The Benefits of Using Row Covers

  • Like on Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Pin It

row covers tomatoes raised garden bed

Row covers are a great way to keep certain things in your garden {i.e. heat} and later on in the season, certain things OUT of your garden {i.e. pests}.  They are cheap, effective, and even though some people think they are an eyesore, I see them as kind of charming. I always think, “Oh, a gardener.  Awesome. Solidarity, my friend, solidarity.”

How to Build a Row Cover or Mini Greenhouse Poly Tunnel

Row covers, depending on your climate, can extend your season by up to a month on each end, spring and fall.  In the spring, they help keep the soil warmer, essentially letting the little seedlings know it’s safe to do their business.  Floating row covers, like the ones I use, have some sort of support system, like PVC pipe bent in an arch over garden boxes, to keep the cover from sitting directly on the plants.

spinach growing in a greenhouse

It is not always necessary to use supports, if you get a lightweight row cover, you can simply drape it over the plants.  Though, lightweight covers do more for controlling pests than cold.  Essentially, by using a hooped row cover, you create a very cheap, efficient mini greenhouse.  When protecting your plants from cold, you really want to go with a plastic row cover.  The heavier the plastic, the better the protection–though, the less light that penetrates, so you have to make the decision based on your climate.

fabric row cover

Fabric row covers are awesome for keeping pests, like beetles, birds, squirrels, etc. OUT of the garden.  They are specifically designed to let air and light in and keep varmint {I don’t use that word enough} out.  The cool thing about cloth row covers is that they can be draped over the plants without support, like a little blanket of protection.  They really only provide light protection for frost, though, so don’t rely on them heavily there.  They are cheap, can be easily cut to size, and are pretty easy to work with and store to use over and over again.

eliot coleman four season farm greenhouse

Year-round gardeners swear by hoop frames and row covers.  They are like a poor man’s greenhouse.  I think it will take a little trial and error, but so far, I have been really impressed with my row cover hoop house.  If you want to start using row covers for year round gardening, here’s a few tips:

First, spread down some sort of mulch, use leaves, straw {seedless variety} about 12″ thick over the top of your veggies.  Then, cover your frame with a row cover.  The combination creates a perfect environment for year round production of cool weather veggies {i.e. carrots, parsnips, turnips, etc.}.  If you live in a SUPER cold area, you can even consider providing an additional layer of row cover to further insulate.

What do you think, are you ready to give row covers a try?  Or, maybe you have been using them for years and have learned some tricks you’d like to share?

~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 Ripen Green Tomatoes

  • Like on Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Pin It

How to Ripen Green Tomatoes

Now that the weather is getting colder, those last tomatoes still hanging on the vine may need an intervention if you want them to ripen.  Then again, you may have all sorts of recipes for green tomatoes, but if not, you can try a couple of these methods to squeeze the most out of your tomato crop:

Mavis Garden Blog - 5 Tips for Ripening Tomatoes on the Vine

If it is just a light first frost, cover your tomatoes and leave them on the vine.  Tomatoes need to reach about 85 degrees to ripen, so giving them another week or two of day time temperatures will probably get them to ripen.  Meanwhile, once nighttime temperatures start to drop, you probably won’t get any new tomatoes, so pinch off all of the flowers from here on out so that the plant can use all of its resources to ripen the existing tomatoes.

what-should-I-do-with-green-tomatoes

If it is a hard freeze you are facing, it’s time to pick ALL of the tomatoes.  Bring them inside, tomatoes that have a slight orange hue will likely ripen on their own {kind of like the grocery store tomatoes have to}.  You can try ripening totally green tomatoes by placing them in a warm place and layer them in between newspaper.  The newspaper helps trap the ethylene gas that causes tomatoes to ripen.

how to ripen green tomatoes

Some tomatoes will rot in the process, this is totally normal.  Just remove those tomatoes and compost/throw them away so that they don’t affect the whole lot.  For smaller amounts, place the tomatoes in a paper bag with an apple or banana.  The fruits will give off ethylene gas, which in turn, will ripen the tomatoes {in theory}.  In both cases, check the tomatoes daily for progress.

It’s always so sad to say goodbye to tomato season. :(

~Mavis

canning-green-tomato-curry-sauce

Don’t forget to use some of those tomatoes to can a batch of Green Tomato Curry Sauce. It’s freakin’ delicious!

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.

Give the Gift of Seeds: The Gift That Keeps on {Growing}

  • Like on Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Pin It

savings-seeds-and-giving-them-as-gifts1

So I’m all about gifting things that are unique, homemade or super long-lasting. These fun gifts I’m talking about in my latest eHow article, Give the Gift of Gardening This Winter, cover all three.

What if I told you now is the perfect time to get a jump start on your holiday gifts?

Because seriously, it is.

I was out in the garden collecting herbs last night when I noticed my chive plants were dropping seeds like bombs! So what’s a thrifty gardener to do? Collect seeds and package them up nice and cute for some inexpensive holiday gifts, of course.

Read the full article HERE.

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.

Friday Night at the Movies – Sixteen Candles

  • Like on Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Pin It

I’m still truckin’ along on my John Hughes kick.  Tonight, I’m planning on watching Sixteen Candles.  I like to re-watch it every few years because…well, it’s awesome.  If you haven’t seen it {you’ve been living under a rock, and it’s time to come out…kidding}, it’s about a girl whose family forgets her 16th birthday.  It’s “what’s happenin’ hot-stuff,” so you should totally check it out :) .

16 candles

Have you have already seen it?  Did you love it? Hate it? Can’t wait to watch it over and over?

Peace out Girl Scouts & have yourself a great weekend,

~Mavis

PicMonkey Collage

Looking for more movies?

Check out the full list of my Friday Night at the Movies Selections or click on over & look at all the movies on Amazon Instant Video. There are a ton of videos to choose from that will cost you absolutely nothing {nada, zilch, free-o} with Amazon Prime; like thousands of regular movies & TV shows & hundreds of documentaries {Wahoo!}. Get all the details HERE!

 

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.

Mavis Garden Blog – My Fall Window Box Needs Something… But What?

  • Like on Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Pin It

planting ornamental cabbage

I stopped by the garden center last night and couldn’t help but notice all the ornamental cabbage for sale. I don’t know what it is about them but every fall I get sucked into buying a bunch of cabbage at the garden center for my front porch and window box.

mini pumpkin

They even had these gorgeous pumpkins for $0.99! How’s a girl to resist with a price like that?

planting a fall window box

Anywho, as I started planting I quickly realized I needed more plants. But what kind? The only choices right now are chrysanthemums {barf} or pansies. I mean if I get desperate I could go the purple pansy route, but I’m hoping YOU have some other suggestions.

What else should I be looking for that would go with the green, purple and orange theme I’ve got going on?

fall window box with pumpkins and cabbage

Any suggestion you have would be greatly appreciated. {Said the girl with OCD who won’t be happy until her garden box is stuffed full of fall goodness!} ;)

~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 Save Seeds for Next Years Garden

  • Like on Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Pin It

How to Save Seeds for Next Years Garden

Saving seeds year after year can be a real money saver in the garden.  By saving the BEST of what you’ve grown year after year, the plants will adapt to your soil/climate and become naturally disease resistant.  The best part is that saving seeds is waaaay easier than people think.

If you are new to seed saving, here’s a quick guide to get you started:

silica-gel-packets

You’ll Need

Silica gel packets {I’ve been known to save these from other things that I buy}
Envelopes or Containers {to store seeds in}
Plate and/or bowl
Paper Towels
Sieve

how to grow bean seeds

Directions

First, make sure the seeds that you are saving are from open-pollinated plants {the original seed packet should tell you}.  Hybrids and cross pollinated plant seeds will not produce the same plant/fruit year after year.

Each plant is a little different. For beans and peas,  dry pods on the vine and harvest when they rattle in the pod and their skins are papery thin. remove the beans, and freeze them overnight to kill any bugs before storing them in an airtight container.

yellow pepper seeds

For peppers, melons, and squash cut open the ripened fruit and scoop out the seeds.  Rinse the seeds thoroughly {for sweeter fruits, like melons, you may want to use a mild dish soap to get all of the sugars off of the seeds.  Lay the rinsed seeds on a plate and gently pat them dry with a paper towel.  Leave the seeds on the plate to air dry completely.  This may take a few days {make sure to keep the plate in a pretty non-humid place}.

How to Save Your Tomato Seeds

Tomatoes are the most time consuming seeds to save {also the most worth it}.  For a full set of instructions, go HERE.

For cucumbers, gently cut open the fruit {so as not to cut the seeds while opening it}.  Scrape the seeds into a small sieve and rinse well.  As you are rinsing, gently rub the seeds along the bottom of the sieve to remove the coating.  Allow the seeds to dry as you would the peppers, melons, and squash.

When the seeds have dried completely, place them into marked envelopes.  To store the seeds long term, you’ll want to throw in a silica gel package to keep the moisture out.  Seeds can be stored indefinitely in the freezer {place envelopes into an air tight container and place several silica gel packets into the container}.  For year to year storage, a cool dark place like the fridge is best.  Either way, when it is time to use the seeds, DO NOT OPEN the container until is has come to room temperature.  That will keep the moisture out of your seeds.

That’s basically it.  Have any of you saved your seeds year after year?  Do you have stronger plants because of it?

~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.

Apples and Corn… Bring it On!

  • Like on Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Pin It

corn

Last night the HH brought me home two boxes of FREE corn from his buddy Farmer Ted. Lucky for me, this years harvest didn’t coincide with our anniversary.  Nope. He got me a real gift this year.

shucking corn

I was in a really good this morning {like in I got 10 hours of sleep last night!} and so shucking the corn was a snap. In fact I actually felt kind of giddy afterwards. Weird. I know.

transparent yellow apples

So I decided to check in on my yellow transparent apple tree and was pleasantly surprise at the bumper crop we are enjoying this year. It’s the weirdest thing. No apples for 4 years then BAM… {the picture above represents about 1/5 of the apples we’ll be able to harvest this fall}. Not to shabby if you ask me.

making applesauce

Why is it that sometimes gardening and canning can seem like a chore, and other times. it’s makes you feel so alive?

See you later alligator…. I’ve got some canning to do.

~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.

It’s Time to Plant Lettuce in the Greenhouse!

  • Like on Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Pin It

greenhouse gardening

It was a big chore, but I harvested the rest of our tomatoes and cucumbers from the greenhouse yesterday, and by the end of the afternoon, I was pretty exhausted from hauling pots. Now all that’s left to do in the greenhouse is sweep the floor and scrub the glass window-pains and the greenhouse will be ready for fall.
planting lettuce seeds

I also started 2 gutters with lettuce seeds. This fall I’m growing rocket lettuce {have you tried it? It’s super spicy} and a blend of mixed salad greens. With a little luck the lettuce should be ready to harvest around the early part of November.
planting lettuce seeds in a greenhouse

Growing lettuce in gutters is s piece of cake! Installing greenhouse gutters is super easy too. I typically start my strawberries, chard, lettuce and other greens in them in the spring and then fill them with more lettuce seeds in the fall. So far I’ve had great success with the planting method.
growing lettuce in greenhouse gutters

I use a traditional mix of potting soil so the gutters don’t get heavy, but I’m sure anyone with a green thumb can tell you gardening can be the best workout on the planet {both mentally and physically}. :)
growing seeds in gutters

And now the hard part begins.

Ahh summer! I’m sad to see you go.

~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.

Monthly Garden Chores for September- East Coast Edition

  • Like on Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Pin It

1September – and my first-born begins HIGH SCHOOL. Did I say the words High School, cause I’m pretty sure I said Kindergarten just the other day.

On the upside, it’s September here in New England, which means we get a bit more summer hidden in between cooler spells – the warm weather feels like we’re cheating winter and that’s A-OK with me.2

September is also strangely satisfying. The kids go back to school and a regular schedule that my OCD self looooooves has been re-introduced and my garden is mass-producing produce. The chickens are being stuffed daily with gifts from the garden and getting spoiled horribly, and I’ve begun canning continuously.

In addition, I’ve discovered two new food dishes that I love. Kale chips {Mavis is a huge fan hahaha}! I ate a whole tray before I knew what happened {ps: don’t eat a whole tray, it’ll upset your stomach}, it was soo good though and I love the texture! And breakfast burritos. Now that the boy is a freshman and has a very demanding schedule with classes, late and early hockey practices- his sleep will be very… well, odd. So, I figured, the least I could do is feed him a not-cereal breakfast in the morning. By altering the recipe to his taste buds a bit, with no potatoes and adding banana peppers, he christened it delicious and I made a whole batch that are happily frozen and ready for Monday morning. Score one for mom. I think I’ll try Mavis’s Egg & Cheese Breakfast Sandwiches next. I’m pretty sure he’ll love those too.3

Seeds I’m Starting Indoors this Month

Not having any fresh veggies over the winter has become an intolerable thought. And although my yard would not support {either in space or position to the sun} a greenhouse, I’ve decided on a cold frame. I’m thinking I can add to my garden box to create a cold frame. Step 1: create yet another project for myself {done}. Step 2: collect supplies {I’ve hunted down some old windows}. Step 3: Build {uuuuugggh}. I’ll keep you posted. Did I mention I’ve already planted some lettuce? I, eeer, ummm, the HH better get crackin!

What I Plan to Transplant Outside this Month

I’ve got a bit of transplanting to do this month. I’ve got a few plants I’d like to add, split and generally re-arrange. Hostas and other local perennials do well to be divided every 2-3 years. If you just can’t use them put the call out to your friends and give them away. I have a couple of local FB groups that focus on gardens/environment and can always find someone who would like to use them.

Plants and/or Bulbs I Plan to Purchase this Month

I’m still hatching a plan to convince the HH that apple trees {only TWO} would look good in our unused “side yard” in our suburbia neighborhood. Wish me luck as I hatch mission: apple pie.

Keep a close eye on local plant nurseries this month, this time of year they’ll want to clear out their stock and prepare for spring deliveries. Last year I bought three {5 year} blueberry bushes and three container raspberries bushes for 50% off!! Total score.4

What I Plan to Harvest This Month

Holy smokes – what won’t I harvest. I’m on my 5th basket {each 14lbs} of plum tomatoes, which happens to be enough for a full crock-pot of peeled and chopped tomatoes that yields 5-6 pints of canned tomato sauce. So the tomato sauce stash is looking pretty good so far. And I’ve got another one sitting on the counter waiting for me.5

I’ve been faithfully collecting and drying herbs all summer including mint, chocolate mint, chamomile and lemon balm for teas, and oregano, thyme, and rosemary for cooking.6

Jalapenos – do I have jalapenos. Yes, the answer is yes. Bags and bags of cut, seeded, sliced, rinsed and frozen jalapenos. The HH is borderline gleeful over my stockpile of jalapenos.7

Corn. Although I don’t have the space to grow corn, I have visited the farmer down the street for five dozen ears and have shucked, cooked, cut and frozen bags of corn.8

Potatoes. The potatoes did pretty well in my raised garden box, and I got about a dozen big-sized potatoes, which is enough for Thanksgiving dinner. And a boatload of small sized potatoes, which will be perfect for breakfast potatoes. Overall I’ve decided that potatoes are just too cheap and my garden space just too small to use a whole garden box for a few dozen potatoes, so next year I’ll re-allocate the box to something I can freeze or can.9

Carrots – of the few that made it to full-grown carrot size have really blossomed. They are huge. I plan on digging them up for Thanksgiving dinner.10

Volunteerism in a great thing. These cucumbers, however, might very well grow legs and take over the universe. Check this out – incredible. There are mini cucs growing now so we’ll see how they do over the next month.

Remember the winter sowing experiment I did last winter? Well, I am totally doing it again – it worked like a charm! I grew an entire bed of perennial bloom seeds which has created a nice little border of wild flowers for my garden. And the beginning of my lavender hedge is looking pre-tt-y good also. Next year I expect these two sections to really take off!11

Chickens

Now is a good time before it gets too cold to give the coop a good, thorough, cleaning. Over the year I have continuously thrown in bags of leaves and/or straw for the chickens to play in, when you add leftover chix scraps and chicken poo, you end up with rockin’ compost. Scoop all that out and add it to an empty garden bed, then restock the coop with more leaves and/or straw. Check your coop for signs of insects, critters or anything else unsavory and take measures to remedy it. Note to self; that hawk sitting on the tree stump licking it’s chops over your chickens is not there for a playdate – now is also the time to repair the coop/roof and secure the pen if needed.

Houseplants and Indoor Bulbs

There are definitely some things to be done around here in this arena. I just realized there are plants I got when the boy was a baby – 15 years these plants have been kickin’ around in the same pots, in the same soil. Re-potting and dividing these monsters may not get done in September, as I am currently swimming in tomatoes, but it’s on my list. If you’ll be re-potting too, make sure to use a sterile potting soil, not garden/compost soil. If you are good about watering your houseplants, the compost soils retain too much water and the plants rot. If you’re like me, and water sparingly, the compost soil will accumulate too many salts and die.

Trees and Shrubs

After a severe scale infestation last winter, my lil lemon tree has recuperated and doing great! Look how nice and lush he looks.

Weed and Pest Control

Weeding the front walk is absolutely no fun. We’ve thought about paving it, but the sewer entrance is directly under it. I’ve sprayed it with the vinegar combo {1 gallon of vinegar + 2 cups of Epson salt + 2 tbls of dish soap, shake and spray} and it works really well. But I’ve found the best weed control – are my kids. Come home late from curfew? Go weed. Talk back and/or general disrespect? Go weed. Don’t do your chores? Go weed. Weeding worked for me {although now I find it a bit of a zenning moment} and it’ll work for them. Guess I should call my mom, she’s sure to find that hilarious.

Lawn Care

This is a big month for the lawn; it’s generally time to prepare it for next spring. Just as you will put your garden “to bed”, the same thing goes for the lawn. Keep in mind that mid Oct. is your end date. So September is the time to get everything done. Aerate {core is better than pine} and seed. Then fertilize.

How is your garden going? Because I’ll be rotating crops and removing some {like potatoes} and adding another box of a successful crop {plum tomatoes} I’m wondering… what was your most successful and/or useful crop?12

I’m off to pick, cut, clean, steam, pack, and can veggies…

**These garden chores are based on my Zone 5b Southeast/Boston MA location. Find your garden zone HERE.

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.

Friday Night at the Movies – Uncle Buck

  • Like on Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Pin It

I’m on a John Hughes kick lately.  He seriously puts out what I would call the “classics” of the 80′s and 90′s.  This weekend, I am going to watch Uncle Buck.  In case you haven’t seen it, it’s about a couple who need someone to watch their kids while they head out of town on a family emergency.  The only option is the husband’s less-than-desirable brother:  Uncle Buck.  John Candy is awesome as Uncle Buck–seriously, you will quote this movie for the rest of your life.

I love revisiting my favorite comedies.  What’s your favorite John Hughes movie?  Maybe I’ll add it to my fall line-up.

PicMonkey Collage

Looking for more movies? Check out the full list of my Friday Night at the Movies Selections or click on over & look at all the movies on Amazon Instant Video. There are a ton of videos to choose from that will cost you absolutely nothing {nada, zilch, free-o} with Amazon Prime; like thousands of regular movies & TV shows & hundreds of documentaries {Wahoo!}. Get all the details HERE! Peace out Girl Scouts & have yourself a great weekend, ~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.

Recipes Garden Frugal Canning Chickens Travel