How to Make a Hoop House – Picture Tutorial

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how to make a hoop house

My buddy Heather made this hoop house . Check out her easy peasy directions.

I’ve made a few hoop houses in my day – some prettier, long lasting, and easier to use than others. But, as temporary hoop-houses go, I think I’ve nailed it. And better yet, for the low-low price of about $22 from your friendly Home Depot guys, you too can make your own Fancy-Schmancy hoop-house too! {I may have missed my calling as an infomercial queen!} ;)

Hoop House Supplies

how to make a hoop house

The first steps to making your hoop house are to make the end parts, which are waaaaay easier than you think it’s going to be. First measure the distance of where you will place the end pieces and, by screwing in two pipe ends to an extra piece of wood, you can create a jig.

making a hoop house from scratch

Then lay out the plastic (I did this in my living room because even a small breeze would be the equivalent to trying to do this with half a dozen toddlers).  Now, cut out around the pvc pipe and leave a 4”-5” border so you can wrap the plastic around the pipe and tape it down. Don’t worry about it being too tight, the plastic will fluctuate with the temperature anyway. Ta-daaaaah. Looks sweet huh? Now slide it out of your jig and make another.

building a hoop house

Grab that old hose and a sharp pair of scissors, pat yourself on the back for up-cycling, and get to work cutting that hose into sections of 12” or so. Then cut them down the middle like a hot dog bun. These hose pieces will act like grips to hold the plastic in place, I made 13.

making a hoop house

Now it’s time to screw the pipe ends to your wood boxes and put up your two end pieces that you made inside and add another pvc pipe in the middle for support (my boxes are 4’x8’). Oh heck ya, it’s looking awesome already.

tomato plants

At this point I skipped inside to get the tomato plants I seeded in January – whoo-hoo! – to plant in my hoop house.  They had way over grown their pots and unless I wanted to re-pot them again, I had to move them outside.  Normally, this is about 6 weeks too early, but with my handy-dandy-fancy-schmancy hoop house I can move them out into the garden now.

hoop house directions pictures

To add the last 9’x12’ plastic sheet on top, you’ll need a helper to hold it in place, and wedge the hose pieces on to secure them. (If the plastic touches the sharp tops of the tomato cages, like mine do in a few pieces, just put a bit of duct tape on the metal cages to buffer it and protect the plastic.)

The goal is to open the one side of the hoop house for watering and weeding without having to un-do the whole thing (my main gripe with previous hoop houses that I’d made/used) or try to water and weed from one of the ends (which is almost impossible).

hoop house polytunnel directions

For the back side, add several rocks or a heavy pieces of wood on the back end to hold the plastic in place and secure it to the ground.  On the front side tape the last ½” piece of pvc pipe to the plastic so you can roll it up and secure it on top for weeding in the garden box.

Now step back, do a little dance, and let’s kick off this gardening season early!

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.



How to Maintain a Healthy Flower Garden

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How to Maintain a Healthy Flower Garden

When I first started gardening, I did not really get the importance of integrating flowers.  I mean, I like them because they were pretty, they added curb appeal, etc.  Now, though, I see them as an important part of my garden.  When they are healthy and thriving, so is the rest of my garden.  They do most of the work in keeping a healthy, balanced garden by attracting bees and other beneficial insects to the yard.

I like to imagine they have little whistles to call in the pollinators {it’s possible I spend too much time with my plants}.

Here’s the 411 on maintaining a healthy flower garden:

  1. Soil.  Make sure to provide the right soil for however you plan on planting your flowers.  Potted flowers will suffocate in regular old dirt.  I usually make my own potting soil with my compost.  Flowers planted in flower beds also need a little TLC.  Laying down compost before you plant can provide much needed nutrients throughout the growing season.
  2. Give ‘em a little wiggle room.  Whenever I see those pre-potted flowers in the stores in the spring, I wonder what they will look like in a month or so.  They are so over-crowded.  They have a lot of initial appeal {probably to entice you into buying them}, but pretty soon, they start suffocating each other out.  Plants are like humans that way–in over-crowded conditions, they start to become diseased, fight for nutrients, and die back.  Not good.
  3. Fertilize.  I usually let my chickens do most of the fertilizing, but if you don’t have that option, a good organic fertilizer will help you maintain those bright blooms.
  4. Deadhead.  Pinching back faded blooms encourages new growth and makes your flowers the envy of your neighbors.  It’s win-win.
  5. Water.  Flowers will need you to adjust their watering schedule frequently throughout the growing season.  Water when the first 2″ of soil is dry.  I feel like flowers always hang their heads when they are dry, so you can usually tell by looking at them.  Like all plants, do not let them sit in water.  Their feet {roots} get soggy and it makes them very grumpy.
  6. Do a little research.  Some flowers offer a little more bang for their buck.  For example, Marigolds repel a lot of pests.  Companion planting with flowers is a great way to maintain an organic garden.

Any more tips you can think of for keeping your flowers looking and performing their best?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Ask Mavis Your Gardening Questions – How to Grow Potatoes

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potatoes in wheelbarrowThe gardening questions have been pouring in lately, so I thought I would try out a question/answer series for some of the questions.   So, if you have any questions about gardening mishaps or how-to’s, send them my way.  I’ll try to answer them the best I can.

Recently a reader asked:

I went to the store and got several types of potatoes to plant, but then I look at the sites and they are being harvested in September, so why do the country farm stores sell them so early in the spring? when should they be planted, I live in Anacortes, WA, , my potatoes are Yukon gold, Russian red fingerlings, russet, white fingerlings and some I didn’t find in the ground until two weeks ago, they all have different sized eyes or sprouts, I don’t know how long to grow the eyes before planting them.

I am still an experimental gardener but love it. last year I experimented with squash, none got big but they were fun to grow. I had a weird success with corn, the husks turned a beautiful dark red, then pink, the corn was small but each stalk got one ear.

blue seed potatoes

First, the stores are selling the seed potatoes because it is actually time here in Washington to start thinking about planting them. Ideally, you would put them in the ground 2-3 weeks before the last frost {but if for some reason it did frost after they had sprouted, they would most likely just die back and re-sprout}.

seed-potato-chitting

Having different sized eyes on different potatoes doesn’t really matter too much.  As long as they have “eyes” they are ready to plant.  If you decide to cut your larger seed potatoes into smaller bits, cut with a clean knife, making sure each bit has at least two eyes.

Then, allow them to sit in a cool dark place for 24 hours so that they can callous {which helps prevent them from being susceptible to disease once you put them in the ground}.  Also, if you aren’t ready to plant quite yet, just store your seed potatoes in the fridge until you are.

blue potato leaves

Most likely the September harvest date you are seeing on varying websites is confusing you because it isn’t actually when you put the potatoes in the ground that you start the countdown to harvest, it’s when you see the plants emerge from the soil.  Harvest dates vary, but I think around these parts, September is pretty accurate.  You will know it’s time to harvest when the plants die back and start to yellow.

potatoes

Hopefully, that answers your question.  If you have any more questions about how to grow potatoes, check out my detailed Potato Grow Guide.

~Mavis

the complete book of potatoes

Want to get the full low-down on growing potatoes?  Check out The Complete Book of Potatoes:  What Every Grower and Gardener Needs to Know

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

How to Harden Off Seedlings

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How to Harden Off Seedlings

Before I can transplant all of the plants I started indoors, I will have to harden them off.  Hardening off plants is basically acclimating plants that you started indoors to the outside weather.  It allows your plants to get used to the sun, wind, rain, etc. gradually–kind of like slowly allowing your kids to experience some of life’s harsh realities {only plants won’t eat all of your food and make your house smell like dirty socks}.

I usually harden off my plants for about seven days, but some people shoot for closer to two weeks. I have milder weather here, so it is a bit easier to get them used to the outside.  About a week before you plan to harden off your plants, you need to stop fertilizing them {if you use fertilizer} and scale back on the water.

How to Harden Off Seedlings zinnia

Start the process by leaving plants in a shady spot outside for a couple hours–but make sure to bring them in at night {my favorite spot is my front porch}.  Each day, gradually increase the amount of time you leave your plants outdoors, as well as how much direct sunlight they are exposed to.  After about 7 days, your plants should be ready to stay out all day and all  night {make sure to check temperature requirements for each plant to make sure it is staying warm enough at night}.

how-to-transplant-seedlings-swiss-chard

Once you have hardened off your plants, you can transplant them into the garden.  If possible, try to transplant them on a cloudy day {pretty much always possible in my neck of the woods} and water them in well.

That’s it, it’s like the final step before the actual gardening starts.  Weeee!

~Mavis

How to Grow More Vegetables

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

How to Grow Cauliflower {Start to Finish}

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white purple green cauliflower
For the past two years we have planted a packet of  the Chef’s Choice Blend Cauliflower seeds from Botanical Interests. Typically the only color of cauliflower you can find in the grocery store is white, but this packet contains three different colors; white, purple, and green. How cool is that? Eating a rainbow is pretty darn cool if you ask me.

If you are new to gardening, or are giving cauliflower a try this year, here are some handy dandy tips:

purple cauliflower

Brief description: Cauliflower is a mild vegetable that is part of the cabbage family.

Where to Plant Cauliflower:  Plant in raised beds, garden beds, and containers.  Cauliflower is a cooler weather plant, but does like full sun.

cabbage seedlings{thinning cauliflower seedlings}

Planting Seeds:  Plant seeds 1/4-1/2″ deep.  Thin to one per pot or 1 every 1-2′ when seedlings are 2″ tall.  If starting indoors, try to keep the soil temperature around 70 degrees.

cauliflower in winter

Growing Tips:   Keep soil evenly watered.  Do not allow plants to dry out completely in between watering.  If it gets hot in your area before harvest time, gently fold cauliflower leaves over the head to protect it from the heat.

cauliflower grown in fall

How to Harvest:  Harvest by cutting stalk just below the head.  Mature cauliflower is typically between 6-12″ in diamter.

regional planting guides

Are you ready to start your garden but you’re not sure when you should plant your seeds or set out your transplants? Head on over HERE and you’ll be taken to a handy dandy chart that is broken down into what vegetables should be planted {or transplanted} each month in your area.

Anyone can do this. Dirt + Seeds+ Water = Food!

~Mavis

Here are a few of my Favorite Cauliflower recipes: {try to list 3}

Easy Side Dish Recipes - Roasted Cauliflower with CurryRoasted Cauliflower with Curry

roasted cauliflowerRoasted Cauliflower

cauliflower hummus recipeCauliflower Hummus

Don’t like cauliflower?  If you don’t like cauliflower, try growing orange cauliflower.  It’s typically not at the grocery store, so it’s a gardener’s monopoly, and it tastes much sweeter than regular white cauliflower.

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

How to Grow Cabbage {Start to Finish}

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how to grow cabbage

A few days ago I transplanted some of my cabbage plants to the small garden plot along side our greenhouse. I must admit, I am not the biggest cabbage fan in the world buy my husband loves it, so that’s why I plant it. Well, and because it looks pretty darn cool in the garden too. ;)

If you are a newbie gardener, cabbage is one of the easiest vegetables to start from seed so pick a variety, and give it a try. If you have never grown cabbage before, here’s all you need to know.

cabbage seed packets

Brief description:  Cabbage is a cool season leafy vegetable.  It complements any stir-fry dishes, wraps and/or salads.

cabbage seedlings

Where to Plant Cabbage:   Raised beds, garden beds, and containers {makes a beautiful ornamental edible} in a place that gets at least 6 hours of sun per day.

cabbage seeds

Planting Seeds:  Plant seeds 1/4″ deep.  Thin to 1 every 13″-18″ {or one per pot} when seedlings are about 3″ tall.

raised garden beds cabbage

Growing Tips:   Cabbage is a cool weather crop–though it is not a huge fan of prolonged exposure to temperatures below 50 degrees.  It does best when it has a consistent uninterrupted growing cycle, so fertile soil and regular watering is best.

puggle dog in cabbage bed

How to Harvest:  Harvest by cutting off the heads at the base of the plant.  Toss out the outer leaves of the cabbage.

puggle puppies mavis butterfiled

Fact:  Cabbage has awesome health benefits.  One cup has 91% of your daily vitamin K requirements, 190% of your daily vitamin C, and 5 grams of fiber.  It is basically a superfood–so remember to take your daily cabbage. Ha!

regional planting guides

Are you ready to start your garden but you’re not sure when you should plant your seeds or set out your transplants? Head on over HERE and you’ll be taken to a handy dandy chart that is broken down into what vegetables should be planted {or transplanted} each month in your area.

Anyone can do this. Dirt + Seeds+ Water = Food!

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

How to Grow Onions the Easy Way

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red-onion-seedling

If you are planning on growing onions this year but want to do it the easy way, check out my latest article on eHow about how to grow onions the easy way.

Normally, I like to grow all my onions from seed. This year, however, I took the easy way out and bought a bundle of onion starts during a visit to a local home and garden show. It cost $4, which is about the same as two packets of onion seeds. Yes, the onion starts cost a little bit more, but by planting onion starts rather than onion seeds, I’ll be able to shave about three months off my growing time and pull my onions up in July rather than late September.

Go HERE to read the full article …

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

DIY Milk Jug Greenhouse – Winter Sowing

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DIY Milk Jug Greenhouse , Winter Sowing

Winter Sowing – have you heard of it? Basically, for those in colder climates, it’s magic says my friend Heather from Massachusetts.

Here’s what she had to say about the winter sowing and the milk jug greenhouses she made:

Milk Jug Greenhouse

It works like this: around January through March it’s time to make little tiny greenhouses from see-through milk jugs. Place your moistened soil and little seeds in there and seal it up. Then simply put it outside {without a lid} and let nature with all of it’s rain, snow, ice and wind do it’s thang.

Come pre-springtime your seeds will freeze and thaw as if they were out in the wild outdoors but we get the benefit of plants getting a head start and protection from the crisp air. Come springtime during the day open the lids for sunshine and air, be careful to close at night. When it’s time to plant your seedlings, put them directly into the garden – Mother Nature has already hardened them off.

This is especially awesome for perennials that take a while to get started or plants that need scarring because the freezing and unfreezing action does the scarring for you.

Milk Jug Greenhouse

Step 1: I texted all my friends with three or more kids {I was impatient to get started} :) and asked them to save their milk jugs – no explanation needed, they’re used to my bizarre projects.
Step 2: Discard the lid and cut around the milk jug except where the label is – it’ll act like a hinge.Milk Jug Greenhouse
Step 3: Punch holes in the bottom for drainage. This is surprisingly harder than I thought – I tried a knife {too skinny}, heating a screwdriver with a lighter {didn’t work} and finally settled on my handy-dandy drill which worked great.Milk Jug Greenhouse
Step 4: Fill with a couple of inches of moistened potting soil {I used a mix of potting soil, vermiculite and peat moss} in the jugs and plant your seeds according to directions.Milk Jug Greenhouse
Step 5: Seal your little mini greenhouses up with duct tape and label them so you know what’s-what come spring.
Step 7: Ready for Mother Nature!

Like seedlings, when the plants emerge in early spring, you’ll want to open up the lids during the day, watch them closely so they don’t dry out, and feed them a light liquid fertilizer.

Mother Nature does all the timing – sweet!
~ Heather

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

How to Grow Strawberries {Start to Finish}

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tri-star strawberry plants

In case you haven’t noticed, bundles of strawberry crowns are popping up everywhere. Grocery stores, nurseries, The Home Depot, you name it, they are everywhere right now so I decided to repost this tutorial on how to grow strawberries for those you who are new to gardening or just need a quick refresher course.

If you have never grown your own strawberries before they are super easy to grow and totally worth the wait. Typically you will find them in bundles of 10 or 25 crowns. I say plant as many as you have room for, but keep in mind most strawberries multiply like crazy, so if you don’t have a lot of extra room, maybe just start off with a few plants the first year.

how to grow strawberries

Brief description:  Strawberries are a sweet red easy-to-grow fruit.  Their size, taste, and harvest time depend on the variety you choose, so a couple of varieties can ensure you have strawberries all summer long.  {I grow Seascape and TriStar}

pallet garden strawberries

Where to Plant Strawberries:  Strawberries can be planted in raised beds, garden beds, as a ground cover, in pallet gardens, containers, and even hanging baskets.  {See what I mean about easy to grow?}  Wherever you plant them, just make sure it is in a sunny location.

grow strawberries in gutters{strawberries grown in gutters}

Planting Seeds:  I recommend getting starter plants from your local nursery or online.  They usually come in bundles of 25, and it really is the easiest, most cost effective way to start a strawberry garden, shy of pinching some runners off of your neighbors.  To plant purchased strawberry roots, dip them in a bucket of water to give them a little drink.  Then, dig a small hole, spread out the roots, stick them in the hole and cover them completely with dirt.  In a few weeks, you’ll have little green leaves.

strawberries grown in gutters

Growing Tips:  Strawberry plants are not great producers the first year, but should give great yields by the second growing season.  Unless they are a wild variety, they typically have a lifespan of 3 years.  After that point, berry production goes way down.  Pinching off runners and then replanting them or gifting them to the neighbors will ensure you get the most berries, as runners take valuable nutrients and energy away from the berry production.  Water consistently and don’t over-fertilize.  

strawberries

How to Harvest:  Harvest strawberries when they are firm, bright red, and fragrant–they taste best if you pick them 1-2 days after they fully develop in color.  To pick, simply pluck them off the plant at the stem.

regional planting guides

Are you ready to start your garden but you’re not sure when you should plant your seeds or set out your transplants? Head on over HERE and you’ll be taken to a handy dandy chart that is broken down into what vegetables should be planted {or transplanted} each month in your area.

Anyone can do this. Dirt + Seeds+ Water = Food!

~Mavis

Here are a few of my Favorite Strawberry recipes:

Strawberry Kiwi Jam Recipe

Strawberry Kiwi Jam strawberry-pie

Strawberry Pie

Strawberry and Nutella Crepes with Bananas

Strawberry and Nutella Crepes with Bananas

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

How to Grow Beets {Start to Finish}

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mavis butterfield garden blog

Yesterday, after the rain finally stopped, Lucy the Puggle Dog and I went outside and planted an entire 4×8 garden box full of beet seeds. Growing up I only liked pickled beets, but as I’ve learn to cook them over the last few years, I’ve really fallen in love with them.

The Handsome Husband and I both love them, but the kids? Well, they haven’t exactly acquired a taste for them just quite yet. But I’m sure at some point they will. ;)

botanical interests seed packets beets

This year I planted 4 varieties:

what do beet seeds look like

If you have never grown beets before {or just need a little refresher, here are a few tips:

Brief description: Beets are a sweet and delicious root veggie.

Where to Plant Beets:  Plant in raised beds and/or garden beds. 

beets

Planting Seeds:  Plant outdoors 2-4 weeks before the average last frost.  For best results, soak seeds for 8-24 hours before sowing–they will germinate faster.  Plant seeds 1/2″ deep {about 3 seeds every 4″}.  When seedlings are 2″ tall, thin to one every 4″.

heirloom beets

Growing Tips:  Beets are a cool weather crop.  They can be sown in early spring or late summer for a fall crop.  They like even moisture, so don’t let the soil dry out–mulching in the hot months will keep them cool and happy.   

picture of giant heirloom beets

How to Harvest:  Harvest when beets are 1-1/2″ to 3″ in diameter.   You can harvest the leaves for salads, cooking or garnishes.  You can also, obviously, harvest the actual beet.  You can either pull them out or dig them out–it’s really a personal preference, though, if you dig them out, make sure not to slice the beet with your shovel.  Wait to wash your beets until you are ready to use them, they will last longer that way.

regional planting guides

Are you ready to start your garden but you’re not sure when you should plant your seeds or set out your transplants? Head on over HERE and you’ll be taken to a handy dandy chart that is broken down into what vegetables should be planted {or transplanted} each month in your area.

Anyone can do this. Dirt + Seeds+ Water = Food!

~Mavis

Here are a few of my Favorite Beet recipes:

roasted Red Beet & White Bean HummusRoasted Red Beet and White Bean Hummus

Roasted Beet Salad with Oranges and Walnuts

Roasted Beet Salad with Oranges and Walnuts

 

easy summer recipes raw beet carrot slawGrated Raw Beet Salad

how-to-can-pickled-beets

How to Can Beets

Interesting Fact:  About 10-15% of all U.S. adults experience beeturia (a reddening of the urine) after consumption of beets.  This is important stuff to know, don’t you agree?  Ha!

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

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