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Start of July Garden Update: Kale, Flowers, Volunteers!

DSCN9004 (Medium)

It’s been awhile since I posted on the progress of my garden, so I thought I’d do exactly that as I spent a couple hours in the yard yesterday.

Garden Flowers

This year I let my daughter have a whole container for flowers. She chose cosmos which are very easy to grow and love to be cut! She cuts a small bouquet for her room every few days now. Happy to see they bloomed in a variety of colors. She also added some alyssum to her bouquet above. DSCN9005 (Medium)

I don’t know why I was worried if my mint would make it! I had to move some from a planter we removed. Of course the mint did fine. I’m thinking 4th of July mojitos are in order! Ripe Gooseberries

I have a handful of ripe gooseberries on one of my plants. And man, they are tasty! This variety is called “poorman” and they aren’t terribly tart. Lacinato Kale

I have three healthy kale plants growing in a planter box at the moment. I really need to cut some!  [Read more…]

Target: Clearance Gardening Kit

Target: Cute 4-Piece Gardening Set Clearance $5.98 (reg. $19.99)!

Target: Clearance Gardening Kit

Target: Clearance Gardening Kit

Check out this super sweet Marimekko for Target 4-Piece Gardening Set! It’s on clearance right now for just $5.98 – regularly $19.99. Opt for in-store pickup and you’ll avoid the shipping fee.

I’ve been in the garden a lot over the past week and I find it’s definitely nice to have a spare set of tools laying around!

As always, items on clearance can sell out quickly, so I encourage you to snag it while you can.

Bee on Angelica

Late May Garden Update: Arugula EVERYWHERE and My Dying Angelica

Bee on Angelica

Bee on Angelica

I have some more work to do in the garden, but this has proven to be a busy month. So, I’ve been more passive observer than active gardener these days.

I do have some interesting developments I’d thought I’d share!

A Ton of Arugula

So last year, I planted some arugula, but then never removed it at the end of the season. It went to seed and guess what…

Volunteer Arugula in Raspberries

I’ve now got arugula all over the garden. It’s seriously in every raised bed, and in some cases, growing in between the rocks on the ground! Looks like we’ll be eating salad for awhile. [Read more…]


Ogrow Greenhouses up to 55% off + FREE shipping!


If you’ve been pining for a small, portable greenhouse that won’t break the bank – I’ve got a deal for you! Wayfair.com is featuring Ogrow Greenhouses at great prices, plus FREE 2-day delivery!

You’ll need to sign up for a Wayfair account to get started, and when you sign up, you’ll also receive an exclusive coupon code for 10% off! Search for “Ogrow Greenhouse” to find the selection currently available.

Here are a few that I think would be especially good values:


Deluxe Walk in 3 Tier Plastic Greenhouse – $60.99 (reg. $119)
Use the 10% off coupon code
Your price: $54.89 (54% off)!
This is currently $62.69 on Amazon!

  • Overall: 6.58′ H x 4.66′ W x 2.41′ D


Deluxe Walk in 6 Tier Plastic Greenhouse – $79.99 (reg. $159)
Use the 10% off coupon code
Your price: $71.99 (55% off)!
This is currently $82.39 on Amazon!

  • Overall: 77′ H x 56′ W x 56′ D

greenhouse 2

Ultra-Deluxe 5 Tier Plastic Growing Rack Greenhouse – $57.99 (reg. $99)
Use the 10% off coupon code
Your price: $52.19 (47% off)!
This is currently $57.19 on Amazon!

  • Overall: 6.58′ H x 2.25′ W x 1.58′ D

greenhouse 1

Ultra-Deluxe 4 Tier Plastic Growing Rack Greenhouse – $82.61 (reg. $139)
Use the 10% off coupon code
Your price: $74.35 (47% off)!

  • Overall: 7.42′ H x 3.2′ W x 3.2′ D

Incidentally, I own a greenhouse very similar to the top one pictured and I paid over $100 for it! I do use and LOVE it. I use it to transition plants from indoor to outdoor growing conditions, to pot up flowers and herbs, store my garden tools, and to just sit and enjoy my garden. If I did not own it – I absolutely would be jumping on this deal today! If you end up purchasing one, I encourage you to check out my post on my greenhouse set up to get some more ideas on how you might use yours.


My Greenhouse Setup


First of May Garden Update: Ladybugs, Baby Spiders, and My Favorite Plant


Gardening in the PNW

It honestly took me a little while to get going on the garden this year, but after several days of clean-up, planting, and weeding, I’m officially ready! I wanted to take some time to update you on my plans and progress.


The biggest thing I’ve noticed this year: tons of ladybugs. As in, more than I ever remember seeing in the garden! They are all over everywhere in our yard.

Ladybug on Angelica

My husband joked that maybe one of our neighbors bought and released one of those ladybug “kits.” Who knows? But I’m loving it. I haven’t detected many aphids this year, and I’m hoping with my army of ladybugs at the ready, we’ll keep it that way.

Baby Yellow Garden Spiders

For the past 5 years or so, we’ve found these clusters of baby yellow spiders in the spring. As the summer moves on, they’ll spread throughout the garden and yard, helping me keep the insects at bay. Yesterday, my daughter found two clumps of them – one on the yard waste bin, and another in a planter on our deck. Using a stick, I carefully recolated them to our honeysuckle, tomato, and gooseberry plants. [Read more…]


Fred Meyer Fuchsia Saturday 2016 is April 9th

Free Fuchsia Saturday at Fred Meyer

Heads up, Fred Meyer shoppers! One of the store’s most popular events, Free Fuchsia Planting Saturday, is coming up and I want to make sure you’ve got the details!

Here’s what you need to know:

  • April 9th, 7am – 4pm at the Garden Center of Fred Meyer stores.
  • Event will take place rain or shine, so plan accordingly!
  • Bring your plants and planters (either purchased from the store and/or from home). Edited to add: per the commenter below and a careful re-reading of the banner above, it appears you must purchase the plants from Fred Meyer. The pots can be brought from home, however.
  • Fred Meyer employees will plant them for you using FREE Premium Black Gold Potting Soil.

Even though this is called a “fuchsia” event, know that you can bring ANY plants or planters to this event – planter boxes for your deck or porch, edibles, flowers, you name it. Just honor the guidelines – there is a limit of 8 planters of 16″ diameter per person.

In my experience, there may be some waiting involved, particularly if you’re headed there first thing in the morning (the afternoon seems less busy). You might want to grab a cart so you’re not lugging the plants and planters around. Sometimes they’ve had a coffee or hot dog stand for the line waiters as well (so bring some cash).

One year, I asked for the plastic plant containers that the employees were just going to discard at the end and they gave me as many as I wanted!

This is such a great event and I encourage you to make it out to get a jump start on your gardening this year. For more information, keep an eye on the fredmeyer.com website.

Have you attended this event before? If so, what were your thoughts? Are you planning on going again?


Home Depot Spring “Black Friday” – HOT Deals On Mulch, Garden Soil & More!


home depot spring black friday

Home Depot Spring Black Friday Sale 2016

I personally don’t enjoy when retailers use the term “Black Friday” sales on any day except Black Friday, because it makes me question if it’s really a deal or just hype. However, the “Black Friday” sale going on right now at Home Depot? Yeah, it’s pretty hot! These sales will run from April 7 – 17, or while supplies last.

Here are some of the notable prices that are standing out to me – if the item is linked, you can also buy it online at the same price!


Scotts Earthgro Mulch, 2 cu. ft. in Brown, Black or Red – $2 (through April 13)
(reg. $3.33)


Pint Annuals – $1
(reg. $1.68)


Miracle-Gro Garden Soil, 0.75 cu. ft. – $2 (limit 80 bags per customer)
(reg. $4.47)

[Read more…]

Planning and Planting the 2016 Garden with my kids

Planning and Planting the Garden with the Kids

Planning and Planting the 2016 Garden with my kids

Planning and Planting the 2016 Garden with my kids

With spring break here, I thought this would be the best time to get started on our 2016 garden. By this time, I’ve usually got greens growing and stuff well underway. It’s been a bit of a busier year, so I’m just happy we got out there at all! The good news is that over the years, I’ve slowly added more perennials such as lavender, thyme, comfrey, and a smattering of berry plants so at least there are some green things and blossoms happening.

I thought I’d share with you what we’ve decided on growing this year, and why. It’s definitely scaled back from prior years, but I’m happy with our choices. [Read more…]


Planning the 2016 Garden – uh, is it spring ALREADY?!


Planning the Garden for 2016

There comes a point when you can no longer ignore the baby bird chirps, the blossoming trees, the fragrance of lilac bushes and the bulbs bursting into flowers in your planter boxes. Yes, spring is here. And while that’s definitely awesome (I love getting out and enjoying the beautiful weather) it also means: it’s time to get back to work in the yard.

To be honest, I’ve been a bit slow to get going this year and you might have noticed, this is the first gardening post I’ve published (usually I’m chomping at the bit come January or February). I thought I better give an update on the current state of things, as well as my plans.

Shed in the Garden

So probably the biggest update since I’ve last shared a garden post is this beautiful shed my husband built. You might have recalled, a few years ago, I had a small portable greenhouse in this space. Well, a couple things – just to keep it real. First, I’ve decided I’m a much better gardener of stuff that’s outside. I had a really hard time tending lots of greenhouse plants! And second, after a couple winters, the material just completely broke down. (If you decide to go with a greenhouse like that, my recommendation – take it down at the end of the season, or just plan on purchasing a new one every year or so.)

Garden Shed

In the end, this shed has made for a perfect place to store garden supplies and lawn tools. Adding it did mean we had to remove two of my raised beds (we gave them to a neighbor, so I’m happy to share the gardening love!). [Read more…]


Home Depot: No-Tool Assembly Raised Garden Bed $21.98!


It may be only January, but it’s never too early to start thinking about your garden! If you’re looking to start a garden (or add to an existing one), you might consider this great no-tool assembly raised garden bed from Home Depot. It’s currently priced at just $21.98!

Here are some details about this raised bed:

  • Made from composite materials (recycled wood and plastic)
  • No tools required
  • 22 pounds in weight
  • Will not rot
  • 6″ deep

The other great thing about this particular kit is that you can buy multiples and stack and/or combine them. For instance if you’d prefer a 12″ deep bed, you could buy two kits and stack them. Or you could combine four and make a large rectangle or square (or any shape that suits your fancy and landscape).

This item has a solid 4.5-star rating after 330 customer reviews (with 210 rating it 5 stars). Do take a look at the comments – many people have shared tips and photos of how they are currently using theirs.

While this garden bed is available online only, you can opt to have it shipped to your local Home Depot store and save on shipping costs (or earn free shipping with a total purchase order of $45+). Head to Home Depot to check it out.


You may also be interested in this post on Four Inexpensive Raised Bed Ideas – it’s one of my most popular posts!


How to Make Spaghetti Sauce from Fresh Tomatoes (Freezer Friendly Recipe)


How to make delicious, freezer-friendly spaghetti sauce

This is the year of the lazy garden. The year I only half-way planted, half-way weeded, and hardly ever watered. While a number of things didn’t grow (as was to be expected!), there were a number of delightful surprises.

15 Pounds of Garden Tomatoes

I easily filled two big pans’ worth of tomatoes after just 10-15 minutes of picking from my two bushes. This year, I grew one Roma and one beefsteak variety. Now, what to do with them?

In the past, I have canned garden tomatoes, but truth be told, it was just too easy for me to forget about/not use them. I’ve also simply frozen tomato puree. But there again, I didn’t really end up using that either. This year I decided to consider, “What do we actually eat with tomatoes?” Waste not, want not, right?

And what I came up with: spaghetti sauce. After all, I buy and use it regularly. So I decided to turn my 15 pounds of garden tomatoes into sauce. I’d like to share with you the steps I took to make my sauce in case you’re looking to do something similar. I modified this spaghetti sauce recipe I found at Food.com. Of course, you can modify the flavors to suit your tastes, or the amount of tomatoes you happen to have as I did!

Don’t have a garden? You can often find great deals on boxes of tomatoes at the farm stands or farmer’s market this time of year, so don’t count yourself out.

Fresh Garden Tomatoes

Here’s what you’ll need: [Read more…]


Early August in the Lazy Garden: Stuff Grew In Spite of Myself


Lazy Gardening: Veggies that will grow themselves

You may recall that this year I declared a break from intensive gardening methods. In fact, I called it the year of the Lazy Garden. After several years of lush gardens and projects, I wanted a garden that would more or less grow itself.

Inevitably, I knew going into it that my approach may mean a few more weeds, sparse germination, and less edibles. And, I was OK with that. I just needed a bit of a break. The funny thing is, I’m amazed by what has grown – in spite of myself. I thought I’d give you an update.

Flowers in a front porch area

Here are some pretty flowers growing in my front flower bed. The rest of it could use a serious clean-up though!Kiwis ripening on an arbor

For those of you curious, yes, our kiwis are ripening! However, the vines themselves don’t seem to be looking very healthy! It appears that the plant didn’t put out any new branches this year. I’m thinking that’s not such a good sign. Sunflower in a NW garden

One of my daughter’s sunflowers finally bloomed this week.  [Read more…]


Mid-June in the Garden: Greens, Fragrant Flowers, Berries


Mid-June Garden Update (Western Washington area)

The kids are out for summer, the days are warmer, and things are starting to happen in the garden!Garden Raspberries

The first of my raspberries are ripening. I enjoyed this bowl over the weekend and on inspection this morning, there are more berries ready for the picking today!

Raspberries Ripening in June

No that I’m complaining of course. I love raspberries!Growing Peas in the Garden

The peas are starting to form – see them in their pod? These are shelling peas, so they still have a ways to fatten up.Growing Gooseberries in containers

My gooseberries are coming along nicely, except I have no idea when they’re “done” exactly. Anyone have a thought for me? I’m guessing it may be when the blossom finally dies and falls off the bottom.

[Read more…]


In the Lazy June Garden: An Update!


In the Lazy June Garden: an update on a mostly hands-off gardening approach

This year I decided I mostly just needed a break from the garden! I didn’t want a lot of “fussy” plants that required tons of care or preservation. However, I didn’t want to leave the dirt bare either, because the garden is where I love to sit and relax.

I thought I’d share some of the things that are happening out there right now, along with how I’m employing my mostly hands-off approach this year.

Kiwi Berries

This is year three of our kiwi project and it looks like there are definitely some small fruits developing! I’m hoping we’ll be able to have some this year. In case you’re wondering, the small black stuff surrounding one of the fruits is part of the dying blossom. (I was worried they were aphids and already checked!)

Growing perennials is one way to be a lazy gardener, for sure. These things come back year after year. Even better if they are edible perennials, because you’ll get food year after year, too!June2 (620x800)

So here’s another way I’m being a lazy gardener this year: I am giving each of my kids their own raised bed. My daughter filled hers with flowers. Awesome – that will look pretty, satisfy the bees, plus I don’t need to worry about harvesting them or anything fancy. My son opted for chamomile, bush beans, and chard in his. So a bit more work, but nothing crazy there.June4 (651x800)

In this bed, I’ve got lettuce, arugula, chard, carrots, chives, and flowers. June5 (800x533)

The tomatoes are growing in spite of my severely inconsistent watering schedule. DOH.

June6 (800x533) [Read more…]

2 Flower-Shaped Sprinklers

Gardening Items as low as $4.99 + FREE shipping from Deal Genius (today only)

2 Flower-Shaped Sprinklers

If you’re into gardening or know someone who is, check out a selection gardening items on sale today at Deal Genius. They have sprinklers, gloves, and saws priced as low as $4.99. Plus, all items ship FREE (gotta love that!).

Never heard of DealGenius? I hadn’t heard much about them, either, so I did a bit of browsing and found that they have a great rating with both ResellerRatings and the BBB. They also have a 90-day return policy, including free return shipping.

Here’s today sale:

2 Flower-Shaped Sprinklers

2 Flower-Shaped Sprinklers: $4.99 + FREE shipping (reg. $15)

2 Trim & Snip Garden Aprons

2 Trim & Snip Garden Aprons: $6 + FREE shipping (reg. $20)

Wells Lamont Leather Gardening Gloves

Wells Lamont Leather Gardening Gloves: $7.99 + FREE shipping (reg. $20)

10” Tactix Serrated Hand Saw

10″ Tactix Serrated Hand Saw: $9 + FREE shipping (reg. $20)

13” Tactix Curved Pruning Saw w Sheath

13″ Tactix Curved Pruning Saw w/ Sheath: $14 + FREE shipping (reg. $30)

city pickers raised garden bed kit

Home Depot: City Pickers Raised Garden Bed Kit for $29.97

city pickers raised garden bed kit

city pickers raised garden bed kit

Want to do some gardening on your patio this year? Check out this City Pickers Raised Garden Bed Kit for $29.97 + free in-store pickup at Home Depot. (If you’d prefer, you can have it shipped to your house for $5.)

This raised garden bed kit measures 24.25″ x 20.25″. Features include:

  • self-contained watering system which automatically waters your plants and has drainage holes to prevent over watering (perfect for novices like me!)
  • mulch cover to help prevent weed growth
  • aeration screen to help provide a sufficient amount of air to the plant roots
  • easy-to-install design

Now, I (Laura) am by no means a gardener, but this product gets really solid reviews and looks to be the lowest price available right now. I recommend reading the reviews on HomeDepot.com as many people give tips about what to plant, where to put it, etc.

In browsing the reviews, it seems like this would be an especially good choice for those in an apartment or condo who need to do all of their gardening in containers. They actually have a “warning” in the product description that it “will grow tomatoes and other vegetables extremely fast and easily”!

OK, I’m intrigued. If you have one of these, what do you think?


Early May in the Garden: Flowers, Bees, and Baby Spiders


Early May in the Garden

This weather we’ve been having has been amazing, hasn’t it? My garden has started to burst into life, and I thought I’d share some of the fun and beautiful things that are happening out there.
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Bees! I’ve noticed more and more bees buzzing around the plants in my garden, especially as some of them are starting to flower. DSCN3400 (600x800)

I love the flowers on this comfrey plant. It’s a hardy, easy growing plant with beautiful leaves. I’ve heard they are great for adding to a compost pile as they can heat things up. While not for edible use, I’ve also read that the leaves can be healing for skin ailments. (I’ve yet to try this however.)DSCN3404 (600x800)

I love these sweet little flowers on my English Thyme!DSCN3405 (600x800)

This made me smile – it’s a healthy bunch of salal popping through our fence from the neighbor’s backyard. Salal is a native plant, and it’s completely edible! It also grows well in the shade – you’ll often notice these plants growing in the understory of a forest around here. These ones are full of salal berries and we’ll happily munch on them later this summer.

[Read more…]


Success with Container Gardening: FREE eGuide ($4.99 value)!

Have you ever checked out Craftsy? In addition to offering tons of craft supplies online (think yarn, fabric, cake decorating supplies & more), they also have all kinds of online courses and resources you can take advantage of. This is worth considering if you are wanting to hone your crafting skills but don’t have the time or money to attend an in-person class.

I wanted to share a great freebie I found on their site this morning: it’s an eGuide called: Success with Container Gardening. The guide is a $4.99 value, but it’s free right now. All you need to do is head to Craftsy for the download.

Here is a description of the content, from Craftsy:

All it takes is a little expert guidance to unearth your gardening abilities, no matter how small your space. This eGuide is full of rich information on how to container garden, from step-by-step potting instructions to an overview of the best plants for containers, so you can grow your greenest thumb, even if you live in a concrete jungle!

Even better, when you download the eGuide, you’ll receive a special discount on your next Craftsy gardening class!

PS for more tips on Container Gardening, please check out this post I shared recently:

8 Container Gardening Tips for Beginners



Harvest Pierce Summit: FREE Gardening Workshops May 2nd


harvestHere’s an event my friend Kelley brought to my attention this morning: it’s called the Harvest Pierce Summit, it’s totally FREE, and it will take place on Saturday, May 2nd between the hours of 10am – 2pm at Lincoln High School.

I found a description of this event from their website:

This is a day for the whole family to enjoy delicious food, celebration, and dozens of classes ranging from horticulture, community skills, and sustainable living.

There is a lot to look forward to:

  • Free lunch of local,sustainably sourced food
  • Plant starts for sale grown by Mount Tahoma FFA and Lincoln High School
  • Dozens of classes including Mushroom 101, Fermenting, Food Preservation, Urban Foraging, Fruit Tree care, and Community Skills
  • Empowering Youth in our community to share their vision for Tacoma’s food system
  • Free childcare

Wow! Free gardening workshops, free food, and free childcare? I’m all over this one. I love the topics they’ve got lined up too, and there will be a guest speaker to talk about “food not lawns.”

While the event is free, you will need to register online to reserve your spot. Head to Harvest Pierce County to learn more.

Thanks so much, Kelley!


brown jordan

More Home Depot Spring “Black Friday” Picks: Raised Garden Bed, Laminate Flooring, Step Stool + more!

brown jordan

Remember that Home Depot Spring “Black Friday” Sale? Well, it’s still going on this week (through Sunday, 4/19)! I pulled out a few more items from the ad and online that I thought made for especially good deals.

Almost all of these deals are available both online and in-store, but if you order online, you may want to opt for free in-store pickup to save on shipping costs. Be sure to check the previous post for even more deals!

raised garden bed

4′ x 4′ Cedar Raised Garden Bed: $34.88
(reg. $44.97)

brown jordan

Brown Jordan Lounge Chair: $524.30
This is advertised as $749, but you can get it online at this lower price and get a rebate on select Brown Jordan furniture with an online purchase!


Werner 22′ Multi-Purpose Ladder: $129
(reg. $199)

Ryobi bit set

Ryobi 106 pc. Bit Set: $19.88

[Read more…]


Early April in the Garden: Berries, Berries, Some other Stuff, and Berries…


Early April in the Garden After quite a few weeks of denial that spring was coming, I managed to get going on my garden. After several years of labor intense planting and gardening and spending a nice chunk of change, I’ve decided on the following goals for my 2015 Garden:

  • Embrace the Lazy. Quite honestly, I’m ready for a year of just enjoying my garden and not laboring too hard in it. To accomplish this, I’m opting for easy care plants. No big new gardening projects. Nothing that requires lots of fussy harvesting or preserving. More enjoying the perennials and flowers I’ve already planted over the past few years.
  • Keep it cheap. This year, I only purchased three seed packets total. THREE. I’d also like to keep my plant purchases few this year – maybe a tomato start or two and a couple herbs. As mentioned, no big new gardening projects or the like.
  • Make it beautiful. I really just want to focus on making my garden a peaceful haven to relax in. I’ve selected a number of quick growing veggies and tall, flowers to add height, visual interest, attract birds & butterflies, and perfume the air.

Given this, the focus of my garden posts may differ slightly from what I’ve posted in the past. So lazy gardeners: this year’s for you!

I wanted to share some of what’s been growing in my garden with you. Most of this stuff has grown in spite of my care of it. (There’s a funny thing to think about – if you plant the right plant in the right spot – it might not actually *need* you much! Go figure.)

Bleeding HeartI added this bleeding heart to my front yard container about three years ago. Talk about a great bang for your buck! Not only is it beautiful, it comes back every spring and it does wonderfully in shade. I’ve also had it attract hummingbirds, which is fun. In case you’re wondering, I purchased this plant at Fred Meyer for about $10 (I believe) – and I’m pretty sure I saw some more on my last visit. So if you’d like one, this would be a good time to plant it!

Tall Mountain HuckleberryThis is a Tall Mountain Huckleberry that I purchased last year. It was in a container, but I decided to move it to my front yard, in the same planter as the bleeding heart. I’m always a fan of edible perennials – and even more so when those edibles thrive in shady conditions! If you’ve got a shady part of your yard you’d like to devote to growing food, consider what grows in the understory of forests. Plants like huckleberries, salal, and salmonberries are not only great choices for their edibility, but also because they are native plants. You can find plants like these at Raintree Nursery, which I’ve mentioned a number of times on this blog.

[Read more…]


7 Top Mistakes New Gardeners Make (and how to avoid them!)


7 Top Mistakes New Gardeners Make (and how to avoid them)

Are you thinking of finally breaking ground on that garden this year? It’s an exciting prospect – growing your own food. But it can also be overwhelming. After several years of trial and error, I thought I’d share the top 7 mistakes I think new gardeners are prone to make – and how to avoid them!

Mistake #1: Starting too big, too soon.

It’s OK to site a large area for your garden, but you might want to give it a year or two before installing large, semi-permanent raised beds or planting fruit trees. Caring for a large garden is often a large time commitment and can become quickly overwhelming for a new gardener. Start by cultivating a small space this year, and plan to expand the following.

DSCN9500 (554x800)

Case in point: my husband and I added some raised beds to our yard several years ago. Yes, they are beautiful – but several years in, I realize now we could have maximized the space better by building larger beds or doing away with the beds altogether.

Mistake #2: Selecting the wrong plants for your climate.

Every year I get tons of seed catalogs, but many of them are just worthless to me. Why? Because they are geared primarily for gardeners in the South, where watermelons and bell peppers grow effortlessly.

GardenPlanning (519x800)

Take the time to haunt your local nursery and find a seed catalog that sells plants and seeds geared for your climate. (For the maritime Pacific Northwest, I recommend Territorial Seed.)

[Read more…]


8 Container Gardening Tips for Beginners


8 Container Gardening Tips for Beginners

The folks at Fred Meyer recently reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in teaming with them on a post about container gardening. Of course, this is right up my alley so I agreed! When I told the kids that I’d be headed to the Fred Meyer Garden Center, they wanted to come along for the ride. (They share my love of plants and gardening.)

Container Gardening with Kids

So what’s so great about container gardening, anyway? Here are some of the potential benefits I can think of – maybe you can think of others, too:

  • Plants in containers are portable. Plants grown in containers can easily be moved as you please. Perhaps you’ve decided you’d prefer the container in a different spot in your yard. Or maybe the plant would do well in a sunnier spot. Or maybe it’s a plant that’s not frost tolerant and you’d like to move it indoors for the winter.
  • Plants in containers may be easier to manage. Container gardening is a great option for kids or persons with limited mobility. While you will need to stay up on watering and fertilizing, other tasks like weeding and pruning may be easier to tend to.
  • Plants in containers can bring nature to otherwise sterile spots. A bare porch or deck can be transformed to something special through the use of a few containers. Many people enjoy bringing potted plants inside or into an office for a touch of nature.

Of course, it can be overwhelming when you start thinking of all the potential container + plant combinations out there! To get you started, I thought I’d share 8 simple tips for getting started with container gardening. Since this is a frugal living blog and we’ll be shopping at Fred Meyer, I’ll make sure to keep these ideas as budget-friendly as possible!

Tip #1: It’s OK to use a variety of planters!

Planters at Fred Meyer

It might seem like a good idea in theory to buy all matching containers filled with all matching plants – but in practice you may find it’s very challenging to keep those plants looking 100% symmetrical all growing season!

Take the pressure off yourself (and save some money) by experimenting with a number of different planters and containers. Dust off any you have laying around (that aren’t broken and in good shape, of course!). I also found a number of really fun styles at Fred Meyer – terra cotta planters, ceramic, glass, even sturdy plastic. Lucky me, they were all 25% off during my visit. I even found a section on clearance!

Here is my favorite seating area in my garden:

An assortment of containers look pretty in the garden.
As you can see, I combined a number of different container styles and plants. While it’s not matchy-matchy, it still definitely works to create a peaceful space in my garden.

[Read more…]


Early Spring Gardening: Harvesting Dandelions


Why to Harvest Dandelions

Just keeping it real, folks… I’ve yet to do a big spring clean of my garden. It still pretty much looks exactly like I reported a few weeks ago. My husband and I have plans to get the compost added tomorrow, so I’m hoping to make some progress really soon.

In the meantime, though, I couldn’t help but notice a nice lil’ bunch of dandelions growing in my garden beds. Not one to turn down a free lunch, I grabbed my rain boots and shovel and went to work this morning.

Dandelion Taproot

I know those dandelion taproots get a bad rap, but they are wonderfully nutritious and make the most delicious roasted tea!

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After about 10 minutes’ time, I had a nice little colander’s worth. It’s been raining in my neck of the woods, which I think makes it a bit easier to dig them out without damaging the roots.

Perennial Herbs in the Garden

While out there, I noticed that some of my perennials were starting to wake up, thanks to the nice spring weather. If you only have annuals in your garden, make it a goal to add some perennials! They are great money-savers as they keep coming back year after year!

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Next, I brought the dandelions into the kitchen to process. It’s nice to have a big clean sink to work with as these can get quite messy.

[Read more…]


6 Tips for Your Most Successful Garden Ever


6 tips for your most successful garden EVER

Gardening is a little like doing the laundry: you need as much, if not more, energy at the end of the task as you do the start.

After several years of gardening, I’ve had my share of successes as well as my share of failures. Whether you are new to gardening or an old pro hoping to maximize your efforts this year, I thought I’d share my best tips for ensuring you the best growing season possible.

Tip #1: Keep Intensive New Experiments to a Minimum

I always love trying new varieties, just for the heck of it. In my Pacific Northwest Garden, I’ve attempted watermelon, quinoa, cantaloupe, goji, kiwi, and edamame to name just a few.

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However, it’s easy to get really ambitious and go full enchilada planting anything and everything you find interesting in that seed catalog. My advice? Exercise some restraint! Planting the fussier stuff undoubtedly means more time and energy and more chance for failure. I’ve had years where I had more losses than wins, and that really can take the wind out of your sails planning for the next year.

I’ve learned to try one, maybe two, new fun things while primarily focusing on varieties I have experience with and/or know will work well for my climate.

Tip #2: Consider Your Harvest Before You Plant

Start with the end in mind.

If you don’t like to can or freeze, think long and hard about what you intend to do with the harvest of those 20 tomato plants you’ve sketched in your garden plans. If no one in your family likes beets, why bother? If you know you’re going to be busy in September, maybe you shouldn’t be planting tons of vegetables that will require extensive preserving time.

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I like to plant a variety of veggies that will be ready to harvest at different times during the growing season. I’ve also come to really appreciate varieties that practically preserve themselves. I’m also a fan of vegetables like greens and herbs that are cut-and-come-again.  [Read more…]

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My Garden Plans for 2015: Keep it Simple & Manageable!

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Normally, I’ve got a good jump on my gardening plans by this time of the year – seeds are usually ordered and maybe some have even been started under lights. This year, I was side-tracked mostly by our Disneyland trip and my half marathon training. Plus, I think I’m having a hard time accepting that it’s February already and spring is approaching!

Last night, my son was rifling through our seed collection so I decided, let’s sit down and figure this out. Within about 15 minutes’ time, we had determined what we wanted to grow, and where. My goals this year are pretty simple:

  • Keep costs down. We spent quite a bit in the last few years adding containers, plants, and equipment. I’d like a bit of a break from that as we have other financial goals this year. We’ll be focusing on using mainly seeds and equipment we already have.
  • Keep it simple. Maybe it’s because I’ve grown labor intensive stuff for several years on end, but this year I’m more keen on growing things that will readily take off and flourish. Less fuss, less work.
  • Grow what we eat. I asked my son what he wanted to grow and he picked up the packet of beet seeds. “Will you eat those?” I asked him. He promptly set them down. This year, we want to focus on lots of greens (I adore salads), but also corn, peas, beans, and herbs. Stuff that we’ll eat and that requires minimal processing. (Refer to bullet point #2.)

Here’s more of what we’ve got brewing, for the month of February.

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The emphasis will be on greens and herbs, with a few flowers and veggies thrown in for good measure.

[Read more…]


Home Depot Black Friday: Save 40% on Select Raised Bed Garden Kits!


Raised Beds - 40% off Home Depot Black Friday

As part of their Black Friday sale, Home Depot is offering up 40% off select raised bed gardens! This would be an amazing gift for someone who is hoping to grow their own food next year.

Here are a few examples of what you’ll find in the sale:


4 ft x 4 ft x 5.5 in Composite Raised Bed: $35.99 (reg. $59.99)


4 ft x 8 ft x 8 in Composite Raised Bed in White: $83.99 (reg. $139.99)

The two units above are made out of eco-friendly materials including recycled plastic and natural fibers (nothing toxic). They are also expandable, which means you can purchase multiple units to create your own unique spaces and larger sizes. These are also suitable for placing directly in your yard, or on harder surfaces (think a patio or rooftop).


4 ft x 4 ft x 6 in Cedar Raised Bed: $41.99 ($69.99)

Shipping is FREE on any of these units. You can opt to have them shipped to your home, or to your local Home Depot store for pick-up. Most of them (from what I could tell) are only available online, not in stores.

Shop all the participating raised bed gardens at Home Depot.

PS have you seen our Gift Guide for Gardeners yet? It’s full of great ideas (many low cost!) that would pair wonderfully with a raised bed!

Holiday Gift Guide: Best Ideas for the Gardener


Holiday Gift Guide: Gift Ideas for the Gardener


Holiday Gift Guide: Gift ideas for the Gardener

Best Gifts for the Gardener

Do you have a gardener on your holiday shopping list this year? If so, we’ve got you covered. Here are several gift ideas to get you started. Make sure to check out our complete list of Gift Guides to help with everyone on your list!

Hydrafarm Grow Lights

Hydrofarm 4-Foot Grow Light System: ~ $62

Even though the colder days have set in, you can get your garden a jump start with these grow lights! They are incredibly easy to set up and have an average 4-star rating after 600+ customer reviews. I personally own and can recommend these grow lights – check out my post for how it looks set up in my garage.

Big Bag Bed, Jr: Fabric Raised Bed

Big Bag Bed: ~ $33 (various sizes available)

I discovered these Big Bag Beds last year, and they are amazing. Not only are they inexpensive, they are basically like insta-growing spaces! Perfect for the gardener with a temporary living situation or short on time. You can see how we used ours to grow strawberries with amazing results (and absolutely NO slugs, even though the slugs were an issue in my raised beds!)

Canvas Tool Bag for Gardeners

Canvas Tool Bag: ~ $15.19

Prevent lost gardening tools with this stylish, sturdy little gardening caddy.

I've got a green thumb knee pad

I’ve got a Green Thumb Kneeling Pad: ~ $6

Protect those knees while gardening!

Hummingbird Feeder

Hummingbird Feeder (Perky Pet): ~ $13

I have a hummingbird feeder off my deck and it has been a wonderful way to attract birds to my yard and garden. Make sure to check out my post about how to make your own hummingbird food, too.

[Read more…]


How to Freeze Tomatoes


How to Freeze Tomatoes

How to Freeze Tomatoes

I have a confession to make: I’m not canning anything this year. After a couple summers of getting really into it, I really just needed a break! However, I do have more than enough produce from my garden right about this time and I knew I’d need to preserve it in some way or it’d just go to waste. So this year? I decided to do some freezing!

Today I want to share the method I’ve been using to freeze my garden tomatoes this year. This might be worth considering if:

  • You have a small garden and/or just a few tomato plants
  • You find your tomatoes are ripening in small batches at a time
  • You don’t own canning equipment and/or lack the time and/or interest to learn how to can
  • Like me, you just want a break from canning!

The good news is freezing tomatoes doesn’t require any fancy equipment nor does it involve you setting aside an entire day (unless you really have a ton of tomatoes, I suppose). So let me take you through this method from start to finish.

Fresh Picked Garden Tomatoes

Step one: harvest your tomatoes. I like to freeze mine as soon as I’ve picked them in order to ensure the freshest possible produce. Of course, you could also freeze tomatoes you’ve purchased from the store or picked up from the farmer’s market as well. I had this nice bowlful ready to go this morning.

Freezing Tomatoes - Wash Them!

Next, give your tomatoes a good washing and remove the tops. I just slice mine off.

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The next step is removing the tomato skins. Bring a pot of water to a good boil. While the pot is coming up to a boil, prepare a large bowl of ice cold water and set it on the counter. Once the pot is at a boil, plop a few tomatoes in at a time and just until you notice the skins beginning to peel back. This should take roughly 30 seconds, but could take even less time depending on the temperature of your water and the size of your tomatoes.

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Scoop the tomatoes out with a slotted spoon and place them in a large bowl of ice cold water. This will do two things: 1) halt the cooking process and 2) make the tomatoes easier to handle! If you’ve done this correctly, the skins should now just peel off effortlessly (as pictured above).

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Continue the process until you have completed peeling all of your tomatoes. At this point, you can freeze your tomatoes whole, but most of the recipes I use called for diced tomatoes.

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So I diced my tomatoes and put roughly 1 ½ cups per Ziploc freezer bag because that is roughly the amount you’d get out of one can of tomatoes (see what I’m getting at here?).

As you can see, that one bowlful yielded me three baggies’ worth of tomatoes. Over the weekend, I harvested enough to produce four more bags. The beauty about freezing tomatoes is that it really does not take much time at all, so you can process in small batches like this as your tomatoes ripen. I would say the batch today took me under 30 minutes from start (harvesting) to finish (putting in the freezer). It’s definitely a nice break over canning!

To use them, I plan on defrosting and using in any recipe that calls for diced tomatoes – chilis, soups, casseroles, etc. How long can you freeze tomatoes? The National Center for Home Food Preservation recommends 8-12 months for vegetables (frozen at 0°). I will personally try to use them up within the next few months for the best flavor.

For more information, including food safety, you may wish to visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s page on freezing tomatoes. They have some additional ways you can safely freeze tomatoes listed.

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:

Do you ever freeze tomatoes or other garden vegetables?

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Late Summer Garden Harvest and Post-Vacation Clean-up

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I don’t know what it is this summer, but at some point I hit a wall and just wanted a break from the garden! So to be honest, it’s not been as amazing as years past and I’m really considering planting some super easy crops for next year. To top it off, we were gone during a critical time for gardeners here in Western Washington: August! Yesterday, I decided to pull off the band-aid, so to speak, and decided to take stock of what we had going on out there.

In spite of dead nasturtiums, sad looking kiwi vines, and bolted lettuce, there were some treasures to be found.

DSCN9954 (800x600)A couple cucumbers, reading for picking!

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The strawberry spinach has finally started taking off! This took three sowings to get going. On these plants, you can eat both the leaves and the tart berries. Obviously, the berries aren’t ripe yet. I’ve never grown or eaten it before, so I’ll have to let you know what I think once it’s ready.

DSCN9963 (800x600)Speaking of berries, check it out! We planted this goji berry bush back in late spring and it’s already fruiting for us. I have no clue exactly when to eat these, so some Googling is in short order. Have you ever tried a fresh goji berry? I haven’t… but will get to soon!

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I was over the moon excited to find this miniature cantaloupe ripening in my backyard! I DID IT!!! I GREW MELON IN THE PUGET SOUND!!! There are actually two on this vine. As with the goji, I need to research a bit when to harvest it. I forget what color the rind will turn to (or if it’s good to go now).

[Read more…]