Sheri Ann Richerson's exotic gardening, elegant cooking, crafty creations, food preservation and animal husbandry... all on two and a half acres in Marion, Indiana!

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    Spring is just around the corner and what better way to kick-off the growing season than with a mega garden giveaway! 
     
    There will be multiple garden-related prizes for one lucky winner! We are currently still working with several sponsors to coordinate all the prizes but will have all the info soon including the amount of the gift cards! 
     
    Currently accepting Sponsors, Co-Hosts and Bloggers with paid & free options to participate! 

    Sponsors

    If you would like to sponsor a garden related prize in exchange for having your product and company featured on MULTIPLE blogs, please contact Stephanie at sosimplystephanie@gmail.com with information about your product. Each prize will need to be a minimum retail value of $25. (For products less than $25 you can combine multiple products for a ‘gift basket-type prize or send the remainder amount via PayPal and all ‘PayPal funds’ will go towards a gift card to be included in the giveaway!)

    Each Sponsor Will Receive:
    •  2 social media links on the giveaway widget
    • Product info with links to your website (or Amazon link to product)
    • Picture of product
    • social media shout outs throughout the giveaway
    • Be featured on multiple blogs for the duration of this giveaway! 

    Co-Hosts

    10 Co-Host spots will be available. Co-Host spots are $10 each and will help cover the costs associated with hosting this giveaway!
     
    Each Co-Host Will Receive: 
    • Blog name & feature listed on the giveaway info with a link back to your site
    • 4 social media links on giveaway widget
    • 1 Comment or Pin-It option on giveaway tool (preferably a garden related post or pin)
    • Free Link Option for posting the Sign Up HTML on their blog (HTML below)
    Co-Hosts Sign Up Here.

    Paid Bloggers

    Paid Bloggers spots are available for $3 each. 
     
    Each Paid Blogger Will Receive:
    • 2 social media links on the giveaway widget 
    • Free Link Option for posting the announcement post on their blog (HTML below)
    Paid Bloggers Sign Up Here.

    Free Link Option

    Bloggers can also opt for the free option and receive a free social media link on the giveaway widget by sharing the Grow Your Garden Sign Up info (this same post) on their blogs. All Co-Hosts & Bloggers will receive an additional link for sharing the sign up info on their page as well. You do NOT have to be a Co-Host or paid Blogger to receive the free link option.
     
    Free Link Option ONLY Sign Up Here.
     
    You can find the Announcement Post HTML Here.
     
    If you have any questions or suggestions for this giveaway please contact Stephanie at sosimplystephanie@gmail.com. 
     

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    Winter Garden Ideas_ Harvest Vegetables-3
    Getting a head start on the vegetable garden can be tricky if you wait until January because of frozen ground. It seems this time of year if the ground is not frozen it is wet. Neither condition is conducive to tilling, seeding or planting. There are some ways to get around these conditions so you can get your seeds and plants in the ground in plenty of time to get an early spring harvest.

    Start Your Vegetable Garden In August
    One way is to plant your garden in August. The ground is usually workable then, the seeds will germinate easily and then all you have to do is cover the young seedlings with a cold frame and wait. Starting seeds in August will allow you to harvest vegetables throughout the winter months. Good choices are brussels sprouts, cabbage, spinach, lettuce and carrots. Brussels sprouts can over winter without a cold frame and often taste better if they are not picked until after they have been frosted upon.

    Fall Preparation For Early Spring Planting
    If you don’t want to mess with winter gardening but do want to get a head start on your vegetable garden early in the year when conditions may not be favorable for working the ground, now would be the time to till up empty spots in your garden so the ground will be ready when you are. You can also pre-dig holes. For example, if you know you are going to plant potatoes in December, dig the trenches now. Cover the soil you dug with black plastic to help it retain heat. Go ahead and put the grass clippings, straw and compost in the bottom of the hole. When the time comes to plant those potatoes all you will need to do is lay them in the hole, cover them with more grass clippings, straw, compost and soil. Dig holes for any other early spring plants you intend to grow such as cabbages and if you grow lettuce or other greens in rows, go ahead and draw those rows in the dirt.

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    Early SeasonVegetable GardeningPinterest

    January is a good time to prep your vegetable garden, plant cool season crops and get your seed starting supplies ready for the upcoming season. For those who were unable to get into their garden in January due to snow and cold weather, there is still time in February and even March to get a head start on the gardening season.

    Spring is just around the corner. Seed catalogs are arriving almost daily in the mail. It’s time once again to sit inside where it is warm and decide what vegetables to grow from seed this coming spring. For gardeners who plan to get an early start on the season, now is the time to place those orders.

    Plant Leafy Greens As Early As January


    Even gardeners with a short growing season can begin planting some crops outside in mid-January as long as the ground is workable. Cabbages as well as other leafy greens can be direct seeded around the 16th of January.

    Seed potatoes that did not get planted in November or December can be planted now. With winter sown potatoes, remember to plant them eight inches deep and use grass mulch both under the seed potato as well as on top of the seed potato. Cover the mulch with about an inch of soil and by mid-summer you will be digging potatoes.

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    Low Maintenance Perennials Pinterest

    Busy gardeners will delight in these no-fail perennials that are easy to grow, require minimal care once established and bloom throughout most of the summer. Picking the right plants to start with makes it easy to create a beautiful landscape. In addition to looking good in the garden, these plants are also hummingbird and butterfly magnets. Deadheading, or removing the faded flowers, prevents these plants from setting seed and with the exception of the daylily, encourages them to re-bloom.

    Daylily 'Going Bananas,' Geranium 'Blushing Turtle'

    Daylily ‘Going Bananas’ and perennial Geranium ‘Blushing Turtle’ look awesome growing together.

    Daylily
    Daylilies (Hemerocallis) are no-fail, no-fuss plants that truly thrive on neglect. Once established, they are drought tolerant, multiply easily and are prolific, colorful bloomers. Daylilies thrive in almost any soil type, even in areas such as ditches that flood and are not affected by high temperatures. Grow daylilies in full sun or part-shade. Daylilies range in height from a mere 8 inches tall to well over 5 feet tall. The flowers come in many shapes, sizes and almost every color of the rainbow. Some varieties are fragrant and others bloom strictly at night. Each flower lasts just one day, although some varieties, such as Stella D’Oro will bloom all summer long. Daylilies are hardy in U.S. Department of Agricultural hardiness zones 3 through 9.

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    Picture-007web

    February is a good month to purchase any last minute seeds for the garden, clean used flowerpots and buy seed starting supplies such as seed starting potting mix, peat pots, flower tags and organic fertilizers. Check indoor grow lights to see if any need to be replaced. If heating mats are used, plug them in to make sure they are still working.


    Tapping Maple Trees

    February is a busy month for gardeners who make their own maple syrup. February 1 is the day to tap sugar maple trees. Any maple tree will give sap that can be boiled down into maple syrup, however the sap from the sugar maple is the best. Once the taps are in place, containers are placed under the taps so the sap can flow into them. Regular inspection of the containers is necessary so the sap does not flow on the ground once the container is filled.

    It takes approximately fifty gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. Maple sugar is made by boiling the sap until it turns into sugar. As each container is filled, the sap is put into a pan and boiled down until the sap reduces by half, and then it is poured into a second pan where the boiling continues until it turns into a thick syrup.

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    gVL1PzJHXpcaMYyv.jpg

    Disclaimer: I received this product/service at a reduced price or for free. All opinions are my own and are my honest opinions based on my own experience with the product.

    It’s still several weeks too soon here in Indiana to start tapping our maple trees but when I saw this new Maple Tapping Tree Kit plus the How-To Book, I wanted to check it out. I became a #mapletapper a number of years ago. Nothing tastes as good as your own maple syrup plus I know my trees are not treated or fertilized with anything that is not organic. The taps are what sets this kit apart from other similar kits and I am very excited to give them a try.

    The taps and tubing are all food grade. In the past I have had problems lifting the large buckets of maple sap off the metal taps that I have. These new ones are plastic but the bucket does not hang on them. Instead the bucket can sit on a stand made of concrete blocks, a table or whatever other items you have on hand provided you tap that high on the tree. Otherwise, just sit your buckets on the ground. The tubing runs from the tap to your bucket carrying the sap with it. As long as the bucket you use is sealed well this means no more ants or tree debris falling into your sap. While straining the sap is still necessary as far as I am concerned, there will be less stuff to get rid of.

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    J0MMbRPJInQB7tw9.jpg

    Disclaimer: I received this product/service at a reduced price or for free. All opinions are my own and are my honest opinions based on my own experience with the product.

    I received a ten pack of organic vegetable seeds earlier this month which was just in time for early planting. As some of you know I often plant seeds of cool weather crops as early as January under cover outdoors and begin seeds of warm weather crops indoors. Since a portion of my garden is protected by a hoop house and cold frames, I can do this successfully here in Indiana. The reason I start the warm weather crops so early is because I like to plant those outdoors under cover by mid to late March depending on the severity of the weather.

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    The first thing I liked about these seeds were they are organic, non-GMO. That is huge to me and I am sure it is to some of you as well. The ten packets of seeds included were ones that vegetable gardeners are likely to grow with the exception of courgette. I don’t know a lot of gardeners that grow that but maybe that is a regional preference. The seeds were well packaged and I love that the back of the box not only told what seeds were inside but also gave a seed count. That is important to know in order to better plan your garden. The seeds are sealed in foil packets so even though 90 tomato seeds might seem excessive it will be easy to seal and store those seed packets for the following year.

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    Winter Care Of Outdoor Water FeaturesPinterest
    Fall brings many outdoor gardening chores such as raking leaves, cleaning and putting away gardening tools as well as preparing your pond or water fountain for winter. Don’t forget about the fish and plants that may be in your pond. They need winter care as well. Some plants do quite well over the winter months in a pond as long as it is deep enough. Others will die unless they are brought indoors and given adequate light. Fish are another consideration. Some will survive the winter but feeding them is important. Others won’t survive unless you bring them indoors. Once you decide what to do about the fish and plants in your water feature, the next step is preparing that water feature for the cold weather that lies ahead. Following these basic steps will help insure that you get years of enjoyment out of your water feature.

    If you have a concrete or cast stone water fountain and live in a cold area the best advice is to empty it, remove the pump and bring it all inside before the first freeze of the season. Cold temperatures cause concrete to expand and contract which could cause the concrete to crack, especially if there is water in your fountain.

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    Grow Your Own Healing Plants Pinterest

    Disclaimer: This is not intended as medical advice. Always talk with your doctor about any natural remedies you wish to use before taking them. Some natural remedies do not mix well with prescription medication.

    Many years ago, it used to be that the majority of people relied on natural remedies. But that got pushed aside in favor of modern medicine. There’s no doubt that modern medicine has done a lot of good, but it’s not without its downside. Sometimes people end up overmedicated for health issues that can be treated simply and effectively at home. A great way to treat some of common health problems that affect people is through the natural use of plants. Plants don’t give you the same dangerous side effects that a lot of the medications prescribed today do. Plus, it’s easier and a lot more cost effective to turn to nature when you need healing.

    There are a lot of different plants you can grow that will treat your ailments naturally. Some can be applied topically and some can be brewed into teas. You should make sure that you understand how much of a plant you should use, because just like medicines you get at the pharmacy, there are dosing guidelines you need to follow when using plants to treat ailments. It is always a good idea to talk to your doctor as they can often guide you along the path to using natural medicines.

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    HealthyPondWaterPinterest
    A small backyard pond is a miniature representation of the natural aquatic world. If you have fish in your pond, you have a source for a great fertilizer for your plants. This fertilizer is known as fish emulsion. While you can remove some of this fish emulsion to use on your plants, you do not want to remove too much or you could offset the balance of your pond. Knowing just how much to remove takes time and this is why some people do not bother removing any fish emulsion. Understanding the two groups of elements in a garden pond is important for the health of the pond water and the fish or plants that live in that water. Those  elements are ones that enter the air and those that accumulate in the pond and cause problems such as algae. A closer look at these elements will give you a better idea of what exactly is in pond water and why fish emulsion makes such a great fertilizer.


    Nitrogen – Essential for a Healthy Aquatic Environment
    Nitrogen is essential to a healthy pond. It is created by beneficial bacteria which reprocess the various nitrogenous compounds. These compounds can be found on both soft sediment and on all of the hard surfaces inside a pond. Nitrogen gets into a pond through leaf matter, fish food, nitrates in untreated tap water as well as proteins from snails and worms. Nitrogen is an essential ingredient in fertilizers represented by the letter N. It encourages rapid plant growth. Too much nitrogen though is not good.


    Phosphorus – a Reactive Element
    Phosphorus enters the pond environment when fish eat live plants because phosphorus is incorporated into plant tissue. When the fish excretes the excess phosphorus that is not absorbed by the fish’s body is released back into the water. Phosphates can also enter the water through fish food and tap water. Phosphate levels are generally pretty low in a backyard pond however they do promote the growth of algae in a pond. Phosphorus is also in regular fertilizer. It is responsible for promoting cell division and new tissue development. Phosphorous promotes root growth, winter hardiness and often hastens plant maturity.


    Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide
    When oxygen and carbon dioxide are created in a pond they are released back into the atmosphere when there is too much in the pond water. Oxygen is produced by aquatic plants through photosynthesis and is beneficial to the plants and animals in the pond as well as the environment as a whole. Carbon dioxide can occur in algae rich mud as well as a heavily fed pond, even if the water is clear. A low pH can mean there is a buildup of carbon dioxide. However, this is usually short lived and the excess will enter the atmosphere. If there is a constant supply of too much carbon dioxide it will need to be offset by the addition of more oxygen so that the aquatic plants, fish and other critters in your pond do not suffer from oxygen deficiency. The most effective treatment for a lack of oxygen in a pond is to aerate the water with a water feature such as a waterfall or fountain.

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