So, what’s so great about our certified wildlife habitat?!

One of my favorite projects this summer was turning a patch of grass that we were annoyed to cut into a wildlife habitat. I envisioned bees, butterflies and birds flying around and beautiful flowers. And it was exactly as I imagined!

Here are some quick reasons why I absolutely loved this space last summer!

1. It was so beautiful when the flowers were blooming! I had no clue there were so many species of moths, butterflies and bees here!

2. It looked so much better than just the plain grass that was there before! When we built the garage, most of the topsoil was scraped away from that area. Now, from heavy mulching, the topsoil is increasing! And, my picture from last spring was pretty close to what we did!

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Before 
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After

3. We got way too excited when we saw native bees in the area and especially when they were using our upcycled pollinator hotel!

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Part of the pollinator hotel 
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A native bee on a teddy bear sunflower 

4 I have had people ask why I went to the trouble of certifying it and not just create it for free. That’s a great question! But here is what I have noticed, so many people have stopped and asked me about the sign. Questioned what the area was for. Or, who it benefits. The sign catches attention and creates conversation! We usually talk about everything that I’m mentioning on here! It spreads a great message!

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I still love the reused bamboo pole! 

5. And my most favorite part, that I didn’t even know would happen was raising monarchs! I loved finding tiny caterpillars on the milkweed and bringing them inside! I loved all three of us hunkered over milkweed plants screaming “I found one!!” As we pulled the leaf off of the plant to assure the safety of the caterpillar! We released close to 20 this year!

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A tiny baby! 
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Chewing on swamp milkweed 
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From caterpillar to chrysalis 
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The send off! 

So, where or what are the plans for next year in this area?! Well, I am planning on planting even more milkweed! (I saved lots of seeds!) I would love to actually get into tagging them before releasing them.

I also want to have more host plants for the swallowtail, like parsley and dill in this area. I’m hoping to get some native coral honeysuckle for around the archway to bring in more hummingbirds and add more nectar sources.

So, I’d highly recommend taking a patch of unused area and giving nature a helping hand. It was more than rewarding!

October Goals Update 2018

Adios October! And oh my goodness there are only 2 more months this year! However, I feel like we have made the most out of 2018! So, we are ready for November!

1. Expand the garden- ✅it happened! It has been cleaned out and the chickens and ducks have been enjoying getting to run through it! I loved the layout of it this year!

Our October Garden

2. Fix the camper- ✅We fixed up our camper and loved using it on a trip of a lifetime! I catch myself thinking about the fun that we had this summer often!

Picnicking in Yellowstone!

3.Travel out west- ✅ We did it and enjoyed every single stop! I loved hiking the trails and still think about how we packed a lunch, went on a long hike and then ate our lunch while watching buffalo and wild horses in the distance! 🌏💚

Old faithful!

4. Create a certified wildlife habitat ✅ There was grass patch in front of the garage that was begging to be returned to nature. So, we did! Everything has slowly died off, but I have saved so many seeds for next year! I’m hoping to add more native plants!

Milkweed that I saved from a lawnmower!
Seeds that I will be using next year!

5. Reduce garbage- Last year we made 7 bags of garbage and we want to make less than 6 bags this year. We are up to 4, so I think we have a good chance of making it!

6. Volunteer/Donate/Do Good Every month- I gave away an old Halloween costume and spent tons of time working on our composting program for school. Between phone calls, meetings and emails I have a lot of time wrapped up in it!

7. Repurpose, remake, mend, repair-  This month I participated in a seed swap to give out our seeds that we have a lot of and make room for new varieties! Oh, and the Mr. fixed my phone case that I accidentally broke. Yay for a resourceful spouse!

8. Paw Paw trees- Our 2 little trees are looking great! They were repotted and put outside to get used to the weather. They are starting to lose their leaves now! They are preparing for winter!

9. Build a pizza oven- ❎ we are not doing this one this year. We are trying to figure out how we are going to change up the backyard next year! (We have an interesting plan for next year!)

10. Grow different produce- We have grow so many different plants! Huge gourds, different melons and glass gem corn! I just enjoyed some kale and broccoli from our garden just last week!

11. Continue tracking the solar panels- October was also a rainy month, but we still produced enough power to keep our bill at the $5 connection rate!

12. Work on garden cart sales- We sold our Blacksmithing and sewn crafts at a local craft show and had a great weekend!

I am pretty proud of the steps that we are making towards achieving our goals! And, I have a list of close to 30 different goals that are on the chopping block for 2019!

Are you thinking about next year already? Anything that you think we should give a try to?

Keep blooming friends! 🌱

No Spend September Update

This no spend year has been much harder on the Mr., instead of myself. He’s is the spender and I am the saver. I was so proud of him for not buying me expensive stuff for my birthday! He even reused a gift bag that I had saved! ❤️

As a gift, I got a grab bag of seeds, compost thermometer and a new pair of sanuks, since mine were getting holes. (Btw, MIgardener has these grab bags for only $10!) Phenomenal deal!

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30 seed packs picked at random! 💚

I also decorated the house for Fall with what I grew. Everything is from the garden and I spent a whopping nothing!

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Our beautiful glass gem corn!

I have also been saving lots of seeds, so that I don’t have to buy more next year! So far I have put up several types of beans, dill, cosmos, ground cherries and I’m working on fermenting cucamelon seeds.

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Cosmos seeds
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We saved the Paw Paw seeds from our hike

Speaking of hike, we enjoyed going out to a local trail. We stopped at a comic book store that my boy loves along the way. So, it was a great family day!

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Beautiful hike

I also enjoyed raising some monarchs that were on the milkweed! It was free to do and so much fun! The whole family enjoyed searching for the tiny caterpillars on our plants!

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One of our handraised beauties

We were able to start paying more on the house since I am back to work and are planning on becoming debt free in less than 5 years, pending health and staying accident free! Keep pushing on and thinking twice before buying those wants!

Does anyone else have some tips for saving more? Please share in the commmebts! 😊

Honey, compost and outdoor school

This week was a busy one! All week I drove to the next county over to go to outdoor school and experience it with students from our school. We had a great week, despite the rain and muddiness! The hikes were my favorite part!

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The sun did manage to shine one day! 

When I got home, we spent one whole evening spinning and filtering some honey from our hives. It turned out a beautiful dark color and has a delicious taste!

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Beautiful capped honey! 
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Slowly filtering! 

Since it seems like the only weather we have anymore is rain, compost pickups are always rainy. I’m so lucky to have a great worker who doesn’t complain about getting rained on during pickups! Look how many pounds we have collected so far:

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Over 800 pounds so far! 

Even though that weather was not ideal, I was able to find a few sunshine rays that allowed me to release a few butterflies this week! 1 boy and 1 girl so far!

When  I was rushing out of the house earlier this week and I found this lone leaf in the driveway:

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❤️

I feel like the Earth was sending me some love back! We are pretty committed to each other! 😆

Wherever you are, whatever you do, try to bloom where you’re planted! 🌱❤️

No Spend August Update

How in the world have I not gotten around to updating about our no spend year? Well, the main reason is that it has just started to become a norm for us. And, I can officially say that we made it through the summer without dipping into the savings. That’s a first! Getting a paycheck was sooo nice!

Since the school year started, we really didn’t buy much for the beginning of the year. The only things that the boy needed for school were a new pair of shoes (which we do splurge for since that is all that he actually cares about), and a binder. As for me, I only bought a new pair of sandals, because mine completely broke! However, I had a gift card and got a great deal!

In August, we went on an end of the summer getaway. We took the camper and the pups and headed to the Chesapeake Bay to enjoy a beautiful weekend. We used our KOA rewards card (from our camping trip this summer) and saved some money and packed all of our own meals. So, lots of savings!

Camping at the bay

We have also been harvesting lots more from the garden. The boy and I have had way too much salsa in the past month, but we still had more last night! I know that technically it doesn’t save us money, if I calculate in how much time and effort I put into it. However, since I love gardening, that also gives me a free workout and yummy food!

Haul from the garden

Another way that we save money is finding things around here that we enjoy doing that don’t involve leaving the house. Have I mentioned before that I don’t really like going out in public? It’s not the people, it’s just that I have talked all day to little people and I just want to stay home and relax. So, one thing that I have loved doing here lately is raising the monarch caterpillars that are on my milkweed. I collect the little caterpillars and feed them and keep them safe until they come out of their chrysalis and then release them to nature. It is fun for me! Heck, I even have the rest of my family looking for the tiny creatures.

Handsome male monarch

The composting service that we provide for 12 families has been a nice addition to the food for the chickens. They love the extra fruits and veggies and also kicking around in the compost looking for bugs. Double win!

Squash for the chickens

The garden produced so many tomatoes this year! I have sold some, given some away, chopped them for salsa and this weekend I have canned a lot of them for ketchup and pizza sauce. They will give us some delicious fresh food in the winter!

Ketchup from our tomatoes!

I was also able to put up some zucchini for future zucchini cake this winter and took a few pie pumpkins that we grew and turned them into a yummy pumpkin pie. The boys said that it was delicious.

Homemade pumpkin pie!

It’s so weird how you just get used to not really spending money. I won’t lie and say that we haven’t had any take out this year, but it has been a very rare occurrence! My husband and I have been packing a lot more for lunch and eating up the leftovers more often. So, that cuts back on waste more too. This year of saving has made us realize how wasteful that we can be.

I really am hoping that we can continue to find more ways to save, and would love to hear what else that you all do! Any tips that we can try in September?

Keep blooming friends!

Walk through the garden 8/30

The garden is still producing lots of yummy food for us and we finally have a watermelon making an appearance!

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It’s got a long way to go in a short time! 

I also peeked in on the glass gem corn and its looking beautiful!

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Glass gem corn 

I am finally starting to see some Brussel sprouts! I’m hoping that I like them!

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Brussel sprouts! 

A couple of the carrots bolted, so I figured that I would collect the seeds for next year!

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Flower seeds from carrots 

The tomatoes are still producing! We will be making lots more sauce and salsa! Yum!

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San Marzano tomatoes!

The luffas have been loving this hot weather this week! There are 5 taking over the door!

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Lots of little luffas! 

Here is a garden picture of last month compared to this month! A lot of the plants are dying off and others are taking off!

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July garden 
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August garden 

And I know that I have said it before, but I am still loving the pollinator garden area! We released our latest homegrown monarch! It was a girl!

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#7 didn’t care for getting a picture! 

Even though there is still lots of empty space, I’m loving the way that the wildlife area has worked out!

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Our little wildlife area! 

I hope that your garden is still giving you lots of food and beauty! 🌱❤️

Certified wildlife habitat!

One of our goals for the new year was to turn the front lawn by the garage into a wildlife habitat, and I’m happy to report back that we did!

The check off sheet for certification:

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Food, water, cover, places to raise young and sustainable practices
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My rough draft last year
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After lots of hard work getting rid of the grass
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And this week!

And now all of the requirements:

food: we have raspberries, lots of pollen and nectar, a walnut tree and sunflowers for both pollen and nectar as well as seeds

water: we have 2 bird baths and a tiny pond back by the garden

cover: we created a small brush pile and we have a wooded area and tiny pond

places to raise young: we have milkweed for baby catapillars, pond, bat house, pollinator hotel and trees for the birds

sustainable practices: we capture rain water, use lots of mulch to reduce watering and keep soil from eroding, reduce watering, plant lots of native plants (and plan on adding more every year!), hand pick weeds and invasive plants/insects, reduce lawn area and compost like no one’s business!

 

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We started many native plants indoors last winter (coneflowers, milkweed, yarrow, bee balm)
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I keep seeing beautiful cardinals enjoying the seeds
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Not Native, but a polllen and nectar source
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Nasturtiums and the pollinators are enjoying the blooms now
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Echinacea
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Black eyed Susan (a Maryland favorite!)
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Another variety of black eyed Susan with a native bee
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Birdhouse gourds volunteered to come up here
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Upcycled bamboo sign post
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The solar lights along the walkway

It is far from perfect, but I plan on working on and adding to it every year. My husband enjoys not having to cut the grass in that area anymore and the wildlife have really moved in to this area! I see so many different birds, lots of different bees and beautiful butterflies flitting around. Plus, with more birds, I have had less issues with some insects in the garden! I’ll post a picture of it at the end of the season! Keep blooming friends!