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!

My January garden prep!

Fall fun is over. Winter is here. Garden with me while the snow is on the ground.

I have to be honest-I never stop gardening or thinking and researching how to better my garden for the upcoming season. I garden all winter long.  I have already started.  I looked up how to bake my dirt.  I am so frugal, I don’t spend a penny if I can do it myself.  So I got dirt out of the garden box put it in a (now designated) foil pan and popped it in the oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes. I have read that it is really stinky.  Well I lit 2 candles in the kitchen and I didn’t open the oven door until the timer went off. Then it was a tad stinky until it cooled. Why bake the dirt?

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Well it kills off fungus and bugs-good or bad.  When I was scooping it into my small seed starting greenhouses I saw steaming bits of worms. It was so gross and I was super happy my plants were going to love it. I want germ free dirt for my seeds to start them in.

So I put in my starter green house boxes:

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used coffee grounds. Freshly used from this mornings coffee pot.

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baked dirt,

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ashes straight from the fireplace, and a bit of water to moisten it all up well.

Then I got out my big box of seeds which includes my gardening book as well as my gathering apron my beautiful sister-in-law made for me.  In the move I some how misplaced the bottoms to my large greenhouse starters.  But I did find 4 of my small greenhouse starters. They will do for now. Wiped out the lids and got out the label maker.

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I decided quickly on marigolds and bell peppers.  The two things I have always planted in the early spring by seed like nearly everything else and they are only just ready by October.  We really enjoy bell peppers and would eat them every week and all year long if they were not so expensive.  When ever I purchase a pepper in the grocery store I 9 times out of 10 “harvest the seeds” when I cut them up.  This makes so many less seeds I am purchasing come growing season.  In October of this year I also harvested my orange marigolds that grew from the previous years seeds. I had about a dozen plants come up from all the seeds I put down after all 200 sugar snap peas were half grown and eaten down to the dirt in one day by bunnies. I pulled and laid out to dry about 100 flower tops. In full bloom petals and all. I only planted orange marigolds last year.  I need a bunch more marigolds this year because BUNNIES. And also chipmunks were scaling the fencing and eating my beets right down to the dirt. Marigolds are very pretty to the human eye, attract bees to pollinate your garden and deter bunnies, squirrels, chipmunks and deer from eating in your garden. Yes I want every fourth plant to be a marigold.  Also not one but two of our friends have moved to the area which means I am working on getting marigolds started for three gardens not just one. In my seed stash I had left over yellow marigold seeds from a few years back.  So as Sherlock would say-the game is a foot! I have one container of yellow marigold seeds and one container of orange marigold seeds planted.  I also started one container of green bell peppers and one container of red bell pepper seeds.  We shall see which sprouts first! We are very competitive in the Rickabaugh home.

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So that is just a bit of my summer garden-winter prep.   And since the snow is now on the ground it is indoor gardening from here until spring. If your your winter gardening is just watering the house plants.  I do that too and RickabaughReviews approve.

 

Stepping stone too thin?

Last year we had a honey bee hive relocated to our back yard.  We put it at the edge of the woods and behind the shed where they would get less noise and not direct sunlight so as to not get too hot in the summer.  We also put up a small fence so that our big dog would not be too curious and upset them.  We have a rocky pathway from the veggie beds to behind the shed that leads to the picnic table where the bee box lives.  What I did not realize is how many weeds would grow up between those rocks.  I am not a huge fan of weeding around a bunch of buzzing bees. The husband doesn’t like to weed at all. Well the queen swarmed and left half the hive behind without any queen, so what remained died.  Alas we will try again this upcoming spring. But until then I get to kick butt on trying to make a better pathway, so no weeding will need to be done around the hive.

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I first started making concrete stepping stones in order to make a pathway down to the creek.  They are adorable and work okay, but I think we need much larger, sturdier steps for getting down to the creek, and I would not mind a hand rail either, it is so steep. I still have around 30 stepping stones that I made earlier this summer, most of which are still in the shed continuing to cure. I have been bringing them out one at a time to paint and waterproof, and set aside for placement on the First of March.  The husband and I decided that we can use the stepping stones in among the rocky/pebble pathway back to the bees. Much better pathway with less weeds and when we start laying them down we can add a barrier under where the rocks are so that no more weeds come through.

I discovered earlier this summer that my first three stepping stones were good and sturdy, being and inch thick each. I thought well maybe I can make them thinner and they will be much more cost effective for us.  Well when I made this paver we didn’t know it was too thin.

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When placed in the pathway down to the creek I was able to walk carefully on it just fine.  But I am small and did not think how it would hold up to a bunch of guys going down to the creek to fish. Well the step cracked in half, and then in half again.  Live and Learn!

So the rest of my stepping stone are going to be too thin no matter where I put them.  This means I need to thicken them up.

But How?

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Well take this step that I just finished painting the top. I just flipped it over. I mixed up concrete pretty thick and chunky ( be careful not to make it too runny I didn’t want it running down overy the counter everywhere) just a small amount at a time so that I wouldn’t have too much.

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I mix small amounts in a disposable cup with a disposable knife.  Then I used the knife and spread the concrete on the bottom side of the step like I was icing a cake.

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This before photo shows it was kinda thin and it also shows where the bottom of the cardboard box came together. The other step first cracked right along this line perfectly.

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This after shot shows the old half of the step with its new sturdy backer. It really is as easy as helping it slide out of the mixing cup and spreading it out evenly with the knife, its easier than cold butter on fresh bread.

I am letting it harden up for 24 hours in the garage, and then bring it inside to the painting table to harden completely for 2 days, then it will be put in storage to cure for 30 days then I can waterproof front and back and then back into storage till spring!

As you can see- the step doubled up in thickness quickly and easily.

RickabaughReviews Approves!

Bonus!!! Below are a few of my other stepping stones that are in process!

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How we fight off winter blues!

Its cold outside, but I can still do some garden prepping for the spring, to help fight off the winter blues.

Winter blues get me down, even before the Christmas holidays and with New years parties I still feel a little low.  I have tried anti-depressants which just made me more sad and fat which made me angry and sad.  Gardening makes me the happiest, so I needed to figure out how to garden in the winter.  I had a friend who was a nurse tell me once that what helps reduce winter blues is sunlight.  She told me that her sister would get a tanning package in the winter, not to keep up with a tan but to get more “light therapy” Sunlight gives you vitamin D and vitamin K which reduce sadness and loss of energy.

There is very little sunlight to go around during the winter so I work really hard at being outside when it is light out.  I can do inside chores when it is dark out. But I live in Pennsylvania. It is a balmy 41 degrees Fahrenheit outside right now, how do I garden? Got to be honest it’s not a lot of gardening, its much more of garden prep for spring since I do not have any greenhouses for winter veggies. It gets me outside in the light and the fresh air.

We have a few pine trees on our property and a whole bunch of other trees that drop their leaves every year. Oaks, Maples, Dog woods, Sweet gums. I have super high expectations of making a whole bunch of gardening space in the next couple of years and the huz is mostly on board. I noticed that most of the neighbors collect their leaves at the curb and the city picks them up. Life is crazy busy, I get that works for most people.  I am greedy I want to keep my leaves, I have read that they make some of the best mulch/compost for gardening and flowers.  Most importantly I am into free or super cheap! I don’t mind getting my hands dirty and I don’t mind putting in the sweat work.

Earlier this fall when most the leaves were falling and we had to keep up with appearances we raked and used our Torro leaf blower/vac to get a lot of leaves contained.  We super underestimated how many leaves would have at the new place! We put leaves in the raised beds.

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We used chicken wire and stakes and made a three foot high by eight feet long by four foot wide leaf corral and filled it.

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And then we piled up the leaves in the flower beds and raked them around all the bases of the trees and raked them under all the pine trees.

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Lastly my husband just started blowing all of them into the woods.

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Now that it is winter and colder out, no more leaves to rake. Yahoo! but all the plants are dying off from the frosts over night and it isn’t snowing yet.  I have read that leaves break down faster to make amazing compost/soil/fertilizer quicker if they are mulched and if you add used coffee grounds. So I have done some asking and Starbucks has a grounds to garden program where you can just take used coffee grounds for free! I have also found that not all Starbucks locations do this.  The Starbucks that is located close to my work is situated inside of the Target, so do not participate.  The manager was super sweet. I asked if I could just stop by and ask if they needed to empty their used grounds bin.  He said he can’t promise any but they are more than happy to give me whatever they have when I stop by.

So until the snow gets here I have gone out with my vac/mulcher and have sucked up leaves already piled high in the gardens and are mulching them down smaller and putting them almost right back where I sucked them up from.

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Might seem a bit silly but I didn’t have time earlier in the fall to mulch them all then. I have time now. It gets me outside for about an hour to two hours before the sun sets. In that amount of time I can fill the collection bag two to three times. Yes I even mulch them when they are soaking wet from all the rain, because this summer it rained ALL THE TIME.

The trick is to have a big long screwdriver in your back pocket. One that the husband won’t freak out if it gets dirty or a bit nicked up. About every other minute you need to take off the collection bag and un-jam the leaves using the screwdriver.  The other place leaves get jammed up is the big tube you suck them up with.  You have to just reach in with your arm and pull them out. The last place you have to un-jam is inside where the blades rotate.  UNPLUG the Vac/mulcher before cleaning any leaves out. You have to take off the big black tube and use the screwdriver in around the blades, it is going to look and act like mud caked up in there. It might be a bit of mud too but it is very finely chopped up leaves, and because they are wet they stick together and clump up.

How to know when to pause and clean out the vac/mulcher! Very important-you don’t want to blow out your motor. When you hear-or actually don’t hear the blades mulching your leaves. Another key indicator of when to clean out around the blades on the inside is when you hear the motor of the the vac/mulcher increase in pitch, it will start to whine high and loud.  It will not be long before you smell a burning.

When the snow hits usually around the end of January is when I start some of my seeds inside such as Bell peppers.  They can sit in that dirt for 6-8 weeks before poking out their little leaves. Just in time to start gardening outside again.

This is how the RickabaughReviews get rid of their Winter blues!

Weekend Warrior!

Last weekend in August! Got to make the most of it!

Last Weekend in August-Work hard, play hard, sleep hard too.  Had so many gardening tasks planned for this weekend but only got a few done- due to my finger cutting episode. That is okay, we worked on a million other things this weekend. Plus we spent a little sweetheart time date night out to a movie.

Yesterday bright and early I started cleaning. Bathrooms, floors, laundry and ceiling fans. Then we did some gardening where my finger got cut, but it is healing great.  I soak it in warm soapy water every morning and then wear a bandage with triple antibiotic ointment, changing the bandage 4 times a day and letting the skin dry out a bit in between.  I wait until my skin is not so wrinkly from being wrapped up with moisture before I wrap it up again. When we go out I put a small finger splint we have on hand over my finger for extra protection. it is still just slightly sensitive.

While soaking my fingers in soapy water I set up a stepping stone to start painting. Looking good.

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I got around to water proofing my concrete leafs as well as a rock I painted months ago. The tops of these are done. I will get the bottom s of them tomorrow.

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I have the border on the baby boy blanket completed and am working on tying in the ends, so almost complete blanket! In plenty of time before my friends baby boy is here.

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I have successfully designed, printed, addressed and yes put in the mail box. Invitations to a great Aunt”s 90th birthday party.

The husband and I both sanded for an hour each on my China cabinet makeover.  The husband used the Dremel on the top edges where its a bit fancy and too tricky and small for the Black and Decker Mouse hand sander that I prefer to use.  It doesn’t look much different then my last update on my china cabinet makeover but it is coming along.  I did some sanding on the bottom of the shelves and I used the 220 grit on the one outside and my goodness that is so smooth.

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We went material shopping for my Halloween costume updates are in my previous post Hela of a costume. Made my cutie pie niece a card for her birthday. 8 is great! Also in the mail.

We also finally started working on our new bar.  We left the old bar behind when we sold the old house, it really was beautiful and it went great with the dining room.  It was our first bar building experience as a couple and we have a few things we are very excited about doing differently.  We got some stain, and some frame! 2x3x8 boards to start building the frame.

Busy! To bed at midnight and Up at 5am. Do it all over again tomorrow.

Adding More Garden

My husband and I recently purchased a new home. It came with 4 average sized raised veggie garden beds and an enormous amount of decorative landscaping in the way of flowers and ground cover and a bunch more flowers. Watch my ever so slow process of turning some of these flower beds into veggie beds.

This is our current veggie garden space.

F8621D4C-4A21-46F9-A58C-0E5B40B7C48D.jpegThe landscaping is very beautiful at our new home.  There are so many different kinds of beautiful flowers and lilies.  A lot of lilies, which is great because they are perennials. Which means they will come up year after year.  Considering we just got a hive of honey bees this is great news for them. I am allergic to pollen so it isn’t as wonderful as it may seem. Part of the property has a six foot privacy fence.  In front of this fence is about four feet deep worth of plants, some flowers, some not. Most of the distance of the fence line gets a fair amount of sun and for at least 50 feet of the fence I would like to turn it into garden space.  This adds up to adding about 200 square feet of garden space.  Does not seem like a whole lot to a bunch of the homesteaders out there who have many acres but I have one acre, and half of it is wooded .The very nice part about having a raised bed up against a fence is the ability to better brace the plants for the crazy amount of wind and rain storms that the Pennsylvania climate has. In the last seven years that my husband and I have been trying out this gardening hobby, at least twice a year we are running outside into the storm with rope and scissors to prop back up and tie up the sweet corn.

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This is some of the space that I would like to transform.

Step one-start taking out some of the hostas.  The first part of removal but trying to keep as much dirt in the space as possible is to trim away the leaves so we can see the roots that need to be dug out.

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This one hosta came out over this past weekend.  Monday I cut down three more Hostas.

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The leaves I put into the compost and the roots I put in a specific area in the woods. I will not mind if they root in this area.  I just tossed them all in the area. Hostas are extremely hardy and I would not be surprised if they took  to the area.

We lived at our old home for 8 years and I tried to remove a hosta in the front flower bed twice a year for all eight years. I am hoping I do not have as much trouble at our new home.

8/6/18 Update:

I am a very busy person with lots of projects.  For example I am currently having our robotic automatic vacuum the upstairs, boiling eggs for my salad tomorrow at work, updating my blog with my right hand and making butter with my left hand.

Making my garden bigger today involved finding a big rock and bringing up from the woods.  I know not a whole lot on that effort today. But I also started to trim down one of the three pine trees that have a great deal of dead branches throughout them and are blocking a lot of light from my garden area. These three trees will eventually be coming down, not just because they are blocking light and have a bunch of dead branches but also because of two other main reasons. 1- I am very allergic to pine trees, sad but yes we have fake Christmas trees. Also they block my vision of keeping an eye on my dog, Belle, when I am outside. If they were in the woods, and there are a few, I would leave them. Every time I try to do yard work with her within 2 minutes I am panicking because I can not see her, EVERY time she is on the other side of the pine trees. In addition that is a great location for another raised veggie bed! Long story short, I cut some branches to let in light for the new veggie bed.