Archive for the ‘Resources’ Category

Handmade Garden Projects
Andrea Bellamy |

handmade garden projects

I’m happy to be taking part in a virtual book tour for Handmade Garden Projects, a new book from Timber Press and author Lorene Edwards Forkner.

I had the opportunity to meet Lorene and tour her wonderful Seattle garden last summer, and I was thrilled to see many snippets of Lorene’s very personal and whimsical garden appear in the pages of Handmade Garden Projects.

Lorene Edwards Forker's Lil Loafer

Lorene Edwards Forker’s Lil Loafer hideaway/garden folly – love this idea!

Lorene’s garden isn’t perfect—and I’d argue that any garden that can be described as such is therefore disqualified, anyway—but it has HEART. It’s full of charm and wit. Truly! It’s a witty garden, full of Lorene’s bubbly personality. I’m happy to report that her latest book is just the same: charming, effervescent, and yet, practical.

I’ll admit I opened the book with a bit of fear. Garden project books are often so same-old, same-old. Same projects, same approach. I needn’t have worried.

gabion-style coffee table from Handmade Garden Projects
Lorene’s garden boasts this gabion-style coffee table. Handmade Garden Projects teaches you how to make your own.

What I love about these projects is that they’re so varied. There are projects, like a nail-head totem, that can be whipped up in minutes, and those, like a gabion-style coffee table, that you’ll complete over a weekend. Some, like the scrap metal window ledge, convey industrial charm, others, like the sleek succulent gutter, are well, sleek and modern.

Succulent gutter in garden of Lorene Edwards Forkner. Photo by Allan Mandell
Sleek succulent gutter in the garden of Lorene Edwards Forkner. Photo by Allan Mandell.

I also love that the instructions are so simple, and so easy to follow. But what makes this an extra-special project book is Lorene’s wonderful perspective on her subject. She lives this stuff, and has the garden to prove it. It’s an inspiration to someone like me, who often overlooks the impact that simple, personal touches can have on a landscape. Handmade Garden Projects is the perfect reminder.

Scrap metal shelf. Photo by Allan Mandell.
Lorene’s garden is full of quirky touches, like this scrap metal shelf. Photo by Allan Mandell.

Want a copy? Timber Press is generously offering one lucky reader a copy of Handmade Garden Projects. Just leave a comment – by midnight PST on May 21 – telling me if you have any projects planned for your garden this year. I’ll select a random winner.

Check out what some of the other bloggers participating in this book tour are saying (You have to check out Helen at Toronto Gardens’ post on making Lorene’s amazing tap-on canning jar lanterns. So pretty!):

Amateur Bot-ann-ist
Rock Rose
Growing a Garden in Davis
Bonney Lassie
Houston Garden Girl
Bumblebee Blog
The Bicycle Garden
Our Little Acre
Common Weeder
Debra Prinzing

Also, you should check out Lorene’s lovely blog, Planted at Home.

UPDATE: We have a winner! Commenter #23 – Shannon – was chosen by Shannon, I’ll be in touch to arrange delivery of your new book!


How to make a DIY seed packet

If you’ve ever wanted to save seeds from your garden for next year, now’s the time. Many vegetable, flower, and herb seeds are easy to save, and they make great gifts when packaged up in a pretty little seed packet. Here’s how:

Step one: Collect seed heads or pods from the plants you wish to save. Choose the healthiest and heartiest of your plants; no point in perpetuating a dud! Poppies, calendula, nigella, beans, peas, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, dill, and cilantro all have easy-to-save seeds.

Step two: Download a free, pretty seed packet template, like the one on my freebies page, print it out (plain ol’ 8.5″ x 11″ printer paper is fine), and cut along the solid lines.

Step three: Fold along the dotted lines and get out your glue stick. Glue all but the top flap.

Step four: Write the seed info on the packet. Sort your seeds on a piece of paper, removing any debris. Use the paper to create a funnel and tip the seeds into the packet.

Step five: Seal the packet and store in a cool, dry place. Or give as a gift. Ta da!


Free seed starting and succession planting tools

Sugar Snaps screenshot

Normally by this time of year I’d have seedlings sprouting underneath florescent tube lights, and early crops like peas, broad beans, and radishes already tucked into the cool earth. This year, I’m sorry to say, I haven’t ventured into the garden except to refill the bird feeder or hurriedly clip some thyme. Instead, I’ve been busy thinking about gardening, and preparing to talk about gardening at various upcoming events relating to Sugar Snaps and Strawberries. That’s right: I’m going on a book tour! I’ll be in Vancouver, Victoria, Seattle, Portland, Eugene, San Francisco, and Los Angeles over the next few months, so come out and say “hi!” [Check out my events schedule for details. Some dates/cities still TBD.]

But in the meantime, have you started your spring garden planning yet? If not, check out these nifty planning tools on the lovely new site created for all things Sugar Snaps and Strawberries: a seed starting planning chart and a planting planning (or succession planning) chart for you to download, free! There’s also a pretty seed packet pattern for you to use later in the season.

Need some guidance on spring garden planning? Check out this post about how went from slacker to serious planner.


Put ’em Up: a book review
Andrea Bellamy |

Put 'em Up book cover

It was midsummer. Both my garden and local farmer’s markets were overflowing with succulent fruits and vegetables. Yet even as I enjoyed the bounty of the season, I felt anxious. How many more days would we have together? The peaches would be done in a week. The cherries were already long gone. And in a month, I’d be back at the supermarket grudgingly buying hothouse tomatoes. The answer, I felt, was in food preservation. Canning would allow me to cling to summer, to stretch out that all-too-brief period of riotous plenty.

I wasn’t alone in this belief, of course. If the recent surge in new books, websites, workshops and tweets related to food preservation is any indication, canning (and pickling, freezing, and drying) is hot. You might say food preserving is the new gardening. The trouble, of course, was that I didn’t actually know how to can food. Well, that’s not entirely true. Starting when I was pregnant with Lila, I’ve made a couple batches of jam every year (quince, strawberry, green tomato-raspberry). But preserving something other than a sugary fruit slurry was intimidating. Any fool could make jam, I thought, but canned peaches seemed complicated (spoiler: I needn’t have worried).

Enter Put ’em Up: A Comprehensive Home Preserving Guide for the Creative Cook, from Drying and Freezing to Canning and Pickling by Sherri Brooks Vinton (Storey, 2010). Aimed at folks like me—the locavores, the food gardeners, the foodies, the crafters, the DIY set—Put ’em Up (the title nods to “putting up” or preserving food) is an accessible, thorough guide to preserving the harvest.

The book is divided into two parts. The first covers food preparation and preservation techniques with clear, easy-to-follow instructions and illustrations. The second provides over 150 recipes, organized alphabetically by edible—from apples to watermelon. (Faced with a flat of quickly-withering blueberries, I loved being able to flip to the Bs and find a half-dozen simple recipes.) The book covers all the basics—and then some—in both sections. Recipes range from classic (strawberry jam, bread and butter pickles) to adventurous (berry-spiked bourbon, wasabi beans).

Author and real food advocate Sherri Brooks Vinton writes with a casual, straightforward tone instills confidence and inspires you to drop everything and make a batch of kimchi. With this book in hand, I’ve canned peaches (so not difficult), oven-dried tomatoes, and made blueberry fruit leather. And I can’t wait to keep going.


Keep off the grass

Stumbled upon a cool site today that aims to help people beat their lawn addiction. Need a reason to kick the habit?
Here are a few good ones.

Ready to commit? Less Lawn can help you do it, either in baby steps or whole hog. There are lots of great articles – from methods of lawn reduction to low-maintenance lawn replacements.




Treehugger’s How To Go Green Guides (comprehensive how-tos on everything from greening your dishwasher to your sex life) have a new chapter: How to Green your Gardening. I’m so glad to see this great green site spreading the green gardening gospel. While their Top 10 Tips aren’t anything new for old-hat organic gardeners, I’ll be sending it to my new-gardener friends and keeping myself busy with their list of links. And they’re showing Heavy Petal some love, too. Aawww!

Thanks Treehugger.


Design assistant


It’s another soggy day here in Vancouver, and because the weather report tells me I won’t be spending any time in my garden this weekend, I’m substituting actual gardening with the online version of a garden tour. I’m talking about Design Assistant, from

It features all kinds of interior and outdoor rooms and treatments from various magazines (Sunset, Southern Accents, Coastal Living, etc.) that you can sort according to various categories. For example, I liked the garden shown above, so went to “browse for similar” and clicked on Outdoor Areas – Contemporary and found a slew of interesting designs. Each featured garden has a how-to area, so if the garden has a gravel patio, for example, and you want to know how to recreate that look, Design Assistant will lead you to an appropriate source.

Be prepared to spend many hours here – it’s the perfect rainy day cure!

Photo by Thomas J. Story from Design Assistant.


Sharing is good

City Farmer recently announced Sharing Backyards in Greater Vancouver, a website that aims to bring together people looking for a space to garden with those who have under-used backyards and are willing to share.

Check it out.


Calling Canadian garden bloggers
Andrea Bellamy |

Stuart of Gardening Tips n’ Ideas has started a new Garden Blog Directory. So what, you say? There are more than a few directories out there already? True. But this one lets you search by region. Brilliant, I say.

So where are all the Canadians? I’m feeling a little bit lonely over here on the West Coast. Please, register today!


Good-for-the-earth gifts

While I stand by some of my choices from last year’s list of Best Gifts for Gardeners (I love my Lee Valley Seed Keeper, and you’d still get major Heavy Petal bonus points if you got me the Nature Mill indoor composter, for example), this year I’m trying to give people less stuff. More experiences, fewer tchotchkes – you know.

Anyway, that’s what I was thinking when Evergreen e-mailed me yesterday about their Lawn and Garden Smart Holiday promotion.

I’ve written about Evergreen before and think it’s just such a fabulous organization. So, if you’re buying for someone in the Greater Vancouver area, consider giving a gift certificate for an Evergreen Lawn and Garden Smart consultation. For only $75, a horticultural adviser will go to your lucky recipient’s home, assess their current yard care practices (covers waterwise gardening, composting, plant selection (focusing on native and drought resistant plants), natural lawn care, biological pest control and design tips). And that’s just the regular package.

As part of their holiday promotion clients will also receive a rain gauge, Evergreen gardening gloves, additional resources that compliment the consultation, and on-going support. So your giftees – and the earth – will be thanking you long after the holidays are over. And no need for re-gifting tacky knick-knacks.


Older Posts >>