The Great Outdoors

Being outside anywhere, going somewhere, planning something, and entertaining people are all big things right now. And rightly so as we make our way out of sheltering at home, quarantines, and for most a very long fifteen months of worry, isolation, and a long period of time away from family, co-workers, and friends. My husband and I have a very tight circle of friends and we are all very healthy and active. We have missed being able to get together to have Saturday board game night, book club, bbq’s, and celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. Apart from those type of events hubby and I spend most of our time with each other and out in nature. Some of our friends want to wait awhile longer before entertaining and such and we respect their reasons for wanting to do so. For many, it is still not safe to get together, be around others not in their bubble, and may remain so for a long time to come. Not everyone is out having a good time exploring the great outdoors.

Another way to enjoy the great outdoors is in the privacy of your own home. You can build an entire outdoor area–big or small for your own family fun and entertainment. We have that too in our garden on our deck. We have some beautiful plants, veggies, and flowers and we love sitting on our deck among them listening to the birds and croakers. Some of our neighbors have built fairly elaborate outdoor areas filled with projectors, big screens, pools, and massive bbq grills- which is cool too!

If you’re unable to go outdoors right now, I found an awesome YouTube channel last year that really helped me to relax, escape when I needed, and overall “feel good”. The channel features Jonna Jinton who lives in a remote forest area in Sweden, her home, work, and life. I love watching her videos and I think you will too.

https://www.youtube.com/user/JonnaJinton

If you spend a lot of time walking in the woods, I wrote a post about Forest Bathing here

Whether gardening in a little city lot, on a deck, in a window sill–anywhere really, gardening puts you in touch with nature and nature is a balm to one’s soul. I promise you that anytime spent outdoors, spent in nature, with nature, will help ground you and prepare you for whatever you’re dealing with or about to deal with.

Until next time be well.

Tend

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I’ve changed my blog name four times in thirteen years for various reasons. When I started blogging I blogged about food, diet changes, and lifestyle changes. I called my blog feast, then finn–I wanted fin but it was taken for the end of my blogging, and then I decided to stay so I called it Midwest Journal of Common Sense Living—a title way too long for what I’m doing here, and now Tend.
Because that’s what I do every day of my life all the time. I tend to my household, gardening, plants, hamster, husband, cat, self, bills, car maintenance, finances, health, and investments. I work full-time. Occasionally I go for walks, take photographs, read books, watch movies, write blog posts and review books. When I can and as much as I can– I try to cultivate a healthy, healing, and peaceful environment in our home and within the inhabitants of said home.
This blog shares some of the ways I’ve been successful in changing my (our) lifestyle, healing, and living my (our) best life. I hope to add much more to my blog in 2021. Thank you for stopping by.
In case you’re wondering–I don’t have comments open on my blog posts because I am only on my blog writing 1-2 times a month. I do not have a block of time in my schedule to address comments (sorry) thus it’s easier and more efficient to have you send me an email with your comment, opinion, or question as I monitor my email accounts daily. I’ve always done things this way with my blogs (they’re for fun/not for income) and it has worked marvelously for years

💚🤍 💚🤍
Kim

What’s New–harvesting lemons, time for a haircut, container gardening

We got this lovely charcuterie board, featured in our cover picture, for our anniversary in February and finally I’ve found a reason to use it!  I was going to wait until we had guests around and drape it with meat and cheese, but decided to show off the lemons we’ve grown.  Every year our tree gives us a few more–this year was no exception.  I believe it’s been about eight years since we started our lemon tree from seed.

You can see our lemon tree and get a delicious Ina Garten recipe for Lemon Napoleons here  

Our friends purchased our charcuterie board at Macy’s at Christmas time –I don’t see it on the site anymore, but you can buy it on Amazon  here for $45.00  (not an affiliate link).

So let’s get down to what’s new around here, it’s been awhile.

Container garden 2020 is in–this year I have:

  • oregano
  • rosemary
  • french lavender
  • marigolds
  • bee balm
  • fuschia
  • lamb’s ear
  • hibiscus
  • tomatoes
  • pumpkins
  • green beans
  • carrots
  • peonies
  • and
  • a pepper plant
  • sunflower
  • zinnias

I’ll have to take some more pictures, I’ve been doing more videos lately than picture taking–so I’ll get them up in my next post.

Well, it’s been three months since my last haircut and though I survived just fine it’s time to venture out to where I get my hair done–less than a 1/2 mile from home, mask up and get it done. Good thing is it’s just a haircut and like everyone in the state she has guidelines to follow, to which  I know she will, and my hair which is now shaggy and shoulder-length will get a long overdue cut. Salons have been open for awhile here. I’ve just been putting it off–but with precautions taken I will be just fine. Thankfully our state is starting to come down in its numbers which is a promising sign for all of us.

Meat is still expensive–nearly 4 times the regular cost and some meat not at market at all. We cannot get roasting chickens from Just Bare–there are none to be had. The brand of lunch meat my husband eats is also not available as well as certain sausages, bacon, or ham. I still cannot find clorox wipes, but have found gloves for sale (5X reg. price) masks for sale (1.00 a piece) which for now isn’t a bad price–both at Walmart. Still to this day I cannot order toilet paper, paper towel, masks, cleaning products, gloves, or certain foodstuffs online.

That’s what is new around here–summer is almost here, the heat is starting, parks are overcrowded, very few people following any guidelines since the beginning around here, sadness all around the world in the news, and a lot of hurting. The world needs healing and I pray wherever you are you are safe and well.

Until next time here is our boy watching out over his territory–which includes birds of all kind, rabbits, other cats, neighbor dogs, and a muskrat!

Fall is fast approaching–harvest then cleanup—100 tomatoes this year! 🐛🍅🍅

Happy First Day of Fall!! 🍁🍂🍁🍂🍁

Lots of pumpkins in the store to choose from!!

I bought a hubbard squash and a white, green blue, and orange pumpkin. I plan to carve them out and then feed them while still fresh to the birds and other outside critters.

Last photos of this years container garden–

Last of my tomatoes ripening–

Last summer Farmer’s market haul–

Some pretty good food cooking with fresh produce–

Some interesting things I learned with this years container garden were pretty interesting. I started with three tomato plants planted in organic soil. I bought the plants at a nursery that I’ve been buying plants at for years. I also spent $34 on a large geranium plant that looked dead by day two on my deck. After a careful inspection I found two of the plants in the geranium bush to be rotten so  I replanted the entire large geranium plant. I then went out and purchased two tomato plants from Home Depot and two tomato plants from Walmart of which I did not plant in organic soil. A few weeks later I purchased some herbs and a single geranium plant. Once the flowers were on all my tomato plants I was pretty sure I was going to be seeing some amazing results. A short time later all the plants I’d purchased from my favorite nursery were dead and I was down to five tomato plants, some herbs, and my geranium plant. These plants were planted in potting soil called Expert Gardener and it’s sold at Walmart. It must work great for everyone else too, because it was always sold out when I went in to purchase more. By summer’s end my tomato plants produced over 100 tomatoes—mostly salad and cherry tomatoes. My geranium is still blooming, my herbs were absolutely awesome this year. My butterfly bush and the tropical flower I bought in June are thriving–prettiest hardiest plants ever and to think both were basically dead when I bought them! So mixed feelings on all this as I spent an incredible amount of money on nursery plants and organic soil and had zero results.  On top of that in years gone by having spent an enormous amount of money on fertilizers, soil, and such also very little in the way of production. Yes this year I had more plants so rightly so more tomatoes—in years gone by I had two to three plants and they produced between 10-20 cherry tomatoes in total. I have a lot to think about going forward. This was my last year for growing tomatoes on our deck. We will have one more spring here as our move has been delayed by the health issue I’ve been dealing with all summer. I am getting better but it is slow going. Next year’s garden will be mostly flowers for bees and bush beans!!

That’s it for gardening.

Stayed tuned for my next post about School & Farm : country living in the 70’s.

 

Patio Gardening Spring 2019 Week 5- Week 7

It’s been a while folks and I’m sorry I haven’t given an update.  Gardening has been rough this year–I said it in my earlier posts and it is still true today–the weather has been horrible for my garden, and many others including the farmers, this year. Let’s take an inventory and then I’ll show you some photos of it!

I started several seedlings inside which all withered away and died waiting for the sun. My grow light did a horrible job and is now somebody else’s grow light.  When I started my patio garden I had a Purple Cherokee, 2 Rutger’s Heirloom, a patio tomato plant, a Roma tomato plant, some hens and chicks, and some strawberries. I also bought a large geranium plant, 2 small geraniums, lavender, rosemary, and thyme. Since week 3 I have added an oregano plant, another thyme, more red geraniums, and a peony plant. Plants that have died since my last post are the large geranium plant I spent $34.00 on, the Roma tomato plant, my strawberries and after blooming beautifully my peony plant. I was given an ornamental rose plant which ended up with 11 blooms and then withered away this past week. I have provided a shade cloth for my tomatoes, watered them well, fertilized them, but yet both my Purple Cherokee and the 2 Rutger’s Heirloom are doing poorly. Every day they wither and now bottom leaves are browning which makes me think root rot for the both of them. Tomorrow I am going to check how saturated their soil is and see what I can do for them. I have purchased a total of 4 more bush tomato plants, two pepper plants, and some petunias for color. My hens and chicks are doing fabulous–they’re flowering! My oregano is about two feet tall and flowering. Also, my lemon balm is triple the size and my Thai basil has big beautiful purple flowers blooming. I am letting all my herbs flower which will affect my harvesting them to eat-esp. the oregano, but I would rather the bees have it. Bees love oregano flowers!

Going into this patio garden season I saved money by reusing dirt, using compost dirt from this past year, using everything on hand for trellis/support, and reusing pots and containers from years gone by. That said so far I have spent close to $180.00 on plants, seeds, food, and the shade cloth.  Here’s hoping with more than 25 flowers on my tomatoes, bees pollinating, and my prayers they produce something.

 

My Patio Garden | Patio Gardening 2019 Week 4 🌿🍅🍅

Well, another week of barely any sun. I think we had sun on Saturday and about 30 minutes of it today–Wednesday.
Despite another week of icky weather–cold, dreary, damp, and no sun, I have a small tomato on one of my plants.
So– I have 2 Rutger’s Heirlooms-one has a tomato growing, 2 bush cherry tomato plants, 2 bush beefsteak tomato plants, and 1 purple Cherokee. I have snipped off the bottom foliage on all my plants (to prevent blight) and fed them. I recently purchased another thyme plant, Thai basil, a miniature rose, lemon balm, and a beautiful oregano plant. Tonight I made sure everything was planted in my garden, watered and fertilized. The next two days we are expecting temperatures near 80 and sun. This week I lost the Roma tomato plant and maybe soon the hydrangea?  I am trying to keep it going after its blooms died but so far it isn’t doing very well. The juniper we planted this year and the two hostas we planted last year, which are growing by our front door, are doing alright. The browning and needle loss of my evergreen are slowing down–fingers crossed. This is how it all looks this week–

Bush tomato plants & plans for 2019’s container garden

So this year I am going to be focusing 100% of my attention on growing tomatoes–bush tomatoes to be exact. I am going to use my entire deck for this endeavor leaving a small spot for herbs and a couple pots of flowers for the bees.

I’ve realized over the years that I’ve put an incredible amount of energy toward my container gardens but never really perfected the art of growing any one thing. This is the year! I will begin to grow my seedlings probably towards the end of April because I won’t be able to harden them off outside until the end of May. I will also be buying my tomato plants from a local nursery and my herbs and flowers will be from Bonnie Plants. I’ve been growing Bonnie Plants rosemary and thyme for almost 15 years and in my opinion, they are always the hardiest plants to buy from anyone around here.  I’m choosing to grow bush tomatoes because I want all my tomatoes to harvest within a month or two so that I can harvest them, can and freeze them, and enjoy the rest of my summer. Indeterminate continue to grow to several feet and have tomatoes all season long–requiring care and water throughout the growing season until season’s end.

Here’s how to grow bush (determinate) tomato plants in containers:

  • Buy good draining pots big enough for the plants you are planning on having in them.
  • Pick a nice sunny spot where the plants will receive at least 6 hours of sun. Group the plants together to help shade the root zones of each plant but not close enough to touch. Keep the plants in a wind-free area (this one is big for me because I may have to create one).
  • Use good premium soil. I use Purple Cow Organic soil and have always found it to work the best for me.  I need really, really good soil not only for obvious reasons but also because our deck is not shaded. It also gets incredibly hot and has too few hours of sun for growing.
  • Plant your plants properly buy digging a hole and covering 2/3 of the plant with soil to encourage good root growth.
  • Add your trellis or tomato stakes right away.
  • Leave about an inch of space from the top of your container to add mulch to hold in moisture.
  • Feed your plants. I mix Purple Cow Tomato gro with my Purple Cow Organic Soil mix and throughout the season use their compost tea and their bio-active fertilizer.  ***This is not a sponsored post***
  • Water regularly.

Source

That’s it for now–just blogging about this has made me feel happier and more hopeful that spring is coming.

Putting the container garden to bed & more!

Some of my container garden is going to try to overwinter in our apartment again–

My evergreen will be kept on our deck and wrapped in a wool blanket to protect its root ball. This has proved to be a very successful way for me to keep my evergreen tree alive. I’m hoping the ornamental grass, which I think is Variegated Japanese Sedge ( unfortunately I threw away the care instructions/plant ID), will survive too. Most of the birds I’ve been feeding have migrated south for the winter. The last time I saw a hummingbird at the feeder was the first week of October. The Orioles left first and then the finches followed. I set out peanuts and other assorted nuts for about a month and the nuthatches, several chickadees, and some tufted titmouse were able to get their winter stores set up. Now they too are gone and I’ve stopped feeding until sometime early spring when a few early birds will arrive back in this area.

What’s next in gardening?

Well, I planted a packet of tulips and narcissus and those along with my hens and chicks will be overwintering in the garage–insulated with newspaper and burlap. I’ve also got three boxes of paperwhites to start sometime around the holidays.

I lost the battle with my first fiddle leaf fig because it wasn’t properly draining. Truthfully I think it was dead when I bought it as the leaves were quite pale green. This past Saturday I was in a local greenhouse discussing my luck or lack of with a local gardener concerning fiddle leaf figs. She had one that isn’t doing great but isn’t dead yet either and she gave it to me to see what I could do with it. I’m hoping to nurse this one back to full health. I’m learning every day new things about plants and flowers that I will gladly share as time goes by.

The cute blue, orange and green solar lights are something my husband picked up at Shopko when they went on sale for $5.00 and we love them. They definitely brightened up our deck all summer long.

Here is what my container garden looks like today–

Until next spring this post concludes container gardening 2018. Happy fall and winter everyone.

Looking forward to future posts, I will be posting about taking care of fiddle leaf figs, fall food storing, fall/winter food recipes, and at least one post soon on supplements I’ve been using for low-iron, seasonal depression, and also chewable vitamins and are they doing anything for me?

Houseplants–wintertime gardening

Gardening is very therapeutic for me. I think for most of my life it always has been, but it has taken most of my life to get semi-sort of good at. Let me tell you what I learned this year that has made ALL the difference–watering plants from the bottom. But first, you must add water the regular way, and then set the plant in a shallow pan with water. This way the entire plant gets properly watered. My overwintering of rosemary did not go well and my rosemary plant died. However, I bought two new plants and at least one will make it to the porch once temperatures warm up a bit. I have 8 Christmas cactuses alive since last Christmas, my 40-year-old Opuntia cactus, which grew little tubers out of each pad, which I later learned was the plant seeking more sun. Once I started giving it, even more, sun it has now begun to grow two new pads. The ponytail plant and bonsai are plants I am growing for my husband, and I have 5 new African violets, several succulents, ferns, and 5 English ivies. I have read that English ivy, and the ferns are poisonous to cats so they are growing either out of reach of him or in my Ikea greenhouses.
Several years ago I was diagnosed with PTSD and realized upon getting home I was ill-prepared to deal with it even though I had worked in mental health for several years. One thing I knew for sure was that I had to find something that was therapeutic–with the possibility that it would be something I could do year-round, maybe make me feel more alive? and definitely a sense of purpose other than my general responsibilities. Growing things year-round has been good for me. It’s not easy, but I don’t like easy anyways. I’ve learned to love a good challenge. The two biggest tips I can give anyone thinking of growing plants both inside and out are– water from the bottom up and don’t overwater, and always provide the recommended and suggested heat/cold, plus sunlight environment for your plants. A third tip would be to buy good strong quality plants from a trusted gardener/nursery.

My next post will be about Microgardening!

Seed Catalogs and Spring Planting

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I apologize in advance for how bright the photos are. We haven’t had sunshine for about two weeks now. Today–the sun is shining. It’s bitterly cold out, but the sun sure feels good when you’re out in it. I love my seed catalogs, from my two favorite seed catalog companies. I have yet to place an order with them hence the Burpee seeds, also a favorite.

I buy all my tomato seeds from Baker Creek. You can request your free catalog here. I receive a Seed Savers catalog every year but have never ordered from them. They come highly recommended, so this year I will be placing an order for cucumbers, pumpkins, and assorted flowers. I usually buy planters and pots of flowers, but this year I am going to try growing my own. You can request your free catalog here. 

So that’s my spring plan thus far. I have all my pots washed out, soil purchased and grow light ordered.