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Did you ever garden when you were a child?


I did.  My dad gave my siblings and me, each a small raised bed in the backyard.  We would spend hours leafing through the latest Burpee catalog, deciding what seeds we would buy to plant in our little gardens.


I never forgot my introduction to gardening under my father’s guidance, and I enjoy doing the same thing with my granddaughter, Lily.  

Lily, and her mom and dad, just moved into their first house, and she was very excited to be able to garden.

So, I took her to the local nursery in their town of Petoskey, Michigan and told her that she could pick two types of flowers.

After some deliberation, Lily decided on cosmos and marigolds.

We brought them home and got ready to create a pot filled with flowers.  

The pot was purchased from the local big box store and painted a bright shade of blue using spray paint.  

The first step was filling the pot with planting mix, which is specially formulated for container gardening as it holds onto just the right amount of soil as opposed to potting soil, which can become soggy.


As we planted the flowers, I took the time to explain to 4-year-old Lily how the roots help the top part of the plant grow and flower.


I dug the holes, and she would put each plant inside.


Then we patted down the soil and watered them well.


When we were finished, we had a colorful pot filled with cosmos and marigolds ready to sit by the front door.
As the flowers mature and eventually dry out, Lily will collect the seed and save it for next year’s garden.

We had a lovely time and Lily would call me “Plant Lady” and herself the “Plant Girl”.  I couldn’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon.

Have you ever spent time teaching kids to garden?  What did you plant?

 

*This blog post contains affiliate link for a product that helps get rid of caterpillars. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). Thanks for your support in this way.*

Fall is a busy time for me in the garden.  However, you will usually find me in other people’s gardens helping them achieve their goal of a beautiful, low-maintenance garden. I did manage to get my cool-season vegetable gardens planted.  I planted my favorites, which include carrots, cauliflower, garlic, a variety of leaf lettuces and radishes.

 
 
I included broccoli in my list of vegetables this year, despite the fact that I have yet to grow a healthy head of broccoli (the broccoli in the photo above is from my mother’s garden).
 
Every year, I grow beautiful cauliflower while my broccoli decides to produce very few flowering stalks.  At the end of the season when I look at my less than stellar broccoli harvest – I promise myself that I won’t try again.
 
But, after 6 months pass, I am always tempted to try again hoping that this year will be different.
 
With the exception of carrots and radishes, I planted all of my other vegetables from transplants.  Normally, I almost always use seed, (with the exception of broccoli and cauliflower, which do better when grown from transplants) but I knew that I wouldn’t have time to come out and thin excess plants later.
 
 
This smaller vegetable garden is closer to my kitchen and so I put in vegetables that I would harvest more frequently throughout the season in this area.  Leafy greens such as lettuce, Swiss chard, spinach and kale all went in here.
 
The larger garden is a bit further away and so it was planted with broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, garlic and radishes, which are harvested once.
 
My artichoke plant from next year died back to the ground in the summer, (which is normal by the way) and is now growing again.



In addition to my artichoke, my bell pepper plant is also a holdover from last year’s garden.  Actually, it is 2 years old.  Although pepper plants can die from freezing temperatures, I protect mine when the temps dip below freezing, so they are qutie large and produce a lot of peppers much to the delight of my husband and children who like to eat the bell peppers raw.



I also dice them and freeze them for using in my favorite Mexican rice recipe.

I’ve already had to spray my leafy greens with BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) to deal with the caterpillars that had started to eat holes in the leaves.  It worked great, but I will need to reapply every once in a while. I use Safer Brand 5163 Caterpillar Killer II Concentrate, 16 oz.
 
 
Nasturtiums are coming up again from seed in the gardens.  I just let them go to seed each year and they always come back.  I use nasturtiums in my vegetable gardens because they repel bad bugs.  Besides, they look pretty, don’t you think?
 
 
Nasturtiums aren’t the only flowers in my vegetable gardens – marigolds are also great at keeping damaging insects at bay.  This year, I planted a marigold at the end of each row of vegetables.
 
I love how their orange flowers brighten up the garden in the middle of winter.
 
Marigolds and nasturtiums are just a few of the flowers who actually help vegetables.  For more information on other plants to include in your vegetable garden you can visit my previous post, “Even Vegetables Need Friends”.
 
 
I am having a problem in one of my vegetable gardens that began this past summer – spurge!  I have come to truly hate this creeping weed and it has decided to move from the nearby landscape areas into my vegetable garden.
 
It got pretty bad last summer and we ripped it all out.  To help combat it, we added 4 inches of compost/manure, which did help to smother some of the weeds.  But, some are still coming up.  So, I go out every week and spray them with my homemade weed killer, taking care not to spray my vegetables by accident.
 
You may see homemade weed killers that list salt as one of the ingredients.  DON’T add salt to weed killers – especially if you live in the desert Southwest.  Our soil and water already has a lot of salts in them and adding more is not good for your plants – in fact, too much salt can kill them.
 
Homemade weed killer made from vinegar and soap works just fine on most weeds, except for the really tough ones.
 
Have you planted a vegetable garden this year?  What are you growing?
 
 

As we continue along on our week long journey of unique containers, I thought that I would share with you one that is portable.


This old wheelbarrow makes a very useful container because you can move it easily to a shady or sunny area as needed.

This antique wheelbarrow is filled with marigolds and dianthus and was located along Route 66 in the historic downtown of Williams, AZ which is a place that we spend time every summer.

This stretch of Route 66 is filled with fun and quirky examples of Americana that I shared in an earlier post.

With any container, you need drainage holes, so you would have to add some to whatever unique container you decide to plant.

Tomorrow, I’ll show you a container that you may find yourself sitting on by accident.

Day 2 of our road trip was filled with quite a few firsts for me.


My mother and I are on our fourth annual road trip and this time we are exploring the upper midwest. You can read about day 1 here if you like.


Today, we woke up in beautiful Traverse City, with is located along the western side of Michigan.  It is a very popular location for visitors and it was easy to see why.


Our first stop was to visit the local farmers market in the historic downtown areas.



Whenever I travel, I like to to take time to talk to the local farmers about their produce and talk about the similarities and differences of growing the same types of vegetables.


Asparagus is really big in this part of Michigan.  There are signs for it everywhere along the roadways.  In the farmers market, just about everyone had some for sale.

Too bad, I don’t like asparagus 😉


A variety of herbs and vegetable transplants were available for sale.  I just love the color of purple basil – I have some growing in my herb container at home.


I love baked goods a lot!


Cherries are grown in the area and you can find cherries in just about everything including salsa.


There were quite a few planted containers filled with flowers ready for eager homeowners.


I really like herb planters like this one.

After the farmers market, we headed up toward the Old Mission Peninsula, which is a small finger of land that extends up from Traverse City.  Our destination was to see the Mission Point Lighthouse at the tip of the peninsula.

What we hadn’t prepared for was the beautiful scenery along the drive.  Orchards were filled with cherry trees, one type of fruit tree that does not grow in my desert climate.

Along the way, we spotted numerous vineyards.


The lilacs are in bloom everywhere and this vineyard was flanked by a huge lilac bush.




It’s hard to believe that this barren vine will soon be covered with leaves and sweet grapes.



Then we saw this sign, which led to one of my ‘firsts’.


The sign led us to Peninsula Cellars Winery, whose store is housed in an old, historic schoolhouse.


The inside of the old school was very charming.

I have never been much of a wine drinker.  The few times I have tried it, I didn’t really enjoy the taste.

But, I figured if I could do a bourbon taste test on our last trip, I would participate in a wine tasting for the first time.


I tasted four different wines and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I liked two of them very much.


Many of their wines had a school-themed name due to the old school building.  Their ‘Detention’ wine was a popular choice.
*Note: I have never gotten a detention at school.

I came away from my first wine tasting with a new appreciation for wine and a bottle of my favorite to share with my husband when I get home 🙂

As we got back on the road toward the Mission Point Lighthouse, we were told to stop by the old general store.


The Old Mission General Store is one of those places found out in the middle of the country.  You can see the lake behind it.


The store had a collection of the old and the new – but mostly old.


Barrels filled with salted peanuts and a variety of old-fashioned candies would make excite any child.

Old-fashioned sodas were offered alongside more current soda choices.  


A unique collection of foods were offered in the deli case.  I’m not sure what the reddish item was on the left and I’m still not sure what ‘blind robin’ is.  But, fishing is big here, so I’m assuming it is a type of fish?

The back was filled with an assortment of things including rabbit skins, wooden hand toys and coon hats.


After we left the general store, we continue our journey to the lighthouse.





The Mission Point Lighthouse is located at the very tip of the Old Mission Peninsula.


The area has many trees and it is so green and beautiful.  We parked and started to walk toward the lighthouse and the shore, which we could barely see through the trees.


This lighthouse guided ships from 1870 to 1933.  We entered the lighthouse to see the exhibits and to embark on another ‘first’ for me.



I decided to climb up to the top of the lighthouse – something I have never done before.


There weren’t too many steps to the top, only 35 of them, but they were steep and the last part were ladder steps.




The 360 view was just beautiful!




Climbing back down, I decided to checkout the outside.




A cherry tree was in full bloom in the backyard with the lake in the background.




To be honest, there are a lot of lighthouses along the Michigan coast.  We don’t have time to see all of those along our route, so we had to choose a few to see.  It was the picture of the side of the Mission Point Lighthouse, which made me want to visit this one.  I am so glad we did.




We headed back down the peninsula and on the way, drove by this small painted shack where Michigan maple syrup was for sale.


Payment was done through the honor system where you inserted your money into a modified PVC pipe.  My mother bought a bottle.

Along this small peninsula, we passed an interesting marker…


I thought that we were pretty far north, but it turns out that we were only halfway between the equator and the North Pole.

See, you never know what you will learn on a road trip.


After our journey to Old Mission Peninsula, the rest of our day was spent touring the historic downtown area of Traverse City and later we drove up to the quaint town of Petoskey where we did some shopping.


All of the planters in the downtown areas were newly planted with colorful flowers.

While I saw some very creative containers filled with a variety of flowering plants, I was struck by the simplicity of this window box planted with a single row of orange marigolds.  The vibrant orange of this flower stands on its own.


One of my favorite shops we visited was called the “American Spoon”, which sells all types of preserves.

I love to make peach, plum and strawberry jam as well as applesauce from the fruit from both my garden and my mother’s – so I was anxious to go inside and taste the different types of jams and jellies they had.


While I did taste some delicious fruit preserves, there was also a large selection of salsas, including  pumpkin seed salsa and cherry salsa.
I must admit that I didn’t try any – I am somewhat of a purist when it comes to my salsa.  But, I realize that I am probably missing out some new flavors that I may love.


Don’t these tomato preserves look delicious?


I came away from the store with cherry preserves, which I will use on my daily English muffin.  I also bought some tart dried cherries which I will sprinkle on my salads.
Did I mention that cherries are very popular here?  They are growing everywhere you see.




In addition to cherries and asparagus, fudge is also offered everywhere.


I haven’t had any yet, because I am waiting until tomorrow when we travel to Mackinac Island.


I can’t wait!


Have you ever been on live television?  


If you had asked me a year ago, I would have said “no”.  I had done some filming for “how-to” gardening videos for SheKnows.com – but they weren’t live and took place in my back garden.  Somehow, live TV is quite different.


Last time, I told you about my upcoming appearance on our local ABC station to talk about creative container gardening tips.  


Posing next to my newly-planted container filled with purple basil, thyme, rosemary and parsley.  White petunias add beauty to the pot.



This was the second time that I had been asked to appear on Sonoran Living, which is a local morning program.  

Last time I was on the show, I spoke about ‘Fuss Free’ Plants.  This time, I would be talking about  creative tips for container gardening.  


So, I went shopping for my ‘props’.  I decided to plant an herb container as well as a pot filled with vegetables and flowers.  I bought several medium-sized pots, a variety of potting mixes and of course, plants.


My sister came along with me to help with the props and setting up.  I had planted the pots ahead of time, so setting up wasn’t too difficult.

The main focus of the demonstration would be the three pots, the potting mixes and the recyclable grocery bag.

They tell you to bring a lot of props, which look good on television.  So, I brought gardening gloves, some hand tools and extra plants to help ‘set the stage’.  My microphone was there for me to put on and I was almost ready.

Finishing up planting my vegetable/flower container.

Last time I was on the show, mine was the first segment.  It went very fast and we were back on the road before the show was over.  

This time, I was to go last.  So after everything was set up, my sister and I were invited to wait in the staff break room.  

To say that I wasn’t nervous would be an exaggeration.  But, I was not as nervous as my first time.  It’s actually not as hard as doing a “how-to” video where you have to talk to the camera.  On the show, I am talking to a person who asks me questions so I don’t speak directly to the camera at all.  If you lose your train of thought, they are there to get you back on track.

Of the tips I shared on air – using recycled, plastic containers to fill the bottom of large pots as well as using a recycled grocery bag as a container were the most popular with the hosts.

I had a great time and hope to be invited back again.  

Below, is the link for my container gardening segment and at the end you see where I accidentally got involved in a conversation at the end about “Dancing With the Stars”.

I hope you enjoy it and come away with some helpful tips that you can use when creating your own container garden.

**You can view my first appearance on Sonoran Living where I talk about “Fuss-Free Plants” here.

Where do you expect to see vegetable gardens planted?


Most of the time, vegetable gardens are found in the backyard.


But, have you ever  thought of locating your vegetable garden somewhere else?


This home in the Encanto district, in downtown Phoenix, has a great way of utilizing space in the front yard for growing vegetables.  


The homeowners decided to utilize the space beside their driveway for planting a vegetable garden.

I think that this vegetable garden looks great in this area, don’t you think?

By the way, do know why the homeowner has planted flowers at the end of each vegetable row?

The marigolds and lavender not only add beauty to the garden, they serve an important role in keeping bad bugs away from the vegetables.

Pairing flowering plants and herbs with vegetables is a practice known as “companion gardening”. 

 There are many other plants that can be planted with vegetables to keep damaging insects away.  You can read more about companion gardening here.


I also like how the homeowners added vegetables in front of the house.  Some people would tend to plant annual flowers in this area instead, but think how much more fun it would be to plant vegetables there instead.

The vegetables look at home among the ornamental plants such as Agave angustifolia, Texas Mountain Laurel and Red Yucca


A couple of years ago, I was driving home from a landscape consult and saw this home’s front yard filled with raised beds.


I returned a few months later to visit these vegetable gardens filled with zucchini, Swiss chard, tomatillos and carrots.


This is another home in east Phoenix that has homemade trellises, made from rebar and wire, with cucumber plants growing up on them.  

The cucumbers are in the perfect spot where they receive afternoon shade from the large front yard tree.

Both of these gardens are planted and managed by the Farmyard group, who grow organic produce on urban farms in Phoenix and Scottsdale.  You can find out more about this group and the services the offer here.

As cool as these vegetable gardens are, most of us cannot grow vegetables in our front yard due to HOA restrictions.

However, if you do not live in a neighborhood with an HOA, maybe you should think about including vegetables in your front yard?

You can start out small – maybe that area that you would normally plant flowers?  
** A word of caution: don’t plant vegetables in front if you have problems with deer, rabbits or javelina.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about growing vegetables in the front yard…

All three of these items played a part in how I spent my Saturday.  As I mentioned in previous posts, I spent Saturday over at Double S Farms which was one of the stops featured in the second annual Tour de Coops, which is a tour of chicken coops along with some vegetable gardens.

Okay, for the first item on my list – blue booties.  As you drove up to Double S Farms, you were greeted by the following sign…..

All visitors had to put on blue booties and clean their hands before entering.  This was because it is easy to accidentally carry diseases from one farm to the other.

As you can see, there were quite a few booties ready for visitors to put on.

There were so many visitors that day.  Well over 100 people came throughout the day.  Most were considering raising chickens and asked my sister, Chicken Farmer, many questions.

Some visitors already had chickens but were interested in seeing how others raised theirs.  I was so impressed about how much my sister knew about raising chickens in such a short amount of time.  It was just this past February that her chicks arrived in the mail.

**The pine cones were left there by some little visitors.

I don’t think that the chickens were too excited about all of the extra attention though.

 

Flo took longer than usual to lay her egg because people kept looking in at her.

The other chickens came up to visit us on the patio where we were sitting.



Lucy was looking around for some crumbs to eat while Effie was interested in the camera on the table…..

Both Lucy and Effie are ‘Easter-Eggers’ which means that they lay light blue eggs.  Flo lays brown eggs.  Effie was not looking her best that day because she was molting.

As the day went on, the second item in my list came into play – Hot Wheels.  While my sister and brother-in-law were kept busy answering questions about raising chickens, I had fun playing with my nephews.  

Little Farmer absolutely LOVES playing with his Hot Wheels cars.  He carries some of them around in a plastic toolbox.  He was kind enough to lend me some so that I could play with both him and Littlest Farmer…..

**By the way….a great Christmas gift for the little boy on your list would be an inexpensive plastic toolbox with some Hot Wheels inside 🙂

**Note to self…..do not leave your knitting out around a darling two-old…..they like to pull out your knitting needles 😉

I had a great time playing with the boys but I did have the chance to answer some questions about the vegetable garden….

 

The garden is covered in bird netting to help keep the chickens out – they love vegetables.  The garden is full of all different types of lettuce right now.

**Notice Little Farmer is holding a piece of wood he found on the ground?  Why is it that boys love to find bits of wood and carry them around?  It doesn’t really matter what the reason is, I was just wondering 🙂

Among the lettuce and young broccoli plants were Marigolds which drew quite a bit of attention from the visitors.  I explained that the flowers were not planted for looks, but actually help to keep harmful insects away from the vegetables.

So far, we were all having a great day, except for Soda….



She was not allowed outside to visit.  I’m sure she would have loved to and was thinking that she could persuade some of the visitors to throw her a ball.

 Some smaller people came over to visit the chickens as well along with their parents…..



My mother, Pastor Farmer, had fun showing these boys the chickens inside of the coop.  The boys were dying to collect some eggs and so she sent them each home with an egg.

The boys also spent a little time playing with my nephews…..



You know what?  There is just something so cute about a little boy in a cowboy hat and blue booties.

 Some of the neighbors were also interested in what was going on….





The chickens were a bit shy at times being the center of attention, choosing to hide behind the Texas Sage shrubs…..

 
 
I had a wonderful time on Saturday and after I left, I spent some time finishing decorating my house for Christmas.  Which leads me to the last item:
Have you finished decorating your house for Christmas?
 
 
The chickens have…..
I hope you all have a wonderful week and hopefully you have finished your decorating for the holidays 🙂