about photo and article source . . . In the past, I have given websites the courtesy of not cutting and pasting their articles into my blog posts and just providing a link to the article.  In going back through all of my blogs, it occurs to me that most websites reconfigure their websites often and wipe out articles all together or change the url, making it impossible to find the article again.  That is a major waste of time and lots of valuable information lost!
I would prefer to preserve the entire article and give the website credit for the article and promotion for their website.  In the case of this article, it comes from, one of my favorite blogs.  An email subscription is available for their newsletters which is the source of this article.

Photo and article by Jodi Torpey

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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Tin Can Man . . . trash to treasure project

Trash to treasure yard art is one of my favorite crafts.

This little guy is so cute and seems like a relatively easy project to put together.

Here are the materials used in the project:

  • 1 medium vegetable, fruit or coffee can (head)
  • 1 large can (torso)
  • 2 medium cans (upper arms)
  • 6 small vegetable or fruit cans (forearms & legs)
  • 5 lids cut from cans (ears, nose, hands)
  • 4 tomato paste cans (ankles, feet)
  • 5 round bottle caps (eyes, buttons)
  • 11 screws with bolt backings
  • heavy gauge wire
  • Epoxy glue or clear-drying caulk
Tools needed include drill, hole punch, hammer or mallet, metal cutters, “church key” can opener, duct tape, screwdriver.
Click here for instructions

Please note!

The original instructions are no longer available, however, I will leave the information up in case the page becomes available again.

Some other pages that include instructions for a tin can man:

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