A Canning Tutorial DVD (& COUPON code!) AND Pantry Paratus EXCLUSIVE Sale!!

affiliate-link_learn2can

This post contains affiliate links.

Depending on where you live in the world, you’re either at the beginning or middle of canning season. Or, if you live somewhere that’s perpetually warm with an almost never-ending growing season, you get to enjoy canning even longer.

Kendra Lynne at New Life on a Homestead created an easy-to-follow canning tutorial DVD called At Home Canning for Beginners & Beyond (affiliate link). She’s now offering a $5 OFF sale (if you use the coupon code).

I purchased this video recently, and I’ve watched it almost in its entirety. Because of that, I can say first-hand it’s a must-have video.

May I digress for just a moment?

Here on Your Gardening Friend you learn about gardening, foraging, garden recipes, garden critters, landscaping, and faith and encouragement. Here is a sample of posts:

- How to Make Your Own Seed-Starter Mix
- Compost Worms 101 series
- How to Sprout Mung Beans
- 12 Ways to Critter-Proof Your Garden
- Mulch Do’s and Don’ts
- Sautéed Cucumbers
- Creamy Apple Pie
- How to Make a Suet Plug Bird Feeder
- Attracting Bats to Bat Houses
- DIY Decorative Engraved Stepping Stones – Easy Peasy!
- A Hobby, A Passion … Or An Idol? {My Story and Help for Others}

Okay … this is where I share something personal and a bit embarrassing. I thought long and hard as to whether or not I would share this, but in the spirit of transparency here we go.

[...Continue reading this post.]

How to Propagate Philodendrons

how-to-propagate-philodendrons

This post contains affiliate links.

Philodendrons are tropical plants. This means, among other things, they will NOT survive outside when it gets cold. If you live in a tropical area, I imagine you could plop these babies in your garden bed, and they’d be happy campers year-round. The rest of us have to treat them as indoor house plants or outdoor potted plants during the summer.

Philodendrons are among the easiest houseplants to grow, keep alive, and propagate. Even a forgetful or somewhat neglectful person can successfully keep a philodendron alive and well.

Let me put it this way: they don’t even need dirt! Dirt! They can live forever in a jar of water. Trust me on this one.

I LOVE to encourage discouraged newbie gardeners when/if they experience a gardening “failure.” You might see me reply to a comment with something like, “Take heart. That’s how you learn. Failures, if embraced and learned from, are really the seeds of what turns a failed gardener into a seasoned and experienced gardener.”

However, if you make even the slightest attempt to keep a philodendron alive, but you SOMEHOW manage to kill it … {sigh} you and me … we need to have a talk. :)

If you want to purchase a philodendron at your local home and garden store and propagate (create baby plants from it) it, here’s how you’d propagate the plant.

Follow These Simple Steps to Propagate Philodendrons:

[...Continue reading this post.]

4 Seed-Sowing Tips

seed-sowing-tips

Unless you live in an area that’s warm year-round, you probably just recently got your plants into the ground and direct sowed your seeds, or you’re getting ready to do that.

(Don’t do like I did one year. I sowed my corn in so late that John teased me we’d have Christmas corn. :) )

I know many of you are newbie gardeners, and some of you are still working up the courage to start your first garden. So I thought this would be the perfect time to share a few seed-sowing tips to better prepare you for a successful gardening experience.

1. Read the Seed Packet

This tip may seem a bit over simplistic, but sometimes skipping over simple instructions can be cause enough for failure.

2. Seed Planting Depth is Somewhat Proportional to Seed Size

As with any hobby or passion, you learn or pick up on things through simple observation or common sense. Something I noticed over my gardening years is that teeny tiny seeds barely need any dirt over them, while large seeds need to be planted much deeper.

For instance, the seed packet instructions for teeny tiny carrot seeds may suggest a planting depth of only 1/4 inch, but it may recommend corn seeds be planted as much as 2 inches deep.

I did a quick search online to see if I could find a nifty chart to show this. Here’s an image that shows a few seeds and their planting depth. It demonstrates how small seeds are planted almost on the surface and larger seeds much deeper.

[...Continue reading this post.]

12 Ways to Critter-Proof Your Garden

critter-proof-garden

This post contains affiliate links.

Back in January, I asked on Facebook which specific critters, insects, or plant diseases have been the most problematic to your garden. So many of you chimed in with responses. Most people named one or more adorable but destructive critter; quite a few people mentioned insects; and no one mentioned any plant diseases.

To keep this post from becoming a novel, destructive insects and plant diseases will be addressed as separate posts.

Here’s how I see these adorable but destructive critters:

Nearly all of them will fit into one, some as many as three, category based on how they move about: flyers, tall walkers, short walkers, climbers, and diggers. Many solutions for one animal will prevent all animals in that category from getting into your garden. Of course, that won’t always be the case, but many times it will be.

I’ve included at the end of this post a nifty little table I created of various critters and the category in which they fit.

1. Cinder Blocks

cinder-block-1
cinder-block-2

Okay. This idea is not for the faint of heart. If you consider yourself a leisure gardener, this will NOT appeal to you. It will take a one-time big investment of sweat and brawn.

If you’re bound and determined to live off your land and keep persistent diggers out of your garden, here’s an idea I had:

  1. Dig a trench 8 inches wide x 8 inches deep around the perimeter of your garden.
  2. Place cinder blocks – with openings vertically oriented!! :) – back-to-back in the trench.
  3. Bury the cinder blocks with the dug-up dirt.

If you’re up to the physical workout, you could even go two cinder blocks deep. (It only took me about 5-10 minutes to dig one hole for a cinder block, as seen in above photo.)

Don’t get in so much of a hurry that you forget the simple things, like making sure the cinder block openings are vertically oriented. Otherwise, you’ve just unwittingly constructed an elaborate underground tunnel highway INTO your garden. :D

2. Motion Detector Sprinkler System

John is an engineer and an amazing problem-solver.

The first house we lived in, we had a very nice neighbor next door who had a few cats. When our gravel driveway got wet from rain or the late night or early morning dew, the cats would walk around gathering the gravel dust onto their paws, as much as their paws could hold, – oh, yes, it was intentional – and then jump onto our cars and make these *adorable* paw prints all over them.

[...Continue reading this post.]

The Art of Gardening: Building Your Soil {and Coupon Code}

This post contains affiliate links.

The Art of Gardening: Building Your Soil (e-book)

There’s a lot of internet chatter – good chatter! – going on about the brand new e-book by Susan Vinskofski.

She’s a VERY knowledgeable and successful gardener who knows what it takes to grow not just a harvest but a HEALTHY harvest. As she explains in her e-book [... Click here to continue reading this post.]

How to Make Your Own Seed-Starter Mix

seed-starter-mix

This post contains affiliate links.

If you live in an area that has cold and snowy winters, the best way to feel like winter is shorter than it really is or that spring is here before it really is is to start seeds indoors. You’ll observe seedlings emerge 4 to 6-ish weeks before you can place seeds in the ground.

Optimal seed-starter mix will allow for the following:

  1. Retention of Moisture
  2. Drainage of Excess Water
  3. Aeration
  4. Emergence of Seedlings (upward growth) and Penetration of Roots (downward growth)
  5. Nutrients
  6. Beneficial Microbes

Seed-Starter Mix Ingredients:

  • 6-8 Parts Pre-Soaked Organic Coir or Sphagnum Peat Moss
  • 1 Part Perlite
  • 1 Part Vermiculite
  • 1 Part Vermicompost or Compost

coirbrick

Sunleaves 100% Organic Classic Coco Coir Mulch-Soil Brick – Growing Media & Soil Alternative

(affiliate link)

Coir or Sphagnum Peat Moss

Probably the two most common mediums used for “soil”, moisture retention, and the “glue” that keeps everything together are coir and sphagnum peat moss. (Compost also has these characteristics.)

Coir is the by-product of coconut processing. Other names for coir are coco/coir peat, fiber, pith, or dust. You’ve probably picked up on the fact that “coco” is short for coconut NOT cocoa. :)

[...Continue reading this post.]