How to: Easy projects

Galvanized tomato garden for one

Many people grow large vegetable gardens. I grow a small one that fits in five wash tubs.  It’s just the right size for two of us, since one of us doesn’t like tomatoes. This is a garden that a Flea Market gardener would love….I do!

Five galvanized tubs with drainage holes hold tomatoes, green onions and jalapeno peppers

Five galvanized tubs, with drainage holes, hold tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, green onions and jalapeno peppers.

For a good mix, I used one bag of each kind of soil at Home Depot just like is recommended in square foot gardening. The salesman there thought I was nuts, I think. I fertilize and watch for worms….didn’t find one, the healthiest I’ve ever seen,  until the end of the season.

Black Krim is the variety I grew this year, full bodied intensely sweet and inside, red, not black!

Black Krim is the variety I grew this year, full bodied intensely sweet and inside, red, not black!

Sweet 100s

Sweet 100s by the dozens…99 maybe.

Mini harvest for one

Mini harvest for one. My husband doesn’t like tomatoes. Most of the peppers I popped into a Zip-loc bag and froze. I then would add them to soups, spaghetti sauce and casseroles.

Watch for this guy, a tomato worm. They say these, (not this one), turn into hummingbirds moths.

Watch for this guy, a tomato worm. They say these, (not this one), turn into hummingbirds moths.

Some of the tomatoes, I dried and packed in jars of olive oil. See my recipe here.  ~~ Sue

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Categories: Creative Containers, Edibles, Garden Junk, Get Galvanized, How to: Easy projects | 10 Comments

My galvanized wash tub garden

A year of gardening in my tub garden

These were found at an old junk yard.

These were found at an old junk yard.

I guess we at Flea Market Gardening all agree that we like galvanized anything!
These are the galvanized wash tubs I got at the old “Rust Brothers’ junk shop in Coarsegold down the road.  I don’t have a deer fence yet and the idea here is to grow a few veggies close to the house and hope the deer don’t get them.

June 12th
Three tomatoes, two peppers, Tractor Man wants green beans in one. I have each end of this area blocked off to deer, but they could come through the entry bed. I did get deer fencing to put up. I haven’t had veggies for so long because I haven’t had a deer fence, so this is fun!

i mixed all the different soils I had just like it says in the Square Foot Gardening book.

i mixed all the different soils I had just like it says in the Square Foot Gardening book.

July 1
My flea market ‘crops’ are twice the size from when planted June 12th!

Black Krimm. I had never tried this one,...it had a small yield.

Black Krimm. I had never tried this one,...it had a small yield, but it was a gift from a friend, so...

Sept 1
So, what do you put on besides tomato? For me, it’s good nutty wheat bread, 1/2 inch slices of tomato, buttery avocado slices and a bit of salt. Mayo, of course. What do you do?  I picked many peppers.  Huh?  And popped them into a zip loc bag in the freezer to use all winter.  Some I used fresh.  Did I mention that this is a garden on a SMALL scale?  Yes, if you have a small space or only want a few things for right now, easing into the whole veggie garden thing,…do try this!

I love this long row of Baby Sweet 100s

I love this long row of Baby Sweet 100s

Just one more ‘leetle babie’ tomato picture.

My 'harvest'

My 'harvest' ....I think I got about 4-5 baskets of tomatoes and hot peppers,...enough for two people, considering Tractor Man will not eat raw tomato.

Sept 12
See my cute little ‘harvest’ I have three tomatoes and two hot peppers plants still doing well in my galvanized tubs. They’re so sweet especially these.

Protected from deer?

Protected from deer?

See how, when we had to go out of town, I used my plastic outdoor chairs to block them off to any deer.  What,..am I delusional?  I saw no deer munching when we got home, so did it work….LOL!

Another basket to eat, dry or freeze

Another basket to eat, dry or freeze

The garden at the end of July

The garden at the end of July

I know some folks out there are canning and preserving, and soon I’ll be oven-drying a batch of these. I wrote a blog post recently on an easy way to do this. “How to Make Your Own Delicious Dried Tomatoes

Green onion bottoms

Green onion bottoms, 50 cents worth...

About halfway through summer, I poked in a few old green onions from the fridge,…poked ’em in around the peppers.  The green tops grew!  Read more about them here in , My green onion garden.  So I cut some of the growing tips while leaving the roots intact to grow more.  We’ve since learned you can do this with celery and garlic, too!

July 1

July 1st the onions are starting to grow

July 1st the onions are starting to grow

July 26

July 26th- The onions are shooting up!

The onions are shooting up!

The 'onion garden' in winter

The 'onion garden' in winter

Feb 15
Snow doesn’t seem to harm my winter ‘onion garden’ and I planted more this month!

Categories: Edibles, Gardening, Get Galvanized, How to: Easy projects | 7 Comments

My green onion farm

Did you know that when green onions get a bit old in the fridge you can plant them in a garden pot or veggie garden?  I did this in my galvanized wash tub garden and could cut fresh onion tops all through Autumn.

Green onion bottoms

Green onion bottoms

These are regular grocery store green onions that I plugged in next to the peppers and tomatoes in my tub garden.  These are from onions that were still plump but had some outer leaves going mushy.  In the photo above are two bunches I used for cooking ,…only the green parts.  These cost me 50 cents each!

The 'onion garden' in winter

The 'onion garden' in winter

I cut about 3 ” above the white papery part and leave the root growing. These have been cut many times and grow back this way. It looks like I could cut some more…

I’d like to try celery, too, and my friend, a non gardener pokes garlic cloves in her rose bed and gets new garlic bulbs,…like to try that as well.

March 2

my green onion ‘farm.’ These tubs were found at the close out sale at our junk shop called Rust Brothers in Coarsegold, CA. I paid $50 for six large plus 4-5 smaller galvanized tubs and containers.

My onion garden, with onions planted last fall and now in late winter

My onion garden, with onions planted last late summer and now in late winter

The bigger onions were planted next to my peppers last summer in my wash tub garden and I’ve been cutting them AND they’ve been re-growing all that time. I just planted the new small ones and will plant a Tomato in the middle there in May. We’ve heard from you all that this works with celery, so I’d like to try that next. Meanwhile we have all the onion tops we want for potatoes, salads, soups and garnishes. Yea!

Categories: Edibles, How to: Easy projects | Tags: | 4 Comments

Junk garden weekend project-Dutch door

Saturday– Hmmm, Tractor Man gone for the day? Having coffee and wondering WHAT to do today. I love having a day when nothing is planned.”

Jeanne Sammons's barn door

Jeanne Sammons's barn door

Here is friend, Jeanne Sammons’s barn door which grabbed my attention. I first put it in my ‘Idea’ file, but then thought, ‘I have some of the things to make this!’ I might just go get the bottom half of my old Dutch door and the paint. Luckily it’s warm enough to paint still. I just HAVE to replicate this door.

Jeanne says “Here’s an old barn wood door that we rescued … I painted it white, added a board frame & grapevine wreath, an old freezer basket, a branch of Curly Willow & took it to daughter’s house with Fall Mum…picture a few yrs old … barn wood is fun to recycle!”

Dutch door before

My old Dutch door before, found on trash day.

Sunday– Pro-ject!! Here is my ‘beginning’, the old bottom section of a Dutch door, which I’d like to transform into a display like Jeanne Sammons made up. Saturday, I scraped and washed the spiders off. Wish I’d seen the spiders before I picked it up and carried it to the shed.

You all should have seen me carrying it down from the goat shed,…on my head! It was heavy and I thought that would work. Actually my head still hurts! I don’t know how women do that on a regular basis!?!?

Eyew...spiders!

Eyeew...spiders!

See the spiders? I wish I had seen these before carrying this all the way from the shed on the hill. Probably have some down my neck!

Dutch door after scraping and sanding

Dutch door after scraping and sanding

Monday– I brought down an old Dutch door to use as a background for a garden vignette and washed and scraped off the chippy paint. Some areas are bare wood. You can see that it’s possibly had a red undercoat. The question is should I paint this or leave it? Does this side look interesting enough to keep with a clear protective finish or should I start with a fresh paint job?

The door hardware

The door hardware causes me to choose the white side to work on first

Here is the doorknob hardware on the white side. NOT having to take this off and move it to the other side OR finding a new handle more decorative are two good reasons to maybe use the white side.

Dutch door before-the white side

Dutch door before-the white side

I believe I will be looking for clear varnish. I will take friends’ suggestions to scrape off more loose white paint. After one coat of Marine varnish, I will head to the junk stores in town to look for a wreath and an old wire basket.

Raw materials found at junk stores

Raw materials found at junk stores. You can see that the varnish has turned the door quite yellow,...NOT what I wanted.

Tuesday– Back from the stores with some possibilities… I found two items that can possibly be used in place of Jeanne’s wire basket….didn’t find quite what I wanted but will experiment with these. Jeanne used a wire freezer basket, lined with moss.

(See her original picture) The basket would hold a potted plant like Jeanne’s mum and a branch. I also found this wreath for $2 and will take off all the ribbon and stuff on it. So which container, the pale yellow metal basket or the black metal thingy?

Below is another look she put together using a sun plaque. I have a chipped ‘old man inter plaque I could use.

Jeanne Sammons's barn door with the sun plaque

Jeanne Sammons's barn door with the sun plaque

Test one

Test one

I’ve added the plaque to the center of the wreath. This light brown side has the light yellow metal container for contrast, I thought…. Drain holes could be drilled and plants added. Hmmm,…not sure…

Test two

Test two

I like the white side better, so will keep experimenting. The pinky-white side turned a bit too yellow, so I’ll be sanding some off. I was disappointed in the Marine varnish and will look for paint to transform the door, now better protected, back to the creamy white.

Dutch door finds a place in the garden,

Dutch door finds a place in the garden.

I leaned the door against this tree…it looks good here, I think, and so will try one more option going simpler. This looks a bit busy to me,…not the look I saw in Jeanne’s original idea.

Dutch door with a terracotta planter

Dutch door with a terracotta planter, decorated wreath and branch

Wednesday– After toning down the color which had turned too yellow, here are the suggestions from friends that I used:
-Some Manzanita branches were added to the wreath to add color.
-The Old Man Winter plaque was removed for being too terracotta and busy. I painted that so may see if it fits in later.
-The metal basket was replaced with a larger planter filled with thyme. I’ll be looking for a longer wire basket for Spring.

The finished door in the garden

The finished door in the garden

So, here’s the Dutch door in its place in my Winter California garden. I love it! I’ll be able to change the door around to the brown side when I want, as well. I’m very happy with the result and the difference is it looks easy for Jeanne and it was hard for me! Ha!

Categories: Garden Art, Garden Junk, Garden Vignette, How to: Easy projects, Old doors and windows, Weekend Project! | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Junk garden weekend project-Dutch door

Saturday– Hmmm, Tractor Man gone for the day? Having coffee and wondering WHAT to do today. I love having a day when nothing is planned.”

Jeanne Sammons's barn door

Jeanne Sammons's barn door

Here is friend, Jeanne Sammons’s barn door which grabbed my attention. I first put it in my ‘Idea’ file, but then thought, ‘I have some of the things to make this!’ I might just go get the bottom half of my old Dutch door and the paint. Luckily it’s warm enough to paint still. I just HAVE to replicate this door.

Jeanne says “Here’s an old barn wood door that we rescued … I painted it white, added a board frame & grapevine wreath, an old freezer basket, a branch of Curly Willow & took it to daughter’s house with Fall Mum…picture a few yrs old … barn wood is fun to recycle!”

Dutch door before

My old Dutch door before, found on trash day.

Sunday– Pro-ject!! Here is my ‘beginning’, the old bottom section of a Dutch door, which I’d like to transform into a display like Jeanne Sammons made up. Saturday, I scraped and washed the spiders off. Wish I’d seen the spiders before I picked it up and carried it to the shed.

You all should have seen me carrying it down from the goat shed,…on my head! It was heavy and I thought that would work. Actually my head still hurts! I don’t know how women do that on a regular basis!?!?

Eyew...spiders!

Eyeew...spiders!

See the spiders? I wish I had seen these before carrying this all the way from the shed on the hill. Probably have some down my neck!

Dutch door after scraping and sanding

Dutch door after scraping and sanding

Monday– I brought down an old Dutch door to use as a background for a garden vignette and washed and scraped off the chippy paint. Some areas are bare wood. You can see that it’s possibly had a red undercoat. The question is should I paint this or leave it? Does this side look interesting enough to keep with a clear protective finish or should I start with a fresh paint job?

The door hardware

The door hardware causes me to choose the white side to work on first

Here is the doorknob hardware on the white side. NOT having to take this off and move it to the other side OR finding a new handle more decorative are two good reasons to maybe use the white side.

Dutch door before-the white side

Dutch door before-the white side

I believe I will be looking for clear varnish. I will take friends’ suggestions to scrape off more loose white paint. After one coat of Marine varnish, I will head to the junk stores in town to look for a wreath and an old wire basket.

Raw materials found at junk stores

Raw materials found at junk stores. You can see that the varnish has turned the door quite yellow,...NOT what I wanted.

Tuesday– Back from the stores with some possibilities… I found two items that can possibly be used in place of Jeanne’s wire basket….didn’t find quite what I wanted but will experiment with these. Jeanne used a wire freezer basket, lined with moss.

(See her original picture) The basket would hold a potted plant like Jeanne’s mum and a branch. I also found this wreath for $2 and will take off all the ribbon and stuff on it. So which container, the pale yellow metal basket or the black metal thingy?

Below is another look she put together using a sun plaque. I have a chipped ‘old man inter plaque I could use.

Jeanne Sammons's barn door with the sun plaque

Jeanne Sammons's barn door with the sun plaque

Test one

Test one

I’ve added the plaque to the center of the wreath. This light brown side has the light yellow metal container for contrast, I thought…. Drain holes could be drilled and plants added. Hmmm,…not sure…

Test two

Test two

I like the white side better, so will keep experimenting. The pinky-white side turned a bit too yellow, so I’ll be sanding some off. I was disappointed in the Marine varnish and will look for paint to transform the door, now better protected, back to the creamy white.

Dutch door finds a place in the garden,

Dutch door finds a place in the garden.

I leaned the door against this tree…it looks good here, I think, and so will try one more option going simpler. This looks a bit busy to me,…not the look I saw in Jeanne’s original idea.

Dutch door with a terracotta planter

Dutch door with a terracotta planter, decorated wreath and branch

Wednesday– After toning down the color which had turned too yellow, here are the suggestions from friends that I used:
-Some Manzanita branches were added to the wreath to add color.
-The Old Man Winter plaque was removed for being too terracotta and busy. I painted that so may see if it fits in later.
-The metal basket was replaced with a larger planter filled with thyme. I’ll be looking for a longer wire basket for Spring.

The finished door in the garden

The finished door in the garden

So, here’s the Dutch door in its place in my Winter California garden. I love it! I’ll be able to change the door around to the brown side when I want, as well. I’m very happy with the result and the difference is it looks easy for Jeanne and it was hard for me! Ha!

Categories: Garden Art, Garden Junk, Garden Vignette, How to: Easy projects, Old doors and windows, Weekend Project! | Tags: , | Leave a comment

A culinary herb basket

Chives, Italian parsley, purple sage, dill and thyme

Chives, Italian parsley, purple sage, dill and thyme fit in the basket

For a Flea Market gardener, finding a large woven basket can be useful as a kitchen garden in a small garden or where deer abound. Sometimes having a basket of herbs close by the kitchen door, will discourage deer who tend to keep their distance. To make the basket last as long as possible fit a piece of heavy black plastic, with some drainage holes cut, inside before adding soil.

Chives are cut, then grow and cut again until the flowers are allowed to bloom, also edible!

Chives are cut, then grow and cut again until the flowers are allowed to bloom, also edible!

Thyme, chives, parsley and sage are the most used herbs in my cooking, just the right amount for this basket. These colorful and pungent chive flowers found themselves in a salad, surprising my guests a bit. I particularly like to grow chives and Italian parsley because they come back each year in my Zone 7 garden.

Since this basket has been sturdy enough to leave outside for several years, when I move it, I’m careful to hold it from the bottom. I know it will eventually wear out, so I’m looking for replacements and keep these sturdy baskets on my mental list when going to thrift shops and Flea Markets.

Roasted Herb Potatoes Cut red or white potatoes in 6-8 wedges each. Mix 1 T olive oil for every three potatoes with a mixture of chopped rosemary, chives, thyme, parsley and sage. Add potatoes and toss. Spread on a baking sheet and roast at 425 for 30-40 minutes. I stand the potatoes on their skins, or mix them halfway through.

Categories: Edibles, Gardening, How to: Easy projects, Spring gardening | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

Creating a backyard wildlife habitat

What is a backyard wildlife habitat?
A Backyard Habitat is a transformation of your garden into a place that provides the things wildlife need to live there. You also ‘reduce the civilization’ there to make it more welcome and safe for small, beautiful creatures. My mother did this in 1970 in the suburbs of Los Angeles and I have established a wildlife habitat now that we live here in the country in the Sierra Foothills.

butterfly on the buddleia bush

Swallowtail swooping down, see how it matches the blue of the buddleia?

It’s a bit presumptuous, I think, to say you have done anything having to do with wildlife here next to the forest considering the wildlife and plants have done very well without you all this time. What I mean by applying for a Certified Wildlife Habitat, I guess, is that I will vow to be a steward of this land while I’m living here on our land in the Sierra foothills.

Birdbath

Make an easy birdbath

The National Wildlife Federation certification program can easily be followed to make a sustainable habitat for the wildlife in your area. But why?

Why create a backyard habitat? Whether it’s an apartment balcony or a 20 acre property, it’s fascinating, and joyful, to be able to watch the birds and insects thrive in your garden. Provide food, water and shelter as well as reduce the amount of chemicals you use in the garden, then just wait and watch!

Western Scrub-Jay feeding from an old goat shed feeder tray.

These are the things to provide in your new backyard habitat:
Food
Preserve and plant more California natives. They have the pollen, berries and foliage the birds and insects like. Some plants for a habitat are oaks, crabapple, pines and cedars. Shrubs that do well in a backyard habitat are Dogwood, Elderberry, Honeysuckle, and Viburnum, Currants and blackberry and grape vines. Other plants that can be included are sunflowers, Black-eyed Susans, asters, marigolds, zinnias, and native grasses. You can add hummingbird and seed feeders if you want, but birds may only need the right plants to feed on.

Water Another important element for a habitat garden is a water feature. This can be as complex as a re-circulating stream, or as simple as a birdbath made of a flowerpot saucer that you clean and fill daily. Locating your birdbath near a sprinkler can ‘automatically’ refill it often.

Shelter and space to raise young Animals need brush piles and natural areas to hide from predators and make nests. A large branch or dead trunk can be placed in a flower bed or at the edge of the garden to slowly decompose and provide places to lay eggs and find worms. A small thicket can encourage quail to come to your garden.

Safety Restrict your use of chemicals in the garden and start a compost pile to use for a natural fertilizer. Mulching, and reducing the size of your lawn are other ways to avoid having weed killers and insect sprays and make your garden safe for the wildlife you want to attract.

California mule deer

And you’re done! Finally, spend relaxing time in your garden. You are wildlife, too. Make a comfortable spot to sit and you will find yourself ‘out there’ much more often. Keep watch as beautiful birds, butterflies and other small, interesting visitors appear in your wildlife-friendly haven. Whenever you hear bad news on the news, step into your garden and realize that you have made a welcoming habitat for yourself as well!  ~~ Sue

Things To Do: Certify your Backyard Habitat Teachers, you can start a Schoolyard Habitat

Categories: Gardening, How to: Easy projects, Nature and wildlife | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

I ‘brake’ for succulents

A few months ago, I found this rusty brake thingy in front of our car in a parking lot. Of course, I lifted the heavy thing and set it in the back of our small truck bed. In the dusk, I couldn’t tell if Tractor Man rolled his eyes.

Ghost plant and sedum

Ghost plant and sedum fill the mystery car part.

Rusty brake 'container'

The rusty brake became a 'container'

It was a Red Lobster parking lot! High class, don’t you know? If anyone had seen this before me there might have been a struggle.

Rusty brake 'container' on log

Rusty brake 'container' on log

Now, here it is in my garden planted with pearly grey-green Ghost Plant, Graptopetalum paraguayense, Dragon’s blood’ sedum and set on a log beside a path. ~ Sue

Categories: Creative Containers, Gardening, How to: Easy projects, Recycling, Rusty Rust | Tags: , , | 11 Comments

Building benches and paths of desire

Places to sit in the garden? You’ve got to have them. Especially when the place is affectionately called ‘Rancho Relaxo.’

First the paths…

We took our time to figure out where to lay out paths and the words “paths of desire,” I’d read about stuck in my head. Paths of desire are where you really want to go.

“Landscape designers sometimes talk about “desire paths”: the paths traced by people’s habits of movement from one place to another, the paths that make clear where we want to go, and how we want to get there.” Dominque Browning in “Paths of Desire”

Regardless of where a professional designer would lay out paths, it’s good to let a little time to go by and figure out where you want to go on your place and build your paths there.

The first places to sit were old furniture I got curb shopping or from friends. These we put on the patio, …we had two, one the same level as the house and one down a level, built from stamped concrete in place of the deck that we had originally planned.

Old furniture from trash day

Old furniture from trash day on lower patio.

We had two level 70′ long leach lines as the start to our paths. The rest of the place is on a slope. Each year we’ve ventured further out building a network of paths in order to be able to walk out without tromping through weeds. I laid out a path going through the garden planted around the lower patio. Continue reading

Categories: Beautiful Benches, How to: Easy projects, My Big Garden Project, Recycling | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to make an easy stepping stone

My friend crafty friend, Cheryl, and I have been at it again! We had a brainstorm! This stepping stone can be made in a snap using Ready-mix concrete and a plastic flat used by nurseries to hold ground covers. You can even reuse the mold to make more than one!

How many of us have a stash of these plastic flats with the built in pattern?

How many of us have a stash of these plastic flats with the built in pattern?

Materials:

  • A groundcover nursery flat
  • A dry cleaning bag
  • Concrete
  • A large leaf or leaves with thick veins
  • Old or disposable gloves
  • Large galvanized pan or plastic tub

Steps

  1. Lay down a tarp over your work surface. Lay your leaf or leaves upside down in a design onto the bottom of the flat.
  2. Cover the plastic flat and the decorations with one thin layer of the dry cleaning bag. This makes it easy to unmold. Leave the edges wide enough to fold up over the project.
  3. Mix your concrete in the tub with enough water to make the consistency like thick brownie batter. Spread or pack carefully into the mold, patting it down with gloved hands.
  4. Fold the plastic over the entire project and tuck underneath to hold in the moisture and not blow in the wind.
  5. Unmold after a day or two, discard leaves and let it sit in its plastic for about a week to cure. Prepare a flat place on firm dirt or sand to place your stepping stone
  6. Repeat!

I placed this one at an intersection in the path that gets a lot of traffic

I placed this one at an intersection in the path that gets a lot of traffic

Note: For added strength, you can spread half the cement mix in then lay down old metal coat hangers or a square of chicken wire.

You can also decorate the stone by packing the concrete in, then pushing stones or glass beads into the flat surface. Dry and cure the same way. The stepping stones come out in a nice big size and just the right thickness! Set them down in a square pattern or diagonally like diamonds.

I hope you try this easy project. Have fun!

Categories: How to: Easy projects, Hypertufa or cement projects | Tags: , , , | 18 Comments

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