May 24, 2010

DIY Upside Down Vegetable Planter

It's no secret that this year I've gone a little gardening crazy.  It's my first year truly gardening so I've been testing out my green thumb by planting flowers and various edible plants.  I've especially been excited to plant bell peppers this year because of the crazy way I planted them: upside down!  (Don't worry; the plants are upside down, not me!)

Upside down gardening seems to have gotten popular with the introduction of the Topsy Turvey planters.  At first I thought they were just a late night infomercial gimmick, but after doing some research, I found a lot of up sides to upside down gardening!  Planting veggies upside down in containers saves space which is perfect if you have a small yard like me, or even only have a deck or balcony.  But upside down gardening is more than just a space saver, the upside down configuration is supposed to prevent weeds and provide the plants with more nutrients, water, sunlight, and air circulation.

Many fruits and vegetables can be planted upside down, tomatoes and strawberries seem to be the most popular, but I decided to try this system with yellow bell peppers:


However, the Topsy Turvey planter didn’t have the best reviews because the bags often rip, so I decided to make my own DIY upside down planter! I started off with a simple plastic hanging basket I already had on hand:


Then I cut a hole in the bottom of the planter for the pepper plant to grow through:


To prevent the plant and dirt from falling out of the hole in the bottom of the hanging basket, I cut a smaller hole in a plastic lid from a food container and used it to keep the pepper plant in place.  I cut a slit in the lid to carefully insert the pepper plant:



I then placed the pepper and plastic lid upside down into my hanging basket:


Next I covered the plant roots with dirt, just like any other potted plant:


At this point, I found another benefit of planting veggies upside down- you can hang them up high, out of the way of hungry four legged friends:


I topped the dirt with a little mulch to help keep in water (I bet some rocks on top would look pretty too), hung outside, and now have my very own diy upside down planter!

I've had the planter up for about a week and so far it seems to be doing well, but I'll keep everyone updated on how the upside down system works. How about you? Have you tried the Topsy Turvey, made your own DIY upside down planter, or have some other crazy way to plant veggies?

This project is shared on DIY Show Off, A Soft Place, Silly Little Sparrow, Reinvented, Today's Creative Blog; Between Naps on Porch, Persimmon Perch; stop by and see the other great featured projects!  This project has also been featured on Someday Crafts and Dollar Store Crafts!

May 12, 2010

Vegetable and Herb Garden Additions

This past weekend, Rob and I went to our local flea market to buy some more plants for our garden.  As I've mentioned before, this is my first year attempting to grow a flower and edible garden.  So far, I've planted a bunch of flower seeds (stay tuned for an update) and strawberries in a container garden. But after a trip to our farmer's market, I have flower, veggie, and herb additions to my garden.  
 For my vegetable garden, I picked up a red bell pepper plant, yellow bell pepper, and green beans.  I plan on planting one of the bell peppers in the ground and the other one in a container.  Stay tuned to see what type of container I use for my pepper plant, I'll be trying something different and interesting with it!  However, I haven't decided if I will plant the green beans in the ground or in a container yet.  It's been unseasonably cold here, so I'm waiting until the weather warms up to plant it either way.  Any recommendations on how to plant green beans?

In addition to the veggie plants, I also picked up a basil plant which I will plant outdoors in a container.  Basil was one of the few things I actually did grow last summer, but I'm hoping to grow a bigger plant this year by using a larger container outdoors.  So far, I've found that basil is very easy and yummy to grow.  I even grew a second basil plant indoors on my windowsill at work last year.  But basil isn't the only herb I hope to grow, I'd also like to plant cilantro, oregano, and mint.

At the market, I couldn't help but also pick up a few bright Celosia flower plants.  In my backyard patio area, I planted mostly perrenial flowers but I decided to buy these colorful annual flowers as well simply because they are so cool looking!  I think I will plant a portion in a container in my front yard and the rest in my back yard.

Now I just need the weather to warm back up so I can actually plant these babies outdoors.  The weather in my area has been in the 50s during the day and the 40s at night, very unseasonable considering it should be in the 70s in May.  While I wait for the weather to warm up, any tips or suggestions for growing any of my new plants?  What's growing in your garden this year?


This project is featured on Southern Daydreamer, stop by and check out the other great projects featured.

May 10, 2010

DIY Edible Fruit Arrangement Bouquet

I hope everyone had a great Mother's Day! This year, I wanted to make something for my Mom for Mother's Day so I tried my hand at making an edible fruit bouquet. A few months ago, someone in my office received an Edible Arrangement bouquet and since then I've been wanting to make my own DIY edible fruit bouquet. After doing some research online, I cooked up a fruit bouquet that my Mom loved. Of course, she's my Mom so she probably would have liked anything I made, but I really think it came out well! If you're interested in making your own, here's my DIY guide to making an edible fruit bouquet:


I started by buying a bunch of fresh fruit for the bouquet. I picked up a pineapple, cantaloupe, honeydew, strawberries, grapes, and apples. These seem to be the standards for edible bouquets, but you can customize them based the preferences of your recipient. I think the arrangements are usually made with Granny Smith apples, but I used McIntosh apples instead because they're my Mom's favorite. Believe it or not, I also needed a head of lettuce for this project.


In addition to the fruit, I bought wooden skewers (the ones I got were a little too long and I had to cut them shorter), cookie cutters (I used these metal Wilton ones that were strong and deep enough to cut through the fruit well), and a cute planter to put everything in. I've seen edible arrangements made with vases and baskets, but I used a cute coffee cup shaped planter for potted plants.


If you're wondering why I bought lettuce, it's because I used it as the base of my arrangement. I peeled a few layers of lettuce off until it fit snugly into my planter. The lettuce is used to hold the fruit skewers in place as the arrangement is put together.


Once the planter was ready, I prepared the fruit. To make the arrangement extra yummy, I dipped some of the fruit in chocolate. I dipped cut apples and other fruit into a bowl of melted chocolate chips and then placed it in the refrigerator to set. The chocolate ended up sticking pretty well to the fruit, but it would have probably worked better if I dried off the fruit and then chilled it prior to dipping in chocolate.


Then I cut up the pineapple into circles. I simply twisted off the top of the pineapple, cut off the ends, and then made round slices. This worked out great because I didn't have to hassle with cutting the skin off the pineapple which I hate doing.


Once it was sliced, I used the cookie cutters to create cute flower shapes.


Each slice made about one flower cut-out, but on some of the slices I was able to use the cookie cutter off-center and use the rest of the slice to make half of a cut-out. All together, the pineapple made about 9-15 cut-outs which was not a lot, but enough for the bouquet:


I also cut about 3/4 of a cantaloupe and half of a honeydew into wedge segments.


Once all of the fruit was cut, I started arranging the fruit starting at the bottom by inserting
the cantaloupe and honeydew wedges facing upward. At the ends of some of the skewers I also added grapes:

Once I added the cantaloupe and honeydew around the bottom, I randomly inserted more fruit skewers into the lettuce to begin to fill it up. I added a lot of the chocolate skewers during this phase because all though they are really delicious, the chocolate looks a bit messy.


Once most of the bouquet was filled in, I finished up by adding the flower shaped fruits I cut earlier. Since the flower shaped ones are the prettiest I wanted to save them for last so they would be the most visible. I put a few grapes on each skewer, followed by a flower shaped fruit. Once the skewer was inserted into the lettuce head, I topped it with a strawberry or grape.


After a little more arranging, my bouquet was complete! And delicious!



Here's a view from the top:


Overall the entire project took me about 2 hours, but it was well worth it because the fruit bouquet ended up being a big hit and my Mom loved it.

This project is shared on The Lettered CottageA Soft Place, Between Naps on a Porch, Persimmon Perch, Today's Creative Blog, Silly Little Sparrow, Santa's Gift Shoppe; stop by and check out some of the other great projects featured!