gardening http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/3170/all en-US 6 Decorative Plants You Can Eat, Too http://www.wisebread.com/6-decorative-plants-you-can-eat-too <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-decorative-plants-you-can-eat-too" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_holding_artichoke_16187019.jpg" alt="Woman finding pretty landscaping plants she can eat" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When it comes to home landscaping, why not kill two birds with one stone? Up your home's curb appeal this summer with plants and vegetation that can also stock your pantry. Use strawberry plants as ground cover. Edge a garden with colorful rosettes of lettuce. Or infuse your backyard flora with some of the other beautiful and utilitarian plants on this list.</p> <h2>1. Sunchokes</h2> <p>A member of the sunflower family, sunchokes produce chirpy yellow flowers that can add a pop of color to any landscaping design. This staple food can also keep you well-fed through the winter. Alternatively known as Jerusalem artichokes, sunchokes are tubers that resemble a ginger root but taste more like a savory potato. Widely harvested in temperate regions, sunchokes are ready for picking after the first or second frost of the season. They make for a great base ingredient in purees, soups, hashes, and mashes. That&rsquo;s not all: When sauteed, sunchokes can contribute a&nbsp;<a href="http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1014360-fettuccine-with-sunchokes-and-herbs">slightly nutty flavor</a> to any sauceless pasta dish.</p> <h2>2. Serviceberry</h2> <p>Native to every state but Hawaii, the serviceberry plant produces lacy spring flowers in white, pink, yellow, or red, as well as purplish-red berries infused with a <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2008-05-28/entertainment/0805230407_1_crust-pie-pan-serviceberry">tart flavor reminiscent of blueberries</a>. In addition to eating them raw, the berries, which fruit for about two weeks per year, can be tossed in salads, baked into pies, or smashed into jams. Also known as amelanchier or Juneberry, this member of the rose family comes in about 20 varieties of small trees and large, deciduous shrubs. To grow well, the plant requires moist soil with good drainage. Other than that, it&rsquo;s not particularly fussy, making it a great selection for the novice gardener.</p> <h2>3. Sage</h2> <p>With its silvery-green, low-to-the-ground leaves, sage makes for a wonderful front-row ornamental. Tricolor sage, which also has brush strokes of purple and white, is a particularly terrific variety for edging the garden. Not only is sage a delicious herb that can spruce up any meat, stir fry, or pasta, it&rsquo;s also deliciously fragrant &mdash; a welcome addition to any yard. Easy to grow, a backyard mound of sage is a chef&rsquo;s dream.</p> <h2>4. Small-Fruited Tomatoes</h2> <p>Small-fruited tomato varieties, such as the Cuban yellow grape, elfin, or sugar lump, produce plentiful yields of sweet tasting, gumball-sized fruit that can be eaten right from the garden &mdash; or added into salads, pastas, or veggie platters for dipping with vinaigrettes or hummus. Outside the kitchen, small-fruited tomatoes also make for a colorful, perky addition to the yard. Since keeping them on the ground will increase the risk of rotting, these attractive edibles can best be grown with stakes, in raised beds, or on trellises. Sunny spots are optimal.</p> <h2>5. Globe Artichokes</h2> <p>Easy to grow and <a href="http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/videos/techniques/how-prepare-globe-artichokes">easy to cook</a>, the globe artichoke is a perennial species of thistle that produces large flower buds with thick, tender, geometric scales that are both ornamental and edible. In flavor, the antioxidant-rich globe artichoke is nutty and tangy. You can prepare them raw, grilled, boiled, sauteed, or stuffed. Our recommendation: Chop the heart into pieces, then marinate and <a href="http://www.abc.net.au/local/recipes/2007/08/26/1993966.htm">toss them into a risotto</a> or salad &mdash; or simply eat them as they are.</p> <h2>6. Paprika Peppers</h2> <p>This mild variety of the pepper has a striking, shiny red color that can add a bit of flash to any home garden. In the kitchen, they can be dried, ground, and used as a spice in mayo-based salads, goulash, or chorizo, or as a deviled egg garnish. These vitamin C-rich peppers can also be eaten raw straight from the garden. Paprika peppers thrive in fertile, well-draining soil with plentiful access to sunlight. Harvest time extends from summer to fall.</p> <p><em>Do you have any edibles in your pretty garden?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/brittany-lyte">Brittany Lyte</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-decorative-plants-you-can-eat-too">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-cheap-ways-to-dress-up-your-garden">17 Cheap Ways to Dress Up Your Garden</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cooking-for-beginners-10-recipes-for-kitchen-newbies">Cooking for Beginners: 10 Recipes for Kitchen Newbies</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-the-greenest-lawn-on-the-block-naturally">How to Get the Greenest Lawn on the Block — Naturally</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-simple-gardening-skills-anybody-can-master">13 Simple Gardening Skills Anybody Can Master</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-improve-your-curb-appeal-for-next-to-nothing">6 Ways to Improve Your Curb Appeal for Next to Nothing</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink Home Cooking curb appeal edible gardening herbs landscaping plants vegetables Thu, 30 Jun 2016 10:00:06 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1740460 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Create Your Dream Backyard on a Budget http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-create-your-dream-backyard-on-a-budget <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-create-your-dream-backyard-on-a-budget" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/backyard_party_78624345.jpg" alt="Family creating a dream backyard on a budget" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Summer has arrived, and your number one priority might be giving your backyard or other outdoor space a party-perfect makeover.&nbsp;We chatted with DIY and design experts Ben and Erin Napier, who are currently working with <a href="http://promo.bankofamerica.com/ccsearchlp6/">Bank of America</a> to provide brilliant tips on how to make a dreamy outdoor space on the cheap. Ben and Erin approach their projects with a realistic and relatable point of view, because they want you to succeed without having to sacrifice. All of their projects are attainable &mdash; even by the newbiest of newbies. And what's better than that?</p> <p>Here are some of their best pearls of outdoor DIY wisdom.</p> <h2>Start With Seating and Lighting</h2> <p>If you're planning on hosting a summer soiree, you need the right seating and the right ambience to make it memorable. Erin Napier told us that she and Ben prefer to entertain at night, since it gets so hot during the day where they live. She also suggested stringing party lights around the yard to create a magical setting. For additional seating and decor, &quot;pull things from inside the house into the backyard. Bring rugs and lamps and the dinner table outside, and it makes great décor. Just make sure to bring them back inside before it rains!&quot; Erin said.</p> <p>Unfortunately, since mosquitoes and summer typically go hand in hand, do what you can to keep those pests away. Erin suggests going with citronella plants over the typical candles and sprays.&quot; If you can find citronella plants, buy all they have! Put them in pots and they keep away mosquitoes and bugs. Plants do an awesome job keeping bugs away naturally, and they are just as good as candles. You just need to have them strategically placed around your yard,&quot; she said. You can find these at Home Depot, or any major garden center.</p> <p>Just be careful if you're a dog owner, as they can be <a href="https://bonnieplants.com/growing/growing-mosquito-plants/">toxic to dogs</a>.</p> <h2>3 Yard Decor Choices Even the Pros Worry About</h2> <p>When it comes to DIYing, mistakes are part of the journey. But to avoid any missteps that can easily destroy your budget, Ben and Erin recommend being cautious in three areas: Lawn furniture, paint for your porch, and flowers.</p> <p>When asked what people typically overspend on, Ben told us, &quot;Lawn furniture that&rsquo;s not going to hold up and be durable. Be sure to look for metal that can be used year after year with a metal-bonding paint.&quot;&nbsp;</p> <p>Speaking of paint, don't waste your money on latex paint for your porch. Erin said, &quot;Painting a porch with latex paint is a bad idea. You'll need to redo it because it doesn't hide scratches. Only use old-ace enamel paint because will hold up for a few years.&quot;</p> <p>As for flowers, Erin is all about perennials. &quot;They bloom all year long, even in colder months, whereas annuals need to be replanted.&quot;</p> <p>When it comes to lawn care, Ben reminds us that timing is everything. &quot;It gets so hot in Mississippi, people water and mow their yards in brutal heat during the afternoon, which does more harm than good. Do the mowing and watering in the early morning, and cut your yard a little taller in order to create shade for the roots and allow for more water to be absorbed.&quot;</p> <p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WaYqp0rHhBA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>So in terms of staying on budget, Ben says you need to set a budget, choose priorities, and make a plan. Once you're ready to shop, you can earn cash back with the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bankamericard-cash-rewards?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_campaign=napier" target="_blank">BankAmericard Cash Rewards credit card</a>. Or really, anytime you shop, this card should be in your wallet. Earn 1% cash back on every purchase, 2% at grocery stores and now at wholesale clubs, and 3% on gas up to the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter. Knowing what to buy for the backyard, you can get cash back on your DIY buys, which can help extend your budget.</p> <h2>Must-Have Tools</h2> <p>Not all tools are created equal, so make sure you have the right ones in your toolbox before you start redecorating. Ben's three must-haves are a drill, a hammer, and a pair of pliers. Erin added, &quot;And a caulk gun. That's worth spending money on. Tape measures are a must, too. We seem to have thousands of them.&quot;&nbsp;</p> <p>And in terms of splurging on the right tools, if you have a little wiggle room in your budget, and plan to do more DIY projects in the future, Ben recommends getting a skill saw, a miter saw, and a table saw.</p> <p>For more of Ben and Erin's home improvement tips, and some brilliant how-to videos, head over to <a href="http://promo.bankofamerica.com/ccsearchlp6/" target="_blank">Bank of America</a>. Also, be sure to check out their blog at <a href="https://erinandben.co/">https://erinandben.co/</a>. They update it every day with more fun and creative ideas.</p> <p><em>Do you have any additional outdoor DIY tips you'd like to share? Leave them in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chrissa-hardy">Chrissa Hardy</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-create-your-dream-backyard-on-a-budget">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-cool-diy-home-improvements-for-20-or-less">10 Cool DIY Home Improvements for $20 or Less</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-ideas-for-cheap-festive-fall-decor">12 Ideas for Cheap, Festive, Fall Decor</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-amazing-diy-decorating-projects-that-are-easier-than-you-think">18 Amazing DIY Decorating Projects That Are Easier Than You Think</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/19-frugal-and-easy-ways-to-update-an-old-home">19 Frugal (And Easy) Ways to Update an Old Home</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/secret-lawn-tonic-recipe-from-golf-course-groundskeeper">Secret Lawn Tonic Recipe From Golf Course Groundskeeper</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting DIY Home credit cards decor design DIY diy projects gardening home improvement interview lifestyle outdoor decor party tips Thu, 23 Jun 2016 10:30:09 +0000 Chrissa Hardy 1737243 at http://www.wisebread.com 13 Simple Gardening Skills Anybody Can Master http://www.wisebread.com/13-simple-gardening-skills-anybody-can-master <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/13-simple-gardening-skills-anybody-can-master" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/000013042218.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Gardening is a satisfying lifelong hobby that keeps me fit, saves me money on food, and &mdash; without sounding too cheesy, I hope &mdash; lets me live a more beautiful life.</p> <p>Many people turn to home gardening hoping to gain these benefits, only to find at the end of the summer that they've spent hundreds of dollars on dead trees and bug-ravaged vegetables.</p> <p>Many garden failures are caused by human error, rather than a plague of locusts. The following 13 basic skills are worth spending time to master, as they will not only help you get the most enjoyment out of your garden, but also save you money, too.</p> <h2>1. Soil Analysis</h2> <p>Before you plant, it's important to know if your garden soil can actually support life.</p> <p>The first thing you will want to know about your soil is its pH. Is your soil alkaline, acidic, or neutral? Soil that is too alkaline or acidic keeps plants from absorbing key nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, so your plants suffer malnutrition. Although you can send your soil to a professional lab for testing, there are several inexpensive ways to <a href="http://www.wikihow.com/Test-Soil-pH">test soil pH at home</a>.</p> <p>The second thing you need to know about your soil before you plant is its structure. Soil that is too sandy won't hold nutrients, and soil that has too much clay can suffocate a plant's roots by limiting its access to water and air.</p> <p>Although some people are blessed with perfect soil, most of us have dirt with less than ideal pH and texture. Luckily, even <a href="http://www.hobbyfarms.com/6-soil-problems-and-amendment-solutions-5/">poor soils can be improved</a> by adding amendments.</p> <h2>2. Composting</h2> <p>One of the best soil amendments to add to your garden is compost. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-frugal-reasons-to-compost">Compost is an excellent soil conditioner</a> that improves the texture and nutrition levels of all types of dirt. Also, since compost is made from household garbage, it saves you money in two ways: It's a free and natural alternative to chemical fertilizers, and it cuts down on your garbage bill and your water bill.</p> <p>Compost is really just controlled rotting. Contrary to popular belief, a well-tended compost pile isn't stinky, and composting is not a hard skill to learn, as microbes and worms do most of the work! Compost is made from two types of waste: green and brown. Green waste is made up of nitrogen-rich waste like grass clippings, coffee grounds, and food waste. Brown waste is made up of carbon-rich waste like dead leaves, pine needles, sawdust, or shredded paper. If the compost gets too stinky, add more brown waste. If the compost isn't breaking down fast enough, add more green waste. Well-balanced compost has a nice loamy smell and texture.</p> <p>Composting dramatically cuts down on what my household sends to the landfill, which is good for the planet. In addition to composting all of my plant-based food waste and yard trimmings, I also compost greasy pizza boxes and used cardboard food containers that cannot be recycled.</p> <p>Compost also helps my heavy clay soil retain water, which is vital, since Southern California is currently suffering from an endless drought.</p> <h2>3. Tracking Sunlight</h2> <p>Most vegetables need plenty of sun to thrive, so if your yard is shady year-round, you will be disappointed in your harvest. How much sunlight your growing area gets determines what you can grow. Although there are sun tracking apps, it's easy to <a href="http://getbusygardening.com/how-to-determine-sun-exposure/">track sun exposure</a> with just a pen and paper.</p> <h2>4. Seed Starting</h2> <p>Planting your vegetable and flower garden from seed has two huge advantages. First, there are far more varieties available in seed form than as seedlings. Second, unless you are like me and read seed catalogs with the intensity that most people reserve for pornography, <a href="http://www.myromanapartment.com/garden-hack-citrus-peel-starter-pot-seedlings/">gardening from seed</a> is the least expensive way to grow plants.</p> <p>FYI, you can buy seeds and plants that produce food with Food Stamps! Consider stretching your SNAP benefits by keeping a small garden. If you buy a package of tomato seeds for $3.00 and grow 10 tomatoes from just one plant, that is a huge return on your investment.</p> <h2>5. Seed Saving</h2> <p>Why buy seeds when you can just use seeds that you grew yourself last season? Saving seeds isn't just a great way to shrink your garden budget. It's also a great way to grow your community. My friend Steve has an impressive victory garden that he grew from seeds that he &quot;checked out&quot; from the <a href="http://www.kclibrary.org/seedlibrary">Kansas City Public Library</a> with his library card. If you love the idea of a seed library as much as I do but can't find one in your area, the Richmond, California Public Library has a tutorial on <a href="http://www.richmondgrowsseeds.org/create-a-library.html">how to start your own</a>!</p> <h2>6. Container Gardening</h2> <p>Not everyone has fixable soil or even open ground to use as a growing space. Luckily, container gardening allows even apartment-dwellers to create their own green space. Although I am incredibly vain about my vast collection of terra cotta pots, you can grow ridiculous amounts of food in containers such as plastic storage tubs and recycled food buckets. That said, Pinterest is full of brilliant ideas for <a href="https://www.pinterest.com/romanapartment/upcycled-garden-planters/">upcycled planters</a>, made from items you probably already own, for all kinds of vegetation.</p> <h2>7. Plant Propagation From Stem Cuttings</h2> <p>I learned how to <a href="http://needlesandleaves.net/blog/2013/5/31/propagating-leggy-succulents">grow succulents from cuttings</a> as a kid and never looked back. Every year when I trim back my succulents, I save the cuttings to use as barter currency with the neighbors, to sell at my garage sale, or to pot up and give as gifts. Plants are great gifts, for just about every occasion. This one little skill makes/saves me at least $100 every year between what I save on buying gifts and what I sell for cold hard cash. More importantly, I managed to plant 90% of my front yard with plant cuttings I collected from my friends and neighbors. I saved hundreds of dollars on my landscaping budget because I barely had to buy any greenery.</p> <p>But why limit yourself to just succulents? There are so many great indoor and outdoor plants that can be grown from cuttings.</p> <h2>8. Transplanting</h2> <p>My husband loves to collect&hellip; everything. So he's always out in the yard, sticking something new into the ground. Unfortunately, up until recently, about 50% of what he planted immediately croaked. I only discovered the cause of his brown thumb this year. He had no idea that he needed to immediately water plants after transplanting to prevent shock. Now that he's learned the basic rules of transplanting, he hasn't lost a plant.</p> <h2>9. Watering</h2> <p>Everyone knows you can kill a plant by underwatering, but did you know the most common cause of death in indoor plants is overwatering? Fortunately, learning the proper way to water your plants, both inside and out, is not rocket science. Also, learning <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/aug/22/six-ways-to-save-water-in-your-garden">good watering techniques</a> will cut down on your water bill, even if you don't live in a drought-stricken area.</p> <h2>10. Mulching</h2> <p>I love to mulch, because it provides immediate gratification. The yard looks instantly tidier after mulching. Also, mulch cuts down on weeds, and helps the soil retain water.</p> <p>I am a great proponent of liquor store mulch, aka <a href="http://permaculturenews.org/2012/07/20/gorgeous-gardens-from-garbage-how-to-build-a-sheet-mulch/">sheet mulching</a>, because I don't even have to weed before I lay down the sweet, sweet topcoat. Also, it's basically free. Here's how I mulch:</p> <ul> <li>Get cardboard boxes from my corner liquor store.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Cover my dirt, weeds and all, with flattened cardboard boxes, working around existing plants. <br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Water until the cardboard is super wet. <br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Shovel green waste onto the cardboard. I use manure that my chicken-raising neighbor is so happy to give me for free, but you can use compost, grass cutting, etc.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Shovel brown waste on top of everything to hide the stinky green waste. I used dead leaves and shredded cardboard boxes, but you can use what you have on hand. <br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Water, water, water.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Wait. By the following year, you will have lovely topsoil to grow in and far fewer weeds.</li> </ul> <p>By the way, if you aren't planning on growing a garden next season and just want to make your current planting look better, many cities offer free mulch, made from chopped up city trees, as part of their recycling programs. Just lay down that wood mulch over cardboard and call it a day.</p> <h2>11. Managing Pests</h2> <p>My mother is a master gardener. The second she thought my sister and I were old enough to handle garden tools without goring each other, she enlisted us in slug patrol. Every morning before school, we had to go out to the garden and decapitate every slug we found. To this day, I can throw a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009JXFUMW/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B009JXFUMW&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=KTHMWMHZ3FKPFQSI">weed digger</a> five feet with deadly precision.</p> <p>But killing slugs <em>Game of Thrones-</em>style is just one of the ways I manage pests in my garden.</p> <p>My favorite method of pest management is companion planting, because the plants do most of the maintenance work. One of my very favorite garden hacks is The <a href="https://www.almanac.com/content/companion-planting-three-sisters">Three Sisters</a>, an Iroquois planting method that is perfect in its simplicity. The three sisters are corn, climbing beans, and squash. These three crops are planted together in a mound of dirt. The corn provides a trellis for the beans. The beans are nitrogen-fixers, so they fertilize the soil for the corn and the squash. The squash's prickly leaves act as mulch, and they shade the roots of the other two sisters. The squash also acts as a defense against rodents and raccoons that don't like crawling through the prickly leaves to eat the beans and the corn. So genius.</p> <p>Because I am a beekeeper and own a koi pond, I cannot use chemical garden sprays without also killing my pets. Luckily, there are plenty of homemade bug sprays that do the job and are made of things you can find in your kitchen.</p> <h2>12. Pruning</h2> <p>There are a number of reasons why you should <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-keep-diy-projects-from-ruining-your-life">leave tree pruning to the experts</a>, but pruning shrubs and other small plants is easy, once you know how. Although most people think of pruning as decorative, proper pruning actually keeps plants healthy by removing dead or dying parts of plants that have been damaged by weather, disease, bugs, or animals. Pruning can also make a plant more productive by forcing the plant to put more energy into producing fruit or flowers.</p> <h2>13. Maintaining Tools</h2> <p>I am terrible at this. After spending approximately $539,287 to repeatedly replace wood-handled tools that I left in the yard to the mercy of the elements, I finally had to purchase way too expensive, rust-proof, all metal tools. Don't be me.</p> <p>Actually, maintaining tools is remarkably easy. If you clean your tools after every use and store them in a dry place, you can make most hand tools last a lifetime.</p> <p><em>Do you have a green thumb? What garden skills save you the most money and time?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/max-wong">Max Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-simple-gardening-skills-anybody-can-master">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-edible-garden-plants-anyone-can-grow">10 Edible Garden Plants Anyone Can Grow</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-the-greenest-lawn-on-the-block-naturally">How to Get the Greenest Lawn on the Block — Naturally</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-easy-ways-to-prep-your-garden-for-winter">10 Easy Ways to Prep Your Garden for Winter</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-turn-your-black-thumb-green">How to Turn Your Black Thumb Green</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-cheap-ways-to-dress-up-your-garden">17 Cheap Ways to Dress Up Your Garden</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Home composting frugal person garden gardening green thumb how-to landscaping skills Thu, 26 May 2016 10:00:11 +0000 Max Wong 1717714 at http://www.wisebread.com 17 Cheap Ways to Dress Up Your Garden http://www.wisebread.com/17-cheap-ways-to-dress-up-your-garden <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/17-cheap-ways-to-dress-up-your-garden" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/mother_daughter_gardening_000088044735.jpg" alt="Woman finding ways to dress up her garden for cheap" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's spring, and you've had enough of being cooped up indoors. Outdoor living is experiencing a boom, with Americans now spending $60 billion a year sprucing up the space outside their homes, according to Garden Media Group. That's $200 for every American &mdash; even more when you consider all the people who don't have any outdoor space to spend on.</p> <p>So what if you don't have $200 or more, but you still want your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-improve-your-curb-appeal-for-next-to-nothing" target="_blank">yard and garden to look nice</a>? There are lots of ways to brighten things up for free or cheap, especially if you're crafty.</p> <p>A word of advice before we start: If people start stopping by your yard asking how much your lawn ornaments cost, <em>you've gone too far</em>! Being mistaken for a yard sale is never a compliment.</p> <h2>Planters</h2> <p>You can spend anywhere from $20 to hundreds of dollars for pots to put plants in. But almost anything can hold a plant as long as you put drainage holes on the bottom. My uncle, the plumber, used to put his petunias in old toilets and bathtubs. It's not what I would choose, but it represented him.</p> <p>Start with these creative planter ideas, then think about what kind of containers would represent you. If you don't have the items around the house, many can be found free or cheap on Freecycle, at garage sales, or at thrift stores.</p> <h3>1. Give Pricey Planters the Boot</h3> <p>Have you got a single, outgrown child's boot in the back of your closet? <a href="https://feltmagnet.com/crafts/How-to-Make-a-Flower-Pot-out-of-an-Old-Rubber-Boot">Poke some holes in the bottom</a>, weight it with gravel, and you're ready to plant. If it's a plain old brown boot, you could always dress it up by painting on a design.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Free to $5.</p> <h3>2. Tin Pan Garden</h3> <p>Instead of buying terra cotta or plastic bowls for hanging planters, repurpose thrift store metal bowls, cups, or even coffee cans. Macrame straps were the crafty way to hang planters in decades past; for an update, try <a href="http://2knitsters.blogspot.ca/2010/08/my-mom-bought-this-little-gem-on-one-of.html">beaded wire</a>.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Free to $5.</p> <h3>3. Have No Seat</h3> <p>Use an old, broken-down chair to dress up an ordinary planter. These instructions involve <a href="http://gardentherapy.ca/outdoor-chair-planter-project/">removing the seat</a>, if the chair has one, and putting on a fresh coat of paint.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> $10&ndash;$20.</p> <h3>4. Barney Rubble Planter</h3> <p>For a rustic look, <a href="http://www.tampahomebody.com/tree-log-planter/">hollow out a fallen tree</a> trunk or limb and put plants inside.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Free, if you have tools for the hollowing and drilling drainage holes.</p> <h3>5. Pedal Planter</h3> <p>It's a classic that's perfect for bike enthusiasts or those who want to imagine cycling along the canals of Amsterdam while they sit in the yard: The old <a href="http://www.organizedclutter.net/2013/07/add-bike-to-your-garden-just-for-fun-of.html">bicycle with a basket full of blooms</a>. Organized Clutter explains how she plopped a coconut fiber liner into an existing bike basket to make her planter.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> $5&ndash;$10 for the liner, assuming you can find a nonfunctional bike for free.</p> <h2>Lighting</h2> <p>Outdoor lighting can be pricey, but going without reduces the number of hours that you can enjoy your patio &mdash; especially if you live in a region where it's warm during the winter months when daylight is shorter. You're not going to get long lasting, quality fixtures with a shoestring budget, but these ideas can help you enjoy the evenings until you can afford something more permanent.</p> <h3>6. Tuna Can Lanterns</h3> <p>You wouldn't believe it, but you can make an <a href="http://inmyownstyle.com/2011/06/trash-and-thrift-store-treasure-outdoor-candle-lantern.html">elegant outdoor lantern</a> using an old broomstick, a tuna can, and a hurricane shade. A coat of metallic paint has the whole thing gleaming in a jiffy.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> $5&ndash;$10 for hurricane shade, spray paint, metal adapter, and candle.</p> <h3>7. Repurposed Holiday Lights</h3> <p>Everyone has a string of old holiday lights in their basement, with only half the lights working, right? Instead of throwing those away, turn them into pretty outdoor orbs by combining them with another forlorn item: A round glass shade, frequently found in thrift stores.</p> <p>Ball up the light string and shove it in the globe. Once plugged in, you have a <a href="http://www.theartofdoingstuff.com/landscape-lighting/">mystical glowing ball</a> you can place anywhere in your yard for effect and illumination. Just be sure to use light strings meant for outdoor use.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> $1&ndash;$15 for glass shades (cheaper for used, more for new).</p> <h2>Hacks and Crafts</h2> <p>These ideas will appeal to the makers among us &mdash; those who love finding new ways to use familiar materials.</p> <h3>8. Solar Renewal</h3> <p>When solar yard lights get old, the plastic covering their solar cells can cloud over, limiting the amount of energy they receive from the sun. One blogger figured out that you can rejuvenate these with a <a href="https://blog.kriegsman.org/2012/04/19/rejuvenating-solar-garden-lights-with-nail-polish/">coat of clear nail polish</a>, of all things.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> $1.</p> <h3>9. Moss Graffiti</h3> <p>Did you know you can gather moss, stick it in the blender with sugar and buttermilk, and <a href="http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Moss-Graffiti">paint it onto a wall</a> to create a live, growing mural or sign? I sure didn't!</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> $2&ndash;$3.</p> <h3>10. Hacker Couch</h3> <p>The author of <em>The Basement</em> created a <a href="http://kaylasbasement.blogspot.com/2014/07/diy-outdoor-bench-update.html">bench from cinder blocks</a> and two-by-fours in less than an hour.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> About $40; more for optional cushions.</p> <h3>11. Magical Marble Fence</h3> <p>With a drill and a handful of marbles, you can transform a boring backyard fence into a magical fairyland. Just drill holes into a wooden fence and <a href="https://gardendrama.wordpress.com/2011/09/17/garden-art-on-the-cheap-diy-glass-marbles-in-your-fence/">place marbles into the holes</a>; sunshine will provide the dazzle.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> $1.</p> <h3>12. Key Chimes</h3> <p>What to do with those mystery keys that have been on your key ring for years? Paint them and hang them with string to make a <a href="http://giving.innerchildfun.com/2013/04/recycled-crafts-for-kids-diy-key-wind-chime.html">DIY wind chime</a>.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Free to $5.</p> <h3>13. Rock Garden Markers</h3> <p>Use stones and paint to make cute <a href="http://craftsbyamanda.com/painted-rock-garden-markers/">labels for each row</a> of the garden instead of using store bought ones.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Free to $5.</p> <h3>14. Mega Mushrooms</h3> <p>Turn a planter upside down and give it a paint job to <a href="http://www.birdsandblooms.com/backyard-projects/diy-garden-projects/diy-garden-%C2%ADmushrooms/">create cheery mushrooms</a>.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> $5.</p> <h3>15. Owl You Need</h3> <p>Rolled strips of cardboard can be used to fashion <a href="http://empressofdirt.net/owl-craft-project/">a whole family of owls</a> to watch over your garden in an earth-friendly project.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Free.</p> <h3>16. Step Right Up</h3> <p>Get the kids involved in making <a href="http://pinkandgreenmama.blogspot.com/2009/08/daddy-camp-cement-stepping-stones.html#.VyvTX_mDFBc">stepping stones</a> by pressing just about anything into wet cement: old toys or costume jewelry, marbles, and beads.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> $5.</p> <h3>17. Gnome Home</h3> <p>A tree or even a stump in your yard can be turned into a <a href="https://snapguide.com/guides/make-a-gnome-home/%20">fairy house</a> that kids will love to discover. Twigs can be used to frame windows, and a small piece of wood can be shaped into a door. If your gnomes want their <em>own </em>outdoor living space, use found objects or dollhouse furniture.</p> <p><strong>Cost:</strong> Free to $5.</p> <p><em>How are you dressing up your landscape for free or cheap this year?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-cheap-ways-to-dress-up-your-garden">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-cool-diy-home-improvements-for-20-or-less">10 Cool DIY Home Improvements for $20 or Less</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-the-greenest-lawn-on-the-block-naturally">How to Get the Greenest Lawn on the Block — Naturally</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-diy-backyard-home-improvements-that-save-you-big">8 DIY Backyard Home Improvements That Save You Big</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-decorative-plants-you-can-eat-too">6 Decorative Plants You Can Eat, Too</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/secret-lawn-tonic-recipe-from-golf-course-groundskeeper">Secret Lawn Tonic Recipe From Golf Course Groundskeeper</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> DIY Home decorating gardening hacks landscaping lighting outdoor living plants Tue, 24 May 2016 09:00:03 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1711684 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Get the Greenest Lawn on the Block — Naturally http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-the-greenest-lawn-on-the-block-naturally <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-get-the-greenest-lawn-on-the-block-naturally" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/kids_yard_swings_000079618051.jpg" alt="Learning how to get the best yard in town naturally" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Want a gorgeous, lush lawn without all the chemicals and other icky stuff? It's not as hard as you might think. With a little creativity and some elbow grease, you can whip your grass into shape without calling a service or spending much at all. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/secret-lawn-tonic-recipe-from-golf-course-groundskeeper?ref=seealso">Secret Lawn Tonic Golf Course Groundskeepers Love</a>)</p> <h2>Amazing Aeration</h2> <p>Before the season even starts, you should&nbsp;<a href="http://www.planetnatural.com/aerate-the-lawn/">aerate your lawn</a> so it can have its best year yet. By letting it breathe, you get rid of nasty compaction issues that can cause bigger problems down the line. To aerate, you'll want the grass to be pretty dry. Insert a&nbsp;<a href="http://amzn.to/1qjqnlK">garden fork</a> or&nbsp;<a href="http://amzn.to/1TMK4yd">sod coring tool</a> every few inches to get the oxygen in. If you have a big lawn, you might consider going in with a neighbor and renting a power lawn aerator for a day or two. After you've finished this process, collect soil plugs with a bagged mower and add them to your compost heap.</p> <h2>Beer Fertilizer</h2> <p>My grandfather is known as a lawn king of sorts in my hometown. He swears by&nbsp;<a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Easily-getting-rid-of-dead-spots-on-your-lawn-effo">feeding his lawn with beer</a>. The fermented sugars and other nutrients improve the soil and help to get rid of dead spots. All you have to do is pour about eight ounces of regular beer per 10-inch spot that needs love. Beer can be fresh or flat, hot or cold. Wait about a week and if the area is still droopy, repeat the process.</p> <h2>Soothing Salts, Part I</h2> <p>Not into brews? That's okay. You can actually use your favorite bath time soak to nurture your lawn.&nbsp;<a href="http://amzn.to/1UW0MMF">Epsom salts</a> help keep your grass green and healthy all year round &mdash; they may even soften grass. You'll want to use about&nbsp;<a href="http://www.sfsalt.com/epsom-salt-for-lawns">three pounds of salts</a> per 1,250 square feet of lawn. To apply, use a lawn spreader. If you'd rather add water and spray, use a tank sprayer or a hose with a spray attachment.</p> <h2>Soothing Salts, Part II</h2> <p>The National Gardening Association explains that epsom salts also work wonders in your vegetable and flower gardens by&nbsp;<a href="http://www.garden.org/articles/articles.php?q=show&amp;id=68">enriching the soil with magnesium</a>. The group conducted a study where gardeners from across the United States sprayed their peppers and roses with the stuff. The results? Four out of six gardeners reported that their pepper plants were more robust. All the rose plants were bushier with greener foliage and more roses. To try this at home, add one tablespoon of epsom salts to a gallon of water, spray plants, and repeat the process every 10 days (peppers) or six weeks (roses).</p> <h2>Kind Killer</h2> <p>This weed killer is kind to the environment and won't cost you much. In fact, you might already be using it for many tasks in your home. Simply spray all those pesky weeds with plain white vinegar. You'll want to do this on a day with no rain in the forecast (can dilute the effects). My mother-in-law says that heartier, more persistent weeds respond better to something stronger like pickling vinegar. Just pour vinegar into a spray bottle and use as liberally as necessary.</p> <h2>Wondrous Water</h2> <p>Whether or not you live someplace where you have a cap on water usage, it's a good idea to conserve this precious resource. Try building&nbsp;<a href="https://1craftylane.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/diy-rain-barrel/">your own rain barrel</a> to collect what falls from the sky. You just need a 32-gallon plastic trash can, brass faucet, flexible downspout, and utility knife. Cut a hole in your can's cover, attach the downspout to your gutter, and then connect the two components. Wait for the rain and then use your faucet to tap into the magic.</p> <h2>Modified Mowing</h2> <p>How often and how short you cut your grass has an impact on its overall health as well. There's no one-size-fits-all approach, unfortunately. Regardless, grass cut too short can be more prone to problems like&nbsp;<a href="http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/outdoors/gardening/what-is-the-ideal-height-to-cut-the-grass">weeds, drought, and heat damage</a>. So, if you're experiencing little precipitation, it's a good idea to let grasses grow taller as a defense. For guidelines on how tall or short you should keep your grass in general, call your local extension office, garden center, or seed supplier.</p> <h2>Clover Comeback</h2> <p>So many of our neighbors seem to battle to keep white clover out all season long. We've embraced clover because it's actually a natural way to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.almanac.com/content/clover-comeback">crowd out weeds</a>. Clover also spreads quickly and covers the ground with greenery to blend with your other grasses. It grows well in shadier areas of your lawn and those with poor drainage. Best yet, it's a legume and can convert nitrogen into its own free fertilizer. Learn to love this misunderstood ground cover!</p> <p><em>What are some natural ways you care for&nbsp;</em><em>your lawn?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-the-greenest-lawn-on-the-block-naturally">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/secret-lawn-tonic-recipe-from-golf-course-groundskeeper">Secret Lawn Tonic Recipe From Golf Course Groundskeeper</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-cheap-ways-to-dress-up-your-garden">17 Cheap Ways to Dress Up Your Garden</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-simple-gardening-skills-anybody-can-master">13 Simple Gardening Skills Anybody Can Master</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-high-tech-tools-to-help-your-garden-grow">6 High-Tech Tools to Help Your Garden Grow</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-diy-backyard-home-improvements-that-save-you-big">8 DIY Backyard Home Improvements That Save You Big</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> DIY Green Living Home eco friendly gardening greener grass landscaping lawn spring summer weeds Mon, 25 Apr 2016 09:30:24 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1693274 at http://www.wisebread.com Pick Up One of These Frugal Hobbies This Weekend http://www.wisebread.com/pick-up-one-of-these-frugal-hobbies-this-weekend <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/pick-up-one-of-these-frugal-hobbies-this-weekend" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_hiking_map_000078571079.jpg" alt="Couple picking up frugal hobby this weekend" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I've recently come to the realization that many of my non-essential expenditures are focused on preventing boredom. Whether that's trying out new restaurants, collecting vintage cameras, or buying crafting supplies, hobbies can get surprisingly expensive. Fortunately, there are many hobbies that allow you to occupy your leisure time without racking up huge bills at the end of the month. My goal is to replace my less frugal hobbies with some of these inexpensive alternatives and I encourage you to do the same.</p> <h2>1. Succulent Gardening</h2> <p>Succulents are the perfect plant for a beginner gardener with a black thumb, like me. The only really bad thing you can do is overwater them. And while gardening in general is quite frugal (as long as you start from seeds and don't go crazy at the local nursery), succulent gardening is even more so. You never need to actually <em>buy</em> a succulent. They propagate themselves easily from cuttings begged, borrowed, or stolen (just kidding, NOT stolen!) from friends and family. All you need are some pots with good drainage (look for them at thrift stores to keep costs down) and some soil.</p> <h2>2. Cook Your Way Through a Cuisine or Cookbook</h2> <p>Cooking your way through a cookbook or, alternatively, a cuisine, can be a way to get your creative juices flowing, while avoiding eating out. Instead of becoming a &quot;restaurant foodie,&quot; which can get expensive, become a &quot;home gourmet foodie.&quot;</p> <p>When I first got married, I decided to learn to cook all of the American classics, from chili con carne to classic pot roast. I gave myself a free course in cooking as well as saved us money we would have otherwise spent on restaurants. To keep this hobby frugal, and look for accessible, down-to-earth cookbooks or food blogs.</p> <h2>3. Become a Thrifter</h2> <p>Instead of trolling the aisles of Target and picking up various knick-knacks you don't need, why not start browsing the aisles of your local thrift store instead? The thrill of finding something unique and awesome for $2 is just incomparable. True, it might not be something you <em>need</em>, but if you're going to shop anyway, at least you're only paying a fraction of the price. And if you find some cool stuff, you can always sell it on eBay or Etsy.</p> <h2>4. Play Board Games</h2> <p>An evening with friends playing board games can be surprisingly lively and fun. Start with classics like <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IL5XY9K/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B00IL5XY9K&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=Y2FJC6NZNYZBMYUW">Scrabble</a> or <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CV5PN2W/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B00CV5PN2W&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=37KK3JKMLQAZRLPI">Monopoly</a>, and graduate to <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00U26V4VQ/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B00U26V4VQ&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=2EZWYIDHRX6DJFNQ">Settlers of Catan</a> or <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001JQY6K4/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B001JQY6K4&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=NSLUDKC35IBQAMZK">Dominion</a>. The game might set you back $20-$40, but it can give a group of people many hours of entertainment. Warning: This hobby can get expensive if you get obsessive, or greedy for all the games (And expansion packs! And special editions!), and is thus best suited for the casual hobbyist. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-amazing-board-games-you-can-diy">8 Amazing Board Games You Can DIY</a>)</p> <h2>5. Make Origami</h2> <p><iframe width="430" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Qzeaw7UXscw" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>Origami, the art of folding paper into creatures and shapes, is a wonderfully frugal hobby. All you need are some squares of paper, which you can cut from scrap paper, or you can buy a pack of colored origami paper for a very reasonable price. Check out YouTube videos and online tutorials to start learning.</p> <h2>6. Take Up Running</h2> <p>Running is one of the cheapest forms of exercise. You don't need a gym membership or any fancy gear except for a pair of running shoes. Get some friends together to make things more fun. Your health (and your wallet) will thank you.</p> <h2>7. Learn to Knit or Crochet</h2> <p>A <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00URN9DM6/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=9325&amp;creativeASIN=B00URN9DM6&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=BZ4YNRH7TWYEJ5OT">pack of yarn</a> from your local craft store will only set you back a few dollars and can occupy you productively for several hours. It's therapeutic to have something to show for your hard work, and maybe you can even save money on birthday presents by making knitted or crocheted headbands, hats, and other cute creations for your friends.</p> <h2>8. Explore the Outdoors</h2> <p>Check out the local outdoor hiking trails in your area. Exploring the outdoors can be a great way to get some exercise and entertainment at the same time. Look for local wildlife and learn to recognize local plants, using free resources from the Internet or borrowed books from the library, as well as local nature centers.</p> <h2>9. Try Geocaching</h2> <p>If you need more of a challenge, try <a href="https://www.geocaching.com/play">geocaching</a> &mdash; a kind of global scavenger hunt where you download GPS coordinates and enter them into a GPS device (an app on your smartphone, if you already have one). You then head out into the outdoors to find the cache, where you add your name to the cache's log once you find it (and sometimes find other treasures too).</p> <h2>10. Read a Book</h2> <p>Reading can be free if you have a library card. Many libraries also offer ebooks for free &mdash; you can download and keep it for two or three weeks and then &quot;return&quot; the ebook. If you don't like going to the library (or if it takes you several months to get through a book), many classic novels are available for free on Amazon.</p> <h2>11. Learn a New Language</h2> <p>Language skills will serve you well in the professional world, and it's also a fun pastime that can open the door to new friends and cultural opportunities. There are many free language resources on the Internet, such as Duolingo, LiveMocha, and more.</p> <h2>12. Upcycle</h2> <p>If you enjoy crafting but don't want to spend the money on craft supplies, upcycling might be for you. A simple search on Pinterest reveals a myriad of ways to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-cool-ways-to-make-treasure-out-of-trash">turn your trash into treasure</a>, from melting down old candles to make new ones, to turning old t-shirts into rugs and tote bags, and sweaters into pillows and mug cozies.</p> <h2>13. Write</h2> <p>Get your thoughts out into a journal or blog. You can write about anything: your daily life, your cat's escapades, your personal poetry, or stories about your life. You could even turn this into a paying side gig &mdash; I started out writing descriptions of my travels and ended up writing for this blog!</p> <p><em>What hobbies do you like doing in your spare time that don't cost anything?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/camilla-cheung">Camilla Cheung</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/pick-up-one-of-these-frugal-hobbies-this-weekend">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/eight-natural-ways-to-make-water-more-flavorful">Eight Natural Ways to Make Water More Flavorful</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-create-your-dream-backyard-on-a-budget">How to Create Your Dream Backyard on a Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-create-a-great-home-gym">6 Ways to Create a Great Home Gym For Less</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-great-frugal-skills-and-how-to-get-them">20 Great Frugal Skills — and How to Get Them</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-diy-magazines-can-help-you-be-self-reliant">These DIY Magazines Can Help You Be Self-Reliant</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living DIY Cooking DIY exercise frugal activities fun projects gardening Fri, 04 Dec 2015 12:00:03 +0000 Camilla Cheung 1618136 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Easy Ways to Prep Your Garden for Winter http://www.wisebread.com/10-easy-ways-to-prep-your-garden-for-winter <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-easy-ways-to-prep-your-garden-for-winter" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/children_gardening_000068058399.jpg" alt="Children prepping their garden before winter comes" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Your garden provided beauty and sustenance throughout the season, but now it's time to close up shop until next year. Or is it? Here's what you need to know about extending the life of your garden and preparing it for next year. (Related: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-cheap-ways-to-deter-garden-pests?ref=seealso">8 Cheap Ways to Deter Garden Pests</a>)</p> <h2>1. Enjoy the Harvest</h2> <p>There are plenty of crops you can plant at the end of summer. Try extending your garden enjoyment with <a href="http://www.almanac.com/sites/new.almanac.com/files/Succession-gardening-chart-cropped.pdf">radishes, beets, lettuce</a>, and other vegetables that do well in cooler weather. If you're gardening for the first time this fall, you'll notice fewer pests and other issues than you deal with in the spring and summer months. Missed this season's planting dates? Remember this tip for the future.</p> <h2>2. Clear It Out</h2> <p>At the end of each season (when frost hits), we take time to remove all the leftover plants in our raised bed and other garden spaces. We toss the old plants into our compost heap to create super rich soil for next year. Don't skip this step. Mary Lou Shaw at <em>Mother Earth News</em> explains that clearing out &quot;prevents the build-up of <a href="http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/preparing-your-vegetable-garden-for-winter.aspx">disease and harmful insects</a>.&quot;</p> <h2>3. Prepare the Soil</h2> <p>Now is the time to beef up your soil's quality. You can add <a href="http://www.colostate.edu/Dept/CoopExt/4dmg/Garden/longwint.htm">compost, peat, leaves</a>, and even well-rotted manure to your empty garden. Carl Wilson and Mary Hartman at the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension explain that &quot;Soil microorganisms and beneficial soil insects will help incorporate these materials into the soil before the ground freezes and in the spring after it thaws.&quot; A robust garden starts with quality soil.</p> <h2>4. Keep Hydrating</h2> <p>According to horticulturist Sharon Yielsa, you should keep <a href="http://extension.illinois.edu/gardenerscorner/issue_02/fall_07_05.cfm">watering your perennials</a> until the ground freezes. The extra hydration will help maintain a healthy root system and help the plant thrive next spring. The best way to water is by soaking plants just once a week versus giving them a light watering every day.</p> <h2>5. Cut It Back</h2> <p>Some perennials should be <a href="http://www.garden.org/regional/report/arch/inmygarden/4258">cut back before winter</a>, so get your garden scissors and check out a few guidelines from the National Gardening Association offers. Plants like heliopsis, purple coneflower, and black-eyed Susans are actually beneficial to birds, so don't cut them. Plants like bearded iris, peonies, bee balm, and garden phlox act like safe havens for insects and disease spores, so clip them clean.</p> <h2>6. Cover It Up</h2> <p>My neighbor is big into her roses. We have our own bush, so she explained to us that we need to cover it during the cold weather. Hardy plants like roses, hydrangeas, transplanted evergreens, and more can benefit from a <a href="http://www.finegardening.com/shelter-plants-winters-worst">burlap or styrofoam cover</a>. Tender plants get some added protection with mulch, shredded leaves, and even pine boughs.</p> <h2>7. Kill Weeds</h2> <p>If you have an area that's just covered in nasty weeds &mdash; cover it up with <a href="http://www.almanac.com/content/putting-garden-bed">black plastic</a>. You'll keep this sheet in place over the entire winter. This action will keep the seeds from sprouting so you can get a fresh start in the spring.</p> <h2>8. Use the Space</h2> <p>You can use your <a href="http://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/garden-yard/root-cellars-zm0z11zkon.aspx?PageId=1">garden as a root cellar</a> of sorts when you're not growing stuff in it. Of course, your root crops (beets, carrots, parsnips) are what will do best with this method. Just dig them up, cut their tops down to one inch, then dig a trench that's six to 10 inches deep and 18 to 24 inches wide. Replant those crops at the bottom of the trench and cover with soil.</p> <h2>9. Think Ahead</h2> <p>The fall season is a great time to plant bulbs for flowers like daffodils, tulips, and crocuses or plants like onions and garlic. <a href="http://www.americanmeadows.com/how-to-plant-flower-bulbs">Plant bulbs</a> around the time of the first frost. You'll want to loosen the soil and add any compost before planting the bulbs with the pointy end up. Big bulbs should be set about eight inches deep. Smaller ones should go in a shallow five inches.</p> <h2>10. Make Plans</h2> <p>While your gardening efforts are still fresh in your mind, make a plan for next year. What plants did well? Which ones didn't so much? Did you deal with certain garden pests more than others? Ask yourself a bunch of questions to find your strengths and weaknesses. Draft up a few dreams, too. Then when the weather is chilly and the snow piles high, try reading books like <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1591865484/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=1591865484&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=DP7LOH7EWFG6IUFF">Square Foot Gardening</a> to learn how to maximize space for next year's crops.</p> <p><em>How do you prepare your garden for winter?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-easy-ways-to-prep-your-garden-for-winter">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-edible-garden-plants-anyone-can-grow">10 Edible Garden Plants Anyone Can Grow</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-simple-gardening-skills-anybody-can-master">13 Simple Gardening Skills Anybody Can Master</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-easiest-plants-to-grow-indoors-and-outdoors">The 7 Easiest Plants to Grow Indoors and Outdoors</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-turn-your-black-thumb-green">How to Turn Your Black Thumb Green</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-cheap-ways-to-deter-garden-pests">8 Cheap Ways to Deter Garden Pests</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Home gardening green thumb harvests planting plants winter Fri, 04 Sep 2015 15:00:29 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1542139 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Cool DIY Home Improvements for $20 or Less http://www.wisebread.com/10-cool-diy-home-improvements-for-20-or-less <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-cool-diy-home-improvements-for-20-or-less" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_diy_painting_000017057578.jpg" alt="Woman doing best DIY improvements for less than $20" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you have an extra weekend and $20 burning a hole in your pocket, then a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-diy-landscaping-and-gardening-skills-that-will-save-you-money">DIY home improvement project</a> may be just what the doctor ordered. We've compiled a list of some of the best DIY home improvement projects that can give your home a facelift, without making a dent in your pocketbook. These affordable upgrades can add curb appeal and even value to your property, without requiring a large investment of time or money.</p> <h2>1. Add a Fresh Coat of Paint</h2> <p>A fresh coat of paint can completely transform a room or piece of furniture. Experiment with different colors and trims to update any room in your home. If you don't feel like painting the whole room, consider adding an accent window frame or accent wall by choosing one or two walls to paint. You can even add stripes or dots to any wall for a unique, sophisticated touch. While you're at it, add a fresh coat of paint or spray paint to your air vent covers.</p> <p>Total cost for a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005NHJEYI/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B005NHJEYI&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=RZU323EML5VOYX56">quart of interior paint</a>: $18.95</p> <h2>2. Paint the Front Door</h2> <p>Adding new paint to the front door will make it feel and look completely fresh and renewed as soon as you or a guest drives up. Often, a door can become covered in scuff marks, signs of weather changes, and other exterior damage. A fresh coat of paint can help cover that damage and make your door look like new again. While you're at it, consider painting the inside of the door as well, which can add an exciting accent to your home. It should only cost you about $15 for the paint and supplies.</p> <p>Total cost for a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00291RKCE/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00291RKCE&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=LJPC5OUAMCCGU6YM">quart of exterior paint</a>: $17.07</p> <h2>3. Change a Window Treatment</h2> <p>Choose an inexpensive fabric treatment to update the window in your kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom. Drapes and window coverings are available in all different colors, designs, and price ranges, so you can find the perfect fit for any room. You can even use fabric remnants on small windows.</p> <p>Total cost for a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0041HYB7Q/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B0041HYB7Q&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=QFGMNB5Y5AOEOUF4">new window shade</a>: $9.38<br /> Total cost for <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00E18ZE5I/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00E18ZE5I&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=3BCJU4Y3WOB2336N">new window panels</a>: $5.00</p> <h2>4. Install a Message Center</h2> <p>A message center can help you get organized and allow you to leave notes and reminders for your family. There are several possible message center options for your home, including:</p> <ul> <li>Install a premade magnetic, cork, or dry erase message board on any wall.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Buy chalkboard paint and paint any surface you like for an instant chalkboard message center anywhere. You can even add chalkboard paint to your cabinets to draw or write inspirational words.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Use an inexpensive glass panel to create a DIY dry erase board. You can then paint the back of the glass panel to match your kitchen or office decor and color scheme, and frame the glass panel to complete the look.</li> </ul> <p>Total cost for a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00114ZT78/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00114ZT78&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=HK4XNHOQNGCDN5D2">magnetic dry erase/cork combo board</a>: $12.99</p> <p>Total cost for <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000RMPLJ6/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000RMPLJ6&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=JNVEI2FVGXNQVHY2">spray-on chalkboard paint</a>: $3.74</p> <h2>5. Add a Wall Decal</h2> <p>Wall decals are extremely affordable, simple to install (they work like a sticker), and can completely change the look of any room. They can be applied in an office, bedroom, kitchen, or bathroom, and are available in a variety of colors and designs. You can also use self-adhesive and repositionable wallpaper to create a unique accent on any wall. You can experiment with different patterns, colors, or even shapes!</p> <p>Total cost for a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00C3UOKOM/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00C3UOKOM&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=XEBD5DTDCICJRTBB">vinyl wall decal</a>: $3.99</p> <h2>6. Upgrade Doorknobs and Handles</h2> <p>Installing new doorknobs or spray-painting old ones can transform the look of any door, making it look more polished. The same can be done for the handles and drawer pulls on any of your cabinetry. These are simple projects that won't cost much and can make old doors and furniture feel like new.</p> <p>Total cost for a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003F3FBQC/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B003F3FBQC&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=OVE2672B37KKZRPG">new privacy doorknob</a>: $10.50</p> <p>Total cost for <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009PXR85S/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B009PXR85S&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=PLVHKTDZVVVMDFOO">10 decorative cabinet handles</a>: $11.15</p> <h2>7. Add Hooks, Shelving, and Storage</h2> <p>Hooks can be easily added to any room to increase space and allow you to hang up things like your bathroom towels and robes. Consider adding hooks or shelving to your closet for an instant storage upgrade. You can also install floating shelves in your bedroom, office, or bathroom. This can add the extra storage you need to better organize any room. You can also use them to display unique artwork, vintage finds, and other decorative items that display your personal style.</p> <p>Adding labels, dividers, and clear plastic bins can help instantly organize things and make it easier for you to locate all of your items at a glance. If you decide to add more storage, keep your eyes open for used or refurbished furniture that you can use around your home. With the right paint and handles, any furniture can be transformed.</p> <p>Total cost for <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000FSORW4/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000FSORW4&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=XW2PWQXDNUHQE5QP">six medium hooks</a>: $7.07</p> <p>Total cost for a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008AD0JAA/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B008AD0JAA&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=54SM6C2A2DS5MGAP">set of three floating shelves</a>: $19.95</p> <p>Total cost for a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000XJKD9G/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000XJKD9G&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=L53BQVM4DNN7FLCE">12-drawer plastic storage bin</a>: $17.99</p> <h2>8. Change Electrical Plate Covers and Wall Outlets</h2> <p>Whether we like it or not, electrical plate covers and wall outlets are in every room of the house. Take a look at yours and replace any that are cracked, stained, or just need an upgrade. There are a variety of affordable electrical plate covers to choose from, or you can paint your current switch plate and install an affordable frame around it for a decorative flair. While you're at it, consider also replacing your wall outlets or upgrading to USB wall outlets, which can also charge your mobile device.</p> <p>Total cost for an <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00002NARM/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00002NARM&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=C5C4BSGZPN2THFWJ">electrical plate cover</a>: $1.18</p> <p>Total cost for a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0065KWUCK/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B0065KWUCK&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=WNVM5GIMGPCESZZG">three-outlet wall mount with USB ports</a>: $14.99</p> <h2>9. Upgrade the House Numbers and Doorbell</h2> <p>The numbers in the front of your home are the first things a guest will look for as they're driving by looking for your home address. You can easily and affordably install new metal or wooden house numbers or simply add a fresh coat of spray paint to your current ones. You can also install a new doorbell for under $20, adding a modern, vintage, or retro flare to your home.</p> <p>Total cost for each <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005AZK4GK/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B005AZK4GK&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=QXGN3D3WQEBDTGVP">brushed nickel house number</a>: $5.98</p> <p>Total cost for a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001PO7I4G/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B001PO7I4G&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=5AOFNDJ6NRZB4SCI">satin nickel doorbell</a>: $7.00</p> <h2>10. Take Up Gardening</h2> <p>Decorating with potted plants, hanging plants, and flowers is a home improvement project that will continue to provide benefits to your home over time. Visit your local nursery to speak with someone about what plants may be right for you, based on how often you want to garden, your budget, and the look you are trying to achieve. With the right plants and flowers, you can add a decorative touch that welcomes you and your guests.</p> <p>Total cost for a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000DZH3XO/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000DZH3XO&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=BL2YS6CXQWXIJF5D">gardening tool set</a>: $15.02</p> <h2>Bonus: Clean Up and Get Organized</h2> <p>Nothing transforms a home like getting rid of clutter and giving the place a good cleaning. Give your home a spring cleaning by shampooing the carpets, cleaning the furniture and upholstery &mdash; and don't forget about your filters and vents. Get rid of what you aren't using and donate what you can. This will instantly make your home feel bigger and can even help clear allergens.</p> <p>Total cost for a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00W1UVZVA/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00W1UVZVA&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=VKXO2OHQ3R3SQAZL">spring cleaning kit</a>: $19.99</p> <p><em>What are your some of your favorite DIY projects under $20? Please share your thoughts in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-cannon">Andrea Cannon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-cool-diy-home-improvements-for-20-or-less">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-create-your-dream-backyard-on-a-budget">How to Create Your Dream Backyard on a Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-cheap-ways-to-dress-up-your-garden">17 Cheap Ways to Dress Up Your Garden</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/secret-lawn-tonic-recipe-from-golf-course-groundskeeper">Secret Lawn Tonic Recipe From Golf Course Groundskeeper</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-creative-ways-to-upcycle-used-baby-furniture">8 Creative Ways to Upcycle Used Baby Furniture</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/diy-home-improvement-10-free-options-for-training-and-advice">DIY Home Improvement: 10 Free Options for Training and Advice</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> DIY Home decorating gardening home improvement painting value Wed, 02 Sep 2015 21:00:35 +0000 Andrea Cannon 1544911 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Cheap Ways to Deter Garden Pests http://www.wisebread.com/8-cheap-ways-to-deter-garden-pests <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-cheap-ways-to-deter-garden-pests" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/garden_pest_snail_000015689543.jpg" alt="Learning how to deter garden pests on the cheap" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When we moved out of our urban neighborhood last year, we had no idea how our summer gardening efforts might change. Almost immediately, we discovered that living slightly closer to the country meant critters &mdash; lots of them. So, we've had to bulk up our pest-control efforts considerably. Here are some friendly ways to keep the fruits of your labor from falling prey to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-eliminate-ants-without-an-exterminator">bugs</a>, bunnies, deer, and more.</p> <h2>1. Insect Spray</h2> <p>Try this <a href="http://anoregoncottage.com/homemade-garlic-mint-garden-insect-spray-really-works/">DIY insect spray</a> on your plants and you'll see a huge difference in just a couple weeks. You may even have all the ingredients on hand. Combine two cloves of garlic with three cups of mint leaves, cayenne pepper, and biodegradable dish soap. This mix repels bugs, and it's best to spray on the leaves of your plants on a cloudy day so it doesn't burn them.</p> <h2>2. Soapy Solution</h2> <p>Are deer cramping your style? You can cut up bars of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000KTB19K/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000KTB19K&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=PCTRMYSS5AKFY5NF">Irish Spring soap</a>, attach to stakes using scraps of fabric, and scatter throughout your garden. The benefit here is that you don't need to reapply anything after rainstorms like you do with sprays and other methods. Plus, your yard will smell amazing.</p> <h2>3. Cornmeal Wonder</h2> <p>Get rid of ants and weeds with a simple <a href="http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/special/organic/cornmeal-in-the-garden.htm">cornmeal application</a>. Stow this tip away for next year because the gluten works against seed development, so it's best to sprinkle in the early spring before the weeds actually sprout up. If ants are your bigger issue, you're in luck. They will carry the cornmeal back to their homes. It disrupts their digestion, but it will take about a week to fully work.</p> <h2>4. Bunny Banisher</h2> <p>We were most surprised last year to find an entire family of bunnies nesting underneath our tomato plants. This season we're hoping to keep them away with this <a href="http://premeditatedleftovers.com/gardening/inexpensive-organic-rabbit-repellent/">organic rabbit repellent</a>. This frugal mix of garlic, red pepper, water, and dish soap works best after it has soaked in the sun for a couple days. Apply to your plants once a week continuous control.</p> <h2>5. Hair Helper</h2> <p>Save money by cutting your hair at home. Then use the clippings in your garden to keep deer and other animals out of your plants. This method is one I learned from my mother-in-law, and it's surprisingly effective. It should help <a href="http://www.mnn.com/your-home/organic-farming-gardening/blogs/is-human-hair-good-for-your-garden">repel deer, rabbits, and snails</a> all while acting as a mulch and natural fertilizer. Summer is a great time for a shorter style anyway. Hair that isn't heavily shampooed works best.</p> <h2>6. Bird Netting</h2> <p>We can't forget birds in this list. Keeping them out can be as easy as installing <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00004RA0P/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00004RA0P&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=4WTVACWGDOBFZATM">bird netting</a> atop your raised beds. You'll need a staple gun to make the process go faster, but just secure the netting to the side of your box, stretch over your plants, and secure on the other side. Alternatively, you can use stakes to secure the netting in the ground if you don't have raised beds.</p> <h2>7. Scare Tactics</h2> <p>Pick up a few cheap aluminum pie plates at the dollar store. Then stake them up using some string to create a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScS-cqS0oX0">quick homemade scarecrow</a>. The sound and bright shine should keep birds and other animals away.</p> <h2>8. Easy Eggshells</h2> <p>Slugs and snails will steer clear of this <a href="http://mymerrymessylife.com/2014/06/organic-gardening-use-egg-shells-to-deter-slugs-and-snails.html">eggshell solution</a>. Place the shells in a large bag and crush using your hands or feet. From there, scatter the pieces around plants once a week. Those critters don't like sharp edges, so it should stop them in their tracks. Bonus: the calcium in the eggshells also fertilizes your garden.</p> <p><em>What are your favorite DIY garden protection methods?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-cheap-ways-to-deter-garden-pests">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-eliminate-ants-without-an-exterminator">8 Ways to Eliminate Ants Without an Exterminator</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/snail-free-gardening">Snail Free Gardening</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-homemade-stain-removers-that-actually-work">5 Homemade Stain Removers That Actually Work</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-wonderful-household-uses-for-essential-oils">13 Wonderful Household Uses for Essential Oils</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/21-surprising-uses-for-vinegar">21 Surprising Uses for Vinegar</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks DIY Green Living bugs deer eco-friendly gardening pests plants rabbits repellent Tue, 14 Jul 2015 17:00:12 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1481951 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Creative Ways to Save Money on Food http://www.wisebread.com/8-creative-ways-to-save-money-on-food <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-creative-ways-to-save-money-on-food" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/family_groceries_000031273782.jpg" alt="Family learning bizarre ways to save money on food" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As I am now a single dad, I am always looking for ways to cut my grocery bill. Obviously I avoid eating out a lot, skip fast food, and clip coupons. But I started to wonder, are there other ways to save money on food, perhaps weird or bizarre ways, that I haven't tried? So, I started digging, and indeed found some ways to cut my <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-easy-ways-to-save-on-groceries-in-a-pinch">grocery budget</a> that I have never really considered before. Here are my top eight tips.</p> <h2>1. Buy Unconventional Cuts of Meat</h2> <p>You can make some very delicious and nutritious recipes on the cheap if you opt for meat options that make most people think twice. For instance, oxtail is a very tasty cut that is just as it is described &mdash; it's the tail of the cattle. Many high-end restaurants will serve oxtail, often braised in red wine, but most supermarkets won't even bother putting it out on display. Ask the butcher if he or she has any; they'll give you an insanely good deal on it. Other cuts worth investigating including tripe, liver, kidneys, hearts, tongue, chicken feet, and even brains. And if you're a fish lover, try fish heads. They provide great flavors for soups and stews.</p> <h2>2. Become a Suburban Farmer</h2> <p>You do not need to have a farm the size of Old MacDonald's to take advantage of homegrown fruits and vegetables; you can even start with a window box. But when I considered how much water and fertilizer the lawn was using (here in Colorado in the summer, it gets very dry), I thought there would be a better use for those resources. It does not take a lot of time, money, or effort to convert some of your garden into an area for growing herbs, vegetables, and fruits. If you check your local regulations, you may even be able to keep chickens, goats, or other farm animals. Goats are natural lawn mowers, and provide milk that you can use to make delicious cheese.</p> <h2>3. Use ALL of the Chicken</h2> <p>When I used to buy a chicken or turkey, I would strip away the meat from the bones and throw away the carcass. I never thought about using the bones. But, I found out that not only are the bones good for stock (I had always bought it in cans or boxes), but the actual bones can be used in your own vegetable garden (see above). Once the bones have been used for your stock, put them in the microwave for about three minutes to dry them out. Then, crush them in a pestle and mortar (or improvise your own) and add in some eggshells and calcium. Then, sprinkle on your garden. Not one piece of that chicken carcass goes to waste.</p> <h2>4. Seek Out Expired, Dented, and Labelless Cans and Packaged Goods</h2> <p>Supermarkets are way too efficient at dumping recently expired foods, but they're not perfect. If they haven't already been thrown in the dumpsters, you can find these expired products lurking on the shelves. Talk to the manager and they will almost always give you a great deal, as they know they will only be throwing it away later. You can usually get great discounts on dinged and dented cans, and if you find a can without a label, you'll get it for a heavy discount (or even free). Of course, you have no idea what's in it, so you'll have to be a whiz with making up recipes. Also look for meats that are about to expire the next day, and produce that is past its prime.</p> <h2>5. Learn Butchering Skills</h2> <p>There is a reason bone-in meat is a lot cheaper than the boned variety; it takes the butcher time, and effort, to remove the bones from chicken and turkeys, rib eye steaks, and countless other meat cuts. So, why not learn how to butcher them yourself? Bone-in chicken thighs can cost as little as 99 cents per pound, whereas the same chicken boned can be upwards of $4 per pound. There are instructional videos online, and with a sharp knife and plenty of practice you can save a lot of money by simply doing the job of the butcher in your own kitchen.</p> <h2>6. Shop Late on Wednesdays</h2> <p>One day of the week is better for the rest when it comes to grocery store bargains; that day is Wednesday. Why? Well, according to the experts at MyGroceryDeals.com, most grocery stores will mail out their sales flyers so that they're in your mailbox on Tuesday evening. That means you'll be going shopping on Wednesday with new sales to take advantage of, BUT the store will also honor last week's sales as well. That's twice the bargains. And if you go later at night, you can grab those reductions that are about to be applied to the meats, cheeses, and other perishable items.</p> <h2>7. Hit the Dumpsters</h2> <p>Okay, just hear this out. You would be amazed at the amount of good-quality food that supermarkets and other food establishments throw away. It has become so prevalent that the &quot;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/encounter-with-a-freegan">freeganism</a>&quot; movement (reclaiming food that has been discarded) is growing at a rapid rate. Once stores throw food into the dumpsters, it is fair game, and you can take advantage of that by grabbing completely edible food for the bargain price of $0.</p> <p>You do have to follow a few guidelines though. Don't look at the sell-by or best-before dates; those are arbitrary and most likely the food will have been thrown away because it has expired. Instead, use your sense. Smell the items, feel them, and see if everything looks good. Often, fruits and vegetables are thrown away because they do not look perfect. It's probably best to avoid meats, unless you really are confident that it is safe to eat.</p> <h2>8. Shop at Ethnic Grocery Stores</h2> <p>There is a local Asian market in my neck of the woods called H-Mart, and I love it. I used to go there for the bulk rice, soy sauce, and sesame oil, but now I buy a lot of produce and other goods there. For starters, the produce they have is way cheaper than in the stores you would usually shop in, and it is often bigger and fresher. They also have a much more exciting and varied meat and seafood section, stocking many of those unconventional cuts I mentioned earlier. The only thing you should really avoid here are the products you would buy in places like Walmart and Target, like cereals, jams, condiments, and so on. They seem to be more expensive. Other than that, you really can't lose.</p> <p><em>What's your most unconventional way to save money on groceries? </em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-creative-ways-to-save-money-on-food">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-15-road-trip-snacks-make-it-all-about-the-journey">These 15 Road Trip Snacks Make It All About the Journey</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-keep-peer-pressure-from-destroying-your-finances">How to Keep Peer Pressure From Destroying Your Finances</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-the-60-best-ways-to-use-food-other-than-eating-it">Flashback Friday: The 60 Best Ways to Use Food Other Than Eating It</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/five-more-tips-for-eating-in-restaurants-and-sticking-to-a-budget">Five More Tips For Eating In Restaurants And Sticking To A Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-digital-food-scales">The 5 Best Digital Food Scales</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Food and Drink butchering gardening grocery stores saving money shopping Mon, 29 Jun 2015 15:00:14 +0000 Paul Michael 1467220 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 DIY Landscaping and Gardening Skills That Will Save You Money http://www.wisebread.com/9-diy-landscaping-and-gardening-skills-that-will-save-you-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-diy-landscaping-and-gardening-skills-that-will-save-you-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/mother_daughter_gardening_000019625064.jpg" alt="Mother and daughter using gardening skills to save money" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Like most activities, a little planning and preparation will save you money in the garden. Why? Because many of the tasks that help make a garden grow need to be completed weeks, or months, before you actually begin planting. Planning your garden in advance will give you an edge over nature (which will do its best to destroy your garden) and will save you some serious money.</p> <p>The following nine skills will help you to plan, plant, and enjoy a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-edible-garden-plants-anyone-can-grow">healthy garden</a> (while saving some money, too).</p> <h2>1. Soil Analysis</h2> <p>Okay, you're not expected to become an actual expert on soil pH, but if you doubt that your soil provides ideal growing conditions for the plants you intend to grow, it would behoove you to test your soil's pH before planting your garden. You can either use a <a href="http://preparednessmama.com/testing-your-soil-ph-without-a-kit/">DIY soil pH test</a> or buy a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0001LEPYA/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B0001LEPYA&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=W2QZBKKFSEYAQTKG">soil pH kit</a> online or from your local hardware store. Once you know if your soil is acidic, neutral, or alkaline, you can <a href="http://www.almanac.com/content/ph-preferences">plant your garden according to pH</a>, or try to <a href="http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-to-adjust-soil-ph-for-your-garden.html">change your soil's pH</a> to meet your plants' needs.</p> <p>Also, being able to ascertain if your soil type meets the needs of the plants you are sowing can save you time and money in the long run. What kind of soil do you have in your garden? Knowing which of the six types of soil that you are dealing with can help you better plan and plant your garden so that you don't lose any plants to soil compatibility problems. Soil type can vary even within your yard, and will determine, as much as sunlight, what kinds of plants are successful in a given spot.</p> <p>Of course, you can always alter soil by removing or adding elements. If you have soil that is too sandy for your needs, you can remove some of the sand, and add silt and clay to it to aid water retention and infuse nutrients.</p> <p>Speaking of nutrients, you can save lots of money if you do your own&hellip;</p> <h2>2. Composting (or Worm Binning)</h2> <p>Composting is a great way to reuse yard waste, lawn clippings, and food stuff that you might normally throw away and turn it into nutrients for your garden. Yes, of course you can buy commercially produced compost, but if you have the space and the time, why not DIY it and save some money?</p> <p>Composting can be a bit smelly, but there are ways to <a href="http://citygirlfarming.com/Compost/ControlCompostOdor.html">compost while minimizing odors</a>.</p> <p>Composting is fairly easy to get started, and will provide you with plenty of excellent, nutrient-rich soil for your garden. To be ready for spring planting, start your compost bin/pile in early autumn.</p> <h2>3. Sun Exposure Charting</h2> <p>Another key consideration when planning your garden is to determine how many hours of daily sunlight each part of your garden receives. My neighbors, recent transplants from Southern California, recently planted a bunch of shade-loving plants in their front yard, assuming that because we live in a mossy, rainy area, those were the types of plants that would do best. What they didn't consider is that, during the summer months, their front yard receives about six hours of direct sunlight per day.</p> <p>You can use <a href="http://getbusygardening.com/how-to-determine-sun-exposure/">DIY sun exposure charts</a> to determine how much sun your garden receives, or buy a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002XZLLXU/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B002XZLLXU&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=KBQYAAZ5OVB2FZBZ">sunlight meter</a> for less than $20 and let the little machine do the work for you. Once you have your garden mapped for sun exposure, you can plan for your plants.</p> <h2>4. Seed Germination</h2> <p>Buying seeds is a smart way to save money, especially if you buy them on sale at the end of summer and plant them the next year. Seed starts are usually much cheaper than buying grown plants or seedlings (although this depends on the size of your garden; if it's quite small, buying grown plants might make more sense). Buying seeds also gives you the option to seek out unusual or heirloom varieties of the flowers, fruits, and vegetables that can't necessarily be found in plant form at your local nursery.</p> <p>Some plants can be sown directly into your garden soil, and other seeds need to be germinated inside and transplanted as seedlings after the final frost. Make sure to read the instructions on the packet of each type of seed that you buy to understand the best way to plant.</p> <h2>5. Planter Building</h2> <p>If you want a slightly more ergonomic garden (and a leg up on pest control), you'd be smart to consider <a href="http://thepioneerwoman.com/homeandgarden/2011/02/build-your-own-raised-flowervegetable-bed/">building raised garden beds</a> yourself. If you can't stand the thought of doing this, you can always <a href="http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=as_li_ss_tl?_encoding=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;field-keywords=raised%20garden%20bed&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;sprefix=raise%2Caps&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;url=search-alias%3Daps&amp;linkId=4RAQVJDG4GOMPUPD">buy raised garden beds</a>, but trust me, building them is much cheaper.</p> <h2>6. Diligent Pest Control</h2> <p>I have to be honest &mdash; I'm perfectly comfortable using chemical sprays and slug death pellets in my garden, because I've had no luck with copper tape or bug traps. Whatever your preferences for pest control (organic and earth-friendly pest control or <em>death-to-bugs</em>-type methods), pest control is a money-saver. After all, letting all your veggies succumb to some creepy-crawly insect isn't a wise investment of time or cash.</p> <p>Veggie gardeners who prefer natural pest control methods report success when planting flowers like zinnias, nasturtiums, calendula, cosmos, and sweet alyssum in their vegetable gardens. These plants attract predator bugs that take out annoying pests like tomato hornworms and aphids. You can buy batches of ladybugs online and in garden stores, too.</p> <h2>7. Pollenating</h2> <p>You've probably heard about the significant decline in the bee population. If you want your trees and bushes to bear fruit, you're going to need pollinators like bees and moths to visit your garden. You can attract these helpful insects by <a href="http://www.gardeners.com/how-to/attracting-beneficial-bees/5024.html">planting bee-attracting wildflowers</a> in your garden, either interspersed with your fruits and veggies or alongside them.</p> <p>If you aren't seeing the volume of pollinating insects that you normally do, you can use the trick my husband uses to get our tomatoes to yield more fruit through airborne pollen &mdash; run an electric toothbrush against the back of your blossoms. After all, there are few things more frustrating to a gardener than a paltry tomato crop!</p> <h2>8. Tool Care and Maintenance</h2> <p>You don't have to buy expensive garden tools in order to be a good gardener, but you should treat your gardening implements well in order to keep them in working order for years. I'm a lazy, lazy gardener, and I can attest that having to buy a new shovel every few months is not only costly, but it's also kind of stupid.</p> <p>To keep your garden tools in good working order, remember to clean them, hang them up dry, and occasionally oil what needs oiling. Clean, well-stored tools will continue to work for you season after season.</p> <h2>9. Intelligent Harvesting and Pruning</h2> <p>Part of being a smart gardener is knowing how to care for perennials, and that means learning when and how to prune your plants. Pruning isn't just about keeping plants a manageable size; it's the art of learning what superfluous matter to cut away so that a plant will concentrate its energy on producing what matters most to you &mdash; whether that's fruit, flowers, or perfect leaves.</p> <p>If you are growing food in your garden, you'll want to learn <a href="http://abundantminigardens.com/training-and-pruning-trellised-vegetables/">how to prune your vegetable plants</a> and <a href="http://www.homegrown.org/forum/topics/harvesting-herbs-101-basil-chives-cilantro-coriander-mint-parsley">harvest herbs</a>, fruits, and vegetables in a way that allows the plant to continue growing. For instance, pruning herbs like mint can actually promote more plant growth.</p> <p><em>How green is your garden?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-karim">Andrea Karim</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-diy-landscaping-and-gardening-skills-that-will-save-you-money">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-the-greenest-lawn-on-the-block-naturally">How to Get the Greenest Lawn on the Block — Naturally</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-simple-gardening-skills-anybody-can-master">13 Simple Gardening Skills Anybody Can Master</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-4-things-a-vegetable-garden-needs">The Only 4 Things a Vegetable Garden Needs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-fruits-and-veggies-worth-growing-yourself">The Only Fruits and Veggies Worth Growing Yourself</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-edible-garden-plants-anyone-can-grow">10 Edible Garden Plants Anyone Can Grow</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> DIY Green Living composting flowers gardening outdoors vegetables Fri, 12 Jun 2015 15:00:18 +0000 Andrea Karim 1448400 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 DIY Backyard Home Improvements That Save You Big http://www.wisebread.com/8-diy-backyard-home-improvements-that-save-you-big <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-diy-backyard-home-improvements-that-save-you-big" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_diy_home_improvements_000051008898.jpg" alt="Man saving big with DIY home improvements" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Every year, I draft a grand to-do list for backyard projects. And &mdash; every year &mdash; I barely cross even a few items off this list. Usually my goals are too lofty. Or maybe some of them are frankly too expensive. Whatever the case, I've found the solution. These easy (and cheap) DIY projects are novice-friendly and will transform your outdoor spaces from blah to beautiful. (Related: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-diy-projects-to-make-your-home-look-amazing-and-3-you-shouldnt-try?ref=seealso">17 DIY Projects to Make Your Home Look Amazing</a>)</p> <h2>1. Pallet Deck</h2> <p>Here's yet another awesome use for wood pallets &mdash; <a href="http://hoosierhomemade.com/how-to-build-a-wood-pallet-deck/">make a deck</a>! Pick up however many pallets you want for the size of your deck. Then clean them up, sand them down, and paint for a durable finish. Clear the area you want to stage by removing the grass, weeds, and debris. Lay concrete blocks in the soil &mdash; four feet apart &mdash; before setting your pallets on top. Grab your chairs, decorate, and enjoy!</p> <h2>2. Paver Patio</h2> <p>This <a href="http://www.bhg.com/home-improvement/patio/installation-how-to/diy-paver-patio/">paver patio</a> project takes a bit more patience, but it will pay off. You'll first clear the area and tamp the soil so it's firm and level. Lay landscape fabric, crushed stones, and sand over the area to prevent weeds from peeking through the stones. Then it's time to lay the pavers. You can rent a brick cutter or just lay whole bricks and stones. Whatever you do, position pavers no more than ⅛ inch apart. Total cost? $550 with all supplies.</p> <h2>3. Garden Fountain</h2> <p>There's nothing better than listening to the sound of running water outdoors. Try making this <a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Make-a-Garden-Fountain-Out-of-Well-Anythi/">DIY garden fountain</a> out of, well, anything. The schematic might look a little intimidating, but it's basically a basin for your water with a pump and decorative &quot;sculpture&quot; that the water flows through. You can find a pump at most garden stores, just make sure you get one that's labeled &quot;submersible.&quot;</p> <h2>4. Raised Beds</h2> <p>Create a garden out of nothing with this <a href="http://www.chrislovesjulia.com/2013/05/our-diy-raised-garden-beds.html">raised garden bed</a> project. This couple built a whopping <em>five </em>cedar beds for around $100. You'll make all your cuts before assembling the boxes using galvanized screws. The mitered frame is completely optional, but it definitely gives the beds that finished touch. Then excavate the ground, fill with dirt, and get planting.</p> <h2>5. Fire Pit</h2> <p>My husband and I want to build a <a href="http://www.bowerpowerblog.com/2013/04/its-the-pits/">fire pit</a> in our backyard. First, you'll want to check with your local government to make sure open flame fires are permitted in your neighborhood. From there, you need a metal ring, retaining wall blocks, drainage gravel, decorative rocks, and outdoor construction adhesive. After choosing your pit's location, you'll dig out the area and tamp the dirt. Lay your gravel around the metal ring. Then surround with the blocks, which you'll fasten together with the adhesive.</p> <h2>6. Stepping Stones</h2> <p>Get this! You can make these cute <a href="http://www.intimateweddings.com/blog/how-to-make-stepping-stones-with-a-cake-pan/">stepping stones</a> in a cake pan. No, really. You'll first want to gather some decorative mosaic glass or even smashed china for flair. Cut out a piece of contact paper, and arrange your glass in a pattern inside the pan. Slap on some gloves, mix together concrete, and cut out some metal mesh to give your stone stability. Scoop in a layer of concrete, lay the mesh, and finish with more concrete. Let sit for two days before removing.</p> <h2>7. Compost Bin</h2> <p>Many store-bought compost bins cost a pretty penny. This <a href="http://savvysavingcouple.net/2013/01/21/diy-how-to-make-your-own-compost-bin-for-under-5/">DIY compost bin</a> is well within most anyone's budget at just $5. Heck, you may even have the materials you need sitting in your garage. Take an 18 gallon plastic bin (with top) and drill 5/16 inch holes about two inches apart in all directions. Then add kitchen scraps, leaves, paper, and a scoop of soil to get started. You should have rich compost in around five weeks.</p> <h2>8. Privacy Screens</h2> <p>Our neighbors' yard (and all their stuff) is right next to our deck. So, we'd love to build a few of these quick <a href="http://www.hometalk.com/2087206/how-to-make-an-easy-patio-privacy-screen-step-by-step-tutorial">privacy screens</a> to give us all some space. The tutorial is so easy, I may even try constructing it completely on my own. And at just $30, I figure it's worth a try. You'll take standard wooden lattice panels and build frames for them. Then screw in some hooks to hang. It's as simple as that. I might paint mine for some extra oomph.</p> <p><em>What's on your backyard to-do list this year?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-diy-backyard-home-improvements-that-save-you-big">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-the-greenest-lawn-on-the-block-naturally">How to Get the Greenest Lawn on the Block — Naturally</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-cheap-ways-to-dress-up-your-garden">17 Cheap Ways to Dress Up Your Garden</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/secret-lawn-tonic-recipe-from-golf-course-groundskeeper">Secret Lawn Tonic Recipe From Golf Course Groundskeeper</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-create-your-dream-backyard-on-a-budget">How to Create Your Dream Backyard on a Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-simple-gardening-skills-anybody-can-master">13 Simple Gardening Skills Anybody Can Master</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> DIY Home backyard decks gardening landscaping outdoors patios Wed, 13 May 2015 13:00:10 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1415531 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: 14 Urban Gardening Tips http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-14-urban-gardening-tips <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-14-urban-gardening-tips" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/women_urban_garden_000053690034.jpg" alt="Two women sharing their best urban gardening tips" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some great articles on urban gardening tips, awesome products that will improve your life, and budget-friendly gifts you can make for Mother&rsquo;s Day.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://www.urbanorganicgardener.com/2015/04/14-urban-gardening-tips-that-will-save-you-time-energy-money/">14 Urban Gardening Tips That Will Save You Time, Energy &amp; Money</a> &mdash; Spray vegetable oil on the line on your string trimmer before installing it to keep it from jamming or breaking. [Urban Organic Gardener]</p> <p><a href="http://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/Cool-Products-35262431">33 Awesome Products That Will Vastly Improve Your Life</a> &mdash; Save time in the kitchen with a foldable chopping board that comes with holes for rinsing. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://www.papernstitchblog.com/2015/05/05/21-totally-awesome-budget-friendly-mothers-day-diys-to-try">21 Budget-Friendly Mother&rsquo;s Day DIYs to Try Before Sunday</a> &mdash; Want to treat your mom to something special? Make candied blood oranges! [Paper &amp; Stitch]</p> <p><a href="http://www.moneycrush.com/12-money-saving-ideas-for-summertime/">12 Money-Saving Tips to Help You Beat the Summer Heat</a> &mdash; Change or clean your air conditioner's filter every month to make sure it runs efficiently. [Money Crush]</p> <p><a href="http://www.modestmoney.com/how-to-make-sure-your-moneys-safe-while-traveling/">How to Make Sure Your Money&rsquo;s Safe While Traveling</a> &mdash; Make photocopies of the front and back of each credit card you're traveling with. Leave copies with someone at home, and lock additional copies in your hotel room safe. [Modest Money]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://www.thepennyhoarder.com/turn-loose-change-into-savings">Struggle to Save Regularly? 4 Tools That Turn Loose Change into Savings</a> &mdash; The app Acorns will round up your credit or debit card transactions and invest the change for you. [The Penny Hoarder]</p> <p><a href="http://www.menuism.com/blog/ask-for-menu-modifications/">How to Ask for Menu Modifications Without Being &ldquo;That Guy&rdquo;</a> &mdash; Be specific about your dietary needs and let your server know exactly what you would like to be left out or substituted. [Menuism Blog]</p> <p><a href="http://www.biblemoneymatters.com/4-warning-signs-your-car-is-fueling-a-future-financial-disaster/">4 Warning Signs Your Car Is Fueling A Future Financial Disaster</a> &mdash; Are you taking out a loan that will outlive the car? [Bible Money Matters]</p> <p><a href="http://fitzvillafuerte.com/how-to-find-what-youre-meant-to-do-in-life.html">How To Find What You&rsquo;re Meant To Do in Life</a> &mdash; Try as many things as you can &mdash; don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. [Ready To Be Rich]</p> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/how-to-incorporate-more-romance-into-your-life-as-a-working-dad">How to Incorporate More Romance Into Your Life as a Working Dad</a> &mdash; Spend 15-20 minutes to connect with your partner when you come home, even if you're tired after a long day. [Parenting Squad]</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amy-lu">Amy Lu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-14-urban-gardening-tips">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-simple-gardening-skills-anybody-can-master">13 Simple Gardening Skills Anybody Can Master</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-diy-landscaping-and-gardening-skills-that-will-save-you-money">9 DIY Landscaping and Gardening Skills That Will Save You Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-easy-ways-to-prep-your-garden-for-winter">10 Easy Ways to Prep Your Garden for Winter</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-the-greenest-lawn-on-the-block-naturally">How to Get the Greenest Lawn on the Block — Naturally</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-4-things-a-vegetable-garden-needs">The Only 4 Things a Vegetable Garden Needs</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living best money tips gardening Thu, 07 May 2015 19:00:15 +0000 Amy Lu 1415282 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Edible Garden Plants Anyone Can Grow http://www.wisebread.com/10-edible-garden-plants-anyone-can-grow <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-edible-garden-plants-anyone-can-grow" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/mother_and_son_gardening.jpg" alt="family gardening" title="family gardening" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I had given up and admitted defeat. Gardening, I assumed, just wasn't for me. Plants either withered, were destroyed by bugs, or devoured by deer. Anything that lived was tiny and barely edible. I definitely fit the &quot;black thumb&quot; description, and assumed I was doomed to forever forage at the grocery store for produce.</p> <p>And then, we moved. The climate was different. All around me, people were growing fruits and vegetables. Why not give it another shot, I wondered? And so I did. First, I did some research and talked to neighbors. This was followed by years of keeping a garden journal to see what grew, and what did not. Here are my 10 guaranteed successes. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-gardening-lessons-learned-the-hard-way?ref=seealso">10 Gardening Lessons Learned the Hard Way</a>)</p> <h2>1. Radishes</h2> <p>If you cannot <a href="http://www.kiddiegardens.com/growing_radishes.html">grow radishes</a>, just give up gardening. Oh, sorry, that's a little harsh. My point is, they <em>will</em> grow unless you just don't water them. If you are an apartment-dweller, they fit nicely in pots.</p> <p>Favorite use? Slice good bread, butter it, and slice radishes over the top. Sprinkle with salt. This is known as a &quot;tartine&quot; in France. While it sounds a little odd, it's really good.</p> <h2>2. Herbs</h2> <p>Coming in at number two are herbs. Grow them indoors, outdoors, in pots, on your fire escape, wherever &mdash; they are programmed to grow, and grow they will. Try chives, dill, cilantro, parsley, basil, and rosemary. Fresh herbs in your cooking (even just tossed into your morning scrambled eggs) makes a huge difference in flavor, and are very inexpensive. I have yet to encounter an herb that refused to grow. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-store-herbs-to-make-them-last-longer-and-taste-better?ref=seealso">How to Keep Herbs Fresh Longer</a>)</p> <p>Favorite uses? With basil, make pesto. Chives are great in rolls and scrambled eggs. Parsley, I love in Italian food, and of course cilantro in Asian and Mexican dishes. Dill is good with potatoes or salmon, while rosemary is a natural in a pork roast. I keep herbs going year-round. They can also be frozen or dried if you get carried away and plant too many. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/31-delicious-cheap-recipes-that-use-up-your-herb-garden?ref=seealso">Delicious Recipes to Use Up Your Herbs</a>)</p> <h2>3. Squash</h2> <p>Of course, zucchini has become a joke (poor zucchini). Open a door in California in September, and you might find a bag of zucchini that someone has kindly &quot;shared&quot; with you. I have indeed made that mistake of planting too much of it. My father-in-law razzed me for years about my massive zucchini plantings. Well, live and learn, right? If you plant zucchini, my mother-in-law made one of my favorite things, ever. She let the zucchinis grow until they were very large. She then thinly sliced them, dipped them in an egg wash, then cracker crumbs, and fried them in butter. It is one of the best things on the planet.</p> <p>There are many varieties of squash, and they are easy to grow. My main problem with squash are bugs, so I have learned to be vigilant. I currently have starts for kabocha squash going, which are very sweet and versatile. My favorite use of kabocha squash is in a <a href="http://www.chow.com/recipes/30268-thai-red-curry-with-kabocha-squash">Thai red curry</a>. This recipe is very good (add some chicken, if you like), but you may want to dial back the red curry paste.</p> <p>Squash also takes a lot of space. A neighbor solved this problem by showing me how to grow it near a fence. They climb! Squash hanging off of a fence are sort of funny, but it also discourages the bugs, which get to them when they are on the ground.</p> <h2>4. Eggplant</h2> <p>It is a shame that so many people associate this vegetable with soggy, overly-greasy eggplant parmigiana. After reading about some <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-tasty-frugal-eggplant-recipes">tasty eggplant recipes</a>, I planted more of it and it's really the gift that keeps on giving. I have had nearly five months' production from my plants and they show no signs of slowing down. I planted three varieties as an experiment; all are thriving. I never have staked mine, as they are very sturdy and no fruit hangs on the ground, but that is recommended.</p> <p>What to do with an eggplant? See the article above. Some people recommend salting the slices to get rid of the bitterness before cooking, but I have not done that and have not noticed any problems. You can make a much <a href="http://www.cookinglight.com/eating-smart/recipe-makeovers/healthy-eggplant-parmesan-recipes">healthier eggplant parmigiana</a> that isn't so oily, but my favorite use is this <a href="http://www.tillysnest.com/2012/09/crock-pot-ratatouille.html">Crock-Pot ratatouille</a>.</p> <h2>5. Green Beans</h2> <p>My husband built a trellis in the garden area, and so I planted pole beans. It was important to me to have a garden area that is aesthetically pleasing. Pole beans are pretty, and once the beans get going, need to be picked frequently. If the beans get too big, they aren't as tasty. Pole beans take a little bit longer than other green bean varieties, but I think they are worth the wait. I love <a href="http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/patrick-and-gina-neely/green-beans-and-bacon-recipe.html">green beans with bacon</a>, served alongside some corn bread and stewed tomatoes.</p> <h2>6. Beets</h2> <p>Scarred by bad childhood beets memories, I didn't try them again until I was in my 30s. Now, I love them. I still like the canned ones, but a freshly roasted or boiled beet is a different matter. Roasting especially brings out their sweetness.</p> <p>If you like kale or spinach, do yourself a favor and cook some <a href="http://allrecipes.com/recipe/simple-and-delicious-beet-greens/">beet greens</a> (or &quot;tops,&quot; as they are also termed). It is a shame that many grocery stores cut off the tops. Beets are also a very pretty vegetable because of their deep purples and golds. There is even a variety that is deep pink and white. My favorite roasted beet recipe uses <a href="http://www.sloatgardens.com/recipes/oven-roasted-beets-goat-cheese-balsamic-vinegar/">goat cheese and balsamic vinegar</a>. Be diligent about thinning them in the garden, because they will need room to grow. They also like mulch.</p> <h2>7. Lettuces</h2> <p>I have had the best luck with Boston lettuce, and it is so easy. You will want to make sure your soil has plenty of nitrogen, and that you have partial shade. After your first harvest (in about 30 days), you can look forward to a second round in a few weeks. Don't get carried away planting &mdash; a small seed packet will produce about 50 pounds of leaf lettuce!</p> <p>Your main issue with lettuce will be bugs. Try spraying with a solution of dish soap (just a couple of drops) and water. You will have to repeat after a heavy rain. Fresh lettuce from your garden, or container, is so nice to have on hand.</p> <h2>8. Rainbow Chard</h2> <p>Not only does this vegetable grow easily, but it looks just beautiful in your garden with its stems of vibrant hues. I am looking at mine right now and I can see gold, purple, red, orange, and pink. It is almost too pretty to eat, but not quite. They prefer full sun, but I have grown chard in partial shade. They like grass-clipping compost. My favorite preparation of rainbow chard is to chop off the tough stems, sauté, and drizzle with red-wine vinegar. I think it's also really good in a <a href="http://www.food.com/recipe/crustless-swiss-chard-quiche-311434">chard quiche</a>.</p> <h2>9. Carrots</h2> <p>Successful carrots took me a few years, but that is because I learn things the hard way. They love compost and loose soil; I had too many rocks and tough soil. They grew, but in very strange shapes. I also tended to sow too thickly, which did not give them enough room. Although they take a long time to grow (95 to 100 days), they are much sweeter than grocery-store carrots and you'll quickly become spoiled. You will need to weed around the plants, because weeds just really like to hang out with carrots.</p> <p>How to eat? A German friend taught me this method. Melt butter into a saucepan, and add carrots. Sauté for about four minutes, then add &frac14; cup of beer and cover the saucepan. Cook until just tender and add fresh dill. Delicious!</p> <h2>10. Bok Choy or Chinese Cabbage</h2> <p>My best bok choy year was also my best carrot year, which was no coincidence. Bok choy also enjoys rich, loose soil. It is best grown in spring or fall, because it doesn't like hot sun beating down upon it. As with the carrots, though, be prepared to weed around the plants. I like bok choy at its simplest: Sauteed in a little oil, with garlic.</p> <h2>To Ensure Success</h2> <p>Before planting, we had a soil analysis done at the local university. These can also be done at your local agricultural extension. This was very helpful, and told us just what we needed to add to our soil. We took our print-out to a farm store, where we could pick up bags of recommended nutrients. Our print-out also recommended the best plants to try (which proved completely correct, although I did experiment with others).</p> <p>If you plan to do a big garden, you might as well start a compost bin, since you will need it. I do end up buying cinders and chicken manure every year, but that's not terribly expensive. If you are container-gardening, just be sure to get a good brand of potting soil.</p> <p>My garden journal has also been very helpful. Each year I sketch out what I want to plant, and where. I keep notes about how long things took to grow, and how successful (or not) they were. I also kept photos in the journal so I could have a visual reminder of where plants did particularly well.</p> <p><em>Gardener-readers, with what plants have you had the best luck?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/marla-walters">Marla Walters</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-edible-garden-plants-anyone-can-grow">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-simple-gardening-skills-anybody-can-master">13 Simple Gardening Skills Anybody Can Master</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-easy-ways-to-prep-your-garden-for-winter">10 Easy Ways to Prep Your Garden for Winter</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-turn-your-black-thumb-green">How to Turn Your Black Thumb Green</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-diy-landscaping-and-gardening-skills-that-will-save-you-money">9 DIY Landscaping and Gardening Skills That Will Save You Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-the-greenest-lawn-on-the-block-naturally">How to Get the Greenest Lawn on the Block — Naturally</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Home gardening green thumb recipes vegetables Wed, 18 Mar 2015 17:00:11 +0000 Marla Walters 1345644 at http://www.wisebread.com 12 Genius Storage Solutions for Your Garage http://www.wisebread.com/12-genius-storage-solutions-for-your-garage <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-genius-storage-solutions-for-your-garage" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000041840182_Large.jpg" alt="woman garage bike" title="woman garage bike" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>One of my favorite features of my new home is an oversized double attached garage. I'm in storage heaven in there, but I know I could be using the space better to accommodate all my different needs. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-genius-kitchen-storage-solutions?ref=seealso">15 Genius Kitchen Storage Ideas</a>)</p> <p>Below you'll find a number of ideas &mdash; from broad to specific &mdash; that will help you use your garage space better. Feel free to share your own solutions in the comments.</p> <h2>1. Pipe Rack</h2> <p>A few small pieces of PVC pipe can go a long way toward making <a href="http://www.ashbeedesign.com/2012/05/organizing-tools-with-pvc.html">smart tool storage</a> that will hold up for years to come. The author of this project cut angled pieces of PVC from scraps she had around the house. You can also head to the hardware store and ask an associate to make six inch cuts for you. Then mount and label.</p> <h2>2. Gutter Genius</h2> <p>I've seen a lot of <a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ZwPjpdMjZqk/Uh_yk82mm-I/AAAAAAAAHSs/ym1-DXbl8Cg/s1600/garage+p.jpg">gutter shelf projects</a> for the home, but what's more perfect than making storage shelves for your garage? Go to your hardware store and pick out gutters and end caps in whatever size makes sense for your purpose. Then hang them and fill with paint, caulk, sprays, seeds, whatever.</p> <h2>3. Container Corral</h2> <p>Our attic is full of blown-in insulation, so we don't use it for storage. Instead, we have several rows of basic shelving where we've arranged our plastic containers up and off the ground. For better organization, <a href="http://www.abowlfulloflemons.net/2014/10/garage-organization-part-1.html">label your bins</a> in big, bold letters. I suggest using clear tubs for the most transparency.</p> <h2>4. Mudroom Magic</h2> <p>If you're low on closet space indoors, turn your garage into a <a href="http://www.abowlfulloflemons.net/2014/11/how-to-create-a-garage-mudroom.html">beautiful mudroom</a> with just a few tricks. You'll want some hooks for coats and other apparel. A few hanging baskets to keep umbrellas, bags, and mail in check. The rest is up to you!</p> <h2>5. Peg Rails</h2> <p>This <a href="http://www.marthastewart.com/273114/peg-rail-organizer?xsc=eml_org_2011_03_12">peg-rail organizer</a> is as functional as it is beautiful. You'll hang wooden beams along your wall and then drill holes for your pegs. If you don't have tools or time to do this project yourself, consider buying several long hook or <a href="http://www.amazon.com/s/?_encoding=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;field-keywords=peg%20rail&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;url=search-alias%3Daps&amp;linkId=Y7H3CNH2JLZXBUYT">peg rails</a> and arranging them in a couple long rows for the same impact.</p> <h2>6. Toy Tamer</h2> <p>There are a lot of different ways you can approach toy cleanup in your garage. I love these <a href="http://orgjunkie.com/2013/05/organizing-concepts-for-kids-garage-toys-free-printable.html">educational ideas</a> that put some responsibility in your child's hands. For example, tall laundry baskets for sport balls; stackable shelving for bubbles, helmets, and pool toys; and brightly taped off areas for bikes and scooters. The key is keeping everything clearly labeled and encouraging your kids to put their stuff away.</p> <h2>7. Hook Hideaway</h2> <p>The minute we moved in, my husband went out and bought a set of inexpensive <a href="http://www.amazon.com/s/?_encoding=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;field-keywords=gladiator%20hooks&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;url=search-alias%3Daps&amp;linkId=VD6DFRTRB7YIBQWX">Gladiator Hooks</a> at the hardware store. There are a number of different ways you can use them, but he arranged them on the studs to get bikes, skis, sleds, folding chairs, and other outdoor items off the floor.</p> <h2>8. Pegboard Pal</h2> <p>One of the best things you can get for your garage (or basement) is a pegboard. After you figure out how high you want to hang your board, you'll make the spot and then drill into the studs using wood screws. Don't forget to level! Then buy some hooks and go crazy.</p> <h2>9. Screw Central</h2> <p>Our garage also serves as our tool storage area. We had inherited an old tool bench at our last house where the original owner had <a href="http://www.chezlarsson.com/myblog/2009/02/screw-organizing.html">organized his screws</a> by placing them in small jars. The cool part? All the tops of the jars were glued (or screwed) to the bottom of a shelf for easy keeping. It's a simple project with big impact.</p> <h2>10. Bungee Corner</h2> <p>Stash all your soccer balls, basket balls, and kick balls in one space <a href="http://100things2do.blogspot.ca/2013/08/organization-ball-storage.html">using bungee cords</a>. The cost of this project was a mere $2. You'll need a wooden frame for the top and bottom of your zone. Then four or five bungee cords stretched between the posts will hold things tightly together.</p> <h2>11. Shoe Win</h2> <p>Those <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001F51AHG/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B001F51AHG&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=P4Y2XDFB63JTZIIU">plastic shoe organizers</a> work in almost every room, and the garage is no exception. Use it to hold spray paint, golf balls, tools, cleaners, and anything else you have in chaos. You don't even need to hang it over a door. Just nail or screw hooks into the wall or use rope to tie it onto a shelving system.</p> <h2>12. Bike Shelf</h2> <p>I love this simple <a href="http://daily.sightline.org/?attachment_id=21734">DIY bike shelf</a>. Cut notches in a fruit crate to accommodate the top tube of your bike. Mount on your wall. You can use the top shelf to store your helmet or any other gear. (And though this storage device would work great in your garage, it would also be perfect for apartment storage!)</p> <p><em>What's your favorite genius garage storage idea?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-genius-storage-solutions-for-your-garage">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-how-you-declutter-and-keep-your-stuff-too">This Is How You Declutter and Keep Your Stuff, Too</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/organize-a-room-for-10-with-no-extra-effort">Organize a Room for $10 with No Extra Effort</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-lose-the-clutter-and-keep-the-memories">9 Ways to Lose the Clutter and Keep the Memories</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-smart-ways-to-use-garage-space">6 Smart Ways to Use Garage Space</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-things-in-your-closet-you-can-throw-out-today">15 Things in Your Closet You Can Throw Out Today</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home Organization clutter garage gardening storage tools Fri, 06 Feb 2015 12:00:07 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1285072 at http://www.wisebread.com