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 Make Compost

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How to Make Compost

I’m pretty seriously diving into my job as a dirt farmer this year.  I have always composted, but I’m really turning it up a notch.  After watching The Greenhorns, I really identified with the farmer who said he wanted to leave his patch of earth better than he found it.  Yessirree Bob, I do.  If you plan on taking your dirt to the next level {cue the loud music and cheers}, here’s a couple of tips:

Compost is like the i-ching of healthy soil.  It’s totally worth the little tiny bit of effort–plus is reduces your overall footprint.  Seriously, you will be amazed at how little garbage you actually have after composting {especially if you recycle in your area too}.

There are literally a ton of different methods of composting.  You can start simple and just compost your kitchen scraps indoors.  This works great if you live in an apartment or in the city, where outdoor space is at a premium.

How-to-Build-a-Compost-Bin-Out-of-Wood-Pallets

 What to Make Compost In?

If you really want to turn it up a notch, then having a composting bin outside is the way to go.  You can cook larger batches this way.  If you don’t mind the unsightly aspect of composting, then your can just start yourself a compost pile just about anywhere.

Some people just keep a coffee can in the freezer, fill it, and then take it out to the garden, dig a hole, dump it in and let nature do the rest.  I prefer to keep mine somewhat contained at least.  This simple DIY pallet compost bin works great, and cost me only a few dollars to make.

There are tons of enclosed compost systems, that are nice because they keep the critters out.  My pal Lola has one that is a big barrel that she can spin each time she adds to it, so it is super low effort.  Whatever you choose to cook your compost in, make sure it is easy to get to, so you won’t be tempted to just throw stuff away.

Where Do I Put the Composter?

You can put your composter just about anywhere that has, either dirt already, or is in a sunny {or semi-sunny} location that is away from being over watered.

how to compost kitchen scraps

What Should I Compost?

  • Kitchen Scraps
  • Grass Clippings
  • Cardboard
  • Prunings {though wood should be cut down into 1″ pieces and be aware, they will take A LONG time to bread down}
  • Sawdust
  • Chicken, cow, horse, pig manure
  • Young weeds {don’t use the ones that have gone to seed!}

A good rule of thumb is to make sure that you get a more or less equal combo of “greens” and “browns” in  your compost.  Make sure to turn your compost frequently with a pitch fork or shovel to encourage faster cooking times.

How Do I Know When My Compost Is Ready?

Compost is ready when the ingredients all have turned a deep, dark brown color.  The mixture will have an earthy smell, as opposed to its previous rotting garbage smell.  It may not be perfectly dirt-like–bits of sticks or eggshell may not break down completely, and that’s okay, it’s still usable.  Remember, though, that compost can be EXTREMELY fertile {also referred to as “hot”}, so it’s best to spread it out in the beds 2-3 months prior to planting, or allow it to sit for several months before using.

Do you have any composting tips?

~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 March – East Coast Edition

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This is a guest post written by my buddy Heather from Massachusetts.  I thought it would be fun this year to post Monthly Garden Chores from both the West Coast and East Coast. You can see my March garden plans for my Seattle, Washington garden HERE.

Monthly Garden Chores for March – East Coast Edition

Aaaaahhh March. Even though it’s just March, it’s March, which kinda feels like the light at the end of the dark, dark, winter tunnel. Literally, the sun is out earlier and staying out later which makes a huge mental difference and makes me want to plant things – any thing!

My New Year’s promise this month to make one “new” dinner a month is chugging right along. This month I made Mavis’s Homemade Pizza, Ritz Cracker Chicken, Oatmeal with Caramelized Bananas, and the Chicken Tortilla Casserole.

botanical interests seed packets

Seeds I’m Starting Indoors this Month

I’ve started 12 Italian Romo tomato plants and a flat of Romaine lettuce a flat of Butterhead at the beginning of February, which are doing great. I also had started some organic celery in water until it sprouted and then planted it, which surprisingly worked really well! Lastly, I started basil and cilantro in two glass bottles – terrarium style.

milk jug greenhouse

I’m also giving winter sowing a whirl this winter. For those of us in cold climates, it’s basically magic. I’ve started 29 winter sowing greenhouses so far (Perennial Bloom, Marigold, Hidcote Lavender, Chervil, Aubrietia, Bishops flower, Echinacea, and Lemon Balm as well as Broccoli, Kale, Swiss Chard and Brussel Sprouts). I’ll be using the perennials I grow in the winter sowing greenhouses to create a flower fence around my garden to encourage more bee activity.

indoor grow lights

March will be a busy planting month, now will be the time to start all my cold weather plants (broccoli, brussels sprouts, more lettuce) under the grow lights so I can put them out as soon as I can turn the soil (right now it’s still hard as a rock). I’ll also start peppers and eggplants under the grow lights so I can put them out first thing after the first frost in May.

What I Plan to Transplant Outside this Month

Odds are we’ll still get another major storm or two in March or April, so until May I’ll sneak downstairs and whisper sweet nothings to the plantlings under the grow lights.

Plants and/or Bulbs I Plan to Purchase this Month

Well, I don’t have any plans to buy more seeds or bulbs – but you know how that goes! Every time I walk into the feed store, I get trapped by that wall-o-seeds. I can’t be the only one, I mean they’re only a dollar or so and they hold such promise. ;)

regrowing celery

What I plan to Harvest This Month

My lettuce is only about 3” high so hopefully by the end of this month I’ll be harvesting some homegrown lettuce – even if just enough for a baby salad.

meyer lemon tree blooms

Trees and Shrubs

Last week I declared to the hubbahubba that I was going to rip out the front boxwood hedge along the front of the house. It’s scraggly, thin, and prickly and I HATE it. I must’ve caught him at the perfect moment because he said, and I quote “whatever you want wifely”. SWEET! It’s gonna be hard work, but the second the ground thaws I’ll be out there singing while I dig with my handy-dandy pick axe. I have plans to replace it with a Hidcote Lavender row.

Now’s also the time to thin the blueberry and raspberry bushes in preparation for new sprouts.

Weed and Pest Control

Alas, my lemon tree has absolutely been invaded and covered with scales. From what I understand I could use a chemical treatment (not likely) or non-chemical treatment (wipe down the ENTIRE plant with rubbing alcohol then spray it down completely with cottonseed oil, repeat until gone, wear gloves and try not to gag – those scales are nasty!) However neither treatment can be done until the weather is above 30*. Yikes – that won’t be for another week – I hope lemon can hold on that long.

diy chicken tractor

Chickens

Chickens are funny critters. I found that if I throw some pine shavings over the snow they’ll go out and hang out and hang out in the pen.

PS: the woodworking project went well, however I have to admit I choose the times to build in the living room very strategically (read: when the HH was not home). J Check it out – how do you like my chicken tractor?

snow blower winter

Lawn Care
Lawn Care this month is revolving strictly around re-arranging snow. Sure, you can call it shoveling or snow blowing but when you get right down to it – it’s just a hobby built around rearranging snow. :)

**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 – Google Me

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With all of the time we all spend “googling” every thought that pops into our heads, I thought I’d better add Google Me to my watchlist.

It’s about a guy, who late one night decides to google his own name.  After a list of people pop up, he decides he to create a documentary of how he connects with all of the resulting people.  He travels all over the world to hunt down people and experience their lives with them.  There are seriously millions of ways to use google–this one is quirky and unique, so it might be a fun watch, we’ll see?

 google me

Let me know what you think if you decide to watch it–or if you have already seen it.

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.

Picking the Right Tomato Seeds for Your Garden

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heirloom-tomatoes

If you are planning on growing tomatoes from seed this year but don’t know where to start, check out my latest article on eHow about picking the right tomato seeds for your garden.

Should I Use Heirloom or Hybrid Seeds?

Hands down, heirlooms are better! Think about it, back in the day people saved the seeds of their favorite tomato varieties not only because saving seeds was the frugal thing to do, but heirloom tomatoes have always tasted better than the hybrid varieties seed companies and stores were selling. Sure, some varieties of heirloom tomatoes might look a little funky…

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.

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.

How to Plant an Herbal Tea Garden

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How to Plant an Herbal Tea Garden

I think we have established how much I LOVE tea.  If not, let’s just say, it is my faithful sidekick, so growing a garden that I can literally turn into tea seems like the logical next step.  Point being, I’m thinking about doing one this year.

All you need to grow an herbal tea garden is a sunny spot–and not a very big one at that.  Most of the herbs you grow for tea are also pretty to look at, so if you don’t have a spot outdoors, try a sunny window sill inside.  If you are planting them outside, you can plant them in pots or straight into  your garden beds {except for the mint–you will regret it if you don’t plant it in pots, it spreads and gets out of control fast}.  I’m thinking I am going to keep mine in pots, herb garden style.

lavender field

Here’s a list {not an exhaustive one, by any means} of herbs you can grow:

  1. Lavender.  Seriously, it adds a really nice flavor to tea and has a calming effect to boot.
  2. Bergamot.  It adds an orange flavor to your tea.
  3. Mint.  Make sure to keep this one in a container and not in your garden beds–they will spread like a weed.  Meanwhile, peppermint adds a minty flavor to your tea, and as an added bonus, mint can help to calm an upset stomach, so you can whip up some mint tea the next time you have a little indigestion.Chamomile flowers
  4. Chamomile.  Chamomile tea will help you sleep and smells amazing.  It is the foundation of ANY tea garden, in my opinion.
  5. Roses.  So, not really an herb, but still awesome for tea.  Not only are they beautiful, but the petals also make a really nice and refreshing tea.  {Make sure you don’t spray your petals with nasty stuff if you plan to use them for tea.}  Plus, the bees love them, so you are pretty much doing your whole garden a favor.
  6. Lemon Balm.  This makes a fantastic tea.  It has a nice lemon flavor {obviously} that is still pretty subtle.  Like mint, it also helps settle an upset stomach and has relaxing properties like chamomile.
  7. Lemon Thyme.  You will be able to use this one for tea and cooking.  It has a very fresh flavor, and it does alright in some shade, which makes it a little more versatile.
  8. Rosemary.  It has a very distinct flavor, which people either love or hate.  It is also one that tolerates a little shade.

rosemary

There are tons more options, but those are my personal favorites.  To make tea from your plants, you can use them fresh or dry them in your dehydrator first {you can also dehydrate them in the sun outdoors, but it takes quite a bit longer}.  Store the dried herbs in an airtight container for tea all year long.  You can even order tea bags, if you want to get fancy or give them as gifts.

What do you think, will you be giving it a try this year?

~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.

Mavis Garden Blog – Harvesting Lettuce in March

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growing peas in gutters

Have you planted your peas yet? I planted my first round of peas in early February in gutters and then placed them in the greenhouse. Yes, it was a wee bit early to be planting peas and we did get a hard frost the day after I planted them, but luckily, they are starting to pop up through the soil. :)

Round two of my sugar snap peas were planted last week in one of my garden boxes… and round three? Well I’ll be planting those this weekend. If you have never grown peas before, give it a try this year because they are hands down a million times better than anything you’ll ever try from the frozen food section. Fresh peas = Love.

growing lettuce in a greenhouse

And lettuce. winter lettuce greenhouse

Holy cow, we are practically swimming in mesclun lettuce these days.
growing lettuce in containers

We have three containers full of lettuce and are harvesting every other day right now for side salads. mesclun lettuce

Think how much money brides could save if they walked down the aisle with bouquets of gourmet lettuce greens instead of roses. ;) True, walking down the aisle with a head of iceberg lettuce would be a little weird, but if they chose the right variety of lettuce, it might just work. mavis butterfield garden

Arugula Rocket Lettuce for instance has a beautiful leafy pattern to it, but if the bridal party were to get a little hungry and decided to nibble on their bouquets, they’d be in store of a huge surprise.

Have you tried it before? Wowza! It.Is.Spicy. Almost so spicy on it’s own it makes you gag. ;)

Happy planting everyone, I’m off to start some more seeds,

~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.

Garden Junk, What Garden Junk?

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mavis butterfield

Earlier today the HH was giving me a hard time about the “junk pile” in our back yard.

garden containers

Of course I had no idea what he was talking about until he pointed to the {ever growing} mound of odds and ends I’ve been collecting behind the greenhouse since last summer. black garden pots containers

Obviously my husband doesn’t know what he’s talking about because HELLO, these pots are totally reusable. In fact, I’ll be needing them in a few weeks when I re-pot my tomato plants I started from seed a few weeks ago. broken terra cotta pots

And these? These broken terra cotta pots are perfect for putting at the bottom of larger pots to help with drainage. I’m telling you, the man doesn’t know good “junk” when he sees it.

terra cotta pots

Oh and get this, he says I have to many pots… and that I should get rid of them. Is he CRAZY? Does this look like junk to you? Because it sure doesn’t look like junk to me.

Grrrr.

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