One of the first big projects I completed when I bought my house was digging a large garden in the backyard, and we just barely made it in time for a summer full of tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, eggplant, peppers, and squash. The 20 x 30' patch somehow wasn't big enough for both eating and canning, so when spring rolled around again, I set out to expand our patch. Gardens are never finished, after all! (Check out our tutorial on how to hand-dig a garden here.)
The only thing I wasn't interested in expanding, though, was my water bill. Since we get on average 4 inches of rain per month during the growing season here in North Carolina (Apr–Nov), it was time to let the clouds handle the water supply rather than the city. Since this is mostly a money-saving project, I kept my budget really low because I preferred to have the materials pay for themselves as quickly as possible.
Read on for how to make a rain barrel on a budget!
Spring seems to have arrived overnight, and with it comes the explosion of green as everything wakes up from its winter nap. First up? Time to fend off the weeds. . . and please don’t reach for that toxic stuff. It’s nasty for you, your yard, and everything around it. Instead, try this safer and super effective recipe.
When I start my garden every spring, I like to kickstart it by heading over to the local nursery and hardware store for some pregrown plants. Seeds can be tricky to deal with, and plants that are already several weeks old are especially helpful if you're busy, don't have a ton of experience, and want to get a jump on the growing season without having a greenhouse.
For the remainder of my garden, it's all about the seeds. I love that thrill of watching those little seedlings cling to the dirt in rain and sun, and I'm ecstatic to see true leaves when they emerge. If you've been doing seed packets for a while, and you're looking to up your garden game and perhaps move into the world of heirloom vegetables, read on for our primer on how to save tomato seeds, seed pods, summer vegetables, and more!
What's not to love about a vegetable garden at the zenith of the growing season? More than a sum of its parts—a patch of dirt with some roots sending shoots out of it—a garden gives more than it takes. The average American spends 90% of his or her day indoors, and I use my garden to beat that statistic. I revel in its smells and textures and the satisfaction that comes from the results of tangible work. However, there are certain tasks I find needlessly tedious, and when I expanded my garden by about a hundred square feet this year, I began to count manually watering it with a hose as one of those tasks to eliminate with a timesaver.
But after I decided to set up my own DIY irrigation system, I quickly figured out that I didn't want to use soaker hoses (too expensive for the quantities I'd have to buy) or a rigid structure of PVC pipes (too permanent for the constantly changing setup in my current plot).
The solution was a pleasant surprise:
So I have a friend named Dan. I met him through work. Dan is in his early 70's. For the past––I'm not EXACTLY sure on the time here––30+ years, Dan has grown tomato plants from seed beginning in the very early Spring. And when he hears that you have even a passing interest in the garden, he comes by with three plants––one of each of the varietals he grows––along with a laminated sheet of paper with information about each of the plants. Dan is the definition of good people. And I love my three little tomato plants.
The garden suggests there might be a place where we can meet nature halfway.
— Michael Pollan
If you've never gardened before, but you would consider yourself a DIY-er/craftsperson/maker or what have you, there may be some things about gardening that are very different than other kinds of projects. To build a garden entails some kinds of making that are very ordinary and along the lines of any other plan–>materials–>product kind of project. But in other ways, it requires craft and technique that are completely beyond other kinds of skills. But, to build a garden is not to simply make something. It is to embark on an un-finishable
I've always been a big fan of eating good food. But I also can't leave well enough alone, so eating led me to cooking, and cooking led me to gardening.
Originally a means to an end, now there are few things that give me greater happiness than stepping out the back door in the middle of summer and walking across my backyard to the roughly 20' x 30' patch of dirt full of rows of tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, squash, and greens.
When I first bought my house and decided to transform the patch of grass into our home garden, I didn't own a rototiller, but I did have a $20 shovel, an internet connection, and a spare can of elbow grease. After compiling the ideas from several gardening sites and testing it out on my half-acre slice of North Carolina, I had myself a beautifully productive vegetable garden.
Here's a brief primer on how you can hand-dig your own patch using the time-honored technique of "double digging."
When I was younger, my mom always gave us a list of chores to do before we left town for an extended weekend. At the time, I didn't fully understand why my clothes needed to be put away or why all the dishes needed to be washed if we weren't going to be home, I just wanted to get to the hotel so I could jump in the pool. Luckily for me, my older brother is an absolute neat freak and he would get up early and finish most of the tasks on the checklist before I even got out of bed. Fast forward 20+ years, and I completely understand why my mom always made us complete that list of chores before we left town. Being older and slightly wiser than my 8-year old self, now I make sure to always do these 11 things before departing for my next adventure:
This post is sponsored by the DIYZ® app.
Composting. Maybe you've heard of it? It's kind of a thing. It's no longer the sole purview of hippies, weirdos, and 7th-grade science teachers Composting has gone mainstream, and that's a good thing. Don't worry, we're sure your 7th grade science teacher will find another weird hobby to call their own.
Anyway, if you've been looking to get into composting, but don't love the look of boring, plastic composting bins, then this is the post for you. We're going to make an elegant, functional, totally-not-weird-looking compost bin. And we're going to have fun doing it! Pay attention, because at
Indoor plants in your home are a no-brainer: they bring the outside in, improve air quality, provide lots of natural color and texture, and encourage you to take an investment in the spaces you spend your time. They literally (and figuratively) add life to your home. Learn how to rock the green look with these six guy-friendly decor ideas. No floral wallpaper need apply.1: Mix and match. (pictured above) Go freestyle! Hit your nearest nursery and select a few different varieties. A few ideas include: palms, ferns, Massangeana, and rubber tree. Make sure to ask them about any special care requirements for each one of them (prior to
I spend a lot of time at a desk. Many of us do. It's a space where we learn, create, work, and play. I'm not saying all that sitting is a good thing, but if it has to happen then make the space as clean and relaxing as you can. Here is a quick project to add a bit of green, texture, and peace to you space.
This is a good one. Justin and Kayla from Home Coming Minnesota came up with simple way to turn basic cedar planks from the home improvement store into a modern outdoor planter stand to bring in some weather-resistant style to their backyard.
Oh, Summertime. The best time of year for delicious drinks made with fresh ingredients. In doing my research for this piece, I had a hard time not wanting to just make up a drink for each herb!
Plants, my friends. Plants. Succulents, ferns, ivies, flowers, cacti, sedum, even tiny trees are all an awesome way to bring some life into any space, indoors or out. These simple, rustic boxes allow you to get the plants off the floors and flat surfaces and onto the walls, where they can be seen and get the light they need. The boxes make it easy to combine a variety of pots, containers, and hanging planters, and maintain a cohesive vibe.
Sometimes, a plant and gardening project can be big and complicated, designed as a major focal point or landscaping effort that's intended to last for years and many harvests. See this guy.
But most of my favorite plant projects are the simple ones. The quick and easy efforts that allow you to spread a little life all around your space.
This modern, modular garden project works well in any space. Because it uses wood containers, you don't have to worry about the quality of your existing soil, and they can sit on any surface: grass, concrete, gravel or even a wooden deck. The garden's vertical orientation lets you grow a whole bunch of veggies, herbs, and flowers in a tiny footprint.
There's nothing like being able to walk out your own door and grab a big handful of fresh vegetables and herbs and make a tasty meal. This vertical planter project allows you to grow a lot of produce in a small amount of space, so there's always a fresh batch of lettuce or mint ready to go when you need it.
I've always been a huge fan of miniature gardens and plants – likely stemming back to the first time my 8 year old self saw Mr Miyagi working on his bonsai trees with such elegant diligence. The art itself has a long and storied past and takes lots of practice.
I may be behind the curve on this one, but I had no idea how easy cutting glass was if you have the proper tools (which are also surprisingly cheap). Ben Uyeda at Homemade-Modern.com posted this tutorial on how to make some streamlined desktop planters out of old wine bottles.
Even as an adult, I love playing in the dirt. Getting my hands dirty, nurturing a plant from a seed into something I can eat and feed my friends and family with...gardening, at least for me, is a not brainer for the guy living the "hands on" lifestyle.