Gardening in June: Blackberries, Jalapenos, and Bell Peppers

by Tiffany in Gardening

June has been an exciting gardening month for me. It is a daily joy to go outside and see how things are growing and changing. Unless of course I go outside and see that squirrels have been eating my bell pepper plants, then I just want to go outside with a .22 and maybe have some squirrel stew for dinner. In lieu of that I have been making sure to spray them with an oil/cayenne pepper mixture and so far that seems to be working. I have already lost 4 of my 6 original bell pepper plants though. Those two are starting to grow peppers and are currently about the size of my thumbnail. Cute!

bell pepper plant

On the plus side though the blackberries are growing (their first year) and I am letting the birds eat them. Next year will be a different story. My blueberry bush is looking green and lush (also its first year) but no blueberries.


I have salad greens and herbs growing on my back deck in containers since we have very little space to work with. I find it a delightful challenge though to see how much we can grow in so little space. Each corner of our deck looks something like this…

salad bar porch pots

salad greens container garden

In our raised beds we have the aforementioned bell peppers, tomatoes, garlic, and pumpkin vines that are getting downright massive. We did not intentionally grow them, they just kinda happened because we used the raised beds as a compost bin during the winter and our Halloween pumpkins were in there. Once they started sprouting I didn’t have the heart to remove them, I just thinned them out and I hope we can keep them manageable and prevent them from strangling out everything that is growing around them. We shall see.

Pumpkin plants

Also growing are some jalapenos. Salsa here we come baby!


Also got the compost bin I so desperately needed AND the rain barrel. After our first big spring rain I collected over 55 gallons of rainwater. I haven’t had to use the water from the hose even once and we have had some pretty hot and dry days lately. We got it via a nifty city program. I had to take an online test about rainwater collection and benefits and then after passing I got a rain barrel at a wholesale price.

rain barrel in the garden

The compost bin was built in about 15 minutes and for about $20.

compost bin

What are you growing? What gardening adventures have you had so far?

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

No Comments


Fairy Garden Tutorial with The Magic Onions

by Guest in Gardening

Hi, I’m Donni from The Magic Onions blog and I’m delighted to be sharing our Fairy Gardens with you. I have two children, Teddy who is 6 and Kitty who is 9. Both are avid Fairy Gardeners and it has become our family tradition to plant a Fairy Garden each Spring.


Our Fairy Gardens have been wonderful for my children in so many ways. They delight in the creativity and imagination that goes into planting their fairy gardens. They spend hours playing in them through the Spring and Summer months and into the Autumn too. They are out in the warm sun and breathing in the fresh air. They are working with soil and moss and stones. They are learning about gardening and noticing how the plants in their gardens change over time. They are taking on responsibility as they water and weed their magical spaces. They are learning so much, though if you asked them, they would say they were only ‘playing’.

This year, Teddy wanted to make his own ‘little’ Fairy Garden. We set off to The Goodwill in search of the perfect container. He soon spotted a little basket and we bought it for 99c.


This is how Teddy made his Fairy Garden:

Step 1 : Preparing the Container

Just about any container will do for your Fairy Garden. As moss loves to be watered often, it’s important that the container has holes in the bottom so that it will drain well. If your container doesn’t have drainage holes, you can make them by using a battery drill or a hammer and a nail. Teddy had fun using my drill to make holes in the bottom of his basket.


Step 2 : Soil

He filled his container with good potting soil, leaving the soil an inch or two from the top of the basket.


Step 2 : Plants

Many garden shops sell moss in large 1 foot flats. Teddy chose a sweet mini pansy to add to his garden too. We measured the diameter of the basket and used a sharp knife to cut just the right amount of moss to insert into the container. We cut a small hole in the moss for the pansy and planted it too.


Step 3 : Accessories

There are many online Fairy Garden Shops that sell the cutest Fairy Garden furniture. Teddy has a tiny metal chair and he added a sweet cocktail umbrella to give his fairies some shade.


Voila… you have the cutest little garden that is sure to attract the fairies in your neighborhood.

I hope Teddy and I have inspired you to make your own Fairy Garden. If we have, I hope you join us on my blog, The Magic Onions to add your sweet creation into our annual Fairy Garden Contest.

Also, for lots more Fairy Garden inspiration, visit my Fairy Garden Page.

Here are some of the Fairy Gardens we have made over the years…

Blessings and magic,


Donni Webber : I am mom of two sunbursts of joy, wife, crafter, knitter, gardener, photographer and traveler. Come and join us on our Waldorf inspired blog, The Magic Onions, where the wonder of childhood and the magic of nature collide to make each moment a precious gift. 

Friday, April 19th, 2013



Are You Taking Care of Your Flowers?

by Tiffany in Gardening

Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get. – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

bleeding hearts spring flowers

Saturday, April 6th, 2013

No Comments


10 Steps to Planting Organic Veggies in Newspaper Pots

by Guest in Eating Local, Gardening

Guest post by Debbie Steinberg Kuntz, founder & editor of Odyssey Outdoors.

newspaper pots

If you want to know where your food comes from, there’s no better way than to grow it yourself! That’s just what we did with a group of families last weekend in the outdoor family group we formed about a year ago.  We followed these 10 easy steps.

1.     Gather supplies.

We started with newspaper, some beautiful organic seeds that would grow in early spring in our area, organic potting soil, popsicle sticks and markers for labeling, and shoeboxes for transporting the seedling bundles back home.

The beauty of using newspaper is that we didn’t need to buy pots, and the newspaper can be planted directly in the ground and will quickly biodegrade.

seed packets

2.     Discuss with kids where our food comes from.

First we talked about how our food is grown. How do we know how many chemicals were used? We explained to the kids that the best way to know is to talk to people at the grocery store, form relationships with farmers and best of all, grow it yourself!

3.     Demonstrate how to create the origami newspaper pot.

Before beginning, a couple of the adults watched this video.  Note that the woman in the video is in Germany and she uses a different size newspaper than in the U.S. In the U.S. you will need to trim about 2 inches from the long side of your newspaper before folding.

Here one of our group moms demonstrates how to make the origami newspaper pot.

group seed planting

4.     Work in adult/child pairs if possible.

Research shows that it’s an asset for kids to have non-parent adults who they can trust in their lives. In our outdoor group we often work in non-parent adult/child pairs to build community long term.

coloring sticks for garden

5.      Color popsicle sticks to label each seed pot. 

We used a background color similar to the vegetable, and then spelled the name of the veggie on top.

6.      Fill the origami newspaper pots with organic potting soil. 

filling pots

7.      Label each pot with the popsicle stick labels.

8.      Put the seed bundles in a shoebox for easy transport and watering.

9.      Time to plant the seeds!

Make sure to use organic seeds that grow well in your area.


planting seeds with children

10.   Your seedlings are ready to grow!

Bring home the seedlings and water them just enough so that the soil stays damp, but the newspaper doesn’t fall apart.  Wait until sprouts appear and then bring them outside during the day, in a shady spot for a few days.  Then gradually move them into the sunshine.  Then, they’re ready to go in the ground!  Tips on planting them in the garden can be found here.

And that’s how we start growing, and soon eating, our super-local, organic food!

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013



Great Gardening Books for Kids

by Tiffany in Book Reviews, Gardening

This is the time of year when garden plans start to come together. You may already have seedlings growing indoors so that they will be ready for transplant when the threat of snow and frost has finally passed. You might be itching to get outside and start digging in the dirt. I know I am! It is important to me to grow at least some of my own food, even if it just keeps me in tomatoes or bell peppers all summer, that is a step towards sustainability and self sufficiency. It is important to me personally and it is important to me that I show my children by example that we can and should grow our own food. Just because I cannot do it on the scale I want to (not enough space) doesn’t mean I can’t use every bit of space that I have to show them the importance of growing their own food to the extent they can.

Kids typically love to spend time outside when they are young but as they get older nowadays and the digital world calls to them they start to enjoy that outdoors time less. It is important for parents to keep motivating them to get outside and getting them excited about gardening will help. You can start early by reading to them or providing them with books to read themselves that have gardening as the central theme. There are some really, really good ones out there! Here are a few that I like…

gardening books for kids

Our Community Garden – This books brings gardening and different ethnic communities into focus. It is all about a community garden in San Francisco where the children play among the garden beds, giant sunflowers, and compost piles right in the heart of the city. They also grow food together with other members of their community and gather together for a pot luck using local foods.

In the Garden: Who’s Been Here? - Christina and Jeremy are on a mission to gather vegetables from the garden for their evening supper. On the way they discover that they are not the only ones who have been in the garden on this day. Who else has been there??? They take a scientific journey to discover why there is a slimy trail on a leaf in the cucumber patch and some corn kernels have been pecked off the cob. Christina and Jeremy follow the clues to discover which birds, animals, and insects have been in their garden why the garden is vital to all manner of life.

The Forgiveness Garden – This book is about so much more than gardening. When a boy from one village throws a rock across the river and injures a girl on the other side, their two villages Vayam and Gamte, become mortal enemies. The villagers become consumed with getting revenge upon each other until a young girl comes up with an idea to help bring peace to all involved, a forgiveness garden. It is a parable inspired by the original Garden of Forgiveness in Beirut, Lebanon, created as a tribute to the lost lives in the fifteen-year civil war that claimed 300,000 lives. Great story and very educational!

The Curious Garden - This book is one of my personal favorites and tells the story of a little boy named Liam who lives in a very urban, factory town where little to no greenery exists. One day when he is exploring, he is run under the railroad bridge by rain and he discovers a door with stairs that goes up to the tracks. There among the broken tracks he sees a spot where a little moss and a small tree are growing and he falls in love with this tiny little garden. Liam becomes the city “gardener” and helps this little spot to grow. What happens after that is amazing…

Monday, March 11th, 2013