Hello! It feels like forever since we have had a chance to connect – I appreciated the week off that Bonnie gave me…and I loved her garden post, but I missed you guys! Hope your gardens are doing well and you are all out there enjoying the labors of your hard work!

Photo: Caroline Finnegan

I am having a love affair with Swiss Chard!

Here in Connecticut things are beginning to heat up – the temperature outside right now is above 90 degrees and we have not seen good rainfall in a few days. What does this mean for us? Well cranky and hot landscapers for a start…but also cranky and hot plants that are beginning to show signs of stress. This is the time of season when I pay particular attention to watering my plants deeply and also become a regular brewer of compost tea.

Compost tea is a solution made from traditional or worm compost. It contains billions of microorganisms that help convert soil nutrients and minerals into a form more easily absorbed by plant roots. Making your own compost tea is an easy and effective addition to your plant maintenance schedule and it can make a huge difference to the health and well being of your plants.

Photo: Sandra Ivan/Jupiter Images

So how do you begin? Well the most important part of making compost tea is starting out with good compost. I usually use compost from the Ladybug compost pile, but when I’m instructing clients on how to make compost tea we buy in high quality organic compost from different local sources. If you do not already have a local source for organic compost I suggest checking in with your local cooperative extension service and asking them for a recommendation. You can also buy “Gardener’s Gold” compost from Gardens Alive - I’ve used this with wonderful success.

The second most important factor is using water without chlorine or fluoride or any other chemicals that may kill the beneficial organisms you are trying to grow. If you have well water you should be just fine to use water straight from the source. If you are on a city water supply fill a bucket with water and let it sit outside for 24 hours so all the unwanted chlorine evaporates off.

I found the best instructions for how to make your own compost tea at Fine Gardening’s website. They are posting some articles from the late, great magazine Kitchen Gardener. If you ever come across issues at a tag sale – grab them up and celebrate! Or take a leap and buy some of the few back orders they have left. Honestly – you will not regret it.

Back to compost tea!

Photos: Ruth Lively

Briefly:

You will need a bucket, an aquarium pump, good quality compost, unsulfured molasses, a stirring stick and another bucket to strain the finished tea into.

Fill your bucket halfway with compost

Set up your aquarium pump/aeration kit and place it in the bucket with the bottom of it covered by compost

Fill the bucket with water, leaving 6 inches or so of space from the top for the bubbles to percolate

Turn on your pump and watch the bubbles go!

Add unsulphured organic molasses to the mixture – this feeds your beneficial organisms and makes them multiply away!

Stir frequently over the next 24-48 hours, making sure to reposition aeration system after you stir.

Remove the aerating equipment from the compost tea, let the tea sit for 20 minutes and then use as soon as possible.

You can use a the tea as a foliar spray on your plants or water the roots directly with the tea

Here is a video with some more information on making your own compost tea:

I apply compost tea to my vegetable garden every two weeks. It is excellent at preventing disease (tomato blight….not this year!) I usually apply it once a month to the lawn and to the trees and shrubs. A large backpack sprayer is my BFF on these days.

I strongly recommend visiting the Fine Gardening page on making compost tea – it contains a large amount of information and very detailed instructions. Notice just how detailed the instructions are – it truly was a great magazine.

Compost tea is excellent at preventing and treating fungal diseases. Soil Foodweb has some very detailed information on just how compost tea works – go and science geek out on this site…it really is chock full of information and advice.

Next week I will be addressing garden pests and disease. Let me know what issues you may be seeing in the garden and I will be sure to include organic remedies for your woes!

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Posted by in indie biz

etsy shop help

hello love birds!  first off, what do you think of the new shop help banner? i think it makes the etsy business page prettier, ha!  today’s post is going to be more about generating a discussion, rather than full of information.  it’s something i’ve been thinking about a lot lately: outgoing packages.

pretty package

{fabric thank you note}

i’m always trying to find new ways of sprucing up my outgoing packages. one of my favorite things about buying on etsy is to see how the seller dolled up my goods!  when it comes to shipping packages, there are a few things i feel are essential, and a few things i think can be optional- so today i want to hear what you think!  this post was inspired by an article i ran across recently over on smallerbox about the things your outgoing packages should always include.

smallerbox’s list of essentials:

 
 
1. branded invoice: don’t simply print a receipt from etsy or paypal.

2. return information: included on your invoice or elsewhere.

3. contact information: your website, email and, if possible, a customer service phone number.

4. swag: a little something extra that will surprise your customer.

what do you think?  her post received quite a few comments and a bit of controversy as well.  some thought invoices were a total waste of paper while others felt they were absolutely necessary.  i’ve never even thought of including an invoice (oops?) which is why this post interested me so much!

my list of essentials:

 
 
1. the cuteness factor: fluffy yarn, colorful tissue paper and maybe even a little japanese washi tape.

2. business cards (doi)

3. handwritten thank you note (admittedly i occasionally run out of time, which is why i’m working on my time management skills. so sorry if i missed this in your package!)

4. a discount coupon for a return visit. even though not many people have ‘cashed’ them in, i think it leaves them excited to visit again in the future.

now it’s your turn. what do you think about these essentials? what does your list include?

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diy hanging vases

June 23, 2010

diy hanging vases

when i saw these hanging vases at reading my tea leaves i was stunned.  what a simple and beautiful way to bring the outdoors in!  i’ve got so many old glass bottles that fit the bill for this project, i’m sure they’ll be happy to finally have a purpose.  all you need is a hook, some jute and a glass bottle with a decent rim at the top.  i’ll have summer sprigs hanging all over the place!

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9 comments
Posted by in indie fashion

toast catalog

can you smell it?  this magazine is just as delicious as a perfectly golden piece of toast.  or maybe my love for it has something to do with our beloved toaster? regardless, toast the catalog has me daydreaming of roadtrips and yearning for more.  from home goods to swimsuits, their luscious style reminds me of summer breezes and relaxing mornings.  flip through their catalogs or browse their summer collection, i can assure you you’ll leave inspired! needless to say, they’ve got me melting like warm butter over toast.

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city light photography

June 22, 2010

Posted by in photography

city light photography

somehow, visiting diana’s city light photography shop makes me feel well educated.  maybe it’s the way she’s captured books, telephones and typewriters or maybe it’s because her work is so beautifully mature, that i feel she’s schooled me by just browsing.  either way, the depth of her shop keeps me intrigued and her lovely blog makes me laugh!

elsewhere :: {shop} {blog} {flickr} {facebook}

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daytrip

June 21, 2010

Posted by in bonnie forkner

flying

{untitled by anton}

well, i’m off to the airport to pick up my hub! he’s been gone all week to a stage race in minnesota. i’ll be so happy to see him! our ‘phone relationship’ just hasn’t been cuttin’ it.  the airport is about 3 hours away, so i’ll be slurping coffee and jamming to kanye for the next few hours in efforts to stay awake.  wish me luck!  xoxo, bonnie

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sugar chills giveaway!

June 21, 2010

Posted by in handmade

vegan body care giveaway

i’m excited to bring you a little giveaway today, yeah! sugar chills is offering two (count them, two!) gift certificates to her all natural body care shop!  the first winner will receive a $15 gift certificate and the 2nd winner will receive a $5 gift certificate to her shop.  all of her products are 100% vegan and formulated with natural & organic ingredients to gently nourish your skin.  between the face slimes, foot gunk and skin sludges, there’s definitely something for everyone!

how to enter:

 
 
head on over to sugar chills and take a look around.  come back to this post and leave a comment about which one is your favorite (one comment per person).

bonus entry!

 
 
blog, tweet or facebook a link to this giveaway and come back to tell us about it! you may leave one comment per extra post (up to 4 comments in all)- please include a link to your post in your comment.

the giveaway will close on sunday june 27, at midnight est.  the winners will be drawn using a random number generator and will be announced on the following monday.  the winners will have 48 hours to claim their prize, good luck!

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35 comments

diy ornithology clock

June 18, 2010

diy ornithology clock

diy ornithology clock

when i ran across this diy ornithology clock on design*sponge, i about fell out of my chair! i think this clock was destined for me.  so simple, i thought, “why didn’t i think of that?”  the tutorial comes from kate pruitt who is a regular diy contributor on d*s.  not only is this version of eggs and feathers near perfection, but think of all the possibilities for different varieties!  make sure to share with us your results if you decide to get crafty!

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