Showing posts with label Gardening. Show all posts

A Basket Case

I feel like this might be a little random but it still fits into the diy/home category that I love so I’ll just go with it and hope that maybe it helps somebody out there.  Coco-fiber baskets.  Ever heard of them/seen them?  You might’ve if you’ve been a reader of this blog for awhile.  They’re what we made the chandelier in our entry way out of.

They’re metal baskets made to hold plants and they’re called coco-fiber baskets because they’re lined with this thick, stringy material made out of coconut shells.  Do you care?  Probably not.

Well, here’s the thing.  I bought two for the above chandelier months before we even made the thing, misplaced them, thought I probably returned them, and then found them stashed away months after the chandi was made.  I still ended up returning one but the other I hung on our porch. 

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They look so much better than those hunter green or black plastic numbers that hanging plants come in these days and they’re a pretty cheap upgrade.  This one in particular only cost about $6. 

So, like I said, I hung it.  But before I did, I had to do a little research because I had no clue how to plant something in these.  Did I need to do something special because of the coco liner?  Could I use regular ‘ole dirt?  Will any plant work?

Turns out, they’re really no different than those regular plastic hanging baskets other than the liner, which keeps everything in place and in the basket.  Except, I read that plants planted in them need to be watered more often because the coco liner is not very good at holding water.  Since remembering to water plants is not my finest attribute, that doesn’t bode well for anything I bury in that basket.

Am I boring you yet?  Good.

As I usually do when faced with a conundrum of any sort, I put on my thinking beret and came up with this.  And it worked because my plant thrived all summer last year.  Here it is.

A plastic bag strategically placed to hinder water loss and harbor water retention…aka stop water from leaking out right after it was poured in.

Here’s my basket, all ready to find it’s plant mate:

After cutting off the handles of a plastic grocery store bag and cutting a few small slits in the bottom of it for drainage, I laid it in my basket like so:
Once I had it in the basket, I pulled the sides of the bag over the basket.  But since the edge of my basket was wider than my bag, I cut a couple of slits down opposite sides of the bag to make it fit.

Then I put a little bit of dirt in the bottom of my basket; just enough to set the roots of the plant atop it so the top soil of the plant would be slightly lower than the outer rim of my basket.

Then I set my plant in…
[I have no clue what the name of this plant is, do you?  All I know is that I bought it on clearance at Lowe’s for $3.]

…and filled the rest of my basket with dirt, making sure it was nice and packed around my plant.IMG_4955

Last, I went in and trimmed the excess plastic sticking up and over my basket edge so that it wouldn’t be noticeable while the basket was hanging.  A good watering and that basket/plant pair was set.

All of the above pictures were taken last year when I first tried the plastic bag trick, if you will, and that plant lived until freezing temperatures hit the South last December and I watered that thing maybe twice a week (even though it was probably closer to once a week).  This year I planted a fern in the basket and it’s doing just peachy (see the very first pic above).  I planted it about a month ago when it was just a wee thing and, well, it’s still just a wee thing but I have high hopes that it will grow and that maybe I’ll be able to keep it alive for a couple of years.  Time will tell.

So, all this is to say that if you’ve also been let down by the lack of aesthetics of the generic plastic hanging basket, set your bar basket higher because coco baskets are where it’s at…coco baskets plus a plastic bag.

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I hope you all have a fantastic weekend.  Anthony has his first whole day off in something like three weeks tomorrow so we are going to town on the to-do list – powerwashing, hanging new blinds, and working on these.  What’s in your weekend plan? 

Happy Mother’s Day weekend to all you babies mamas out there!

Cup of Dirt

Or a mug of dirt but either way, it’s not a science experiment like Brian’s, or Brannammananan’s was.  Lost?  You have to see this video complete with voiced-over animations.  Brian Regan…comedian extraordinaire…the best of the best…watch out or you’ll pee your pants.

Anyway, let’s cut to the chase.  I planted some herbs in mugs only right now they’re still seeds so we’ve got three mugs ‘o dirt on our kitchen window sill.  A few weeks ago Deme at House For Five made another genius move and transplanted three herb plants into mugs and set them in her window sill and they looked amazing!  So, I did what any smart follower of hers would, I copied.  Thanks Deme!  :)

Instead of using the same Target mugs Deme used (I thought I’d let her claim some originality), I took the opportunity to try out the ever popular DIY sharpie mug project that floats around all areas of Pinterest.  So many people have tried it and so I don’t know who gets the credit for the idea in the first place, but if it’s you,  It is genius.

First, I needed some plain mugs.  I hunted through a few stores but per the usual, didn’t want to spend loads.  Then one day last week me madre and I were in Bed, Bath, & Beyond and on a center aisle shelf, these oversized mugs were calling my name.  They were clearanced down to $1.50 a piece…I’ll take three please.  And I did.herbmugs2
Part of me loved the white and didn’t want to taint them with sharpie but the thrill of a project won me over.

Here’s what I did to each:herbmugcollwarrows 
The pink/coral/red one at the top is scripted with the words of our song “When God Made You”, the second is a green, ikat scallop (which I originally just had scalloped minus the ikat until I made the third mug then went back and changed it), and the  third is a bronze, ikat, aztec design.  The ikat was so easy.  All I did was draw out my design and then I went over it with up and down scribbles.  No staying in the lines and no perfection, just four-year-old skillz at their bestest.  I also drew a ring around the top of each mug in the same color used on the mugs design for kicks.

Then I threw them all gently placed them in oven and baked them at 350* for 30 minutes.herbmug8

Before I started this project I did a little research.  I found a lot of people saying their sharpie mugs didn’t work and some saying theirs did.  This is what I took away from all of the trial-and-errors of others:
-Make sure you clean your dish/mug/bowl/whatever before you start!
-If you make a mistake while drawing, a little rubbing alcohol supposedly works like an eraser.
-Put your sharpied whatever in the oven before you preheat it and allow them to heat with the oven.
-Bake anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes.
-When done baking, let them cool with the oven…a.k.a. don’t take them out until the oven is cool.
-Hand-wash only unless…
-You use oil-based sharpie markers which seem to be dishwasher safe.
-More expensive dishware means more expensive glaze which means your dish/mug/bowl might not take to the sharpie as well.  Cheaper dishware works best.

One thing I found is that the fine point sharpie I used (the coraly-red), scratches off a little more easily than the wider tipped green and bronze I used.  Either way though, you have to scratch pretty hard.  Also, the bronze sharpie I used is a metallic one but I found that baking the mug took away some of the metallic sheen…boo.  I love how the sharpie looks like it’s underneath the glaze of the mugs though.  So pretty and think of all the design options!

Here are the mugs all baked and sitting pretty on our sunlit, kitchen window sill:herbmugs 002

[Update:  Read about how these sharpied mugs are holding up here!]

Next up:  planting the herbs.  It would’ve been a lot easier for me to go grab three small herb plants but I had the seeds on hand already so I figured I’d give my green thumb a work-out since it’s been dormant for a couple of years.

So first I put a layer of rocks in the bottom of each of my mugs for drainage purposes.herbmug2

Then I packed in the dirt, planted a few seeds in each cup (only to weed out all but one once they sprout), and gave each a little drink of H2O.herbmugs 010

Last I created three tiny greenhouses by placing a piece of clear plastic wrap over each.  These will come off once there are shoots.  I didn’t press the wrap tightly over each for fear that a tight seal plus condensation might hurt my sharpie.  Just playing it safe.herbmugs 014

And that’s it!  In a week or so we should have tiny sprouts of basil, oregano, and cilantro!  My mouth is already watering at the thought of fresh herbs in pasta and my fave salsa recipe by the Pioneer Woman herself!  :)
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Cost Breakdown
Mugs:  $5 (with tax)
Sharpie markers:  $0 (already had but $3-$10 in store)
Herb seeds:  $1.75 (had to buy basil; already had the other two)
Dirt:  $0 (borrowed from an empty pot outside)
Grand Total:  $6.75

Have you ever sharpied and baked?  What did you write on and how is it holding up?  Or maybe you’re dying to try it like I was?  I say go for it! 

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P.S.  It’s not too late to enter our Giveaway!!  So easy and you might win some craft essentials!

Spring Has Sprung & the Beans Have Begun

Yep, it's here!  The cold weather, bare branches, and brown landscapes are all a thing of the past!  For us it means not only do we (in saying "we" I mean "I") have to start spring cleaning (which of course I'm going to write about since projects are at a minimum...and because I have a rhyme to my spring cleaning reason this year) but also that we get to spend time outside primping, pruning, and planting! 
That's exactly what we did this past Saturday.  We finally had a weekend home (the past three weekends have been spent in hotel rooms) so we took advantage of the gorgeous, 74 degree weather, and went on a date in our very own backyard. 

Here's what we accomplished:

Herbs planted - cilantro, basil, and oregano.  Amazingly enough, the chives we planted last year survived our quite chilly winter, whereas the other three were dead by November.  Not wanting to waste (or spend more moolah), I used the rest of the seeds left over from last year even though on the package it says they're only to be used for the 2010 planting season and expired in November 2010.  Well, using my maybe crazy reasoning, I thought "Well, they're only five months past expiration so I'm gonna give it a whirl."  I let you know how, and if, they grow.  :)  Anyone else have luck with expired seeds? 

We also got on the tomato train again this year and planted tomatoes.  The tomato plants we planted last year turned out so great that we couldn't not do it again!  Except, this year we went with cherry tomatoes.  Not sure why we didn't do that last year but we use those the most and find them more flavorful than the big ones.  One change from last year - I spray painted the pots to add more color to our backyard.  I felt like the gray color they were blended in too much with the gray-green paint on our house.  I contemplated painting them a bright color but then went a safer route and with navy blue to match our chair cushions, thinking I'd add color with flowers.
 Notice the little table between the two chairs in the background?  :)  Well, you see, we have a pile of bricks left to us by the previous owner that just sit near the side of our house and so I had this bright, maybe a little cheesy, but FREE idea to stack some up, place a round stepping stone I found behind our shed on top, and create a little place to host a pot of flowers...just don't have the flowers yet.  :)

So far, our little backyard oasis is coming along.  A big thanks to our hand-me-down patio set (hailing from the houseful of college boys Anthony used to live with), the $5 cushions on the patio chairs I found a few years ago at our old grocery store at the end of summer, the hand-me-down pair of white chairs, the hand-me-down charcoal grill, and various pots soon to be filled with tomatoes, herbs, and flowers.  All we need is some Beller Beef and we'll have our own vacation spot at home!  It's going to be a great summer!

P.S.  That's not all we did in our backyard last weekend.  Find out later this week what other project we finally finished!

Green Thumb Reward

Our first year at being amateur gardeners has paid off and we've had a few scrumptious (and cheap!) meals using our home-grown plants.

This is one of our favorites - caprese.  We used our own ripe, red tomatoes, placed a chunk of yummy, fresh mozzarella cheese on each slice, and then topped them off with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of garlic salt, and our own basil.  Mm, mm!  It's a great appetizer or snack!  A word of advice though, always use a cutting board when cutting the tomatoes and cheese.  A long trip to the Emergency Room last year and several stitches taught my good-lookin' and good-cookin' husband the hard way.  :)

Also sooo good:  Chicken and Pasta with Pesto
After grinding about a cup of basil leaves together with olive oil, garlic salt, and some chopped garlic, we smothered some pesto over some chicken breasts before we cooked them and then threw the rest in some hot, cooked linguine and, oh boy, was it good.

The only draw-back, we used almost all of the basil our little potted plant had produced. 
Luckily it springs back pretty fast and there's still enough for a few sprinkles in another dish or two.  But it did look a little sad.

Anyone else have any delicious dishes you've made using your own, home-grown plants?  I'd love to know! 

Erb Update

Thought you might like to know how my little herbs are doing so I took a snapshot of the cute little things.

We had basil a few nights ago in our tomato sauce and it was good!  I haven't gotten to make anything that I've needed the other herbs yet (I'm not the biggest fan of cooking) but I like to eat the chives raw...they're yummy!  The oregano is so soft and smells so good I'd just love to just stick my nose in it for an afternoon.  Most especially though, I love how the green pairs so well and looks so good with my spray-painted pots.  I'm not saying I'm a pro-gardener, but for my first time growing edible things, I'd say green is a good color for my thumb.  :)  

T to the Matoes

We have two ripe tomatoes ready to be picked and one almost there...finally! 

Both plants have lots of little green tomatoes so it looks like buying tomatoes is no longer a care of the Tobin family!  I never knew it could be this easy!  I've gone from farmer's daughter watching corn grow to growing a potted garden of my own!  I might have to dabble in growing more fruits and veggies next year!  You can be sure I'll probably be asking for some ideas and tips!

Green Thumb Update

So it turns out I might have a green thumb!  Three of the herbs I planted have lots of little shoots coming up and my tomato plants have tripled in size in two weeks!  One even has a flower which will soon be a red, ripe mater!  It's fun watching plants grow!

Spray paint + dirt + herb seeds =

  So if you didn't know how much I love spray paint, you know now and you'll continue to be "in the know" about it.  Spray paint works wonders!  So, we were given some leftover Easter lilies from our church that were used for decoration during Easter week.  Well, I planted the lilies in our yard and had these green pots left.  I'm not a huge fan of hunter green pots so guess what?  Yep, I spray painted them!



And, being on a gardening kick, I bought some herb seeds and planted basil, chives, cilantro, and oregano!  They'll make cute centerpieces on our patio table and yummy herbs to cook with!  I'll keep you updated on how well my growing skills are!

Tomato Plants!

  We love tomatoes.  We love them plain, in pasta, on sandwiches, and we especially love making, we spend a good amount of money buying them.  Well, I saw that at Lowe's you can get a little tomato plant for $3.48 - probably what we spend on them in one trip to the grocery store!  So I bought two 18" pots, two little baby tomato plants, and some potting soil specifically for vegetables, put them all together and wala, by the help of the Lord we will have organic tomatoes in a couple of months!  I'm so excited!

Some planting tips in case you want to plant some "maters":
If you plant your tomatoes in pots, the pots will need to be at least 15" wide at the top rim.  You can plant them in the ground just as well though, as long as you have a sunny spot in mind!  The lady at Lowe's I talked to had been gardening for years and told me to plant them so that 75% of the plant is under the soil because the little hairs along the stems of the plant will grow into roots.  They also need at least 6 hours of sun a day so I made sure I planted them in the sunniest spot in our yard.  As they grow they'll need a wire support system around them so that they can grow up like a vine and be able to hold the weight of the tomatoes that grow.  (I have yet to support mine but I just planted them so I don't have to worry quite yet.)  Also, the condition of the top half-inch of soil will let you know if they need water or not...if it's dry, water them and if not, then don't.  The potting soil I bought has fertilizer in it that is supposed to last 4 months but if you pot them in non-fertilized potting soil, they'll need to be fertilized about every 2 weeks, depending on the fertilizer you use.  Now I'm by far an experienced gardner and we'll see if these two babies yield any fruit so make sure to ask questions when you buy your plant too!  Happy planting!