Come along with me...

Put on your gloves and grab your shovel or basket as we take this journey of gardening from seeds to food on the table together.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

DIY Garden tips and recipes

We all have resources available to us: online, from experience, from friends or in books, but getting them all together in one place and actually using some of them is another story.

I wanted to share with you some of the resources I've been using in my garden, and home, and some ideas I still want to try.

Fresh Basil waiting to dry in the dehydrator
Now mind you, I'm not good at following directions very well, so when I see a picture that inspires me, sometimes I don't even bother with the how to, I just keep that picture in my mind and go from there.

Habanero Peppers from the garden drying in the dehydrator
But some recipes or directions are fairly important if you want them to work.  So here are some "Do It Yourself" ideas to help inspire you in the garden and on your dinner plate!

I finally ran out of Bug Spray that I bought from Beeyoutiful.  I had bought two bottles of Bug be Gone and a variety of essential oils so that someday I could make my own.  I used the two now empty bottles and added my selection of oils to the Witch Hazel and water.  The Oils I have include Eucalyptus, Lemon Grass, Citronella, Tea Tree, Peppermint, and Lavender.  There are several recipes out there but today I used this one.  Bug Spray  Oh and I didn't measure I just poured some of this oil and some of that oil.

My citronella was by the front door, since I have been using it straight for long walks with the dogs at night.
For anyone who wants to buy some Essential Oils of their own, they are available at many health food stores and even some grocery stores but I bought mine from here.  Essential Oils  I have a friend who is actually a distributor so if you're local, I can share her information with you.

I never realized how hard it was to take a self portrait of you back.  I must have taken a dozen photos!
I read recently about how to make use of my (forest of) Aloe Vera plants, (I now have six pots - they grow so well here).  Well today I got burned, AGAIN, and bad!  So bad that I cut several leaves off the bottom of my largest Aloe Vera and followed this recipe sort of.  (I forgot to add any extras) and whipped them till super foamy so I could just pour this special liquid gold into my cute little jelly jars.  I ended up with five jars, so if you're local, let me know if you could use either your own plant or a home made jar of gel!  Aloe Vera Gel 

By the way, I can't reach my back very easily and my family is not home during the day, so I used a silicon pastry brush to apply it.  I was still a bit difficult, but it was nice to keep my hands clean.  I think this trick is a keeper.

My mother uses Epsom Salt for many homemade remedies, but using it in the garden is new to me.  The directions are written on the bag, plain and simple.  Instead of rewriting the directions though, I just copied this link for you.  Epsom Salt

Comparison so you can see how large my cucumber (fed with Epsom Salt) is!
My mother also makes a wonderful cucumber salad.  She would slice the cucumbers paper thin. Soak them overnight in Salt Water, and for lunch or dinner the next day she's mix them with sour cream and fresh dill.  So yummy!!  Here's a similar recipe so you can get the right measurements.  Cucumber salad

I had a surplus of fruit, so I made some fruit leather from bananas and strawberries and I am drying blueberries, as well as basil and habanero peppers from my garden.  I'm going to try making leather out of my Canary melon as well.  Fruit Leather

Strawberry - Banana Fruit Leather
At the Thrift Store last week, I found a glass hummingbird feeder for $2.  I have had them before and knew you could make your own nectar, but had to look it up since my memory was failing me.  I liked this page, because they had the same bird feeder as me.  Humming Bird Food

While I'm thinking of birds, this idea has been on my mind.  I bought a few plates, but haven't found any cups I like yet.  Some day though.  Tea Cup Bird Feeder 

Right now, I need a bird feeder for larger birds that keeps the water off the seed.

I've had my two pallet gardens up for a while, but when looking for the picture that inspired me, I found this interesting page, with SURPRISE, directions!

When I made them, I just winged it.  I took off a few boards, and then nailed them to the bottom of the ones I wanted to keep to make a "box" to hold in the dirt.  Since there was still a gap, I lined the "boxes" with newspaper and added soil after they were hung.  Since my house is mostly cement and not my own, I couldn't just drill into the exterior walls, so for one, I used the decorative cement cut outs to hang the pallet with first bungee type rubber cords, and then wire (the cords just kept stretching.)  For the second one, I bought some heavy string from the NEX Home Center (Garden Store) and used the growing tree on the other side of the partial wall to support the weight of the pallet.  I haven't added any soil or plants to that one yet, I wanted to make sure the tree would hold it well first.  So far so good!  Pallet Inspiration

I recently added more flowers, so they look wilted, but will be better in a few more days!

I got my pallets free from the NEX Home Center as well.  I have others being used as my compost box.
I now have two compartments for compost, but haven't taken a recent photo.

On pinterest I found a photo of a beautiful flower garden that used recycled tires painted in bright colors of the rainbow.  I already knew of 2 tires that were left by a neighbor who had moved out.  So I confiscated them and left them in my back yard for a while.  Then another neighbor was cleaning out her garage and had a pair that she was leaving by the trash for someone to take.  I asked, and she let me have them for free as well.  I found one on the side of the road so now I have five tires.  I bought spray paint which I would not recommend.  It was not too cheap, ($4-$5 per can) and after moving the tires in and out of position till I figured out how I wanted them a lot of the paint came right off the tops or sides where they had touched each other.  My flower seeds were just planted a few days ago, so I still have time to figure out exactly how I want them.  Tire Flower Garden

I had these stacked more like the link above,
but my daugther thought it looked like trash so I moved them away from the street.

For more inspiration check out my pinterest board "Garden Goodness".  Pinterest


I don't know about you, but this summer got away from me.  I can't believe it's over already!

The garden finally gets some much needed TLC
The end of summer is upon us and now the new school year has begun.  My husband who was underway with the Navy most of the summer returned for the last three weeks of our official summer break from school.  He was able to take the very last week off for vacation and we had some wonderful family time together.

New Hummingbird feeder
But my garden was neglected.  Here's a weed of grass that I pulled a few days ago.  BIG huh?
Tall grass
Since school and work have resumed, I've been back in my garden and have found several surprises.

First and foremost I have a very large cucumber.  I can only find one, but it is very big and ready to be picked.  I have never grown cucumbers before so I needed to refer to directions on when and how to harvest.  Here's the link to a website I will be using.

My prize cucumber
Soon every little baby cuke like this one will be just as big!

Baby cuke
My cherry tomatoes are getting some nice color to them and I have had several habaneros ripen from my pepper plant.  (I bought this one from Home Depot and it already was fruiting.)

Cherry tomatoes starting to turn red
My red potatoes in the laundry basket seem to be growing rapidly as well as my Aloe Vera which started out as two plants and is rapidly becoming a forest of it's own.

Bushy red potatoes

Six pots of Aloe Vera
But alas, I have been greeted by bad news as well.  It appears that my pumpkin patch is dying.  I have sunflowers, dill, marigolds, and radishes thriving, but all the flowers are gone and the vines are dying off of my pumpkins.  My conclusion is the heavy rains we've been having as late.  I will need to rethink my irrigation concept and possibly build a way for the overflow to run off.  I have since planted a few new seeds directly in the now empty mounds, so hopefully we'll just restart and have better times ahead.

New seedling growing amongst dying pumpkin vines
I have finally planted my Bougainvillea and my two cherry trees and have even bought a Soursop to add to my Papaya tree.


Barbados Cherry

Surinam Cherry

Here's a few more pics of my flourishing garden.


Sweet Peas



I hope you all had a wonderful summer and are getting back into the new routine that comes with the school year.  

May your harvests be plenty and your hearts be full!  
God Bless!


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fruit trees

I'm trying to expand my garden by adding some fruit trees to attract birds and bees as well as provide fruit to eat.

I bought a Red Lady Papaya and a Barbados Cherry from the Navy Exchange Home Center.  Not knowing how to grow them or even how to eat it, I searched on line and found this links.

Red Lady Papaya                         Barbados Cherry                           Surinam Cherry                      

I  already had a Surinam Cherry tree I bought a while back but haven't done anything with yet.

As I transplanted both the Papaya and the Barbados Cherry into larger pots I found lots of ants, so I spread some cornmeal on top to help control them.

I am still debating, but think I will plant the Papaya in the back yard kind of close to where I have the compost.  I want it on the outskirts of the yard, but not on the hill.

I will plant both Cherries in the front yard since they will get fairly big, have gorgeous flowers and they will make it very shady.  I don't want then North of my garden nor do I want them to block my view of the sunsets.

Here are a few photos from a simple google image search that show the beautiful flowers and fruit of these plants.

Red Lady Papaya 

Red Lady Papaya

Barbados Cherry Blossoms

Barbados Cherry Fruit

Surinam Cherry Blossoms

Surinam Cherry Fruit

Here are what the plants look like now.  The powder is the cornmeal to help control the ants.

Red Lady Papaya

Barbados Cherry

Surinam Cherry

If I have my way, I'll plant bananas, pineapple, strawberries, apples and mangoes as well!  I wish I had a bigger yard!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Another busy day in the Garden!

This morning started with rain and it kept sprinkling on and off all day!  The perfect weather to garden in!
It was so much cooler today and I was able to get in about 5 hours of hard labor today!
I moved a bunch of pavers from the neighbors house.  These pavers are heavy.  I can carry one pretty easy, but two is a very hard struggle.  I have to pick them up from the ground, carry them across a soggy area, up a steep hill and across several yards to get to mine.  Since I needed a bunch to finish some projects on my to do list, I just dug in and got busy!  I moved about 30 pavers today.

I was in soo much pain when I was done but here's signs of my progress!!

I laid down some of the bags of leaves the landscapers left for me, and piled pavers on top.

My pumpkins are getting crowded, so I followed my husband's advice and started a second row.  There seems to be even more rocks in this row!

My Golden Trumpets are growing great!  I found a few pics where they are growing vine like so I may start pruning them and seeing what I can get them to do!  It appears the more they get trimmed, the more they flower and thrive!

As far as I can tell these are lady bugs.  They are supposed to be very good for the garden eating aphids in the thousands.  I'm not positive that these are lady bugs though since they don't have the traditional spots.  None of me leaves seems to have bug bites taken out of them, so I'm hopeful!

These are my carrots.  I plan to keep them in this container for the duration of growth.  My ground is very rocky and full of clay so it's too hard to dig deep.  The containers give me the depth that carrots need!

The largest sunflower in my garden.

The largest dill in my garden

The largest Marigold in my garden

My garden is really started to get big.  I decided to take photos of the largest plants.  There is quite a variety of sizes of each plant.  Some are because of time planted, the difference between seed and starter, the type of soil I used, the amount of water and sun, and the location of varies plants that might be shading or sharing valuable root area.

I try to companion plant and one really great site I found was Down To Earth.  Rhonda Hetzel is an experienced gardener and lives a simple life in Australia.  She has a post of  beneficial plants to keep the good bugs a plenty and the bad bugs afar!  I hope you enjoy Down To Earth!

There are many links to other great gardening advice on my pinterest page.  Check it out here at Garden Goodness!

These are my bush cucumbers.  After I thinned them to just 3 plants, they just started growing like crazy!  I can't wait till I see little cucumbers!

The two cherry tomato plants that I was experimenting with by laying sideways and covering with soil didn't work very well for me.  It turned out to be the one of the wettest spots in the garden.  I pulled the first one with no problem, it was completely dead, but the second one surprisingly had roots just inches from where the green was growing!  I might have to try this way again in a dryer location!

But, I had already picked up a few more pepper plants from Home Depot so I had to move them into the garden so I used the old tomato spot.  Here are four Jalapeno plants and I also have one Habanero close to my other peppers.  It already had peppers growing when I bought it, so I'm hoping for great things from this plant!

These are the first signs that my potatoes are growing.  There are seven in this laundry basket and right now I have two green growths showing!

Romaine Lettuce - cutting from store bought produce

Celery - cutting from store bought produce

Bok Choy - cutting from store bought produce

I planted 8 seeds for sweet peas since my 2nd attempt at a flower bed only produced weeds.  I think this is a good use of the space.  Hopefully I will finally have some success now in this area!!

My compost is getting very full!  Lots of kitchen scraps, top soil with all the grass and weeds I dug up to make my garden, branches from trees in my yard, and a few bags of leaves from the landscapers.  I didn't take the time or energy to cut any of these into small enough pieces so this will take much longer to compost.  I might just have to make a second one and wait for this one to break down!

After all the accomplishments I'm very proud of I have to admit that growing cilantro is not working for me.  I have tried it from seed, and from starters from Home Depot.  It seems that it's either getting too much sun, or too much water.

Along with my "flower garden" this is my second plant that after two times, it's just time to move on!

Are there any areas in your garden that just aren't working for you?  Is it time to learn more or just move on?