Saturday, April 30, 2011

WHAT A DAY - WITHOUT POWER


No Electricity
Wow, what a day.  Just as I was getting ready to head out to the farm, had the car loaded up with stuff to take, there was a loud noise outside, a couple actually, and then the power went out.  OK, it happens on occasion....but I decided to wait and make sure it came back on.  After an hour, nothing, so we called.  A "major outage" had occurred.

I kind of had a feeling maybe I shouldn't venture off to the farm, in case I needed to be here, and sure enough, we called again and were told it could be hours, many hours, before it came back on.  Instead of going out there, where there isn't air conditioning and coming home to no air conditioning after being hot all day, we decided to just run some errands.

2nd Man didn't have his morning coffee so we definitely needed to find that.  Once we got that out of the way, we ended up doing some furniture shopping for the farm.  On a whim, we stopped at Ikea and I'll be darned if we didn't find some really cool furniture.  I had visions of the super contemporary or the European style that was far from a farmhouse...but were we pleasantly surprised.  They have some pieces that were perfect for what we needed.

For example, we were wanting some nice old style looking metal bed frames and found these:

The white one in the guest room, the black one in the master bedroom.
We think they will look awesome.  But more on decorating styles later.  We were just pleasantly surprised to find these retro styles, along with some cabinetry and light fixtures.

We didn't buy anything today, not ready to do that, but we made some notes and ran some more errands. 
Came home about 5:00pm.  Nothing...no power.  We called and they said they had no record of our call.  Neighbor across the street said she called they told her it was all repaired and the repair ticket was closed.  She said she told them she was standing in a hot, dark house, and the woman argued with her that it was showing repaired.  Anyway, long story short, after going out to dinner,
and killing some more time at my favorite store, we came home about 9:15pm to ELECTRICITY!

Almost 14 hours without power.  Now as I type this, the house is cool again.  It's amazing how we take for granted having electricity. We should plan for these occasions and have backup plans and contingencies.  But again, more on THAT in another future post.

So this weekend is a wash, we have a prior commitment tomorrow so I won't be able to make it out there.  I'll try to do something around the house in the city to make sure I'm at least productive.


THE LITTLE WHEELBARROW THAT COULD


When Ma moved, she left this wheelbarrow.  It's not in the best of shape, paint is coming off, there is some rust in the metal bottom, and it needed air in its tire, but let me tell you, there is no discounting the power of having a wheelbarrow at the ready for any sort of yard work.  I have put a hundred miles on this little guy, back and forth from tree to tree, to storage shed, to party tree, and back again.  I even put some heavy trash in it, and wheeled it to my car instead of carrying it.  So much easier and better on the back!

I told 2nd Man I'd like a new one at some point, but he said "when you wear that one out, you can get a new one".  At the rate I'm going, that might be sooner than he realizes, ha.  There are some different models out there now.  I'll have to do some research.  There are metal ones like this Kobalt on the left, then there are poly versions like this Jackson with TWO front tires on the right.  That's kind of neat.  But I wonder how hard it would be to turn?  I think I'll just have to make a trip to the hardware store and check them out.
 
Whatever I go with, one essential thing you MUST have on your property is a good old wheelbarrow.  It's might seem old fashioned but there is a reason they've been around forever. You can fill it up with rocks, bricks, dirt, plant trimmings and debris, even put potted plants in it and move it to wherever you need it to be.  You'll wonder how you ever did without one.

Friday, April 29, 2011

FOUNTAIN IN A PLANTER / POT / VASE

While cleaning up around the property, I found this great planter/vase.  It stands almost 3 feet tall.  It had a tree in it, and I believe it was a gift (tree and all) to Ma once upon a time.  Sadly, the tree died, either in the hard freeze this past Winter, or the lack of water this dry Spring
(or perhaps a combination of both).


I was looking at it, and thought, "hmm, I wonder what I could do with this?"  I initially figured I'd just put another plant in it, but when I dumped out all of the dirt and emptied it, I found a  beautiful blue glazed interior.  It was too pretty to just fill back up with dirt and another random plant...so I stepped back for a moment, looked at it, and then it hit me.


A fountain!  Maybe it's the color, but I just imagined water bubbling out of it the moment I saw it.  The outside colors blend well with the landscape and then the deep blue interior is just crying out for some moving water.  


For now, I moved it to the safety of the porch, but this weekend, I'm going to clean it up to be a project later on.  I will of course, post all the details of here, but when I'm done,

Vase urn fountain

I hope to have something like this!
There are instructions all over the internet, so I should be able to come up with something nice.


WE LOVE OUR PORCH


Sure it's not decorated, it's not freshly painted, there are no flowers or hanging baskets yet, no American flag, but it's the most awesome spot ever.

We could sit there for hours (and have at times), looking at nothing.

Whenever I have a tough day at work, I just look at this and it makes me smile.



CONGRATULATIONS WILLIAM AND CATHERINE

Congratuations Prince William and Princess Catherine,
may you have a wonderful and happy marriage.

His Royal Highness Prince William and Princess Catherine

I have to admit, I got drawn into the Royal Wedding,
got up at 4am and watched it live.
I'm fascinated by all the history and tradition that goes into it.
Whether or not you are interested, you must admit,
it's quite a spectacular thing to see.

We do wish them all the best, and I'm sure his mother was
watching down on them this day and smiling with pride.


p.s. I just realized, this is my 100th post!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

TABBED FEATURES ACROSS THE TOP


I've had a few people ask me about the tabbed features at the top of the blog and when they would all be available.  I hope to start adding a few at a time in the next month or so.

ONLINE RESOURCES - will probably be the first update.  I have a huge list of links to websites that I've saved over the years and I want to share those with people who might be able to find them useful. 

FAQ's - will be later on, haven't had a lot of questions so far (but ask away so I do!).

PICTURES - I will update this soon, it will have pics I find online of cool things.

RECIPES - I've been getting lots of requests for those.  I'm currently testing some different ways of posting to see what's best and easiest for people to navigate.

PRODUCTS FOR SALE - That will probably be later on, as we start making stuff at the farm, craft projects, etc.  I'm working on a shopping cart application that will make the process easier.

TIPS - This will be coming soon as well.  I have a few tips so far.

This blog is an ever evolving project and part of that is to incorporate these things that have helped us and will hopefully help our readers.  Thank you for your continued visits.  It's great to share with all of you.  This has already been an exciting journey and I feel the best is yet to come!  -  1st Man

YET MORE TREE WORK


This is some more of my clearing process.  This is  another large mesquite tree, well, maybe 'medium' size, and it was surrounded by an out of control bed of cactus and other prickly plants. We want an area we can walk around and have some softness and color.

So I spent about a couple of hours, risking pokes and stabs and scratches, and.....

...this is what it looked like when I was done.  Still a few stumps I just couldn't quite dig out, and I need to move the bricks and that bench elsewhere onto the property, but for the most part it's done.  Once again I pruned some rogue branches, just the ones that made it difficult to walk under and generally cleaned up the tree.

After I get the stumps out from the old bushes, I'll need to decide what kind of flower bed to put around it. 

Do we want a circle?  A free form design?  This is literally the main thing you see when you look off the front porch or out the living room windows.  I know we don't want a square flower bed, we like a more fluid shape, it seems to fit more appropriately out there.  There is another tree nearby that has a square flower bed around it (that might be this weekend's project) and I'm getting rid of that (old railroad ties that are deteriorating) and I had a thought of linking the two together with one big bed, maybe in an hourglass shape.  Might be kind of neat and allow for a lot of planting.  But for now, baby steps.....let me get this one finished now and the other one finished, then we can decide what to do...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

BRAHMA WORK BOOTS - HOPEFULLY THORNBUSTERS



Brahma work boots, Bravo II
When I was out there Saturday and was regaling the neighbor with my mesquite thorn story, he said I should get some good, sturdy, work boots.


I figured there was no point in spending a fortune for something that could get muddy, be poked with thorns on occasion and covered in dirt and grass when I'm working in the yard.  On my lunch break today, I went over to the local WalMart and bought these.  They also sell them at Amazon: Waterproof Mens Work Boots


They are the Brahma brand, this particular style is called "Bravo II", which is the style in between the basic and the steel toe, with these having the additional feature of being waterproof.  I looked at the three versions they had and figured for a few extra dollars, it can't hurt to have that feature.  I'm sure sometime in the future I'll be splashing around in a puddle somewhere on the property.  They'll get their first "real" test this weekend...


UPDATE: 7/2011 -  I have had some visitors looking at this particular blog entry and I realized that I never gave my test results.  I have been wearing them while out there (and even around town) and they are AWESOME.  They are a bit heavier than I'm used to...remember, I work in an office wearing dress shoes during the week, and on the weekends, I'm usually in Crocs.  But once I was used to the weight, they worked great.  Stepped on several mesquite thorns, no problem.  I splashed around in some water and my feet stayed dry.  I'm thinking I might eventually have to have a second pair so they last a long time.  My bottom line?  Get them!  For the price, they are definitely worth it.

UPDATE: 10/2011 - They are also "bee proof".  I wore them recently during my beekeeping class that I blogged about HERE. They were the perfect height above my ankle to protect my legs while wearing jeans and the bee suit.

LET THE FLOOR WORK BEGIN

Bathroom floor before

Bathroom floor after
Here is what might initially look like a "before" on the bottom and an "after" on the top.  But it's actually the other way around.  The small bathroom had carpet squares down and we've just never been big on carpet in the bathroom (or any "wet" area for that matter).  So this past weekend, I pulled up the carpet, and then found some old vinyl tiles under that and pulled up as many of those as I could.  I will still need to get a scraper to smooth out the floor and get the rest of those old tiles up, but really, until we're finished painting, it's not a major priority.
The new floor won't go down until that's done.

We'll be replacing the carpet with black and white linoleum in a checkerboard pattern, as seen in the photo below.  I think that will look sufficiently retro and we're going to keep that same look in the mudroom/pantry, front entry, and kitchen.  We're going with linoleum because a) it's easy to put down, b) it's inexpensive, and c) it will give it a finished look for the near term.  Later on down the road, we can do something more permanent like tile.

Black White Checkerboard Floor

FYI, that green cabinet partially visible in the top pictures is the sink base. 
We haven't decided how to handle that.  We'd like to remove it and put in a pedestal sink, just to make the small space seem bigger.  However, since it does have valuable under sink storage and in a small house like this, every bit of storage is important, we just might paint it a complimentary color for the bathroom.  Again though, that remains to be seen.

For now, it's a new toilet, some paint, and then a new floor!

Monday, April 25, 2011

COOL GIFT DIRTY JOBS WITH MIKE ROWE HAT

Our "down the driveway family" gave me a really fun gift when I went out there. A hat featuring the "Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe" logo.  We both share a fondness for this hit Discovery Channel show.  It's a great brown color, and the underside is a cool camo pattern that seems perfect for working outside.

As she happily reminded me, I'm in for a dirty job getting this property all fixed up and running!

Thank you so much for the gift, it will be well used!

MESQUITE THORNS - YIKES!

Close up of mesquite thorns
Yikes!  I encountered something unexpected this weekend while working around the mesquite tree in front of the house.  Apparently new growth on a mesquite tree has these inch (or more) long thorns on it's branches.  When you trim a mesquite, these can break off and fall to the ground, where they just lay until someone comes along and steps on them.  

We're not talking rose bush thorns, or berry vine thorns, these things are long, hard as a nail and as sharp as a needle.  The one above was pulled from my sneakers, after I stepped on it and it went through my shoe and into the bottom of my foot!  Ouch!  Fortunately, it just nicked my foot, no blood, but if I had stepped on it any harder, it would have been painful.  

I did some research and found that early settlers to the American Southwest often used mesquite thorns as substitutes for pins in fastening clothing, and even notched the end of them to use as needles for sewing.  

More in a future post on the fascinating mesquite tree and it's many uses, but until then, one thing I know for sure, we have a new found respect for these trees.  

Sunday, April 24, 2011

GARDEN POETRY

________________________________________________


"Chinese Poem/Proverb, 2500 B.C."


When the sun rises, I go to work.

When the sun goes down, I take my rest.

I dig the well from which I drink, 

I farm the soil which yields my food,

I share creation, Kings can do no more.
_________________________________________________

 

SO GLAD TO HAVE THIS WATER COOLER


This is my favorite new addition to the farm.  We have no furniture, no stove, no fridge, but this is invaluable. 

I took it out there so we could have hot and cold water at the ready.

It holds a typical 5 gallon bottle and you can set the water as low as 37 degrees on the cold side, or 170 degrees on the hot side.  There is a middle button that supplies room temperature water as well.



With the instant hot water, I can take any instant soup mix (including the old college standby, Ramen Noodles), and have lunch at the ready.

One great feature on this one, and the reason why we chose it, is that the lower
section has a small fridge, so I can also, as I did yesterday, bring a homemade sandwich, some cheese sticks, and an apple.  It stayed cold and fresh until I was ready for lunch.


It was so nice coming in periodically yesterday and getting a glass of ice cold water.  Well worth any investment at this point!
That's something to think about when you have a home you are working on and you don't have your appliances yet, you'll still need fresh cold water for drinking, hot water for soups, coffee, tea, etc, and even a small fridge.
This one happens to combine the best of all.
It's also Energy Star compliant which means a lot for our
green living at the farm.

TITLE SAYS IT ALL - EASTER IS HERE


Saturday, April 23, 2011

OUTDOOR SOAKING TUB PART 2

After my last post on "outdoor soaking tubs", click HERE for that...



 I decided to post some more pictures I found online.  Here is one next to a house, almost like an outdoor room, very nice.





This is another one of those cool, old, retro style galvanized tubs.  Love the shower above!  And even a mirror and a place to hang a towel on a tree!  Way cool!
This one is fenced in, not something we'd do or need, but it's still nice to see another style.  I like the small table beside it, I could do that with a thrift store find, some Rustoleum, and then I've got the perfect spot to put my wine glass!


I've been getting visitors from doing searches for outdoor tubs.  Who knew this was so popular?  I am currently gathering ideas and will, of course, share them here. When we start working on ours, I'll be sharing our own "before, during and after" photos, each step of the way.

Friday, April 22, 2011

BACK TO THE FARM

Yardwork
Tomorrow, Saturday, it's back out to the farm for some more work.  Since Sunday is Easter, I think we're going to stay in the city and relax
 (check back Sunday, I just might be posting some photos!).
But in the meantime, I've got a goal list for tomorrow's work.

Cleaning out two old flower beds around a couple of trees in the front yard; removing the last of the trash that needs to be removed/recycled; taking up the carpet in the bathroom; and if I have time after that, I want to go around the house and clean all the windows, inside and out. 

As always, I'll take lots of pictures before and after...
Wish me luck!


POTTING SHED MAKEOVER

Shed before
This is another one of the projects from this past weekend.  No, this isn't an outhouse, ha.  It's a former chicken coop that later became another storage shed of unused stuff.  I decided to clean it out and turn it into a potting shed.  I knew where I wanted it to "end up" but I didn't know how I would get there. 

Shed before
As you can see, it's a simple structure.  But it is very sturdy.  It's hard to see in this picture but it was just filled up with all sorts of stuff, most of which I either re purposed or got rid of.  I wanted to start with a blank slate, so I got it completely emptied out. Then I took a break for lunch to decide what to do. It's amazing how stepping away from a project can bring a fresh perspective when you come back  to it.  Seeing the shelves on the back wall of the mudroom that we didn't want, I decided to use them as a starting point.

First thing I did was move a shelf rack into the shed from the house (see below) and screwed it to the wall so it would be sturdy.  Then I added a couple more to the inside to expand my storage space. After I had the shelves in, I started gathering up the clay pots that were around the property, emptied them of their dirt (the freeze killed the plants in them), and put them on the shelves.  Great space now with lots of room for expansion as it "evolves" in time.

Potting shed interior after
Potting shed after
As I stood back and looked at it, I decided that the outside was kind of plain.  Laying in the trash pile were some old rusted tools and parts of tools.  I immediately thought those might look cool as decoration on the walls, so I got my handy box of screws and cordless drill and went to work.  I brought out two more shelves and attached them at counter height and made myself a simple workbench.

I found these two saws and the old gardening tools, and put them above the workbench.  I also added a smaller shelf, higher up, again re purposed from elsewhere in the house.  Just when I thought I was done, I saw a lonely looking rake, missing a few tines, and attached it to the wall next to the opening. It was a perfect fit for the spot.

Potting shed entrance

Potting shed decor closeup
And now I'm finished.  Something that at one point looked like it might be a lost cause, is new and fresh.  I will add features later on, a sealed container for potting soil, some more tools (that will be weatherproof), and maybe some more decorative features.  I'll also replace the small workbench counter with one solid piece of wood and add some legs to each end for addtional support.  For now though, I feel it's complete, and it's just one more project I can check off my list and move on to other things. Again, don't hesitate to look around your home and use something you already have, even something you might have called trash.  It's a great way to give something a new life that might otherwise be destined for a landfill.

Remember that famous phrase:
"one person's trash is another person's treasure..." 

Now go have fun!


Thursday, April 21, 2011

INSPIRATION THURSDAY


I love this picture.  It is just so pretty and so peaceful.  Sure our property might not ever look exactly like this, but it would be nice to come up with something close huh?

Enjoy your day, be inspired!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

DYEING EASTER EGGS THE NATURAL WAY

UPDATE 2/2013:  Have had a lot of visitors to this blog entry, thank you!  I have answered some questions I left out in the original posting, in the comments below, so please check those.  This is a fun project I hope you'll try.


They are safe to eat, as long as you keep them, like all boiled eggs, refrigerated until you are ready to eat them.


This is something I've done a few times over the years, and had hoped that we'd have the farm house closed and finished by Easter but alas, didn't quite make it. I'm going to post this anyway, in hopes that others can have fun.

Natural egg dyeing, photo courtesy of whiteleycreek.com
Have you ever dyed eggs naturally?  The beautiful photo above comes courtesy of the blog for http://www.whiteleycreek.com, a lovely homestead bed and breakfast in Brainerd Minnesota, and she has dyed them that way
(click the link under the photo for her instructions).  Check them out!

Now we're not talking the PAAS kits or using food coloring but using food products around your house to dye your eggs?  It's so much fun.  If you have kids, it's a great way to expose them to something cool that nature does, if you don't have kids, well, do like we do and bring some boiled eggs to work and have people ask you "where did you get that color?"


The process is pretty simple.  Here is a chart I've used for a few years with the list of colors and the products that create them.  It's one I started with (and can't remember the original source), but then along the way I just added to it or edited it along the way.  When you see the word "boiled", it just means that the ingredient MUST be boiled in order to extract the color.


Color
Ingredients
LavenderSmall Amount of Purple Grape Juice
Violet Flowers + 2 tsp Lemon Juice
Red Zinger Tea bags (Celestial Seasoning brand)
Violet BlueViolet Flowers (no lemon juice)
Red Onion Skins (boiled)
Red Wine
Hibiscus Tea
BlueCanned Blueberries
Large Amount of Purple Grape Juice

Red Cabbage Leaves (boiled)
GreenSpinach Leaves (boiled)
Fresh Basil (boiled)
Greenish YellowYellow Delicious Apple Peels (boiled)
Fresh Parsley (boiled)
YellowChamomile Tea
Orange or Lemon Peels (boiled)
Celery Seed (boiled)
Ground Cumin (boiled)
Ground Turmeric (boiled)
Green Tea

Carrot Tops (boiled)
Golden BrownDill Seeds
BrownStrong or Instant Coffee
Black Walnut Shells (boiled)
Black Tea
OrangeYellow Onion Skins (boiled)
Carrots (boiled)
Paprika
Chili Powder
PinkRed Grape Juice
Fresh Cranberries / Cranberry Juice
Raspberries
Beets
Juice from jar of Pickled Beets
Red
Lots of Red Onions Skins (boiled)
Canned Cherries with Juice
Pomegranate Juice
Raspberries

Wash hard boiled eggs in warm water to remove any oily residue that can affect the color dyeing process and let cool.
There is no exact amount of each of the above ingredients to use.  I usually put a couple of handfuls of each of the bigger items, the spices I just use a few tablespoons.  You can let the water boil for awhile and just see how brightly colored the water is.  Put the color stuff you choose in a saucepan and cover with water by about an inch, and add 1/4 cup of distilled vinegar to each batch.  FYI, it could end up being about 2 cups or so of each dye item, depending on what you use.  You don't need to use all of each one for the color, those are just different ingredients that produce the same color hue. 
Bring to a boil the water and the dye product you are going to use, then reduce heat to low and let simmer anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour or longer, until you like the color you see in the water.  That's really all it comes down to, just get the water a color/shade you like and try it out.  
Pour liquid through a coffee filter or you can use a mesh strainer, and into a bowl or jar that will be deep enough to put your eggs in.  I sometimes use a Mason or Kerr canning type jar.
Don't forget the vinegar, this is to help the dye absorb into the eggshell and is important.  Some people even add another tablespoon to the 'dye' before they put the eggs in.
Use a slotted spoon (or tongs) to put the eggs into the hot liquid.  The eggs will need to sit for quite a bit of time to get a good color.  You can take them out anytime you like the shade they have reached, I sometimes even wait for the liquid to cool and then move it into the refrigerator overnight to let them soak that way.  If you are going to eat them, be SURE to refrigerate them.  You will get a lighter color the less time you let it sit, and a darker color for longer.
Did you know that these very same techniques are used to dye fabrics, yarn and wool?  That's one of the craft projects I hope to be able to work on later on down the road when the farm is up and running.  I want to make our own home dyed yarn that we can eventually sell.  A dear friend of ours does some great crochet work and I am hoping we can talk her into an afghan or throw made from yarn that has been dyed with things from our farm.  I think that would be very cool.
This is a great tool for kids to learn a little history as well; remember that the early settlers used similar techniques for all their homemade clothing. 

Naturally dyed eggs, image courtesy of MarthaStewart.com
Enjoy your Easter holiday,
whatever you end up doing!

ANOTHER TREE TRIMMING

Another tree project.  This is a small half circle of what we believe are a variety of Birch tree. They were just a little out of control, again, lots of low branches, and renegade growth.  


Here it is before. 


Here it is after.

As with the other little tree, these just needed some cleaning up.  The low branches removed, the ones that are horizontal, the offshoots sprouting out of the ground, etc.
It really opens up the space
and lets you walk in and move around.

Not sure what we will put here.
Original thought was a small breakfast area (bistro table and chairs).
Then we thought about a couple of adirondack chairs.
Still lean toward the chairs,
but a new thought has crept into my mind, a hammock!

There are not a lot of places
(at least in my exploration of the property to date)
that have trees in the right configuration for a hammock.
This is also in close proximity to the house,
so that would make it easier to get to for a quick afternoon nap.

Time will tell!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

WELCOME MALAYSIA


And another visit from a new place!

It's so cool how a blog can have a worldwide audience.

A hearty Texas, USA howdy to Malaysia!

MOWER SHED BEFORE & AFTER

Here is part of what I did this past weekend.  It's what we call the "mower shed" (where Ma stored her riding lawnmower).  She took the mower with her, but as you can see it also became a place to store just about anything extra.  It is after all, the farm equivalent of a garage and we all know how our garages can become an extra storage room for all that stuff we want to keep in case we need it later on.

Mower shed before

Anyway, above is the before, as you can see, a lot of stuff to get rid of.
Old tools, unused doors from a project, chemicals, hoses, an old wheelbarrow, etc.  

So I spent the better part of a couple hours cleaning it out, and below is the end result.

Mower shed after

Voila!  As you can see, it's empty!
I did return a ladder to it after the photo was taken, but it's empty now and just waiting for us to decide what to do with it.  It's very sturdy and well built.  Posts are set in concrete.  It doesn't have a concrete floor, and we are leaning toward doing that.  It would be fairly easy to do ourselves some weekend with the ready mix concretes that are available at most big box hardware stores.  I'm also trying to decide if we should enclose another side to make it three sided, or leave it open on two sides like this.  

I will admit that I like the openness of it.  We will have an enclosed structure later on, a storage building/workshop, so it's not necessary for this to be enclosed.  
I guess it will just have to evolve into whatever it becomes, but I welcome any thoughts on what to do, that's what makes a blog so interactive.  Give us your suggestions!


Monday, April 18, 2011

WELCOME SINGAPORE


Another day, another visit from another country!

Welcome to the journey, our friends in Singapore!
Please check back in...



TREE TRIMMING

Sad little tree before

Here was one of the many landscaping projects.  This little tree seemed like it had character somewhere under all that extra growth, so I stepped back, looked at the shape underneath and decided to make my cuts.

Happy little tree after
And here it is after!
I just knew I saw a neat little tree under there.
There is still more to do (as you can see in the background), but  eventually I will put in a nice flower bed around the base of the tree, to add a splash of color to all the green.  

Don't be afraid to trim a tree.  Just look at it and take out all the lowest branches, then the small stray branches that shoot off in odd directions and you can make it into the shape you like.  

Of course, this type of pruning DOESN'T work for fruit and nut trees, they require specialized pruning, which we'll cover in a future post.
So go out and give your tree a makeover!

COOL NEW TRISCUIT HOME GARDENING MOVEMENT

Triscuit box front
WOW!  This is SO cool!  Kraft Foods has used it's Nabisco branded "TRISCUIT" crackers to get involved in the home gardening movement.  I love seeing something like this.  What they are doing is including "seed cards" in over 8 million packages of the popular snack cracker.  Their campaign slogan is "Plant a Seed, Grow a Movement" and I couldn't have said it better myself.  They are apparently partnering with a non profit group called "Urban Farming" and are pushing home farming.  Visit their website here.

Triscuit box back
When you open the box, there is a cut out section, with, what looks like a piece of cardboard stuck to it.  You simply remove the seed card and soak it in water for a few hours, peel the card in half (the seeds are inside), place both cards seed side up in an 8" pot and cover with 1/4" of soil.  Place in a sunny spot, keep watered and in about 10-12 days you should have sprouts.

The package I bought had basil seeds.  There was another that had dill seeds.  Not sure all the varieties they are offering.  A home farming tool is available at www.triscuit.com/homefarming.

At this website you can also enter a contest and learn much more about home gardening.  How cool would if be if more and more companies did something like this?  Just to expose more people to the joys of gardening at home?  It could truly be a whole movement.




So grab a box of Triscuits, they made it easy for you.  Or get a packet of seeds at the store.  Or a small vegetable or herb seedling at a garden center. All you need after that is a container, soil, water, light, and a little patience and before you know it, you will have joined the home gardening revolution!