(Printable greeting cards make sense. Printing your own greeting card is a small way for you to make a difference in climate change; you can choose recycled paper or cardstock, print from your own or shared printers (with refillable cartridges!), you don't have to drive to the store, buy something coated in plastics/microplastics/adhesives/etc, and it doesn't require a company shipping simple cards across the globe.
Additionally, it's easy peasy! You can print on-demand, even if you forgot to pick up a card on your grocery run. As an added bonus, they're likely to be less expensive than greeting cards that you would purchase at a big-box store and the product that you get is more unique.
I have a selection of printable greeting cards on Etsy that you can choose from. They're some of my most popular items I have to offer. I currently design them all to be blank inside for you to add your own personalized message. For those with writer's block, here are some greeting card messages that might help get you started: (click 'Read More' below to continue)
Make the most out of your beds and borders by adding plants that you can harvest AND add visual interest.
I love to bring my kids into the garden with me whenever possible. I encourage them to explore, have fun, and get dirty! Some days when they are covered in mud, I make a point to tell them that getting dirty outside just means that you had a lot of fun!
I made this printable scavenger hunt with my kids in mind. I can give them a bucket to collect treasures in the garden as we explore together. You can use this outdoor garden scavenger hunt anywhere! Pack a copy and take it to the park or the campground.
Get outside and have some fun with your little ones!
It is mid-February here in my balmy zone 8. Last year at this time, my uncovered beds were full of thick ice from the repeating snow falls and melts. Today started with frost, but it turned into clear blue skies with no evidence of any recent snow. I took this as a sign that I should plant my first raised bed. Thankfully, I planned ahead and I already had one amended!
One of the most important lessons that I have learned in gardening over the years is "you can't cheat the system." Your soil needs to be amended every year, sometimes multiple times per year. If you don't do this, your plants will know and they will crush your dreams of a bountiful harvest. I have fallen into the trap, more than once (fool me twice, shame on me), of trying to get my seeds in the ground at the earliest possible moment in the season. And sometimes a spell of good weather will entice me outside before I've even had the chance to prepare my beds. DON'T DO IT! Without good soil structure and plentiful nutrients, your crop will flop. It is so disappointing to watch your seeds germinate (or not) and fail to grow properly. While thinking you'll get earlier harvests, you will in fact be set back because you'll have to return to square one and amend your soil and replant your seeds. I've been there, done that.
This year, I have amended the soil in my raised beds with aged, well-rotted/composted mushroom manure. I also have amended a dozen of my large containers with mushroom manure, leftover/used organic potting mix, and organic top soil. Thankfully, I have nurseries in my area that sell in bulk. If you ask in advance, you can bring your own reused bags, containers, and bins to refill so that you don't have to buy pre-bagged stuff. Try calling around. You may be surprised that you can buy smaller amounts without collecting a bunch of heavy-weight plastic soil plastic bags.
Also, I should add, one of my favourite new garden tool investments that I made last year was an electric tiller. It chews through the soil easily to mix it up and make it nice and fluffy. It saves a lot of time and back breaking work. I love it.
So, the lesson here is to amend your soil! Don't get lured into planting your newly curated collection of seeds before you're ready.
In plenty of time for Easter, I have made another round of seed packet downloads to use as a seasonal gift, craft, or favor. I was so pleased at how my Valentine's Day seed packets turned out, that I look forward to making a variety of seasonal seed packets. I'm thinking about all the young budding gardeners that we can encourage and all the bees that we can feed together! Check them out!
I really like making the most out of my garden footprint. I have a decent-sized yard for a suburban lot, but I want to be able to get as much out of it as possible. This means...growing upward!
If you read my previous post on trellising, you'll know that I'm a huge fan. We have a vairety of trellises for growing food. We even have a just-for-fun conical trellis in the lawn for the kids’ ‘clubhouse.’
Every square foot counts, especially when you are growing your food on a standard suburban lot. What better way to maximize your growing area than to grow upward! Not to mention, growing vertically can add another layer of interest and greenery to your garden.
You’ll first need to make sure that your soil, light/exposure, and trellising structures are suitable for growing your desired vegetables. Once you’ve ticked those boxes, you’re good to go! You might consider adding plant clips or ties to the climbing vines to help them out or encourage directional growth, but this might not be necessary.
Through my experience and research, I've come across lots of options for vertical gardening:
Peas; shell, snap, snow varieties. There is a great range of height between these varieties, so check the packet first. Alderman peas can grow up to 9 feet tall, while other varieties are so short, they don’t even require staking! Be sure to check if the variety you select is pea enation resistant if planting later in the season.
Beans; pole. It’s said that pole beans have better flavour than their bush bean cousins. I am taste testing this statement in my garden this year. I prefer pole beans for their easy picking. My favourite variety is Purple Peacock. The vines and leaves have a purplish hue, the flowers are a beautiful lilac colour, and the beans themselves are a rich purple. They make for stunning plants in the garden as well as being delectable. When cooked, they turn bright green.
Scarlet runner beans (pictured above). I love these just for their beauty alone. They are also magnets for bees and hummingbirds. After the first year of growing scarlet runner beans, I learned that some people actually eat the small tender beans on the vine. I look forward to trying this out later in the season! Even if you don’t eat them, these climbing vines are as sturdy as they are beautiful. The prolific bright red flowers attract hummingbirds and bees from all directions. I add these to my decorative trellises, my kids’ bean tent, and the pots surrounding our pergola. These fast, tall climbers are a wonderful multipurpose plant. They might even be perennial in your hardiness zone which is a bonus!
Buttercup squash. This is a new vegetable that I am trying in my garden this year. Initially, I was skeptical that I would like it enough to go through the trouble of growing it so I bought one at our local produce store. It was great, so I planted three! The variety that I chose is called First Taste Kabocha which is suitable for trellising and it has a long storage life. Apparently it is also sweet and provides multiple harvests from summer until fall. As of right now, my happiest and most vigorously growing plant is in a large container.
Pumpkin. Typically, you think of both edible and decorative pumpkins as being either too large for trellising or not suitable for edible landscaping. This is where mini-pumpkins (Jack Be Little, in particular) come in handy. Not only do they add a splash of colour to the garden and provide you with some seasonal decor, but they are also prolific and most certainly edible. Too cute! I can’t wait for them to be ready.
Tomato. If you are reading this post, you probably already know that different tomato varieties have different growing habits; either vine (indeterminate) or bush (determinate). If you want to grow vertically, plop some indeterminate tomatoes into your garden. They don't have grasping tendrils though, so you’ll need to give them a hand by securing them to your trellis structure. You might also want to read up on tomato pruning. My tomatoes are typically prolific producers to the point where I just can’t keep up with them.
Cucumber. Hands down, cucumbers are my favourite thing to eat fresh in the summer. I think i have at least nine plants in four different varieties (last count), and there’s still time to add more if i need to! It’s late May and I already have a five inch cuke that I’m eyeballing. Cucumbers are heavy vines and heavy feeders. They need a bit of space and a solid trellis. I’ve grown them at both an angle and completely vertical and they seem agreeable to either. Their tendrils will help them to climb but you might choose to fasten them with ties or clips for extra support.
Grapes. This is another new endeavour for me this year. Grapes are fast growing, hardy, and, of course, delicious! I am growing both green and red table grapes. I have high expectations though I’m sure that I’ll probably have to chase away critters who will try to get them first. If you choose to grow them in the ground, be prepared to try to keep them in check as their bigot can translate to invasiveness.
Broad beans. I love broad beans but I find that they’re a lot of work. They don’t have climbing tendrils, so you will need to fasten them. I also find they are prone to aphids, rust, and fungal disease. Maybe you will have better luck with them than me. Here I am trying them yet again, so they must be worth it! There nothing like fresh broad beans; they’re so creamy and tender when cooked just right.
You might also consider:
Kiwi vine. There are people who are head over heels for these little gems. One caveat: some require both a male and female plant in order to produce fruit and some are self-fertile, so choose carefully.
Hops. Why not? It is an interesting climbing vine (well, bine actually) with visual interest and vigorous growth. It’s also a perennial. This would be a fun plant to consider, especially for a hobby brewer.
Melon. Melons are heavy in comparison to most other climbing fruits and veggies. If you decide that you’d like to give it a go, you’ll need a very sturdy trellis and melon hammocks/slings (yes, this is a “thing”).
You may have some degree of wiggle room on meeting all the perfect conditions for growing for these plants. I once heard a saying that “if you don’t plant it, it won’t grow.” That is to say, gardening is a learning experience through trial and error. If it doesn’t work, oh well! You’ve learned something for next time. You won’t have any success if you don’t try it at all.
Now that you’ve decided on which vegetables you want to grow, you’ll need to make your trellis.
I am very thankful that I am fortunate enough to have a fairly large backyard which also has great light. It's north-facing but it's big enough that it is not shaded by the house, so the fence that you see in the photos is actually south-facing. All of my beds are arranged at the back of the yard. This includes three raised beds and one in-ground bed.
While I have a generous yard, it is not a farm by any stretch. So in planning my garden, I knew that the footprint of the yard alone would not be big enough to fit everything I wanted to grow. This is where you need to get creative. And vertical.
By planting upward and getting creative with various forms of trellising, you can greatly expand your growing room. This is how I squeeze every square foot out of my garden:
If you read my inaugural post, you might remember that 2020 is my first attempt at year-round edible gardening. In my balmy zone 8a, I've managed to keep harvesting through November without any special structures or equipment (or effort). When our temperatures sink below zero for an extended period, it usually means the end of whatever I have growing.
This year, my husband and I decided to build removable polytunnel structures over each of our three raised beds. Each bed is approximately 4 feet by 8 feet. To construct the covers, we used 4 lengths of 3/4 inch PVC pipe per bed. We had to trim the PVC pipes to bring down the height so that we could clamp the edges to the beds for easy access, installation, and removal. We only intend to use the bed with the plastic covers before the warm weather sets in. The ends of each of the three hoops are fastened to the wooden boxes with two loops of metal pipe strapping. You will need to adjust the height of the PVC hoops depending on the width of your plastic cover. The fourth length of PVC pipe that sits across the tops of the three hoops is fastened on each hoop with heavy guage tie wire. Nothing fancy, but we covered the tips of the wire with thick tape to ensure that it would not snag the plastic cover. The PVC length across the top has fitted PVC caps at each end, again to avoid snagging and damaging the cover. After the frame was set up, we covered it with heavy duty plastic sheeting that we already had on hand. We cut the lengths to fit each bed, ensuring that there was enough on the sides and ends to clap it down and seal it off from cold air and the elements. We used inexpensive heavy duty spring clamps to hold everything in place.
Et voila! Our simple polytunnels are complete. These were completed at a casual pace over a few days. The construction of these are simple but sturdy. Even a novice working should be able to complete these with minimal tools and supplies. Because we didn't need to buy the plastic, tie wire, and tape, we probably only spent about $35 per bed to make these. I hope that we will be able to get several years of use from them before anything needs replacing or repairing.
Its only February but I'm already excited to think about what I'll be growing next December!
Nothing beats the satisfaction of growing your own fruits and vegetables at home, EXCEPT for being able to grow them year-round! You get high-quality, organic (maybe even heirloom) vegetables picked and consumed at their peak! But if you dig beyond the emotional connection of growing your own food, there is a bigger, more important matter at hand.
Think about the carbon emissions from produce that you purchase at the grocery store. It is usually a nameless variety of vegetable (what kind of broccoli is it anyway??), grown far from the market at which you pick it up. Maybe hundreds or even thousands of miles away. The greenhouse gasses to get it to the store and then to your home, add up quickly. Then consider the ecological devastation of the pesticides or poor soil and environmental practices of mega-commercial crop farms. Then think about the packaging (cardboard, plastics) used to get the produce to the store and, again, then to your home. Then consider that these large scale farms also generated the carbon emissions associated with the construction, maintenance, and heating of greenhouses and polytunnels. Oh, and don't forget about the emissions in the production, maintenance, and use of farming equipment. It adds up, doesn't it? You might look at a plastic-wrapped cucumber or a stickered orange differently now.
Well we need to eat, don't we? And we're supposed to eat fruits and vegetables, right? The reality is that these real needs don't exist in a bubble and they have a very real and concrete impact on the generation of greenhouse gasses and, subsequently, climate change. We're not even talking about the bees or GMOs at this point. What better way to counteract or at least off-set our carbon footprint through growing our own food? Think about how much you will cut down on the environmental impact of your diet. You may be thinking "well, that's good and all, but even home gardening has an impact." True. By being a consumer the materials required to construct beds or polytunnels, you are also contributing to carbon dioxide emissions. Of course, the more you grow and the less you buy, the greater the benefit to the environment. Hence, year-round gardening will potentially have the greatest benefit. You also want to try to use and maintain high-quality materials that are going to have the greatest lifespan.
Please watch the enlightening and informative YouTube video below, which gives an example of crunching the numbers for you.
Long story short- get growing and don't forget that every little bit counts.
You might have already checked out my other post on seed packet Valentines. If you are looking for something that is similarly eco-conscious (no candy, landfill, microplastics, etc) but requires fewer supplies and less time, these cards might be the solution that you are looking for. You can print as many as you would like for personal use.
These cute, punny cards can be printed at home. Card stock will give you the best results though I encourage you to use recycled or reused paper. You might guess that my favourite ones are the bees.
If you find yourself inspired with a little bit of extra time, you could try stapling a card to a pack of seeds that you would like to share.
Scroll down to see all THREE designs: bees, sea creatures, and animals. You can click on each design to be taken directly to the item in my Etsy shop.
Valentine's Day is almost here! This year, my attention has been drawn more keenly toward eco-friendly practices. I didn't want to send my kids to hand out sugary, highly processed candy or soon-to-be-landfill. I took it upon myself to come up with another solution that would allow them to participate in sharing Valentine's Day cards with some kind of gift attached that was unique and environmentally conscious. So... I made my own! I created printable, instantly downloadable Valentines for them to share with their friends.
Here's how it works. Two Valentines are printed on one 6½ size envelope. The envelope is sealed and then cut in half. Each half is filled with seeds, then sealed with a sticker or other adhesive of choice. Easy peasy! The included printable sticker sheet has instructions for planting.
I love these Valentines because they're inexpensive, easy to make, not plastic, and not junk food. The best part is that they encourage kids to get out in the garden (too many benefits to list here!) and that it will help feed the bees!
Click the widget below to purchase my printable on Etsy. Happy Valentine's DAISY!
This website was created out of my love of gardening (I'm stating the obvious here) and creativity. I truly enjoy making and doing new things, and sharing that experience with others. Over the years, I have dabbled in graphic, web, and print design and I really enjoy the problem-solving nature of information technology. This has led me to creating modest shop of digital downloads that you can print at home. This is certainly not a full-time gig. I am making these items because I really enjoying creating things that will hopefully bring joy to others. In the meantime, if I am able to make a bit of seed money (pun intended!) this would certainly help me in my gardening endeavours.
Please check it out to see what I have to offer! I have a variety of printable wall art/decor, posters, greeting cards, and kids Valentine cards. I only opened last month, and I am hoping to expand my offering over the next several weeks as we approach gardening season.