Category Archives: Gardening

A Little Orchid Garden

For years I’ve had random orchid plants struggling to survive in various nooks and crannies of my homes.  They always irked me because I felt the random pots never had homes, and were really just acting as clutter. Add on the fact that none of them were thriving.  A new solution was needed. Continue reading

Garden Update: We’re Beet

Last week I pulled this out of my garden:

Beets! Lots of beets!

In the spring I had planted ‘microgreens.’  Well when I forgot to pick them, and they grew bigger, I realized they looked like beet plants.  So I left them.

Sure enough, they turned into real beet plants.  I guess ‘microgreens’ are really just veggies that you harvest the leaves off of before they get bigger than 2 inches long or something.  Seems silly, if you ask me.

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I accidentally successfully grew beets!

We cooked them up and had a fantastic salad for dinner.  Some were dark red, others were golden. It was really freakin’ exciting to know that I grew the beets.

As for the tomatoes that I finally planted in July (or whenever) – well they’re still not ripe.  In fact they’re the size of green golf balls.  So I may not get any of them this year.  But at least with all this rain I haven’t ever had to water my garden this summer!

Speaking of rain, is anyone else knee-deep in water?  (Literally OR figuratively?)  I love rainy weather so I’m happy, but it’s starting to be a bit absurd.  And my poor dog is going to die of a heart attack if there’s one more thunderstorm.

The Cheapest Supply of Fresh Flower Bouquets Ever!

Remember my redneck yard contest, the one I created to kick my own butt into action with cleaning up our outdoor spaces?

Well, it got me out to toil with the soil – but I never showed you the results.  The good news with all this procrastinating is that now we’ve got bursts of color in our front garden. The bad news is that I didn’t get as many flowering plants in the ground as I’d hoped – and we’re constantly struggling to keep the weeds at bay.

Ok, so better homes and gardens won’t be knocking down my doors to do a yard feature anytime soon, but it’s a big improvement from the spring.  I had more flowers to plant than those you see in the ground above, but I bought them, left them in the pots and in the sun, forgot to water them, and they died before I planted them.  Oops.   Hopefully I’ll do better with care and feeding if I have human children.

Last year I planted a bunch of succulents that liked dry soil and tons of sun, because this area gets so much sun and I didn’t think flowers would survive. They’re still hanging on to life:

This year, however, I wanted COLOR!  I heard that Marigolds would thrive in almost any conditions . . . and I can now swear to you that THIS IS TRUE.  I cannot kill my Marigolds.  They were tiny little guys when I plopped them in the very poor clay soil, and now each bush is more than 1′ wide and flowering like a crazy woman.

I also planted a small Lavender bush, and two Rosemary bushes.  Rosemary also thrives despite neglect, and will slowly fill out to be a hefty shrub that smells yummy.  And hopefully the Lavender will do the same.

But the very best part of all is my Zinnias. Dude, they are rocking my socks off!!  I sprinkled the seeds in the back of the mulch bed in late June or early July.  (Seriously procrastinated).  It was the best $3 I ever spent.  I occasionally remembered to water them, and within a month they were going crazy with flowers.

The zinnias have been so prolific, in fact, that I haven’t had to buy flowers for my kitchen in over a month.

Every week I harvest all the flowers for vases.  Because the more flowers you cut from the plants, the more will grow.  It’s awesome!  This is the first week’s harvest – it’s only gotten better from here.

 They bloom in all shapes and sizes, and I love the variety.


I am harvesting enough now to put them all over the house!

A small vignette on my coffee table –   Don’t mind the scrawniness of the ones pictured – they are from the first cutting.  Each cutting gets bigger, meatier flowers as the plants mature. 

And a tiny bouquet by the kitchen sink makes doing the dishes a little more tolerable:

For the kitchen island I simply put a handful of the biggest blooms in a vintage glass jar:

We also have a big bouquet in the bathroom, but I didn’t photograph it because a) you’re probably sick of seeing pictures of my Zinnias and b) I’m still not talking to my bathroom counter.

All in all, the front garden may not be anything exciting, but at least it’s colorful – and more importantly, it’s providing me with tons of fresh flowers for the house.  All for the cost of a $3 seed packet.  It’s a deal that can’t be beat!

What’s your favorite variety of cut flower?

Late Bloomers

Finally –  on Fourth of July Weekend – I got my summer veggie plants nestled into my Square Foot Garden-style raised planting beds from last year.

I realize I’m totally late to this party.  I mean beyond fashionably late.  More like guests-are-already-drunk late.  But not quite guests-are-already-leaving late, so that’s good, right?

Rewind:  Here’s how we got to be such late bloomers.

During the spring, I actually planned ahead.   Dozens of seeds were sowed in little seed starting cups that I’d saved.  They flourished, and patiently waited for me to put them in the ground . . . until the week of the craft fair.  *Cue ominous sounds.*   When I totally forgot they existed, they shriveled up and died from dehydration – and maybe the ridiculous 99 degree temps.  In the mean time, at least I had spring greens in my garden.  Spinach, arugula, microgreens, mesculun were all carefully planted straight into the raised bed gardens right in late April.

Or not.

By the end of May they had totally gone to seed, leaving this hot mess in its’ wake.  Flowery, yes.  Tasty, no.

I had to rip it all out and start fresh.

But then the strawberries, which majorly disappointed us last year, came back with a vengeance – and gave us some sweet, juicy fruit to enjoy in May and early June.  When I remembered to pick them, that is.

After all of this, I thought maybe I should just skip the gardening this year.  I mean, a girl can only do so much, right?  I’ve got my hands more than full with my shop, this blog, a full-time job, and a few consulting projects.  But as the summer heat set in, and the days got longer and longer, I felt myself wanting just a few veggie plants, if not an entire farm.  There’s something so great about walking outside and picking fresh tomatoes in your own yard.

So I bought a few plants at Home Depot.  Not ideal ,because they’re not organic – and frankly, Home Depot appeared to have stopped watering all their veggie plants -though they were still charging full price for them – lame!   I picked the best tommy-toes and pepper plants I could find, and got them planted ASAP.  (I have a bad habit of buying plants, then not planting them for days, and then they die. Waste of money!)

Also, taking a page from my Lessons Learned in 2010 Gardening book, I immediately stuck my tomato cages around the young plants.  If you’ve ever tried to do this with a more mature plant, you’ll know why this was important. It’s nearly impossible to add the cages after the plants get long and leggy.

Next, I added some basil and marigold plants around the perimeter of the garden box.  Supposedly they will deter pests which normally like to munch on tomato plants.

Ahh, basil.  I can’t wait to harvest you this weekend!  When I’m ready to use some leaves, I like to chop it way down, so it becomes bushier and bushier, instead of just being one or two stems.  I gotta get the most bang for my buck!

So that’s the how and why we’re late bloomers this year.  Since we’re in good ole’ Virginia, I think we’ll still be able to enjoy a good tomato harvest.  They usually go well into September up around here.

What’s the state of your garden?  Or lack thereof?