How to Grow Peas {Start to Finish}

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sugar snap pea seed packet

Right before we left for our trip The Girl and I planted our peas. Normally we plant our peas on St. Patrick’s Day but this year we thought we’d try to get a jump start on the growing season and plant them a little early.

garden tips soak peas

This year we planted sugar snap peas, snow peas and green arrow peas.  Sugar snap peas are plump and crunchy and are great for snacking and in stir fry, while snow peas are flat and typically harvested before the pea gets very large.  Green Arrow pea pods are not edible but the peas are perfect for canning and freezing.

sugar snap pea seeds

Where to Plant Peas:  Peas are a cool weather crop.  They need full sun in early spring.  Sugar Snap and Snow peas need a trellis or pole to climb and typically get anywhere from 3-6′ tall {depending on the variety}, so keep that in mind when you choose a location.  Green arrow peas typically do not need to be trellised because they only grow about 2′ tall. They are best grown in raised or garden beds.

sugar snap peas

Planting Seeds:  Plant seeds 1″ deep {every 2″ if you are sowing directly outside}.  You will not need to thin them.

how to gorw sugar snap peas

Growing Tips:   Peas like rich soil with good drainage.  They do not do well in the heat, so plan them as an late spring/early summer harvest.  Provide them with a trellis or pole to climb.

When to pick sugar snap peas

How to Harvest:  To harvest, cut peas off at the top of the pea {hold the other side of the vine so as not to damage it during harvest}.  Do not let them get overripe or they take on a starchy flavor and stop producing.

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 Pea recipes:

Ranch Pasta Salad with Broccoli, Spinach and Green PeasRanch Pasta Salad with Broccoli, Spinach, and Green Peas

easy summer recipes orzo saladOrzo Salad with Fresh Peas, Carrots, and Pine Nuts

Fresh Pea Salad with Bacon and Chives

Fresh Pea Salad with Bacon and Chives

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.



Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew Garden

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kew gardensLast time we went to the Royal Botanical Gardens, I showed you tons and tons and tons of pictures, but I never really gave you the history of the place.  Shame on me.

orchids growing on tree stumpThe Kew Gardens take up about 300 acres of land in southwest London.  They are a combination of outdoor gardens and glasshouses {uh-mazing glass greenhouses}.

kew gardensThe whole of the gardens house the world’s largest collection of living plants.  They are are more than 30,000 kinds of living plants.  Be still my beating heart.  And while it has amazing gardens, at it’s heart, it is dedicated to preserving and studying all horticulture.  There’s about a million ways to experience it, from tours to classes.

kew garden orchidsThey also host events throughout the year, depending on what is in season/bloom.  It really is impressive. Right now the orchid festival is going on and it is freakin’ fantastic.

kew gardens birdgeThe first part of the gardens opened in 1759.  The collection of plants kind of grew chaotically and without much planning at first–and over the years more land was added to the overall conservatory.

kew gardens cottageThe MANY buildings, like Queen Charlotte’s Cottage and the Princess of Whales show the extensive royal influence over the development of the gardens.

tea cupcakeThe Orangery, originally designed to be a greenhouse, now functions as a cafe/restaurant.  In it’s prime, it was the largest glasshouse in England.  In true British fashion, it overlooks the perfectly landscaped grounds.  The menu changes daily and time around we enjoyed tea and cupcakes.

kew gardens gift shop

And let’s not forget about the gift shop. There is everything from Burgon and Ball enamelware, garden books and tools plus a nice selection of potted plants both inside and outside the gift shop.

Hands down Kew Gardens is one of my favorite stops in England.

How about YOU? Do you have a favorite place in the world? What is 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.

Friday Night at the Movies – Mr. Selfridge

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As soon as we get back from our trip, The Girl and I are going to start the Masterpiece Classic’s, Mr. Selfridge.  Since, I admit, I am a sucker for all things British, I’m not too worried that I won’t love it.  It’s about an American business man set on opening up an upscale department store  in London.  It’s free on amazon prime, and getting great reviews, so it pretty much fits all of my requirements.  Hot dog.

mr selfridge

 Have you seen it? Did you love it? Hate it?

Let us know,

~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.

The Garden Museum London, England

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The Garden Museum London, EnglandIf you ever get a chance to go to London, try to stop by The Garden Museum.  It is small–but totally charming.  I read the reviews online and they were a little mixed. Some people thought the Garden Museum wasn’t big enough and a few thought there were not enough displays.

The Garden Museum London, EnglandBut I’m here to tell you the Garden Museum in London was absolutely charming. And the gift shop was spot on. I walked away with several treasures {and I’m not really a souvenir kind of person} and was glad I spotted by.

The Garden Museum London, EnglandThe museum portion was born out of an attempt to save an old church, where John Tradescant was buried {1570-1638}.  If you don’t know {which I didn’t}, he was England’s first great gardener and plant collector.

The Garden Museum London, EnglandCan you imagine a culture that values gardening so much that they will build a museum around the “greats?”  Seriously, I could live and die happy in England. That’s right, stuff me full of tea and scones and give me a shovel and some seeds, I LOVE it here.

The Garden Museum London, EnglandAnywho, the gardens were created in 1980, and true to form, they are lovingly manicured.  The plants were specifically chosen to reflect the 17th century, and honor the original gardeners. The topiaries were my favorite.

The Garden Museum London, EnglandThere’s even a quaint little cafe with soup and salads and TEA off to one side of the church. We didn’t stay for lunch, but the food looked delicious.

The Garden Museum London, England

If you time it right, they have Temporary Exhibits in place–with a pretty wide range of topics. I snapped a photo of these white “gardening gloves.” Can you imagine gardening in these beauties?

We had a great time and if you are ever in London, you should go.

Peace Out Garden Scouts,

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.

The Best Plants for a Cottage Garden

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The Best Plants for a Cottage Garden

I have always loved cottage garden landscapes.  Did you know they originated among peasants in England {with every plant having a purpose, i.e. hedge to provide privacy, herbs for cooking, medicinal plants, flowers for cutting, etc.}?

I love that even though they appeared chaotic and untamed, they were actually a well-thought use of space–I wonder if English peasants would laugh at the idea of suburbanites paying landscapers good money to replicate their style?

pink roses

The key to cottage gardens is to find and layer plants that will provide color from early spring to late fall–as well as having shrubs, etc. that are evergreens, so that even in the winter, you have clearly defined landscaping.

Most cottage gardens are densely planted for this reason–plus, as an added bonus, the dense plantings offer less space for weeds to thrive.  Remember to mix in other organic elements, like gravel, walking stones, etc.

foxglove

Here’s the 411 on the best plants to start your cottage garden:

  1. Coralbells.  These are typically pink, red or white flowers that bloom in early spring.  They attract hummingbirds and add great color to semi-shaded spots.
  2. Daisy.  Daisy flowers are pretty much required in a cottage garden.  They are hardy and look great in a simple vase.
  3. Foxglove.  Foxgloves look like little bright colored bells.  They have a habit of reseeding themselves each year, so they are pretty low maintenance for the the high impact color they provide.
  4. Hollyhock.  Hollyhocks are  perennials, which basically means a one-time investment.  They are typically taller {4-8 feet}, with a wide choice of flower colors.  They are perfect for a layered cottage garden look.  In beds, these can be planted near the back, with shorter flowers planted in front of them for a wall of color.Sequim Lavender Festival and Street Fair
  5. Lavender.  Lavender is one of those ornamental herbs that can provide you with TONS of uses.  Lavender has deep purple flowers that attract bees.  It can also be dried or added to tons of recipes to add a delicate flavor.  I think EVERY garden needs Lavender.
  6. Violas.  Violets always make me think of Alice and Wonderland.  They are perfect for the garden, because they add color to cooler seasons.  For looking so delicate, they actually can withstand spring and fall weather really well, giving you a much needed burst of color in bleaker gray weather.
  7. Boxwoods.  Boxwoods are an evergreen shrub that are favored in cottage gardens because they can be groomed and shaped to either provide privacy or to define spaces within the garden.
  8. Forsythia.  Forsythia is a large shrub that blooms bright yellow in the spring and then stays green through late fall.  Most rose gardeners tell you to wait to prune your roses until the Forsythia blooms–they are a fantastic addition to the garden for that reason alone {they are like a little spring alarm clock}.  They have a kind of wild, untamed look with a pop of color.basil plant
  9. Basil and Thyme.  Edible herbs are essential to a cottage garden, not just because they are usable, but also because they detract pests.
  10. Peony.  Peonies are crazy beautiful and basically thrive on neglect.  They add color and size to the garden–plus they smell amazing when they are blooming.
  11. Iris.  Iris flowers are great cut and placed in vases {I used to bring them to my teachers in the spring when I was a little girl}.  You typically start them from bulbs {or transplants from a neighbor} and they come in basically EVERY color imaginable.  They are another one of those one time effort plants and look super classy when they are planted with a green backdrop {think:  evergreens or ornamental grasses}.Ornamental Grass
  12. Ornamental grasses.  Grasses are a low maintenance way to get green into your landscaping {or purple}.  They are pretty much impossible to kill and they make fantastic backdrops for more colorful flowers.
  13. Hosta.  Hosta is another great pop of green color.  They are great because they can tolerate quite a bit of shade, they are perennials, and they have shoots of tall purple flowers in the spring.
  14. Sweet William.  Sweet William is another flower that usually self-seeds, making it a low-maintenance choice.  It has clusters of bright colored, highly fragrant flowers.  Hummingbirds and butterflies love them.  Some varieties even have purple leaves, which adds another color dimension to the garden without really even having to try.hydrangea
  15. Hydrangea.  Hydrangeas have massive flowers, in a variety of color.  They usually bloom from June to September, so you get a lot of bang for your buck.
  16. Catnip.  Catnip is an extremely hardy green herb.  It makes great tea and repels mosquitoes.  If you are looking to put your plants to work, this one will do the job.
  17. Cone Flower/Echinacea.  Cone flowers are typically purple {though you can definitely find other colors} perennials with huge orange cone-like centers.  They attract birds to the garden and bloom from June to August.
  18. Bleeding Hearts.  Bleeding hearts are so pretty and delicate, they are almost unreal.  They are prized because they have beautiful heart-shaped flowers, but thrive in the shade.
  19. Delphinium.  Delphinium are short-lived bloomers, but they are literally so breath-taking when they do bloom, they are totally worth it.  The colors on these tall flowers {about 20″} are so vibrant, they almost seem unreal.
  20. Lady’s Mantle.  Lady’s mantle makes great ground cover.  It has large green foliage and gets tiny yellow flowers throughout the summer.  It is happy in full-sun to part-shade.

Happy planting,

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 Build and Plant a Square Foot Garden

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square foot gardening

I originally wrote this last spring but wanted to post it again for those of you who might have missed it. 

I know a lot of you are short on space, but still want to have a garden. So I thought it would be cool to plant a square foot garden and show those of you who are new to gardening or who have limited space, that you don’t have to have a huge garden to grow lot’s of tasty produce.  Anyone, anywhere can have a garden.

Square foot gardening basically maximizes space by planting in 1 foot square grids.   It takes a little planning, as far as plant choice and space requirements go, but it is a great way to get the most out of your garden–and really is pretty simple.

For example, the basic principle goes like this:  In a 1′x1′ grid, you can plant 16 carrots or onions, 4 heads of lettuce, 9 beets, or one head of cabbage .  You can get a lot more produce than the traditional row method of gardening.

square foot gardening building a grid

I have 4′x8′ raised beds, so I can get 32 1′x1′ grids out of my beds.  To start, make yourself some sort of grid as a guideline.  The simplest grid would be string or twine, just measure out 1′x1′ and pull the string tight in a squared off pattern. Or if you have scrap wood laying around, you can use that too.

Next, choose your plants {you can check out this spacing chart to get a sense of what each plant needs}.  Plants can be broken up into small, medium, large and extra large categories.  You can plant 16 small plants in each square grid {with 3″ spacing per plant}, 9 medium plants per grid {with 4″ spacing per plant}, 4 large plants per grid {with 6″ spacing per plant}, and 1 extra large plant per grid.

how-to-plant-broccoli-seedlings

Because you are packing your plants in, make sure to use plenty of quality compost.  Companion planting is also beneficial in this type of gardening to keep pests at bay {i.e. a square foot of marigolds {considered a large plant} goes a long way in organically keeping your densely packed square foot garden healthy.

P.S. Have you tried square foot gardening before? If so, what vegetables worked best for you?

~Mavis

All New Square Foot Gardening

For more information, check out All New Square Foot Gardening.  It is an amazon bestseller and the author is basically the king of square foot gardening.

 

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 Tip – Soak Your Seeds Before Planting Them

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garden tips soak peas

Do you ever get impatient waiting for your seeds to sprout.  I know I do.  In fact, there have been years that I have almost completely given up on my carrots EVER sprouting, and then, weeks later, I’ll see a little green pop through.  Well, boooo! to waiting.  I want to grow things, and I want to grow them now!  Okay, I might have been channeling Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka just now, but you get the point.

Soaking seeds–ALL seeds, speeds up the germination process considerably.  Sometimes I get too lazy to soak them all–which, is actually ridiculous, because it is pretty much effortless.  What can I say, I’m hopeless.

sugar-snap-pea-seeds

I like to look at seeds like double-acting baking soda–only seeds are triple acting.  They need three things to germinate.  Usually nature provides, but when you’re growing produce by the ton, occasionally, you have to speed nature along.  All seeds need oxygen, steady moisture, and the right temperature/light to grow.

planting peas in eggshells

Oxygen pretty much provides itself, unless you are growing in an airless bubble, in which case, weird and don’t do that.  The temperature and lighting can be controlled with a grow light and/or the seasons.  Moisture, in my opinion, is the tricky part.  You want to keep the soil consistently moist for weeks while waiting for your little babies to germinate, but you miss one day, and boom!  you’re set back.  Soaking seeds for 24 hours BEFORE planting can significantly cut down on germination time–and overall effort.

peas in pod

To soak seeds, just place them in a cup of water for about 24 hours.  Some people recommend starting with hot water and then just allowing it to cool as the seed soaks.  Larger seeds with hard exteriors need to be scratched a bit before soaking, to ensure water will penetrate the outer shell.  Most seeds should not be soaked for more than 24 hours.

After they have soaked, you will need a way to fish them out of the water.  For the little guys, I like to line a strainer with paper towel and slowly pour them out.  You could also fish them out with a spoon {but again, I would like to stress that I am impatient, and so pouring them out is usually the way I opt for}.  After soaking them, plant them per the instructions on the packet and watch them pop up in days, not weeks.

Happy planting,

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 Basil {Start to Finish}

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basil seed packets

I started my first batch of basil seeds under grow lights this morning! For the past 2 years I have been pretty successful at growing basil and wanted to share some of my tips and tricks with you. In years past I had simply scattered seeds in the garden and hoped for the best. But two years ago I babied the seeds a bit by starting them under grow lights and then growing the basil in our greenhouse the whole season.

And holy cow what a difference it made. We had more basil than I knew what to do with. Luckily this year I have a ton of new recipes I want to try so I am going all out and planting oodles of seeds. Weeeeeeee!

fresh-basil

Brief description: An annual herb, used in a huge variety of dishes.

garden-basil

Where to Plant Basil:  Plant in raised beds, garden beds, or containers.  In the winter, Basil can be planted indoors and kept in a south-facing window in most climates.  Once outdoors, choose an area with full sun.

Italian Genovese basil

Planting Seeds:  Start indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost.  Plant seeds 1/4″ deep.  Thin to 1 per pot when about 2″ tall.  Basil is VERY sensitive to frost, so don’t transplant too soon.

Growing Tips:  When transplanting outside, mix a little compost into the soil to encourage growth.  Pinch leaves and flowers frequently to encourage regrowth.    Water regularly.

Fresh Italian Basil

How to Harvest:  Pinch off leaves as needed, or cut top 3″ or so off.   It tastes best harvested right before it flowers.

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 Basil recipes:

recipe strawberry basil jamStrawberry Basil Jam

baked tomatoes with pine nuts and basilBaked Tomatoes with Pine Nuts and Basil

recipe how to make pestoPesto

Fun Fact:  Basil is part of the mint family {though it hasn’t been to a family reunion in years}.  In Romania, if a boy accepts a basil leaf from a girl, they are engaged–yikes, I better be careful about who I share my crop with!

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 Start Seeds Using Grow Lights

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How to Start Seeds Using Grow LightsYesterday I planted my tomato seeds {11 different varieties} and thought I would share some pictures today of how I use grow lights to help my plants along. Even though I’ve done some winter gardening this year, starting my tomato seeds is like the kick-off to the gardening season.  Even when it’s nasty outside, the little seedlings are hope that spring is right around the corner–the 3 month corner.

miracle Gro potting mixI plant my seeds in plastic pots filled with  miracle grow seed starting mix and sometimes Jiffy Peat Pellets.  Typically it’s whatever I have on hand at the time. Don’t be tempted to use potting soil or garden soil.  Seeds need a really light airy environment to germinate, so a seed starting mix is essential.  I have three 4ft grow light systems, so I can have up to 6 flats going at any time.  I’ve tried using natural light to get them started with really unpredictable levels of success, so for me, the grow lights were totally worth the purchase.

grow-lightsWhen I use trays of starting mix, as opposed to individual pods, I usually start by putting the mix in the trays {leaving the mixture about 1/4-1/2″ from the top of the tray} and watering it in.  Once the dirt is evenly moist {which you will need to keep it that way for the duration of the planting–not soggy, not dry, just evenly moist.  It’s a delicate balance that really isn’t that hard once you get the hang of it}, I start placing my seeds.

seedlings grow lightsI usually put a couple of seeds in each spot, just to ensure germination, and then thin them out later.  Plant each seed per the instructions on the packet {depth and spacing for indoor starting is usually provided on the seed packet}.

Tomatoes actually like a bit of heat {soil temperature between 65-70 degrees is ideal}, so covering them with either the plastic dome that comes with the flats or plastic wrap for the first little bit can help provide humidity and traps a little heat, but make sure to provide some ventilation.   Once the seeds have germinated, remove the covering completely, or they will become susceptible to mildew and all sort of seedling killers.

grow-lightsKeep the grow light about 6″ from the top of the seedlings {or the potting mix until they germinate} at all times.  The plants need a light and dark cycle, though, just as they would have in nature, so turn the lights off before you go to bed and then flip them back on in the morning {or get yourself a fancy dancy timer}.  As the seedlings grow, lift the light accordingly.  Once the seedlings have germinated, you can use a VERY weak and diluted mixture of fertilizer and water, if you want, but I don’t really think it is necessary, and typically just continue with water.

grow lights seedlingsOnce your plants have set their first two sets of true leaves it’s time to transplant them into bigger pots{the first leaves the seedling get aren’t real and will kind of wilt away before the seedling gets its first real bonafide leaves}.  You can use leftover pots that you have from your annuals from the nursery {just wash them with a diluted bleach mixture first}, or newspaper pots, or peet pots.  Whichever you prefer.  This time, you can pot them with a transplant mix or potting soil.  When you scoop them out and place them into their new home, take special care with the root system.  If anything is going to tick off the plant, it is damaging the roots.

Then, place the repotted plants back under the grow lights, with the standard 6″ of space between the top of the leaves and the grow light until you are ready to plant them outside.  Remember to harden off your plants before you move them outdoors permanently, though.

Here’s to kicking off the 2014 gardening season.  Wahoo!

~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.

Harvesting Lettuce in Winter with Lucy the Puggle Dog

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lettuce lucy the puggle dogDo you have a dog? Do they help you in the garden? Do they think it’s their job to sample everything you harvest? Well, Lucy the puggle dog sure does.

mavis lucy puggle lettuce

I simply cannot set foot outside without her being 1 step behind me.
mavis and lucy

Yesterday, I harvested a few leaves of lettuce from the greenhouse. And wouldn’t you know, Lucy was right there ready to inspect the goods.

lucy the puggle dog

She nearly bit off my hand for Pete’s sake! Puggles love lettuce. Who knew?mavis butterfield

Luckily there’s plenty to share. Well, as long as I’m just serving side salads every other day that is.
lettuce

Last night’s pickings. Not to shabby for mid February if you ask me.

If you have never tried growing your own lettuce before, give it a go this year. It’s super easy to do and homegrown lettuce tastes 10 times better than the stuff sitting in those plastic bags in the grocery store.. Seriously, a packet of seeds will grow enough lettuce to last you all season and it’s even cheaper than a single package of bagged lettuce from the market.

You can do it. So get out there and grow! No excuses.

Just remember to grow a little extra for your four legged friends too. ;)

~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.

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