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Square Foot Gardening Templates

March 19th, 2009

A few of you asked about the template I was using in my photo yesterday, so I decided to explain what they are and how we made them.
I use the Square Foot Gardening method in my raised beds. Which basically means that I break my raised beds down into square foot sections for planting.
I don’t plant each square with something different as other people do, I usually plant large sections of different types of plants. This is how I like my beds organized. On Monday I planted a bed full of beets; 2 different kinds, Bull’s Blood Beets and Crapaudine Beets. I had Mr Chiots make me these squares for quick and easy spacing of seeds.
Basically these are a square foot piece of some scrap plywood we had laying around. We measured and drilled holes for 3 inch and 4 inch spacing of seeds and plants. Mr Chiots even routed the edges to give them a nice finish.
I contemplated having him make ones that had dowels or small squares of wood nailed for spaces so I could “punch” the holes into the soil with them, but we didn’t have any dowels and these were much faster (I think they’re 2 inch holes).
You could drill smaller holes in these, but I decided I wanted larger ones to have room to work and so I wouldn’t risk getting any splinters or anything. This also allows me to plant small plants through the holes as well. I like to plant my seeds in vermiculite so these allow me plenty of room to punch the hole, drop the seed in and cover with vermiculite.
I sanded and painted them yesterday to help protect them while using them in the garden. I had some spray paint sitting around that I needed to use up and I figure it will help protect them if I accidentally leave them outside sometime.

What method do you use for planting? Anyone else using the square foot method?

Garden Dreams: Reel Mower

February 28th, 2009

I have a long list of things I want for gardening, new tools, new books, more pots, more manure, more plants, the list goes on and on. One that I’m really dreaming about is a new reel mower.
I used one of these when I was young, in fact it’s the one I still have and use occasionally. It’s a vintage Craftsman mower from years gone by. It still works, but the tires have no tread left and you can no longer adjust the cutting height.
I like to follow the motto “Cut it high, let it lie” and this mower does not allow me to do that. Perhaps I can find someone who will fix it for me, but until then I’m dreaming of a nice shiny new reel mower (I know not a girl’s typical dream, but designer bags or new shoes are not for me).

Here are a few mowers I have been eying.

scotts-reel-mowerThere’s a Scotts 2000-20 20-Inch Classic Push Reel Lawn Mower Although I don’t really want to buy a plastic mower, I love that my old one is all metal. This one doesn’t have great style, there’s just something very attractive about my old beat up red one. Plus I just don’t like that green & orange color scheme.

razorcut-mowerThere’s the RazorCut premium that’s made in Germany (if it’s anything like their cars it would be a good investment). I have seen this one in person and it seems really nice, but it just looks a little too futuristic for a reel mower. I love the old-fashioned look better. I have heard a lot of good things about this mower though, if you’re going to buy a new one this may be the way to go. Lehman’s also has a bunch of other people powered lawn tools, like a leaf sweeper (although I must say I’m pretty fond of my rake).

lee-valley-tools-mowerThere is also the Lee Valley Tools one (if it’s like anything like the rest of their tools it would be a great mower). This one appeals to me the most because it looks like it’s a no-frills quality mower. I looks most like the old one that I have and I’m sure it’s built to last just as long. The green color is also fantastic, although I do wish it came in red (perhaps a can of spray paint could fix that). I also like the grass catcher, that would be handy for collecting the grass clipping occasionally for my compost pile.

AHHHHH, mowing without the sounds of an engine, only the swish of a blade? No exhaust to pollute the environment or my lungs? No longer running out of gas and having to run in to town. Better for the grass because it actually slices the grass not smashes it. If I can find someone to fix up my old mower I will do that, until them I’m using my gas powered one to mow. If I can’t find someone to fix up my old mower perhaps in a year or two I’ll have a nice reel mower to use, or maybe I’ll dig out my dad’s scythe and learn to use that.

What do you use to mow? a reel mower? (take the poll)

Ethel Gloves

December 26th, 2008

Well, Mr Chiots took the hint and bought me a pair of Signature Ethel gloves. I’m so excited! It’s clear that they’re going to be fantastic gloves from the time you see the box. They’re perfect for a style conscious consumer because their packaging and attention to detail is amazing. Everything is printed, packaged, and made to perfection! They’re perfect for the environmentally conscious consumer as well because their packaging is 100% recyclable and it contains no plastic (always a plus).
It’s too bad I won’t be gardening for several months because I’m super excited to try these out. If you would like to buy a pair of Ethel Gloves enter code “CHIOTS” during checkout at you’ll receive a 10% discount (offer ends 1.23.09).

Great Gifts for Gardeners

December 9th, 2008

If you have a gardener in your life that you’re looking for a gift for perhaps a new pair of gardening gloves would be nice. I am a big fan of gardening gloves. I have all different kinds for all different jobs, but I do have one pair that’s kind of a all-purpose glove that I wear all the time. I’ve had them for 3 years and they’re starting to show their age, they’ve developed holes and they longer keep the thistles from pricking my fingers or keep the dirt and water out.

One day while reading a post on May Dreams Gardens I found a pair of gloves I’d like to try. They’re called Ethel Gloves, stylish and functional. I’m not really a glove snob, I usually buy mine at Target and I don’t care what color they are or what they look like as long as they do their task well. However, after these gloves were put through Carol’s Gardening Glove Boot Camp and received high marks, I thought I might give them a try. I really like the signature, gala, and the rendezvous colors, although they almost seem too nice to wear around the garden. So if you’ve got a female gardener you’re looking for a gift for perhaps a pair of Ethel Gloves would be the perfect gift, and for $18 they’re not a bad deal either, especially if they hold up like they say they do.

Anyone else have a specific kind of gardening glove they swear by?

It’s HOT!

July 19th, 2008

It’s hot here in NE Ohio, in the 90’s. My poor plants are wilted, especially my hydrangeas (they’re not lovers of heat!).
Along with the heat, we haven’t had any rain in a while. That means it’s time to water.

I like to water by hand (no sprinklers for me unless the lawn needs a drink). It’s a great bicep & shoulder workout (no weights for me during gardening season). I have a great French watering can I ordered from Gardeners Supply Company last year. I love it!

It’s perfectly balanced so even though it holds 3 gallons it doesn’t feel heavy. It also has a removable crown for easy cleaning (I like to put the crown on upside down, personal preference). I like it so much I think I may order another one (twice the workout in half the time).

Seeds and Sundries
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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.