Custom Seed Packet & Holder Giveaway!

Attention savvy gardeners!  Visit us on Facebook and hit “like” for your chance to earn one of these adorable seed packet holders. 

Your choice of design, as well as a set of 15 custom seed saving packets, compliments of BloominThyme —  http://www.facebook.com/bloominthyme

Don’t save seeds?  No problem.  Use these containers to hold paper napkins or plastic utensils on the picnic table, or perhaps envelopes on your desk.  How about the perfect unique gift for that gardener friend? Or win one for the kids!  These holders are a great way to get the youngsters excited about gardening. 

Already “like” us?  Thanks!  You’ll be automatically entered to win.  When we reach 75 likes, one random winner will be drawn.  At a 100, a second will be chosen.  So enter early and increase your chances of winning.

Then, stay-tuned for more giveaways as well as gardening made easy — BloominThyme…your “cliff” notes to gardening!

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Kids…to distraction

Gardening with kids is great.   There are no two ways about it.   It’s a wonderful time to bond, the perfect environment for learning…it’s even the ideal opportunity for learning the discipline of work — to a point.

My kids garden with me, though usually not of their own volition.   Because while harvesting is fun, weeding is not.  But it is required.   So as any good mother would, I’ve tried to make it more palatable, more enticing.  Simple and easy is our motto.   No longer do I inform, We need to weed the garden.   Rather I’ve shifted to the less intimidating, You each have one half a row to weed.  Sounds more tolerable, doesn’t it?   “A half row?  That’s it?”

“That’s it,” I reply, knowing that with my new and improved weed management system, a single row is all I need from them.   I take a row or two myself — very manageable business, now that I’ve covered my beds in mulch, and my aisles in paper.   It’s perfect and easy.  What could be better?

What could be better?   Obviously I didn’t ask a kid that question!   Playing in the sprinklers on a hot day could be better!   Much better, and is exactly what transpired when my daughter and her friend offered to help me in the garden (actually to hurry me up so I would take them to lunch). 

Their initial duty was to put in a few transplants, water them in, then give the corn and beans some extra water.   It’s getting hot in Florida, so I need to make sure my plants get enough moisture to survive the 90 degree days.   Long days.

“Mom, can we put our bathing suits on and run through the water?”   

It occurred to me as they pitched the idea, these were long hot days for them, too.   And seeing’s how their clothes were already soaking wet, I agreed.  “Might as well.” 

When they returned and started high-tailing it down rows, it didn’t even occur to me to be concerned they might slip and fall and devastate my plants!  How could it?   The spectacle of these girls racing down one row and up the next was too funny — this was pure unadulterated fun in the making! 

And I was drawn in, reminded of my own childhood antics.  Give a kid a puddle and they’ll make it a hoopla day long of fun. 

Fun, I mused.  Kids do remind us adults to have fun.  Where we may think, stop and smell the roses, they disagree.  Stop and run through a sprinkler — now that’s living.

I watched for a while then shook my head, returning focus to my task at hand.  I still had a row of peppers to plant before we could make that lunch I promised.  Would they remember?   Probably.   That’s another thing about kids.   They don’t forget a thing when it’s something they want to do.

Organic gardening made easy.

 

Meet Mandie.   Here’s a gal who wants to garden, but never thought she had the time.   (She’s right!)   Married with two young boys and a full-time career, time is the last thing on her plate.  (Not to mention sanity)   Ah…but what she lacks in agenda, she makes up for with attitude.   This woman has DECIDED she is going to have a garden.  Organic, of course.   A project in which I enthusiastically signed on to help.   Spread the joy, right?

Absolutely.   And you can, too!

Your head drops, you kick at the dirt.   You glance sideways.   While you appreciate our enthusiasm and fabulous outlook, you really do, it’s just not in the cards for you.   Your schedule is jammed packed.   Add the commitments you’ve made outside work and home and there simply isn’t the time to devote to a garden.   Mandie’s image pops into your mind.   Ability, you correct.   You’re simply unable to start a garden for reasons…  For reasons…

Well, yes, I get the picture.  It’s hard.  I understand.  It takes more than time, more than desire.  I mean, positive attitude exudes from your pores, I can see that.  I know that if you could, you’d start a garden today—yesterday–this very minute! 

But you can’t.   There’s just no way. 

Maybe next year.   Season.   Maybe next season.   Check back with you in fall?   Yes.   Fall.   Absolutely.   You stand a little taller.   You bet.   Come fall, you’ll be ready to go!

I smile.   Yes.   I’ll check back with you in fall.   But for the rest of you neophytes who haven’t the good sense to know any better, grab your hat and pack your bag – we’re going gardening!    Together — by tracking Mandie’s process on a weekly basis via her post link. 

Now, to begin, we need to set the right mood.   Music.  Of course!   What a great way to start your afternoon outdoors.  Mandie thought Jimmy Buffet would be nice (though his penchant for gardening is highly speculative), I mean, from what I can tell, the man is no landlubber – BUT – he does epitomize a laid back mindset and hankering for a good time – both of which we’re after in this new adventure of ours.  Remember:  your garden should be a place you want to spend time, because daily visits will be essential to your success. 

Next up – site selection.  Full sun is vital as well as a reliable water source – two things in which Mandie excels!  With no trees to speak of in her “compact” yard space, sun is not a problem.  She can put her garden anywhere – save for the area claimed by the boy’s playground set.  And swing bench.  And bicycle, toys…a couple of shrubs.  Well, you get the picture.  Creativity using space is a must.  As to water, she and her clever husband have devised a homemade cistern.  Did I tell you, this girl is green – from the inside out?  She means to waste nothing in this endeavor of hers and I applaud the ingenuity.  In fact, I’ve suggested as much to my husband.  Quite the industrious sort, I imagine he will construct a cistern with a garden sprinkler system attached!  He is amazing

Perfect.  Then, solving two problems at once, Mandie chose the back corner of her lot where old abandoned cement blocks proved a horrible eyesore.  Meet Gary.  Undaunted by the challenge, her husband went to task and built her a planter box.  Now, not only do they have a beautiful garden “section,” they’ve eliminated a huge “blemish!”  Aren’t husbands wonderful?

Time for the dirt.  Let’s say your yard isn’t naturally graced with luscious, black organic soil.  Okay.  We can deal with it.  By contacting a local supplier, Mandie was able to fill her 15 ft by 5 ft space (1 ft deep) with good composted dirt for about $80.  Mind you, this is a one time investment.  Once her personal compost pile gets going, she’ll have her own compost to use for the fall planting season!  And there will be a fall planting season.  (If she misses the compost mark, again, no problem.  Using crop rotation, her dirt will be primed and ready for next season!)

On to seeds.  Purchase them from your handy-dandy trustworthy and knowledgeable local seed and feed — “flavor specific” to your taste buds — and then you’re ready for action!  Mandie is planting potatoes, broccoli, carrots, conch peas, tomatoes, peppers and lettuce. 

This is BIG fun, so if you have kids, holler for them now cause they’re gonna love this part – until the novelty wears off, anyway.  Older kids might appreciate the endeavor more, if the delivery is fine tuned.  Parents:  get crafty.

As to design, consult your local expert (in this case, that’s me!) or your Vegetable Gardener’s Bible (the source for my expertise – in addition to that age old instructor called experience).  You’ll learn plants have preferences of their own and if you place them next to their friends, they’ll serve you with splendor.  If not, you’ll likely miss your fall planting season, uninterested in trying after your lackadaisical results from spring. 

Trust me on this one.  It’s like a marriage.  What you put in, you get back, tenfold.

Okay kids, it’s time to get dirty!  Space your seeds accordingly, dig your holes, mark their spots (helps to remember where to water) and wait for first sign of sprouts!  I use an excel program on my computer to mark what and where I planted, but a garden journal works just as well and is “pretty” to boot.  Mulch will help conserve moisture, if it’s a pressing issue for you.  I prefer hay, but you can use straw, paper liners, etc.

Then, water in your seeds and there you have it!  Heart pound. Gasp.  Mouth agape in disbelief.  It’s the beginning of YOUR OWN GARDEN!  The one you thought impossible, but will be amazed by easy it is to manage!  Yes!

With daily visits to check soil moisture, bug invasions, fertilizer insufficiencies, etc., your very own produce will begin to hit the table in two months time.   Whoa.  How awesome is that?

It’s totally awesome and totally organic.  You’ll not only eat healthier, you’ll know exactly what went into your food — and your family’s.  Like watching your children grow, you’ll be excited by each and every change in your garden as you watch its progress, amazed this beautiful bounty is the result of YOUR hand!  And Mother Nature’s.  (Don’t insult this woman.  You do not want to be on her bad side.)

Exciting isn’t it?  How about joining us?  Track Mandie’s progress, ask questions, offer suggestions and next thing you know, you’ll have friends signing on for a community wide effort!  You grow that, I’ll grow this, so and so will grow those… 

Why, the possibilities are endless.  C’mon.  Share the joy and begin your adventure today! 

(This weekend will do.)

Black gold

Compost.   Valuable.   Beautiful.  (And so exciting!) 

Wow.   Heart pounding.  Deep breath.   Really an amazing creature, that Mother Nature —  save the ants and maggots (or whatever those creepy wormy bug things are).   She is a beautiful woman indeed.   Gorgeous, in fact, and her talents are endless.  Yes, as you may have guessed…ta-da!…I have my FIRST batch of compost! 

I know it doesn’t look like much but photos don’t do this beauty any justice.  This stuff is incredible.  Amazing how a pile of nasty kitchen scraps can turn into this rich, luscious specimen, isn’t it?  I mean, I only started this pile last July and then, voila!  Seven short months later, I have this awesome mound of dirt to create a spring garden.   Are you serious

Oh, I’m serious all right.   Lucky for me, I live in Central Florida where Mother Nature virtually does everything without you lifting a hand!  Kinda like having an outdoor helper you don’t have to supervise, she knows where everything is, knows what to do and how to do it — AND, I might add — she does it a heck of a lot better than I could do!  I turned that pile maybe three times, just because I read somewhere that you were supposed to turn piles.   Truth is, I think this pile of mine would have turned out plenty well had I not lifted a finger (or pitch fork, as the case may be).

But it’s SO exciting.  Now I can “hill” my new potato princesses with pure homegrown compost!  And won’t they be in seventh heaven.  Once they recover from the recent dip in temperatures, that is.   After all my hard work learning to protect them from the frost, I was blindsided by the cool temperatures of late.   And to think I was under the impression potatoes were cool worthy, but frost intolerant.   Just goes to show how dangerous a little knowledge can be.   These creatures turned out to be sensitive all around! 

But I digress.  I have compost and wagons full.  With spring planting in full swing, I have also have a place to put it!  Why, my organic garden will be FULLY organic this year, from the ground up.   And what a wonderful feeling.   A real strap-on-the-boots-let’s-go-hiking kind of feeling!   One with nature, breath of fresh air… 

At this point, I am nearly sustainable.   What I grow, I eat.  What I don’t, I compost.   Does it get any better than this?  My husband might feel inclined to point out a few things that top this one, but we didn’t ask him, now did we?

No.  We most definitely did not.  So off to the garden I go, with wagon in tow and a skip to my step.   Gardening is an adventure!   And one ready to begin in earnest.  With the potatoes in, the melons are next, along with the beans and squash and tomatoes and peppers and corn and…

Whew!  Another deep breath here.   There’s a lot of work to be done and I can’t wait to get started!  My new year’s resolution to be more productive is working fine, but my waistline has been expanding and NEEDS to get busy.  Rather than waste time on my drawer full of exercise videos, I plan to lose it  — in the garden!  Nothing like a little spring tilling to get the blood flowing and the heart a pumping!  In fact, I read somewhere that gardeners tend to outrank others on the list of centenarians.  Not that I really want to live to a hundred, but it’s nice to know my hobby will sustain me if I do… 

Shoot.  I could probably turn this hobby into an exercise video, if I wanted.  Imagine for a moment…the sun is shining, the wind is dancing, the birds singing in the background.   Up, down, left, right, reach, lunge, pull, stretch.  I don’t know about you, but during some of my garden sessions I’ll be sweating and panting before all is said and done!

And this spring, I have company.  A friend of mine has decided she’s ready to “start a garden!”   Actually, a few women are ready to take the plunge.  Well raise the flag and send up the flares — yahoo –we’re going gardening!   And if any of you think you don’t have the time or the space, you need to meet this gal.  With no yard to speak of, two young boys and a career in interior decorating — she’ll have your excuses flapping in the breeze in no time!  She’s even managed to lasso her husband into the mix by enlisting his wonderfully masculine talents in the realm of construction.  He already built her this lovely cistern.

So grab a friend and JOIN US as we share the adventure!

If your man were a plant, he’d be…

Corn – Tall and slender with silken hair, this man provides well and yields a harvest of golden treasure.  While pleasing to look at, beware:  he also tends to be needy; easily blown over by the slightest of breezes—not the man for your hardier types!

Watermelon – This well-rounded fun-loving guy is always welcome at a summer barbecue and usually proves a big hit with the kids.  Prone to balding, his colorful personality distracts one from notice.  However, take heed.  If left to his own device, this one can grow wild and get quite out of hand!

Garlic – This fellow is somewhat distant, as he spends long periods of time out of sight, only to emerge when conditions improve.  Strong and distinct, he’s not for everyone, but given the right environment, he can show great depth, even mellow his pungent tone with time.  A worthy peer, indeed.

Okra – Strong, of firm build, this one likes it hot and enjoys it spicy—very at home in the Big Easy, too.  Generally speaking, he blends well with others, can plant himself anywhere, but caution:  he can be seedy, even a bit slimy at times.

Potatoes – These fellas are generous producers, enjoyed by most everyone as they appeal to a variety of tastes.  They can get easily crowded, though, so give them plenty of space.  If you do, you’ll have yourself a real winner with this one.  Note:  be patient with the sweeter types—they need a little more time before they’re ready to hit the dinner-date table.  But if you can wait, go for it.  You’ll reap the gold with this gem!

Onion – Sometimes sharp, sometimes sweet, this notable companion enhances every dish he meets.  But don’t be fooled.  You have to watch yourself around this double-edged treat.  He tends to “age” those around him quicker than most, and will often make you cry.  But if you like a challenge, give him a try.  He will infuse your life with flavor!

Raspberry – Sweet at first sight, this guy may follow up with a tart bite.  He generally likes to be left alone—literally thrives out in the wild of nature.  Ah…an adventurous type yourself, you’ll feel drawn to this bright and colorful character, but be forewarned:  he’s got thorns and lots of them.

Squash – Talk about diversity, this one has it!  From sunny yellow summers to cold and cozy winters, this man will keep you well supplied no matter the season.  The cutest of pumpkins, he’s always welcome during the holidays, and his cousin plays a mean racquet ball—for you sportier types.  But keep him moving; stagnation easily leads to illness with this one.  Rest assured, if variety is your thing, take heart.  This dazzling character can fulfill your desires, tenfold.

Carrots – Bred from firm and solid fiber, these men are steady and strong and always there for you.  Given proper attention, they can also become quite sweet in nature; a true hidden treasure, if ever there was one.  They do need some elbow room, a bit of thinning at times, but if you’re willing to work for it, this one’s a keeper!

Tomatoes – This popular guy is an all around favorite with the ladies, most drawn to his bright and cheery appearance and radiant personality.  A real reliable kinda guy, sweet with a hint of tang, meaty and quite robust–he comes in all sizes.  Yes, this one is tempting.   But be sure you’re in for the commitment—he’s going to need it if you expect him to produce.

My husband?   He’s definitely a raspberry with garlic tendencies.  Me?   He thinks I’m a venus flytrap.  Yes, I gave him the evil eye–at first.   But then, I got to thinking.   Imagine the unique and stunning plant for a moment, with her beautiful red, heart-shaped petiole, her pair of symmetrical lobes hinged near the midriff — I mean, midrib.    Lovely so far, isn’t it?   Catches insects and spiders with a bat of her eyelashes.   Tolerates fiery tempers well, er–fire–well.  Tolerates fire well, using the opportunity to suppress the competition.   (Sounds like a feisty gal to me!)   Sure, she can be difficult to grow, but what plant doesn’t have its difficult days?

You know, the more I think about it, the more I do believe I heard compliment.

We take it where we can get it, don’t we?

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

 

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