29 April 2011

In Need of Flower

Happy Friday!  I hope you have a moment to sit, relax and enjoy the day.  My mom is in town for a visit!  We have a weekend full of art, estate sale shopping, markets, and eating loads of delicious food.  I will see you all next week.  Hopefully with new finds.   

27 April 2011

Backyard Garden: Cut Worms

I walked out to the garden this morning as I have every morning to check on the progress of my plants.  Much to my surprise, my broccoli, which had big, beautiful leaves yesterday all of a sudden resembled swiss cheese.  What could have possibly munched on my broccoli that quickly?  After a closer inspection I found this.
I thought this guy has got to be full because most of my leaves are gone.  Of course he had help.  I pulled close to 20 worms off of ONE plant.  I felt betrayed.  Such a silly feeling, I know, but things were going along just fine without them! 

I promptly got out my organic gardening book for natural solutions.  One recommendation says to put a saucer of stale beer near the plant.  The smell wards off pests.  They climb up the stalk from the soil so adding a protective barrier around the base of the plant such as a straw or paper tube can keep them from climbing up.  I think I'll be trying both.

Do you have any solutions? 

26 April 2011

Join the Food Revolution

Several years ago when I was a naturalist leading 5th graders through the woods of Possum Kingdom teaching them about nature and life cycles, I was surprised at the amount of children that had never picked up a bug, seen a rabbit, or played in the mud.  They saw nature for the first time, and for some probably the last time.  It was even more startling at meal time when our lessons moved to the origin of food and after asking questions, I would get responses such as "meat comes from the grocery store."  I knew then we had a big problem. 

I grew up taking food for granted.  I knew where it originated and I assumed everyone did.  Spending time in the fields and barns was just something we did growing up on farms.  This experience taught me the value in real food through nourishment of my body and of my community.  Unfortunately today, the number of urban kids far outweighs the number of farm kids.  This is the future of our food system in America. 

Jamie Oliver is campaigning to change that.  His show, Food Revolution, documents the struggle of educating a society whose health issues have become an epidemic.  The show is factual, entertaining, and most of all, relevant.  It airs on ABC every Tuesday at 8/7c.  

Peaked your interest?  Join the cause here and watch the show tonight.

top image from abc

25 April 2011

Chocolate Frosting

Preston egg hunt by AL Bullock
taken by my mom
I hope you had an enjoyable Easter.  My day was full of goodness.  One of the best moments of the weekend was talking to my nephew in Nebraska about his Easter egg hunt.  He is four and just as fun as my brother was back then.  They live in a town of about 270 people.  The city does an egg hunt at the park every year.  All the kids stand on the curbs surrounding the park which covers a small block.  There are eggs everywhere in the park.  As soon as the fire department sounds the whistle all the kids take off running and screaming.  They fill their baskets full of eggs and their bellies full of candy.  This is what I love about small towns.  Needless to say, I heard most of this story from mom.  He was too busy painting eggs when I called, so the phone was handed over. 

On another note I was in charge of frosting the Easter cake this weekend and chocolate was the choice.  Since all the cocoa powder went into the cake I had to scramble for a recipe that didn't include it.  I was very pleased with the recipe I found from this website.  I'm not a big chocolate fan, but I would certainly make it again. 
4 squares BAKER'S Unsweetened Chocolate
1/4 cup  (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1 pkg. (16 oz.) powdered sugar (about 4 cups), divided
1 tsp.  vanilla
1/2 cup milk

MELT chocolate in saucepan on very low heat, stirring constantly; set aside.
BEAT butter in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until creamy. Gradually add about half of the sugar, beating on low speed after each addition until well blended. Add chocolate and vanilla; mix well.
ADD remaining sugar alternately with the milk, beating until well blended after each addition. Use to frost your favorite cake or cupcake recipe.

Enjoy the rest of your week. 

2nd image by Charles Schiller for Country Living

22 April 2011

365 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

Happy Earth Day

Earth day is such an important day to celebrate.  Any time we can bring focus to the improvement of our environment I'm all for it, but I have one complaint.  ONE day is not enough.  It's like Valentine's day.  Giving your best attention to your loved one once a year doesn't seem like a quality relationship.  We need to develop a relationship with our environment in order to be good stewards on a daily basis.  You'll notice the title says 365 ways to celebrate but this list only has 132 items.  Now I could make this easy and just give you 365 reasons, but the point to my concept 4(for) green acres is to collaboratively educate and by asking you to add to the list there will hopefully be more accountability.  I can't wait to see some of your creative ideas. 

Here is how it will work.  You can leave a comment with your idea, name, and location and I will add it to the list or you can send me an email.  Next week you will see this post in the side bar so you can quickly add and idea to the list throughout the year without having to search for it.     

365 Ways to Celebrate the Earth 
  1. Take your own bags to the grocery store.
  2. Eliminate the use of produce bags.  You're going to wash the produce anyway.  Just put them in your cart.
  3. OR reuse your produce bags.  Clean them out and take them with you.
  4. Avoid using paper towels in your kitchen.
  5. Air dry your hands in public restrooms instead of using paper towels.
  6. Wash your produce with a vinegar and water solution.
  7. Recycle more "trash" than you throw away.
  8. Purchase magazines and books 2nd hand when available.
  9. Carry a water bottle with you everywhere.
  10. Keep house plants in your home.
  11. Plant a garden.
  12. Print/write on the back side of paper.
  13. Read e-zines and newsletters on your computer vs. printing them out.
  14. Spend time in nature.
  15. Use O.B. tampons.
  16. Stay home and cook.
  17. Visit your local farmers market.
  18. Avoid take-out trash. (see #16)
  19. Shop at estate sales for furniture.
  20. Support artists that use sustainable or reused materials.
  21. Go solar. Consider panels.
  22. Volunteer at a community garden.
  23. Better yet, start a community garden.
  24. Listen to green lectures or panels of experts.
  25. Use old coffee grounds in your flower beds. 
  26. Wash your clothing in cold water.
  27. Air dry your laundry.
  28. Ride a bike instead of a car.
  29. Take public transportation when available.
  30. Knit your own...
  31. Buy local - not just food.
  32. Wear natural fibers.
  33. Use salt water to kill the weeds in your yard.
  34. Compost.
  35. Recycle your athletic shoes.
  36. Use apple cider vinegar.
  37. Make your own soap.
  38. Make your own cleaning products.
  39. Sweep your driveway instead of using the hose.
  40. Unplug appliances when not in use.
  41. Wash your clothes after 2-3 wears.
  42. Wash your hair every other day.
  43. Learn about the benefits of baking soda.
  44. Make shopping lists on recycled paper.
  45. Better yet, make your own paper using recycled paper.
  46. Make your own journals and notebooks.
  47. Support green spaces.
  48. Sew something.
  49. Raise chickens in your backyard.
  50. Run outside, not on the treadmill.
  51. Plant a tree.
  52. Camp under the stars.
  53. Collect rain water for your indoor and outdoor plants.
  54. Bring your own coffee cup to work.
  55. Give away or sell your old clothes.
  56. Detox your body from processed foods.
  57. Use rechargeable batteries.
  58. Read Michael Pollan's Food Rules and abide by them.
  59. Watch Jamie Oliver's show Food Revolution
  60. Eat clean food.
  61. Make your gift bags out of material.
  62. Use washable Tupperware for your lunch instead of disposable bags.
  63. Blow out your refrigerator coils.
  64. Ride share when you can.
  65. Use a real cup at a restaurant instead of a to-go cup.
  66. If you don't need a receipt, don't get one.
  67. Try canning your own food.
  68. Take shorter showers.
  69. Turn off the faucet when you brush your teeth.
  70. Try nativescape instead of exotic plants.
  71. Find your local farmer to supply your meat.
  72. Get a library card.
  73. Buy in bulk (less trash).
  74. Purchase clothes that don't require dry cleaning.
  75. Recycle your electronics (cell phones, mp3 players, etc.)
  76. Hold a garage sale.
  77. Make a list of all the things you don't need and give them away.
  78. Make your own coffee coozy.
  79. Cancel your cable television.
  80. Have unplugged weekends (no t.v. or social media).
  81. Insulate your water heater for energy efficiency. 
  82. Hand wash your dishes instead of using the dishwasher.
  83. Turn a glass bottle into a hummingbird feeder using  a cork.
  84. Take your name of junk mail master lists.
  85. Hang a "no solicitation" sign on your door to avoid unwanted fliers.
  86. Consider cloth diapers.
  87. Keep your thermostat two degrees cooler than you normally would.
  88. Water your lawn/plants in the morning.
  89. Close the damper to your fireplace when out of season.
  90. Avoid using a coffee stirrer. Ask for a spoon they can wash.
  91. Use soap to wash your face instead of towelettes.
  92. Sign up for on-line bill pay and avoid writing checks.
  93. Ask your bank to send you e-statements instead of paper copies.
  94. Buy products with post-consumer recycled material.
  95. Not home?  Turn off your lights.
  96. Defrost your freezer.
  97. Make your own pizza instead of ordering delivery.
  98. Take a class.
  99. Throw something away.
  100. Cut the caffeine out of your diet.
  101. Find out what sunrise looks like in your neighborhood.
  102. Introduce yourself to a neighbor you don't know.
  103. Write your congressmen about environmental/food issues.
  104. Protest for something you believe in.
  105. Barter services and goods.
  106. Make a greeting card to give to someone.
  107. Send an actual letter.  You know, with an envelope and stamp.
  108. Eat a vegetable that scares you.
  109. Read a Mary Oliver poem.
  110. Find out how processed meat is made.
  111. Eat fruit directly from a tree.
  112. Use paraben-free cosmetics.
  113. Pick up trash.
  114. Adopt a highway.
  115. Start a worm farm.
  116. Observe the birds.
  117. Draw a flower.
  118. Walk to work.
  119. Put a brick in your toilet.
  120. Make a bird feeder.
  121. Don't bag your lawn.
  122. Use leaves as mulch.
  123. Use orange oil on the ant piles.
  124. Become a beekeeper.
  125. Limit your cell phone usage.
  126. Consume less of everything.
  127. Become a lending library and share your books.
  128. Utilize your fireplace for a heat source.
  129. Use wholebuffalo.com
  130. Record weather patterns.
  131. Cacel your trash service for a month.
  132. Keep a pail under the faucet to catch running water for flower boxes on porch. by Leonda
  133. Buy Vintage. by Linnet at Vintage Now and Then
  134. Avoid beverage service on a plane.  It's unnecessary trash.
  135. Take a canvas bag to the mall, like you would to the grocery store, for your clothes/shoes.  Promote yourself.
  136. Don't throw out the coffee you didn't drink.  Pour into ice trays to make coffee cubes for iced latte's. 
  137. ...Your idea here
Special thanks to cc for her creative input.

image from texascience.org website

21 April 2011


Pizza is a Friday night tradition in our house.  Homemade pizza that is.  By Friday I'm usually tired and don't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.  I used to buy a whole wheat crust at the store because I thought making my own was too complicated and time consuming.  As I started to dive deeper into the actual ingredients in the food I was eating I realized packaged crust, however "whole" it says on the package, became a whole lot of stuff I didn't want to eat, like unnecessary starches and corn syrup.  So finding a quick and easy recipe for crust became a priority.  I found the following recipe and I love it!  Not only is it easy, I can make it when I get home from work and not have to wait a long time to enjoy it. 

Easy Pizza Crust

1 packet (1/4 oz.) of active quick yeast
1 cup warm water
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp honey
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs fresh herbs (optional)

Preheat oven to 400.  In a large bowl, add in the yeast and warm water and stir until the yeast dissolves.  Add the flour, salt, honey, herbs (if using), and olive oil and stir with a wooden spoon vigorously until combined.  Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle cornmeal onto a walled baking sheet and press dough into it until thin.  Add the toppings you desire and cook for 20-25 minutes.  You don't have to cook the dough first.

What weekly food traditions do you hold in your house?

image by Eleonora from  Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino

18 April 2011

Change of Plans

I had a long list of things to do this weekend.  You know the one:  house chores, preparation for family visits, holiday meals, etc.  Then, plans changed.  Usually this leaves me with a little anxiety since I'm the rule follower and the schedule says I must do A, B, and C.  But I fell asleep last night happier than I've felt in a while.  Instead of worrying about not getting the to-do list done, I simply changed it.  I spent more time with a dear friend and had a great heart to heart.  I played with two special girls that reminded me that weekends are not meant for to-do lists, they are meant for play.

This has actually been on my mind a lot lately as I've been reading about un-plugged weekends around the blogishpere.  I know this refers to phone, Internet, and social media usage but I wonder if it can be taken a bit further to include the proverbial to-do list.  The weekends of my childhood were spent playing, cooking, eating, and spending time with family.  I seemed to have strayed away from that.

I'm exhausted today, but filled full of the kind of goodness that comes with spending a day just being, and accepting anything that comes to pass. 

Have a Great Week

Indian Paintbrushes

image by indigo 26

15 April 2011

Road Trip: Austin, Texas

image by treasurethouhast, embellished by indigo 26
We  took a road trip last weekend to get away.  Austin is a standout in this Lone Star State.  It is a city full of artists and entrepreneurs and we knew we wanted to experience that scene.  With a motto of Keep Austin Weird, you are bound to find interesting people, places, and things.  We stayed at a unique hotel called the Inn at Pearl Street just down the road from the University of Texas.  It was quaint and felt a like staying at Aunt Gertrude's house.  I don't have an aunt Gertrude, but if I did her house would look like this.
Inn at Pearl Street website
Our weekend started off with a great hike at the Barton Creek Greenbelt.  One thing I love about Austin is the amount of greenspace.  The Barton Creek trail system is a city treasure.  Once you get on the trail the city around you disappears and all that's left are gigantic live oak trees, wild salvia in bloom, natural springs, miniature waterfalls and someone's zen rocks at a resting place.  It's magical.
Another Austin favorite is the SoCo area, or South Congress Avenue.  Packed with local eateries, street vendors and one of a kind stores it is the best place to see all of Austin's culture at once.  We did not stay at the San Jose this time because it was booked but I snapped a few shots as we walked by.

They have parking lots all over the city designated for mobile food vendors. 
We purchased some awesome repurposed jewelry from Gretchen.  She was set up on the street and I couldn't help but stop.  I am so excited about her work but I'm saving it for another post.  I bought something similar to the necklace below. 

Gretchen Kaylor Grimm at Black and Bluebird Studios
We moseyed into Allen's boots: A must see if you are a fist time visitor to Texas.  The store is lined with shelves full of cowboy boots.  There are so many pairs it's hard to choose, but you can't leave without one.  If you stop in, ask for Clayton.  He is the nicest, cutest (sorry ladies, he is married) salesperson, and is full of knowledge.  He helped me try on several pairs and I walked out the proud new owner of a pair of Old Gringo's. 
Allens Boots website
Next we headed over to Uncommon Objects.  The sign says antiques but don't let it fool you.  These are not your grandmother's antiques.  They have the quirkiest stuff and I did find one of two McCoy jardiniere's here for a steal. 
If you need a latte break, Jo's is the place to stop.  This local coffee house has a great outdoor seating spot perfect for people watching.
We finished off the day with dinner at Sandra Bullock's restaurant Bess Bistro.  No, we are not related, but how fun would that be!  After sampling one of the many cocktail options we sat down to a nice dinner. 

image by Ed U.
Road trips define a sense of adventure for me.  Getting out to see parts of the country and experiencing new things is what makes my life so enjoyable.  There is always something new that I learn and I come home fresh and inspired.  They don't even have to be elaborate trips.  Although Austin is "in my backyard" there is still so much to see and it was great getting away for a bit.  When is your next road trip planned?

images by indigo 26 unless otherwise noted
photo tape from Pugley Pixel

14 April 2011

Kitchen Canisters

I love kitchen canisters, especially old ones.  They are relatively inexpensive and can change the look of kitchen.  I was hunting around Etsy the other day and found some great canisters. 

From left to right:
  1.  Abbie's House
  2.  TParty
  3.  Shartreuse
  6.  Carpebellus
  7.  Octavia Brown
  9.  Bottlecrop

We had traditional canisters until I decided I wanted more of a farmhouse look.  These are the canisters currently on my kitchen counter.  I think the peanut jar for the flour is my favorite.  Sorry for the bad lighting.  We have fluorescent lights and not a lot of natural light in the kitchen. 

Have a great Thursday. 

13 April 2011

Easter Eggs

Country Living
I am not one to decorate for the holidays.  With only two of us in the house and not a lot of visitors during holidays, it never seems worth it to go through all the trouble.  So as Easter approaches, my house sits just as it is.  There has been no lack of inspiration this year however, and it's enough to almost make me want to decorate eggs.  I remember doing this as a child.  I would buy the box kit at the dime store and meticulously try to color each egg perfectly.

Now eggs seem to be a piece of art and dying them a single color is only the beginning.  I couldn't let all this inspiration go to waste, so I am want to share it with you. 

Hard boiled or empty?  I like to go for empty.  A trick my grandmother taught me was to get fresh eggs, take a large upholstery needle and poke through both ends of the shell.  Then blow out the contents of the egg into a bowl.  You can save the shell and use the eggs for breakfast. 

Better Homes and Gardens
I was very excited to see natural dye recipes this year.  I think the most comprehensive list came from the April issue of Better Homes and Gardens.  They use a variety of food to create pink, lavender, brown, blue, bluish-gray, dark pink and yellow.  You can find the how-to here. 
Big Sis Lil Sis
If you're feeling a little creative you'll be inspired by these lovely eggs.  Sonia Bauer from the blog Big Sis Lil Sis demonstrated how she makes botanical eggs by using leaves and flowers in Country Living.  In the April issue of Living, they suggest using scrapbook stickers. 
Martha Stewart Living
Country Living
One of my favorite ideas by far is this.  A message in an egg.  It's like a fortune cookie, only better. 
image by Present and Correct
We used to put our eggs in plastic baskets with fake green grass.  Somehow I think that would mask the beauty of all these eggs.  There is a great tutorial in Country Living to create your own papier-mâché baskets like the ones below.  This is such a great idea. 
Dana Gallagher for Country Living
If baskets aren't your thing, try a wood bowl like this one.  
Blissful Blog
Maybe next year I'll finally give in and create beautiful eggs.  If you've made beautiful eggs this year leave me a link in the comments.  I would love to see them.

11 April 2011

Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

The first memory I have of apple cider vinegar was at a very early age. I walked into my babysitters house and was quickly greeted with a putrid smell I thought must be the smell of death. Surely someone had died and this horrible smell was the result. The air was humid, thick, and hot. To my shock, she was canning. Canning something; I was too distraught to remember, but I knew after that she couldn't be trusted. Who on earth would eat something that smells like that? 

Apple cider vinegar is making a come back. In the April issue of Better Homes and Gardens they have a spread about chefs turning to this staple rather than it's cousins. In the last couple of years I have grown to love ACV. I don't use it a lot for cooking although it really adds a kick to Split Pea Soup (see Orangette's recipe here). I use it more like an apothecary would for common ailments. I ingest it raw and I put it on my face. Yes, you read that last part correctly. I put it on my face, raw. There are so many more uses for ACV outside of the kitchen.

1.  Due to a malfunctioning thyroid, I have adult acne. It occasionally resembles that of a hormonal teenager. Nothing has worked to remedy this problem. That is until I read all the benefits of ACV and how it naturally regulates your skin. I was a bit of a skeptic. My skin has a tendency to be on the dry side and the thought of putting such a powerful acid on my face was a bit boggling to me, but I threw judgement out the window and I tried it. I haven't stopped using it. It truly does clear up my skin and I have zero dryness issues like I used to have. I sound like an infomercial now. Trust me, it works.

2.  Allergies, upset stomach, just not feeling so hot? Shoot a good tablespoon of it daily. Just put it in a glass and chug it. Dilute it slightly if you want, or combine it with a tablespoon of honey (the superfood) and you have created a medicine that is better than any over the counter drug. Once again, trust me it works. Denise Andrade over at Boho Girl talks about her experimentation with ACV on this post in February. I am excited to see someone else in our community seeking the benefits.

3.  Pour a bath, and add a cup of ACV. Not only is it beneficial for your skin, but ladies, it will help regulate the pH of your female system. 

ACV is made from the process of fermenting apples. Just like anything you choose to put in or on your body, it's good to be conscious of how it's made. I use Bragg's Raw Apple Cider Vinegar as shown above because they use apples that have been organically grown. In fact, their website is caulk full of information on the benefits of ACV. If you need more validation jump on over to their site.

The acid in the vinegar breaks down the enamel on your teeth so brush your teeth or rinse with clean water after you drink the vinegar.
If you are planning date night or want to cozy up to your special someone, I would lay off the vinegar astringent. They won't come near you.
The fumes can be strong when you put it on your face. Close your eyes until it soaks in your skin or they will burn, much like when you're cutting onions.

I'm not sure I'll ever get over the smell of it, but when I'd rather be putting something natural in my body that makes it a little easier to deal with.

image: Bragg Website

07 April 2011

Repurposed Bed Frame? Yes Please.

No, this is not my bed.  I was reading Tesca's post over at her blog Wohnwasabi about green living using wood when I ran across this stunning bed.  I love her blog because she always offers such inspiring blog topics and I was so excited to see this post.  I did a little more digging and found out that this bed is the handy work of Dana over at House*Tweaking.  I like that she took something old and made it elegant with linens and pillows. 

The funny thing is, last week I came across the bed below in the West Elm magazine.  It caught my eye because we are looking for a new frame and the use of repurposed wood would fit in nicely with our eclectic style.  Is this a sign we need a repurposed bed frame?  I'm thinking, yes.   

My plan is to makeover the bedroom starting with the bed.  Currently our room has builder beige paint, and builder grade carpet in the same color.  It has become the dumping ground for furniture that doesn't have a place in the rest of the house.  There are lovely features, such as the trace ceiling and three large windows, but that's about as good as it gets.   We do a lot of reading and catching up on shows in our room and the space has never felt quite right. 

I'm looking for green inspiration for our room.  Do you have any great ideas or pictures? 

images: 1) Dana from House Tweaking   2) West Elm website

06 April 2011

Backyard Garden: Planning

Last week I showed you how to construct boxes and fill them with good soil.  Now it's time to take the next step and think about what you want to plant and when to plant it.  The first thing to take into consideration is when your anticipated last frost will be.  The Old Farmer's Almanac website has a great chart to determine the date for your area.  Find a notebook that is used just for your garden.  As you progress, you'll want to use it to take loads of notes.  I found the one above at an estate sale for $0.25.  I like that it already has a grid pattern.

What to Plant
What you decide to plant is up to you and your tastes as well as the space you have.  Unfortunately I only have a enough room for two boxes in my yard and there are two of us.  Each person needs 2-3 boxes in order to plant everything.  Since I don't have the space, I made a list of all my favorites.  Then I made a list of what is available (including price) at my farmers market. From there I determined what to plant and what will be supplemented from the market. 

Seeds and Seed Starting
Once you've determined what to plant in your garden it's time to purchase seeds and seedlings.  Growing your own seedlings is an option, however, I am not a fan of seed starting.  It requires a lot of time and space to get them all going.  I don't start my own seeds because honestly, I just don't like all the fuss.  Local feed stores and garden supply places will do a lot of this work for you in their greenhouses.  I like to support their business and so I buy seedlings for the plants that are harder or take longer to grow from seed such as tomatoes and onions.  If you wanted, you could start your entire garden with seedlings you've purchased, but it can get expensive. 

You can purchase seeds almost anywhere, but it's important to remember you get what you pay for.  For good, quality seeds that haven't been modified, go for organic or heirloom varieties or those from reputable seed companies.  One of my favorite heirloom seed distributors is Seed Savers Exchange and for organic is Seeds of Change.  Also try to google any local seed companies.  They will most likely carry seeds that are adapted to your area for maximum growth potential.  Here in Texas we have Willhite Seed.  I also like Burpee Seeds because they are readily available.  You don't have to order them through a catalog because they are sold at local retailers.  Overwhelmed yet?

Seed catalogs are so beautiful and can be very stressful for a beginner because of all the varieties they offer.  There is an alternative to picking your own.  Gardener's Supply Company offers a great kitchen garden planner.  It provides a basic layout of pre-planned gardens with instructions.  It's a great tool. 

Since the boxes are laid out with a grid pattern like the one above, it will make planting easy.  No two types of seeds are in the same square.  The problem I ran into was determining how many seeds to put in each square.  I know that cabbage and tomatoes are large plants and they would most likely have their own space, but I knew I could fit more than one bunch of lettuce in a square.  I clipped the ad above from the Gardener's Supply Company catalog and knew they could offer some help.  Not only can you get a pre-planned garden layout, you can also plug the seeds you want to grow into their planner and they will give you a layout of your personal garden with instructions, including how many plants to have in each square.  I didn't have to draw out my plan because I could print the layout from their website.  I scanned in one of my pages.  That's dirt on the page near the spinach.

Keep in mind that taller plants should be planted on the north side of your boxes so they don't shade out your smaller plants.  This also inclueds any vine type of plant.  If you choose to plant peas they typically do best growing up a trellis of some kind. Any vine type of plant can be woven in a trellis leaving more room around your boxes but you don't want them taking all the sun from your other plants.  Remember this when you are laying out your garden plan. 

When To Plant
Now that you've determined your last frost date, and what you are going to plant and where, it's time to talk about when to plant.  Because determining when to plant is so regional the best advice I can give you is to find planting charts for your area.  I used Mel Bartholomew's charts from the Square Foot Gardening book.  I was able to plug in dates based on my last frost date to determine planting times.  I marked these dates in my calendar. 

I want produce all summer long so staggering my planting times are important.  I plant lettuce, for example, every two weeks (information I gathered from Mel's charts) so that when I harvest one crop I'll have another ready to go in the following week.  The boxes will not look the same through the seasons and so it's important to have a good plan up front.  When it gets warmer here I will no longer be able to plant spinach so it will be replaced with plants that can tolerate more heat.  Then again in the fall, I'll go through another cycle as the temps begin to cool again.  Planting charts should be your most valuable resource for planning.

As I said with boxes, don't overthink it.  There are plenty of books and websites avaialable to do the thinking for you.  I would love to see your plans.  Let me know in the comments or leave me a link. 

**I was not endorsed or offered products from any of the above mentioned companies.  I'm simply a happy customer.**

04 April 2011

It's Your Birthday!

Do you remember birthday parties from when you were younger? I was in 4th or 5th grade when my mom threw my favorite birthday party. On Saturday morning she came into my bedroom, woke me up in a panic and told me to get in the car. She said there was no time to get dressed. I walked by my brother still asleep in bed and was a little worried he wasn't coming along. I thought maybe mom was sleep walking/talking again. I still had no clue what was going on and I was little embarrassed to be riding around in the car in my pajamas. Not long after we ended up in front of my best friends house. Still confused, she told me, in another panic, to go in and wake her up and tell her to get in the car. Her mom greeted me at the door, obviously in on a plan I had yet to figure out. This happened 4 or 5 more times until my mom's car was filled with my friends in their pajamas (I grew up in small, rural town - the use of seatbelts didn't apply). Finally my mom said, "surprise, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" She took us to the donut shop for breakfast, and then back to my house to watch a bunch of movies she had rented. We spent most of the day hanging out, watching movies, and doing girly stuff in our pj's. No fluff, just like me.

As I mentioned Friday, I had a birthday party to attend this weekend for a four and two year old. The theme was Hello Kitty. I had so much fun watching all the kids run around and laugh. It reminded me of all my birthday parties and how much effort moms put in to be sure their children feel special. This party was no exception. The two birthday girls were exhausted when all the guests left. A good indication they had a good time. I was tired too!

Now we are back to another Monday. It's hard to believe April is already here. Is time flying by so fast because I'm getting older? I'll be back this week with more backyard garden how to's, and a fun DIY herb garden for your windowsill. I have gardening on the brain. Sorry for those of you still stuck in the depths of winter.

What is your favorite birthday party memory?