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Featured Gardening Thoughts for a Rainy Day ☂

Creating a Happy, Peaceful Garden Sanctuary

Gardening. It’s so calming, therapeutic, satisfying, rewarding.

A garden is a wonderful place to relax and get energies out, it’s a tangible spot of the expression of you, a creative outlet in itself, a place of solitude as well as a place to share.

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And it’s actually a lot easier to get started and be successful at maintaining than you might think it is. It’s one of those activities and hobbies that you just have to get up and do. Let go of the fear of defeat, intimidation, too much work, too much time, or any negative thoughts of “But I can’t keep a houseplant alive to save my life” or “Everything I touch dies.”

Once you see a little bud form or trim a little herb for your latest recipe, watch regrowth, appreciate your garden becoming a comfortable haven for yourself and for pollinators like butterflies and bees, you’ll find yourself becoming even more compelled to keep on gardening.

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Falling in love with gardening.

Oh my goodness do I love it! I would have never thought I’d ever be that person, but here I am, obsessed with gardening. I love talking shop with other gardeners. I love getting my hands in the soil, watering to a plant’s heart of content, gathering the harvests, taking photos of insects, and just being outside, taking in the fresh air and observing the surrounding beauty.

My first year gardening, I thought, ok, where do I begin to make it a productive place of comfort?

I had images of garden landscapes from Pinterest on my mind. I wanted to grow oodles of French and English lavender and bright blue hydrangeas. I wanted to eat an abundance of organically grown crisp cucumbers and tasty cherry tomatoes fresh off the vine. I wanted to be friends with all the critters like Snow White and wander freely among the foliage, not burdened with any gardening chore.

Well, dreams do come true.

My first garden, a real success!

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Of course gardening does take some work, mostly work directed toward establishing your gardening skills in the first year. The internal and external rewards are so worth it though. Even during times of the most demanding physical labor, it becomes a time of reducing tension and anxiety, in fact, it’s often energizing.

Here are 8 tips to creating the ambience of a hopeful, tranquil, joyous garden.

1. First, get a head start on making homemade compost.

Making your own homemade compost allows you to be resourceful, less wasteful as you save on the amount of rubbish you throw out, becoming more environmentally conscience, and save money.

If you’re even thinking of having a garden this year, I’d recommend starting your compost today.

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I like to use a large wood crate, unfinished, untreated, 18 in. x 12.5 in. x 9.5 in. which can be found at your local hardware store like Home Depot or Walmart.

I line it with either a recyclable, compostable bag or fine mesh chicken wire. I have the local hardware store cut an untreated piece of wood to fit over top.

It is perfect for composting small amounts of raw kitchen scraps such as tops, skins, cores, along with paper scraps, leaves, and coffee grounds. I add Red Wiggler worms. And it will not emit obnoxious odors if you balance out the nitrogen and carbon ratio and stir it once a day.

I prefer keep a little trowel inside for convenient stirring and a plant on top to disguise it.

You’ll have greater control over what goes into your soil. Sometimes the incidentals that grow amongst your plantables can be just as gratifying as an intentional plant.

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Here (above) a mango grew from one of the seeds I had in some of the compost I buried.

2. Then simply start with choosing what you want to plant.

Choose what you want to grow before deciding on a design, all the rest will fall into place.

Take your time strolling around your local hardware, nursery, or grocery store. Take in the landscape of your home and surrounding neighborhood. Thumb through magazines, social media, and online forums to garner some ideas.

Don’t be discouraged by the type or size of space, small or large, structural obstacles, HOA ordinances, the amount of sun, climate, weather, or hearing/reading about gardening woes related to the plants you prefer.

Ask yourself, “What do I want to grow?”

Flowers, herbs, vegetables, trees, a combination? Is there a top choice or a must have in your garden?

Fresh or sweet aromas? Are there certain colors or color schemes you are drawn to? Native plants or ones that are more out of the ordinary?

Are there certain herbs and vegetables in your most commonly made dishes or ones you wish you could grow fresh, offering you less trips to the grocery store? Is there something in particular that you can’t regularly find at your local grocer? Perhaps your interest is piqued in this year of COVID-19, stay-at-home orders, job loss, or food security.

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My top must have as far as herbs are concerned is basil. This type (above) is lime basil which adds a unique, zippy flavor to homemade pestos.

You may find out specifics to the plants you choose as you start your gardening journey. One option is picking a few plants that may be more tried and true to your area and a few that would be considered more risky. The results of risky may surprise you.

The initial success of plant growth will be your cheerleader. As you become a more established gardener, you’ll learn how to creatively arrange, manage, and care for plants that some might deem as either difficult or easy.

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You’ll also find yourself having a lot more flexibility within the confines of your space as you try out different plants and alternative methods of growing.

Whether a private plot of land, a deck, or community garden, today’s accessibility to soil methodology, planters, structures, and furniture can allow you to easily fulfill your vision in creating your ideal garden.

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3. Garden design.

One of the most exciting aspects of gardening is putting your garden together.

Once you pick out the seeds and starters you want, there are many factors you may want to consider. Go around positioning seed packets and seedlings on the ground where you desire to plant them before digging in the dirt.

This way of planning helps to better visualize which plants you want where. Some plants make better companions than others, some need lots of space, some have more height to them, some need more hours of direct sun. You can then organize them according to pH, likeness, size, proportion, shape, convenience, color, season, succession, and overall planting and space fulfilling goals.

I love Secret Garden style havens, with lush green, full foliage, layered and staggered high and and low to provide privacy with pops of color and varietals. Serene, English cottage pathways and Spanish courtyard-esque manicured plots.

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I like an almost crowded look. For certain plants I like layouts of rows, others, quite staggered, always an abundance of things that bring me joy. I’m less of a fan of boxy, bare, coffin-shaped garden beds.

4. Making it easy on yourself.

Gardening should be leisurely and delightful, not drudgery.

Having tools and a watering can readily available will help you make spur of the moment decisions in weeding, sprinkling, pruning, and harvesting. This will decrease any procrastination and apprehension that may creep up during gardening season.

This is especially important if you have just planted seeds or baby plants. You’ll want to identify newly sprouted plants against weeds and newbies require gentle, more frequent watering.

5. Decorating to your heart’s content.

Your garden space is a reflection of you and the things that you like.

Wood barrel planters are a nice touch. Classic terra cotta pots can be left bare or painted with safe paints, adding interest and contrast to whatever you decide to plant in them. Ornamentals, an entertaining accessory.

Start with a few things to your personal style and taste. Believe me, the more that people know about you and your love for gardening, the more you’ll be gifted fun, whimsical garden decor.

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6. Turning you garden into a place of retreat. 

A garden is a wonderful place for you to relax, read, and snack.

Add a bench, a swing, or simply a chair. Some place to sit, rest, and take in your surroundings and rest in between labor. Think about the position of the sun and the time of day you’ll most likely spend the most time there.

Do you like to get up early or stay up late? When do you prefer to weed and water? You might want to choose a place under some shade or go for the best overall view. Rearrange as often as you please.

Surround yourself with items that make you happy. Chimes, figurines, bird baths. Build it up to a place you’ll see yourself spending time in.

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Making your own side table.

And you can easily make a little side table of your own, whether you want to use it for setting down your morning coffee or gardening tools as you work, or for adding heigth to planters.

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Just flip over ceramic pot and top it off with a decorative paver, voila! A cute and inexpensive, decorative table!

7. Finding your refuge of inspiration.

Adding little bits of your personality to your garden may happen all at once or over a period of time.

If you want to learn more about creating a personal refuge or are looking for garden inspiration, check out these magazines.

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Mary Jane’s Farm

Origin

Mother Earth News

Here are some excellent books on gardening.

Gardening 1000

Gardening Your Front Yard: Projects and Ideas for Big and Small SpacesGardening Your Front Yard: Projects and Ideas for Big and Small Spaces by Tara Nolan

 

 

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Garden Alchemy: 80 Recipes and concoctions for organic fertilizers, plant elixirs, potting mixes, pest deterrents, and moreGarden Alchemy: 80 Recipes and concoctions for organic fertilizers, plant elixirs, potting mixes, pest deterrents, and more by Stephanie Rose

 

 

Little Free Libraries and Tiny Sheds: 12 Miniature Structures You Can Build to Enhance Your Yard or Neighborhood by Philip Schmidt

Little Free Libraries and Tiny Sheds: 12 Miniature Structures You Can Build to Enhance Your Yard or NeighborhoodLittle Free Libraries and Tiny Sheds: 12 Miniature Structures You Can Build to Enhance Your Yard or Neighborhood by Philip Schmidt

 

 

Creating a sanctuary for animals.

Birds are such a joy. Some are quite chatty, some leave a mess so choose your bird house placement wisely. It either case, it’s always so entertaining to watch them nest, feed their little babies, and hear them singing songs first thing in the morning.

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Don’t forget, even insects serve a purpose and need a home.

8. Gardening resources.

Phone apps.

Identify and learn flowers and bugs using phone apps. Take a photo right on the spot or import an existing photo to the app and within seconds you’ll get the name of the species and some background information.

Picture This (left) allows you to identify flowers and trees you may see in passing and even help you sort out displaced seeds or scout out weeds in order to differentiate them from your early growth of treasures. With Picture Insect (right), you can identify pests and beautiful, interesting species of bugs.

These apps been pretty accurate in my experience so far, in fact, I am forever grateful for them. From this tree I saw at the market (left) where everything is toxic but the fruits to this Orb weaver (right), walking tight rope, web strung across the cucumber trellis in my backyard.

YouTube Channels I subscribe to.

Babylonstoren Farm

Betsy Begonia

Gardening Forever

Garden Style nw

Jeff Bernhard

Learn To Grow

李子柒 Liziqi

MIgardener

Midwest Gardener

OYR Frugal & Sustainable Organic Gardening

PLANTERINA

RHS – Royal Horticultural Society

Rob Bob’s Aquaponics & Backyard Farm

I hope you enjoyed these 8 tips on creating a happy, peaceful garden sanctuary.

Garden Santuary

Let me know how your garden fares!

 

 

Categories
Featured Gardening Thoughts for a Rainy Day ☂

Starting a Vegetable Garden

Have you been wanting to start a garden and don’t know where to begin?

Well you’ve come to the right place and it’s not too late!

Yes we are in the middle of summer, but you can actually start planning for a garden next year or even start one for this year for what is called a fall garden, meaning you can plant now and the vegetables will be ready to harvest in the fall.

All you need is a seed, soil, water, and sun.

Gardening © 2019 ericarobbin.com | All rights reserved.

Also be sure to check out my new video: Summer Vegetable Garden Tour.

Seeds and Starters

You can start your garden using seeds straight from a seed packet, dried from a vegetable plant, or as a little seedling or baby plant.

Plant “starters” are infant plants. Some plants do really well when planted from a seed straight into the ground. Others may do better when the seed is planted into soil and given a chance to begin growing indoors before planting into the ground. Starters allow a little more TLC to be given and protection from the elements when they are just beginning to sprout. They then can be transplanted into the ground when they are hardy enough to tolerate being outdoors.

Plant what you want, not what’s in stock

By planting something you enjoy eating, it will be more rewarding than picking whatever is just available at your local big box store or nursery.

I like to grow basic, essential herbs and vegetables as well as ones that are a bit exotic, challenging, and adventurous for the USDA Plant Hardiness Zones that my gardens are growing in. I choose herbs and vegetables I tend to use a lot in recipes, ones I run to the store more often for, or ones that go bad easily because when you grow them in the garden you can pick fresh as you go and not be wasteful.

Note the characteristics of each plant

Vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and beets have edible leaves. Some plants are a harvest one and done, others continue to produce all summer long, some produce early, some produce late. These characteristics may be something to consider when choosing your plants.

Plants that grow fast will be more rewarding

Growing a few herbs and vegetables that yield an early harvest will be encouraging and rewarding. It also may allow you to plant an additional something in its place if the first plant’s growing season is done, it may allow your remaining plants to use up some of that now freed up space, or you can use that space for in-ground composting.

Add pollinator attracting flowers and plants

Bees and butterflies help to pollinate your plants, meaning that they transfer pollen from the males flowers to the female flowers that produce the fruit. Flowers can also help to ward off predators and pests, and they also add beauty and charm. I like lavender, mums, morning glory, snapdragons, echinacea, and sunflowers.

And of course, roses are always a good choice.

Gardening © 2019 ericarobbin.com | All rights reserved.

Labels

Don’t forget to label your plants! This is especially important if you are a first time gardener and do not know what the foliage of each plant should look like early on and as it matures. Weeds and other edible plant-life may come up and it can be difficult to distinguish them apart from your intended plant and you don’t want to mistakenly pull it out.

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Choosing a Theme

Choosing a theme may help you narrow down your list of haves and wants in your garden and allow you to create a garden that is fun and exciting.

Here are some garden themes that are especially fun if you have children who might be helping out in the garden:

  • Alphabet Garden- Use different letters of the alphabet when choosing plants.
  • Butterfly Garden- Grow flowers and plants that are attractive to butterflies.
  • Favorite Book or Movie Garden- Choose a book with a garden theme and recreate it such as Peter Rabbit or Alice in Wonderland.
  • Cultural or Regional Garden- Choose plants relative to a people group, historical significance, region of the world, or according to cuisine you enjoy.
    • Three Sisters Garden- Native peoples from different parts of North America often planted corn, beans, and squash together — a trio often referred to as the “three sisters.”
    • Mediterranean Garden- Basil, dill, oregano, lemon, mint, rosemary, tarragon, sage, tomatoes, thyme, parsley, fennel, eggplant, and cucumber.
  • Fairy Garden- Ferns, succulents, grasses, and plants that have tendrils like squashes and melons, and nightshade varieties such as mushrooms or eggplants.
  • Giant or Miniature Garden- Choose varieties of vegetables that remain get oversized like giant sunflowers or pumpkins or remain small such as baby carrots, sugar baby watermelons, fingerling potatoes, Jack Be Little pumpkins.
  • Moonlight Garden- Pick a few plants that bloom at night like evening primrose or moonflowers. Choose vegetables from the nightshade variety such as mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants.
  • Pizza Garden- Grow the ingredients to make a pizza such as tomatoes, garlic, wheat, basil, oregano, and peppers.
  • Rainbow Garden- Choose an assortment of flowers, leaves, or vegetable harvest that shows off the different colors of the rainbow. Kaleidoscope carrots are a fun one.
  • Salad Garden- Grow the basics of a salad such as lettuce, carrots, cucumber, radish, and tomatoes.
  • Salsa Garden- Tomatoes, tomatillos, onion, peppers, garlic, and cilantro.
  • Sensory Garden- Select plants that engage the all the senses by choosing a variety of flowers or plants that are hard and soft to the touch, ones with distinct aromas and taste, of vibrant color or design, and flowers that attract the buzzing bees.

Choosing a Design

The flowers and vegetables you choose along with the space limitations of your garden plot will help you in your garden design. Characteristics such as growth space, whether you have certain plant types or materials available to grow ones in a vertical fashion with the support of a trellis, as well as climate, and soil type will help further narrow down your plant choices and the look of your garden.

I think the design as far as aesthetics goes is the fun part. Pots, raised beds, and in ground planting in rows or grids are all possible choices in any combination. I’m not a fan of coffin-shaped raised beds. I like squares and designs that give a secret garden feel. Ornamentals are a fun way to add pizazz and charm. Your garden will be unique to you so don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through!

Here is what this year’s design looks like in the main corner of my summer garden, I did an in-ground garden with stepping stones in between:

Soil

Soil is basically made up of weathered rock materials such as sand, silt, and clay. There are also other soil compositions that can be found in native soil. You can add deficient materials to your garden to help with the success of your plant. Adding your own made compost is a great way to do that.

I’d recommend getting a soil testing kit that will check for pH as well as nutrients.

Water

When

Rain water is best. It has a neutral pH and can allow you to skip on watering. More often than not, you don’t have to water everyday unless you live in a desert, in which case requires watering sometimes twice a day.

If your garden is needing to water from your city’s municipal water source, test the wetness of your soil using the depth of your fingers and if it’s still wet 1-2″ down, hold off on watering. I typically recommend only watering in the early morning unless you live in a hot desert climate because watering at night can be conducive to plant fungi, disease, and unwanted pests.

How

Doing a slow, deep watering is usually best so that the water can reach the roots instead of flooding just the surface. Try not to blast your plants with a sprayer but rather water from ground-level. Also not to get water on the leaves, if you do, gently shake off the excess water.

Sunlight

Southern and western exposures typically receive the most sunlight. So you’ll want to place sun-loving plants accordingly. Keep in mind your designated space constraints of full-grown plants because if you over-plant and crowd out your plants, they will compete for sunlight and nutrients found in the soil and they also won’t get adequate airflow to ward off fungi.

Here’s some advice…

It’s much more simple than you may think

The basics of seed, soil, water, and sun is seriously all you need. Once you give gardening a try, you’ll learn your plants and you’ll learn what they need.

Everyone has an opinion

It can be discouraging to read yes about this, no about that and I’ve often found gardening information to be confusing and contradictory. And much like child-rearing, everyone has an opinion about it, a very strong opinion at that. There are also a lot of myths out there and it can be difficult to weed them out.

We all want to be successful, skilled gardeners who can produce both flavorful and dependable produce, quality and quantity. We don’t want to be labeled as someone who can’t grow a plant to save their life, especially in the event of a zombie-alien apocalypse. Don’t be that person, they’re always the first to go in the most gruesome way.

I’ve certainly had my fair share of mourning over dying plants. It’s a bummer watching them slowly shrivel up as they go to their grave, but keep trying, even master gardeners and farmers have their bad days.

Take joy in the process

Gardening is therapeutic. It takes time and work, but it’s rewarding work and relaxing at the same time. The maintenance does get easier once your garden is established and it’s awesome to have something to look forward to.

Experience the joy of gardening like waking up early with your morning coffee and watching bees and butterflies go about. Nothing beats eating a fresh, crisp, non bitter cucumber you grew yourself, you really can’t compare that amazingness to anything you purchase at the store.

Gardening © 2019 ericarobbin.com | All rights reserved.

The more you give away, the more you get back

Truly.

So what did I grow for harvest this summer/fall?

Watch: Summer Vegetable Garden Tour

Vegetables

Alma paprika
Anaheim peppers
Brussel sprout
Bok choy
Broccoli
Butternut squash
Cajun belle
Cajun okra
Cantaloupe
Chive
Dill
English lavender
Fennel
Fish pepper
Garlic
Green leaf lettuce
Green onion
Husky cherry tomatoes
Jalapeños
Japanese cucumber
Kale, two varieties
Kaleidoscope carrots
Kohlrabi
Mustard green, three varieties
Okinawa sweet potato
Oregano
Peppermint
Red leaf lettuce
Roma tomatoes
Rosemary
Ruby Queen beets
Spanish peanut
Strawberry
Sugar baby watermelons
Sweet basil
Swiss chard
Thai basil
Thai basil
Thyme

Flowers

Busy bee sunflower
May Breeze flowers
Milkweed
New Guinea flower
Snapdragons
Suntastic Yellow sunflower

There is so much you can grow!Flower photos.PNG

A fall garden?

There are couple vegetables that do well for a fall garden as the season starts to get cooler. These types of vegetables grow more quickly and do well with the sunshine and temperature change and will be ready to harvest in the fall if you plant them soon.

The growing season from peak sun/heat to first frost can actually be a longer, more abundant pivot point for some hardiness zones compared to the last frost of spring to peak sun/heat.

How to start

You can start by sowing seeds indoors now or plant them directly into the ground. If you plant directly into the ground during peak heat (July/August), be sure to shade them garden from the heat.

What to grow for fall

Varieties of lettuce, kale, spinach, mustard greens, boy choy, Brussel sprouts, green beans, radish, turnips, kohlrabi, carrot, garlic, onion, chive, cilantro make for great fall/winter crops.

In fact you can bury items like garlic cloves as a fall/winter cold season item and they will actually grow for next spring/summer season.

Gardening © 2019 ericarobbin.com | All rights reserved.

Happy gardening!

Gardening © 2019 ericarobbin.com | All rights reserved.

Gardening © 2019 ericarobbin.com | All rights reserved.

Gardening © 2019 ericarobbin.com | All rights reserved.

Gardening © 2019 ericarobbin.com | All rights reserved.

Gardening © 2019 ericarobbin.com | All rights reserved.

Do you have a garden or are interesting in starting one, let me know in the comments below!

 
 
Categories
Featured Gardening Thoughts for a Rainy Day ☂

Spring Has Arrived! Roses Blossoming Time-lapse

My mother’s flower garden is beautiful.

Every Spring tons of roses pop up. It seems like they sneak up, starting with a few buds, then all of a sudden “pop, pop, pop” they all sprout and open up into beautiful flowers just in time for Mother’s Day.

She’s actually got a variety of beautiful perennial flowering plants. Her garden collection includes a variety of roses, irises, lilacs, petunias, marigolds, sunflowers, and her favorite- Shasta Daisies.  Colors range from various shades of vibrant and soft pink to red, white, purple, yellow, and orange. And they’re so wonderfully fragrant.

It’s such a blessing to see them blossom and I was able to capture roses coming into full bloom using my iPhone Xs  rapid sequence film frame feature called time-lapse. It’s actually the capturing of each image that is slower, but when played at normal or high speed, the image sequence appears faster, creating the impression of motion. Interestingly enough, a man named F. Percy Smith debuted his film The Birth of a Flower in 1910, which was the first use of time-lapse in nature photography.

Spring Has Arrived! iPhone X Time-lapse © 2018 ericarobbin.com | All rights reserved.

I’ll be uploading some more flowers blossoming to my Youtube channel, so be sure to stay tuned!

I hope you enjoyed my post! Let me know what your favorite type of flower is in the comments below!