Edible Container Garden: A recap, a few FAQs and a how-to

This is a sponsored post written by us on behalf of The Home Depot.

Today we’re wrapping up our edible container garden series with a recap, a how-to and answering a few FAQs.

In every gardening class we’ve ever taken, the first thing the teachers say is “make sure your garden is close to your house.  The more you see it, the more you care about it, the better your output will be.”  But did we listen??

Jeanne’s been pretty successful growing food in some raised beds.  But they are deep in her backyard.  And Abby’s abundant greenhouse is at the far edge of her property.  So while we’ve been “lucky” to have success despite the distance from our backdoors, both of us were looking for a way to bring some of our veggies a little closer to the home.  And container gardening brings fresh herbs and lettuce right outside our kitchen doors.

With food prices so high and plenty of empty patio space, we both feel it’s a convenient and cost effective way to increase our garden output this year.

Of course, we wanted the right containers.  And sometimes, it’s easier to figure out what the right container is by seeing what’s available, then going home and dreaming about it before formulating the plan.  So last week we headed to Home Depot to look around and figure it out.

untitled (1 of 1)-14

Then we braved the snow (yes, snow, on April 20th) and went back to the Garden Center to actually get our pots, soil and seeds.  (We were very fortunate to make it out  of the Garden Center still friends as we were both eying the same set of pots!  Good thing there was more than one set available.)

Two days later, in true Montana Spring fashion, the weather was beautiful and we were able to get together and finally plant stuff!

Frequently Asked Questions:

untitled (1 of 1)-13

Which type of soil is best?

Abby here.  I must admit, up until a few days ago I was pretty satisfied with using Organic Choice Potting Mix in my garden beds.  So I won’t bash it because it’s a totally viable choice and, I should say that we’ve been pretty darn successful growing food up to this point.  BUT thanks to Jeanne I now know there are some easy, even better, and cost effective ways to get soil.

Because Jeanne makes her own potting soil.  She uses a blend of organic compost (that she either buys or gets from her compost bin), peat moss and a little vermiculite (all available at HD).  So easy.  And so much less expensive when you’re filling a lot of raised beds and or containers.

Image

So we put together a short video that shows exactly how it’s done. Check it out HERE!

And don’t let the word vermiculite scare you off like it did me (Abby).  I thought it was a fancy, hard to find thing, but turns out its just a very fine natural stone-like substance sold at most garden stores, including Home Depot.

untitled (1 of 1)-9

What is the difference between conventional, organic and heirloom seeds?

  • Heirloom seeds are simply seeds that have been passed down for generations.  They haven’t been tampered with or modified in any lab in any way.  They’re generally open-pollinated and created by nature.  (And this is a good thing!)  The one downside to heirloom seeds is that they are a little more “fragile” in that they are more susceptible to insect infestations and climate issues.  Nothing that can’t be overcome.  And if you want the tastiest fruit and veggies, heirloom is the way to go.
  • Organic seeds are similar to heirloom ones in that they are true seeds.  But some of them are hybrids.  Hybrids that could and do happen in nature, but can also happen in a lab.  Unlike conventional seeds, organic seeds are not genetically modified with genes that cross species, nor are they injected with viruses, or with anything that couldn’t happen in nature.
  • And then, of course, there are conventional seeds.  Which we avoid like the plague.  There’s just no way to know what genes or viruses or insecticides or fungicides are genetically altered or added to the seeds.  Sure, many of them are drought-resistant, insect-resistant, disease-resistant.  And that can be a major draw.  But for us … we’ve just seen and read too much information about how use of GM foods may be related to higher rates of autism, ADHD, Parkinson’s Disease, increased allergic-tendencies, etc.

At the end of the day, seed choice is going to have an impact on your successful growing.  You want to get viable seeds.  You don’t want to pay a lot of money for them.  And you want food that’s going to nourish your family that you will actually eat!

Look at the veggies you buy (at the store and and at the restaurant) and consider planting what you’re going to enjoy.  We suggest finding seeds that are developed locally, that are going to grow in your climate, and that is going to make you happy to feed the food to your family.

Whatever you decide, we’re psyched you’re growing food!  Yay gardens!

untitled (1 of 1)-12

How do you make a raised bed? 

There are so many ways to go about making a raised bed.  People build raised beds from old railroad ties.  They use old tractor tires.  Some use concrete slabs or bricks.  We’ve seen beds out of stone or rocks.  You can use what you have on-hand or buy a kit.

The only real issue to consider is:  Is it safe?

Old railroad ties look awesome, but they can leach oil and carcinogens into the soil that’s going to be growing your veggies.  Same with old tractor tires.  Do you really want to eat veggies that come from potentially poisoned-dirt?

So whatever you decide, our recommendation is to make sure that whatever is touching your soil be untreated, unpainted, unstained and uncontaminated.

If you’re going to build a 4ft x 4ft raised bed with raw materials, this is how Jeanne went about building hers:

We used two 8 ft 1″x 12″ boards, each cut in half.  We screwed them together to form a box (how’s that for descriptive writing?), stapled some weed liner to the bottom and placed them right on top of the grass in our backyard.  The boxes each cost about $24 in raw material.  Then we filled them with our own potting soil (see video above about how it’s made) and got to planting.

We could have gone more complicated, with fancy edges or corner-spikes to hold them into the ground.  But after a couple of years, we’re thrilled with the food that we can grow enough veggies to feed our family of four for the summer and into the fall, very happy with how they are holding up and even happier that we didn’t go overboard spending hundred of dollars on “extras” that we didn’t need.

 We could really go on and on here … get us going on the garden and it’s apparently hard to stop us from rambling!  But we’d love to hear from you all.  

What advice do you have for us all about growing a successful organic garden?  

Got more questions?  Be sure to check out the Garden Club Community Forum or ask us and we’ll try to find the answer!

It’s home improvement time, and The Home Depot has everything you need to #DigIn for Spring. No matter what projects you want to tackle, they have great values on all you need. They’re ready to help you with renovation ideas and expert advice, too.

Get over $300 in email exclusive savings each year, sneak peeks on new products, monthly lawn & garden ideas for your region and access to The Home Depot’s gardening experts.
Click HERE to join the world’s largest garden community today! Or go to http://gardenclub.homedepot.com/ to see some of the many benefits of membership.

This is a sponsored post written by us on behalf of The Home Depot.

more real food real deals at Costco …

Remember last week when Abby brought you that great list of real food deals at Costco?

Well we made our monthly trip there a few days ago and discovered a few more!

Image

Fruits & Veggies:

  • SunMaid Organic Raisins – 2 / 2 lb bags – $8.89
  • Made in Nature Organic Caimyrna Dried Figs – 40 oz bag – $9.59
  • Sunrise Growers Organic Antioxidant Blend frozen berries – I forgot to write down the price and now I can’t find my receipt … and we bought THREE – Three-pound bags!  We go through these frozen berries like crazy in the winter because of the lack of available fresh fruit.  They are a staple in our smoothies!

Grains & Pasta:

  • Premium Gold Organic Flax Cold Milled – 3 lb bag – $5.89
  • Harvest Medley Blend USDA Organic Rice – $7.39
  • Garofalo Organic Short Cuts Pasta – 6 / 1.1 lb bags – $7.99
  • Tru Roots Organic Quinoa – 4 lb bag – $8.59

Canned Goods/Pantry Basics:

(the only two of these we actually buy are the Garbanzo Beans and occasionally the Blue Agave Nectar because we make the rest from the tomatoes we grow in our garden … Tomatoes are so acidic, and the BPAs in the lining of the cans can leach into the food, but sometimes the benefits outway the dangers.  It’s up to you to make the decision for your family!):

  • Organic S&W Garbanzo Beans – 8 /15 oz cans – $6.79
  • KS Organic Diced Tomatoes – 8 /14.5 oz cans – $5.99
  • KS Organic Stewed Tomatoes – 8 /14.5 oz cans – $5.99
  • KS Organic Tomato Paste – 12 / 6 oz cans – $5.99
  • KS Organic Tomato Sauce – 12 / 15 oz cans – $6.99
  • KS Organic Salsa – 2 / 38 oz jars – $9.99
  • Wholesome Sweetners Organic Blue Agave Nectar – 2 / 36 oz jars – $9.99

It feels good to know that it is possible to find real food deals at Costco … doesn’t it?

What about you?  What deals are you finding in your local big box store?

– Jeanne

We’re Linked Up:
Domestic Superhero
The Nourishing Gourmet

A cure for Spring Fever: The Home Depot

We’ve been spoiled with warmish Montana weather these last few weeks, and it has us itching to be outside every chance we get.

The fresh air has got us creating our lawn and garden honey-do lists (maybe we should call them the “Mama-do” lists?).

Abby’s list is scattered in her head, on her phone and on random papers, but Jeanne managed to get some of it into her notebook.

April To-Do 2013

So when Home Depot asked if we wanted to spruce up our lawn and gardens as a part of their Garden Center DIY Spring campaign, we thought about it for an entire four seconds and then squealed “YES” like a pair of stay-at-home mamas with way too many projects to tackle!

Then we made the only logical decision two overly enthusiastic moms would: we decided to take the littles to The Home Depot Garden Center and start dreaming.  (Okay, so maybe  it wasn’t actually “logical” to take four preschoolers on a dream-tour of the Garden Center … We we’re quickly reminded the only thing you do with four kids at any store is wrangle.)

untitled (1 of 1)-4

Luckily though, our favorite local park is just a mile or two from The Home Depot.  So we knew where we were going next to let the kids run wild and give us mamas get a chance to talk.

We both agree that the best part about this is we actually go to The Home Depot.  A lot!  In fact, this week Abby took two trips there to get 17 big bags of organic potting mix for her greenhouse and Jeanne was there for more seed starting fiber pots because her rosemary, basil and watermelon are desperate for transplanting.

But back to our trip with all the kids…

Not only are these two littles super cute, they’re showing off the only flowers currently being sold at our local Home Depot.
untitled (1 of 1)-6

It’s barely April.  We still have two full months of potential snowy weather… so you can’t blame the Garden Center for being a little modest in the plant department.

untitled (1 of 1)-8

But what’s lacking in plants, is made up for in spades with seeds and tools and supplies to get our Zone 4 yards and gardens ready to be planted.  (Did you notice that Jeanne needs to make a few more raised beds?  And Abby didn’t tell you this yet, but she’s got a compost bin on her list.)

Plus, it’s so nice to have online resources like the Home Depot’s Garden Club to help us start planning and tackling some projects.

untitled (1 of 1)-3

Did you know that becoming a member of the Garden Club gets you a first look on their new products, regional garden ideas, access to garden experts (we could all use a little help, right?) and over $300 in exclusive email savings each year?

untitled (1 of 1)-9

Joining the online Garden Club takes about 20 seconds and gives you access to how-to videos from experts, monthly to-do lists based on your region and a $5 coupon towards your next $50 purchase.

untitled (1 of 1)-5

The Nitty Gritty:

It’s home improvement time, and The Home Depot has everything you need for spring. No matter what projects you want to tackle, The Home Depot has you covered and can help you #DigIn to Spring.

Spring is the perfect time for all your outdoor home renovations. Shop The Home Depot for terrific values on new patio furniture, landscape supplies such as fertilizer and potting soil and outdoor grills. Keep your lawn and garden looking great, too, with the huge selection of lawn mowers, edgers and trimmers, and garden tools.

Visit The Home Depot Garden Club for product ideas from kick-starting your Spring with seed starter kits to building a window birdfeeder.

What’s on YOUR to do list for April?

This is a sponsored post written by us on behalf of The Home Depot.

the gift of time …

Abby wrote this wonderful post about spending time with her oldest boy and how much she cherishes that time …

One of the things I think about now and again is all the incredible one-on-one time I got to spend with our oldest in the first few years of her life.

We did everything together.

We went to the zoo.

DSC01314

We went shopping.

IMG_2046

We went on road trips.

IMG_1027

Nature walks.

IMG_0871

Swimming.

IMG_0120

We even did yoga together.

IMG_2186

And I can honestly say that (next to my mom), she’s my best friend.  I know I’ll never love anyone the same way.  And I feel so blessed that we have had this time …

At the same time, I think … I don’t have the same opportunities with our little guy.

We just aren’t alone that much.

Either the sis is around.

IMG_0047

Or the dad.

IMG_4541

Or both.

Sledding 2

There’s rarely a moment when it’s just me and my favorite little man.

photo copy

But we’re working on it.

IMG_4526

Because I love him like no other, too.  And I don’t want to wake up one day and realize how much we might have missed.

– Jeanne

DIY natural citrus cleaner

I saw this idea on Pinterest a few weeks ago (originally found HERE on Fountain Avenue Kitchen), and thought it was a fantastic idea.

I already clean with vinegar, and my kids like oranges so I figured why not give it a try.

Image-34

What you need:

  • mason jar with lid
  • peel of 2 or 3 oranges
  • vinegar
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • water
  • spray bottle

Place the orange peel in the jar and cover with vinegar. After about 10 days, remove the orange peel and put equal parts vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and water in a spray bottle for a green natural cleaner.

Costs WAY less than commercial products, and safe to use around the kids.

 

We’re linked up on Natural Living Mamma!

DIY desk … part 3 … FINALLY!

‘Twas the night before Saturday.

And all through the shop, not a creature was stirring, not even the mop.

But Mama was home planning.  The Cowboy was there, too

Resting up for a Saturday that proved to be true.

The pieces were laid on a sawhorse with care.

In the hopes that a babysitter would soon be avail.

(Okay … that’s all I can muster … what with it not being Christmas and all.)

But maybe you’re guessing by my really bad ode that I finally had time on Saturday to get to Suzy’s shop and work on this dang desk I’ve been putting together for … EVER.

All the pieces were cut.

Routed (by Suzy).

Planed (by Suzy).

Sanded.

Stained.

Lacquered (by Suzy).

And ready to assemble.

All I needed was five hours (okay, six).

IMG_6194

And help watching the littles.

IMG_6207

And, okay, I’ll say it … a little help from the Cowboy.

IMG_6202

…because he wanted me to attach the desk-top with hinges rather than just screw it together so that it would be easier to transport.

IMG_6201

And more help from Suzy… IMG_6232 …because I had trouble with the shelves … They were complicated (on an angle, and when I put them in it changed the angle of the legs) … and kind of got screwed up.

But she fixed ’em!

And now it’s DONE! IMG_6234 The little guy tested the legs for sturdiness.

We packed the pieces in the truck.

And all of a sudden I have pressure to get more done because now I can’t use the excuse that I don’t have my own space.

IMG_6357 (Maybe I can use the excuse that I might need a new chair?)

What excuses do you use? (Not that you make excuses.)

xo,

Jeanne

Don’t forget to register for our Valentine’s Day GIVEAWAY! … Four more chances to win!

it’s all about multitasking

You know how sometimes you discover something that you’d wish you knew all along?

That was me last week when I realized I could clean the bathroom while I clean my kids

photo-7

I should note that our master bathroom is on the medium size, and I am only a few feet from the little guy at all times. Always, always, always keep an eye on your little ones around water. 

In my opinion… the only thing that makes this possible is using completely natural cleaning products.  Not only is vinegar completely safe, it is also a great disinfectant.  

Simply mix 5 parts water with 1 part white vinegar in a spray bottle.  (I just eyeball it.)  

Image-25 I keep my cleaning solution hanging in the bathroom, and wipe down all surfaces when the are in the tub (usually every other day).

So while this might not seem like a huge discovery for some… it’s a huge help for me.  2 birds with one stone!

Anyone else have any multitasking tips???  I’d love to hear them!

-Abby

I couldn’t help it … and I’m blaming Abby … and Suzy … and Young House Love

Jeanne here.

After Abby took part in this $20 thrift store challenge from Young House Love, I have had an itch to head out to the Thrift Store.

It’s not that I needed anything.

Not really anyway.

I mean …

I’m constantly looking for interesting “letters” because I’m very slowly compiling an alphabet wall for the kids’ room inspired by this example I found on Pinterest.

f26e0641cd6e2b2a3445f43c60b660a9
One day, our nursery wall will look like this!

But today … my plan was to go out to Suzy’s and finish my desk.

Unfortunately, Suzy was in the middle of a major lacquer-job … not really a place for two littles to be running around.  And I didn’t really want to be breathing in lacquer, either.  Especially not in an enclosed space.

So we didn’t even unload.

We just gave Suzy a wave, and wished her luck with her project, loaded up the dogs and headed out.

The thing is, Suzy’s home is about 3 miles from a great Thrift Store.

IMG_6026 I had a $20 in my wallet.

And the kids seemed game.

IMG_6023

Sort of.

So I went for it.  I took the Young House Love challenge.

And I’m pretty psyched.

Because if I hadn’t taken the challenge, I wouldn’t have come home with red garden boots!

3 dollar garden boots

Or these adorable hearts that will hold whatever we decide to gift our two littles on Valentine’s Day.

50 cent hearts (Until I happened on these cuties I wasn’t planning on getting them anything for the Hallmark holiday.  Now what am I going to do?)

The littlest Cowboy wouldn’t have gotten a new cow to add to his collection (not that he needed another cow … but it’s just so cute!).

50 cent cow And our aspiring animal doctor wouldn’t have been able to practice her craft on parrots, cats and dogs with near as much accuracy and precision.

2.25 animal hospital (Not pictured – the animal hospital’s roof opens and inside there are play vitamins, vaccines, a feed bowl, a working flashlight, a tongue depressor and a can of dog food … it’s kind of awesome.)

I also got two shirts and a pair of pants for the boy ($5) and four new chapter books for our girl ($2).

So … thanks to Abby … and Suzy … and Young House Love …

Without each one of you (plus $13 out of the $20 I brought with me), my house would have a lot less stuff in it …

With Love,

Jeanne

PS – Don’t forget to register for our Real Food Challenge and Valentine’s Day GIVEAWAY!

$300 worth of stuff for 20 bucks

**just in case you’re interested… we’re in the middle of a giveaway until Valentine’s Day!  Check it out HERE!**

I have a blog, I read YoungHouseLove daily, and I’m a regular at a few of our local second hand shops.

So this just made sense.

Macklemore-Challenge

The truth is I’ve never actually heard of Macklemore or their new song Thrift Shop, but I still wanted to join in.

In short, the goal was to take $20 and see what you could score second hand.  I happen to think I did pretty darn good.

But before we got started I was supposed to snap a cute picture like this of Sherry’s holding her $20 dollar bill.

www.younghouselove.com
www.younghouselove.com

But come on people… it was me and my two littles and who the heck was going to take my picture?  Just envision freezing temperatures, a little one on my hip and a slightly bigger one begging to get a toy.

But I did find some pretty awesome stuff.

First up… a basically brand new Canon printer scored for $3 dollars.  This was actually at a yard sale before I hit up the thrift store.  The woman selling it claimed the lady who donated it was just a wealthy woman needing to declutter.  I googled it before I grabbed it, and turns out it’s a $200 printer!  Score!  It was especially needed since our current printer has quarters all jammed in it.  Thanks Elijah!

photo-13

This “yard sale” was on the MSU campus, and we had to walk FOREVER to find it.  And then I had to walk FOREVER back with the heavy printer on one hip and the 26 pounder on the other hip.  It wasn’t pretty.

$3 dollars down… $17 more to go.

Once we made it to the thrift store, we had to look at the toys first but I ended up scoring ten gorgeous gold chargers.  They were originally from Pier 1 and most still had the original $8 stickers on the bottom.  I scored them for $1.50 a piece.  Picture doesn’t do these things any justice… they are in perfect shape!

Image-18

I think they are pretty awesome.  Now I just need to cook a fancy meal and invite friends over!  Jeanne??

Two dollars left and we ended up with a $.69 Buzz Lightyear toy for Elijah that he’s been playing with ever since.  Money well spent.

And these little clothes down here… we’ve had them for a while.  But I scored them all for either a quarter or two a while back…. along with most of the other clothes in my boys; closet.  I highly recommend shopping second hand for your little ones!

Image-17

I know Jeanne has discovered some great finds before.. what about you guys?  Anyone else there love seeing what fun things you might find?

-Abby

a DIY desk – part 2

Jeanne here …

You may recall that I’m in the process of building my own desk and setting up a home office.

I had very high hopes to be showing off a completed desk by this post.

IMG_5706 I’d be lying if I didn’t think I’d be typing this post from my new “home office.” 🙂

IMG_5699

But I’m happy to report …

IMG_5710

… all the components are done.

IMG_5717

Sanded.

Stained.

IMG_5714
Here’s Suzy “Vanna White-ing” the shelf as it will appear on the final desk.

And awaiting assembly.

So …

Next time …

My personally-hand-crafted desk in my new home-office.