Wednesday walk through the garden 7/10

The hot weather paired with the rain showers have made the garden pop! We have been harvesting lots of zucchini and a couple dragon tongue beans.

Here’s how things are growing:

Grow pumpkin vines, grow!

Corn!!!!

Dragon tongue beans

Beautiful tomato

Tomato jungle!

Baby jalapeño

Tons of tomatillos!

Ground cherries!

Yellow zinnia

I spent a little bit this morning teaching littles about beekeepers and pollinators. They lived the monarch caterpillar that I brought and I left them with a butterfly weed to plant.

Keep blooming friends! 🌸💚

June 2019 Goals Update!

June went by as quick as a flash!! We made our way to Ocean City, so that momma could have some fun this summer. School came to an end, lots of time was spent in Baltimore, I had an interview for MPT and spent the last part of the month attempting to get rid of weeds!

And now, the goal updates:

1. Sew my first quilt– The craft that I wanted to try was making my first quilt. Everything is sewn and I just need to quilt and bind it! ** When momma feels up for it, we will quilt it!**

2. Keep doing good for our community. The school garden is looking better by the day! I was able to finally meet the hometown healthy coordinator and we will be getting our own farmer’s market here!

School garden tomatoes!

3. Can and save money on our groceries. Even though I had to buy the strawberries, I did get a few jars of jam made! And it is delicious!

4. Use that camper some more!: The boy and I enjoyed our trip to Ocean City! And I spent around a week in Baltimore too. I’m hoping that our family of 3 get to go on some sort of trip this summer!

**so here’s the change: I have lots of traveling with being the teacher of the year, so I don’t think that we will be doing much traveling this summer.

5. Compost!: We are still getting some food scraps dropped off here at the house. And, we are continuing to compost our food waste too! Thanks to all of that compost from last year, we had a great garlic and potato harvest this year!! Around 60 pounds of potatoes and 80 heads of garlic!

6.Little free library/seed sharing- The Library is open!! I love watching people stop by and grab a book! So far this is my favorite goal! (and we have been receiving lots of book donations too!)

7. Grow some new plants: This year we are hoping to grow ground cherries better, and we got a lot of volunteers! The purple tomatillos are growing great and the purple potatoes look great!

8 ball zucchini

Purple potatoes

8. Yard to garden our bottom yard. We doubled the size of the garden last year and produced lots of extra food. This year, we want to took out our huge swing set that hasn’t been used in such a long time and start getting rid of grass. The yard to garden is coming along!!!

After!!!

Beautiful fencing!

9. Keep reducing our trash We are now on bag 3. We are continuing to watch what we throw out! And we are participating in plastic free July and tracking how much trash that we are producing.

10. Create a Monarch waystation and tagging supplies-Last year we made a wildlife habitat area and we will continue to add to it! The butterfly weed is blooming, along with so much else! Plus, we are not collecting and raising monarchs in my new outdoor cage!

Chilling on the butterflyweed

Lady monarch on milkweed

Totally upcycled monarch cage!

11. Teach the teen life skills– the boy is growing up way too fast. He will be in high school next year. I want him to be ready to be an independent adult when he decides to leave the nest many years from now!

*he really stepped it up when I was out of town. He got himself out the door to school. Plus he has done his own laundry this month and has been putting the chickens away some nights.

12. Keep track of $ from gardening– I’d love to eventually break even on all of our gardening! We have only sold a couple dozen eggs so far, but the garden cart will be opening this month with some produce!

(No garden cart sales yet! But hopefully soon!)

June was a busy month! Lots of trips and then lots of work getting rid of the weeds when I got home.

After all the weeding!

End of June garden!

Keep blooming friends!! 🌸🌱💚

What’s blooming around here?!

It officially feels like summer here! With all of these hot days, the flowers are starting to bloom everywhere. And, the pollinators are happy!!

Bumble on bee balm

Swamp milkweed bloom

Borage bloom

Purple and white coneflowers

Marigold

Purple cosmos!

Zucchini bloom

Dragon tongue beans bloom

Before (top) After weeding (bottom)

I have been doing a ton of work getting rid of those pesky weeds in the garden. I used a lot of cardboard and tons on mulch on top. Hopefully that suppresses them for a while!

What’s blooming in your garden?! 🌱❤️

Life has been busy! (But, so have I!)

Hello! I have had a long break from posting! I wish I could say that I’ve been off on adventures or vacationing. Instead, I have been spending lots of time with a loved one who has been in the hospital and not feeling well. I must admit that the waiting room in the hospital is pretty nice!

While in Baltimore, it was a quick drive over to MPT to be interviewed for the teacher of the year gala! It was a fun experience and it was so neat to have a behind the scenes view!

Since I have only been home about a week this month, I have a lot of weeding to do around here! So, here is my before picture of the garden. It will look so much better weed free!

My Mr. has been working hard on the yard to garden conversion! The space is being utilized so much better than just a patch of grass!

The butterfly weed is putting off the most beautiful blooms right now! (And the pollinators have been enjoying it too!)

Our little free library has been having a nice amount of visitors!! Plus, I have been excited to receive so many free books to put in there! Keep reading this summer kids!!

Last night I had a great moment! While working on bringBig mulch to the garden, I spotted a monarch caterpillar on the butterfly weed! So, monarch raising has officially started!

June has been a blur of running all over the state and finishing up the school year. But, there have also been lots of good moments too!

Keep blooming friends! 🌸❤️

March 2019 Goals Update

March 2019 will be a month that I remember for a lifetime! I was named teacher of the year for my county, my boy made the high school band and all of our plans have been changed!

And now, the goal updates:

1. Sew my first quilt– The craft that I wanted to try was making my first quilt. Everything is sewn and I just need to quilt and bind it!

2. Keep doing good for our community. I am still planning the Earth Day cleanup for my neighborhood and I have been doing all kinds of volunteering with the Master Gardeners. I also had another nice day to do a clean up around town!

Master gardener demo garden

St. Patrick’s clean up day

3. Can and save money on our groceries. I am hoping to make a lot of jam and jelly this year! Somehow I didn’t make any last year and the store bought stuff just isn’t the same! We are working on growing lots this year!

4. Use that camper some more! Last year we remodeled and fixed up the camper and traveled to Yellowstone and back. It was a great trip and we have another family camping trip to plan in 2019! This is the major change.

**so here’s the change: I have lots of traveling with being the teacher of the year, so I don’t think that we will be doing much traveling this summer. Unfortunately.

5. Compost!! Composting at school is still going well and we have diverted around 120 pounds of food waste from the landfill. We are still composting our own food waste here at home. We have also been receiving some drop offs of chicken treats and tons of leaves.

6.Little free library/seed sharing- Well, the cabinet turned out to not really work. But, the Mr has been working away at creating a library from scratch! It’s looking great!

7. Grow some new plants: This year we are hoping to grow ground cherries better. Plus, grow blue pumpkins, corn and more gourds! I decided to pick up a few more seeds online. I have big plans!!

8. Yard to garden our bottom yard. We doubled the size of the garden last year and produced lots of extra food. This year, we want to take out our huge swing set that hasn’t been used in such a long time and start getting rid of grass. I’m hoping to turn this area into more food production with trees, bushes and understory plants. We planted a couple blueberry plants, but have plans for more. And, we need to break down that swing set!

9. Keep reducing our trash We are now on bag 2. We are continuing to watch what we throw out!

10. Create a Monarch waystation and tagging supplies-Last year we made a wildlife habitat area and we will continue to add to it! Our milkweed is growing so well! And I’m happy to report that many lupines are growing well too!

11. Teach the teen life skills– the boy is growing up way too fast. He will be in high school next year. I want him to be ready to be an independent adult when he decides to leave the nest many years from now! Turns out he already knew how to use a saw and square properly and helped to make the raised bed garden for my students!

12. Keep track of $ from gardening– I’d love to eventually break even on all of our gardening! So this year we will see if we earn more than we spend on all of our efforts! Maybe?! (Change in plans!! Turns out my boy is going to Disney World with the band. So, we will be putting any money that we make from crafting/blacksmithing and gardening towards this trip!)

March was a great month! I’m looking forward to getting more seeds planted and planting the raised bed garden at school. I can’t wait to get my garden planted and beautiful! What all are you planting right now?!

I know that I am looking forward to warmer. weather!!

🌸🌸Keep blooming friends!! 🌸🌸

February 2019 Goals Update

In February we got way too many snow days off from school! The weather seemed to turn into super winter, with a few nice days hidden in there! But, the grow lights started shining here and seedlings are starting to pop up!

And now, the goal updates:

1. Sew my first quilt– The craft that I wanted to try was making my first quilt. the chickens are all sewn on in rows and I will be working on the perimeter pieces this weekend. I will be practicing on my mom’s long arm sewing machine soon!

2. Keep doing good for our community. I will be going to a town meeting next week (I missed the one last month) to get the ball rolling for an Earth Day cleanup in April. I’m hoping to encourage our community to pitch in! And, I’m still the chief recycler at school. (Self appointed!) We have recycled over 300 pounds of plastic film and 1,000 plastic bowls from breakfast.

3. Can and save money on our groceries. I am hoping to make a lot of jam and jelly this year! Somehow I didn’t make any last year and the store bought stuff just isn’t the same! And we are using up all of those green beans that we canned last year quickly!

4. Use that camper some more! Last year we remodeled and fixed up the camper and traveled to Yellowstone and back. It was a great trip and we have another family camping trip to plan in 2019! (We know that it will be to the northeast!)

5. Compost!! Composting at school is still going well and we have diverted around 95 pounds of food waste from the landfill. We are still composting our own food waste here at home. We are planning to have a few drop off points certain days. We just need to find businesses who would like crazy compost collectors nearby!

6.Little free library/seed sharing- We got a free cabinet that we are going to turn into a little free library with seed give away in it. My sister loved to read and I feel like it would be nice to build one in her memory. We are hoping to have it built and do a ribbon cutting in the Spring. (Since the Mr. finished our tv stand, he is now working on this!)

7. Grow some new plants: This year we are hoping to grow ground cherries better. Plus, grow blue pumpkins, corn and more gourds! I also got a lot of extra seeds in a seed swap, so we have added purple tomatillos to our list too!

8. Yard to garden our bottom yard. We doubled the size of the garden last year and produced lots of extra food. This year, we want to take out our huge swing set that hasn’t been used in such a long time and start getting rid of grass. I’m hoping to turn this area into more food production with trees, bushes and understory plants. (once the weather changes, we will say goodbye to that swing set!)

9. Keep reducing our trash We are still on bag 1! We are going try to make our own package free version of foods that we love that unfortunately comes in wrappers. I love making our own tortillas and zucchini cake! (Shredding and freezing zucchini from the garden make a great treat in the winter!)

10. Create a Monarch waystation and tagging supplies-Last year we made a wildlife habitat area and we will continue to add to it! Our milkweed is growing so well! And I’m hoping to finally get some lupines growing too. I haven’t had luck with them in the past.

11. Teach the teen life skills– the boy is growing up way too fast. He will be in high school next year. I want him to be ready to be an independent adult when he decides to leave the nest many years from now! In February when my low air light was on in the car, the Mr. made sure to show him how to fill it up and where to find the info on how much air to put in the tires.

12. Keep track of $ from gardening– I’d love to eventually break even on all of our gardening! So this year we will see if we earn more than we spend on all of our efforts! Maybe?! (Well, I’m going to be buying a good many raspberry canes and blueberry plants. And, maybe a fruit tree. So…)

This month seemed to fly by to me! I’m going to be focusing on planning my garden, starting my tomatoes, peppers, cucamelons, ground cherries, tomatillos and a few luffa plants this month. Then next month, I should be able to get some of the leaf lettuces, peas and other cold weather crops in the ground! (Plus I’m trying to get a raised bed garden at school!)

And how are your goals rolling along?! Keep blooming friends! Spring is so close!!

New Year Goals 2019!

Happy New Year! Every year I try to set a dozen goals and give monthly updates to keep myself accountable! (And because I love sharing our journey!) Throughout the year when I think about what I would like to accomplish, I make a running list. Some ideas get put into the future file. Some go into the never ever file and others make the cut! And without further ado, our 2019 goals:

1. Sew my first quilt– I have been wanting to try a new craft for quite a while. I wanted to take on a bigger project, and I wanted to make something for us. It’s going to be a chicken quilt and I found a great pattern online Here .And since I was super intimidated, I tried out a practice one. Even though it is far from perfect, I think that I’ve got this! I think!

2. Keep doing good for our community. I loved being able to help organize an Earth day clean up and donating to our local mission rescue. I plan on helping our community by organizing a clean up group and doing monthly street clean ups.

3. Can and save money on our groceries. We didn’t do a great job of canning our garden goodies last winter. I want to can more jellies, green beans salsa and other deliciousness!

Catsup!

4. Use that camper some more! Last year we remodeled and fixed up the camper and traveled to Yellowstone and back. It was a great trip and we have another family camping trip to plan in 2019!

The Badlands

5. Compost!! We are going to continue composting every Wednesday at school and greening up school in general! I’m hoping to have a school wide composting day on Earth Day! And, we are hoping to help our neighbors compost. Maybe we can compost 1,000 lbs again!

6.Little free library/seed sharing- We got a free cabinet that we are going to turn into a little free library with seed give away in it. My sister loved to read and I feel like it would be nice to build one in her memory. We are hoping to have it built and do a ribbon cutting in the Spring.

A local little free library we visited!

7. Grow some new plants: This year we are hoping to grow ground cherries better. Plus, grow blue pumpkins, corn and more gourds!

8. Yard to garden our bottom yard. We doubled the size of the garden last year and produced lots of extra food. This year, we want to take out our huge swing set that hasn’t been used in such a long time and start getting rid of grass. A little bit at a time!

9. Keep reducing trash! We produced almost 6 bags of garbage last year. This year we are trying for only 5! So, monthly I am going try to make my own package free version of foods that we love that unfortunately comes in wrappers.

10. Create a Monarch waystation and tagging supplies-Last year we made a wildlife habitat area and we will continue to add to it! So we will add plenty of nectar and milkweed for monarchs to lay their eggs on. Last year we loved looking through the milkweed for caterpillars and raising them to become adults. It was so much fun! So this year, we would like to tag them and see if any of ours make their way to Mexico!

11. Teach the teen life skills– the boy is growing up way too fast. He will be in high school next year. I want him to be ready to be an independent adult when he decides to leave the nest many years from now! We will be working on something new every month. Examples: sewing on a button, cooking meals, using tools appropriately, changing a tire, properly ironing and folding clothes. And weirdly enough, my brother bought this book for him for Christmas:

And if you are local, you can feel free to bring your kid over if you think it is a skill that your teen needs to learn too!

12. Keep track of $ from gardening– I’d love to eventually break even on all of our gardening! So this year we will see if we earn more than we spend on all of our efforts! Maybe?!

So, there are our big plans! We hope that we will be able to accomplish them all! And we also hope that you all do too! Keep blooming friends!

End of the year 2018 goals!

Setting goals for the past 3 years has helped keep me focused and motivated. I love being able to look back at what we have been able to accomplish in a short period of time! Here are our 2017 goals, and the link for our 2016 goals .

Now on to the goals:

✔️1. Expand the garden- it happened! In 2018 we almost doubled the size of the garden, made lots of trellises and grew lots of food! It was a wonderful treat to see our hard work pay off!

✔️2. Fix the camper- Since we bought a second hand camper that needed a good bit of work, and we are pretty handy, we were able to go on a trip of a lifetime for not a ton of money! We were able to camp comfortably and not eat out too much!

✔️3.Travel out west-  We did it and enjoyed every single stop! We visited 3 of the 5 Great Lakes, camped on Lake Erie. Then camped at the top of the lower peninsula of Michigan. Drove through the upper peninsula and saw our very first moose! Camped in Minnesota and swam in the coldest pool ever! Camped in my favorite place, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, where we saw bison and prairie dogs for the first time! And hiked so many trails! Next up was Yellowstone! The geysers were so different than we expected and we loved seeing all kinds of wildlife, including grizzly bears at a distance and an elk right beside our truck! After that was Mount Rushmore, the pickers place in Iowa and lots of miles! Great experience!

✔️4. Create a certified wildlife habitat- There was grass patch in front of the garage that was begging to be returned to nature, and we did it! We raised monarchs, watched hummingbirds visit our yard and saw beautiful blooms instead of just grass! Read about how much we loved it Here!

✔️5. Reduce garbage- Last year we made 7 bags of garbage and we want to make less than 6 bags this year. Number 6 is still in the can, so I think we can call this a success!

✔️6. Volunteer/Donate/Do Good Every month- This goal has been my favorite this year! I have enjoyed spreading the good! We have donated food to a local mission, dressed as both the grinch and Santa, donated labor and time through the master gardeners program, started a composting program at school, composted for our friends/family/neighbors, decorated the town with holiday decor and many more things! It wasn’t always fun, but giving does great things for your soul!

✔️7. Repurpose, remake, mend, repair-  I have fixed clothes, instead of buying new. We have turned old doors new again for our garden and revived our camper! We were able to collect over 1,000 pounds of old food and turn it into garden food, and compost/feed to the chickens 183 pumpkins! And my favorite upcycle surprise was the broadfork made by the Mr!

✔️8. Paw Paw trees- Our 2 little trees are now dormant! I’m hoping that they come back next year! So, we did grow a couple little tiny trees from seed!

✖️9. Build a pizza oven-  we decided not to do this quite yet! We are thinking about how we want to use the space where the oven was going to go.

✔️10. Grow different produce- We have grow so many different plants! Huge gourds/tiny gourds, different melons and glass gem corn! I am hoping to give another big try to ground cherries!

✔️11. Continue tracking the solar panels- 2018 was the year of rain. It rained way too much, and the sun was not out nearly enough! But, power was produced and the bill has been consistently low!

✔️12. Work on garden cart sales- We have sold at craft shows, and had several produce sales here this year! The neighbors seemed to enjoy the source of produce and I enjoyed sharing my extras!

So, 11/12 goals completed is a success to me! I believe that we have our 12 main goals for next year set! And, goal setting is my most favorite thing to do every December!

Are you thinking about next year yet? Anything that you think we should give a try to?

Keep blooming friends!!

So, what’s so great about our certified wildlife habitat?!

One of my favorite projects this summer was turning a patch of grass that we were annoyed to cut into a wildlife habitat. I envisioned bees, butterflies and birds flying around and beautiful flowers. And it was exactly as I imagined!

Here are some quick reasons why I absolutely loved this space last summer!

1. It was so beautiful when the flowers were blooming! I had no clue there were so many species of moths, butterflies and bees here!

2. It looked so much better than just the plain grass that was there before! When we built the garage, most of the topsoil was scraped away from that area. Now, from heavy mulching, the topsoil is increasing! And, my picture from last spring was pretty close to what we did!

43EFE92B-FA5F-4280-AAEB-901C570BD27F

Before 

42EBD8BC-24D6-4C67-BE70-A37C940AE3F3

After

3. We got way too excited when we saw native bees in the area and especially when they were using our upcycled pollinator hotel!

E77E7D98-EA81-4B5B-A53D-BC21AA86751F

Part of the pollinator hotel 

8951D9C0-6AF3-4555-BBC8-BA279DA65BBC

A native bee on a teddy bear sunflower 

4 I have had people ask why I went to the trouble of certifying it and not just create it for free. That’s a great question! But here is what I have noticed, so many people have stopped and asked me about the sign. Questioned what the area was for. Or, who it benefits. The sign catches attention and creates conversation! We usually talk about everything that I’m mentioning on here! It spreads a great message!

B059E827-B0D3-428D-B1E4-36303224F6E0

I still love the reused bamboo pole! 

5. And my most favorite part, that I didn’t even know would happen was raising monarchs! I loved finding tiny caterpillars on the milkweed and bringing them inside! I loved all three of us hunkered over milkweed plants screaming “I found one!!” As we pulled the leaf off of the plant to assure the safety of the caterpillar! We released close to 20 this year!

9C80CBBF-9EAA-47D0-91A2-FA602BC1CD98

A tiny baby! 

11690294-E51F-4BEB-8654-DFAF1BFED798

Chewing on swamp milkweed 

D5137F03-78C9-49EF-B294-B3F1BBB50C41

From caterpillar to chrysalis 

0F9C74E9-0834-4615-80A3-C1C5291632A5

The send off! 

So, where or what are the plans for next year in this area?! Well, I am planning on planting even more milkweed! (I saved lots of seeds!) I would love to actually get into tagging them before releasing them.

I also want to have more host plants for the swallowtail, like parsley and dill in this area. I’m hoping to get some native coral honeysuckle for around the archway to bring in more hummingbirds and add more nectar sources.

So, I’d highly recommend taking a patch of unused area and giving nature a helping hand. It was more than rewarding!

No Spend September Update

This no spend year has been much harder on the Mr., instead of myself. He’s is the spender and I am the saver. I was so proud of him for not buying me expensive stuff for my birthday! He even reused a gift bag that I had saved! ❤️

As a gift, I got a grab bag of seeds, compost thermometer and a new pair of sanuks, since mine were getting holes. (Btw, MIgardener has these grab bags for only $10!) Phenomenal deal!

61C7268F-C48D-4727-BA8A-BB84F9201AE8

30 seed packs picked at random! 💚

I also decorated the house for Fall with what I grew. Everything is from the garden and I spent a whopping nothing!

4A671F3C-7BAB-4213-9420-038BA5DD2748

10216D67-6BCA-4BDA-9DA3-BF5712A2E23C

Our beautiful glass gem corn!

I have also been saving lots of seeds, so that I don’t have to buy more next year! So far I have put up several types of beans, dill, cosmos, ground cherries and I’m working on fermenting cucamelon seeds.

8F37A9B3-4F59-4E3E-B655-5BE7A79B4499

Cosmos seeds

E025FF5D-15C2-4296-8641-6B0B30901A38

We saved the Paw Paw seeds from our hike

Speaking of hike, we enjoyed going out to a local trail. We stopped at a comic book store that my boy loves along the way. So, it was a great family day!

C7FE8CCE-4FD9-4672-ABA0-DF7A9CE29506

Beautiful hike

I also enjoyed raising some monarchs that were on the milkweed! It was free to do and so much fun! The whole family enjoyed searching for the tiny caterpillars on our plants!

0F9C74E9-0834-4615-80A3-C1C5291632A5

One of our handraised beauties

We were able to start paying more on the house since I am back to work and are planning on becoming debt free in less than 5 years, pending health and staying accident free! Keep pushing on and thinking twice before buying those wants!

Does anyone else have some tips for saving more? Please share in the commmebts! 😊