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In Lieu of Flowers

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Branch Cuttings The Prudent Homemaker

I had a chance to peruse a Pottery Barn catalog recently. I know that a lot of bloggers have been making their own version of Pottery Barn offerings, so I looked at it with that in mind, wondering what new projects I would see online soon.

I noticed that it wasn't always the products that make the room appealing. The windows and molding play a huge difference in the way the room looks. The other thing I noticed is that all of the rooms have something green and living in them--and it's usually not flowers.

I love flowers. I would love fresh flowers in every room in my house. Flowers aren't always growing in my garden, however. Sometimes, it's just something green.

And that's okay.

Fresh greenery can help your spirit, too.

In many of the pictures, the green living thing was just branches. It's the same with the interior home pictures that you've pinned on Pinterest. Look carefully, and you'll see the way that simple cut branches can make a room look elegant.

I like to trim my euonymus bushes and put them in jars, and march them down the center of the table. They are fun in a windowsill, too.

Another super easy option is to cut leafy branches from a tree and put them in a tall vase or jar, and place it on a mantel, on your piano, on a table, or your bathroom counter.

Both of these options are simple arrangements that can brighten your day.

Here is what I've cut from my garden in the image above:

Euyonomous Cuttings The Prudent Homemaker


These are euonymus branches. They look similar to boxwood and I grow them as hedges in the garden. Eventually some will be tall enough to shape into spheres. When they grow taller or wider than you want them, give them a trim and bring them indoors. As long as the water is changed out, these should last three weeks indoors. These ones are contained in a jar that contained sauce from the store (the empty jar was given to me).

Jasmine Sprig The Prudent Homemaker

This is a spring of jasmine. It's done flowering for the year, but the greenery is still pretty. The vase had a bit of cork in it when I got it (for free) so I think it may have contained bath salts previously. One man's trash is definitely another man's treasure in this case.

Dusty Miller The Prudent Homemaker

This is dusty miller. Our nursery carries two types; the other type has lacier leaves. It's great as a base for flower arrangements, but it's also fascinating on its own. The vase is a store reproduction canning jar, which also was saved from the trash (this piece and the two above came from the same person who saved these jars from her trash for me).

Flowering Plum Branches The Prudent Homemaker

These are flowering plum branches, contained in a vase from the Dollar Tree, which also happens to look just like the one I saw in the Pottery Barn catalog--but for a lot less. I bought three of these, so I can also arrange them in groups. 
These trees are still young. As they grow taller this year, I am needing to take off the bottom branches, so that the branches will start higher on the trees. This is the second time this year I have cut the bottom branches (which these are) to shape the trees into what I want them to be.

Pomegranate Branches The Prudent Homemaker

Pomegranate branches are an easy trim; the plants like to produce an abundance of them towards the base of the tree, which need to be pruned. These are arranged in a vintage canning jar. Look for canning jars at garage sales and thrift shops at 50 to 75 cents each, or buy a new set of 12 for around 75 cents each.

Apple Branches The Prudent Homemaker

Apple trees have a good number of small branches in mid-summer. Cut the water spouts--the ones that are growing straight up in the middle of the tree. Those need to be pruned in winter anyway, so you may as well enjoy them now and allow your tree to spend its energy on branches that will produce fruit. These are in a vase from the Dollar Tree. I have them on my entry table, where a tall arrangement works really well.

Brighten your day today with something living from your garden!
Tagged in: Flowers The Garden
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How To Collect Seeds From Your Garden

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Larkspur Seeds The Prudent Homemaker

When the heat sets in, the cool weather crops bolt. Lettuce grows 2 1/2 feet high and Swiss chard grows taller than my head. The plants go from being pretty to be being scraggly. They flower, and pollinated by the bees, the flowers turn into seeds. The seed pods dry out, and then you can collect them from the overgrown mess that your garden has become.

Gone to Seed The Prudent Homemaker


Stock going to seed The Prudent Homemaker

Once the seed pods are dry, I like to cut them off or break them off in my hands and take them inside. I'll usually break them open a bit more inside and keep just the seeds, though I have kept the seeds in pods, too.

Lettuce Flowers The Prudent Homemaker


Lettuce is a bit different; the seeds are held in the base of this fluffy, dandelion-like flower. I just pinch those open with my hand and the seeds spill into my hands. Once the white flower is visible, the seeds are ready to harvest.

Swiss Chard Seeds The Prudent Homemaker

Swiss chard simply pulls off the stem into a waiting container below. Just slide your (preferably gloved) fingers down the stem and the seeds pop right off. When Swiss chard bolts, it can grow five to six feet tall before the weight of the plant makes it fall over, laden with seeds.



Green Onion Seeds The Prudent Homemaker


For green onions, I cut the dry seed heads off and shake them over a container. The seeds fall right off. (You can read more on growing green onions in this post).

Cilantro Seeds aka Coriander The Prudent Homemaker

If you want to collect your own seeds, you should grow seeds marked "heirloom" or "open-pollinated." These seeds will give you a plant that is true to what you planted. Hybrid seeds may give you a plant, but it can be different than what you grew before. I planted sunflower seeds one year and collected the seeds. I then planted those seeds. They grew into beautiful sunflowers again--but the seed pods were empty! (We wondered why the birds were not devouring them the second time, and once we opened them, we knew).

Poppy Seed Pods The Prudent Homemaker

Thankfully, there are large numbers of choices for open-pollinated seeds. I have made an effort to grow mostly open-pollinated seeds this year, in an effort to collect more seeds from the garden, thereby reducing my need to buy seeds in the future (and for some things, eliminating the need to purchase seeds altogether.) Hybrid seeds still have a place in my garden for a few things, including a bush version of zucchini that takes up less space, and turnips whose taste I prefer. For the most part, though, I am doing things the old-fashioned way. Collecting the seeds for one's planting next year has been down for years (hence the term "heirloom"). Newlyweds were given seeds from friends as a wedding gift to start their own gardens.

Decorative Kale In Seed The Prudent Homemaker

When storing your seeds, make sure that they are completely dry before storing so that you don't have any mold problems. You can collect them and keep them in a jar. For large quantities, I have done that. I leave the lid off for a while until I am certain that everything is dry.

Onion Seeds in hand The Prudent Homemaker


You can also make your own seed packets and keep the seeds in there. If you plan on sharing your seeds, seed packets are an easy way to do so. I have a free printable seed packet that you can print on my website.

Do you collect seeds from your garden to replant? What plants do you let go to seed so that you don't have to buy seeds?

This post is linked to Frugal Friday.


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Note: I was not compensated for this post and my opinions are strictly my own. I am a Burpee affiliate and make a small percentage of any purchases made through my links to Burpee (about $30 a year). I have been very happy with my purchases to Burpee, which is why I signed up to be an affiliate with them.

June is the anniversary of my website and my blog. In celebration of that, I'm giving away a $50 gift card to Burpee!

Some of you are just starting to have warmer temperatures. Others of you, like me, are well over 100ºF every day.

June is a great time to plan for a fall garden. If you're not growing a fall garden, make plans now for mid-summer plantings (June through August) that can be harvested in fall. In you're in a milder climate like mine (I'm a zone 9a), late September and October are great times to plant a fall garden for harvesting fall through early spring. You can see my garden calendar on my website here.

Cool-season vegetables, like lettuce, spinach, peas, Swiss chard, radishes, beets, carrots, parsnips, turnips, parsley, cauliflower, broccoli, and kale are great things to plant for a fall harvest.

Here are the things that have grown well from me from Burpee. Most of these are heirloom/open-pollinated seeds. I have been growing mostly heirloom seeds so that I can collect seeds from what I've grown to plant again next year. I've also found that heirloom seeds grow really well. Note that not all of these are for fall planting, though most are.


Black-Seeded Simpson Lettuce
Red Salad Bowl Lettuce
Oak Leaf Lettuce
Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach
Mary Washington Asparagus (I started with 1-year-old roots, planted in April)
Watham Butternut Squash (spring planting)
Nasturtium Double Dwarf Jewel Mix (spring planting; mine reseed themselves)
Artichoke Green Globe and Imperial Star
Mammoth Melting Sugar Pea
Armenian Cucumbers (spring and summer planting)
Toyko Cross Turnips
Fordhook Zucchini (last year I planted these in July, and when in cooled down in October they began flowering and I had zucchini until our first frost in December, but for cooler climates these are best planted in spring)
Fordhook Giant Swiss Chard
Blue Solaise Leeks
German Chamomile (spring planting)
Single Italian Parsley

If you'd like to win, enter the giveaway below in the box. You can leave a comment and then post that you've left one, or fill out the box and then leave a comment.

If you are planning to order seeds for your fall garden, you can get free shipping on orders over $40! Use code AFFB54D4 through 6/30, only at Burpee.com!

Do you plant a fall garden? What do you grow in your fall garden?

Giveaway open to readers in the U.S. Winner will be notified by email. If I do not receive a response after 48 hours, another winner will be chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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The White Garden in April

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A year ago in April, I was so excited to finally landscape the front yard. We were in the planning stages then. I was particularly anxious, because it looked like this:

A year later, it looks like this:

The amazing thing is, the changes I made resulted in a lusher garden--that uses less water. The entire garden is watered with drip irrigation. My water bill in April was 1/3 of what it was the year before.

I've been saving water from indoors from the shower and from rinsing produce. I've been able to measure how much that saves, and it is a very small percentage of my bill (though still worth it, I feel). Most of the change, however, has come as a result of re-landscaping the front yard.

As a bonus, some of the water used in the front comes back to me in food, as well as flowers. In the photo above, you can see the red lettuces growing up the walkway next to parsley. In the summer the lettuces will be replaced with basil.

White Wedgewood Iris
April is the month where most of the bulbs that I planted are blooming.
Star of Bethlehem


Here is the view from across the street.

I added this delphinium plant from the nursery. It has gone to seed now and I am collecting seeds from it this week.

My neighbor remarked to me recently that it doesn't look like I just planted it last year. I would agree. Still, I know in a couple of years, the growth will make for a huge difference.

The next thing to bloom are lilies. I'm excited for those!
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I haven't bought green onions from the store for 7 years . . .

because I haven't needed to.

I grow green onions in my garden.

These are also known as green bunching onions. They don't form a bulb.

I started with green onion sets from the store. Several green onions grow in a container, and they are tiny, like green hair growing from the ground. I purchased 2 six-pack containers of onions.

I carefully squeezed each one from the container and separated the plants, tucking each one into the ground with my bare hands, carefully putting the root in place and spacing each one a couple of inches (4 cm)  from the next one.

(I recommend doing this in the late evening to reduce the stress on the plants. Water them well after you have planted them).

Green Onions with scissors The Prudent Homemaker

In a few months they had grown big enough to start cutting from them. Rather than pulling the entire plant out from the ground, you can just cut the green parts. I like to cut "side" shoots from different onions, but you can also just snip all the way across the top and leave some in the ground.

The plant will regrow.

Green Onion Row The Prudent Homemaker

Since I cut side pieces and not the whole thing, the plant gets the opportunity, after growing in the garden for 11 months, to go to seed. It sends up a tougher shoot in the middle of the onion that looks like all the other parts, but it is thicker, and it has a little bud on it.

Green Onion Flower The Prudent Homemaker

The bud opens after a few days.

When it is fully open, it makes a beautiful flower. The bees love to come visit. They pollinate the flower, which means in a few more weeks, you'll have seeds.

Green Onion Seeds The Prudent Homemaker


As the flowers die and dry out, you are left with many black seeds. Ignored but watered, they will fall to the ground and grow, making new green onions for you. You can also collect them to plant them where you would like (the seeds tend to fall a row width over from where you had them growing before as well as beneath the old plants). I cut the heads off several that were full of seeds and turning dry. I put them on a half-sheet pan and banged them on the pan a few times until the seeds fell out onto the pan. I'll let the seed dry a bit more before storing them.

A little while after the onions are done dropping seeds, the entire plant will die. By that time, new plants are already growing under the old ones.

Onion Seeds The Prudent Homemaker


If you're looking to start green onions and want to collect seeds like I do, you can start from seeds or plants. You can also grow green onions from grocery store onions! Just don't use the white part and roots, and plant those in the ground. The onions will start regrowing fairly quickly.

Green onions can also be grown in a pot, if you don't have a place to grow them in the ground. You can plant a pot full of thickly seeded green onions and snip from them as you need them. They can be grown in both full sun and partial shade.

They can be directly sown in the garden both spring and fall.

We get one or two frosts a year here and the onions do just fine in the winter (the coldest it gets here is 22ºF for a few days). If you live in a cooler climate, you may want to overwinter your green onions in a cold frame, under a cloche, in the house, or in a greenhouse to keep them growing into the next year.

Growing green onions without buying seeds every year is one of the ways I am fighting inflation. I can cut fresh green onions from my garden all year long. I have also found that these do better in the heat than bulb onions, so I am increasing the number of them in my garden this year by making sure to plant many of the seeds in some new places in the garden, including in the front yard.

Note: affiliate links

Burpee sells seeds for these. They are labeled "Bunching Onion, Evergreen Long White" and are $4.95 for 850 seeds. You may be able to find them locally in a smaller amount.  If not, they have a few deals going right now:

Get Free Shipping on all orders $30 or more with code AFFB54FS through 5/14, only at Burpee.com!

Get 20% Off Gift Cards for Mother's Day with code AFFB54MD through 5/14, only a Burpee.com!

Get $10 off orders of $30 or more with code AFFB44DD through 5/31 only at Burpee.com!

The last time I saw a bunch of green onions at the store, the price was 50 cents! I can easily cut that many three times a week ($1.50 x 52 weeks = $78 saved). I am definitely coming out ahead by growing my own.

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Garden Bench Makeover

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The first Mother's Day after Winter was born, I told my husband I wanted a Mother's Day gift. I wasn't sure what I wanted at first, but then one day I saw something in the grocery store ad. The grocery store had a teak glider bench for $100. My sweet husband bought that bench for me and put it in our garden.
We learned that teak needs to be oiled, and so after a few years I started oiling it. The harsh sun and the strong winds left it needing to be oiled twice a year.

Over time, it started to fall apart. My husband was able to fix it and I continued to oil it each year.

White Bench Before The Prudent Homemaker

Last year I couldn't get any teak oil at the store. It is a seasonal item, and no one was carrying it. I never did get around to oiling the bench, and it was looking worse than usual.

Painted Bench The Prudent Homemaker

I decided not to oil it this year, but to sand it and paint it. I wasn't sure if it would take the paint, but only a couple of spots on the bottom still had any oil residue. I gave it two coats of a light gray that looks like white most of the day.

White Bench 2 The Prudent Homemaker

It really stands out in the garden now, and I love seeing it out there every day.

I'm really happy that I've painted both of my garden benches within the last year. (You can see the other bench that I mended, sanded, and painted here.)

Tagged in: The Garden
Last modified on

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