Category Archives: Gardening

DIY Garden Project Using Things Around Your Home

Hello Lovelies,

We all have stuff laying around our home that just sits there.  Untouched, unmoved, and unloved.  Over the years, I’ve been notorious for placing things around the yard that makes an obstacle course for my husband when he mows the grass.  He was having to edge around these things and it made the job much more tedious.  Trust and believe, I heard it each and every time haha! After much thought, a round of garage organization, and trying to figure out a way to tackle this problem, I had an idea!!!

The idea was to make a separate and unique space.  I have a small yard unfortunately as we live, right now, in an HOA.  Ugh!  Not ideal, but hey this is only temporary.  Seeming this is temporary, we are unable to make drastic changes.  So I came up with a DIY project that was pretty much FREE!  We had spare wooden boards in our garage.  No idea on where it came from, but we had numerous long boards just sitting there perched against the corner.

The Plan:

There were two corners to play with.  They are at the far ends of the yard.  One gets full sun from early morning to maybe mid-day.  The other is shaded in the early morning and full sun mid-day to sunset.  In Texas, the hottest part of the day is late mid-day.  So this made it much easier to choose a corner to build my garden.  This space would prevent plants from burning and that corner already had a sun shade due to our Hibiscus trees needing some protection from the Texan sun. Some of the potted plants already had sun damage so this project was long overdue.  I took a few boards and wiped them clean, wiping off cob webs and debris.  I found this was easier with the paint brush I was about to use.  I set up my patio chairs next to each other so I could paint and not have to stoop over.  Taking spare paint, I painted the boards a dark chocolate brown.  TIP: Any paint will do.  Interior, exterior, new, or old.  This chocolate paint is at least 10 years old.  The garden won’t care I promise!

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Before

These boards were then placed across the corner, sectioning off the corner completely.  I hammered two small nails at the bottom of the fence on each side to act as an insert so the boards did not move that much and they would stay upright.

I had medium sized rocks we had pulled from the front beds which I then used to add interest and further keep the boards upright.  Especially in the middle seeming there are two boards together.  Keep in mind this project was free, while i know I could’ve bought a bracket or something to screw them together, this would’ve taken a trip to the store as these were not on hand.

I laid a roll of plastic that was left over from a last minute purchase a few years back when we had to scramble due to a surprise frost.  It was an entire roll of plastic.  I cut it in strips and laid it down to suffocate the grass and any weeds.  This was the base.  It was important to not have weeds or grass showing because this space will be dedicated to pots only.  Nothing will be planted in the ground.  Be sure to cut around any large pots that you are unable to move.  I had two large 20″ super heavy Hibiscus trees I had to do this with.  I used a pair of scissors to sporadically poke small holes around the plastic for drainage as I didn’t want mold or stagnant water to form.

Cedar mulch has always been our go to especially in our front beds.  It helps to repel bugs.  We had two and a half bags leftover from last Summer and this made perfect cover for the bed.  We also got use up what was leftover from a previous project thus freeing an entire corner of the garage.  Major score!

Next, I just gathered all of the pots around the yard, in the ground decor, and Dollar Tree decor finds that were never used or put up.  In the end, this was a fun project taking just a few hours. It sectioned off a space for potted plants and solved the obstacle course problem.  Being frugal can be as simple as re-using, re-purposing, or using up whatever you have that is leftover.  Train yourself to look at a rock, or a piece of wood, or broken dish and see its potential.

Because everything has 9 lives!

 

After

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Mid Summer Projects/Garden Updates/News

Hello Lovelies,

I miss you all!!  We have been so busy this year I can’t even believe it.  I feel like our lives have been bouncing off walls with all the new things we are experimenting with and new journey’s we are embarking on or are in the midst of.  But what is life without growth right?

We tried something new with our gardens this year and I’m happy to say that they have worked!  We have had more tomatoes, more peppers, and more herbs this time around.  They say third time’s the charm.  This is our third year with a raised bed.  Instead of using chicken manure, we used cow manure.  It was locally made and has worked really well.  We also added compost, mixing locally bought and our own.  Ours has been slow going, but we’re praying by next season we’ll be able to dump the entire bucket in the garden versus buying compost. Now if only I can stop the neighborhood four footed thieves from eating them that’d be greattt! I’ve started drying sage to make smudge/scent sticks.  I happen to love the smell.  The sage went nuts this year and it is turning into a bush.  I don’t know what to do with it all!  Our pantry storage already has 4 pint jars full of dried sage.  It takes up over two feet of raised bed space.  It is the first year we planted sage and so far I am loving it.  It doesn’t seem to take a lot of work which is fine by me.  The mint is okay, the plant is still very small.  The Oregano popped up again from what we planted last year.  So that was a nice surprise! The jalapenos and spicy bell peppers are taking their time, but I know it is due to the excessive heat.  Hoping they will take off in the Fall when the weather cools a bit.

We added two Hibiscus trees.  We have a Red Presidential and Pink Hibiscus.  They are young, but absolutely gorgeous.  They are planted in 20″ clay pots and filled with rocks on the bottom for drainage and a mix of compost and peat moss.  Despite the heat, they too have done well.  I can tell when the temperature drops because they bless us with blooms.  I cannot wait until the calyxes are mature enough to pick and dry for tea.  That was the main reason we got them.  I have an herbal tea addiction so I am always trying to plant my own herbs or flowers to dry.

The Texas summer heat was brutal in July! It was almost two weeks of 100-112 and the sun gave no mercy.  Amazon has UV Block sun shades and we ended up getting a 12′ x 12′ x 12′ and a 9’10” x 9’10” x 9’10” shade and used bungee cords to secure to our fence.  It was probably the best purchase we have made in a long time.  It kept the sun from baring down on the plants, while still allowing light through.  I was so worried they’d fry.  Surprisingly, they didn’t.  They made it and with little burning.

I’ve done some canning although didn’t do as much as planned, but there is still time.  I canned about 35 jars of my grandmother’s spaghetti sauce and chicken stock this past weekend along with pickled jalapenos, pickled eggs, lacto fermented carrots, and bottled fermented Jun Tea. I’m looking forward to the end of summer farmers markets to get a great deal on produce to can for veggies.  It has been so hot here it has been hard to plant and keep anything alive.

Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal came back this year to have more babies!  They visited last year and built a nest within our rose bush.  I was sitting outside one day and noticed Mr. Cardinal was lingering.  All of a sudden, Mrs. Cardinal swooped across the yard into the rose bush.  Then left.  Then came back.  I decided to be nosey and investigate to find she was building another nest.  Mr. Cardinal was standing watch as she meticulously built over the period of a day.  She was busy!  A few days later, we had 4 little eggs.  It took about two weeks before they hatched.  I think I was more excited than she was.  It was such an amazing experience to watch their patterns and see the progress.

We also had a little visitor briefly.  I walked out the front door one day and saw this little guy sitting waiting for mama.  He was adorable!  I believe he is a Robin.  What do you think?img_3837

Sadly, we took down our wood brick rocket stove that we made a while back as well as moved the compost bin.  We’ve been preparing for additions to our family through the journey of adoption. Between classes, cleaning, organizing, building, decluttering, I haven’t dedicated much time to ongoing projects and blogging.  Which has been the reason I’ve been MIA for so long.  With that said, there are many, many more posts coming!  We will have more mouths to feed, more veggies and herbs to plant, more canning, and much more frugalness.  We are so excited and I cannot wait to share it all with you.  After all, this is my life.

The Life of a Frugal Wife!

 

Fall Madness, Projects, and Cleanup

Hello Lovelies,

I haven’t written in what feels like an eternity!  A lot has been going on here at our little homestead and a few projects are in full swing.  I’m pretty much the only one who does most of our homesteading and among daily research, I’m always adding to the “to do” list.  Needless to say, Babydoll has been a trooper!  Did I mention that I work a 9-5 job too?? Amidst all of the chaos, Fall is here!  I love everything about Fall and even though Texas doesn’t have the beautifully colored leaves or the crisp, fireplace aroma in the air, I’ve come to enjoy the little things. From the seasonal food, the Yankee Candles I have an addiction too, down to the way the air smells.  Being born and raised in New England, I love the smallest things about the season and it just makes me happy.  It also makes the perfect season for projects!

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So much has changed over the past month or two.  Babydoll changed jobs and went back into the oilfield. After all, we have a future homestead to save for! With this decision, some big projects were left on hold.  I don’t think I will ever get used to him being away for weeks on end, but that is the life we chose.  For the first time in our lives, we have goals.  Those goals are at the forefront of our minds in everything we set out to do and or purchase.  Having that common ground is what makes a homestead successful.  Many times you hear about families that homestead where it is very one-sided.  We have been blessed with a common mindset and it makes things much easier.  With more free time on my part lately,  many projects are able to get started nonetheless.

The Garden: The garden needed some attention such as harvesting, getting plants to grow, weeding, and transitioning from Summer to Fall plantings. The garden was coming along perfect when all of a sudden, we had no more fruit! It was as if “POOF!” they were gone. With a fenced in backyard, I couldn’t figure out what was eating them.  It ended up being squirrels and baby rabbits. We came up with a quick remedy of stapling chicken wire around the perimeter of the raised bed and covering the top with a bird cover mesh.  This did the trick nicely although made it tricky to harvest and weed.  After tackling this twice, it finally worked and we now have fruit! Now if only the butterflies would leave my brussel sprouts alone.

Harvest: Our harvest was much smaller than anticipated, but when compared to all of our mistakes in the past, we finally have more of a grasp on it.  Jalapenos and green bell peppers were what we got the most of.  Our tomato plants were falling over and really big, however didn’t produce much because by the time we caged the bed, it was already September.  Besides cooking with our harvest and the fact that it was small, we also made flavored vinegar’s, as well as used other techniques such as pickling, fermenting and dehydrating.

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Greenhouse: We desperately needed a greenhouse not only for seed starting, but to grow plants over the winter in an effort to grow year round.  In Texas, summers are hot and winters are cold, but they are still doable.  In researching greenhouses, we definitely have one in mind for our future homestead, but for now we’ve decided to opt for a smaller one in the meantime.  It wasn’t that expensive at around $30 shipped, so it was affordable because we are still learning.  We then needed to create a space for seed starting and growing winter plants.  To do this, we reused what we already had.  This is the best kind of shopping and saves a ton of money.  Reusing things such as tables and bins, made it easy to create a potting table and an old bin now used for amending soil.  Our seed order has been placed  from Baker Creek and now we wait.  I apologize for the dark pictures.  They were taken inside of a garage, but you get the idea.

Compost: Our compost that was started late last year and is just about broken down.  We used grass clippings, shredded paper from our shredder, and kitchen scraps such as food, coffee grounds, egg shells, and tea bags.  It is such a beautiful dark brown color.  This will help get seeds get started for spring.  A new bin has been started and will take another year to break down.  We just don’t have the space to create the compost pile we are hoping for, but this does the trick.

Cooking:  Food storage has been on the agenda most of this year.  Buying in bulk, growing what we can, and saving what we can , further enabled us to grow our canned food stock.  This year, we added fermented food like Kombucha, sour dough starter, vinegar, carrots, pickles, and sauerkraut.  We are still not where we need to be, but next year will be even more than this year.

It has been quite a busy start to the season and so much more to accomplish with the holidays coming.  It feel like an endless process, but it is so very rewarding.

What goals and projects have you set for Fall?  I’d love to hear about what you have going.  Inspire me! and who knows, you may inspire someone else!

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Make Your Own Homemade Flavored Vinegar From Fresh Herbs

Hello Lovelies,

It has been a long time!  Our family has been dealing with some health issues, but God is great! We are healing and on the up and up.  About a month ago, I started drying most all of the herbs that we grew in our garden.  I couldn’t let them to go to waste, but couldn’t use the fresh version up in enough time.  Due to lacking freezer space, I tried another alternative such as making flavored vinegar.  After the herbs were cut down to just stems, the purple basil started regrowing leaves and eventually flowered.  But what I didn’t know, was that you can use the entire plant and make flavored vinegar!  I had heard about it in books and online, but never gave it a try.  It is a great way to use most all of the plant to get the most out of it.  Here is how to make it.

Purple Basil Vinegar

-Cleaned and drained basil leaves and flowers

-Sterilized Mason jar

-White Distilled Vinegar

20170729_190942Fill the bottom of the mason jar with freshly cut leaves and flowers of whatever herb you are wanting.  In this post, it is purple basil.

20170729_191210_001Pour over white distilled vinegar and cover tightly.  Shake gently and put in the refrigerator.  Let it sit in the refrigerator and in two weeks you will have flavored vinegar.  Simply strain the leaves and flowers and keep in the fridge.

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You can make any flavor you’d like with any herb you’d like.  The vinegar has a pretty strong fragrance and can be used in so many recipes for a boost in flavor.  First thought that comes to mind is spaghetti sauce and chicken! Other ways to incorporate vinegar is in sauces, canning, or even in pickled vegetables.  The two pictures to the left and right are what the vinegar looks like after two weeks.  It smells soo good ya’ll!

 

Other Flavorful Ideas

  • Parsley
  • Tarragon
  • Rosemary
  • Mint
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Lemongrass
  • Combinations such as a sprig of rosemary, basil, and oregano

Total Cost:  An estimated .50 cents for the vinegar to fill a quart jar and my 3rd round of basil.  Store bought version on average for flavored vinegar is $5-$6 with no guarantee it is made from fresh herbs.

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Growing an Avocado Tree From an Avocado Seed

Hello Lovelies,

Fruit trees are amazing!  Especially, avocados.  I must say they taste a lot better than store bought and who can afford to eat solely organic?  It gets pricey.  No matter how you look at it, growing your own is best and it is so easy too. Simply save your seeds!

You Will Need:

  • One avocado seed
  • Small glass jar or glass
  • 3 tooth picks
  • Moderate sunlight
  • Water

You will need to first eat an avocado! I used organic so get the best seed. Save the seed and wash it really well, making sure to get off all the flesh. Dry thoroughly with a paper towel.  That brown skin around the seed needs to come off.  Using your nails or a knife, peel back the skin. It isn’t so easy to get off so a little bit will not hurt.  Next, locate the bottom which looks like a pucker or faint circle with a teensie nub in the middle.  This side you want submerged in the water as that is where the roots will come out.  Place 3 toothpicks to make a holder for the seed on top of the glass as seen below.

Avocado’s take a long time to root. Around day 10-14 the seed will start to crack.  Within this crack a small root will form from the center of the seed.  Around day 20-22, the root is seen growing from the bottom of the seed.

I mentioned day ranges because I started four different seeds at one time. Depending on the size of the seed, growth will differ. One of the seeds was rather small at around 1/2 inch in diameter did not do so well.  The bigger the seed, the better.

Day 1 May 1, 2017

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Day 31 June 1, 2017

It will take about 80 days or so to fully develop good roots before it is able to be transplanted into soil.  The colder the climate, the longer it may take as plants tend to slow down in colder weather.  Be sure to always keep the bottom of the seed submerged in water until it is ready to plant.  You can also replace the water when it starts to look cloudy.

I will post more pictures as the seed grows!  Stay Tuned…