Planters (part 1)

I like to have unique or different planters for the plants outside. I enjoy recycling or repurposing an item, to be used again instead of throwing into the garbage, and the item ultimately being in the landfill or ocean. I find that repurposing something is less expensive than buying an item for the purpose. Today, it is planters. I love plants and growing things, but I do not always have enough containers to put plants.

I wanted some planters for my new patio. I am repurposing two metal coffee cans. If I were not repurposing these metal cans, they would be in the metal pile to be taken to a scrap iron yard and recycled.

For my project I am using the two metal cans, some wallpaper border I fell in love with, sand paper (the size of the grit is not important), a paint brush, and wallpaper glue or paste.

Since I am making planters, I need to drill a couple of holes to allow excess water to drain away from the roots of the plants. I used a 1/4 inch drill to make the holes. I would not go larger than 1/4 inch, as the soil would escape from the planter.

Removing the labels, I will sand the sides of the cans. The sanding is to create a broken surface, or rough surface for the wallpaper adhesive to bond to. Sanding to create the rough surface does not take much effort, basically just rubbing the sandpaper back and forth to create “scratches” in the polished metal.

Next, I measured out the wallpaper border to fit around the can, with 1/2 inch extra. I had found this wallpaper border at a Habitat for Humanity Store. I love visiting those stores, and have purchased building materials for remodeling and updating my home. This wallpaper border does not go with the interior theme of the house. But it will look good for planters.

I put the wallpaper adhesive on the can a few inches starting at the top and moving to the bottom. I attach the wallpaper making sure it is straight. Proceeding along the side, adding some adhesive and attaching the wallpaper a few inches at a time until I reach the start. I place some adhesive on the 1/2 inch extra and attach. I then take a damp rag, with gentle pressure I rub the wallpaper around the metal can, smoothing out bubbles and wrinkles, and making sure the wallpaper is glued to the whole surface of the can.

I am pleased with the final product. These will look nice on the patio, adding some unique color and design.

I placed rosemary in the new pots. Rosemary is good to keep mosquitos and spiders away for an area. They do not like the smell. A gentle rub on the leaves will release the aroma of the rosemary. Rosemary is also good for cooking in italian dishes, fish and lamb. When using fresh rosemary for cooking, a little bit adds a lot of flavor, fresh is much stronger than dried. You can also dry the rosemary you grow in planters.


Grandpa’s Garden

Photo by Greta Hoffman on

The enjoyment of gardening started when I was nine years old. My dad purchased twenty-four acres that was used as hay ground. He moved our mobile home or trailer house to the land. Along with us came my grandparents, my dad’s parents in a mobile home. That spring there was to be a garden.

My sister and I worked with my dad putting in an absolutely straight as an arrow fence. My dad was a perfectionist of sorts, when he did a job, he did it right. “Do a job right the first time, and you will only have to do it once” were words he often spoke to us. My dad used a surveyors transits to make sure the fenceline was straight.

My grandpa loved to garden. He was retired and liked to keep busy. A place was selected for the garden. Dad plowed the garden area to loosen up the soil and break the grass roots up so a rototiller would be able to work the soil. Then Grandpa spent two days going over the area with a rototiller. All day for two days, when he was done, the soil had a fine texture, no clumps and no grass.

Next was to set out the rows and irrigation ditches. The acreage was watered by flood irrigation. The garden would be watered using the same method. Dad and Grandpa made a tool using a level and lumber to determine the slope of the garden area, to find high spots and low spots. The low spots would collect water, not good for plants as the roots would rot. The high spots would not get enough water. After walking all over the garden area with the leveling tool, next was to grade or smooth the area getting rid of low and high spots.

For the grading, Dad and Grandpa made a drag from railroad ties, attached ropes to the ends and pulled this railroad tie leveler back and forth across the garden area. Then out would come the leveling tool to see find the high and low spots again. The process took a whole Saturday. As a kid, a whole Saturday doing one job, was a very long time. When they were done, the whole family gathered at the edge of the garden. With pride my dad said, “The garden is now ready for rows.”

Months before, my mom would spend hours with Grandpa, selecting seeds, and learning how to map out a garden. Different plants needed different width of rows for growing room. They drew a map for the rows and labeled each row with a name.

The string and stakes along with a tape measure came out, my Dad’s favorite tools as they were used for everything we did. Going my Grandpa’s carefully drawn map, they started putting in ditches. Marking the ditches with stakes and string, they cut the ditches into the soil using a hoe. The ditches were for the water. Us kids were told to stay out of the “garden” until all the ditches were done. They did not need us tromping all over messing with the strings and ditches. When all the ditches were in place, the water was diverted down the irrigation ditch into the garden ditch, and water flowed. Dad and Grandpa watched the water flow down every ditch, making sure the flow was even. The first flowing of the water was to settle the soil and put moisture back in. Two days later they had the water flow a second time, this was to mark where to put the seeds.

The garden was ready to receive the seeds. I was eager to learn anything. My siblings and myself were not allowed to help with the garden prepping, but we would be allowed to plant seeds. My mother did not want us in the garden at all, but Grandma said we were old enough to learn. Grandpa and Dad agreed, and said us kids could work beside them. They would teach us how to plant.

Grandpa took me to teach me how to plant. We started with the corn. Taking out a tape measure, ( I think a tape measure was one of his favorite tools as well.) we walked to the area for the corn. I was told to hold the tape measure and seeds while he made the planting row with a hoe, just above the water line in the ditch. Grandpa taught me how to use the tape measure to measure 6 inches. Place a seed at the very beginning of the planting row, then measure 6 inches from the seed, and place another. I went down the rows, measuring 6 inches and placing seeds. Grandpa made the rest of the planting rows, while I planted. I felt so important as I was planting seeds on my own. When he finished the planting rows for all the corn, he came back to fill in the rows I had placed seeds. He told me I was doing a great job.

After the corn, we planted green beans. Green beans were 4 inches apart. Dad and my sister and brother planted the carrots, radishes, peas, black eyed peas and beets. Grandma was teaching mom how to transplant the 30 tomato plants that Grandma had started and grown in the house for a month.

Next Grandpa took me to the squash and cucumber area. There the rows were farther apart. He would take a step and mark with the hoe, take a step and mark. Then he came back to me and said “now let’s plant”. He showed me how to make a small mound, put a hole with my finger in the center and place three seeds next to each other. He would cut the water ditch to go around the mound. We planted the squash and cucumbers. When we looked up, the others had finished what they were planting.

Once again, we gathered at the edge of the garden. With pride we surveyed the work we had done. The garden was planted. Us kids were told to stay out of the garden unless we had an adult with us. They did not want us tromping on the new plants when they appeared.

Grandpa would water the garden several times a week. I watched the bare ground begin to turn green. Grandpa would take me through the garden teaching me how to water and identify the different plants that were sprouting. When the plants were four inches tall, we started pulling weeds and grass. Grandpa showed and guided me in using the hoe to get the weeds and grass on the top of the rows making weeding faster. I had to carefully pull weeds and grass near the plants so I would not damage or kill them.

I would watch for Grandpa to come out of his house, and head to the garden. Mom did not spend much time in the garden. But Grandpa and Grandma were there almost everyday. I worked beside them learning how to grow and care for the plants that provide food for the table. When they were ready, my grandparents showed me how to harvest the fruit of our labors.

Grandpa and Grandma only stayed two years with us in the twenty-four acres. Two years I learned to how to grow a garden.



Photo by Julia on

I love vine ripened tomatoes. I planted some seeds in solo cups inside the house. I also purchased three plants from a nursery. In this post I will show you the progress of those I planted and the method I use for planting them outside in containers and the ground.

Above is a purchased tomato plant, grape tomato variety I am planting into a large pot. Tomatoes can grow in containers, but the container or pot needs to be at least three gallons or larger. The larger the fruit the plant will produce the larger the container needs to be. The plant requires a root system to draw sufficient nutrients from the soil to supply nutrients to the plant and fruit. Larger fruit, larger root system to support the plant and fruit, hence a larger pot or container.

I fill my pot or container 3/4 full with soil, or potting mix. I make an hole for plant, making sure the bottom of the planting hole is 4 inches above the bottom of the container. Next I add crushed egg shells to add calcium to aid in the prevention of blossom end rot, a nutrient deficient disease.

I will pinch off or use scissors to cut off the lower leaves of the plant. I do not want leaves below the soil. The stem in the soil will start growing roots. I then fill with soil, then water to remove all the air from around the roots.

Every tomato plant needs at least one, but preferably two marigold plants. Why do tomato plants need marigolds, to keep away the tomato cutworm. These worms true identity is a caterpillar. The caterpillar will strip away the leaves and eat the tomatoes ripe or green, leaving you with a dying plant and no tomatoes.

Caterpillars are the young of butterflies and moths. The tomato caterpillar is the young of a moth, and the moths do not like Marigold and the scent marigold put off. If you do see little black feces on the leaves of your tomato plants, there is probably tomato cutworms. These worms camouflage very well with the tomato plant. But at night with a black light, they show up gloriously. I do not spray my tomato plants with insecticide, I find the cutworms and pick them off.

Happy gardening.


Weekend Gardening

I love gardening. This past weekend I was able to spend some time getting my garden in the ground.

Radishes have started to appear. I planted radish seeds in the long planters. These planters have been used four years to grow radishes. I plant the seeds in two rows. Water. Wait. Soon little green leaves appear.

In about two weeks I will have fresh radishes to add to meals and snacks.

This past weekend I also replanted a bell pepper plant. I had started these plants from seeds using solo cups. I later potted them in a small planter where they grew, and produced a few peppers. Now to let them grow.

Potted plants grow and become root bound. Repotting this pepper into a larger pot I will get more fruit production. I have decided to repot this pepper plant into a larger container outside.

Removing the plant from the planter, you can see the roots and how tightly intertwined the roots have grown. Repotting into a larger container will allow the roots to stretch out and grow. In the bottom of the hole for the plant, I will add crushed eggshells. Eggshells help in the prevention of blossom rot on the fruit of peppers, eggplants and tomatoes. Blossom rot is caused by a calcium/phosphorus deficiency.

This pepper plant has a new home. I used a small trellis to support the plant. This pepper plant has spent the entire life in the house away from the wind. I am using the trellis until the pepper grows a stronger stem to support the plant in the wind.

Watering during repotting and after repotting is important to remove the air from around the roots. Air causes roots to die, eventually causing the plant to die. Although this potting mix was wet due to recent rains, I still watered to remove the air pockets in the potting mix.


Starting My Garden

I enjoy gardening. Although my schedule is full with raising sheep and taking care of our place. I still make time to have a small modest garden. My garden consists of vegetables and flowers.

I should start the tomato and sweet pepper plants inside during February, but I always seem to be late. I was determined this year to have me seeds planted indoors in February. Once again I am late with planting them in March.

I learned of a low cost method of starting seeds inside from Next Level Gardening on youtube. From this youtube channel I learned to plant my seeds in solo cups. My method is a little different as I do not have trays for the water to drain into, so I use an additional solo cup with a small rock to capture the water than runs through the soil, containing the excess water.

To start, I get a solo or any plastic cup. Since I like to repurpose items instead of throwing them away, I use togo cups from restaurants and fast-food places, or food containers such as sour cream containers. I drill or poke holes in the bottom of the plastic containers, three or four small holes are sufficient. The holes need to be large enough to let water out, but not let the soil out, 1/8 of an inch works good.

For nightshade plants, these include tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant, I only put soil in 1/3 of the cup. As the seedling grows I will had more soil. The stem covered with the soil will form roots. Also, these vegetable plants can be grown indoors as they do not need bees and insects to pollinate. When the plant has blooms, gently shake the plant and it will self pollinate.

After I put in the soil, I plant the seeds at the depth stated on the package. I always put in three seeds, do not really know why, just what I do. Then I place the plastic up inside the cup I have put a small rock in the bottom. The rock in the bottom allows for space to collect the excess water. Then I water the surface of the soil a little at a time, letting the water hit the edge of the cup to prevent disturbing the seeds. I use this method of watering with the seedlings first sprout through the soil as to not injure the young tender plant.

If I am planting herb seeds or other vegetables that are not nightshade plants, I will fill the cup with soil, leaving 1/2 an inch from the top for watering. I place the cup in another cup with a rock just like before.

The plastic cups can be used over and over. The cups in the pictures I have used for three years. When the plants are ready for transplanting into a container or spot in the garden, gently squeeze the outside of the cup, and the soil, roots and plant easily come out, ready for planting.

This sweet pepper plant did not get planted outside or into a container last year. The plant has produced several small pepper that I used to season food. The peppers are small as the roots are constricted in the cup. I do have a sweet pepper plant in a small flower pot that I have inside the house. This spring I will be planting that plant outside.

Below is my apple tree. I was making an apple salad, when I noticed the seeds in the apple core had sprouted a root. I placed the apple core in the soil in a small plant container and gently watered it. This little tree has started to grow. I will need to get another apple tree, as apples and most fruit trees will not self pollinate, they will only pollinate when the pollen if from another tree.

Yesterday, I planted radishes outside. Radishes are tasty both raw and cooked. Radishes sprout and grow fast, usually 21 – 25 days after planting the seeds you have fresh radishes on the table. So I plant radishes every two weeks, providing a consistent supply of the fresh vegetable. Radishes can be grown inside as they do not need any pollination.

These faded orange window box type containers are perfect for radishes. I get two rows of radishes in each container. These containers used to sit on the rails of our deck. But since I removed the deck, I have placed them on the ground in the front yard. I have also grown onions in these two containers. Although they are faded for six or seven years of use, I keep using them as they work well with growing ground vegetables like onions, radishes and beets, all I have grown in these two containers. If a water tray is placed underneath, these containers would work well in the house or on a balcony.

Decide where you want to place your little container garden. Make sure there is light or provide a light for them to grow. Then think “outside the box” for items to use as containers in the space you have. I have used small flower pots, whipped topping containers, and even large metal cans covered with wallpaper for plant containers inside and outside the house.

You say you do not have a “green thumb”, people can learn to have a “green thumb”. Most often the difficulty in growing plants in watering. Some water too much and others water too little. Test the soil before adding water. Put your finger in one inch or up to the first joint, if the soil is dry on top, but damp or wet at the tip of your finger, do not water. If the soil is dry all the way to the tip of your finger, give the plant a drink.

Enjoy growing things in your home, balcony, or yard. If the plant dies, start over again. I used to kill my gardens for years, I would by plants, put them in the ground I had spent days preparing, only to have them die due to lack of wate r or too much water. Today, I still will have a plant die, usually I get in a hurry and over water without checking the soil first.

Each time you plant you gain experience, and soon you will have a rainforest to relax in.

A “weed” blooming near my garden spot.


Song of the Mockingbird

The start of each day begins in my office. There is a window I look out as I plan my day. Watching and listening in the office is one of my favorite times of the day. From this window I watch the weather for the day. I can tell how strong and what direction the wind is blowing from a rope hanging from the tree. I love watching the various birds as they fly in to rest on a branch or twig, sing a song and fly off once more. Each season has a different group of birds who visit the trees in my front yard.

Today I heard what I have been waiting for a couple of weeks to hear, the song of the mockingbird. The shirl melodious mating song of the mockingbird is the sign that spring has arrived in the area I live. I can not plant my vegetable and flower plants outside without worry of freezing frost.

I have learned to listen. Also experience has taught me to listen for the mockingbird song. I enjoy the festy birds who will sing all hours of the day and night. Several pairs of mockingbirds will set up their nest and raise their young in the trees outside my front door. When the mockingbirds leave, the cold north winds will arrive with winter.

Sleeping Ute Mountain, Colorado photo by Anne McWilliams

Every area has indicators of spring or when it is time to plant. When I lived in Colorado, the time to plant was when the winter blanket came off of Sleeping Ute Mountain. The “wives’ tales” or myths concerning planting time are an area vary depending on whom you talk with about gardening.

Nature shows us many things, if we will listen with simplicity, not science or others options.

Today, I could not plant as the rain arrive this afternoon, but tomorrow I will be busy in my garden area putting seeds in the ground with hopes of summer and fall harvest. Nothing tastes better on the plate than vegetables you assisted in growing.


What Now?

Bloganaury challenge has finished. I will continue to write, goal is a post a day. What am I going to be sharing?

Photo by cottonbro on

I am going to start a short series of posts on gardening. Do not fret about not having a yard or place to garden. I am going to share how I grow garden vegetables in my house, without the conservatory.

What will you need to grow vegetables and herbs in your home, a window and desire.

Photo by Markus Spiske on

I will also be sharing how I start my seedlings to place outside in my garden area for those who have a yard or place to put a garden. In addition I will discuss container gardening for the balcony, small patio or home.

Let us have fun growing together.