Realistic Gardening

Real Life Gardening


I never thought it would go this long between blog post, but I said from the beginning that my family will come first. We have been struggling for a few months with E, but are on our road to a happier and calmer life since we discovered some food intolerances. There were many times I wanted to write, but I was so overwhelmed with searching for ways to make E feel better; that there was no time for other things. Even my garden got planted almost a month later that I would have liked, but I know I will not regret taking time to spend with her.


What gardening looks like in my world……….I consider waking up at dawn so I could get about an hour of work in before E wakes up. But 5:30 comes and it sleeps so well at the moment so I sleep till I am awaken by E banging on her bedroom door. So, till I get the dogs, E and I fed, clean up the house, do some laundry and have a bit of playtime; its E’s naptime, most days she goes down at 10:30 and sleeps till around 1:30 so that will leave me with around 2-3 uninterrupted hours to do all that I planned to do in 12 hours, from planting, trimming, weeding and spraying. I work thru the hunger, thirst and sometimes rain to get done what I had plaIMG_6629.JPGnned before E wakes up.

If E sees me doing anything in the gardens she tries to imitate me; let’s be honest a toddler’s imitation of work is in no way like an adult actual doing something. E will see me trim a plant so she goes along stomping on the little pl
ants, I guess in her eyes she is trimming them. I plant a flower and here she come dragging a freshly planted flower across the patio. She sees me mulch then precedes to throw mulch EVERYWHERE, on her, the walks, the dogs and in the grass; anywhere but the flowerbed. I love that she is not afraid to get dirty and the fact that she loves anything to do with the outdoors, but there are some days we stay inside either because the weather is bad or we don’t have another 4 outfits to make it thru the day. The smartest decision I made for her, was that most of her summer wardrobe is in solids of black, navy and brown, hence no staining is noticeable! I have all these cute pastel colored outfits that I couldn’t wait to wear on her, but with all the gardens around here we stay with the dark colors choices. Even when we go to church she manages to find her way into the landscape there

Currently in my gardens ………..I am mulching and planning to redo the boundary line bed due to weeds that take over. I am working on researching the best solution for that area now and hope to have it redone by the fall, I am thinking pine trees, flowering trees and shrubbery and ferns to fill on the gaps. Also I am hinting pretty loudly to neighbor that I would appreciate his pile of topsoil off our property, it has been there for 4 years and we really didn’t care at the moment and we do get to use it when ever needed, but in order to complete my vision for the boundary bed it needs to go.

Dream Big All The Time, It Will Benefit You!

Let me know what you want to hear more about, I am hoping to do a biweekly post during this growing season to share with you what I am working on.


Till next time,



Spring Has Sprung!!!!!


Spring has arrived, not with the warm sunny weather like I was hoping for, but hey it’s here and now we can hopefully get rid of this white stuff called ‘SNOW’ and start gardening.

I took a trip to the Philadelphia Flower Show last week and I was amazed at the beauty of it all. I was a bit over whelmed and my allergies where in full, “I hate hyacinth” mode till I left but I still enjoyed it. I talked to an air plant grower and he gave me some very informative info as to why I kill air plants and orchids. I am testing his methods so stay tuned for more on that later. In the meantime, enjoy some of these pictures I captured to share with you.



I am also in full spring seedlings mode here at my house. I started lettuce seeds two weeks ago and I am now transplanting them to trays. Last week I started broccoli and some of my cut flowers and those are also ready to be transplanted but I am already running short in room here in my basement, so I am waiting until I give my sisters some extra seedlings I have here. . I will walk you thru step by step how I do my spring seedling growing.

I start the seeds in a seeding tray that I got at my brother’s produce supply store, I set this tray on a shelf close to the woodstove, since it is so warm there they are sprouting within a few days, once the seedlings are about an inch tall they are ready for the next step. (but if your seeds are direct seeded you skip this next step)

IMG_5844.JPG  IMG_5845.JPG

I have the tray on the left row seeded to get more variety in a tray and the tray on the right is scatter seeded so there are two ways you can do this, prefer the row seeding because transplanting is easier.


I take the plants out of the seedling tray and separate them into single plants and plant them in 1204 trays, which hold 48 plants. (I got these at my local greenhouse, they have been good with selling me empty trays for my gardening adventures.) Once the baby seedlings are in these trays I put them in the cooler part of the basement under a grow light until it is warm enough take them outside. I usually do this around mid to end of April. All you must do now is keep them watered. I usually keep some seedlings aside to fill in where some died, this usually happens in the first week for me.



IMG_5843The final step is to plant them in the garden for cold crops, I plant them end of April, you could do it earlier but every time I try that I end up losing plants to the frost. I used to cover them over night and uncover during the day but I soon realized I didn’t have a crop earlier, then if I waited a bit longer to plant.

Note: I direct seed bigger seeds directly into 1204 trays so I don’t have to transplant them later, but some seeds such as lettuce and broccoli are so tiny so I do the transplanting method as mentioned above. Now for peppers, tomatoes and squash seeds I direct seed them directly into 1204 trays since the seeds are so large I can easily handle the seeds with my fingers.

I also had to share what real life is with plants everywhere and a toddler underfoot. I came in from hanging out laundry to find E quickly trying to stuff a plant back in the tray, but the pot is in her toy bin, dirt is everywhere. (Deep Breaths Mama) I clean that up to turn around and she is outside in the snow barefooted, no jacket; so the conclusion is that she has figured out how to open the patio door. I guess all doors will have to be locked at all times! She love the outdoors, plants and dirt just like her mama, so this summer could be fun and a learning experience for both of us. I already can see her come running to me all smiles and  excited about her pretty flower she found, and its one I just planted!

Till Next Time…..



Life, Forcing Blooms & a Flower Bouquet

I was trying to post at least every two weeks, but out of these last two months there was only one week without a sick, teething baby, I have seen my share of snot, rashes and tantrums to last me awhile! :/  I have been in survival mode for a month now, so there was no post happening on this end. Thankfully I am caught up on life and school work for a few days so enjoy my recent experiment and flower arrangement.


I was always intrigued by the method of forcing blooms, I never took the time to try it until this year. I was outside cleaning up my yard and planning my picket fence area, YES!!! I am getting a picket fence and a larger garden area along with a more organized herb garden and back yard. I noticed the black pussy willow was almost blooming, so I had to cut a bouquet and added some forsythia twigs and took them in the house to see what happens. I also read somewhere that putting stems in water like this may force stems to start a root system so if I get lucky these will become bushes for that embankment area of my yard. The picture to the right shows the difference in these twigs in just a week, I will confess some of the forsythia twigs were dead so only three stems bloomed out of the five I cut.

Friends, Go clip those twigs and see what starts blooming!



For a colorful finish.……………….

A friend asked me to do a flower bouquet for her Grandma’s birthday so I took an early morning drive to Lancaster Central Market to see Rose at Rohrer’s Family Farm stand. If you need a few stems of flowers they are the people to see. I was able to created this beautiful bouquet with only 12 stems of flowers and greens.

I love going to market the coffee, flowers, coffee, oh did I mention the coffee? 🙂

While I was doing these projects, I remembered seeing beautiful glass bowls on Pinterest with tulips growing. Next week I want to start those. Stay tuned for that post….

Till Next Time,


Spring Fever

I was recently self diagnosed with spring fever. How many of you are with me? I want to get out there and start digging in the soil, but the one year I did start gardening in February I froze so many cold crops. (cold crops can not take cold weather as their description may claim, lol) I have since learned my lesson; indoor gardening only until March.


This week I spent a day at the Pa Farm Show, and they had an actual greenhouse there filled with different plants. I could have spent so much time there and got lots of brochures to read, but before I got to them the smallest reader in this house soaked them with water. Which wasn’t a big deal but I wasn’t sure if the water came from the zippy cup or the toilet. So there went my stack of fun! While at the farm show we went thru the butterfly house. E was so impressed yet kinda fearful of these fluttery bugs. She liked watching them but if her hands got within reach she grabbed them and tried to smash them. 😦 We did manage to get one on her head for a pretty picture, she was not sure about this photo prop.


This warmer weather we are having these last two days is not making my spring fever better, so this morning I took all the basement plants outside, trimmed some of them and gave them a good soaking with the garden hose. Did you know you can kill your plants, by having them covered with dust and spider webs? They are air cleaners and imagine not cleaning your air filters. Since we have a wood stove in a basement the plants down there tend to get pretty dusty till spring finally rolls around, so every day we have above freezing, maybe more like above 40 degrees; I take them outside and give them a shower. I have this awesome gardening shelf in the basement that my plants love. In the fall before I composted my planters I took cuttings of all the coleus, begonias, bloodleaf, streptacarpella and purple heart. I put these cuttings in water until they had roots; then they got planted in soil. They thrived by the patio door, so much so that I had to cut another 6 inches off them. Trimming also forces the plant to get bushier which is the type of plants we often see at greenhouses. I have 54 plants of these plants that will be in my planters and flowerbeds come springtime. I was thinking of the money saved on plants but then realized, wait this means I can buy so much more……:)

The pictIMG_4309.JPGure to the left has closeups of the contents of my gardening shelf, the top is random house plants I am trying to get bigger as statement plants for the kitchen, the next two shelves are the cuttings I was talking about earlier and the last shelf has my succulent bowls, I have them pictured in my previous post about Succulents. So far E has left this shelf alone no plants have died because of her yet, but I have learned that the pretty pebbles in the succulent planters also make good teething toys. :/ I am still trying to get her to understand that they are not a toy and she may not put them in her mouth.

Till next time……



IMG_4048.JPGI love a pretty African violet sitting on my sink windowsill. My love for them stems from visiting my grandma, she always had lots of pretty violets, until she got older and forgot how to properly care for them. She would over feed them with miracle grow fertilizer which is a huge mistake you end up with a nice green plant but no flowers. You do need to use a special violet fertilizer. Some people even get the special soil; I never did and still have decent violets. I water mine every week with the violet fertilizer and they usually have a week to a month break before they start blooming again. I love visiting Esbanshade’s Greenhouse in Lititz to see their pretty violets. My recent one from them was a dark burgundy, which pairs perfectly with my purple with a white edged ruffle.

IMG_4044.JPGAlthough every time my purple one blooms the flowers are different, sometimes they are white or lavender or just plain purple. I have no idea why it changes but I do like the surprise every time it blooms. My mom has 2 windowsills filled with African Violets, she is the type of person that can’t throw out a leaf she has to stick it in soil and start another plant. Some people even create new colors by splitting a stem and propagating it together with a stem from a violet in a different color. I am not that ambitious, I want a full plant right away. (I know Ms. Impatient here). I had recently moved my violets to a full sun window because I had Christmas décor on my sink window sill where I normally have them, BIG MISTAKE! I totally fried them so I had to go to my Mom’s violets to get pretty pictures for this blog post. :/

IMG_4046.JPGSo the lesson here is always have your violets in indirect sunlight. Or don’t move the plants when you redecorate, I am not sure which is more important here. I tend to go a bit overboard when I redecorate and totally redo everything, which is what happened today, I was trying to hold on to the Christmas decor till after we have our last Holiday celebration and I couldn’t do it. Things had to go back to normal. So before I go down that path I better finish this post and call it a night.

Also to add to this; the last time I visited my parents mom gave me a pink violet with a rosette style flower, I can’t wait till it blooms so I can share it with you. If you love color in middle of the winter the African violet is perfect for you!

Till next time,


A bit about me….

I currently reside on a 2-acre property in South Central Pennsylvania with my husband J, daughter E and 2 pups D and R. I love this heading photo of the three of us that was shot by the wonderful Diane at DI images, she did our first Christmas as a family of 3 photo shoot, we left the pups at home because they tend to get to crazy when we take them out in public.

On to the purpose of this blog……

I LOVE gardening…. to me it is not a chore but a stress reliever. My husband never understood that until he saw me hack down a bunch of bushes with a shovel (yes, it is possible), I think he may have been a bit fearful of me since. I thrive to make our property a perfect little homesteaders haven, but it is still lacking a flock of chickens, a few pigs and steers; oh and of course the cats. Wait we need a barn first, right? (Poor J) I have worked in greenhouses and nurseries most of my working career, except for a brief stint as a one room schoolhouse teacher, (I learned that year that I prefer plants even more than a room full of 27 children ranging from age 6 to 15). I also worked as a cook for a year, and then went on to a few years as a pharmacy technician; also another one of my favorite jobs was a credit union teller. I am currently a stay at home mom, and a part time student to earn my Bachelors degree in Business Administration.

My first job was at the age of 13 at my cousin’s greenhouse, I learned so much in my 5 years there, ferns can grow pretty much anywhere, you can even take a hack saw to the roots and it will survive. (Please do not try this unless you have confidence in your green thumb). In a greenhouse I was at home, in my safe place, I could lose myself for hours and feel totally refreshed when I was done at the end of the day. I loved helping customers pick out the perfect plants for their sunny yet shaded area that nothing grows, (yes please challenge accepted). I grew up in western Pa. so my first job was in that area. We sold so many HUGE fern baskets and no planter was alike, the more creative the better, I mean really we did fairy gardens and succulents  before they were cool, instead of having all this cute furniture available like we do now, we made our own. Creativity was pretty much the theme unless we did the cemetery planters for Memorial Day then we had a certain selection of plants we went with.

When I moved to Lancaster, Pa. area I was shocked how boring the planters were, instead of huge fern, coleus, begonia and ivy planters we did 25 in one plant variety, 20 more in another and so on, (seriously what is this?) I was so confused by this method, and was even more surprised that they sold! I could feel my creativity start to quake and shrivel, but then on occasion we could splurge and do what ever we desired to with a planter! (Happy dance, I can live again). I also learned in my years of working in greenhouses that most people working there have no idea what growing region certain plants require and so on, so before you believe the people working there do your own research or in this case “know your grower”. With this being said there are some places that have very well informed people employed within their premises.

And on to more about me……

When we first moved to our current home I was not at all concerned about the interior of the house, I was more interested in the landscape and the potential it had, so it was a snowy day in March and some of our family was here to help us prepare to move in. Instead of having them clean or paint the interior, we were outside cutting down trees, shrubs and pulling out a huge bed of ivy (who would every plant this stuff). Sorry family, arborvitae is not a cool shrub and a falling apart brick planter will not be ok, it needs to go.


We also had a huge garden but it was so boring, just a square in the grass so we eventually added a raised garden that a few years later became a bigger semi raised garden because I wanted more square footage to grow more vegetables after our daughter was born. (More pics to come in future post). I had dreams of feeding her organic beets and so on, but then I became a realistic Mom and fed her crackers (JK, she loves her veggies;).  We also used our old paneling basement walls and made a raised herb garden that also contains my rhubarb, strawberries, asparagus, and garlic. This is where I plant my perennial edible plants, and where my earliest spring crops are planted since it is right outside the basement door (easy accessible, I maybe lazy). The first 6 years of living on our property I changed an garden area every summer, this past year when I was pregnant was the only year nothing changed. When my daughter was 6 months old I was mowing the yard and got tired of mowing around all the trees, and tree stumps in our front yard so here we go making more landscape areas so instead of doing 6 small circles with the mower I only have to do 2 large circles. Yay! Now when I talk with the neighbors and I am explaining where we live they’re like, “oh, you mean the house with all that landscaping?” yes, that is us!

Enough about me, I look forward to getting to know my readers and hope to help you in any way that I can. If there is a subject that you would like to read about please comment below.

Till next time,





Since I was killing quite a bit of succulents, I was doing some research on what could be wrong. I came across so many mixed messages from soaking them, to misting them, to lightly watering them. To really test this method I decided to try it out on different plants. In the past month the ones I soaked the soil, DIED in a matter of weeks. The ones I spritzed a few times week did OK.  The ones I lightly watered in the shower, basically rinsing the plant, but only lightly watering the soil THRIVED. To clarify I have big bowls of succulents, so spritzing them was a challenge. I would set them in the shower and rinse them once a month again don’t over do it, for the weekly waterings I would spray them with a spritz bottle making sure the plant is dripping wet. Another thing I noticed that the succulents in the indirect light didn’t do well; they want warm, dry and sunny areas to thrive.



The latest rave and everyone’s favorite. I had succulents as our wedding favor 8 years ago. I asked my cousin whom I used to work for to start the plants for me from cuttings. I will say most people remembered our wedding favor (really how many wedding favors do you remember?), even years later I had people tell me how their plants from our wedding are growing. I always thought it was pretty neat and a great conversation starter.


Our deck is HOT and full sun all the plants I have tried died unless I watered them 5 times a day and who has time for that. Last year I have had enough, I decided no more flowers instead I purchased 20 succulents from a benefit sale and started 3 different pots from them. (There will be pictures of these in the summer.) They were beautiful all summer and I maybe watered them once a week. Yes, they are that awesome! The key to having nice succulents is letting them dry out and then water them a bit; don’t drown them! I have killed so many succulents by over watering or planting them in pretty pots with no drainage. Opps! So now I put them in pots with lots of other plants so they absorb the moisture quicker, or in pots with good drainage. Clay pots also work great because they keep the plants from drowning, the clay absorbs some of the water as well. I also purchased a succulent fertilizer at my local garden shop, I feed them once a month and I think the colors are brighter since I started doing this.



Cuttings are so easy to take from succulents all you need is a leaf and lay it on the soil maybe press it down in a bit and wait! That is it…. This works but may take awhile; if you want nice looking plants sooner pinch 1-2 inches off the plant ends and stick the stem in soil. This is my preferred method and I have success 100% of the time unless my pups or daughter destroys them. And lately that happens a lot, no matter how much I childproof she always manages to out smart it.


All summer long you have nice succulents growing outside and now it is getting cooler and the scare of frost in in the air, what to do with all the pretty succulents you have outside? This year I got a cheap bakers rack on craigslist and set it inside the patio door, it fits perfectly in front the unopening half of the patio door. To make it even more perfect our wood stove is 10 feet away so they get sunshine and lots of warmth. I realize not everyone has this option so the trick is to find the sunniest, warmest spot in your house and that is where your succulents will thrive. I have killed so many plants over the winter because I tried to put them in spots where they look pretty and so on, but soon realize they want sunshine and warmth just like humans do! I also water them even less since the wind and 80-90 degree sunshine isn’t drying them out. I water mine maybe once a month!  READ UPDATE AT THE BEGINNING OF POST. That’s only 5-6 waterings you have to do all winter that is if you take them inside from October to April.

Till next time…..






Houseplants can be tricky or easy depending on your choice of plant. I am not proud to admit that my compost pile has seen its share of dead houseplants. Then there are plants that I have had since the age of 16, and some that I have to give a trim every few months and others that just die, just this week I chucked 3 plants that went from pretty to dead in a matter of days. For me ferns are tricky, I have no idea why but I tend to either over water or dry them up. I either end up killing them or my OCD self gets frustrated with all the leaf dropping that some ferns do. One fern I will absolutely not have in my house is an asparagus fern. They are pretty, but growing up there was one beside the recliner in the living room, to many times when I was on that chair I ended up loosing some hair due to it getting tangled in my Mom’s huge asparagus fern that draped to close to the chair. I have found a solution to my houseplant-killing problem and only grow the houseplants that do well for me, so people think I have this brilliant green thumb.IMG_3875_2.jpg

Houseplants like certain light better, for an example I have three nice ivy plants in my kitchen that need a trim every few months but if I would take any of these ivy plants into my living room they would be dead within a few weeks. Then I have plants in my living room that look terrible if I put them in my kitchen. So the trick to having nice houseplants is to find the room they like, each room in your house has different airflow and lighting that affects houseplants. I also give my plants a shower every month. If the weather is above freezing I set them outside and hose them down with the garden hose, but in the freezing temps I fill my tub with plants and turn the shower on for a minute or so. This ivy basket on the left is a bit of happiness at my sink window. This plant comes from cuttings started by my mother.


Another interesting thing I have discovered about my houseplants is that they love the area outside my front door. Whenever I have a houseplant that looks about dead, come springtime I set it outside the front door and by fall when I am ready to bring my plants inside for the winter, it is nice and big like it was when I first got the plant. I barely even water the plants on the front stoop but they survive I have no idea if it’s the cool indirect lighting that does it or what but it works like a charm every time. I call the front stoop my plant hospital! I know some people don’t take their houseplants outside during the summer due to bugs coming in the house with the plants when they bring them indoors for the winter, but I have never had an issue. I usually repot my plants into a larger pot so I can add more soil, and give them a rinse with sudsy dish soap water. I mix a few drops of Dawn (the original blue) with a gallon of water and dump it over the plant, let it set for 5 to 10 minutes and then rinse with the garden house. I have been using this method for 8+ years and it seems to work for me. Also when I give my plants their winter shower in the tub, I first give them the same sudsy rinse.

IMG_4021.jpgSo before you give up on houseplants play around on them, start with easy to maintain plants such as a ficus tree, peace lily or a philodendron vine. These where my first 3 houseplants and I have split my peace lily and philodendron plant many times, and the ficus tree that wa
s only a foot tall when I got it, is now almost 6 feet tall. I have added more complicated houseplants to my collection; one that I am so in love with is a maiden hair fern that I have had 5 years now. I have learned the trick is to keep the roots wet. I water mine maybe 2 times a week and I have it in the coolest room in the house, and it gets indirect light. As you will notice by my pictures, I am not at all a professional. These pictures may have been taken with a iPhone. Someday this summer I want to get someone professionally out to my house to photograph gardening moments to share with you.

Some day when I grow up and my thumb is close to dark green I want to attempt orchids. Much to my despair I have killed one of these, and since it was an expensive plant I have not continued my orchid growing attempts.

One thing you will notice in my blogs is that I am not a delicate handler when it comes to my plants, gardening and ect. My husband usually leaves me to do my own thing when I come with the shovel, trimmers or hoe. He has often asked me how I break so many garden tools, but after seeing me dig up some bushes with a shovel, he said; “ now I understand why you like landscaping so much, you get to demolish things but they still grow back bigger and better.”

Till next time


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