How To: Square Foot Gardening Soil

When I started my garden last year I went out to a local company and picked up 1 cubic yard of soil. It was what they called Ultra Soil, which is perfect for raised beds. I did not like the quality of the soil, it was full of clay, so I added peat moss and compost to it in hopes it would improve the quality. Needless to say my garden did not survive and I blame it mostly on the soil conditions.

When I started planning my garden this spring I knew I had to assess my soil situation. I looked everywhere for good quality soil that I could buy in bulk but ended up empty handed. I remembered a book I saw that explained how to make my own soil after having a conversation with my friend Nicole. Her husband's garden is beautiful and they have a great harvest each year.

Making your own soil is not difficult but it is labor intensive and you may have to go to a couple of nurseries to find the different components at a decent price. I must say that choosing to make my own soil was the best decision I have ever made for my garden. My plants have thrived and grown beautifully however I have a gang of squirrel bandits that have literally eaten most of my harvest. That's a another story for another time.

The Soil
Square foot gardening soil is often referred to as Mel's Mix. Mel Bartholomew is the author behind the popular All New Square Foot Gardening. There are only three components to this soil. Compost, peat moss and vermiculite.

Compost provides the nutrients your plants need to grow and flourish. A good compost contains 3 to 5 different sources. Each source benefits your plants differently. I found out that lobster compost is very beneficial to tomato plants. There are many different sources of compost like cow manure, poultry manure, coffee grounds, wood chips, leaves, worm castings, and many others. Blending 3 to 5 different sources of compost will aid in a more balance compost that will benefit your plants.

Vermiculite is a natural mineral. It has many uses but for us it is a soil conditioner. It helps keep the soil light, allowing for good air flow and aids in absorbing and retaining water. Vermiculite is available in many grades, for soil you should use the course grade. Peat moss is also a soil conditioner. It regulates the moisture and air around plant roots.

The Recipe
Equal parts compost, peat moss and vermiculite

1/3 vermiculite
1/3 peat moss
1/3 compost mix | I used a blend of cow manure, worm castings and mushroom compost

This is done by volume. The amount of soil you need depends on the size of your raised planter bed. The SFG method only requires 6" of soil. If you have a standard bed that is 4' x 4' x 6" you will need 8 cu. ft. of soil mix. The equation is L x W x 0.5 = ___cu. ft.

In my case I needed 16 cu. ft of soil mix (8 x 4 x 0.5). My beds are 12" deep and since it isn't necessary to have more than 6" of soil mix, I kept most of my previous soil intact and only removed what I didn't need. This also keeps the cost down.

Once you have calculated the amount of soil needed, divide that number by 3 and you will have the amount of each component needed to make your soil.

Mix It Up
In addition to your components you will need a tarp | wheelbarrow | 5 gallon bucket

In a large wheelbarrow, mix together your different sources of compost.  Remember a good compost is made up of 3 to 5 different sources.
On a large tarp, add equal parts each of vermiculite, peat moss and compost mix. Do not add all 8 or 16 cu. ft. to the tarp. It will be crazy heavy and almost impossible to transfer to your raised bed. So I'm about to drop some knowledge on you, from here on out just measure each component with one of those 5 gallon buckets. Makes life so much easier and your back will thank me later!

Add one bucket full of each component at a time to your tarp. Peat moss is usually sold compacted, break it up before adding it to your bucket. Mix to combine. The best way to mix is to have a partner. Each grab an end of the tarp and gently mix by walking towards each other so the mix starts to fold on itself. You will do this several times.
I found it helpful to mist the mixture with water to help weigh down the peat moss a bit. Pour mixture into bed, wetting it down as you pour. You will be making several trips to your raised bed so do all your mixing next to your bed. Once you have fill the bed up with the soil mix, plant and water.

You may have to utilize a couple of your local nurseries and big box stores to find all your components to make your soil.

Vermiculite | $41.94 each
Peat moss | $11.97
Compost Mix | $23.94
Total cost | $77.85

I still have a wheelbarrow full of mix that I can use next planting season. This is a one-time expense so don't let this price tag scare you. The good thing is after your bed is filled, the only thing you will ever need to add is a trowel full of compost each time you plant a square.

I hope you found this how to post on how to make your own soil helpful. See ya soon!

Build a Raised Garden Bed
2014 Spring Garden Plan
Starting Seeds Indoors

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Laundry Room Inspiration

Over the weekend I attended my first blog conference. It was truly a great experience. I met a lot of lovely bloggers and learned a wealth of information. When I returned home I was informed the shelf above the washer and dryer had finally fallen down. 

This came at no shock, it was barely hanging on the wall when I left. It was a matter of time. Instead of us putting it back up we decided it was time for a proper storage solution.

We are now in the planning stages. We have to determine our budget, figure out cabinet placement, break our plan up into stages, save and then execute.

Our goals for this space is for it to be functional, provide lots of hidden storage, have a separate folding station and you can't forget beautiful.

Here are some beautiful laundry rooms that's inspiring us during this phase:
Just look at these rooms. Don't they make you want to go do some laundry? Probably not but they sure are gorgeous! See ya soon!

Images via 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 

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Strawberry Patch

It was a beautiful Wednesday morning, perfect for early June. The kids and I piled into the van and set off to meet friends at the strawberry patch. It was a quaint little place set off a winding road.

This is starting to sound like the making of a pretty good book. Lol! This was our very first trip to a strawberry patch. We are a strawberry lovin' family and it's hard to believe we've never been to pick any.

It was a small farm but what it lacked in size, it made up for in charm.
It took a short time for all our friends to arrive so in true Darnetha fashion we explored and took way too many pictures. We spent the longest time peeking around their general store. They had a little bit of everything, even Chinese sodas.
Since we are newbies to this whole new world of strawberry pickin', we quickly found out that it was the end of the season and all the big juicy strawberries were gone.

It was kinda sad but we searched anyway and found some little ones. The kids got muddy running through the rows of plants trying to locate a red gem. I had fun watching them while catching up with my girlfriends.
We have already marked our calendar for early May to come back next year.
See ya soon!

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Health & Wellness Series | My Health Goals

Today is usually when I share a quote for Inspirational Wednesday. I wanted to try something a little bit different but still along the same lines. Lately I've been focused on my overall health and I wanted to document my journey so my new series Health and Wellness was born. I'll share interesting information, recipes, goals and individual stories once or twice a month.

I have 3 main health goals going into this journey and one ultimate goal is to run a half marathon in a years time. This will be huge for me. I have a lot to accomplish but first I have to get into shape.

"Fit is not a destination, it's a way of life."

This quote is the essence of what I am trying to embody. I want this to be my mindset to live a healthy life where I feel good, look great and have the energy to keep up with my kids.

My Health Goals

Drink More Water | The doctor told me I should be drinking half my body weight in ounces of water daily. That is the minimum amount that my body needs and my tea consumption doesn't count! I'm gonna go right out and say it, "I really hate drinking water." It's so blah. This one will defiantly be hard, I have to drink 75 oz of water per day. Lord, give me strength and some orange slices!

Exercise Routine | Starting out last month, I was all over the map with my workouts and I did, maybe, one a week. I get bored and lose interest quickly and often need a change of scenery. My trainer (hubby) helped me to streamline things but still gave me the variety I needed. 

Here is my current plan for the month of June:
TTH | Zumba or Ballet Barre
Sat | Walk Jog 3 miles
Sun | Rest Day

Eating Clean | Eating clean is not a diet but more of a lifestyle choice. The common goal with eating clean is to replace processed foods with fresh and natural foods. Eating fresh is what I like to call it. Straight from the garden to your plate. When buying processed foods, a lot of the time it is inevitable, I follow one simple rule when reading labels: if I can't pronounce it, I don't buy it.

I cook clean most of the time, there's only a few things I purchase that aren't fresh. My problem lies in actually wanting to cook. I go through spells where I am always cooking, then just like that we go out to eat for days on end and that has to stop. I found that if I have a fully stocked refrigerator my tendency to go out to eat are slim.

What are you health goals? Have you ever ran a marathon? Any tips or pointers?
See ya soon!

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Simple Steps to Starting Seeds Indoors + Giveaway

When spring started all I could think about, like so many others, was my garden. I wanted to try my hand at starting my vegetable and herb garden from seeds again. I learned a lot from my failed attempt at it last year.

Gardening is a labor of love and with any garden a little planning and preparation will take you far. Throughout this post I will show you what worked for me to successfully start my garden indoors. Trust me its not that daunting of a task, I will show you how easy of a process it really is.
Simple steps to starting seeds indoors | ChippaSunshine.com
The basic ingredients you will need to successfully start your seeds indoors are a soil mix, containers, warmth, light, and water.

One | Soil Mix
Soil is one of the most important components in growing plants. It provides valuable nutrients for your plants to thrive. You can DIY your soil mix or buy a bagged mix but I used compressed soil pellets. Soil pellets are easy to use and are easy to transplant without breaking your seedlings precious and delicate root system.

Two | Containers
You can use just about anything to hold your soil mix from peat pots to egg shells. All I needed to hold my many soil pellets was a plastic tray flat like this one. Also, check your local nurseries as you can find many recycled flats that are free.

Three | Warmth
There are two stages in seed starting: germination and growing. Germination is the sprouting stage, in which the plant emerges from the seed. It is not necessary to have light during this stage but they will need warmth to sprout. Place your trays on top of a refrigerator, dryer or you can use a heat mat. I used a heating pad that you can adjust the temp and has an automatic shut off switch. I set it to its lowest setting.

Four | Light
When your sprouts get about an 1/2 inch in height you will need to move them to a light source. A bright window will do but you may notice your plants getting leggy. If your plant is not getting sufficient light they will grow long and thin trying to reach for the light. This can cause a lot of problems later.

I used a grow light that I bought from a local co-op. I keep it on 16 to 18 hours during the day and turn it off so the plants can rest during the night. Place the grow light 3 to 4 inches above the plants. I attached mine to the ceiling using eye screws and s-hooks.

Five | Water
This gives them the energy to grow. You must keep your soil moist to insure proper germination and growth.
Simple steps to starting seeds indoors using soil pellets | ChippaSunshine.com
Simple steps to starting seeds indoors using seed pellets | ChippaSunshine.com
Now that you know a little about the ingredients you will need to start your seeds, follow these simple steps on how to use soil pellets:

One | Place the compressed soil pellets into your flats. Using warm warm, soak the soil packs for 4 to 5 minutes until they fully expand.

Two | Add 3 to 4 seeds to each pellet by making a hole about 1/4 inch down into each pellet. Cover seeds with soil.

Three | Cover flats with Saran Wrap and place in a warm place. Keep soil warm and moist. Seeds will generally sprout in 7 to 10 days.

Four | Once your seeds get about 1/2 inch tall place under a grow light for 16 to 18 hours a day and allow to rest at night. Keep soil moist.

Five | When your seedlings get it's second leaves or the roots start to grow out the bottom of the pellet, transplant them to a larger container. Enjoy!
Simple steps to starting seeds indoors | ChippaSunshine.com

Seedsnow.com Giveaway

To start you on your way, I am giving away a Endive - Full Heart Batavian Starter Pack. It contains a seed pellet and approximately 10 seeds. 

Endive is an excellent choice for salad greens. This plant produces excellent yields of dark green curly leaves with large tender crisp ribs. It is rich in many vitamins and minerals, especially folate and vitamins A and K, and is high in fiber.

Please use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter. If you are a Bloglovin or mobile reader just click the Rafflecopter link to be taken to the widget.

See ya soon!

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Summer Bucket List

Hello Sunshine! I hope you had a lovely holiday weekend. It has been a whopping 4 weeks since I've last signed in. May is such busy month for my family and I didn't have much time to decorate or do any projects. I've been gardening however and I have a lot to share on that subject, soon. If you've ever wondered what I am up to on a regular basis then check me out over on instagram. It's so easy to just post a quick pic and a few words to keep everyone up-to-date over there, feel free to follow.

Yesterday was the unofficial kick off to summer and it was fun sitting down with the family listing a bunch of activities we would love to do this summer. Just in time I might add cause schools out this Friday and I don't want my crew to think that it will be acceptable to sit in front of the T.V. or computer all summer long. We will get out of these four walls and set out on some adventures. I want to spend this summer exploring the city we live in and seeing what it has to offer.
Summer Bucket List 2014 | ChippaSunshine
On any given day we might be having one epic Nerf gun fight, camping out in the backyard or our new found love riding bikes. Whatever the case we will be together creating memories and enjoying one another! I hope you tune in on some of our adventures and I just might throw in a DIY project or two or ten, to mix things up a bit.

What are you planning on doing this summer? Going on a beautiful vacation to some far off island or having a wickedly awesome staycation? Have lots of fun and be safe! See ya soon!

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Aubusson Blue Console Table

In an attempt to add some color to my living room, I decided to paint my console entryway table. I have had this same table for about 11 years and it had the dings and dents to prove it. Since I've never painted a piece of furniture I thought this was a good piece to start with.
I chose to use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. This paint is amazing and no it is not chalk board paint. The name rather comes from the velvety, matt finish. We are happy with our choice to paint the console Aubusson Blue. It adds some much needed color to the living room but yet isn't too loud. 

My husband wanted us to paint the console orange. You read that right, orange. I'm making baby steps over here in the color department and I didn't want to overwhelm the already calm vibe I have going on. Aubusson Blue is the best compromise. It is bright but yet deep enough to still have that calming effect for me.
This paint was so easy to work with. It went on like butter! I did thin it out a bit to give me a nice and smooth finish. It covered in two thin coats. I sanded the table before hand, it is not necessary to do this step with this paint, it covers just that good. I did however cause it had a high sheen coat and I didn't want it to not cover properly.

The next step was to apply a coat of soft wax. I applied one thin coat and then buffed it the next day. Maybe I don't have the wax on, wax off method down pat but I found this step a bit difficult. I was absolutely frustrated and wanted to throw the dang table out the window. My sister knows how I get when I don't like a project.

Dr.Jay came to the rescue. It looks a lot better now that he took over. It still has some spots that need a little extra attention and he thinks I need to apply another coat of wax. I installed some new knobs and I like how they add a bit of playfulness.

Going for a more functional entryway, I added a simple command center. We have our family calendar, a place to hang our keys that doubles as a mail holder, a tray for notes and papers that needs immediate attention.

So what do you think of my first ever furniture paint job? I am glad I chose to breath new life into my little old table. It is now a statement piece in our living room. Have you painted anything lately? Did you use chalk paint? See ya soon!

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