A Little Indoor Garden

After oh-so-many false starts, it seems spring has sprung bringing April showers and what appears to be hope for gorgeous May flowers.

While recovering from surgery I have truly missed playing in my gardens; pruning rose bushes, weeding beds and planting early spring blooms.  Audley has been a gem keeping me occupied and distracted from some of the things I would really rather be doing, and has even gone so far as to tackle some of my favorite spring activities himself.

But one of the sweetest things he did for me was to bring a little gardening in the house for me to enjoy.

Spring blooms for an indoor container garen to brighten someone's day.

Spring blooms for an indoor container garden to brighten someone’s day.

Choosing a few early spring plants that included miniature daffodils, primrose, African daisy and a silver leaf annual, I was able to play in the dirt and enjoy a bit of gardening without putting myself in a position that the doctor definitely would not approve!  Making an indoor garden box was super easy and fairly quick to put together.

Creating an easy indoor garden

For this little project I took a tool caddy that I assembled & stained from a kit that Home Depot donated to the attendees at last years Haven Conference in Atlanta.  Audley drilled holes in the base of the box for drainage purposes.

Creating a means of drainage in container gardening prevents water from remaining inside the pot/container and souring or causing your the roots of your plants to rot.  The stentch is ridiculous!

Creating a means of drainage in container gardening prevents water from remaining inside the pot/container and souring or causing the roots of your plants to rot. The stench is ridiculous!

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First, I added Miracle Grow potting soil about 2/3 of the way full.

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I removed the plants from their pots and broke up the compacted dirt and roots from their bases before planting them in the little tool caddy.

Breaking up the roots just a little to stimulate growth.

Breaking up the roots just a little to stimulate growth.

Finally, I arranged them in a way that I found appealing, watered well, and then placed them on my coffee table to enjoy the blooms for a couple of weeks.

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By using a mixture of perennials and annuals, I can plant the daffodils to bloom out in the yard next spring, and add the silver-leafed foliage to other container gardens to last throughout the summer.

That’s it.

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Easy, Peasy.

Bright and cheery.

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And if your aren’t supposed to be doing certain chores, you can have your kiddos do most of the clean-up which makes it even more fun!

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What I liked best about this quick little project was that not only was it easy and enjoyable, it would make a great gift for someone else to enjoy if they are having to stay at home and recover from an illness or surgery.  It’s a cheerful and lasting gift.

As for me, I was released from the doctor three days ago for light workouts and housework.  While I am sure my version of light and the doctor’s are not on the same wavelength, I do plan to ease back into the things I enjoy, including outdoor gardening!  Audley and I are planning to attack our raised beds this weekend, so stay tuned for a little herb and vegetable inspiration!

Happy Wednesday to you!

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Our Little Urban Garden

Living in a subdivision with a HOA can often present challenges for those who like to grow fresh veggies in the summer months.  Flowers and shrubs are expected in the yard, but why not tomatoes, peppers or okra?

When we moved here two and a half years ago we couldn’t decide what to do about my gardening bug, and finally just took a chance and went for it.  Instead of digging up the entire yard we went with uniformed raised beds that we placed in an area only noticed from one direction.  This is our third summer here and there hasn’t been an issue with the HOA, so I am assuming that we are good!

Looking a little sparse, but full of promise for the summer.

Looking a little sparse, but full of promise for the summer.

6 weeks ago when we first planted for the season.

6 weeks ago when we first planted for the season.

It’s been fairly dry and warming up quickly this summer around here (98 today!), which means my little garden area needs a little extra TLC.  We keep it weeded, watered and fertilized, but we’ve also added mulch between trellises to help keep the grass down and planted a few marigolds to help deter mosquitos.  I need a day off work to spend a little extra time out there, but right now it is filling out and I hope to have our first veggies in just a few days!

Pickling cucumbers starting to grow and show more that a bloom

Pickling cucumbers starting to grow and show more that a bloom

I'm thinking fried green tomatoes may be on the menu soon.  Not a lot of size to these yet, but I can taste them now!

I’m thinking fried green tomatoes may be on the menu soon. Not a lot of size to these yet, but I can taste them now!

Instead of traditional squash I planted sunburst squash this year ... the blooms are gorgeous and the squash are pretty as well.

Instead of traditional squash I planted sunburst squash this year … the blooms are gorgeous and the squash are pretty as well.

My sweet peppers are up first, but the jalapenos and chilis are right behind them.

My sweet peppers are up first, but the jalapeno and chilis are right behind them.

After six weeks our little garden is looking fuller and starting to produce it fresh goodness

After six weeks our little garden is looking fuller and starting to produce it fresh goodness

raised garden bed

I still have a few cosmetic things to do around our garden such as mulch between the beds and create a little walkway, but for now I’m looking forward to making salsa with our fresh grown tomatoes and peppers as well as dine on fresh okra, squash and zucchini.

And not only do we have a variety of veggies growing, I see a blackberry pie in the very near future!

Hoping I can keep the birds away from these

Hoping I can keep the birds away from these

I had hoped for a bumper blueberry crop …..

My ONE blueberry

My ONE blueberry

BUT, the birds and squirrels beat me to them (before they were even ripe).  This is the only berry I managed to get on four shrubs.

It was delicious!

Raised beds are perfect for gardening in areas where you can’t have a traditional garden, if your soil is bad, or you just want a kitchen garden for quick herbs and spices.  I love the versatility of these little beds.  We filled ours with a combination of plain topsoil, a large bag of Miracle grow and Kow fertilizer.  You don’t have to empty them at the end of the season except to remove dead plants and all you need to do late in the winter is add more Kow and possibly another bag of Miracle Grow dirt for added nutrients in the soil.

Here are the plans we followed for building our raised beds.  I found these in BH&G about six years ago and have used them both in our little home in Alabama and now here in South Carolina.

Raised Garden Bed Plans

You can plant them however you see fit, but here are a few suggestions for a lush garden bed.

You can plant them however you see fit, but here are a few suggestions for a lush garden bed.

Hopefully you found a little inspiration for you own Urban Garden.  Let me know if you try the plans and how your beds turn out!

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Our Topsy-Turvy Garden Planter

As Audley cleaned out the shed a few weeks back we discovered that we had quite a collection of terra cotta pots left from various plantings in season’s past.  Instead of filling them with flowers and trying to scatter them around the patio and porch, I decided to tackle a quick and easy planter project that we had seen displayed in our local Home Depot.
The class to learn how to do this project was not until the middle of the month, so after snapping a few pictures, Audley & I put it together on our own.
To create this simple planter all you need are five terra cotta pots of various sizes (large to small), 1/2 inch (or #4) rebar, potting soil and plants.
 Easy enough, right?
Assembling the topsy turvy tower is just as simple.
1. Level the largest pot you will be using where you would like it to be.
2. You will need help for part of this, but you want to stack the pots (without dirt in them) to get an idea of how tall your planter tower will be.  We measured ours to be right at 3 feet and was pretty spot on.  Cut your rebar to the correct height.
3.  Center your rebar in the largest pot.  Have someone hold it centered as you fill that pot completely with dirt.  This will make the base for your second flower pot.
4.  Thread your second pot through the rebar and tilt it at the base on the pot of dirt.
5. Then alternate the remaining pots, tilting and turning so that they rest of the pot just under them.
6.  Fill each of your flower pots with dirt….
And then plant whatever your heart’s desire.

For our planter we went with a combination of herbs and added flowers for color.  I also picked plants that do well in morning sun.

And I love how it turned out!

Be sure to water your freshly planted flowers and herbs daily for about five days (unless you are getting rain) so that they won’t wilt and not flourish.  

We have four more flower pots, so my plans are to pick up one more and another piece of rebar for a second topsy turvey planter.  I really like the idea of having my herbs right out my back door for easy access.  I’ll post pictures of the two planters in the whole scheme of things to show off our patio color when I get it finished!
What have you found creative to do this spring?

Spring Blooms & Caring for Roses

After a long, cold and wet winter, spring is finally starting to make her mark in South Carolina.  We’ve had several late frosts yet flowers are starting to bloom and trees are greening up.
I’ve been spending a lot of time out in the yard when the temperatures and my schedule allows.  The harsh winter damaged my lemon tree and gardenias, as well as killed four of my rose bushes.  A late frost nipped my hydrangeas, so it’ll be a late blooming for them this year.  As of now, with some serious TLC it looks as if the lemon tree will survive.  We are still trying to decide whether or not to remove the gardenias.
Despite the crazy weather, flowers are blooming.  The daffodils have come and gone.
Irises are opened.

The clematis is climbing its topiary.

The azealeas are fabulous.

The peonies are ready to pop.

 And this week I enjoy the first of what looks to be many rose blooms!

So many times I hear people say roses are difficult to care for, so they go with the hybrid knock-out roses. 
I am not a fan.
I do love my old-fashioned, fragrant roses in all colors and varieties from English roses to running roses.
Caring for them is not that difficult.  In fact I have one rose bush in my front yard that is 24 years old!
I received it as a high school graduation gift and it has moved with us several times.  
As a matter of fact, all of our rose bushes moved here from Alabama when we did two years ago.
Part of getting the yard cookout and summer ready is pruning all of the roses.  There are a couple of  ways this can be accomplished.  
First, there is the option of cutting them all the way back to the ground or just cutting them way back in late February to early March.

  

This option is easy and works fine if that is what you prefer. 
Me?
I’m a prune throughout the year kind of gal.
The simplist way I know to keep my roses looking great, pretty much all year long is to prune them throughout the spring, summer and fall.  I clip off any dead growth every few weeks as well as keep the dead roses removed.  I also use a rose fertalizer every other month during blooming seasons (spring, summer & fall).
I keep a little tool caddy with pruning accesories right on hand for all of my gardening needs.  Kolbalt tools, found at Lowes Home Improvement, has a great selection for home gardners!

It sounds like a lot of trouble, but really it’s quite simple and there is one big advantage.
While everyone else’s roses in the neighborhood look like this ….

Mine are already filled with blooms that are opening, like this….

David Austin “Strawberry Hill” English rose

AND THIS ONE…..

David Austin “Christopher Marlowe” English rose

And like these….

More David Austin English rose blooms

The fragrance is heavenly & the beauty they offer s worth cutting of the dead branches every couple of weeks.
How are your spring gardens coming along?