Upcycle Gardening #TBCcrafters

 
This year I am super excited to get my garden going, more so than other years for some reason. I don’t know if its been just because the winter was so long, or if its because I am finally starting to find my “niche” in the gardening world? Years past I would spend a fortune each spring buying plants, pots, dirt, etc.. You know how it goes. This year, I had a ah-ha moment and decided to start using items which could be considered trash items to remake my garden into an artistic space. I also started all of my plants from seeds using a recycled greenhouse method. It might be just that as I get closer to nature and put more effort into my garden space the more I enjoy it. Not sure.

I have several projects that I am working on for my garden, but with the weather still not cooperating this is the only one I have done so far. So, I will just share them as we go along during the next couple of weeks. For this project I used old wooden crates that I found in my garage to create a layered planter. I really wanted to use this planter for strawberries, but I am concerned about the spray paint that is on them seeping into the dirt and effecting my produce.
 
I was lucky to have crates already made that I could just fill with dirt and stack them on top of each other, but I was thinking. . this would be easy to make with pallets as well. Pallet crafts are gaining in popularity and I know several DIYers who have pallets stacked up in their garages. lol. So if you are one of those pallet hoarders, share with us if you created this project using them. Id love to hear how it turns out. If you don’t have pallets laying around, I bought these crates a few years back at Michaels craft store. However, I have seen them there still just a few weeks ago.
 
 
I cant wait to show you the planter full of plants! I will have to do an update in a few months when the weather turns and my plants can be transplanted outside. Can you help me decide what to plant in them? Will the spray paint on the wood affect my produce or should I just stick with flowers? Comment with your answer.
 
Beyond just planters there are so many projects I have “up my sleeve”. Ooohh! I am just so excited to share them all with you!! More posts coming soon.
 
<3 Dick and Jane

 

Easy Spring Gardening {Using the Lasagna Garden Method}

 
Over the weekend we had some beautiful weather here in Michigan. The sun was shining and the temp was around 50 degrees. Yes, to us that is warm. You wouldn’t believe it but I even saw some Michigan natives walking around in shorts and tank tops. lol. . I am not even THAT brave. However, I was able to go out in jeans and a sweatshirt comfortably. Either way, I know many of us here in Michigan decided to get outside and make the best of this beautiful day we were given.
 
Here on our little homestead we decided to put in four new backyard gardens to grow our veggies over the summer. After doing tons of research on the easiest way to prepare the earth for gardening I came across the method I am going to share with you today. Each year I struggle with a few aspects of backyard gardening. First, the tilling of the land. . . aghh. Using the rototiller on my property is like dancing with death. The yard is full of large rocks that are hidden just below the soil. One second your tilling nicely, the next you are being thrown forward face first into the dirt as the tiller grabs a rock. Then once the tedious task of tilling is done, the weed seeds take no time to root themselves in the fresh soil and overtake all of my hard work in a matter of days. Its sad, but true. The combination of these, plus the enormous amounts of spiders and bugs that move in is enough to drive any gardener running for the hills. But I am no quitter! I am determined to have a backyard veggie garden, even if it is only to be eaten by the deer. So yesterday I embarked on a new gardening concept. It was made for people like me, meaning that it is easy to do!
 
 
The technique I am talking about is sometimes called “Lasagna Gardening” or “sheet mulching” which consists of preparing a garden by using layers of different compost materials. The best part about this gardening technique is that you do not have to till your land. By layering the materials over top of the earth, the soil beneath will moisten and become richer soil for planting. As an added bonus, the layers will warm the earth below and kill off most weed seeds to keep them out of your garden, while tilling only bring them to the sunny surface.
 
 
To begin your garden beds, lay out a single layer of either cardboard or a few layers of newspaper in the area you want to begin your beds. We decided to use cardboard in our backyard, only because to me newspaper has too much ink on it (I don’t know if that is cause for concern, but I just didn’t like it.). To hold the cardboard in place and keep all the ingredients where I wanted them, we also made a wood frame to border the new garden area. Next, after framing in our cardboard pieces, we soaked them in water. This will help to start the decomposing process. We also topped the cardboard in layers of old fall leaves and old plant clippings from our other gardens. Not only will the layers of greens and browns helps to make the new gardens rich, it also helps to clean up our yard and other gardens at the same time so the old plants can get sun and come back to life. After layering cardboard, old plant and garden clippings and a few old egg shells from the kitchen we topped the gardens off with a nice top soil. That’s it, now just leave it alone until the weather is warm enough to plant veggies in it. The cardboard by this time should be soft and decomposed enough to plant through. If it isn’t, just cut a small hole where you want your plants.

 This technique works best if you begin the gardens in the fall, but spring works too. . just start your gardens as soon as possible to give mother nature enough time to do its work.
 

 
I will let you know how this method worked for us in just a few months when the weather is warm enough to plant outdoors. If you’ve been following our Winter Sowing technique, now is also the time to start your tender plants like tomatoes, squash and annual flower seeds in the mini greenhouses like we did the broccoli and spinach a few months back. If you missed that post you can check it out here. Its not too late to get started!
 
Here are a few other sites online that talk about starting gardens with the layering technique. Since I am new to this method, these sites may be able to answer any in depth questions you may have.
 
 
Happy Gardening!
<3 Dick and Jane

Im Not Nuts – Winter Gardening

Yes, you are viewing this correctly.  I am starting to plant my outdoor garden while it is still snowing and the temps are still in the teens. What am I thinking? No, I’m not nuts. Its called winter sowing and it works! (or so I hear, thinking positive!)

 
I love to eat fresh produce and vegetables, but the cost to buy them can be expensive (especially if you buy organic). So this year our family has decided to turn half of our backyard into an edible landscape. I have not always had the best of luck with gardens and plants. I tried one other time to start plants from seeds and lets just say they didn’t make it. This year will be different though. This year, I want it more and I want to see my handwork pay off. So in order to put my best foot forward I did some research online and found what I believe to be the best seeds to get started with.

 

In preparation for my big winter sowing project I started saving our plastic milk containers months ago. I also went door to door collecting peoples recycling from them for my project (lol, no lie). After I had about 20 containers, washed and air dried, I began re purposing them into mini greenhouses.
 

 

First, remove the lids. You wont be using them for this project, but you could keep them for another purpose. I was thinking of turning mine into a tic tac toe board.
 
Second, carefully poke holes in the bottom of the carton so excess water can drain out.
 
Third, carefully cut all the way around the middle leaving a one inch spot uncut. This will work as a lid that can be opened and closed.
 
Next, fill the bottom of the container 3/4 of the way full with a good quality seed starter mix. Add your seeds and add a little more dirt to cover.

Water thoroughly, allow the water to drain out the bottom holes.

 
Using duct tape, close the lid and tape it shut so it does not fall open when the wind blows.
 
Finally, write what you planted on the carton using a sharpie and place them outside in a sunny place.
 
Now, just leave them be. Once the weather warms and the seeds get more sunshine they will sprout. During warm days you can open the lids to give them more air, but make sure to close the lids at night. The milk carton will act as a mini greenhouse and keep the little buds warm. After the last frost you can transplant them into your garden. Apparently some seeds need this cold period in order to bloom and some say that winter sown seeds are hardier than those planted in the spring.
 
Doesn’t this sound fun? I am super excited to see my little baby sprouts in the next couple of weeks! Oh, but keep in mind. Not everything should be planted at the same time during winter sowing. Its best to start with plants that are hardy to your region. Hardy plants can be sown anytime during January or February.  I started my garden with spinach, broccoli, strawberries, clematis, and poppy’s. I will be starting my annuals and less hardy plants during March and April.
 
As things begin to grow, I will be keeping you up to date on our progress! Please also share your garden photos and stories with us on our facebook page. If your just getting started gardening, I recommend checking out the book Backyard Gardening and starting with Ferry Morse seeds. These two have turned out to be great resources for me.
 
 
Go Dig in the Dirt
<3 Dick and Jane
 
Disclosure: Raising Dick and Jane will not be held responsible for any injuries or non sprouting seeds from following our advice in this post. Please use caution when using sharp objects. A big thank you to Ferry Morse for providing us with seeds for our project. No compensation was received, my opinions are my own.