Fun Facts About Sunflowers

closeup of a sunflower

Sunflowers are known for evoking a feeling of positivity because of their large, yellow blooms. They stand tall—taller than many other garden blooms—and always seem to perk up our moods. You may already be a fan of these familiar sunny flowers, but did you know that sunflowers can grow up to 12 feet tall in as little as six months, or how tall the current world-record holder is?

Interesting facts about the amazing sunflowers that you may not have known include: Continue reading

The Guide To Square Foot Gardening

Square Foot Gardening - Ultimate guide

Imagine it. Organized planters boxes laid out in a perfect pattern with walkways. Gardens that are bursting with life and look exceptionally manicured. Maybe you have seen them on t.v. and in magazines. These gardens that look as though they have been sculpted by a landscape artist. Have you ever wondered how it’s done or what it’s called? Well my friend, these gardens have a name, and it’s called square foot gardening. Looks difficult right? Maybe time consuming and too out of the box, well in this case in the box. In all actuality, this method is quite simple to undertake.

This simple method of gardening, has resurfaced over the years, and has become the next new gardening trend that everyone is digging into. From homesteads to the backyards of suburban neighborhoods and city community gardens, square foot gardening has helped many people turn the hobby of gardening into a fruitful lifestyle. Below, we have put together the ultimate guide for square foot gardening so that you can learn more about what it is and isn’t, its history, how you can get started and more. Continue reading

How To Grow Rhubarb


Chipman's Canada Red rhubarbChipman’s Canada Red rhubarb

Rhubarb is a long-lived perennial grown for its succulent, super-tart stalks. It is usually one of the first spring foods that can be eaten from the garden and at any time of the season it provides a good excuse for making pie.

Rhubarb is one of the least demanding of all crops. Once established, there’s little work required. A happy plant will produce for decades. Grow rhubarb in full sun, in rich, lightly moist soil. In hot regions (USDA hardiness zone 6 and higher), plant rhubarb where it will get some protection from hot afternoon sun. Rhubarb will not thrive in a soggy location, where it will be susceptible to root rot, one of the few problems rhubarb can encounter. If your soil is heavy and doesn’t drain well, raised beds are a good option.

Rhubarb is a great pass-along plant. One way to get your rhubarb patch off to a fast start is to talk a fellow gardener into giving you a “chunk off the old block.” The best time to do this is in early spring before the plant’s leaves begin to unfurl. Use a sharp spade to slice down through the crown, taking out a piece with at least two pink knobs on top. You can also purchase container-grown plants from a garden center.

When preparing the planting hole, remember that this is a perennial plant that will grow for many years in the same spot. So dig a deep, wide hole (18″ deep and 18-24″ wide) and partially fill it with a 50:50 mix of compost or aged manure and good garden soil. Add a cup or two of all-purpose organic fertilizer and then place the roots in the hole and continue filling it, making sure that the buds end up 1-2″ below the soil surface.

It is important to keep rhubarb plants well-watered for the first year or two. Mulch will help to minimize water loss and maintain a more consistent moisture level. To maintain good production, add a few shovelfuls of compost around the crowns each spring.

At maturity, a rhubarb plant gets to be about 3 feet in diameter, so plant them 3 to 4 feet apart in a 3- or 4-foot-wide bed. Four to six plants will provide plenty of stalks for most families. Harvest sparingly, starting in the second year. Rhubarb sends up Jack-in-the-beanstalk like flower stalks, sometimes reaching 6 feet tall. They are decorative, but use up some of the plant’s energy. Remove the flowers as soon as they begin to form and you’ll be able to keep picking tender rhubarb stalks right through the summer and into the fall.

Is Rhubarb Poisonous?

Only the stalks of rhubarb are edible. The leaves contain oxalate, making them poisonous when consumed in large quantities.

According to the Rhubarb Compendium, you’d have to eat a lot of rhubarb leaves for it to be deadly — approximately 11 pounds. “Note that a fraction of that can cause sickness.”

RhubarbEat the stalks, not the leaves.

Common-Sense Precautions

  • Trim leaves from stalk right away.
  • Wash the stalks before eating.
  • Make sure children understand that only the stems are edible.
  • Don’t let your pets eat it.
  • Don’t use stalks after a frost (oxalic acid from leaves can migrate into stems).

Vegetable Garden Layout Ideas and Tips to Maximize Space in a Small Garden

Let’s face it: everything tastes better when it’s freshly picked.

Growing your own vegetables is a great way to get outside, stay active, and feed your family delicious, nutritious veggies all summer long. It’s an amazing summer hobby that will leave you happier and healthier.

But what do you do if you don’t have a lot of space? Luckily there are ways around that! Growing a beautiful vegetable garden in a small space is possible. I’m going to give you some layout ideas along with some tips for growing a lot of vegetables in not a lot of space.

2vegetable harvest

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Elf On A Shelf- Caught On Home Security Camera

Use your home security camera to add extra magic to holiday tradition

Home security cameras are a vital part of any home security system, allowing you to monitor visitors, field security alerts, and identify would-be burglars. Whether you have a smart surveillance camera or a video doorbell, capturing unexpected footage of household antics is a fun bonus. This holiday season, make spirits bright by capturing another kind of unexpected footage — your Elf on the Shelf scooting through the frame, unassisted by human hands (per Santa-mandated rule).

The Elf on the Shelf  has been a beloved holiday tradition since a mother-and-daughter duo penned the childrens book in 2005. Like an advent calendar, the Elf offers a daily festive surprise for kids in the lead-up to Christmas. Here’s how it works: The Elf appears in a new spot in your home every day. By night, the Elf returns to the North Pole and reports on who’s naughty and nice. Touch the Elf, and the magic that fuels the Elf’s nightly missions might be lost.

Kids get a kick out of discovering the Elf at a new post (hiding in an igloo of sugar cubes, cutting snowflakes from the toilet paper roll) come morning. Parents have dreamed up ingenious staging ideas, but it’s time to raise the game. Recreate our footage of the Elf sneaking to his next scene, then show your kids the Elf off his shelf — and caught on camera.

#1 — Mush! Hitching a sled dog ride

Enlist your favorite four-legged assistant, attaching the Elf to their collar or pet coat. Dogs may best cooperate as you get the Elf properly situated, but just about any domestic creature will obliging come running through your security camera’s vision field when you offer a treat.

#2 — The holiday hamper scamper

The Elf may need to find sneakier means of transportation while his human charges are awake. Lodge the Elf in a full basket of laundry, then transport him through the frame. Make sure you get a close-up of Santa’s little helper, though helping around the house may not be his forte.

#3 — Carabiner, crampons, candy cane

So how does a 12-inch-tall elf make it up and down the stairs? With a trusty candy cane grappling hook, of course. Stage this adventurous scene with fishing line, then channel puppet master skills to slowly tug the Elf up and out of view.

#4 — Visions of paratroopers danced in their heads

Like the egg drop science experiment, but without the collateral damage. Tie the Elf to an inverted shopping bag (extra points if it’s holiday-themed) then parachute drop him from the top of the stairs or a tall ladder outside of camera range. Bombs away!

#5 — Santa make him hurry, tell him he can take the freeway down

A little inter-toy cooperation goes a long way. Lodge the Elf into an action figure tank or Barbie car, then get out the old fishing line again to help the Elf zoom to his next destination. (We can also imagine a roller skating situation with Hot Wheels for skates and chopsticks for hidden support — but let’s take a lesson from the Elf and not get carried away.)
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