Category Archives: Gardening

Recently I wrote a post on planning for this year’s vegetable garden. Gardening has always been a big part of my life. I enjoy planning out my vegetable garden each year, what I will plant and how I will preserve the harvest. For years I have always started my own seeds, often using seeds that I saved from the year before. This year I will be planting mostly flowers. With the house going back on the market and an enthusiastic realtor who seems to be confident that the house will sell in 2017 I am not going to be planting a big vegetable garden.

Instead my time will be spent packing and de-cluttering! I will miss my garden. Now I have eight beautiful raised beds that my husband built for me and I will not completely ignore them. After all we do have to keep up a beautiful appearance for any potential buyer! So I will plant flowers and beans and a zucchini plant perhaps, just enough to provide some fresh vegetable this summer and some cut flowers for the house. I have a neighbor close by that offers beautiful heirloom tomato seedlings so I may just have to plant a couple. It wouldn’t be summer without garden ripe tomatoes!Can't wait until the tomatoes turn red!

Luckily we have a wonderful Farmer’s Market that offers a wonderful variety of locally grown fruits and vegetables. But I will be missing my garden and the wonderful harvest I used to get.vegetables, farm market

The sad reality is that the future owner may not be as into gardening as I am. Perhaps this will be a second home for them and they just won’t have the time to keep up the gardens. It makes me sad to think that way but we’ve moved in the past and each time I have left behind a beautiful garden. One of these moves I hope to move into a home where the previous owner had beautiful gardens and I can take them over. That hasn’t’ been the case yet.Vermont, seed saving

Have you experience leaving a wonderful garden behind due to a move?

As spring rolls around we start to think of being outside, enjoying the wonderful weather. Now is also the time to think about planning your vegetable garden – it’s a wonderful way to save money, get exercise, and help your family to eat healthy.planning your vegetable garden And taking care of a garden is a never-ending and rewarding learning experience.planning your vegetable garden

 

The most important thing to consider is where your garden will be located. Gardens need sun, the more the better. Locate your garden away from any shadows cast by large trees or buildings. Ideally, you would like to have level ground. If the garden is on too steep a slope, the soil will erode and nutrients will be washed away, unless you are able to create several terraces, which is a lot more work than most home gardeners want to do.planning your vegetable garden

 

If this is your first year gardening, you also want to consider the size. It is better to start small and increase your garden size year by year. A 15 x 15 foot plot would be a good size to start with.planning your vegetable garden

 

 

Once you have decided where to place your garden, the next thing to consider is the soil preparation. Well-prepared soil will help you have a successful garden. And any soil can be improved. Soil quality is determined by three characteristics: composition, pH (its acidity), and fertility.soil tests, vegetable gardening, home front

 

  • Composition: If the soil is too loose and sandy, or too heavy and clayish, aeration, drainage and nutrient retention will suffer.
  • pH: Vegetables require a pH range of 6.0 – 7.0, anything above or below that and optimal growth will be affected
  • Fertility: The fertility of the soil also affects plant growth; insufficient fertility cannot support healthy crops.
  • A simple soil test will help you to determine the level of major nutrients – nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium – each important for healthy plant growth. A soil test will also help you determine the pH of your garden soil, and to improve it if necessary.soil, testing, gardening
  • Now that your garden plot is laid out and the soil is ready, it is time to decide what vegetables you want to plant. If you want a rewarding, productive garden, do some research to find out what grows well in your area. An excellent resource is your state’s agricultural extension office. You want to make sure you know what growing zone you are living in, when your last frost date is expected in the spring, and when the first date of frost in the fall is expected. These dates will determine when you can plant outdoors, what you should try to grow (since the days to maturation will need to fit in this last frost to first frost window, and when you should be harvesting your vegetables.gardening, prudent livingSome vegetable seeds are planted directly into the garden soil while others have such a long growth period they must be either started indoors or the young seedlings purchased at a local nursery.
  • Usually I have my seeds started by now, but with our house going back on the market I will be purchasing young seedlings from a neighbor who grows a wonderful selection of heirloom vegetables.
  • Whatever you decide to do now is the time to plan for this years garden! Planning your vegetable garden now will insure that you have a successful harvest this year!

This past fall my husband met a young woman who had created a product called Seeds in a Jar. In the jar were corn seeds, bean seeds, tomato seeds, sunflower seeds and butternut squash seeds. It was her desire that she would be able to introduce others to the joy of growing a garden and providing for their family.

 

My husband was given one Seeds in a Jar container for me to giveaway to one of my lucky readers! There is also a booklet that goes along with the Seeds in a Jar that has good information on choosing a garden spot, feeding your plants, saving seeds and much more. She even includes a cute print out of how far apart to plant your seeds. Along with the Seeds in a Jar I am also going to giveaway 4 of my Gete ohosomin squash seeds!Seeds In A Jar

 

If you are a seasoned gardener or someone that is planning a garden for the first time these are all wonderful seeds to plant this year. At the same time you will learn about raising chickens, plant basics as well as some information of goats.

 

The giveaway will run for one week which will give me plenty of time to mail your seeds to you in time to plant this gardening season! To enter click on the Rafflecopter below!Seeds In A Jar

 

At the same time be sure to enter the Rise and Shine Giveaway currently going on by clicking HERE. That giveaway is going on until April 7th!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

By July 1, 2017, The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation assures that waste haulers and drop-off centers must provide food scrap collection. I am more interested in managing my food scraps at home, it is simple and low-cost, and I can make wonderful compost, which is like black gold for my garden.gardening, composting, prudent living

 

The benefits of composting are many. It is a great soil amendment for my garden. Compost helps promote root development, enhances retention of water and nutrients and makes the soil easier to cultivate.What To do With Food Scraps

 

How to go about making compost from your food scraps? One simple method is to use a compost bin made of recycled plastic. Here in Vermont I can actually purchase these bins from the Solid Waste Management District. They are also available at our local hardware store. Once the snow has melted find a suitable site that’s convenient but also out of the way. It should be shaded and out of the wind. We have ours tucked in the corner of the yard. Our compost bin is within easy walking distance from the house yet not really visible when you drive in the driveway.What To Do With Food Scraps?

 

I also have a small compost container, which sits on my counter and is filled almost daily. When the container is filled it is brought outside and emptied into our larger bin.What To Do With Food Scraps?

 

When collecting materials to compost you want them to be in small enough pieces so that they will compost quickly. It is a good idea to layer your compost using one part of green material to 3 parts brown. Green materials are food scraps, manure, freshly cut grass, coffee grounds, and vegetable and fruit scraps. Brown materials are dry leaves, sawdust, shredded egg cartons, ground up eggshells, hair and wood ash.

 

Do not add meat scraps, diary products, oils or bones as they will attract pests. Do not use grass clippings that have been treated with pesticides or pet manure. Remember you will be putting your compost into your garden and you want it to be beneficial to your plants.

 

As the compost pile builds up you can either stir it with a shovel or remove the fresh compost from the bottom. We usually empty our compost bin each spring and dig it into our garden.What To Do With Food Scraps?

 

There are also other compost bins that you can build using pallets or wire. The bottom line is that composting is easy. Compost will take your food scraps and give you a supply of dark, crumbly hummus that will enhance your garden.What To Do With Food Scraps?

 

For some reason I have the perfect conditions to grow an aloe plant. The Aloe Vera plant is a popular houseplant with medicinal properties. The sap from the leaves has wonderful topical benefits, especially on burns and sunburns. I think I first started growing aloe plants when we lived in Florida over twenty years ago! These plants are an ideal addition to your home, and they are very easy to care for. In fact not only are they easy to care for, but propagating an aloe plant is also extremely easy.Propagating an Aloe Plant

 

My plant does so well that I find myself passing along baby plants to my friends. You might wonder how I do this. While you can actually grow an aloe plant from a leaf cutting it is much easier and more successful to propagate from offsets or “pups” .Propagating an Aloe Plant

 

Aloe vera is a succulent and as such, is related to the cactus. Cacti are fairly easy to propagate from cuttings, but aloe vera cuttings, with their high moisture content, rarely become viable plants. Rooting an aloe vera plant leaf seems like it should work, but all you will get is a rotten or shriveled leaf.

 

It is much easier to share this wonderful plant by removal of offsets. This is a simple process that anyone can easily do. If you look carefully at your aloe plant you will notice little aloe plants (offsets) forming off the mother plant. As a general rule the offset should be about 1/5 the size of the parent plant and should have several sets of true leaves.Propagating an Aloe Plant

 

When the offset is large enough remove the dirt from around the base. When you remove the offset you want to make sure it has a complete root system attached.Propagating an Aloe Plant

 

Plant the newly removed offset in a dry cacti-potting mix or make your own with one part potting soil and one part sand. Allow it to sit for one week and then water the soil. After this you would care for the aloe vera pup the same way you would the mother plant.Propagating an Aloe Plant

 

To successfully grown an aloe vera plant remember that the plant is a succulent and does well in a dry environment. They should be planted in a cactus potting soil mix and should have plenty of drainage. They do not like standing water. They also need bright light and do best in south or west facing windows.

 

Now you can not only grow your aloe plant successfully but you now know that propagating an aloe plant is easy and you can pass the aloe plant pups off to your friends!Propagating an Aloe Plant

Propagating a Christmas CactusDid you read my post on moving houseplants? If so you know that I can’t move all of my large plants with me. Instead I plan to propagate my Christmas cactus and have a much smaller pot to take with me. Propagating a Christmas cactus is very easy. This plant makes a great holiday gift for friends and family, so knowing how to propagate and grow Christmas cactus can give you extra plants to share with your friends!Propagating a Christmas Cactus

 

The first step is to simply take a short, y-shaped cutting from the stem top. The cutting should consist of at least two or three joined segments. Make sure all the cuttings are from healthy foliage.Propagating a Christmas Cactus

Allow the cutting to dry a few hours before potting it up for rooting, this will help to avoid any potential stem rot from excessive moisture.Propagating a Christmas Cactus

 

Once the cutting has dried for a couple of hours place the segment in a most peat and sand soil mix. Insert the segment about a quarter of its length below the soil surface. Place the pot in a well lit area, avoiding direct sunlight.Propagating a Christmas Cactus

 

Water the cutting sparingly at first to prevent rot. After two or three weeks the Christmas cactus cutting should begin to show signs of growth at the tips of its leaves. Once the cutting has rooted, it can be transplanted into a pot with loose potting soil. The cutting may wilt a little, which is normal and will eventually subside.Propagating a Christmas Cactus

 

Propagating a Christmas cactus is easy and can be very rewarding. Now you will have an inexpensive gift to give others during the holidays! My cutting is from a very large plant that belonged to my husband’s grandmother! I think everyone in the family has a plant started from cuttings! I’m happy to now have a smaller plant to move with us to our new home.

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