Friday, March 22, 2013

Favorite Pins Friday

It’s still technically Friday so this counts, right?

I have always had a deep and long abiding love of English Roses. Sometimes called cabbage roses these beauties just take my breath away. Someday, I will spend more money than I should on a whole yard full of these beauties.

I’ve never met a rose that didn’t make me stop and stare, I hope you enjoy these as much as I do. If you Pin, please be respectful and pin them from their original sources. I wish I could claim these as my own, but sadly, they are not.


























I’m still learning my way around this whole blog thing so please let me know if the pictures that are not sourced do not link back to their original pages. I think I’ve done this so you can just click on the picture and be taken there. I think. I’ve pinned these so if you find that isn’t the case, let me know and I’ll be happy to manually source them.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Scenes From My Garden

Little Marvel peas



Monday, March 18, 2013

Take Your Medicine

“The food that you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.”                                              

                                                                                                                                                              Ann Wigmore




In the last year my husband and I have made a conscious effort to live more purposefully and naturally. We have a long, long way to go but I honestly believe that the little changes we’ve made can lead to big results. Right now we bake our own bread, make our own mayonnaise, we’ve ditched fabric softener and fabric sheets in favor of the far superior white vinegar. We have begun growing our own vegetables and hope to be able to put some up for the future. Our standards for what we bring into our home have gone way up and our tolerance for garbage and chemicals have gone way down.

Living purposefully takes a little longer but it is so worth it. My family and I have a long way to go but each day we have come a long way from where we started.

What changes have you made? Do you plan to make any new changes in the future?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Favorite Pins Friday

I thought I'd try something a little different (for this blog, anyway) and use Friday to highlight some of my favorite gardening pictures for the week. If you pin these, please be respectful and pin them from their original locations.

There’s always been something about wooden doors painted blue in the garden. I don’t know what it is, but I hope that someday I’ll add a couple of them somewhere in my garden. Aren’t these just gorgeous?











Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wooden Fence - Vertical Gardening

We have this awesome scalloped wood fence that surrounds our property. When I decided to increase my gardening area this year I knew immediately that I wanted to try and utilize this wood fence. My requirements were that I wanted something with a low footprint- I didn’t want to have a huge headache every time I went and mowed. I didn’t want to mar the wood in any way- if this didn’t work I didn’t want to have weakened a fairly new fence for no reason. I wanted it to be cheap- ‘cause lets face it, no one wants to spend a ton on a cucumber! And lastly, it needed to be something that could be done quickly, and without the need for heavy tools, heavy lifting, or hired out help.

I don’t want much, do I?

I first prepared the area in front of the fence. I measured out the width of space that wanted as well as the length. I dug up the earth, weeded it well, and amended it heavily. For good measure I threw down some garden cloth in what will be the area behind my vertical garden space. I didn’t spend a lot of time on this part, I just wanted to discourage the weeds and grass from coming from my neighbors house a little bit. Once I had the ground prepared I moved on to figuring out how to make my vertical dream a reality without breaking the bank.

Front View

After mulling my options I think I came up with an idea that meets my criteria.  Here’s what you’ll need:

1-60 ft. roll of four inch chicken wire (you could probably buy less if you don’t plan this much vertical length)
2- packages of 12” zip ties
wire cutters

That’s it!

First, measure out the area that you want your vertical fence to run. I decided for the sake of ease that I would just use the panels as my measuring unit. My garden runs five fence lengths long. Each panels length varies but each one is around eight feet- give or take a couple of inches.

Long View

Next, unroll the roll of chicken wire enough that you can begin to manipulate the placement of it. I decided to use the fence posts as my support beams for this and just stood the chicken wire up to the height that I wanted. I looped a zip tie through the front of the chicken wire, around the fence post, and then back through the chicken wire on the opposite side. I made sure that I had at least two “holes” in the wire separating the entrance of the tie and the exit- I didn’t want the whole weight of the wire suspended on just one hole. Attach the zip tie tightly enough that it holds the wire in place but not so tightly as to lock it down completely.

Repeat this process at the bottom.

finished fence

Unroll the wire until you get to the next main fence post. This is generally a very easy process- the only thing I had to be careful of was that I didn’t stretch out the shape too badly as I was unrolling it. When you get to the next post, simply repeat the earlier process with the chicken wire.
Continue unrolling and attaching until you’ve reached your desired length. Attach your remaining zip ties and then cut the chicken wire from the roll and bend the remaining wires towards your fence. You don’t want to walk by and have them grab you!

When you’ve finished this process you can go back and tighten each tie as well as add ties to the center of each main post. I started to add the center ties but found it easier to manipulate the roll as I went with the middle left untied.

And that’s it!


I went ahead and planted two panels of climbing peas when I finished this project. I’ll go back and plant things in front of the peas in another week or two. All in all I’m thrilled with how this project turned out and I’m interested to see if this fence will hold up to my cucumbers, beans, and melons.

My total cost for this project was less than $30.

I still plan to go back and smooth everything out and create a harder edge on the front. My plan is to use this for all of my vertical gardening needs this year. I’ll edge the front of the panels with flowers and probably some varied salad type veggies. Maybe carrots, maybe lettuce. Depends on our weather and how long the temperatures hold out.

Everything being equal, I’m very happy with how it turned out.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Around the Garden

The English peas are coming up!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Why I Garden

While I have grown up having a garden, it wasn’t until a few years ago that it became a hobby of mine. I distinctly remember back in late summer, early fall before the economy tanked watching a report about the impending crash. My husband and I sat down and tried to figure out if there were things that we could do to better prepare us for the whole thing bottoming out. We quickly realized that the best thing that we could do was to look to our grandparents for advise. Both of our grandparents lived during the time of the Great Depression- in fact, I would argue that that experience forever altered their lives. Two more frugal people you would be hard pressed to find- unless perhaps your grandparents gave you free product samples and toilet paper for Christmas? Yeah, I didn’t think so!

Anyway, after lots of research we determined that surprise! Self-sufficiency was big back in the day. People relied on themselves and their community to get by. They bartered and traded and generally helped each other out. They grew gardens and had chickens and mended their old socks instead of just running out to buy new ones. They learned to enjoy each others company and didn’t rely on a dinner or movie date night to ease the tension in their homes. They expected less- they were happier with less than we could ever be today.

Not knowing where else to start, we created a small garden in our tiny patio area at our apartment. We grew tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, basil, flowers, and I think, oregano. It wasn’t much but it was a start. We also focused on paying down our debt and living as frugally as we could.

matersandbasil(and yes, this was before I had any understanding of the importance of spacing, light needs, or apparently, pruning!)

My husband was promoted and we moved into a larger rental house, a year later he was promoted again and we found a house to buy. The week before we closed on our new home he received word that he was being laid off. Two full years after the economy officially tanked- two years after we began to adjust our lifestyle our bottom fell out.

We've managed to survive because we learned to be happy with less. Our debt to income ratio was below 30% when he was laid off- it’s even lower now. Had we not done the things that we did when we did them we would have been completely screwed. Don’t get me wrong, there was a heckuva lot of Grace involved in how things worked out too; but I think we can take credit for the choices that we made. Especially the good ones!

All of that brings me to today.

Two and a half years later he is still looking for employment. He’s not been idle, in that time he has gone back and finished his Masters degree and is currently in the final stages of completing his Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certification. He lacks two assessments and the national certification test. We are praying that once his certification has been completed that the economy will be stable enough that someone to decide to hire him. He is past ready to go back to work!

During this time we have also ramped up our gardening efforts. The more we’ve delved into the gardening arena the more enamored with it we’ve become. We have found it very difficult to go back to grocery shopping the way that we did before. I balk at the prices of organic produce and frankly, don’t like the idea of purchasing produce from halfway around the globe. My husband has become more and more concerned with GMO seeds and the effects of large scale pesticide and herbicide usage.

What started out as a small patio garden has now grown to just under 800 square feet of usable garden space. When you use the square foot garden method that’s a lot of space to grow food in! This year I have fully doubled my gardening area so I’m still playing around with the placement of things to see where and what I want to grow everything. Last year was my first year growing anything from seed (successfully) and frankly, I STILL can’t believed that I dove in as fully as I did and made it work. I wouldn’t have found the success that I did were it not for other gardening bloggers out there. I learned so much from them (and still do)- there is truly a great community of people out there.


I’ve come to discover what it means to be connected to the food that we eat. The average vegetable can travel 1500 miles just to get to your doorstep- unless you garden. I can’t express the excitement I feel every time I walk out and check on my little seedlings and see them coming up. To nurture them from nothing to harvest and then to dinner means to have played an integral part in the circle of life. It forces  you to acknowledge the time, effort, and yes, work that goes into growing your own food. It becomes an intensely personal process and one that can bring you the thrill of victory like nothing else really can. It grounds you and it keeps you humble. It saves you money and it’s better for you.

Much like our grandparents before us I believe that we will be forever changed by this experience.

I’d like to think that change is for the better.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Odds and Ends

There are just a few remaining things growing in the garden this year. I’ve covered most of the main stuff so all that remains is a little fruit and a whole lotta flowers!



I’m not sure what variety are planted here as they precede me but I can tell you that I have a continuous row of them that spans about sixty feet. Last year we collected enough fruit off of them to make a couple of cobblers. I’m hoping for greater yields this year.


Magic Carpet Petunia


Cottage Queen Petunia


Thunbergia Alata Mix


Sunny Lady Pastel Mix Impatiens





Celebrity Pink Morn Petunia



Celebrity Rose Star Petunia


Cat Grass


Dwarf Sunflower

(undetermined variety)



That concludes the 2013 Dragonfly Garden tour! Whew!!  There are a few other things tucked away here and there but I figured it best to only list the items that I personally start from seed. The sowing season is in full swing here and I’m planning on doing an update on the current state of the garden soon.

This time of the year is always so exciting! It’s a race to the finish line (the last frost) and I’m hanging on by my teeth trying to stay organized and get everything done. I don’t feel as organized this year as I have in years past but I’ve learned to just roll with it. Gardening should always be a labor of love. If it ever starts to be just a labor than it’s time to hang up those gardening gloves.

I’ll probably be buried in mine!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Got Herbs?

I do.
Not as many as I plan to someday, but enough to make my friends and neighbors think that I have a burgeoning addiction.
Seriously, is there anything better than fixing dinner and walking out to your kitchen herb garden with scissors and clipping a bit of whatever it is you need? I love that, there is just something so satisfying about having that ability.
Right now I’m growing:

Genovese Basil
G basil
This Italian variety has extremely tender, fragrant, extra-large, dark green leaves and is superb for pesto. Start early indoors or outside after all danger of frost.

Purple Opal Basil
A beautiful and ornamental variety, deep purple

Sweet Basil
Classic Basil

Lemon/Lime Basil
This is actually a mixed bag of lemon and lime seeds. As far as I can tell, it has mostly lemon in it. Burpee describes it as: Attractive, spreading silver-green plant with lemony aroma and flavor is great for potpourris, tea, chicken, fish, vegetables and herb vinegars. This native of northwestern India should be started indoors early or outside after danger of frost.

Greek Oregano

Apple Mint

Giant Parsley

Friday, March 1, 2013

2013 Legumes

With my latest addition of fifty-six feet of vertical length garden space I decided to try out several new bean and pea varieties this year. I have a few more, not listed but I think this is probably enough. I am hoping for a decent pea and bean harvest that will allow us to put up some for the colder months. I’m worried that my soil won’t be up to snuff here as this is the first planting year for this area and it is not being done in a raised bed. I have heavily amended the soil but drainage my still be an issue.  I guess time will tell. 

I opted to skip the description for each of these as most of them are pretty much the same.  Peas are pretty much peas, some are better for freezing (Green Arrow) and others are best for fresh eating (Sugar Snap)- but then that’s a pretty subjective thing anyway. I think the same thing goes for the beans.  All but the Dark Seeded Early Perfection Peas are Heirloom.
I managed to get the ground prepped and the second round of peas planted this afternoon. I’ll be posting soon on that process. I’m pretty happy with the results so far! The best part? It was really cheap!

Sugar Snap Peas

Dark Seeded Early Perfection

Little Marvel Peas

Green Arrow Peas

Contender Bush Bean

Blue Lake Bush Bean

Cherokee Trail of Tears Pole Beans

McCaslan Pole Bean

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