Tag Archives: Landscaping

Lest you think I’ve fallen off the face of the Earth, here’s another great DIY project (a nice way to add some water to the landscape as well).

Hip House Girl

We made this:

Well okay, we didn’t throw that pot. I just mean that we made this pot into a fountain. It’s a little subtle and hard to tell from pictures, but the water bubbles up in the middle and runs down the sides. It makes quite a pleasant noise. I’ll show you how to make one too, if you want.


  • Ceramic pot of your liking (base of pot must be smaller than the diameter of a 5-gallon bucket)
  • 5-gallon bucket (we used plastic but are now thinking a metal one would be better)
  • Aluminum L-brackets
  • Screen material cut about 4-5 inches bigger than a 5-gallon bucket, and with a hole in the middle
  • Submersible pump
  • The kind of hose that goes with a submersible pump (technical term). It’s sold right next to the submersible pumps.

Step one: find an ugly spot in your yard that needs some beautification…

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Holy Jurassic Suburban Jungle Batman…

Okay so technically I should have referenced the Carboniferous Period, but somehow I can’t imagine Robin saying “Carboniferous Period”. Anyway, I’m back!

We had a lovely holiday. We were away for a week taking in some of the sites of the Texas panhandle (yes there are some) and the high desert mountains of New Mexico. I’m in love with New Mexico, I completely understand why they call it “The Land of Enchantment”, and I’m convinced that (as long as you stay away from the chains) you can’t get a bad meal there… but I’m skipping ahead of myself.

We began our trip by heading to Canyon, Texas to visit Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the United States, with a fascinating history. According to the Handbook of Texas Online:

“The Spanish name Palo Duro means “hardwood” and refers to the hardwood shrubs and trees found in the canyon. Palo Duro Canyon was carved into the eastern Caprock escarpment of the High Plains … by the headwaters of the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River and by attendant weathering. The head of the canyon lies fifteen miles southeast of Amarillo in Randall County, and the canyon extends sixty miles southeast through Armstrong County and into Briscoe County. It reaches depths of 800 feet from rim to floor (approximately 3,500 feet to 2,400 feet above sea level) and average widths of more than six miles. The steep sides of Palo Duro Canyon consist of bright, banded layers of orange, red, brown, yellow, grey, maroon, and white rocks that represent four different geologic periods and a time span of more than 240 million years …  Adding to the canyon’s scenic grandeur are numerous pinnacles, buttes, and mesas, each protected by a cap of erosion-resistant sandstone or other rock. The natural vegetation of the canyon consists of a variety of grasses and other xerophytic vegetation such as prickly pear, yucca, mesquite, and juniper. Cottonwood, willow, and salt cedar grow along the banks of Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River.

Because of the availability of wood, water, game, edible wild plants, raw materials for weapons and tools, and shelter from harsh winter winds, Palo Duro Canyon was a favorite camp site for both prehistoric peoples and later Indian tribes. The first known inhabitants, who date from the period between 10,000 and 5,000 B.C. were big-game hunters of now-extinct giant bison and mammoths …

The first Europeans to see Palo Duro Canyon were probably the members of the Coronado expedition, who may have camped and rested there in the late spring of 1541 while searching for Quivira and the treasures it reputedly contained. The region was occupied at that time by bands of pre-horse-culture Apache Indians who depended heavily on buffalo for food, clothing, and shelter. In the eighteenth century, after the Plains Indians had acquired horses, the canyon became a major campground of the Comanches and Kiowas. Traders from New Mexico called Comancheros frequently came to Palo Duro to trade with the Indians. The first Anglo-Americans to explore Palo Duro Canyon were members of Capt. Randolph B. Marcy‘s 1852 expedition in search of the sources of the Red River … In 1876 a group of army engineers, teamsters, and civilian draftsman was in the area to explore the headwaters of the Red River and conduct a topographic and scientific survey … That same year, Charles Goodnight drove a herd of cattle into Palo Duro Canyon to begin the first commercial ranch in the Panhandle, the JA.

Although the canyon remained the domain of the cattlemen for the next half century, it also became a popular picnicking and camping place for residents in the surrounding area. In 1933 the state of Texas purchased land in the upper canyon to establish Palo Duro Canyon State Scenic Park. Initial improvements, including construction of a road to the floor of the canyon, were made by the Civilian Conservation Corps under the direction of the National Park Service.”

Palo Duro Canyon

Palo Duro Canyon

Pod People in Palo Duro Canyon

Unfortunately we didn’t get to experience as much of the park as we would have liked because the April Fool’s Day temps in the canyon were 90+o (F) and there was a bike race on that made walking the nice, shaded river trail we found a little too exciting (I just can’t move out of the way that fast!). None of that will dissuade us from another visit though, plus I got a great little ethnobotany book while I was there.

After our canyon visit we spent a couple of days soaking our weary selves in the snowy New Mexican mountains before heading off to Santa Fe.

Near Ojo Caliente Hot Springs (New Mexico)

I won’t bore you with gushing on about how much I loved Santa Fe. Suffice it to say it was exactly what we needed. Especially since it apparently rained a bit and then got warm and sunny while we were gone, and this is the garden (err, jungle) I came back to.

I swear there is a veggie garden in there somewhere

I think it’s fair to say “I’m in the weeds”. And I’m not even showing you my lower growing beds (primarily because I need to excavate from under building debris that has been “stored” on them before I can call them growing beds again). Oh well, no rest for the wicked and more fodder for the blog (pun intended but you’ll have to wait for the next post to see why). If you don’t hear from me in a couple of days please send out the search party.

No more pencils, no more books, no more…

So it’s another grey, chilly, rainy day in these parts. Don’t get me wrong I’m not complaining, we need the rain and I’m not quite ready for the “heat” just yet, but for some reason days like today seem to zap me of any ambition to get up and out and do things. When I’m in these moods one of my favorite ways of procrastinating is to read (I think I’ve got myself convinced that it’s not really procrastinating if I’m working my mind) and every once in a while it turns into a productive endeavor of its own – like today!

In my mental bumbling about this morning I came across Horticulture Magazine’s  Garden How-To University and I know that I’ve mentioned Cornell University’s online Horticultural distance learning courses. I have no doubt that both of these courses are well worth the time and money but, the thing is, I’m sure for many of us spending the money for these courses just isn’t an option. So what’s the alternative? Sure there and books, magazines, text books, etc., but if you’re anything like me every now and then you like to take a class. And then it hit me — all the great “classes” I’ve taken for free through the power of the internet.

Now my first “go to” place is iTunes U, where you can find such courses as:

“Plant Growth and Development” by John Harada of UC Davis
“Southwest Yard and Garden Series” by New Mexico Stanten University
“Southwest Home Horticulture” by Urban Horticulture, College of Technology and Innovation, Arizona State University

I also subscribe to a number of podcasts that, although not “course based”, I find educational. These include:

Paul Wheaton’s Permaculture Podcast
You Bet Your Garden
The Self-Sufficient Gardener
The gardening and permaculture episodes on The Survival Podcast
Growing Your Grub

Then there is YouTube:
Camarillo Gardens
Thrifty Gardener
The Permaculture Channel
Eat The Weeds
Midwest Permaculture

These are just a few of the many, many videos available.

Other resources I’ve found useful include:
The Victory Garden
The UK’s Open University, Open Learn
MIT’s OpenCourseWare
The Open Education Database lists several courses in Botany

Now if you would just like to sit down and read a book there are a number of them on my goodreads list that I recommend, and if you only have time to page through a magazine some of the ones I turn to are:

Texas Gardener
Horticulture Magazine
Fine Gardening
Mother Earth News

If you’ve found any great resources, please let me know so that I can add it to the list.

Have a lovely day.

Won’t you be my neighbor … a guide to companion planting

Here is a great companion planting chart produced by the IDEP Foundation. It will work for everyone, but is designed with the permaculturalist in mind. The image will take you to a page where you can download the chart as a PDF. Please read the accompanying article as it is informative.

Cha-ching, Cha-ching

Seriously folks, it’s time for an intervention! I spent so much time out in the garden weeding, planting, and bumping seedlings into bigger pots over the past couple of days that I completely forgot I had paying work to do! And then the “I need more plants” bug bit and, well, I ordered MORE plants. For those of you who are still in the “I think I’d like a little garden” frame of mind, let this be a warning that “a little garden” is a gateway drug to full-blown gardening obsession and this is an example of your brain (and dwindling pocket-book) on gardening.

Plants are all so pretty though…here is some of what I got. These plants are all known to work in my local climate and soil conditions; the pictures represent examples of the types of plants I got but not necessarily the variety. The pictures link to a site called “my garden insider“, “a website dedicated to providing gardeners with information and inspiration on the activity of gardening.” I hope they inspire you.

Happy gardening!

Gifts for gardeners – to buy it or make it, that is the question.

Well it’s been quite a week for the pod people and cast of characters here on our little patch. In and amongst everything else we have going on here we’re renovating our lovely little circa 1955 bungalow (with help from a very strong supporting cast headed by my dad) and the latest project is a lovely big laundry room/mud room/dog room for moi (and obviously the dogs..). Given the house’s age and the fact that until not too long ago it was in the country so folks just added on rooms as and when required we’re always being greeted with “Surprise!” and it’s been a week of “Surprise!”

I’ve responded by hiding out in the greenhouse for the past few days and as far as “ignoring the problem” goes I’d say it’s a good strategy – I’ve now got ground cherries, eggplant, tomato and tomatillo seedlings poking their little heads out of their soil beds (I’m expecting to see peppers next week). And today, after an early morning trip to the dump to bury the unsalvageable surprises, I decided to go to the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo.

Here’s the thing though, all week I’ve been trying to write a post specifically about permaculture that would start tying all my posts together. For some reason though the post just won’t write itself, I guess I need to leave it simmering in the subconscious for a bit longer. So with a strong case of writers block re: permaculture I found myself thinking about Valentine ’s Day (which is funny because I’m not a chocolate and roses girl – or at least not a full price one – buy them for me at half price on the 15th and I’ll be just as happy) and that led to thinking about gifts for gardeners and that’s when lightning struck.

Now, I love Etsy! There is so much creativity displayed, so much inspiration, I’ve gotten some really lovely things from Etsy and I love that I’m supporting small businesses/artists. But if I bought everything on Etsy that captured my imagine “broke” wouldn’t even begin to describe the state of the piggy bank here at the Three Pea Homestead; and for some reason the animals get really grumpy at the idea of not being fed. So for those of you looking for something special for that special gardener in your life (and that includes you) I offer some buy it or make it ideas.

Click on to either the “buy it” or “make it” labels to link to either the item or instructions to make it.

(Disclaimer: please note, that these are just samples and there may be other places to buy the item or other ways of making it. Also I have no affiliation with any of these people – these are simply ideas for things that might make your favorite gardener smile.)

Mason Bee House: Mason Bees are fantastic garden helpers, although they do not produce honey they also don’t sting and they are prolific pollinators.

Buy It 1

Buy It 2

Make It

Toad House: Other great garden helpers your favorite gardener will be over joyed to see are frogs and toads. This article highlights their benefits, and how to attract them and house them in your garden.

Buy It

Make It

Mason Jar Bird Feeder

Buy It

Make It

Plant tags: Do I really need to say that a gardener never has enough plant tags?

Buy It 1

Buy It 2

Make It

The absolute easiest way I’ve learned to “make it” is to find some old vinyl blinds at a thrift store and cut them into 4 inch pieces, wrap a bundle of them up in a nice ribbon, throw in a colored grease pencil and you have a winner. Here are some other ideas:

Make It 1

Make It 2


Buy It

Make It

All I can say is “who knew chain-link fence could be so beautiful?”

This is just a very small sampling of “buy it or make it”, some other things to consider are: worm composters, compost tea brewers, humming bird feeders, compost bins, gourd bird houses, etc.

I hope this inspired you, wish me inspiration on that permaculture post. Until then, happy growing!

P.S. Speaking of supporting small businesses, I have another blatant plug for one of my dear friends, It’s a Buzz Boutique.  It’s a Buzz Boutique specializes in personalized products for toddlers and children. You can email them mailto:itsabuzzboutique@hotmail.com

This just in…

USDA Unveils New Plant Hardiness Zone Map