Category Archives: garden (gardening info and eco-friendly project ideas)

Window Sill Herb Garden Gift: Made In Clementine Box

A window sill garden would make a great Christmas gift. And while you are at it, make one for yourself too.

The black “tray” used under this plant was fast food waste. Plan ahead and reuse your trash!

Plant Your Own Herb Garden Kit: Made With Recycled Materials

How to:
Include in the window sill kit everything needed to grow this herb garden: one Clementine box, six- 1 pint ice-cream containers with lids, potting soil, and seed packets.

Poke a drainage hole in the middle of the bottom of ice-cream containers. Fill with potting soil. Decorate the lids with pictures of herbs cut from last year’s seed catalogs or use the inside of a cereal box and write your own label. I used a circle cutter (found at craft stores) but you could cut the rim off an extra cover for a stencil that you can then trace. Line the Clementine box with plastic or reuse plastic cups from your recycle bin. Often times companies offer mixed seed packets but if making several herb gardens, you could repackage seeds: giving each kit a few of each kind of seed. A pretty ribbon adds to the presentation.

Note: You will need to put a spacer in the bottom of your Clementine box. Use whatever you can find to raise up the bottom of the box about an inch. Salvaged peanuts and a piece of scrap cardboard will do the trick. The spacer is needed to lift the containers because the covers are on. Once the lids are removed, the spacer can also be removed; the containers will now fit.

A Gift Tray of Seedlings

How to:
Alternatively you can pot some small herbs either store bought or share from your garden; just skip the lids.

Wooden Garage Door Transformed Into Small Greenhouse

I built this small greenhouse out of a salvaged wooden garage door some years ago. I used the existing windows on the door for the front and the top of this box: there is no bottom. Since then, I can really extend my growing season. It warms up nicely inside but when the temperature really starts to drop outside it helps to insulate around the pots with leaves or straw.
How to:
Since the garage doors are made already in strips approximately 20 inches wide, making this box is fairly easy. Take the door apart and cut three 54 inch long sections: top, front, and back. The front and the top of the box should be made from the part of the door with windows and the back without. Also, cut two more pieces 18.5 inches wide and 22 inches tall: the sides. I can’t remember why now but I put two strips along the bottom front and along the back top (see arrows) making a combined height of 22 inches.
Screw the four sides of the box together with exterior wood screws. Next place the top on but do not attach: this design doesn’t use hinges. Use a stick to let out excess heat when needed. The box opens completely for planting and harvesting. Paint or stain the whole thing inside and out. I topped my box with a piece of Plexiglas. This gives an added layer of insulation. To attach the Plexiglas to your top, pre-drill holes in it first making sure that your exterior grade wood screws can freely fit through. I learned the hard way that the fiberglass will start to crack if the drill hole isn’t big enough.
A good place to keep your small greenhouse is up against your house. It will be slightly warmer here. Pick a spot that gets a lot of sun. I like it on my deck for quick harvesting and convenient watering. I use mine in the spring to get an early start growing seedlings. And I use it in the fall and winter to grow lettuce and other cold hardy plants. I also love to keep a parsley plant growing most of the winter: I love fresh parsley. During the deepest part of the winter I store potted plants that have died back but can’t stand excessive cold.

DIY Pear Chips: A Delicious Way To Preserve Home-grown Pears

I made these from the pears growing in my yard.

When we moved into our house, we were lucky to find that the previous owners had planted a pear tree. But what to do with all the pears? -dehydrate! I love these dried pear chips. I think they taste even better as chips: probably because the flavor concentrates when dried. The nice thing about dried fruit is that it is very portable. Also, they are a healthy snack to give the kids.

How to: cut off the top and bottom of the pear and thinly slice. No need to peel. You can dry the slices in a food dehydrator but I don’t have one yet. I lay out the fruit in a single layer on cookie sheets and put the trays in the oven set very low. It should heat the air but not cook them. Store the dried chips in a covered container. They don’t need to be stored in the fridge but I often do because they last longer.

The purpose of this post is to inspire you to make some of these tasty treats yourself.

Something Eating Your Cabbage and Broccoli Plants? Cabbage White Butterflies Are Often To Blame

If you are trying to grow cabbage and/or broccoli in your garden (maybe for the first time), it is likely that you have found these caterpillars devouring your would-be dinner. These almost cute green guys are the caterpillar of the Cabbage White butterfly and they are hungry. They love to eat cabbage, broccoli, and other brassicas.

We decided to try growing cabbage as part of our fall garden. Well it didn’t take long before holes started appearing on the leaves. I handpicked the critters off (and fed them to the chickens) but was surprised at how many I collected. I haven’t resorted to chemicals yet. Apparently there is an organic Bt (Bacillus Thuringiensis) spray called Dipel (Brand name) which is a microbial spray that will kill the caterpillars. I’m still hoping I won’t have to resort to spray; even if it is organic.

Check your plants daily and hand pick off any of the caterpillars you find. You must check daily!
Other critters like to munch on your greens such as slugs (see my post on slugs) and other caterpillars. You will need to pick those off too.

Blueberry Crisp Made From Locally Grown Blueberries; From Our Backyard

summer

Glorious blueberries!

We were very excited this year when we finally had enough blueberries from our bushes (at one time) to make a blueberry crisp. I’ve been waiting many years for our bushes to get big. In the past at best we would get handfuls per day. I can’t wait until next year when I hope to have all we can eat with many more to freeze besides. That last sentence reminds me of one of my most favorite children’s books, Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey. You might want to check it out.

If you haven’t tried it, try freezing some blueberries. We call them popsicle berries: for a cool treat pop one or two in your mouth. Delightful! My kids beg for more.

Go ahead, plant some blueberry bushes is your yard and invest in your future.

Blueberry Pickers

I was going to get a picture of the crisp when it was fresh out of the oven but it was gone so fast I missed my chance. I enjoyed this dessert even more because I knew that the berries came from our back yard.

BLUEBERRY CRISP

Blueberries- enough to fill the pie crust, ¼ cup organic sugar, and 2 Tbs. cornstarch then 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice (Sugar, cornstarch and lemon are optional.) I usually skip the extras here.
Combine (with a pastry blender) 1 cup organic unbleached flour, ¾ cups organic oats, ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ cup packed organic brown sugar and ½ cup (1 stick) cold organic butter.
Tend your blueberry bushes all spring and in the summer when they become dotted with flavorful blue dots, go out in the yard and pick enough blueberries to fill the pie pan. Bring them inside, wash and remove any stems. Preheat oven to 375 decrees F. If it is important to you to thicken the blueberry juice and add even more sweetness, stir granulated sugar and cornstarch and then lemon juice with the blueberries. Put the blueberries or blueberry mixture into a pie pan.
I use a hand-crafted-in-Vermont pottery pie pan given to me by my father early in my marriage.


In a bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon. Combine ingredients with a pastry blender, two forks, or your fingers, mix until coarse crumbs form. Top your blueberries.
You will want to put a cookie sheet underneath the pie pan. Bake crisp 35 to 40 minutes or until it looks good. The fruit should be bubbly. Cool slightly and serve with vanilla ice cream.