Creating a Self-Watering Planter

  I am so pleased this self-watering planter worked!   There are so many different ideas when it comes to building a self-watering planter, but they all head in the same direction: Having a well at the bottom of the planter with a wick to draw the water up to the plants' roots. I pooled different ideas from my research and created two self-watering planters that have produced lots of lovely flowers.   The first design problem I faced was finding a planter with enough depth to plant gladiolas that was reasonable to purchase. Most large planters were way out of my price range, so I started thinking creatively. What about garbage cans, or large buckets, or stock tanks?   I landed on 40-gallon stock tanks, standing about 13 inches tall. Using about one-third of the height for the well left me about nine inches of soil.   The first step was collecting the supplies. I purchased three-inch perforated drain tile, pvc pipe, a bag of pebble rocks and some organic potting soil to mix with composted grass and leaves from my back yard. I already had landscape fabric and the cutting tools I needed.     Drain holes … [Read more...]


Creating a layered herb pot

I am truly a reduce, reuse, recycle person. When something is heading for the garbage, I often see ways to repurpose it. Like the 5-inch-tall cardboard tubes that hold labels we use at work. I was watching the 6-inch diameter tubes adding up in the recycle box and wham, I was struck with the idea of using them to create a layered herb pot.   For my idea, I needed four of the tubes, a pot ?with a minimum of 14 inches in diameter, potting mix and herbs. I filled the pot with the potting mix up to about 2 inches from the top and then set three tubes in place. I filled them with potting mix and added some more around the edges. Then I set the fourth tube on the top in the center where the other three met. I filled the last one with potting mix and then planted the herbs.     I planted parsley around the bottom of the tubes, and then put kale, swiss chard and thyme in the first layer of tubes. I topped off the pot by planting rosemary in the top tube. I also added a couple of nasturtium seeds between the parsley.   The concept is an easy one that can be adapted to different tube sizes. Using this idea to plant pansies or other flowers would … [Read more...]


New Gardening Experiment

Have you seen the info on straw bale gardening? I like lasagna gardening because I don't really like to dig, but this year, I chose to experiment. Since I have never grown anything in a straw bale, I purchased one bale and placed it in the corner of my garden. I added about an inch of compost and then proceeded to plant my zucchini on and near the bale. The finishing touch was watering it well. So far, the plants look good.   The wire cage to the left of the bale is an old display from work that I am using to support the pea plants. I put it in the ground about an inch down and then planted the peas. With the cool weather we are having, the peas should still do very well. The only problem with this consistent rain is the timing. It seems like the nice days I'm at work and the rainy days I am at home. I don't have to water, but I am finding it hard to finish the yard and garden. The mulch is still in bags on my front step and my tomatoes are still in the flat. Hopefully, I will be able to finish what I started soon. Otherwise the season will be gone. Blink and I will miss it. … [Read more...]

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Moving into a new home brings with it many challenges in the yard. The previous owners did little to take care of the yard, though I could tell, the property was loved at one time. I have been gradually changing some of the landscape to meet me, instead of leaving it the way it was. Most of the time, I am content with just about everything, but having hostas in full sun doesn't work for me. My garden bed along the south side of the house needed to be redone, and I decided this was the spring to begin the process. The hostas, which burned last year when the heat finally hit, had been there so long, they were in massive clumps that it took an entire day to extract. I finally got them out of the below holes and was planning on moving them all under the tree, but there were too many. I gave away a huge clump, as well as planted them in clumps, and still had enough to plant hostas about 15 feet along the retaining wall. I didn't expect to have so many, but it turned into quite a blessing.                       The next project was to thin out the plants to the left and split the Chinese … [Read more...]


Spring’s here?

What a strange year! We didn't have much of a winter, and then spring is way too early!!! Tulips are up, crocus are blooming, I even have oregano coming up. People are planting, lilacs are budding, and this is only the middle of March. Though I am excited to see new life emerging through the inches of peat I put on my beds in the fall - I'm always excited in the spring - I'm nervous about putting anything out yet, except maybe peas, pansies or grass seed. I know the ground is warming up, but what happens if we get a freeze? Planting in Minnesota used to take place two months from now. Aslo, what is it going to be like in July and August? Are we going to turn into more of an arid state? How hot will it be, and how much watering will we have to do to keep plants alive? Weather aside, I decided to start seeds this year to help with my garden budget, and my seed starting adventure has been just that - an adventure. I've done some experimenting with starting seeds in egg shells and rolled newspaper starter pots. Mostly to save money. I want to be able to plant the pot with the plants, and purchasing enough peat pots would be costly. Both systems seem to work pretty well. To start … [Read more...]

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Collecting seeds

It seems like all I can talk about is gardening. That's not the case, but I'm going to do one more blog about gardening before I move on to other things. This wonderful fall weather has made it easy to gradually ready the yard for winter, rather than breeze through like a whirling dervish to complete everything over one weekend. It also has allowed for me to collect seeds from the various annuals I planted. One of the most interesting vines I planted this year was the Egyptian pea vine. The seed is a very interesting black pea with white tips, and the vine is spectacular, shooting tall branches into the air with purple flowers littering the top. I planted it around the mailbox and in the corner of the chain link fence, which added beauty and grace to the yard. The seeds were easy to collect, with large pea pods containing three or four seeds each. The pods were purple when forming, and turned a shiny brown as they dried. I have many more seeds than I can use. Maybe I will try to sell some of them... Another plant I am collecting seed from is morning glories. I know it's not necessary because the morning glories reseed themselves like weeds, but I really like them. The … [Read more...]


The war is over

Ever since the Chinese Lantern Plants started peaking out of soil the insects decided they are delectable. Hundreds of the interesting little creatures descended on the fine leaves. Normally, I co-exist well with insects, as long as they stay outside. I leave them alone and study their fascinating tiny bodies. But this year, they are destroying my plants. I declared war and started looking for ways to rid my flower bed of those pests. Leaning toward organic gardening, I decided to try an insecticide made with herb oils. Even after dousing the leaves, the lacy holes continued to appear. Next I used dish soap in water, soaking the plants, which accomplished little. By now, the insects had spread to other fine-leafed plants, like my morning glories and sweet potato vines. I had never seen such a variety of cool little creatures, but the plants were turning into stubs. The war was making my stomach sick. The idea of using an insecticide that would kill everything, even the beneficial insects, was abhorrent, but I wanted to save my plants. I would stand in front of the pesticide isle in the garden center where I work studying the different products, picking up one after … [Read more...]