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!

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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!
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!

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.

 

 

 

 

Gardening

Essentially Oiled

 

I have been researching how to keep my garden bug free. It’s almost impossible to do it without adding harmful chemicals. I cannot use harsh chemicals for the perfect tomatoes as I have bees and bees drink whatever local water source they have, bring it back to the hive, then the hive reacts. Now, we can only imagine what chaos that would create within the hive – deformities, illness, and even death to the Queen. Anyone remember the 25 million bees that dies in South Carolina a few years ago? ‘Like It’s Been Nuked’ article in The Washington Post tells the story of some idiots who got their Zika mosquito spray timing wrong!

*Neem Oil. What is it? It’s the miracle essential oil. Neem oil is a vegetable oil pressed from the fruits and seeds of the neem, an evergreen tree which is endemic to the Indian subcontinent and has been introduced to many other areas in the tropics. It can be used domestically like clearing your skin to keeping pests off your basil plants! Sold on-line and in stores for gardening at Amazon.com or cosmetic use at Mountain Rose Herbs, it should be kept in your garden supply shed or bathroom shelf for everyday use.

There are a few draw backs of Neem Oil. Exposure, consumption, and overall topical usage should be researched by individuals with sensitivities. For gardening, read the labels and ask questions to the seller. For more information on benefits and drawbacks go to the National Pesticide Information Center (click link for article).

Here are a few websites that cover Neem Oil uses.

Eco Friendly Neem Oil Pesticide, click link

All About Neem Oil, cosmetic usage, click link


* This article was written by Alexandra Wallace-Currie. It is merely to make aware of Neem Oil’s existence. Research into Neem Oil should be done thoroughly before usage.

 

 

Beekeeping, Gardening

The Pretty Farmer Recommends…

 

Hello Friends –

I rarely do this, but I am writing about 2 companies that really stand out within the Beekeeping world and a brand garden ‘must-have’ you eventually will never live without – The GROWOYA.

I rarely name resources but these 2 were indispensable within my journey this Spring/Summer, they are well worth passing on to you all!

PLEASE UNDERSTAND – I am NOT getting anything from these mentions – at all! These are 2 companies I have developed relationships with and love love love their products!

First, looking for a Beekeeper who knows his ‘SHIT‘? Featured a few years back and named the ‘Bee Whisperer’ of CT is Mike Rice from Mike’s Beehives. I have met quite a few people in this industry and was so blown away by not only his understandings of the Bee, but his handmade QUALITY equipment he manufactures in his garage in Roxbury, CT.

Mike holds three patents on 3 new devices for the survival of bees during tough times, i.e. Winter and early Spring. I have purchased and tried 2 of them, I am waiting for the third in which I will install in November to give my bees a better chance to proper winterization in the Northeast of the United States.

His website is www.mikesbeehives.com and his email is mikesbeehives@gmail.com. Remember, there is no such thing as a dumb question. We all want to do our part in the survival of this fantastic animal and he knows the way!

Second, is GROWOYA. Think of them as miracle vessels in your garden. They are clay pots that get buried between your plants. Simple as that. However, have you ever left your home for a long weekend and forgot to water your herbs and tomatoes? Here is the simple solution.

Slowly releasing water within the soil where they are planted, these clay devices save water, ease the pain of even remembering if you even watered the plants, and are tech savvy they’ll be the conversation of any garden party! They come in 3 sizes: Small, Medium, and Large. Costs vary between $24.95 to $39.95. They are worth every penny!!! My basil plants have tripled in size in just 2 weeks!

If you do visit or speak to their representatives, please tell them Alex from The Park City Honey Co. says they ROCK!

Sincerely,

The Pretty Farmer / Alexandra Wallace-Currie