Happy New Year 2016 ~ and Happy 3rd Birthday, Sanctuary Gardener!

Happy 2016 & Happy 3rd BdayHappy last day of 2015, everyone! Not only is the first day of 2016 only hours away, it will also be this website’s third birthday. I can’t believe we’ve been on this journey together for three years now. It’s been a great ride so far!

With that said, I am wishing you and yours a very happy new year. May the Lord bless you and keep you, and may the year hold only happiness and joy for you. And may your 2016 gardens produce more than ever before.

Blessings,

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How to Build a Hoop Tunnel

Last week, I decided – albeit, rather last minute – to build hoop tunnels over four of my raised beds. I figured I had time to get it done before our usual first frost date of November 21 or so. Surprise of surprises, the forecast called for temperatures in the 30s last Friday night (and we got our first frost two weeks early on November 2). So, last Friday, my Garden Wilson and I were running to Lowes to get the supplies and build the hoop tunnels to use that night. Thankfully, it was less expensive than I thought and were super easy to build. If you haven’t thought about covering one or more of your raised beds to extend your growing season (or be able to grow a wider variety of crops in the fall and winter), see how easy it really is to do. How to build a hoop tunnel!

My New Garden Tool

Refractometer SG

Today, I interrupt my ten-part immune booster series to tell you about the exciting new gardening tool that I just received. In my lament over not being able to attend the Master Gardener program, I shared my Plan B, to continue to learn on my own, but in a more organized way. My first goal was to learn how to build a good foundation – healthy soil. In my initial search for material, I came across a book on how to build good soil (which I ordered and received). I also discovered there was a way to actually measure how well your soil is feeding your plants by measuring the nutrition level of the fruit. A garden tool to measure the quality of my garden produce? I had to have one!  My new garden tool!

How to Build A Teepee Trellis

Teepee - painted SG

Last year, I purchased Rosalind Creasy’s book, Edible Landscaping. What a wonderful book chock full of ideas! In one of the pictures of her garden, I saw a teepee trellis covered with a vining plant. What caught my attention is the finial on the top of the trellis. I thought that was such a novel idea – and I wanted a couple of those teepee trellises for myself. I thought they would look great in my front yard as I stretch my garden space. Well, because my beau (aka Garden Wilson) has so much talent, all I had to do was show him the picture and he made me two beautiful teepee trellises! And he agreed to help me write today’s article, so you can build these beautiful trellises for your garden.

Directions!

Crushing Tomatoes the Easy Way

The tomato crop is coming in – by the dozens every day now! This weekend I had an abundance of tomatoes, so it was time to make my famous arrabiata pasta sauce. But what gardener with a full time job has time to blanch dozens of tomatoes to remove the skins? I don’t! So, a month or so ago, I purchased a manual Victorio Food Mill (with additional attachments) to take care of that for me. The advertisement stated that it would remove the skins and seeds without blanching. At first, I was a little leery about how well it would work; but after one use, I’m a believer! See how it works!

How to Build a Garden Trellis

Pole beans, peas, and cucumbers all love to grow upwards – and need to be staked or trained on a trellis. Personally, I think a trellis is not only more functional with a large surface area perfect for vining tendrils, but it’s also beautiful when full of green leaves, flowers, and fruit. So, last year I asked my very talented beau to build a couple of trellises for my garden. The picture above is what he created. As I am not well versed in carpentry, I asked him to write today’s post so you can enjoy a trellis or two in your own garden. Learn how!

Operation Seed Germination

As of today, Operation Seed Germination is in full swing! I spent the entire day setting up my germination station and planting hundreds of seeds. This year was planned, to the last seedling cell – unlike last year, when this Yankee was a little confused about the Southern growing season. But wait, there’s more!

Comfy Garden Seat

There’s nothing worse than getting a sore back from bending over your garden to plant or weed. I found squatting just transferred the pain from my neck and back to my thighs and feet, so that didn’t work. I also didn’t care for kneeling on the garden pad I bought; after an hour or two, my knees started to hurt. Enter my knight-in-shining-armor with the perfect solution: a customized garden seat. But wait, there’s more!

Watching the Weather

Now that I’m a gardener, I pay much more attention to the weather than I used to. Forecasts of temperature changes, impending storms, cold fronts, amounts of rain or wind, etc. are now critical information to me. Afterall, I have my garden “babies” to take care of. But what’s a gardener to do? We can’t change the weather, but we can’t garden without knowing it.  But wait, there’s more!