How to Store Winter Squash

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How to Store Winter SquashWinter squash are like potatoes.  If you store them right, they will seriously last you most of the winter–at least until you can get out and grow yourself some cool weather kale and spinach.

heirloom-butternut-squashTo ensure that you get the longest life out of your squash, start by picking it at the right time.  The squash shouldn’t be wet at all, so don’t pick after the sprinklers have come on or after a rain.  Cut the squash from the vine, instead of pulling it.  That way, you won’t accidentally break off the stem too close to the squash, causing a blemish that will speed up rot.  Also, make sure to pick it before the nighttime temperatures dip into the 40′s.  Don’t let the name fool you, winter squash does not like it to be too cold.

anna swartz hubbard squashThe first step in storing winter squash is curing.  Curing is basically a fancy word for leaving the squash out somewhere warmish with good air circulation and ignoring for a week and a half to two weeks.  Curing helps make sure any excess water leaves the squash and makes it taste better long term.

Some people like to give their squash a quick diluted bleach bath before storage.  It helps to kill any fungus or bacteria on the squash.  If you do decide to give your squash a bath, dilute it 1 part bleach to 10 parts water.  Rinse well after the bath and dry completely before storing.  This step is completely optional.

hubbard squashWinter squash are happiest when stored at about 55 degrees.  If you have a root cellar, well, then I’m jealous.  If you don’t, your best bet is going to be a basement or garage.  They need to be completely dry throughout storage, so either keep them up on a shelf or in a box, where water from melting snow off of the cars, etc. can’t get to them.

Depending on the type of squash you are storing {acorn has the shortest shelf life, while blue hubbard has one of the longer shelf lives}, it will last anywhere from 4 weeks to 7 months.

What’s the longest you’ve successfully stored a winter squash?

~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.



Getting a Little Dirt Under the Fingernails… It’s About Time

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brick window box

Yesterday while Cameron the cutest carpenter on the planet was inside working, I headed out to the front yard to plant the {seriously neglected} brick window box. The {rather deep} window box was completely naked when we moved in and every time I walked by it I swear I could hear it begging me to give it a little green.

pea gravel garden path

So I started digging up the boxwood hedge at the back of the house and transplanting it to the front.

For some strange reason the previous owners thought planting a bunch of boxwood shrubs around a very slow growing Japanese lace leaf maple tree was a good idea. Sure, maybe if I was planning on staying here for the next 50 years it would all work out just fine and dandy… but I see the rough floor plan of a herb garden in that space… not a formal boxwood hedge, a low growing maple tree and some hosta plants.

And those wild bushes in front of the air conditioning unit? Those will need to be transplanted as well {I’m just not sure where yet}. 1. Because they are not an evergreen and 2. Because I think they might become a pruning nightmare.

window box with boxwoodsI have a feeling this new garden of mine is going to keep me busy for a looong time.

And you know what? I’m looking forward to every second of it.

Life is good, when you’ve got a little dirt under your nails. ;)

~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.

Tips for Reseeding Your Lawn in the Fall

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Tips for Reseeding Your Lawn in the Fall

Last spring, the HH and I reseeded our grass.  We chose to do it in the spring, because as you know, we were trying to sell our house and wanted to put our best foot forward.  The best time to reseed your lawn, though, is actually in the fall.  The soil is still warm–so you can choose varieties of grass that will germinate only in warmer temperatures.

raking fall leaves

The trees are losing their leaves, so the grass will receive more sunlight.  Best of all, weeds and diseases that rear their ugly little heads in the spring become much less prevalent.  The steps for reseeding in the fall are pretty much identical to spring reseeding, so if you want to know how, click HERE and get a quick tutorial.

grass seed

After you have the basic how-to down, here are a couple of tips to help you get the best results:

  1. Try mixing your seed with equal parts seed to damp sand {put the whole lot in the spreader}.  It will jump start the germination process.  This can be particularly beneficial if you know that you have a window of good weather left.
  2. To ensure that the seeds make contact with the soil, and don’t become bird food, try rolling the seed in after spreading it.  Just get a roller and fill it half full of water.
  3. If you are so inclined, a starter fertilizer can help make up for less than ideal soil conditions.
  4. Make sure to keep off the new grass for several weeks–tramping through it can damage its delicate root system.
  5. For fall reseeding, it is best to let the grass get up to 4″ tall before mowing for the first time.  When you do mow mow it to about 2 1/2″ tall.  Allow the grass to stay longer throughout the winter to protect it from cold temperatures.

With a little TLC, you should have thick green grass before the first snowfall–and a blanket of green waiting for you next spring.

~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.

Not Looking Back… Not Even for a Second

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pumpkins

As we closed the garage and walked out of our home of the past eight years last night, the HH turned to me and ask if I was going to miss it.

hugging rhubarb

And I said no. But that didn’t stop me from walking around the backyard and hugging all the plants and hard work I/we left behind.

zucchini

Eight years ago when our kids were 9 and 10 a big house on a wooded acre was a gooood idea. Our kids had plenty of room to run around, dig for treasures and climb trees.

pop up greenhouse

I had a blank slate.

mavis garden blog raised vegetable bedsAnd I filled it to my heart’s content.

shoveling dirt

Over the years we hauled in hundreds of yards of topsoil, planted fruit trees, berry bushes and even installed a greenhouse. It was HARD WORK.

growing vegetables in a greenhouse

And I loved every single minute of it. Until I realized that once Monkey Boy and The Girl Who Thinks She’s a Bird were gone and off to college, I’d be the only one left to plant the plants, grow the vegetables, and to put up the harvest. And then what? What was I going to do with all of that food?     All that space.

backyard chickens

It the idea of maintaining that lifestyle {chickens included} just became too much. And that’s when we decided to take the plunge and downsize and buy a smaller house on a more manageable sized lot.

About 5 minutes away. :) It was the first and only house we looked at. I knew it was “the one” as soon as I drove by it. The house is by no means my dream home, nor does it have an awesome kitchen, amazing garden space, or any of those things I’d typically look for when shopping for a new home. Not.At.All.

But I saw what it COULD BE.

The house is SCREAMING for a cottage garden to be planted, a kitchen remodel, and some PERSONALITY.

The bones, location and exterior of the home we bought are great and I know with a little help {okay a lot} from Chino the Handyman and his crew it’s going to be AWESOME.

omlet chicken coop eglu cube

We gave all of our chickens, and the Eglu {their lifetime home} to Chino the Handyman’s best friend and his family. They have 4 young kiddos, and just purchased their dream “mini farm.” We know they are going to a good home and most importantly, they will be loved. 

apple tree

The fruit on the trees, beans, cucumbers, lettuce, zucchinis and pumpkins on the vine, we left those behind too. As luck would have it, the family who bought our home has 3 young kiddos and I couldn’t think of a better “Welcome Home” gift to leave them than an instant u-pick garden right in their very own backyard. :)

Change is good. And the fun starts Monday.

Peace Out Girl Scouts,

~ 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 Garlic

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How to Grow Garlic

Is it already time to plant garlic bulbs again? Where does the time go. It seems like it was just yesterday and I was harvesting garlic from our garden. Is it just me, or are there more things to do in the garden in the fall than in the Spring?

how-to-plant-garlic

Growing garlic is very simple and straightforward. For starters you want to try and find certified garlic bulbs {most local nurseries have it in stock this time of year}. Some people just buy garlic bulbs at the grocery store, but a lot of times produce {even bulbs} can be sprayed to slow growth, so I like to buy certified garlic bulbs so I know exactly what I’m getting. Botanical Interests and Territorial Seed have a great selection.

fall-how-to-plant-garlic-bulbs

To plant garlic, first break the bulb apart and inspect the cloves for any damage.  Toss any cloves that are brown or have decay on them. Next, plant the garlic about 2″ deep and about 6″ apart in loose, well drained soil. Cover the bulbs with soil, water and walk away. Mother Nature will take care of the rest until spring. Unless of course you live somewhere where it never rains during the fall and winter months. If that’s the case, then be sure and give your garlic bed a drink every now and again.

fall-planting-how-to-plant-garlic-bulbs

Once the garlic begins to sprout in the spring, I like to cover my garlic patch with a couple inches of leaf litter to help insulate the garlic bulbs a bit from the cold {if you live in a warmer climate you don’t need to do this}.

how to grow garlic shoot

I don’t know about you, but I use garlic practically every day in my cooking, so it’s really nice to be able to grow it in my backyard each year for a nice stash when I need it.

How to Grow Garlic

  • Plant cloves 6 to 8 weeks before a hard freeze so the roots have a chance to get established
  • Do not break cloves until you are ready to plant
  • Plant cloves 2″ deep with the root end down and the point side up
  • Space cloves 4″- 6″ apart {depending on size}

elephant garlic bulbWill you be growing garlic this year?

How many bulbs do you usually by each year and when do YOU plant your garlic?

~Mavis

Looking for more information in growing, cultivating and enjoying garlic?  Check out the book The Complete Book of Garlic By Ted Jordan Meredith.  Amazon currently has it 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.

It Looks Like a Parsnip…. But it’s Not

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looks like a parsnip

Calling all you garden sleuths out there… Does anyone know what this plant is called? I was weeding my fall vegetable garden last night here on the east coast and noticed a ton of these parsnip looking plants growing between the rows.

fake parsnip plant

The roots look like a parsnip but the leaves remind me of potatoes. I am totally baffled.

fall garden planting

I’m not sure if I somehow dropped a packet of seeds because the plant is sprinkled between the rows of my fall veggies or if this thing is just some sort of weed.

Anyone know for sure?

~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.

The Benefits of Using Row Covers

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row covers tomatoes raised garden bed

Row covers are a great way to keep certain things in your garden {i.e. heat} and later on in the season, certain things OUT of your garden {i.e. pests}.  They are cheap, effective, and even though some people think they are an eyesore, I see them as kind of charming. I always think, “Oh, a gardener.  Awesome. Solidarity, my friend, solidarity.”

How to Build a Row Cover or Mini Greenhouse Poly Tunnel

Row covers, depending on your climate, can extend your season by up to a month on each end, spring and fall.  In the spring, they help keep the soil warmer, essentially letting the little seedlings know it’s safe to do their business.  Floating row covers, like the ones I use, have some sort of support system, like PVC pipe bent in an arch over garden boxes, to keep the cover from sitting directly on the plants.

spinach growing in a greenhouse

It is not always necessary to use supports, if you get a lightweight row cover, you can simply drape it over the plants.  Though, lightweight covers do more for controlling pests than cold.  Essentially, by using a hooped row cover, you create a very cheap, efficient mini greenhouse.  When protecting your plants from cold, you really want to go with a plastic row cover.  The heavier the plastic, the better the protection–though, the less light that penetrates, so you have to make the decision based on your climate.

fabric row cover

Fabric row covers are awesome for keeping pests, like beetles, birds, squirrels, etc. OUT of the garden.  They are specifically designed to let air and light in and keep varmint {I don’t use that word enough} out.  The cool thing about cloth row covers is that they can be draped over the plants without support, like a little blanket of protection.  They really only provide light protection for frost, though, so don’t rely on them heavily there.  They are cheap, can be easily cut to size, and are pretty easy to work with and store to use over and over again.

eliot coleman four season farm greenhouse

Year-round gardeners swear by hoop frames and row covers.  They are like a poor man’s greenhouse.  I think it will take a little trial and error, but so far, I have been really impressed with my row cover hoop house.  If you want to start using row covers for year round gardening, here’s a few tips:

First, spread down some sort of mulch, use leaves, straw {seedless variety} about 12″ thick over the top of your veggies.  Then, cover your frame with a row cover.  The combination creates a perfect environment for year round production of cool weather veggies {i.e. carrots, parsnips, turnips, etc.}.  If you live in a SUPER cold area, you can even consider providing an additional layer of row cover to further insulate.

What do you think, are you ready to give row covers a try?  Or, maybe you have been using them for years and have learned some tricks you’d like to share?

~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 – My Fall Window Box Needs Something… But What?

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planting ornamental cabbage

I stopped by the garden center last night and couldn’t help but notice all the ornamental cabbage for sale. I don’t know what it is about them but every fall I get sucked into buying a bunch of cabbage at the garden center for my front porch and window box.

mini pumpkin

They even had these gorgeous pumpkins for $0.99! How’s a girl to resist with a price like that?

planting a fall window box

Anywho, as I started planting I quickly realized I needed more plants. But what kind? The only choices right now are chrysanthemums {barf} or pansies. I mean if I get desperate I could go the purple pansy route, but I’m hoping YOU have some other suggestions.

What else should I be looking for that would go with the green, purple and orange theme I’ve got going on?

fall window box with pumpkins and cabbage

Any suggestion you have would be greatly appreciated. {Said the girl with OCD who won’t be happy until her garden box is stuffed full of fall goodness!} ;)

~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 Save Seeds for Next Years Garden

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How to Save Seeds for Next Years Garden

Saving seeds year after year can be a real money saver in the garden.  By saving the BEST of what you’ve grown year after year, the plants will adapt to your soil/climate and become naturally disease resistant.  The best part is that saving seeds is waaaay easier than people think.

If you are new to seed saving, here’s a quick guide to get you started:

silica-gel-packets

You’ll Need

Silica gel packets {I’ve been known to save these from other things that I buy}
Envelopes or Containers {to store seeds in}
Plate and/or bowl
Paper Towels
Sieve

how to grow bean seeds

Directions

First, make sure the seeds that you are saving are from open-pollinated plants {the original seed packet should tell you}.  Hybrids and cross pollinated plant seeds will not produce the same plant/fruit year after year.

Each plant is a little different. For beans and peas,  dry pods on the vine and harvest when they rattle in the pod and their skins are papery thin. remove the beans, and freeze them overnight to kill any bugs before storing them in an airtight container.

yellow pepper seeds

For peppers, melons, and squash cut open the ripened fruit and scoop out the seeds.  Rinse the seeds thoroughly {for sweeter fruits, like melons, you may want to use a mild dish soap to get all of the sugars off of the seeds.  Lay the rinsed seeds on a plate and gently pat them dry with a paper towel.  Leave the seeds on the plate to air dry completely.  This may take a few days {make sure to keep the plate in a pretty non-humid place}.

How to Save Your Tomato Seeds

Tomatoes are the most time consuming seeds to save {also the most worth it}.  For a full set of instructions, go HERE.

For cucumbers, gently cut open the fruit {so as not to cut the seeds while opening it}.  Scrape the seeds into a small sieve and rinse well.  As you are rinsing, gently rub the seeds along the bottom of the sieve to remove the coating.  Allow the seeds to dry as you would the peppers, melons, and squash.

When the seeds have dried completely, place them into marked envelopes.  To store the seeds long term, you’ll want to throw in a silica gel package to keep the moisture out.  Seeds can be stored indefinitely in the freezer {place envelopes into an air tight container and place several silica gel packets into the container}.  For year to year storage, a cool dark place like the fridge is best.  Either way, when it is time to use the seeds, DO NOT OPEN the container until is has come to room temperature.  That will keep the moisture out of your seeds.

That’s basically it.  Have any of you saved your seeds year after year?  Do you have stronger plants because of it?

~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 Freeze Green Beans for Winter Storage

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bowl of fresh green beans

I was out puttering around the garden this morning and ended up picking a giant tub of beans and immediate thought, beans… it’s what’s for dinner.” I even posted a picture on my Instagram account declaring green beans were on the dinner menu. cutting green beans

But them I changed my mind. ;) I think I’ll make a pie instead. Because I can do that. After all what’s the point of being head cook if you can’t change the menu at the last minute? cut green beans

So with pie on my mind I decided to go ahead and freeze those beans. I would have canned my green beans but it’s in the upper 80′s today and believe me, the last thing I want to do is anything canning related. So I froze them instead.
green beans going into the pot

If you’ve never frozen fresh green beans before it’s a total snap! Simply bring a pot of water to a rolling boil, wash, trim and cut you green beans then blanch them for 3 minutes {or until they turn bright green}. The toss the beans in a bowl ice water to cool them down.

Drain beans, pat dry with a clean dishtowel and bag them up into quart or gallon sized bags. Toss them in the freezer until ready to use. It’s that simple.

How to Freeze Green Beans for Winter Storage

Peace Out Garden Scouts,.

I’ve gotta go. MAKE A PIE. :) :) :) :)

~ 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.

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