Exercise Your Green Thumb All Winter
If you love planting and gardening, you may already feel the longing for the cold weather to end. However, short days and snow on the ground don’t have to mean that you neglect that side of your personality. There are still plenty of ways that you can exercise your green thumb and keep it in shape for spring.
Try growing plants indoors. You might wind up keeping your indoor garden going all year round, or transfer your young plants outside when the weather permits. You will want to allow enough space and enough light, and choose your plant species wisely.
The Best Indoor Plants
Many people are familiar with the growing trend of fairy gardens. Individuals who dabble in this hobby typically tend to stick to succulents, ivies, and small trees like the ficus. While these plants are generally easy to care for and are great for your indoor environment, they don’t provide you nutrients all year long. Consider replacing house plants with greens, various vegetables and, herbaceous plants.
Growing Leafy Greens
Leafy greens and salad fixings grow readily indoors. Spinach, radishes, and various lettuces are great for indoor gardening and easy to harvest when you’re ready to use it. Tomatoes are wonderful too. The easiest species to care for are grape tomatoes. They ripen quickly and are tasty salad toppings and snacks.
Peppers make another excellent choice. Bell peppers take a while to ripen and require a well-draining pot, but they are easy to grow. With so many different species of peppers, your options are endless. You can grow jalapenos or habaneros to add spice to your dishes. Don’t forget about small sweet peppers, which make great snacks.
Growing Herbaceous Plants
Herbs also make incredible indoor plants. Rosemary, basil, and chives are some of the most commonly used spices and easiest to grow. With proper care all of these herbs grow in such abundance you may end up begging your friends and family to take some. Herbs like Marjoram, thyme, and sage are also good indoor plants to grow. If you don’t cook with these ingredients, often that’s okay. They’ll look lovely on a windowsill, and they’ll be ready for when you need them.
Beans do well indoors too. Just give these plants some support. Legumes vine and spread rapidly. The tendrils will need something to wrap around. Purchase a trellis or use string and stakes to support the growth of your green beans or snap peas.
Mushrooms aren’t the kind of produce you can show off with the rest of your plants, but they grow quite well indoors. Fungi require dark, moist places so your basement or a closet would be the best place to leave them. They don’t need much care just a spritz of water every now and then.
Ample Light for Plants
Naturally, your indoor garden is going to need lots of sunlight. Windows should be your first choice. Making sure your windows aren’t drafty is essential. If too much cold air gets in, the low temperature could kill your plants. If your windows are too drafty but you have a relatively warm basement this area could work as well. This is where a grow light will come in handy. Your plants should fare relatively well without direct sunlight.
Containers, Planters, and Pots
Most plants require good drainage in their soil. Any hardware store sells planters year round. You can buy these with saucers already built in, or you can put rocks in the bottom of your planter to help drain the soil. Most of the time these are relatively cheap, but why not get creative with your plants?
A lot of indoor gardeners like to make their own containers. They do this by building themselves shelving units and indoor hydroponic gardens. Gardeners also do this by upcycling items around the house. If you are growing your plants from seedlings, you can use recycled soda bottles and milk cartons to germinate your seeds. Other individuals have made their containers out of pallets.
A word of wisdom. Make sure the pallets or containers didn’t previously hold anything toxic. For instance, you don’t want to make a planter out of an old bleach bottle.
Aphids, two-spotted spider mites, and fungus gnats are just a few of the pests you may find when growing an indoor garden.
Your first thought might be pesticides. This is an effective way to kill them but keep in mind that you will be ingesting these vegetables yourself. By planting herbs that detract parasites and choosing different planting methods you can kill them or prevent them from ever coming in.
Mint, catnip, and chives are just a few of the herbs you can grow in your garden to repel aphids. Use these herbs in your favorite recipe and grow them to get rid of or prevent your aphid infestation.
If you catch the infestation early, you can pick the aphids or mites off of your plants. Inspect the leaves that have insects on them and remove them as you see them. If the infestation is small, you should be able to stop it before it takes over your entire plant. You may also be able to wipe the bottom of the leaf with a warm, moist paper towel.
For “pests” of the more familial variety, we will dedicate a future post to helping your plants and pets coexist in harmony.
Grow Plants From Seedlings
Fungus gnats usually are found in potting soil which makes these pests hard to prevent. The good news is that they don’t often do a lot of damage to the plant themselves. Aphids and two-spotted spider mites on the other hand usually come from outside plants.
That’s why a lot of gardeners suggest germinating plants on your own. This can be a difficult task if you’re new to the hobby, but it’s incredibly rewarding to see nothing one day and tons of sprouts the next. By germinating seeds yourself, you’re not introducing already infested plants to your garden thereby preventing any infestation from ever starting.
There are tons of great reasons to grow an indoor vegetable garden. It increases the amount of clean oxygen in your home. It’s a great educational experience for your children. Most of all gardening is downright fun and a great way to relieve stress. Besides, who doesn’t love fresh veggies all year long?
PHOTO: Pixabay / CC0 Public Domain
Organize a Fall Festival for Your Community
One of the best ways to celebrate the beginning of fall with those around you is to organize a neighborhood fall festival. A get-together celebrating the season gives you a chance to know your neighbors better and build a sense of community.
Organizing a Fall Festival
Any party takes planning, and the same goes for a fall festival. From choosing a theme to figuring out how much food you’ll need to bring, a plan will help things go smoothly. The planning itself can bring people together and build friendships. Include children and adults to get everyone’s perspective.
Consider a Theme
Some of the best parties have a theme, so SignUpGenius recommends picking one for your fall festival. The theme can be something simple or more elaborate. Whatever you choose, try and keep it consistent with any of the activities you plan or even the food and drinks.
Plan Well in Advanced
Fall weather can be a unpredictable, so if you’re planning an outdoor event, make a backup plan. If you plan on having food that will need heated up or foods that need to stay cold, make sure you have plenty of plugs or freezer packs. You also want to give people lots of time to put your event on their busy calendars. Fall can mean lots of sports events and other activities, so work with your neighbors to choose the best day for everyone.
Games and Activities
A fall festival should be something all ages enjoy attending, so plan for activities that kids and those who are still kids at heart can enjoy.
Bobbing for Apples
Bobbing for apples is a fall festival classic, I Believe in Joy notes, so it’s definitely an activity that can easily be incorporated into your festival. All you need is a large tub filled with water and plenty of apples. The goal is to catch an apple in your mouth without using your hands. If the thought of multiple people’s germs is unsettling to you, there are ways to adapt bobbing for apples so there’s only one apple in a tub at a time.
Hayrides are another staple of fall festivals. They can be a great way to take in the fall foliage around your neighborhood and can be cozy, especially if someone provides blankets for people to use to keep warm during the cool autumn night. The hay can also be reused to protect new grass seed that’s been planted from blowing away or from birds and other animals from eating the seed.
Food and Drinks
One of the most vital parts of any get together is the food and drink options. With these tips, the food and drinks may be what everyone talks about when they’re leaving. If you’re lucky enough to have a community garden, encourage everyone to bring their produce or something made from it.
Cook-offs and Bake-offs
The best way to have a variety of food brought to your fall festival is to tell your neighbors that it’s a potluck and to have them bring their best chili, stews, soups, or desserts to the festival, especially if the food is made with the fall vegetables that grew in a community garden. Have a friendly competition between neighbors to see who brought the best chili, the best stew, the best soup, and the best dessert and let someone have bragging rights for the next year.
Apple cider and hot chocolate are great fall drinks for all ages. Mulled wines fits the fall season for those over 21. Ask people to bring thermoses and other reusable drink glasses so they can try different drinks and cut down on plastic waste.
Bonfires and S’mores
No fall festival is complete with a bonfire, a seasonal favorite. Consider making multiple fire pits for people to keep warm, and supply graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate bars for s’mores. Enjoy them while you chat with your neighbors and all you have to celebrate this season.
Just because the weather is getting cooler doesn’t mean you have to stay at home on a weekend evening. Having a fall festival makes everyone feel welcomed in a neighborhood and gives you and your family the chance to meet new neighbors if you haven’t already.
PHOTO: Pixabay / CC0 Public Domain
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Choose the Perfect Windows for Your House
Whether you’re building your own house or planning to replace the windows of your current home, which windows you choose makes a difference. Not only do you want your home to look beautiful, but different houses need different types of windows. It wouldn’t make sense for a small ranch home to have one large picture window that takes up the entire front of the house. Or vice versa, a large, picturesque house wouldn’t have tiny windows that under use the space. While those may be extreme examples, choosing windows for your home does matter.
Top Window Design Trends
Some trends are always in style, and that extends to your windows. From natural lighting to window panels with a pop of color, here are some of today’s trendiest window designs on the market.
Black or Bronze Window Frames
Want make a statement with your windows, but don’t know where to start? Try using black window paneling instead of traditional white panels. The black panels can give a modern look and feel that will make your house stand out from the rest. If black doesn’t fit your color scheme, try bronze and gold tones to give your windows a unique look. They can complement other decorative touches like outdoor sconces or number plates.
A pass-through window is the perfect synthesis of outdoor and indoor space. Whether you choose a garage-style or folding window, pass-through windows blur the lines between your backyard, patio, or even between rooms. The most common application is a slider from the kitchen to the patio, but don’t be afraid to get creative with pass-through windows.
Energy Efficient Windows
It seems commonplace now, but energy efficient windows have become popular only in the last ten years or so. People usually ask for energy efficient windows in their homes, which makes sense, since they can save money in the long run. If you have older, inefficient windows, maybe it’s time to consider upgrading to double or triple-pane.
Windows are designed to let in the light, so why not use their purpose to your advantage? Bigger windows give your rooms more natural light during peak times of the day. The only downside to larger windows is that more heat can escape, so consider an excellent insulating window if you’re leaning towards large windows. Some of the better insulating windows are wood-based.
Vinyl Windows Versus Wood Windows
As with the design of your windows, there are plenty of popular trends in the materials that people use for windows. A few of those current trends are using vinyl or wood materials for your windows.
Vinyl windows are one of the most common types of windows available and are also some of the least expensive options. While the lower cost may seem like a good thing, Better Homes & Gardens cautions that if the materials are of lower quality, they’ll be prone to breaking. If you choose to go with vinyl windows, you can paint them, but they will need to be redone every few years.
Wood is another popular material to use for windows and is going to cost more than vinyl. A perk of wood windows is the variety available, such as mahogany, maple, and oak, although pine tends to be the most common. Using wood materials for your windows insulates the room naturally. However, you will need to need to reseal wood windows every so often to prevent rot and sun damage.
Choosing windows for your home doesn’t have to be tedious. Pick the windows you think you’ll be able to care for, whether it’s the task of cleaning them or keeping them finished to prevent natural wear and tear. Enjoy letting the light shine in on your life.
IMAGE: Pixabay / CC0 Public Domain
Four Ways to Spend More Time Outdoors This Fall
As brisk weather and shorter days encourage staying indoors, don’t ignore the outside beauty and excitement that autumn brings. Those cozy sweaters, socks, and boots are meant for more than just quick sprints to and from the car. Here are four ways to spend more time outdoors this fall, and fully appreciate this time of year.
Create Autumn Treats in Your Outdoor Kitchen
With so much terrific produce available September through November, how can you resist creating comfy, flavorful fall-inspired recipes? Don’t just put that outdoor kitchen to good use in the summer; keep it going the next few months! Shop local markets and farms for fresh apples, pumpkins, squash, cider, and seasonal jams and spreads. Develop recipes and get adventurous with your culinary endeavors. Dishes and treats for outdoor entertaining include:
- Roasted butternut squash stuffed with wild rice
- Apple walnut cranberry stuffing (with or without pork or vegan sausage)
- Apple crumb muffins
- Chocolate chip pumpkin streusel bread
- Sweet and sour pumpkin soup
- Cream-cheese stuffed pumpkin rolls
Of course, there are always classic s’mores, made all the better when put together over a bonfire. Simmer a pot of mulled cider, or whip up frothy warm chai tea lattes, and take in the wondrous fall night-time sky.
Encourage Kids to Enjoy the Seasonal Changes
There are endless learning opportunities for kids to spend more time outdoors in the fall. Fill a basket with blankets and create a welcoming nook outside for them to read or do their homework. Encourage them to take photos, sketch, or write notes about what they see, and what the season means to them. Have them chart the changes in flowers and plants around your home. Create a scavenger hunt and encourage them to craft scrapbooks or other artistic pieces out of things they find. Teach them about local wildlife, and cast paw prints or collect feathers.
Exercise Body and Mind
Even though you may have hiked during the summer, continue to walk and bike in the fall. It’s great for your body as well as your mind! According to Psychology Today, approximately 10 million people suffer from seasonal affective disorder. Getting outside and learning to see these months as something wondrous can help. It’s also important to continue to take your dogs for walks during the fall. The changing seasons sharpen their mental faculties, and some pups, like kids, love running through piles of leaves!
Take Fall Road Trips
Autumn is one of the best times of the year to see how certain areas and celebrate the season! Make those postcard-perfect getaways a reality, for your own hygge (Danish word for contentment) moments. Whether you deliberately or randomly choose a destination, take this time period to see how somewhere else compares to home.
Aberlin Springs focuses on community, from our farm-to-table network and wellness center to special family-oriented events and festivals. Although we certainly have a beautiful and unique setting, plan some fall road trips to explore other places. Visit coastal towns during the off-season, when crowds thin out. Or absorb the energy that crowds bring to New England, and see why so many love those towns in October. Take another break from driving and travel via train – that’s sure to be an unforgettable photogenic memory unto itself!
Have as much fun as possible and adopt the new routine to spend more time outdoors this fall!
Fall Harvest Celebration
See the Pendragon Difference!
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