Finally! I Won’t Kill my Garden!

What am I most excited about? Not killing my entire garden next month. Last year, July ended and August began and I killed my entire garden. Nothing was picked, watered, or weeded. It completely died (except for a few peppers which needed little care).  Why? I began setting up my classroom for a new school year. I started putting in endless hours copying, organizing, planning, and getting ready for my fifth graders.  Yes…in the beginning of August.  I do wish others could see how much time and energy actually goes into preparing a classroom and maybe, just maybe, all the “but teachers have summers off” would stop.

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Many teachers will be in their classrooms this week and I will not be one of them.  Although I didn’t get out of setting up a classroom completely, as I did help a friend, it was a completely different (enjoyable) experience.

Along with not killing my garden, I am enjoying some other firsts:

  • Not freaking out about seeing school supplies in stores. BTW, supplies started showing up in the beginning of July and I smiled instead.
  • Not spending money on school supplies (I would be embarrassed to tell you how much I actually spent last year, besides I’m not sure you’d believe it).
  • Saving some serious money on gas (I had an hour commute each way). Final savings: About $200-$250 a month!
  • Finally, NO school nightmares! There is nothing worse than waking up to some bizarre dream about how you messed something up that was expected of you!

I am still trying to figure out what I miss about teaching this time of year.. So far, I am almost sad to say, there is not too much. The biggest thing would be seeing my colleagues and hearing about their summer. I guess that’s what Facebook is for. 😉 And I am absolutely sure, I will miss the newness of the school year when the students arrive.  I loved seeing their little, excited faces.

So, I’m actually taking care of my garden. Imagine that, I will actually have time to do that.  And I’m happy to say the garden is kind of out of control. Well, the watermelon and cantaloupe are out of control (even with the trellis built). Can you see the two watermelon?

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And a closer look:

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My peppers in one bed are in fantastic shape and are growing well. However, in the other bed,  the bugs are having a feast. I think I have it under control now though 😦

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And my bug-eaten peppers:

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My Roma tomatoes are growing, but seem smaller than usual. Any suggestions?

Overall the garden is in terrific shape along with my stress-level 🙂

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We went on a Cruise!

We actually went on vacation. For any of you that know my husband, this was a huge feat. I mean an actual vacation. This was actually our 10-year anniversary trip. We went on a cruise through Norwegian Cruise Line.

We drove to Miami leaving on a Saturday 7/6. Got to Miami on Sunday and we stayed the night. We eagerly got on The Norwegian Sky Monday morning and each day we were on a new Bahama island.  Tuesday-Freeport, Wednesday-Nassau, and Thursday-Great Stirrup Cay (the cruise line’s private island). We arrived back in Miami on Friday and we spent two days with my grandmother in Florida (she lives near Delray Beach). My mom and stepfather were down there too, so we spent the mornings in the water.

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Although it’s nearly impossible to describe over a week’s vacation in a blog post without boring you, but I’ll try. I picked 10 things I loved about my vacation since it was our ten year anniversary vacation.

10.  The ship- It was a wonderful place to stay for a few days. There were 12 floors and the ship held (I think) over 2,000 passengers, but it didn’t feel crowded at all. This was actually one of their older ships, but they were updating everything. Also, if your thinking about going on a cruise, I didn’t get sea sick. I couldn’t even really feel the ship move. DSCN0474

9. Freestyle Dining: We could eat whenever we wanted and where ever we wanted. We didn’t have to get dressed up either. I loved the dinner where we celebrated our 10-year anniversary. Some crew members sang us a romantic song and even encouraged Tony to sing to me too. 🙂 It was so neat, although I was a little embarrassed with all that attention.

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8. The towels: I know. I know. It might sound strange, but we were looking forward to how they folded the towels each day. We teased that our room steward was like a ninja. We never saw him, but we always had a perfect room. I kind of messed this little guy up when I decided to hold it for the picture. See our complementary bottle of wine in the background too?!

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7. The views from the ship: They were absolutely beautiful. I wish I would have taken more pictures because the picture below really doesn’t do it justice. There is just something amazing about being with my best friend taking in breathtaking views.

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6. Activities on the ship: We loved all the activities on the ship. We won $120 on Bingo, $100 on the ship’s casino, and nothing on Deal or No Deal. Ironically, Deal or No Deal was my favorite because you could play along with the contestant chosen randomly from the audience. Tony and I had a good time! We also loved the comedian.

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5. Romantic Dinner Night- Tony and I chose to eat in one of the ship’s ‘special’ restaurants the second night on the cruise ship. This is where you get a beautiful meal, a gorgeous view, and amazing service. Our dinner consisted of shrimp cocktail, filet mignon, mashed potatoes, and a toffee brownie with homemade chocolate ice cream. This was our best dinner on the ship. Besides, the company was great too! Doesn’t he look so handsome?!

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4. Morning coffee on the deck– We spent our mornings drinking coffee with the beautiful views. As simple as this is, it was one of my favorite parts. I enjoyed the time with Tony talking about the day before and what our next adventure was going to be.

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3.Snorkeling- We chose to snorkel at Great Stirrup Cay. We didn’t see much, but we still had fun. Besides, Tony couldn’t really sit still, so this was a perfect adventure for both of us. 🙂 We did the same thing 10 years ago on our honeymoon at the same island. I loved it.

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2. Atlantis– We spent the day at the Aquaventure at Atlantis in Nassau. It was really amazing. My favorite part was going on their rapid river ride (I’m not really sure what it was called). We thought it was going to be a lazy river… ummm.. no. It wasn’t at all. We loved the built in water slides and waves! Although the double tube made it a bit scary.  🙂 We also got to go through aquariums with sharks, which was awesome!

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1. The best part about the cruise was spending time with the man that I love. 🙂 He is truly amazing. I couldn’t have asked for a better trip. It was perfect. IMG_0441

Garden Accents 20013

It does seem a bit strange to ‘decorate’ the garden when my purpose of the garden is to grow food for a healthier lifestyle. However, I figure if  I am spending endless hours weeding, watering, and harvesting, the garden better be beautiful.  Reclaiming items is one way I add much needed comfort and character to the space and still stay within budget. Here’s how I added some style:

A watering can in the flower trough (the trough was on a previous post): There is really nothing special about this. It does fill with rain and I just use that to water the flowers next to it. Function and beauty!

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I found the next piece at a yard sale for a few bucks (I’ve had it for years).  It fits a citronella candle, which I use to help protect me from bugs while I’m working- especially at dusk. There is even a level and a rusty garden tool that I still sometimes use.

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A thermometer:  I found this at an auction and it is great “art.” Yes, it doesn’t work, it’s rusted, and it really serves no purpose, but I love it anyway.

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Old tools make great accents too! They are great for empty spaces and accessible at just about any auction for a reasonable price. Wouldn’t it make a neat trellis? Maybe next year I’ll have time for that.

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Speaking of a trellis- I had to do something about my watermelon/cantaloupe bed.  You can see we (by we, I mean my husband’s handy work and my idea) cut up an old ladder, added wire, and now we have “controlled” chaotic vines. Since it is a bit vertical now, when the melons become large, I may have to add a support. I found a few things on Pinterest, like this website.  You do have to scroll down a bit to find the support using mesh bags.

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I did actually buy ‘new’ things to add style to my garden. Although all the items are bought, I did buy them at garage sales, auctions, craft shows, or on clearance. The first pop of color is my orange bird bath among my Apple Mint Tea.

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And my “Bloom” sign I got at the Colorfest craft show:

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Finally, this garden stake I got at the Mud Sale I attended last Saturday for $5:

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Slowly I have been collecting accents for my garden. It’s definitely a process to collect all of this stuff, but it makes me love being in the garden. 🙂 What garden accents have you created?

Creative Planter Ideas

What makes a good planter? For years, I would just buy a few potted plants, throw them in different (more decorative pots) and call it a day. However, since I started my garden, I am a little more interested in actually adding a bit of depth to the planters. Instead of using new pots purchased at a store, I’ve been reclaiming a few old ones. The payoff is huge! In most of my planters I try to make sure there is a tall plant (grass or tall flowers), a spark of mid-level color and something that drapes down from the basket, like vines. Nothing fancy, but they do look great! There are a few planters I wasn’t able to layer.

Planters with Some Character: 

1. Old Wash Buckets/Cans: I love these! I swear sometimes I was born in the wrong time period. While others see junk, I see potential!

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2. Watering Trough: I am most excited about this because it’s so large and I can just plant in it like a flowerbed. To save some soil and help with drainage, I did layer plastic bottles on the bottom.

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3. Watering Can: I didn’t do anything creative here with plants (I just stuck a plant in the container).

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4. Old Egg Basket with Burlap- I wish the Geraniums were actually in this picture, but I cut off the dead part. They will regrow, but for now there is a wide open space in the middle.

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3 Other Ideas for Plants: 

1. This is how I added a little color to our plain old fence. I used petunias and ornamental sweet potato vines (these are my favorite for planters, but they do require regular watering). The vines do not actually grow potoatoes, but they will keep growing to hang off the basket.

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2. The next picture is the window outside my garden shed. I love these window boxes! I used old burlap instead of those expensive baskets at craft stores. It holds up great and adds character to the boxes.

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3. You’ve seen this on a previous post before, but I used old shutters for all of my raised beds. They worked great! The best part is they are meant for outside, so they hold up in the weather.  I sanded/repainted and lined the inside (I was afraid of lead paint in my veggies!)

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I have other ideas, but there are just not enough hours in a day to complete all of them. Already working on “Part 2”