No-Mess Pumpkin Decorating

front rg pots fall 2008 0071 150x150 No Mess Pumpkin DecoratingBetter Homes and Gardens is offering all the joys of pumpkin carving without all the mess! Whether you live in the city and find pumpkins on short order, or just want to keep the grandkids busy on a rainy afternoon, you can log on to this site and design away, printing out refrigerator ready pics when you are through! Check it out!


Turning A Classic Fall Craft Into A Competitive Party Mixer

img 6511 225x300 Turning A Classic Fall Craft Into A Competitive Party Mixer

I was invited to a Pumpkin Carving Contest at a friend’s house recently (Thanks Patrick and Becky!) – a contest I soon realized was to be taken more seriously than I had originally thought!

Being a newcomer to the rowdy sport of Competitive Pumpkin Carving, my “A-Game” strategy went only as far as planning the size and shape of the Pumpkin for my team! I zipped through the pumpkin patch with nephews in tow, searching for the perfect pumpkin to inspire fear in the opposing teams. My final purchase measured in at two feet tall and a solid 42 pounds, and was the heaviest squash I was capable of moving into and out of my SUV’s trunk!

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Baking Your Pumpkin The Colonial Way

1314249 75484d8c22 b 300x225 Baking Your Pumpkin The Colonial Way

Ready to try something different with your pumpkin this year?  Grab your family pumpkin and prepare for a dessert that will have you visiting the local pumpkin patch for second helpings! 

Long before pumpkin pie was a twinkle in the eye of colonial Americans, the original dessert of choice in fall and winter was a variation of this baked pumpkin recipe!  An unusual party dish, this dessert is served scooped from the hollow center of a whole pumpkin, and looks as good as it smells on  your fall table. I was privileged to try this for the first time at a work function recently, and can’t wait to bake my own ASAP!

What You Need For This Recipe:

  • 1 pumpkin, 5 – 7 pounds
  • 6 whole eggs
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Check out the link above and add this great treat to your fall repertoire. I’ll add pictures of my own dessert as soon as I prepare mine.

    Your Thoughts: Have you tried baked whole pumpkin? Are there any tricks to doing it that perfect this type of recipe?

    Photo courtesy of: Teo

    The Greenstake Giveaway Winner!

    planted pot decorator pot greenstakes sodding 008 225x300 The Greenstake Giveaway Winner!

    Firstly, I want to extend a big thank you to all of you who entered this contest! You made the first ‘Green Giveaway’ a huge success, and I can’t wait to hold my second giveaway already!  I’m keeping my eye out for the next innovative product to share with you, but in the meantime…….

    We have a winner!  Congratulations to Regina Santos, winner of the “Greenstake Giveaway!” I will be shipping your box to you ASAP so you can get started finding your own uses for them throughout the year. 

    To everyone else, thanks again, and best of luck with your entry for the next contest!

    Amy, The Green Gardenista

    Homemade Squirrel Repellent To Save Your Fall Bulbs

    2464068534 ab664ab007 o 300x273 Homemade Squirrel Repellent To Save Your Fall Bulbs

    You would think that with cooler temperatures and the holidays on the way you could put prep your garden for the winter and be done with it right?  Wrong.

    Unfortunately, the fall bulbs we plant in September and October are a tempting snack for Squirrels, and your bulbs are in danger of being eaten or relocated by these busy tree climbers. If you see the tell-tale signs of digging in your garden, or notice Squirrels running Hibernation Preparedness Drills around your yard, then it’s time for you to fight back with a simple green deterrent that can save you from constantly replanting your garden beds.

    Cooking Up Something Special:

    Break out a 2 quart sauce pan, fill it 3/4ths of the way full with water, and get it boiling. Add to the boiling water two chopped cooking onions, one chopped Jalapeno pepper, and one tablespoon of Cayenne Pepper, or Ground Red Pepper from your spice rack. Let the mixture boil for approximately 20 minutes, and let cool.  Strain the chopped peppers and onion out of the pan, and add the left-over liquid to a spray bottle for easy application to the leaves, and ground around your bulbs.  This recipe will provide up to five days of deterrent from squirrels after application.

    For added Squirrel deterrence, sprinkle the bare soil around your bulbs with Paprika, and Ground Red Pepper.  The smells of both of these spices irritate a squirrel’s nose, and send him elsewhere in his quest for a quick snack!

    Your Thoughts: What “green” ways have you found to keep squirrels out of your garden?


    Photo Courtesy of: Seeks2Dream

    Green Giveaway: “GreenStakes,” The 100% Biodegradable Lawn and Garden Tool

    planted pot decorator pot greenstakes sodding 008 225x300 Green Giveaway: “GreenStakes,” The 100% Biodegradable Lawn and Garden Tool

    Welcome to the Green Gardenista’s first Green Giveaway! I want to do my part to spread the joy of “going green” around, by giving you a great tool to do just that in your own yard!

    Green Stakes are a 100% biodegradable alternative to metal sod staples and anchors, that solve all of our rusty “how do I recycle these” problems. This green innovation dissolves safely into the soil 8-24 months after installation, and can be used for a wide variety of garden tasks! I have used Green Stakes to anchor sod, mulch mats, and wildflower mats, but they have almost unlimited uses around the yard, and can be used with landscape fabric and even bird netting!

    I will be giving away a box of 500 four inch Green Stakes next Thursday, October 23rd, to the winning name I pull at random from a hat. 


    How To Win It Big: Enter your name, and what you want to use Green Stakes for in the comment section below, and stay tuned for the winning announcement to be made next Thursday! This particular contest is open to continental US residents only, due to overseas shipping costs. The stakes come in a box about the size of a standard shoe box..

    Good Luck! 


    “Green Stake; Biodegradable Landscape Stakes” Review

    planted pot decorator pot greenstakes sodding 005 225x300 “Green Stake; Biodegradable Landscape Stakes” Review

    To summarize this product in one word, these landscape stakes are wonderful! The first 100% biodegradable landscape tool on the market, these stakes are designed to replace the use of metal turf staples that are on the market today with a stronger and more eco-friendly alternative! They are a great “green” solution for the lawn care professional, and the home and garden warrior alike.

    GreenStake’s Pitch:

    • Green Stakes are 100% biodegradable within 8-24 months of installation, leaving no harmful residue.
    • They are designed to be 45% stronger, with more holding power than metal staples because of their design.
    • They cut down on lawn mower repair with landscape pins that dissolve in the turf, and do not become entangled in machinery.
    • Green Stakes reduce human and animal injury on golf courses and public areas, since they are not a tripping hazard, and cannot entrap unwary animals in metal hoops or parts.
    • These stakes save contractors time and money that used to be spent on return visits to job sites to remove metal sod staples after grass becomes established. For homeowners, these Green Stakes save them from the removal time as well, and give the homeowners peace of mind since the pins are safe around kids and pets
    • This tool has as many uses as a traditional sod staple, and is available for a similar price.

    Top Five Sod Laying Tips

    planted pot decorator pot greenstakes sodding 001 225x300 Top Five Sod Laying Tips

    There is nothing better than a green lawn in the fall! Whether you are a new homeowner laying sod for the first time DIY style, or simply patching holes in your yard from the phone companies’ most recent digging site, there are a few tips to know to make your sod laying experience easier, and more successful.


    1. Prepare the bare spot for sod. If you are laying sod in an area that is sandwiched between healthy sections of lawn, dig a shallow trench through the bare area, and remove the excess dirt. The shallow trench will allow the new sod’s root system to rest (once installed) at about the same level as that of the root systems of the established grass on either side, where it will be protected from the elements or changing temperatures.
    2. Give your sod an easy start. No matter how tempting, do not just lay sod down on existing dirt, which may have dried out, or been left uneven and rocky. Always lay a light coating of topsoil on the area before you lay down the sod, to provide the root system with an easy area to acclimate itself to.
    3. Tuck in the loose ends! Leaving the corners and edges of fresh sod exposed (like below) is a big no-no in sod installation. Edges that do not fit well within the bounds of the alloted area can dry out, freeze, or otherwise become a tripping hazard in the lawn. One a newly established piece of sod begins to dry out, it is very easy for the rest of the entire piece to follow suit. It is always better to re-trim the sod piece, or adjust the shallow trench area around the sod to provide a better fit for the new grass. Tuck under any root growth on the sod’s edges so that they are below the soil line.

    planted pot decorator pot greenstakes sodding 003 225x300 Top Five Sod Laying Tips 4.  Secure the sod firmly into the dirt with stakes, or turf pins. Once you have set your sod into place, lightly stretch out the sod patches to ensure a tight fit to the hole. Pin the sod down to the ground to help the root system retain it’s moisture longer, and remain in place. A firmly attached section of sod will establish more quickly than a piece that has simply been set into place, and had pressure applied to it. I recommend using a product called “GreenStakes” to pin down sod, since they are stronger than metal pins, and 100%  naturally biodegradable!

      5.  Apply pressure to your sod. Landscape companies employ the use of a stone roller, to smooth and firm large areas of new sod, but you can do the same job yourself. When you have completed your sod installation it is actually important to walk over the top of, an otherwise apply pressure to the surface of the new sod. Applying pressure helps settle the new grass into your lawn where it will be protected, and flattens any lumps and bumps along the way. 

    Your Thoughts: These are my top five tips to sod laying. Do you have any sod tips of your own to pass on?

    My Giveaway Guestimation For “Life On The Balcony’s” Book Contest

    100608 contest1 300x200 My Giveaway Guestimation For “Life On The Balcony’s” Book ContestAs I mentioned In a previous post, Fern at “Life on the Balcony” is holding a seed counting contest for a free book, and gift certificate! Part of the giveaway rules state that all guesses should be posted on an individual’s website if they have one.  So Fern, my best guess for the number of herb seeds in the photographed pile you showed on your site is 79 seeds.  

    Thanks for the opportunity to win a great fall read, and the gift certificate! Best of luck to my competition!

    Two Great Picks For Japanese Arbor Designing

    A reader recently asked me for some ideas in his Japanese themed garden, so I put together one common and one uncommon choice for arbor plants that will fit the bill with both Asian and aesthetic qualities.

    139356799 647d834ec3 300x225 Two Great Picks For Japanese Arbor Designing

    If you are looking for two great options for your trellis or arbor, here are two Japanese vines that are sure to wow your guests, and fill your yard with fragrance!  Two varieties that I recommend for a Japanese themed arbor are Japanese Wisteria, and Akebia Quinata.

    Japanese Wisteria is a more common garden find these days, and it’s affluent purple clusters of flowers work naturally with a sturdy arbor, providing a ceiling of blooms overhead.  Japanese Wisteria prefers a full sun location, and well drained soil with moderate watering, in order to thrive. Wisteria is recommended in USDA planting zones 5-9. The growth habits are such that it can quickly overwhelm a weak arbor or trellis structure under the weight of blooms, and brances, so it is a choice for permanent, and strong structures that are capable of holding a great deal of weight.

    • Troubleshooting: While juvenille plants can be harder to coax into initial blooming than other varieties of Wisteria, the color, and proficience of the plant once blooming are well worth the trouble. I recommend buying this plant from a nursery, to aquire a plant of several years of age. The older the plant you buy, the more likely you are to have reliable blooms quickly.  Very young plants have been known to wait 5 plus years to bloom, although some plants benefit from a little root trimming at the time of planting to help trigger blooms. To further encourage blooms, fertilize this plant with a high phosphorous fertilizer.


    Akebia quinata  is also know as the chocolate vine, and if you aren’t intrigued by the name alone, the purple or suede brown flowers will capture your attention with a scent compared to a true milk chocolate! This vine is cold hardy, and recommended in USDA planting zones 4-9. It’s leaves grow in clusters of five, and look truly unique on a trellis, adding an authentic Japanese flavor, and tropical appeal to your patio.

    123076704 d592716102 300x199 Two Great Picks For Japanese Arbor Designing Akebia needs well drained but moist soil, and can grow happily in almost any soil type, be it sandy, clay or otherwise. Akebia is successful in all types in sun exposure, from full sun locations, to shaded locations, and will bloom in April and May. Unlike Japanese Wisteria, Akebia quinata can grow in an average light-duty trellis or arbor, and will not endanger the structure under it’s weight.


    Both of these plants although beautiful can be very invasive, and their growth habits when left unchecked can pose a danger to local flora and fauna.  The best location for these arbor plants is in a contained environment, under the care of someone who will discard any clipping, and prunings into trash bags to prevent the spread of these species into the natural landscape.

    Together or alone these two choices will add an authentic Japanese touch to your home space, and provide you with years of aesthetic enjoyment both outdoors, and in cut displays. Try one of these out for yourself, and let me know how they work for you!

    Happy Planting!


    Wisteria picture courtesy of atu1666

    Akebia picture courtesy of Van Swearingen