Two Little Time

A Busy Mom's Take On Life

Black Thumb: Diary of a Wannabe Gardener, Day 9 — 5 Things I Learned

I think it is official. I am no longer a “black thumb.” When I first started my  vegetable gardening journey, I knew nothing except my previous attempts (and failures) at keeping anything green alive. My college roommate can testify to my cactus murdering phase. Now, nearing the end of the growing season for my zone, I can safely claim a successful first garden. Virtually all of the vegetables I planted grew well.

Initially, I figure if I had even a 50% success rate I would be pretty pleased. I have now harvested radishes, turnips, peppers, peas, wax beans, green beans, broccoli, potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, carrots, green onions, yellow onions, garlic, a zillion zucchini and summer squash, an abundance of herbs, and a ton of lettuce. My crops varied somewhat in amount and consistency. Not to mention, I still have corn, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage that are in the works.

These are the top five tidbits I  have  learned in my first year as a serious gardener.

        1. Have a Plan

Smart Gardener, beginner gardener.

A screen shot of my garden plan.

A good garden is a planned garden. You need to research each plant you intend on growing to find out if you can grow it in your particular zone (more on that below), when you need to plant it, how much space it needs, what other plants it will grow well with, etc. There are so many great resources I have found for finding out how to plant, care for, harvest, and even eat the vegetables I planted. A few of my favorite are Smart GardenerThe Spruce: Outdoors and Gardening, and The Farmer’s Almanac.  Additionally, I utilized my local library, local gardening club, several friends and family members, and of course, Pinterest! I used a printed plan of what I wanted my garden to look like that I was able to generate on Smart Gardener, that came with a to do list of planting and fertilizing times.

        2. Know Your Zone

If you are lucky enough to live in a warm, moist climate with a long growing season, you can probably grow just about anything you want. As for me, I live in Zone 3 (cold, short growing season) at an elevation of 7200 feet and with a semi-arid climate. Many of the things I wanted to plant were not advised for my zone. In order to combat this I did a lot of research, I learned that certain things did well in our zone–greens, zucchini (I think that does well anywhere), certain herbs, broccoli–and I learned about frost-tolerant and “early” varieties of things like corn, tomatoes and peppers. I started many things in doors, under grow lights (see my post on that here Black Thumb: Diary of A Wannabe Gardener, Day 6 — Grow Lights) in order to maximize my growing season. I also learned that compost and regular watering would be especially important for me.

       3. Watering is Key

Clearly, watering is important for your garden under any circumstances, but if you live in a dry climate like I do, it is absolutely paramount. With the help of my engineer husband we bought a simple timer on Amazon like this one from Orbit Orbit Single Outlet Programmable Hose Faucet Timer and rigged up a system of soaker hoses to water our garden at regular intervals in the early morning and evening. I had my tomatoes in large containers and my husband rigged up a section of soaker hose to water them as well. He used electrical tape to cover sections of the hose that he did not want to emit water.

       Garden, Compost4. Compost Really IS Your Best Friend

When we were preparing to plant our garden we were concerned with both the nutrient content of the soil, as well as its ability to retain moisture. Through research, we discovered that a 50/50 mix of soil and compost had been successful for others in our type of environment. Our local landfill had certified compost for a very reasonable price. Our plants achieved an impressive size and were, for the most part, very productive. I think this was mostly due to the use of compost early on.

      5. Embrace the Process

Most importantly, understand your priorities and have realistic expectations. This was quite an experience for me, especially having never successfully grown a seed in my life. I went in with very low expectations. Gradually, as my first strawberries and asparagus started to sprout, I began to get excited. The perfectionist in me took over and I took every setback as a personal failure. What I have learned through this process is that having realistic expectations for your garden is very important. Gardening should NOT be stressful. If you are a new gardener, you need to understand  and accept that not every seed you plant will germinate, not every seedling will grow, and not every plant will bear fruit. Embrace the process. Learn from your mistakes and find joy in your triumphs.

Black Thumb: Diary of A Wannabe Gardener, Day 8– The Garden Grows

Read the first post in this series here: Black Thumb: Diary of A Wannabe Gardener, Day 1

Garden Fresh Recipes: The Best Stuffed Peppers

Garden Fresh Recipes: Roasted Cauliflower Soup

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Black Thumb: Diary of a Wannabe Gardener, Day 8 – The Garden Grows

My Memorial Day deadline has come and gone–my garden has now been completely planted.

The garden is growing!! I have radishes, turnips, two pepper varieties, peas, beans, corn, pumpkin, summer squash, zucchini, onions, two varieties of cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, oak leaf lettuce, cabbage, fingerling potatoes, brussels sprouts, garlic, chives, dill, cilantro, basil, and asparagus in the main garden. I also planted rhubarb, strawberries, and raspberries in additional areas around my yard. In containers, I have my tomatoes, and additional strawberries and basil. Whew! That is a lot. Too much? That remains to be seen.

Just Keep Growing

Garden Care for Dummies

My main garden has raised beds and a soaker hose system on a timer. I figure even I can’t kill it if it is automatically watered. Fingers crossed! I have been watering twice a day for about 20 minutes a session. My soil is about a 50/50 mix of plain old dirt and compost–the recommended ratio for drier environs. I have been using Miracle Grow for Tomatoes on my tomatoes and peppers every two weeks and also once on my other plants.

I Will Survive

As for my leggy seedlings that survived the grow light apocalypse? I am happy to report that two of the three asparagus seem to be making it. After I planted them they all died, however, two have started to regrow! One of my original brussels sprouts seems to be surviving as well as most of the broccoli and cauliflower I transplanted. And, despite all warnings of doom, at least half of my transplanted peas are hanging on.

Tomatoes, Potatoes, and Peppers . . . Oh My!Starting seeds

I am particularly pleased with peppers and tomatoes. I started them from seeds and they seem to be thriving. They are more than a foot high and I swear I can almost watch them grow! No flowers or fruit yet, but I have faith. My potatoes are sprouting up nicely. I “hilled” them once already. According to what I have read, potatoes should be hilled about three times (bury them in more dirt).Container gardening

Finally, A Harvest . . .

As far as harvesting goes, I have gotten some spinach and lettuce. The lettuce is growing fantastically. It is re-growing well each time I cut leaves and it is very tasty. I am a bit disappointed in the spinach. It didn’t taste very good and wasn’t very prolific. It might have gotten to hot for it, so I cut it all back and planted a second batch. I have also harvested chives and basil. I am freezing the basil leaves to make pesto!!

All in all, I am quite pleased with the progress so far!

Black Thumb Diary of A Wannabe Gardener, Day 7 – The Garden

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Not Your Mama’s Tuna Noodle Casserole

This is not the Tuna Noodle Casserole your mother made you, it is so much better!

I have always loved Tuna Noodle Casserole (really any casserole, or “hotdish” as we called it in Minnesota). There is something just so comforting about its creamy, cheesy goodness. As I have grown up and my palate has matured, I started tweaking my favorites. This recipe is a slight twist on the old classic. It maintains all the tastiness of the original with a bit of sophistication. Incidentally, this is also the only way my kids will eat tuna. Enjoy!Simple dinners, kid friendly recipes


1 Tbs. butter (or oil)

Tuna (3- 3oz. Cans)

½ yellow onion

1-2 celery stalks

1 cup frozen peas (optional)

1-2 garlic cloves

Approximately 8 oz of Egg Noodles

Cream of Onion soup (2-10.5 oz. Cans)

¼ cup milk

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

Salt and Pepper to taste

Approximately ½ tsp paprika

4 –5 oz. Shredded Sharp Cheddar

French Fried Onions


Pre-heat oven to 350°. Prepare 9×11 glass casserole by spraying lightly with cooking spray.

Cook egg noodles according to package directions for al dente and drain.Simple Dinners, kid friendly recipes

While egg noodles are cooking, heat large non-stick skillet over medium heat and melt butter. Dice garlic and coarsely chop onion and celery before adding to hot skillet. Cook garlic, onion and celery until translucent. Add peas and continue to cook until tender. Remove from heat and set aside.

Simple dinners, kid friendly recipes

In small bowl, whisk together cream of onion soup, milk, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Pour veggies into prepared casserole. Open and drain tuna and mix with veggies. Top with sauce and stir until well combined. Last, gently stir in egg noodlesSimple Dinners, kid friendly recipes

Spread layer of shredded cheese over casserole and top with fried onions. Sprinkle with paprika.

Bake at 350°. for about 20 minutes, or until casserole is heated through and cheese is bubbly. 


Looking for more simple, satisfying dinner recipes? Check these out!

The Best Stuffed Peppers

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Red Beans and Rice with Smoked Sausage

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Leave me a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Black Thumb: Diary of a Wannabe Gardener, Day 7 — The Garden

Garden Construction

Finally, the day has arrived!  

 My very handy husband completed my new garden. In compliance with the sage advice from The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible, we went with raised beds. My hubby built three long raised beds the two on the outside are 2′ x 22′ each and the center bed is 4′ x 18′ to leave room for a walkway and gates at either end. Additionally, each bed is separated by an 18″ walkway. It is perfect. I am so excited. 

 My hubs was able to make most of it from salvaged wood, thus bringing down the cost substantially. We did invest in some nice black coated rabbit wire to keep out the bunnies and some cute hardware for the gates.  Furthermore, we purchased some inexpensive compost from the landfill and mixed it in with our existing dirt. Side note: our landfill gets their compost tested and certified chemical free–that is important! We mixed it about 50/50 because we live in a dry, windy, high-elevation.

Grow-light Aftermath

 Now that it is built, I can start transplanting and planting! There are several vegetables that I must wait to plant until after Memorial Day—thank you, Zone 4—but I can now plant peas, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, turnips, radishes, onions, lettuce, spinach, garlic, brussels sprouts, and asparagus. 

 The first of my long-suffering, grow-light weary seedlings that I transplanted were my asparagus. I had started my three asparagus crowns (well 4 actually, but one never came up) in my size five jiffy pots. They are now about two to three feet long and trailing all over my laundry room. They are the epitome of a “leggy” seedling. I don’t know if they will make it, but I am going to stick them in the garden ASAP. 

Of my original seedlings only a few cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts survived the slow starvation death by grow light (see Day 6). Notwithstanding, I will dutifully transplant the survivors and cross my fingers for my new “replacement” batch. My mother-in-law, who is a prolific gardener, told me that you never start peas inside—so, we’ll see how they do. I am disappointed by that revelation because my peas were doing really well, climbing all over the ramshackle wire trellis I rigged for them.  

 The Fantastic Ph/ Moisture Doohickey!

I am excited to direct sow my turnips, radishes, carrots, potatoes, and onions. I made some additional soil amendments potatoes, carrots and turnips. Apparently they like a more acidic soil and I know mine is very alkali thanks to the cool little doohickey I bought at Ace Hardware! It’s called Hydrofarm Two-Way Ph and Moisture Meter, and its Ah-Mazing! It tells me the Ph and whether or not my soil is wet, moist or dry. I added sulfur to the soil to increase the acidity; you just shake a little on (following the directions of course) and water it. 

 Of Onions, Garlic and Potatoes

I planted seed onions, but I got cheap and decided I didn’t want to buy seed potatoes. I bought some gourmet looking fingerling potatoes at the grocery store and sprouted them in my cupboard. The reviews on this topic are mixed. Many gardeners swear by this method, other caution that it can introduce disease into your garden. We shall see. Unfortunately, I did mess up my garlic. I bought seed garlic bulbs and planted it (I thought) according to the directions. I stuck the whole bulb in my jiffy pot and covered it up. Nope. Apparently, you are supposed to separate the cloves and plant each individually. Good to know. Unfortunately, only one actually sprouted, but it looks pretty good. I am going to attempt to separate the cloves when I plant them. If it doesn’t work out, I do have some garlic from the grocery store that actually sprouted in my crisper. Got my Plan B. 

Here we go . . . 

Black Thumb Diary of A Wannabe Gardener, Day 6 – Grow Lights

Black Thumb Diary of A Wannabe Gardener, Day 8 – The Garden Grows

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The Best Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers are definitely one of my favorite dishes to make. They are so versatile, so fun, and so delicious. Over the years I have made several variations on this recipe. The possibilities are nearly endless. All you need is a bell pepper of your choice, a meat (Or not! Go ahead, make ’em vegetarian!), a starch like rice or couscous, salsa or diced tomatoes, cheese, and a few seasonings. You can choose a theme and build from there–Italian, southwest, Greek!

Of course, there a few key things to keep in mind. It is important to roast the peppers before you fill them. This ensures that they are tender and flavorful. Also, make sure that you have enough liquid (diced tomatoes, salsa, etc.) to keep your pepper from getting dry. Other than that, it’s up to you!

Below is a classic Italian style stuffed pepper.

Stuffed Pepper Ingredients: 

3 bell peppers (I prefer red, but green or yellow are fine too) 

4 green onions 

2 cloves garlic 

1 cup chopped portabella mushrooms (optional) 

1 pound ground meat (beef, pork sausage, turkey or wild game all work great) 

1 cup jasmine white rice (2 cups cooked) 

1 can diced Italian tomatoes 

8 oz finely shredded Italian cheese blend 

1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder (divided) 

1 ½ teaspoons onion powder (divided) 

½ teaspoon Italian seasoning 

Salt and pepper to taste 

Spray cooking oil 

 Stuffed Pepper Directions: 

First, pre-heat your oven to 400. While oven is pre-heating, prepare jasmine white rice according to package directions. Next, slice your peppers into two pieces the long way (stem to bottom) and remove any seeds. Place the peppers in a 9×13 glass casserole dish, skin side down. Spray the peppers lightly with cooking spray and dust with garlic powder and onion powder (about a half a teaspoon of each) and salt and pepper. Roast peppers in the oven until tender and starting to caramelize (about 20 minutes). 

 While the peppers are roasting, heat large skillet on medium heat. Add meat and brown (if you are using a very lean meat you may need to add a teaspoon of olive oil). Finely chop garlic cloves and add to meat. Coarsely chop mushrooms (if desired) and add to meat when it is mostly browned. Season meat with remaining teaspoon of garlic, remaining teaspoon of onion powder, and Italian seasoning. When meat is fully cooked stir in cooked rice and diced green onions. Salt and pepper to taste. 

 Remove peppers from oven and reduce oven temperature to 350. Spoon generous amounts of filling into each pepper half (I like it overflowing). Pour diced Italian tomatoes over each pepper and top with shredded cheese. Bake stuffed peppers in the oven for approximately 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and filling is heated through. 

Want more great recipes?

Not Your Mama’s Tuna Noodle Casserole

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

Red Beans and Rice with Smoked Sausage

Subscribe to my blog!

Leave me a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Black Thumb: Diary of A Wannabe Gardener, Day 6 – Grow Lights

The Pros and Cons of Grow Lights

I was thrilled to discover that Wal-Mart sells LED grow lights! For several days I had been debating whether or not to order some LED lights off of Amazon or try out some simple fluorescent shop lights. I read that LED were better, and then there they were on the shelf in the lighting section of Wal-Mart, beckoning to me with their seductive promise of green seedlings and a productive crops.

Why grow lights you ask?

Well, first of all, I live at 7200 feet in zone 4 (probably  really zone 3). My seeds need every available opportunity to grow and mature before I can plant them. Second of all, I have two curious kittens who would love to eat the seedlings I put in the windowsill. So, grow lights seemed like my only real option.

 First the Pros!

I bought the last two grow lights at Wal-Mart (That’s got to be a good sign right?) and mounted them beneath the upper cabinets in my laundry room. As soon as my seeds sprouted, I placed them beneath the grow lights and watched the magic unfold under the purple light. My asparagus stretched and sprouted, my strawberries fanned out beautiful green leaves, my cabbage, peas, cauliflower, an broccoli burst out in all directions. I thought I had arrived. I was now, with the aid of modern technology, an expert gardener. My bounty would know no limits.Growing plants indoors.

And now the Cons . . .

After a few weeks of burgeoning success, I noticed my once perky seedlings were starting to lean. They soon went from leaning to lying on their sides, crisscrossing each other in their seed trays. My gut told me something was wrong. I googled pictures of healthy seedlings, and mine just didn’t look right.

Enter the EXTREMELY helpful lady at ACE Hardware. This young lady came up to help me when I was perusing the fertilizer. She stopped me from buying some completely useless stuff and gave me several great suggestions (Did you know they make a do-hicky that tests your soil’s moistness and Ph?! More on that later). I quickly realized that I should take advantage of her knowledge and described by seedlings.

Being “Leggy” . . . Good for Models, Bad for Seedlings

My helpful ACE associate gave me a word to describe my little seedlings–leggy. Apparently plants get leggy when they don’t get enough light (some also get leggy from not enough water or being too hot). They stretch out because they are literally looking for the light. I was starving my little green babies for light. The only remedy was to quickly get them into real daylight. I took her advice and was thankfully able to save my peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, strawberries, spinach and peas. My cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower were, unfortunately, done for.

A New Strategy

I quickly adjusted my strategy. My smaller seedlings could stay under the grow lights temporarily, a week or two at most. When they got larger and started to crave more light they went to an upstairs window that gets lovely morning light and is able to be close off from the cats. The others, thankfully, were ready to move outdoors. I began the process of “hardening them off” and transplanting them to the garden.

Black Thumb: Diary of A Wannabe Gardener, Day 5 – Raised Beds

Black Thumb Diary of A Wannabe Gardener, Day 7 – The Garden

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Summer Blues? Six Creative Activities for Kids

Summertime Blues?

Summer is almost upon us. Summer, in all its glory, with its hot, sticky days, its melted ice cream cones, its mellow, lazy vibe. Too often summer can turn into too many cartoons, too many video games, and not enough constructive fun. What to do? How to banish the summer blahs?

Check out these tried and true summertime activities!

1. Nurture a Butterfly Habitat

Ok, this one is my favorite! We ordered an Insect Lore Live Butterfly habitat last summer. The habitat is a collapsible mesh cage that can easily be stored when not in use. The live caterpillars come in a sealed container that has everything the caterpillars need for nutrition. They crawl around in the container and eat until they are ready to form their cocoons. Once they are in their cocoons, you transfer them to the habitat—easy as pie. When they emerge you have several lovely Painted Lady butterflies. We kept ours for a few days and then released them. You can order a cup of replacement caterpillars and start the fun again!

My oldest really got a kick out of watching the caterpillars and checking the cocoons. We read a lot of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, as well as some non-fiction children’s books on butterfly life cycles. Pinterest is chock-full of fun little printable coloring sheets and activities to turn this into a true educational activity.

2. Plant a Garden

This might be a bit bigger commitment, however, there are many levels of gardens. You could go as small as planting a single seed in a windowsill pot, make a fairy garden in a larger container or window box, or even plant an actual vegetable garden in your yard.

Involve your kids in every step of the process. Let them pick out what type of seeds to plant (they may need your guidance to choose seeds that will grow well in your zone, soil, sunlight, situation). If you are using a pot or container have them pick it out. Help them plant the seeds. For little kids, this is a great time to explain how soil and water are important, etc. For awhile my three-year-old was telling everyone that plants need sunshine, water and oil (soil). If your kids are old enough to read the directions, let them take the lead. 

Once your garden is planted, you can involve your kids in the necessary up keep—weeding, watering, making sure there is enough sunlight, etc. The real fun is when your garden blooms! Take pictures of the flowers! Harvest the vegetables and find creative ways to eat them! The possibilities are endless!

 3. Make a Personalized Path

This is not one I have actually tried myself yet, but it is on my bucket list for this summer! All you need is a few disposable cake pans, some Quikrete and some marbles and decorative stones. Mix, pour, and decorate! Each family member can make their own and personalize it to them! Then place the stones in the back yard to make a cute little path to the garage, the swing set, or maybe the garden! Find more detailed instructions with this post from Mavis Butterfield.

 4. Watch the Stars

My three-year-old and I actually have tried this in the winter, when the stars come out a little earlier—closer to bed time. However, I think the actual viewing would be infinitely more pleasant in the warmer months.

There are many great books for kids about astronomy and astrology! We have a book on constellations that glows in the dark. My three-year-old loved looking at the constellations in the book, learning about the legends behind them, and then trying to identify the actual constellations in the night sky.  We were even lucky enough to wish on shooting stars a few times. If you own a telescope or live near a planetarium, you can add another layer of learning to this activity!

5. Put on a Garage Sale

This is one I might not try with little kids. I did it with mine last summer. It went well, except for when I tried to sell a few old toys. My kids had not so much as looked at those toys in 6 months, but as soon as I put the price tag on—melt-down.

For older kids, you could have them go through their own clothing, toys, books, etc. and decide what to sell. Wal-Mart has little fluorescent price tags to put a price on each item, if you are feeling ambitious. Or, you could just have tables, boxes or sections of same priced goods. Have your kids help sort, fold, label and prepare the sale. If you have some particularly enterprising kiddos they could bake cookies to sell or set up a lemonade stand.  Make sure to advertise your garage sale. Check out sale groups on Facebook to post your sale. Have your kids make signs and post them around the neighborhood.

Garage sales are great for several reasons: they give you a chance to clean and de-clutter and they’re a great opportunity to teach kids the value of money. When you are done with all the hard work—and it is hard work—use your profits for something fun! Let the kids keep the cash from the items they sold, or take the whole family out for ice cream! For extra ideas on how to have a great sale check out my post, Five Tips for a Fantastic Garage Sale!

6. Feed the Birds

This was one my three-year-old loved last year. We bought a simple wooden bird house at the local hardware store and then let her paint it. She loved picking out colors she thought the birds would like—pink, in case you were wondering. Then we bought a bird feeder, some seed, and hung them all in view of a window. We had a great time watching the birds (ok, actually mostly the squirrels) eat the seed. We even had a family of robins move into the house and lay eggs.


Want more?

Teaching Kids Kindness

Five Tips for a Fantastic Garage Sale

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Black Thumb: Diary of A Wannabe Gardener, Day 5 – Raised Beds

Beginner Gardening 101

Today I made a trip to my local library. I love libraries—especially in this digital age—there Is something about the smell and feel of actual books. I love the weight of them in my hand, the feel of glossy pages filled with pictures . . . I checked out several books about gardening, probably too many. Given my busy schedule these days I won’t have time to read half of them.  

The book that seemed most interesting/ relevant was The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible by Edward C. Smith. The author, an experienced and prolific vegetable gardener, claimed that you can increase your garden’s yield and productivity by using wide raised beds rather than the traditional row method. He recommended beds be about 18 inches deep and 3 feet wide.  However, he said the main thing is that you can reach to the center of the bed in order to weed and tend the plants. 

Reorganizing and Re-arranging . . . Again

Smart Gardener, beginner gardener.

A screen shot of my garden plan.

Armed with this new information, I opted to do some garden re-arranging on my Smart site. I re-arranged all my rows into three raised beds. Given the parameters of my existing plot I went with two beds measuring 22′ x 2′ on the sides and one bed measuring 19′ x 3′ down the middle. This necessitated some further re-arranging of plants in the beds themselves. 

First Big Batch Plant

I also did my first large batch plant today! I found these really nifty mini “greenhouses”–by you guessed it—Jiffy! They come filled with seed starting “pellets.” I bought the 72 pellet trays for around $5 at Wal-Mart. I followed the directions: just fill with water, watch pellets expand, plant seeds in pellets, and cover with the plastic lid. It worked pretty slick. Now I just have to see if anything sprouts. 

Starting SeedsI am having some success with my itty-bitty asparagus and strawberry seedlings. My cats got a hold of one strawberry, but the rest seem to be coming along nicely. Fingers crossed! 


Black Thumb: Diary of a Wannabe Gardener, Day 4 – Gardening To Do List
Black Thumb Diary of A Wannabe Gardener, Day 6 – Grow Lights

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Five Tips for a Fantastic Garage Sale

Garage Sale, Yard Sale, Rummage Sale, Moving Sale—call it what you want—it is that time of year again.

I consider myself a bit of a yard sale connoisseur, I love rummaging through people’s old treasures. Even when I don’t plan on buying anything, I enjoy sifting through the remnants of history and nostalgia. That, and sometimes I find some really cool stuff.  

 Having my own garage sale has proven to be almost as much fun—but a lot more work! That said, I have picked up a few tips to help anyone have their best garage sale yet! 

1. Pick Your Date 

This is important! Your goal to is to ride the wave of garage sale traffic that happens in late spring and early summer. Wait too long and you won’t have as many customers. I would recommend the first two weekends in June. Usually you want to schedule your sale on a Saturday morning (around 8:00 am) when most die-hard garage-saler’s are off work and looking to shop! 

2. Piggy Back or Partner Up 

Again, this goes back to choosing your date and maximizing your traffic. You can accomplish this by “piggy backing off other garage sales. When people go to garage sales, they want to hit several in a morning. Take a look in the local newspaper or Facebook seller groups to see when other garage sales might be happening in your area. Even better, have friends or neighbors join you and advertise as a “multi-family” or “neighborhood” garage sale. Which brings me to my next tip . . . 

3. Advertise! Advertise! Advertise! 

 You can, of course, take out an ad in your local newspaper. However, this may not be worth the cost. Personally, I would recommend advertising on social media. Facebook has many “Garage Sale” an “Upcycle” groups in which you can advertise your upcoming garage sale. And then there is always the good old-fashioned method of hanging up signs and flyers. 

4. Bank on Big Ticket Items 

The surest way to attract customers, in my experience, is to advertise some big-ticket items. Furniture, athletic gear, sporting equipment, tools, appliances, and larger baby items (cribs, bouncers, high chairs, etc.) are all things that will draw people to your sale. 

5. Price Competitively 

 Once you get customers to your garage sale, you want them to buy stuff! Make sure your prices aren’t too high. Some people will make you an offer anyway if they think your price is too high, but some will just walk away. You can get an idea of the prices people are willing to pay for specific items by checking out those Facebook sale groups again! Another great strategy is selling items in “lots.” This is an especially good way to sell baby clothes, books, or DVD’s. I have also had customers fill a grocery bag for $5. 

 Try out these tips and have a successful sale! 
Want to read more?

Summer Blues? Six Creative Activities for Kids

Teaching Kids Kindness

Not Your Mama’s Tuna Noodle Casserole

Subscribe to my blog!

Leave me a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Black Thumb: Diary of a Wannabe Gardener, Day 4 – Gardening To Do List

A Gardening “To Do” List

Today, in the continuing saga of my journey as a beginner gardener, I spent some time looking through the “To Do” list that Smart Gardener generated for me. The one negative I have to say about Smart Gardener is that the “To Do” list and calendar are not searchable. You have to scroll through the list of plants alphabetically or scroll through the calendar and search manually. Also, I had some seeds already—left over from my failed attempt at a vegetable garden last year, and ones I had impulse bought—which I wanted to track on my list.

Making a Google Doc to Organize My Garden

Being the planner I am, I made a spreadsheet, a Google sheet actually. I set up six columns: Name of Plant, Purchased, Planting Date, Garden Location (I have several beds and one main plot, as well as some containers I plan to use), and Type (whether it was an edible or a flower). I typed the information into each row and then used the data sort features to organize my list according to what I needed to know, for example, whether or not I have the seeds already. I also added flowers (not included on Smart Gardener) for my window boxes and front garden, based on seeds I already had or plants I had been successful with the previous year.

When to Plant?

Then, using the Smart Gardener website I figured out the approximate planting dates for each plant. Smart Gardener allows you to choose to start them indoors or outdoors (some you have to start outdoors) and gives you a range of dates recommended for starting the seeds. Since I am in USDA Hardiness Zone 4 (some say 3), I will be starting almost all of my seeds indoors and transplanting them after Memorial Day. I then organized my plantings into batches based on the date range provided by Smart Gardener. This way I can be more efficient in how and when I plant. By the way, if you do not know what zone you are in, check out this map.

Goal-setting and Downsizing

As I looked over my to do list, I realized that I am probably biting of more than I can chew. So, I stopped to reflect on my goals for my garden. In no particular order, my goals are to cut back on my family’s grocery bill and save money, have fun, and learn more about gardening. I realized that too many plants would probably take away from my ability to properly care for them and, in turn, my overall yield. Also, certain plants, like peppers, are not recommended for zone 4. Still, I want to have some fun with the variety of plants. I ended up eliminating a variety of potatoes, Asian mixed greens and rhubarb, and blueberries. More may be eliminated as I go along . . .

Black Thumb: Diary of a Wannabe Gardener, Day 3 – My First Plants

Black Thumb: Diary of A Wannabe Gardener, Day 5 – Raised Beds

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