The fall is is well known for many things…the falling leaves, the cool crisp air, harvesting the last crops of the season, warm comfort food…need I go on? Well, yes actually I do. One of the best things about fall for me is that it is the perfect time to plant bulbs before the ground gets to cold and hard. Dig a little in the fall and you are rewarded with pure bliss in the spring when your bulbs bloom. Who doesn’t want more tulips, daffodils, irises, hyacinth, and allium (above) in their life. Getting them off to a good start means that they will come back beautifully for years. For me there is rarely anything as satisfying as seeing bright yellow daffodils and smelling sweet hyacinth in the springtime.
Another awesome thing about bulbs is that they are a relatively easy project for kids. It gets them outside and involved in gardening and they reap the rewards of their hard work later. It is important to use these opportunities to raise the next generation green.
Gardening with kids helps to do this and Scholastic in partnership with Dig.Drop.Done wants to help out by providing educational materials. You get a free gardening themed Scholastic book for your child (or classroom) when you purchase any Dig.Drop.Done package of bulbs (look for the logo). Just order between now and November 30, 2012 (10/30 in Canada), fill out the redemption form, and claim your book. The program ends: when 1,000 books have been awarded or by 11/30 (US) or 10/30 (Canada). See official rules here.
The web site above also has some free educational materials and links. They have a pdf for parents to help gets kids excited about growing allium of all things. Woot! My fave! What kids wouldn’t want to grow plants with soccer ball size blooms?? There is also a lesson plan for teachers or home educators about amaryllis. The links include information on how to start a garden at your child’s school or take on garden themed projects like a dandelion salad.
If you are going to buy bulbs this season make sure to look for these specifically and get your free book while your at it. Enjoy!
I was compensated for this post by The Dig.Drop.Done Foundation, which was founded to promote the joy of bulb gardening and ensure its future in North America. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
With so many people struggling economically these days there is a renewed interest in gardening. However, many people fear that starting a garden may stretch their budget to the breaking point. That doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. It is possible to garden quite cheaply.
One of the best ways to keep the garden affordable is too plan ahead. Visit yard sales, auctions, and other places where you may find gardening tools and equipment for sale cheaply. You can also check Craigslist weekly for the stuff you want and even ask friends and family if they have anything they want to sell or get rid of. Getting a few basics to begin your garden by purchasing used tools can save you a great deal of money. If you are a beginner gardener you should also start out small. There is no reason to go hog wild your first try and possibly waste money when you make inevitable mistakes. Choose to grow those foods that you are likely to eat the most of and that are simple to grow. You would be surprised how much money you can save just growing your own onions, potatoes, garlic, carrots, and tomatoes. And most if not all these plants are easy to grow.
You might want to make your first try at gardening in containers if you can find the appropriate size containers for the plants you want to grow.
Things you may want to look for second hand are mini-greenhouses or materials to make one, grow lights, planters, pots, and garden tools like rakes and trowels.
Cheap Seeds And Plant Starters
For some plants you can use what you have in your house instead of purchasing seeds. The book Don’t Throw It, Grow It!: 68 windowsill plants from kitchen scraps has tons of ideas for you.
I have to say though that heirloom or heritage seeds really aren’t that expensive if you go small. I think I paid only a little over $20 for seven packets of heirloom seeds that will last for at least two years. Plus I can allow some of the plantings to go to seed and then save my own seeds as farmer’s have done for centuries.
If it is a flower garden you are wanting then check the classifieds, visit farmers markets and ask friends for starter plants. Your community may also have an organized seed swap or a local park/garden may sell affordable bulbs and seedlings to raise funds for garden upkeep. You will be amazed how cheaply you can purchase bushes and flower bulbs from a variety of sources.
Milk jugs and large plastic bottles can be turned into cloches. Toilet paper rolls can be cut in half and used as biodegradable pots for seedlings. Egg shells can also hold new seedlings. Old rain gutters, tires, tin cans, even boots can be used as planters. Popsicle sticks can be used as plant markers. A broken ladder can be used as a trellis for vines. There are numerous ways to incorporate recycled materials into your garden and save things from the landfill.
Make Your Own Compost
You can also garden cheap by making your own compost from grass clippings and vegetable waste from your kitchen. Composts provides rich nutrients that plants need and saving that kitchen waste not only saves you money but, helps to keep the environment cleaner as well. I have written reviews of a countertop composter and an indoor/outdoor worm bin.
You can garden on the cheap simply by planning carefully, buying used, and finding your plant starters or seeds wherever you can, even in your own kitchen cabinets. Hopefully your grocery budget will get a small break as your garden grows.
If you are a person who loves to cook then you know how the use the right herbs can enhance the flavor of any dish. Potato leek soup with dill or homemade pizza with fresh basil come to my mind! It can get quite expensive to purchase fresh herbs from the local grocery store though. This really isn’t a problem for those who live in a warm climate as you can grow your own outdoor herb garden. But for those of you who live in areas that have cold harsh winters your herb growing may be limited to only a few months out of the year unless you learn how to grow those herbs indoors for the winter months.
Growing herbs indoors in winter is not as difficult as it may seem. Though not all herbs grow well indoors, herbs like geranium, basil, mint, rosemary, parsley, bay leaf, thyme, chives, garlic and oregano are easy to grow indoors. Not only will growing herbs indoors allow you to enjoy fresh herbs all year round but, these herbs will also make your home smell nice as well.
What You Need To Go Herbs Indoors
There are of course a few things you need to grow your indoor herbs. Here is a list of most of the necessary items.
• Containers with good drainage (see if you can recycle some from your outdoor garden)
• Herb seeds or seedlings (seedlings give those new to growing herbs a better chance of success)
• At least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day. A south facing window will provide the best sunlight. You can also use florescent lighting but, if you do so then the plants will need about 12 hours of this kind of light each day.
• Daytime temperatures of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit
• Night time temperatures no lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit
• Humidity. You can mist your plants to give them the humidity they need or keep a humidifier in the area where you are growing your herbs.
Herbs also need to be harvested in order to keep them from getting to bushy or outgrowing the container but, this should not be much of a problem as the whole idea of growing herbs indoors is to allow you to have fresh herbs all year round. You can use them for your meals of course and for natural remedies as well.
While growing herbs indoors is not difficult they do require care and attention just like any other indoor plant. But, the time that you spend will be well worth it when you see your family enjoy the food you prepare by using these fresh herbs.
Also, many children like growing indoor plants and this may be a project you and your children can do together. They will enjoy watching these plants grow and you will all take pride in producing “food” for your family. Many people begin their indoor herb growing with just three or four common herbs and find the experience so pleasant that they eventually have a semi large indoor herb garden. Whether you choose to grow just a few herbs indoors of a wide selection of herbs you will enjoy the experience of having fresh herbs that you grew yourself available to you all year round.
The weather is getting cool, nights are getting darker, life is moving a little bit slower, and things are winding down in your summer garden. But perhaps you don’t want to give up gardening just yet. Heck the weather is perfect for outdoor enjoyment right? There are still some gardening tips and strategies that you can employ to get you back outside and some dirt under your fingernails. You can add some color and life to your garden, and prepare it for winter. Depending on where you live, fall can be a very busy time in the garden. Here are some ideas:
Fall is a beautiful and colorful season, and you can add some of that color to your garden this time of year. Chrysanthemums (mums) come in a variety of yellows, bronzes, reds, and purples and they are a very popular flower this time of year so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding them at your local nursery. It’s worth noting, however, that mums will return each year – they’re perennials. So take that into consideration as you decide on their placement in your garden.
Get the Weeds Before They Seed
Weeds plagued you all summer and if you get a bit lazy, fall is the time when many will go to seed, sending the makings of next year’s plant invasion all over your yard. Thankfully, fall can be rainy (it has been in Ohio), and wet soil is easier to pull or hoe weeds. Get rid of those unsightly things now and you’ll thank yourself next spring.
You can also get on top of weed control in the fall by laying down several layers of newspaper or cardboard on top of your garden beds or soil once the plants are spent. Anchor the newspapers/cardboard with rocks or soil and, by the time spring arrives, the weeds will have been deprived of the light and air they need to sprout. The organic material will also start to decompose, which enriches your soil.
Take Care With Your Tools
Investing in good garden tools is just one of the ways we make the gardening process easier and more efficient. At the end of the season take care to clean your tools and hang them in the shed or garage for storage so they will not get rusty and/or broken.
When fall is in the air, it’s time to think ahead and put spring in the ground. There are a variety of bulbs that need to be planted in the fall and it is so easy to do. Dig a hole, drop the bulb in, cover it up, and go have a glass of apple cider. Tulips, Daffodils, Hyacinths, Crocuses, and Allium (my fave!) are typically planted in the fall so they can complete their growth cycle in time to come up in spring. If you grow garlic, it will need to be put into the garden in the fall as well. Plan out the places where you want the flowers to bloom in spring and make sure it is an area with good drainage. A little work now will bring you so much happiness in the spring.
Trees and Shrubs
Now is a good time to prune back trees and shrubs, including shrub roses. It’s also a good time to plant them. In the fall, trees and shrubs are in a dormant state, and the planting and pruning are less shocking to the plant.
The growing season is winding down but there is still MUCH to do! What are doing in the garden right now?
With all the rain here lately it has meant that our seedlings and transplants took a bit longer to get outside. That was okay with us because my husband couldn’t build my raised bed until this past week either. Since we have a smaller, open yard now we decided to grow food in a couple raised beds (building them ourselves) and in pots and planters on our backyard deck. We will be growing heirloom varieties of tomato, peppers, sugar snap peas, snow peas, lettuce greens, and carrots. Yum!
The single most frustrating part of gardening for me has always been weeding. It takes only days for weeds to take root and make the garden unsightly as well as less healthy, since the weeds hog all the water. When we lived in Phoenix that black weed plastic was commonly used. You don’t see gardens that often there but weeds will ruin rock landscaping just as well as they ruin gardens. My parents used that black plastic frequently to try and curb the weeds.
Now of course I would never dream of using all that plastic for environmental reasons but I wasn’t all that familiar with eco friendlier options either. Dupont contacted me to offer me some of their Garden O.N.E® Weed Control Fabric and I was excited to give it a try. The fabric is similar in form and function to the infamous black plastic but this product is made of wood fiber and it is chemical free. Oh and it is biodegradeable as well. This is important because the plastic stuff always ripped eventually and had to be replaced to so if you will have to do touch ups anyway, why not use planet friendly materials? Both product types will do the job and prevent weeds but one will contribute to the health of the plants you want and one will not.
So…. we put two overlapping layers of the weed control fabric down so that we covered the bottom of the raised bed entirely and we let some hang out on all sides to keep weeds from growing along the side walls as well. Then we put a layer of stones on top of it for drainage. Next came the dirt… organic soil, organic peat moss, and our own homegrown compost made in our Worm Factory.
We have since moved over some seedlings we had into the bed and we still have some more to plant. We toyed with the idea of laying the fabric down on the very top and cutting holes for the plants but decided that was a bit too much work. We may still use strips of the fabric between rows and weight it down with rocks. We will see how much space is left. I am thinking we will use at least some on top though because the fabric will also help hold moisture in which can be important when it gets really hot.
Now we have a few more things to plant, a mesh fence or a lattice to put up along the back of our deck for the peas to climb on and we have a second, smaller bed we are constructing for my daughter… who wants to grow rainbow chard. That bed is even closer to the ground so the weed control fabric will be needed even more for that one.
If we someday end up back in Arizona and have a rock garden again instead of a real one I know exactly what we will using… weed control fabric! There is no greater pain in the butt than pulling weeds in 100 degree weather.
A winner has been selected at random to win the Gift card to Lowe’s. Congrats to Brit (the winner) and thanks everyone for your comments!!