Bee Keeping: Yes or No?

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honeybee{photo credit}

I’ve been toying with the idea of getting bees, but I’m allergic to them {by allergic I mean swelling and hives, I do not need to carry an EpiPen}.  So you’d think that’d stop me from considering bees any further, but nooo, it’s almost like a challenge–a sick one, but a challenge just the same.  I started researching the whole bee-keeping game and found out there are two different types of bees: Honey bees and Mason bees.

On the up side, Honey bees, I’m sure you know, produce, um, well, honey.  Delicious golden liquid sugar.  They also provide a long season of pollinating, which directly translates into 4000 lbs. of Mavis grown goodness.  On the flip side, they are slightly more aggressive and territorial.  Honey bees are a bigger investment in both time and money up front.  And, of course, they sting, which would leave me choking down a couple of Benadryl and a load of regrets.  But, did I mention that they provide honey?

{photo credit}

Mason Bees, on the other hand, do not sting.  They require almost zero upfront cost, because from what I can tell, building your own mason bee house {or sweet talking the HH to do it for me} takes very little effort and supplies–and after that, it’s a build it and they will come principal.  They are also immune to the common viruses that kill off honey bee hives.   They don’t produce honey or have a queen {all females can reproduce}, so they aren’t aggressive or territorial in anyway–keeping my breathing passages free and clear.  The cons, as I just mentioned, are that they don’t produce honey and their pollination season is relatively short.

I was surprised to learn that while Mason bees don’t sting at all, Honey bees also rarely sting {probably due to the fact that a sting costs them their life {sheesh, those are some high stakes, I kinda feel bad for the bee born with anger-management issues}.

What do YOU think? Am I playing with fire to even consider Honey bees?  Or do you think having plenty of flowers would be enough…instead of honey? Should I just let nature take care of things?  Do you think I will need to attract extra bees to my garden this year?

Conflicted,

Mavis

the bee keepers handbookThe Beekeeper’s Handbook

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Gearing Up For the Gardening Season – Advice for New Gardeners

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mavis garden blog

I had to laugh as I made room in the fridge for my lavender last week, chilling lavender seeds is just some of the craziness I’ve taken on in trying to grow 4000 lbs. of food this year.  I wouldn’t have even attempted it a few years ago, which made me realize:  gardening is a learning process.

If you are new to gardening, try to remember, it’s about the experience, just as much as the result.  A packet of seeds typically costs less than your average heirloom tomato at the grocery store, so the stakes are pretty low.  Killing off an entire packet {which I have totally done} happens.  Start small and give yourself time to learn.  Choose the veggies or herbs you know you use often–or choose a variety of plant you would never allow yourself to pay for in the grocery store–and then work on growing just that.

botanical-interests seed packets

If you are going to start your own seeds, which I totally recommend, both for the cost and the experience, choose quality over quantity.  I love Botanical Interest seeds because I have learned {the hard way} that quality seeds go a long way in making your growing season more successful.  I can’t tell you how many failed attempts I have had from low quality seeds.

grow lights growlights

Next, get a light.  You don’t necessarily need to get a fancy schmancy set-up, but relying only on the light from a window is a total crap shoot, and the successful plants sometimes get a little leggy.  I found that when I finally moved to a grow light {fluorescent would work too} my success rate grew–literally!  It’s the one ‘must-have’ in my unprofessional opinion.

start seeds under grow lights

You can start your seeds in seed trays or in all sorts of salvaged pots {think:  empty yogurt containers, egg cartons, etc.}. Get creative with your supplies.  You are investing time into a hobby, and sometimes money, but it doesn’t have to be that way, the level of investment you want to make is a personal choice.  Get creative.

Gardening really is about the joy.  I don’t want to get all one-with-nature on you here, but I get a lot of satisfaction from fresh grown produce.  I get even more when I get to share it.  Real food is an experience, enjoy it.

Happy Gardening.

~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.

WWII War Victory Gardens

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dig for your dinner

Thanks to all of you who weighed in on the front-yard gardening post!  A few of you mentioned the Victory Gardens from World War II.  One of my readers left this message on Facebook:  “Back in the day, the government says it’s patriotic to have a “victory garden” in your yard. Now they want to make it a crime.”  Thanks Clayton, good point!  I was sooo fascinated by the reference, I did a little research of my own:

In the 1940′s, Victory Gardens began to sprout up across the country in order to ease the burden of an already stressed and taxed country.  They were meant to reduce food production costs, reduce the reliance on the railroad system for our food supply, and create a surplus of foods to can and preserve for when food supplies ran short.  The gardens were planted in any bit of unused space:  empty dirt lots, backyards, and unused city parcels.  Um, hello!  Why does it take a war to do something that makes so much sense?

victory garden{Your Victory Garden Counts More Than Ever poster}

For the first time since World War I, gardening became a past-time, not a social and economic necessity for just the poor.  People of every background came together in an effort to keep the country functioning.  In 1942, 5.5 million people participated in the Victory Gardens movement. Holy Canolies! Plus, seed packet sales rose 300% that year.  {There’s your economic stimulus!}  It is estimated that 44% of the country’s fresh produce was grown in Victory Gardens in 1942.  Just imagine what we could do now, with our fancy grow lights and extendable growing seasons?

Want to eat local?  Dig for your dinner.

Now get out there and plant something! {Okay, or at least get your seed packets ready!}

♥ Mavis

Dig for Victory WWII War {Dig for Victory Now poster}

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Mavis Garden Blog – Moving Raised Garden Beds

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mavis garden blog

As I was planning my garden space for this year I wanted to make better use of our 16 raised garden beds. The beds receive the most sunlight out of any other spot in our wooded backyard.

backyard chickens

When I planted my herb garden back in 2009, I filled it with everything I liked; oregano, chives, sage, basil, rosemary and a few others. But what I didn’t realize at the time was that mint {and oregano} spread like crazy. The mint especially.

mint roots

Before I knew it I was pulling up mini mint roots every time I walked down the garden path. So over the last few days I’ve been busy not only pulling up all the mint and oregano roots, but also moving the last 2 garden boxes as well.

australorp chicken

Black Fatty and Squeakers looking for worms.

mavis one hundred dollars a month

I’m not sure why we placed the last 2 garden boxes in the opposite direction, but I’m guessing it had something to do with the ugly green propane tank topper that sits smack dab in the center of the row of garden boxes.

building raised garden beds

So after removing {most} all of the roots and soil, I took the garden boxes apart, moved them, and put them back together again.

raised garden beds

Isn’t it beautiful how they are all lined up and going in the same direction?

Mini garden project rule! Next on the agenda is to line those 2 garden boxes with landscape fabric in hopes of preventing anymore mint popping up again. {I can dream can’t I}.

~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.

1 Year Subscription to Urban Farm Magazine Only $4.50!

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It’s Baaaaack!

DiscountMags is offering a 1 year subscription to Urban Farm Magazine for only $4.50 a year when you use code 2479 at checkout. I love this magazine! Learn how to grow you own food in the space you have!

Urban Farm Magazine is guide for those in cities or suburbs looking to become more self-sufficient by growing some of their own food and treading lightly on the environment in the space they have. Articles include how-to projects, gardening basics, composting, beekeeping, roof-top gardening, preserving and freezing, and time and money-saving ideas.

Go HERE to order Urban Farm Magazine.

*This special rate will be live through midnight 1/24/2012 (EST). You can purchase this deal as a new subscription or to renew your existing subscription. You can also purchase additional subscriptions as gifts! This is such a wonderful magazine at an amazing price.

mavis garden blog

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.

Tacoma Home and Garden Show 2013

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Tacoma Home and Garden Show 2013

If you are looking for something to do and you live in the Tacoma area, you may want to stop by the Tacoma Home and Garden show taking place at the Tacoma Dome this weekend.

You can print a $2.00 off coupon HERE or purchase discounted multi-day passes at the door if you’d like to go back throughout the week for one of the gardening seminars. Cisco Morris will be talking on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday if you want to stop by and say hi.

waterfall rocks

I had a little extra time so I stopped by this afternoon to take a look around.

wood cottage potting shed

If you are looking for an awesome possum ceder tool, garden or play shed, Millworks Custom Sheds are awesome. I love his attention to detail.

B and D Lilies Port Townsend

I’m not exactly sure what happened, but I stopped by the B&D Lilies booth to ask a question and 45 minutes later I found myself walking away with 2 bags full of giant lily bulbs. It was crazy.

Lily bulbs

I have absolutely no idea where I am going to plant them. But now I know the owners have been married for 38 years, that Martha Stewart Magazine was at their property for 5 days straight 6 years ago for a photo shoot, and that the company once sold their bulbs to Peggy Rockefeller. And that no matter what anyone tells you, lily bulbs are not deer resistant.

Oh, and that I need to purchase a small box of “rose food” and feed my bulbs twice a year.

OH.MY.WORD.

antique watering can

Moving on.

If you love antiques, then be sure and stop by the Vintage Market. Sure you’ll have to walk past people selling hot tubs, floor mops, sprinklers, cabinets, dishwashers, and other random stuff you likely don’t need, but I’m telling you, it’s worth it.

antique garden tools cart{Isn’t that old garden caddy cool?}

Just keep your blinders on and don’t get side tracked or you might go home with a hot dog cart for your backyard patio.

mean looking plant

Okay. Quiz time. I took a picture of this plant but then forgot to write down the name.

Does anyone know what it is?

~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 – Grow Light Set Up and Pictures of Seedlings

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indoor grow light set up

Several of you have been asking me to post a pictures of my grow light set up. It’s nothing fancy. Just 3 sets of grow lights {2 were purchased last year} sitting on a few old tables in my office next to the computer. If the Handsome Husband had his way, these grow lights would be set up in the garage, in the greenhouse, or pretty much anywhere else out of sight.

But the thing is, I wouldn’t be able to SEE my seedlings everyday and track their progress if they were far away {out of sight out of mind}. Plus, I’d probably forget to water them as well, which of course, would not be good.

artichoke seedlings

Take a look at the artichokes! I planted these on January 2nd and their true leaves are just now starting to appear. I think it’s amazing how the packet of artichoke seeds I planted costs $1.99 each and I now have 51 little artichoke starts {I planted 3 packets}.

Most grocery stores sell 1 single artichoke for around $2.50 each. Holy cow batman! All I have to do is give these babies a little TLC and by the end of summer I will have saved a fortune. It’s pretty crazy when you break it down like that.

lettuce seedlings

The Mesclun lettuce was started on January 8th and is looking sharp. The lettuce will need to be divided up and transplanted to larger pots soon. I love that I can grow lettuce indoors anytime of the year.

onion seedlings

The onions were planted on January 1st and still look like aliens.

grow wheat grass indoors

And HELLO wheatgrass! This is my second planting and I had no idea wheatgrass was so awesome in smoothies. I should totally open my own wheatgrass juice bar.

Well, there you have it. That’s how I am starting my seeds indoors this year.

How and when are YOU starting your seedlings this year? Or maybe you’re not starting seeds, but buying starts at a local nursery this year instead. Either way you look at it, gardening is rad.

Peace Out Girl Scouts,

♥ Mavis

Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre By Brett L. Markham

Looking for a great gardening book?

Mini Farming describes a holistic approach to small-area farming that will show you how to produce 85 percent of an average family’s food on just a quarter acre—and earn $10,000 in cash annually while spending less than half the time that an ordinary job would require.

Even if you have never been a farmer or a gardener, this book 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. ~ Amazon

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 butterfield garden blog{Tomatoes and Basil – August 2012}

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

Here is what I have harvested so far this year:

beets

Beets - 14 ounces

I finally got a round to cooking those beets and made a lovely Roasted Red Beet & White Bean Hummus. Does anyone know if you can freeze hummus? Because if you can, I think I’m going to have to add a few more rows of beets to my garden plans.

egg count 2013

Egg Count – 59 {2.5 per day average}

Our dear sweet Jersey the not so Giant chicken died about a week ago. Everything about it was sad, especially since she died of natural causes. Jersey was also one of our best egg layers so not only did we lose her, but we also lost about 5 eggs a week when she passed. Luckily 2 of the baby chicks we brought home last September have begun to lay. We also have another 5 chickens that have not started laying yet so once that happens, it’s going to be egg city around here.

cool kitchen scale

Potatoes – 2 pounds 9 ounces

I found these babies while I was clearing out one of our raised garden beds. If every winter was as mild as this one has been, then I’d totally plant winter potatoes every fall. Seriously, harvesting potatoes in January? That is just crazy!

bean sprouts

Sprouts - 6 ounces {I’m currently growing some more alfalfa sprouts right now in the kitchen}

cut wheatgrass

Wheatgrass - 2 ounces

Not only is growing wheat grass cool, it’s good for you too. Does anyone know the street value on wheat grass? Do they sell wheat grass at a regular grocery store, or do you have to go to a specialty store to purchase some?

Total Food Harvested in 2013: 3 pounds 15 ounces

Total Eggs Collected in 2013: 59

How is YOUR garden planning going so far? Is the ground still frozen? If so, when does it usually thaw?

~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 Leeks {Start to Finish}

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American Flag Leek botanical interests seed packet

This morning I planted a packet of American Flag Leek seeds and placed them under grow lights in the office {I’ll show you my set up tomorrow}. I tried to grow some leeks last year, but the chickens gobbled them all up shortly after I transplanted them outside. Booo! So I’m back at it again. Since I already know I can grow onions, I’m thinking growing leeks are going to be really easy as well. That is, if I can keep the chickens away.

Brief description: Leeks are in the onion family.  They have a thick stem, but do not form bulbs like traditional onions.

Where to Plant Leeks:  Plant in a sunny spot, with fertile, well-drained soil.  {If drainage is an issue in your garden, mix pearlite in with the soil when you plant}  They thrive in garden beds, raised beds, or even tall containers.

leek seeds

Planting Seeds:  Plant in a group of 4 seeds 1/2″ deep, every 4″.  Row spacing should be about 12″.  Thin to one plant every 4″ when plants are about 1″ tall.

Growing Tip:  Start indoors 8-10 weeks before last frost.  Plants are very hardy and low maintenance.

Leeks{photo credit}

How to Harvest:  Harvest when stems are about 1″ in diameter.  Dig around the base of the plant to loosen the soil and then pluck them right out of the ground.

White Bean Chili with winter vegetablesWhite Bean Chili With Winter Vegetables - Bon Appetit 

LKFLKU (Little known fact, little known use):  The Roman emperor, Nero, drank Leek soup everyday, because he believed it would enhance his singing voice.  Hmm, maybe a singing career is in my future?!

Will YOU be growing leeks in your garden this year?

~Mavis

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

Mavis Garden Blog – Freshly Dug Potatoes in January? Say What?

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mavis butterfield

Yesterday I was out in the backyard garden working on a new project, as I was digging up one of our raised garden beds, my shovel dug in to something.

russet potato

A potato.

I thought I had cleared all the potatoes out last fall, but apparently not.

russet potato garden box

Not wanting to loose any more potatoes, I got down on my hands and knees and started to carefully move the dirt away in hopes of finding more hidden gems. And guess what. There WERE MORE! I might as well have been digging for gold it was so exciting. So how many potatoes was I able to harvest?

cool kitchen scale

2 pounds 9 ounces to be exact. Holy mashed potatoes people, that’s enough for a meal! Wahoooo! I may just have to forget to harvest some potatoes again this fall so there will be some to eat next January.

Are you planning on planting potatoes this spring? If so, what are your favorite variety to grow?

I think Yukon Golds are my favorite.

~Mavis

The Complete Book of Potatoes: What Every Grower and Gardener Needs to Know
Taylor Kitchen Scale
Seed Potatoes

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Recipes Garden Frugal Canning Chickens Travel