Wednesday walk through the garden 7/11/18

I know, I know, it’s Thursday! But, all of the pictures were taken yesterday as I walked through the big garden searching for the fruits of my labor! Things are slowly growing, and I’m hopeful that I’m going to have some pretty great harvests in the future!

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Homestead tomatoes
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Tiny Tennessee dancing gourd
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Purple pole beans
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Glass gem corn
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Pie pumpkin
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Tiny cantaloupe 
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Purple bell peppers
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Oxheart tomatoes ❤️
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Roma tomatoes
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My first cucumber! 
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Genovese tomatoes
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Scarlet runner beans

And then there is my nice little harvest from earlier in the week:

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Zucchini for every meal!😆

Everything is still pretty healthy in the garden! I’ve been fighting off Japanese beetles, a few squash bugs and Mexican bean beetles. That’s the tough part with organic gardening… finding ways to get rid of the pests that are going after your crops. At least the chickens are enjoying all of the beetles that I’m pulling off of the plants!

So, anyone harvesting yummy things this week?! Keep blooming friends! 🌱💚

No Spend Year June Update!

I’ll start off with how we were able to go on such a nice trip this summer, while saving money.

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1. We haven’t been on a big vacation in 3 years. Only little weekend trips. (But still very fun!)

2. We camped all along the way in the camper that we could double our money on, if we sold it today. (Because we upgraded it so much!)

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3. We saved up all year to make sure that we wouldn’t have to dip into our savings for our trip! (By choosing to not eat out, buy things that we don’t need and limiting our spending for the holidays!)

4. We rarely ate out. Because we were camping, we made a majority of our meals in the camper. It was so nice having that stove and our fridge!

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Burgers for dinner! 

And remember the adorable toaster oven/griddle/coffee maker combo for the camper?

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This beauty?!

It was amazing! We were able to have morning coffee from our campsite and… the thing holds a freezer pizza perfectly!

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15 minutes in the toaster over for perfection! 

It was so nice to be able to have some of my boy’s favorite food available for him without ordering out! We ❤️❤️❤️ That toaster over! (We got it on amazon FYI!)

5. We were not big souvenir buyers. The boy and I got a shirt and we took lots of photos that I will be turning into a scrapbook at some point.

Now on to the rest of the month! We have been working really hard at paying down the house! And we are down below the next $10k! We enjoy seeing that number fall!

We also have been eating more from the garden and saving up on our grocery bills. Since I love gardening, it’s a win-win!

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We had fried zucchini and zucchini cake! 

We have also sold a bit of our produce and will use that money to buy plants and garden supplies next year!

June was really a blur, due to school finishing and our trip all at one time! The summer is a time for us to focus on saving (since I don’t get paid again until September!) I’m looking into more ways to save, and would love hearing any suggestions! Thanks for reading along and keep blooming! 🌱💚

June Goals Update 2018

Happy July all!! June was a fun month of finishing up school and traveling! Plus, the garden is taking off!

And here’s how the goals are going:

1. Expand the garden– ✅it happened! Everything is growing pretty well and I’m hoping that I get a great harvest!

2. Fix the camper– We fixed up our camper and loved using it on a trip of a lifetime! We are going to update it some more, now that we lived out of it for 2 weeks!

3.Travel out west- We did it and enjoyed every single stop! (And the last blog posted was all about our adventure!)

4. Create a certified wildlife habitat- There’s a grass patch in front of the garage that is begging to be returned to nature. We are finally starting to see what we envisioned! The pollinator hotel is being used, and flowers are blooming!

5. Reduce garbage– Last year we made 7 bags of garbage and we want to make less than 6 bags this year. Bag number 2 was just taken out!

6. Volunteer/Donate/Do Good Every month- This month I didn’t do a big do-good gesture, but the boy’s composting service has kept around 220 pounds of food waste out of the landfill!

7. Repurpose, remake, mend, repair- this month we were able to pick up some pallets and the Mr. turned them into compost bins that the chickens gladly turn for us! Post will come later on how to make them!

8. Paw Paw trees– These native trees have grown near here for such a long time! The little sprouts are starting to look like trees!

9. Build a pizza oven– I do believe that we are putting this off for another year.

10. Grow different produce

I am proud to say that the Tennessee dancing gourds are growing, along with the apple melons and all different kinds of tomatoes! I also was able to pick up some ground cherries at a local nursery!

Genovese tomatoes

11. Continue tracking the solar panels- May was a nice solar month, despite lots of rain! 1.47 MWh and just the connection rate for an electric bill! (It’s around $5)

12. Work on garden cart sales– I am hoping to be able to put something out for sale this weekend! We will have garlic, eggs and some birdhouse gourds! That cart is too pretty to not be used!

Last month things grew so well while we were out of town! I hope that your gardens start to produce some fruit and veggies for you! Keep blooming friends! 🌱💚

Llewellyn family road trip!

For almost 2 weeks this month we had the chance to travel through 15 states, including the one that we live it. We made lots of great memories and experienced it all together! The camper worked out great!

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All the different campgrounds!

First stop: Sandusky, Ohio KOA- it had a nice scenery and very nice pool and great view of Lake Erie!

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Lake Erie

Second stop: the top of the lower peninsula of Michigan! This is where Lake Erie and Michigan come together!

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We walked on the beach a lot
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Brrr!

The water was way too cold to actually get in past our feet!

We then traveled through the upper peninsula of Michigan and even saw a moose by the side of the road! (If only I were faster with the camera!)

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Lake Superior!

The third stop was a KOA in Minnesota! It decided to rain the days we were there, but the camper didn’t leak and the boy still found time to play in the game room and went for a swim!

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Minnesota campsite!

Next stop (after lots of driving) was the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It was my favorite! The scenery was beautiful, prairie dogs were adorable and the hiking trails were great! I could have stayed there for much longer!

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The first buffalo we saw!
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Hiking!
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Beautiful scenery!
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Sunset from our campsite!

The next stop was Yellowstone! We stayed at a really nice KOA near the West gate! The boy and his dad loved the fudge that was sold in the store and the boy loved the indoor pool. The park was only a couple minutes from the campsite!

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Grand Prismatic

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We ate our lunch at a picnic area!
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Old faithful was beautiful!
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Hiking with bear spray was a new experience!

The following stop was Mount Rushmore! The boy really wanted to see it, so we had to stop. It’s a nice little stop!

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Mount Rushmore!

The last National Park was the Badlands. They were beautiful in a whole different way. The views were amazing, and were able to get some hiking in there too!

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It was like looking at a different planet!

After leaving there, we kept noticing all of the signs for a store called Wall Drug. I googled it and read all about the history of it and we had to stop! We had lunch there and I had one of their free ice waters as advertised with my food and my Mr. had to get one of their 5 cent coffees! It was a neat place!

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Wall, SD

Our last stop on the way home was in Le Claire, Iowa to see the pickers store. It was more of a museum instead of a store, but worth the quick stop!

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Pickers store Iowa

I loved making tons of memories with these 2! So much so, that we are already thinking about where we want to travel next summer!

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My family!

And now I need to go get in that garden and work! Those plants tripled in size while we were gone!

We are back!!! And the garden is thriving!

For the past week and a half we were traveling all over this country taking in the sites! It was beautiful and we made so many memories. Here’s a few preview pictures: (but I’ll be doing a whole post on it later this month!)

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geothermal activity at Yellowstone!

The first thing that I worked on was weeding the garden! It was so weedy! Thank goodness so many people give me their grass clippings!

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Grass mulched walkway! 

And the rest of the garden before and after:

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Before
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After! 

And so much grew while we were away!

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Tiny peppers 
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Baby cucumber 
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Adorable genovese tomato
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Cucuamelons
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Nasturtium Bush! 
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Even a sunflower bloomed! 

We all had a great trip and I’m beyond thankful for all of the people that stepped in and helped out with the garden, pets and chickens/ducks! Do you all have go to people when you go out of town?

Wednesday walk through the garden! 6/13/18

It has been raining here almost every single day! The garden could really use some sunlight and warmer weather! But, the plants are still growing!

The green bean teepee was weeded well and I even put down a nice layer of newspaper on the inside, under the mulch. The scarlet runner beans are looking great!

On the other side of the garden, I have the regular poling green beans growing! They seem to be taking off as well!

The glass gem corn is about ankle high and I’m really excited to see what the corn will look like! I’m hoping to be able to use it for decor in the fall and then grind it up for extra chicken feed this winter!

I love the beautiful yellow blooms coming on to the tomatoes. At least they seem to be enjoying this weather!

This year I’m trying the Florida weave on my Roma tomatoes. So far it seems to be working out!

In the pollinator garden, it’s still mostly mulch! Something has decided to eat a majority of the milkweed, but at least this black eyed Susan seems happy!

The last exciting news is that my paw paw tree is growing some leaves! I have 2 that are doing well in the house and I’ll wait to see how the ones I started outdoors are doing! (They are growing in a wooded area!)

It’s slow growing around here, but tomorrow is my last day of school! I’m looking forward to playing in the garden, swimming with my boy, trying out new adventures and going on our trip this summer! Keep blooming friends! 🌱💚

No Spend May

Last month was almost a complete fail in the whole no spending. My Mr. has had his heart set on needing a new tractor. We didn’t have one at the moment, so tilling the big garden is a lot of work. On top of that, digging holes, loading up heavy things and running mulch is always a task. So, he bought a new tractor. But, he has been selling off a ton of extras including: his 4 wheeler, the Panel truck, an old jeep, accessories for the jeep and Panel truck, and other things. The garage is a lot cleaner, and we also didn’t have to pay too much more for the tractor. So, no payments or credit card purchases!

A huge accomplishment this month is that I am now payment free on my braces! My teeth are straight and my retainers come next month! Yay!

A reader on my Facebook page keeps some feral cats warm in the winter by creating wind breaks with straw bales. However, after a long winter, they were not in the best shape. She got ahold of me and I gladly took them to mulch around the garden! Yippee!

The garden is all planted and I’m pretty excited to say that most of the plants look very happy and healthy! Starting everything from seed is a lot of work, but it does save money!

I’m still working on making more food from scratch at the house. Just last weekend the Mr. was frustrated because he claimed that we didn’t have anything to snack on. An hour later we have some super delicious homemade soft pretzels. Getting out of the habit of wanting instant food is hard. I’ll start trying to make more ahead of time. (Once my summer break starts!)

The garden is slowly starting to produce. That will help to take a small chunk out of our market budget!

And this has been my go to spot for relaxing when I get the chance. I love being home and most of the time at least one dog is curled up on the hammock with me. And that’s free entertainment. 😊

May wasn’t perfect, but the savings is continuing to grow. The house is getting paid off faster and faster. And, I’m hoping to continue working on spending less this year!

Wednesday walk through the garden 6/6/18

If I had one word to describe what has been going on in the garden, it would be weeding! I have been mulching to help suppress the weeds and pulling as many as I can.

Yesterday I was even able to start putting supports for the tomatoes in the garden. I hope that I don’t have to use any tomato cages. Those things are just the worst!

The zucchini are slow growing, but they don’t look terrible. I am hoping to get some of the 3 varieties that I planted this year!

The dragon tongue beans are doing great! I got them in a seed exchange on instagram, and I’m loving that they can be used as a regular green bean or as a dried bean. And, they are supposed to taste great!

A nice follower of my Facebook page gave me 7 bales of very weathered straw that she used as wind breaks in her yard. They definitely will help out with the weeds. And, they will turn into more soil food.

I planted the rest of the onion sets that I had leftover from the raised bed. Surprisingly, even though I though they weren’t good anymore, they all came up!

Strawberries, that planted themselves, gave us a handful of strawberries!

The green bean teepee is finally growing!

One of the raised beds has lots of onions and garlic happily growing!

The cucumelons are starting to trellis nicely up the cattle Panel trellis!

Everything is slowly growing, except for the apple melons in the big garden. I believe that there are flea beetles that are loving their leaves. So, I’ll just be happy with what is growing well, and try to save the plants that still have a chance. Keep blooming! 🌱💚

May Goals Update 2018

It’s June!!! Only another week and a half of school, the garden is coming to life and the temperatures are on the rise. I love summertime!

And here’s how the goals are going:

1. Expand the garden– it happened! The whole thing is planted! I have walkways and I’m doing my best to keep the weeds at bay! The trellises are all looking great too!

2. Fix the camper– We have been fixing up our home away from home! It is finished, minus a few little cosmetic things that I’d like to do! We love how it turned out! And the Mr. custom fit the bamboo mat for the bathroom area!

3.Travel out west- That camper is officially ready for adventure! It’s going to be happening this summer! I really want to see a buffalo, a few Great Lakes and the beautiful sights in Yellowstone! Oh, and spend another summer with my boy before he’s all grown up!

4. Create a certified wildlife habitat- There’s a grass patch in front of the garage that is begging to be returned to nature. So far we have raspberries, blueberries, black eyed Susan’s, brown eyed Susan’s, echinacea and a wildflower mix. And I’m pretty sure that some wild yarrow is coming up! And we are up to 2 inhabitants in the pollinator hotel!

5. Reduce garbage– Last year we made 7 bags of garbage and we want to make less than 6 bags this year. We are still working on filling bag 2! (Or actually not trying to fill it!) Still only 1 bag of trash! [/caption]

6. Volunteer/Donate/Do Good Every month- This month I spread some good! I volunteered at a STEM festival and helped to educate kids about the importance of bees! I saved all of the water bottles from being thrown out during a school event and the boy’s composting service has kept around 70 pounds of food waste out of the landfill!

7. Repurpose, remake, mend, repair- the Mr. turned a broken window into a planter for the wildlife area! He also painted up and installed a cat litter container (now mailbox) in my garden so I’m not losing my garden trowel as often! And I turned some unused worksheets into notebooks for the boy to write down compost weights on! Great upcycling month!

8. Paw Paw trees– These native trees have grown near here for such a long time! We are now up to 2 seeds sprouting! I was hoping to at least have that many for cross pollination!

9. Build a pizza oven– I do believe that we are putting this off for another year.

10. Grow different produce

I am proud to say that the Tennessee dancing gourds are growing, along with the apple melons and all different kinds of tomatoes! The only seeds that didn’t germinate at all were the oriental long beans. Not a one!

11. Continue tracking the solar panels- May was a nice solar month, despite lots of rain! 1.6 MWh and just the connection rate fir an electric bill! (It’s around $5)

12. Work on garden cart sales– I am hoping to be able to put something out for sale this month! Maybe at least eggs! That cart is too pretty to not be used!

Last month I worked every single free minute in the garden. On more than one occasion I had a bad feeling that I bit off ore than I should have. But, not everything is planted and growing. I hope that your gardens are taking shape! Keep blooming friends! 🌱💚

Overload of homestead happenings!

Over the long weekend and all week long, we have been working all around this place!

The Mr. has been putting up better fencing around the garden that also connects the chicken area to the garden.

This is the new walkway in the big garden:

I also finally had a chance to string up the trellises for the pole beans. And I’m using the green bean teepee from last year!

I spent last night weeding the homestead tomatoes and yellow zucchini area:

And one of the yolo red pepper plants is producing its first pepper!

I have been (with the help of the boy) doing a much better job of keeping the compost greens and browns balanced! It was baking at around 130 degrees yesterday morning!

But don’t worry, I have still been chilling with the pup when I’m not in the garden!

I hope that every week continues to be as productive as this one! Keep blooming friends!

DIY garden markers (even with bad handwriting!)

In the past, I plant my garden and think that I will definitely remember where I planted everything. And guess what? I would forget what kind of tomatoes are those? Or, are those cucumbers? Or a pumpkin? Maybe zucchini? Now, of course I figured it out eventually, but I annoyed myself always doing this!

So, this year I started making some garden markers! The materials needed are:

– paint, I used the acrylic in the bottle from the craft aisle

– a sharpie paint pen, same aisle as the paint

– paintbrush, just a 15 cent foam one

– clear coat paint (it’s with the spray paint)

– paper

– chalk

– and garden stakes (like these from Lowe’s)

Step 1: I decided to color code my garden, but you might want yours all the same color! Whichever! Just paint the end of the stake and give them time to dry.

Step 2: I had already printed off the varieties that I wanted to put on the stakes. I used Lucinda handwriting on word. And any old printer will be fine. (Tip: if your printer isn’t working, you can always trace it off of the screen!)

Step 3: rub chalk all over the back of the paper on the word that you want to write. This will help transfer it onto the wooden marker.

Step 4: line up the chalk side on the wooden marker and trace the words using a pen or pencil. The words will be left for you to trace!

Step 5: use your paint pen to trace the letters. I’ve learned to make the paint longer than the word, so that the chalk is easy to see!

Step 6: after giving it a bit to dry, I take them outside and lightly clear coat them. (Since they will be in the elements all summer!) after that dries, they are ready for the garden!!

And there they are! I think they are absolutely beautiful!! Now I can easily see my peppers (blue markers), my tomato varieties (red markers) the bush beans (orange marker) and everything else!

Another great part is that I had almost everything here, except the stakes and paint pen! So, it was a cheap project! And, I love that it isn’t my own handwriting, because it is pretty sloppy!

Enjoy! And I hope that you have a great start to the growing season! Keep blooming! 🌱💚

Planting, planting and more planting!

I have been busy planting every single night! I have planted apple melons, spaghetti squash, corn, beans, tomatoes and peppers. Plus luffas and sunflowers galore!

So many tomatoes that need planted!

The adorable garden stakes that are color coded! The red ones are all tomatoes and the blue ones are peppers. Tiny strawberries are coming on the strawberry plants that I didn’t remember planting!

And, I am in love with the view of our newly expanded garden with all of the trellises!

The spaghetti squash above will be trellised on our bamboo trellises, as well as apple melons, cucumbers and beans.

Above is the wonderful upcycled project that has already proven to be so helpful! The Mr. turned an old kitty litter container into a mailbox for me to keep my gloves, trowel, apron and twine in. I absolutely love it!

I hope that you all are getting your plants in the ground! My students only have 12 more days of school and we we all do ready for summer break! Keep blooming!