Extend Your Harvest Into the Colder Months

When the days start to get shorter and the weather turns a little chilly, gardeners tend to start thinking ahead to next year’s garden. But wait – this season isn’t finished! Even though the weather is cooler (even with some frost), there is still time to grow vegetables into early winter.

Even though the weather is cooler (even with some frost), there is still time to grow vegetables into early winter. Learn how to extent your harvest.

There are a variety of ways to extend your growing season. First, choose plants that will tolerate the colder, end of season weather. This may mean that you plan a second planting late in the season of lettuce, carrots, cole crops like broccoli or cabbage, or spinach. Almost any variety that will enable you to harvest an early crop in the Spring can be replanted in the late Summer for the next round of cold weather.

Look for micro-climates around your yard

We all have them – little places that seem to thaw first, or those areas that always have shade and the snow never melts. Choose the warmest spots to plant your fall/winter gardens. Those areas will stay warmer long into fall and your veggies will thrive. Avoid the colder shady areas and plant them only in spring/summer.

Use succession planting techniques

Plant crops every couple of weeks so that you will have a longer growing season. Most plants are annuals and have a definite life cycle. Plant the amount you will use in the 2-week time period. Then plant again for another period. Once the original plants are harvested, you can re-plant with another crop of something else. For maximum soil benefits, rotate what you plant (don’t plant the same crop twice in a row). Each crop takes and replenishes different nutrients, and planting the same variety will leave your soil depleted.

Consider protection from the cold

This can be as simple as mulching around the plant base to hold in soil heat to using rigid protection like cold frames. You can also use one of the various garden fabrics to cover your rows and trap heat. If you don’t have acres of garden, an eco-friendly method is to make mini-greenhouses out of gallon milk jugs. Remove the bottoms, keep the caps. Place the jug over the plants and during the day, remove the caps to let excess heat escape. Replace the caps in the evening to keep the cold out.

Cold frames are a great way to extend the season. They can be as simple as plastic sheeting stretched over PVC pipe, or as elaborate as glass windows built onto a raised frame. The one advantage is that they allow plants to have protection from the cold at night and enjoy all the benefits of the sun’s heat during the day. You can keep most vegetables producing for several weeks past their normal end of season by using cold frames or hoop houses. This is also a great way to ripen your late-season tomatoes on the vine.

Keep root crops in the ground, even after the first few light freezes. Cold weather will actually improve the flavor of many root crops like carrots and turnips. Harvest before the ground freezes, though, or your soil may compact.

Move perennial herbs to a shed or enclosed porch. Rosemary, parsley, and many other biennial or perennial herbs will survive over winter on a covered porch. Water lightly, keep in partial sun, and they will be ready to plant back in your yard early spring.

Use artificial lights indoors. Many lettuces and spinach can be grown over the winter indoors. Use specially designed grow lights that mimic sunlight if you don’t have a sunny place to set them. Start seeds a week or two apart, and you can have fresh greens throughout the Winter months.

Protect your plants from the freezing weather, and you will be rewarded with tasty produce. By employing some of these techniques, you can extend your growing season well into the cold, snowy months of the year.

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Quick Fixes to Make Your House Look Awesome!

How many of us walk into our home and see all the small things wrong with it? Did you know there are a simple things you can do that don’t cost a lot of money and can be done in less than a day? You do not have to embark on a whole house renovation to create some big changes in your home. Check out these quick fixes to make your house look awesome.

Check out these quick fixes to make your house look awesome. These simple tips don't cost a lot of money and can be done in less than a day.

Brighten up your home

Lights do not cost very much money. A quick fix to make your home look awesome is to get better lighting. Perhaps your light bulbs are dull. A few bucks and you can brighten up your home in no time. Also, consider switching to LED bulbs to save money on your electricity bill.

Add a slip cover to the couch or replace your throw pillows

This is such an easy fix and slip covers cost around $50 for a decent one. Slip covers can cover up an old couch (and stains, rips, or tears) in a heartbeat. Add a few pretty pillows and your living room is going to look grand.

I shop the clearance section of Target, Marshall’s, and TJ Max for throw pillows at discounted prices.

Use throw pillows to quickly update the look of any room.

Clean your carpets

If your carpet is looking dingy, spend a few bucks to have it carpet cleaned. You can also add a throw rug to help take the attention off the main carpet. Go a step further and pull up the carpet, if you think you may have hardwood floor underneath.

Update the hardware in your home

One of my favorite ways to make a home look awesome is to update the hardware. Hardware isn’t that expensive and can be added to dressers and cabinets. I have purchased hardware from Amazon.com and Overstock.com for significantly less at than Home Depot or Lowes.

Another way to update your hardware is to spray paint it. Rust-oleum has a collection of spray paints in metallic colors like hammered bronze and brushed nickel. A can of paint costs around $5 and covers knobs for several pieces of furniture.

Change the curtains in your home

Want a quick fix to make your home look awesome? Change the curtains! I have room darkening curtains in my home. It’s amazing how it keeps the light out when I want and brings the sunshine in when I’m ready.

Do you have any blinds that look like this?

Quick fixes that make your home look awesome.

We didn’t even have a pet when our mini blinds looked like this! If you have a window that requires custom blinds, making (or buying) curtains can be an inexpensive alternative to freshen up the room.

A few years ago I made these curtains for my girls out of leftover fabric. If you can sew a straight line you can make curtains for any window in your home. Inexpensive curtains can update any room in your home.

When I want really cheap curtains I look for flat sheets on clearance. You don’t even have to know how to sew to turn sheets into curtains.

You can also update a inexpensive curtain rod with a coat of paint.

Paint your front door and add a kick plate

For some reason, painting your front door can really make your house look awesome. Add a kickplate and you will hardly be able to recognize how awesome your home looks.

If you are feeling brave, go with a bright color on your front door. We painted our front door a blue green color and everyone who comes over loves it!

Painting your front door can make a big difference!

Update the paint on your shutters and trim

There are a ton of things you can do on the inside and outside of your home to make it look awesome. A quick fix on the outside is painting the shutters. This is a job that’s not all too hard and not too expensive. Once done, it’s going to add a lot of pizzazz to your home.

If you really want to make your house shine, repaint or clean your interior trim. Bright white trim inside a home really makes a difference.

Spray paint rusted vent covers

This is so easy I can’t believe I didn’t do it in my other houses. You can spray paint rusty (or dated) vent covers so they match the ceiling or floor. All you need to do is remove the covers, clean them thoroughly, spray paint them (I did 2 coats), let dry, and screw back in place.

Paint vent rusty vent covers for an inexpensive fresh look.

Painting costs significantly less than replacing vent covers and they look brand new!

Clean up the clutter

It’s amazing what a little decluttering can do for a room (or a home). I love to organize using bins and baskets so that random things aren’t lying around my house getting shuffled around every few days. I’m also not afraid to throw things away if they don’t have a home. It’s rare that I’ve thrown something away and needed it later.

Quick fixes that will make your home look awesome.

Paint one piece of furniture

Although I’m partial to white and gray, I do love having one piece of furniture that pops with color. I use chalk paint (read my review on Valspar Chalk Paint here) and it makes the painting process much quicker.

I painted this table in a few hours and it really changed the look of the entire room. (I also spray painted the knob.)

Paint a piece of furniture for a pop of color.

Replace dated bathroom floors with vinyl stick down tile

While this tip isn’t quite as easy and cheap as the other ideas, you can do it for under $100 and the results are dramatic. I recently discovered groutable vinyl tile and it looks amazing! No one can tell it is vinyl and it is very durable.

groutable vinyl tile can update a bathroom

You can lay it right over the existing tile as long as your surface is level. This is a great quick fix for an old floor.

As you can see, many of my quick fixes involve paint, which is my favorite way to update just about anything. Paint is cheap, and the results are almost always fantastic. Before I jump into a big (and usually expensive) DIY project, I try to make little changes and live with them for a while. It saves me time and money.

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Planting Your Garden and When to Plant

Even though many areas of the country are still knee-deep in winter weather, thoughts are quickly changing to the warmth and sunshine of spring. Sunny days, no more frosty nights – what’s not to love? Even in the coldest months of the year, though, it’s time to start planning your summer garden. These tips will help you know how and when to plant.

ven in the coldest months of the year, it’s time to start planning your summer garden. These tips will help you know how and when to plant.

Keep a Journal

Planning your garden takes some time, but it really shouldn’t take more than an afternoon. If you haven’t planted a garden before, start a small garden journal. Keep notes of plants and varieties you’d like to incorporate into your space. If you are planning a vegetable garden, order some seed catalogs from online websites. You’ll learn a lot from reading about the different varieties available.

If you had a garden last year, then you probably have notes, or at least thoughts, about what worked well for your space and what you might want to change. Did you find out that 10 zucchini plants were more than your family could deal with?

Did pumpkins take over your yard? Keeping a small notebook with notes is a great way to help plan your garden from year to year. You don’t need to make anything fancy, but have a place to keep all your garden thoughts together. Before planning this year’s garden, read through to see what you might want to change.

Visit the Garden Center

Next, make a visit to your local garden center. This is for several reasons, but the primary one is that they are familiar with your locale and know when the optimum time for planting your garden is, as well as plant varieties that will perform well in your area.

They have a wealth of information and are available to share it with you. They’ll also know if you need to amend your soil or need other kinds of nutrients in your area. They enjoy talking shop.

Focus on the Estimated Last Frost Date

The important date to focus on is the estimated last frost day. Tender young plants will die if exposed to frost. There are some methods to protect them if you get a freak cold day after you’ve planted, though. But there is nothing more infuriating than having to replant your garden because you planted too early!

Start Plants Indoors

To get a jump on the season, you can start some plants indoors before the beginning of the season. Count about eight weeks before that critical last frost date, and start your seeds then. You can plant them in almost anything from newspaper pots to peat pellets to small flower pots. If they have some sunlight, warmth, and water, they will grow.

Starting your own plants from seed will allow you to experiment with types that aren’t readily available, like some of the new developments, or old heirloom varieties. There is a lot of satisfaction in starting your own transplants, and it’s a great way to get the whole family involved in gardening, too. You can order seeds from companies like BurpeeGurney’s, or Baker Creek Heirloom.

Purchase from Your Local Nursery

If this seems like too much work, make a trek back to your local nursery to find out what varieties they have available. Try to find a garden center that raises their own plants instead of buying them from a larger commercial grower. The plants will be adapted to your day length, humidity, and may even already be acclimated to the environment.

Plants that nurseries purchase – like the big box stores – are usually greenhouse grown, under the best growing conditions, and then delivered to your store. They’re usually not the best plants for your region, and are just a generic variety that’s sold everywhere.

Be Ready to Plant

Be ready to plant your garden when all dangers of frost have passed. In temperate climates where frost is not an issue, gardens may be planted any time of the year.

Pay attention to the specific needs of the varieties you’ve picked. Some plants do better in the cooler months with shorter sunlight, and some need the hotter days of summer, along with the longer sunlight to thrive. Remember to jot down a few notes throughout the season so you can fine tune the process next year.

 

 

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Hand Painted Pumpkin Craft

By contributing writer Beth

Celebrate fall with this super easy and fun to make Hand Painted Pumpkin Craft. All your kids can join in the fun too.

This is a great project for a rainy day or a lazy Sunday afternoon. We were able to get these two pumpkins decorated in under 30 minutes plus drying time.

Celebrate fall with this super easy and fun to make Hand Painted Pumpkin Craft that your kids will enjoy too. It takes under 30 minutes plus drying time.

You can put these out as a welcoming addition on your front porch or as a warm touch on your fireplace mantle.

Celebrate fall with this super easy and fun to make Hand Painted Pumpkin Craft

Supplies Needed

Ivory & Gold Pumpkin

Celebrate fall with this super easy and fun to make Hand Painted Pumpkin Craft

Lay down newspaper to protect your work surface. Apply a light ivory acrylic paint to the first pumpkin. I like ivory better than white for fall because it’s warmer to match fall decor colors.

Celebrate fall with this super easy and fun to make Hand Painted Pumpkin Craft

Add enough coats of paint to completely cover the entire surface and all surface imperfections.

Allow all coats to dry completely.

Celebrate fall with this super easy and fun to make Hand Painted Pumpkin Craft

Drip the metallic gold paint over the stem of the pumpkin. Allow the paint to pool around the top of the pumpkin and use a brush to move the paint around the top so it’s not too thick.

Celebrate fall with this super easy and fun to make Hand Painted Pumpkin Craft

Allow the paint to gently drip down the sides for a wet look. The shimmery paint will still have a glossy, glimmering finish, even when it’s dry.

Paint Splatter Pumpkin

Celebrate fall with this super easy and fun to make Hand Painted Pumpkin Craft - Paint Splatter Pumpkin

Gather all three paints for the next pumpkin. This one is crazy fun for kids to do.

Gather enough paint brushes for everyone and make sure to cover your artists (how adorable is this DIY Art Smock!) and your surface. Any splattered acrylic paint can usually be easily cleaned up with a damp cloth.

You can do a base layer of color for your pumpkin, but I liked the natural color of the paper pumpkins that I picked up, so I just used that as a neutral base for the project.

Celebrate fall with this super easy and fun to make Hand Painted Pumpkin Craft - Paint Splatter Pumpkin

Water down the paint in individual bowls so that the paint flows freely. It should be watered down enough to splatter and not clump or drip.

Dip your paintbrush into the first color and splatter away.

Let that first color dry so that it doesn’t blend with the next layer of color. If you do the next color while the first color is wet, the colors could mix together.

Celebrate fall with this super easy and fun to make Hand Painted Pumpkin Craft - Paint Splatter Pumpkin

Continue to layer color splatters on top of each other until you’re satisfied with the finished product.

Allow to dry completely and display as desired.

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