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My nasturtiums are growing really well right now. I have to be careful that they don't overtake my herb garden and crowd the other plants from the sun (which they did last year, killing several plants). Both the leaves and the flowers of these plants are edible.

They've got a bite to them, though (like radishes, arugula, or watercress), which unfortunately makes them not in favor with my children (who will eat Johnny jump-ups to no end if I would give them free rein to pick them all, and who love the purple jelly that I made with them).

I had Wren and Elsa make bouquets with them and put them in water. Later, Elsa (who is 3) took her flowers out and carried them around, and then complained that they were dying. I told her that they were dying because they needed water, and asked her why she took them out of the water.

"Because they wanted to get out," she replied.

What are your favorite nasturtium recipes?
Tagged in: The Garden
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Dreaming on Paper

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White flower carpet rose

I have been dreaming of relandscaping our front yard for many years.

We have the typical Las Vegas front yard: a strange shape of grass, surrounded by rocks, a few bushes and a single tree. (Newer homes are not allowed to put grass in the front yard anymore, per a law that was passed after our house was built). We also do not have a sidewalk.

At our last house, we relandscaped the front yard before we did the backyard.

At this house, we did the backyard first. I'm so grateful that we did; the backyard has been a wonderful source of food and great place for the children to play every day.

I've had a few different ideas in my mind over the last few years about the front yard. A few weeks ago, I finally measured the yard and drew plans for it.

It's a small front yard, and I've been looking at other small (yet formal) gardens for some ideas. I found that the same things kept appealing to me. I basically am looking at a scaled down version of our backyard planters with hedges, including a center round circle planter.

We want to level most of the garden (except for the walkway) and install a short wall a little bit back from the street (We will install a pipe for drainage).

Instead of grass, I want to have a concrete path. This will mean that my husband won't need to bring the lawn mower around the house to mow a tiny patch of grass (which is what he does now).

The more pictures I saw, the more I realized that I loved the impact of a white garden, so I have been planning white flowers that will bloom at different times throughout the year. I have chosen the following flowers (all in white varieties):

Iceberg Roses
Violas (known to reseed; a fall through spring flower here)
Foxglove (grows in shade; they take two years before blooming)
Larkspur (fall planted; May blooming)
Vinca (these have reseeded themselves in my garden in the past)
Star of Bethlehem (a bulb that should naturalize)
Narcissus Curlew (a white daffodil that should naturalize)
Iris (Dutch Iris White Wedgewood)
Lilies (Oriental Lily Casa Blanca; I have some in my backyard already and have divided them, so eventually these should be able to be divided as well for more flowers. May blooming)
Zinnias (summer through frost)
Stock (a fall through spring flower here)
Flower Carpet Roses

I also hope to put in Meyer lemons to form a hedge; these will have white flowers as well. I already have Meyer lemons in back, but we would love enough lemons for lemonade.

I would like to put in two Early Elberta peaches (pink flowers in spring; I have one in the backyard and I would like more for canning and fresh eating) and two Flowering Plums (these have red leaves in summer and pink blossoms in spring; they generally do not fruit).

I plan on planting large quantities of Genovese basil (which also has white flowers when it goes to seed in late summer/early fall), a white alpine strawberry, and I am considering planting white veronica as well.The goal with the basil is to stop buying dried basil and to dry my own.

The hedges will be Greenspire Euyonomous.

I hope to plant vegetables in the planters (spinach in cool months and squash and Aremenian cucumbers in the hot months). I will plant parsley from seed (which I already have) in a few spots as well; I have parsley in two spots in the back and I have parsley in that spot by the front now (but it is going to seed in front). I would like to have enough parsley to stop purchasing dried parsley.

I already have two gardenia plants in pots by the front door, and I recently purchased two white Lady Banks's roses (in a small size) to climb up the house.

I've made several more changes to the plans since I photographed these last week. The lavender, rosemary, allium, and honeysuckle have been cut and I am planting something else in those spots. I've added even more flowers into the overall plan.

To see some of what I'm envisioning, you can check out my front yard pins on Pinterest.

To keep costs down, we are doing several things:

A friend of ours offered to let us use his backhoe. This will make leveling the front yard and digging trenches for the water into quick work, and I won't have to pay to rent one.

We have leftover blocks from the raised bed planter in our backyard that will be used as part of the wall in front when we level the yard (the yard currently slopes to the street). We have been saving these blocks for years with this purpose. I will still have to purchase more blocks, but this will reduce the number I need by about one-fourth.

I am watching for sales and hopefully more coupons from our local nursery. I will be buying smaller plants from the nursery to keep the costs lower. This cuts the cost for bushes and trees in half compared to buying larger plants. I am hoping to buy all plants on sale if possible.

I found a place to buy bulk white flower seeds. I already purchased my flower seeds in bulk (around 2000 seeds for $4.99 for most varieties) from Outside Pride  for foxglove, larkspur, vinca, Genovese basil, white strawberries, stock, hellebore (this beats the cost of plants by a lot on these), and violas.

I will be ordering bulbs in bulk from Van Engelen. These will not be available for sale until June for October shipping. These need to be planted in fall for spring blooming.

I already have white zinnia seeds from Wildseed Farms that I ordered earlier this year.

Many of the flowers I have ordered/will order are naturalizing bulbs and plants that reseed themselves (I should be able to collect seeds from the larkspur and zinnias). This will keep costs down over the long run, plus in years to come, it will mean an abundance of flowers.

There will still be expenses (dirt, plumbing, concrete, blocks for the wall, and plants) of course. Everything will be watered with drip irrigation. I am looking forward to more fruit, more vegetables, more pesto (and enough basil to dry), and more flowers for the table, not to mention the way the flowers will feed my spirit every single day.

I've taken the necessary papers to the neighbors to sign per HOA rules.

Now I just have to get the HOA to approve everything, and we'll get started!

This post linked to Frugal Friday at The Shabby Nest.
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The Garden in Spring

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My garden has been full of blossoms the last couple of weeks. The grass has really greened up thanks to the top dressing of 18 bags of manure.
We have been harvesting from this raised bed every other day; I have lettuce, radishes, spinach and bok choy at this end of the bed, and asparagus at the other end. You can see the grape vines starting to leaf out in the background.

Here are my grape vines with new leaves and tiny grapes! I have grape vines along most of this wall (it faces west) except for at the very end, where I have an espaliered pear.
The blossoms of my espaliered Asian Pear are in full bloom right now.

My espaliered Asian pear. This is a 20th Century Asian Pear. 

Here is the entire espaliered pear tree. It's supposed to need a Bartlett to fertilize it. The Bartlett on the left is still dormant (and I will be removing it and letting the grapes continue to grow in that spot); the pear has been self-fertile and is quite vigorous; had I known that, I might have grown it it as a regular tree. It fruits well for me every year.
Backing up a bit; the fig on the right is just starting to leaf out. In front of the pear tree you can see two of the Biloxi blueberries that I planted this spring. They are very low chill and have had flowers on them for over a month. I have planted several flowers in front of and behind the blueberries as well. Hopefully this spot will make for a nice cutting garden come May.

Back up a bit more and turn to the left. I originally planned to add urns in the garden in this spot when I first drew out my garden plans (which is why there are no daffodils in the corner) and I just added them this week (years and years later, but a garden takes time). The urns are from Sam's Club. I planted them with white carpet roses earlier today, and I ran 2 drip lines up inside each pot. I still need to connect those into the main line so that they will be watered with the daffodils and euyonomous hedges.
In the background you can see my raised bed that was in the first picture. We moved it in January to be touching the other garden beds. I'm really glad we did; the planter gets more sun and it has warmed up so much faster than the rest of the garden.
There is Swiss chard (this was planted last year, so it will bolt in the next month or so) growing inside the hedges. We have been harvesting from it all year. Behind Ivory and to the right of the peach tree is another Biloxi blueberry bush. I have poppies coming up in there as well. I planted a few new Swiss chard plants in there this spring to have for the next year; they are still rather small. I will be adding zucchini to this spot as well.
This is the apricot tree in bloom last week. I sanded and reoiled (with teak oil) the bench last week after I took this photo.
The pot by the bench with my .25 pansies. 
This picture was taken last week. You can see that the Asian pear hadn't quite yet opened yet, but the peaches, apple, and apricot were all in bloom. All of the daffodils are open now, and they smell wonderful.
On the other side of the garden, the lemon trees are budding. They will be open in the next couple of days; I love the smell of them! They will be wonderful and I'll try to get some more pictures of those after they open.
If you live in Las Vegas and would like to come see the daffodils and the lemon trees yourself, you are in luck! I still have a few spots left for my garden tour/class this Saturday morning. It should be a warm 85º.  Email me to reserve your spot at brandy (at) the prudent homemaker (dot) com if you're interested in attending. The cost is $10 per person. We'll be talking about raised beds, drip irrigation, dirt, pruning, bugs, planting dates for the desert, fruit trees and vegetables for the desert, and more.
Tagged in: The Garden
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Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments

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The garden yesterday evening right after sunset

I cut some of the first daffodils from the garden. With limited cuttings, they will still give me many in the garden, both this year and in years to come. They smell so wonderful!

I harvested rosemary, parsley, thyme, green onions, and Swiss chard from the garden.

We celebrated Wren's 5th birthday this week. She is wearing the shirt that my mom gave her for her birthday as well as the necklace that her sisters made for her (with Fimo clay and a stamp that was then baked in the oven; they also made her one with a "W" on it.) She had a yellow themed party; my parents also brought her some daffodils and some bananas. Elsa remarked that she wanted to have her birthday again so that she could have some "nanas." Your very own bunch of bananas is a great birthday gift!

We already had yellow ranuncuclus on the table, and I added a few daffodils from the garden. Winter hung some yellow streamers that we had, and there was plenty of yellow.

I gave her a yellow headband, some modeling clay, and a puzzle from the dollar store.

Because it was her 5th birthday, we took her to the library. I have been teaching her to write her name. In our family, when a child turns 5, she gets to go to the library to get her own library card. It's a special date with mom.

Winter took this photo of Ivory sleeping in my arms. I love her super long eyelashes!

I went to a rummage sale on Saturday. I took my updated garage sale list with me. I purchased two blouses for my 6-year-old (.75 for both) that looked brand-new. I also found several paperback books for the children for .25 each. I also found some fabric that I can use for pajamas for Christmas for a couple of girls, a piece of embroidered fabric from which I can make 2-3 skirts for the girls (for $1), a beautiful serving spoon that is silverplate with a mother-of pearl handle (I polished it when I came home).

I watched a few shows on Hulu for free.

I received a free copy of Martha Stewart Living in the mail.

Oranges were .32 a pound at Winco, so I bought an entire box (28 pounds).

I used a $20 off $60 coupon for the local nursery to get some needed items for the grass and the garden. I decided to add 2 more blueberry bushes to the garden (Biloxi blueberries, which need almost no chilling hours and are already in flower!). The blueberry bushes were on sale.

I transplanted lettuce thinnings to other spots in the garden.

"I looked out the window and what did I see. . .."

Apricot blossoms during sunset yesterday evening

I made Balsamic orange vinaigrette, French bread, hair detangler, and a batch of laundry soap.

What did you do to save money this week?

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The temperatures have been in the 50's and 60's during the day, and in the 30's and 40's at night for the last month. (Temperatures are in Fahrenheit, for my non-U.S. readers).

My Dorsett Golden Apple is leafing out. It's the first one to do so each spring (it ripens in summer). Those are flower buds in the center.

The plum, apricot, and peach trees are almost ready to flower.

I have lettuce, radishes, arugula, spinach, Swiss chard, borage, and several other things coming up in the garden. I have planted more things that will sprout in the next couple of weeks. Everything is tiny and holds so much promise. I am so excited for the garden this year.

My poppies have sprouted in the garden as well. I grew poppies two years ago, but not last year. This year I hope to have lots. Ideally they are planted in the fall here, so I hope they do well this spring.

There are several random sunflowers growing in the garden that have reseeded themselves from last year's sunflowers. They are not growing in the most convenient places, so I still haven't decided what to do with them. I may move them, pull them, or leave them where they are.

Most of the asparagus seems to have survived being transplanted. There are several tiny asparagus stems poking up. I planted new asparagus roots last year to replace some others which had died. It takes 4 years to harvest asparagus from seed; I started with 1-year-old crowns last year. Asparagus is my family's favorite vegetable. I have given over half of my raised bed, plus another several rows in the garden to asparagus because of this.

My tomato plants are in the ground now. I covered them with quart-sized glass jars to help them grow faster while it is still cool.

I've added several more strawberry plants this year as well. I'm not sure that the strawberry plants are a frugal addition to the garden, but I hope they turn out to be! The strawberry plants were not part of my initial plan for this year, but I am excited with the possibility of having more strawberries in the garden. Hopefully the plants will all do well.

I have spread several bags of manure over the grass to help the lawn to green up.

In a month everything should be much bigger and greener. Would you like to come see my garden?

I've had several requests for another garden tour. I will be doing one at the end of the month in March (on the 30th). There were several requests for different days, but many people said they would be in town that day, coming to visit family for Easter, and I wanted to make it possible for those who are already making the drive from out of state to come see my garden.

It will be warm, so wear sunscreen and a hat, bring some water, and of course bring something to take notes with if you'd like. You may bring your camera if you want.

The garden should be quite pretty then.

I have room for 35 adults on the tour. You will need to email me to reserve a spot for you and any adults that you will be bringing (no children are allowed during the tour; it's not fun for them. I send my own children inside during the tour). The cost is $10 per person. I will take a waiting list past 35 people. I will email you directions to my house the week of the tour.

The tour is a class that is around 2+ hours in length. As we tour the garden, you will learn about dirt, drip irrigation, watering times, growing food year-round, pruning fruit trees, getting rid of bugs, mixing food and flowers to create an edible landscape, fruit tree selections for the desert, espaliered fruit trees, how to make use of the walls for growing space, and more.

I've had people come from St. George, Phoenix, and Los Angeles before (plus one from Idaho!), as well as those here in Las Vegas.

Email me at brandy (at) the prudent homemaker (dot) com if you would like to come.

(If you live too far away to attend, here is my virtual garden tour from a few years past.)

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The Difference The Jars Make

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The photo above is one I took two years ago. I was experimenting to see what, if any, difference it made having the jars over my seedlings. I knew the jars kept the bugs and birds from eating them, but I wanted to see if leaving them on for longer made much difference.
The seeds were planted at the same time. After they came up, I put a jar on the ones at the right, and I left the seedlings on the left to grow normally.
The difference in only a very short time was amazing. I've been using jars as mini cloches in my garden ever since then!
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Spring Gardening



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