Blog

Gardening

The Pretty Compost from The Pretty Farmer

PrettyCompost

I have yet to find a compost that does not include weird things like lobster or shrimp shells, processed food, meats, chemicals, and funky unrecognizable ingredients. So I took it upon myself to make a 100% natural compost that is healthy for you and your plants!

So I created The Pretty Compost from The Pretty Framer. I have been drying out and grinding a new compost that is not just healthy, but smells like an Italian meal! It includes loads of discarded fruits, vegetables, egg shells and coffee grounds.

Gardeners just need to sprinkle in about 1/2 cup to each 2lbs of natural, organic soil for replanting flowers, food producing plants, bushes and even trees!

1lb 8oz. costs $16.00 but is well worth it.

Click HERE to purchase yours today!

Advertisements
Beekeeping, Gardening

Updated Version of Grow Shelves!

Updated-Growshelves

 

*Hello Friends – so I’ve updated my grow shelves! Click on links below to get a grow shelf and seeds all for under $100!!!!

Grow light shelves & Lights:
Lights – they’re great b/c they have both blue and red lights. Get zip ties to tie them down
Shoe rack:
Seedling trays:
Try to get seeds from another healthier seed source – non-GMO. Try Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds at www.rareseeds.com.
I keep the grow lights on from about 8am to about 7-8pm.
I cannot wait to re-plant my herbs and veggies! Waiting for Mother Nature to settle down. Am in CT so they suggest re-planting after Mother’s Day. I am currently growing Basil, Oregano, Cilantro, Cucumbers and Glass Corn – looking forward to tasting that!
*Disclaimer – This blog is based on my personal experiences. I am not getting paid or endorsed to promote products or services. Shop at your own intellectual expertise. Comments are welcome!
Beekeeping

Beginner Beekeepers, Are You ready For Your Hives?

BridgeportBees2
Beginner Beekeepers, if only I knew this all before my bees arrived! I see there are quite a few people who have written about Bee Mentors. They are few and far between. And this is mostly why… Remember, they are already Beekeepers tending to their own hives. During the ‘working months’, maintaining more hives than they signed up for can be exhauting and they have no ‘connection’ with them. So unless it’s a good friend, try to read books, find other or a local Beekeepers group and ask as many questions you can!
TAKE NOTES!
 
So Beginners read below, I hope this helps!
First: 
– WALK YOUR PROPERTY. HIVES MUST BE NEAR A WATER SOURCE AND FACING SOUTHEAST WITH AT LEAST 9-10 HOURS OF SUNSHINE. NO SHADY PLACES! UPLOAD A COMPASS APP TO YOUR PHONE, IT HELPS WHEN DOING THIS
 
– ABSOLUTE MUST: KEEP A BEE JOURNAL FOR EACH HIVE with detailed notes and occasional photos. Keep notes even if nothing seems to have ‘changed’. An active Queen has healthy brood patterns (where eggs are laid on each frame).
 
– DO NOT PAINT ANYTHING THAT IS INSIDE THE HIVE I.E. FRAMES, WALLS OF HIVE AND EVEN INSIDE TOP (CEILING) – IT MUST BE AS STERILE AS NATURE MADE IT
 
1 – bottom board, assembled and painted
2 – deep brood boxes w/frames (8 or 10 depending on their size) and plasticell foundation, assembled and painted
1 – medium depth super w/frames (8 or 10 depending on their size) and plasticell foundation, assembled and painted
1 – inner cover
1 – top cover, assembled and painted
1 – hive tool
1 – 4×7 smoker and fuel – best is dried twigs, dried leaves, dried wood chips (not dust or shavings), unbleached paper like paper bags, and unbleached or treated torn rags (i.e. old towels)
1 – Long nosed, fire lighter
1 – bee brush (optional)
1 – plastic queen excluder
1 – wooden hive entrance
1 – leather gloves
1 – Hat veil pullover combo or full suit
 
Additions:
– Large Rock to keep top closed from area predators, one for each hive
– separate shed for supplies near the hive – keeping things in your garage can discourage Beekeepers from going back and forth to hives and helps forgetfulness
 
Any other questions, you can email me directly at parkcityhoney@gmail.com
 
PLEASE KNOW I only write from my own experiences. I do not make recommendations on companies or brands and am not being paid for any of my writings. I am an independent Beekeeper with about 6 years experience under my belt. I am learning as I go and post/publish unbiased information as I feel it may help other Beekeepers.
Gardening

DIY Grow Shelves For Less Than $60!

GardenersSupplySunlightGarden
Gardeners Supply $599.00

 

Okay, I have seriously done a lot of research on Grow Shelves. Do you know what they are? They are the shelving units with grow lights usually for seedlings and food producing plants. They are great in the winter months and to jump start your garden in Spring.

However, some of the garden companies, because of the growing trends (no pun intended), are charging an arm and a leg! Funny enough when you look at them, they are not that hard to make. But someone like me, especially 3 years ago, would have bought in to it because I was a bit lazy back then.

So, how do you make your own Grow Shelf? All it requires are slotted shelves ranging from 2 tiers to 5. The slots in the shelf allows for you to secure the grow lights above the plants. So, yesterday I thought I’d buy a whole set of items that I could show my readers how to make one from scratch. The total cost is less than $60 (just for the shelves) where most can start at $199 (5 tiered shown above is $599) from gardening companies. Do the math, this article is worth reading!

So, I drove to Bed, Bath & Beyond, closest store near to me that I know of carries wooden shoe racks. You can get metal ones if you like, you can get them from IKEA (they’re metal shelves are cheaper than Home Depot). But they’re heavier and hard to move around. Woods the way to go. BBB’s wooden 3 tiered shelves were $14.99 each. So, I bought 2.

WoodenShoeRack
The parts all screw together and are pretty stable considering what you’re using it for. Middle shelf can be left out, too without compromising structure.

The next step is to purchase grow lights. These you can get at Home Depot. They start around $39.97 for the red-white lights and come in a variety of sizes and costs depending on what you require. The one I chose was the ‘2 ft. 2-Light 19-Watt White Full Spectrum LED Non-Dimmable Indoor Linkable Plant Grow Light Fixture, Daylight‘. Seriously, that’s the description! And get some 8″ or 11″ zip ties in either black or white to help secure the lights to the slotted shelves.

GrowlightsHomedepot
2 ft. 2-Light 19-Watt White Full Spectrum LED Non-Dimmable Indoor Linkable Plant Grow Light Fixture, Daylight – $39.97 from Home Depot online

So now you have more than half of what you need. While you are at Home Depot, stop by the garden area and get seeds to plant along with Jiffy Peat Strips (you can use pulp egg cartons too from your own kitchen) and some organic soil. As I wrote in my blog from earlier this week, get seeds of food producers and follow a Growth Calendar. Find your planting zone, both of these will help you figure out when to start and when to plant in the ground – very important! Mine is Zone 7 – CT – because I am in the Northeast of the United States.

For those of you who care about design, paint your wooden shelves before you install anything and let dry thoroughly. If you decide not to paint, the next step is to build your shelves. Screw everything in and let is stand. Then take the grow lights and secure them below the shelves with your zip ties, to glow above seedlings. Cut away the tail of the zip tie for safety.

Yesterday afternoon, I ended up planting 160 plants in about 12 halved recycled pulp egg cartons and 10 Jiffy Peat Strips. I planted Orange, Yellow, and Red bell peppers. I gathered these seeds directly from organic peppers I got directly from the grocery store. Personally I want to see if they were ‘organic’ and is they will actually grow. I got about 75-95 seeds from each pepper – no kidding! So we planted about 3-4 dried seeds in each little pocket with organic soil PLUS homemade compost from my new electric counter composter by No Food Waste. Love, love, love! I think it’s my favorite new electric gadget! We work it at least twice a day! Plus I get to control what goes in to my compost!

FoodCycler

So, I planted 160 plants which included bell peppers and Basil, Basil Lettuce, Gigantic Green Jalapeños (Hot), Yellow Lime Jalapeños, Paprika Jalapeños, and Nanedos Jalapeños – apparently they’re sweeter and mild. All of these fabulously strange seeds I bought through www.rareseeds.com from the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company in Mansfield, MO. Their catalogue is 145 pages with almost every known fruit and vegetable in the world – it’s definitely a fascinating read!

Okay, so, yesterday there was a lot of coordinating and standing over these small pulp pots squeezing small seeds into small holes. It was exhausting. About an hour for seeding then about another 30 minutes to water the seeds with vegetable and fruit plant food. This is an important step and purchase. There are many plant foods out there. There is organic plant food from smaller companies and many plant foods that are not. There are also plant foods with shrimp and lobster shells. So if you have any sort of sensitivities, please consider what is going into your plants. Read the ingredients AND the directions, every step is a game changer and not all plant foods are the same!

seedlings-watering
This wooden shoe shelf is missing its middle shelf. We did this for the basil plants for when they start growing higher.

Yesterday was Day 1. The lights were on for about 12 hours. I turned them off when I went to bed around 11pm. Today I turned on the lights around 9am and watered them with straight water. It’s 11pm now, the lights are being turned off.

This will continue in a few more blogs, I’ll be recording the growth of my plants until I am ready to plant them in the ground.

Until tomorrow, sleep tight and grow safely!

This article covers items I have personally purchased and use myself. I have not been paid to write about or endorse any products. These are my genuine thoughts. If you choose to purchase these items, please ask all questions to the companies that sell them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gardening

Is It Time To Start Planting Seedlings?

Vegetables

So, it’s almost time to start planting your seedlings. Seedlings are basically the starter plant for your Spring/Summer vegetable and fruit garden(s). You can purchase older plants from local nurseries if this step scares you but you should try it at least once to know how the process goes.

A seedling calendar goes according to your Zone or area of the United States. For instance, I live in CT and my zone is 7. That indicates what flourishes in my area so I don’t waste my time on temperate plants or even trees like Avocado and Fig. They are just too fussy, you have to drag them inside when the temps start falling below 50F!

In CT, local nurseries usually suggest planting your growing seedlings the day after Mother’s Day in May. This way you will have had the last frost under your belt. However, across the United States, especially in Southern States, the calendar could be far more open to plant all year round.

So, according to the CT seedling calendar, here is what you should be planting in a few weeks:

eksSEED-GROWING-CALENDAR

Now the next calendar will help you for end of frost dates according to towns/cities near you. Click link below.

https://www.ufseeds.com/learning/planting-schedules/connecticut-vegetable-planting-calendar/

This Spring/Summer, I plan to plant tomatoes, jalapeños, beets, bell peppers, cucumbers, and all sorts of herbs like oregano, thyme, rosemary, and basil. I am staying away from lettuces, I have no confidence of my watering skills. Maybe next year!

Happy planting!

The Pretty Farmer!

Follow us on FB for more tips, stories and fun videos at https://www.facebook.com/theprettyfarmer.

Next Blog will cover Companion Gardening – this covers ways to use plants as natural insecticides and more!

In The Chicken Coop

Want To Start Raising Backyard Chickens? Meet Becky First…

Thinking about raising your very own chickens? I have to say I have had chickens for about 2 months now and they are so fun to watch, interact with and collect eggs from! My chickens are providing me with enjoyment and even some emotional therapy. When I have a bad day, seriously, I just go down to their coop which instantly brings me joy. They are the funniest animals. ‘Red’ who is a New Hampshire Red Chicken, meets me at the door, follows me around, pecks at my painted toes and my bracelets when I lean over to fill the feeder or watering cans. Right now, she’s my love!

Of course this is a new project for me. I had been thinking of chickens right after I became a Beekeeper but felt it was too much to handle all at once. So here we are, 4 1/2 years later with chickens! I now have 19 chickens – 12 older ones which are starting to lay. The other 7 are small birds, kept in a smaller, fenced off coop. This keeps them safe from the others because of their age. The ‘Pecking Order’ – which means a social hierarchy – literally does exist within a chicken coop and I personally don’t want to see it or find out what happens with Chicken Bullying!

At night, when everyone starts to tuck in, I start pinning on Pinterest.com, Googling, and researching ways to keep my chickens healthy, happy, entertained, and above all else, laying – hopefully all will start soon! One on-line character I have come across is Becky from Becky’s Homestead. She’s a Homesteader. She’s quirky, nice to listen to and watch. Her knowledge is pretty good, I find, so it’s not hard for me to follow her. She makes raising chickens sound fun, interesting and not necessarily a challenge like most large chicken yard Farmers will make it out to be. If you are raising and growing your own food, it’s always nice to have a Youtube video at your fingertips to help – even at 1 am!

Thinking about raising chickens I ask? Watch Becky, she’s fabulous!

Direct link to 3 Quick Tips to Raising Backyard Chickens.

 

 

 

Gardening, Yummy Recipes

My ‘Patio Pesto’ Empire

The Park City Honey Co. (PCHC) started this summer off with a big bang at the local farmers markets! We are a different kind of company by supporting local at-risk youth from Bridgeport – only! They are girls ages 16 to 30 years of age and we teach them all about food production, prep and service in my cafe at 130 John Street in Bridgeport, CT.

Not only do they help make the food, we sit down and plan menus together. But this summer is different. This summer I secured a tent in local farmers markets to sell food that they make in the cafe. This is not only an income earning opportunity for the cafe and my company, PCHC, but for them as well. They not only get their hourly wages but earn 20% commission on all goods sold. WOW! Yes, 20% commission – who does that any more? Well, WE DO! It provides incentive, learning new techniques in the kitchen and most of all self confidence in their cooking and sales abilities.

I became a Beekeeper about 5 years ago on a dare. It was a great risk I took and now it has changed my life completely. Not only am I aware and very in tune with their green environment, I have been growing my own vegetables and herbs out of necessity offering my bees a variety of plants to pollinate – especially Basil. And I love basil! I love it on everything. And I love Pesto!

A few weeks ago in preparation of these markets I decided to make Pesto from the plants I grow on my patio. Well, why not? They are fresher than fresh, have not been sprayed with any chemicals and have all the sun and water they need to thrive! So I picked them almost clean, leaving all of the smaller to medium leaves to generate new leaves for the upcoming weeks. My leaves only yielded about 6 of 6oz pots for the market to sell. I was hoping and praying customers would like it so it could go in our fridge at the cafe for sale.

Well, wouldn’t you know it – we sold the 6 pots in less than an hour! Now this Pesto is special. It’s a little spicy from the freshness of the fresh picked leaves and has very little salt. It tastes very natural and healthy. Sooooo…we sold out for the Saturday market, now, what to do for Sunday’s market? I drove to the nearest nursery and bought 18 more plants, pots and 4 bags of organic soil. I was snickering all the way to the register waiting for anyone to ask me what I was up to! Who the hell buys this much basil?!!! I do! I saw the opportunity to make a fresh product our customers would enjoy so I took that ball and ran with it.

Soooo…my little Patio Pesto(c) Empire was born. I picked the new leaves off and made 10 pots for Sunday’s market – ALL SOLD IN 2 HOURS! WOW!!!!

Our girls were over the moon with sales which has inspired them to make their very own fresh products for the markets and the cafe. It’s a glorious feeling when you bring good food for a good cause to the table for your family and friends to enjoy.

Make it today and let us know what it tastes like to you!

Patio Pesto Recipe:

2 cups Fresh Basil

1/3 cup Pine Nuts

1/2 Parmesan Cheese (to taste)

2-3 Cloves of Garlic (to taste)

1/4 Tsp Kosher Salt (to taste)

1/4 Tsp of Fresh Ground Pepper (to taste)

1/2 Cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

In food processor, place basil and pine nuts together. Pulse until chopped. Wipe down sides and add the remaining ingredients, chop on High for 30 seconds to a minute. Ready to serve.

Please comment with your thoughts! Would love to hear form you! Or visit us at The Park City Honey Co. Cafe at 130 John Street, Bridgeport, CT 06604. 203-333-3353.