Monday, November 30, 2009

Five Winter Chores for the Summer Garden

(crossposted at BlogHer)

This morning started with bright sunshine for me and I was reminded that this is the perfect time of year to get those final garden chores done to insure a successful growing season next year. (Please to ignore that this year was a disaster). Whenever it is dry and the soil can be seen and worked, we owe it to ourselves to spend a little time outdoors.

What can be done if our gardens are not actively growing?

First we can continue to weed. I've found that the most persistant weeds are often the only visible growth in the winter garden -which makes this an ideal time to attack them. These weeds tend to have root systems that encourage additional growth when damaged, so digging a small clump of soil around each weed and throwing the entire thing away is the most effective weed control. DO NOT COMPOST these clumps. They have persistence in their genes and will likely survive even the hottest compost pile.

Second, we can add amendments. Many garden centers and home improvement stores will have compost and soil additives on sale to clear out for the winter months. Now is great time to empty your own compost bins and add additional organic material to your beds. These can act as additional winter mulch in colder regions-insulating the roots of perennial plants- while in warmer climates they will be available for your winter gardening use.

Third, we can do cleaning and maintenance on our garden tools. When the weather outside is frightful, spend some time indoors cleaning, sharpening, and tuning your garden tools. Make sure all metal tools are free from rust, lightly oiled and all cutting edges are sharp NOW. If any tool needs to be repaired or replaced, start making that list now.

Fourth, look back on the growing season past. What were the successes this year? What flowers and plants do you want to make sure to grow next year? What were your failures and how will you try to avoid repeating those? Did you fall prey to the home center's eagerness to display plants and get things in the ground too early? Did you not notice insect or disease damage quickly enough? A little introspection on the year is a great learning tool.

Finally, begin to plan for next year. With last year's notes fresh in your mind, grab a calendar and begin to plan for next year. Make notes on when to plant -not too early, not too late. Winter months can be spent paging through the seed and plant catalogs, planning your garden year. But get the basics set now.

What others are doing in their gardens:

Margaret Roach reminded us that Conifers Are Forever (not just for the holidays).

The Dirt pointed to an interesting way to fight climate change: turn the Australian and Saharan Desert into forests.

Daisy the Groundskeeper at Compost Happens is still searching for The Fabled Fairies of Thanksgiving. (this made me laugh).

Emma from Coopette has a dilemma. She has discovered that teabags are not 100% compostable anymore (having a fine plastic mesh to keep the bags from breaking) and must decide what to do in the future. Did you know that your tea bag isn't completely breaking down in the compost?

Nelumbo, a girl growing Southern, expanded her own compost piles this fall (good time to do so) and wrote the details as a basic tutorial.

Kate of High Altitude Gardening shared some of the best of her holiday indoor flowering plants.

The Inadvertent Gardener threw in the towel and threw out the plant.

What gardening plans do you have for the next few weeks?

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Friday, November 27, 2009

5 Ideas on Making a Holiday Memory Scrapbook

One sure thing about the holidays: as the family gathers together there will be a discussion -or worse argument- about something that happened at a past holiday gathering. The kids received duplicate gifts 2 years ago -or was it three? Uncle Joe hit the eggnog a bit too hard and ended up sleeping it off under the tree when??

A simple way to help provide evidence of all the fun-filled events of holidays past is start NOW to document the evidence -uhm create a holiday memory scrapbook. But how shall you do this?

1. Decide on theme for the book. YES, these are holiday books which means they already have a basic theme, but see if you can refine it. Organize the memories by year or by person. Or look through the photos you have and see if another -less obvious- theme presents itself. It might be color, food, facial expressions, anything that will let you organize some of your memories.

2. Edit the photos. While you may have 50 photos from last year's Christmas Eve dinner, choose the best 10 to 15 to use. Make the photos you use the ones that truly tell a story. They do NOT need to be the "best" photos artistically-they should be best to tell the story.

3. Trim the photos and add a frame. You can trim out any excess background (scrap bookers call this cropping) to make sure the focus stays on the story element. Border the pictures with one or two complimentary colors of paper. Think of this as the matting and framing of the pictures. Because this is in paper, though, feel free to be creative! Are the pictures of Thanksgiving dinner together? Frame these pictures with a cut border(s) in the shape of a turkey or circles to look like fancy dinner plates. Christmas memories might be framed in shapes of fancy ornaments.

5. Leave room for the story. As I understand it, the difference between a photo album and a scrapbook is that the scrapbook tells the story. Space for writing/printing/sharing the story on the page is important.

6. Feel free to add other ephemera. If you decide to make a scrapbook from this year's holiday gift-giving, include the gift tag with the photo. Or add the Thanksgiving menu, the newspaper's weather report (especially if a blizzard explains someone's absence or their extended presence). Anything to do with the day that might spark additional memories of that exact moment in time.

If I were spending the holidays with family, I would make several of these books ahead of time- minus a lot of the story. Then invite the people there to look through the pictures and write their own recollections of the days and years past on the pages. Letting a photograph spark memories from all the different perspectives would be the greatest gift for me and from me.

If your images are already on your computer-or stored online- you can use a website like scrapblog to create your memories, because sometimes holiday photos NEED the story shared. I supply as evidence myself:

Holiday Scrapping Talk:

Great instructions for Making Your Own Holiday Cards and Keeping Sane While Doing So can be found at Ella Publishing's blog. The secret is using technology.

Turn your blog into a scrap booking page. The Theory of Creativity explains using My Digital Studio to design your blog template.

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.