tag: project

Fantastic rain barrel via Our Little Acre

To have an abundant garden you have to invest the time and energy to create a consistent and appropriate watering schedule for your plants. This will vary from garden to garden, but most plants will grow their best when provided with an average of an inch of water a week.  Sometimes the rain obliges, but most of us have to help our gardens along and supplement water.

The basic watering rule of thumb:

Water deeply, water slowly and water wisely.

When you water deeply and slowly you allow the water to permeate down to deeper layers of the soil, promoting deep root growth.  This creates a stronger, healthier plant with a greater resistance to stress and drought.

Watering wisely means knowing the water needs of your plants so you water enough for them to be healthy, but not so much that you are wasting water.  It also means treating water with respect and making certain that you are practicing responsible water conservation.  It means watering the roots of the plants, not the leaves. It usually means not using a sprinkler.

Fancy mini rain barrel by Bas van der Beer via Apartment Therapy

Watering your yard with a hose end sprinkler wastes water. Water is lost to evaporation, some parts of the garden are over watered, while others are under watered, and a large percentage of the water you use ends up running off the surface of the soil – doing your plants absolutely no good. A good test of how much water is actually reaching the soil is to place cups throughout your garden, underneath leaves and also in exposed areas.  Turn your sprinkler on as you normally would and then check the cups to see how much water is in them.  This is the same amount of water that is reaching the root zone of your plants.

Square rain barrel

My preferred method of watering a garden is through drip irrigation.  This is a system of small hoses that is wound through the garden, around plants and under the mulch.  When it turns on, it releases a slow, steady drip of water that travels deep into the soil.  There is very little waste from evaporation and the roots of my plants are watered, keeping fungi encouraging water off of my plant leaves.  Soaker hoses are another choice, although by the time you buy enough to take are of a large garden you have spent about as much as a DIY irrigation system.

I buy local for my irrigation supplies, but I highly recommend Irrigation Direct or The Drip Store. I have had many clients buy through both of these sites – they experienced friendly and knowledgeable customer service and great products.

Round rain barrel

I have my watering system on a timer.  If the weather has been very dry and hot I will supplement water, but mostly I just set the system up once and let it do its thing. I follow the manufacturers directions regarding winter preparation and spring wake up, check the lines regularly, am careful where I dig…(learned that the hard way)…and call for help and advice when I need it.

I cannot recommend rain barrels highly enough -aren’t these ones pictured gorgeous! I use my rain barrel to water my containers and house plants as well as to supplement water the gardens when needed.  I absolutely love them and encourage you to try them out.

Rain barrels can be a bit pricey – here are some links for tutorials to make your own:



Here is a great idea from Michelle Kaufman – creating attractive screening for inexpensive rain barrels!

Have you tried rain barrels yet?  How do you water your garden?  Any tips or tricks to share – I would love to hear them!

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diy printed paper garlands

for summer parties, birthdays, craft booths or decor- i thought this tutorial for printed paper garlands would be perfect for sprucing up a room or get together. with a couple of old books and some ordinary supplies, you’ll have dainty, vintage library feel in no time!

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diy t-shirt pillow

July 23, 2010

diy ruffle pillow

isn’t this beautiful?  you won’t believe what it’s made of- old t-shirts! the fab tricia at oh so crafty cut up one of her old t-shirts for the ruffles and used one of her husband’s old dress shirts for the front and back of the pillow.  the pillow closes in the back by buttoning and unbuttoning the dress shirt!  you can find step by step instructions on oh so crafty and be snuggled up with this fancy t-shirt pillow in no time.

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fabric leaf bowls

one of my favorite diy projects to date have been these easy to make fabric leaf bowls.  i found the tutorial on martha stewart’s website and quickly got inspired (as usual) to get busy gathering my materials.

fabric leaf bowls

aren’t they pretty?  perfect for layering or holding goodies.  i often place dry snacks in them for guests like nuts, crackers and candies.  the bowls are made from tweed and wool felt so can be spot cleaned as needed.

fabric leaf bowls


– wool felt

– tweed*

– sewing machine with coordinating thread

– scissors

– fusible webbing (found at any sewing shop)

– tracing pen

*i went thrift shopping and picked up some fun tweed jackets to cut up and use!

fabric leaf bowls

here’s the how to:

1. first things first you need to download and print out the oak-leaf bowl template from martha stewart.  you can resize them to create bowls of various shapes.  using your scissors, cut each template out following the template lines.

2. cut 1 rectangle from each of your materials (1 tweed, 1 wool felt and 1 fusible webbing) for each of your leaves, large enough to accommodate each leaf template.

3. stack the 3 fabrics with the webbing in the middle and press using your iron until the webbing has fused.

4.  trace your template onto one side of your fused rectangle with a disappearing ink pen (found at any craft/sewing shop).

5. cut out the leaf.

6. using your sewing machine, sew up each of the 5 v shaped darts, using either a zigzag or satin stitch.  working from the inside out, simply pull the fabric together as you stitch (don’t overlap it).  i found using tweezers or straight pins helped push the fabric together towards the ends.

fabric leaf bowls

sewing up the darts creates a bowl shape and each leaf will be reversible (so make sure your bobbin thread looks good, too!)  feel free to go back with your iron to touch the tips of your leaf, giving them curl in your desired direction.

what do you think? don’t forget to visit martha’s site for the original article and even a tutorial video to refer to!

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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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make your own fabric tape

i was so thrilled when i found this brilliant paper tape project on creature comforts last week, i thought, why didn’t i think of that?!  the original project with detailed instructions comes from kathrin on annekata. with how obsessed i’ve been lately with happy tape, i can only imagine all the endless possibilities with this project.  i’ve got so many fabric scraps laying around, and now i know what to do with them!  soon cards, gifts, wrapping paper, & vases will all be adorned with my make-it-at-home fabric tape.

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Didn’t Caroline’s post just make you itch to get out in the garden or onto your balcony and plant something?  We put in our veg patch last week and every day (ok, about 5 times a day) I’m out there staring at the soil waiting for things to sprout!

I don’t know about you, but I can’t always use up all the seeds that come in a packet.  After all, who needs 200 heads of lettuce?  Some I’ll be keeping to sow later in the season, some I’d like to pass along to gardening friends.  Since I have a project up my sleeve that will use the seed packets to document the garden season I needed a way to save the extra seeds and it needed to be pretty!  So I came up with some seed envelopes.  Hope you like them!  Click here to download the pdf.



footer for roost Chelsea Rogers has been cooking and crafting… and not cleaning up for as long as she can remember.  When she’s not making a mess, you can find her on Pretty Lulu and An Abundance of Apricots.

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Hello! I hope this finds you well and getting geared up for some gardening time this weekend.  Things here in the Ladybug world are in a bit of a kerfuffle (scientific term) – we had a neighbor dump debris on top of one of our new veggie garden beds and contaminate the soil with sawdust.  It was not malicious – he thought he was doing us a favor – and we had to explain that the chemicals from pressure treated wood are not something we want to amend the soil with. But to make lemonade out of lemons I’ve decided to give strawbale gardening a try…


Images from Erica Mulherin

I spent a good chunk of today sourcing some straw, and I’ll get going on building and conditioning the garden once the rain stops.  I’m looking forward to seeing how these work for me – I have some really poor soil in areas of my garden, but I want lots of fresh veggies!  I’ll keep you guys posted as to my progress!

Now it is time for me to let you know one of my deep dark secrets….I am the world’s worst seed starter.  Yes, yes, I know how much money I could save by starting seeds, and I can imagine how fulfilling the process must be, but not for me.  I prefer to direct sow seeds into the ground – morning glory, parsley, cosmos, sunflowers, nasturtiums…all of these I grow from seed.  And I put on a grand facade of being happy to buy my seedlings from local organic growers, and I am, of course, but for once I would like to successfully start my tomatoes from seed. This year, however, was not the year.  Spring hit us early and my business needed me more than my seeds did.  So I started late and have, so far, had zero germination.  I have friends with wonderful luck with seeds, and I follow their advice, but I think I need to simply come to terms with the fact that I have a seed black thumb!!

However, what would an organic gardening blog be without seed starting advice, even late in the season.  And what would I be without lots of resources to share with you!  First of all I suggest you ask around in your circle of friends.  See if you can group together to buy and start seeds – sometimes you end up with way more seedlings than one garden can deal with and it is nice to share the bounty.

Below is the basic idea of seed starting:

seed starting

Seed starting images from Fine Gardening, cow pots from CowPots

Here are some great places to visit for more in depth information on seed starting:

Fine Gardening Magazine – they have several articles and videos about seed starting

Vegetable Gardener -  a new find for me…I’m having fun checking out their tips and ideas

A Way to Garden – Margaret Roach is one of my favorite people and a wonderfully generous gardener.

Organic Gardening – Great resource, with a nice slide show showing the thinning out of seeds

Cornell University – Cornell is a constant resource in my gardening life…from apple tree advice to seed varieties and descriptions…do visit them & see for yourself

Do you have any seed starting tips or hints to share?  Did you overcome your fears of seed starting and now it is old news?  Share with me your secrets, dear readers! It is not too late for me to start some mid season veggies and I promise I will take any advice you can give!!

And now, for the requisite bit of Brit in our weekly chat.  This is becoming a habit I will have to break, before it truly becomes “a thing” I’ll  have to keep up with every week…if only Black Adder gardened…then I would never run out of Brit content to post….

Last week I promised you a project…and so in the spirit of seed starting, I would like to introduce you to Guerrilla Gardening and seed bombs.  I’m an active guerrilla gardener – and while I don’t make seed bombs often anymore, I have recently been re-inspired and have ordered the ingredients to make a whole bunch of them this weekend.

I use native seeds, and this year I will be focusing on native milkweeds to feed the monarch butterflies.

The primary thing to remember when making seed bombs is the ratio of five parts clay to one part seed and one part compost. Mix these together in a large bowl, slowly and carefully add water to combine them, then start to shape the mixture into balls. After about a day of drying they are ready to be thrown into abandoned lots or larger areas of land that has gone to the “weeds”!

seed bomb

Photos Gina Ferazzi/LA Times

I hope this will inspire you to think about areas in your neighborhood you can seed bomb.  It really is a fun way to interact with your environment, and as long as the plants you are bombing are natives, you won’t be doing any harm!

Have you ever guerrilla gardened?  Is there an area in your community that could use some attention?  Let’s meet in the comments and see if we can’t beautify the world, one seed bomb at a time!

Next week I have a fun project to share with you all!  Until then, happy gardening!!!

Caroline Finnegan owns Ladybug Landscaping, a full service organic landscaping company. based in CT. She is a NOFA accredited landcare professional and when not designing gardens can be found rearranging her furniture or out at a flea market finding new goodies. She almost always has dirt under her nails.

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