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Anticipation Blackberry Flowers The Prudent Homemaker


Good things to come. . . .

 Anticipation Elderberry The Prudent Homemaker


Meyer Lemon Blossoms The Prudent Homemaker

 Strawberry Blossoms The Prudent Homemaker


Anticipation Grapes The Prudent Homemaker

 Anticipation Peony The Prudent Homemaker


Baby Rattle The Prudent Homemaker

 Baby expected in a few weeks!


Tagged in: Motherhood The Garden
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The Garden in Early April

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The Shepherdess Rose The Prudent Homemaker

The garden is becoming rather full and lush lately. We had a beautiful, cloudy weekend, with a bit of rain, which gave me the opportunity to photograph the garden without the harsh light that it normally gets. Rain in April is extremely unusual here, but oh so pretty, and we were happy for the storm to drop the temperature 18º.

April Roses The Prudent Homemaker

Because it had been rather warm prior to the storm, the David Austin roses have bloomed several weeks earlier than normal.

April Graham Thomas Rose The Prudent Homemaker

 These are David Austin's "Graham Thomas."

April Garden Armilliary The Prudent Homemaker

April Garden Nasturiums 2 The Prudent Homemaker

The nasturtiums are blooming in abundance. These are all self-seeded ones that came up in January. 

April Yellow Nasturium The Prudent Homemaker

I also collected some seeds last year that I planted in pots. 

 April Garden Pomegranate and Nasturiums The Prudent Homemaker

In a more mild climate, these will bloom all summer. Here, they will die once the heat sets in. 

 April Garden Nasturiums The Prudent Homemaker

If you're looking for an inexpensive way to fill your garden with flowers, I highly recommend nasturtiums. In addition, the leaves, flowers, and seed pods (when green) are all edible (they have a sharp peppery taste). You can buy seeds for them just about anywhere you buy garden seeds, They spread out, and are also a good spiller plant for pots, hanging baskets, and window boxes.

April Beets and Chard Bolting The Prudent Homemaker

The beets and Swiss chard are bolting. It's easy to see why they've been on the menu so often lately. They don't get bitter when they bolt, but they won't hesitate to grow 6 feet tall within a few weeks. I'll pull some beets soon (and can them)  and plant other things in their place. I'll also leave some to finish going to seed. All of these grew from self-seeded beets from the open-pollinated ones I planted last year.

The grape vines are filling out nicely on the trellis behind them.

April Garden Blackberries The Prudent Homemaker

The blackberries are full of blossoms. These will ripen next month. They're planted in a space that's a foot wide, on the west side of the house. They get afternoon shade here, which is essential in our heat to prevent them from burning. This area was originally a slope, which we cut back to the wall, and then added dirt and a low wall (to keep it to the height of the original slope, as the neighbor's house is built higher). The narrow planter allows us to walk past the air conditioning units that are on this side of the house, and gives us some room for storage as well.

April Garden Snow Peas The Prudent Homemaker

In the same planter, I have planted snow peas. These don't get shaded from the house, as they are further south in the planter. These are the 30-day Little White Snowpeas from Territorial Seed. They took about 30 days to germinate, and after about 35-40 days, the first ones started appearing on the vines. I normally plant Oregon Sugar Pod in the fall, which are ripe this time of year. (I actually did plant them, but all of my seedlings were munched by bugs, so I planted these at the end of January when the seeds arrived.) I planted them in two places in the garden, and the ones here are doing much better than the ones that have morning shade and afternoon sun. I also had a higher germination rate in this spot.

April Garden Snow Pea Blossom The Prudent Homemaker

In both places, I planted them below some grape vines. These are a shorter variety than the Oregon Sugar Pod, so I can harvest them now before the grapes fill in much more. Unfortunately snow peas last only about a month here before dying of powdery mildew every year, but come that time, it is too hot anyway (at the end of April, usually; I am normally harvesting a bit earlier than now) and the pods become fat and hard almost immediately.

 April Garden Snow Pea The Prudent Homemaker


April Garden Onion and Sage Flowers The Prudent Homemaker

My sage and green onions are in flower. This is a new sage plant that I put in last fall, and a new location for my green onions. I dug them from their old location and moved them here. I'll collect some seeds and let others self-seed in this spot.

April Garden Sage in Bloom The Prudent Homemaker


I hope you've enjoyed visiting my garden today!


Participating at:

Stone Gable: The Scoop

Tweak it Tuesday

Wednesday Roundup

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Spring Blossoms in the Garden

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It's been a long time since I shared pictures of the backyard garden. It is so incredibly beautiful right now.

Garden in March White Bench The Prudent Homemaker


The fruit trees are in bloom in the garden, and if you stand still, you can hear the bees and see them work.

Garden in March Peach Blossoms 2 The Prudent Homemaker

 Garden in March center circle The Prudent Homemaker


Garden in March Peach Blossoms The Prudent Homemaker

The birds have been enjoying the garden, too. I've seen a violet-throated humming bird, a California quail, a red-tailed hawk, mourning doves, pigeons, and lots of smaller birds that I'm still working to identify.

Garden in March  circle 2 The Prudent Homemaker


The daffodils are just starting to bloom, and will open more fully in the next two weeks.

Garden in March Daffodils The Prudent Homemaker


The Dorsett Gold apple has been in bloom for a couple of weeks.

Garden in March Peach and Apple Trees The Prudent Homemaker


My 20th Century Asian pear, espaliered on the wall, is starting to bloom. 

Garden in March Asian Pear Blossoms The Prudent Homemaker

The scent from the blosoms in the garden is wonderful.

Garden in March Peaches and Daffodils The Prudent Homemaker

Garden in March 2 The Prudent Homemaker

It's going to be 83ºF (29ºC) today. I'll be out in the garden.

 Garden in March Peach Tree The Prudent Homemaker

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Lovelies: Planting a Fall Garden

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Lettuce and Parsley The Prudent Homemaker

Fall is a great time to plant a garden! All of the wonderful things you want to grow in early spring grow well in fall.

Once temperatures reach freezing, most will overwinter in an unheated greenhouse, under floating row covers, under hoop houses (plastic sheeting over hoops) and cloched under glass or plastic.

Something that has helped me tremendously in having better success with seeds is using a thermometer to gauge soil temperature.  Rather than purchasing an expensive soil thermometer, you just need one with a short probe that can go down to at least 40ºF. I've found that Walmart carries one that does this for around $6. In general, I've found that soil temperatures are about 10ºF cooler than air temperatures, with shady locations being cooler still. (Please note: All temperatures for germination in this article are listed in Fahrenheit).

It is helpful to know your first frost date. If you don't know it, you'll first need to know your hardiness zone. For U.S. readers, you can go here to determine your zone, and here to figure out your first and last frost dates. You can then count backwards from there to see when you need to plant, with a little extra time allotted for ripening as temperatures cool and daytime hours become shorter. Choose varieties that will work with the time that you have. For example, some lettuces are ripe in just over a month, but most are closer to 7 weeks before being ready, after germinating. Remember that covering your crops can extend your growth time throughout winter.



Add nitrogen (blood meal) to the soil before planting

Lettuce in the Raised Bed The Prudent Homemaker


Soil temperature for seeding: 40-75º

Days to Germination: 2-15

Grows best when the air temperature is between 50-75º.

Lettuce The Prudent Homemaker

Sow lettuce every three weeks for a continuous crop. Looseleaf lettuces are great for fall and winter planting. You can usually harvest from each plant 3 times. When the weather warms, lettuce will bolt (go to seed) and become bitter.  

Some types of lettuce do particularly well in winter, such as Merveille de Quatre Saisons.

Lettuce can be ready in 39 to 55 days, depending on the type you choose.


Jelly Jars in the Garden The Prudent Homemaker

For a spring crop, plant the third week in January. To speed growing time of seedlings during colder times, cloche any seedlings. This will triple their growth rate.

I've shared this video earlier, but if you haven't seen it, it's worth watching, even if you don't speak French. This is a great video on planting lettuce for fall and winter and there is a lot to learn just by watching.


Soil temperature for seeding: 50-75º

Days to Germination: 6-21

Pick a crop in December, and then let rest until spring with just a few leaves on the plant. You'll be able to pick again from the same plants as the weather warms a bit more in early spring. Spinach loves cold weather. Some types, such as Bloomsdale Long-Standing, take cold temperatures better than others.

Swiss chard on bench The Prudent Homemaker
Swiss Chard (Silverbeet)

Soil temperature for seeding: 50-75º

Days to Germination: 5-17

Swiss Chard in the Garden The Prudent Homemaker

Sow in August and September for winter use. Plants should be mid-sized by fall so that you can harvest throughout the winter. If you plant later, the plants will be smaller. You can still harvest (just not as much). Swiss chard grows more slowly during cold weather. If it dies back in a frost, cut it down to the ground, cover it with glass or plastic, and it will regrow in spring.  Swiss chard tolerates temperatures down to 15ºF, uncovered, but may experience some loss at 26ºF.

Swiss chard does not transplant well; however, it can be done in the late evenings in cooler temperatures, but it may not make it.

Swiss chard can tolerate some shade, but will grow slower in shade than in sunny areas.

Mache The Prudent HomemakerSpinach in background, mâché in foreground

Mâché (aka Corn Salad) 

I fell in love with this green in France, where finding it at the grocery store was a common thing fall through spring. 

Soil temperature for seeding: 50-75º

Days to Germination: 2-15

This green likes cold weather. It does well planted in fall for a winter crop. Harvest the entire plant.

Arugula (Rocket, Roquette)

Soil temperature for seeding: 50-75º

Days to Germination: 2-15


Onions on Scale The Prudent Homemaker


Soil temperature for seeding: 55-75º

Days to Germination: 6-16

Green Onion Row The Prudent Homemaker

Green bunching onions will grow year round in mild climates without covering, enduring frosts without a problem. For more info on growing green onions, read my post on the subject.



Leeks are a cool season plant that can survive the winter uncovered and provide food in spring. Depending on type, they can be ready in 70 to 120 days.


Soil temperature for seeding: 55-75º

Days to Germination: 6-16



No matter what climate you live in, you can plant garlic bulbs in fall. Hardneck garlic produces scapes, and softneck garlic stores longer. Fall planted garlic means a spring harvest.

Asian Greens:

Bok Choi, Pak Choi, Chinese cabbage, Mustard Greens

Soil temperature for seeding: 40-75º

Days to Germination: 2-15


Snow Peas The Prudent Homemaker

Snow peas and regular peas

Soil temperature for seeding: 40-75º

Days to Germination: 8-25

Snow Peas in the Garden The Prudent Homemaker
Plant in October/November for February-April harvest.

Fava Beans

Soil temperature for seeding: 60-85º

Days to Germination: 8-15

Root Crops:

Add bone meal and soil sulphur to the garden before planting. In places where the ground freezes, root crops can keep in the garden a bit longer with a covering of mulch. Frost will make many of them sweeter, such as beets and parsnips.

Radishes 1 The Prudent Homemaker


Soil temperature for seeding: 45-80º

Days to Germination: 4-11

Plant crops every 2 weeks for a continuous supply

Turnips The Prudent Homemaker

Turnips and Rutabagas

Soil temperature for seeding: 55-75º

Days to Germination: 5-17

Fall sowings mean a January-March harvest. You can sow seeds a few weeks apart for a continuous supply.

Parsnips The Prudent Homemaker


Soil temperature for seeding: 55-75º

Days to Germination: 15-28

Cold improves flavor.


Soil temperature for seeding: 55-80º

Days to Germination: 6-21

The biggest challenge is not letting the seeds dry out for three weeks while they are germinating.

Beets in Basket The Prudent Homemaker


Soil temperature for seeding: 50-75º

Days to Germination: 5-17

Will grow well throughout the winter. The green tops taste very similar to Swiss chard, but unlike Swiss chard, the greens grow faster and more abundantly during the winter. Plant every 2 weeks for a continuous harvest.

Cole Crops:

Start indoors from seed in mid -August to transplant at the end of October or consider starting with plants from the nursery. You can start another crop indoors later than this to plant in the garden in November (Or try direct seeding in October for a spring crop).

Add nitrogen (blood meal) to the soil before planting

Broccoli The Prudent Homemaker


Soil temperature for seeding: 55-75º

Days to Germination: 5-17

Cut the main head and smaller side shoots will form


Soil temperature for seeding: 55-75º

Days to Germination: 5-17

Put leaves over to keep it white


Soil temperature for seeding: 55-75º

Days to Germination: 5-17

Brussels sprouts

Soil temperature for seeding: 55-75º

Days to Germination: 5-17

Pick from the bottom up

Purple Cabbage The Prudent Homemaker


Soil temperature for seeding: 55-75º

Days to Germination: 5-17


Soil temperature for seeding: 55-75º

Days to Germination: 5-17

Harvest outer (bottom) leaves

Collard Greens

Soil temperature for seeding: 55-75º

Days to Germination: 5-17


Parsley dill cilantro The Prudent Homemaker

In warm climates, the following herb will do well all fall (parsley can do well under cover in colder climates).



Soil temperature for seeding: 65-75º

Days to Germination: 7-14


Soil temperature for seeding: 60-75º

Days to Germination: 7-15

Parsley on Washcloth The Prudent Homemaker


Soil temperature for seeding: 50-75º

Days to Germination: 12-28

Will grow in shady areas

White Strawberries The Prudent Homemaker

Alpine Strawberries

Soil temperature for seeding: 60-75º

Days to Germination: 14-30

White Alpine Strawberries The Prudent Homemaker
Seeds are surface sown and should be kept moist; the plants prefer a shadier location. They can be white, yellow, or red. In cooler climates these can produce all summer long. These tiny berries (no bigger than your fingernail) are intensely sweet. They grow from seed and do not send out runners.




Fall and winter flowers are available in flats from nurseries as well as big box stores in the fall, and can also be grown from seed.


Pansies, Violas, and Johnny Jump-Ups

Soil temperature for seeding: 60-70º

Days to Germination: 7-14

My first experience with pansies in winter was as a university student. Snow had fallen and the pansies were covered. I thought they were done for the season, but the snow melted and a few days later the pansies were perky and blooming.  If you live where snow fall melts, pansies can make it through the winter. In warmer climates, they are best planted in fall, as they prefer cooler weather. Violas are smaller than pansies and johnny jump ups are smaller still. 

Stock The Prudent Homemaker



Soil temperature for seeding: 70º

Days to Germination: 14-28

In warmer climates, stock, another cool-loving flower, will bloom and perfume your garden during the winter. There are both double and single flowered types, and it comes in several colors, including white, blue, pinks, and lavenders.

Sundial The Prudent Homemaker

Ornamental Kale and Cabbage

Soil temperature for seeding: 65º

Days to Germination: 7-14

Purple, pink or white centered, as well as white with the very center pink, ornamental kale will winter without covering in most climates. If you want to cut them for indoor bouquets in spring, continuously harvest the lower leaves, which will force the plant to grow taller (giving it a stem for cutting). These are also edible. You can get these from your local nursery or big box store, or grow them from seed.

Paperwhites in the White Garden The Prudent Homemaker


In cold climates, these bulbs are planted indoors in winter, to bloom at Christmas time. In warmer climates, these can grow outside. Mine bloom every November in the garden. These are highly perfumed; some people love the fragrance, and some hate it.

 Nasturiums The Prudent Homemaker


Soil temperature for seeding: 68º

Days to Germination: 7-10

These are a summer flower in warm climates but grow rather well in winter in warmer climates, blooming in spring. They love to drop seeds, and you can easily collect them to replant. They will also self-sow. Both the flowers and leaves are edible, with a peppery taste.

Snapdragon The Prudent Homemaker


Soil temperature for seeding: 64-72º

Days to Germination: 10-21

Another summer flower in cool climates, snapdragons are a cool season flower in warmer climates. 



Start with a potted plant. Camellias are winter bloomers that prefer acidic soil. In hotter climates, they will need to be in a shadier spot, protected from burning by the sun in summer.





Because I know you will ask, I've included my favorite sources for seeds. I'm not affiliated with these; I just use and like their products.

Territorial Seed Company

This is where I'm now buying most of my seeds, as they have a huge selection of open-pollinated seeds. Most everything I grow is open-pollinated, which allows me to collect my own seeds to grow the next year, reducing/eliminating the need for purchasing seeds.  They have a whole section of their website devoted to fall and winter gardening. They also have cover crops to plant and till under to nourish your soil. They usually have a discount for fall seed orders; check on their Facebook page or sign up for their catalog on their website.

Outside Pride

Packets of 1000 seeds for $4.95? Yes, please! Amounts of seeds will depend on variety, but in general, the quantity is large and the price is good. If you ask on their Facebook page for a discount code, they'll give you an individual one for 10% off.  They have flowers (and you can search by color), alpine strawberry seeds, ornamental kale, herbs, and grass seeds.

Wildseed Farms

For large quantities of wildflowers, such as johnny jump-ups. (Though a summer flower, I also purchase my zinnia seeds from this company). Some seeds are best fall planted; their website and catalog denote which ones are best planted in fall, especially in more mild climates.

I also visit my local nursery, which has fall plants now. They occasionally put out coupons in the mail (usually a $10 off $40 purchase) in addition to seasonal sales.

Don't forget that fall is a great time to plant fruit trees! You can read my post here: Choosing Fruit Trees For Your Garden

Books for further reading on fall and winter gardening:

Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long

The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses


Also note: You can still buy spring seeds to plant this fall, which may be on clearance at your local stores. Our Walmart also still has their packs of 20 cent seeds available; there aren't a lot in each packet, but if you're just planting a pot or a small space, they would be enough.


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This Morning's Garden Harvest

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June Harvest The Prudent Homemaker

I spent several hours in the garden this morning, picking fruit.

Mission Figs The Prudent Homemaker

I picked Mission figs, Royal apricots, Apache blackberries, Red Flame Grapes,  Dorsett Golden Apples, and white alpine strawberries.

June Harvest 2 The Prudent Homemaker

Tonight I'll pick more apricots and blackberries, towards the end of the day when the sun is going down.

I love the fruit we receive from the garden in June.


Tagged in: The Garden
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How to Thin Your Fruit Trees

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 Apricots The Prudent Homemaker

The two most common compliants I hear people give about their home-grown fruit is that the tree produces fruit that is too small, and that the tree only fruits every other year.

Both of these problems are easily solved by thinning.

A tree naturally thins itself, to some degree. Wind helps with this, knocking down some of the young fruit.

Thinning your fruit is a very important step in the long-term health of your tree. A tree that isn't thinned can become exhausted, and be unable to bear fruit the next year.

When fruits are dime sized, go out the tree with a ladder and a basket, and thin your trees. It will hurt your feelings to do this, You will feel like you are making less fruit for yourself, but that is not the case at all. You are allowing your tree to make bigger fruit, and you will give it the strength to fruit every year.

You'll prevent your tree from losing branches due to being too heavily laden with fruit. Broken branches result in disease and bugs entering your trees, as well as a loss of fruit from the tree in years to come. Small, young branches with too much fruit at the tips cannot support the weight of fully-ripened fruit. Thin young branches and branch tips more heavily to prevent branch breakage.


 Thinned and Unthinned Apricots The Prudent Homemaker

Thinning fruit also greatly affects the size of this year's fruit crop.

You'll want the fruit to be able to get sunlight and air around each piece, so that it can ripen fully.

Stone fruits, including apricots, peaches, plums and nectarines should be thinned. Apples and pears also need to be thinned. Citrus trees do not need to be thinned, as they naturally thin themselves, dropping enough "extra" fruit on their own. Figs naturally grow spaced apart from one another and do not need to be thinned.


Plum Blossoms The Prudent Homemaker

Apricots and Plums:

You'll want your fruit to be 3" (6-7 cm) apart. Pick off any fruit that is growing closer than this.

Thinning Plums The Prudent Homemaker


Peach blossoms The Prudent Homemaker

Peaches and Nectarines:

You'll want your fruit to be 5" to 6" apart. Pick off any fruit that is growing closer together than this.

 Dorsett Golden Apple Blossoms The Prudent Homemaker


Apples flower in a group, with the center flower usually opening first. This usually results in the center fruit being already larger than the others, as it had a slight head start on the other fruits in the cluster.  When the apples are 1 to 1 1/2" long, carefully pull off all of the fruits in each cluster except for the largest one.

 Thinning Apples The Prudent Homemaker



 Thinning Pears The Prudent Homemaker

Like apples, pears should be thinned to one or two fruits per cluster.

When choosing which fruits to thin, make sure to thin any diseased fruit. Leave the largest and best looking fruits on the tree.

Discard the fruit that you have picked. Leaving it on the ground (or any other fruit on the ground, later in the season) gives pests a good feeding ground and can introduce bugs to your trees. For this reason, I like to pick with a basket to collect the thinned fruit.


Don't be afraid to thin your fruit! You'll have much larger, healthier fruit and trees for years to come.


Tagged in: The Garden
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