Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Holiday Greetings


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to my gardening friends and family!!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Another Frugal Idea For Composting

Photo by: travelerguidance.blogspot.com

Sea or lake vegetation is free and very easy to obtain if you live near a large body of water.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mirrors In The Garden?


Photo provided by: blue-dreams-revisited.tumblr.com

Photo provided by: houzz.com

Old mirrors can be used as focal points of interest or to provide reflective light for sun-starved plants in shady areas of your garden.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Recycling Mismatched Cups and Saucers In The Garden


Old china (cups and saucers) can be used for a myriad of things such as bird feeder, bird bath, and butterfly watering containers. Thrift shops are my favorite way of obtaining these gems cheaply.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Saturday Frugal Gardening tip: Reusing Window Screens In The Garden

Window screens can be used to help shade plants from harsh sun in the summer. They can also be used as a compost sifter or food dehydrator.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Turning Pallets into Gardening Furniture and More


 Another D.I.Y. project to add to my ever growing "Things To Do" list. The hubby will be pleased!

 Please view link:


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Frugal Gardening Tip Tuesday

Your kitchen is a great source for garden tools would be your kitchen.
Come on, we all have utensils in our drawers we never use. Think of the
new life they knives, forks and spoons can have as garden tools or markers.
Those wooden spoons, potato mashers, serving spoon and that old blender
can really make gardening easier and guess what? They are free.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Few Pictures From the Garden

"On every stem, on every leaf,... and at the root of everything that grew, was a professional specialist in the shape of grub, caterpillar, aphis, or other expert, whose business it was to devour that particular part."  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Hello my gardening friends. I trust you are all well, staying cool and hydrated due to the high temperatures. I have excellent news. I finally have enough pictures to show you what is growing in my garden this year. Please keep in mind that I was in a rush so I used my cell phone camera so the images are bad (should have used the digital camera).

Shasta Daisy – Roots divisions were given to me by a co worker last spring. The roots grow rapidly so I was able to transplant them in several beds and gave some to friends. I have collected healthy seeds from the plants.

Sweet William – I received a sample package of seeds for $.25 two years ago. I sowed them last year and have collected seeds from the plants.

Lance leaf Coreopsis – This is the volunteer plant I wrote about in an earlier post.  Although, it was only one plant, it produced a large number of seeds.

Ox Eye Daisy – I purchased seeds locally for about 50 cents.  Great seed production. Very weedy though and extremely invasive.

Day Lilly – Came with the house purchase!  We divide them every year and spread them around our yard. One of the hubby’s favorite.

Gloriosa Daisy – The plants were grown from seed, given to me by a friend.  The plants produced a huge amount of seeds and the flowers are multi colored (red, yellow, magenta, orange and gold.  I have to stake them because the stalks are thick and heavy.

Blanket Flower– Grown from seeds given to me by a friend.  Modest seed production and the stalks are very weedy.  However the flowers are gorgeous.

Peppers, Tomatoes, Squash, Lemon Balm and Okra, Thyme and Cayenne Pepper plants are in pots soaking up sun.

Mini Bell pepper plant grown from seed.

Well, I have to run.  Until next time, happy gardening!


Monday, June 25, 2012

A Gardening First for My Hubby

"Last night, there came a frost, which has done great damage to my garden.... It is sad that Nature will play such tricks on us poor mortals, inviting us with sunny smiles to confide in her, and then, when we are entirely within her power, striking us to the heart."  ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, The American Notebooks

Hello Everyone,

This has been an unusual week. There is so much going on but I am having loads of fun in the garden!  I have to share a garden success scenario regarding the hubby (honey, if you are reading this, I just had to tell…sorry).  My husband has successfully grown vegetable transplants (peppers, tomatoes, corn, cowpeas and beans).  I am so proud of him because he has never grown anything…ever! He did this on his own, I did not advise him of the dos and don'ts for sowing seeds so I am very impressed. Not bad for a born and bred big city boy.

We placed shade protectors over his newbies today due to the thunderstorms we have been receiving lately. Basically we reused the chicken wire cages I mentioned in an earlier post.  I had a bunch of muslin I purchased several years ago for peanuts (for a quilting project) and anchored pieces over the cages. Very inexpensive, but effective. I have also used light colored tarps, cheesecloth, tall plants (sunflowers) and row covers in the past, but I am partial to the newest method.

I hope things are going well in your gardens!!!

Take care,


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day Fellow Gardeners!

The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses.  ~Hanna Rion

Hello My Friends,

Happy Father’s Day for any Dads who are reading this post…

I hope all is well with you. I was watching our local news station a moment ago and was thrilled to learn we are going to have a few days of beautiful weather. Truly excellent for my plants and for my sanity I think.  Also perfect for alfresco dining, so I am going to surprise the hubby with a special dinner cooked by yours truly.  I will make sure I have a bottle of Pepto Bismol on stand by Mom, I promise. LOL. The menu will be as follows:

Grilled Sirloin with Chimichurri Sauce

Sautéed Green Beans
Herbed Roasted Potatoes
Strawberry Shortcake
Iced Lemonade with Sprigs of Mint

It will be simple but I will be giving him what most men want, MEAT & POTATOES!!!  The best part is a majority of the ingredients are just outside my kitchen door grown from seeds and transplants I purchased last year (at an end of season sales, I might add). For example: Garlic, Oregano Parsley, Rosemary, Thyme and Basil. I am going to place his favorite flowers (Shasta Daisy) on the table. I hope it turns out well.

Until next time, happy gardening everyone.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Less Than Miraculous Bag of Potting Mix

Earth is here so kind, that just tickle her with a hoe and she laughs with a harvest.  ~Douglas William Jerrold, about Australia, A Land of Plenty

Good afternoon everyone,

I trust you are all well and gardening happily. I’d like to thank everyone who expressed get well wishes during my brief convalescence. I am fairing much better and have joyfully resumed my activities in the garden.  I am more cautious but not overly so. The hubby insists I wear more protective clothing because I am a “bug/arachnid magnet” but I think he is being a bit overprotective. LOL

I wanted to share a few incidents that occurred lately in my world.  I picked up a few bags of potting mix from a home improvement store (I know it sounds like I am cheating but it was purchased with a gift card because I have been pressed for time lately-typically I make my own medium). The soil is manufactured by one of the largest garden supply companies in the country. The bags basically contained large wood pieces, weed seeds, fungus spores, gnats waiting to hatch and a minute amount of soil.  I was livid and of course, I had to throw it away.  I did a bit of research and found out many people are having problems like mine or worse.  Not good. I won’t make that mistake again.

I mentioned in a previous post about the benefits of utilizing your town’s compost resources.  I have used several sites here to obtain free compost for my garden but a friend of mine found broken glass in her piling as she was transferring it to a container. It was disturbing because she rarely uses gardening gloves and she could have been seriously injured. I am not sure if the leaf donation bags were not checked properly last fall or if someone carelessly threw the shards in the pile but I will be using a homemade sifter I made from an old window screen from now on. 

Well, I have to run.  Enjoy yours gardens!


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Spring Gardening and Another Spider Encounter

"I know that if odour were visible, as colour is, I'd see the summer garden in rainbow clouds."
~Robert Bridges, "Testament of Beauty"

Good morning gardening friends,

My garden is coming along slowly, but I am pleased with the transformation occurring as the season progresses.  The temps here last week were pretty high for this area (at one time reaching 93 degrees).  However, the high yesterday was only 65 degrees and I must admit a wonderful respite from the heat.

You know I love sharing my gardening experiences, both good and bad.  Last week I had an unpleasant experience with a spider (a gardener’s best friend).  I was kneeling on the ground trying to tidy up a small unused part of my garden (I am trying to create a shady garden corner) and experienced a sharp pain on my right calf.

As I looked down, I noticed a brown spider trying to retreat from the leg of my pants.  I used a trowel to fend it off and noticed it looked familiar.  I went inside to clean the bite and show my husband because I was bitten by a venomous spider a few years back and had a really bad reaction that required medical attention.

After that experience, he insisted on becoming an “arachnid expert” by researching venomous spiders for this area.  Guess what, it was a yellow sac spider. Not as bad as the brown recluse spider, but still not good. They hide in dry, woody areas and this is where I encounter my spider.

I am receiving excellent care, trust me. I feel loads better and I am looking forward to returning to my garden today. Although I admit to having a fear of the little crawlies, spiders beware; you can’t keep this gardener down!!!

Until next time, take care of yourselves, my friends,


P.S. For anyone interested, here’s a link with information about the spider:  http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/2000/2060A.html

Monday, May 21, 2012

Seed Harvesting and Pollinator Gardening

"I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation.  It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a rose of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green."  ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mosses from and Old Manse 

Hello Gardening Friends,

I hope everything is going well with your gardens and that you all are enjoying their beauty and bounty.  We have finally got warm weather in or region and I am enjoying it immensely.

I had a chance to go through my garden journals for past seasons and reminisced about hand-pollinating squash blossoms one year because I didn’t plant enough flowers and herbs to entice pollinators to my garden. It was a very time consuming experience. I know, silly me.  So of course, the next year I planted flowers like cosmos, sunflowers, daisies, yarrow, asters, alyssum, lupine, phlox, zinnias, Sweet William and Black-eyed Susans to attract bees.  I also planted several types of milkweed, ironweed, dill, oregano, parsley, fennel and lemon mint to draw in butterflies and wasps.  I purchased all the seeds at end of season sales from two seed companies for only $8.60.  It was a great deal for me because I harvest the seeds from those plants every year and take advantage of the added benefit of having a beautiful, heavily-pollinated garden.

Well, I have to close for now.  Thanks for dropping by and happy gardening!


Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Mother's Day Tribute to My Two Favorite Gardeners

Greetings my fellow gardeners.  I typically don’t share much about my family but in honor of Mother’s Day I’d like to mention two extraordinary women: my grandmother Anna and mother Cynthia.

My grandmother Anna was a generous, thoughtful and caring woman.  She was also my greatest teacher about both life and nature.  She loved spending hours upon hours outdoors faithfully caring for her plants and teaching her grandchildren to respect and love all things.  I can still hear her talking and quietly humming to ailing plants under her care.  I would describe her as a plant healer.

My mother Cynthia is a vibrant, vivacious and big-hearted lady who enjoys life and loves her family fiercely.  She has sacrificed so much to keep her family happy and together.  She is also the best indoor gardener (houseplants)!  Her specialty is African violets but like my grandmother she is also excellent at plant propagation.  My mother is also a great poet and I have listed one of her poems below (dedicated to my grandmother), which was published in a book of poetry. I love you both!

Happy Mother's Day to you all out there in the blogsphere and enjoy your special day!


Mom's poem:


Another year is beginning
In my Grandmother's life for me to see
That God has given her more time on this Earth
To teach me to be:
The Giver of Love
The Passer of knowledge and wisdom
The Teacher of morals and values
The Believer of faith; and to have
The Strength of face my fears
The Ability to give and to show love
The Courage to fight my pain;
And to know that life does not
Go on forever
When I can put all these things
Into play
And know that when it comes time for my
Life to end
I will know that death will
Be nothing
But another adventure into Peace

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Great Birthday Week and a Gardening Pest Tip

 "Science, or para-science, tells us that geraniums bloom better if they are spoken to.  But a kind word every now and then is really quite enough.  Too much attention, like too much feeding, and weeding and hoeing, inhibits and embarrasses them."  ~Victoria Glendinning

Greetings everyone,

I hope things are going well and you are enjoying the beautiful weather and your gardens.  I had an excellent week and wanted to share my activities.  My birthday was earlier this week and I received an arrangement from my mother/family and an azalea shrub from a co-worker (both pictured above).  They were a very pleasant surprise considering the first thing to greet me at my desk in the morning is typically a mound of paperwork and notes from my colleagues!  It was an amazing day.

I finally got a chance to go outside for a couple of hours today to observe things and so far, we do not have any dandelions growing in the lawn and no squirrel damage to my potted plants.  YES!!! I know, I will knock on wood for now.

I also observed the antics of a robin red breast and a cardinal sitting on the passenger side mirror of our car looking at their reflections and I realized I don’t have a special spot in my garden for birds.  So, I found a shady spot and I am working on hanging a small mirror with a wooden piece attached for perching.  This spot receives no sunlight, so I am not worried about harsh reflective light which may cause the birds to crash into the mirror and injure themselves.  Does anyone have any advice to share?

Just in case anyone is having problems with soft-bodied insects (like aphids) that are using your plants as a nursery, a great natural insecticidal soap can be made by adding a tablespoon of Murphy's Oil Soap to about a quart of water. Just pour into a spray bottle, shake well and spritz your plant's leaves, being sure to pay special attention to the underside, where the little crawlies tend to lay eggs.

Well, it’s time to return to the safe haven of my garden.  Thank you for stopping by, take care of yourselves and until next time…happy gardening!


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Winter Weather in the Spring and Flea Market Garden Finds

"The kiss of the sun for pardon, The song of the birds for mirth, One is nearer God's heart in a garden, Than anywhere else on earth".   ~Dorothy Frances Gurney, "Garden Thoughts"

Greeting Fellow Gardening Friends,

I hope your gardening endeavors are going well for you.  As you probably know, the Northeast saw a late season Nor-Easter, and for the past week our area has experienced freezing temperatures, snow, rain and high winds.  Definitely not the norm but not unexpected either for this area.  I have received calls from several acquaintances asking for advice on how to save plants from the ravages ofthe storm and how to heal damaged plants.  It has been a strange week.

To brighten up things a bit, I decided to share a favorite recipe that I found a while back (it is really good and simple) and to show you pictures of a few finds from our treasure hunting excursions for the garden.  The recipe is at the end of this post.

This large, beautiful glass vase (18" high x 14" wide) was found in a thrift store and I only paid $5.99 for it. I plan to put sunflowers or gladiolus in it later in the season.

My husband found this terra cotta Saint Francis (the Catholic patron saint of nature) statue at a resale shop.  It is almost 3-feet tall (35”) and we paid $40 for it.

We also got a 150-foot long roll of weed barrier at a thrift store for only $3.00.

Anyway...that's all for now. Happy gardening!


P.S. Farfalle with Spinach and Peas (by Kay Chun, Real Simple, MAY 2003)


•    12 ounces (4 cups) farfalle
•    1 tablespoon olive oil
•    2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, torn into 1-inch pieces
•    1 shallot, thinly sliced
•    2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
•    1/3 cup frozen peas
•    1 5-ounce package fresh baby spinach
•    Black pepper
•    4 ounces Feta, crumbled
•    1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat while the pasta cooks. Add the prosciutto and cook until crisp, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.

Return the skillet to medium heat. Add the shallot and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook 1 minute. Stir in the peas, spinach, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add the cooked pasta, Feta, and reserved pasta water. Cook, stirring, until the spinach wilts. Remove from heat and fold in the cooked prosciutto.

Divide among individual bowls and top with the basil.

Amount per serving
•    Calories: 455      Calories from fat: 22%    Fat: 11g   Saturated fat: 5g    Cholesterol: 33mg
•    Sodium: 755mg    Carbohydrate: 68g  Fiber: 4g   Sugars: 3g   Protein: 19g


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Squirrels in the Garden and Ways to Deter Them

There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling.  ~Mirabel Osler

Greetings Everyone,

I trust your weekend went well. I placed more of my transplants outside yesterday because the conditions were quite lovely (68 degrees and partly sunny).  They are happily adjusting to their new surroundings but I was reminded about a major problem I experienced last year (grey squirrels) and pondered about humane measures I should take this year to deter them.

Like most gardeners, I have to deal with a major problem in my garden (stray cats, moths and squirrels are the leading three for me).  This is the year of the squirrel…again.  They are nesting in nearby trees have numerous food sources (an abundance of walnut trees) and are getting a little too comfortable.  The problem: hoarding nuts in my potted plants by digging up my babies.

Watching one squirrel try to shove a huge nut underneath our back storm door for safe storage was funny and my husband finding another nut tucked behind the bend in a gutter downspout left us both scratching our heads and laughing about the things these little guys will do to hide their stash.

Yes, they are cute and their antics can be entertaining, but they can also be destructive. And although I love wildlife and will occasionally sacrifice plants to help supplement any animal’s diets or self preservation, NOT THIS YEAR.  There is so much space in the back of our property not being utilized because of the squirrels and I think it is high time to call in some reinforcements, including:

-  Heavily mulching the pots with screened straw

-  Planting natural deterrents such as nasturtiums, marigold and alliums as borders

-  Placing pieces of wire mesh or window screening around the base of the plants

-  Using some type of thorny plant material around the base of the plants

-  Creating small cages out of recycled wood and chicken wire fencing we have on hand

I think I may have some success with these methods, but only time will tell.  Until next time, happy gardening!


P.S.  The corn gluten meal is really working so far.  The grass is healthy and we only had three dandelions pop up.

Monday, April 9, 2012

An Enjoyable Weekend in the Garden

Half the interest of a garden is the constant exercise of the imagination.  ~Mrs. C.W. Earle, Pot-Pourri from a Surrey Garden, 1897

I am so content right now because of the beautiful weather and positive experiences I had this past weekend.  After searching for an active community garden for years, I found one a block away from my home.  It is relatively small and is tended by a lovely couple who have generously donated a small plot of their yard for the garden.  Naturally, I offered to donate a few hours a week, some supplies and of course seeds for their garden.

I had a chance to work in the garden today with my husband (a miracle, I know).  We sawed up the tree I mentioned in a previous post and cut back our invasive 8-feet-tall Japanese knotweed (often mistaken for bamboo) that the previous owner of our house generously introduced to the backyard.

We also noticed several of our neighbors yards have dandelions showing up.  Not good. We applied corn gluten meal to our lawn a few weeks ago and hopefully our grass will be healthy enough to deter them.  We divided Shasta daisy plants and day lilies to give to my BFF Randy for his family’s new garden.  Busy day, but it was wonderful!

The hubby and I found some great items in a newly opened thrift store yesterday for our garden and he suggested I start including pictures and ideas in my future posts. As you know, I love a bargain and like introducing new ornaments to my garden. A great idea I think and because I have the hankering to cook lately (hubby is the active cook in our home), I am going to include pictures of my experiments and recipes. But please don't be too criticalgo easy on me, since I'm not much of a cook (remember, I was outside playing in the dirt and climbing trees while my mom and grandmother were in the kitchen). LOL. :-)

Well, I hope you have a great week and thank you for reading.


P.S. I have included a link for more information about knotweed here:

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Plant Protection on the Cheap | Seedlings & Transplants

It is a golden maxim to cultivate the garden for the nose, and the eyes will take care of themselves. 
~Robert Louis Stevenson

Greetings my fellow gardeners,

Spring is finally here and like many of you I yearn to experience all the wonder this season brings.  However, the weather here is still temperamental.  The lows in our area are ranging from the mid 20’s and the highs around the upper 40’s.  It is normal for this time of the year, but I’m already missing the warm spell we had earlier this month.

My babies (seedlings) are growing vigorously and are most anxious to go outside, but it’s not quite time yet. While planning for the hardening off schedule I was thinking about some ideas that I have used in the past for protecting and promoting the health of young transplants. Here they are:

Glass jars – Salvaged mid- to large-sized food jars are great makeshift cloches.  Generally, I remove the lids and labels and wash the jars with a mild bleach solution, rinse and dry.  Depending on the size of your transplant, place the jar over it and make sure no part of the plant is touching the jar.  Check the plant regularly.

Plastic bottles and milk jugs- I use the same process as with glass jars. After they have been cleaned, I then cut the bottoms off the jugs or two-liter bottles and gently place them over the transplants.  Again make sure no part of the plant is touching the plastic and monitor regularly.

Old sheer curtains – I typically use these for insect barriers because they keep bugs at bay while allowing plants to receive much-needed sunlight and moisture.  I purchase cheap sheers from thrift shops (during discount days, of course).

Old blankets – Who needs pricey burlap? These are great for protecting plants from frost.  I generally receive them from family and friends, but I also sew some from scraps of worn-out clothing.

I hope things are going well with your gardens.  Until next time, take care.


Friday, March 23, 2012

Garden Friend or Foe?

Plants give us oxygen for the lungs and for the soul.  ~Linda Solegato

Hello everyone.  I have been working really hard trying to clean and wake up my garden.  Recently we had a strong storm come through the area and I had enough debris to fill my large container twice and enough left over to make a large donation to my small compost pile.

We also had a little surprise left in our backyard courtesy of our local utility company (a small, invasive Tree-Of-Heaven).  We do not have any trees in our yard, but they were trimming trees in a neighbor’s yard and one fell over the fence onto our property.  This tree has been sitting in our backyard for a while despite numerous calls to have it removed.  The excuse I am given is, “we have to have our arborist look at the stump to see if we our crew cut it”.  Dude…seriously?  My husband is anxious to cut the tree but I am not happy out this.  Oh well, I will let it go and make the hubby happy.

During my outdoor excursion I was happy to see I have new volunteer plants out back in an area I rarely use.  I have a daffodil, coreopsis and a plant I can’t identify.  I am reluctant to remove it at this point so I will watch it until I can identify it.  My garden typically receives a few volunteer plants each year such as Johnny Jump Ups, tulips and red clover.  I typically relocate them to my garden (free plants).

Earlier this week on my way to work, I noticed a neighbor placing pallets out to the curb.  I was so excited to see them and circled around the block to have a little chat.  Of course, I simply had to ask him if he was throwing them out for garbage or utilizing the pallets for a project.   Thank goodness he stated the former and I asked him if I could have the pallets and explained my wish to have my hubby create a small potting station from the wood.  I offered him payment for the pallets (secretly hoping he wouldn’t accept it) and he stated he would give me 7 pallets and would drop them off at my home for $5.00. Yikes!!! I agreed and he dropped them off within the hour.  When completed I will post pictures.

Well, I have to run.  For anyone curious about the tree I mentioned, here's a link: 



Thursday, March 15, 2012

My Favorite Planting Methods

Let no one think that real gardening is a bucolic and meditative occupation.  It is an insatiable passion, like everything else to which a man gives his heart. 

~Karel Čapek, The Gardener's Year, translated by M. and R. Weatherall, 1931

You sow them, you feed them, you entertain them, and you nurture and encourage them and you cry when they fall.  However, it is time to prepare the younglings to leave the safety and security of your home.  To whom am I referring to?  You guessed it, your new seedlings or as I call them, “the newbie’s”.
Hello gardening friends.  The weather is changing for the better here so I have begun the process of preparing the garden for planting.  In the past, I have used many methods for planting, but I would like to share the techniques I have been utilizing the past several years.

I have a very small section of the yard my hubby has permitted me for gardening in the backyard.  He refuses to let me dig up any more of his “perfect lawn”. I typically use my area for the Native American Three Sisters method (an explanation).  I create my mounds in the fall by placing fish at the base so it can fertilize my soil over the winter (the fish is donated to me by my neighbor).  To warm up my mounds, I will place a sturdy lawn bag on top for a week.  At the end of the week, I will remove the plastic and plant my seedlings (corn, squash and beans).  This method is my favorite and is extremely productive.  If you have the space, I highly recommend it.

I have used small row gardening as well for my cowpea crops (purple hull and black eyed peas) and okra.  I generally work in soil amendments and to get the soil warm for these heat lovers I placed black plastic (lawn bags) on top of the planting area for several weeks and after the duration, I burn holes in the plastic for the seeds.  I do not remove the plastic because it acts as a weed barrier and continues to provide warmth to the plants.  I am pleased with this method and my plants are generally very productive.
Right now, the majority of my plants are grown in containers.  I have a large concreted area (formally a garage) where I place the containers and the area receives about 90 % of sunlight.  I use all sorts of containers beginning with your basic terra cotta to unique items found in my home or a thrift store-if I can drill holes in the item, it will become a most welcomed addition to my garden.  Most of my newfound items I live natural but I also paint my containers with bright and beautiful pastels.  For the plants which need enormous amount of heat such as eggplants, I paint the containers black to preserve heat.  All vining plants I use various items for vertical trellising such as old branches, bamboo and untreated wooden stakes given to me as leftovers from a co worker. I received a gift of 10 five gallon grow bags from a friend recently, so I am going to try my hand at growing various potatoes this year such as:  Adirondack Red, sweet and fingerling potatoes.  Please wish me luck with this and if you have any advice, I would love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading my posting.


P.S.  I have listed below a few helpful links regarding the Native American Three Sister Garden method and history.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

More Ideas on Free and Low-Cost Compost

It is a golden maxim to cultivate the garden for the nose, and the eyes will take care of themselves.  ~Robert Louis Stevenson

Greeting fellow gardeners,

Due to high level of input about compost in my last posting, I thought I'd share a little more about obtaining it or materials to increase the amount of compost you generate. 

I realize that some of these suggestions imay sound strange, but can definitely pay off in the long run.

  • Check your local Freecycle board (freecycle.org) or Craigslist site (craigslist.com) and check for postings offering free or discounted compost.  If you can’t find any ads, create your own.  You can express your interest in obtaining compost or items to jump start your own compost system such as aged manure, leaves or other yard waste.
  • Speak with your friends, family and neighbors to express your interest in composting.  If they don’t have compost, see if they are willing to provide you with various materials to add to your existing pile.  In return, you can share the competed product with them as an incentive.
  • If your town does not offer a yard waste recycling program, advocate to see if you can help jump start a program.  Do a little research, for example: check with your local refuse companies and enquire about their disposal process.  Take a visit to your local landfill when they provide open houses to obtain information about waste processing.  You will have to be persistent.
  • Call around to local farms to see if you can obtain aged manure.  Some will give it to you for free or at a discounted rate.  Please inquire about their operations before hand.  Are they using antibiotics or other types of medications to treat their items?  What type of feed do they provide their animals?  They are valid questions so don’t be shy about asking.
  • Check with local coffee shops to see if they are willing to give you their coffee grounds for free.  I have noticed most shops are doing this now and some have special spots in their shops where they placed used bagged grounds for your convenience
Finally, here are a couple of resources for frugal types interested in building their own compost tumbler:

I hope you find these suggestions useful! :-)


Friday, March 2, 2012

A Few Words About Compost and Seeds

A garden was the primitive prison, till man with Promethean felicity and boldness, 
luckily sinned himself out of it.  ~Charles Lamb, 1830

Hello fellow thrifty gardeners. Recently, I took a work related field trip to our county’s newest recycling center and I just had to share my experience with my like minded, earthly friendly and frugal gardening acquaintances.

I have visited several landfills and other waste disposal centers in this state; however, I was truly impressed with this particular location. The center accepts all types of recyclable wastes such as standard household materials, electronics, hazardous chemicals, fluorescent bulbs, clothing, appliances, yard debris, etc. The building itself is cavernous, but extremely well maintained. 

But what really excited me was the large, free compost pile.  Yes, free compost my friends!  A frugal gardener’s favorite word. You simply have to provide proof of your county residency and bring your own containers and shovels and load the containers yourself.  Best of all, there is no limit to the amount you can take for residential purposes only.

In the future, I plan on creating my own homemade compost system when the hubby and I move to the countryside, but until then, I plan on utilizing this extremely valuable resource for potting, mulch and fertilizer in my garden this year. 

Please, check with your local county and townships to see if free compost, mulch or topsoil is available.  You will not regret it.

Taa….taa… for now.


P.S.  Attention Fellow Seed Collectors: Locally the home improvement stores, garden centers, and Dollar stores have begun to place garden seeds out on display.  Most have seeds selling from 10 to 50 cents a pack.  From experience I can tell you they sell very fast so you might want to take advantage of this right away.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Affordable Lighting for Starting Seeds Indoors

One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides. 
~W.E. Johns, The Passing Show

Hello fellow gardeners.  Spring is just around the corner and I can barely conceal my anticipation to see my garden begin the process of waking up.  Yesterday, I was discussing my garden plan with a co-worker and he brought up a question about lighting for my indoor seedlings.  The poor guy really opened up a can of worms since I have a tendency to go a bit overboard with advice.

 He said he typically places seedlings in a sunny window sill and they grow spindly and eventually fall over and die.  My advice to him was basically use florescent lighting because his seedlings will not receive sufficient sunlight exposure to ensure healthy growing habits.  An elaborate set-up is not needed.  Simply purchase a florescent shop light unit (they are relatively inexpensive) and a couple of bulbs (they are very reasonable) from your local home improvement center.  I normally purchase 8-foot-long bulbs (cool, white) because I start the majority of my seeds indoors.  The hubby brings the units we’re not using out of the basement and suspends them from the ceiling over my seed starting table.

If you are only going to start a few seeds indoors, you can even purchase small screw-in grow light bulbs and place them in inexpensive desk lamps. In the past, I have used several desk lamps (borrowed from the kids’ rooms) and received marginal success.

Well, I have to close for now.  I hope this post helped.  Until later…Taa-taa!


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Seed Starting Alternatives to Pricey Seedling Heat Mats

“Many things grow in the garden that were never sown there.” 
~Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732

Hello fellow gardeners.  Today, I am sowing my long-growing varieties of seeds indoors and I would like to share several low-cost methods of bottom heating that have worked for me in the past.

Electric Blankets – I purchased an old blanket a few years ago from a local thrift shop and was pleased to notice it had no damage and the heating elements worked well.  I place the blanket on top of a table I use indoors for sowing and placed an old plastic liner on top to protect it from moisture.  It worked like a charm.  My total investment amount was only $5.00! Although smaller than blankets, medical heating pads (avialable at your local drug store or pharmacy) are also less expensive options.

Aquariums – I found an old 30 gallon aquarium during one of my curbside excursions and it still contained the hood and a working bulb.  The only damage was a small crack at the bottom of the tank. I placed an old metal baking rack set with stands at the bottom and placed my seed trays on top.  Because of the heat from the lighting and the humidity, I received a high germination rate.  My total investment amount was zero!

Electronics and appliances – In the past, I have placed seed trays on top of a DVR, cable boxes, refrigerators and freezers.  I received various degrees of success with them all but I did achieve good germination.  Total investment amount:  zero.

Well, I hope this post will help you out with your future seed starting endeavors.  Until the next time, happy planting!


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Spring Garden Planning - Getting an Early Start

"The best place to seek God is in a garden.  You can dig for him there." 
~George Bernard Shaw, The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God, 1932

Well, here we are in February, and spring is not that far away. Thank goodness!!!  I am so excited because I can finally focus on my true love…gardening. Like you, I am receiving numerous catalogs in the mail and although they are enticing, I must remember my purpose is to spend as little as possible by recycling used items or getting them for free.

Today, I am going to start my garden supplies inventory list or as my husband would say, “the junk list”. I will admit, I have a huge amount of vases, pots, seeds, plant markers, etc. however, everything will come in handy at some point and he knows this. The list I am creating today will also give me an idea of what I will need to plan this year’s growing season. Because I live in an urban area and my yard is ridiculously small, I am limited in what I grow. It’s this reason that the buckets, large pots and small misc containers I have on hand will be turned into planters.  My motto is, if you can put holes in it, use it.

My list is completed and I have everything I need for my garden with the exception of compost (which I will pick up for free from our county’s compost facility). I start all of my less hardy seeds such as petunias, impatiens, savory (summer and winter), marjoram, chives and onions around the end of February indoors. In addition to the above mentioned plants, I will also grow the following this year: 

Beans (lima and Romano), peas (snow, snap), tomatoes (grape, plum and paste), summer squash, carrots, cabbage, corn, kale, greens (collards, mustard and turnips), okra, bunching onions, peppers (sweet and hot), spinach, Swiss chard, nasturtiums, cosmos, cilantro, coneflowers, sunflowers, lupine, basil, parsley, black eyed Susan, sage, marigold, sweet William, chicory, oregano, Chinese forget me nots, Siberian wallflower, thyme(creeping and garden), lovage, horehound, sorrel, cowpeas (black eyed and purple hull), yarrow, lupine, kohlrabi, chamomile, lettuce (Asian Mesclun and Bibb), radish, shallots, watermelon, candytuft, cucumbers, corn salad, dianthus, alyssum, leaf lettuce, endive, Virginia stock, daisies (Shasta , Ox Eye, and Gloriosa) coreopsis (Lance leaf and plains), zinnias, pansies, salvia, sunflowers, larkspur, morning glory and lemon balm.  

Ok, I know I have an enormous amount of seeds of all types and I admit I am truly obsessed with collecting them.  However, I share frequently with friends, family and anyone who shows an interest in starting their own gardening. This year I plan on donating produce to our local food pantry and homeless shelters.  I am also going to grow extra plants for my neighbors.

I have been cultivating my seed collection for many years now by various means.  My friends and family typically present me with seeds and gift cards to garden centers for special occasions such as birthdays, Christmas or Earth Day.  But my favorite way to get them is by gathering seeds from my own plants, something I'll discuss in detail down the line.

Well, I must go for now.  I will keep you informed of my activities soon.  Until later…Ta-Ta!


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Welcome to Anna’s Frugal Gardening Tips Blog

Born and raised in a small rural farming community in northern Florida, I was fortunate to have a childhood filled with unique experiences. My family was not wealthy by any means, so we had to make the most of the little we had. We raised chickens, cows and pigs, and my grandmother grew fruits and vegetables to help feed our very large family. Because of my upbringing, I am frugal in all areas of my life, including my favorite pastime: gardening.

I currently live in USDA Zone 6b—a region of central and western New York that includes Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and parts of the scenic Finger Lakes region. The goal of this blog is to share money-saving tidbits with fellow gardeners in my area and across the country; all while charting my personal journey from gardening on a small city lot to tending to a large yard in small-town suburban or country setting.

Gardening doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, nor does it have to be labor intensive. You can enjoy the beauty of flowers or reap the bounty of a continuous produce or herb harvest. It can be relaxing and allow you to create new experiences with your family and friends…and even to help members of your community.

Please stay tuned so we can work together to create a garden that is functional, beautiful and, most important of all, frugal.

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