Small space gardening

Archive for the ‘Early cool-weather crops’ Category

How to Plant Tiny Seeds

Planting small seeds can be a challenge. And there are lots of seeds in the gardening world that are tiny–lettuce, cabbage, onion and many varieties of flower seeds to name a few. These little guys in the photo are radish seeds, which are also small, and here are some pointers on how to plant them.

How to Plant Tiny Seeds / My Urban Garden Oasis

Radishes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow. They’re good for beginning gardeners because they germinate easily and mature quickly–only about 22 days from start to finish. They also don’t take up too much space, and other vegetables can be planted in their place after they’ve been harvested.

I’m planting mine in a pot because potting soil is nicer to work with for small seeds, and pests aren’t a problem in a pot. But if you’re planting in the ground, be sure to remove any big clods of dirt, sticks or rocks. You’ll need to break up the soil so you’re planting in fine, clump-free dirt.

How to Plant Tiny Seeds / My Urban Garden Oasis

Here’s the seed packet I’m using.

How to Plant Tiny Seeds / My Urban Garden Oasis

The instructions tell exactly how to plant the seeds.

How to Plant Tiny Seeds / My Urban Garden Oasis

They also tell when to plant according to the particular planting zone you live in. In zone 5, radishes will only grow in the spring and in the fall when the weather is cooler. If the weather gets too hot, radishes can be leathery or the tops can bolt and the radish will remain a skinny root and not develop into a ball.

These seeds are two years old, but they’re going germinate just fine. There’s no need to ever throw away unused seeds. I just stick my leftovers in a closet until the next year. Some gardeners like to refrigerate their leftover seeds, but I’ve never done that and have had no problems getting them to germinate.

How to Plant Tiny Seeds / My Urban Garden Oasis

There’s no need to dig a bunch of small, half-inch-deep holes, fill each of them with these tiny little seeds and fill each one with dirt. Gardening is supposed to be fun, not an activity that makes you want to tear your hair out. There’s also no need to plant in rows and waste garden space. Instead, seeds can be scattered on top of the soil.

How to Plant Tiny Seeds / My Urban Garden Oasis

After scattering the seeds, about half-an-inch of soil needs to be spread over the top of them, because the package gives half-an-inch as the seed-planting depth. Next, the soil needs to be firmly pressed down (without moving it around), to give the seeds good soil contact. I use a watering can or a spray bottle to water the seeds. If I were to use a garden hose, the seeds would be splashed all around, and could end up in clumps or on top of the soil for our fine-feathered friends to feast on.

How to Plant Tiny Seeds / My Urban Garden Oasis

Important tip–you must water the seeds every day in order for them to germinate. Every day. If they don’t stay moist, the seeds are just going to hang out in your garden soil and that’ll be the end of them.

Here are the seedlings after a few days.

How to Plant Tiny Seeds / My Urban Garden Oasis

As you can see, they’re not perfectly spaced. But while they’re small like this, the crowded seedlings can be carefully dug up and transplanted into bare areas. Or if you don’t have a conscience, you can just pull them out and leave them on top of the ground to shrivel and die. (No pressure.)

How to Plant Tiny Seeds / My Urban Garden Oasis

They need proper spacing in order to grow, and a sunny location where they receive at least six to eight hours of sun each day. Here are some I planted in actual garden soil a couple of weeks prior.

 How to Plant Tiny Seeds / My Urban Garden Oasis

As radishes grow, the tap root stays down in the soil, but the actual radish grows up and out of the soil. Onions grow the same way. The first time I planted radishes, I kept throwing dirt on them so they wouldn’t die. After seeing that trying to keep them covered was futile, I realized they weren’t going to die, and that’s just how they grow. Hello.

How to Plant Tiny Seeds / My Urban Garden Oasis

Here’s a pot with a pepper plant in the center, and radishes planted around it. After the radishes are pulled out, the pepper plant will have the pot all to itself and will have plenty of room to grow.

How to Plant Tiny Seeds / My Urban Garden Oasis

I used the same method of scattering and covering seeds for planting this tray of lettuce.

 How to Plant Tiny Seeds / My Urban Garden Oasis

This method of randomly sprinkling the seeds and adding soil over the top of them, is the best way I’ve found to plant small seeds. I also prefer sprinkling the seeds rather than planting in rows since I have a tiny garden. More seeds can be sown in a smaller area this way, and it’s especially beneficial if you have a container garden. I find that when I plant this way I waste fewer seeds, but end up with more vegetables.

I hope you find this method works for you too. Happy planting!

 How to Plant Tiny Seeds / My Urban Garden Oasis

This post was written by Tracy Evans, who is a certified Home Stager and Redesigner, a journeyman painter and an avid gardener. If you have an interest in home organization, DIY home improvement projects or redesign, please feel free to visit her other blog at https://homestagingbloomingtonil.wordpress.com/. You can find additional before and after pictures on her website at http://www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com.

Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings

You’ve planted rows of vegetable seeds, and now it’s time to thin your seedlings. If pulling out those precious baby plants makes you queasy, take heart. You no longer have to feel like a serial plant killer.

I’ve been re-planting my throw-aways for a few years now, and with great success. I’ve done this with pretty much every vegetable seedling there is—spinach, radishes, lettuce, green beans and cucumbers to name a few. In this post, I’ll be thinning and re-planting peas.

First let me stress that it’s a total waste of seeds to plant them closer together than what the package recommends. I used to think more is better with seed planting, but it’s not. And I strongly suspect I’m not the only gardener that has over-planted for fear of not having enough seeds germinate. And besides wasting seeds, transplanting your thinnings is another reason not to plant too closely or you won’t be able to get a spade in between the seedlings in order to dig up the ones you want to save.

I also used to plant seeds too close together because what was I going to do with all those leftover seeds anyway? May as well use the whole pack, right? Wrong. I’ve learned that you save the leftovers and plant them the next year. And the next, and the next…I’ve planted seeds four and five years old with no problems. I just stored the packets in a closet. No need to refrigerate them as far as I’m concerned.

So here’s what I’ve got. My peas are ready to be thinned to about four to six inches apart. At the moment, they’re about two inches apart.

Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

If I don’t thin these peas, they’ll be a tangled up mess because the tendrils will grab onto the plant next to them instead of my metal fencing. Then I’ll have a glob of pea plants that are all stuck together independent of the fence. Once that happens, it’s all over. Trust me folks, you need to thin your peas.

I bought these bamboo stakes at a garage sale, and they’re perfect for peas to latch onto.

 Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

First, I stick them in the ground where I want my peas to grow. Then at the base of each pole, I remove some of the soil where each seedling will be planted.

 Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

I put the excess dirt on this cardboard lid so I can carry it with me.

Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Now I very gently dig up the extra seedlings by pushing my trowel down into the dirt, three to four inches on each side of the plant, making a square in the soil around each one. Then I dig up the seedling and place it on my cardboard.

Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

I use the excess soil I brought with me from the original holes to fill in each hole I create when I remove the transplants. I push the soil down firmly after I fill each hole with dirt.

Then I plant the seedlings into the original holes. Here they are!

Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

They now have four to six inches of space in between each plant to spread out and grow.

Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Since peas are considered a cool-weather crop here in zone 5, they’re going to bite the dust when it gets hot. They’ll quit producing, turn brown and be pulled out of the ground by yours truly. The beauty of that is, I can plant them close to other plants that will take over their space when they’re gone. In this case, my tomatoes will grow into their space.

Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

I was fortunate enough to have a cloudy day to do this, which is less stressful for the plants. If the sun is out, it’s best to move them in the morning or evening when it’s cooler. Unfortunately, it’s a windy day (we can’t have everything), so I used some twist ties to very loosely tie the taller transplants to the poles to keep them from flopping over.

Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Soon enough, the tendrils will grab onto the bamboo and they’ll climb on their own like this little guy is learning to do. FYI – since the tendrils aren’t very long, they need something small to grab onto. Lattice, for example is too large for peas to grasp.

Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Here are a few other places I moved my transplants to. My front flower bed…

Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

I planted some in a pot with some cucumber seeds that haven’t germinated yet, but will take over after the peas are finished producing.

Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

And in an empty spot near a dwarf lilac bush was another place to plant them.

Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

If you’ve never planted peas, and are considering taking the plunge, I highly recommend the edible pod variety. They’re great for stir-frying if you pick the pods when they’re young and tender, and if you let them grow, the shelled peas are great eaten raw on salads. In zone 5, you’ve got until the end of May to plant them, or you can also plant a fall crop when the weather cools.

Re-plant Your Thinned Seedlings / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Happy thinning!

This post was written by Tracy Evans, who is a certified Home Stager and Redesigner, a journeyman painter and an avid gardener. If you have an interest in home organization, DIY home improvement projects or redesign, please feel free to visit her other blog at https://homestagingbloomingtonil.wordpress.com/. You can find additional before and after pictures on her website at http://www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com.

Repurpose a Shepherd’s Hook for Small Space Gardening

Well, here they are. Ugly utility boxes on the side of my house that are messing with my curb appeal (I live on a corner, and this side of my house faces the road). They’re making my new, small-space garden area look bad. I have a dream-like vision of how I would like my side garden to look, and the picture in my head doesn’t include a miniature power-plant.

Re-purpose a Shepherd's Hook for Small Space Gardening /MyUrbanGardenOasis

I would pry those suckers right off the side of my house, but I’m not too keen on living without electricity. I’ve come up with something much more sensible to make them “disappear”.

In my stash of gardening treasures, I found the shepherd’s hook shown in the above photo, that I wasn’t using, and I had an epiphany. In one square foot of earth, I can make use of my hook, grow some veggies and cover those unsightly boxes. Genius. I’m certain P. Allen Smith would be impressed.

It’s a simple process. First I loosen the soil where I’ll be planting, being careful not to destroy the cables that are under the ground in the area. I amend the soil as needed, and insert my shepherd’s hook. Out of respect for my hard-working meter readers, I make sure to leave plenty of space in between my hook and the meter so it can be easily accessed.

I need some twine, and this’ll do the trick.

 Re-purpose a Shepherd's Hook for Small Space Gardening /MyUrbanGardenOasis

I tie it to the base, like so.

 Re-purpose a Shepherd's Hook for Small Space Gardening /MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Re-purpose a Shepherd's Hook for Small Space Gardening /MyUrbanGardenOasis

I then bring the twine up to a hook, and tie it tightly so there’s no slack in the twine.

 Re-purpose a Shepherd's Hook for Small Space Gardening /MyUrbanGardenOasis

Next, I find another place on the base to tie another string.

 Re-purpose a Shepherd's Hook for Small Space Gardening /MyUrbanGardenOasisg

Again, I bring this string up to the top, and tie it tightly. I repeat the process until I have four strings that form a fan shape.

 Re-purpose a Shepherd's Hook for Small Space Gardening /MyUrbanGardenOasisg

 Re-purpose a Shepherd's Hook for Small Space Gardening /MyUrbanGardenOasis

I planted cucumber seeds at the base. I prefer pickling cucumbers because I like the flavor of them, the seeds are so small that you don’t even know you’re eating them, and because they’re easy to grow on a trellis since the fruit is lightweight. I plant them from seed because they germinate easily, grow quickly and are cheaper than transplants. And a packet of seeds will last me a few years if I store them in a dry place. So after I plant the seeds, I mulch over them. Not to worry. Those little powerhouses will push their way right through the mulch–no problem.

Because cucumbers climb and attach themselves to structures via tendrils, they need very little coaxing to crawl up the twine. All I have to do in the beginning is keep each vine growing on a separate string. If I don’t watch out for this, they’ll quickly grab onto each other instead of the twine, and become a tangled, droopy mess.

Here you can see they’re on their way! If you look closely, you can see their little arms (aka tendrils) grasping onto the twine.

Re-purpose a Shepherd's Hook for Small Space Gardening / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Re-purpose a Shepherd's Hook for Small Space Gardening / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Re-purpose a Shepherd's Hook for Small Space Gardening / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Unfortunately, I wasn’t on the ball enough to take a picture of the vine fully grown all the way to the top, but you get the idea. Other veggies that could be grown this way are pole beans and peas, but you could also grow flowering vines like clematis this way. What makes my heart go pitter-pat is the fact that I can grow veggies in such a tiny space. I had more cucumbers than I could eat, and some lucky neighbors ended up with the overflow. I also like that the shepherd’s hook disappears as the plant grows, and all you can see in the end is a pillar of vines. I’m not sure what I’ll plant on “the hook” this coming growing season, but I’ll throw some photos your way if it’s something spectacular!

If you would like to see another easy DIY trellis for cucumbers, click here!

This blog was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and a Journeyman Painter servicing the Bloomington/Normal, IL area. You can view her portfolios at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com for more before and after photos.

If you have an interest in home decorating, organization and home improvement projects on a budget, please feel free to check my other blog at HomeStagingBloomingtonIl. You can find additional before and after pictures on my website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com.

How to Fill Flower Pots on a Budget–Three Weeks Later

What a difference three weeks makes!

How to Fill Flower Pots on a Budget--Three Weeks Later / MyUrbanGardenOasis

This post is a photo follow-up three weeks after my “budget” pots were originally filled with seeds, seedlings and transplants. I was planning to wait a full month before posting again, but some of my veggies in my pots need to be picked now, and I want you to see the pots before I start plucking! If you would like to know what’s been planted in each pot, please refer to my original post on how to fill pots on a budget.

If you missed the original post, these pots have been done on a budget because number one, I’m crazily frugal, and number two, I’m currently laid off from my job which makes me even more crazily frugal. I consider them budget-friendly because they’re filled mostly with transplants that would have normally been thinned from my vegetable garden and discarded. Many of the other plants were taken from my yard and placed in the pots, or were planted from seeds. I think the pots are beautiful so far, and it’s a nice change from the same old flower pots. And I get veggies from them! My first radishes–I can almost taste the vitamins now…

 Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

To be honest about my reporting, I must confess that I lost one spinach transplant, one transplant of lettuce and my tiny basil sprig. I’m not sure why they bit the dust, or bit the dirt, I should say, but no matter. I’ve still got lots of veggies to spare.

Next is a succession of photos. The first in each set of photos shows pots as they looked after being planted May 1st, and the subsequent photos of the same pots were taken May 20th. So three weeks later, here’s their progress.

Here’s my first pot.

Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasisg

You can finally see the red cabbage plant in the center that will take over the pot after the lettuce, spinach and radishes have been harvested. Unfortunately, I have to start picking my veggies because they are taking over the cabbage, and that isn’t what I have in mind!

 Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Remember this fern and stone crop starts that I took out of my yard?

 Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

They’re looking great now!

 Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasisg

And here’s my cutie patootie radish pot three weeks ago.

 Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

And here’s my radish pot now.

 Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

We’ve had a hot day today, and my poor pepper plant is a bit under the weather, but you get the idea.

Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

A Roma Window Box Tomato is the main plant in this pot.

 Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

So far I’m pretty happy with my onion experiment in my planter boxes.

 Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

This little pot is one of my favorites. I love putting colorful lettuce varieties in a decorative pot.

 Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

My stone crop seems to be flourishing despite the fact that this pot doesn’t have a drainage hole!

 Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

This window box hasn’t changed too much.

 Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Remember this pot is also full of plants that I pulled out of my yard.

 Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

The remaining pots are in this post just for fun–no veggies in these.

These next two pots came from garage sales. I love them, and have had them for years, but have lots of trouble growing plants in them since there aren’t any drainage holes in them. So far, so good, but I’m not getting my hopes up. It should be a law that all pots come with drainage holes.

The first pot has plants that I’ve taken out of my yard.

 Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

I put some bulbs in this pot a couple weeks ago that grow in full shade, which is where this pot lives. I’ve never put bulbs in a pot before, so this is a new one for me. I actually splurged, and bought these in the store! Lord have mercy. The package said it’s an annual, but I’m thinking if I stick the pot in my garage this winter, it’ll come back next year. One tiny sprout is finally showing itself. I almost gave up on this one!

 Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Here are my newest garage sale additions. As a matter of fact, all but a couple of the pots in this post are from garage sales. It’s an inexpensive way to get some great pots, garden utensils, sprinklers, gloves, birdbaths, plants–you name it. Anything you can think of that’s garden-related, I’d be willing to bet I’ve bought at a garage sale.

 Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

This garage sale bargain was purchased just last week, and took a bit of work to whip it into shape since it’s not really intended to be used outdoors with live plants. (I may post later on how I altered it to make it work for me.) It has a combination of store bought plants, and lamb’s ear from my yard.

Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

 Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

If you live in zone 5, now in mid to late May is a great time to get some pots going. Just look what you can have a few short weeks from now! It may be too late to be planting cool weather plant seeds like lettuce and spinach, but there are still lots of vegetable and flower seeds and transplants to choose from. So go check out some seed packets or head to your local nursery to see what can be planted now in your zone, and go for it! I hope to report back next month with new photos. See you then!

Be sure to check out my updated post, “How to Fill flower Pots on a Budget–Five Weeks Later“.

This blog was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and a Journeyman Painter servicing the Bloomington/Normal, IL area. You can view her portfolios at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com for more before and after photos.

If you have an interest in home decorating, organization and home spruce ups on a budget, please feel free to check my other blog at HomeStagingBloomingtonIl. You can find additional before and after pictures on my website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com.

How to Fill Flower Pots on a Budget

I’m currently laid off from my job, and am wondering how I’m going to afford flowers for my pots this year. In spite of my layoff, I’m pretty pumped because over the past couple of years, I’ve managed to find some great pots at garage sales for next to nothing. Big ones. Pretty ones. One of these pots was fifty cents. Seriously. God was smiling down on me that day for sure! Unfortunately, the pots I bought were different colors, and didn’t look so great together. But I painted them all the same color last week. Now they look a bit more cohesive, and I can display them all together. Here they are!

 How to Fill Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

So I have some ideas on how to fill these pots, make them look great, not spend much money and have some great-tasting veggies too!

Before I fill my pots, I put some chunks of packing Styrofoam or foam peanuts in the bottom to help with drainage. I’ve read where that’s not really necessary, but it saves on the amount of potting soil I have to buy, and helps keep the pots as lightweight as possible. I had to drill drainage holes in a couple of the lightweight pots that didn’t already have holes in them. I also cut up a piece of screen and duck taped it over the hole to help keep the soil from running out.

It’s a must to invest in some good potting soil. Growing up in a rural area, I find it somewhat amusing that we buy dirt. It’s like buying…air. Dirt is everywhere after all! But if you try to put regular from-the-ground dirt in a pot, you’ll have a brick in no time. I’ve even tried to mix dirt with potting soil when I’ve run out, and that doesn’t work either.

Now my pots are ready for plants. And the cheapest way to grow any kind of plant is to grow it from seed. I know you’re groaning, and I understand the instant gratification of buying something already started for you, but just hear me out. Seeds germinate sooooo quickly, you have a much bigger variety of plants with seeds and any leftovers can be saved for years if you store them in a cool, dry place. So one packet that only costs a couple dollars can provide you with a few years worth of plants.

If you don’t like that idea, here’s another suggestion. I plant rows of lettuce, spinach, radishes, red cabbage, broccoli and so forth in my garden each year. And each year I cringe when I have to thin my seedlings as instructed on the seed packets. Pulling out healthy little plants sends chills up my spine, but if I don’t do it, I know my plants will be too crowded and won’t grow as big as they should.

Well, this year I came up with the idea of recycling the plants I thin out, and putting them into pots to keep from killing the poor little guys, and to fill my pots without spending any extra money at the same time. I won’t even have to use more seeds for goodness sake. I know…seeds are so cheap, so why bother? I say why not bother? It’s something new for me to try, and I consider it a challenge. But if you don’t want to take the time to use your thinned seedlings, you can still plant seeds into your pots and save yourself a lot of money that way too.

If you google information on transplanting seedlings, many sites will say you can’t transplant lettuce, spinach, radish, etc… Well, I’m here to tell you that you certainly can. Recycling your transplants instead of pulling them out and pitching them when you’re thinning, gives you more plants without using more seeds. You just need to do it before they get too big, and develop a long tap root. It’s also a good idea to do it on a cool day so you don’t shock the bejeebers out of them.

Since most of my seeds that I planted in April are for early, cool-season crops, they will only be in the pots for a short time and then will be harvested and eaten. So the main center plant in my larger pots will be a plant that will grow all summer, and will fill the pot on its own after the early plants are gone.

I’ve taken pictures of my three newly painted pots as well as other pots I’ve filled, but keep in mind they’re going to look very different in a month or so (I’m hoping.)

The main plant in this pot that is planted in the center is Red Express cabbage, which is a small-scale cabbage. Even if you squint, I don’t think you can see it in this photo yet. Around the cabbage is spinach, radish and lettuce—all taken from thinings from my garden. If all goes as planned, once the outer plantings are harvested, the head of cabbage will fill the whole pot.

  How to Fill Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

The next pot is a fern I’ve taken from the ground and planted with some stone crop around it. It’ll look great when the stone crop spills over the edges of the pot. This pot was then “free” since these plants were taken from my yard.

 How to Fill Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

This cutie patootie pot just has a few radishes in it. I’ll need to find something else to plant in this after the radishes are finished.

The key to moving radish transplants, or any other transplant for that matter is to make sure you take your trowel down way beneath where you think the plant’s root ends, and then ever-so-gently pull it out of the soil with as much dirt attached to the seedling as possible. I did manage to snap one of my roots on my radishes, and it was a gonner. I suppose one casualty isn’t too bad.

You also need to have a spot ready so you can put it right back into some soil. I’ve done this in the garden soil with lots of success too. You just have to make sure the soil you’re putting the transplant into is nice and fine–no chunks allowed! And of course you have to water very gently right away too. Watering these little babies with a garden hose would be like a tsunami that would surely kill them!

  How to Fill Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

I planted a jalapeno pepper plant in the center of this pot that will grow and produce until the end of the summer. Jalapeno plants are gorgeous with their bright red and green fruits. Almost an ornamental plant! I don’t eat jalapenos, but I freeze them to use in Italian beef. I may try canning a small jar or two this year.

The pepper plant is surrounded by some chives that I thought I had dug up and gotten rid of, a tiny, tiny basil sprout that I again thought I had dug up and it regrew, a couple radishes, lettuce and spinach. The lettuce is both red and green and is going to look great once it gets going. I did try some carrot seeds in this pot too. Nothing like trying to plant a speck of pepper. Man those carrot seeds are tiny! Even I would not try to transplant a carrot! This pot will eventually be left with the pepper plant, the chives and the basil. The other veggies will be harvested at some point, and at the end of the growing season, the chives and the basil will probably be put back in the ground for the winter.

  How to Fill Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

This one has a banana pepper plant in the center. I planted a circle of radish seeds around it that you can see if you look closely. (I ran out of transplants, so I splurged and planted seeds.)

  How to Fill Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

My last large pot has a Roma Window Box tomato plant in the center. I’ve tried planting a tomato plant in a pot only once before, and I wasn’t impressed. But if at first you don’t succeed…Let’s just say I’m hoping I have better luck this time. Surrounding the tomato plant are the same types of cool-weather veggies as are in the other large pots.
Another advantage of putting cool-season veggies in a pot is that on really hot days, the pot can be moved out of the sun during the hottest part of the day if need be to prevent them from bolting and scorching. This way I can extend my growing season a bit.

  How to Fill Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

These window box type planters that my lovely son, Ross, got for me have onion sets in them that I’m hoping will grow into tasty bulb onions. In the past, I’ve only grown green onions, so this is an experiment.

  How to Fill Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

This tiny pot has some colored lettuce in it that was transplanted from my garden. Colored lettuce in a pot is beautiful. I’ve done it before, and it’s just as pretty as coleus or any other colorful, non-flowering plant that you would put in a pot.

  How to Fill Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

This pot doesn’t have a drainage hole in it, so I took stone crop from my yard and stuck it in here. Plants don’t like pots without drainage holes in them, especially glazed ceramic pots like this one because they don’t breathe like clay pots. But stone crop is like a weed—a very cool looking weed, I might add—and I doubt it’ll croak despite the drainage issue.

  How to Fill Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Here’s a window box that I put inside my porch area that has primrose and creeping jenny.

  How to Fill Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

Yet another pot of freebies from my yard has lamb’s ear, fern and burgundy coral bells. You can’t see the coral bells too well yet in this photo. It’s on the left. I’ll probably add something else to this pot when it gets warmer, but for now it’ll have to stay the way it is.

  How to Fill Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

We’ve had a pretty wet spring so far this year, and as I’m writing this, I’ve moved my pots off my covered porch and out into the rain for some of “God’s water” as my sister calls it. Waaaaay better than the hose stuff.

Food for thought: Even we city folks have insects and bunnies, but pests are another reason to plant in pots. Pest problems are pretty much eliminated in a pot garden. (That didn’t sound so good, did it?) Pest problems are pretty much eliminated in a container garden, let’s say. Weeds–nonexistent. Also, I’m able to plant peppers and tomatoes a bit earlier than normal because if there’s a chance of frost, I can just move them inside my garage or my porch. You can also get creative with the type of containers you choose to plant in. You can use just about anything that can hold dirt and has holes for drainage.

If you can’t commit to daily watering, pots may not be for you. But if your heart desires fresh veggies in the summer time, and you have no earth of your own to dig in, and you’re sick to death of hearing about all the chemicals that are sprayed on our food, this may be your answer. There are many hybrids of tomatoes and other vegetables that are now made more compact specifically to be planted in pots for us urbanites.

Since probably 90% of my pots and gardening tools are from yard sales, I say hit some garage sales, buy some seeds and soil and you’ve got yourself an inexpensive garden!

Please note that a follow up post has been published called “How to Fill Flower Pots on a Budget–Three Weeks Later” so that you can see progress of these pots! Here’s one of the updated photos from that post—

 How to Fill Flower Pots on a Budget / MyUrbanGardenOasis

If you have an interest in decorating, home organization or DIY home improvement projects, please feel free to check my other blog at HomeStagingBloomingtonIl. You can find additional before and after pictures on my website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com.

This blog was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner and a Journeyman Painter servicing the Bloomington/Normal, IL area. You can view her portfolios at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com for more before and after photos.

My Midwest Garden and the Drought of 2012

The purpose of this blog was supposed to be a way for me to share with my fellow gardeners the changes my garden goes through in the course of a spring, summer and fall. I was going to post amazing pictures of how the plants change and grow. But unfortunately, this past summer the Midwest was plagued with a drought that pretty much made most gardens…well…suck (pardon my French). So then I’m pondering, “Do I post or not post about the few veggies and plants that succeeded in spite of the drought?” You know, a sort of survival of the fittest. Well, I say, reluctantly, yes I do. An interesting side note is that I’m publishing this post on March 24th, 2013 which is after the first day of spring, mind you. And we’re supposed to get 9 inches of snow today! Welcome to Illinois.

The trellis I built just for my green beans last summer (prior post) was in vain because they didn’t produce much. My green peppers didn’t produce until the weather cooled in the fall and my tomatoes were mediocre at best. I’m going to stop now because it’s depressing me. If you’re like me, you just can’t wait until that spring day when your garden goes in with the anticipation of a bang-up harvest. And when it flops, it’s like not having Christmas.

The good news is some of my early spring veggies like peas, radishes, strawberries and lettuce did well because they “beat the heat”. And some of those same veggies, I replanted in the late summer, and had successful fall crops. And of course, plants that always do well were also a success–onions, sunflowers, basil and oregano.

As if time doesn’t fly by fast enough already, I’m going to show some progression photos of plants and veggies that were a success last summer despite Mother Nature’s nastiness.

I’ll start with my ornamental grass. Here are pictures of what it looked like in early spring last year after winter had taken its toll, after I cut it back, as it started to grow and what it looked like at the end of the summer.

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Next is my clematis vine. It always grows like gangbusters, and this particular type of clematis is actually considered invasive in some areas of the country. I feel like a schmuck because I didn’t take a photo of it in the fall when it was flooded with beautiful, white flowers, but here are the photos I did manage to take.

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My stawberries are the June Bearing variety and they, of course, come up from the ground without any help at all from Yours Truly. This is the smaller of two strawberry beds I have in my tiny yard.

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Lettuce did well in both the spring and fall.

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Peas were probably my most successful crop. I always plant the edible pod variety, and love them in salads and stir fry. Please note that these are planted in a small side yard area by my garbage cans. You don’t need a lot of space to grow veggies! After they finished producing in the heat of the summer, I pulled them out, and planted pumpkin vines in part of the area, saving room to replant more peas in the late summer for a fall crop.

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I planted red cabbage for the first time this year, and chose a smaller head cabbage called Red Express. The heads were only baseball to softball-sized, and I loved them. I have some leftover seeds, and plan to plant more this year. I also planted these in my sideyard. I first scattered several seeds in a tiny area about a foot by a foot and a half, just to get them in the ground. I wasn’t sure where their permanent home was going to be, so I let them get a couple of inches tall, gave some to neighbors and then transplanted the rest in front of my peas. You can see some of the cabbage seedlings in the previous photos if you look closely. Towards the end of the summer, my pumpkin vines grew up around them.

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Here are my garlic cloves. I actually planted them correctly in the fall this year, and am hoping for bigger cloves next time around.

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And here’s my baby, my cilantro. I just discovered this herb a couple of years ago, and it’s now my favorite herb in the world. My FHW, if you will. It grows in the spring and the fall, and will bolt in the heat of the summer (that’s a bad thing because it’s bitter after it bolts). I found it difficult to get started, but once it grows, I spread its seeds back on the ground at the end of the season, and it comes back up every year. I have a cilantro “patch” now. I love to make Pico de Gallo in the summer with my fresh onions and tomatoes.

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Well, there wasn’t much to report in this post, but 2013 will be a better year, and I’m hoping it’ll be here before we know it. A snow plow just went by…

If you have an interest in decorating, organizing or DIY home improvement projects, please feel free to check my other blog at HomeStagingBloomingtonIl. You can find additional before and after pictures on my website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com.

This blog was written by Tracy Evans who is a Certified Home Stager, Certified Redesigner (Home Staging Resource at http://www.HomeStagingResource.com) and a Journeyman Painter in the Bloomington/Normal, IL area. You can view her portfolios at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com for more before and after photos.

Mid-March Gardening in Zone 5 and My Garlic Surprise

Today is the officially the first day of spring, so I thought it fitting to publish a new post today. Allow me show you what’s coming to life in my zone 5 tiny city garden, and what types of veggies can be planted now. If your yard is ho-hum, and you need some motivation to get planting, I hope this post works for you.

My beautiful crocuses are blooming, and they’re the first sign of spring in my yard. I planted them a couple of years ago because by the time March rolls around, I’m in desperate need of a reminder that nice weather is on it’s way. I was also looking for a colorful header for my post, and now my little bursts of color are the star photo. Crocuses will make their way through the ground so early in the spring that they will even bloom through the snow. My little beauties have multiplied, and I’ll probably start moving them around to other areas of my yard this year. I’ll do that in the fall.

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In addition to the crocuses, here are other plants waking up from their long winter naps. In just a week, my miniature rose-bush went from this…

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To this…

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My clematis went from this…

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To this…

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My chives from this…

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To this…

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Some other pretties in my yard–

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These onions are sprouting from last year!

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My cilantro is going gangbusters. I tried planting cilantro two different times in past years because at my house, we love to make fresh Pico De Gallo. I was 0 for 2 on that deal. Then last year it just took off, and has been re-seeding ever since. Cilantro is a cool weather crop that comes up in the early spring, bolts and goes bad in the heat of the summer and then re-seeds again for a beautiful fall crop when the tomatoes are ready. What an incredible combination! When the cilantro produces its tiny, tan, ball-shaped seeds (coriander), I rub them off the stems, and let them drop to the ground and the cycle continues. I guess sometimes persistence pays off! I probably should thin out these plants so they’re not so crowded. Too much togetherness isn’t a good thing in the plant world!

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Before we get into what to plant in mid to late March, let me show you what my last major outdoor project at this house is–hopefully. Since our weather has been unseasonably warm, we were able to complete it last night at 9:00 p.m. in the dark. For three years, I’ve wanted to get rid of the river rock on the south side of my home so I can substitute it with mulch. I’ve wanted to plant veggies in with my landscaping in that sideyard where the sun is best, but haven’t been able to do it with the rocks in the way.

My friend, John, came over and worked like a mad-man for eight hours scooping and hauling 40 feet of 4” to 6” deep rock from my side yard. I am a happy little gardener now, and can plant to my heart’s content. Almost. I really have to work the soil because it’s so compacted from all the rock, and is mostly clay, but that’ll happen over time. It doesn’t look great yet, but it will when my plantings grow to fill it in. My goal is to build a trellis or two for cucumbers or green beans to grow on, but we’ll see how that goes later. Here are before and “during” pictures. I’ll be showing after pictures in another post later in the season. In case you’re wondering, I have such long downspouts because I have them directed to empty near some new trees I planted.

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My other project was hauling 10 large bags of rabbit manure in my little economy car for my garden. I must tell you it was not a pleasant ride home. Peeeeeeyooouuuuu! I put poo on everything. I spread it in my flower beds, around my birch trees and in my garden plot. It’ll sit for two months until I get ready to plant my main vegetable garden, and then I’ll work it into the soil, and hope for a bumper crop!

You can Google the benefits of rabbit manure if you like. I read it’s the best manure because it’s high in nitrogen. It’s not too acidic either so you don’t have to let it set a year before you use it like you do with other manures. I’m sure my neighbors weren’t too happy about the aroma after I spread it around the yard, but the smell diminished substantially after just one day. They’ll be glad they endured it when I offer them some tomatoes, and what’s wrong with bringing some of the country to the city anyway? (The Green Acres theme song is playing in my head right now.) Here’s my freshly “manured” garden plot.

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Now onward and upward with what you can plant this early in zone 5. I planted lettuce last week. I love the mixed varieties, and plant them every year. The mix I plant is called “Mesclun”, and it has several different shapes and colors of leaf lettuce all in one seed packet. I’m so glad someone had the idea to mix them so I don’t have to buy several different kinds. Love it!

It’s nice to buy store-bought heads of lettuce, and mix in home-grown varieties with it for a gorgeous, colorful salad. I don’t care for the taste of leaf lettuce by itself, but love it mixed with store-bought. Lettuce is a cool-weather crop, and will wilt and bolt in the heat of the summer, but grows well in zone 5 in the spring and in the fall. Vegetables that bolt will have a bitter taste to them, so it’s a good idea to just pull the plants out and throw them in the compost pile. This year with the Central Illinois mild winter, I was harvesting lettuce and other crops well into December. I was glad I took the time to plant a fall crop in late summer. As you can see if you look closely, my lettuce has germinated already.

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For a tiny garden, I have to show you the best garden tool ever. It’s perfect for planting tiny rows of seeds, and the blade is only about 2” wide. I bought this one at an estate sale for a couple bucks, and it’s my favorite.

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I just planted my onion sets. The ones I had were a couple of years old and were a bit “crispy”, but I tried planting some anyway because there was still a hint of green in the centers. I often use leftover seeds from prior years, and they grow just fine. The germination rate is supposed to decline after a year or two, but I’ve never noticed any difference.

The onions should sprout pretty quickly so I’ll know soon if planting crispy onion sets was a good idea or not. Onions are one of those vegetables that I don’t use my garden plot for. I tuck them in the soil all over the place—anywhere there’s a tiny space in the sun. I plant them in between bushes, strawberry plants, ornamentals and in with my row of lettuce. As soon as I pick a few, I plant a few more so I have them all summer, fall and sometimes into winter. When harvesting, you can pull them out by the roots or chop them off and watch them regrow! Often they will resprout in the spring if you left some in the ground from the summer before.

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I’m growing cabbage for the first time this year, and am planting a smaller variety called “Red Express” cabbage. I’m planting these where I just removed my landscaping rocks, so I’m not sure how well they’ll do. I dug down several inches to loosen up the soil, brought in some soil from my garden plot to mix with it, and then put down a fine layer of store-bought garden soil that I had leftover from last year. Then I scattered a few seeds around, and put more of the store-bought garden soil on top of them. They are only supposed to be buried 1/8th of an inch deep; so again, I wanted fine soil so they could push their way through it. Then I lightly pack the soil over them.

I put some chicken wire around them to keep the rabbits away, and gave them a drink. I’m loving rabbit poo in my garden, but not the actual rabbits! Now it’s a wait-and-see game. I always plant extra seeds, and then thin them out. In this case, I have a friend, Cinny, who’s planting a garden, and I’ll offer her some of the seedlings if they grow. She’s a veggie lover too. She went with me on my manure adventure, and filled her car with poo too so she’s a rabbit poo newby just like me.

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I would like to take a moment to explain my garlic clove discovery. I’ve tried planting garlic cloves before, and never had much luck with them. The heads were so small that preparing a clove for cooking was like performing microsurgery. I went on the internet for information on growing it, but could only find information on planting it in the fall, and leaving it in the ground over the winter. Anyone who lives in zone 5 would reason that you don’t plant something like garlic in the fall intending to leave it in the ground over the winter and expecting a crop come spring. Not with the snow and sub-zero temps.

Last spring I planted garlic again, determined to give it another try, and never did harvest it. The shoots shriveled up, and I forgot about them. Low and behold, this spring I have sprouts all over my planting areas where I tucked a clove in the ground last spring. I saw the sprouts, and back to Google I went. I read that for those of us in zone 5, we really are supposed to plant garlic in the fall, and harvest the following spring. So for all of you zone 5 garlic lovers, I’ll remind you in the fall to plant your garlic! You can bet I’ll be planting it again too. I have no guarantees of how my garlic will turn out after being in the ground all last spring, summer, fall and winter, but judging by the tops, they’re looking pretty good. I’ll keep you posted on how they turn out. Oh, and the furry legs belong to my dog, Conner.

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So today I planted peas, radishes and spinach.

Since peas need something to grow up on, I made a simple fence that I use every year just for them. I buy the edible pod varieties of peas so I can either pick them early and use them as a stir fry ingredient or wait until they mature and use the shelled peas in lettuce salads. Peas will die in the heat of the summer so you need to plant them now, and again in August if you’d like a second crop. You have to be gentle when you pull the pods off the vines or you’ll pull the whole vine out by the roots or damage it. Here’s the fence I grow my peas on. Again, I surround these with chicken wire.

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Here are before and afters of the area. My heart goes pitter-pat every time I see a photo with my rocks out of the way.

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I plant spinach and radishes in these areas sectioned off by some scraps of bamboo. I would like to hope that sectioning my veggies off with bamboo would keep people from walking in that area, but I had two people, who shall remain nameless, walk in my lettuce after I planted it. You know who you are, and I forgive you.

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Both spinach and radish seeds are pretty small so, as I did with my cabbage, I sprinkle some store-bought soil on the ground, sprinkle my seeds, and then cover them again with store-bought soil. Then I gently pack the soil, and water the area. The problem I find with just putting tiny seeds directly into garden soil is that they can fall in between the small clumps, and not have good soil contact. This is especially true when planting early crops because the ground is often still damp, and it’s hard to get rid of the clumps in order to plant correctly. Since peas are a larger seed, for example, I just put them directly into the garden soil, and they should be fine.

Now you’re up to date on what you can be planting in zone 5. Now is also the time to plant potatoes, rhubarb and leeks. Don’t wait too long for these types of veggies or they’ll fry in the hot sun just when they start to produce for you. Or if you just don’t get them planted in time, you can always plant them in August, and you can enjoy a wonderful fall crop.

I hope you’ll hit the “follow” button in your browser bar and follow my garden through the seasons!

If you have an interest in Redesign, please feel free to check my other blog at HomeStagingBloomingtonIl. You can find additional before and after pictures on my website at www.HelpAtHomeStaging.com.

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