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!

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! 😊

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!

 

 

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! 🌱💚

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! 🌱💚

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! 🌱💚

Wildlife area update

We have slowly been turning our yard in front of the garage into an area for our pollinators. It will give them more pollen, nectar, water and shelter choices. It will also get rid of all of the extra grass cutting in this area!

Here was our basic outline of what we had in mind:

And here is how it is coming! Keep in mind everything will not be blooming for quite a while! Even though it mainly looks like mulch still, there are black eyed Susan’s, brown eyed Susan’s, purple coneflowers, yarrow, milkweed and white coneflowers. There will be more planted! We are using these adorable homemade stick gnomes that we created, so that we remember what we planted where! And, we decided that the perfect spot for the bird and bee waterer is right over by the garage! The sunflowers that came up early are looking big and healthy already! (1st picture) And the second picture is an echinacea bloom popping up!

Above, my Mr., who is always amazing me, created a planter from an old window frame that the glass was falling out of! It looks beautiful hung and I can’t wait to plant something beautiful in it! And have sunflowers growing all around it too!

We have lots more to plant and I’m hoping to get this certified as a certified wildlife habitat by July! I just want to make sure that I have all of the requirements checked off!

Have a great week! Keep blooming!