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Fairy Gardening and a Giveaway

October 26th, 2011

For the last couple years I’ve been admiring the fairy gardens at one of my local greenhouses. They are very lovely and quite elaborate. I never really thought about putting one in here, until now.

I happen to really love all the diminutive plants that you use and the idea of putting them all together in a teeny tiny garden seems like so much fun! And don’t even get me started on all the cute tiny pots and other things you can get for them, like these tiny glass cloches and terra cotta pots I found.

Two weeks ago Ethel sent me a Fairy Gardening kit to put together with my nieces & nephew. We had a blast doing it as you can see in the video that we made. Watch it here.


If you’re looking for ways to get your kids interested in gardening, or something hands on for homeschooling, putting together a fairy gardening is a great way to engage them! My nieces & nephew really loved all the tiny plants and the little chairs and garden ornaments. I remember when I was growing up my mom always had a miniature cactus garden on the coffee table. It was a fairy garden of sorts, a desert version with cactuses and a tiny little chiva (which is a traditional Colombian bus).

I’m thinking next summer I might make the area around my garden pond a fairy garden of sorts. I have a small church that I’ll use and I bought a few of those beautiful little glass cloches for myself. Ethel is giving away a Fairy Gardening kit just like the one we put together in the video and the one pictured above (minus cloches & plants) to one lucky person, follow the video link above to see how you can enter for your chance to win.

Have you ever seen a fairy garden? Do you have one in your garden? Would you ever think of having one?

Growing Like a Champ

October 25th, 2011

Remember when I talked about the plants I purchased on my trip to Monticello? One of the plants was a small variegated citrus.

I potted it up after we got home and it lived by the window in the living room all winter long. Late this spring I put it outside, along with many other potted plants. It spent it’s days on the back deck soaking up the sun and the rain.

It hadn’t grown a ton over the winter, but I hadn’t really expected it to. I figured this summer it would take off, and I was right. I’m just about to carry it back inside and thought I’d take another photo to compare just how much it had grown over the summer.

This little tree is about three times the size it was in the spring when I put it out. I made sure to fertilize it on Valentine’s Day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day as the Lemon Ladies Orchard recommended to me when they heard I had a few citrus trees in pots. I’m wondering if this little tree will bloom this coming year? I certainly hope so. I would love nothing more than to be able to harvest a few lemons from it. Or limes from my dwarf lime tree. After all, if I have houseplants, they might was well provide some food too!

Do you have any houseplants that are edible? Any tiny citrus trees in pots?

Clean Those Hiking Boots

October 24th, 2011

About a year ago, someone from the National Park Service contacted me about using the following photo of dirty hiking boots for a poster for a new campaign they were starting. I said yes and asked to see a photo of the final poster. This photo was taken many years ago when we went to the Smokies with some friends.

A few weeks ago, I was thinking about the photo and the poster, and figured they had forgotten about sending me a copy since I haven’t heard anything since. Then, last week, I got an e-mail with a photo of the finished and installed sign.

I can’t wait to head on up to the Indiana Dunes to see this sign. They also said that a couple other parks will be adding a boot cleaning station just like this one. Keep your eyes peeled, you might see my photo and my name on a sign at you local park!

I really enjoy hiking, there’s just something about it that I love, maybe it’s the peacefulness, maybe it’s the exercise, probably both. I often wish we lived closer to a park with trails, perhaps someday. Until then we plan hiking vacations when possible, head out in the woods at the family cabin when possible, and walk the roads around our house when the weather allows.

Are you a hiker or do you prefer a more leisurely form of travel?

Quote of the Day: Nigel Slater

October 23rd, 2011

My soil is now what I hope Monty might call “in good heart.” If I have one piece of advice for anyone “growing their own,” it is to get this right before you plant a single seed. Even if it means missing a season while you plant geen manure such as red clover or trefoil.

The soil is like a bank account. We should put in more than we take out.

Nigel Slater from Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch

I was thinking about this quote last week as we were shoveling chicken manure onto the garden beds. I’m lucky enough to have found a local source for manure from organic pastured animals. The farm we purchase our milk from had some they were willing to give me for free. Since I didn’t have time to head out and load it up myself, I offered to pay their boys to load it up for me (their mom sent me this photo of them working).

They were more than happy to do it to earn some extra cash and I’m always willing to hire local kids and pay generous wages since people did that for me when I was young. I really believe this helps build an entrepreneurial mind in kids. The boys loaded up two trailer loads of manure for me.

Of course when we brought the load home, we had to unload it ourselves, which only took about 30 minutes. The first load was spread across a half of the newgarden area that was cleared this spring in the new lot.

The other load was piled below the garden area and layered with straw to compost over the winter. I wasn’t able to spread in on the remainder of the garden because it’s already planted in an overwintering rye. It will compost beautifully over the spring and will be ready to add to the beds when the cover crop is mown down.

Manure is one of those soil amendments that has fallen out of favor for some reason. I think people are scared of disease & contamination. Oddly enough, it’s the best amendment for your garden. I have noticed that when you use manure as a soil conditioner the level of microbial activity seems to skyrocket. Personally, I’d much rather use a natural organic manure than something chemical any day. It doesn’t bother me in the least bit to use in my garden. That being said, I wouldn’t use sewage sludge or manure from CAFO’s on my garden, or any kind of chemical fertilizer!

The best place to find sources of local manure seems to be Craig’s list. If you live in a rural area, pay a visit to a local farmer, you just might be surprised that they have plenty of manure they’re willing to give away.

Do you use manure on your garden? Where do you source it from?

Watch Out For The Little Guys

October 22nd, 2011

It’s fall in the northern parts of the country and that means fallen leaves! The leaves pile up in the flowerbeds and form a natural mulch, which I usually don’t mind. I do however have to remind myself to uncover the tiny groundcovers that are growing in certain areas of the garden.

Sadly I lost a Dwarf Creeping Jenny one year because I forgot to keep the fall leaves off of it. This year I replaced it with Corsican Mint, which is doing well, as long as I can remember to keep it clear. I also have quite a collection of teeny tiny creeping thymes that grow no higher than a quarter to an eighth of an inch, many of them filling in between rocks in one of the front flower beds.

Those fall leaves make great organic mulch for your flowerbeds and I love using them everywhere. They do a fabulous job at smothering weeds, but watch out because they can smother plants too. One way to avoid this is to rake them out, chop them up with a mower, and return them to the flowerbeds. They’ll break down quicker and you’ll have fewer problems with slugs that if you leave them whole.

Do you have any diminutive plants in your garden that you make sure to watch out for this time of year? Have you ever lost a plant from smothering by fall leaves or anything else?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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