DIY Landscaping – Weed Prevention

I read once that if you lay down newspaper in your garden, and then place soil on top and garden as usual, you will prevent weeds in a natural way.  Since I don’t subscribe to the local newspaper, I figured I would just use magazines that were in the recycling.

DIY Gardening 1

I am adding pea gravel between the garden boarders and the walking path stones.  I plan on planting some succulents next year on the pea gravel within the boarder stones.

DIY Gardening 3

It’s going to be winter in no time so I am trying to get my landscape ready for hibernation and getting the perennials in so they acclimate enough prior to dying back.  My garden is very rough right now as I only really have an outline of where the flowers will go next year.  But I have a vision.

DIY Gardening 2

Above is a photo of the whole space I am updating.  It is very narrow and long.  Awkward for a lawn so I tore it up to create a garden.  I am getting the hardscaping installed this week and more perennials as well.

When ever I work on a garden I use green or natural materials.  I use homemade compost, I dig up my garden with old fashioned gardening tools like a hoe or rake, use magazines or newspaper as weed repellent.  I don’t use pesticides or chemicals on my flowers.  I love spending time in my garden and am excited to see how it comes together next year.

Lavender Extract

Today I was due to pull out all of my dead flowers for winter.  It’s said to snow this weekend so I wanted to make some lavender extract before the flowers went bad.

All you need to make lavender extract is the flower heads of lavender and vodka.

Separate the flower heads from the stalk and place them in a container with a lid.

Cover with just enough vodka and let sit for a couple of weeks.

Shake once every other day.

Then use it in cooking.  I have never used lavender extract in any cooking before but I look forward to experimenting.

Homemade Lavender Extract

Spring Ahead

Spring is not only known for spring cleaning, but also for getting ready for gardening, flip flops and long weekends.   Maybe a few extra beers in there too.  In any case, I look forward to gardening, the scents that come with spring and fresh produce the most.  Also, the disappearing act of snow.  Unfortunately, we do not have a lot of room, actually, no room to plant a garden.  But we hated the idea of paying the ever increasing costs of produce at the grocery store, and it’s not even organic.  AND it’s shipped from all over the country and some from Latin America.

There is a solution!  Subscribe to a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  In essence, you pay an upfront “subscription” fee, then for months June through October you get a box of veggies (or two boxes depending upon the size of share you opt for).  My husband and I did the CSA thing the last 2 years.  We picked up our box once a week from a designated pickup site and the produce (organic – our CSA was anyways) vary from week to week, based on the season.  Initially we received a lot of lettuces, herbs, radishes and potatoes.  Then,  tomatoes, raspberries, beets and cucumbers towards the middle of the season.  Then for fall, squash, pumpkins, garlic and anything left over was in our share.  2 years ago our CSA actually allowed all those interested to come down to the farm and pick as many tomatoes as we could fill in 4 HUGE pails.  We managed to can enough to take us through 2 winters.

The benefits to CSA are numerous.

  1. You have the ability to try new veggies.  I found that I REALLY love kohlrabi and I have never tried one before we signed up for a CSA.
  2. You are more apt to “eat your vegetables.”   Every meal we had featured vegetables of some sort.
  3. You support the local economy. The farms that provide CSA’s need subscribers like you to continue to operate, in some cases.  CSA’s may be their only means of income.
  4. It’s a less carbon footprint.  Our veggies only traveled 45 miles to get to us.   As opposed to coming from California, Mexico or Florida to Fargo ND.
  5. It’s fun!  You never know what you are going to get.  It’s like opening a present.
  6. It saves you a trip to the grocery store.   Some CSA’s actually deliver to your work place (if there’s enough interest).
  7. Many CSA’s are organic, so you are not getting veggies covered in synthetic fertilizers.

With all of those benefits, why not?  Especially if you do not have the ability to garden yourself.  As you are taking out the flip flops and the lawn furniture, why don’t you consider signing up for a CSA!  It is worth it in so many ways!

Gardening Inside? Why Not?

There is not much that I love more than being able to grow my own veggies.  Except my cats…and definitely my husband.  I do love to travel quite a bit too…BUT, I think it says quite a bit if you grow your own veggies, AND cook with them.  Eating fresh and organic veggies is not only healthy, but green.  And I am on a mission to be as green as possible.

I pinned something not long ago and I had to see how easy it was.  You can start growing your own celery from kitchen scraps.  You just start with what is left over after you have used all of your celery, place it in water for a few days, then replant it in soil.

You can also do this with green onions too.

This would be awesome, to grow your own pineapples.

And Romaine!  This is so cool!

If you are like me and do not have garden space to plant your own veggies – OR – you just love having fresh veggies when it’s snowing outside, try planting some of these veggies in a a small planter.  If you have enough space, or a sun room, you could literally keep yourself fed all winter long just by planting these veggies inside.

Weekly Going Green Tips

I had an idea while gardening this weekend.  I observed many little ways I was being green without even thinking about it and I want to share it.  I want to give you a couple of ways to be green a week and tell you why it’s a greener alternative.  This will be more than tips other websites give you.  I want to go a little further and find some research to support my ideals.  My first post like this will revolve around gardening.

  • I hate chemicals.  I equally hate dandelions, but I will never combine the two.  I decided to de-dandelion my yard without the use of chemical weed killers.  I just took my little gardening hand shovel and dug under the weed and pulled it up.   Environmental Health News states, “Roundup’s inert ingredients amplified the toxic effect on human cells…particularly embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells.”  This is easy to believe with the maker of Roundup being Monsanto, one of the largest producers of genetically modified seeds.
  • Mow efficiently.  I come from parents (my dad) who likes to make his lawn      look perfect.  He likes to mow zig-zag like.  I think he does this to one-up the neighbors who have an equally perfect lawn.  When I am out there mowing, I want to get it done quickly.  Also, mow when it’s morning or dusk.  During cooler parts of the day less gas fumes will burn off, ie more efficient.
  • Or you could change to an electric or human powered machine.  The Daily Green states, “a typical gas mower can be up to 30-times more polluting than an automobile.”
  • Lose the yard.  I wouldn’t suggest this if you use your yard lots for activities.  If you have a yard that is thin and doesn’t get enough sun, try using ground cover instead.  This stuff doesn’t need to get mowed.  I actually intend on digging up the east side of our house that is narrow and planting a flower garden and a path with ground cover.  I don’t like mowing back here anyways since it is so narrow.

That was just a few tips on going green in your garden.  Simple things you all can do.  I have been looking out for a human powered mower at our local thrift store.  My parents picked one up there that was almost brand new.  You never know what you will find at a thrift store.

Gardening Inspiration II

Sorry that I haven’t posted in a while.  It has been hard to do anything outside since it’s been cold and rainy.  And actually, I think that it is too early to be doing any gardening.  Last weekend I went to Lowe’s and a specialty garden store and they didn’t have any lilac bushes or lavender.  Those are the main things I am looking for.

I have started the garden process by having the City of Fargo come to our house and mark off where hidden electrical and plumbing so I can do some digging in our yard.

Once I get motivation to work hard in the garden, I intend on digging up all of the grass you see.  I want to remove all of the square concrete step stones, if that is what you want to call them.  Towards the right side, all the way to the back is where I plan to use the most colorful plants….roses, lilies etc.  A combination of all types of plants, perenials, annuals, bushes and grasses are what I am looking for.

Here are some more inspirational pictures that I have taken ideas from:

1.  I love the choice of colors in this picture.  I want all of the different colors and heights of plants in this picture.

2.  I love the use of a archway with flowing colorful plants covering it.  I am not sure if I can fit one like this on my garden due to space, but I may have something for plants to grow on.

3.  I may not have a table and chairs like this in my garden, but I would like to have a little vignette, or even more comfortable seating with a little end table.

4.  I must have lots of lavender and plants that smell good.  They not only smell good, but look good too.

As you can see…I have a lot of work to do.  If it would get warm and stay warm long enough to get started I will get this project started.  I will post my progess as I start in case you need some gardening inspiration.


Earth Day 2012

Earth Day is coming up on April 22nd and it is always one of my favorite days out of the year.  I hear about companies making a switch to operating in a more green fashion and it gives me hope that some day we will change our behavior as a nation.

I have been green since I was a kiddo.  I used to help my dad crush cans, and my parents always separated recycling.  My dad would compost grass clippings and we would always have fresh veggies from our own garden.  And my mom has also passed on her canning knowledge to me.  I have only expanded my desires to seek a more green life.

Somethings that I do to reduce my impact (and now seem unnoticeable):

1.  Bike to work once in a while (when it isn’t cold, raining, snowing or windy).

2.  Hang my clothes on the line to dry.

3.  Drive more efficiently (keep the car empty, I don’t gun it on a green light and I break efficiently).  See this post from an article I posted on driving more efficiently.

4.  I eat garden fruits and veggies.  We subscribe to a CSA for organic veggies and can what we can to save our extra share for the winter months.  It helps support the local economy and we are also eating organic.

5.  Turn off the lights.  I usually end up turning off the lights for my husband too.

6.  I use organic products.  I do not slather on lotions or hair sprays.  I find them un-useful anyways and very un-green.

7.  I keep things as long as they are still useful.  I keep my cellphones until they either don’t carry a charge longer than an hour, or don’t turn on any more.  My car is 12 years old and I don’t intend on upgrading.  I barely drive it anyways.  If things still have use, why throw it away?

8.  I recycle EVERYTHING.  More than just plastic, metal and glass.  I recycle all cardboard, magazines, phone books, clothes (donate to a thrift store), paper, junk mail,  batteries, light bulbs and electronic equipment.

9.  I survive on less.  I don’t like clutter and if I think I want to buy something, I put it back and think about it over night.  Usually I forget all about it, which means I didn’t really need it.

10.  Instead of using garage bags we use our pet food bags when they are empty.  They have a lining that is water proof and instead of throwing them away without using them we repurpose them into garbage bags.  I even ask my parents to save their pet food bags for us.

11.  I spread the word.  I like to get other people to understand the importance of recycling and living a simpler life.   I was told about “The Story of Stuff Project” from a friend at my Toastmaster club.  It gives a visual story of the life cycle of products and shows how wasteful we as humans are.

12.  I bring my own bags to grocery stores.  Or else if I can just carry it out I will just ask for no bag.  I also use a reusable lunch box and plastic food storage.

13.  I make my own laundry detergent.  We use green cleaners when we can.

14.  We buy in bulk whenever it is possible.

15.  I lean to purchasing green products and products that uses less packaging.  I love shopping at thrift stores because it is re-purposing goods that would otherwise be discarded.  I also bring in my unused retail hangers and shopping bags because they can use them.

I want to keep expanding on this list because there are so many ways that I live green in my daily life that I don’t even notice any more.  These things have become such a habit for me that is just routine.  My husband needs reminding on what can be recycled and such but he supports me in my desire to live a green life.


Inspiring DIY Green Projects

I am sorry that I haven’t crafted anything lately.  It is so hard to start something after a long day of work; where all you want to do is sit on the sofa and nod off.  I have lots of projects that I want to start.  I have a garden ready to go in and a house that I need to empty.  We had our house on the market since August last year at least and no offers.  We heard about someone who wanted to rent so we are about to hand over the keys.  At least we will have a few less bills, for now anyways.

I also had someone from the city come to our house and mark all of the underground wires and pipes so when I want to dig up my yard I know where to avoid.  These are a few of my weekend projects.  I do also want to start some of my projects that I have been saving things for.

Until then, I found a few websites/projects on the web that were an inspiring way to use trash.  I hope you enjoy them.

DIY Broom made out of pop bottles.

Candy wrapper handbags.

Plastic bag basket.

Light bulb terrarium.

Jean pocket cat bed.

Ok, so I threw that last one in there for the heck of it.  Wasn’t it cute?  If you don’t know me, one thing you will find out is I LOVE cats.  Like, crazy LOVE.  Right now I have my 22 lb orange kitty Milo on my left, and my black angora kitty kneading my leg on my right.  Across the room, my girl kitty keeps her distance.  She is a little skiddish.  Milo is the only one who knows his name.  The other two I just call kitty.  At age 9, it is probably too late to teach them their real names: Hansel and Gretel.

This weekend I plan on getting started gardening.  I would like to put in a lilac bush by our kitchen window, and I plan to dig up an unused portion of our yard and put plants in.  I want to cut down on time and gas used on mowing that section, so why not put in some weather resistant grasses and such?  I can’t wait until weekend…


Gardening Inspiration

Now is the time of year that you start to think about getting your garden in.  I have been able to find a few projects that I want to make that includes adding some green to your indoor and outdoor spaces.

1.  I went shopping at Anthropology and was inspired by their succulent displays.  They were using different size milk cartons and filling them with concrete.  The rough exterior of the concrete mixed with softness of the succulents is a nice juxtaposition for a garden.  I found this on pinterest so I may use some combination of square and round.

2.  I have been collecting different styles of wine bottle and beer bottles and wanted to cut them for either vases or like this outdoor lighting.  This looks like a cool project for those of you who entertain outside.

3.  I always wanted an herb garden for inside but since we have 3 cats we could never figure out how to keep them out of it.  I am going to try this for our most popular herbs like basil, cilantro and chives so we don’t need to go out in our garden when we are cooking.

4.  Finally, I am going to plant some succulents.  I just love the look of them when you have several colors and sizes next to each other.  We have a large porch that I will plant some of these to add interest to our otherwise boring porch.

I hope these ideas have left you inspired to add a little green to your garden.  If you have any other creative crafting or gardening ideas I would love to hear about them.