The Sprouts Are Taking Over!

Okay, not really but it is kind of fun to look around our apartment and see things sprouting in almost every windowsill and on top of our dresser.

We are now under a “safer at home” directive in our county, which means that all non-essential businesses have been asked to close for at least 7 days. My Target gig sent out a memo saying that we were still being allowed to service our stores but could opt out without any repercussions if we did not feel safe going into them. Right now, I feel okay about it; however, my sister was sent by her employer to be tested yesterday. She works in a grocery store and they have reason to believe she may have been exposed (and she is exhibiting symptoms similar to bronchitis). The doctor advised her to stay home for 4 days while she awaits the test results. Right now, she’s in good spirits, just relaxing and watching Netflix. (In case you’re wondering, my sister lives an hour and a half away and we have not seen her since February 10th – so we’re good here.)

In a lot of ways, we aren’t really feeling the impact of having to stay home. We pretty much stay home anyway. But we are missing our niece and nephew. They are too little to understand what’s going on and just want Meme and Monkey (that’s what our niece calls Angie) to take them to the playground.

Why does she call Angie Monkey?? Because it was the first word Angie taught her so she has always associated the name with Angie. And also because Angie LOVES monkeys (and bananas). Plus, it probably didn’t help that we (the adults) all liked it so much that we started calling her Monkey too – just maybe not in public. 🙂

In the meantime, we’ve been building a playground of sorts in the backyard – a playground for plants that is. A few weeks ago, we built a raised bed next to our blackberry bushes and garlic. Over the weekend, we finished the space (or at least finished what we can right now).

A lot of the materials for this project were sourced from the creek. You see, last fall, Angie and I decided to clean up the creek that runs behind my mom’s house. The creek does not belong to us but we do have to look at it (and we figured that the factory that now owns the property probably cared less about it than we do) so we adopted it. We pulled out all sorts of trash, cut branches and barbed wire, and removed a lot of old cattle panels that had fallen across the creek bed and were collecting trash. We saved the cattle panels to use as trellises and we started removing some of the rocks to allow the water to flow better. The result – we now have a tiny waterfall!!

Our newly cleaned up creek.

We used the rocks as a border for our new garden area and filled in the walkways with mulch that we bought in “busted bags” for half price at Lowe’s. When the garlic is harvested in June, we plan to mulch the rest of the space and add a couple of tubs for growing potatoes. The area with the small trellis is for our peas.

If all goes well weather-wise tomorrow, we’re going to put our cool weather crops in the raised bed – onions, radishes, kale, and spinach.

Have you started your seeds or garden projects yet? How are you adjusting to staying home (if you are also under a safer at home advisory)?

Using YouTube in the Garden

I’ve been on Facebook since 2008. Before that, I had a profile on MySpace. I’ve tweeted, snap-chatted, and once I even used Skype to call my mom from the jungles of Costa Rica. While I’m not the most social person in real life, I’ve always been an early adopter of social media and connectivity apps…except when it comes to YouTube. I can’t tell you why, but for the longest time I practically loathed the platform. Maybe it was Justin Bieber or the plethora of videos of people doing really stupid things, I don’t know. I always thought of YouTube as the Craigslist of social media – a place where people just posted junk.

Then I found Tiny House Tours. It was on YouTube, of all places! And I wanted to watch it. So I did. And that led me down a rabbit hole of discovery – from vanlife videos to beginner beekeeping. Both YouTube and I have come a long way in the past 15 years and I’m okay admitting that it’s pretty much my go-to site now when I want to learn something new. I’ve used other people’s experience to help me fix a vacuum cleaner, change the oil in our lawn tractor, create a sourdough starter, plant garlic, prepare more recipes than I can count, cut Angie’s hair, and DIY my way out of so many situations it’s not even funny.

I’m sharing this little story right now because I was about to sit down and write a post about seed starting and building a raised bed garden when I realized that 100% of the things we’ve done this week on both those fronts came directly from YouTube. I’d love to take credit for these lovely ideas, but alas, they are not mine, so I will credit the folks I borrowed them from.

Self-watering Mason Jar Planters

On Saturday, we restarted our lettuces and a dwarf kale in self-watering mason jars on the windowsill. We borrowed this idea from Kevin and Sarah at Living Traditions Homestead and adapted it a little to save money. The tiny pots came from Dollar Tree (8 for $1) and I drilled a few holes in the bottom with a Dremel. The “wick” is an old cotton t-shirt. So far, the dirt has stayed moist. Lettuce pray that the seeds germinate and we have an entire windowsill full of greens! You can watch the full video here.

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A $10 Raised Bed Garden

On Sunday, we ventured outside to get started on our $10 raised bed garden. This idea was borrowed from Stivers Homestead, and honestly, neither Angie or I had thought of using fencing for the sides of a raised bed before. But…it was perfect! Each piece cost $1.60 and is 6 feet long, which worked out great for hauling them in our tiny car. The result – 18 square feet of additional garden space! We put our own compost on the bottom of the bed and covered it with topsoil. When we get ready to plant, we’ll add some additional gardening soil to the bed. You can watch the full video here.

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Recycled Seed Starters

And then there’s this nifty little idea that we borrowed from Thrifty Fun – recycling toilet paper tubes into seed pots. You can watch that short video here.

We started all of our tomato, pepper and cabbage seeds in these little pots and parked them under the grow lights. Hopefully, they grow! If not, I guess I can blame it on YouTube.

What YouTube channels do you enjoy watching? What cool ideas have you found there?