Monday, July 30, 2012

The re-location of strawberries

Three years ago, we purchased 12 strawberry plants, which I planted in a corner of my garden.  In the past years they have multiplied into easily over 50 plants.  Sadly they have bore very little fruit.  I decided enough was enough and since my garden space is limited (about 10' x 20') the strawberries had to go, so the soil could be more productive.

But I couldn't bare to just compost these plants.  I mean, they did reproduce nicely.  And they somehow survived the drought like summer we have had.  I felt I owed it to them to re-locate.

Enter in...the milk crate!

I had watched a special on an urban farm in New York city that grew everything in milk crates.  I have experimented a bit with some pepper plants.

But it occurred  to me this could be the perfect strawberry planter.

First line the crate with landscape fabric, then fill with soil. I cut out squares, then stapled them together to make an open cube.

Now just cut a hole in the fabric in the side.  Using your good steak knives is not mandatory.

Poke your finger in to make a hole in the soil.

Trim any dead parts off your plants.

And shove your sad looking, yet surviving plant, into the hole.

Make sure not to put it in too far so that the new leaves can make their way out.

Fill in the side leaving space between plants.  Plant some more in the top, keep watered and now you have a strawberry planter. 

I have 23 plants in a 1 foot square space.  Hopefully next summer I will get some strawberries.

Just on the other side of my milk crates, I have tomatoes in buckets.  I am trying to use any available space and this seems to be working.  Now I just need more crates and buckets!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Nature Explorers - Family Adventure


I didn't have anything specific planned for our outdoor adventure this week.  I did an online search for parks in our area, hoping to find one we have not yet visited.  Surprisingly, I found one just 15 minutes away.

It is a public park which I believe is privately operated.  It seemed to be a trust in honor of two people (Kathe and Cali).  We didn't have too much time to explore since the temperature was rapidly rising and some one in the family does not tolerate heat well. (me!!) There was a little playground which made all the kids happy, including the big one.

Once on the trail we found some blackberries, which was a surprise considering the drought.  They were good!

The trail led to some woods, which is rare around here since we mainly see fields of corn and soy beans.  It was such a treat to be in the cool of the forest.

We found some sassafras trees, which is one of my favorite trees.  The leaves are distinctive in that they have three different shapes all on one tree: the oval, the mitten and the dinosaur print.  Yep, those are the technical terms when identifying them.  Ok, maybe not, but that was how I first learned and I have never forgotten.
Another fun fact about sassafras is that this is were root beer, or sarsaparilla, originated.  If you happen to be in a location where you can did things up, (which we weren't) find a small sapling and dig it up, making sure to recover the root.  Just smelling it will remind you of root beer. There is debate as to whether the leaves are safe to consume or not, but  Here is a website with more information and recipes to make your own root beer.

Either way the leaves and stems have their own wonderful smell.  They in themselves are worth smelling.  We found many other treasures along the way, making a truly wonderful trip.

That's what we did to explore the great outdoors.  Next week we are focusing on seeds.  I hope you were able to get out and do some exploring yourself.  I am still trying to figure out the link up, everything has changed since I was last blogging.  So much to learn!  Hopefully next week you all can join me too.