Archive for Recycling

Time for Collecting Seeds and Preserving Blooms

Look closely at your plants, many will have seed pods that you can dry and save for next year. This begonia has really strikingly pretty ones in a teardrop shape.

Look closely at your plants. Many will have seed pods that you can dry and save for next year. This begonia has strikingly pretty ones in a teardrop shape.

 

Hi, friends — happy fall! I’m sorry I have not posted for a while. I’ve been busy finishing up projects, and glad to say that I have completed many. The ten new storm windows are installed, and the new flooring in my basement finished, too. Now I can get back to my favorite thing — gardening! I was asked to write a post on how I collect seeds and keep plants for the next year, and I am happy to do just that.

 

There are many plants that I’m saving this year by collecting their seeds and berries.

After collecting pods, let them dry out. Break them open and pop the seeds out. Save for Spring planting.

After collecting pods, let them dry out. Break them open and pop the seeds out. Save for spring planting.

I like to store my seeds in recycled glass jars. I glue silica packs to the inside of the lid to keep moisture at bay.

I store my seeds in recycled glass jars. I glue silica packs to the inside of the lid to keep moisture at bay.

The pretty Hyacinth bean vine produced literally hundreds of pods this year. The best way to save these is simply to pick them and let the pods dry out. The pods break open quite easily then, and I just store the seeds in a glass jar until next spring. Here’s a preserving tip that you might not know: Glue a silica pack on the inside of jar lids — it will absorb any excess moisture from accumulating inside the jar. I save the silica packs from old shoe boxes and other shipping boxes that come with them inside, so it’s a great reuse for them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many bushes in the garden will drop berries that will sprout in the Spring. Transplant the seedlings from these to a safe spot in the garden, and you will be amazed at how quickly these volunteers will grow into great new plants.

Many bushes will drop berries that will sprout in the spring. Transplant the seedlings to a safe spot in the garden, and you will be amazed at how quickly these volunteers will grow into great new plants.

Many plants in the garden, such as the nandina, holly bushes, pyracantha and liriope, have berries that I just let fall into the garden. In the spring I cull the best sprouts from these to start new plants. It’s amazing how quickly they grow into beautiful plants all on their own with hardly any effort.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many of the annual flowers that I grow in the garden produce seeds. If you check the soil in the areas that you have planted with annuals, you will see volunteers sprout up regularly. I do this every year with the vinca that is planted by the driveway. Even the gorgeous heirloom begonias that I grow in pots will self-seed. It’s always a good idea to save some of the seed just in case they don’t return. It’s easy to find the seeds. They will either be in little pods or form inside the flowers.

I love how many varieties of vinca are now growing in my garden. Many annuals will drop seed throughout the Summer, and if the soil is not distrubed too much you will have many new sprouts in the Spring. I like to keep the strongest of the new sprouts and clear the rest.

Many annuals will drop seed throughout the summer, and if the soil is not disturbed too much you will have many new sprouts in the spring. I like to keep the strongest of the new sprouts and clear the rest. Each year I like to grow a different color vinca. It’s fun to see the blend of colors from previous years, growing up through the current year’s plants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the more tender herbs and plants are easily propagated by taking cuttings that you can root in water then plant indoors to save over the winter months. Begonias and basil are two of my favorites.

Some of the more tender herbs and plants are easily propagated by taking cuttings that you can root in water then plant indoors to save over the winter months. Begonias and basil are two of my favorites.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another way of saving begonias, ivy and many herbs (such as basil) is by pinching off a few branches and rooting them in water. In just a few weeks you will have enough roots to sustain a fresh plant that you can keep indoors over the winter months, and plant outside once spring comes. The same can be done with many of the hardy herbs, like chives, oregano and thyme that grow in a clump. Just divide a small clump (2″ or so), and plant to create a wonderful indoor planter that you can pick and enjoy for cooking all winter.

 

 

 

This is a huge bundle of liatris from the garden that I hung to dry and then arranged in a clay pot. I have many of these on top of the cabinets in my mud room.

This is a huge bundle of liatris that I hung to dry and then arranged in a clay pot. I have many of these on top of the cabinets in my mud room.

I hang lots of the flowers from the garden from peg racks to let them dry, and store them there until they make their way into a flower arrangement. It adds color, and I love having a reminder of Summer all Winter long. Here I have yarrow, oregano, pussy willow, bay leaves, lavendar and many others. Easy to do!

I hang lots of the flowers from the garden from peg racks to let them dry, and store them there until they make their way into a flower arrangement or wreath. It adds color, and I love having a reminder of summer all winter long. Here I have yarrow, oregano, pussy willow, bay leaves and many others. Even hummingbird vine that I twist into wreath bases. Easy to do, and it’s fun to be able to make things for gifts that you grow yourself!

 

There are some herbs and perennials that I cut and dry to enjoy all winter in bundles and arrangements through out the house. These will stay pretty — sometimes for years — if they are out of direct sun. I regularly dry the liatris, yarrow and even oregano when it’s flowering. I like to hang it in bundles from peg racks in the mud room to add a little color.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are other perennials like the blackberry lily that I let dry and the seeds will easily shake off into a paper bag. Those will be saved in a jar as well for springtime planting.

Some perennials produce very decorative seeds after flowering, like these blackberry lily. Once the stems start to fade, I cut and dry them. It's easy to shake the seeds off into a paperbag and save them for next year's planting.

Some perennials produce very decorative seeds after flowering, like these blackberry lily. Once the stems start to fade, I cut and dry them. It’s easy to shake the seeds off into a paper bag and save them for next year’s planting.

Happy Fall Gardening Everyone!

Happy Fall Gardening Everyone!

 

I hope that you will try a few of these in your own garden. Seeds are like coins in a piggy bank. It’s always fun to have some “Gardener’s Gold,” and don’t forget to share your bounty with other gardeners — a jar of seeds for a Christmas gift is always fun and welcome!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

The Merry Month of May

Pansies at there fullest-

Pansies at their fullest right now – just in time for Mother’s Day!

First of all, I would like to say that I hope all the Moms out there had a very Happy Mother’s Day! Did you know that there are more flowers sent for Mother’s Day than Valentine’s Day — interesting statistic!

The old adage “April showers bring May flowers” is very true this year. Suddenly, the gardens have sprung to life around here. We went from a freeze warning to 90-degree days in less than a week, and that brought on an amazing array of beautiful flowers overnight! The grass is growing about six to seven inches in a week. I hope that you are enjoying the warmer weather, and I have some tips for how to manage some of the spring tasks ahead.

The azalea & periwinkle bloomed at the same time this year-

The azalea and periwinkle bloomed at the same time this year.

This season came on so fast that almost all of my spring blooming plants are flowering all at once, creating fun combinations that almost never happen. Right now, the periwinkle, rhododendron and azalea are blooming together, and before that the Pear, Cherry and Dogwood trees all bloomed at the same time. Normally these are all spaced about two weeks apart, so it has created a magical display. The pollen is out in force, too, but we won’t talk about that… A-choo!

Since the overnight temps were still dipping too low to mulch the grass clippings (the overnight lows need to be above 55 degrees), I want to share a tip that your flowers are going to love. Just take the grass clippings and spread them on your flower beds about 3 to 4 inches thick, then turn them into the soil with a spading fork. This will lighten the soil and nourish the bed.

Spade in excess grass clippings now, for a terrific flower bed in a couple of weeks-

Spade-in excess grass clippings now, for a terrific flower bed in a few weeks.

Let the garden rest for a couple of weeks until the clippings turn brown and it’s warm enough to plant your summer annuals. If you do this, I promise you will be rewarded with flowers that grow twice as big. I like to top dress the beds with a little mulch after the flowers are planted to help keep the moisture in the soil, too. In garden beds that have been established/planted you might stir in some leaf compost around the base of the plants instead.

We had a pretty harsh winter for this region and I lost a few plants, but I’m having fun filling in the spots with some transplants from other areas. Seems there is always change in the air around here, but that is what keeps it interesting.

Hope you enjoy!

The rhododendron are so full of flowers. A welcome sight after a cold winter.

The rhododendron are so full of flowers. A welcome sight after a cold winter.

The white iris is even taller than usual this year- almost 4 feet tall!

The white iris is even taller than usual this year — almost four feet tall!

One more shot of the azaleas-

One more shot of the azaleas — Happy Spring!

Recycled Garden Art

A wall of rescued tile turned into Art.

A wall of rescued tile turned into Art.

I don’t know about you, but I love to craft, and especially with recycled items. I have been on a recent trip to Philadelphia and while there went to an amazing place called the Magic Garden. It’s filled with mosaics covering pretty much everything. There are about 150 properties in and around the city with mosaics from this prolific artist and it really got my creative juices flowing. I definitely have a mosaic or two in my future — maybe a birdbath or a garden table. What a fun way to show your own personality in a garden!

Made from worn out gardening tools, this chair is a definite for my garden.

Made from worn out gardening tools, this chair is a definite for my garden.

 

I like the idea of having useful items that double as Art. The internet is an amazing place for inspiration. I have become a huge fan of Pinterest for craft ideas. I think this chair from Pinterest is so terrific. Anything that I can make with rescued, or broken-beyond-repair things is high on my list! I love the ability to switch things around, so small projects, like a birdbath or a pretty flower pot with shells glued on, are fun to create and fill in gaps when the flowers are not in season.

 

Great "Kid" project- rocks painted like candy.

Great “Kid” project- rocks painted like candy.

 

 

There are such cute things for every level and age of artist/gardener. I saw these cute little rocks painted up like M&M’s, (again on Pinterest,) and thought what a great project for kids! It’s always nice to have some ideas that really can’t be done wrong to make even the most timid feel like an artist!

 

 

 

These topiary forms are made with harvested vines and branches.

These topiary forms are made with harvested vines and branches.

 

 

 

Another useful art project that I very much want to make are a few of these topiary forms, made with harvested vines and a few branches. The more natural the better in my garden! I love creating ivy topiaries, but you can grow any number of things on them — small gourds, cucumbers, clematis — sky’s the limit!

 

Made with small stones, what a fun Fairie house-

Made with small stones, what a fun Fairy house!

 

 

 

For those who like to attract garden fairies into your life, how about a charming little dwelling on the side of a garden path?  I think I’d take it one step further and disguise a light inside to mark the edge of the pathway at night.

 

 

Tin man made from old cans- add a hose, and he becomes a built in helper!

Tin man made from old cans. Add a hose, and he becomes a built in helper!

 

 

It seems there are so many great ways to recycle cans these days. I love this tin man! And if he can help with the watering, then I’d really like to have him in my garden!

So much inspiration, and I’d love to credit to the creative people who made these items, but it’s impossible to trace the originator on photos that don’t have a watermark. These (except the top picture, which I took) are all from Pinterest. Well — I think I have enough winter projects to keep me busy for a long time. I love to recycle! What projects do you have in store?

Fresh Ideas for a New Year

In January, I like to reflect on what has and hasn’t worked in my overall plan for enjoyment in the garden. I’m always looking for ways to make things more functional and easily accessible where they are used.  I love trying new ideas that reuse and recycle salvaged items. Here’s a look at some of the projects we have done to solve common issues that many of us have with our gardens and decks.

It is so handy to have the patio umbrellas right where we need them.

We installed a bay window in the kitchen where there had been three flat windows. This created a new exterior space underneath that was the perfect size to store patio umbrellas. Wooden panels were attached to the deck with angle brackets with one on a hinge to serve as the door. We designed a cart on small casters to easily roll the umbrellas in and out of the space. No more lugging the umbrellas all the way to the garage anymore; they are right where we need them.

For more storage on the deck, we made a deck box to hold the chair cushions when not in use. We used salvaged wood from a fence that had fallen, so it was also a great reuse of materials. The deck box  doubles as seating or as a serving/bar surface when entertaining. Whenever possible, try to double up on function for every piece of furniture. That way if you decide to change things around you won’t be left with something that has only one purpose, and no longer has a function.

This deck box holds all the chair cushions, and doubles as party seating. The lattice panels in the arbor are easily removable to prepare for storms.

The deck on our house is visible from the street and has little shade. To help with both of these issues we designed an arbor that works well for many reasons. Also, I have a wisteria growing upon one side so it needed to be very strong. We  take on quite heavy winds here during storms, being close to the water. Our answer to these issues was to double up on the supports for extra strength, and make the lattice privacy panels easily removable (they just lift out). Now we are covered for sun, privacy, and winds!

A seating platform raises the area to the perfect viewing height above the rail.

When sitting in our Adirondack chairs on the deck, we used to have the water view ruined by the (legally-required) rail which is right at eye level. We came up with an idea which works great: a floating-deck raised platform for two of the deck chairs. Now, we have a perfect view of the water. This platform was also built with scrap lumber. As it is just one step up and floats on the deck, it can be moved around for the deck’s annual deck wash/seal.

This coming year I hope to add several more improvements: I would like to incorporate a coldframe to grow lettuce and other veggies year round, using the windows which were removed when we installed the kitchen bay. Also in the works: A re-vamp of the underground irrigation system with more efficient, better-located sprinkler heads. I am hoping to save countless hours of watering in the heat of the summer. More on these in future blogs.

I hope some of these ideas might be solutions for you, and as always I’d love to hear what new things you have dreamed up for your gardens in the new year.

Recycling Ideas for the Garden

To honor Earth Day, I have some great ways to recycle in the garden that I want to share with you. I will start with some alternative ideas for things that are commonly tossed out. These are easy, but ones that you might not have tried.

This year I am adding knockout roses to my planters. They have a deep root structure, so it's important to have soil amendments like grass clippings or compost, to keep the soil light and nutrient filled.

We are still having temperatures in the 40′s overnight, so as the grass gets mowed we are collecting the clippings instead of mulching them. In our yard, this can mean eight or so bags of grass each week. As an alternative to adding them to a compost pile, one of the best nutrients  is to incorporate a bag or two of grass clippings for every 3-4 feet of soil. I do this annually where I plant flowers, and it’s great to use in the vegetable garden as well. I add grass clippings to the potting soil to give an extra boost to the roots, and to keep the soil loose. I have even used clippings as mulch in the herb garden in the past, stirring them into the soil every couple of weeks. This provides a constant source of nitrogen for the heavy feeders like tomatoes, too.

I dig up river rocks in the garden all the time. I reuse them by paving the under deck area. They also make great pathways.

It seems one of the things that grows best in my garden is river rocks.  Really — for every shovel full of soil I dig up at least 2 or 3 potato sized rocks. I recycle them by paving the area under my deck with the larger rocks. They have become a wonderful surface which prevents erosion, as well as keeping the area walkable. They make terrific pathway material, or could even become a border around the edge of a bed. Another way I use them in my yard is to disperse the water from the downspouts. I use them in place of the ordinary splash guards made of concrete or plastic.

 

You can make your own "customized" soaker hose by placing it through your garden bed, then puncturing the hose right at the root zone of each plant you want watered. This is a great way to repurpose an old hose that already has pinholes in it.

Instead of throwing away those old hoses — you know, the ones with all the pinholes that have developed over time — here is a creative reuse for them.  Go ahead and add more. This can easily be done with an ice pick. Add them every few inches, and you will have created your own “soaker” style hose. The end of the hose can easily be “plugged” just by leaving an old spray nozzle on it. An even more water efficient method would be to place the hose in the garden and puncture holes into it right at the root zone of each plant you want to water. I like to place mine in the garden before I mulch. Then layer in the mulch on top. You don’t even know the hoses are there. I leave a quick connect on the other end, and just hook it up when needed. (Better for aesthetics!) I love soaker hoses, they are such time savers and so water efficient.

This deck box was created by reusing boards from an old fence. (Those of you who have read my blog will recognize my kitty friend Stomper.)

For the more advanced recycler, don’t overlook the value of reusing old fencing boards in new projects. Quite often some of the boards are rotten, but not all. We took down an old fence some time ago, and have reused the wood in many of our garden projects. This deck box is one. It houses all of the cushions for the deck chairs when not in use, and keeps them handy when we want them. Just take an inventory of the wood you have on hand, then design your project around it. It’s always fun to have a one of a kind, useful piece of furniture,too! From the same old fence, my tool shed and potting bench were created. As nice as it is to reuse the old boards, it’s also budget friendly. You can’t beat free!

Here's another use for rocks from your garden. I use them to channel and disperse the water from the downspouts. It conforms to the terrain better than splash guards, and also does a better job.

These recycling ideas are just a few, but they are ones that if the components had been tossed, it would have equaled a huge amount in a landfill. I will list more recycling ideas in the future, but hope you will send your ideas to me. I would love to share them all. If everyone does just one small thing, the impact is great!