Creating a New Garden Door

Our old garden door has seen better days, but it served its purpose – it kept out the deer and other critters from entering our garden. But, it needed to be changed out to a newer looking entrance!

If you know me, I always put my heart into all of my projects, and this garden door was no different. We made a trip to Home Depot and got some nice flat pieces of wood, a box of screws, a can of mahogany gel stain, and some outdoor polyurethane. (I already had some leftover black netting to use in between the door slats, phew)

The first thing that I needed to change with our new door, was the width of the entrance to the garden. The old door was just exactly wide enough for the lawn mower to wiggle its way into the garden area, and that was a pain in my neck. The new door was definitely going to be wider to allow me to get the mower back there and the wheelbarrow too.

I decided to do a “slats” look for the door because I fell in love with this look, as it is all over Pinterest right now. If you look up any fences, garden fences, or privacy fences, the new look are the horizontal slats, instead of the regular vertical ones. Love it!

So, with that in mind, I went to work. Measure twice, cut once! This is definitely a good motto to remember when working with wood. I cut the strips of wood for the height of the door, then two for the top and bottom. Basically, at this point, you are just making a frame for your door, then I measured the door frame to see what size of slats I will need to cut to use across the actual door.

The photograph below shows the garden door before I attached it to my wood pole with hinges. Our new door is over 30+ inches in width, well wide enough to get the mower in the garden area now!

Garden Door 3

The photograph below is the new mahogany stained door with the black mesh attached to the inside of the door to keep the smaller critters out of the garden area. This look definitely matches the rest of the garden fence nicely.

Garden Door 1

Here is a photograph showing that I definitely used enough polyurethane on the door, eh! I took this pic right after it rained.

Garden Door 2

Now, I am working on building the little area next to the entrance so it matches the door. Two poles and more wood slats cut! Each slat has to be leveled too, so this process was never rushed. Each slat had to be screwed in place too.

Garden Door 4

The new addition next to the door is all stained and polyurethaned.

Garden Door 5

But, as you can see from the photograph below, I had to add the black mesh netting to this section to keep the small critters out! Now, everything matches just perfectly! Can you only imagine if I kept going all around the front of the garden area and did this? Boy, would that look so beautiful! (maybe next year!)

Garden Door 6

So, what do you think of our new garden door? What have you changed in your garden this year?

Growing Container Corn

I can definitely say that we stepped a little out of our boundaries this gardening seasoning, but not out of our comfort zone. If you have followed along with us through the years, you have read all about our successes and failures through our gardening adventures. Some things worked, some things grew & some did not, but that is what gardening is all about…the learning process, and to get fresh home grown veggies (of course).

Like I mentioned in the last post, we wanted to try to grow Container Corn (and yes, that is what the name is) from Burpee Seeds. We got a nice sized huge container, drilled lots of drain holes in the bottom of it, and placed it up on top of a few landscaping stones to level it a bit in the garden area. Then, we took a lot of soil and filled that container to the top. We only planted nine seeds because we wanted to follow the directions for growing container corn exactly as directed.

Guess what we got from all of that? We have corn stalks (nine of them) growing in our huge container! And, on each stalk, we have actual corn cobs growing & forming too! I know that we sound waaaaaay too happy to see corn growing on a “corn stalk” (but what else would you find on that stalk, eh?) But it is our pure excitement to see corn growing when we never ever grew it before in our backyard!  Another sweet success for sure! And, we should be getting two corn cobs on each stalk too!

The photograph below is from June, so you can see how short the stalks were. By the time Fourth of July rolled around, well….you know the old saying “knee high by the Fourth of July” and our corn stalks were at that & more!

6-15-15 Container Corn

The photograph below is from current day! Each stalk has at least one corn cob on it, and the second cob should  be starting to form shortly!

Container Corn

Growing container corn has definitely been fun to watch! In a million years, we would have never guessed that we could grow corn in our small backyard, but to our surprise, anyone can! As long as you have a huge container & good drainage, you can do it too! (perhaps you can try it next year too!)

Ear of Corn

Have you tried to grow anything different this gardening season that you have not grown before? I would love to hear what you have tried!

Gardening: Trying Something Different

One thing about gardening, is that you never know what will happen from day to day. This is such a true fact.

We are trying a few new things this year in our garden that we are excited about. One, we are trying to grow Container Corn from Burpee Seeds, and so far, we are having phenomenal success, as the corn is growing so well & getting taller every day.  Number Two, we are growing celery for the first time and started it from seed indoors and it has also taken off and has grown by leaps and bounds, and last but not least, Number Three, we are growing Loofahs!

Yes, you heard that correctly, we are attempting to grow Loofah Sponges, ya know those things you use in the bathroom for exfoliation.  For every person we have asked “where do you think Loofahs come from?”, they all answered “the ocean”.  Wrong!  Loofah’s grow from a black seed!  We have four Loofah plants growing in our garden right now! We have a friend of ours that thinks that we are telling them a fib about the loofah, because they don’t believe that a loofah can be grown in a container, as they too said that they come from the ocean. Well, all we want (to prove them wrong) is for one loofah to grow and produce a nice sized loofah.

L1

If you take a close look at the small growing loofah, it has an interesting texture on it. A loofah is from the squash family if I am not mistaken, and it needs to be pollinated for the loofah to produce & grow. The tip of the ones shown are waiting for the flower to open up. Once the Loofah is pollinated, it will grow into a nice sized Loofah where we will have to cut the skin off the outside of the Loofah, then hang it to dry outside. All the black seeds will then at that time be removed so we can use them to grow more next year, once they are dried properly. Interesting stuff, eh?

Since we have planted four seeds, each vine is starting to produce quite a number of loofah’s on each vine, which is a good thing, since I would love to have a few of these actually grow into a loofah. All in all, gardening is truly fun and we are so glad that we tried something new this year in the garden, as it makes it fun heading into the garden each morning to see what has happened over night!  These are just a few closeups of the Loofahs, but there are little Loofahs popping up all over these vines right now!

L2

I will be slowly starting to get back into my garden posts, as I have taken a much needed break from blogging, so get ready for some awesome stuff!

How To Repair A Lawn

So you want to know how to repair your lawn to look lush and green? It’s easier than you think, and does not take that much time to do. Follow these simple steps and your lawn will look nice and green again!

First of all, I love dirt. I love digging my hands into a good pile of dirt and feeling it crumble between my fingers. It must be a gardener thing, ya know. The other reason I do this is because I can break up the soil by hand so there are no clumps when I lay the soil before I seed.

You all remember the mess I had in the backyard in the Poop Pit after our long Winter, and I was left with lots of lawn damage. I deal with this every year, but it is rather easy to get your lawn back to “green” again.

If you have any spots in your yard that need some extra attention, you too can get your lawn green again by following these simple steps.

STEP ONE

Remove any dead grass in your yard either by raking it up or by sliding an edging shovel over the area.

POOP PIT NEEDS FIXING

STEP TWO

Get your topsoil ready and start laying it down in the area. This is where I dump a nice pile of topsoil down and then break it up by hand. I used to use a garden rake to distribute the soil, but then I can’t see how much topsoil was laid, so I just choose to move the topsoil around in these spots by hand. (I know what you are thinking, “Wow, that’s a lot of work”, but it’s not) You want your soil to be loose, but not too loose. (after you water it, it will compact)

SOIL AND SEED

STEP THREE

After you have completely filled in all the areas with a nice layer of topsoil, it is time to seed! But before you lay your seed down, this is the time to check to make sure you have enough soil laid down. My rule of thumb is, lay just enough soil down so that it does not rise above the blade of grass in your lawn. This is also the time to fill in those dips you might have in your lawn too, and all you will have to do is lay a little more topsoil in those areas to make your lawn nice and flat. (tamp down those areas that you are filling in, but make sure the surface is scratched up so that the grass seed has something to grab onto when the seed starts to germinate)

LAYING SOILOnce you feel that you have completely covered all the areas you need with the topsoil, it is time to spread your seed. You can lay your grass seed in two ways, or however you are comfortable with, but you want an even distribution of your seed. Either throw the seed by hand if you are comfortable with this way or if you have just a few spots in the lawn that you are fixing, or use a seed spreader which is what I am going to do because I have a larger area that I need to seed.

SOIL

Make sure you use the correct seed for your growing zone and also make sure you use the right seed, either sun or shade seed too! You can also lay a light layer of straw over the top to protect the seed from the birds.

SOIL2

STEP FOUR

Now that your seed is laid, it is time to water! Fresh seed should never be allowed to dry out, or it will not germinate. Make sure that you don’t walk over the area that you have just seeded, so if you have dogs you might want to move them to another area when they head outside. You want to give your seed a chance to grow before anyone walks over this area.

SOIL3

Getting your lawn back in shape is easier than you think, and now is the time to head outside and tackle your lawn problem spots!

A Is For Answers

Here are the answers to the little gardening plant quiz in my post “G Is For Gardening”, just in case you were wondering if your guesses were correct or not!

A IS FOR ANSWERS

If you head back to my “G Is For Gardening” post, and look at our plants, the answers are as follows in correct order:

  1. Tomatoes (Juliet and Big Boys)
  2. Romaine Lettuce
  3. Marigolds
  4. Cilantro
  5. Celery
  6. Flat Dutch Cabbage
  7. Zucchini
  8. Cucumber

So, how many of these plants were you able to identify? Yes it is true, that some plants like the pumpkin, do look like the zucchini, so it can be hard to identify those that are that close to being identical. I added the marigolds in there to fool you a bit, but marigolds should be planted in your garden to ward off bugs on your plants. So by planting a row of marigolds around your garden, you will be helping out your plants, not to mention the beauty of the marigolds blooming will look beautiful around your garden!

I hope you had fun with this little garden plant quiz, so look forward to some more interesting quizzes as the gardening season continues!

Fixing Winter Messes

When one season ends, another one starts. Hopefully our Winter has finally left us and Spring and regrowth can start, although we woke to find the ground lightly covered with snow on Saturday. But the good news is that we can see that the grass is slightly getting greener day by day and the temps are slightly climbing.

With the arrival of a new season, there is always things that need attention from the aftermath of the prior season. With no doubt, we had a horrible winter and we are so happy to say a final farewell to it. With Winter finally behind us (I hope), I can finally start getting out in the yard to get it all fixed up.

FIXING THE LAWN

The first thing on my agenda is getting the lawn back into shape. Since my infamous poop pit was dug out in the snow for the dogs, it left me a huge spot in the backyard that is crying for my attention. The nice green grass that was once so nice and plush, is now burned out and dead. I know that this is what I have to deal with when Spring arrives, so I am not overwhelmed by this task, rather all I need is a few bags of good soil and a huge bag of grass seed to get the job done, not to mention my handy rake.

FIXING WINTER DAMAGE

Getting the lawn back to “normal” doesn’t really take that much time at all. I spread the soil all over the spots that need it, fill in any dips in the lawn to level it out, then lay a good layer of grass seed over it. Then I wait. I don’t have to water the seed normally at this time of year because it usually rains enough so I don’t have to waste our garden water. And, before you know it, you can see the seed germination in process and then one day you walk outside and notice that the once yellowed pee spots are now all nice and green.

BACKYARD LAST YEAR

Here’s a photo of how I got our backyard back into shape last year after our Winter ended. What a difference, right? See, it can be fixed!

FIXING THE GARDEN GATE & FENCE

After I fix the lawn, the garden gate and fence is in dire need of my attention. With the melting of our snow and rain we have had, it has made the ground really soaked, so the garden poles that hold up the gate and fence have moved quite a bit.

GARDEN DOOR AND FENCE

I am planning on building a new garden door and make it a bit wider. I found out the hard way that I could not get the wheelbarrow through the door of the garden after I made the door a few years ago, so I am going to fix that problem this year.

I have done extensive research on Pinterest for garden fences and gates, and I think I know what I am going to do. I will keep you in the dark though on what I am going to do!

One thing for sure that I am going to be using this year to fix our garden fence are these things called EZ Spikes from Home Depot. They are long metal spikes that go into the ground and then you insert your wood into the spike and secure it with screws. These will hold the fence in place nicely.

EZ SPIKES

Check out a few of my Pinterest Boards here for inspiration:
Privacy Fences
Garden Fences
Flower Containers

FLOWER CONTAINERS

After working on all of the above, my next fun project will be creating new flower containers to add some height and interest in our backyard. I saw on Pinterest where you can purchase some nice flat stone or slate pieces, glue them together with some sort of cement adhesive, then just fill them with dirt and plants! I would have never thought of this idea ever before, but what a great idea it is! Since these would be heavy, I would suggest that you build them where you want them in your yard first because I bet you won’t be able to pick them up afterwards. Aren’t they just beautiful?

SLATE FLOWER CONTAINERS

We only have to wait to get the right weather conditions so I can head outside and get to work on the backyard whipping it back into shape. In no time at all, all will be good in the backyard and harmony will resume. Just in time for grilling season because I know my Sweetie can’t wait to enjoy his time in front of the grill!

What plans do you have on your plate to get your yard back into shape? What have you been putting off fixing in your yard that you should put on your to do list?

G Is For Gardening

Yes it is true that “G” is for gardening, but it is also for germination, growth, and green!

G IS FOR GARDENING

Our plants are coming along nicely under the warmth of the grow lights, their safe little haven in their seed cells.

Some of the plants have already been transplanted into larger pots, due to their fast rooting systems, and need the extra room in a larger pot to expand their growth. While the other plants are still growing, their roots are still not yet to the stage of being transplanted. Wonder how I check if they are ready to be transplanted? I take a small thin butter knife and slide it down the side of the seed cell, then slightly pull up the soil around the plant. If I see roots all around the sides, it is ready to be transplanted, if not, I drop it back into the seed cell and check on it at a later date.

One thing when starting your plants indoors yourself, you don’t want to disturb the growth of the plant until it is ready. Plants are tender and need lots of love and attention to grow into a nice sized plant.

Also, you never want to over water your small plants either. Watch their leaves! Their leaves will tell you everything. If they are yellow, they are getting too much water, but some plants require that their soil is always moist, but this is something that you learn when you have been a gardener for awhile. If you are just starting out, I would suggest that you water your plants in small amounts until you learn the best amount of water that they need.

One last important note when starting your plants indoors, is to check on them many times during the day, and once again before you head to bed. Since the grow lights stay on 24/7 until the plants get bigger, you need to always make sure that your plants soil does not dry out. Once the plants get transplanted because their root systems are in need of a larger pot, this is the time to get your plants used to “sleeping”. By sleeping, I mean that you turn your grow lights off for a certain amount of time, which tells the plants that they need to learn how to sleep. Then you turn the lights back on for a few more hours, but this step is only done when your plants have been transplanted and are getting bigger in growth.

How well do you know your garden plants? Can you name the eight plants below? 

4-2-15 t

4-2-15 r

4-2-15 m

4-2-15 ci

4-2-15 ce

4-2-15 ca

4-2-15 z

4-2-15

Do you think you named all eight plants properly? As always, we love sharing our gardening experiences with you!

Taking Care of Our Future Produce

Nine days. It’s been nine days, from a seed to a little sprout, that’s all it took. Well, for some of our plants. Each seed we have planted has some sort of action going on with them, each germinate and grow at different rates.

ZUCCHINI 3-15-15

Obviously, the zucchini plants are growing up nicely! They are already getting secondary leaves! At this rate, I will be transplanting them into bigger pots soon.

CUCUMBERS 3-15-15

The cucumbers are standing at attention and coming along nicely too. Secondary leaves are starting on them as well.

BIG BOYS AND JULIETS 3-15-15

I love watching our little tomato plants grow. I love how they go through so many stages and right now, they are in the lanky stage, but they are coming along nicely. I love that the stems look furry, but my favorite part of growing tomatoes is when I touch the leaves and get that “tomato” smell aroma!

PUMPKINS 3-15-15

I think our pumpkins have taken some drugs! OMG, I can’t believe how big they have grown in nine days! Geez!  Big secondary leaves have already formed and they are definitely ready next week to be transplanted into bigger pots!

ROMAINE 3-15-15

Finally, we are starting to see little baby Romaine sprouts popping up! Oh how I can’t wait to watch them grow!  We planted Romaine lettuce for the first time last year, and definitely loved it! Romaine is so much better than regular leaf lettuce for sure! If you have never tried growing Romaine, you should consider it!

CELERY 3-15-15

Today, we got our first sight of some of our celery popping up. We love celery! This will be our first time ever that we have attempted to grow celery, so this will be quite an adventure for us.  I remember when we first tasted a celery stalk from a gardener friend of ours a few years ago, and when he told us to taste it, it tasted like it already was lightly salted. It was so awesome to munch on that piece of celery that day, and we have always wanted to try growing some of our own, so this year will be an awesome adventure.

We still have more plants that are coming along, germinating at their own slow pace, but that is how you roll when you start your own seeds indoors. Everything just does not pop up at the same time, they all grow individually, at their own pace. And, like I have mentioned before, we always plant extra seeds just in case some of the seeds don’t germinate, but if all the seeds do, then we’ll have extra.

Nothing is wrong with having too much fresh produce, right?

Seed To Green In Three Days

One of the most exciting parts of gardening is watching your plants grow, the other is eating what you grew! I know that we are a long way off to picking any veggies yet, but I can dream of them being in my belly!

GREEN SEEDLINGS 3-10-15

Late Friday afternoon I finally got all of our seeds planted. When I checked in on them on Monday, I was shocked at what I found! I saw “green” and lots of green under the seed cell clear covers! I was doing a happy dance in the laundry room.

CUCUMBERS 3-10-15

As you scroll through these photographs, you can see that some seeds germinate quicker than others. Don’t fret, if you are watching & waiting for yours to sprout, just give them time!

PUMPKINS 3-10-15

Another thing that I love about watching our plants grow, are the shapes they form while popping out of the soil. I get so excited when I see the secondary leaves forming too.

JULIET TOMATO 3-10-15

This is the first Juliet Tomato that popped up, and although it looks like a little green stick now, this baby (once grown) can produce tons of tomatoes!

CABBAGE 3-10-15

I love watching our cabbage plants grow, because when they are little, their leaves always remind me of little hearts, and I love hearts!

BIG BOY TOMATOES 3-10-15

This little Big Boy Tomato plant has just emerged from the soil, reaching for the warmth of the grow light.

ZUCCHINI 3-10-15

The zucchini plants look a lot like a cucumber or a pumpkin when they are small, and this is one of the reasons I always keep our plants labeled.

When we start our gardening season, it is always started indoors while the outdoors is still cold & snowy. I always get a nice workout throughout the day, and every day, as I run up and down our stairs to check in on the plants. When the plants get a lot bigger, the grow lights will be shut off at night so the plants can start learning how to sleep, but that is awhile away for them now. Right now, they need the warmth of the grow lights for germination & growth.

I just realized that I forgot to mention all of the veggies that we will have in our garden this year. They are as follows:  9 Juliet Tomatoes, 9 Big Boy Tomatoes, 9 Colossal Peppers, 9 Red Peppers, 9 Zucchini, 18 Romaine Lettuce, 9 Flat Dutch Cabbage, 18 Cucumbers, Celery and we will also be planting those Loofah Seeds too!  Just so you know how gardening works for us, not all of these plants will be planted in the garden, as we always start & germinate more seeds than needed just in case.

What are you going to grow this year?

Gardening Is Like A Slow Dance

When you decide to become a gardener, you have questions, and lots of them. What do I plant? What do I plant them in? How do I plant them? Do I start my own seeds or do I just purchase my plants? These are all good questions, which might leave you wondering where to begin.

We were once there years ago too. We got encouraged to start our own garden from gazing at our neighbors garden. He has a green thumb. We asked him tons of questions. (thanks farmer Steve!) I remember that first year we wanted to plant something, just to try it out and we purchased a couple cherry tomato plants from a local nursery. We planted them in large flower pots and when we saw how well they grew in just a pot, we were hooked and wanted our own garden! That’s when we decided to build our own raised garden beds in the backyard! We have never looked back and every year we get so darn excited about gardening every year.

Now, a few years of gardening under our belt, we feel that we can start and maintain a garden with confidence.

Gardening to me, is like a slow dance. You gather your seeds, soil, and plant trays, then stare at the soil for days until you see a little something “green” poking its way out of the soil! Success! You have officially germinated a seed and you are on your way!

GARDENING: STEP ONE
CREATE CUTE PLANT LABELS

When you become a gardener, you definitely learn from your mistakes. For example, last year I made some cardstock plant labels and taped them to a toothpick. I placed these labels in each seed section to identify what was planted in there. What I learned from this, is that the condensation that happens under the lid, those cardstock labels got destroyed and fell apart. That’s where the “learn” from gardening mistakes come in.

PLANT MARKERS

This year, I made some cute plant labels on cardstock, but I laminated them first! Now I’m on the right track! I got those cute labels all cut out and taped them to the toothpicks again and now know that through watering and the condensation, those labels will hold up until we take the plants out to the garden.I am happy.

PLANT MARKERS2

GARDENING: STEP TWO
CHOOSING THE RIGHT STARTING SOIL

Choosing the right seed starting soil is important. I remember a few years ago we got some cheap crap soil at Marcs (will never do that again) and the soil was like a bag of fluff. Yes, I said fluff, because the soil was horrible and we lost all the seeds that we had planted. Nothing grew in this cheap soil.

STARTING SEEDS

We changed our starting soil to either a Burpee seed starting soil, or a nice organic soil and have had much success with both of these. It’s better to spend a few dollars more on your soil than waste seeds.

Once you have the correct seed starting soil, you are ready to start your seeds. This part is fun, but a little tricky because most of the seeds that you will probably be starting are very tiny in size. I had to use a pair of tweezers just to grab the seeds out of the bag. For example, the Flat Dutch Cabbage seeds are the size of a period at the end of a sentence.

GARDENING: STEP THREE
PLANTING YOUR SEEDS

For a first time gardener, I would suggest you read the planting instructions on all of your seed packs before you attempt to plant your seeds. The depth of your seeds is important.

ROMAINE

We start our seeds in the 72 cell seed starting trays. Each kit comes with a bottom (to catch & hold water), the 72 cell tray (8 sections for 9 plants each), and a clear lid (for the grow light to shine through). I normally use the sections to plant the same seeds, and always plant a few seeds extra, just in case one seed does not germinate!

ZUCCHINI

You take your good seed starting soil, NOT potting soil, as there is a difference. Potting soil is for house plants, not for starting seeds. Fill up each seed cell with your soil, and very lightly pack it in, but not too much, then take a toothpick and poke a small hole in the center of each seed cell, this is where you are going to plant that seed! (now remember, I told you first time gardeners to read the seed packet first, because some seeds just lay on top of the soil, where others have to be planted at a certain depth)

Once you drop your seeds into the soil, lightly cover them up with a dusting of soil. Lightly water the entire seed cell tray, and put the clear lid on.

GARDENING: STEP FOUR
GROW LIGHTS & KEEPING YOUR PLANTS WARM

Other than choosing the right seed starting soil, keeping your seeds under a grow light is important. We hung our grow lights off the beams in the ceiling in our basement. The lights hang from a chain and we use little metal “S” hooks on the chain, as this is used when we change the height of the grow lights.

SEED STARTER

Since our seeds were just started, we keep the grow lights a few inches above the closed lid on our seed cells, as this keeps the seeds warm and with the moisture in the soil from watering, it produces condensation. Always keep those lids closed on your seed cells until you need to water your plants.

PLANT MARKER CABBAGE

As the seeds germinate & grow, they are still kept under the grow lights, but the lights on the chains gets moved up a few notches. You don’t want to burn your plant leaves with too much heat.

Well, that is it for now! You have successfully planted all of your seeds! Now you wait, and wait, until you see that little piece of green popping through your soil and then you rejoice! Normal germination for seeds can be just a few days, but others may take a little while longer, so be patient, you did nothing wrong!

Gardening is definitely like a slow dance, taking it nice and slow. Stay tuned for more gardening tips as we progress along our way!