Archive for the 'gardening' Category

A new path…

Remember last year, when I fixed up the path in our back yard and it looked super pretty and I was so proud of it?  I posted about it here.  Well, the kids loved it, too, but for very different reasons.  They loved it because they could pick up all of the stones, turn them over and find BUGS.  But, unfortunately, turning all the stones in a stone path over is a really good way to ruin a path.  Boo!

So, I started over this spring.  At some point over the winter I stumbled upon this blog post about a paver hopscotch pad and fell in love with it.  But I wanted mine to be longer and a bit more hardy.  Finding the paint for the hopscoth path turned out to be the hardest part of the whole thing.  The big box stores were no help, so I finally ventured out to paint stores and Benjamin Moore sold me a quart of cement/patio paint and seperately, the tints for all of the rainbow colors I wanted, so that I could mix them myself.  Then I painted nine 16″ pavers in rainbow colors in the garage.  My little helpers were only too happy about this.

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We let those dry for a good week with the truck parked over them, then I set about excavating, graveling, tamping, sanding, tamping, placing the pavers, and mulching. Oye! This was one of those projects that seemed like it would be super fast and easy, but then took on a life of its own when we decided that we should do it “right” and took much longer and was bigger than expected. But, we LOVE it.
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You can see that we ended up putting the hopscotch in the middle and the ends and sides are all a “normal” pattern of pavers. I hope that the paint stands up over time, but I do have a bit of extra paint in each color for touch-ups after the winter if necessary.

The kids love hopping down the path, too. Here’s some proof:
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More garden remedies…

As promised, here are the gardening remedies that I have been trying out around our house!  I got the first two mixtures from this site via Pinterest.  The third one I got out of a book last summer and I can’t remember what book it was, so I can’t give credit, but just know that it was not in any way my brain child.
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To keep black spot off of my roses, I first plucked any leaves that I saw with black spot and put them into the compost bin (not on the ground because that may keep the fungus spreading in the roses).  Then I sprayed all of the leaves with this mixture:

2 tea. baking soda

1/2 tea. liquid soap (I used Dr. Bronners)

2 qts. water

So far (about three weeks) they are looking fabulous.  I did have to pluck and spray my worst one one more time, but all of the rest seem to be in good shape!

For a general insecticide in my vegetable garden, especially for my green bean plants which inevitably get eaten alive every summer and I never get a crop of green beans at all, I made a red pepper spray:

2 Table. red pepper powder

6 drops liquid soap (Dr. Bronners again!)

1 gallon water

I let this one sit overnight and then strained it because my red pepper was a bit chunky and wouldn’t spray correctly.  So far my green beans are the best looking that I have ever grown.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Lastly, in my garden last year and almost as soon as I planted them this year, I have had horrible fungus/mold on my squash plants and last summer they didn’t produce any squash because of it.  I was able to get rid of the fungus last year, but too late and I am determined to make sure I get some zucchini this year!!  Here’s the spray for that:

1 Table. garlic powder

a few drops liquid soap (again with the Dr. Bronners–it keeps the spray bottle from clogging)

1 qt. water

This has also worked well and just yesterday I had to dose my cucumbers with it.  Speaking of cucumbers, has anyone seen this floating around pinterest?  I’m going to build one in the next couple of weeks and I’ll share it with you when I do!
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Garden Update

I’ve been away from blogging for a while now since the weather here has been so beautiful. I’ve been weeding, working on the garden, playing in the sun, watching the kids run through the sprinkler, and otherwise just not worrying about the computer. But, it is raining today. So here I am. First, I want to show you the rock path that I mentioned working on in my last post. I think it turned out pretty well.
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That took quite a bit of time to get put back together. I have also been trying out a few home remedies for problems in the garden. I don’t have results for all of them yet, and I’ll post more when I do, but I did want to tell you about scalding weeds, which I did a bunch of in the last couple of weeks.
Here’s the spot that I scalded before:
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Under all of that ridiculous grass and random weeds are a bunch of stepping stones that separate my garden beds so that I don’t step on any plants. I spent an afternoon boiling water in my new electric teakettle (which I have no idea how I lived without for this long–its so fast!) and walking it out the garden and then pouring it slowly on to the weeds around the stepping stones. Some of the grass needed a second application about three days later, but after only a few days all of it was brown and dead without having to put any week killer so close to my vegetable garden beds! Hooray! Here is the after picture with a bit of brown weed pulling:
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As you can see, the garden beds are all planted.  In the top bed I have corn and pumpkins planted from seed.  In the middle are green beans, two kinds of zucchini, carrots, and broccoli.  The bottom bed includes more green beans, kale, lettuce, and cucumbers.

I’ll be back with a few more garden updates later in the month and I promise more crafty posts soon and the coming of this year’s summer art in a couple of weeks!

Instant Chocolate Cake

Spring is here! Hooray! We’ve had incredible weather this week and while it is raining here right now, I don’t feel the weight of the grey like I had been since I’ve gotten so much vitamin D this week. We’ve been working hard on the back yard and have de-thatched the lawn, pulled a lot of weeds, and I’m in the midst of digging up and resetting a stone pathway that had become completely covered in dirt. In gardening news, we have asparagus and kale ready to eat and our pea plants are thriving (if not producing yet). The apple tree and blueberry bushes are blooming. I have yet to dig up the garden beds, though. The other projects are taking up all of my spare time.

In chicken news, we have eggs! The girls are laying six days a week and are almost keeping up with Nancy’s insatiable love of all things egg. Both of the chickens are somewhat naughty and have been going into parts of the yard that they are not allowed, including my flower beds where they have been sunbathing (and dirt bathing, too).

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Clara has taken to collecting the eggs every day herself. The other day, she got an egg, and since it was dirty, she washed it and dried it in a towel. Then the towel became a nest and she played with the egg for a good twenty minutes and became super attached to her “special egg.” I bet you can guess what happenend. Her poor little egg fell and broke and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men and even Momma couldn’t put her “special egg” back together again. She was so upset.

What to do? We made a little chocolate cake out of her egg and then she was happy again. I googled a cake in a mug recipe and found the easiest cake recipe ever! Here it is if you want to try it.

Mix the following ingredients in a microwave proof mug:
1 egg
1/4 C. powdered sugar
2 Table. cocoa powder

Microwave for 50-60 seconds or until done.
Enjoy!

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Growing Science

You’ll recall (if you’re one of my ten readers) that I did a little tutorial on how to make a six-page book a couple of weeks ago and promised that I would show you how we used them recently.  So, here it is!

First we set up a little science experiment about growing seeds based on this fabulous pinterest pin and this blog entry from the Artful Child.  We talked about what we thought seeds needed to grow (sunshine, dirt, water, etc.) and then we placed wet paper towels on contact paper (you could use ziplock bags in this step instead), placed pea and sunflower seeds on the towels, then closed up the contact paper, labelled them, and carefully taped them with packing tape onto the window.  We made sure that the tape went all the way around so that no water leaked out of the seed packs.
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Then we talked about what a hypothesis is (thank you Dinosaur Train for teaching Clara this for me!) and came up with one about what would happen to our seeds.
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Then we drew pictures of what our seeds looked like at the beginning of the experiment.
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And we looked at them and drew them a few times before we took them down and planted them in our garden.
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Here’s what they looked like when we decided to plant them!
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We decided that while the plants did not make it “all the way to the top,” they were going to keep growing, so we would continue to check our hypothesis as they grow.

Birdseed Ornaments

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I’ve been saving this project up since I saw it on Dandee in July!  I love it!  Super easy, super cute, and with a purpose.  We made birdseed ornaments to hang outside last week.  Some of them we gave away at Thanksgiving and some of them we’re giving as presents for Christmas.  They are easy, and cute.  They would also be awesome to make if you were going to do some tree decorating outside a la The Night Tree by Eve Bunting (a FABULOUS Christmas book if anyone is interested).

The afternoon that we made these was dark as night despite the 3:00 pm time, so I apologize for the dark pictures.  I actually waited until we went to Central Oregon to take the above picture because I knew that we would have better weather than anything I was going to get at home.

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The recipe for these is super easy.  The kids pretty much did all of it except for a few stirs by me to get the very bottom mixed in.

We mixed together:
3/4 C. flour
1/2 C. water
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
3 TBS corn syrup
(This makes a really, quite incredible glue. I’ve been considering how to use it for other applications ever since.)

Then we added 4 C. of bird seed. I just got mine in bulk at Winco (really, it was the leftover birdseed from this project this summer).

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Once that was mixed into the “glue,” we used our hands and spoons to place the birdseed into cookie cutters, filling them to the top, then pressing them down to get rid of any air holes. Then we carefully push the birdseed down and pulled the cookie cutter up. The birdseed at this point was super-duper sticky. Drew (my nephew) refused to continue because it was too “dirty.” I had to bring out a bowl of water to rinse hands off when they got caked. We also found that if we rinsed the cutters between uses the birdseed cane out a lot easier. We placed them on silpat sheets as we worked and then added cut straws to each to make a hole in them for the twine.
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We let them dry overnight and they ended up being impressively hard. One batch of birdseed mix made about fifteen ornaments for us.  We tied twine on each one (because that’s what we had on hand), but raffia would also be pretty, I think. Then we hung them up for our birdie friends during our Thanksgiving feast at Grandma’s.

Tomatoes Galore!!

My garden this year has been somewhat underwhelming.  I got very few squash, cucumbers, or zucchini because of some sort of mildew.  I treated it with a garlic powder and water solution, which worked, but they didn’t produce much after that.  I had great peas, but then it got too hot for them.  My kale was amazing, and I planted a huge pot of it on the patio for the winter.  But, that’s about it.  My green beans were practically worthless.  For some reason, I only got two carrots.  And I’m eagerly waiting on my brussels sprouts to produce anything.

But, the tomatoes!  Oh, the tomatoes!  I finally found the perfect spot for them in my yard and they have been incredible despite that one chicken who thinks that I put them there just for her to eat.  I’m off now to make roasted tomato sauce!  Yummy!
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