Tuesday, April 7, 2009

i think i'll plant a salad- part 2

My thumb isn't a smidge green when it comes to gardening. Inspired by Felder Rushing, the Mississippi horticulturist featured in an earlier post, I've decided to try again. Basil, swiss chard and lettuce plants in hand and my girls and their homework close behind, we plant a container garden. We have big, old, wonderful trees in our neighborhood. While we love our trees and the relief they provide on summer afternoons, the shade can be a real obstacle if, like me, you dream of yourself in a cheery floral print sundress and floppy hat clipping colorful zinnias and coneflowers for the table or handfuls of fresh herbs for your kitchen. This way, I'll be able to move the portable container around until I find a spot where the plants are happy.

First, I drilled holes in a plastic bin. Next, I put a layer of shale in the bottom for better drainage. I then filled the bin about 3/4 full with potting soil. Finally it was time to plant.

I hope this works. I think I see a little tint in my thumb already.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

20 box tops and she was ours

It was the summer of 1972 and we had to act fast. Our Barbie obsession was in full swing. Dori spied an ad on the back of a Frosted Mini Wheats box. Send 10 box tops and $3.00 to get your very own Miss America doll. Limited time only. Tiara, sash and red fur trimmed cape included. Luckily, our parents owned a small grocery store so we had access to the goods. We ate and ate. It wasn't even our favorite cereal! We ate and ate. We liked Super Sugar Crisp, now called Honey Smacks because that sounds healthier. We ate and ate some more until we had a total of 20 box tops. Teamwork. The wait was excrutiating. When they finally arrived, they were beautiful! Our hard work paid off. We played with those dolls until they were ratty looking, or should I say mine was ratty looking. Dori always had the upper hand, keeping her dolls pristine much longer than I ever managed to.
When we were kids, we made our fun at home. I have four siblings. Built-in playmates for life. Captain Kangaroo, Barbie weddings, re-enactments of the Beverly Hillbillies with a tricked out Radio Flyer as Jed's truck and Tim in the role of Jethro, dogs, dogs, and more dogs. Abandoned chicken coops were our "apartments" and cherry cokes our beverage of choice down at the drugstore where Opal Cole, a sweet lady who favored polyester double knit slacks and cat eye glasses, would allow us to make our own fountain drinks pumping in thick sweet cherry syrup. The good life.

Happy. Simple. Childhood.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

simple packaging for bakers dozen

Here is an inexpensive, simple and tidy way to package cookies.
All you need is freezer paper, jute twine from a garden shop and avery denison hang tags from any office supply store. This paper is a very versatile product and gives you the look of parchment paper for less than $2. Roll the cookies in the paper and tie the ends off in twine using small strips of the chocolate chip bag for color. That's that.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

if i had a C note.....garden edition

I have $100 to spend in my yard.

I asked landscape architect David Rolston how to spend it.
"Tear out your steel edging, recycle it and create a small trenched edge.
Maintain with an edger or a week whacker and notice all the adoring
comments you receive from visitors. If you can do only one thing in your garden,
have a beautiful edge. The edge is everything in life. This costs nothing if you like
to burn calories."
The home of David and his talented wife, Julie Cohn, can be seen on this months cover of
Metropolitan Home.

photos by Jack Thompson for Metropolitan Home

tip top tap

We recycled these fancy French lemonade bottles a couple of years ago and made them our water bottles. We always have four in the fridge plus a renegade olive oil bottle that snuck into the mix. People are turning to tap in a big way right now. I read a statistic saying if one consumed a $2 bottle of water per day for 10 years it could cost more than $7000.00! Between the environmentally unfriendly plastic and the cost of bottled water, tap is a great option.

i think i'll plant a salad- part 2

If you're like me, this is the time of year we get the urge to go outdoors and make plans for our yards. I start each spring filled with boundless optimism and ideas. Will this finally be my year to garner the coveted "Yard of the Month" placard? Sadly, sometime around late June, when you can actually hear the heat through the familiar din of the cicadas, all dreams of beauty and neighborhood acclaim have withered along with my columbine.
Over the weekend I read an article in the New York Times that completely put me at ease about the process of gardening.
Felder Rushing, horticulturist and host of a weekly gardening show on Mississippi Public Radio, is preaching slow gardening. He's teaching gardeners to relax, take their time, rely on perennials and accept some disorder in the process. Felder says we don't have to do everything at once. Rather, he believes in starting modestly, with a pot or two building confidence with small successes along the way.
So passionate about this movement, Mr. Rushing even planted a mobile garden in the bed of his pickup to showcase his ideas.

He acknowledges that cost is a common obstacle that many home gardeners face.
Here are a few of Felder's "cheapskate gardening" techniques.
  • Turn old tires into planters.
  • Use paint buckets as pots.
  • Experiment with a vegetable container garden for easy maintenance and versatility. It also eliminates the need for a tiller making it more cost efficient.
  • Save money on fertilizer by composting.
  • Ask a local garden store for some of their discarded plastic pots to use as planters.
Slow, easy, cheap and green. I think I'll go plant a salad.

All photos by James Patterson for The New York Times

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