Gardening in March

There are so many gardening and outdoor maintenance things to do.  It is nice to be able to stay home and get some of these things done.  So this weekend we started with chipping branches. We invested last year in a small nonindustrial chipper.  We love it!!!

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We had piles of branches.  We chipped most of them.  We used some of the branches for firewood to burn down a stump this weekend.  Not only does the chipper reduce the amount of leaves and turn them into a very fine mulch additive for our garden spaces, but it chips branches into a nice free mulch.  The mulch is a bit chunkier than we are used to purchasing but there are some pros. The mulch doesn’t have a ton of chemicals leaching into our drinking water and a bunch of dyes getting on our shoes or our dogs paws. We were chipping a lot of pine branches so it smells divine.

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These branches took a few hours to chip with both my husband and I working at it.  But we were able to finish laying down a new layer of mulch on a walking pathway on our side yard.

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We also burnt down a stump in order to potentially add onto the current patio with an area on the other side of the house where we can put in a sunken fire pit.  So two more mostly dead pine trees need to come down and their stumps burnt down as well.  This weekend was a practice run for us, as we have never done this before.  Our friends up the street have burnt down a dozen or so stumps on their property just this past year.

First thing we did was dig a a hole around the stump to expose the roots and for a secure place to have the fire.

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From about 2 pm we started the fire and we continued to feed the fire and poke at the stump with fireplace tools in order to work it down until 7:45 pm.  We then put our fire pit cover on the fire which was mostly coals and called it a night.  In the morning we dug out the ashes from the previous day and dug out more dirt from under the roots to try to get the coals under the stump in order to burn it from below as well.  We also worked on chopping up the roots and stump a bit so that it would catch fire better and burn down more.

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This is a photo of the stump after we scooped out ashes, dug a little deeper around and under the roots and then chopped at the stump a bit more with the axe.

After work today if it is nice and not rainy I am going to uncover what burned yesterday, Day 2 of burning.  I am hoping that we may be able to chop just a bit more at three main roots and pop the stump out.  It was originally about 3 inches above the ground level and The husband would like at the least to have it about 3 inches below ground level so that there will be enough of a dirt layer on top to grow grass.

If chipping and burning wasn’t enough work to entertain everyone I also did weeding of my mint bed. As well we rotor-tilled three more garden boxes and planting in two of them.

The dead mint vines had to be cut down and the wild onions taken out as much as possible as well as raking out all the leaves and sticks.  I put the dead vines and weeds and leaves right into the stump burning fire.  Its nice that the fire had a few purposes.

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Garden boxes that got planted.  The smaller square box which had green onions in from last year that survived the winter is our onion and garlic box this year.  We got a packet of 100 onion sets.  I have split them up with a few close by friends as well.  So each family is doing about 10 of yellow 10 white and 10 red onions in their gardens.  We will see how they do and we are all interested in learning how to braid and preserve our onions.  In rotor-tilling this box we found a random beet that survived the winter with a few leaves on it.  I put it back in the ground, I figure it will die or get bigger.  I am hoping the latter.  And lastly in the very front row of the box next to the beet and last years green onions I planted three garlic bulbs.  From what I have been learning about gardening the root veggies are hardier and can go in a bit earlier.

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So at the bottom of the photo we have from left to right three garlic, one left over random beet and survived through the winter green onions. Then there are two rows of each onion across the box starting with two rows of red then yellow then two rows of white onions across the top of the box.  The red is closest to the beet and that is how I will remember there is a random beet and not pull it thinking it is a weed.  I would like to add that I am leaving a great deal of room between all of the plants this year, so that they will all do well and I do not have to thin them out, which makes me not a lazy gardener but a very busy person.

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I have learned a trick or two with these cell phones and their vast digital capacity.  If I see something in a store or out and about and I like it and I am pretty sure I can make it, I snap a photo of it.  This way I can reference it later or better yet just show it to the husband rather than trying to explain it.  Please build me one of these is so much easier to say than it was 20 years ago.  So with that being said I snap a photo of the seed packets in the order that I plant them in the box.  Not only can I then see what is planted in the box two months ago but it also tells me the date and time I took the photo so i can say in three months- not one single carrot came up-won’t buy that brand again. So in this long front box starting from the right and moving left I planted seeds that I saved from last years lettuce, it was called salad bowl lettuce it was lighter green and tasted good all summer and into the fall.  In the middle we have carrots seeds from the neighbor.  My friend and I have found that yes we both have pretty big gardens, considering most people don’t have gardens at all. But neither of us have enough garden space for the whole packets of each thing we want to grow.  So she gets the things she really likes and I get the things I really want to grow but who ever gets seeds first sends a photo to the other so they can get different seeds cause we share and it splits the cost of seeds, which isn’t much but considering I paid $20 for marigolds last year and shared 6 with her and this year I have about 60 marigold sprouts coming up from seeds I saved. It means a bunch more marigolds for both of us for free!!!  So in the middle plastic baggie is a pinch of short fat orange carrots.  Then to the left is Romaine lettuce which she has a pinch of and has already planted hers. On the far left we are saving about three feet for Bell peppers when we transplant them from inside if they ever decide to sprout.

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In addition to all of this that happened in two days.  I also took the plants outside for a little bit on each day to soak up some sun and get used to the wind. This is called “hardening off”  It will strengthen their tiny stems for the real world outside.  A great deal of very good gardeners start their seeds in green houses.  We do not have a green house, so next to the window is as good as my plants are going to get.  We usually keep our house at about 66 degrees, but lately we are keeping it a bit colder to try to save electric, so about 64 degrees F. That is too cold for plants to grow inside when there isn’t enough light.  So I spoil my seeds in order to encourage them to all survive.  We have three grow lights as well as a makeshift heat mat.  I have seen heat mats sold in stores for $30 which would only heat up 1/10 of the seeds I started.  Then I remembered I have an electric blanket, I folded it into thirds and put it on the folding table where I have most of the seeds.  The electric blanket will stay on for 8 hours.  So basically every time I walk past the plants I check to see that the blanket is on. If not I push the button to turn it on.  The results of the amount of seeds that spouted are astonishing.  I have never had this much success.  Next year I think that I may set up the second folding table, we have a second electric blanket that is currently not in use.

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This is a photo of about half of the plants sun bathing.  Hardening off means to make your plants hardy but I joke in all seriousness hardening off your plants is a lot of hard work, inside , outside, into the sunny spots, is it too cold or windy? Its started to rain quick help me get the plants inside-shoes on, shoes off, mud everywhere, because who does not have muddy shoes when they are gardening. So to wrap up a bit of March gardening.  RickabaughReviews approves of hard work.

Here is a photo of the Blue bells for some spring time smiles.

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Gardening 2020

Well Its that time again.  We have started seeds inside and purchased trees online.  It is still a little early but today we started seeds outside as well.  My husband got me an electrical rotor-tiller for my birthday back in January.  We have wanted one and needed one and a birthday or holiday is a good time to get big ticket items and be able to not feel guilty for spending money.  SunJo is the brand he got me-it is perfect for our size of garden space.  It is amazing! So much power and made quick work and was so easy.  We tilled up the area by the fence where we did corn last year and did not have much luck.  We have added so much to the area such as ashes, compost, and close to a foot worth of leaf chippings from the summer and fall.  We are keeping our fingers crossed and hoping that the corn does better in that area this year.

We also rotor-tilled one of the 4 garden boxes.  In the fall we added about 8 inches of chipped leaves to the boxes, they were getting pretty low on their soil level.  I also have been direct composting all winter to the boxes. Now that we are planting seeds in the boxes I will start putting all my kitchen scraps into the compost tumbler again. Fruit and veggie scraps as well as used tea bags and coffee grounds have been tossed over the fencing into the boxes every morning. The dog goes potty and sniffs around and I pick up a few sticks in the yard and then we go back inside for more coffee and to get ready for work. My husband built wonderful fencing for the boxes last year and it kept the bunnies out all summer long.  It also kept them out all winter long too.  The garden box that we rotor-tilled up this afternoon is a 4 foot by 4 foot box.  There is a trellis that is on one side and this is the side that we planted our sugar snap peas, I saved these from last years crop.  There are 5 rows with a total of 90 seeds. Then in the other two thirds of the garden box I planted in 10 rows of 150 beet seeds.

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Last year our beets did not grow as well as we would have liked.  We have figured there are a few changes that need to be made.  The dirt in the box was very hard and compact and needed some nutrition as well as loosening and softening in order for the root vegetables to expand and grow underground.  We added a great deal of leaf mulch which we are hoping will lighten up the heavy soil so that it will retain more water and nutrients for the vegetables.  Another issue that I personally have when planting the garden is that I get too excited about the plants growing and eating healthier for less money and I plant all of the seeds into too small of a space and I do not thin them out.  So this year I did give some of the seeds away to a neighbor friend and planted the rest in three times the amount of space. My husband says that we will thin the veggies this year.  We have been growing a garden together for nine years-we have yet to ever thin out the weaker smaller plants – we like to give them all a chance.  We have learned if they are all going to have a chance they all need more room.

We did some inside gardening as well. The pumpkin sprouts and the spaghetti squash sprouts, both from the seeds I saved from last years crops, have all sprouted and are all over 6 inches high.  Their root systems needed more dirt and room. So the pumpkins got split into two small indoor pots and the spaghetti squash got split into three small indoor pots. All went back onto the table that has the electric blanket as well as the grow light shining on it at all times for the last three weeks.  The two trays of sunflowers that are also six inches high each went into small pots. Three trays that had a total of 6 marigold sprouts got condensed into a small pot and the tomato sprouts have had half of the sprouts taken out and put into a small indoor pot.  All pots went back onto the electric blanket where they get the grow light 24 hours a day. The husband is a bit worried that they are going too fast and soon our home will be taken over by plants.

The two blueberry bushes are doing amazing inside the house in their little blue indoor pots, across from the window where all the seeds were started.  The three fruit trees that we purchased earlier this year are in their big pots in the living room in front of one of the sliding glass doors.  I have kept these blinds open even at night to allow as much light to them as possible.  These particular set of sliding glass doors face the back yard so no one can see in from the street, so we don’t mind them being open all the time.  We purchased a peach, golden delicious apple and a Bing cherry tree.  The peach and apple are being very stubborn and have not sprouted any leaves yet.  The Bing cherry is being a good little tree and has so many little leaves all over its twigs.  We would like to plant the trees on the side yard using the Espalier training style.  A good friend who does this highly recommended it.  They produce a higher yield in a smaller space and all the fruit is produced in easy harvesting reach.  We have just a few concerns.  Such as if we can reach the fruit so can the deer that we have seen in the yard.  Also we have been told that they need a great deal of pruning and attention.  There are only two of us and three of them so far.  We are out numbered because these three do not include the two apple trees and the two pear trees that are already well established outside in the same side yard area.  We both work full time jobs including a few part time jobs as well.  It is the start of a very small orchard, we are hoping to have enough time to tend the trees in our busy lives.  We are estimating at this time to only have to spend close to 10 minutes twice a day watering them and checking to see they are doing well.  We will probably spend close to an hour every Saturday establishing their growing structure once we have the trees and support posts in the ground.

So far RickabaughReviews approves of using an electric blanket as a heat mat and grow lights to get seeds started.  It will be a few weeks before we know if Espalier style is for us but until then we are checking out a few digital books from the local public library.

Fruit trees

I have had many struggles with wanting to have fruit trees in order to grow my own food and wanting to not pay an arm and a leg for them.  I have tried to grow trees from seeds from the fruit that we eat.  I also have tried to grow them from seeds purchased.  Growing trees from seeds is not my strong suit.  I have finally broken down and have shopped around and found that if I do not want to take out a second mortgage I will need to compare prices and get trees in a bare root fashion.

I paid $35 per tree and because we purchased 3 trees it was free shipping.  They came a full week early so that was a true delight, considering the age of next day delivery 3 weeks felt like forever.  The box was 5 feet tall and so skinny for 3 trees, but they all fit very snugly. And as advertised they were all between 3 and 4 feet tall.  There were a few broken branches on each one but there are good branches on each tree as well.

Since it is the first week of March and we live in zone 6b we can not put them out until the first week of May in order to avoid a late frost, we had to pot them inside for a little bit.

We are planning on getting only three trees a year.  We spent a bunch of money on very big pots so after these trees get planted in the ground outside we will have these three pots available for next years three trees.  Get them in the winter and sprout them inside for a few months then transplant them out doors after the frost.

I have known several friends and family members that have purchased trees bare root and they don’t make it when they plant them directly outdoors.  So I am going to give them a fighting chance by sprouting them inside first.  The last thing I want to do is buy trees and kill them.

You don’t need a reason to want a fruit tree or any tree for that matter, you just have to want them and want them to survive.  We have several different reasons for wanting fruit trees.  They include the following-  We recently took down close to 8 trees that were 50% or more dead and were needing to come down so as to not damage our home in a storm.  With so many trees taken down I worry about erosion.  There are a few dead trees still standing in our wooded area that if they fall in a storm they will not hurt any man made structure. We live near the bottom of a slight hill which leads to a creek and we get a great deal of run off of rain water from the neighborhood.  Thus we want to plant root systems of tree and bushes in order to stabilize the area.  They will be able to produce more oxygen then just the grassy area where we will be planting them.  We love the idea of being able to help reverse climate change.  We also love the concept of living more independently with the ability of growing our own food.  I am excited to see the results of hard work and much planning as well as how this might be able to assist the families that live closest to me by sharing what we grow.

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This is one of two of our blueberry bushes that we purchased as a little twig a few weeks back.  They are both doing very well indoors while it is still very cold outside.

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These are the three new trees potted inside until the weather has warmed up a bit more.  We already have 4 fruit trees that were planted before we moved in.  We are hoping that these three new trees will do just as well as the other two pear trees and two apple trees.

RickabaughReviews approves of growing orchards at home!

Fall Gardening Update

In case you have not heard the news, its Fall. The air is finally crisp at night, the trees are turning and the leaves are falling. It would be wonderful if the leaves would just fall all at once so we only had to rake once or if they would just all fall in one little spot. That’s not how dead leaves work.

Well I have started to wake up just a bit earlier every morning and do a bit more of yard work on a daily basis. I have a leaf blower that also vacuums and slightly mulches the leaves into a bag attached to the leaf blower. I got it out twice already this fall. Well it looks like I am going to be using it daily until winter. I tell my husband that I am going to vacuum the patio, we giggle about it. I have never used it to blow the leaves. I collect and mulch them and use them to winterize the garden boxes and flower beds.

I had written a blog post probably almost a year ago about how I was making more garden space. I had dug out nearly all of the decorative plants and flowers in the designated area and put them in other places around the yard. What happened to the new garden space is not what I had anticipated. I had taken away the plants that were holding the mostly clay dirt in place. When it rained it was a swampy mess and the 400 corn seeds I had planted in the area didn’t take well, we only had thirty stalks and none of them produced any significant edible corn.

The area just doesn’t have enough sun or nutritious soil. One of the three pine trees close by this garden spot came down this summer and really let in a great deal of light. We would keep the pine trees in this location because they give a wonderful amount of privacy from our closest neighbors but all three of them were half dead the whole way up the trees. A bit over a year here and the two remaining pine trees are more close to three quarters of the way dead the whole way up the trees. So they both need to come down as well.

It is a bit upsetting but with them not doing well, we are heading into plan B for the area. We are planning on putting in a permanent fire pit and seating area in the place of the trees. We would like to get matching brick to the current brick patio and extending this into the pine tree area. Its a win win. Sunken fire pit and less grass seed we have to put down. The bonus is a friend of ours found a place about 20 minutes away where they have piles of reject bricks, come and get them for free on the off hours! Free Brick, I am into that. My husband is not nearly as thrilled to climb and search through broken brick.

I think that it will be easier to mow around a bit more patio compared to, jabbing the mowing in an out of under the dead branches of the pine trees in order to get the sparse grass around the edges all while trying to watch your head and face. Wolf spiders like to jump out of the pine trees at our heads and those dead branches have a love of stabbing us in the eyes.

I am also thinking that it may be easier with the fall clean up as well. I find that it is much easier to use the leaf blower/vac on the patio then in the yard. The grass likes to grab and hold onto the dead leaves, so I have to put the leaf vac right on top of every leaf. While on the patio areas I use much less energy in leaf removal. I only have to get mildly close and the leaves get sucked right into the vac.

As I am slightly mulching the leaves that are falling daily I have been building up the new garden bed with grass clippings, chipping material from plant cut down, leaf mulch and ashes from the very small fire pit and the fire place inside. In early November I will be emptying the compost bin onto the area with a nice leaf mulch covering for over the winter.

leaves collected from the leaf blower/vac.

There are plenty of leaves to go around so I am also going to be collecting and putting the leaves through our chipper which does an amazing job at reducing the leaf litter into one twentieth of its size. It really is interesting. This will be what we add to the raised garden boxes. I have found that their levels are pretty low and could use some refreshing.

Leaves ran through the chipper turn into a very fine mulch, almost dirt.

The last fall prep that needs to be done this weekend particularly because of the dropping temperatures would be to trim and pot up the tropical plants I have growing in the back yard. Such as the banana tree and the 4 elephant ear plants that have done so well. They will not survive the cold weather, many choose to cut down and place in dormancy. Last year we placed the banana tree in a large pot and put it in the living room and it loved being inside and grew well, when we transplanted it in the spring it had three full grown leaves on it and did not have to start from scratch. The base of the tree has doubled in diameter this summer and it had doubled in height as well. I have several pots set aside for these tropical plants to come in and continue to prosper. below are the photos of the the banana tree we have and a photo of one of the elephant ear leaves.

Banana tree that does not grow bananas.

Elephant ear plant that does not grow baby elephants.

RickabaughReviews approves of fall prep! Share your fall prep ideas and photos with me I would love to see and share what we all are doing together.

Indoor dirt alternative

Last year I separated a bunch of my indoor plants and I found that the dirt that I had gotten was infested with gnats. So I went and got all new indoor potting soil and of course the gnats came back.

Just so we are clear I re-potted over 40 indoor plants. I washed all of the roots and pots. The gnats came back. Eew. I then started putting colored cups of soapy water by every single plant. I would change the water twice a day. I could catch about 300 gnats a day. Then I started watering my plants with soapy water, which I had read that it would kill the eggs. This did not work with killing the gnat eggs but it did kill off 5 of my more sensitive house plants.

It was the beginning of summer and unfortunately I had lost my patience with the gnat situation, all of the indoor plants went to the front porch.

I was saddened because both my husband and I really love the look of plants throughout the home. But I could also tell a difference in the air quality of inside the home, it was a bit mustier. The main reason why I had gotten indoor plants was to improve the air quality, I have a great deal of allergies and the air cleaning plants also help us sleep better.

I did a bunch of research on different types of replacements for soil. What I have found was floral water pearls. We have purchased them from amazon. They come in many different colors, we just got a multicolored pack of 20,000 to give them a try. They are so tiny when they arrive. You will need to let them absorb water to their full size before transplanting your plants. this process may take about 4 hours. When they arrived the pearls were in very bold colors but once they were full sized and ready for plants they appear pastel colors. We decided that if we were going to get fancy dirt we wanted to get containers that I would be able to see through in order to watch and see if any problems arise such as bugs or mold.

They arrive very small.

We have slowly reintroduced the plants after transplanting them again. We are quite happy with the transformation. We have slowly purchased more and more multi color floral water pearls as well as taking advantage of 50% coupons at various craft stores in order to have clear glass containers.

partially hydrated

Slight problems we have found include: If your plant is very large above the root base such as our snake plants you will need a taller container in order to stabilize the plant. The first very tall one we did fell over and the bottom slid right out of water pearls and out of the container. It was a bit of a very funny mess. This situation was incredibly easy to fix.

fully hydrated

A different problem was watering. I was very excited about the fact that I would be able to see when to water the plants because the pearls would shrink up a bit. What I didn’t realize is that it would not be universal throughout the whole container. The water sits at the bottom of the container and keeps the bottom and middle pearls at the nice stable size enough for the roots. The pearls at the top is a completely different story. They dehydrate at a much more rapid pace because they are next to the open air. I thought that if I just poured water into the container in such a manner that I used to do with dirt it would re-hydrate the pearls. Nope, the water goes straight to the bottom of the container. So I have had to improvise. I now once a week scoop out the smaller pearls on top of all the plants and re hydrate them and then pop them right back in later in the day.

I have come to realize that having to pay more attention with the watering process of each plant helps me to be more aware of each plants’ overall health. I will take the time to cut off dead leaves on a more regular basis. I have also been able to find mold in one of the containers.

Mold in the plants

This brings me to the next issue. Mold in the plants. The nice side is that I can see the mold in the plant containers right away and can take care of the issue right away. I use a clean spoon and scoop out the floral water pearls, usually they are in need of re-hydrating so I will let them soak for a few hours and then I will put them into a large mixing bowl with soapy water for about an hour. I will then put them into a clean strainer and rinse them until no soapy water runs out. I will toss them very gently while rinsing them and look for any permanently contaminated water pearls, they will look foggy the whole way through. I pluck them out and they go into the trash, usually it’s only one or two water pearls, out of the 5,000 that are in the container, not bad.

Overall we really like how it has changed our indoor plant dynamics for our home. They have gone from the background to the foreground and have turned into a really great conversation topic with guests. It is wonderful for the plants in my home to be able to be a topic transition to enable me to have thoughtful discussions about such issues as our environment, sustainability and technology.

Floral water pearls as an indoor plant substitute RickabaughReviews highly approves and recommends!

Bathroom Cleaning Trick

Having multiple jobs can be tricky for the normal cleaning of the household. Luckily my husband and I work together on the day to day maintenance. I have learned that using towels is less wasteful and much easier on the budget than paper towels. I found when tracking my budget closely I was spending close to eighty dollars a year on paper towels. I invested twenty dollars into some inexpensive hand and dish towels and I have paper towels for emergencies. In the last two years I have saved $140, just in paper towels.

Friends and family comment about how clean and tidy our home is. Well first, everyone in the household is on board with a clean and tidy home. Second we both work very hard in multiple jobs and we don’t like to waste our time or money to have nice things so we work hard to keep them nice.

The key is having a daily routine which includes cleaning every day. I use the hand towels in each bathroom every day to wipe down the sink, the tops of the toilets and the floor. Every day, every bathroom. That hand towel then gets put into the laundry and is replaced. There is a stack of hand towels under the sinks. It is a five minute routine that keeps my bathrooms in shape for any unplanned company. This every day trick doesn’t replace my weekend deep clean, but it makes it much more manageable with my busy schedule.

The bonus besides saving money and time in my cleaning is that my husband and I have felt that we don’t get sick as often. The common cold rarely hits our house and when it does we have found it doesn’t stick around.

I love my simple little cleaning hacks. RickabaughReviews approves.

The importance and impact of dead heading your flowers.

This summer we received a new hive of honey bees for our property.  We have a very nice friend of ours who just happens to be a bee keeper. My husband and I have been aware of the environment and its needs to survive. One of these needs is honey bees. Our new home has a great deal of flowers of many kinds, and most of them are perennials.

The soil is mostly clay and so the plants and flowers are of very hardy varieties.

I remember walking around when I was a little girl with my gramma and she would name all of her flowers for me. And we would smell them, and deadhead them. I have told friends in the past few years that deadheading helps for a year round continuous blooming of their flowers depending on the flower. Most of the time the question I get is “what is deadheading?”

Plucking off the dead blooms of the plant. With my research of plant care I have learned that if the dead bloom is still on the plant the roots are still gathering nutrients and sending it to the dead blooms. So if you trim ( with roses because of thorns) or pluck which is easy enough when talking about marigolds,  the dead blooms off the plant it can then send its nutrients to the rest of the plant where it can form new blooms. Thus a consistent bloom of flowers all summer long.

Consistent blooms all summer long means a consistent food source for the resident honey bees all summer long  to stock pile honey so that when winter comes they are prepared to weather the cold and lack of food.

Rose bushes are an incredibly good example. Their response is within just a few days. Marigolds are also incredibly responsive. I also have cone flowers and lilies that love to be trimmed. Another great example which I don’t have and are an annual is petunias.  My gramma would buy a flat or two of petunias every year.

In my constant “save money” frame of mind I have found that marigolds are super easy to save seeds for the next year and do amazing! You just save the deadheads that you pluck off. This does not even include the wonderful addition with color and low to the ground covering.  They do great in the heat and sun. My favorite part is they really help to deter predators from my garden veggies. They have a strong sent and are very bitter to eat.

The one plant that I wasn’t sure if it was helpful to dead head was the many many Hosta’s that I have all over the property. I would like to confirm that my little science experiment of trimming the Hosta’s immediately after I find that every bloom is dead on the very tall stalks that they send up, will force them to grow a new tall stalk with all new flowers on them.  And the bees and butterflies absolutely love it!

I will admit that deadheading a half an acre of landscaping is a huge task, but I have found that if I do just a little bit every day, 20 minutes early in the morning, it is not too overwhelming. Am I able to keep up with all of what the previous owner had, nope. Not when you work two jobs, but the neighbors are not complaining.

Deadheading is great for the local bees and great for the visual aesthetics of the plants, which is why people usually have them. Deadheading is hard work but worth it in the long run. This summer RickabaughReviews is gardening a lot but also approves!

Bee keeping take 2

Last year we were given a honey bee hive. The queen flew the coup with most the hive and didn’t leave a new queen to take her place.

We were very sad when the hive then died off. Last week a new hive was brought by our sweet friend to house in our back yard. He is very knowledgeable and very good with bees and people as well as educating people about the importance of honey bees for our environment.

We have named this years hive Queen E and her attendants.

As you can see they are loving the flowers in bloom here in Manchester, PA.

Stay tuned to RickabaughReviews for updates on the Queen E hive😊

Herbal Tea Struggle

It can be a struggle to find consumables that I do not have an adverse reaction to, because of my allergies, which is a lot. It is very difficult to find in my busy life, time to read every single label, every time I go grocery shopping. If a product changes its ingredients it is not responsible to give me a call and say “Hey, we changed our ingredients so you can’t have this anymore.”

One of my favorite beverages is hot tea. Hot tea on a hot day, hot tea on a cold day. Hot tea in the morning and hot tea in the evening. Love it!! There are less and less I find that I should be purchasing because they can and do cause allergic reactions.

My fix to this is to grow my own ingredients! I sure do love mint. Calming, soothing, refreshing, relaxing mint. Especially with upset tummies. Lavender, chamomile and Echinacea have also been in my top picks for their properties. Lavender helps calm and relax as well as lull one off to sleep. Chamomile helps reduce anxiety as well as improve sleep. Echinacea is an immune booster for your body. I add honey to help reduce my allergies and it does the job.  I specifically choose these ingredients because they can be grown in my back yard, and are perennials for my growing zone.

How I make my home made tea:

I wash off my 4 plant ingredients-Put 4 plants into small pot with water on stove and let simmer for 10 minutes.  I put the used plants into the compost bin and then pour the tea water into my tea pot and then am able to easily pour into tea cups to sweeten with honey and enjoy.