Iron Press

Iron Press @NoFarmNeeded

We are leaving the Victorian Era behind and stepping into the 1950s and 60s. In an era known for the plastic revolution and for classic T.V.

I’m talking about the Brady Bunch, Leave it to Beaver, and Bewitched. In several episodes, they use an iconic heated object (I’m sure my title gives it away). The Iron. A staple across America.

Now….I do know how to use an iron. Quite ironic actually because most people think millennials don’t even know how to use a washing machine (I’ve always been a fan of nice smelling clothes). Irons are good for pressing out wrinkles and straightening pant seams. They are also good for pressing and drying a variety of flowers.

Which Flowers Work Best to Be Pressed with the Iron: 

I use pansies. Why? I love pansies and they are easy flowers to use for the iron press. Because it is not like ironing pants, no matter what Alice tells you.

As a side note (speaking of Alice from the Brady Bunch), why do we never see Mrs. Brady working or ironing? What does she do all day? Can anyone tell me this!

Back from the side, onto the straight road.

The Iron Press is fairly simple to understand. Put a hot object on a flower, between towels, and wallah, the flower’s moisture is gone. A magic trick that doesn’t even need a sexy assistant, because of course, we are the sexy ones.

The Steps for a Successful Iron Press: 

1. You are going to first, put your flower between parchment paper. Newspaper’s ink leaks onto the petals, paper towels imprint their pattern, and towels (in general) have wrinkles that iron on lines. Parchment paper is your best option. It can withstand the heat and leaves no trace behind.

Parchment Paper NoFarmNeeded

The iron should be set on high for cotton/wool. You want the hottest heat possible.

Hot Iron NoFarmNeeded

2. When pressing your flower just hold the iron on top of it. Do not iron like you would a shirt. No small circles, no downward lines, keep it stationary. Every minute check to see how your flower is doing.

Ironing NoFarmNeeded

3. It is ready when it is papery thin and dry. Trust me, you will know. The water coming out of your flower is pretty easy to see. It leaves dark splotches on the petals until they are fully released.

Pansy NoFarmNeeded

4. Pansies should take no more than 3 minutes. Other flowers can vary. Begonias have taken up to 10… maybe more, the time was just ticking by.

. . . and remember to always create something new! How about a clock?

Photo May 11, 12 54 49 PM

Take out the iron from your back room, the closet, or your laundry room. Press your flowers and if you have time, throw in your shirt as well. Might as well hit two birds with one stone.

Pallet Gardening

NoFarmNeeded

Vertical Garden 101

What are vertical gardens? A phrase thrown around nowadays like green roofs and winter sowing (both wonderful in their own right!). Vertical gardens are gardens that hang vertically.

They line walls, adorn driveways, and can hang off of roofs. A garden easily reachable and versatile for what it can hold. Vertical gardens are container gardens on steroids. The best part of gardening now flipped on its’ side.

Pallet Gardening

Photo Jun 11, 7 33 42 PM

The basis for pallet gardening starts with the pallet. Not as easy to get as I had hoped. I scoured my neighborhood for weeks looking for a sign that a pallet was there. My wish came true on a rainy Tuesday, where my morning walk brightened when I saw a pallet lazy leaning against trash.

Although my adventure to get a pallet was weeks in the making, you can probably find one easier. For starters, you can make your own. Pallets are just pieces of wood stuck together with nails. You could even find them in the back of grocery stores, at your work, or even digging through other’s trash.

The only thing to worry about is what’s on your pallet. A lot of pallets come stained and adorned with chemicals. These chemicals will seep into your soil and then into your plants. Make sure your pallet is chemical free before starting! Look for HT stamp, this symbolizes that the pallet was heated treated instead of chemically treated.

Creating Your Garden

Supplies:

  1. Landscape fabric
  2. Staple Gun
  3. Gloves (so you do not get splinters!)
  4. Soil
  5. Wood Chips
  6. Plants
  7. Spray Paint (optional)

I spray painted the outside of my pallet before I began. Why? First off I love to spray paint and secondly, it adds a punch of color. Make sure to spray paint the outside only, as to not get the paint where your soil and plants will sit.

 

First and foremost, stretch your landscape fabric against the back of the pallet and then staple the fabric to the back. I laid the landscape fabric on top of the pallet’s bottom to get a tight fit.  Once you have stapled all the way around, do the same process again two to three times. This gives you a sturdy back to use.

 

Secondly, staple both the top and the bottom of your fabric. You don’t want any soil to come out of the ends.

 

The hard part is over, let’s go crazy and add soil and wood chips! Before putting your pallet on the ground, add wood chips through the top. This helps drainage.

Adding Wood Chips NoFarmNeeded

Now for the fun part…. let’s soil it!

Finally, let’s seed it up! Add whatever you want. I put in container zucchini, green beans, verbena, lettuce, and kale! What will you add?

You can also add starter plants. For example, ready to plant in lettuce, broccoli, or strawberries.

 

… Two weeks later!

Veggies in Pallet NoFarmNeeded

What will you put in your pallet?!

Let’s Try Something New!

It’s time to,

Garden (1)

I am tired of the old, I am tired of the overly used, so let’s try something new!

Gardening time is officially here. In the air, through the earth with new buds, inspiring me to try something new.

Every year, I try to plant something new in my garden. Last year I grew a patch of AAS Super Moon pumpkins. And (much to my surprise) they overtook my backyard with their twisting vines. Though, I happily carved the pumpkins in the Fall instead of buying ones from the store.

But what about this year? What’s new? The cutting edge plants in gardening, something that is unusual and not found in everyone’s backyard.

This year… I found three.

The Loofah

Loofah 01.jpg

The what? Isn’t it a sponge. To be honest, I had no idea where loofahs came from. Right off the bat, I guessed they came from the ocean. Doesn’t it sound like it should?  I mean people use them in the shower! It could be a sea sponge.

Much to my surprise, I can grow them from seed.

I bought a pack of Loofah seeds from Reene’s Garden. With the instructions on the back as my guidelines, I dug right in. Will they work? How will they dry? Well, let’s find out. I wouldn’t mind having several loofahs in my shower this year.

My little Loofah seedlings have started to grow in their containers. It’s about time to transplant them into my garden!

AAS Evening Sensation Petunia

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A flower is not only planted for its beauty but also for its scent. This puppy has got some perfumes coursing through it.

Petunias are very easy to grow. A flower that thrives in Sun or Part Shade, I have found that petunias are staples in the garden. They bring a pop of color on the ground or hanging gracefully down containers or hanging baskets.

Petunias are also pollinator magnets.

I am trying AAS Evening Sensation Petunia because the name sells me! What scent does it produce? Does it waft off the ground? My hope is to bottle the scent by July! The color is also supposed to be phenomenal. One of the best blues on the market, I want to see if this color stands up to the description. Does it truly look blue …. or deep purple?

 

Petunia Seedlings NoFarmNeeded

My petunias, happily growing in a basket to then cascade over the sides. A pop of interest at the front door.

Hibiscus Zinger

Zinger Hib.jpg

In the morning, I sit down with a steaming cup of green tea while I read the newspaper. By afternoon, I round out lunch with English Breakfast and when dinner rolls around, I go for herbal peppermint. I have so much tea, I bet my blood’s almost half tea.

Zinger Hibiscus grows to be a tea plant. Apparently, you use the flowers to produce Hibiscus flavor tea. I am sure it will be a delight, heck even if it is not, the flowers are still beautiful.

I wanted to plant something I could use in a different manner. Everyone knows about eating tomatoes from the garden or picking cucumbers right off of the vine. Why not drink something? A nice fruity flavor to bring you straight into the summer feels.

Stay tuned to see how the tea tastes!

I think my favorite thing about the Zinger Hibiscus seedlings so far are their leaves. The edges are slightly crinkled.

Time to Plant

It’s the year of the new. And my garden will show just that.

Eco Dyeing

Eco Dyeing NoFarmNeeded

A science experiment. An art form. A way of gardening. A stain, that will never be removed.

Alright, I’ll admit. This came to me when I was eating spaghetti and had sauce smeared all over my white shirt. Why? Well… I’m not sure why I was wearing a white shirt but, I do remember why I thought of flowering dyeing. Tomato sauce stains.

This stain is a beautiful red. Why can’t we get flowers to do the same? Each flower in the garden brings a unique color. Even if they are two flowers from the same plant, neither of them are alike. One can be a little more redder than the other, while another can have a tinge of yellow. An open canvas.

Experimenting with Natural Dyes

One of the easiest flowers to start flower dyeing are the pansies, which so happen to be one of my favorite flowers.

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It’s all in the technique and there are certain steps you need to take to get there. First off, you need pansies (or any flower you want the imprint from).

 

Then tap the flowers on the surface you want to dye. I wanted to make a bag so I got a plain fabric bag from the store. I also got a scarf to do next!

Tip: When taping don’t tape over other flowers! The flowers will then have tap marks in them.

Pansy with Tape NoFarmNeeded

After that, it’s hammer time! Uncork and release all of your bottled up anger and frustration. Hammering the flowers imprints the pigments on your fabric.

Tip: Do not hammer too much! I thought I needed to get ALL of the dye out of the flower in one go. But this just misshapes your flower. In one pansy, I was able to use it’s dye four times.

Remove the tape and iron the flower pigments in. I put my iron on high and it seemed to work well.

Finally, view your masterpiece. Mix and match flower shapes, heck add leaves. Be as creative as possible! Don’t just stain t-shirts, bags, and scarves by accident. Show the world what’s in your garden by eco-dyeing. It’s the way of the future!

 

Easy to Make Watering Can

Watering Can NoFarmNeeded

Your Very Own Watering Can

People have closets full of shoes.

I have a garage full of watering cans.

They serve no purpose. Honestly, I probably only need one. But just the thought of a watering can makes me smile. Caring one in each hand, as water spills down my legs reminds me of summer… it is summer in a bottle.

My dilemma:

  1. I moved to a new apartment
  2. I have a tomato plant I need to water
  3. Watering cans are more expensive than I had thought

Really, watering cans can cost up to ten dollars. Do you want one with different shaped holes? What about colors? How about the shape of the container, should it be bean shaped? Too many options with too many different prices.

I couldn’t make up my mind.

I wanted them all but did not want to spend that much. Especially because watering cans are a huge use of plastic (unless I splurge for a metal).

What was my solution?

My own watering. This watering can, is made from a 3-liter jug I had on my kitchen counter. A way to reduce, reuse, and recycle. I could make whatever hole size I needed for the nozzle and didn’t have to spend the extra cash to do it.

The Process:

 

First, you need a jug, scissors, and a plant that needs to be watered (want to plant a tomato this summer? Learn how to properly plant one here!).

Utensils for Watering Can

Secondly, poke holes into the top of the lid of the jug with the scissors. I made five holes, nothing too large to drown my seeds but big enough to water my plant quickly.

Thirdly… water your plant! It’s that easy.

Watering the plant

The Perfect Watering Can

It’s a small act to save plastic, water your plants, and you can get back to planting more plants even faster!

Seeing my own watering cans next to the store bought, I grin. They might not look the same, but I think my watering can works better!

Spring is the time to plant . . . Make now be the time to save the earth, some money, and get a little creative!

The First Plant in the Garden

Tomato … Tomäto

There is something special about a homegrown tomato. Something even more special by growing food in your own backyard. No matter what I am growing, whether it’s a fruit or vegetable, I can almost taste the sunshine in it.

That’s why last summer, I had three separate gardens. There were eight different tomato plants growing in them. Five of these tomato varieties were heirloom tomatoes…My favorite. If there is any tomato I can stand behind it’s the tomatoes that look like squashed clown faces and are multi-colored.

Never know what to do with all of your homegrown tomatoes? Here’s a fun and easy recipe to eat them all year around! homemade tomato sauce 

Since April is National Gardening Month, I thought what a better way to get people gardening than by showing them how to properly plant a tomato.

For me, tomatoes are staples in the garden and I want to show you how to get the most from your plant.

Tomato 101: Bury the Stem

Planting a Tomato NoFarmNeeded

Number one rule of planting a tomato plant (unless the tomato is grafted)…. Always bury the stem. 

I know, it seems a little counterproductive to bury almost 2/3rds of the plant underground. However, with your tomato plant buried you will get a better root system and more stability. Sometimes, I think I also get bigger tomatoes.

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Fred Gonsowki did a wonderful depiction above. Take your tomato plant, pick off the stems and leaves up until the soil line. I usually leave three stems at the top and that’s how I know where my soil line should be. Then dig your hole, put your tomato plant in, and cover with soil. A little water and sunlight should do the trick for your best tomato plant this season!

Why You Should Not Bury Grafted Tomatoes

There are now tomato plants that are grafted. Grafted simply means that a grower cut a notch in the root of an heirloom tomato, stuck a hybrid stalk on top, and then tied them together tightly until they fuse.  This gives you the disease resistance of a hybrid and the wonderful root structure of an heirloom tomato.

You do now want to bury the stem because it defeats the purpose of grafting. Burying the stem of a hybrid tomato with an heirloom root system will give you half heirloom root system and half hybrid. Overall, your root system will act like a hybrid root system (not well). So if you get a grafted tomato, do not plant the stem!

…..Actually A Fruit

Tomatoes NoFarmNeeded

For me, a tomato is considered a vegetable. I eat it as my “vegetable serving” in a meal. On a hamburger, the tomato slides in the middle with lettuce, pickles, and onions, while my fruit salad of watermelon, blueberries, and strawberries sits on the side. Scientifically speaking tomatoes are fruits.

“True fruits are developed from the ovary in the base of the flower and contain the seeds of the plant” – scienceblob.com

Kind of sad isn’t it? Even if it is an actual fruit, there is no way I will be eating it like an apple! Though I know some of you do. 

What’s The Difference Between Determinate and Indeterminate Tomatoes?

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Picture credit: Fix.com

Determinate tomatoes:

  1. The grow height is put on the labels
  2. Commonly known as “bush” tomatoes because their growth is compact
  3. Stop growing when fruit sets on the top of the buds
  4. The tomatoes ripen near the same time
  5. Usually not stacked or supported
  6. Never prune
  7. Great for containers!

Indeterminate tomatoes:

  1. Can reach heights up to 12 feet. Though it really depends on the variety!
  2. Produce tomatoes all Summer long until killed by frost
  3. Can prune. Sometimes you can get increased yields when the young plant is pruned back to three or four vines.
  4. The plant will bloom while other tomatoes on the plant are ripening or ready to pick

When in Doubt Grow Tomatoes!

Tomatoes NoFarmNeeded

Tomatoes are a wonderful fruit! Even though I don’t always enjoy eating them, they remind me of stars dancing across a garden. Pops of bright red that brighten my day! April is a great time to start your tomatoes or think about starting your tomatoes. I know Florida is already harvesting, while the Midwest won’t start planting their tomatoes until May. A tomato plant is a fantastic way to start National Gardening Month. Look for next week’s blog post for another tip to add to your garden this year!

To Contain A Garden

Container Gardening

To Contain a Garden

There are beasts in the garden. A vine, a weed, a busy week gone by in a blink of an eye. Gardens are filled with havoc. I am containing them.

Growing up, I was fortunate enough to be graced with a huge backyard. My family and I would tear it up every Mother’s Day to be able to grow our own vegetables and beautiful flowers. As I grew older, I learned not everyone has a yard or in fact a bit of land to grow flowers in.

When I started college I became a fanatic of container gardens. The perfect combination of chaos and calm. No plants were ever able to overtake it and weeds were non-existent. Now, as I sit in an apartment I find myself back in the swings of container gardening. I find container gardens to be the best garden. They are the right amount of soil and the perfect plant to brighten anyone’s day!

From the beginner gardener – to the expert green-thumb, everyone should container garden. Why? Because it is easy, fun, and you can put these containers anywhere.

The Perfect Pair….

For my container garden, I paired up with All-America Selections and Crescent Gardens. Both of these organizations bring the finest quality of products.

All-America Selections is a non-for-profit organization that brings you award-winning flowers and vegetables. These plants have been tested nationally across North America and proven locally in your own backyard. By using AAS Winners, you can be assured of superior garden performance. Including beautiful blooms in ornamentals, great taste in edibles, and perfect habit.  

Crescent Gardens designs and creates one-of-a-kind functional decorative products for your home and garden.

What I Used:

Pot: Crescent Garden Black Juno.

Flowers:

Salvia – Summer Jewel Lavender

Osteospermum – Akila Daisy White

Canna – South Pacific Scarlet

Gaura – Sparkle White

Zinnia – Profusion Double Hot Cherry

Zinnia – Profusion Double Deep Salmon

Strawberry – Delizz

garden

Location:

Location, location, location. The main key. You can put container gardens,

  1. Patio
  2. Deck
  3. Dorm Room
  4. Window
  5. Front or back stoop
  6. Driveway
  7. Entryway
  8. Front yard/ back yard
  9. Porch
  10. Window Ledge

Anywhere there is a spot!

Canna NoFarmNeededZinnia NoFarmNeededPollinators NoFarmNeeded

 

 

Main Things to Remember:

  1. Create your Container Garden with a Theme in mind. I wanted to attract pollinators, so my use of bright reds like Cannas allows me to attract bees and bats.
  2. Know the space you’re going to put the container. I’m not only talking about the location but also how much sun will it receive? How often will you need to water? Is it for the indoors or outdoors? This will decide what plants you use.
  3. THE 3 KEYS: Spiller, Thriller, and Height.
    1. Spiller: A plant to hang over your pot
    2. Thriller: A plant that is unique, different petal pattern or color
    3. Height: You need a plant that is tall in the middle with a gradual decrease in height of other flowers.

Photo Jun 22, 8 38 41 AMZinnia Salmon AAS Winner

 

To Tangle With A Beast

A beast is not a beast once it’s contained. Container gardens bring you the least amount of worry in a garden. They can be taken anywhere and if forgotten about for a week, are easily managed in fifteen minutes. Container gardens allow me to grow what I want where-ever and let me dream about what my future garden will look like.

You can’t go wrong with container gardens, make your garden happen no matter what you have. You don’t need a farm or a garden plot to do it! Just one container.  

 

Winter Sowing

Winter Sowing @NoFarmNeeded

Winter Sowing @NoFarmNeeded

Winter Time is Fun!

Everyone waits for Spring to be their All-Star planting season…. but why not Winter? Winter Sowing is a great way to start your seedlings off right and take some of the work out of Spring planting. Besides, I’d find any excuse to get my hands dirty with soil, even when the snow starts to fall.

For Winter Sowing you are going to need:

  1. Plastic milk jugs
  2. Soil
  3. Scissors
  4. Duct Tape
  5. Sharpie
  6. Something to puncture plastic milk jugs ( I used corn holders)
  7. SEEDS!!!

A Note on What Seeds to Pick for Winter Sowing:

I normally start sowing in early January but you can start sowing whenever. I normally spread out my Winter sowing throughout January, February, and March; it really just depends on when I can get my hands on milk jugs. Cold weather crops will germinate earlier than other crops, so I normally will start my cool weather crops (like Brussel sprouts or cabbage) in January and then by March finish up sowing my tomatoes and peppers.

Make sure you don’t forget about your flowers! Perennials should be started early while annuals can be started later in the season.

Making Your Minature Greenhouses:

Get your Milk Jugs

Cut your milk jugs 1/3 of the way down. Make sure you have enough depth (I’d say about 3 inches) for your soil.

Cutting Open Milk Jug NoFarmNeeded

Puncture the bottoms of the containers so there is no water build up

Puncturing Holes NoFarmNeeded

Mix together your soil and water in a container (note: Keep the soil moist but not dripping wet).

Fill the containers up with soil, plant your seeds double the size of your seed down, and label the insides with what you had planted. (I have found that by writing the names on the inside of the container it does not weather away).

 

Duct tape the containers closed, making sure it is completely sealed.

Place outside and wait for Spring!

Winter Sowing @NoFarmNeeded

Ta-Da! You will be surprised how often you check these containers, looking for the little green sprouts to grow!

Goldenrod vs. Ragweed

Goldenrod vs Ragweed @NoFarmNeeded

Is it just a Guessing Game?

The ultimate throw down.

Goldenrod vs Ragweed @NoFarmNeeded

In one corner Goldenrod,

and in the other,

Ragweed.

Two plants that get mistaken for the same thing. Is Goldenrod the culprit for all of our allergy problems, the weed that spreads everywhere, or is it a pollinator haven?

 

For me, Goldenrod is one of the best native plants around.

For you…..my guess is, you pull it out without realizing your mistake.

Goldenrod is a wonderful native plant that can be found almost anywhere. From meadows, prairies, savannahs to compost piles, backyards, and forest floors.

It brings pollinators galore and supports a lot of their food supply during the Fall months.

Without Goldenrod,  bees, bugs, and other pollinators would go hungry. In addition, a lot of caterpillars feed off their nectar making Goldenrod a nursery for young butterflies.

But how do you tell the difference?

prairie goldenrod ragweed nofarmneeded
In a prairie …. who knows?

 

Here are 3 clear cut ways to never get them confused again:

  1. Ragweed has green flowers while Goldenrod has golden.

2. Ragweed is a leafy green plant (i.e. they have different leaves) while Goldenrod leaves have no leaf stem and small teeth around the edges.

3. Goldenrod is pollinated by insects, Ragweed by the wind.

Insect pollination goldenrod NoFarmNeeded

Got it?

Good…. so stop pulling out your Goldenrod. Let those golden flowers flow.