Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sowing Seeds

Last week I finished sowing my seeds for the vegetable garden. It is very late in the season but it seems that the weather this year is mild so I'm giving it a try. I used some leftover Popsicle sticks to label my plants and some leftover plastic shoe boxes that I purchased from target forever ago to plant in. I ended up using the Jiffy soil disks that rehydrate to sow my plants in. I like them because they can be planted directly in the ground. I think this just makes it easier to transplant the plants and the plants also get to keep their soil. I'm really trying to conserve funds so I used some neat helpful hints from Mr. Brown Thumb's blog you can check him out here .The butter lettuce, tomato, peas, onions, cantaloupe, and pumpkins are already starting to sprout! I can't wait to get them out in the yard.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

When one man's trash is the same man's treasure!

I never intended on writing a blog post on our compost bin. In fact when we first started our compost bin I knew it would work, but I didn't realize how quickly and effectively it would work. I was really exciting to turn my own trash into treasure, well... okay soil, but free soil! The pictures above are of my soil I made from our compost bin. It literally only took 15 days to get it! Now that I have the compost bin, I can't believe I have been paying the city to dispose this 'trash'!
There are all sorts of compost bins out there in different shapes and sizes. Really if you have the land you can find a spot far away from your house and just dig a hole in the ground and put the compost in. But the urbanites like myself probably want to get some sort of bin to contain the contents. I find that the flea flies in my back yard are very attracted to the bin and stay in there instead of flying around my yard. So its a win/win for both myself and the insects.
So what goes into a compost bin you ask. There are a few simple steps to having a successful compost bin. First you want to line the bottom with some sort of dry coarse materials such as twigs, hay, straw or even dry leaves. This I have found helps my compost vent and gets the air in. Next you want to add a combo of brown and green materials. Brown materials are cardboard paper napkins dried leaves and such. Green materials are any sort of materials that were recently growing such as grass clippings, dried banana peels etc. Although if you are going to add weeds and plants make sure they are dried out first so they don't go to seed in your bin. Also a word of warning don't add meat or animal products or your bin because they will stink to high heaven. Finally bugs like earthworms and such help to breakdown your trash into soil. I never really had a liking for bugs until I had my compost bin. I used to dig into the dirt and freak out when I saw earthworms and bugs. Now you see me sreaking with delight and running the earthworms over to my compost bin. My neighbors probably think I'm out of my mind. But thats ok with me!
Suprisingly our bin really does not smell. After I add contents into our bin each week we add a layer of dirt to keep the smell down this also keep the bugs at bay. The dirt will also provide the necessary bacteria that your bin needs to help accelerate the brake down of materials.
To maintain your bin you want to keep the contents moist but not to wet. You want it to be moist like a wrung out sponge. After we add our scraps and dirt I take a garden hose to it to make sure it has an adequate amount of moisture.
Marion Owen has a really nice list of items you can compost on her website page 163 things you can compost . Any type of organic matter banana peels, apple scraps, cooked veggies, freezer burnt veggies and fruit, Newspapers, brown paper bags, even lint trap scraps and dust bunnies! So you get the idea.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Veggie Garden - The begginings

Because of the price hike in food we have decided to start a veggie garden. Money is tight so a good start is to plant what we eat the most of. After researching the different gardening techniques we realized the soil in the section of our house that we want to use is not the best. The area is also small and an odd shape. So we decided the best option for us was a combo of square foot gardening with a raised bed Lasagna garden. We measured the space and it looks like we can fit 4 - 4'x4' beds in the section and still have room for our compost bin!

What is a square foot garden and a Lasagna garden you ask?

Well square foot gardening is a technique of intensive planting developed by a civil engineer. Mel Bartholomew came up with square foot gardening in the 1970's. The Technique is a system of planting based on a grid of 1'X1' squares with plants placed in carefully determined spacing. In his book Square Foot Gardening Mel explains his system "The square foot system lets you make the most of your garden space to conserve the amount of water, soil conditioners, and labor needed to produce a maximum amount of food in that space. A square foot garden takes only one-fifth the space and work of a conventional single-row garden to produce the same harvest."

Lasagna gardening really takes square foot gardening to a whole different level. Patricia Lanza explains in her book Lasagna Gardening that this garden is a no till no dig organic method. You can check out her website at www. In a Lasagna garden the first layer is either Cardboard or three layers of newspaper laid directly on top of the area. Then you apply layers to the garden. Grass clippings, veggie scraps, leaves, etc. Then anything you would put in a compost pile you can put into the lasagna garden. The materials will break down to produce the soil to plant in.
So this last weekend we purchased the wood and some soil (We don't yet have enough compost for both sections) for two of the four beds. and started to layer our Lasagna garden. Its coming along nicely. It is way less work than I thought it was going to be. Next up is planting the sections!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Butterfly Birthday Party

Recently my couson was moving and her daughters birthday was at the same time. I took it upon myself to help out with the party. Her theme was butterflys. The birthday was at a local park she rented the covered tables from the city. So I made tissue paper poms and strung them and hung them in yellow and pink along with butterflys. I made a smaller version of the tissue pom poms and secured them to a stick decorated with a butterfly (I had them hanging around!) and put them in bright pink tins that held drinks at each table. The cupcake pics were also butterfly theme. We did a make and take tissue butterfly using a clotspin. The goodie bags were stamped with stampin up set "Baroque Motifs". It was alot of work but totally worth it.

More Garden Flowers

As promised here are some more pictures of flowering going on in our garden. The little red one is a bloom on our pomegranate tree. Once the bloom dies the hard part of the flower (which is red) turns into the bottom of the actual pomegranate! So the blooms showing are very exciting around here. We also have several varieties of roses in our garden. They were part of the landscape when we originally purchased the house. Rose bushes aren't my absolute favorite plant but I just couldn't see killing them.

Garden Flowers

I just love the weather right before summer. Warm enough to wear a dress but still cool enough to pair it with a sweater. If only California was always like this. But I know soon it will be scorching hot and my flowers will wilt. So I wanted to share some of the blooms that have been growing around our garden this spring. I'll will have to post more later on.