Mavis Garden Blog – Moving Stones and Plant Identification

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new walking path

The weather on Sunday turned out to be nicer than I expected and as a result, I spent most of the day outside moving rocks. I know, pretty exciting stuff, right? I was originally going to install a brick border, but decided it against it after I tallied up how much the project would cost {about $300}.
creating a new walking path

I think sometimes we forget how much of a difference we can make in our yards {and our homes} if we just put our wallet away and get down on our hands and knees and clean the place up a bit. Moving rocks and widening a path is free, so is rearranging and dividing up perennials.

I’m on a strict $100 a month landscaping budget this year and I really want to make every penny count. SO if digging up rock and moving them to higher ground and into a new design saves me some money, that’s what I am going to do.

future herb garden

This morning I received an email from Raintree Nursery informing me my blueberry and raspberry bushes along with my strawberry plants have shipped. If all goes well, they should arrive tomorrow.  Which means, I’ll need to go back outside today and finish up my mini herb/vegetable garden area today so my plants don’t end up sitting in a box all week and drying out. Luckily, I know where I want to plant everything.

planting leland cypress trees

Oh, and on Sunday, I planted 2 more leland cypress tress. Don’t tell anyone. ;)

purple iris

What do you think these are? Mini irises?
lettuce grown under grow lights

And last but not least, check out the flat of lettuce I started from seed under grow lights a few weeks ago. It’s almost ready!

How is YOUR garden coming along these days? Got the itch to get out there and dig yet?

~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 vs the HOA Part 2

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hoa letter

Last week I received a letter from the HOA informing me I was in violation for the CC&R’s for cutting down a few rhododendrons and was asked to submit a “garden plan.”

garden plan

So I did. Basically I wanted to install a laurel hedge in the front of the house, a viburnum hedge on the side and four cedar garden boxes alongside the house right outside my kitchen door for easy access. But because the garden boxes would be visible from the front of my house, I decided to go ahead and add a “plan b” just in case the idea of seeing vegetables growing from the road would FREAK SOMEONE OUT.

upper garden photos

When we were first thinking about purchasing our house, my initial thought was to install a small vegetable garden in the upper lawn because the ground was nice and level and it would be secluded.

garden plot before pictures

And then after moving in and walking around the property a bit more I realized hauling a wheelbarrow up a hill was going to be a bit of a challenge, and quickly decided having the garden on the side yard would be much easier.

Well, guess what? I received my answer from the HOA yesterday.

hoa letter

It looks like I’ll be planting my vegetable garden in the upper lawn after all. Which really, won’t be a big deal once I get the garden soil hauled up there. At least I get to grow some vegetables, right?

Who knows, maybe I’ll start a trend here. ;)

Keep Calm and Garden On,

~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 – Bletchley Circle, Season 2

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A big thanks to Rubi who let me know that Bletchley Circle, season 2, is now available on Amazon Instant Video and Netflix.  For those of you who are not familiar, I started watching season 1 around this time last year, and completely loved it!  I am so excited to curl up in my jammies on the couch and watch the new season.

bletchley cirlce season 2

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.

Dig for Your Dinner – Growing Kale From Seed

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italian kale plant

Kale.  Okay, so not my favorite vegetable on the planet, but The Girl loves it so I’ve decided to plant a few rows of the stuff for her this year. She loves to add kale to her smoothies.  I personally like to add it to my compost pile, but to each their own ;) .

Admittedly, Kale is nutrient packed.  It has over 45 flavenoids {not to be confused with excellent flavor–totally different}.  It also has about 1100% of your daily vitamin K intake, which is pretty darn impressive.  It is touted as an anti-cancer food, as it boasts impressive levels of antioxidants.  So, I guess I’ll have to have The Girl whip me up a smoothie and suck it up…literally.

kaleHow to Grow Kale:

Kale is super forgiving.  It is a cold weather crop, so it’s one of the first and last crops you can grow each season.  In some areas, Kale and Arugula will grow all winter–though, very slowly.  You can sow it directly outside about 1-2 weeks before the last frost {I personally think you can do it as soon as the soil can be worked, it just won’t really start to grow until 1-2 weeks before the last frost}.  To sow it outside, sow seeds about 1/4″ – 1/2″ deep depending on the variety {check your seed packet}.

kale plantsWhen seedlings are about 1″ tall, thin them to one every 8″-10″.  Kale will go to seed pretty darn quick in hot temperatures, so plan to grow it early spring or late fall.  You can also start seeds inside about 5-6 weeks before the average last frost.  Then, you can transplant them into your garden or in containers.  Follow the same basic growing guidelines as outdoors.

mavis butterfield picking kale

When is Kale Ready to Harvest?

You can harvest the leaves of Kale pretty much anytime there are leaves.  The smaller leaves actually have a bit better flavor.  Just pull off the outer leaves as needed, and it will continue to produce for you the entire season.

My Favorite Kale Recipes:

Blueberry Kale SmoothieBlueberry Kale Smoothie

Sauteed Kale with Parmesan Cheese

Sauteed Kale with Parmesean Cheesekale-brownies-recipeKale Brownies with Carrots

recipe breakfast quiche bacon kale mushroom Quiche with Kale, Bacon, Mushroom and Cheese

If you live in the Pacific Northwest Region and are unsure what seeds you should be starting right now, or when your transplants should be set out in the garden, this regional planting guide should help you out.

Don’t live in the Pacific Northwest? Find your regional planting guide 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 vs the HOA Part 1

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Mavis vs the HOA Part 1

There are people who hate HOA’s and people who love them.

Maybe I’m a little off my rocker, but I’m okay with HOA’s because because there are rules. I know when I go to sell my home I won’t have to worry about the pink house next door or the guy with his 1980′s Uncle Eddie camper down the street, or the guy with his car jacked up on cinder blocks in his front driveway making my home to potential buyers undesirable. That being said, the next house we buy {our forever home, will not be a part of a HOA because it will be in the middle of nowhere}.

What I hate, are the busy bodies who {typically} run the association. Although in all fairness, I have no idea who is actually on my HOA landscape committee nor do I really care. The rules are there for a reason. And if you buy into a planned community, you are suppose to follow them. I get it. I can live with that.

But what I really despise are getting anonymous letters in the mail from people on said committee telling me I am in violation. Which is exactly what happened last week {but c’mon now… it took them long enough don’t you think}. ;)

But, I’m a big girl. And I can play the game.

I knew when we moved to this neighborhood there were rules. Just like there were rules in every single other development we’ve ever lived in. Never once did I get a letter. I knew in our last development I was crossing the line when we bought chickens. Technically, “no caged birds or livestock” were allowed. I was prepared to argue that the chickens were “pets” and that since they free ranged, they were not “caged birds.”

But luckily, I didn’t have too. Because no one really cared. Well they did show a wee bit of concern at first because they thought we would keep roosters. Which we did not.

But in this neighborhood, they care. OH BOY DO THEY CARE.

hoa letter

Here is {part} of the letter I received last week.

At first when I read it I was like… exterior changes? I didn’t make any exterior changes to my house. I didn’t paint it, or add on a deck or anything strange. I pruned {okay, hacked} a few bushes {okay, a lot}. And then I was like “Oh crap, if the HH finds out I got caught he is going to FLIP OUT. {He is a total rule follower}.

garden plan

So I called the lady at the HOA office and asked her if there was a special form I was suppose to fill out and what I needed to include. I also quickly ran my garden box idea by her and got the feeling from the tone of her voice that if the garden boxes could be seen from the road, they were going to be a “no go.” I mentioned I had seen a few other homes in the neighborhood with similar garden boxes in their side yards like the ones I was planning on installing. She said something like, “Oh, if you want to write down their addresses the committee can drive by and take a look.”

Umm. No.

I wasn’t about to get someone else in trouble for growing a few freakin’ vegetables.

ARE.YOU.KIDDING.ME?

So I quickly drew up a sketch of what I was “proposing to plant.” I made no mention of anything I had removed. I also included a “Plan B.” {Basically same garden boxes but in the upper garden instead of the side yard.”

And then I turned in my form.

We’ll see what happens.

~Mavis the Garden Rebel.

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.

February Home Maintenance and Garden Chores

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onion seeds picture

For some of you, it might be another bleak month when it comes to gardening.  For those of us in milder climates, though, the end of the month really kicks off the beginning of dirt under the fingernails and fresh air intake.  Thank goodness too, because I have A LOT of work to do in this new yard.

tomato seedlings

Seeds  to Start Indoors in February

There is still time to start artichokes, leeks, and onions for an early spring crop.  You can also start some of your slower growing herbs, like sage.  I did most of these last month, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late.  I’ll also be starting tomatoes, oregano and rosemary.

Seeds to Start Outdoors in February

Still too cold to start seeds outdoors. :(

strawberry runner

What I Plan to Transplant Outside this Month

My blueberry bushes, strawberry plants and raspberry canes should arrive later this month, so I will be transplanting them outside as soon as they do.

growing sprouts

Vegetables to Harvest this Month

The only thing I’ll be harvesting this month are sprouts from my Botanical Interests Sprouter.

forcing bulbs

Houseplants and Indoor Bulbs Maintenance

You still have time to force some bulbs indoors {think:  daffodils, tulips} to add a little color to your early spring.  Houseplants still require very little right now.  Make sure they are getting adequate light in all this grayness, water them less than you would in the summer months, and check them for dust.  If they do have dust, you may want to rinse them off a bit, so they don’t get bugs.

diy compost tumbler

Basic Yard Maintenance

Keeping in mind that this is all location specific, but here in the west, toward the end of the month, it’s time to trim up butterfly bushes.  You can also trim hedges and trees this month, if weather allows–especially fruit trees, which benefit from being pruned while they are still dormant.  If you have cooked compost all winter, now is a good time to spread it out across the garden beds-that way it’s not so hot when you go to plant your spring garden.

broken tile roof

Home Maintenance Outside

Two tiles fell off of our roof during the last windstorm.  Luckily the previous owners left some extra tiles behind so I won’t have to buy any.  I will have to pay a repair man to install them, though {unless I can convince the HH to climb up on the roof}.  I don’t plan on doing anything much more major than that this month.  I am basically just sticking to necessary repairs.

How to Replace a Furnace Filter

Home Maintenance Inside

If you are on a plan to simplify your life, continue de-cluttering the inside this month.  If you have finished your January pact to organize and de-clutter,  you can relax a bit.  Check your furnace filter, it’s been working hard all winter and may need to be replaced {if you haven’t done it recently}.  Now is also a good time to vacuum out all of the return vents, and clean off ceiling fans that have been sitting idle and collecting dust.

As always, most of my advice is geared around the Northwest, but you can find your garden zone HERE and tweak my suggestions as necessary.

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 Butterfield | Backyard Garden Plot Pictures 2/1/2015

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raking up English ivy

This week was pretty stinkin’ productive. In fact, gardening wise, I think I got more accomplished this past week than any other since we’ve moved to the new house.

For starters, I finished pulling up all the English Ivy that was in the side yard. I actually LOVE ivy, but the people who lived here before us didn’t do such a great job of maintaining it properly, and the area was filled with weeds and scrappy looking plants that had clearly been choked out {by the ivy}. So I pulled it and planted a nice row of Leland cypress trees instead.

See where I’m standing? I think I am going to put in a {curved} row of blueberry bushes there. I have 6 on order from Raintree nursery and they are scheduled to arrive sometime in March. The raspberry and strawberry plants I ordered will need a little more sun, so I’m still on the hunt for the perfect spot for those. 
mapping out a garden hedge

I also flagged off the area where I plan to plant some sort of manicured hedge. We have a circular driveway and I thought it would look nice to have either a 2′ – 3′ boxwood, laurel or viburnum hedge to separate the driveway from the planting area. I’m leaning towards a dwarf laurel. I’ve seen a few other laurel hedges in the neighborhood and they really look nice. Clean, simple, and easy to prune. Plus, when I plant 2,000 daffodills and tulips this fall in that area, a green hedge will make a nice backdrop for them. anemone

While I was cleaning out the garage this week I found a bunch of anemone bulbs.

patch of dirt

And planted them outside the office window. Pink, purple and white!

botanical interests seed packets

I also started broccoli, cabbage and kale seeds under grow lights.

lettuce seedlings

Remember the lettuce seeds I planted a few weeks ago? It won’t be too long before we’ll be eating some homegrown salad.

basil seedlings

And basil too!sage seedlings

The sage I started from seed is looking pretty darn good too. I think this is only the second time I’ve grown sage from seed and it always amazes me how easy it is to grow your own herbs. I plan on installing a herb garden later this spring and so far I have sage and oregano started in the house under lights.

growing seedlings under grow lights

How is YOUR garden doing these days?

Is it covered in snow, or are you able to get outside and put around a bit?

~Mavis wants to know.

botanical-interests-seed-packets-beets

This years garden is being sponsored by the awesome folks at Botanical Interests Seed Company. You can check out their website HERE, order their new 2015 Garden Seed Catalogor see the seeds I’ll be growing in my garden this year HERE

Up for a tour? Read about our behind the scenes tour of Botanical Interests Seed Company.

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 – Edward Scissorhands

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One Hundred Dollar a Month reader, Brenda, sent me this suggestion awhile back:

“Trim your bushes on Saturday and that’s only after Friday Night at the Movies. That weeks selection needs to be “Edward Scissorhands”. There is no telling what creative design you will come up with!! Sorry, couldn’t help myself. Haha. But thank you for inspiring us all inside and outside our homes.”

If you haven’t seen it, it’s about a boy, who is created by a scientist and given scissors for hands. When the scientist dies, an Avon representative {you can’t make this stuff up} decides to bring him home to suburbia to live with her and her quirky family.

edward scissorhands

 

I haven’t watched the movie in ages, and thought I would pass along her suggestion.  Thanks Brenda!

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.

Starting Seedlings Under Grow Lights vs. Natural Light

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tomato seedlings in greenhouse

Starting your garden from seeds is undoubtedly cheaper {and more gratifying} than starting them from plants from the nursery.  Investing in a grow light is one of those, “Should I, shouldn’t I?” sort of dilemmas a lot of people teeter back and forth on.  In the end, only you can decide how much of an investment you want to make, but I will say, unless you have really great natural light {which doesn’t exist here in Seattle during seed starting time}, starting with natural light can be a bit of a gamble.  Still, it is absolutely possible to get healthy plants with this method, so I thought I would give a quick overview before we jump full steam ahead into seed starting season.

leggy plant

Let’s start with natural light.  First, a south facing window is going to be your best bet.  It will get the most light.  The problem with a window sill is that you will only get light from one direction, which may result in some leggy plants.  So, you will want to rotate the seedlings regularly–and make sure that they don’t get too cold next to a window {most plants like the temperature to be about 75 degrees for at least the bulk of the day in order to germinate}.  If you want them to grow tall and straight, they will need to receive their light from above, like the sun provides naturally.

tomatoes in greenhouse

Unless you have a heated greenhouse, that can be tricky.  {If you do have a temperate green house, natural light rocks.}  If you are going with natural light, I recommend less temperamental seedlings–like pumpkins, zucchini, and the like.  Tomatoes and peppers, in my opinion, are the most difficult to start indoors, and really darn hard if you aren’t using a grow light.

grow lights seedlings

Okay, now onto grow lights.  Once you have grown seedlings under a grow light, you can totally see why people push them.  You will have more consistent germination rates and stronger resulting plants.  Plain and simple.  You don’t necessarily have to invest in a grow light set-up {though, I will admit, I don’t regret having done so myself one bit}.  Grow lights typically have the full-spectrum of light, as sunlight would provide, though, not always.  Florescent bulbs that are attached to some sort of system that can be raised or lowered really do work just fine, if you want to keep costs lower.

grow-lights

Either way, you will want to be able to raise and lower your light source, as seedlings seem to do best when the light source is only about 3-4″ above them.  The warmth from the light source will also mimic the fluctuations in daily temperature that plants would experience in nature.  When the light source is on, it will put off a little more heat, making the plants warmer.  When you turn it off at night, the temperature will naturally drop a little bit.  Plants love that crap.

miracle Gro potting mix

No matter what light you choose, make sure to choose an appropriate growing medium.  Seed starting mixes are nice, because they kind of take the guess work out of the equation. I prefer starting my seeds in Miracle-Gro Seed Starting Mix {found at the Home Depot for about $4 a bag}. Ultimately, you want to have light airy soil, so that you don’t drown and/or suffocate tender seedlings and their roots.  Moisture and oxygen is vital to the whole germination process–getting that balance right is a real pain in the butt if you are a first timer.  Don’t worry, though, as time goes on, you’ll learn.  It’s totally a process, so don’t give up on starting seeds yourself.  If you do decide to use lights to start you seeds, keep them on for 12-14 hours per day.

kale swiss chard seedlings

Overall, I think you have to decide what you want from your garden.  If you are looking to grow heirloom variety plants that aren’t usually available at the nurseries, invest in a grow light and go nuts. If you are just looking to save some moolah and plan on planting the basics, test the natural light waters–you can always pick up a few “filler” plants at the nursery if you don’t get a full enough crop out of your seedlings.

For those of you that are seed-starting pros, how do YOU prefer to start your seeds…grow lights or natural light?

~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.

Wicked Big Storm Coming! Park Ya Cah!

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This is a guest post written by my buddy Heather from Massachusetts. Since getting 2′ of snow is totally unheard of up here in the Seattle area, I asked if she wouldn’t mind sharing her “snow day”  with us. 

unnamed (1)

Someone at the MA Department of Transportation has a sense of humor! Either that or they just moved to MA and think the accents are hilarious. :)

Monday night the HH and I went grocery shopping. Make no mistake, the store was PACKED – in fact we got one of the last two shopping carts. But it wasn’t crazy, it was calm. New Englanders are not a bunch of newbs when it comes to tons-of-snow. We’ve got this.

Yes, blizzard’s can be dangerous. But if you prepare properly, play smart with Mother Nature, and have a back-up plan… well then, it’s basically an adult snow day. :) :) :)

I ignored email, baked and crockpotted, shoveled the coop, walked the dogs, helped the hubbahubba shovel (fine, only a little, but I’m still counting it), played with the girl in the snow, and got my week’s worth of exercise climbing a (HUGE) hill for sledding!

We got around 2’ of snow, but the strange thing was – it’s really no big deal. We shopped early, prepped, and enjoyed. Plus, this is New England, not Texas, so the state is beyond prepared

garden under 2 feet of snow

My garden is in there somewhere…

snow blower in driveway

Notice the snow-blowed paths? The HH makes a path for the greyhounds around the house, a path to the coop, and a path to the shed. Plus he amused the girl with a little snow shower. A quality snow-blower is worth its weight in gold! This storm only ate one sheer-pin, probably because the snow was so fluffy.

removing snow from the roof

And then there’s the roof – yep, ya godda rake the roof. If you don’t you’ll risk too much weight on the roof, dangerous snow overhangs, and worst-of-all, ICE DAMS.

snow in mail box

When I took the dogs for a walk today, I saw this mailbox fail. ;) I scooped it out and shut the door, luckily there wasn’t any mail in there.

blizzard

This is what the early morning blizzard looks like with a hot chocolate in your hand. It started in the early hours of Tuesday and snowed continuously all day. Luckily it was super light and fluffy, for shoveling. But not good snowman material.

chicken coop in snow

The coop was a bit difficult to shovel – cause really, where do you put it all? It was two feet in a confined place. I basically decided to shovel half of it and lay down some leaves so the little princesses can stop on the snow (commence eye rolls now).

placing leaves in chicken coop snow

My stash of leaves have come in handy again and again covering mud and snow. Plus they decompose, mix with chix poo, and turn into awesome garden box material.

leaves on snow for chickens in winter

See that water heater under the waterer? Worth.it’s.weight.in.gold. This is the one I have. I buried the extension cord back in the fall and happily it’s working like a charm. As soon as I knocked off the snow that had built up over it, and scooped out the thin ring of ice, the water flowed again. I couldn’t believe it!

The best part about an adult snow day with no work and no email?

starting seedlings indoors

I get to do whatever I want! And today, I had my eye on the bucket of potting soil I made up in the fall for seed starting. There was a blizzard outside but I still managed to get my fingers in the dirt! So I got to work making my winter sowing buckets. Last year was a HUGE success. My winter sowing buckets produced an entire lavender hedge, a ton of perennials including Echinacea, Lemon Balm, and Chamomile. This year I’ve got plans on growing Ginseng in my winter sowing buckets. I’ve never grown ginseng so we’ll see how it goes.

monkey bread

We also made monkey bread!!

I don’t have a bunt pan, and this is the only recipe I would use for a bunt pan – so I cheat and fashion a bunt pan with a deep glass bowl and a glass cup. I let it rise overnight a little and again in the morning before baking.

monkey bread with icing

Hmmmm, it’s like love on a plate.

Do you have snow on the ground? How are you passing the time? And what is your favorite snow day food to make?

~Heather from Massachusetts

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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