Michelle Bodamer’s Garden

Photo by Michelle Bodamer

[Editor's note] I’m digging up (pardon the awful pun) our Garden Variety series which has been on the back-burner since late April of this year and starting anew, kicking things off again with photographer and marketing professional Michelle Bodamer‘s beautiful garden. You can also catch Michelle’s writings over on the art + community blog Handmade in PA.

Read on as Michelle shares photos and the story about how her garden came to be.

I’ve always marveled at gardeners and often wished I could become one myself.  Every spring I would think about learning how to start a garden but I never made the time.

When my grandmother passed away this past January I decided it was time to change my perspective and finally learn about growing flowers and vegetables. I discovered that it finally seemed possible and was more attainable than I originally thought! As someone who loves the outdoors I felt that taking the time to connect with nature through gardening would help me with the loss of my grandmother. The garden is brand new and it is our first year attempting to grow our own vegetables. My husband and I came up with a plan for the raised beds and I remember laughing as we rushed to finish them one early spring Saturday afternoon before a thunderstorm.

fruits and veggies from Michelle Bodamer's garden

I’m excited to share that so far this summer the garden has been amazing. My favorite time of the day is either first thing in the morning or right at sunset when the plants are bathed in breathtaking golden sunlight. We planned the garden for a small piece of land to the side of our home. This small space is a quiet spot between our property and our neighbors. As a photographer, I felt it was ideal for the eastern morning sunlight it would receive and the small glimpse of sunset from the west at the end of the day which makes the garden a fun subject for photographs. I can even enjoy the beauty of the garden from my kitchen window.

flowers from Michelle Bodamer's garden

Additionally, there are rewards I never could have expected from starting this project. Fragrant cut roses, flowers, and fresh picked vegetables feel like such an indulgence. Neighbors have come over with their children to check on the progress of our plants which has been a great conversation starter. We’ve enjoyed adding the vegetables to our meals and we feel that the garden is a bit of a secret place tucked away that we can enjoy at any time. We find happiness in tending to the plants and have learned so much in just a few short months. Our garden is currently growing cucumbers, tomatoes, flowers, watermelon, and hopefully pumpkins for autumn. The inspiration and happiness the garden has brought to my family has been immeasurable.

A big thanks to Michelle for sharing her garden with us. Be sure to visit Michelle’s blog where she’s been chronicling the growth of her garden.

About Donaville Herrick

Donaville is the Founder of Dearest Nature and also Co-Founder and Creative Director of Hello Hello Hi. When visions of nature and web design aren't dancing in her head, she enjoys spending time with her three munchkins, baking cupcakes, and trying her hand at various crafts. Follow her on Twitter to stay updated with her day-to-day musings.

Duo of Planting Ideas for Tin Cans

Photo by Amy Renea

Anybody have tin cans in the pantry? Of course you do! I would be hard-pressed to find an American without a few tins cans hanging out in the pantry. From canned soups to vegetables to condiments, cans are a ubiquotous symbol of our American eating. Sadly, the tin can is also found hanging out at trash dumps far too often. Of course, recycling cans is one option, but there is still quite a bit of energy in the recycling truck’s trip to your house to pick upt he can, the sorting and melting of the can itself and the creation of a new tin can.

tin can gardening / photo by Amy ReneaInstead of throwing them out, consider cleaning up those cans and giving them new life as plant receptacles.

There are so many ways to repurpose tin cans that they received their very own pin board in my pinterest collection. From wind socks to candles to a xylophone and bird house, tin cans can be reworked into a variety of ways.

For my planter, I took 5 cans in various sizes, painted them with an exterior, construction grade hot pink and planted them with bleeding heart cuttings.

 

You must either poke drainage holes in the bottom of tin cans or be very light in your watering habits!

Another planter in my houses involves cans in a more horizontal shape. This shoji screen turned planter includes chickens and tuna cans planted out with various succulents.

screen planter / photo by Amy Renea

Whatever your taste, there is certain to be a tin can that can be repurposed to make your life a little easier, your view a little prettier and the dump a little less full.  Take a few minutes to rethink those tuna cans and chicken noodle receptacles and create something grand!

About Amy Renea

Amy is a freelance photographer and writer based out of Hershey, PA. She spends her days chasing children and chickens around the back yard, sipping on dandelion tea and munching on sweet potato chips. Come visit the Nest for All Seasons to learn more about her food, photography, DIY designs and modern garden living!

Growing Lemons

Photo by Donaville Herrick

We’ve been living with relatives on the Mr.’s side for almost a year. We were living in northern Orange County and on the border of Los Angeles County for a little over a year throughout 2010 and 2011, but decided to move in with relatives to save up for our own home someday.

One of the things I love about their home is the huge backyard. There aren’t any neighbors directly behind the house and it faces the beautiful Saddleback Mountains and is within walking distance of the Cleveland National Forest (one of the largest forests in Southern California). In a lot of ways we’re kind of out in the boonies.

lemons shot by Donaville Herrick

In the backyard are a number of lemon trees that were rooted in the ground almost twenty years ago. They are currently in full bloom and ripe for the picking, so lately we’ve been drinking lemonade and infusing our dinners with lemon zest. The trees usually yield much more fruit than we can all eat and drink, so we usually give basketfuls to our family, friends, and neighbors. To my knowledge and experience, they’re the easiest tree to grow, requiring minimal upkeep.

About Donaville Herrick

Donaville is the Founder of Dearest Nature and also Co-Founder and Creative Director of Hello Hello Hi. When visions of nature and web design aren't dancing in her head, she enjoys spending time with her three munchkins, baking cupcakes, and trying her hand at various crafts. Follow her on Twitter to stay updated with her day-to-day musings.

Throwback to the ’70s | Purslane and Dish Gardens

Purslane photo by Amy Renea

Dearest Nature,

Thank you for purslane. Thank you for a weed that is everywhere you look (once you start looking) that tastes like lemons and limes and a little bit of pepper. Thank you offering up this delicious plant in zones where lemon trees won’t grow outdoors. Oh, and thanks for loading it with more omega 3′s than a cup of spinach.

Readers — meet purslane.

(If you would like the full nutrition workup on purslane, just click here.)

This little plant is probably growing in your backyard. Look in cracks in the driveway or in your potting soil from last year. The seeds are notorious for getting in there. (Good for them! They have spunk!) The plant rips out easily as a weed, but beware … when you rip out purslane it goes into survival mode. For a plant, that means make seed. Once you rip out that little weed, it will quickly make untold amounts of seed and propagate itself all over your garden. That in itself is not a terrible thing if you learn how to harvest and eat it. Just beware — yes?

I grow purslane in dish gardens. In a throwback to the ways of the ’70s, dish gardens are simply miniature gardens in a dish. Simple, yes? The real catch to a successful dish garden is to NOT overwater the plants. The water cannot drain and the only escape is evaporation, so water lightly and only as needed.

purslane

To propagate purslane, simply cut or pull off a stem 1″-3″ long and push the broken stem into the soil. Watch and wait and you will soon have another purslane plant.

To harvest purslane, pinch the leaves where they meet the stem with your fingertips. Once you get a feel for how the little succulent leaves snap off, you can simply run your fingernail along the stem and take off the leaves from an entire stem (similar to harvesting thyme).

purslane

When you are preparing to eat purslane, make sure you have the right plant! Purslane has a succulent red stem and little paddle shaped leaves. It looks somewhat like euphorbias which harbor toxic “milk”, so again — beware. If you break the stem of purslane, a clear liquid will emerge. If the liquid is white, wash your hands (Euphorbia milk can cause a rash like Posion Ivy) and DO NOT eat it!

purslane and chive potato salad

When you do get the right plant, integrate it into any recipes where you want a little citrus kick. I chop it up and use it with fresh chives on my famous potato salad. Terrible for the hips, but divine on the lips!

About Amy Renea

Amy is a freelance photographer and writer based out of Hershey, PA. She spends her days chasing children and chickens around the back yard, sipping on dandelion tea and munching on sweet potato chips. Come visit the Nest for All Seasons to learn more about her food, photography, DIY designs and modern garden living!

Growing Up

Thigmotrope satellite fleet from Floral Grubb

For of any of you interested in adding architectural appeal with plants, I suggest growing a vertical garden. It’s something I’d like to introduce into my home one day, though not for a few more years down the road because like the magnetic wallpaper I discussed this past week, it might invite my little dearests to climb the walls!

I’m loving these vertical gardens from Flora Grubb:

vertical gardens from Flora Grubb

I have my eye on the grape wood tillandsias because they require minimal upkeep (a good misting with water every couple of weeks) and they don’t depend on soil to grow. No messes! That sounds perfect for indoors.

What’s your favorite?

About Donaville Herrick

Donaville is the Founder of Dearest Nature and also Co-Founder and Creative Director of Hello Hello Hi. When visions of nature and web design aren't dancing in her head, she enjoys spending time with her three munchkins, baking cupcakes, and trying her hand at various crafts. Follow her on Twitter to stay updated with her day-to-day musings.