Mavis Butterfield | Backyard Garden Pictures 3/16/14

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backyard garden beds

Now that it’s finally starting to look like spring around here {bulbs are blooming and buds on all the trees are beginning to pop like crazy} I thought I would start posting a few pictures of what my backyard garden looks like every week again like I did last year.

vintage watering cans

Over the winter I reduced my garden beds from {16} 8×4 raised garden beds to just 10. ;) We will be super busy this summer and the last thing I want to do is get too overwhelmed with my garden that I end up dreading it.
wood pallet garden

In addition to the 10 raised garden beds I also have a wood pallet garden. You can read more about my previous pallet gardening adventures HERE. Right now all the pallets are planted with strawberries and one of the wood pallets {front and center} has lettuce growing in it. wood pallet garden raised garden beds

Here is a view from the back of the garden. You’ll notice some of the beds are taller. Those are the new garden beds we installed this past fall. The shorter beds were installed in 2009.

lasagna garden

My lasagna garden. I’ve been building this lasagna garden bed up over the winter with leaf litter and garden soil from other areas of the garden that I’ve dug up and needed to repurpose.  Right now the lasagna bed is about 8 inches deep and although I’m not sure what I’ll be planting it it quite yet, I’m excited to see how this method works.

backyard garden

To the left of the greenhouse I have rhubarb, poppies and a few perennial flowers growing. I’m waiting to see if the artichokes I transplanted last fall are going to come back {I hope so}.

magnum glass greenhouse

In small beds along side the greenhouse I have herbs growing. Oregano, Rosemary and chives on the left, and Sage, Thyme and garlic chives on the right.

I also have a small raised bed planted with cabbage and kale off to the right as well.

winter lettuce in a greenhouse

As of this morning, I have four containers of lettuce thriving in the greenhouse garden. I recently planted 3 more garden pots with additional lettuce seeds and expect those to be ready for picking sometime in early June.

omlet chicken coop

Ye Olde Chicken Coop. Over the winter I removed the pea patch that was in front of the chicken coop {now all you can see is brown bark} and expanded the garden bed in front of the coop a wee bit. I’m not sure what I’ll be planting there yet, but whatever it is, it will need to be protected from the chickens. {Black Fatty and Peter keep flying out of the coop}.

ugly grass

About a month or two ago I finally got around to digging up last years pumpkin patch and smoothing out the dirt. But now what? raspberry canes washington

7 rows of raspberries. blueberry bushes

12 blueberry bushes.
pear trees

And 2 pear trees. Clearly, they need to be pruned. ;)

Well that’s what is happening in my backyard these days, do you have any cool projects on your honey do list this year? I need to get mine started {so I’m looking for suggestions} hint hint. ;)



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 2014 Garden Seed Catalog HERE, or visit my boyfriend Ryan’s blog 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.

How to Grow Onions the Easy Way

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

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

Go HERE to read the full article …

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

Mavis Garden Blog – Rhubarb, Poppies and Artichokes

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rhubarb plants

Yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous day in Western Washington!! I spent 3 hours… THREE HOURS outside in the garden. All by myself. No dog, no kids, just me and my garden. It was awesome.


Check out my rhubarb plants! I planted the two larger ones last spring as crowns {see how to plant rhubarb} and the three plants towards the back of the garden bed were transplanted from another area in the garden last fall.

I wasn’t sure if the transplanted rhubarb was going to make it, but they did. Now I’ll just have to figure out what on earth I’m going to do with all the rhubarb this summer.

young poppy plants

And the poppies are back as well.  Three years ago I scattered Flanders,  Lauren’s Grape and Oriental poppy seeds and every year since then they come back in full force. When I planted the poppy seeds though I thought the seed pods that drop every year would produce more poppy plants, but so far, no such luck. I don’t know if I’m doing something wrong, or if poppies are just incredibly difficult  to start from seed and I got lucky the first year. artichoke plant dead

And then she killed the perennial artichokes. Last fall I also transplanted my artichokes. I thought for sure they would make it but so far there is no sign of life {green} anywhere near where I transplanted them. Which totally stinks of course because I didn’t plant any  artichokes from seed this year {and why would I? I had 20+ plants growing in the ground. Or so I thought}.

lucy the puggle dog

It’s amazing how much work you can get done in the garden when the kids and pets stay inside the house.

Poor Princess Lucy.

Maybe I’ll let her help me in the garden today. ;)

Do you have rhubarb or artichokes in your garden? Any sign of life yet?

Mavis wants to know.

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

Seattle Tilth Spring Plant Sale Coming Soon PLUS New Educational Classes

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March Edible Plant Sale

The Seattle Tilth’s March Edible Plant Sale is right around the corner and I’m getting totally excited about. It’s one sale this gardener will never miss! If you’ve never been, I recommend putting it on your calendar if you’re local.

You can stock-up on organic and locally grown edible plant starts perfect for spring planting, and find a huge selection of edible flowers, fruit shrubs, fruit trees, seeds, supplies and knowledge galore. It’s on Saturday, March 15th from 9am-3pm. at the Pacific Market Center garage. Plus, get this: admission is FREE!

Seattle tilth plant sale

Their Classes

If you can’t make their sale or if you want to learn more about, well, anything, check out some of their killer classes. Whether you plan on starting your own seeds indoors, adding chickens, bees and other livestock to your urban {or suburban} farm or supercharging your soil with homemade compost, they’ve got a class for you.

Veggie Gardening
VeggiesLearn to design a four-season organic veggie garden, start your own plants from seeds and get the basics on organic gardening.
Smart Garden Planning Thu., Mar. 27; 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Grow Edible Perennials: Vegetables Wed., Apr. 2; 6-8 p.m.
Get Your Garden Growing Sat., Apr. 5; 2-4 p.m.
Comprehensive Organic Gardener Apr. 9-30; Weds, 7-9 p.m. & Saturdays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Container Gardening 101 Thu., Apr. 10; 6-8 p.m.
Grow Your Own Flowers Sat., Apr. 12; 2-4 p.m.
Organic Gardening 101 Two Thursdays, Apr. 17 & 24; 6-8 p.m.

Urban Livestock
ChickensProduce your own eggs, honey and fertilizer! Find out what it takes to raise chickens, goats, rabbits, ducks and bees on your urban farm.
Backyard Beekeeping 101 Sat. Mar. 22; 10 a.m.-noon
Beekeeping 201: Start Your Hive Sat., Mar. 22; 2-4 p.m.
Raise City Rabbits Sun., Mar. 9; 2-4 p.m.
Raise City Goats Sat., Apr. 19; 10 a.m.-noon
Poultry Health Basics Wed., Apr. 30, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Permaculture & Sustainable Landscapes
Urban Weeds 2Go beyond veggie gardening by growing your own mushrooms and fruits. Learn to implement smart garden design.
Grow Mushrooms Sat., Mar. 29; 2-4 p.m.
Grow Mushrooms Sat., Apr. 12; 2-4 p.m.
Urban Weeds and Wild Foods – Part 1: Identify and Harvest
Sat., Apr. 26; noon-2 p.m.
Urban Weeds and Wild Foods – Part 2: Preparing for Your Table
Sat., Apr. 26; 2-4 p.m.

Teacher Trainings & Intensive Courses
Use the garden to introduce your students to the natural world and delve further into special topics.
The Garden Classroom Sat. Mar. 29; 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Worms at Work Sat. Apr. 5; 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
Food Preservation Certification Course Saturdays, May 31-June 28; 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

View their calendar of classes or see the full list.

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.

Pallet Gardening – How to Create a Wood Pallet Garden

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pallet garden gardening

Yesterday I transplanted my first batch of lettuce seedlings to my wood pallet garden. I put the pallet garden together last year using 6 brand new pallets from a local wood company and I was so thrilled with the results, that I’m doing it all over again this year.

Not only are pallet gardens cool, but they are great for the gardener who is a little tight on space so I decided to repost my directions on how to create a wood pallet garden today from scratch. {I can’t believe how much Lucy has grown!!} ;)

DIY Recycled Wood Pallet Garden

Basically all you really need is a wood pallet, some good soil and a packet of seeds. Using a wood pallet to start a garden can not only be a great space saver, but you don’t have to deal with tilling a large garden space or worrying about your plants rotting in the cold and wet soil during the spring and fall months because they are elevated.

heat treated wood pallet

What to look for in a wood pallet:

If you live in the Tacoma area you can find new wood pallets from Girard Wood Products in Puyallup, Washington for about $9 each. I bought my pallets here last year for my wood pallet garden and so far they have stood up to the elements. The photo you see above is a picture of a few recycled wood pallets we found behind some buildings last year.

Personally, I suggest using a new, clean, fresh pallet.

But  if you like to live life on the edge, 

Here are a few pointers when looking for recycled pallets:

Look for a pallet that has HT stamped somewhere on the pallet {it’s usually on the side}. This means the pallet was heat treated, or kiln dried as opposed to chemically treated.

Since you can never be sure what chemicals were stored on an old pallet or that there isn’t some sort of awful bacteria lurking inside the recycled pallets it’s recommended that you scrub the wood down with a mixture of diluted bleach and soapy water and let it dry out in the sun before using it to plant anything.

Also, be on the lookout for rusty nails or staples too.


When I first imagined my backyard wood pallet garden, I thought I’d only use 3 wood pallets. But every time I walked by something about it didn’t look right. It need to be BIGGER. So I decided to expand the pallet garden to include 6 wood pallets. ;)


One of the cool things about gardening, is there are oodles of different ways to grow your own food. There are so many containers to chose from, and more growing methods than I care to imagine. Everybody has an opinion, and there own way of doing things. And I think that’s the best part. We all do it differently.


No two gardens {or gardener for that matter} will ever been the same, or have the same growing conditions, but the desire to try new things is something we all have in common. After All, wouldn’t it be boring if we grew the same things, in the same spot every year? How boring would that be?


This is what my wood pallet garden looked like after I got all my pallets in place and filled them with garden soil. If you look closely you’ll notice I have landscape fabric beneath all the wood pallets to prevent weeds.  I can’t praise landscape fabric enough. Seriously, it’s the best stuff ever and you can find it a The Home Depot year round and Costco during the spring and summer months in giant rolls.

Pallet Gardening Garden

If you are an apartment dweller or live in a condo and want to try pallet gardening,  ”growing up” a vertical pallet garden might be the way to go instead. Anyway you look at it, garden is about the best hobby on the planet.

Wouldn’t you agree?


Looking for a little more inspiration?  Small Space Container Gardening by Fern Richardson is a great place to start.  Amazon currently has Small-Space Container Gardens in stock and ready to ship.

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 – Setting Out Transplants

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broccoli starts transplants

It never fails, we get one really nice sunny day up here in Washington and before you know it I’m rushing outside to transplant seedlings. And this time of year, it’s a total crapshoot.

If we get another cold snap, all the seedlings will die a horrible death. But, if the weather stays decent, I’ll totally be ahead of the game. And even though I know the odds are about 50/50 I still do it every year. ;)

mavis butterfield garden planting broccoli

Yesterday I transplanted broccoli starts to the center of  8 wire cages. I planted peas around the edges of the cages last week and am waiting for them to pop up through the soil anyday now. I figure by the time early June rolls around both the peas and broccoli will be ready to harvest and then I’ll be able to plant something else in their spot. growing leeks

Check out the leeks. Aren’t they gorgeous? Too pretty to harvest if you ask me. growing garlic

And take a look all the garlic. Whoa Momma! The big ones in the center of the bed is elephant garlic. red onions

Red onions. I’ll be sharing a little more about these later in the week. Typically I like to grow 3 types of onions. Red {for salsa}, Walla Walla {for salads and sandwiches} and Yellow onions {for cooking}. I’m sure they are a gazillion different varieties I could try, but I like to stick to what I know goes best in my garden.

raised garden beds boxes

My backyard garden. It’s not much, but it’s a start. Before you know it all those raised garden boxes will be full of vegetables. Yee-Haw… the light at the end of the tunnel is finally here. :)

Spring – Bring it on!


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 Care for Terra Cotta Pots

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How to Care for Terra Cotta Pots

Terra Cotta pots are awesome.  They are super porous, so over-watering is pretty tough to do, and they are a great natural option for housing all of your plants.  Because they are made of clay, caring for Terra Cotta is important if you want the pots to last growing season after growing season.

terra cotta flower potsFirst, it’s important to clean the pots from year to year, for the same reasons you clean your seed trays, you don’t want to pass any unwanted bacteria or fungus along to your next plant.  To clean them, first empty them completely of dirt, etc.  Brush the inside and out to make sure all debris is gone.  Then, you can choose one of three ways to clean them {I’m sure there are more, but these are the only ways I know, so if you do it differently, I’d love to know how in the comment section below.}:

  1. Bake them.  Bake completely dry pots in an oven set at 220 degrees for about an hour.  Let the pots cool completely in the oven before removing them.  I for one have way too many pots to even consider this option.
  2. Clean them with a diluted bleach solution.  Using 10 parts water and 1 part bleach dunk pots completely into the bleach solution {or thoroughly clean them using a rag if they are too big}.  Allow the pots to dry for several days before planting.
  3. Clean them using white distilled vinegar.  This is probably my favorite option.  Vinegar is cheap, and it is not as harsh as bleach.  Follow the same method as described in option 2, substituting the vinegar for bleach.

terra-cotta-potsIf your pots have developed white deposits due to hard water or salty water, make a paste of baking soda and water and gently scrub away the stains.

Once you have cleaned the pots for the year, it is important to soak them in water before filling them with dirt.  This stops the pot from pulling water away from your freshly potted plant.  After it has been soaked for about 24 hours, fill with potting soil and plant as you normally would.

Once Terra Cotta pots crack, they are pretty much done for.  Once, one of my big ones cracked and I tried to seal it up with clear silicone.  It held for the rest of the growing season, but the plants did not do as well for some reason.  A crack is basically an omen of death for the poor pots, so it’s best just to handle them with general care and avoid cracking them altogether.

Do you have any wise words of wisdom on caring for your Terra Cotta pots?


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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

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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.  


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!


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.


 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?


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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