How to Grow Sunflowers {Start to Finish}

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how to grow sunflowers

My daughter The Girl Who Thinks She’s a Bird has been planting sunflowers ever since she could walk. I’m not sure who loves them more, her or the birds that come along at the end of each summer and peck at the seeds. Not only are they beautiful to look at, but they are great for summertime bouquets too.

Brief description:  Sunflowers are annual flowers with beautiful bright flowers, usually yellow, red, or orange.  They are great for attracting bees, birds, and butterflies to your garden.

botanical interests sunflower seeds

Where to Plant Sunflowers:  Plant in a sunny location in raised beds, garden beds, and/or containers {depending on the variety}.

sunflower seeds

Planting Seeds:  Plant 1/2″-1″ deep about 1-2 weeks after last frost.  When seedlings are 2″ tall, thin to 1 every 12″.

Growing Tips:  Sunflowers love hot weather.  They are extremely hardy.

How to Harvest:  To harvest cut flowers as needed and place into water.  To harvest sunflower seeds, allow the flower heads to dry out and lightly rub the head to reveal the seeds.

regional-planting-guides

How to Roast Sunflower Seeds:  You can roast the seeds by soaking them in a salt water solution overnight.  Then drain them, pat dry, and roast them at 300 degrees for 30-40 minutes, turning them occasionally.

Are you ready to start your garden but you’re not sure when you should plant your seeds or set out your transplants? Head on over HERE and you’ll be taken to a handy dandy chart that is broken down into what vegetables should be planted {or transplanted} each month in your area.

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

~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 Corn {Start to Finish}

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how to grow corn

 

Will you be planting corn this year? If so, now’s the time to plant. This year I’m trying a couple of varieties some for eating fresh and some ornamental for my fall table as well.

Brief description: Corn is one of the most widely grown crops in the world.  It is a staple food that can be cooked in about a million ways.  Corn is actually a grain, not a vegetable.

Where to Plant Corn:  Plant corn in a sunny location in raised beds or garden beds.

corn stalks

Planting Seeds:  Directly sow seeds when soil temperature is at least 60 degrees.  Plant seeds about 1″-2″ deep.  When seeds are about 4″ thin to every 4-6″ apart, and keep row spacing at about 24″.  {Over spacing corn only encourages weeds.}

Growing Tips:   There are a ton of different varieties all with different maturation rates {anywhere from 60-100 days}, , so be sure to pick one that best suits your area and your planting time frame.    Corn can be susceptible to disease, so keep a close eye on it so that you can manage it quickly.

fresh corn

How to Harvest:  Corn is ready to harvest a couple of weeks after the silks appear.  The silks will start to turn brown when it is time to harvest.  To harvest, gently pull the corn from the stock, breaking it off.

regional planting guides

Are you ready to start your garden but you’re not sure when you should plant your seeds or set out your transplants? Head on over HERE and you’ll be taken to a handy dandy chart that is broken down into what vegetables should be planted {or transplanted} each month in your area.

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

~Mavis

Here are a few of my Favorite corn recipes:

How to Can Fresh Corn
How to Can Fresh Corn

fresh-corn-pancakes-recipeFresh Corn Pancakes

roasted corn saladRoasted Corn Salad with Tomatoes and Feta

Fun Fact:  According the the Farmer’s Almanac, if you corn is harder to schuck than usual, prepare for a hard winter.

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 Maintain a Healthy Vegetable Garden

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How to Maintain a Healthy Vegetable Garden

Did you have trouble growing veggies last year?  Every once in a while, I’ll have a bad gardening year.  Sometimes it’s beyond my control {i.e. squirrels or other critters getting into my plants} and sometimes, I’ll look back and be like, “Whoops, I can totally see how I screwed this year up.”  Gardening is definitely a learning process.

Maintaining a healthy garden isn’t really that tricky when you get right down to it, but it does involve the slightest bit of tenacity–which, on days when you would rather drink tea on the patio and only think about getting dressed eventually, can be too much to ask.  Ha!

Why Crop Rotation is Important for Healthy Soil

Here’s what I think are the basics on maintaining a healthy vegetable garden:

  1. Soil.  It seems like you should be able to stick your plant into the dirt, water it, and watch it grow, but that’s just not the case.  The soil should be prepped and cared for all through the gardening season.  Adding compost to the beds each year and basic crop rotation will go a long way in ensuring your soil can provide for your plants.  {I ignored the crop rotation principals last year and paid for it in much lower yields.  Lesson learned.  Mother Nature-1, Mavis-0. }  Now, I am a little behind the curve, so I am also going to prep my soil this winter by experimenting with cover crops.  Hopefully, they will give my soil a little added boost.
  2. Rethink your watering plan.  All plants require a different level of water, but letting vegetable crops dry out a bit before you water them is pretty universal.  Over-watered plants become susceptible to disease and fungus.  So, water thoroughly less often–allowing the soil to dry out in between waterings.onion transplants
  3. Start with healthy plants.  If you buy your plants, don’t be afraid to pull them out of the container and examine their roots.  A healthy root system and plant gives you a huge head start in maintaining your garden.  The same goes for plants you grow from seed.  If you have a weak one, get rid of it.  It’s survival of the fittest here–don’t be sentimental.  :)
  4. Be vigilant and proactive.  Bugs can devastate a plant pretty quickly.  Worse, if you don’t catch it in time, you have to decide whether you are going to treat the problem or lose the plant.  I try to maintain a completely organic garden.  I pick squash bugs off pretty much daily.  Last year, though, the snails won, and I opted for an organic solution called Sluggo to help me combat the slimy little beggars.

organic vegetablesWith those four basics covered, you really can maintain a pretty healthy vegetable garden with good yields.  How about you, do you have any swear-by tips for keeping your garden healthy?

~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 Cucumbers {Start to Finish}

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How to grow cucumbers seeds

This morning  I planted my cucumber seeds! I started 2 flats using some of my DIY Potting Soil blend. This year, I am growing Marketmore, Lemon, and Burpless. It’s been a while since I’ve grown lemon cucumbers so I’m looking forward to them.

Brief description: Cucumbers are part of the gourd family.  They grow from a creeping vine plant.  They are broken into three varieties:  pickling, slicing, and burpless.

Where to Plant Cucumbers:  Plant cucumbers in a sunny spot.  They prefer warm weather {soil temperature should be at least 70}, so make sure to plant after the last frost.    Cucumbers can be planted in raised beds, garden beds, or containers using a trellis.

cucumber seedlings

Planting Seeds:  Plant seeds 1/2″ deep, 6 seeds per pot or mound.  When plant has 3 leaves, thin to 3 per mound.

Growing Tips:  Cucumbers like rich soil, so mix a little compost in with your planting.  You can train cucumbers to grow up a trellis if space is an issue.

burpless-cucumbers

How to Harvest:  Read your seed packet to find out length of a full-grown cucumber for the variety you chose.  It’s better to pick them at the specified length–any larger and they will start to taste bitter.  Most cucumbers are ready 55-70 days after planting.  To harvest, pull or cut the cucumber off of the vine.

regional planting guides

Are you ready to start your garden but you’re not sure when you should plant your seeds or set out your transplants? Head on over HERE and you’ll be taken to a handy dandy chart that is broken down into what vegetables should be planted {or transplanted} each month in your area.

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

~Mavis

Here are a few of my Favorite Cucumber recipes:

Easy Summer Salad Recipes – Cucumber Tomato SaladCucumber Tomato Salad

recipe quinoa saladQuinoa Salad with Cucumber and Mint

Fun Fact:  If grubs start to eat your cucumber crop, slice a cucumber and put it in an aluminum pie tin.  The cucumber will react with the metal and put off an odor {undetectable to us} that will drive the slugs away.

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

How to Care for Rhododendrons

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How to Care for Rhododendrons

One Hundred Dollars a Month reader Claudia recently sent me an email asking how she should take care of a rhododendron shrub her mother in law gave her.

Here in Washington you cannot drive down the street without seeing a giant rhododendron in someones yard. A rhododendron is an evergreen that has beautiful big blooms in the spring.  It is very similar to an Azalea {except Azalea’s aren’t evergreens}.  They are perfect if you have a shady spot that is in need of some color.  {I have plenty of shady spots in my backyard, but Rhododendrons are poisonous to dogs, so sadly, I cannot have them.}

They require just a bit of TLC, but once you get the basics down, they make a great addition to your landscaping.

With Rhododendrons, the first thing to consider is soil.  They prefer a slightly acidic soil {kind of like blueberry bushes}.  So, some soil amendments might be in order.  {I use coffee grounds and pine needles to amend my soil}.

Garden tips add leftover coffee grounds to your soil

Next, consider placement.  They do not like direct sunlight, and can’t withstand a ton of wind.  So choose a shady protected area.  They are perfect for those shady areas that might be up against the house.

Next, mulch, mulch, mulch.  Rhododendrons have shallow roots that need to be protected from weather extremes, both hot and cold.  The mulching will help keep the moisture level consistent too–they like that delicate balance of not drying out and not sitting in stagnant water.  Mulching with pine needles or pine straw can help with the soil pH and protect the roots.

Finally, make sure to prune your Rhododendron immediately after they finish blooming {usually June-July}.  If you wait too long, they get a bit cranky, and may not give you flowers the next year.    To prune, just pinch back dead blooms.  Over-pruning can also lead to a couple of years of no-blooms.  If you have an established Rhododendron that has gotten too big, you may just have to bite the bullet, prune it way back, and accept a couple of years with no flowers.  They are grudge holders, but they always come back around, eventually.

Rhododendrons do not really have a ton of insect problems, and with a bit of routine maintenance, they will provide years of year-round color to your yard.

Perennial plant care

The Perennial Care Manual: A Plant-by-Plant Guide: What to Do & When to Do It

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 Beans {Start to Finish}

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how to grow green beans

I don’t know one person who doesn’t like green beans. My son Monkey Boy will only eat them raw, but everyone else in our family could totally eat a plate full of delicious green sticks for dinner. There is now doubt about it, beans are cool!

Brief description: Beans have long edible pods and beans inside that can also be eaten.  They are great for snacking on raw, cooking, or canning.

Where to Plant Beans:  Plant in full sun after danger of last frost.  Plant in raised beds, garden beds, and even containers if they are big enough.

how to grow bean seeds

Planting Seeds:  Plant seeds 1″ deep.  Most packets say to thin them to every 4 inches, but I think that is crazy and typically space them every 2″ to maximize my crop.

growing beans

Growing Tips:  Beans are awesome for succession planting.  If you plan it right, you should be able to get a crop from June all the way through September.  I sometimes have troubles with the birds getting to my bean sprouts, so I tend to over plant them to compensate.  If the birds don’t get to them, I go back and thin them later.

How to Harvest:  To harvest, snap beans off the plant by hold the plant firmly {so that you don’t damage it while picking}.  Beans taste better when they are thinner than a pencil, so try to pick them before they get too big.

regional-planting-guides

Are you ready to start your garden but you’re not sure when you should plant your seeds or set out your transplants? Head on over HERE and you’ll be taken to a handy dandy chart that is broken down into what vegetables should be planted {or transplanted} each month in your area.

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

~Mavis

Here are a few of my Favorite Bean recipes:

Green Beans with Sweet Onions and Bacon recipe

Green Beans with Sweet Onions and Bacon

easy pasta salad recipes

Pasta Salad with Green Beans, Tomatoes, and Roasted Peppers

how-to-can-green-beans-yHow to Can Green Beans

Fact:  Beans have been found in Egyptian tombs–apparently they thought they were easy to grow too.

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 Maintain a Healthy Flower Garden

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How to Maintain a Healthy Flower Garden

When I first started gardening, I did not really get the importance of integrating flowers.  I mean, I like them because they were pretty, they added curb appeal, etc.  Now, though, I see them as an important part of my garden.  When they are healthy and thriving, so is the rest of my garden.  They do most of the work in keeping a healthy, balanced garden by attracting bees and other beneficial insects to the yard.

I like to imagine they have little whistles to call in the pollinators {it’s possible I spend too much time with my plants}.

Here’s the 411 on maintaining a healthy flower garden:

  1. Soil.  Make sure to provide the right soil for however you plan on planting your flowers.  Potted flowers will suffocate in regular old dirt.  I usually make my own potting soil with my compost.  Flowers planted in flower beds also need a little TLC.  Laying down compost before you plant can provide much needed nutrients throughout the growing season.
  2. Give ‘em a little wiggle room.  Whenever I see those pre-potted flowers in the stores in the spring, I wonder what they will look like in a month or so.  They are so over-crowded.  They have a lot of initial appeal {probably to entice you into buying them}, but pretty soon, they start suffocating each other out.  Plants are like humans that way–in over-crowded conditions, they start to become diseased, fight for nutrients, and die back.  Not good.
  3. Fertilize.  I usually let my chickens do most of the fertilizing, but if you don’t have that option, a good organic fertilizer will help you maintain those bright blooms.
  4. Deadhead.  Pinching back faded blooms encourages new growth and makes your flowers the envy of your neighbors.  It’s win-win.
  5. Water.  Flowers will need you to adjust their watering schedule frequently throughout the growing season.  Water when the first 2″ of soil is dry.  I feel like flowers always hang their heads when they are dry, so you can usually tell by looking at them.  Like all plants, do not let them sit in water.  Their feet {roots} get soggy and it makes them very grumpy.
  6. Do a little research.  Some flowers offer a little more bang for their buck.  For example, Marigolds repel a lot of pests.  Companion planting with flowers is a great way to maintain an organic garden.

Any more tips you can think of for keeping your flowers looking and performing their best?

~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 Harden Off Seedlings

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How to Harden Off Seedlings

Before I can transplant all of the plants I started indoors, I will have to harden them off.  Hardening off plants is basically acclimating plants that you started indoors to the outside weather.  It allows your plants to get used to the sun, wind, rain, etc. gradually–kind of like slowly allowing your kids to experience some of life’s harsh realities {only plants won’t eat all of your food and make your house smell like dirty socks}.

I usually harden off my plants for about seven days, but some people shoot for closer to two weeks. I have milder weather here, so it is a bit easier to get them used to the outside.  About a week before you plan to harden off your plants, you need to stop fertilizing them {if you use fertilizer} and scale back on the water.

How to Harden Off Seedlings zinnia

Start the process by leaving plants in a shady spot outside for a couple hours–but make sure to bring them in at night {my favorite spot is my front porch}.  Each day, gradually increase the amount of time you leave your plants outdoors, as well as how much direct sunlight they are exposed to.  After about 7 days, your plants should be ready to stay out all day and all  night {make sure to check temperature requirements for each plant to make sure it is staying warm enough at night}.

how-to-transplant-seedlings-swiss-chard

Once you have hardened off your plants, you can transplant them into the garden.  If possible, try to transplant them on a cloudy day {pretty much always possible in my neck of the woods} and water them in well.

That’s it, it’s like the final step before the actual gardening starts.  Weeee!

~Mavis

How to Grow More Vegetables

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 Cauliflower {Start to Finish}

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white purple green cauliflower
For the past two years we have planted a packet of  the Chef’s Choice Blend Cauliflower seeds from Botanical Interests. Typically the only color of cauliflower you can find in the grocery store is white, but this packet contains three different colors; white, purple, and green. How cool is that? Eating a rainbow is pretty darn cool if you ask me.

If you are new to gardening, or are giving cauliflower a try this year, here are some handy dandy tips:

purple cauliflower

Brief description: Cauliflower is a mild vegetable that is part of the cabbage family.

Where to Plant Cauliflower:  Plant in raised beds, garden beds, and containers.  Cauliflower is a cooler weather plant, but does like full sun.

cabbage seedlings{thinning cauliflower seedlings}

Planting Seeds:  Plant seeds 1/4-1/2″ deep.  Thin to one per pot or 1 every 1-2′ when seedlings are 2″ tall.  If starting indoors, try to keep the soil temperature around 70 degrees.

cauliflower in winter

Growing Tips:   Keep soil evenly watered.  Do not allow plants to dry out completely in between watering.  If it gets hot in your area before harvest time, gently fold cauliflower leaves over the head to protect it from the heat.

cauliflower grown in fall

How to Harvest:  Harvest by cutting stalk just below the head.  Mature cauliflower is typically between 6-12″ in diamter.

regional planting guides

Are you ready to start your garden but you’re not sure when you should plant your seeds or set out your transplants? Head on over HERE and you’ll be taken to a handy dandy chart that is broken down into what vegetables should be planted {or transplanted} each month in your area.

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

~Mavis

Here are a few of my Favorite Cauliflower recipes: {try to list 3}

Easy Side Dish Recipes - Roasted Cauliflower with CurryRoasted Cauliflower with Curry

roasted cauliflowerRoasted Cauliflower

cauliflower hummus recipeCauliflower Hummus

Don’t like cauliflower?  If you don’t like cauliflower, try growing orange cauliflower.  It’s typically not at the grocery store, so it’s a gardener’s monopoly, and it tastes much sweeter than regular white cauliflower.

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 Cabbage {Start to Finish}

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how to grow cabbage

A few days ago I transplanted some of my cabbage plants to the small garden plot along side our greenhouse. I must admit, I am not the biggest cabbage fan in the world buy my husband loves it, so that’s why I plant it. Well, and because it looks pretty darn cool in the garden too. ;)

If you are a newbie gardener, cabbage is one of the easiest vegetables to start from seed so pick a variety, and give it a try. If you have never grown cabbage before, here’s all you need to know.

cabbage seed packets

Brief description:  Cabbage is a cool season leafy vegetable.  It complements any stir-fry dishes, wraps and/or salads.

cabbage seedlings

Where to Plant Cabbage:   Raised beds, garden beds, and containers {makes a beautiful ornamental edible} in a place that gets at least 6 hours of sun per day.

cabbage seeds

Planting Seeds:  Plant seeds 1/4″ deep.  Thin to 1 every 13″-18″ {or one per pot} when seedlings are about 3″ tall.

raised garden beds cabbage

Growing Tips:   Cabbage is a cool weather crop–though it is not a huge fan of prolonged exposure to temperatures below 50 degrees.  It does best when it has a consistent uninterrupted growing cycle, so fertile soil and regular watering is best.

puggle dog in cabbage bed

How to Harvest:  Harvest by cutting off the heads at the base of the plant.  Toss out the outer leaves of the cabbage.

puggle puppies mavis butterfiled

Fact:  Cabbage has awesome health benefits.  One cup has 91% of your daily vitamin K requirements, 190% of your daily vitamin C, and 5 grams of fiber.  It is basically a superfood–so remember to take your daily cabbage. Ha!

regional planting guides

Are you ready to start your garden but you’re not sure when you should plant your seeds or set out your transplants? Head on over HERE and you’ll be taken to a handy dandy chart that is broken down into what vegetables should be planted {or transplanted} each month in your area.

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

~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.

Recipes Garden Frugal Canning Chickens Travel