Mavis Mail – Garden and Beehive Photos From Connecticut

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SONY DSC

Check out this recent email I received from a reader in Connecticut:

Hi Mavis,

I wanted to join in on the gardening feature because I’m an avid gardener that got on the organic, sustainability, gardening bandwagon years ago. Here’s a little about my garden adventures.

I live in suburban CT, zone 6b, and grow as much as I can squeeze into my 1/4 acre backyard.

Using the companion planting approach, in my 6 raised beds, I grow tomatoes, onions, garlic, basil, peppers, green beans, peas, lettuce, spinach, asparagus, pumpkins, zucchini, butternut squash, watermelon, cucumbers, carrots, cilantro, and nasturiums. I build frames for the vine plants to grow vertically and this allows more space for other plants below.

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Outside of the enclosed beds, I grow broccoli in pots and strawberry plants in window box planters so the chipmunks can’t get to them. Last year, I put in a medicinal herb bed with lemongrass, sage, thyme, fennel, calendula, comfrey, dill, lovage, stevia, feverfew, and bay. This year I’m going to expand the growing space and put in a culinary tea bed and more edible flowers, such as amaranth.

Interspersed around the property are 3 apple trees, that are plagued by apple rust so I might take them out, 2 Red haven peach, 1 Bartlett pear, 1 D’anjou (to cross pollinate the other pear), 2 Brown Turkey fig (grilled figs are yum!), 2 Paw Paw, 1 Nectarine and 1 apricot tree. In winter, I wrap the figs with burlap and frost blankets to protect them from the cold and it looks as if I have ghosts haunting my yard. Under the fruit trees, there are delicious thornless blackberry, raspberry, and 8 blueberry bushes.

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Along the property line on one side, there are legacy grapevines that were there when I bought the house. I’m not sure what kind of grapes they are, but my goal this year is to trim them back and turn them into a useful food rather than a privacy screen. Usually the leaves are harvested for making stuffed grape leaves. Along the shed, I have Kiwi vine growing.

backyard chicken{Eagle the Ameracauna chicken}

We have 9 chickens and 6 ducks, that make the most delicious eggs possible. They live in “The Girls with Feathers” coop I designed and then expanded to fit the ducks in there too. I keep the fowl in a chicken yard, but I let them out to forage near the chicken run in the Summer. Along two sides of the run, I grow hops, to provide some shade for the chickens and to produce hops for my eventual beer brewing that I will begin experimenting with this Fall, and lots of sunflowers.

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I fertilize the trees with rabbit manure from our adopted rescued Angora rabbit. (She grows the most wonderfully soft fur that I’m going to have spun into yarn.) In the basement, we have a vermicompost bin and use the worm castings to fertilize the veg beds. Because I don’t want to risk ecoli contamination, there are separate compost bins allocated specifically for the coop shavings. Every now and then we go down to the beach to clean it up after a storm and carry home buckets of seaweed for the compost piles.

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To pollinate the backyard, I have two beehives, one with Italian and the other with Carniolan bees. In a few weeks, I’m adding two more hives. I bartered 2 ducklings for a top bar bee hive on craigslist and recently acquired a Warre hive. Since everything in this backyard is an experiment of one kind or another, I want to find out if the hive body design effects how robust the bee colony is.

The bees have done an amazing job pollinating my gardens and I love watching them early in the morning from my kitchen window as they fly off in search of pollen and nectar in the Summer. The honey they produce is another plus because I use that instead of sugar. I also have 5 mason beehives spread throughout the garden to encourage the solitary bees to hang around.

There’s a lot of trial and error that goes on in this 1/4 acre, but that’s what makes it a challenge. I know I have written way more than many of the garden posts you’ve featured and I haven’t even gotten to my seed starting plans for the year. ~~*~~

All I can say is WHAT A BEAUTIFUL GARDEN! What an amazing job you have done and your love of gardening really shines though in your pictures. Thanks for sending in your photos.

~Mavis

{Sara from Fox Island’s Garden Tour}

If you would like to have your garden, chicken coop or something you’ve made featured on One Hundred Dollars a Month, here’s what I’m looking for:

  • Your Garden Pictures and Tips – I’d especially like to see your garden set ups, growing areas, and know if you are starting seeds indoors this year. If so,  show me some picture of how you are going about it.
  • Your Chicken and Chicken Related Stories – Coops, Chicks, Hen’s, Roosters, Eggs, you name it. If it clucks, send us some pictures to share with the world.
  • Cool Arts & Craft made from your very own hands with detailed {and well photographed} pictures and instructions.

If I feature your pictures and the stories behind them on One Hundred Dollars a Month, I will send you a $20.00 gift card to the greatest store in the world: Amazon.com.

Go  HERE for the official rules.

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.



Regional Planting Guides For Backyard Gardeners

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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? Click on the region you live in below and you’ll be taken you to a handy dandy chart that is broken down into what vegetables should be planted {or transplanted} each month.

Anyone can do this. Dirt + Seeds+ Water = Food!

~Mavis

Pacific Northwest Region Planting Guide

Mid-Atlantic Region Planting  Guide

Maritime Canada and New England Region Planting  Guide

Central/Midwest Region Planting Guide

North Central and Rockies Region Planting Guide

Southwest Region Planting Guide

Southern Interior Planting Guide

Gulf Coast Region Planting Guide

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 – Weekend Plans

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mavis butterfield

This morning the Handsome Husband mentioned there is a big winter storm headed towards the New England states. 2 feet of snow is predicted. Yikes! It hasn’t snow here in my neck of the woods in almost a year, which in my opinion totally stinks. I love the snow. But then again I love my garden too, and I’m not quite sure what I would do if the ground was covered in a thick blanket of snow and I was stuck inside staring out the window unable to get any gardening done. 

wooded backyard

The Seattle/Tacoma area forecast is calling for 5 days of clear weather. And I’m going to need it. Still left on my to-do list is to finish laying down the landscape fabric. I pretty much just have to place some in front of the chicken coop and alongside the greenhouse and then I’m be done.

rock border

I also need to finish building the last rock border that will outline this years potato patch.

fruit trees in bags

Plant 6 trees.

swiss chard in window box

Pull the Swiss chard that over wintered in the front window box out to the backyard garden so the flower bulbs we planted have room to grow.

empty flower pot

Find a perennial flower to plant behind the tulip bulbs for the flower pot that sits in front of our house. The wheel the pot around to the back of the house because if I leave it up front the neighborhood deer will eat my tulips. What was I thinking? I should have planted daffodils instead.

rain barrel

And last but not least, figure out where I’m going to stick the bright orange {future} rain barrel I scored the other day, plus hide move those 3 soon to be gorgeous metal drums around back so the Handsome Husband doesn’t freak out when he sees I’ve brought home a bunch more trash for our backyard {again}.

That’s what is on my weekend to-do list, how about you?

~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 – Landscape Fabric and Gladiolus

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costco landscape fabric prevent weeds

About a week and a half ago Helen from Meridian mentioned her Costco store was stocked with landscape fabric. So when I called my store to see if they had it, they told me the landscape fabric hadn’t come in yet, but that was that it was on it’s way.

So basically everyday since then I have been Calling Costco at 9 am to see if my store had received any landscape fabric in their overnight shipment. Yesterday, I got the good news.

As soon as I heard the words YES {you crazy lady now you can stop calling} I jumped in my car and drove to the store, loaded 6 fat rolls into my cart and made b-line for the registers.

gladiolus bulbs pink purple green

And then out of the corner of my eye I spotted a package of pink, purple and lime green gladiolus. What a gorgeous color combination! So I snagged those too. You would be proud of me though, I did pass the calla lilies, clay pots and pruning shears without looking back, so there is some hope for me yet.

I don’t know about you, but this time of year is so hard for me. I want to swoop every single bit of color up and plant it in my yard. It makes me crazy. Not to mention the Handsome Husband, because he knows I’ll inevitably ask him to help me with some sort of project.

backyard garden wooded lot

Now I know a bunch of you think I am a total loon for covering my backyard with landscape fabric only to cover it with mulch and garden soil, but I’m telling you, the stuff works like you would not believe. The main reason I use it is to squelch out the pesky salal roots from popping up in my garden paths.

As soon as I get the landscape fabric down {just beyond the white arrows} I’ll start mapping out where the new garden spaces will go. I’ll add some dirt and then some mulch to go around the garden spaces. After that is done, it will finally be time to plant some vegetables. Yee-Haw!

I want to get the landscape fabric installed today. This weekend is suppose to be clear {cold, but clear} so I’m hoping to knock a few projects off my list. But first, I’ve got to go out there and lay down that fabric.

Peace Out Girl Scouts, make it a great day.

~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 Mail – Robin From Columbus, Ohio Sends in Beautiful Garden Photos

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raised garden beds

A big THANK YOU to everyone who has sent in their photographs and stories. I hope by sharing other peoples pictures and stories here on One Hundred Dollars a Month we can all have a rock star garden this summer.

Keep them coming!

Check out this story and the amazing backyard garden photos Robin from Ohio sent in:

Four years ago my partner and I bought a foreclosed abandoned sprawling ranch on an acre of land in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio.  We kicked the raccoons out of the attic and started working on creating a sustainable suburban mini-farm.

brown tan rain barrel

Our biggest surprise to date was finding a 16,000-gallon cistern under the house!  We’ve renovated it and now water the acre with rainwater collected off our roof.  All the gutters on the property either go into the cistern or rain barrels.  We’ve put a hand pump on the original well (we have city utilities).  We built a dry creek bed and rain garden to put the sump pump run off to good use.

purple clematis

There was nothing here in the way of landscaping except for a few “Charlie Brown” type Christmas trees.  We’ve added hundreds of perennial flowerbeds, emphasizing native-Ohio plants.  On the edible side, we have veggies from March through December.  We’ve added perennial fruit (strawberries, kiwi, blackberries, blueberries, cherries and raspberries) and apple and peach trees.

red zebra tomatoes

This year we will finally harvest our first asparagus and Jerusalem artichokes.  We have herbs of all kinds, and every veggie you can think of – from a corn patch, potatoes, cold weather crops, peppers and tomatoes out the wazoo.  We are 100% organic and use a lot of compost and aged (free) horse manure.  The soil has improved dramatically. Where there was only dead dry earth, you can now find a million worms.

When it rains, if you’re quiet, you can actually hear the little dudes working their hearts out for us.  Ohio-native plants like Joe Pye Weed, Goldenseal and Black-eyed Susan attract beneficial insects, birds, butterflies, bees and bats.

greenhouse with solar panels

This past year, we added our first set of solar panels on a back shed and built a greenhouse (with the help of our friends).  I plant my veggies in seed trays and put them under lights on my homemade grow table in winter.  Then the cold weather stuff goes out to the hoop house and the less-cold tolerant plants (tomatoes/peppers) go to the greenhouse.  The greenhouse is passively heated via 55-gallon barrels of water.  The food grade barrels I bought on the cheap from the Pepsi plant.

purple lilac

Holy Canolies Robin. You have done an amazing job and I am in LOVE with your fenced vegetable garden {and the wood chip paths too}. Awesome stuff!

~Mavis

Want to see more Garden Tours from around the World? Go HERE.

If you would like to have your garden, chicken coop or something you’ve made featured on One Hundred Dollars a Month, here’s what I’m looking for:

  • Your Garden Pictures and Tips – I’d especially like to see your garden set ups, growing areas, and know if you are starting seeds indoors this year. If so,  show me some picture of how you are going about it.
  • Your Chicken and Chicken Related Stories – Coops, Chicks, Hen’s, Roosters, Eggs, you name it. If it clucks, send us some pictures to share with the world.
  • Cool Arts & Craft made from your very own hands with detailed {and well photographed} pictures and instructions.

If I feature your pictures and the stories behind them on One Hundred Dollars a Month, I will send you a $20.00 gift card to the greatest store in the world: Amazon.com.

Go  HERE for the official rules.

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.

Blueberry Bushes, Fruit Trees, Strawberries, Rhubarb, Raspberries, Roses Now in Stock!

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apple trees

Yesterday I picked up some fruit trees at Wilco that were on sale for $14 each. Even if you don’t have a Wilco {they have stores in Washington and Oregon} now is the time to stop by your local nursery. Stores are beginning to get their new stock in for the year, and now is the best time to buy if you want to get the pick of the litter.

dwarf fuji apple tree

Costco also has combination fruit trees in stock right now for $15.99 each, and regular fruit trees for $11.49 {call your store first} to make sure they haven’t sold out}. I thought about buying my fruit trees online, but I really like the staff at my local Wilco. They are incredibly knowledgeable, and really take the time to help you select the right plant for your yard. That kind of help, is something you just can’t get from a big box store in my experience. So buy local if you can.

rhubarb crowns

Another thing to be on the lookout for is rhubarb. Last summer I made some Rhubarb Cinnamon Jam is was so stinkin’ awesome, I decided to pick up a few more rhubarb crowns when I spotted them yesterday at Wilco too.

wilco blueberry bushes

Now is also a great time to purchase blueberry bushes. Even though I already have 12 blueberry bushes, I think I might pick up a few more for the garden.

I don’t know about you, but I love this time of year. But it can be dangerous, all those plants? I wish I could have them all. Hmmm. Maybe I need to find more land.

Will YOU be buying and new fruit trees this year? If so, what kind?

I don’t want to miss out.

~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 Your Own Food – 2013 Garden Tally

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mavis garden blog

This year I’m on a mission to grow 4,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables in my suburban backyard. In 2012 I was able to grow 2,028 pounds, and in 2013 I’m going double or nothing. I have absolutely no idea if I’ll be able to achieve my goal. But, as with any adventure, half the fun is getting there.   ~Mavis

mavis butterfield

February is turning out to be the official month of grunt work. Which is fine really, because at least the weather is on my side. I know some of you out there still have snow or below freezing temps. So I’m not complaining, I just wish I could start planting vegetables outside right now.

Here is what I have harvested so far this year:

beets

Beets - 14 ounces

The chickens found these for me a few weeks ago.

carrots

Carrots – 3 ounces

Carrots! In February? I was walking past the raised garden beds yesterday and noticed wee bit of orange popping through the soil. I’m not sure why I hadn’t seen it before, but sweet diggety dog, 2 carrots. I’ll take ‘em!

egg count 2013

Egg Count – 101 {2.8 per day average}

We are still waiting for all the chicks we brought home last fall to start laying. I am especially curious about Hilda, Matilda and Peanut. They are all Easter Eggers and we are hoping they’ll lay blue and green eggs for us.

mesclun lettuceLettuce – 4 ounces

We harvested our first harvest of lettuce yesterday! I started the lettuce in early January and there was enough mesclun salad mix for us all to have a small salad with dinner last night. I trimmed the lettuce down to the nubs so hopefully we’ll get another crop in about 2 more weeks. I’ll keep you posted!

cool kitchen scale

Potatoes – 2 pounds 9 ounces

We found these beauties in the garden a few weeks ago and made potato soup!

bean sprouts

Sprouts - 8 ounces -

I’ve got more growing in the kitchen right now! Sprouts are great in stir fry and sandwiches.

cut wheatgrass

Wheatgrass - 5 ounces

Total Food Harvested in 2013: 4 pounds 11 ounces

Total Eggs Collected in 2013: 101

Have YOU drawn out your garden plans yet? Are you trying anything new this year? If so, what?

~Mavis

Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre covers everything you need to know to get started: buying and saving seeds, starting seedlings, establishing raised beds, soil fertility practices, composting, dealing with pest and disease problems, crop rotation, farm planning, and much more. I have this book and it’s great!

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.

Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette Recipe

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Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette Recipe

This afternoon I harvested our first crop of mesclun lettuce. You’ll have to wait until tomorrow of course to find out exactly how much it weighed {don’t hold your breath}. I wanted to share my favorite recipe for balsamic vinaigrette with you because it’s so simple to make. In fact once you start making your’re own, you’ll probably never go back to store bought dressing again.

Here is my basic balsamic vinaigrette recipe:

Balsamic Vinaigrette Recipe

Ingredients

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup olive oil

Directions

Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Add a few tablespoons to your salad and toss. Enjoy! Store any extra dressing in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

botanical interests mesclun lettuce

Want to grow your own salad mix this year but don’t know how? Head on over HERE to learn how to grow lettuce from start to finish.

 

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 Microgreens {Start to Finish}

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botanical interests micro greens seeds

This morning I planted a flat of micro greens under grow lights in the office. I’ve grown Micro greens in the past and the thing I LOVE about them is that they can be harvested in as little as 10 days. Pretty stinkin’ awesome if you ask me. How’s that for a little instant gratification?

If you are surrounded by snow, or it’s too chilly to grow anything outside right now, try some micro greens. They’re easy to grow. I promise!

Brief description: Micro greens are the tiny form of edible veggies and herbs.  They can be added to salads, sandwiches, and used as a garnish.  They are très chic right now in upscale restaurants.

Where to Plant Micro greens:  Micro greens can be grown indoors in containers all year long.  For a continual crop, you can sow them every 2 weeks.

micro greens seeds

Planting Seeds:  Plant 1/8″ deep, with 1/4″ to 1/2″ spacing.  Thinning is not necessary.  Plant seeds into large shallow containers.  They like a lot of light, so place in a sunny location or use a grow light.

microgreens{photo credit}

Growing Tips:  Micro greens pretty much grow themselves–keep the soil consistently moist, but not soggy.

How to Harvest:  Plants should emerge in 2-5 days, they are ready to harvest when they are 1″-2″ tall and leaves have unfolded.  Pick at the base of the plant, close to the dirt, wash thoroughly  and eat fairly immediately.

Here is a cool Micro Greens recipe to try:

baby greens with roasted beets and potatoesBaby Greens with Roasted Beets and Potatoes 

Micro greens are not the same as thing as sprouting.  Micro greens are harvested above the soil and grown in dirt.  Sprouts are grown entirely in water and the entire plant is consumed, including the seed, root, and under-developed plant. Learn more about how to grow sprouts HERE.

Looking to buy some Micro Greens? I’m growing the Savory Micro Greens Mix from Botanical Interests. You can find the seeds HERE.

microgreens book how to grow

Want to learn more about microgreens? Check out the book Microgreens: A Guide To Growing Nutrient-Packed Greens. It’s awesome!

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.

Giveaway: 3 Readers Each Win The Gardener’s A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food

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The gardener's guide

One of the questions I get asked all the time is Mavis, what is your favorite gardening book? So today I thought I offer a giveaway for 3 copies of my all time favorite gardening book: The Gardener’s A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Foodby Tanya L.K. Denckla. I was given this book a few years ago at Christmas time and have been using it every year since.

The Gardener’s A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food is packed with 6 big chapters covering everything from vegetables, fruits and nuts, herbs, organic remedies, and allies and companions. The book is easy to read, and there are tons and tons of organic remedies included to prevent or help control plant diseases and garden pests

In a nut shell, this book rules, and I love it.

All you have to do to enter this giveaway is leave a comment below and let us know: What’s your favorite day of the week and why?

Rules

1 entry per person/ip address. If you cheat, you will totally be disqualified.

This giveaway ends Sunday, February 10th, 2013 @9 pm PST and the winners will be announced in the February 11th, 2013 edition of Mornings with Mavis.  You will be notified via email and have 48 hours to claim your prize. If you do not claim your prize within 48 hours the books will be donated to my local library.

Good Luck!  I hope you win!

 

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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