Gardening Archives - A Crafty Spoonful

Upcycled Container Gardens: Housing Your Herbs

Upcycled Container Gardens Housing Your Herbs

Around this house, we try to repurpose and upcycle as many things as we can. If it can’t be composted or turned into something else, we try to donate. So very rarely do we end up with things that go in the trash. This makes for a great assortment of containers to be used in the garden.

When we picked up our chicks I knew we’d need a little home for them until they were big enough to go straight into our coop. At 3 weeks old they’d need to stay warm indoors so I picked up a metal bucket at our local hardware store.

Since I knew I would only be using the bucket for a short period of time I already had it earmarked for a project I’d wanted to do for quite a while… a stand alone herb garden!

Growing Chicks
I’m not sure if you know this but chicks, like children, grow like weeds! Seriously.

I turned around for a second and these cute little baby chicks are almost chickens at 2 months! But we still have 4 more months until they’re actually laying eggs (so I’m told).

Upcycled Container Gardens - growing seedlings

With so many things growing in our raised beds (like the broccoli that’s sprouting from our DIY K-Cup Seed Starters) we didn’t have any more room for the herbs I love to have on hand for cooking.

So it just made sense to have a container garden on the patio. What’s a better green work of art than a container garden?

Our next step will be to build a stacked container garden to house the strawberries we’ll be planting soon! How awesome does that sound? It’s as simple as taking this idea and stacking a few smaller containers on top of one another. Then planting in each tier.

Upcycled Container Gardens - cleaning out the container

 

Because our tub housed the chicks, I wanted to make sure that I cleaned the container very well before putting the soil and plants inside.

While some might question why I would clean out the container first – don’t people buy chicken manure? – the chicken poo that may be on the container hasn’t been composted yet. And I don’t want any bacteria that may have been left in the container to contaminate my plants.

But more on composting chicken poo later! Let’s get to this herb garden. First up – the chalkboard label.

Upcycled Container Gardens - DIY Chalkboard Label

 Upcycled Container Garden Chalkboard Label

What you’ll need:

  • 2 paper towels (can also use newspaper)
  • painters tape
  • chalkboard spray paint
  • metal container

What You Do:

1. Wipe down the area you wish to put the chalkboard paint on with an all-purpose cleaner. Then rinse the container out with water and let dry.

2. Grab two paper towels and cut each in half (4 half sheets). Then cut one-half sheet in half again. You’ll have 3 half sheets and 2 quarter sheets.

3. Using the painter’s tape and the paper towel pieces, create a square or rectangle space to spray paint the chalk onto.

4. Put extra paper towels under the container to protect the table underneath from paint.

5. Using the chalkboard spray paint, spray on two coats of chalkboard paint onto the container. Wait about 20 minutes in between each coat to allow them to dry.

6. Remove the paper towels and tape to reveal your chalkboard label. Write on it with chalk and display for all to see!

Upcycled Container Gardens - variety of herbs

Tips for Planting Herbs in a Container Garden

  1. Use good soil – find a soil that’s good for growing vegetables or use a good blend of soil and compost
  2. Depending on where you’re putting your container garden, consider the height each herb/plant gets and plant taller herbs in the back
  3. Plant what you know you already use now in the kitchen
  4. Make sure you are also giving your herbs vegetable food (found at any garden center)
  5. Place the container garden in a spot that will receive direct sunlight and make sure to water!

Upcycled Container Gardens with Chalkboard Label

What’s your favorite way to upcycle old containers?

Getting Crafty in the Garden: Painting Rocks for Garden Markers

Kids helping in the garden this Spring? Why not use these painted rocks for garden markers! This craft is super easy to make and you can just use supplies you have around the house.

 

One thing I love about this time of year is all of the green and new growth sprouting about everywhere! And that means that our garden goes from sad and lackluster to full of life within a few short weeks. With that new life comes a bit of confusion for the kids with what plant is growing what type of fruit, herb, or vegetable. So we had a little fun and used painted rocks for garden markers to distinguish each plant from one another. 

Now there’s no real huge planning that goes into these painted rock garden markers. We simply used a base color that would make our illustrations stand out, and I let the kids paint each of the plants that we were growing. They had fun choosing the colors and making different types of veggies and herbs on their rocks. 

I think the most fun was when they tried to trace my penciled in names with paint to make each name stand out a bit more. The concentration my littlest had in her eyes (and brow) was quite humorous. 

If you’re planning out your spring garden, or are already growing, these are a great addition to share with kids and guests alike what you’re growing this season. Here’s how to make these painted rocks for garden markers: 

Painted Rocks for Garden Markers

What you’ll need: 

  • good sized rocks
  • paint in a variety of colors based on what you’re growing
  • a variety of brush types, cotton balls, and/or cotton swabs

What you do: 

1. Using either a brush or cotton ball, layer the base color on the rock so that the illustrations you paint will stand out. We used a white base but any light color will due. 

2. Once the base coat is dry, now it’s time to paint the objects you’re growing. As you can obviously see from the rock above, my daughter was painting strawberries. Remember, it’s ok if the artwork is a bit… abstract… in the next step we’ll make things a bit clear. 

3. With a pencil, write out the names of each of the plants onto the rock. Then let your child trace the written names with their paint brush to make the name of the plant stand out. 

4. Once your painted rock is completely dry, set it outside next to your plant and enjoy! 

With Spring upon us, we’ve planted a variety of different seeds and plants in our garden. Here’s what my preschooler helped plant: 

  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Bell Peppers
  • Radishes (from seed)
  • Carrots (from seed)
  • Cucumber (from seed)
  • Snap Peas (from seed)
  • Mint
  • Sage
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Thyme

And the big kids help by watering, weeding, and keeping an eye on the bugs that are in our garden beds

Looking to get your kids more involved in the garden? You’ll love these tips! 

DIY Indoor Herb Garden Ideas

Using Ladybugs in the Garden

Tips for Gardening with Kids

Kid Friendly Ideas to Get Your Kids In The Garden

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DIY Indoor Herb Garden Ideas: Easy to Make Indoor Hanging Herb Garden

This DIY Indoor Hanging Herb Garden is the perfect way to bring the garden indoors! Plus you’ll have fresh herbs for whatever you’re whipping up for dinner. This post was sponsored by Culligan Water as part of an Integrated Program for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

Water is the one thing that makes the world go round. And filtered water is something we can’t live without. As a busy mom of 3, I am constantly filling up water bottles at our fridge or turning on the tap to make dinner. And all of that water usage had me thinking… are we drinking the best water we could be drinking? The answer was no. And I’ll tell you why… while we had an under the sink water filter, it wasn’t pulling out everything it could be to ensure that our water was safe to drink. 

We live in Southern California. We’re known for our droughts and lack of water. So any water we do have is usually brought in from another source. Our source? The Colorado River. Since our water comes from so far away, it has quite a journey to reach us. and that means there’s more chance of contaminants leaching into our water supply. Being able to ensure that we get those contaminants out of our drinking water was goal #1 for me. The second goal? How our water affected not only drinking but other water usages like showering, our garden, and our pets. 

Luckily we were asked to check out Culligan’s Water Filtration System. We just had the ClearLink PRO installed in our home.

Stay tuned for a follow-up post sharing how Culligan has positively impacted our daily usage of water. As of now, while we’re still testing the system, we thought it’d be fun to share how we can bring the garden indoors and add a bit greener to the meals we’re making with the help of a DIY indoor hanging herb garden. Here’s how!

Changing How We See Water

We knew our home needed a few updates to our water filtration system. We previously used an under-the-sink filter for our tap water as well as another filter in our fridge for the water that came out of the fridge door. But one in-home consultation with a Culligan expert showed that even these filters we had in place weren’t taking out everything we wanted to keep out. With water playing such a crucial role in our daily life – being used in the food we make, the water we (and our pets) drink, and what we use to water our own edible garden – a few changes to our water filtration system was a must. 

Culligan’s goal is to provide water that its customers can trust and offer the best possible customer service experience out there. With over 80 years of water quality and service industry experience, they strive to help individuals identify their water issues right in their home – whether that be hard water, water filtration or taste of their water. After our in-home consultation, our new Culligan Water Filtration System was installed. And with the push of a button right by our sink, fresh and filtered water comes right out of our faucet. The system is so easy to use that even the kids can get their own filtered water from the sink. We also had a filtered water line run to our fridge as well. 

Now that our system is in place, we’ve been enjoying the perks of filtered water. We’ll be sharing our full journey from start to stop in our next post featuring Culligan so stay tuned. Now for our tutorial on this easy to make DIY Indoor Hanging Herb Garden! 

Easy to Make Indoor Hanging Herb Garden

What you’ll need: 

  • Glass containers
  • Wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Window hooks
  • Labels
  • Small rocks
  • Soil
  • 4″ herbs OR seeds
  • Water

What you do: 

1. Wrap the wire around your container to form a circle. Connect the wire to itself tightly so that your container is secure in the wire. Don’t cut the wire just yet.

2. Make an arch with the wire over the glass container. 

3. Once you have the arch length you want, cut the wire leaving about 1 inch to attach it to the other side. 

4. Once you’ve secured the arch to the other side of the wire circle, make sure the wire is still securely around the glass container and can be lifted safely without the container falling out. 

5. Fill the bottom of the containers with about 1/2 an inch of small rock to provide drainage. 

6. Top the rocks with soil up to about 1 inch from the top of the container and dig a well for the herbs. Add some filtered water to the bottom of the dirt well.  

7. Add the herbs to the container on top of the water and make sure the roots are buried/covered. 

8. Sprinkle a bit of vegetable food on the surface of the dirt by the herbs and then water again with filtered water. 

9. Place the window hooks in the window where you want the containers to hang. Find a place that will get sunlight during the day. 

10. Hang the herbs up in the window and watch them grow! Snip off what you need for meals in the kitchen as you cook. 

Water plays an important part in our everyday lives. Being able to have the kids go to the sink and fill up their water bottles, or fill up a watering can, and know that the water they’re drinking and using is water we can trust means a lot to our family. And now we can say that every day is a “Good Water Day” with Culligan! Stay tuned for our next post where we go in-depth into our experience with Culligan Water

How are you making healthy touches in the kitchen? 

Love this idea? Check out these other garden-related posts! 

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Smurfette’s Secret Succulent Fairy Garden

This secret succulent fairy garden would make a perfect gift for Mother’s Day or any other special occasion. Plus, it’s super easy to put together when you have the right tools!

A few weeks ago we were invited to a screening of Smurfs The Lost Village and boy did my kids love it! The movie took us through the story of Smurfette’s creation and her struggle with finding her unique talent. Since she was made out of clay and different from the other Smurfs, she grew sad and frustrated with her lack of being able to master one skill. 

As the story unfolds, she and a few Smurf friends head off on an adventure that brings her to realize who she really is and the power she holds inside. 

Well… my kids were quite inspired by the movie because as soon as we got home they wanted to create their own Smurf village in the back yard! The fun plants that came alive and the various creatures found along Smurfette’s journey were all they could talk about. 

So I pitched a fairy garden but instead of fairies, we used Smurfs! And how perfect did it turn out? Plus? It was so easy for the kids to make! 

Watch the video at the end of this post for more details! 

[Read more…]

Keeping Pests Away: Using Ladybugs In The Garden

Keeping Pests Away Using Ladybugs In The Garden Is A Natural Pesticide

One thing I decided from the beginning when we started our garden was that I didn’t want to use any chemical pesticides. I’ve been very diligent about not using chemicals in the home so why would I use them in the garden? Especially on plants we grow to eat. So when I started to see little aphids I quickly went in search of a solution. And happily found out that ladybugs were the answer! How awesome is that?

My lettuce, celery, broccoli, and various other veggies and fruit (gotta remember those strawberries!) needed some protection so we headed out to find us some ladybugs. And we found ours at Armstrong Garden Centers over Ladybug weekend a few years back. And we keep going every year to enjoy the ladybugs. What’s Ladybug Weekend? It’s when one free packet of ladybugs harvested from colonies in California’s foothills will be handed out to Armstrong Garden Centers customers at check-out with purchase while supplies last

 And this year it will take place on Saturday, April 23 and Sunday, April 24 at all 32 Armstrong Garden Centers locations. Armstrong Garden Centers anticipates giving away two million of these “good bugs” to encourage healthy lawns and gardens. How cool is that? 

Known for their unique red and black colors, ladybugs will stay in your garden as long as there is something to eat. It is okay if the insects leave because it means that your garden is clean and the ladybugs have moved on to help your neighbor’s yard.

Keeping Pests Away Using Ladybugs In The Garden

To celebrate ladybug weekend, the following free classes will be available at all Armstrong Garden Centers stores:

  • Saturday, April 23 at 9:00 a.m. – Ladybugs and Other Good Bugs – Many insects are excellent garden helpers. Learn which plants are best for attracting these beneficial insects along with how they can help your garden flourish.
  • Sunday, April 24 at 10:00 a.m. – Organic Gardening – Learn everything you need to know from building soil health to problem-solving using organic products and techniques.

Keeping Pests Away Using Ladybugs In Our Garden

Why Ladybugs?

Ladybugs are great at keeping pests out of your garden. A few pests they take care of are:

  • Whitefly
  • Scales
  • Mites
  • Mealybugs
  • Broccoli Worm
  • Tomato Hornworm
  • Bollworm
  • Cabbage Moth

If you have signs of any of these pests you might want to consider picking up some ladybugs at your local gardening store to release in your garden. To find out more about using ladybugs to keep pests at bay check out this awesome website all about ladybugs, Everything Ladybug!

Here are a few tips on releasing the ladybugs into the garden:

Keeping Pests Away Using Ladybugs In The Garden - in a bag

1. Wet the garden bed. Ladybugs love moisture. If you want them to stay in your garden and not move onto the next you really don’t want to skip this step.

2. Open up the container and let the ladybugs start to crawl up and out.

Keeping Pests Away Using Ladybugs In The Garden and strawberries

3. Let your three year old shake the container over all parts of the garden. You don’t want all of the ladybugs in one area. (The three year old isn’t necessary but makes a fun adventure!)

4. Watch as the ladybugs wake up and start moving. The ladybugs might take a few minutes to perk up but soon they’ll start crawling all over and exploring your garden. A good amount of the ladybugs will leave to other gardens but a surprising amount stay.

Watch the little guys for a bit at your child’s level. You’ll be amazed at the sheer joy your little ones find in this activity!

Keeping Pests Away Using Ladybugs In The Garden crawling around

5. Continue to mist the garden with the lady bugs twice a day. Just enough to make sure that the dirt and plants are moist and the ladybugs have water to drink.

You can also mist the garden with a 1:1 ratio of sugar based soda to water. This will make the ladybug’s wings sticky and will allow them to explore your garden instead of flying away. This solution works for about a week and then wears off.

Keeping Pests Away Using Ladybugs In The Garden spreading out

Have you released ladybugs in your garden before?

* The photos in this post are a flashback to our March 2012 ladybug adventure 🙂

How To Make A Simple Succulent Terrarium

How To Make A Simple Succulent Terrarium

This past Tuesday was my 8 year wedding anniversary. So much has happened in the past 8 years and I couldn’t be more in love with my husband or more excited about the years to come. Our family has expanded, we’ve moved to a great home in the perfect area of town, we’ve become involved in our community and have expanded our friendships. Life is good.

In celebration of our anniversary I wanted to make something for my husband. I remember him seeing a succulent terrarium at a restaurant or a business somewhere and mentioning that he’d like one for his desk. I had filed it away in my head as a project to make for his birthday or another special occasion. So when this anniversary snuck up on me, I thought that a homemade gift would be perfect.

After visiting City Farmers Nursery with the kids one day to pick up some chicken feed, I saw that they sold all of the components to make your own succulent terrarium. And the options were perfect for creating my own vision and design. Plus? This gift cost less than $20 AND took less than 15 minutes to put together. I’d call that an awesome win! And my husband? He LOVED it. It’s already on his desk at work.

How To Make A Simple Succulent Terrarium - 3 simple things

How To Make A Simple Succulent Terrarium

What you’ll need:

What you do:

1. Place a layer of rocks/sand/dirt of choice in terrarium.

How To Make A Simple Succulent Terrarium - add rocks

2. Plan out where you want your succulent plugs to go. Try and look at the height of each succulent when mapping out your design. Have fun with mixing different types of succulents together.

How To Make A Simple Succulent Terrarium - place succulents in terrarium

3. Add additional rocks around the succulents and include any trinkets you may wish to include as decoration in your terrarium. Sea shells, star fish, pottery pieces, signs, etc. are all great ways to spruce up your succulent terrarium.

How To Make A Simple Succulent Terrarium - perfect for your desk or patioHow To Make A Simple Succulent Terrarium - an easy and quick gift idea

Where will you put your new succulent terrarium? What will you add to it?

Adding Desert Plants to Your Garden

Adding Desert Plants to Your Garden

Desert plants include a huge variety that include succulents and cacti, but also include plants like yucca and agave, which most gardeners are not as familiar with. All of these desert plants are beautiful, sculptural and cold hardy, making them able to be added to your garden.

You might have noticed that a lot of desert plants have flowers, and while you are not familiar with their care, it is relatively easy to find out more and add a little boldness to the garden.

If you have never thought about adding desert plants to your garden, but are looking for something a little different and unique, try these low maintenance, drought resistant options. The perfect way to stay water wise in So Cal!

Gardens to Consider

Most people think that cactus and other desert plants only belong in the desert or where it is very hot, but the truth is these plants can grow in areas where the temperature rises and drops with the time of day. Some desert plants are hardy from zone 4 to 9, which includes most of the continental US. We mainly see them in the desert because of the face that they are able to survive the harsh conditions, can grow in very poor soil and are drought resistant, so where everything else has died, they survive.

Providing for Desert Plants

While they can survive in harsh conditions and poor soil, cactus actually love growing in rich soil and flourish when they have had some water. The water has to be well drained for their roots to survive, but as long as they are given plenty of space to grow out, watered regularly, planted in organically rich soil where the sun shines, the only thing you need to consider is the specific hardiness zone for each plant type. Some types of desert plants do well in landscape that is similar to where you would find them in their native area, so do not be afraid to add them to hilly areas, slopes or rock gardens.

Desert Plants to Try

Cactus and aloe plants are relatively easy to find at a local nursery, sold as indoor or tabletop plants. Look for plants that are not miniature or dwarf versions to add to your garden for their height or shape, you want something that will gain attention. Agave plants are another option, and great for first timers. They grow very large in size, and they do so very quickly when they are grow in good soil with a steady supply of water. Add these to rock beds or gentle, sloping ground.

Yucca plants are also easier to find in nurseries, and are one of the only yuccas that a lot of northern gardeners are familiar with. These plants resemble yucca when they first begin to grow, but then let out huge flowering spike that is very dramatic and beautiful. Finally, sotols are another desert variety that looks great in any garden. They are like the ornamental grasses of the desert, with their spiky foliage and frilly edges. Use them to add drama to the front of the garden bed.

Adding Desert Plants to Your Garden xeriscaping

How are you lessening your water bill in the garden?

Recycle Reduce Reuse with K-Cup Seed Starters

We’ve come up with a clever solution to a problem we had: K-Cup seed starters! Take those used k-cups and turn them into something useful. 

K-Cup Seed Starters - recycling in the garden

Over the years we’ve become more and more conscious of our environment and the impact we have on it. We cloth diaper, grow our own veggies, compost, and make an overall effort to reduce waste and excess.

Since we’ve upgraded from our Keurig Vue to the Keurig 2.0, the one thing I hate is that I can’t recycle the k-cups I use every day. And since I’m a big coffee drinker, I don’t have any way to reuse the k-cups. Until now! I’ve started getting creative with my k-cups and have come up with a list to reuse them in a useful way.

First up is in the garden. Now our garden has always been my pride and joy. I consider it a work of art that is ever changing. And since we just started up our new garden at the new house, I needed an excuse to show it off.

Green Work of Art in the Garden

How pretty are those little starter plants? Well, they started in our k-cups from seed! Truly a green work of art.

That’s right. K-cups are the perfect way to start seeds for the garden. Not only are they plentiful around here, but they have a built in drainage hole that doesn’t need to be added. How cool is that?

Here’s how you use them!

K-Cup Seed Starters Tutorial

K-Cup Seed Starters

What you’ll need: 

  • k-cup
  • seeds
  • trowel
  • soil (any good vegetable planting soil)
  • water

K-Cup Seed Starters - what you need

What you do: 

1. Remove the foil from the top of the k-cup.

2. Discard the coffee grounds to be used later in the garden or your compost bin.

3. Remove the filter from the k-cup and discard the plastic filter – you can compost the k-cup paper filter if you’d like.

4. Fill with soil about 3/4 of the way up.

5. Add 2-3 seeds and top with more dirt until filled.

6. Water daily and watch sprout!

Once your seedlings are big enough to transfer just pull out gently and move to a bigger pot or straight in your garden bed!

For a full in-depth tutorial, check out our video:

 

K-Cup Seed Starters - broccoli

How do you recycle, reduce, and reuse around your home?

Tree Planting Tips: Planning Your Garden

Tree Planting Tips Planning Your Garden

Anyone that heads out to a nursery to shop for a tree knows that these awkward, spindly bunch of branches has the potential to grow into something great. Adding a tree to your yard is a big commitment because the tree will serve to separate, bring together and stand in place for several years to come.

Tree planting is the first and most important step to adding a tree to your garden, so it is important that it is done right and that every home gardener know about the common mistakes to avoid.

We recently started adding trees to our community garden, including a Valencia orange and Anna apple, and after much research on the types of trees we were going to plant, the next step was planting the trees right!  [Read more…]

Growing Healthy Eaters and Snap Peas from Seed

This post brought to you by Miracle-Gro. All opinions are 100% mine.

Growing Healthy Eaters and Snap Peas from Seed

My son is obsessed with the outdoors. He’s the ultimate bug catching, fossil digging, mud puddle making boy. It’s pretty hard to get him indoors so we try our best to keep him busy. Since I started up our garden beds again he’s been begging to plant his favorite snap peas in the front yard. How can a mother say no? And growing snap peas from seed is fairly easy.

I handed him a trowel, some gloves, some Miracle-Gro Organic garden soil, and some snap pea seeds. And what he did next was pretty darn awesome. Not only did he plant the seeds, but he proceeded to water them daily, check them for bugs, and give me progress reports on their growth.

This experience definitely made me one happy and proud mama. He’s learning how to grow his own food and he’s requesting more and more variety in the seeds he plants. [Read more…]



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