Using a rain barrel is a great way to conserve water and keep your garden watered for free. 

 It saves one of our most important resources and making a rain barrel is really not that difficult.  With just a couple of simple steps you can make your own.

You will need

 a plastic barrel

 a drill, a hole bit (the size of your spigot)

 2 spigots

 a short length of flexible downspout

 2 hoses

pvc glue

and a jigsaw.

First you need to find a plastic barrel.  (We were lucky enough to be given a large plastic barrel that is used to store milk on a farm.)

Drill a hole about 6 inches from the bottom, (bring your spigots to the hardware store and find a drill bit to match the size of it)

Insert the spigot and seal it with PVC glue.

We also suggest installing a second spigot about 6 inches from the top – that way any overflow can go into a hose directed away from the house. Rain barrels fill up surprisingly fast.

If you like, put a coat or two of paint on your barrel (suitable for plastic).  Choose a color that makes it blend in well to your background.  Then you will hardly notice it while it works for you.

After you select the site for your rain barrel, cut your house downspout  about two to three feet higher than the height of the rainbarrel.     (plus the hight of the cinderblocks.)

Cut a hole in the top of the rain barrel that fits the flexible downspout.

 (*You could of course place your house downspout straight into the rain barrel if you can fit it in without being flexed a bit)

Place the rain barrel on top of a couple of cinder blocks to enhance the power of gravity for hose pressure.

 Insert the flexible downspout into the barrel and then fit the flexible downspout onto your  house downspout.

Next connect your hoses.  (We chose to put a soaker hose on the bottom spigot  so it automatically waters an area under our pine trees that is often untouched by rain.  We also added a regular hose to the top of the rain barrel spigot that will direct any water that overfills the barrel to another location that hardly gets any water.)  Or you can choose to let it fill up and use the water when you need it with a watering can or attaching a regular hose when you need it.

Now sit back and get ready to collect that free run off water that usually ends up washing away down the sewer.

*This is really an easy project but if you are not a do it yourself type of person, there are many rain barrels on the market that aren’t very expensive and you can set up easily.

flower 

“Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.”  ~Roger Miller

 

 

 

Starting seeds can be a sanity saver for many of us waiting through a long winter for spring to arrive.

I wanted a seed starting rack with lights but I found them to be very expensive and not as large as I’d like so my husband and I decided we would make our own.  

First we bought a metal rack with four foot long shelves at Sam’s club.  This would be long enough to accommodate two seed trays lengthwise per shelf.

Next we needed some lights ~ so off to Home Depot where we purchased four, 4 foot shop lights.  They are the kind that plug in ( as opposed to being hard wired into the electricity) and have adjustable chains so you can change their height above the plants.  The metal rack provides an easy way to hang the lights which also makes it easy to adjust the height of the light as your plants grow.

We put daylight type lights for growing plants into the shop lights

Finally we  added a power strip so they can all be turned on and off with one switch.  

The only mistake I made was not building two of these….Maybe next year!

“So many seeds, so little time” ~unknown

 

 

 

If you would like to enjoy  some springtime in the winter, forcing bulbs can be a lot of fun.  It is even a great project for kids because it is so simple to do.

They also make great decorations or gifts for Christmas!

   (Any kind of bulb will work but may need to be refrigerated for weeks before forcing~

                 click here for a list of bulbs and how long they need to be kept cold before planting)
  • One of the easiest to choose is the paper white narcissus because they require no cold period to simulate winter.

t-037

Start with a pot that is at least three to four inches deep
fill it with dirt or glass marbles or stones.

t-035

  •   To use the glass stones instead of dirt,  set the bulbs down far enough into the stones to support them leaving a few inches below for roots.

  •   Next fill the pot with water just to the bottom of the bulbs.  A glass container that is clear is a great one to use for this since you can see the bulb, roots and flowers.  Try to have the water barely touch the bottom of the bulb to prevent rotting.

  • As soon as roots develop you can keep the water below the bulb.

    web-j-003

  • Another way to plant the bulbs is to place the bulbs in potting soil that covers them just to the top so the pointy end of the bulb is sticking out a bit.

  • Either way you plant them, put them in sunshine in a cool room and wait until they are growing.web-j-002

  • When they start to grow a few inches, then you should move them to a bright location out of direct sunlight. That way they don’t get too tall and fall over.  ( There’s an article over at Horticulture magazine by Dorian Winslow that explains how to make paperwhites not grow so tall~ jump over there to see it!)

t-036

  • Stake them if they are a bit floppy or you can tie a ribbon around them to keep them standing together.  This is a nice touch if it’s a Christmas gift.

paper-whites

It usually takes anywhere from three to five weeks for flowers so you have to be thinking ahead.*

paperwhite


  • ~”The future is always beginning now.”  ~Mark Strand


Using a rain barrel is a great way to conserve water and keep your garden watered for free. 

 It saves one of our most important resources and making a rain barrel is really not that difficult.  With just a couple of simple steps you can make your own.

You will need

 a plastic barrel

 a drill, a hole bit (the size of your spigot)

 2 spigots

 a short length of flexible downspout

 2 hoses

pvc glue

and a jigsaw.

First you need to find a plastic barrel.  (We were lucky enough to be given a large plastic barrel that is used to store milk on a farm.)

Drill a hole about 6 inches from the bottom, (bring your spigots to the hardware store and find a drill bit to match the size of it)

Insert the spigot and seal it with PVC glue.

We also suggest installing a second spigot about 6 inches from the top – that way any overflow can go into a hose directed away from the house. Rain barrels fill up surprisingly fast.

If you like, put a coat or two of paint on your barrel (suitable for plastic).  Choose a color that makes it blend in well to your background.  Then you will hardly notice it while it works for you.

After you select the site for your rain barrel, cut your house downspout  about two to three feet higher than the height of the rainbarrel.     (plus the hight of the cinderblocks.)

Cut a hole in the top of the rain barrel that fits the flexible downspout.

 (*You could of course place your house downspout straight into the rain barrel if you can fit it in without being flexed a bit)

Place the rain barrel on top of a couple of cinder blocks to enhance the power of gravity for hose pressure.

 Insert the flexible downspout into the barrel and then fit the flexible downspout onto your  house downspout.

Next connect your hoses.  (We chose to put a soaker hose on the bottom spigot  so it automatically waters an area under our pine trees that is often untouched by rain.  We also added a regular hose to the top of the rain barrel spigot that will direct any water that overfills the barrel to another location that hardly gets any water.)  Or you can choose to let it fill up and use the water when you need it with a watering can or attaching a regular hose when you need it.

Now sit back and get ready to collect that free run off water that usually ends up washing away down the sewer.

This is really an easy project but if you are not a do it yourself type of person, there are many rain barrels on the market that aren’t very expensive and you can set up easily.

“Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.”  ~Roger Miller

If you are looking for a way to grow plants that’s easy on the eyes and the budget, consider container gardening.

  It is a great way to accent plants in your yard, deck, porch or garden. It also makes it possible to garden in small places or urban settings.

Containers are a great to  keep herbs in or near your kitchen.  You can even keep lettuce growing in a pot so it is always accessible when it’s time to make dinner.

Choose containers that have enough space for the plants you plan to put in them.

  There are many websites to visit that give  “recipes” for containers. Or you can visit a garden center and use your own taste to choose plants that look good when you put them together.  Be sure to check heights of plants, sun and watering requirements so that they like the same conditions, then place them where you can enjoy their beauty.

“I sit in my garden, gazing upon a beauty that cannot gaze upon itself.  And I find sufficient purpose for my day.”  ~Robert Brault

OW_thumb1_thumb1_thumb1_thumb1_thumb[2]

L is for Lights!

The weekend project from our house was not only fun, it was easy as well.  My husband and I bought a great metal rack with four foot long shelves and put it together.  Then we purchased four shop lights with daylight bulbs. 

 The guy at Home Depot saw us deciding what to get and was so excited to show us exactly what he used to set up their growing station on display.  It was his second year of seed starting there and his enthusiasm was contagious.  I have to say I was pleased to meet him.  Probably the last person I would have figured as a gardener, not only by his style, but also by his age. Young and hip but loving the garden chat and wanting to share what he knew.  I found it so uplifting to meet him and feel his spirit.  He spoke of his favorite heirloom tomato plants, his garage wall vertical garden and the miracle of the sprouting seeds.  Made the whole project all the better.  Nice to know there are youth getting interested in gardening.  He was inspired by his job.  I think that made it even better.

Once the shelves were put together and the lights were hung, I planted my seeds and set them under the lights.  We will see how it goes.  Seed starting has never been a strong point of mine, but hopefully this year will be better. The only problem I found was that I wish we had made two shelves. 

 

 

So many seeds, so little space. 

  I am posting this for Vintage Thingie Thursday since we found some vintage windows on the curb last fall, and they inspired this entire project.  With a bit of wood found in the garage and a quick trip to Home Depot, we had the makings of a fun weekend. antique windows

 It was a gorgeous day last Saturday on the first day of Spring, and we took full advantage.  My husband (the wonderful guy that he is) has been planning on building me a cold frame for this spring. web-kk-014

First he built it,web-kk-023

 then he put on some wheels so we can move it to the sun or in and out of the garage when the kids want to play basketball.  Also wheels could come in handy if we have a bad frost coming, I can just roll it back a few feet into the garage.  

web-saturday-002

 Next we painted it, web-saturday-014

put the windows on with  hinges, web-saturday-245

we also reused the window hardware as handles,web-saturday-236

put a couple of heavy duty handles on the sides for lifting (you never know) web-k-002

and voila…web-saturday-247

a great cold frame to hold all my fledgling seedlings.web-saturday-254

   I guess I don’t have any excuses now…

web-saturday-260

my garden has to look good this year. 

~ All through the long winter, I dream of my garden. On the first day of spring, I dig my fingers deep into the soft earth. I can feel its energy, and my spirits soar. ~ Helen Hayes

 Visit Suzanne to see more Vintage Thingie Thursday Posts. 

 

 

 

 

 

I am planting bulbs  to prepare for the flower fix I will need by January.  So to enjoy some springtime in the winter, forcing bulbs can be a lot of fun.  It is even a great project for kids because it is so simple to do.  Pick out some paper white narcissus, they are the easiest because they require no cold period to simulate winter. t-037t-035

 Just get a pot that is at least three to four inches deep, fill it with dirt or glass marbles or gems. You can plant a few spaced throughout  the pot or next to each other if you have enough.   The more bulbs the fuller your flowers will look.  To use the gems, just set the bulbs down far enough into the stones to support them leaving a few inches below for roots.   Next fill the pot with water just to the bottom of the bulbs.  A glass container that is clear is a great one to use for this since you can see the bulb, roots and flowers.  Try to have the water barely touch the bottom of the bulb to prevent rotting.  As soon as roots develop you can keep the water below the bulb.  t-036

Another way to plant the bulbs is to place the bulbs in potting soil that covers them just to the top so the pointy end of the bulb is sticking out a bit. Either way you plant them, put them in sunshine in a cool room and wait until they are web-j-002growing.

When they start to grow a few inches, then you should move them to a bright location out of direct sunlight. That way they don’t get too tall and fall over.   Stake them if need be and step back and enjoy the show.  If they are a bit floppy you can tie a ribbon around them to keep them standing together.  This is a niweb-j-003ce touch if it’s a Christmas gift.  It usually takes anywhere from three to five weeks for flowers.  

 The future is always beginning now.  ~Mark Strand

 

finished

This is a follow up from a previous post.

On Sunday it was very nice outside.  It  may have been the nicest day of the summer so far.  It was clear and sunny with no humidity and only about 75 degrees or so.  My kind of weather!   I was able to level the stones( I use the word level loosely).  I planted the flowers I had bought for the edges, then I robbed many plants from around my yard to add to the new flower beds that surround the stones.  I wanted it to look like it had always been there.  I planted some grass seed and Viola! A new stone patio. 

yard2

 thunder

 

 

Below are a few pictures that let you know why I am so happy with the end product.  ww

This is when we were first putting in our fence just after buying the house two years ago. (The red chairs are roughly in the same place as in the finished picture.) The junk there is what was removed from the back of the yard.

 

This is how it looked early this spring.  

bbefore

 

yyard

This is the finally.  Yay! 

 lilly

  

Laying out grounds may be considered a liberal art, in some sort like poetry and painting.

 ~William Wordsworth

stones

 Day 1

We started a new garden project.  A new stone patio in the afternoon shade.  A friend gave us a bunch of blue stone so the price was right.  We have the space so we thought we might as well put in the work and make our garden more comfortable to enjoy. Yesterday we got a load of dirt to even out the very uneven lawn that we will be putting the stone on.  Today we put in the stones, leveling as we go. We had yet another cloudy day filled with gnats.  I won’t even tell you how silly I looked with my buzz off hood on my head, knee pads, and a swarm of tiny black flies around my face.  That was when I looked good.  Of course the rain came and poured and poured.  The rest of the afternoon was mud pies.   But we were able to finish laying the stones.  I am going to let the mud dry so tomorrow I can sweep it away.

Day 2

Another level?  Sure…. why not.  My back is strong.  Many more gnats visited the work site to nibble or should I say chew on the humans in the area.  But we persevered and Level two was completed…Sort of. 

Day 3

Could barely walk today.  My legs are not used to crouching for two days in a row.  Pulled muscles I didn’t even know I had, so no working on the rocks today.  Besides we both have jobs to go to.  But… We need more stones, so off went my honey bunch for more stones this evening.  Hopefully I will finish the job tomorrow.  I think it is supposed to be cloudy again.  More gnats.  great, can’t wait.

Day 4

Rained..Again…All day.  Even cloudy with bugs would have been better.

Day 5

Finally got to put in a few hours on the stones.  The bugs even seemed to give me a break.st

  Leveled them and now all that’s left is finishing touches, dirt and some plants to make it look like it has always been  there.  I couldn’t do more because it started raining again!… Getting tired of gloomy skies and muddy soil.I will post a picture of it when it is done.daisy

 

I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden.” ~Ruth Stout