Why Do I Garden?

I was down in the garden yesterday for almost 2 hours harvesting and pruning. I got quite the collection of tomatoes and decided yesterday was a good time to make sauce. I will be blogging about that later. 🙂

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Anyway, when I was in the garden for such a long time yesterday I started thinking about why I have a garden if it is so much work. I mean really? Why? Besides vegetables why put in all that work? There is really one reason, the beauty of the garden. There is just something about being surrounded by flowers that is so wonderful. Some people run to clear their minds, which I do sometimes, but gardening gives me a chance to think. I don’t think I’m alone here either. I know most gardeners can relate. The fact that I get so many vegetables is an added bonus.

imageedit_16_8333711944It was really neat watching the butterflies who didn’t seem to mind me snapping away with my camera. I must have taken at least 20-30 pictures of this little guy.

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I also love the Butterfly Bush in my garden that attracts so many butterflies. I think next year I’ll get another one for the other side of my garden.

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I don’t think you can argue with the beauty here either.

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T.J. also enjoyed the garden, as he just sits to watch everything around him. 🙂 He’s my gardening buddy.

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So there’s really nothing special about today’s post, but I wanted to share the beauty of my garden with you. If you garden, why do you garden?

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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”

June Garden Update

The vegetables are really growing around here!  I am excited to share with you the progress of my garden. Right now I have four raised beds and two smaller beds you can’t see in the picture below.  I may be expanding the garden next year because there is just not enough space. I didn’t attempt to grow potatoes or carrots this year because I didn’t have the room. 😦

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In my  garden I have various types of tomatoes. I have Big Beef Tomatoes for sandwiches, Roma for sauce, and of course Cherry Tomatoes for salads and cooking.In order to have great tomatoes it does take extra care. I’ve been pruning them by removing the suckers. You can find basic tomato care on a post from last year. Needless to say, my tomato plants are growing well and beginning to produce tomatoes. 🙂 If only they would just turn red!

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I also have a few peppers growing too. I planted them facing the sun so the huge tomato plants would not overshadow them. I have 2-3 banana pepper plants, along with green, yellow, and red peppers. No hot peppers here. I cannot do heat. I grew hot peppers last year and I didn’t use them. So this year I just didn’t grow them. I can always visit my mom’s garden to get a few if I need them.

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My raspberries are growing as well! I love having them in my garden. The trick is figuring out how to keep the birds away. If you have a creative idea, I would love to know.

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This month I have been weeding, watering, and controlling pests. All of this hard work will payoff soon.  It was so nice to have help on Sunday. My niece loved taking the suckers off the tomatoes and even helped water the plants. It is so neat to hear all of her questions. It is such a learning process for her. 🙂 Since teaching is in my blood; I love it!

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My dog, Bailey was not as helpful. He spent the entire time trying to find food. Trust me, we do feed him.  He just loves tomatoes! He will even try to pick them right from the tomato plants when they’re ripe.

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It is going to be really hot this week, so I will not forget a day of watering.  I water all my plants at night. There are all kinds of theories about when to water and how much, but my plants are still alive, so I must be doing something right.

Favorite Gardening Apps

In an attempt to learn more about gardening in general, I have recently explored a few apps on my iPhone.  I have 6 gardening apps right now, but I only really use two. I am sure I will find more in future searches.

The first app I really like (especially because I am still learning) is Garden Compass by TeamSOA Inc.

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Pros: It is FREE! It doesn’t get better than that! But that’s not my favorite part- there is a “Plant Identifier Section.”  You can take a picture of any plant and they will tell you what it is! No more searching for hours on the internet.  I already emailed them about a vine I couldn’t identify and they responded in a few hours. There is also a “Problem Identifier” section.  I just emailed them a picture today of a strawberry plant. One plant is having a problem and I really hope it doesn’t spread.   I know they will respond in a few hours (the app stated that it could take up to 24 hours due to volume). It is so easy to use! All you do is click on the section, open camera roll or take picture, add a description if you would like, and then send! That’s it! It took about 1 minute to complete the process. 🙂

Cons: Results are not immediate, so if you are in a rush, you’re going to have to look it up yourself. Remember, someone else is doing the work. Also, the app is free, which is awesome, but that means they have to make money somewhere. The  “Essentials” section is mostly where you can “find the closest retailer.”  I don’t really use that section at all.

Overall, I am kind of amazed that this is even a free app. I would certainly pay money for someone tell me a pest problem or to identify a plant. It is a useful, time-saving app.

 

Another app I love is Vegetable Tree- Gardening Guide, by Mohammad Azam. Have you ever been curious about plant growing conditions? Companion planting? Or even when to plant? This app takes out hours of researching and guessing.

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Pros: You can research any vegetable and find out everything about it. It tells you space required, soil conditions, seed depth, when to start your seeds, when to plant them outside, and potential problems. Basically everything you need to know about that plant in one place! How cool is that? There is also a section that you can add any plants you have to the “My Garden” section to reference them easily. It is a simple app to use with a lot of information provided.

Cons: The app is $3.99, but in my opinion it is worth the cost in the time it saves. It is very basic, so it doesn’t include zone planting or garden planning. (Remember I use GrowVeg.com for my planning and zone help).

 

If you haven’t tried these apps, they are worth downloading.  I love learning and collecting resources, so if there is an app that you are using I would love to hear about it. 🙂