Fall bulb planting surprises

Not sure if it is the long winter, or just me getting older but I have no clue what bulbs we planted last fall. Guess I will find out in a couple weeks.

Releasing ladybugs in your garden

When we started my garden at my our current house my daughters and I noticed we didn’t have any ladybugs roaming around the leaves. Now I would like to think that aphids and mites feared me so much to dare to step foot in my garden, but the reality is I live in a newer neighborhood with vegetation in its early stages and with the lush forest around me it is hard to compete.

If the ladybugs will not come to your garden your only choice is bring them there yourself. I did this by purchasing some ladybugs at our local home and garden store which ours starts carrying them a little after the local last frost date. Unfortunately, I took my daughters with me when I bought a bag of 1000 lady bugs for $5.00 so no every time we go to Home Depot they need to check to see if the ladybugs are there today, guess this will be a yearly tradition. If you can’t find them locally you can always purchase live ladybugs online.

Why would I want these bugs in my garden? Well other my girls get a lot of joy searching in our garden for them they are also an awesome beneficial insect which each one can eat up to 5000 aphids/mites in their lifetime. When you decide to release them be sure to follow the directions on the package and do so at night so they don’t all fly off to the neighbor’s yard. If you have kids you might want release a 100 or so during the daytime so you can make sure you get some cute pictures like the one below.

Shortly after posting this I was taking some pictures of some of my mystery bulbs coming up and noticed the lady bug below, guess my garden can actually attract a few of them on its own.

Growing potatoes with kids

I was checking out our pantry I noticed some of our potatoes were starting to sprout. I took this as a great opportunity to have a little activity with the my daughters. We started by taking a look at the sprouts and had a little discussion about how potatoes grow underground and this one potato will grow into many more potatoes. We then cut an egg carton in half and set the sprouting potatoes by the window to sprout (chitting) a little more and printed out some activity pages from the Washington State Potato Commission.

After a few days of basking in the sun we planted our potatoes in our garden and hopefully in a couple weeks we will see some plants coming out of the ground.

Hunting for spring at our local nurseries

Since nothing is blooming in my yard and my wife convinced me that Northwest Flower & Garden Show would be a little too busy for our young girls (I know she was right, as usual) We decided instead to go on a nursery tour, I normally get my plants from our closest nursery or the local home and garden center but was curious what the other dozen or so nurseries in my area had to offer. We didn’t bring anything home (little too early for vegetable seedlings) but did get some pictures that spring was not too far away.

Using alfalfa pellets as cheap organic fertilizer for your lawn and garden

We all know if you walk into a grocery store the organic produce is always more expensive than produce grown using non-organic methods. Using deductive reasoning it seems easy to determine that this would mean growing vegetables organically will cost me more than if I used non-organic methods. What is a cheap vegetable gardener to do?

One disadvantage (and advantage) to organic fertilizer is that it is not as potent as chemical fertilizers. So my 2 lbs of organic will not nearly go as far (at least short term) as the same amount of chemical fertilizer. One trick to being cheap is to purchase products that are not being marketed for your planned purpose. So to solve my expensive fertilizer issue I used this same logic to solve the problem of finding a location to buy organic fertilizer that was not marketed as “fertilizer.” After some research I determined a source from my local feed store. For $10 I was able to get 25 lbs of alfalfa pellets compared to 2 lbs of alfalfa meal at my local nursery for around the same price.

One great thing about using organic fertilizer is my kids can help spread it around, unlike chemical fertilizers. It also contains triacontanol which is a root growth stimulant along with plenty of organic matter to help boost some extra microbial activity. This not only helps the grass but also improves your soil at the same time. By taking a few cups of alfalfa pellets and mixing with water you can also make alfalfa tea, which I am planning on doing later but will sure to let you know how it works out. One more tip, make sure you distribute the alfalfa pellets before a big rain or watering, currently my lawn looks like some geese are using it as their bathroom.

Make your own homemade newspaper pots

newspaper pots

As you probably know we shouldn’t be using peat pots due to environmental concerns, buying terra cotta pots is too expensive, what is a cheap gardener to do? Make your own homeade pots out of newspaper of course. Muddy Clogs describes how to exactly do this on her blog. My only complaint is that I didn’t think of it first.

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