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Sweet Seed Satchels for Wedding Favors

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Nov 10, 2017

Weddings are a joyous occasion but they can run pretty expensive too.  There’s the catering, rental location, invitations, wardrobe and let’s not forget the flowers that can set couples and family members back a pretty penny if you’re not careful.  Since most newlyweds don’t have a special savings account devoted to paying for an extravagant soiree, it’s a good idea to watch the budget closely and find ways where you might be able to cut costs by applying a little of your own creativity.  I realize, this isn’t a new concept.  Brides have been attempting to do as much as they can on their own for centuries like arranging simple garden bloom arrangements, using tea lights in place of more elaborate décor and learning calligraphy to design bridal stationery.  These are all great ideas when they work out the way you want them to but as you may already know, there’s always a possibility for error if you’re not gifted in the art department.

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photo credit Red Cloud Studio via Etsy

Don’t fret if you find yourself fitting inside this category because you still have a shot at saving a buck by taking on particular wedding projects that have a lesser chance of ending up catastrophic if you don’t possess an “artsy” eye.  One area that I recently witnessed a fantastic example was a party favor gifted after a barnyard wedding ceremony.  The setting was rustic, rural and gorgeous, surrounded by farm animals, wispy hay stalks and divine rolling country that went on for miles and miles.   The family cleverly used the location as a basis for the theme and incorporated as much natural beauty as they possible could take from the landscape.  The floral bouquet, cuisine and decorations all mirrored the stunning ambiance, especially the seed packages they gave to guests.  


Believe it or not, you can easily make these at home by purchasing brown envelopes and filling them with whatever types of seeds you prefer (although wild flowers would appropriately match the scene).  Personal touches can be added by buying monogrammed stamps and ink where you can leave the couple’s initials and date of marriage as a keepsake.  Let your friends and family take home these sweet little packages and allow them to grow from your love when the warmer gardening months roll around.

Tags: Wedding Favors, Planning a Wedding, Seeds

Earth Day - Plant a Tree - Drop A Seed Bomb

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Apr 17, 2017

April 22nd is Earth Day, a celebration honoring our beautiful planet and the importance of keeping her healthy.  The tradition began in 1970 when a United States Senator by the name of Gaylord Nelson started the initiative and became the founder of this first ever, global celebration.  His mission was to teach others the importance of maintaining and sustaining our natural resources after the massive 1969 oil spill in California.  During this time, vehicles were also sucking down massive consumptions of gas, air pollution was on an upward skew and the concept of global warming had sudden become a threat.  

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With the help of a Republican Congressman, Pete McClosky and a Harvard professor, Nelson was able to devise a team that would promote events around the country to peacefully protest the need to preserve our home.  For the first time in ages, both parties of government joined together as well as different diversities, ethnicities, religions and financial realms to serve a common purpose.  People from all over marched in the streets holding signs to advertise the need for new legislature, which would protect our natural environment.  The outcome was successful and led the way for “The Clean Air Act”, “Endangered Species Act” and “The Clean Water Act” to become legalized.  Although there is still much work to do, every year Earth Day participants seek to push this important initiative and show their love for our planet.


If you’re not up for joining a demonstration but want to celebrate Earth Day just the same, there are plenty of fun ways to do it!  The most common activity is to plant a tree, which helps cultivate new wildlife, vegetation and better air quality.  You can also start a garden and include flowers that attract bees or make “seed bombs” and disperse them around your yard.  For those who don’t have a green thumb, there are several other options to support the holiday, which can simply mean fixing leaky faucets around the house, starting a compost collection or recycling paper products and tin cans.  Forgoing driving and walking or biking for the day will also raise awareness as well as swapping your electric phone chargers for solar powered units.  Become smarter buying groceries, build a birdhouse and simply picking up litter you see on the ground are also easy ways to get involved.

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Families should keep in mind the spirit of Earth Day by teaching their children the concerns facing our home and how we can all do our part to implement solutions!  April 22nd is all about educating one another about the importance of our environment and one easy way to accomplish this is by spending time in the outdoors.  Go for a hike or a walk in the woods and expose your kids to the beautiful natural wonders that surround us everyday!

Tags: Earth Day, hiking, Trees, Nature, Outdoor Living, Seeds

Seedling Discovery - Grow Something

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Mar 10, 2017

Pre-spring preparations can be well underway and you don’t need to be outside to do it.  Certain seedlings can be grown right inside your home as long as you choose the right varieties and materials to support your green thumb efforts.  If you have kids, they’ll love this project since it will give them something to look forward to when the boredom of being locked inside gets the best of them.  


Follow these easy set up directions and begin sprouting your spring garden while the snow is still spread across the ground!

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When To Start:

This is a tricky question because the answer varies depending on the type of plant you’re wishing to grow.  For vegetables that take a really long time to mature such as peppers and tomatoes, you might want to begin at the middle to end of March.  For flowers such as morning glories that need less time to foster, try planting them in starter soil at the end of May to early June.  A good tip is to be sure to read the back of the seed packets for further information that will help you make the right timing decision.


What You’ll Need:

The best part of this project is that you need very few materials, which is both cost effective and convenient.  Grab these items at your local Home Depot or for those who are wise, dig them out of your potting shed to reuse from last year.


  1. A bag of soil
  2. Pots or starter seedling kits
  3. Seed packets
  4. Water
  5. A sunny window

How to Start:

  1. Place a seed in an inch and a half of dirt and make sure it is well covered with soil.
  2. Sprinkle the container with a small amount of water and be sure not to flood the pot.  They are only seedlings so it is very easy to over water and drown them out.
  3. Put the seedling next to a sunny window that allows ample light for growth potential.  Be sure that there is also enough heat and avoid areas with chilly drafts.  

Tags: Seeds, Garden, Gardening, Vegetable Garden

Holiday Gifts That Keep on Giving

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Dec 09, 2016

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “the gift that keeps on giving,” a million times before, particularly during the holidays.  You might even associate the term with cruddy presents like “cheese of the month club” and dread even the quickest notion of receiving one for yourself.  The funny thing is, this type of gesture is making a huge comeback this Christmas and with good reason why.  Instead of getting a year supply of dairy, clever givers are finding ways to make their gifts meaningful in the sense that they continue their value far after the season has ended.  Immediately gratifying trinkets such as sweaters, scratch tickets or bottles of wine are being replaced with longer lasting impressionistic expressions such as hand made items and thoughtful activities.  People can only have just so much “stuff” so many are welcoming this heartfelt trend and hoping to find other unique ideas to gift.  

 

Sometimes the thinking behind this notion is harder than the actual packaging.  We may become consumed and wrapped up with a concept that is overly complicated instead of putting thoughts into simpler terms.  You don’t have to be over the top with expensive presents or tokens either, so presents should reflect thoughtfulness instead of cost.  In an effort to pass along this wonderful way to show someone you care, here are a few great options that may fit perfectly underneath your tree this season…

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A Beloved Family Recipe

If you know of someone who loves to cook (or loves to eat) give him/her a framed copy of a special recipe you know they like!  Maybe Grandma Ester left notes on how to bake the perfect ginger snap cookie or perhaps Uncle Fred bequeathed his famous clam chowder recipe to you?  These are the dishes that are meaningful to gift upon someone who shares the same passion for cuisine and if you’re lucky, they might even give you a taste when they’ve tried it out.

Seeds

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I’m actually using this one for my mom who adores gardening as much as I do!  Although you’ll have to start collecting seeds from pods during the months of July and August, you’re efforts will be duly noted when your flowers bloom in their garden for years to come.  

 

A Coupon Book

Get a few pieces of paper, staple them together and make your own coupons that they can use whenever wanted or needed!  Create tickets that reflect the appropriateness of the relationship such as “1 Kiss” for your romantic interest and “1 Load of Laundry” for your parents.  Be careful not to mix them up because things could get a little uncomfortable if the wrong person receives the wrong coupon book!

 

Museum Membership

Sometimes the best present given are an activity like visiting the aquarium, zoo or a museum.  Memberships are an excellent way to give a gift that keeps on giving and they will long be thanking you throughout the entire year.

Tags: Christmas, Gifts, Holidays, Seeds, Museums

Easy Steps to Shape Up Your Garden for the Summer Season

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Jun 15, 2016

Sometimes a garden can look pretty bleak when we begin to prepare for the summer season.  There is no color, the soil looks as if its evaporated into thin air and the idea of ever seeing beautiful plants once again flourish seems like an impossibility.  We all go through this in one way or another because if you’re a true New England gardener, you know that the winter is brutal on our beloved flower and vegetable beds.  It will take a little time to get things back into tip top shape but I assure you, the task doesn’t have to be as taxing as we make it out to be.  There are many ways that we can get the job done without having to spend months of our time breaking our backs or emptying our wallets.  This is a list of several tips that will get your green thumb growing in no time so you can spend your summer days doing exactly what you want to do, playing in your gardens!

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Tips to Shape Up Summer Gardens Fast


  1. You don’t always have to replace emptied raised beds with a ton of extra soil.  Sometimes the earth just needs a good toss and till to infuse the dirt with life after the colder months have past by.  Often freezing occurs which tricks the landscape into lying lower than it really is so pick up a shovel and do a little digging before you haul heavy bags of soil all over your lawn.

  1. Buy your seeds in advance from places like local hardware stores, Home Depot and Job Lot who often cut the prices once the summer has ended.  You’ll be able to stock up early as well as save a pretty penny on all the deals that you’ll find.  
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  1. Save old sheets and other fabric material that can be reused for purposes such as weed coverage or netting.  Many varieties of plants need extra protection from unwanted animals and bugs and these items are extremely helpful.  Labeled netting is often expensive and the supplies you may already have at home work just as well if not better so rummage through closets before you decide to buy anything.

  1. Save yourself the frustration of having to decipher what plant remnants are annuals and which are perennials by yanking out annuals as soon as the time has come to shut down your garden.  It can be wasteful when you discard plants that are able to bloom again if only given the time to rejuvenate.  If you really want to be economical, replant the annuals inside and see if you can weather them until the next summer!   This is how many of the pros do it and how many plant heirlooms are passed down through generations of family.  

Tags: Gardening, Plant Care, Outdoor Living, Seeds, Gardens

Early Seedling Starters

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Mar 11, 2016

I don’t know about you, but I’m already getting the itch to start my indoor seedlings even though there’s still snow falling on the ground!  For many New Englanders, this is a common frustration since we know that planting too early in the spring season will not cultivate a healthy crop once it is transferred outdoors.  Plants like tomatoes, cucumbers and peas are perfectly ok but for other species, it can be a problem.  While the average time to begin this process is usually the middle of April, you’ll be glad to know that there are actually a few varieties of vegetables that will do just fine if not benefit from a March potting.  Usually, these types are typically those that take a prolonged period of time to get going, which is an important variable to learn about when selecting your seeds.  Since we must keep in mind the temperature constraints of our climate having such a short summer season compared to other southern states, veggies that take four to five months to mature with fruit almost have to be planted indoors way before the normal gardening season.  Fussy produce such as peppers, corn, cauliflower, celery, garlic, onions and eggplant can be challenging for Boston green thumbs so getting a jump on these before April will be helpful.

And why not?  It only takes a few basic things to get started!  

All you have to do is find a warm and sunny area of your home and set up camp!  Select your seeds from either a catalog or store and then grab an empty egg carton or potato chip container.  They might not seem like it but they are excellent for nurturing organic soil because both materials encourage growth and moisture.  Finding a radiator in close proximity will also give your seeds a nice little push as well since an added bit of heat can trick the seeds into thinking it’s summer.  Water as needed and let them do their own thing on their own time until the stems are at least two to three inches in height.  When they get that big, they are ready to be transplanted into your garden.  That is, if the earth has warmed enough to be adequate for growing.  If the ground is still frozen, you’ll have to wait a bit longer but don’t worry because the seedlings will do just fine inside.  

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Tags: Gardening, Seeds, Vegetable Garden, Garden Calendar, Garden, March

Best Containers to Start Your Seedlings

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Feb 19, 2016

I know it seems a little early but even in New England we can get a jump-start on the growing season.  Pay no attention to the ice and snow on the ground and get your green thumbs ready to begin planning your gardens now!  You don’t need a greenhouse or any other expensive contraption, either.  All you need is some things found right around your home, a few packets of seeds and the right warm and sunny window to get things blooming.  With a few tips on which material is the best to use, you’ll have a fabulous and bountiful collection of fruits, veggies and flowers to transplant as soon as the earth thaws later this spring.  So don’t get discouraged if you see yet another blizzard coming our way on the news, by following these guidelines you’ll be able to salvage your love of gardening all year round.

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Seeds

The truth is, you can plant whatever you want and at least one seed should spring up through the soil eventually.  While this is true, for those who are determined to grow hearty species for their summer gardens, there are a few species that will do better than others when potted indoors.  The later you begin potting during the winter season, the more options you have but in case you want to get cracking now, here are the seeds that I suggest.

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photo credit: hgtv.com

Potting Material

You’re going to hear a lot about what certain specialists deem are the best materials to plant seedlings but in general, you have a ton of options available.  Most of these containers you can find around your house or garage so don’t go nuts buying expensive seed sets which are the same if not inferior to what you already own.  Using everything from recyclables to empty fruit rinds, you’ll be amazed what works as a beneficial nutrient supplier to your seedlings.

 



Tags: Gardening, winter, Seeds, Garden

Best Seeds to Grow Indoors Over the Winter

Posted by Suzie Canale on Sat, Nov 28, 2015

It’s getting chilly outside and for most of us avid gardeners; we’re a little depressed over our season coming to end.  The leaves are falling from the trees, the flowers have died back and we know all to well that snowflakes will begin to fall very soon.  

 

But is that any reason to put away our “Green Thumbs” until next spring?  Heck No!

 

There is plenty to do while the forecast turns dismal, many of which we can do right in our homes!  Just because our backyards will be off limits for months, doesn’t mean that a windowsill in our kitchen or living room won’t provide the perfect space for a new garden to flourish!  True, you’ll need the right amount of warm light, potting soil and adequate containers to grow your fruits, flowers and vegetables but its all possible if you select the right varieties.  Some types of plants just don’t do well inside, so it’s important to recognize these in advance and select other options that will otherwise benefit from being placed in this specific environment.  Order online or visit your local garden center to pick up these seeds to harvest (promising to live well with the proper care) in your house this winter!


Avocados

These fruits are great to grow during the colder season because all you need to start is the pit of an old avocado.  Cut the pit open and place toothpicks through the center, placing over a bowl of water.  Once sprouts begin to grow, place in a pot with a sunny view.  Make sure the planter is well drained and add a little sand to the soil to cultivate a healthy root system.  


Potatoes

Grab your old spuds and place them in a bin full of well-drained soil.  When you see their “eyes” peek above ground level, a plant will soon emerge, which is fun in itself to watch grow.  Once the plants are about a foot tall and their white flowers have died back, its time to go digging!  You’ll love their fresh taste and the fact that they long outlive your groceries store’s selection.  


Lettuce

Lettuce is quick and virtually effortless to grow when you have a well-lit area and a soil rich in compost. Select a hardy variety such as red or Boston lettuce and watch them sprout almost as quickly as you planted the seeds.  This veggie is perfect for salads or to simply brighten up a room!

 

Carrots

These are so much fun to watch grow and easy, too!  Make sure you plant the seeds in a container at least a foot and a half deep to ensure a healthy veggie size. They love to be regularly watered and are ready to be plucked free from the earth when they are ¾ inches in width across the top.  


Petunias

There’s a reason why petunias are the first flowers to arrive in the markets once the spring comes around and that’s because they are easy-peasy to grow in colder temperatures.  Find an area of your home that produces a lot of sunlight and water the plantings regularly.  Pretty soon you’ll find you have a beautifully colored flower garden all to yourself!



Tags: Gardening, winter, Seeds, Vegetable Garden, Garden Calendar

Beautiful Varieties of New England Sunflowers

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Jul 22, 2015

Nothing says a New England summer than a beautiful patch of native flowers!  Hollyhock, hydrangea, garden roses, lavender, veronica, Black Eyed Susan and rudbeckia are all regional varieties that we look forward to once July and August roll around.  One of the most popular species grown in and outside of the Boston area is the sunflower, which has become symbolic to the east coast growing season.  With hybrids ranging from gold to red, this happy bloom is now available in a multitude of different colors, sizes and textures.  Don’t just settle for the customary yellow face because agriculturalists are now ready to wow you with more options to load your backyard with.  Here are a few of my favorites that I’ve found to be both decadent and original to traditional species.  


Chianti Hybrid


This little beauty is crimson, resembling the shade of Chianti wine (hence the name) and contains little gold flex around the center of the head.  The leaves tend to be dark green and the stem will reach an estimated 4 to 5 feet in length.  This flower does not produce pollen so Boston florists will love this “shed free” feature of the plant.  



Firecracker


Although this sunflower only grows around 4 feet tall, the burst of color is simply spectacular!  Resembling the presentation of firecrackers (again, hence the name) deep yellow tint surrounds a bright red that encircles the center.  Another bonus of this beautiful variety is that it tends to bloom faster than others and does well if grown in small pots indoors before the garden is even ready to be filled.



Mammoth Russian


If you really want to grow something spectacular this summer, try seeding a giant “Mammoth Russian Sunflower”- you won’t be disappointed.  This type can climb over 16 feet in height and have a head reaching more than 12 inches in diameter.  They usually color in traditional shades of light yellow and gold but trust me, there’s nothing common about this “mammoth” plant.  For those who enjoy eating the seeds, this variety happens to have delicious edibles as well to snack on.

Tags: Gardening, Flowers, Seeds, Sunflowers

Which Seeds Sprout the Fastest?

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, May 29, 2015

 

If you’re like me, you’re starting to spend lots and lots of time in the garden preparing beds, tilling the soil and planting the flowers and vegetables.  Although garden centers carry most of the traditionally “high in demand” products, using seeds instead of pre-grown crops can be extremely beneficial in several ways.  For one thing, there’s a lot less space being taken up in manufactured green houses saving time and energy driven from heating and packaging needs.  Breakage of roots, stems and leaves also decreases when you use seeds because you are eliminating the step of having to replant the specimen a second time in your beds.  But if you really want to be convinced, check out the money you’ll save when buying packages from Burpee, Park or Territorial seed companies and compare the prices.  Customers who invest in this method of growing save anywhere from fifty to seventy five percent allowing them to add an extensive amount of cultivated vegetation instead of the standard six pack. 

 

Now that I’ve got your attention, you may be asking what type of seeds should I buy that will spring up quickly once planted?

 

Cucumbers

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Protruding from the earth within weeks of planting, cucumbers are a lot of fun because they root quickly and can be started indoors while its still cool outside. Once the shoot rises from the soil, you will notice it begins as two flat leaves extending from a single stem.

The veggies grow on a vine that is dark green and forms yellow flowers signaling a fruit is ready to be produced.

 

 

 

Beans

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Green beans, yellow beans-both are quite impressive with their ability to mature at a rapid pace.  Plats climb to extraordinary heights if a bean trellis is implemented near their base.  Their tendrils will naturally climb the posts, extending themselves to be able to reap maximum amount of beans. These are really neat to watch grow because they are elaborate in their structure resembling small tress.

 

 

 

 

Peas

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Another intriguing seed to plant are peas, which are perfect for kids because they’re a fast breeder and beautiful to watch open with curled leaves and spiraled tendrils.  This is another great vegetable to utilize trellises with and you can even create some pretty cool structures like teepees and extended walls.

 The seeds packets themselves are keepsakes that gardeners collect like baseball cards. Each one has character and distinct identity.

Tags: Gardening, Gardening in Boston, Outdoor Living, Seeds, Vegetable Garden

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