Category Archives: What’s Blooming

Are you ready to go strawberry picking: tips you can't miss

Are you ready to go strawberry picking?

Strawberry season is here.  Are you ready to go strawberry picking?  If you are planning to pick your own strawberries, here are a few tips that will make your trip successful.

Strawberry Picking: Plan Ahead

Before you go picking, you’ll want to do the following things:

  • Call ahead to confirm berries are ready and to determine the picking hours.
  • Plan to go early in the morning.  If you can, go as soon as they open.  The saying “The early bird gets the worm” is true for strawberry picking.  You’ll have a better selection of strawberries, since the rows won’t be picked over.
  • Wear old clothes.  You might get a strawberry stain.  It usually comes out in the wash, but just in case…

What to Bring When Picking Your Own Strawberries

  • Water: You’ll be thirsty after picking.
  • Cash: Many small farms do not have credit card machines.
  • A change of shoes: I like to wear flip flops.  I can take them off right after picking, and they are easy to hose off when I get home.  Other pickers like to wear socks and sneakers.  Whatever you decide, just bring a change of shoes.  If you step on a berry, you won’t want to track it into your car.
  • Clean up supplies:  Baby wipes or wet face cloth in plastic bag.  You will want to clean your fingers after picking.

Picking Your Own Strawberries: Tips for Picking in the Field

Usually, only certain rows are open.  Try to pick a row that no one has picked in yet.  It will make picking much faster.

Since you pay by the pound, you’ll want to pick clean.  That means, do not pick the stems.  Pick the strawberry where the stem meets the berry.  Leave the whole stem behind, so only the green leaves stay on the berry.

Be sure to look in between the strawberry bushes.  Many people simple pick along the edges where you can easily see the berries.  By looking in between the leaves, you’ll find lots of berries.

It’s okay to eat a few strawberries while you are there.  After all, you want to know if the berries are sweet and tasty.  Just don’t overdo it. 🙂

Disclaimer: Some of the links below are referral links, which means that if you make a purchase, there is no extra cost to you, but Running A Household will receive a commission.

After you Finish Picking Strawberries

You’ll want to get the strawberries home and into the refrigerator.  I like to transfer mine into a colander, so that there a few holes to allow air in. I also cover the top of the colander loosely with plastic wrap.  This keeps anything from falling into the strawberries.

Are you ready to go strawberry picking?

Lastly, it’s important to have a strawberry huller.  This handy tool allows you to easily take the leaves off the berry.  You can certainly cut this part off with a knife, but you will take off too much of the strawberry.  With a Strawberry Huller, you will only take off the leaves, and keep the rest of the strawberry to eat.

Enjoy your strawberries!  There’s nothing quite like eating strawberries that were just picked.  🙂

Here are a few additional articles you may enjoy reading:

Summer Meal Ideas

How to host a simple cookout

Time Saving Tip: Shop Local

 

printable Garden Assessment Form

Garden Assessment: Start planning for next year

How was your growing season?  Was it successful?  Do you wish you could have done something differently?  We’re here to help with our printable Garden Assessment Form.

Printable Garden Assessment Form

Now that the growing season is over, take a few minutes to assess the success of your garden.  Use our printable Garden Assessment Form to analyze and review your garden, so that next year turns out even better. Just click on the link below to print our garden assessment form:

Garden Assessment Form

Garden Assessment Form

Assessing your garden

Be sure to think about all of the things that worked well this year:

  • Size of garden
  • Garden layout and paths
  • Types of plants: Vegetables and flowers

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Was your garden too small, to big, or just the right size?
  • Would you like to change the layout of your garden?
  • Which plants grew the best?
  • Which vegetables and flowers did you enjoy most?
  • Did you have too many of one type of plant, or not enough of another?

Now it’s time to fill out the Garden Assessment Form.

What worked well during this growing season?

Start by thinking about the successful part of your garden.  Think about:

  • What worked really well?
  • Are there things you would keep the same?

Jot down your top items that made your garden a success.  These are the items you will want to repeat again next year.  There were several things that went well for us:

  • Giant Zinnias: These are one of our favorite flowers to grow.  This year they were colorful and plentiful. We opted to grow red, orange and yellow colors. This was perfect for a summer vase, as well as fall.

Giant Red Zinnia with butterfly

 

  • Cherry Tomatoes:  Two plants were plenty for our family. There were enough to share with our friends, too. We trimmed the tops of the plants early in the season, which allowed the plants to fill out and grow strong.

Red and Green Cherry Tomatoes

  • Basil:  This year we planted 8 basil plants. We kept the basil trimmed, and there was plenty all season. It was wonderful to have fresh-cut basil available for our summer dinner meals.

Basil Growing in Container

  • Marigolds: Yellow and orange marigolds are a tradition in our garden because they seem to keep the bunnies away. We prefer the flat-petal variety, called Durango Marigolds, which are a little different that the standard marigolds.

two yellow durango merigolds

  • Sunflowers: We love sunflowers. The 36” low height works best in our garden. Our neighbor loves sunflowers so we planted them on the edge where she can see them, too. Planting 10-12 from seed worked best.

Dwarf Sunflowers

  • Lettuce: Our lettuce grew very well this year. We bought 2 six-packs of lettuce from our local garden center, which proved to be easier than growing it from seed.

 

  • Herb Container: In addition to growing basil in the garden, we opted to plant basil, rosemary and chives in a container. We snipped herbs from our container throughout the season.  Once the first frost arrived, we brought the container indoors and continued to have a fresh supply of herbs.

Chives in Container

  • Geraniums in window boxes: Although we prefer to have a variety of plants in our window boxes, we tend to regret this decision when the heat arrives in July. This year we opted for simple geraniums, which lasted from May to October. They were very forgiving when we didn’t water them, and are the perfect plant for a window box if you plan to be on vacation for a week or two and cannot water them.  Geraniums come in many colors: Hot pink, light pink, red, salmon, white, and light purple.  Red ones look great from Memorial Day right into early fall.  Pictured below are our hot pink geraniums:

Pink geraniums in window boxes

What didn’t work in your garden this year?

Next, it’s time to think about things that just didn’t work:

  • Did you have enough plants?
  • Were certain crops a bust this year?
  • Do you wish you had more flowers or vegetables?
  • Were there too many weeds?

Write down the things that went wrong, so that next year you can make some changes.  Here’s what we need to fix for next year:

  • Peppers: We had too many pepper plants: 24 to be exact.  There were 4 varieties, with 6 plants of each variety.  For some reason, none of our pepper plants grew very well this year.  Next year, we’re planning to grow just 6 jalapeno pepper plants.
  • Acorn squash: This was our first time growing acorn squash. We were pleased to have three squash, but they were very small and took up a lot of garden space. We will omit acorn squash next year.
  • Cucumbers: We were pleased that our cucumbers were grown from seed. Initially, the plants looked great, but a week of non-stop rain washed out our crop this year. Next year, we will consider using lattice for the cucumbers to climb, and mound the plants again when planting.
  • Potatoes: This was another first-time crop for us. Potatoes require less water than other plants.  It was difficult not to water the potatoes since they were in our main garden. We will try growing potatoes again next year, but in a container.  That way, it’s easier to trim the tops during the season, and we can have more control over the water supply.

.

Things to do next time

Lastly, write down a few things you want to do next year.  By documenting your thoughts now, it will make it much easier for next year.  Here are the changes we will make:

  • Grow more extra-large flowers: Consider giant spider chyrsanthemums or 18 large zinnia plants instead of 8.
  • Grow more cut flowers: Research flower types over the winter. Look for cut flowers that would look good on a dining room table.
  • Continue growing zucchini: Limit to 3-4 zucchini plants, and remember to plant in full sun.
  • Rotate garden crops: Research efficient planting methods; Change location of cherry tomato plants
  • Shop for blueberry bush netting: Our one blueberry bush is quite large.  The netting no longer fits over the entire bush.  Shop early for white cheese cloth netting.
  • Buy citronella plants: These plants keep mosquitoes away.  Consider having one in the garden, another one on the patio, and a third one on the deck.  Instead of spraying bug spray on skin, simply cut a piece of the plant, and brush it on your clothes.  It smells like citronella candles, and is a more natural way to repel mosquitos.

By taking a few notes now, you’ll have time to plan over the winter. In addition, your garden will be even better next year. Happy gardening!

Additional articles you may enjoy from our website:

flower and vegetable seed and plant checklistGarden Shopping Checklist: Track your seed and plant purchases

Yellow zinneas

First Frost Warning: What it means for you and your outdoor plants

Bearded Iris

Things to plant this fall

Gutters with Leaves

It’s Time to Clean Out Your Gutters

Leaves - oak

Do it yourself: How to clean up fall leaves

Leaf Rake

How to Remove Leaves from Pool Cover

How to drain water from a pool cover

Tips on How to Drain Water from a Pool Cover

 

Need more gardening guidance?  Check out our monthly gardening calendars: What’s Blooming

Be sure to follow us on Pinterest:  Click here

 

lilacs in bathroom

What’s in Your Vase? Spring Flowers for Your Home

Spring is such a busy time of year, but there’s always time to cut some flowers from the yard. Fresh flowers are a great way to bring the outdoors inside.  Let’s take a look at some of the arrangements we’ve enjoyed in our home this spring.

Bright Yellow Tulips in a Vase

These bright yellow tulips are just so pleasant to look at every day.  They are especially cheerful on a gloomy, rainy day.

Yellow cut tulips

Lilacs in a Glass Vase

Lilacs are blooming, and their scent is very strong this year. We cut ours right before a big rainstorm.  We just love the purple color of these lilacs.

Purple lilacs in glass vase

 

Purple Lilacs in Small Green Pitcher

Just a small sprig of lilacs in the bathroom brings a fresh clean scent to the room.  We love the look of flowers in a glass pitcher.

lilacs in bathroom

Spring Floral Arrangement from Your Local Florist

If you need a quick way to brighten up a room, you can also swing by your local florist for a fresh floral arrangement.  This mix of salmon roses and pink daisies lasted two weeks on our dining room table.

Salmon roses and pink daisies

Join Us to See More Pictures and Floral Ideas

Did you enjoy these pictures?  If so, let’s connect.  We invite you to join us in the following ways:

  1. “Follow” us on Pinterest.
  2. Pin one of the pictures above on your board in Pinterest by clicking on the Pinterest button at the end of this article.
  3. Optional: Share a picture of your favorite spring flower arrangement.   Once you follow us on Pinterest, we can invite you to post a picture to our Pinterest group board for Spring Flower Arrangements.
  4. Follow us on Instagram, where we post pictures of what we are doing this week around the house. You’ll also get a sneak peek of what we’re working on for RunningAHousehold.com

Click here to see our boards on Pinterest.

Click here to see our pictures on Intagram.

We’re relatively new to Pinterest and Instagram, so we hope you’ll join us soon. 🙂

 

 

snowfall on pansies

Can pansies survive snow? What you need to know

Did you ever plant pansies, only to find out a snowstorm is on the way?  We’re here to tell you what happened when we planted our pansies, and then a surprise snowstorm occurred overnight.  Can you guess the outcome?

Planting pansies early

Pansies are known for their hardiness. People usually plant them in early spring, knowing that they can survive colder temperatures.  Here are the pansies we planted.  Aren’t these orange pansies beautiful?

Orange Pansies in Black Container

 

We also planted yellow ones in a pretty planter stand that was crafted out of wood.

Yellow pansies

 

And then it snowed

On April 19th, we awoke to an unexpected snow-covered yard. It was so beautiful, until sheer panic set in when I realized my pansies were outside. Some of them were under a covered porch, while others were in containers unprotected from the elements. And then there were the ones that I planted directly in the window boxes of our shed. My heart sank.

Orange pansies covered in snow

According to the news reports, the rain changed over to sleet around midnight. It was followed by about an inch of snow. So when I looked at the pansies around 7:00 a.m. they were covered in snow. I hustled to lug the containers into the house, hoping that they weren’t outside too long. Within an hour, the snow melted, and after another hour things were looking optimistic.

Yellow pansies after snow

By the end of the day, I knew the yellow and orange pansies would be fine.  As for the pansies out in the window boxes, I wasn’t able to bring those indoors. I thought about covering the plants with a plastic bag or pillow case, but instead I just let Mother Nature take her course. What was the result? They were fine! We were so thrilled that all of the pansies survived.

Lessons learned

Pansies can survive cold temperatures slightly under 32 degrees. They can even survive a light sleet and snow storm.  In fact, the ice may have acted as an insulation to protect the flowers.

Going forward, we plan to keep an eye on the daily forecast, so that we can take necessary precautions. Anything is possible here in New England.  So if a larger snowstorm is headed your way, be sure to bring your pansies indoors.

Happy gardening! 🙂

printable garden shopping checklist

Garden Shopping Checklist: Track your seed and plant purchases

Are you ready to shop for your garden plants?  We’ve created a printable shopping checklist to help you keep track of what you need to buy.

Using the Garden Shopping Checklist

printable vegetable and flower shopping checklist

  1. Print a copy of the checklist.  We’ve included a link at the end.
  2. Highlight the boxes to indicate what you need to buy.

Examples:

If you need to buy seeds for beans and carrots, take a highlighter, and color in the beans and carrots boxes in the column labeled Seeds.

If you need to buy tomato and pepper plants, highlight those two boxes in the column called Plants.

3.  Put a checkmark in the box when you’ve purchased the item.

We’ve listed the most popular vegetables, flowers and herbs on the checklist.  However, if there’s something else you need to buy, just add in under the additional items column.

Sample Vegetable and Flower Garden Shopping Checklist

flower and vegetable seed and plant checklist

Here’s a sample checklist to show you our garden plans:

Garden Shopping Checklist – Seeds and Plants SAMPLE

Printable Vegetable and Flower Garden Shopping Checklist

Just click the link below to print your copy of the checklist.

Garden Shopping Checklist – Seeds and Plants

Need a few more gardening ideas?

We invite you to follow us on Pinterest for more gardening and organizing tips.  Click here to see our Pinterest Page.

You may also enjoy the following articles from our site:

Spring Cleaning Checklists

Silver Maple Trees: It’s a Love-Hate Relationship

It’s Time to Put Down Your Step 1 Fertilizer

Don’t like weeds? Act now to prevent weeds from growing

Did you find this Garden Shopping Checklist helpful?  If so, please share it with others.  Just click on one of the sharing buttons below to like on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, e-mail and more.

Happy Gardening! 🙂