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Posts Tagged ‘Tutorial’

  1. DIY Painted Rock Garden Markers

    July 19, 2013 by Jocelyn Baker

    My garden is my oasis. While I don’t have a large budget or as much time as I’d like to be able to work on beautifying my garden, I find simple ways to add a touch of whimsy to my small plot. After scouring the web for cute, durable garden markers, I finally found the perfect project. Thanks Pinterest!

    My Garden Markers

    My Garden Markers!

    Gathering stones was as simple as going to the beach on Lake Superior and filling up my Trader Joe’s bag. As for the paint, I decided to go with Elmer’s Painters. They are acrylic paint markers, which dry quickly and look great. I got mine on Amazon, but your local craft shop may have them as well. Once my rocks were painted, I sprayed them with a quick coat of Krylon Satin Clear finish.

    Since I’m not the most artistically inclined person, I decided to look online for a bit of inspiration. I downloaded a few Google Webfonts, and printed out a sheet with sample vegetables for a guide.

    Painted Rock Garden Markers

    While I used my font guide at first, I eventually started to feel a bit more confident and creative and pushed my artistic bounds a bit. I had a lot of fun with these, and I’m really pleased with how some of them turned out!

    DIY Painted Garden Markers

    Don’t they look cute? I just love them. They’re fun to make, too!

    Now my garden is full of cute painted rocks.  Has anyone else done this before?  Or do you have another favorite DIY garden marker?  I’d love to hear your ideas!

    Signature


  2. Organic Gardening #5-Early Spring Garden Tasks

    May 15, 2013 by Jocelyn

    Hey folks! Well, I know that many of you are dealing with scorching hot weather right now, but in my city the weather is just starting to warm up. It’s like we went straight from winter into summer! Who needs spring anyway, right? Of course I’m kidding; there is actually a lot of spring gardening preparation to be done before your last frost date arrives. So, what can we do?

    Hardening Off Seedlings

    Even though your seedlings are in a simulated outdoor environment, it’s very important to move them outside gradually. The sun is much more powerful that most normal grow lights, and your little plants will get scorched if they’re immediately moved into full sun for too long. Hopefully you’ve also exposed them to a bit of a breeze while indoors, so the first little outdoor breeze won’t knock them over. I had to cover these little guys because it was so cold that day:

    Hardening Off Seedlings

    Days 1 through 3

    I like to cover my plants for the first few days that I set them out. This gives them a bit more shelter, and makes the temperature adjustments a bit easier for them. On Day 1, start by putting them out only for 1-2 hours. By Day 3, you can bump the time up to 4-6 hours. If it’s particularly cold or windy on any given day, you can either cover your plants, or leave them in for a day.

    Days 4 through 8

    Now that your plants have been exposed to periods of sun and wind, you can start leaving them out for full days. By Day 8 or so, you should be able to leave your plants out overnight.

    Days 9 through 12

    Your plants should be hardy enough to be transplanted into your garden. By this time, they may be getting too big for their small pots, and you’ll likely see quite a bit of growth once they’re accustomed to their new garden home. Once planted outside, you may still have to cover them a few times if the weather gets too cold or windy.

    Direct Sowing Early Crops

    Last week I planted pea, beet, and spinach seeds right in my garden. These are all vegetables that will grow well in cool weather. They generally grow quickly, and will produce fairly early. Here’s a short list of cool weather crops that can be started from seed directly in your garden before your last frost date:

    • peas
    • beets
    • spinach
    • lettuce
    • kale

    Spring Garden Cover

    Preparing Soil for Planting

    Last year I got some good advice from my fellow community gardeners. I noticed that several of them had covered their garden plots with black plastic. After asking why they did this, they explained to me that the plastic has multiple uses. First, it will retain heat and help the soil warm up more quickly. Then, because of the heat and moisture any weeds that overwintered in your soil will sprout. Once sprouted, the weeds will die because they are unable to get sunlight. And guess what? It worked! I had far fewer weeds in my garden last year after doing this! It has now become part of my annual garden bed prep.

    In a week or so, I will also buy several bags of organic compost to add to my raised bed and help replenish the soil levels. Once this is done, it will nearly be time to plant everything! The only thing I really have left to do is design my final garden layout plan, and that is what I’ll be talking about next time!

    What about you? What kinds of things do you do in the spring to get your gardens ready for planting? Let us hear it!

    Thanks for reading!


  3. Organic Gardening: #4 – How to Thin Seedlings

    May 1, 2013 by Jocelyn

    Despite doing my best to ignore the never ending winter we’ve been having, I still can’t help but feel that summer is really far away! I suppose that’s what happens when it’s May and there’s still snow in the forecast.  

    So while I continue ignoring our terrible weather, I bring to you Part 4 of my Organic Gardening Series: How to Thin Seedlings. Below you can see a photo of my little tomato seedlings, which are doing quite well. I have cabbage and onion seedlings that should technically be outside already, but I’m waiting another week or so for that.

    Thinning Seedlings

    Why You Should Thin Seedlings

    When you live in a cold climate where the growing season is short, it’s very likely that you’ll be starting seeds indoors up to 10 weeks before planting them outside. That’s a long time, and your little plants will need a lot of room to grow before being transplanted. If seedlings are not thinned down to 1 plant per potting cell, there won’t be enough room for all of the roots to grow and none of the plants will thrive.

    I Know It Hurts

    As much as it pains me to snip the little guys down, I’ve come to realize that it’s something that needs to be done. It’s so hard when seeing the first little sprouts come up give you such joy, and then you have to go through and take a bunch of them out. I’ve gotten better about thinning my seedlings over the years, and my plants have been stronger for it. My recommendation for those of you that have a hard time with this is to take your little seedlings and put them right into the compost bin. This way their sacrifice isn’t going to waste!

    When to Thin Them
    I generally start 3-4 seeds per pot, and thin down to the strongest one as soon as the leaves start touching each other. At this point, they’re usually between 2 and 3 inches tall.

    How to Thin Them

    The easiest and least invasive way to thin your seedlings is to use a pair of scissors and snip them off at the base. If you’re careful and your seedlings are still small, you may be able to gently pull them out of the soil without disturbing the roots of the other seedlings.

    Before:
    Thinning Seedlings

    After:
    Thin Seedlings

    Voila! Once thinned out, you’ll be surprised at how quickly the remaining seedlings seem to grow! Next time, I’ll be talking about transitioning your seedlings to the outdoors, and getting your garden planting started. Hopefully after our record-breaking snow amounts in April, May will quickly turn around and warm things up for us. Here’s hoping!

    Thanks for reading, folks!


  4. DIY Friday: Make Vanilla Extract

    March 1, 2013 by Jocelyn

    If you want to learn how to make vanilla extract at home, but are intimidated by the process, it’s your lucky day! Let me be the first to tell you that not only is it very easy to make, but it’s much cheaper than store bought pure vanilla extract, and only requires a few ingredients. Overall, it ranks pretty highly on the awesomeness scale.
    Completed Homemade Vanilla Extract
    Making vanilla extract yourself is not only incredibly simple, but it also yields absolutely delicious results. Honestly, I can’t believe that I ever even considered purchasing disgusting imitation vanilla extract. I’m ashamed even thinking about it. It’s just that I thought that the “pure vanilla extract” was so expensive for such a tiny bottle. Well let me tell you, I’m never going to run out. Ever.

    Where to Get Vanilla Beans

    Most people don’t realize that vanilla beans are really easy to find (cheaply) online. They are likely very expensive at your local grocery store, so I recommend getting them from Amazon. I purchased mine from them, after a recommendation by one of my girlfriends. So without further ado, below are the links to the exact beans that I got, and they come in many different quantities. (They’ve got great reviews, and even better, they all qualify for free shipping!)

    You will need at least 3-4 beans per cup of vanilla extract that you intend to make.
    Premium Bourbon-Madagascar Vanilla Beans – 16 beans – $11.49
    Premium Bourbon-Madagascar Vanilla Beans – 1/4 lb. – Approx. 27 beans – $15.95
    Premium Bourbon-Madagascar Vanilla Beans – 1 lb. – Approx. 108 beans – $44.95

    I should warn you that the smell of vanilla beans is to die for; it really is intoxicating. If you’re still not sure you want to make vanilla extract yourself, I say you should do it just to smell the delicious aroma of freshly cut vanilla beans. Aah. I’m glad that I have a few left over so that I can just open the bag and smell them occasionally.

    The Recipe: Make Vanilla Extract

    This will make 4 cups of extract.
    12-16 Vanilla beans
    4 cups of vodka- the higher the quality, the better
    A little patience

    Supplies
    Knife
    Measuring cup
    Clean and dry glass jars
    Supplies to make vanilla extract

    Vanilla beans

    When you’re ready, leave the ends of the beans in tact, and cut a slit through the center of each one. Then turn the bean one quarter rotation, and slice through it again. This will help the flavors to infuse really well. Once you’ve sliced all of your vanilla beans, put them into your clean glass jars and add 1 cup of vodka for every 3-4 beans. Voila! You now have vanilla extract. Once you’ve completed this process, the only thing left to do is be patient.

    Your vanilla must sit for 2 months before it’s ready. Gently shake them once every week or two. It will get darker as time goes on. Once it’s ready to be used, you can simply add more vodka to replenish your supply!

    If you’d like, you can even print out cute labels for your jars, like this one!

    These are especially great for when you give some of your vanilla extract as a gift, or share it with friends. I put them on my jars too, just because I think they’re so darn cute! Now, time to get baking!

    Thanks for reading!


  5. DIY Friday – How to Propagate African Violets

    April 6, 2012 by Jocelyn

    Propagating African Violets is easier than I initially thought.  As you may have seen, I’ve killed many of these pretty houseplants.  It wasn’t until recently that I seem to have gotten the hang of keeping them alive!

    Now that I seem to be able to keep the alive, the obvious next step is making as many of them as I possibly can, right? Here’s how to do it:

    Supplies:

      Scissors and/or a sharp knife
      A Small container (I use yogurt containers)
      Good seedling or seed starting mix (it should be very light, not dense)
      Plastic bag or clear container

    IMG_5049

    First thing you want to do is prep everything. Your planting container should be cleaned, then cut a small hole in the bottom of it. Be careful while doing this, of course!

    Cut a drainage hole in the bottom of your container

    Now, find a healthy looking leaf from an adult African Violet plant. Use a sharp knife to cut the stem of the leaf at a 45 degree angle. Make sure the cut is clean.

    Cut a healthy leaf at a 45 degree angle with a sharp knife

    Now stick it in your container with some good seedling mix, and give it a good drink of water.

    Stick it in some dirt and water

    African violets like to be in an environment where the air is holding a lot of humidity, and that’s where your plastic bag comes in. If need be, use scissors to cut it to fit the plant. I happened to luck out, and my bag fit pretty well without needing any cutting.

    Cover with a plastic bag or clear container to keep moisture in.

    Now the easy part is done; caring for the small plant as it grows is the difficult part. I’ve found that they do best if kept in a humid environment. Keep in mind, that they do not like to be sitting in water, so it’s better to allow the container to wick in moisture as needed. Once a smaller plant starts to grow, I usually move them into a larger terrarium type container. I put small rocks in the bottom of it and pour in some water; the container then goes on top, and a lid goes over the whole thing. Having a few holes for air circulation is also a good idea. Keep the small plants in an area with bright indirect light, and they should thrive.

    Baby plant!
    Soon you’ll have little African Violets like these!