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Small Spaces Big Returns: Grow Your Own Garden Anywhere

Crystal Williams

Guest Spotlight by: Aaron Green

 Growing your own vegetables and fruits offers many benefits such as saving money and t knowing where my food comes from. There's nothing better than eating a tomato right off the vine. With my small space vegetable gardening plan, I’ve been able to provide fresh food for my family and friends.

Growing your own vegetables and fruits offers many benefits such as saving money and t knowing where my food comes from. There's nothing better than eating a tomato right off the vine. With my small space vegetable gardening plan, I’ve been able to provide fresh food for my family and friends.

6 tips for small space vegetable gardening

Find Your Green Space

No matter where I go, I can always find a few good spots to grow food. If you live in an apartment, house or mobile home there are many available spaces for container gardens. I have friends who use their garage roof for a great growing space, so as long as it's safe the sky's the limit.

Apartment Gardening

Balconies, stairs, and fire escapes are great locations for growing - just make sure that you have a safe path in case of emergencies. I’ve attached window boxes and plant holders to the sides of my building for vertical planting. Many apartments have unused spaces in a courtyard or at the side of the building. The landlord might be willing to create a community garden for the complex, especially if it adds value and beauty to the property.

House Gardening

Many homes have a small front or backyard space that can be used for small space vegetable gardening. I build raised garden beds in small yard spaces because they are easy to maintain. Vertical gardening can be done along the side of the house and fence. Hang strawberry plants from fence posts or plant along the parking strip.

Sun or Shade

After I map out my small garden area, I check to see how many hours of direct sun the areas get per day. Tomatoes and peppers love direct sun, while peas and lettuce like the shade. This is important to consider when you’re planning what to grow. Don’t forget about sunny window sills too! You can create a great indoor herb garden in almost any bright window space.

What to Plant

 My first rule is that I don’t plant anything that I don’t like to eat. Make a list of your favorite vegetable, fruits, and herbs and decide what will grow well in your small garden. Consider how much one plant will yield and if the plants are easy to care for. If you grow too much, you can always trade your produce with other gardeners.

My first rule is that I don’t plant anything that I don’t like to eat. Make a list of your favorite vegetable, fruits, and herbs and decide what will grow well in your small garden. Consider how much one plant will yield and if the plants are easy to care for. If you grow too much, you can always trade your produce with other gardeners.

Supplies and Plant Care

Before buying planting pots, seeds or starts I always check in with my local community garden to see if they have extras to give away. I have also used milk jugs, large cans and buckets to grow in. I’ve also planted seedlings in egg cartons and paper coffee cups. Before you plant, check in with your local library or garden association to get tips on how to maintain your garden.

Small Space Vegetable Gardening

I have found many ways to grow a bounty of fresh produce in my tiny spaces, and you can too!

Guest Spotlight: How to Scarify the Lawn in Autumn

Crystal Williams

By: Ann Katelyn

Ideally, the process of scarifying your own lawn is a great way to improve its overall health in the long run. However, you also need to note that this method temporarily affects your lawn in a negative manner as it becomes aesthetically unappealing.

In fact, a perfectly healthy grass plant can be ruined if scarifying is improperly conducted or done at the wrong time of the year. Thus, it is important to know when and how to scarify the lawn. With the right information, your property should recover as quickly as possible.

Know the right period

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Scarifying is not something you should randomly decide to do at any time of the year. It’s not advisable to simply dig down into the grass in an attempt to prevent the spread of thatch and moss underneath the growing grass. While thatch needs to be dealt with since it hinders plant growth by taking the nutrients and water for itself, the conditions need to be just right for scarifying. This ensures immediate recovery for your grass.

If you’re planning a deep scarifying operation that will expose a sizable area of the soil, you should do it during autumn. Once the thatch, moss, and other organic matter that affect lawn health have been removed, there will be room for plants to grow. However, this also means that pesky weeds can take the new space. The best outcome here is for the scarified area to become a great seedbed, which is perfect if you wish to spread new grass seed.

This is why scarifying in autumn is crucial. Since you are going to do it in autumn, it will be unlikely for the weeds to overtake the grass in covering the exposed ground due to their relatively slow growth. In contrast, scarifying during the spring season is problematic as weed growth is far faster at this time compared to autumn. In other words, scarifying during spring removes the thatch and the moss but invites bad grass weeds into your lawn.

Preparing the lawn

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In order to properly scarify your lawn, the grass needs to be short and dry. Two weeks before the procedure, you should mow the lawn. Remember not to drastically increase the cutting height as this can lead to plant shock. As the grass height is shortened, more air could reach the turf and dry your lawn grass. One day before scarifying, mow the grass again as shortly as possible without scalping it.

Likewise, all of the undesirable weeds in your lawn need to be removed one week before scarifying the area. Even though scarifying itself can stop the spread of invasive weeds, the better solution is still to apply an effective weed control product.

While the grass should be dry, the soil needs to have an adequate amount of moisture. This will help your lawn to recover after a deep scarifying operation. If ever the soil is too damp or too brittle, you have to wait for the right soil conditions to arrive. It’s best to scarify the lawn on a dry afternoon. If it unexpectedly rains, just keep the grass height short and wait for the next dry day.

The proper use of the tools

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In scarifying the lawn, you can use either a petrol scarifier or an electric-powered raker. With the former, you can easily go down deep into the soil immediately, but don’t do it. Just like mowing, it’s much better to gradually deepen the scarifying operation with each succeeding run. On the other hand, an electric raker will do just as well since it has wire tines for removing moss and blades for scarifying.

Here’s a video showing a lawn being scarified in autumn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJjMMXj0Gdg

Your scarifying machine will likely have a height adjustment feature to keep the blade and the wires in direct contact with the soil. Instead of removing chunks of your lawn, repeated runs with minor changes both in the direction and in the scarifying height will allow the moss and the thatch to be teased out. Lastly, don’t forget to have a collection box to remove all the debris that has been unearthed through scarifying.

We hope that this quick guide helped you understand why scarifying is best done during the autumn season. Before the procedure, remember to have dry and short grass. Consequently, progressively increasing the scarifying height with each run is the best method.  

If you have any queries, feel free to give us a comment.

Guest Spotlight: 4 Fun DIY Solar Lights You Can Make with Your Kids

Crystal Williams

By: Jackie Edwards

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As Fall and Winter creep ever closer to us, it means the weather will become crisper, fresher and the nights longer and chillier. It doesn't mean we all have to stay indoors and not bother with the elements. Far from it, there are lots of interesting projects you can undertake in the garden to keep it looking and feeling like a special place to be all year round. 

So how can you save energy, protect the environment, spend quality time with your kids, and save money at the same time? Creating DIY solar lights with your youngsters achieves all of these goals. Here are some fun projects to do with children of any age.

Ghost Solar Lights

For this, you will need a paint brush, hammer, white glass stain, pint mason jars, rubbing alcohol, a small pointed screw driver, 3D gloss enamels in black, and solar lights with stakes. First, you need to put a hole in the lid of the jar to accept the solar light. Next, paint the pint jar white with the stain, and allow it to dry. Then, add a ghost face using the enamel. Bake the jar based on the manufacturer’s instructions that came with the paint. Lastly, screw the solar light onto the jar and put it outside. The ghost solar light is perfect for Halloween night.

Tin Can Lantern

You will need to collect some safety materials for this crafty solar lighting project: safety glasses, pliers, quick set epoxy adhesive, cordless drill and metal drill bits, recycled tin can (with the label removed), a black permanent marker, clear waterproof silicone caulk, galvanized steel wire, and a solar path light. Use the permanent marker to draw the design you want on the tin can lantern. Put on your safety glasses and use the drill to put holes in the can where the marks are. Disassemble the solar light and incorporate it into the tin can by drilling a hole in the bottom of the can. Keep the solar panel at the top. And, use the steel wire to hang the lantern.

Colored Mason Jar Lanterns

This project requires Blu-tack, an Ikea glass jar, tracing paper of your preferred color, an AA rechargeable battery, and a solar garden light. Place the solar garden light innards into the Ikea jar with the solar panel on top of the lid, and keep it all together with Blu-tack. Place a strip of tracing paper inside the jar, then carefully close the lid. Once the ambient light goes below a specific threshold, the light-sensing diode will cause the LED to light up.

Fairy Light Chandelier

You will need an outdoor stake solar light that fits in the hole of the basket frame, wire hanging basket frame with round circle of wire in the bottom, basket-hanging chains, and shells, chandelier crystals, or beads. Place the light so the solar panel rests on top of the center of the upside-down basket. Attach the chains. Affix the crystals, beads, or shells around the basket to create a chandelier look.