Wonderful Wallflowers: Vertical Gardening Supplies for Small Spaces

 

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I have just a small sliver of a porch outside my apartment and that’s the extent of my outdoor space. Luckily, there are plenty of vertical garden options to help me scratch my farming itch by utilizing little more than the brick wall.

 

Although I do have a small outdoor space to work with, most of these vertical gardens can also be used indoors. A living wall in a kitchen or bath is a fun way to bring life inside.
 
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First-Time Vegetable Gardening for the Black-Thumbed

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  Some of you may feel like no matter what you try to grow, it dies. Too much water, not enough water, too much sun, too much shade, or… it just dies for no reason at all. This has been my experience with gardening for a long time, and when I tried to grow a vegetable garden for a few years in a row, it was a total disaster. I fought a never-ending battle with weeds — and lost. Bugs ate more vegetables than I did those summers, and “working in the garden” involved lots of standing and squinting, hands on hips, uttering curse words under my breath. Cut to the past two summers — minimal weedings, efficient worry-free watering, easy pest control… and a picturesque bounty of gorgeous vegetables! Here are ten things I learned.

1.  Start small. My first vegetable garden was probably five times bigger than it should have been. I started with way too much space (read: more opportunities for weeds to creep in) and way too many plants. If this is your first garden, start with a small plot and it becomes much less intimidating. Once you have a winning season, you can be a little more adventurous with next year’s plans.
2.  Get a major head-start on weeds with a raised bed. Again, my first garden — we tilled up the soil, planted, and weeds seemed to sprout up before our very eyes. With a raised bed, you not only get excellent drainage and can control your soil quality, you can make weeding so much easier (and have to weed much less often.) My weeding experience went from hours kneeling on hard earth, tugging and cussing tough-rooted plants out of the ground, to casual weed-flicking; now I just gently tug weeds out of the raised bed every now and then when I spot them.
Sunset has an excellent tutorial on building a raised bed; the final project is about 8′ x 4′ and costs about $175 to build yourself.
3.  Know the basics. Be familiar with the basics of what you’re growing, including sun requirements (most likely, your veggies will need full sun), when to plant, and what kind of soil and fertilizer to fill your bed with. There are lots of resources online to help you plan your garden; read about planning your first vegetable garden in this article from Better Homes and Gardens.
4. Know which vegetables will grow easily in your area, and which ones won’t. Let’s take another look at my disastrous garden; we were determined to grow broccoli even though our next-door neighbor (a very experienced farmer) told us he never has been able to grow it in our area and that it was tough to cultivate. Prepare yourselves for this shocker: it didn’t grow. Well, it did grow, but it was not successful, in spite of our efforts to support it.
For your first garden, get some easy wins; get some advice from locals on what works, and stick with that! You can always start branching out next year.
5.  Keep your garden close to you. One of the (many!) disadvantages of our first garden was the distance from our home, not only for watering purposes (see #6!), but just in convenience and familiarity. Our new little garden is a part of our yard; we tend it frequently because we see it all the time. While kids are playing, while guests are milling around, we are always attentive to our plants because we are so familiar with their growth and progress. Likewise, weeds don’t stand a chance because we see them before they get a stronghold, and we pull one or two here or there as they pop up.
6. Have a watering plan. There’s no doubt about it, for a garden to be successful, it has to be amply watered. And to be amply watered, water needs to be available — seems obvious enough, right? Now, this doesn’t do credit to our intelligence and foresight, but as I mentioned, we put our first garden plot quite a distance from our house and water source. I’m talking multiple tens of yards. Not only did we have to buy a ridiculously long hose, we had to deal with poor water pressure, more area to spring leaks, and lots of walking back and forth to turn the water on and off. It was not enjoyable, and our garden didn’t get watered nearly as much as it should have.
Now that our little raised bed is next to our patio, just a few mere feet from our outdoor spigot, we have a simple, easy-to-keep-up-with watering plan. We could (and sometimes do) water manually every morning, but we’ve also set ourselves up with the option of watering from underneath the soil by burying a soaker hose before we planted. This method of watering is more efficient and helps plants retain more moisture.
Read about irrigating with soaker hoses in this article from Popular Mechanics.
7.  Not all bugs are bad. Most people know ladybugs eat aphids and other pests, but did you know there is a certain kind of wasp that kills hornworm caterpillars? It’s worth your time to quickly become familiar with which crawly things are pests and which are worth keeping around.
Here are some tips on attracting beneficial insects, from finegardening.com.
8.  Become familiar with natural pest control. There are several things you can do to avoid having to douse your plants in poison (although, admit it — it would be so satisfying to violently eradicate all those bugs that are gorging themselves on your food!). We grow lots of hot peppers and garlic because we enjoy them, but we’ve also found that planting them around our other crops helps keep some pests away as well. There are other things you can do, too — this article on natural pest control from eartheasy lists preventative measures you can take, as well as gentle methods for controlling specific pest problems.
9.  Don’t forget pots. We eventually relocated some of our plants that were in our raised beds to pots around our patio — herbs, garlic, and strawberries were put in pots around our patio furniture, and we were able to reclaim some space in our small bed (as well as add some green and variety to our lounging area!)
Read about growing vegetables in pots and planters in this helpful article from Gardener’s Supply Company
10.  Sometimes things just don’t work out. After several years in our new garden, we got used to a bumper crop of cucumbers every year. And just like that, one year … no cukes. We got several measly, sad little guys, but that was about it. And I’m sure we could have gotten to the bottom of it — there has to be a solid reason why one year our crop failed — but for us, it was easier to just shrug, call it a loss, and enjoy the rest of our veggies for the summer. Don’t be hard on yourself if something fails.
Above all, realize it’s a learning process — our garden-savvy older neighbors have consoled me many times with the advice that every year you learn something new; don’t expect to come out of the gates a gardening whiz! Just enjoy the process, and the literal fruits of your effort — and give yourself just another reason to look forward to summer!

“I just saw that broken link… In my last post. Whoops!”

So, I went back to find the pin, for the broken link, But I can’t find it, … I am sorry!! I hate it as much as you do – I really wanted to check that website out later, But hey! @ least I can make up for it, RIGHT?? Yep! Enjoyz! ~Ami

{{ Here’s the link to the origional posting for this one: http://sewmanyways.blogspot.com/2012/11/thrifty-thursdaystring-storage.html }}

Thrifty Thursday…String Storage

Welcome to another Thrifty Thursday…using what we have around the house (or super cheap things) to make our lives a little easier.
Today, it’s string storage. I know, trivial, but we all have string right? Well, here’s the new string idea in my sewing room…mounted on the wall.

We all have baskets around the house, but if not, these are from The Dollar Tree for…you guessed it…$1.00.
The baskets hold your balls of string. It’s easy to see, contains them without the balls going every where and the baskets could hold more than one ball too.

I don’t have small children around my house, so I hooked scissors on the basket for easy cutting!

The holes in these baskets allows for the string to be threaded through…just pull as much as you need and cut!! The rolls of string stay inside the baskets.
Easy peasy!

If you’d like to see my old string storage, you can CLICK HERE.
Hope you have a Thrifty Thursday, ~Karen~

{Gently Reblogged & Posted with LOVE! ~Ami}

“Gardening – Under The Turf” n’ “Garden Me Pretty”

Whoooooo!! SPRING. IS. HERE. !! The weather may not want to behave, but Easter has come & gone, and that, in my book, means SPRING!! Have you noticed that EVERY-THING is thickly covered pollen??? Another sign that SPRING is here. FINALLY!

So, you know that a number of weeks ago, My dream for a garden came true, Thanks to my Dad; I love ya, Dad! X0!

I have a washpail full of Gardening Boards on my Pintrest account – Slap full of ideas, loves, n’ all kinds of stuff! I have several moc-ups of future projects for the the Hubbys & I’s Estate Garden. I have a few I’d like to feature here, tonight… Can you guess what my next few projects are?? I’ll give you a hint… It has something to do with Red Wigglers.

Here are some of the ones I just pinned a few min ago, to my boards. . .

Oh! n’ P.L.E.A.S.E. check out MY PINTREST ACCOUNT & Check out my 147 Pintrest Boards {& Climbin’!}

I hope all of of Ya’ll enjoy the weather, despite what temperature. If its warm & sunny GET OUT AND ENJOY IT!! Rainy or cold? Park yourself infront of the laptop or in a chair with your favorite book, and some #Skittles. { @YouFoundPickles  n’ @Lizlarg on @Instagram }

I am going to call it a night. Tomorrw is a big day for me, my Hubby is comming back home. I have missed him so much!! I am going to tackle him in bear hug & lots of kisses when I see him! LOL! {I did that once @ an airport, one year… I nearly knocked him over! He totally didn’t expect it,  It was hilarious!… I wonder if a video of it is floating around YouTube somewhere..?? If ya’ll find it somewhere on YouTube, Tag me in it! #VolpeLife}

Month by Month Guide to vegetable Gardening

When to Plant As the saying goes, timing is everything—and that’s never more true than when it comes to vegetable gardening. Determining the right time to start seeds and to plant outdoors is essential, which is why following a month-by-month to-do list can mean the difference between a happy harvest and a heartbreaking one. One important note: Since the USDA Hardiness Zone Map divides North America into 11 separate zones—each zone is 10°F warmer (or colder) during an average winter than the adjacent zone—the correct start dates vary for different parts of the country. (The timeline featured here is roughly based on the timing for Zone 8.) The best way to determine the exact timing for your garden is to ask the county cooperative extension in your area for a localized calendar. (Contact info is available at extension.org.) Now, get growing! 

  February The bottom line: While it’s too early to actually start planting most vegetables, there are tasks you can take on inside and outside. Preparation Finish up your seed orders. When the seeds arrive, read the instructions on the packets and make a chart of what date to start each variety, working backward from the last frost date for your area. Germination rates—how long it takes a plant to go from seed to the first sign of leaves—vary, and in order to have the little guys ready to plant, you must start them at the right time. To keep your information straight, write down your ideal planting day for each one on a Post-It, stick it to the individual packets, and organize the seeds in chronological order in a card file.

To prep for seed starting, hit the stores and stock up on enough of the right growing mix, seed trays, and peat pots (or whatever other method you plan to use).

Make sure you have the necessary tools; fill in any gaps in your collection and clean and sharpen the tools you already own. The essentials: a round-headed shovel, a garden spade and fork, a scuffle hoe, a dirt rake, a bypass pruner, a trowel, a garden thermometer, and a wheelbarrow. Gloves and—c’mon, you know you love ’em—garden shoes complete the list.

Planting Outside: If the ground is workable, plant bare root perennial vegetables like asparagus, artichoke, horseradish, and rhubarb.

Inside: Start seeds for cool-season vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, kale, lettuce, spinach, and onions.

March The bottom line: Since this month tends to be unpredictable weather-wise, have row covers at the ready for any late-season frosts or freezes that might damage perennials.

Preparation Outside: Most vegetables prefer a slightly acidic soil (6.0 to 6.8 pH); pick up a pH test kit at a garden center to make sure yours is in the right range. No such luck? Make adjustments as recommended on the package, using organic matter to increase or decrease the soil’s acidity. Even if your test is good, you should amend the soil—i.e., add conditioners, such as compost, peat moss, or coir (coconut fiber), that improve its texture—yearly, and give perennial vegetables a boost by “side dressing” it with organic compost or aged manure. (Scatter the fertilizer along the sides of a row of plants; turn it into the existing soil with a spading fork and rake it smooth.) If you’re stuck with soil that’s beyond saving, consider building raised beds instead and filling them with good soil.

Inside: Start seeds of warm season crops such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, pumpkin, snap beans, squash, and sweet corn.

Planting Use a garden thermometer to determine if the soil temperature is at or above 40ºF. When it gets there, start planting (or “setting out,” in garden lingo) the seeds you’ve started for cool-season crops: kale, lettuce, spinach, and onions.

At the end of the month, plant peas. If the ground is wet and muddy, hold off so you don’t destroy the soil by working in it too soon.

April The bottom line: The weather can still work against you—keep those row covers handy in case of a nighttime cold snap—but otherwise you should be getting into full swing.

Preparation Check soil temperature regularly with your thermometer. When it consistently registers at 60ºF or above, you have the go-ahead to plant some warm-season crops.

If you didn’t start your own seeds, buy transplants and seedlings of early-season crops like radishes, spinach, onions, leeks, lettuce, cabbage, beets, peas, Brussels sprouts, and carrots.

Planting Begin setting out your early-season crops. Try to pick an overcast day to minimize transplant shock —the stress that occurs when plants are moved from a cushy greenhouse environment to the harsh real world. Be sure to water well at planting time. When finished, add a two- to three-inch layer of mulch to suppress weeds and keep in moisture.

For greens, sow seeds directly in the garden where they’ll grow. Plant them in succession, every few weeks, for a continuous harvest through the season.

Maintenance Until newly transplanted seedlings develop root systems, make sure they don’t dry out or you’ll lose them. And stay on top of weeds, catching them before they begin to spread

May The bottom line: Take advantage of warm temps, longer days, and moist soil to do the bulk of your remaining plantings. But resist the temptation to plant more than you can reasonably take care of as the season advances.

Preparation Check soil temperatures for readings consistently above 70ºF to know when to plant heat-loving crops like tomatoes and peppers. Confirm that you have the gear you need to water the garden: As temperatures warm, consistent moisture will be of the utmost importance.

Planting You can continue (or start) planting any early-season crops, plus tomatoes, squash, melons, eggplant, peppers, sweet corn, cucumbers, potatoes, and herbs. Water and mulch any new transplants with care.

If choosing to sow directly in the garden, start your carrots, beets, and radishes. Don’t mulch these areas until seedlings are up several inches and have been thinned (you’ve sorted out the small, deformed, or overcrowded seedlings).

Maintenance Follow packet instructions for proper spacing of the crops that were direct sown and thin the seedlings accordingly.

Watch for insect damage on leaves (missing notches, holes, pits, or stripped stems). When you spy signs of trouble, control the situation by removing the affected leaves, employing a row cover to create a barrier, or spraying or dusting with an organic pesticide. Consult a garden center or extension service for a recommendation of the best action.

Harvest Cool-season plants like asparagus, peas, and spring greens will be getting ready for harvest. (P.S. The more you harvest, the more they produce!)

June The bottom line: Full speed ahead! Through the next few months, your focus will be on maintenance and harvest.

Planting Early in the month, finish getting any warm-season vegetables into the ground. Direct sow the warm-season crops you plan to grow in place. Continue to thin seedlings of direct-sown crops that were planted earlier.

Maintenance As your plants shoot up, be prepared with staking materials; you’ll need plenty of bamboo stakes in different heights to keep your crops from succumbing to gravity.

About one month after planting, side dress crops with organic compost. If you didn’t use mulch, get out there with a scuffle hoe and attack the weeds.

Harvest Harvest during the cooler times of day—early morning or evening—when plants are least stressed. Continue to pick greens, peas, beans, and herbs. Stop harvesting asparagus and rhubarb, which need to rebuild their food reserves in order to produce a good crop again next year.

July The bottom line: You can’t slack off completely, but get ready for the big payoff.

Planting Extend the season with a late harvest of beans, carrots, cucumbers, cauliflower, and other cold-season crops. Where you have room, cultivate and amend the soil with compost before direct sowing seeds or planting seedlings.

Maintenance Remove suckers—the growth between the main stem and the leaf—on tomato plants and pull out any finished early-season crops. Continue staking tomatoes and other plants as necessary.

Water in the early morning, the best time to reduce evaporation. Try to water the soil, not the leaves, to reduce fungal disease. Be sure to maintain consistent moisture so fruit develops successfully. (Drought-stressed plants are more susceptible to fungi and insect trouble.) Check mulch, topping off areas that have thinned. And weed away! Weeds rob plants of water and nutrients.

Harvest Harvest daily. If there’s too much of a good thing, share your bounty. Use an old plastic laundry basket to collect produce that is ready to be picked, and hose off the contents outside—it’ll act as a giant colander.

August The bottom line: It’s the dog days of summer, and both you and the garden need a break. Kick back and enjoy.

Preparation Make some notes about your successes and failures. (You may not remember those ravishing radishes or sickly heirloom tomatoes come January when you start to plan next year’s garden.) 

Planting If you haven’t planted for the fall harvest yet (see July), it’s not too late to start now.

Maintenance Monitor moisture, insects, and disease; if there’s an issue, deal with it right away. Pick up and discard fallen or decaying fruit—leaving it encourages diseases and insects.

Harvest Keep picking! Cut fresh herbs for freezing or drying to use over the winter.

September The bottom line: With the weather getting less predictable, job one is to protect tender plants such as tomatoes from frost with sheets or covers to keep them ripening on the vine as long as possible.

Planning As the weather cools, this is a good time to dig and prepare new beds for the spring or build additional raised beds and fill with amended soil.

Planting Pot up selections of your favorite, healthiest herbs in planters to bring inside for the winter. Continue planting cool-season vegetables for winter harvest.

Maintenance Keep pulling up finished plants and discarding fallen or rotten fruit to discourage overwintering of insect larvae (meaning they stay alive underground through the cold months ahead). Check that the mulch is layered thick enough on cold-season crops.

Harvest Some plants will keep producing even through light frosts. Others will continue only if protected overnight with covers. Green tomatoes can be picked and wrapped individually in newspaper and stored in a cool spot (55º to 60ºF) to ripen. If frost is predicted nightly and your tomato plants are covered with unripe fruit, you can pull the whole plant up by the roots and hang it upside down in a protected place like a garage, where fruit will continue ripen on the vine. Promptly remove any tomatoes that go bad.

October The bottom line: Mother Nature will dictate what you can accomplish. If the weather holds, then by all means, plug away. But if winter-like weather is upon you, prioritize and do what you can.

Planting Continue planting cool-season crops like beets, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, chives, celery, onions, parsley, parsnips, peas, radishes, spinach, lettuce, turnips, and Swiss chard.

Maintenance Protect new seedlings and winter crops from weather extremes with floating row covers, which are made of lightweight polyester that “floats” on plants. Pull out and rake off garden debris; rake leaves out of beds and add to compost pile. Compost anything that is not diseased or infested with insects. Store garden supplies and potions in a dry place. Remove, dismantle, and store stakes and cages that were erected for plant support.

Harvest Dig up potatoes and store in a dark place with low humidity, and pick winter squashes and pumpkins before a hard freeze. Keep harvesting fall crops like beets, cabbage, chard, and leeks.

November The bottom line: Weather permitting, you may still get in some garden time. The more you do now, the easier it all becomes in the spring.

Planning Order seed catalogs for January planning.

Maintenance Continue watering cool-season vegetable plants if rainfall alone isn’t enough. Every two weeks, feed vegetable plants with a water-soluble organic fertilizer (like fish emulsion).

Cut asparagus plants to the ground as soon as the foliage has turned yellow or brown. Spread a few inches of aged manure or organic compost over the bed.

Harvest Harvest greens and other cool-season vegetables that are producing.

December The bottom line: If you planted a winter garden, keep harvesting, weeding and watering as needed. If you didn’t, enjoy the holidays!  -Ami

Our Estate Garden – February Updates

I got up, early this am, and got out out of the house as soon as I could. I had a few errands to do, and I wanted to hurry up, get my errands done so I could get by walmart, and see if their garden center was open.

First things first, I went to check the P.O. Box, nothing special there, then I went to the Outlet Mall, for some shoes, didn’t find what I was looking for, guess I’ll have to check elsewhere, tomorrow.

The banks are closed, so… Off to Wally World!

  I drove up, circled around, and Yay! They were just opening up the doors on the garden side!  This was the first time I’d seen the garden side open this year.

  I parked, got out and walked in, to look around. They had a few decorative plants various bushes, and some purple Tulips. then, on a different wall, there were some vegetables and herbs. Most of them looked a bit dried out, but a few in the shade looked ok. I picked out the best of the best, and went to pay up.

When I got home, I planted what I had picked up, 9 Broccoli plants & 1 German Thyme.

Yesterday I ordered a bulk shipment of about 4k plants. {Some to be shipped as plants, the rest as seeds.}  Hopefully the shipment will come soon!

  My Mom came over, when I was in the garden, planting the Broccoli. We talked plants for a bit, and walked around and riddled in a shed, that had been sitting in the field for some years. I am all excited!! I am going to to make it our “seed house”! I may be crazy, but at least I’m happy! 

  If anyone out there, reading this, wants to trade seeds, please comment or contact me. I love trading seeds, it’s always something new!

Happy Blogging!! ~Ami