Category Archives: Garden

5 Reasons Why Wine Bottle Raised Beds Are the Best!

wine_pathIf I had a nickel for every time someone asked me if I had fun drinking the wine for my bottle-raised bed, I’d be a rich woman. The truth is while I did contribute a few bottles to the project, most of them were donated. The wine bottle raised bed that I created in the front yard is a conversation starter, for sure. Folks are always asking me what they’re for. So, here it is – the wine bottle raised bed lowdown and why I think you should make one!

beforeafter1. Ease – Building a wine bottle bed is easy and there are no tools required! Ok. That’s only sort of true. I used a garden hand tool ( like this hand weeder) to get some of the holes started. I created a “pilot hole” and then pushed the bottle firmly into the ground until the shoulders of the bottle touched the ground. I built my wine bottle bed as a raised bed – a contained border that holds “new” soil. The bottles help to contain the new garden soil and compost I loaded in.

Picnik-collage2. Sustainability – Recycling people’s wine bottles as the material for my raised bed meant I saved the lumber I’d normally use. The bottles stay out of the recycle plant and work in my garden instead.

upclose3. Drainage – Installing the wine bottles side by side allows for good drainage since there will naturally be a small space between each bottle.

wine_bottles4. Longevity – When I first installed my bed, someone asked about them breaking in the winter. They didn’t break last winter and are not filled with water, so I’m not worried about freezing water expanding and breaking the bottles. Also, glass takes hundreds of years (this resource says one million years!!) to decompose. That means they should last a hell of a lot longer than my wood raised beds. I’ll take it!

terrarium5.  Beauty – You already know I have a thing for glass art (check out my mosaic mural), so I think the bottles themselves look beautiful. But then, little ferns start growing in them, creating natural and unexpected terrariums and they become even more delightful! This has happened in almost every one of the clear wine bottles – it makes me smile every time I see it! As if I needed another reason to love this raised bed!

*Photo credit: The last two photos in this post were taking by my friend, Holli, at Holliwithani.com

Old TOMS Make Good Planters

Toms2No one at the Goodwill would ever step foot in my old TOMS. There was no way I could give them away. To describe them as worn out would be an understatement. They pounded the pavement for over a year to many fun places – Seattle, Asheville, Atlanta, Nashville. But they were Shabby with a capital S. It was time to get a new pair, yet I couldn’t bear to just throw the old ones away. What’s an earth-conscious gardener to do? Plant in them, that’s what. In about 15 minutes, my old Toms became hanging planters.

Toms_CollageFirst, I screwed them into the side of the garage. On the second shoe, I learned not to drill too far – you’ll drill right through the sole if you’re not careful.

DirtNext, I filled the toe part of the shoe about 1/3 of the way full with organic potting soil. Then, I gingerly set an everbearing strawberry plant into the shoe and poured some more potting soil in around it. I gently pressed the strawberry in place.

Toms1I watered those bad boys and my upcycled shoe planters were complete! The cloth provided the perfect amount of water retention and drainage! Win! Plus, from some views, they look like they’re walking down the garage, which makes me giggle. Functional upcycling + garden nerd levity. Win, win!

Build a Gutter Garden in Just Two Hours!

This image was floating around the urban farm social media pages a few weeks ago.

strawberriesAnd even though I have been wanting to build a gutter garden for a long time, this picture was just the kick in the butt I needed to spring into action.

IMG_4012Truth be told, this project took surprisingly LESS time than I expected. I sweet talked my dad into helping me and including our quick trip to the hardware store to get supplies, the whole thing probably took about two hours!

IMG_3994I was already prepared with soil and strawberries, so that did cut down on hands-on time. I hit up my favorite bare root plant sale earlier that week and ended up with about 50 strawberry starts for $14! Visions of strawberry rhubarb pie dance in my head!

IMG_3974Gutter gardens are a popular way to grow food in a small space. I started with strawberries, but I’m already planning to install more for leafy greens. If it’s a plant with a shallow root system, gutters are the perfect fit! The wall of my house, which borders my side yard, is about to get to work growing food – wasted space no more!

IMG_3987I bought two 10-foot gutters, cut them in half using my handy metal snippers and drilled a few holes in each one for drainage. I bought enough end caps to make four 5-foot gutter gardens. Glue the end caps onto the gutters – they’ll pop off the moment you pack the soil in a little too vigorously. Lesson learned.

screwWhen I started the project, I had no idea how we were going to attach them to the wall, but then I discovered that there are these super handy clip things that fit into the gutter with a screw already in place! I had to go back to the hardware store to buy a special screw driver bit to screw them in, but other than that, the installation was a breeze! I am fully confident the three screws I used for each 5 foot section of gutter will hold the weight of the soil and strawberries.

IMG_3962IMG_4006Now, I just have to hurry up and wait for the once empty, white wall to become a delicious shade of strawberry red. What are you waiting for? You should grow a gutter garden too!

For more information on growing strawberries, check out this helpful article.

*Bountiful strawberry gutter image from here

Video: This Bears Repeating

I’ve been thinking about doing a check-in post for a while now – a post where I give you a little update about things I’ve been talking about this year. The pears, the potatoes, the tomatoes. It will get done eventually. It’s just that for some reason, other things keep getting in the way.

So rather than putting off the idea or scraping it all together, I’ve decided to give you just a snippet, a piece of something I’ve wanted to share with you. It’s probably no coincidence that it’s the thing that greets me every time I walk in or out my front door.

I look down at my most recently planted succulent garden daily and think, damn, that is so freaking adorable! I have to show my friends how it’s been growing! It’s one of those things that to anyone else, it’s just a planter, but to me, it’s evidence of my horticulture growth. It’s evidence of the eye I’m starting to develop for plant aesthetics. Where as before I’d just put one plant in with another, now I see details in color, size and foliage that allow me to make planting decisions that result in something beautiful.

The color combination in this succulent garden makes me swoon. The fact that a few have a distinct maroon color while others have that pink hue just on the edge of their leaves makes me beam. They go together like pictures you’d hang in a room. Alone they are beautiful, but together it’s another level of pretty. It’s like a matte in a frame – it can bring out certain colors in a picture if you select the right one.

It’s also evidence of the loveliness of nature and what can result when you are patient. With just a little bit of TLC, it has filled in beautifully. I didn’t need to do much, but step aside and let them grow. It was as if the succulents said to me, “We’ll take it from here.”

So, I leave you today with my garden nerd musings and the tutorial post and video for this project. I hope it inspires you to make some horticultural eye candy for yourself.