Mavis Butterfield | Backyard Garden Pictures 7/22/14

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fallen tree on garden

Over the weekend a tree fell smack dab in the middle of our pumpkin patch killing two plants. Luckily we were all inside when it happened. Living in a wooded area has it’s perks, but falling trees, isn’t one of them. growing green beans on a trellis

The rest of the garden is doing really well though. The second round of green beans should be ready in a few more weeks and I just planted our third and final round last night. onion braids

Onions. We harvested all of them. Our winter leeks are still growing like mad and with a little luck the chives we have planted alongside the greenhouse should be okay thru the middle of October or so. For some reason plants seem to hang on a little longer in that spot. Not sure if it’s because of the shade or what, but I’m not complaining.
cabbage plant

We are harvesting about a head of cabbage a week. Grocery shipping in your backyard is cool!zucchini plant

Zucchinis. Are yours growing like crazy this year too?harvesting beets

And last but not least beets. We harvested a tray full of beets last night and planted new seeds in the same spot for a late fall harvest. Call me crazy, but I think a 4′x8′ garden box should be just enough to last thru the winter. What do you think?

How is YOUR garden doing these days? What’s your favorite thing growing in your garden right now?

Mavis Wants to know.

This years garden is being sponsored by the folks at BotanicInterests Seed Company. You can check out their website HERE, order their new 2014 Garden Seed Catalog 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.



What Causes Blossom Drop in Tomatoes?

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What Causes Blossom Drop in Tomatoes

I recently received an email from One Hundred Dollars a Month reader, Kathy in Ohio.  She wrote,

Hi Mavis! Happy Wednesday to you!  Have you ever discussed blossom drop in tomatoes? It’s when the blossoms bloom then drop off tomato plants, with no fruit setting. Someone recently came to me asking about it, and luckily enough, after years of caring for acres of tomatoes when my step father was alive on the farm, I was able to help her.
I think your readers would like to know about this. After all, it has been hot and humid around most of the country lately and that can be a factor when dealing with blossom drop.

It can also affect other fruit bearing veggie plants like peppers, green beans, cucumbers, pumpkins and other squash, melons and eggplant
By the way, I’m in NE Ohio,  where it’s been near 90 or above, with super high humidity.

Have an excellent day!

Excellent suggestion, Kathy.  Thanks!

Blossom drop can be maddening.  The worst part of blossom drop is that several things can cause it.  It is an indication that the plant is under some level of stress, so you may have to trouble shoot a bit what could be causing it in your specific situation.  First off, blossom drop is when the flowers {that should eventually become tomatoes} wither up and fall off–which means no tomatoes.  Whah!

Typically, blossom drop occurs when temperatures spike very quickly or drop quickly.  Drastic changes in temperature really stress tomatoes out.  As Kathy mentioned, humidity can also do a number on potato plants.  If you live in a low humidity area, it’s an easy fix, you can try wetting the foliage a bit during the day to get a bit of humidity into the air around the plant.  If you live in a high humidity area, it’s pretty darn hard to control.

If the weather isn’t the problem, it may be a pollination issue.  If you don’t have bees buzzing around your garden, you may not have great pollination.  Without pollination, no tomatoes, plain and simple.

blossom drop in tomatoes

Lack of water or nitrogen in the soil can also stress out a tomato plant.  During the hottest months, it’s really best to give a deep water {like flood irrigation} once a week, rather than a daily surface sprinkle.  The water really needs to reach the roots, and if given the change, tomatoes like to lay some deep roots.  If you suspect your soil might not be very nutrient rich, try a quality organic nitrogen based fertilizer.  Follow the instructions on the fertilizer for application.

Inspect your plants regularly for insects or disease.  Again, an infestation or disease will stress out your plant, causing it drop flowers.

heirloom tomatoes

Finally, and this is probably the best case scenario, it can happen when you have a really heavy crop.

Yep, even too much of a good thing is not a good thing.  The good news is that after you harvest some of the tomatoes, it should resolve itself.  The plant only has so much nutrients to go around, so if there is an over-abundance of fruit, it will drop some of the flowers to concentrate on growing the rest of the fruit.

Once you know what is causing your blossom drop, you can easily address the issue {except for controlling the weather, I haven’t figured out how to do that yet :) }.

Thanks again for the suggestion, Kathy!  I can’t believe I haven’t thought to address the topic before.

~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.

Growing Vegetables in a Greenhouse – Tomatoes and Cucumbers

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growing lettuce in gutters greenhouse

Do not attempt to grow lettuce in a greenhouse when the temperature outside is in the mid 80′s. It won’t work out too well. Not that I would know anything about that. ;)

seattle greenhouse garden

Yesterday was greenhouse clean up day. It’s been awhile since I did anything out there but water or harvest vegetables, so I thought I better hop to it and get something constructive done while the weather was nice. Oh, and no, you do not need to adjust the color on your computer monitor. I am really that pale. But, if you look closely at the next photo, you notice my forearms are much darker. So there is hope for my farmers tan. I think.

mavis garden blog greenhouse tomatoes

Snacking on cherry tomatoes, is one of my favorite pastimes. growing sungold tomatoes

A rainbow of happiness. Anyone else growing Sungolds this year?green heirloom tomatoes in a greenhouse

I have no idea what these ones are but I can tell you one thing, as soon as they ripen, I’m going to eat them! And I won’t even feel bad if I don’t share. growing cucumbers in a greenhosue

Gardening, it’s pretty rad.

Wouldn’t you say?

~Mavis

You can see more greenhouse photos from this year in my Growing Vegetables in a Greenhouse Series.

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 Much Is Your Time Worth?

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mavis butterfield one hundred dollars a month

Even though I have five years of blogging under my belt, there is one type of comment I get from time to time that I still have no idea how to answer:

I really enjoy your site– you have a lot of great tips to share. One thing I’ve thought about though: how much is your time worth? Of course we all have finite life spans so everything we do is a tradeoff– a portion of our precious life in exchange for something. But on the less philosophical side, how many hours do you spend in gardening, canning, freezing, coupon clipping, etc. , as well as how much money spent on gas/electricity to run a larger freezer, heat canning stuff, etc?

If you subtract the extra money you spend on energy from what you save per month, then divide the result by how many hours you spend in money-saving activities how much per hour you are earning/saving?

Which is more beneficial in terms of dollars per hour– working extra hours at a job or working those hours at home and in your garden to save money? (Not that everything comes down to money— sometimes the satisfaction that comes with accomplishing or creating something is more of a reward than money).

~Beth

canning beets

When I get a comment like that, it is really one of the most difficult for me to answer. Because the answer is complex and personal and unique to just me. Let’s face it, I march to the beat of my own drum. Who else do you know crazy enough to grow 2,000lbs of food in their backyard and try to live on $100 a month and actually find a TON of joy in that. I know that sentiment is not shared by many.

It’s possible I have a few screws loose! So for that reason, I want to scream from the rooftop every time someone asks me a similar question {and it’s more often than you’d imagine}: it’s TOTALLY worth it to me.

My gut instinct is to say I’d spend twice as much time doing just what I do because I love it. I love this lifestyle and I love gardening and I love feeling the dirt between my fingers and knowing I’m doing right by my family.

I SERIOUSLY ENJOY IT. And you really can’t put a price tag on that.

Don’t get me wrong, I do get where people are coming from. I had a friend once who bought a fixer-upper house with her husband a few years back. They decided to do all the work themselves to save money on the renovations. They put so much sweat, tears and hours into that house that when they were done, both would tell you that is wasn’t worth it at all and if they had to do it again, they’d hire almost all of it out. The reason? They didn’t love what they were doing. At all. I do!

A great example of the opposite of that would be my friend Jennifer’s cousin Zoë. She cooks from scratch, cans her extra garden produce, makes oodles of handmade quilts for her home and her shop on Etsy, She’s amazing. And I bet if we were to add up the hours she spends doing those “chores,” it might seem like a waste of time on paper.

But it’s not to her. And it certainly isn’t to me. I know that might seem crazy to some, but if you’re doing something that gives you joy, it becomes less about how much it’s saving you. The fact that I do save a ton of money doing what I do is a big fat bonus. The icing on the cake really.

primitive hooked star rug

We all do all things because we like to do them, not because it’s necessarily cheaper, faster or easier. But because our time is worth something to us. The time, heart and energy I put into something is worth more than the money I can swap out of my bank account for something cheaper off the shelf at Walmart.

Pretty much these days about 75% of what I do is accomplishing or creating something that means more to me than money. Sometimes price tags just don’t matter!

Life is short.

Be happy.

DO WHAT YOU LOVE.

~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 Butterfield | Backyard Garden Pictures 7/13/14

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old watering cans red wheelbarrow

Did I tell you my 50 foot hose has gone missing?

Seriously, how does a hose disappear? I’m sure it will resurface at some point but with the weather in the 80′s and 90′s around here lately, watering the garden has turned into a major chore. I have to make at least 5 trips with the wheelbarrow loaded up with watering cans just to water my garden beds properly.

Sure I’m getting a great workout… but c’mon. What a pain!

onions and beans

I feel like it’s the year of the slacker. And let me tell you Bob, I’m embracing it. My garden might be small this year, but I keep telling myself  that it’s okay. Next year I’ll have more time {and energy} to spend on it. Right? I’m trying not to beat myself up about it too much but for someone with major OCD, it’s hard. ;)

cascadia raspberriesThe raspberries.

Oh my. There are tons of them this year. Tons I tell you. Tons. And the strange this is, the HH keeps asking me about them. “Did you pick the raspberries today? What are you going to do with the raspberries? Did you put raspberries in my lunch? Maybe you should freeze the extra raspberries.”

It doesn’t freaking stop.

When did he become a gentleman farmer? Is this what I have to look forward to in my old age? Am I going to have to give him a little plot of his own to take care of? I take a year off from gardening and he suddenly becomes an expert.

head of cabbage

I even caught him harvesting a cabbage the other day.

magnum glass greenhouse

I just hope he doesn’t wander into the greenhouse anytime soon because it’s a real mess in there. Seriously. I’m going to stop typing right now and get out there and clean it up a bit before I get busted by the HH.

Peace Out Girl Scouts. Have a great Sunday.

~Mavis

This years garden is being sponsored by the folks at Botanical Interests Seed Company. You can check out their website HERE, order their new 2014 Garden Seed Catalog 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.

DIY Rustic Hand Stamped Copper Garden Markers

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copper-garden-markers-with-patina-finish Occasionally I’ll start a DIY project with high hopes, but really unsure of how it will turn out. That was the case when I decided to turn these awesome copper pieces into cool looking, aged copper garden markers for my latest eHow article Rustic Hand Stamped Copper Garden Markers That Will Jazz Up Your Garden. Luckily, they turned out more amazing than I could have imagined!

This week, while browsing the garden section at my local garden center, I came across a package of copper plant markers and decided to pick up a pack and make something cool with them. I mean really, what gardener couldn’t use a few more garden markers, right?

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.

Monthly Garden Chores – July

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Monthly Garden Chores - July

Holy cannoli’s people… can you believe it’s July already? This year is flying by and the weather here in Western Washington has been perfect for gardening lately. Hot and muggy pretty much sums it up if you ask me. ;)

We are almost done harvesting strawberries for the season and are looking forward to the next best thing… RASPBERRIES. Wahooo! Gardening is rad, isn’t it?

cabbage seeds

Seeds I’m Starting Indoors this Month

  • Broccoli Raab {time to get ready for the fall garden!}
  • Spinach
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Cauliflower

See the full list of seeds I’ll be planting this year

What I Plan to Transplant Outside this Month

Everything is already outside this month.  I plan on just watering and watching it all grow. :)

bucket of raspberries

What I plan to Harvest This Month

  • Strawberries
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Cucumbers
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Beans
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Kale
  • Mint
  • Onions
  • Baby Red Potatoes
  • Raspberries
  • Sun Gold Tomatoes
  • Zucchini

sun gold tomatoes

Trees and Shrubs

Trees and shrubs should be pretty low maintenance this month, other than needing a bit more water.  All trees and shrubs benefit from deeper, less frequent waterings, rather than a daily light sprinkle.  Watch for pests, fungus, and diseases this month and stop them before they take hold.  Mulching is important this month.  It will help your plants deal with the stress of the heat.

slugs eating cabbage

Weed and Pest Control

Weeding is especially important this month, because weeds will compete in your garden beds for valuable nutrients.  Continue to keep an eye on pests, especially on the tomatoes.

lawn mowing tips

Lawn Care

Try raising the blade on your mower this month.  The longer cut grass will protect the roots of the grass from the heat.

These garden chores are based on my Zone 8a Seattle/Tacoma WA location. Find your garden zone 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 Mail – Stephanie From Kentucky Sends in Photos of her Patio Garden

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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!mavis mail2

Check out the pictures Stephanie from Kentucky sent in. I am totally blown away by her use of space. She has a full-on garden growing in a little patio area. Just goes to show that space issues are no excuse when it comes to growing your own food. Here’s what Stephanie had to say:

mavis mail3I grew up gardening, so while I always assumed I’d own a house with a large backyard plot, the practicality of a grad-student (and post-grad school) existence required a more pragmatic (read: dull as doorknobs) existence in an apartment complex with one of those ubiquitous 6x11ft patios. After a couple summers lusting after the gardens I saw everywhere, I finally decided to make due with what I had. This is my success story of gardening on concrete!

We chose an apartment on the southern exposure to get as much light as possible in the covered space and maximized our space by thinking vertically, rather than horizontally. I love cucumbers, so I ran bird netting around the rails of the patio and trained the cucumbers to grow along them. I must say, I was feeling pretty ingenious once I saw the cukes take off!

mavis mailOf course no Kentucky garden would be complete without tomatoes, so with the limited space we stuck to varietals that grew well in pots, mostly determinate varieties, although I couldn’t resist a few Black Krim!mavis mail1 The hanging tomato basket has seeds with “Hundreds and Thousands” – my new all time favorite cherry that is not only incredibly photogenic, it is prolific! Hanging the pot from the patio roof also freed up space on the ground.

mavisWe grew lettuce, herbs and other relatively shallow rooted plants in baskets along the rail. While we certainly don’t have the largest harvests – and aren’t able to grow enough to can or preserve – it’s certainly better than no harvest at all! My husband and I both get the satisfaction of growing (some of) our own food – enough to keep the two of us in good supply of fresh salad ingredients all summer long. To all your readers who think they need to have those beautiful big garden beds that make us all green with envy (in places other than our thumbs!) – just give it a go! A little dirt, sun, water and patience is all you need.

Cheers,
Stephanie

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 & Crafts - Made from your very own hands with detailed {and well photographed} pictures and instructions.
  • Your pictures and stories about your pets. The more pictures and details the better.
  • Garage Sale, Thrift Store and Dumpster Diving pictures and the stories behind the treasures you found including how much you paid for them.

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.

Mavis Mail – Tamera From Washington Sends in Garden Pics

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tameramainA 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 impressive haul from reader Tamera:

tamera4Hi Mavis!
I am a regular reader of your blog, an avid gardener, chicken and goat owner, and last year, we weighed every ounce of produce harvested and weighed in at 906 lbs and 12 ounces. We hope to break 1/2 a ton this year! We live in Monroe, WA.

tamI have been gardening for the last 20 years or so, but really started growing our own food as much as possible, about 4-5 years ago after reading Animal Vegetable Mineral by Barbara Kingsolver. Every year we make more progress in harvesting, preserving and keeping our own home grown food. We have also had chickens for the last 10 years.

tamera5My husband is a 4-H Poultry Leader, and our 3 girls have all been actively involved in the 4-H program. Not only do we have chickens for fresh eggs, but we also raise and exhibit show quality birds. We also have goats, but they are just pets for the most part. Eventually we would like to get a milk goat though and try out hand at goat milk cheeses.

goatsAnd bees. We would love to get bees, but that has to be my husbands job, and he has no time right now. But someday!

tameraWe have a separate facebook page for our Poultry, although it needs to be updated.

Thanks!
Tamara

tamera3If 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 & Crafts - Made from your very own hands with detailed {and well photographed} pictures and instructions.
  • Your pictures and stories about your pets. The more pictures and details the better.
  • Garage Sale, Thrift Store and Dumpster Diving pictures and the stories behind the treasures you found including how much you paid for them.

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.

Mavis Butterfield | Backyard Garden Pictures 6/29/14

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raised garden beds

In some ways my garden feels like a bit of a failure this year. I knew coming into this years gardening season I wouldn’t have much time to spend on it between April and June because of all our summer commitments and end of the school year duties I had taken on.

pole beans growing in a garden

Instead of an entire garden box full of beans, I’m growing just two teepees worth of beans this year {one was planted in June and I’ll plant another in July}. Instead of planting 100 pounds of potatoes like I did last year, I settled for a dozen or so plants {and a few volunteers}.

bills blood beet ready to be harvested

One thing I didn’t scrimp on this year though was beets. I planted a whole garden box full of those! ;)
magnum glass greenhouse

One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn this past year is that it’s okay to say NO. To take it easy, to enjoy this little things and not to take on too many projects. It’s been hard to prioritize but I am finally feeling pretty relaxed about my decision to cut back this year not only my planting, but some of my other projects as well. cabbage and kale plants

Some years are like that I guess. blueberry clusters

Let’s just say I am thankful for the perennials in our garden that require little to no maintenance. Raspberries, blueberries, and an awesome assortment of herbs are just a few that come to mind.

wisteria growing over an arbor

Life is good. Especially when you learn to slow down a bit.

Keep calm and garden on. Right?

~Mavis

This years garden is being sponsored by the folks at Botanical Interests Seed Company. You can check out their website HERE, order their new 2014 Garden Seed Catalog 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.

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