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Lettuce in my BIG chair. Your pots don’t have to be big since the roots are pretty shallow for these plants.

One of my favorite things about gardening is the bounty.  This year I decided to plant a few plugs of kale and lettuce in pots on my porch for easy access.

Boom — Morning green smoothie – Done.  I walk out my back door and pick a handful of kale, wash and add it to a smoothie for a healthy, delicious breakfast.

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Here is my recipe: Kale Mango Smoothie

Handful of Dino Kale

1/2 cup of frozen mango

1 small orange, peeled

1/2 cup of water

Blend until smooth

If you have never had fresh lettuce from a garden you are missing out.  You never know what you are missing until you try it.  Fresh lettuce is so tender.  I made a salad for a friend last night and she commented on how wonderful the lettuce was.  I just walked out my backdoor with salad spinner in hand.  Grabbed some leaves, washed, pinched, Voila! Perfect salad.

Lettuce and kale are very easy to grow, but they usually need cool evenings.  There is still time to plant a few before the summer heat develops.  If you are waiting this late to plant, you should go ahead and buy the baby plants or plugs to ensure success.  If you want to try seeds, I would put on your calendar to start those late March earlynext yearApril (at least that is the timeframe for the south).

All you need is a pot, good potting spoil, slow release fertilizer, water and sun.

If you have room for a big garden or just a patio, potted veggies are wonderful.

Happy Gardening!

melissa


I have to admit. Sometimes I don’t label.  And sometimes the weather washes out my labels.

If you have been gardening forever, you probably know these by heart, but for the rest of us….we need a little help.

So here it is…I asked co-blogger, Chris, Weed or Plant! Let’s see how she does.

Plant or Weed?

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Plant — that’s a baby Helleborus. Save that girl…you can sell those for $6-$8 a piece.

Plant or Weed?

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Weed! Pull that thing up!

Plant or Weed?

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Weed. That is a wild grapevine and they will take over your yard.

Plant or Weed?

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Both – That is some unknown thing mixed within your Bee Balm.

Plant or Weed?

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Weed. I remember trying to make a crown with these in elementary school.

Plant or Weed?

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Plant. That is a blue Salvia…one of my favs.

So there you have it….a fun game of Weed or Plant.

This is a lesson to me to better label and keep up with my plants…otherwise, I might pull one up by accident.

<Put on to do list, go out and label.>

Happy Gardening!

melissa


That’s not really a threat, although it sort of sounded like it.

It’s real honest advice.  Believe me…I have regretted it a many a time.

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Season for Win-Win for Weeding:

Win 1: The usual suspects have very shallow roots aka easy to pull.

Win 2: Soft soil due to the frequent rain aka easy to pull.

Season for Win-Win-Win for Mulching:

Win 1: It’s pleasant weather…I find it far easier to move heavy stuff when you aren’t sweating to death.

Win 2: It will prevent weeds from sprouting throughout the season.

Win 3: It will hold in moisture throughout the season aka less watering.

This weekend, reserve some time to weed and mulch.  I promise you will thank me.

Happy Gardening!

melissa


This time of year my phone blows up…why? Lots of friends and colleagues get the spring fever and want to start their own garden.  LOVE IT!

Instead of emailing or telling them on the phone, I thought I would write a post for all.

It’s really quite easy, but it does take a little investment and some sweat equity. Get your garden gloves, it’s going to be dirty ;)

Fastest I have ever put in my veggies, all due to my Mantis!

Here is my garden bed.  It’s a picture from last year..I will put my baby plants in next weekend after fear of frost is gone.

Here are the 7 steps to starting your own vegetable garden this year.

  1. Raised bed – You need to create a raised bed for your plants.  Why? Usually in this area you have 1 of 2 types of soil and they are all bad ;) It’s Clay or Sandy depending on if you are more east or west.  Again, it’s all bad. While we may be an agrarian state, our soil honestly wasn’t blessed with the best conditions.  Raised beds, not only give you some room to add the right nutrient-rich soil, but also it helps keep about your grass and other weeds from encroaching.

You can usually buy a kit, or you can go and get some 2X4s and make your own.  How big? It depends on how          much time you have to take care of it. Height matters, you want at least 1 foot above ground.

  1. Nutrient rich soil – the best investment you can ever make in your garden isn’t the sexy stuff…no, it’s the soil. That’s the foundation and really the secret to being successful.  You can go to your local nursery or big box home improvement store. It’s usually labeled on the package – soil for veggies.  You don’t have to get the name brand, the generic will do.
  2. Compost – If you have your own, awesome! If not, you can buy some. I usually get 1 of the expensive Black Cow and then one of the generic.
  3. Fertilizer – you can go organic or not…up to your philosophy.  Try to get a slow release fertilizer.
  4. Mix – just like a good DJ, mixing matters.  I do 2-1 soil to compost.  Then I add the fertilizer in according to the instructions on the bottle or box.
  5. Plants – add plants. Here in the south tomatoes are a must.  Other vegetables I have had luck with in the summer are cucumbers, squash, zucchini, eggplant and herbs like parsley and basil.  There are others, but those are the staples, and I would say the easiest to manage if you are starting out. <There may still be time to grow your lettuce, kail and spinach…they usually like a few cooler nights to do really well. I like to put a few of these in pots near my house, so I can cut and eat easily.>

Plants or seeds?  That depends.  I find if you are just starting out, you will usually have far more success with           baby plants than seeds, but they are more expensive.  If you are going the seed route, make sure you look at           the germination and growth times and plant accordingly.

6. Water – it sounds so simple, just add water.  After you plant your crop, remember you must water them…almost over water them that first time you transferred them from pot to bed.  I think of it like this…those plants just ran a marathon and are super thirsty and need some water to rest and get settled.  After the initial watering, you will need to keep an eye out for them.  The first few weeks are critical.  Make sure the soil doesn’t get too dry, i.e. cracked, etc.  Don’t drown them…they aren’t trying to swim.

Voila – your first garden.  Kids love them, because they get tp see the magic of something growing. It’s a good lesson for us all in patience too.

NOTE – if you are eager to do this now, beware of the danger of frost.  Usually in NC we wait until after tax day. These summer plants aren’t up for any winter shenanigans.  Have no fear, if you have already done it.  Just keep an eye on the news and if the weather folks say it will frost, get some sheets and cover over night.  Enjoy! Go out there and get dirty!

Happy Gardening.

Melissa


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One day I will have a fine lath house, inspired by the huge one at the JC Raulston Arboretum.
But until then, I will tote and fret, bring the tomato seedlings out in the morning, indoors a night, and worry all day long until they GRADUALLY become accustomed to outdoor conditions.

Otherwise all our efforts could be lost. And cold temps aren’t the only enemies.

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On the first few days out, I place the trays under large bushes with low hanging branches. This gives tender plants shade and wind protection.

When the weather warmed this week, I started leaving the tomatoes out over night in protected places: a covered porch, under the slats of a bench, and in my well-used cold frame.

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But that doesn’t mean I can quit worrying. I check the seedlings at least twice a day for water and sun-scald. And last night when thunder rolled all around us, I sat up in bed in a panic.

So yes, that woman in a bathrobe fussing over a cold frame in the rain at 4:55 this morning was me-

Happy to say all plants are Ok this morning.

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And speaking of the JCRA, their Raulston Blooms festival of birds and flowers is this Saturday.

Raulston Blooms  for Facebook

There will be a plant sale, info seminars, food; the always inspiring birdhouse competition, plus arts and crafts. I’m been invited to sell my garden tool aprons and other upcycled fabric creations–so come check it (and my work) out!

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A long-time gardener and a passionate beginner share the dirt on their NC gardens-

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