Tag Archives: gardening

Meet Miles The Compost Pile!

I have been feeling a little guilty ever since I put up this post, Naturally Resourceful: Getting Scrappy with Vegetables! I mentioned in that post that I was too time-crunched to have a compost heap even though it would be great for my plants and the environment.

Nothing has changed schedule-wise for me since then.  However, my passion for gardening is now completely unhinged.  (It gets me through the day, people!)   I found I was spending an enormous amount of money on compost which is so riduculous considering I was, guiltily, throwing away things all the time that can be composted.  So, I decided to save money, myself from guilt and, hopefully a little of the environment by starting a compost bin.

I decided to use this garbage pail because it has a lid and I want to keep creatures out of my bin.  I burned holes in the sides:

And the lid:

With a hot glue gun.  I do not endorse this method because melting plastic never seems like a great idea.  However, my cordless drill wasn’t charged (as usual) and I really wanted to get it done.  I waited until I could no longer smell melted plastic and then gave the can a good swabbing before I started to add compost ingredients.

There are so many good resources for what to put in compost and even more importantly, what not to, like Jeff Yeager’s Rotten Luv, I am not going to go into too much detail.  Basically, you want a 2:1 ratio of brown matter to green matter.  I used newspaper shreds for brown matter.  (I figured The NY Times was appropriate for a compost heap named Miles) and for the green matter, I put in coffee grounds, eggshells (No, I didn’t eat the eggs!), plant stems, veggie and fruit peels.

Yum!

I layered the ingredients and gave it a stir.  And that’s it.  I’ll keep adding the ingredients in that 2:1 ratio, and keep stirring it up.  Mostly,  I can just let nature turn it into Black Gold for me.  There are more significant holes in the bottom of the can.  I placed it directly on dirt in the hopes that some worms will find their way in and take up residence, further enriching Miles with their castings.

Why did I name my compost heap?  Jeff Yeager named his Gomer.  I thought it was funny.  So, I decided mine needed to be named too.  So, Miles the Pile was born yesterday May 27, 2017.  I am looking forward to seeing him and my garden grow!

Many blessings,

Cynthia

Eat Your Seedlings!

Is that a vicious title or what?  Actually, I’ve decided eating seedlings is the kindest thing to do.

The hardest part of gardening, in my opinion, has to be thinning seedlings.  You spend a week or more, wishing, hoping and praying that your seeds germinate and grow.  Then they do!  Then you have to wipe out a sizable portion of them because there are always too many or none at all, nothing in between. They need to be spaced properly or they won’t grow but MY GOD, I don’t want to decide which ones have to go.  I want to nurture them but in order to do that I have to ruthlessly pick which ones get to live.  Yeesh!

The other thing that bothered me is that it seemed so wasteful to just toss them.  So, I decided to eat them!  Now, I prefer to think of them as sprouts, instead of my victims and they are delicious!

So, how is your garden growing this year?

Many blessings,

Cynthia

Planting Seeds of Hope and Happiness

I was at Home Depot last week trying bring a project that was banging around my head to fruition when I spied the organic seed section…  Uh-oh.  It’s amazing how quickly seed packets can stack up in your cart.

Now, I have tried to grow plants from seed several times before. I haven’t tried indoor seeds in many years.  I tend to be more successful when I direct sow outdoors in the Spring but that means I never get to grow certain plants like tomatoes from seed.  So, with a heart full of optimism, here we go again…

Baby Tomato Plants

Baby Basil

Do you grow your own plants from seed?  I would love to hear from you.

Many Blessings,

Cynthia

Naturally Resourceful: Getting Scrappy with Vegetables!

Anyone who has been reading my blog for a while knows I’m a vegetarian. When you eat a lot of fresh vegetables, you end up with a lot of vegetable scraps. What do you do with them? Throwing them out seems so wasteful! I have put together a few suggestions to see if maybe I can help you see those scraps in a new light.

  1. Eat them

Stems and stalks may not be the sexiest parts of the plants but they are still loaded with all the good nutrition and fiber you find in the prettier areas. Stems can be tough but if you dice them up and toss them in a soup, stew or stir-fry, they will become tender and delish.

  1. Feed them to your pooch

Chauncy and Lucy regularly eat vegetables as I mentioned in my post, Natural Pets: Eat Your Veggies Fido! They love broccoli stalks, cut up to roughly the same size as their store-bought treats. Lucy goes wild over crunchy lettuce ends. They are also both huge fans of kale stems, raw or cooked. I will dice up kale or Swiss chard stems, steam them and mix them in with their dog food. They gobble it right down.

Chauncy and Broccolli Stem

Please be careful when feeding your dog fruit or veggies. Always make sure you give them safe veggies in small, manageable portions. Less is more is definitely more in this case! Never give your dog onions, corn cobs, grapes, nuts, avocados or stone fruits.

Lucy and Broccoli

  1. Make stock or broth

I have to admit…I rarely do this. A lot of people do though. They will reserve their veggie scraps and freeze them until they have enough to cook down into stock. The problem I have with this, besides giving up the freezer space, is not all veggies taste good together. While I love and appreciate kale mightily, it has too strong a flavor to use in stock. Maybe one day when I have my dream garden, (and don’t have a three hour commute) I can devote my time to separating scrap for stock.

  1. Compost it

Composting is a wonderful way to improve your soil. Vegetables are a beautiful, safe addition to your heap or bin. Again, this is not something that I currently do but would like to. If you are a gardener and have been contemplating whether or not to make your own compost, let this be the push to get you started! Find great information (and laughs) in Jeff Yeager’s wonderful article, Rotten Luv: My Love Affair with Compost.

Final Thought:

If you have to toss them in the trash, go ahead. There are far worse things stuffing up landfills than veg scraps. At least you know that they will fully decompose and not wreak havoc on the environment for centuries to come.

How do you use your veggie scraps? Do you throw them out? Have you tried any of the suggestions mentioned above? Would you? Leave me a reply and let me know.

Many blessings to all,

 

Cynthia

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justdragonfly

Ah Spring…I Can Dream About You… If I Can’t Behold You Tonight

One more article, newscast, blog post or Facebook comment complaining about snow or record cold and you’ll barf, right?  So, I will spare you.  (You’re welcome!)  Let us focus on what we do want, Spring!

Why do I want Spring?  Well, aside from the warmer weather, of course, FLOWERS!  I’m jonesing to get my hands in the dirt, man! So, in the meantime,  I dream and plan…a little, but mostly dream.  One choice I have made this year is to direct sow seeds for most of my flowers.  I am also using heirloom seeds.  (Ooooh, two decisions, …hmmm, maybe I am a planner?)

Direct sowing requires faith.  It’s so much easier to go to the nursery  and pluck the healthiest looking plants already in bloom.  So, why bother growing from seed?  You have  to wait weeks for anything to happen.  Then when the seedlings come up; It can be hard to tell at first if it is your flower or a weed.

Direct sowing does have a number of advantages.  Variety is a big one.  You can order way more varieties of a flower if you go for seeds , rather than live plants.  The company I ordered from had 22 different morning glories alone.  Wouldn’t it be cool to have flowers in your garden that are different than same ones you see at every other house on  the block?  Another plus is you know where, how and what your plants were grown in.  You can avoid gmos, pesticides and other chemicals if you wish. Direct sowing is also kinder to the earth because there are no plastic cel paks or pots.  One paper envelope of seeds has the potential to provide 50-250 plants. And this also means it’s A LOT cheaper!

Most importantly, you get to see your little seed turn into a beautiful flower.  It’s a very satisfying reminder in a world of instant gratification that life can be astonishingly beautiful when you put time, nurturing and love into it.

Here’s what I am planting this year.  I picked them all because they are known to do well when sown directly into the ground in Spring.  (No messing with starting seeds indoors for this gal!)

  1. Love-In-A-Mist
  2. Sweet Pea Flora Norton
  3. Sweet Peas Old Spice
  4. Sweet Pea Painted Lady
  5. Morning Glory Sunrise Serenade
  6. Morning Glory Rose Feather
  7. Morning Glory Heavenly Blue
  8. Moon Flower
  9. Zinnia Royal Purple
  10. Bonbon Zinnia
  11. Zinnia Miss Willmont
  12. Pansy Orange Sun
  13. Pansy Swiss Giants
  14. Pansy Historic Florist Mix
  15. Nasturtium Dwarf Jewel Mix
  16. English Daisy Rose Ball
  17. Marigold Petite Mix
  18. Marigold Brigade Mix
  19. Poppy Purple Peony
  20. Poppy Ballerina Double Mix
  21. Cosmos Sensation Mix
  22. Calendula Orange King
  23. Bachelor’s Button Frosted Queen Mix
  24. Bachelor’s Button Blue Boy
  25. Zinnia Button Box
  26. And Several different Hollyhocks (I ordered them separately.  They haven’t arrived yet.)

Have you ever direct sown seeds?  I would love to hear from you.

Love and Blessings to All,

Cynthia

 

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justdragonfly

 

 

Gardening: Say Hello to my Leafy Friends

I am never quite sure where I come down on past lives but I think one of mine must have been as a hedge witch.  I love, love, love gardening and I am crazy about herbs.  I can spend hours outside amongst the plants.

Gardening may not be the sexiest or most glamorous pastime for most folks but I find myself more and more drawn to it every year.  I always liked it but I was more inclined to keep this passion to myself when I was younger.  When I was in my early 20s, life was about work then getting ready to go out and going out to clubs and bars; then starting it all over again.  Part of me always yearned to be closer to nature.  As much as I like music, I am much more comfortable at the beach, in a forest or a garden than in a club or bar.  I think the right phrase actually is “at home.”

I have no wish to unravel all the mystery of why I feel this way.  I think there is something very mystical about nature and how humans interact with it. It is something that needs to be felt more than studied.  I will say this though; walking in nature or gardening always makes me feel better.  Kasey Koe, from Healthy To the Core With Kasey Coe, shared a great post on Facebook the other day: “Gardening is cheaper than therapy… and you get tomatoes.”

It’s so true!  Any of you wonderful readers who have been with me from the beginning of my blog, know that the last 11 weeks have been challenging for me since I fell.  Recently, on top of dealing with the injuries from the fall, I broke out in hives from head to toe for 5 days in a row.  Then two days after that finally subsided, I got a stomach virus… bringing my weight, that was already down after my jaw was wired shut, to 110 pounds.  At 5’ 6”, that’s getting into weak and sickly-looking territory.  Also, my treatment hit an annoying snag which made me temporarily lose sight of the light at the end of tunnel.

The first thing I wanted to do after the nausea passed was pot up my new herbs, tomato and strawberry plants.  Like I said, I can’t explain it but something magical happens when I put my trowel into that beautiful soil and begin creating a new home for one of my plants in a real clay pot.  I feel bonded to the little guys, as I gently pull them from their temporary plastic containers (so bad for the environment, the plants and humans,) loosen their little roots a bit and then place them in their permanent pot.  I can’t really speak for anyone but myself but I believe the further we get from nature, often the worse we feel.  Gardening is a wonderful touch point to instantly reconnect with Mama Earth. … And as mentioned in Kasey Coe’s post, you get tomatoes … and herbs… and strawberries… and (fill in what you like to have) too!

Say "hello" to my leafy friends!

Say “hello” to my leafy friends!

What nurtures you?  How do you like to reconnect with Nature?  Please share your thoughts in the Comments Section or drop me a line.  I would love to hear from you.

Love and Blessings to All,

Cynthia

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