Be Your Own Wildflower Nursery This Fall

My garden just turned 6 years old. For years and years, I kept buying new plants to fill in the gaps — even after I had no gaps left. It got to the point where if I was near a nursery while running errands, I’d poke my head in and nab a few things — especially in late summer and during the fall sale season. Then when I got home, I’d sneak my purchases into the garden, nestle them in among mature plants and hope my wife never noticed. Actually, I knew she wouldn’t care, but maybe deep down I cared. My addiction was costing me money, but it didn’t have to.
by Benjamin Vogt

Fall is my favorite season — crisp mornings and evenings, warm afternoons, bright blue skies, stunning sunsets and a garden with a rainbow of fall blooms and leaf colors. Once the leaves start to drop, it’s easier to tell where any plant gaps are and to plan what might yet go in.

Fall is perhaps the best time for gardening — the cooler temps make things easier on you and the plants, and the warm soil allows roots to get established and be ready to take off even sooner next spring. But why buy plants when you can easily harvest and cultivate your own?

by Benjamin Vogt

Just look at this bounty. Fall not only reveals the structural bones of your garden, but seed heads add another level of interest. All these seed heads mean hundreds of free plants for you, besides the fact that they’re feeding birds and other creatures. But when can you gather the seeds?
Gather Seeds When They’re Ready

My rule of thumb for seed gathering over the course of late summer into fall is rather laissez-faire: When the seeds start falling off or blowing away, they’re ready. (Then you really have to be on the ball, especially if it gets windy.) Here, old Liatris blooms are all puffed up, ready for the seeds to be collected.

I walk around the garden a few times a week with any temporary container I can find, from glass to plastic to paper bags. The wider the container’s mouth, the better for seeds that take easily to the wind — you want to catch as many as possible once you start picking.

by Benjamin Vogt

Sometimes it’s easier to cut off the tops of plants, like this ironweed, and drop the whole mess into a bag. The seed heads are so small, you’d be out there forever otherwise. Why not save picking the seeds out for a cold winter afternoon in front of a fireplace? You can even turn it into a date with your partner or some sort of romantic game. Hey, you have to spice up seed stripping.
Grass seeds are often very easy to collect. Just run your hand up the stem, from bottom to top, cupping and gathering seeds as you go.

One major benefit of collecting wildflower seeds grown in your garden is you can trust them — if you don’t use pesticides or chemicals, you know the seeds are organic.

You also know the mother plant — where it grew, what it likes, the fact it thrives in your soil. Using locally sourced seeds is about as ecologically friendly as any act you can do in the garden, and you can’t get more locally sourced than out the back door.

Coneflower seeds are not these spiky pointy things. Instead, the seed is deep down in there, little rectangular tan pieces half the size (or less) of your pinky’s fingernail. To get at them, I’ve discovered that sacrificing my thumb is best — I push it across the flower head, getting poked and jabbed, causing the spikes to pop off and letting the seeds slip out.
by Benjamin Vogt

Mountain mint and monarda seed heads make your hands smell great, but the seeds are very small and loose inside the faded tubular blooms. I snip off whole clumps of seed heads and, while holding them inside a container, crush them with my fingers or hands. This easily releases the tiny seeds.
Plant Before Winter

OK, so now you have all these seeds. Some have fallen onto the garden bed and will resow, and you can move them in spring or let them have free will and choose their own spots.

Or you can winter sow. Many seeds need cold and/or wet stratification — which is a period of several weeks or months of frigid, moist conditions. Here in the U.S. Central Plains, we call this period winter.

I hope you kept your old nursery pots or got some from a neighbor who was throwing them away. Fill them about halfway with potting soil or even just your regular garden soil (clay, sand, whatever), and broadcast the seeds evenly across the surface. Let winter snow bury the seeds for you.

Come spring you’ll have dozens of seedlings in each container, ready to pot up or place in the garden once they’ve rooted better in a few weeks. Congratulations! You’ve now become you own wildflower nursery.

by Benjamin Vogt

Or Store Seeds for Later

If you don’t use all of your seeds, you can certainly save them. Some might not be viable next year, but many will — if you store them correctly. Here’s how:

  1. Strip each seed from the chaff, which is often the feathery or crunchy bit connected to the seed.
  2. Let the seeds dry out, from a few days to a week. If you pick seeds when they are already falling off the plant, they should be pretty dry. But if you pick after rain or other wet weather, they’ll need several days or weeks to dry out inside — spreading them on a pan or table helps speed up the drying.
  3. Store in a paper bag, which provides good air circulation (glass and plastic will encourage mold growth). I’ve found that school lunch bags, folded over twice and stapled, work great. I label them with the plant and year collected. Store the bags in a cool, dark, dry place. That can be in a dry garage, an outbuilding, a storage bench outside or in a basement. The benefit of storing outside is that you’ll be cold-stratifying the seeds — some might also need moisture, but those that just need it really cold will be ready to sow again come spring or summer.
by Benjamin Vogt

The first year I winter sowed seeds in 24 containers. Let me tell you, I was as giddy as a kid in a candy store next spring. I had enough plants to attack some problem areas in my beds, with plenty left over to gift or even sell.

Now I’ve found I have a new addiction — collecting plastic pots and cluttering up my garden every October and November. But no need to hide this addiction, because the plants are all free, and I know for sure that they’ll thrive in my garden.

Courtesy of Houzz.com
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In the Market For A New Roof? Take A Look At These 7 Suggestions

If you’re in the market for a new roof, you certainly won’t find a lack of options to consider. While climate, house style and budget will be important factors to take into account, new technologies and innovations have made it possible to get any look—just about anywhere. Here are seven of today’s more popular roofing materials.


Metal roofs on new townhouses in Jackson, Mississippi. (Photo credit: /\ \/\/ /\, Flickr)

Metal

There is no material more capable of protecting a structure from wind, rain, hail, fire, or rot than a durable and energy-efficient metal roof. For decades, metal roofs meant corrugated panels, which looked like they belonged on sheds or barns. Today, metal roofing products are available in a variety of styles to suit a wide range of architectural styles.

[Thinking about putting a new roof on your home? Click to find the right contractor now.]

Cost: $300 – $700 per square installed.


Slate roof in Jackson, Mississippi. (Photo credit: /\ \/\/ /\, Flickr) Continue reading

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15 Outdoor Pet Projects You’ll Lap Up

Your unconditional love for your pets shines through with the care and thought you’ve put into building things that make them happy. And your projects have also made your patios and yards more interesting. Get ideas from some homegrown responses to pets’ love of the outdoors — and to the need to keep pets safe and comfortable. Have a look, then please share your own outdoor pet project.
Reader Pet Projects

Houzz user midmodfan knew it would be hard on the cat when the last tree in their small atrium garden had to be removed. To keep the cat happy, midmodfan replaced it with a 10-foot-high wooden stake, wrapped rot-resistant rope around with frostproof glue and U-shaped staples. The new scratching and climbing “tree” is attached to metal footing driven into the ground.
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Buying a house? Don’t make these mistakes

sold home in austin texasFirst-time home buyers can get easily side-tracked by fixable “problems,” like an unappealing paint color, and they often overlook hidden costs of home ownership like maintenance expenses. Such rookie errors are hardly their own fault, since they lack the experience that comes with owning property over time. With low mortgage rates luring many newbies into the marketplace, we gathered up four of the classic mistakes they tend to make:

1) Being turned off by problems that are easily fixed. According to a survey by Coldwell Banker, almost nine in 10 first-time buyers are looking for move-in ready homes. They don’t want to have to fix the kitchen or redo the bathroom before settling in. They also want to live near shops, their work and “highly-rated” schools.

While location isn’t negotiable, many smaller fixes are, such as a dirty carpet or scratched hardwood floor. Jane Hodges, author of the book “Rent Versus Own,” was concerned about cracks in the plaster of her first home, but she later found they were just a cosmetic blemish that could easily be painted over. Hodges suggests asking your real estate agent for help understanding how costly fixes will be and to grill the home inspector as well. “Buyers sometimes focus on things like carpet, but that’s really a renter’s mentality. They forget you can make all these changes,” she says. (Read: When Homeowners Insurance Won’t Protect You.) Continue reading

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Why Should You Move to Austin?

Choosing a new city to relocate to can be a tough decision—until you start to consider Austin, TX as an option. Austin is the third fastest growing city in the country, with about 150 people moving to the area every day. Now is a great time to move to Austin, especially considering that the Texas city boasts the second best real estate investment market in the country. You’ll find culture, nature, entertainment, and even jobs in Austin, making it a desirable city for people of all ages.

Why-Should-You-Move-To-Austin-Infographic
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10 Things You Should Ask Your Contractor

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34 Things Austinites Love

By: Laura Seago BuzzFeed Manager, Marketing Solutions

1. TACOS. Especially of the breakfast variety.

TACOS. Especially of the breakfast variety.

Preferably hailing from one of the great breakfast taco meccas of Austin: Torchy’s or Tacodeli.

Preferably hailing from one of the great breakfast taco meccas of Austin: Torchy's or Tacodeli.

2. Rescuing shelter dogs

Rescuing shelter dogs

Usually from Austin Pets Alive!

3. Free outdoor concerts (like Blues on the Green)

Free outdoor concerts (like Blues on the Green)

4. Doing yoga at Black Swan

Doing yoga at Black Swan

5. Doing yoga on stand-up paddleboards

Doing yoga on stand-up paddleboards

6. Doing yoga on stand-up paddleboards with dogs

Doing yoga on stand-up paddleboards with dogs

7. The flagship Whole Foods

The flagship Whole Foods

Which has a bar featuring $8 WINE FLIGHTS

8. Iconic graffiti

Iconic graffiti

9. Food trailers. ALL OF THEM.

Food trailers. ALL OF THEM.

OMG KIMCHI FRIES I LOVE YOU CHI’LANTRO.

10. Floating on rivers

Floating on rivers

11. Proclaiming our love for Austin to anyone who will listen…

34 Things Austinites Love

12. …yet forbidding them from moving there and crowding our beautiful, sprawling landscape.

...yet forbidding them from moving there and crowding our beautiful, sprawling landscape.

13. Queso

Queso

because CHEESE.

14. Kayaks

Kayaks

15. Barbecue, obviously.

Barbecue, obviously.

Salt Lick field trip!

Via: photo.net

We will literally wait in line four hours for this. Because Franklin is the holy grail of brisket.

We will literally wait in line four hours for this. Because Franklin is the holy grail of brisket.

ALL HAIL BRISKET!

16. Alamo Drafthouse sing-alongs, quote-alongs, and, above all, Master Pancakes.

Alamo Drafthouse sing-alongs, quote-alongs, and, above all, Master Pancakes.

17. Things with “local,” “organic,” or “vegan” in the title

Things with "local," "organic," or "vegan" in the title

18. Bats

Bats

19. Paul Qui, and all of the heavenly food he has brought to the capital of Texas

Paul Qui, and all of the heavenly food he has brought to the capital of Texas

20. Rainey Street

Rainey Street

Because who doesn’t love a bar that’s basically just a house with a food trailer in the backyard?

21. Barton Springs

Barton Springs

22. Standing up for what we believe in

Standing up for what we believe in

23. Austin City Limits

Austin City Limits

Because why would you ever want to go to CHICAGO for Lolla? No.

Source: Godkin Photo  /  via: carolineplusben.com

24. Partying on the lake

Partying on the lake

Also, wakeboarding on the lake

25. Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling

He’s, like, practically one of us.

26. Signs. All of the signs.

Signs. All of the signs.

27. Local musicians

Local musicians

Like Bob here.

28. And getting to listen to them live. All the time.

And getting to listen to them live. All the time.

These guys are Friendly Savages.

29. Tex Mex, margaritas, and Mexican martinis. Preferably all at once.

Tex Mex, margaritas, and Mexican martinis. Preferably all at once.

30. Every single store, eatery, and music venue on South Congress

Every single store, eatery, and music venue on South Congress

31. (Especially Amy’s Ice Cream)

(Especially Amy's Ice Cream)

Mexican Vanilla, GET IN MY MOUTH!

32. Texas football

Texas football

33. Expressing ourselves.

Expressing ourselves.

Just as the thong cyclist has taught us

And this woman at Eeyore’s birthday

And of course: Leslie. RIP.

34. But most of all, we love that this…

But most of all, we love that this...

and this…

and this...

and THIS

and THIS

Is what we get to call home.

Austin… I love you so much.

Austin... I love you so much.

Via: etsy.com
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