How to harden off seedlings

If you've been growing your seedlings indoors for the past few months like I have, then I'm sure you're also anxiously counting the days until you can plant them outside. I've been hardening off my seedlings for about two weeks now, which is an important step before they can go into the garden. Transplanting them without first hardening off can result in damaged and struggling plants.

Plants on porch getting used to outside weather, aka hardening off.

To harden off seedlings is to gradually expose them to the environment they will be living in. Even though you may have your seedlings growing under bright grow lights inside your house, they are nowhere near ready for a full sun garden! They are also probably weaker than they should be.

Why harden off seedlings?

Lets face it, the climate inside your house isn't too exciting. No sudden winds, no rain, no temperature fluctuations and no burning sun. Outside though, well that's another story entirely...and that is exactly what we need to get these plants ready for.

8 Flowers you need in your vegetable garden

Many people plant flowers in their vegetable garden. There are lots of reasons to do this from companion planting, attracting pollinators to them just being pretty! I've been doing it for as long as I've gardened. Honestly, I never liked marigolds all that much, but my Pappap said you had to plant them in the garden so I have for the last 30 years. He was right!

Many gardeners find that they can discourage harmful pests, without losing the beneficial allies by just adding flowers. Flowers also add visual interest because vegetable plants are mostly green. There is honestly not a lot of color in cucumber, bean, pea or broccoli plants! (just to name a few) Planting flowers amid the tomatoes is a good way to dip your toes into the pool of companion planting.

Companion planting is placing different plants close together that enhance each other's growth, discourage pests and diseases, or have some other beneficial effect. Companion planting can be an important part of an integrated pest management system.

Seed bombs and other nature crafts for Earth Day!

Normally when Earth Day rolls around I busy myself with making changes inside the house to celebrate Earth Day. Getting myself some reusable bags or dryer balls is a great way to make my carbon footprint smaller year round. This year though, I'm over being inside the house! I wanted to do an activity that could take me outdoor instead! I decided to make seed bombs and throw them around on earth day.

Seed ball tutorial

Seed bombs are balls of compost or soil and flower seeds held together with a bit of clay. Once these seed bombs dry you can take them outside and toss them wherever you want flowers to grow! When they hit the ground they pop open (if you toss them) and when it rains they start germinating. 

Even if they don't break when they land, the seeds will still germinate in the next rain and plant themselves wherever they land. I happen to live in the woods so I'm going to throw them in all the open areas so maybe something besides wild blackberries and pokeweed will grow! lol

This is not to encourage guerrilla gardening, though if you do use seed bombs on an area you don't own make sure to use the seeds of native wildflowers not invasive species. I wouldn't advise anything like that, but if some of them were to make their way into empty lots that are overgrown with weeds...well, it might look pretty. (says the girl who used to live in the city next to a lot filled with weeds! Yes, it would have looked pretty!)

Skin healing hand butter DIY

How many times have you washed your hands this week? If it's anything like me, well...I lost track long ago! One of the problems with washing your hands so often though is it depletes the skin's natural oils making the skin dry. Skin this dry requires a seriously moisturizing cream. Unfortunately when we can't run to the store for every single thing and we're out of hand cream what do we do? Make our own! 

Hand lotion recipe

I know now is not exactly the time to run out shopping for ingredients either so I'm using what I have on hand. I'll link to where ya'll can order the same ingredients online. I will also list several options in case you have one type of butter or oil but not another. 

I wish I could use super common ingredients like coconut oil, but I just don't like it for this type of project.

I used to have a love affair with coconut oil, just like everybody else did for a while there. Unfortunately it's too greasy on my skin. Maybe in the winter I could get away with using it, but any other time of year it felt like it just didn't sink into my skin. I felt like I constantly had slimy, oily skin.

Now that's not for things like my burn salve because in that instance you want them to stick around for awhile and not sink right into the skin. Salves have a bit of protective quality to them, like a barrier on your skin. Lotions and creams though need to sink in to do their job. 

How to plant an indoor succulent garden

I love having plants in every room of my house and succulents are my new favorites. I happened to buy a few really tiny succulents last month and decided to make a mini garden for them. I've been growing more succulents lately because they are basically the perfect house plant since they require so little care. All you have to do is water them once a week or even less and they'll be happy!

Tutorial for succulent bowl garden.

Succulents grow pretty slowly as far as houseplants go. This is great if you want to put them into little terrariums, succulent gardens, fairy gardens or even small wall planters. Since they grow slowly they don't outgrow their container too quickly, so they won't need repotted often.

I had a plastic bowl I wanted to use for this project. It's from the dollar tree, though many other retailers carry these. Planting succulents in a solid bowl is a little more difficult that a traditional pot with drainage holes. Since water can't escape the bowl you need to be very careful about not over watering your succulents.