Ordering Seed For Spring Planting + My Favorite Seed Companies

Feb 24, 2018

BLOG

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It’s that time of year again!

The time when I am glued to my comfortable leather chair in the library room paging through the three foot tall stack of seed catalogs and deciding which seeds I should plant this year.

Well, that was a bit of an exaggeration, but I do have a sizable pile of seed catalogs to look through.

The decision can be daunting – reading all of the colorful descriptions and deciding on just one variety of each kind of vegetable or flower – but it can be done!

This year it is particularly important that I choose wisely, since I will most likely have a garden tour in June (still undecided on that).

I thought that since I am already so intent on pushing through with the rest of my seed orders, I may as well write a post explaining my process.

Here goes nothing!

It all started in late 2017, when I received the seed catalogs that I had requested from various seed companies (my five favorites are listed below). If you don’t feel like receiving catalogs, you can always just search their online store (most good seed companies have websites to accompany their catalogs). I prefer to order the catalog, since some seed companies provide pictures with every plant description. This helps me organize all of my thoughts and see all of my options on one page, versus scrolling though the options on the website. I can also highlight the varieties I like and come back later to narrow down the selections to the one or two that I will end up purchasing.

Once the first catalogs started to arrive, I immediately set to work browsing and using the pictures as a guide to what each flower and vegetable variety will look like.

From there it is mostly a matter of personal preference. Below are a few questions that could help you decide what is best for your garden:

What colors appeal to me?

Are there particular vegetables that I never eat and, therefore, should not waste money on?

Do I have the space for it?

What is my soil like (an important, but often overlooked question when ordering seeds)?

What will its purpose be?

Do I have a designated spot in mind?

There are an endless amount of questions like these I could ask to help me narrow down my selections to only the most necessary and/or interesting.

Once I select the right varieties (and hopefully don’t go too far over my original budget), all I have to do is order them via the website. Most catalogs still have mail-in order forms, but who wants to fill one of those out, pay to send it in, wait several days, and then have to wait an equally long time to get the seeds back?

I know I don’t.

 

My 5 Favorite Seed Companies:

Here are my five favorite seed companies that I order from on a regular basis:

Baker Creek Seeds– Great source of heirloom and non-GMO seeds. Huge selection!

Chiltern Seeds– This UK-based seed company ships worldwide. They carry many varieties that are hard to find in the US and provide large quantities of seed per packet.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds– Good company for organic, modern vegetable varieties. Has an impressive selection of cut flower seed!

Prairie Moon Nursery– Fantastic source of native wildflower and grass seed. From my experience, the germination rates have always been above 90%.

Seed Savers Exchange– Another great source of heirloom, open-pollinated seed. They sustain one of the largest seed banks in the US – over 25,000 varieties and counting!

Ordering Seed For Spring Planting + My Favorite Seed Companies

Feb 24, 2018

 

 

It’s that time of year again!

The time when I am glued to my comfortable leather chair in the library room paging through the three foot tall stack of seed catalogs and deciding which seeds I should plant this year.

Well, that was a bit of an exaggeration, but I do have a sizable pile of seed catalogs to look through.

The decision can be daunting – reading all of the colorful descriptions and deciding on just one variety of each kind of vegetable or flower – but it can be done!

This year it is particularly important that I choose wisely, since I will most likely have a garden tour in June (still undecided on that).

I thought that since I am already so intent on pushing through with the rest of my seed orders, I may as well write a post explaining my process.

Here goes nothing!

It all started in late 2017, when I received the seed catalogs that I had requested from various seed companies (my five favorites are listed below). If you don’t feel like receiving catalogs, you can always just search their online store (most good seed companies have websites to accompany their catalogs). I prefer to order the catalog, since some seed companies provide pictures with every plant description. This helps me organize all of my thoughts and see all of my options on one page, versus scrolling though the options on the website. I can also highlight the varieties I like and come back later to narrow down the selections to the one or two that I will end up purchasing.

Once the first catalogs started to arrive, I immediately set to work browsing and using the pictures as a guide to what each flower and vegetable variety will look like.

From there it is mostly a matter of personal preference. Below are a few questions that could help you decide what is best for your garden:

What colors appeal to me?

Are there particular vegetables that I never eat and, therefore, should not waste money on?

Do I have the space for it?

What is my soil like (an important, but often overlooked question when ordering seeds)?

What will its purpose be?

Do I have a designated spot in mind?

There are an endless amount of questions like these I could ask to help me narrow down my selections to only the most necessary and/or interesting.

Once I select the right varieties (and hopefully don’t go too far over my original budget), all I have to do is order them via the website. Most catalogs still have mail-in order forms, but who wants to fill one of those out, pay to send it in, wait several days, and then have to wait an equally long time to get the seeds back?

I know I don’t.

 

My 5 Favorite Seed Companies:

Here are my five favorite seed companies that I order from on a regular basis:

Baker Creek Seeds– Great source of heirloom and non-GMO seeds. Huge selection!

Chiltern Seeds– This UK-based seed company ships worldwide. They carry many varieties that are hard to find in the US and provide large quantities of seed per packet.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds– Good company for organic, modern vegetable varieties. Has an impressive selection of cut flower seed!

Prairie Moon Nursery– Fantastic source of native wildflower and grass seed. From my experience, the germination rates have always been above 90%.

Seed Savers Exchange– Another great source of heirloom, open-pollinated seed. They sustain one of the largest seed banks in the US – over 25,000 varieties and counting!

Ordering Seed For Spring Planting + My Favorite Seed Companies

Feb 24, 2018

 

 

It’s that time of year again!

The time when I am glued to my comfortable leather chair in the library room paging through the three foot tall stack of seed catalogs and deciding which seeds I should plant this year.

Well, that was a bit of an exaggeration, but I do have a sizable pile of seed catalogs to look through.

The decision can be daunting – reading all of the colorful descriptions and deciding on just one variety of each kind of vegetable or flower – but it can be done!

This year it is particularly important that I choose wisely, since I will most likely have a garden tour in June (still undecided on that).

I thought that since I am already so intent on pushing through with the rest of my seed orders, I may as well write a post explaining my process.

Here goes nothing!

It all started in late 2017, when I received the seed catalogs that I had requested from various seed companies (my five favorites are listed below). If you don’t feel like receiving catalogs, you can always just search their online store (most good seed companies have websites to accompany their catalogs). I prefer to order the catalog, since some seed companies provide pictures with every plant description. This helps me organize all of my thoughts and see all of my options on one page, versus scrolling though the options on the website. I can also highlight the varieties I like and come back later to narrow down the selections to the one or two that I will end up purchasing.

Once the first catalogs started to arrive, I immediately set to work browsing and using the pictures as a guide to what each flower and vegetable variety will look like.

From there it is mostly a matter of personal preference. Below are a few questions that could help you decide what is best for your garden:

What colors appeal to me?

Are there particular vegetables that I never eat and, therefore, should not waste money on?

Do I have the space for it?

What is my soil like (an important, but often overlooked question when ordering seeds)?

What will its purpose be?

Do I have a designated spot in mind?

There are an endless amount of questions like these I could ask to help me narrow down my selections to only the most necessary and/or interesting.

Once I select the right varieties (and hopefully don’t go too far over my original budget), all I have to do is order them via the website. Most catalogs still have mail-in order forms, but who wants to fill one of those out, pay to send it in, wait several days, and then have to wait an equally long time to get the seeds back?

I know I don’t.

 

My 5 Favorite Seed Companies:

Here are my five favorite seed companies that I order from on a regular basis:

Baker Creek Seeds– Great source of heirloom and non-GMO seeds. Huge selection!

Chiltern Seeds– This UK-based seed company ships worldwide. They carry many varieties that are hard to find in the US and provide large quantities of seed per packet.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds– Good company for organic, modern vegetable varieties. Has an impressive selection of cut flower seed!

Prairie Moon Nursery– Fantastic source of native wildflower and grass seed. From my experience, the germination rates have always been above 90%.

Seed Savers Exchange– Another great source of heirloom, open-pollinated seed. They sustain one of the largest seed banks in the US – over 25,000 varieties and counting!

More Posts...

The Garden Scout – Update No. 1

Feb 9, 2018

BLOG

the

Hello friends!

Long time no see.

I know…I’ve taken a temporary hiatus from writing due to an incredibly busy school year, a new job, and a mountain of garden work to prepare for the upcoming spring.

My seed orders have been placed and new beds have been planned. Overall, I think this year will be the best yet!

I’ve also been busy on a LOT of awesome behind-the-scenes work for The Garden Scout for the upcoming year – developing new posts, designing a new logo, travelling to some awesome places, and of course, taking hundreds of pictures.

“So, what about this mission of yours?” you may ask.

As most of you know from reading my about page, I have a mission to connect the wisdom and experience of seasoned gardeners with those seeking to grow their gardening knowledge.

Being a 17-year-old with a tight budget, I find that is much easier said than done.  However, I have some ideas rolling around!

I’d like to connect people that share an interest in gardening with one another by interviewing gardeners who have a particular interest or area of expertise and making that information available to everyone.

I also love the idea of passing gardening knowledge from the older generation to the younger generation. If you happen to know of anyone in your area who is super knowledgeable about a certain type of gardening, contact me!

Building a sense of community through developing an interactive forum is something else I am thinking about.

Those are a few ideas about how I will carry out my mission. Now let’s move on to some goals for 2018!

Goal No. 1: Start a mailing list

Starting a mailing list may just seem like a matter of just signing up at some “email marketing” company and sending emails out to my subscribers. Although that’s the gist of what an email list is, it is much more involved than that. I have to figure out the right company to host my emails from, as well as figuring out the correct settings and then setting up the actual mailing list. Unfortunately, this is one aspect of The Garden Scout that has been neglected for the past few months, but I’m positive that 2018 will yield a productive email list!

Goal No. 2: Get a better computer to manage The Garden Scout

A new computer has been on my wishlist for years now, but until recently, has not been the most important item on the list. A better camera, this website, and my garden itself have all been priorities in the past. Now that I’ve finally managed to save up and buy a new camera and start this website, I’m finally able to focus on saving up for a computer. I also (as I’ve previously mentioned) have gotten a job at a local health food store (much more fun than it sounds), so hopefully with my new job I can save up for the next step.

Goal No. 3: Have a guest post on The Garden Scout

This has been a goal from the start. I want to have someone besides myself contribute to The Garden Scout and share their area of expertise with you to give the best information possible on a subject (better than me researching something that I’m not already familiar with). I can’t wait to see this goal become a reality in 2018!

Goal No. 4: Connect with other gardeners around the country

I’ve already done this a good deal since I’ve always had a passion for gardening, but I want to continue to meet new gardeners around the country and find out about their style of gardening. For that matter, I’d be interested in meeting non-gardeners who are interested in growing plants and helping them start a garden. If you fall into either one of these categories, feel free to comment down below and express your interest on either learning about a particular topic, or your passion for plants.

Goal No. 5: Figure out social media

As you can probably tell by the post dates on my Instagram, I have struggled to regularly maintain a presence on social media. I’m just not a very media-oriented person. I’d prefer to spend my free time reading a book or learning a new technique in my garden then sitting at the kitchen table, scrunched down over my phone trying to craft a good post. Nevertheless, I see social media as a necessary thing to do in this day and age, so I will work on trying to improve both my regularity and quality.

Goal No. 6: Improve both quantity and quality of posts

This is a hard one. Like I said about social media previously, I have a problem (as most incredibly busy people do) with posting on a regular basis and continually producing high-quality content. I’m truly wanting The Garden Scout to provide the best experience possible to you, my readers, in both information and the way that information is presented (graphics/pictures). This year I want to work on building up a collection of solid posts that discuss a range of topics in the realm of gardening.

Whew!

That was a long list that took even longer to write than it should have. Goals are one of those things that I hate to create unless I know for sure I can stick to them, so I had to think hard about which of my crazy ideas actually seem feasible and which are, well, crazy. Lol

I think that about covers every minute detail that is whizzing through my mind right now (save a few surprises).

If you’ve read all the way until now, thanks for being interested in the headway of this project, and until the next post (hopefully soon), happy gardening!

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


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The Garden Scout – Update No. 1

Feb 9, 2018

Hello friends!

Long time no see.

I know…I’ve taken a temporary hiatus from writing due to an incredibly busy school year, a new job, and a mountain of garden work to prepare for the upcoming spring.

My seed orders have been placed and new beds have been planned. Overall, I think this year will be the best yet!

I’ve also been busy on a LOT of awesome behind-the-scenes work for The Garden Scout for the upcoming year – developing new posts, designing a new logo, travelling to some awesome places, and of course, taking hundreds of pictures.

“So, what about this mission of yours?” you may ask.

As most of you know from reading my about page, I have a mission to connect the wisdom and experience of seasoned gardeners with those seeking to grow their gardening knowledge.

Being a 17-year-old with a tight budget, I find that is much easier said than done.  However, I have some ideas rolling around!

I’d like to connect people that share an interest in gardening with one another by interviewing gardeners who have a particular interest or area of expertise and making that information available to everyone.

I also love the idea of passing gardening knowledge from the older generation to the younger generation. If you happen to know of anyone in your area who is super knowledgeable about a certain type of gardening, contact me!

Building a sense of community through developing an interactive forum is something else I am thinking about.

Those are a few ideas about how I will carry out my mission. Now let’s move on to some goals for 2018!

Goal No. 1: Start a mailing list

Starting a mailing list may just seem like a matter of just signing up at some “email marketing” company and sending emails out to my subscribers. Although that’s the gist of what an email list is, it is much more involved than that. I have to figure out the right company to host my emails from, as well as figuring out the correct settings and then setting up the actual mailing list. Unfortunately, this is one aspect of The Garden Scout that has been neglected for the past few months, but I’m positive that 2018 will yield a productive email list!

Goal No. 2: Get a better computer to manage The Garden Scout

A new computer has been on my wishlist for years now, but until recently, has not been the most important item on the list. A better camera, this website, and my garden itself have all been priorities in the past. Now that I’ve finally managed to save up and buy a new camera and start this website, I’m finally able to focus on saving up for a computer. I also (as I’ve previously mentioned) have gotten a job at a local health food store (much more fun than it sounds), so hopefully with my new job I can save up for the next step.

Goal No. 3: Have a guest post on The Garden Scout

This has been a goal from the start. I want to have someone besides myself contribute to The Garden Scout and share their area of expertise with you to give the best information possible on a subject (better than me researching something that I’m not already familiar with). I can’t wait to see this goal become a reality in 2018!

Goal No. 4: Connect with other gardeners around the country

I’ve already done this a good deal since I’ve always had a passion for gardening, but I want to continue to meet new gardeners around the country and find out about their style of gardening. For that matter, I’d be interested in meeting non-gardeners who are interested in growing plants and helping them start a garden. If you fall into either one of these categories, feel free to comment down below and express your interest on either learning about a particular topic, or your passion for plants.

Goal No. 5: Figure out social media

As you can probably tell by the post dates on my Instagram, I have struggled to regularly maintain a presence on social media. I’m just not a very media-oriented person. I’d prefer to spend my free time reading a book or learning a new technique in my garden then sitting at the kitchen table, scrunched down over my phone trying to craft a good post. Nevertheless, I see social media as a necessary thing to do in this day and age, so I will work on trying to improve both my regularity and quality.

Goal No. 6: Improve both quantity and quality of posts

This is a hard one. Like I said about social media previously, I have a problem (as most incredibly busy people do) with posting on a regular basis and continually producing high-quality content. I’m truly wanting The Garden Scout to provide the best experience possible to you, my readers, in both information and the way that information is presented (graphics/pictures). This year I want to work on building up a collection of solid posts that discuss a range of topics in the realm of gardening.

Whew!

That was a long list that took even longer to write than it should have. Goals are one of those things that I hate to create unless I know for sure I can stick to them, so I had to think hard about which of my crazy ideas actually seem feasible and which are, well, crazy. Lol

I think that about covers every minute detail that is whizzing through my mind right now (save a few surprises).

If you’ve read all the way until now, thanks for being interested in the headway of this project, and until the next post (hopefully soon), happy gardening!

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


!


!


Submit

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

The Garden Scout – Update No. 1

Feb 9, 2018

Hello friends!

Long time no see.

I know…I’ve taken a temporary hiatus from writing due to an incredibly busy school year, a new job, and a mountain of garden work to prepare for the upcoming spring.

My seed orders have been placed and new beds have been planned. Overall, I think this year will be the best yet!

I’ve also been busy on a LOT of awesome behind-the-scenes work for The Garden Scout for the upcoming year – developing new posts, designing a new logo, travelling to some awesome places, and of course, taking hundreds of pictures.

“So, what about this mission of yours?” you may ask.

As most of you know from reading my about page, I have a mission to connect the wisdom and experience of seasoned gardeners with those seeking to grow their gardening knowledge.

Being a 17-year-old with a tight budget, I find that is much easier said than done.  However, I have some ideas rolling around!

I’d like to connect people that share an interest in gardening with one another by interviewing gardeners who have a particular interest or area of expertise and making that information available to everyone.

I also love the idea of passing gardening knowledge from the older generation to the younger generation. If you happen to know of anyone in your area who is super knowledgeable about a certain type of gardening, contact me!

Building a sense of community through developing an interactive forum is something else I am thinking about.

Those are a few ideas about how I will carry out my mission. Now let’s move on to some goals for 2018!

Goal No. 1: Start a mailing list

Starting a mailing list may just seem like a matter of just signing up at some “email marketing” company and sending emails out to my subscribers. Although that’s the gist of what an email list is, it is much more involved than that. I have to figure out the right company to host my emails from, as well as figuring out the correct settings and then setting up the actual mailing list. Unfortunately, this is one aspect of The Garden Scout that has been neglected for the past few months, but I’m positive that 2018 will yield a productive email list!

Goal No. 2: Get a better computer to manage The Garden Scout

A new computer has been on my wishlist for years now, but until recently, has not been the most important item on the list. A better camera, this website, and my garden itself have all been priorities in the past. Now that I’ve finally managed to save up and buy a new camera and start this website, I’m finally able to focus on saving up for a computer. I also (as I’ve previously mentioned) have gotten a job at a local health food store (much more fun than it sounds), so hopefully with my new job I can save up for the next step.

Goal No. 3: Have a guest post on The Garden Scout

This has been a goal from the start. I want to have someone besides myself contribute to The Garden Scout and share their area of expertise with you to give the best information possible on a subject (better than me researching something that I’m not already familiar with). I can’t wait to see this goal become a reality in 2018!

Goal No. 4: Connect with other gardeners around the country

I’ve already done this a good deal since I’ve always had a passion for gardening, but I want to continue to meet new gardeners around the country and find out about their style of gardening. For that matter, I’d be interested in meeting non-gardeners who are interested in growing plants and helping them start a garden. If you fall into either one of these categories, feel free to comment down below and express your interest on either learning about a particular topic, or your passion for plants.

Goal No. 5: Figure out social media

As you can probably tell by the post dates on my Instagram, I have struggled to regularly maintain a presence on social media. I’m just not a very media-oriented person. I’d prefer to spend my free time reading a book or learning a new technique in my garden then sitting at the kitchen table, scrunched down over my phone trying to craft a good post. Nevertheless, I see social media as a necessary thing to do in this day and age, so I will work on trying to improve both my regularity and quality.

Goal No. 6: Improve both quantity and quality of posts

This is a hard one. Like I said about social media previously, I have a problem (as most incredibly busy people do) with posting on a regular basis and continually producing high-quality content. I’m truly wanting The Garden Scout to provide the best experience possible to you, my readers, in both information and the way that information is presented (graphics/pictures). This year I want to work on building up a collection of solid posts that discuss a range of topics in the realm of gardening.

Whew!

That was a long list that took even longer to write than it should have. Goals are one of those things that I hate to create unless I know for sure I can stick to them, so I had to think hard about which of my crazy ideas actually seem feasible and which are, well, crazy. Lol

I think that about covers every minute detail that is whizzing through my mind right now (save a few surprises).

If you’ve read all the way until now, thanks for being interested in the headway of this project, and until the next post (hopefully soon), happy gardening!

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


!


!


Submit

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

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Designing A Four-Season Garden

Dec 14, 2017

BLOG

the

I don’t know about you, but I like a garden that changes throughout the seasons. I find the suburban plantings that only use evergreens for “year-round interest” boring. A certain percentage of the plants in my garden are evergreens, but I don’t overplant. Like the old mantra says, “everything is good in moderation.” The key is learning the right combination of different plant types to display not only variety and originality, but also emphasize the seasons. For instance, if it snows in your area, you might consider planting shrubs and trees with interesting winter forms, such as Contorted Hazel or Weeping Willow.

I find that the traditional vegetable garden can look extremely flat and bare in winter when nothing is growing, so I’ve started planting fruiting shrubs such as Goji Berries and Blueberries to add not only height, but also fall color and fruit. That way I get multiple uses from a single spot in the garden. I’ve also been toying around with the idea of allowing climbers, such as clematis, to scramble through my shrubs and provide some color at a time when the shrubs themselves don’t have any special interest. That way I get four seasons of enjoyment in a fairly small space (Blueberries and Goji Berries both take up roughly a 5 x 5 foot area).

Another way to provide seasonal interest is the idea of layering, or “sandwiching”, plants into a fairly small area. For instance, in just 6 square feet I could plant Daffodils and Crocus for early spring interest, a low-growing groundcover such as a variety of Strawberry (remember, multiple uses!), fall flowering bulbs like Autumn Crocus (Colchicum autumnale), and a variety of Japanese Anemone. That gives you three seasons of interest in a tiny space. I could also (in my area) plant an evergreen such rosemary or lavender to add a structural element along with a delicious fragrance.

You also want to consider what effect your climate will have on the design. Do you get excessive winter rainfall? Are your summers humid or arid? How about the temperatures? What is the warmest and coldest it usually reaches in your area?

All of these questions can play a useful role in developing a four-season garden. If you get excessive winter rain like I do, you could plant Salix alba ‘Vitellina’ to provide some winter color in the form of bright yellow twigs. I also have a spot in my yard that is fairly sandy, so I plant natives and grasses that are acclimated to the spot.

One often overlooked possibility is designing for frost. In my area, the air is extremely humid. That causes masses of hoar frost to develop on every surface. By planting grasses, roses that bear hips (fruit), and late-blooming asters, I can create a garden that is as beautiful at the first frost as it is in the spring.

Selecting plants that have multiple seasons of interest can help you truly create a four-season garden. I’m still experimenting with fall and winter plant ideas because that’s when my garden seems to fade away and lose interest until spring. Every year it gets better!

How about you? Do you have a particular time of year in your garden that seems to lack interest? I’d love to discuss this topic further in the comments below (I could have written all day on designing for seasonal interest!). 🙂

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


!


!


Submit

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Designing A Four-Season Garden

Dec 14, 2017

I don’t know about you, but I like a garden that changes throughout the seasons. I find the suburban plantings that only use evergreens for “year-round interest” boring. A certain percentage of the plants in my garden are evergreens, but I don’t overplant. Like the old mantra says, “everything is good in moderation.” The key is learning the right combination of different plant types to display not only variety and originality, but also emphasize the seasons. For instance, if it snows in your area, you might consider planting shrubs and trees with interesting winter forms, such as Contorted Hazel or Weeping Willow.

I find that the traditional vegetable garden can look extremely flat and bare in winter when nothing is growing, so I’ve started planting fruiting shrubs such as Goji Berries and Blueberries to add not only height, but also fall color and fruit. That way I get multiple uses from a single spot in the garden. I’ve also been toying around with the idea of allowing climbers, such as clematis, to scramble through my shrubs and provide some color at a time when the shrubs themselves don’t have any special interest. That way I get four seasons of enjoyment in a fairly small space (Blueberries and Goji Berries both take up roughly a 5 x 5 foot area).

Another way to provide seasonal interest is the idea of layering, or “sandwiching”, plants into a fairly small area. For instance, in just 6 square feet I could plant Daffodils and Crocus for early spring interest, a low-growing groundcover such as a variety of Strawberry (remember, multiple uses!), fall flowering bulbs like Autumn Crocus (Colchicum autumnale), and a variety of Japanese Anemone. That gives you three seasons of interest in a tiny space. I could also (in my area) plant an evergreen such rosemary or lavender to add a structural element along with a delicious fragrance.

You also want to consider what effect your climate will have on the design. Do you get excessive winter rainfall? Are your summers humid or arid? How about the temperatures? What is the warmest and coldest it usually reaches in your area?

All of these questions can play a useful role in developing a four-season garden. If you get excessive winter rain like I do, you could plant Salix alba ‘Vitellina’ to provide some winter color in the form of bright yellow twigs. I also have a spot in my yard that is fairly sandy, so I plant natives and grasses that are acclimated to the spot.

One often overlooked possibility is designing for frost. In my area, the air is extremely humid. That causes masses of hoar frost to develop on every surface. By planting grasses, roses that bear hips (fruit), and late-blooming asters, I can create a garden that is as beautiful at the first frost as it is in the spring.

Selecting plants that have multiple seasons of interest can help you truly create a four-season garden. I’m still experimenting with fall and winter plant ideas because that’s when my garden seems to fade away and lose interest until spring. Every year it gets better!

How about you? Do you have a particular time of year in your garden that seems to lack interest? I’d love to discuss this topic further in the comments below (I could have written all day on designing for seasonal interest!). 🙂

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


!


!


Submit

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Designing A Four-Season Garden

Dec 14, 2017

I don’t know about you, but I like a garden that changes throughout the seasons. I find the suburban plantings that only use evergreens for “year-round interest” boring. A certain percentage of the plants in my garden are evergreens, but I don’t overplant. Like the old mantra says, “everything is good in moderation.” The key is learning the right combination of different plant types to display not only variety and originality, but also emphasize the seasons. For instance, if it snows in your area, you might consider planting shrubs and trees with interesting winter forms, such as Contorted Hazel or Weeping Willow.

I find that the traditional vegetable garden can look extremely flat and bare in winter when nothing is growing, so I’ve started planting fruiting shrubs such as Goji Berries and Blueberries to add not only height, but also fall color and fruit. That way I get multiple uses from a single spot in the garden. I’ve also been toying around with the idea of allowing climbers, such as clematis, to scramble through my shrubs and provide some color at a time when the shrubs themselves don’t have any special interest. That way I get four seasons of enjoyment in a fairly small space (Blueberries and Goji Berries both take up roughly a 5 x 5 foot area).

Another way to provide seasonal interest is the idea of layering, or “sandwiching”, plants into a fairly small area. For instance, in just 6 square feet I could plant Daffodils and Crocus for early spring interest, a low-growing groundcover such as a variety of Strawberry (remember, multiple uses!), fall flowering bulbs like Autumn Crocus (Colchicum autumnale), and a variety of Japanese Anemone. That gives you three seasons of interest in a tiny space. I could also (in my area) plant an evergreen such rosemary or lavender to add a structural element along with a delicious fragrance.

You also want to consider what effect your climate will have on the design. Do you get excessive winter rainfall? Are your summers humid or arid? How about the temperatures? What is the warmest and coldest it usually reaches in your area?

All of these questions can play a useful role in developing a four-season garden. If you get excessive winter rain like I do, you could plant Salix alba ‘Vitellina’ to provide some winter color in the form of bright yellow twigs. I also have a spot in my yard that is fairly sandy, so I plant natives and grasses that are acclimated to the spot.

One often overlooked possibility is designing for frost. In my area, the air is extremely humid. That causes masses of hoar frost to develop on every surface. By planting grasses, roses that bear hips (fruit), and late-blooming asters, I can create a garden that is as beautiful at the first frost as it is in the spring.

Selecting plants that have multiple seasons of interest can help you truly create a four-season garden. I’m still experimenting with fall and winter plant ideas because that’s when my garden seems to fade away and lose interest until spring. Every year it gets better!

How about you? Do you have a particular time of year in your garden that seems to lack interest? I’d love to discuss this topic further in the comments below (I could have written all day on designing for seasonal interest!). 🙂

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My Secret Weapon For Identifying Warblers

Dec 8, 2017

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Warblers.

The mere mention of that particular type of bird used to annoy me. At my house, they’ve been labeled as the “feathered phantoms,” because of their jittery movements and the fact that they NEVER stick around long enough to be identified. Oh, the frustration! I was about to give up hope of ever identifying one particular black and yellow bird that observed me from the safety of a privet hedge bordering the property when a miracle happened. (At least, it certainly felt like one!)

I discovered “The Warbler Guide” at Barnes and Noble. Imagine the relief when I could finally go outside with my handy guide and, even if the warbler tried its best to slip into the privet unseen, I could identify it by the smallest glimpse of its coloring. Written by Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle, this book is a must-have for backyard bird enthusiasts and hardcore birders alike. It is full of accurate illustrations and pictures of birds, as well as sonograms to identify the bird by its song pattern. Down below is a video that walks you through this easy-to-use guide:

As you can tell by the video, this book is a well-written, easy-to-use guide that tells exactly how to identify those “phantoms” that so often haunt the woodland edge. They can be tricky to identify, but with the right “tools,” it can be made easier.

The Warbler Guide

Click here to check out this cool guide on the Barnes and Noble website!

P.S. This book would make a great gift!

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My Secret Weapon For Identifying Warblers

Dec 8, 2017

Warblers.

The mere mention of that particular type of bird used to annoy me. At my house, they’ve been labeled as the “feathered phantoms,” because of their jittery movements and the fact that they NEVER stick around long enough to be identified. Oh, the frustration! I was about to give up hope of ever identifying one particular black and yellow bird that observed me from the safety of a privet hedge bordering the property when a miracle happened. (At least, it certainly felt like one!)

I discovered “The Warbler Guide” at Barnes and Noble. Imagine the relief when I could finally go outside with my handy guide and, even if the warbler tried its best to slip into the privet unseen, I could identify it by the smallest glimpse of its coloring. Written by Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle, this book is a must-have for backyard bird enthusiasts and hardcore birders alike. It is full of accurate illustrations and pictures of birds, as well as sonograms to identify the bird by its song pattern. Down below is a video that walks you through this easy-to-use guide:

As you can tell by the video, this book is a well-written, easy-to-use guide that tells exactly how to identify those “phantoms” that so often haunt the woodland edge. They can be tricky to identify, but with the right “tools,” it can be made easier.

The Warbler Guide

Click here to check out this cool guide on the Barnes and Noble website!

P.S. This book would make a great gift!

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


!


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Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

My Secret Weapon For Identifying Warblers

Dec 8, 2017

Warblers.

The mere mention of that particular type of bird used to annoy me. At my house, they’ve been labeled as the “feathered phantoms,” because of their jittery movements and the fact that they NEVER stick around long enough to be identified. Oh, the frustration! I was about to give up hope of ever identifying one particular black and yellow bird that observed me from the safety of a privet hedge bordering the property when a miracle happened. (At least, it certainly felt like one!)

I discovered “The Warbler Guide” at Barnes and Noble. Imagine the relief when I could finally go outside with my handy guide and, even if the warbler tried its best to slip into the privet unseen, I could identify it by the smallest glimpse of its coloring. Written by Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle, this book is a must-have for backyard bird enthusiasts and hardcore birders alike. It is full of accurate illustrations and pictures of birds, as well as sonograms to identify the bird by its song pattern. Down below is a video that walks you through this easy-to-use guide:

As you can tell by the video, this book is a well-written, easy-to-use guide that tells exactly how to identify those “phantoms” that so often haunt the woodland edge. They can be tricky to identify, but with the right “tools,” it can be made easier.

The Warbler Guide

Click here to check out this cool guide on the Barnes and Noble website!

P.S. This book would make a great gift!

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


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Cultivating Life // What Drives You To Garden?

Nov 10, 2017

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Cultivating Life // What Drives You To Garden?

Me cutting some Sulphur Cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus) and Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia 'Torch') in my cut-flower patch. The white "blob" in the background is my hoophouse.
Me cutting some Sulphur Cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus) and Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia ‘Torch’) in my cut-flower patch. The white “blob” in the background is my hoophouse.

I was visiting with a friend the other day when they asked me a challenging question. Why do you garden? My first response, of course, was “out of instinct.” After all, growing plants comes naturally to me.

 

But that got me to thinking, “Why do I really garden?”

 

After thinking it over, I determined that several things compel me to garden. The first is stress. I am naturally a high energy person with a huge to-do list each week. Gardening, even if it is only on the weekends, provides a stress-free no pressure environment that gives me a chance to take a deep breath and relax.

 

The second reason is creativity. When I garden, I am allowed to fully express my personal style as I see fit. There are no limits. I like to think of the garden as my personal canvas. I get to play around with different colors, textures, and shapes to create something truly special to me.

Volunteer Zinnias in my cut-flower patch along with a blackberry from the neighboring trellis.
Volunteer Zinnias in my cut-flower patch along with a blackberry from the neighboring trellis.
Another angle on the Sulphur Cosmos in my cut-flower patch.
Another angle on the Sulphur Cosmos in my cut-flower patch.

 

Gardening is also a very intentional process.

 

To plant a seed and watch it sprout and grow its first true leaves is very fulfilling. Once it reaches the right size, I get to decide where I want it in the grand scheme of things and plant wherever I want it to stay for the year. Sometimes, things don’t always go as planned, but from my experience, it is nice to have a surprise. For instance: a flower self-sows in a place where you never would have planted it,  but the surrounding plants match it perfectly.

 

I also love the fact that gardens are living things. I know that may seem obvious, but a garden, unlike any other living thing that you can grow or keep, (a) does not require as much time, energy, and money to maintain as a pet (I on average spend $200 a year on my garden and an hour or two a week once it was established), and (b) is constantly evolving and changing with the seasons.

 

Some would prefer a garden to remain constant throughout the seasons. They like the look of evergreens that stay the same year-round. I respect that opinion, but personally prefer to witness everything from the early spring ephemerals to the brilliant fall color of deciduous trees and shrubs. My garden always keeps me on my toes as to what will happen next, kind of like a well-written book.

The Cottage Garden this fall.
The Cottage Garden this fall.

Lastly, for me, gardening is the gateway to the natural world. While I am out in my garden, I get to see wildlife such as birds, lizards, deer browsing at the edge of the wood line, and the huge assortment of butterflies that call my garden home each summer. When I’m learning about what growing conditions certain plants like, I get acquainted with the various soil types and the minerals and organic matter that influence the composition and PH of my soil.

 

I know I’ve said this before, but for me, gardening is not just a hobby. It is a lifestyle. It has influenced my life in every aspect, teaching me patience and happiness as I continue living life.

 

Now that you’ve read what inspires me to garden, I’m curious, what is your reason for gardening? 

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Cultivating Life // What Drives You To Garden?

Nov 10, 2017

Cultivating Life // What Drives You To Garden?

Me cutting some Sulphur Cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus) and Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia 'Torch') in my cut-flower patch. The white "blob" in the background is my hoophouse.
Me cutting some Sulphur Cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus) and Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia ‘Torch’) in my cut-flower patch. The white “blob” in the background is my hoophouse.

I was visiting with a friend the other day when they asked me a challenging question. Why do you garden? My first response, of course, was “out of instinct.” After all, growing plants comes naturally to me.

 

But that got me to thinking, “Why do I really garden?”

 

After thinking it over, I determined that several things compel me to garden. The first is stress. I am naturally a high energy person with a huge to-do list each week. Gardening, even if it is only on the weekends, provides a stress-free no pressure environment that gives me a chance to take a deep breath and relax.

 

The second reason is creativity. When I garden, I am allowed to fully express my personal style as I see fit. There are no limits. I like to think of the garden as my personal canvas. I get to play around with different colors, textures, and shapes to create something truly special to me.

Volunteer Zinnias in my cut-flower patch along with a blackberry from the neighboring trellis.
Volunteer Zinnias in my cut-flower patch along with a blackberry from the neighboring trellis.
Another angle on the Sulphur Cosmos in my cut-flower patch.
Another angle on the Sulphur Cosmos in my cut-flower patch.

 

Gardening is also a very intentional process.

 

To plant a seed and watch it sprout and grow its first true leaves is very fulfilling. Once it reaches the right size, I get to decide where I want it in the grand scheme of things and plant wherever I want it to stay for the year. Sometimes, things don’t always go as planned, but from my experience, it is nice to have a surprise. For instance: a flower self-sows in a place where you never would have planted it,  but the surrounding plants match it perfectly.

 

I also love the fact that gardens are living things. I know that may seem obvious, but a garden, unlike any other living thing that you can grow or keep, (a) does not require as much time, energy, and money to maintain as a pet (I on average spend $200 a year on my garden and an hour or two a week once it was established), and (b) is constantly evolving and changing with the seasons.

 

Some would prefer a garden to remain constant throughout the seasons. They like the look of evergreens that stay the same year-round. I respect that opinion, but personally prefer to witness everything from the early spring ephemerals to the brilliant fall color of deciduous trees and shrubs. My garden always keeps me on my toes as to what will happen next, kind of like a well-written book.

The Cottage Garden this fall.
The Cottage Garden this fall.

Lastly, for me, gardening is the gateway to the natural world. While I am out in my garden, I get to see wildlife such as birds, lizards, deer browsing at the edge of the wood line, and the huge assortment of butterflies that call my garden home each summer. When I’m learning about what growing conditions certain plants like, I get acquainted with the various soil types and the minerals and organic matter that influence the composition and PH of my soil.

 

I know I’ve said this before, but for me, gardening is not just a hobby. It is a lifestyle. It has influenced my life in every aspect, teaching me patience and happiness as I continue living life.

 

Now that you’ve read what inspires me to garden, I’m curious, what is your reason for gardening? 

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


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Cultivating Life // What Drives You To Garden?

Nov 10, 2017

Cultivating Life // What Drives You To Garden?

Me cutting some Sulphur Cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus) and Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia 'Torch') in my cut-flower patch. The white "blob" in the background is my hoophouse.
Me cutting some Sulphur Cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus) and Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia ‘Torch’) in my cut-flower patch. The white “blob” in the background is my hoophouse.

I was visiting with a friend the other day when they asked me a challenging question. Why do you garden? My first response, of course, was “out of instinct.” After all, growing plants comes naturally to me.

 

But that got me to thinking, “Why do I really garden?”

 

After thinking it over, I determined that several things compel me to garden. The first is stress. I am naturally a high energy person with a huge to-do list each week. Gardening, even if it is only on the weekends, provides a stress-free no pressure environment that gives me a chance to take a deep breath and relax.

 

The second reason is creativity. When I garden, I am allowed to fully express my personal style as I see fit. There are no limits. I like to think of the garden as my personal canvas. I get to play around with different colors, textures, and shapes to create something truly special to me.

Volunteer Zinnias in my cut-flower patch along with a blackberry from the neighboring trellis.
Volunteer Zinnias in my cut-flower patch along with a blackberry from the neighboring trellis.
Another angle on the Sulphur Cosmos in my cut-flower patch.
Another angle on the Sulphur Cosmos in my cut-flower patch.

 

Gardening is also a very intentional process.

 

To plant a seed and watch it sprout and grow its first true leaves is very fulfilling. Once it reaches the right size, I get to decide where I want it in the grand scheme of things and plant wherever I want it to stay for the year. Sometimes, things don’t always go as planned, but from my experience, it is nice to have a surprise. For instance: a flower self-sows in a place where you never would have planted it,  but the surrounding plants match it perfectly.

 

I also love the fact that gardens are living things. I know that may seem obvious, but a garden, unlike any other living thing that you can grow or keep, (a) does not require as much time, energy, and money to maintain as a pet (I on average spend $200 a year on my garden and an hour or two a week once it was established), and (b) is constantly evolving and changing with the seasons.

 

Some would prefer a garden to remain constant throughout the seasons. They like the look of evergreens that stay the same year-round. I respect that opinion, but personally prefer to witness everything from the early spring ephemerals to the brilliant fall color of deciduous trees and shrubs. My garden always keeps me on my toes as to what will happen next, kind of like a well-written book.

The Cottage Garden this fall.
The Cottage Garden this fall.

Lastly, for me, gardening is the gateway to the natural world. While I am out in my garden, I get to see wildlife such as birds, lizards, deer browsing at the edge of the wood line, and the huge assortment of butterflies that call my garden home each summer. When I’m learning about what growing conditions certain plants like, I get acquainted with the various soil types and the minerals and organic matter that influence the composition and PH of my soil.

 

I know I’ve said this before, but for me, gardening is not just a hobby. It is a lifestyle. It has influenced my life in every aspect, teaching me patience and happiness as I continue living life.

 

Now that you’ve read what inspires me to garden, I’m curious, what is your reason for gardening? 

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Make Your Own Cane Syrup: Tips and Thoughts From A First-Timer

Nov 5, 2017

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Make Your Own Cane Syrup: Tips and Thoughts From A First-Timer

As the season winds down and frosts start to threaten my garden, I remembered my sugarcane, neglected as it was, still growing on the far end of my vegetable garden. I’m at the top of its growing range (a little above, actually) so it barely had enough time to mature. I planted it last winter (late February) and heavily mulched it to protect from frost. From there it was forgotten about, except for the occasional watering. The man who gave it to me didn’t know the exact variety, but he knew it was a syrup cane. Of course, on hearing that, I immediately decided to try my hand at syrup making.

Here’s a walkthrough of my syrup-making process (with pictures):

First, I chopped down the canes as low as possible to the ground with my trusty machete. Then, I stripped all of the leaves and shoots off of the main stems, since only the larger stems will have good flavor.

Even though I have seen some people crush the juice out of the stems using a press or a heavy object, I couldn’t afford the time and effort it takes to extract the juice. After researching other options, I decided to cut the cane into pieces and boil them down.

 

 

IMG_5015
IMG_5016

First things first. After stripping the leaves and sideshoots from the main stems, I thoroughly scrubbed each stem down with a brush. Sugarcane often gets mildew where the leaves meet the stalk, so be sure to clean it thoroughly.

 

IMG_5017

After the stems were thoroughly cleaned, I cut them up into 1 to 2 inch segments and added them to a large stainless steel stockpot. I tried a batch using longer segments, and the resulting syrup wasn’t as sweet. Finding something to cut the cane with was tough, since the stems are insanely hard and fibrous, but I eventually settled on a good pair of pruning shears that were washed and sterilized before use.

 

Next, I added water until it was just covering the chopped up cane stems (maybe about an inch or so over).

Now comes the long part. I placed the heavy stockpot on the stovetop and turned the burner on medium–high. After some waiting, it came to a boil. A lid kept the steam from escaping while it cooked. From that point, I left it for a couple of hours to allow the sugars in the cane to leach out into the water. Although it is a long process, you can virtually ignore it in this timeframe, coming back every once in a while to test the water and see how sweet it is. The goal is to get the water about the same sweetness as the cane.

 

IMG_5018
IMG_5021

Once the water became sweet, I strained out the sugarcane using a colander and poured the water into a smaller pot. It took several tries to get all of the cane out, since I was dealing with such a large amount of liquid all at the same time, but eventually I succeeded. After I removed all of the large cane pieces, the water still had small particles of debris from the cane, so I strained it yet again using a fine stainless steel strainer.

IMG_5022
IMG_5023
IMG_5024
IMG_5025

 

At this point, the juice should have no more debris in it.

After straining it, it went back on the stove on medium-high for several more hours (without a lid). From this point, you just have to wait. I checked on it every 30 minutes or so at first, but as it boiled down, I started checking it more frequently and giving it the occasional stir to make sure that it didn’t burn. If you taste it (like I did) you will notice at this point it is starting to develop the classic molasses-like flavor that is characteristic of cane syrup.

 

IMG_5026
IMG_5027
IMG_5031
IMG_5028

The goal is to boil it down until it reaches a syrup like consistency. Just keep in mind, things are always more liquid when they are warm, so you may want to take a tiny sample out (on a spoon) and refrigerate it to check the consistency of the finished product. Once the desired consistency is reached, you can enjoy the fruit of your labor! The syrup-making process is complete.

If you have any questions on my process feel free to ask me in the comments down below. I’d love to answer them!

P.S. – I hope you enjoyed this fairly long how-to/technical post – let me know if you want to see more like this in the future. 🙂

The Monthly Newsletter

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Make Your Own Cane Syrup: Tips and Thoughts From A First-Timer

Nov 5, 2017

Make Your Own Cane Syrup: Tips and Thoughts From A First-Timer

As the season winds down and frosts start to threaten my garden, I remembered my sugarcane, neglected as it was, still growing on the far end of my vegetable garden. I’m at the top of its growing range (a little above, actually) so it barely had enough time to mature. I planted it last winter (late February) and heavily mulched it to protect from frost. From there it was forgotten about, except for the occasional watering. The man who gave it to me didn’t know the exact variety, but he knew it was a syrup cane. Of course, on hearing that, I immediately decided to try my hand at syrup making.

Here’s a walkthrough of my syrup-making process (with pictures):

First, I chopped down the canes as low as possible to the ground with my trusty machete. Then, I stripped all of the leaves and shoots off of the main stems, since only the larger stems will have good flavor.

Even though I have seen some people crush the juice out of the stems using a press or a heavy object, I couldn’t afford the time and effort it takes to extract the juice. After researching other options, I decided to cut the cane into pieces and boil them down.

 

 

IMG_5015
IMG_5016

First things first. After stripping the leaves and sideshoots from the main stems, I thoroughly scrubbed each stem down with a brush. Sugarcane often gets mildew where the leaves meet the stalk, so be sure to clean it thoroughly.

 

IMG_5017

After the stems were thoroughly cleaned, I cut them up into 1 to 2 inch segments and added them to a large stainless steel stockpot. I tried a batch using longer segments, and the resulting syrup wasn’t as sweet. Finding something to cut the cane with was tough, since the stems are insanely hard and fibrous, but I eventually settled on a good pair of pruning shears that were washed and sterilized before use.

 

Next, I added water until it was just covering the chopped up cane stems (maybe about an inch or so over).

Now comes the long part. I placed the heavy stockpot on the stovetop and turned the burner on medium–high. After some waiting, it came to a boil. A lid kept the steam from escaping while it cooked. From that point, I left it for a couple of hours to allow the sugars in the cane to leach out into the water. Although it is a long process, you can virtually ignore it in this timeframe, coming back every once in a while to test the water and see how sweet it is. The goal is to get the water about the same sweetness as the cane.

 

IMG_5018
IMG_5021

Once the water became sweet, I strained out the sugarcane using a colander and poured the water into a smaller pot. It took several tries to get all of the cane out, since I was dealing with such a large amount of liquid all at the same time, but eventually I succeeded. After I removed all of the large cane pieces, the water still had small particles of debris from the cane, so I strained it yet again using a fine stainless steel strainer.

IMG_5022
IMG_5023
IMG_5024
IMG_5025

 

At this point, the juice should have no more debris in it.

After straining it, it went back on the stove on medium-high for several more hours (without a lid). From this point, you just have to wait. I checked on it every 30 minutes or so at first, but as it boiled down, I started checking it more frequently and giving it the occasional stir to make sure that it didn’t burn. If you taste it (like I did) you will notice at this point it is starting to develop the classic molasses-like flavor that is characteristic of cane syrup.

 

IMG_5026
IMG_5027
IMG_5031
IMG_5028

The goal is to boil it down until it reaches a syrup like consistency. Just keep in mind, things are always more liquid when they are warm, so you may want to take a tiny sample out (on a spoon) and refrigerate it to check the consistency of the finished product. Once the desired consistency is reached, you can enjoy the fruit of your labor! The syrup-making process is complete.

If you have any questions on my process feel free to ask me in the comments down below. I’d love to answer them!

P.S. – I hope you enjoyed this fairly long how-to/technical post – let me know if you want to see more like this in the future. 🙂

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


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Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Make Your Own Cane Syrup: Tips and Thoughts From A First-Timer

Nov 5, 2017

Make Your Own Cane Syrup: Tips and Thoughts From A First-Timer

As the season winds down and frosts start to threaten my garden, I remembered my sugarcane, neglected as it was, still growing on the far end of my vegetable garden. I’m at the top of its growing range (a little above, actually) so it barely had enough time to mature. I planted it last winter (late February) and heavily mulched it to protect from frost. From there it was forgotten about, except for the occasional watering. The man who gave it to me didn’t know the exact variety, but he knew it was a syrup cane. Of course, on hearing that, I immediately decided to try my hand at syrup making.

Here’s a walkthrough of my syrup-making process (with pictures):

First, I chopped down the canes as low as possible to the ground with my trusty machete. Then, I stripped all of the leaves and shoots off of the main stems, since only the larger stems will have good flavor.

Even though I have seen some people crush the juice out of the stems using a press or a heavy object, I couldn’t afford the time and effort it takes to extract the juice. After researching other options, I decided to cut the cane into pieces and boil them down.

 

 

IMG_5015
IMG_5016

First things first. After stripping the leaves and sideshoots from the main stems, I thoroughly scrubbed each stem down with a brush. Sugarcane often gets mildew where the leaves meet the stalk, so be sure to clean it thoroughly.

 

IMG_5017

After the stems were thoroughly cleaned, I cut them up into 1 to 2 inch segments and added them to a large stainless steel stockpot. I tried a batch using longer segments, and the resulting syrup wasn’t as sweet. Finding something to cut the cane with was tough, since the stems are insanely hard and fibrous, but I eventually settled on a good pair of pruning shears that were washed and sterilized before use.

 

Next, I added water until it was just covering the chopped up cane stems (maybe about an inch or so over).

Now comes the long part. I placed the heavy stockpot on the stovetop and turned the burner on medium–high. After some waiting, it came to a boil. A lid kept the steam from escaping while it cooked. From that point, I left it for a couple of hours to allow the sugars in the cane to leach out into the water. Although it is a long process, you can virtually ignore it in this timeframe, coming back every once in a while to test the water and see how sweet it is. The goal is to get the water about the same sweetness as the cane.

 

IMG_5018
IMG_5021

Once the water became sweet, I strained out the sugarcane using a colander and poured the water into a smaller pot. It took several tries to get all of the cane out, since I was dealing with such a large amount of liquid all at the same time, but eventually I succeeded. After I removed all of the large cane pieces, the water still had small particles of debris from the cane, so I strained it yet again using a fine stainless steel strainer.

IMG_5022
IMG_5023
IMG_5024
IMG_5025

 

At this point, the juice should have no more debris in it.

After straining it, it went back on the stove on medium-high for several more hours (without a lid). From this point, you just have to wait. I checked on it every 30 minutes or so at first, but as it boiled down, I started checking it more frequently and giving it the occasional stir to make sure that it didn’t burn. If you taste it (like I did) you will notice at this point it is starting to develop the classic molasses-like flavor that is characteristic of cane syrup.

 

IMG_5026
IMG_5027
IMG_5031
IMG_5028

The goal is to boil it down until it reaches a syrup like consistency. Just keep in mind, things are always more liquid when they are warm, so you may want to take a tiny sample out (on a spoon) and refrigerate it to check the consistency of the finished product. Once the desired consistency is reached, you can enjoy the fruit of your labor! The syrup-making process is complete.

If you have any questions on my process feel free to ask me in the comments down below. I’d love to answer them!

P.S. – I hope you enjoyed this fairly long how-to/technical post – let me know if you want to see more like this in the future. 🙂

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My Permaculture Plot: First Thoughts

Oct 16, 2017

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For the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about edible gardening. When I initially started my vegetable garden as a first attempt to produce food, I was all in.

I started out practicing an organic, no-till vegetable gardening. It was a new, lower maintenance style of edible gardening for me to try. Sounds great, right?

In early summer, I went backpacking in New Mexico. By the time I arrived back from my 85 mile hike (my idea of summer fun 🙂 ), the garden was in ruins.

 

TOTAL ruins.

 

My African Horned Melon
My African Horned Melon

The beds overflowed with bindweed and purple nutsedge. All of my plants died except the heirloom sugarcane and my trustworthy African Horned Melon. Needless to say, the garden was failing.

I was about to give up on the idea of ever having a successful vegetable garden, when I had a great idea. Why not create a permaculture plot?

Permaculture is an agricultural system that integrates human activity with natural surroundings so as to create highly efficient self-sustaining ecosystems.

When I first heard about permaculture, I was talking with a friend who just happened to mention it offhand while talking about edible gardening techniques. Of course, being curious by nature, I had to learn more. I researched the topic and ended up taking a course on permaculture design.

My curiosity ended up getting the better of me. “I wonder if I could cultivate a successful permaculture plot in my yard? How will the weeds react to this natural approach to edible gardening?”

I have to know.

 

There is no one using permaculture techniques in my area, so this will be something unique. In the coming few weeks, I plan to start designing my garden for planting this next spring. Expect some follow-up posts monitoring the progress of my new garden.

Last thing: If you have a permaculture plot and are willing to share information, contact me! There are not many permaculture enthusiasts in my area. One of my goals with The Garden Scout is to cultivate a sense of community. I’d absolutely love to hear about your personal experiences in the world of plants! Also, if you’re interested in learning more about this style of gardening, head over to Permies.com, a website specializing in permaculture and has forums dedicated to this unique style of gardening.

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My Permaculture Plot: First Thoughts

Oct 16, 2017

For the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about edible gardening. When I initially started my vegetable garden as a first attempt to produce food, I was all in.

I started out practicing an organic, no-till vegetable gardening. It was a new, lower maintenance style of edible gardening for me to try. Sounds great, right?

In early summer, I went backpacking in New Mexico. By the time I arrived back from my 85 mile hike (my idea of summer fun 🙂 ), the garden was in ruins.

 

TOTAL ruins.

 

My African Horned Melon
My African Horned Melon

The beds overflowed with bindweed and purple nutsedge. All of my plants died except the heirloom sugarcane and my trustworthy African Horned Melon. Needless to say, the garden was failing.

I was about to give up on the idea of ever having a successful vegetable garden, when I had a great idea. Why not create a permaculture plot?

Permaculture is an agricultural system that integrates human activity with natural surroundings so as to create highly efficient self-sustaining ecosystems.

When I first heard about permaculture, I was talking with a friend who just happened to mention it offhand while talking about edible gardening techniques. Of course, being curious by nature, I had to learn more. I researched the topic and ended up taking a course on permaculture design.

My curiosity ended up getting the better of me. “I wonder if I could cultivate a successful permaculture plot in my yard? How will the weeds react to this natural approach to edible gardening?”

I have to know.

 

There is no one using permaculture techniques in my area, so this will be something unique. In the coming few weeks, I plan to start designing my garden for planting this next spring. Expect some follow-up posts monitoring the progress of my new garden.

Last thing: If you have a permaculture plot and are willing to share information, contact me! There are not many permaculture enthusiasts in my area. One of my goals with The Garden Scout is to cultivate a sense of community. I’d absolutely love to hear about your personal experiences in the world of plants! Also, if you’re interested in learning more about this style of gardening, head over to Permies.com, a website specializing in permaculture and has forums dedicated to this unique style of gardening.

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


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!


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Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

My Permaculture Plot: First Thoughts

Oct 16, 2017

For the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about edible gardening. When I initially started my vegetable garden as a first attempt to produce food, I was all in.

I started out practicing an organic, no-till vegetable gardening. It was a new, lower maintenance style of edible gardening for me to try. Sounds great, right?

In early summer, I went backpacking in New Mexico. By the time I arrived back from my 85 mile hike (my idea of summer fun 🙂 ), the garden was in ruins.

 

TOTAL ruins.

 

My African Horned Melon
My African Horned Melon

The beds overflowed with bindweed and purple nutsedge. All of my plants died except the heirloom sugarcane and my trustworthy African Horned Melon. Needless to say, the garden was failing.

I was about to give up on the idea of ever having a successful vegetable garden, when I had a great idea. Why not create a permaculture plot?

Permaculture is an agricultural system that integrates human activity with natural surroundings so as to create highly efficient self-sustaining ecosystems.

When I first heard about permaculture, I was talking with a friend who just happened to mention it offhand while talking about edible gardening techniques. Of course, being curious by nature, I had to learn more. I researched the topic and ended up taking a course on permaculture design.

My curiosity ended up getting the better of me. “I wonder if I could cultivate a successful permaculture plot in my yard? How will the weeds react to this natural approach to edible gardening?”

I have to know.

 

There is no one using permaculture techniques in my area, so this will be something unique. In the coming few weeks, I plan to start designing my garden for planting this next spring. Expect some follow-up posts monitoring the progress of my new garden.

Last thing: If you have a permaculture plot and are willing to share information, contact me! There are not many permaculture enthusiasts in my area. One of my goals with The Garden Scout is to cultivate a sense of community. I’d absolutely love to hear about your personal experiences in the world of plants! Also, if you’re interested in learning more about this style of gardening, head over to Permies.com, a website specializing in permaculture and has forums dedicated to this unique style of gardening.

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


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Popcorn, Anyone?

Oct 13, 2017

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Have you ever been driving down the road, minding your own business, when something catches your attention? SCREECH! Goes the car as you slam on the brakes. You’ve just seen a plant that you’ve heard about for years, but up until now, never seen it in person.

This happened to me one day.

Maybe only a serious plantaholic could ever admit to almost running off the road after seeing a plant that they’ve been searching for. Searching actually under-represents what I’ve been doing. I’ve been hunting: scouring the internet for that very plant, with little success.

To see it in my hometown after searching for so long was like seeing someone you know at the house next door, only to find out that they’ve been living there for years.

I was incredulous.

And then I did it.

I walked up to the house whose yard the plant was growing in and knocked. Afterward, I was surprised that I had the courage to do it, but at the time, I didn’t care. An older man opened the door. He was very friendly, and after talking with him for a while, I found out that he was an avid gardener and lifelong plant enthusiast. When I mentioned the plant that I liked, he offered me a young seedling of it! After a few more minutes of pleasant conversation, I went on my way, and he went to work in the garden.

FullSizeRender (24)

All that to say, I finally had the plant that would form the centerpiece of my tropical garden: the Popcorn Plant, Senna alata.

This Mexican native is a showstopper for the fall garden. The flowers resemble popcorn slipped on a skewer and painted the brightest shade of yellow, almost golden. Its long, pinnate leaves serve as a reminder that it’s a legume.  The plant itself can reach almost eight feet in height by the end of the summer from seed! Sadly, the deer browsed mine while it was still young, resulting in the still-impressive height of six feet.

 

FullSizeRender (19)
FullSizeRender (20)

<< Closeup of Leaves

FullSizeRender (22)
FullSizeRender (23)

In other words, a showstopper!

Do you still think that I was crazy for almost running off the road at the sight of it?

It is tolerant of almost any soil type, excelling in both drought and wet, rainy periods. I have mine in part-sun, receiving afternoon shade by the big oak tree to its west. As long as it’s not in full shade, the Popcorn Plant is happy.

What amazed me most (besides its unreal flowers) is its growth rate. It was a foot tall when I first planted it in May, growing an incredible five feet in just four short months. I could go away for a week-long trip and find it had grown six inches just in the time I was gone!

IMG_4551

Unfortunately, it has limited hardiness. It is easy enough to start from seed saved from the previous year though, so I should never run out of new plants. If I do, I can always go on a drive and start the search again.

 

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Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


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Popcorn, Anyone?

Oct 13, 2017

Have you ever been driving down the road, minding your own business, when something catches your attention? SCREECH! Goes the car as you slam on the brakes. You’ve just seen a plant that you’ve heard about for years, but up until now, never seen it in person.

This happened to me one day.

Maybe only a serious plantaholic could ever admit to almost running off the road after seeing a plant that they’ve been searching for. Searching actually under-represents what I’ve been doing. I’ve been hunting: scouring the internet for that very plant, with little success.

To see it in my hometown after searching for so long was like seeing someone you know at the house next door, only to find out that they’ve been living there for years.

I was incredulous.

And then I did it.

I walked up to the house whose yard the plant was growing in and knocked. Afterward, I was surprised that I had the courage to do it, but at the time, I didn’t care. An older man opened the door. He was very friendly, and after talking with him for a while, I found out that he was an avid gardener and lifelong plant enthusiast. When I mentioned the plant that I liked, he offered me a young seedling of it! After a few more minutes of pleasant conversation, I went on my way, and he went to work in the garden.

FullSizeRender (24)

All that to say, I finally had the plant that would form the centerpiece of my tropical garden: the Popcorn Plant, Senna alata.

This Mexican native is a showstopper for the fall garden. The flowers resemble popcorn slipped on a skewer and painted the brightest shade of yellow, almost golden. Its long, pinnate leaves serve as a reminder that it’s a legume.  The plant itself can reach almost eight feet in height by the end of the summer from seed! Sadly, the deer browsed mine while it was still young, resulting in the still-impressive height of six feet.

 

FullSizeRender (19)
FullSizeRender (20)

<< Closeup of Leaves

FullSizeRender (22)
FullSizeRender (23)

In other words, a showstopper!

Do you still think that I was crazy for almost running off the road at the sight of it?

It is tolerant of almost any soil type, excelling in both drought and wet, rainy periods. I have mine in part-sun, receiving afternoon shade by the big oak tree to its west. As long as it’s not in full shade, the Popcorn Plant is happy.

What amazed me most (besides its unreal flowers) is its growth rate. It was a foot tall when I first planted it in May, growing an incredible five feet in just four short months. I could go away for a week-long trip and find it had grown six inches just in the time I was gone!

IMG_4551

Unfortunately, it has limited hardiness. It is easy enough to start from seed saved from the previous year though, so I should never run out of new plants. If I do, I can always go on a drive and start the search again.

 

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


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Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Popcorn, Anyone?

Oct 13, 2017

Have you ever been driving down the road, minding your own business, when something catches your attention? SCREECH! Goes the car as you slam on the brakes. You’ve just seen a plant that you’ve heard about for years, but up until now, never seen it in person.

This happened to me one day.

Maybe only a serious plantaholic could ever admit to almost running off the road after seeing a plant that they’ve been searching for. Searching actually under-represents what I’ve been doing. I’ve been hunting: scouring the internet for that very plant, with little success.

To see it in my hometown after searching for so long was like seeing someone you know at the house next door, only to find out that they’ve been living there for years.

I was incredulous.

And then I did it.

I walked up to the house whose yard the plant was growing in and knocked. Afterward, I was surprised that I had the courage to do it, but at the time, I didn’t care. An older man opened the door. He was very friendly, and after talking with him for a while, I found out that he was an avid gardener and lifelong plant enthusiast. When I mentioned the plant that I liked, he offered me a young seedling of it! After a few more minutes of pleasant conversation, I went on my way, and he went to work in the garden.

FullSizeRender (24)

All that to say, I finally had the plant that would form the centerpiece of my tropical garden: the Popcorn Plant, Senna alata.

This Mexican native is a showstopper for the fall garden. The flowers resemble popcorn slipped on a skewer and painted the brightest shade of yellow, almost golden. Its long, pinnate leaves serve as a reminder that it’s a legume.  The plant itself can reach almost eight feet in height by the end of the summer from seed! Sadly, the deer browsed mine while it was still young, resulting in the still-impressive height of six feet.

 

FullSizeRender (19)
FullSizeRender (20)

<< Closeup of Leaves

FullSizeRender (22)
FullSizeRender (23)

In other words, a showstopper!

Do you still think that I was crazy for almost running off the road at the sight of it?

It is tolerant of almost any soil type, excelling in both drought and wet, rainy periods. I have mine in part-sun, receiving afternoon shade by the big oak tree to its west. As long as it’s not in full shade, the Popcorn Plant is happy.

What amazed me most (besides its unreal flowers) is its growth rate. It was a foot tall when I first planted it in May, growing an incredible five feet in just four short months. I could go away for a week-long trip and find it had grown six inches just in the time I was gone!

IMG_4551

Unfortunately, it has limited hardiness. It is easy enough to start from seed saved from the previous year though, so I should never run out of new plants. If I do, I can always go on a drive and start the search again.

 

The Monthly Newsletter

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The Benefits of Carrying a Field ID Guide

Oct 9, 2017

BLOG

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What comes to mind when I speak the term, “field identification?” What I personally think of is taking a walk around on the edge of the woods, ID guide in hand, naming all of the plants or bugs that I pass by. Even though this is technically field identification, there is much more to it than that.

Field identification is not simply a pastime. For me, it’s part of my lifestyle. Many times, I carry a small pocket wildflower ID book with me just in case I wonder, “What in the world is that plant?” And yes, I use the guide regularly. It’s also useful to have a butterfly/bug ID guide handy when I’m out working in the garden. I stumble on some unusual bug at least once a week. Every now and then, I accidentally leave my guide in the house. Of course, by the time I rush inside to grab it and hurry back out, the bug has disappeared.

Sigh…

Even if you don’t carry the ID guide with you wherever you go, there is a HUGE benefit to packing one on your monthly travels. I go on hikes about once a month. I usually come across some unique flower or tree on the trail, and instantly regret it if I didn’t bring my guide with me. Even when I’m walking in the downtown district of a city, there are always interesting forms of life no matter where I go.

Have I convinced you to carry a guide yet? Even if I haven’t, at least consider owning one “just in case.” 😉

Down below are some links to my favorite ID guides that have proved exceptional resources for me. Enjoy! (Disclaimer: includes affiliate links.)

 

[ezcol_1third]

This field guide to birds has a  proven track record with me. It is filled with colorful illustrations and descriptions of each bird, helping me to make a speedy identification.

[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third]

This field guide to bugs has you covered for all of the most common insects and arachnids in North America.

[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third_end]

The only butterfly guide you’ll ever need! Filled with colorful pictures and descriptions to go along with them, this book is a must-have for the avid butterfly enthusiast!

[/ezcol_1third_end]

 

[ezcol_1third]

My favorite field guide to trees. I am in the east (just barely), so I use this guide.

[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third]

The western edition of my favorite tree ID guide!

[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third_end]

Weed ID guide for a huge variety of weeds in North America, from seed to maturity.

[/ezcol_1third_end]

Wildflower guides are more area-specific, but here is the guide that I use in Louisiana. And no, I didn’t pay the current price for it. I bought it as a $25 book at a local bookstore.. Look up guides for your area and see what you find. Guides specializing in your area will be more reliable and accurate.

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


!


!


Submit

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

The Benefits of Carrying a Field ID Guide

Oct 9, 2017

What comes to mind when I speak the term, “field identification?” What I personally think of is taking a walk around on the edge of the woods, ID guide in hand, naming all of the plants or bugs that I pass by. Even though this is technically field identification, there is much more to it than that.

Field identification is not simply a pastime. For me, it’s part of my lifestyle. Many times, I carry a small pocket wildflower ID book with me just in case I wonder, “What in the world is that plant?” And yes, I use the guide regularly. It’s also useful to have a butterfly/bug ID guide handy when I’m out working in the garden. I stumble on some unusual bug at least once a week. Every now and then, I accidentally leave my guide in the house. Of course, by the time I rush inside to grab it and hurry back out, the bug has disappeared.

Sigh…

Even if you don’t carry the ID guide with you wherever you go, there is a HUGE benefit to packing one on your monthly travels. I go on hikes about once a month. I usually come across some unique flower or tree on the trail, and instantly regret it if I didn’t bring my guide with me. Even when I’m walking in the downtown district of a city, there are always interesting forms of life no matter where I go.

Have I convinced you to carry a guide yet? Even if I haven’t, at least consider owning one “just in case.” 😉

Down below are some links to my favorite ID guides that have proved exceptional resources for me. Enjoy! (Disclaimer: includes affiliate links.)

 

[ezcol_1third]

This field guide to birds has a  proven track record with me. It is filled with colorful illustrations and descriptions of each bird, helping me to make a speedy identification.

[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third]

This field guide to bugs has you covered for all of the most common insects and arachnids in North America.

[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third_end]

The only butterfly guide you’ll ever need! Filled with colorful pictures and descriptions to go along with them, this book is a must-have for the avid butterfly enthusiast!

[/ezcol_1third_end]

 

[ezcol_1third]

My favorite field guide to trees. I am in the east (just barely), so I use this guide.

[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third]

The western edition of my favorite tree ID guide!

[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third_end]

Weed ID guide for a huge variety of weeds in North America, from seed to maturity.

[/ezcol_1third_end]

Wildflower guides are more area-specific, but here is the guide that I use in Louisiana. And no, I didn’t pay the current price for it. I bought it as a $25 book at a local bookstore.. Look up guides for your area and see what you find. Guides specializing in your area will be more reliable and accurate.

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


!


!


Submit

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

The Benefits of Carrying a Field ID Guide

Oct 9, 2017

What comes to mind when I speak the term, “field identification?” What I personally think of is taking a walk around on the edge of the woods, ID guide in hand, naming all of the plants or bugs that I pass by. Even though this is technically field identification, there is much more to it than that.

Field identification is not simply a pastime. For me, it’s part of my lifestyle. Many times, I carry a small pocket wildflower ID book with me just in case I wonder, “What in the world is that plant?” And yes, I use the guide regularly. It’s also useful to have a butterfly/bug ID guide handy when I’m out working in the garden. I stumble on some unusual bug at least once a week. Every now and then, I accidentally leave my guide in the house. Of course, by the time I rush inside to grab it and hurry back out, the bug has disappeared.

Sigh…

Even if you don’t carry the ID guide with you wherever you go, there is a HUGE benefit to packing one on your monthly travels. I go on hikes about once a month. I usually come across some unique flower or tree on the trail, and instantly regret it if I didn’t bring my guide with me. Even when I’m walking in the downtown district of a city, there are always interesting forms of life no matter where I go.

Have I convinced you to carry a guide yet? Even if I haven’t, at least consider owning one “just in case.” 😉

Down below are some links to my favorite ID guides that have proved exceptional resources for me. Enjoy! (Disclaimer: includes affiliate links.)

 

[ezcol_1third]

This field guide to birds has a  proven track record with me. It is filled with colorful illustrations and descriptions of each bird, helping me to make a speedy identification.

[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third]

This field guide to bugs has you covered for all of the most common insects and arachnids in North America.

[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third_end]

The only butterfly guide you’ll ever need! Filled with colorful pictures and descriptions to go along with them, this book is a must-have for the avid butterfly enthusiast!

[/ezcol_1third_end]

 

[ezcol_1third]

My favorite field guide to trees. I am in the east (just barely), so I use this guide.

[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third]

The western edition of my favorite tree ID guide!

[/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_1third_end]

Weed ID guide for a huge variety of weeds in North America, from seed to maturity.

[/ezcol_1third_end]

Wildflower guides are more area-specific, but here is the guide that I use in Louisiana. And no, I didn’t pay the current price for it. I bought it as a $25 book at a local bookstore.. Look up guides for your area and see what you find. Guides specializing in your area will be more reliable and accurate.

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


!


!


Submit

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

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Plant Sales: Considerations + Advice

Oct 9, 2017

BLOG

the

Dear Friend and Gardener,
I want to tell you about one of the most terrifying moments in the gardening season for me. PLANT SALES! “Why is that something to be scared of? It’s just a plant sale!”

Just a plant sale, heh. Plant sales can both be thrilling and scary. A car-full of rare gems could instantly take all of your pocket money. Stress levels rise as you rush around the sale searching for that one plant on your wishlist. I can relate.

Even though a plant sale might not be a life-altering event, it will be more enjoyable with a game plan. Something to organize my thoughts and make them flow logically without the stress of lat-minute planning. Today I’d like to share a few of my thoughts on how I successfully approach a plant sale and come away with a feeling of accomplishment.

1. Money Matters

The first thing that I consider (before even daring to look at a plant availability list), is funds. How much money can I afford to spend on the sale? I used to make the mistake of reading what plants are available first, and then s a budget. That never works. I end up basing my budget off of what plants I want, and not what I can actually afford.

Money is also very hard to come by for me, being a broke teenager with little funds. Some plant sales, I can’t afford to buy anything. That’s when I ask the salesperson at the booth I want to buy a plant from, “Can I trade you for a piece of this?” Sometime, it works, and I walk home with a free plant. Other times, it doesn’t. But it never hurts to try.

Also, take gas costs into account. It’s not unusual for me to head to the other end of the state for a great sale, but I have to consider something. Is it really worth it to drive a great distance for a plant that I could get cheaper (than the cost of gas + the plant) online? Let’s move on to my second consideration.

2. Plant List

It’s not uncommon for local plant sales to release a plant availability list either through Facebook or their website. When the list comes through, I immediately print it out and look it over. After I’ve set my budget, I can go through and highlight some of my favorites, and write them down on a notepad, noting which ones I want most. That way, if my plant list exceeds my budgetary limits, I can always choose the ones that I want most.

3. On The Day Of The Sale

Plan to arrive early. As early as possible. On my very first plant sale, I arrived at 11:00am, and the sale ended at 12:00pm. To my disappointment, all of my favorite plants were either extremely picked through or sold out. I usually try arrive at the plant sale at the starting time. In my region, the average plant sale starts around 8:00am, which gives me plenty of time to get up and ready before I have to leave.  I have seen some sale that start as early as 7:00. But my proximity to the sale might also dictate what time I’m able to arrive.

Once you arrive, do NOT be seduced by the huge array of beautiful plants and friendly gardeners trying to sell them. That is a HUGE mistake. Last year, I went to a large plant sale (down in Lafayette, Louisiana) searching for tropical plants for my exotic garden. My budget was set at $30, but by the time I was finished gawking at all of the rare plants, I walked out of the sale with $125 worth of plants. That was my last plant sale for a while.

One last tip: enjoy yourself! There are lots of gardeners who would love to talk plants with you. Take advantage of that! Talk about a problem area in your yard. Maybe they’d be able to suggest a plant to grow there. Ask them any question that you have about the plants being sold. They’d love to answer you!

Quick Recap:

  • Consider your budget
  • Decide what plants you want
  • Arrive early
  • Ask questions
  • Have Fun!

Edit: I attended the fall Plantfest in Baton Rouge, LA and walked out of the sale having spent exactly $100. Better budgeting than last year! 😉 Not everyone will have as large of a budget as I do, but all you can do is plan with what you have and ALWAYS overplan and overexpect what you will spend.

Happy Gardening and Plant Shopping!

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Plant Sales: Considerations + Advice

Oct 9, 2017

Dear Friend and Gardener,
I want to tell you about one of the most terrifying moments in the gardening season for me. PLANT SALES! “Why is that something to be scared of? It’s just a plant sale!”

Just a plant sale, heh. Plant sales can both be thrilling and scary. A car-full of rare gems could instantly take all of your pocket money. Stress levels rise as you rush around the sale searching for that one plant on your wishlist. I can relate.

Even though a plant sale might not be a life-altering event, it will be more enjoyable with a game plan. Something to organize my thoughts and make them flow logically without the stress of lat-minute planning. Today I’d like to share a few of my thoughts on how I successfully approach a plant sale and come away with a feeling of accomplishment.

1. Money Matters

The first thing that I consider (before even daring to look at a plant availability list), is funds. How much money can I afford to spend on the sale? I used to make the mistake of reading what plants are available first, and then s a budget. That never works. I end up basing my budget off of what plants I want, and not what I can actually afford.

Money is also very hard to come by for me, being a broke teenager with little funds. Some plant sales, I can’t afford to buy anything. That’s when I ask the salesperson at the booth I want to buy a plant from, “Can I trade you for a piece of this?” Sometime, it works, and I walk home with a free plant. Other times, it doesn’t. But it never hurts to try.

Also, take gas costs into account. It’s not unusual for me to head to the other end of the state for a great sale, but I have to consider something. Is it really worth it to drive a great distance for a plant that I could get cheaper (than the cost of gas + the plant) online? Let’s move on to my second consideration.

2. Plant List

It’s not uncommon for local plant sales to release a plant availability list either through Facebook or their website. When the list comes through, I immediately print it out and look it over. After I’ve set my budget, I can go through and highlight some of my favorites, and write them down on a notepad, noting which ones I want most. That way, if my plant list exceeds my budgetary limits, I can always choose the ones that I want most.

3. On The Day Of The Sale

Plan to arrive early. As early as possible. On my very first plant sale, I arrived at 11:00am, and the sale ended at 12:00pm. To my disappointment, all of my favorite plants were either extremely picked through or sold out. I usually try arrive at the plant sale at the starting time. In my region, the average plant sale starts around 8:00am, which gives me plenty of time to get up and ready before I have to leave.  I have seen some sale that start as early as 7:00. But my proximity to the sale might also dictate what time I’m able to arrive.

Once you arrive, do NOT be seduced by the huge array of beautiful plants and friendly gardeners trying to sell them. That is a HUGE mistake. Last year, I went to a large plant sale (down in Lafayette, Louisiana) searching for tropical plants for my exotic garden. My budget was set at $30, but by the time I was finished gawking at all of the rare plants, I walked out of the sale with $125 worth of plants. That was my last plant sale for a while.

One last tip: enjoy yourself! There are lots of gardeners who would love to talk plants with you. Take advantage of that! Talk about a problem area in your yard. Maybe they’d be able to suggest a plant to grow there. Ask them any question that you have about the plants being sold. They’d love to answer you!

Quick Recap:

  • Consider your budget
  • Decide what plants you want
  • Arrive early
  • Ask questions
  • Have Fun!

Edit: I attended the fall Plantfest in Baton Rouge, LA and walked out of the sale having spent exactly $100. Better budgeting than last year! 😉 Not everyone will have as large of a budget as I do, but all you can do is plan with what you have and ALWAYS overplan and overexpect what you will spend.

Happy Gardening and Plant Shopping!

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Plant Sales: Considerations + Advice

Oct 9, 2017

Dear Friend and Gardener,
I want to tell you about one of the most terrifying moments in the gardening season for me. PLANT SALES! “Why is that something to be scared of? It’s just a plant sale!”

Just a plant sale, heh. Plant sales can both be thrilling and scary. A car-full of rare gems could instantly take all of your pocket money. Stress levels rise as you rush around the sale searching for that one plant on your wishlist. I can relate.

Even though a plant sale might not be a life-altering event, it will be more enjoyable with a game plan. Something to organize my thoughts and make them flow logically without the stress of lat-minute planning. Today I’d like to share a few of my thoughts on how I successfully approach a plant sale and come away with a feeling of accomplishment.

1. Money Matters

The first thing that I consider (before even daring to look at a plant availability list), is funds. How much money can I afford to spend on the sale? I used to make the mistake of reading what plants are available first, and then s a budget. That never works. I end up basing my budget off of what plants I want, and not what I can actually afford.

Money is also very hard to come by for me, being a broke teenager with little funds. Some plant sales, I can’t afford to buy anything. That’s when I ask the salesperson at the booth I want to buy a plant from, “Can I trade you for a piece of this?” Sometime, it works, and I walk home with a free plant. Other times, it doesn’t. But it never hurts to try.

Also, take gas costs into account. It’s not unusual for me to head to the other end of the state for a great sale, but I have to consider something. Is it really worth it to drive a great distance for a plant that I could get cheaper (than the cost of gas + the plant) online? Let’s move on to my second consideration.

2. Plant List

It’s not uncommon for local plant sales to release a plant availability list either through Facebook or their website. When the list comes through, I immediately print it out and look it over. After I’ve set my budget, I can go through and highlight some of my favorites, and write them down on a notepad, noting which ones I want most. That way, if my plant list exceeds my budgetary limits, I can always choose the ones that I want most.

3. On The Day Of The Sale

Plan to arrive early. As early as possible. On my very first plant sale, I arrived at 11:00am, and the sale ended at 12:00pm. To my disappointment, all of my favorite plants were either extremely picked through or sold out. I usually try arrive at the plant sale at the starting time. In my region, the average plant sale starts around 8:00am, which gives me plenty of time to get up and ready before I have to leave.  I have seen some sale that start as early as 7:00. But my proximity to the sale might also dictate what time I’m able to arrive.

Once you arrive, do NOT be seduced by the huge array of beautiful plants and friendly gardeners trying to sell them. That is a HUGE mistake. Last year, I went to a large plant sale (down in Lafayette, Louisiana) searching for tropical plants for my exotic garden. My budget was set at $30, but by the time I was finished gawking at all of the rare plants, I walked out of the sale with $125 worth of plants. That was my last plant sale for a while.

One last tip: enjoy yourself! There are lots of gardeners who would love to talk plants with you. Take advantage of that! Talk about a problem area in your yard. Maybe they’d be able to suggest a plant to grow there. Ask them any question that you have about the plants being sold. They’d love to answer you!

Quick Recap:

  • Consider your budget
  • Decide what plants you want
  • Arrive early
  • Ask questions
  • Have Fun!

Edit: I attended the fall Plantfest in Baton Rouge, LA and walked out of the sale having spent exactly $100. Better budgeting than last year! 😉 Not everyone will have as large of a budget as I do, but all you can do is plan with what you have and ALWAYS overplan and overexpect what you will spend.

Happy Gardening and Plant Shopping!

The Monthly Newsletter

Join the growing community of gardeners and adventurers seeking to connect with each other and expand their gardening know-how!


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