Garden Design

A Little Greenery

Recently, with Spring finally here, I have attained two plants. Living in a cramped apartment with three other people you would think having some greenery would be kind of hard to keep up with. Oh contraire. In fact, adding some greenery to your urban abode is good for you. Plants are alive; they need care and support just like every other living thing on planet Earth. They take in our carbon monoxide and provide clean, pure oxygen for us to breathe. How cool is that?

Finding the right plant for a small space is relatively easy. My first plant of the season came from Hinterland Trading as a part of a terrarium kit. It’s a darling little air plant that only requires a few squirts of water a week or an hour soak in a bowl once a week. Air plants are small and easy to take care of and it will eventually sprout a pretty, purple flower. It’s just a bonus that it looks like the top of a pineapple.

The avocado plant I was given is still in its toddler phase. It has produced its roots and sprouted a stem but it still needs a little TLC. To grow an avocado plant you poke the sides of the seed with toothpicks and elevate it while it sets halfway in water. It will sprout roots and a stem so it’s able to go into a pot of soil. Now, understand, avocados come from trees. So, it will need to be transplanted into the ground eventually. The cool thing about this plant is that one day you can pick a nice tasty avocado from a branch and say, “I grew you and now I shall taste the fruits of my labor.”

There are other great plants for small spaces but each plant requires different care methods. Do research and find the right plant for you. Spruce up your dorm room or tiny apartment with some greenery. A little fresh air in an enclosed space never hurt anyone.

Garden Design

Guide to Calla Lillies: Planting Elegance in the Spring

Guide to Calla Lillies: Planting Elegance in the Spring
The calla lillies are in bloom again. Such a strange flower–suitable to any occasion. Remember the famous line from Katharine Hepburn in classic movie “Stage Door.” Gaining in popularity of late, this South African lilly is a beautiful choice for bouquet or garden and is easy to grow. Here is the what, when, where and how of calla lillies. (The why is obvious–just look at them.)
Zantedeschia aethiopica
Zones 7-10
Long, trumpet-like blossoms in a variety of colors (white, yellow, pink, orange, purple)
Medium green foliage, sometimes spotted
Low maintenance
Grows from bulb, spreads by rhizome
1-3 feet high (except for some extra tall varieties)
Up to a 3-foot wide plant
Easy to grow
Deer resistant and provides ground cover
When the ground is warm, damp and soft
Can be started indoors and may bloom indoors
I have a cala lilly on my desk at home. Grown indoors in a terra cotta pot by my son during this harsh Western New York winter, the bulb produced 2 perfect white flowers during the first week of March.
Where Full sun to filtered sunlight
Beds or borders
In soil which drains well (Soggy is not good.)
In shallow holes with eyes up and exposed to the air
Look for sprouts and roots in 2 to 3 weeks after planting these bulbs.
Keep soil moist but not soaking.
Divide plants to keep them healthy (more air and sun and fewer bugs and fungi). Water them first, and dig up the entire root system with a shovel. Split at root level. Plant them right away; make sure you have scoped out other sites beforehand. Calla lillies spread easily; so dividing them keeps them within borders.
Don’t leave all your calla lillies in the garden. Cut and enjoy singly or as a bouquet in a vase. They will last a good week or more. They are also popular for wedding bouquets. Individual stems sell at florists for $5 or more each. Your gardening efforts can pay off in a very real way with this outstanding flower! General flower care
Garden Design

Growing and Eating Flowers, Stems, and Leaves

Growing and Eating Flowers, Stems, and Leaves
The part of the plant to eat for broccoli is the flower, for kohlrabi is the stem, and for brussels sprout is the leaf. I grow all of these in the hardiness zone five of the Midwest.

The first week of April is the best planting time for all three vegetables in my garden. I either purchase the seedlings or grow them from seeds inside. Also I have started the seeds outside around the first of May. When I start the seed in the garden I make a hole the same size as the container used for starting the seed inside and add the same starting medium. Also I use an insecticide dust on the plants after they come above the ground. This keeps insects and other animals away from the seedling as it develops into a 4 to 5 inch plant.

Broccoli can be eaten during first week of June, with the help of the weather. Broccoli can have a bad taste if the large stem is eaten or after the yellow flowers have started from the buds. The groups of buds is the part ate. Typically the first and largest grouping of the buds tastes the best. After the initial harvest the plants grow several smaller groups of buds which are also ate. Around the middle of July the smaller buds loss the original taste. So I remove the plant and put winter squash seeds in its place.

Kohlrabi is ready to eat from the first day of summer to the 4th of July. The ones in my garden taste best went they’re about 1 and 1/2 inch in diameter. Any larger the stem will become hollow and crack inside. I peel off 1/4 inch of the outside to reach the better taste of the inside. After harvest I remove the cut stem and its roots to plant winter squash seed.

Brussels sprouts can appear to stop growing, during the warmer days of summer. But they should be left in the ground, because they start the growth again as the days get cooler. Brussels sprouts need one or two freezes to get their good taste. For the temperature to reach 25 degrees is better than falling just below freezing. For my growing area it might be necessary to wait until middle of October to get the good taste. When harvesting, I remove the bundles of Brussels Sprouts leaves themselves. By not cutting off the stem, new leaf bundles will grow until a hard freeze ends the season.

All three vegetables grown in my garden are rather small. My Kohlrabi grows too around 1 and 1/2 inches in diameter and my Brussels sprouts leaf bundles reach less than 1 inch in diameter. The first time I ever saw the larger ones pictured in catalogs, I was in the hardness zone 4 of Wisconsin. One Saturday morning, at a farmers market, I purchased 4 inch diameter Kohlrabi and 2 inch diameter Brussels sprouts. Vegetable care articles

Garden Design

Best Ways to Garden in Small Spaces on a Budget

Best Ways to Garden in Small Spaces on a Budget
If you are anything like me, you love to garden but also know that sometimes it can be difficult to know how to start out. This is especially true if you live in an apartment or don’t really have the space to start a garden, and if money is tight. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to garden in a small space, all while sticking to your budget and not breaking the bank. This easy guide for gardening in small spaces will help point you in the right direction.

1.) Coming Up With A Plan
The first step in gardening in small spaces is to come up with some sort of game plan. If you live in an apartment and only have a balcony or patio to garden on, then you are going to have to be a bit more creative when it comes to finding a way to plant everything, while not taking up all of your space with plants. The first step to coming up with a good plan is to find inspiration. I have found that following gardening, DIY, and landscaping boards on Pinterest has helped inspire some of the best and most creative ideas when it comes to gardening! Occasionally, these ideas have also helped me save a few dollars in the process. If you do not already have a Pinterest account, I highly recommend you get one and start following a few gardening boards. They are loaded with all kinds of fun and quirky ideas!
2.) Collecting Items
Once you have a plan or at least some sort of idea on where you are going to start with your garden, or what you would eventually like to achieve, the next important step in gardening in small spaces is to start collecting the tools and items you will need to garden in a small space. Reusing and upcyling household items is a great way to garden efficiently, all while saving space and money. Looking for items on websites like Craigslist or Freecycle, or checking for gardening supplies at resale & thrift shops is another great way to get more bang for your buck, and find unique items that will work great in any garden! Some of my favorite garden treasures have come from thrift stores.
Household Items That Work Great To Use As Planters
  • Cans
  • Milk Crates
  • Bottles
  • Jars
  • Toilet Paper Rolls
  • Lanterns
  • Fish Tanks
  • Fish Bowls
  • Tires
  • Old Toolboxes, Mailboxes, or Baskets
  • Glassware
  • Gutters
  • Pipes
  • Cinderblocks
  • Concrete
  • Wagons, Wheelbarrows, Wagon Wheels
  • Lightbulbs
  • Coffee Mugs
  • Pallets
  • Old Bird Baths
  • Laundry Baskets
  • Broken Terra Cotta Pots
  • Metal Tea Canisters
  • Watering Cans
3.) Get To It!
Once you have a plan and the items you will need to start your garden, you will want to buy soil, seeds, and plants if you have not already done so. I have learned from experience that planting flowers, fruits, veggies and herbs from seeds tends to usually work better than transplanting plants that are already half grown and sold at the stores. Seeds are also usually fairly inexpensive to buy, with prices usually ranging anywhere from $1.00-4.00. I’ve found a variety of good seed starters at places like Lowes and Target. Another thing you might consider when purchasing seeds is trying to find items that you can re-use later. What I mean by this is being able to save the seeds again for next year, or replant from recycling plant parts. (i.e. green onions, celery, pineapples, etc.) Once you’ve got all your seeds and everything else you need, its time to get to it! Here are some cool ideas to help get you started:

Savvy Small Space Gardening Tips
Shoe Organizer Garden – One cost effective and quirky way to garden in a small space is to invest or recycle a canvas shoe organizer. This shoe organizer can be hung up and kept off the wall with a few strips of wood. This type of garden planter works great for growing herbs.
Salad Box – If you are looking for an ideal way to plant lettuce, kale, or other greens, then you might consider creating your very own salad box. Raised beds on table legs or platforms work great for this type of garden planter, and also require less bending over to tend to your garden, which is even better. You can create your own simple salad box by upcycling and hollowing out an old desk, or taking the drawers out of a dresser. Other items that work well are redwood planter boxes with a few 1 x 4’s. Simply piece these items together with a few tools like a hammer, nails, and some glue, etc. and you’re good to go.
Pallet Garden – One of the easiest and most efficient ways to garden in a small space, like on a balcony or patio is to get a pallet and set it vertically. This type of planter works great for herbs like basil or rosemary, or even to make a “catio” for your feline friend. You can grow some catnip and other types of cat grasses within the pallets. Check out this easy DIY guide to build your very own pallet garden.
Gutter Garden – Gutter Gardens are becoming more and more popular in small gardening spaces. This brilliant solution involves taking gutters and connecting them to walls in a sunny area, so that they are off the ground, away from bugs, animals, and a foundation that can sometimes become too wet. Check out these cool DIY guides for gutter gardens and hanging gutter gardens.
Canning Jar Garden – Making a wall mounted Spice Rack from Canning Jars is another cheap and easy way to garden in small spaces. This idea can even be used by those individuals who don’t have outdoor space to garden in, at all. A canning jar garden will work great outdoors on your patio, fence, balcony, garage wall, etc. or indoors on the wall of your living room or kitchen.
Terraniums – Terraniums are a fun idea for any gardener who loves to get creative and have fun while gardening. Some of my favorite terraniums that I’ve made came from items that I thrifted. (i.e. old fish bowls and spice bowls with lids, garden gnomes, fake flowers and vines, rocks, pebbles, sand, etc.) A terranium will add flair to any garden that is on a patio or balcony, or any garden that is indoors.

Rain Boot Planter –
Another cheap and whimsical way to add a bit of style to any garden is to use old rain boots as a planter. They can be hung from the walls, a fence, or just sit on top of a table or the ground. This specific planter is a fun idea to do if you like gardening with your kids.
Window Boxes – Another cute and simple way to garden some of your favorite flowers or a few of your favorite herbs is to invest in a window box. These can usually be found at your local gardening store or a home goods store. You can even re-use household items like wine boxes, baskets, and wooden crates to make your very own window box. To add a bit of pizzaz, try painting your box and distressing it. You can even buy some stencils and write some cute messages or words on the box, to turn any plain old box to an adorable window box in no time.
Coffee and Soup Can Garden- A coffee and soup can garden is another easy idea when it comes to gardening in small spaces. Coffee cans and soup cans are two everyday items that you probably already have lying around the house. If you paint them to add a bit of charm and then plant your favorite flowers or herbs in them, they can be placed on the ground, window ledges, or tables, or even be hung from ceilings, rafters, roofs, walls, fences, trees and poles.

Square Foot/Raised Bed Garden –
Making your own raised bed garden doesn’t have to be as difficult as it seems. In fact, you can even measure out the specific amount of distance and feet you want the garden to be. You’d be surprised just how many vegetables and flowers you can manage to fit in just a few square feet. Cinder blocks work great for this type of garden, especially if you are planting something like strawberries. If you don’t have enough space to build a raised bed garden, you might even consider just using a few cinder blocks by themselves and planting a select few plants and inside them.
Laundry Basket Garden – Laundry Baskets work great for gardening things like potatoes. They also work great for keeping around your garden when it comes time to harvest your plants and rinse them off. Even better? A laundry basket works as a natural strainer. Gone are the days of having to lug everything in the house one item at a time to rinse and strain.

Feeling inspired yet? Remember, just because a space is small, doesn’t mean it can’t have gardening potential. I live in an apartment and for my garden I literally just went into the woods and collected buckets full of rocks. Then I dug around our windows where the grass was dead, and laid down some soil and river pebbles which I got on a summer sale at Lowes, and then I outlined the landscape with the collected rocks. I planted from seeds and spread mulch around, bought $2 solar lights from Target, and thrifted gardening tools like watering cans, and materials to make terraniums and gnome gardens. 
I also bought 6 red bricks from Lowes for less than $20 and just dug up a bit of grass in front of our patio where I wanted to place them, placed them down in a curved path and patted the dirt back down. It took about a year for the grass to grow in around it (I could have bought grass seed and planted, but I was lazy) within a year’s time, we now have a cute DIY path leading from our patio do our small garden. With a little bit of imagination, and creativity, and a bit of hard work, your small garden space can be thriving in no time, and you don’t even have to spend outside your budget to make it all happen. Best of luck!
Garden Design

Six Garden Trends from Plantasia 2014 in Western New York

Six Garden Trends from Plantasia 2014 in Western New York
Plantasia, known as “Western New York’s premier garden and landscape show,” brought some indoor sunshine to the cold Buffalo-Niagara region Thursday through Sunday, March 20 through 23 at the Hamburg Fairgrounds. The annual collection of what’s hot and happening for the gardens and backyards of the area showed off some of the newest trends and what continues to be hot in the garden, with this year’s theme of “Party in the Garden” shown off to full effect. These were six of the top trends viewed at Plantasia this year.

Whimsy – Whether it was small items like garden stakes in the form of birds, flowers or Easter eggs, or life-sized iron sculptures of giraffes or horses, whimsy was a huge feature at Plantasia. Other examples of whimsy included a huge 23-foot tree house from Buffalo Tree House that was constructed from reclaimed hemlock and included a suspension bridge and throne fit for a backyard king; the display won three awards at the show.

Water features – Water continues to be a trend in the backyard, and was used in combination with whimsy at the tree house site. Another combination of the two: a backyard party display featuring a champagne bottle waterfall into a pyramid of glasses.

Outdoor lifestyles – Not just “outdoor living,” but “outdoor lifestyles” – a backyard “theatre” set up for the kids (and adults later on in the day), a putting green for the future golf pro and backyard kitchens, which have been popular for a few years. The theory: you have a beautiful backyard, use it as both an extension of your home and an extension of your life.

Fairy gardens and succulents – Miniaturized fairy gardens at the show often featured succulents, as the combination can be used indoors and outdoors. Fairy garden supplies can be found at many nurseries and garden centers, as well as craft and hobby stores like Hobby Lobby. While the plants and accessories are often petite, gardens themselves can be any size.

Recycling in the garden – One display featured wooden pallets turned into patio furniture, including chairs and tables; another featured a piece of drift wood used as a planter. This is another continuing trend, as the 2013 show featured objects like metal can lids and wine bottle corks as plant markers and pallets as gardens.

Polywood – Polywood, a plastic-like material often made from recycled milk cartons, has been featured for a few years as well, and continues to be an up-and-coming furniture product at the show. The benefits of polywood include its resistance to mold and rot, the fact that it is made in numerous colors (and requires no painting) and the fact that it can be left outside year-round – a big plus for the Western New York winters and for people without a lot of storage space.

Garden Design

10 Reasons to Have an Herb Garden

10 Reasons to Have an Herb Garden
If you’ve ever walked by the fresh herbs at your local grocery store, chances are you’ve noticed their delicious fragrance. And if you’ve checked out their selling price, you’ve probably just kept walking by. Buying fresh herbs can get quite expensive; but if you have an herb garden of your own, you’ll find that they are very inexpensive and easy to grow. But these aren’t the only reasons to have an herb garden.
You don’t have to be a gardener – Anyone can grow herbs! Even if you’ve never had a garden before, or even planted flowers, it doesn’t matter. Herbs are a great way for a novice to get started learning how to grow their own food supply. There are even beginner’s herb growing kits for those that are skeptical of their abilities.
You don’t have to have a lot of space – An herb garden doesn’t take up a lot of space. If you have a bay window, or even a large windowsill, it will be plenty of room to accommodate a small herb garden.
They look great – Seriously, have you ever seen a bunch of herbs growing?? They’re gorgeous! And the fragrance they’ll put off is amazing. Try growing fresh mint for an aromatic show-stopper.
They can be grown in pots – If you don’t have room to grow an herb garden indoors, try growing them in pots on the patio. This makes them easy to reposition, plus container gardening is always an attractive way to bring life to any space.
Just wait till you taste them! – Food tastes better when it is seasoned with fresh herbs, just as it tastes better when you use any fresh ingredient.
Fresh herbs save money – Not only will you save money on the herbs you use this year, but you won’t have to worry about buying herbs for many years to come. That’s because fresh herbs will come back year after year. Just remember to bring them indoors during cold winter months.
They have medicinal purposes – Ever heard of herbal tea being used to help you sleep, relieve constipation, or cure an upset stomach? Of course, you have. Even doctors recommend the use of herbs for medicinal purposes in certain situations. Check out this Medicinal Herbs Guide we found at You won’t believe how many different uses there are for fresh herbs.
Pets can benefit from them too – Oftentimes there is a danger of the plants we grow indoors being dangerous for our pets, but not when it comes to growing herbs. In fact, many of the herbs we grow can be used to make your pet healthier. Whether you have a dog, cat, or reptile, there are plenty of ways to use the herbs you grow for their benefit. Take a moment and read the useful pet guide for gardeners.
Use less salt and packed seasonings – Because fresh herbs have are so flavorful, you’ll find that you don’t need to use as much salt of other pre-packed seasonings that include salt. That means a healthier diet for you and your family, without sacrificing taste.
Pest control – In a previous articles we discussed using herbs as a way to keep deer out of your garden. Deer don’t like the strong aroma of herbs, and by planting them by your treasured rose bushes, you’ll see a decrease in the amount of deer, and other critters that show up uninvited.
Can’t decide which herbs you should grow? Think back on the foods you cooked the most over the last month. For example, we cook a lot of Italian food at my house. Thus, parsley, basil, and oregano are must-haves in my herb garden, while fresh dill wouldn’t be something I would use that often. Just a little common sense will steer you in the right direction.
Garden Design

Living Off the Grid – Seed Saving

Harvesting Seeds for Sustainable Living

Harvesting Seeds for Sustainable Living

While seed saving can be done whether you are hooked up to PUD or not, the entire process of gardening and harvesting your heirloom seeds is the kind of thing sustainable living is all about. Seed saving can be tedious work but the benefits are wonderful.

What is an Heirloom Seed?

Heirloom seeds are those handed down generation to generation. Although they are found in some seed catalogs or available for sale online, true heirloom seeds are more often passed among individuals. They are seeds that come from plants that have grown in open pollination and without human intervention.

Benefits of Seed Saving

Saving seeds can be a beneficial as well as rewarding activity. By saving seeds from your garden, you can save money on next year’s garden. If you save your seeds, you won’t have to buy more. Saving seeds also ensure quality. If you grow organic fruits and veggies, you know the seeds you save are organic as well.

How to Save Seeds

The basic process for preparing fruits and vegetables for seed harvesting is to separate the seeds from the flesh, rinse the seeds and then let them dry before storing them.
Last night I read an article in Sunset magazine about saving tomato seeds. Here’s a quick rundown of the process they suggested:

  1. Place the seeds and juice of a garden tomato in a jar.
  2. Let the jar sit out for a few weeks or until there is a layer of mold on top. The viable seeds will sink to the bottom of the jar.
  3. Carefully discard the top layer of mold and any seeds that didn’t sink.
  4. Add 1/2 cup of water to the mix and repeat the process until the seeds at the bottom are clean.

If you want to save seeds from flowers the consensus seems to be that you should let the seeds dry as long as possible while still on the plant.

Need More Reasons to Save Seeds? 7 Reasons to Save Garden Seeds

Tips for Storing Seeds
After your seeds have dried completely they can be stored in small paper bags. Be sure to label the bags so you know which seeds are where. Some seeds, such as flower seeds, store better in sealed jars. When the seeds are packaged keep them in an area that is cool and dry. If you can, use your seeds the following year as the quality of the seeds decrease year by year.
Garden Design

Spring Cleaning Outdoors: Sprucing Up Your Landscape After Winter

Spring Cleaning Outdoors: Sprucing Up Your Landscape After Winter
Does your home’s exterior look drab after being neglected all winter? Spring is the perfect time to clear the outdoor clutter in anticipation of the planting season. You instantly improve your home’s curb appeal and get to soak up all the warm spring weather. Here’s how to do it.
Turn Over a New Leaf
We raked and raked last fall, but we always seem to end up with dead leaves in our yard come spring. Removing the brown leaves makes the lawn look better and gives the grass an all-access pass to the sun and rainwater of spring. While you’re at it, pick up any sticks or branches that fell into the yard.
Clean the Beds
Now is the time to clean out your existing planting beds to prep them for the flowers or vegetables you’ll plant soon. Get rid of any leaves or leftover plant debris in the beds. Till the soil to make it workable. This is also a good time to add organic material like compost to your planting beds and any soil amendments needed to make the soil fertile.
Don’t forget your planters. If you use them for annuals, empty the soil you used last year and clean the pot. You can sanitize your flower pots with a mixture of 1 part household bleach to 9 parts of water. Soak the containers for 10 minutes or longer and rinse thoroughly.
All Hands on Deck
Your patio and deck can probably use a spring cleaning, too. Hose off the outdoor living spaces to get rid of dirt and sand that build up over winter. If you have a brick patio or walkway, check the joints to see if they need more sand. Scrub down your patio furniture so you’re ready for outdoor entertainment.
Spruce It Up
With everything outside cleaned, you can look for little improvements that will make your landscape pop. Repaint the fence. Power wash the foundation. Add shutters to your windows. Replace the railings on your deck. These little outdoor home improvement projects get your home’s exterior in shape and improve curb appeal with just a little effort and money.
Garden Design

Take Your Spring Planting Vertical for Dramatic Effect

Take Your Spring Planting Vertical for Dramatic Effect
The past few years, I have noticed more and more ways to go vertical in your garden. Bringing your plants and flowers up and away from the ground level not only expands the area available for planting, but greatly increases the interest and visual impact of your space. If you have only ever placed plants in ground level pots or in the soil directly, you may be a little reluctant to explore this vertical space, but there are easy ways to get started. Here are a few.
Install hanging planters
If you have an expanse of fence or a blank wall, that could be a perfect place to install hanging planters and add a beautiful splash of color. Make sure to anchor your planters securely using the proper tools and fasteners for the base material you are working with, be it brick, wood, stucco or another surface.
Take caution when selecting plants, as the raised and exposed surface may be much warmer and more brightly lit than the nearby ground. A brick wall facing west, for example, retains heat long after the sun goes down. You may need to select plants that are better able to handle heat and direct sunlight and water more frequently in order to keep your blooms healthy.
Build a flower tower
You can build a tall, flowering tower of sorts using either large diameter PVC pipe drilled with randomly spaced holes or a cylinder made of sturdy fence lined with black plastic. If you use the fence and plastic, cut X-shaped holes, randomly spaced in the plastic up and down the cylinder.
Fill the cylinder of your choice with potting soil, then plant petunias, impatiens or other bright, spreading flowers in the randomly spaced holes. Plant flowers in the top of the cylinder, too. You can stick with all one color, or place a variety of colors for a more striking effect. The tower will look sparse at first, but with a little water and fertilizer, the flowers will fill in quickly and give you a blooming column of color all summer long.
Climbing vines of color
One of the easiest ways to add color to a porch or trellis is to plant a hardy, climbing vine that flowers all summer long. Morning glories or clematis add gorgeous blossoms within ever climbing greenery, and you can train them to go wherever you want with just a little bit of twine.
Not sure if you want to keep a spreading vine in your garden forever? That’s okay. Just plant it in a large pot, like you would any other seasonal plant, and let it grow for the summer. If you want to do something different the next year, just pull the vines down in the fall and replant with something different in the spring.
Garden Design

Garden on the Cheap! How to Create a Palate Garden

Garden on the Cheap! How to Create a Palate Garden
I have a green thumb (well, at least when it comes to outdoor gardening, I can kill a houseplant faster than anyone I know). But this year, I have been limited by the inability to dig into the ground. Military housing will let us grow flowers, but not food. I know I want to grow food for ourselves. Gardening is a wonderful activity to share with my dirt-lovin’ kids. It is an important tool to teach. You know, the whole “Show them to fish” scenario. I started thinking about how I could build a garden, from the bottom up, without digging. It was on one trip to our local home improvement store that it hit me–wooden palates would be perfect!
Our local store has palates in the back. I asked an associate, and she said that they recycle them BUT if I ever saw some back there, that I was welcome to help myself. So, I stalked the store. Not really…the next time we went, there was a huge stack. So, we grabbed two. I also bought one roll of landscape fabric. I had a staple gun already, so I didn’t need anything else but soil. I got 4 bags of Miracle Grow garden soil, and I got some plants. I am in the deep south (military life–enables me to learn how the weather systems work in all parts of our great nation), so I was able to get all kinds of plants in early March. I started with some tomato, broccoli, peas, and swiss chard. I got seeds for lettuces, herbs, and green beans. And I got some marigold plants, because they are helpful to keep ants away & attract butterflies instead. We loaded up the minivan & headed home.
Once home, I took the palate and flipped it over. I unrolled the fabric (with the help of my 2 year old assistant) and measured enough to cover the bottom & wrap up each of the 2 end sides. I stapled it in 5 or 6 places on each end, until I felt it was secure. Then, I took it outside. I found a spot that got sunlight most of the day, but you need to place it specifically for the plants you choose (partial sun, full sun, etc). I emptied a bag of soil (1 cubic ft.) into the palate & spread it evenly. Then, I unpacked the plants and placed them where I wanted them to live (making sure to pay attention to how much space the plants needed) & then dug them into place. Some needed a little extra dirt to pack them in tight, so I opened bag #2 & filled in as necessary. I also did a quick web search to find beneficial companion plants for my selected veggies, and placed them together in the layout. A quick watering from the hose, and it was done.
From start to finish,each palate garden cost around $5 plus the cost of plants. I have created 3 so far, with a couple of palates waiting in the wings if I can convince my husband to lose a little more yard space. Gardening is good for my soul & that is a feeling I want to pass on to my kids, no matter the capacity.