Shawna Coronado

Shawna Coronado

2 Great Perennials To Plant In A Shady Side Yard Garden

Side Yard Ferns in Shawna Coronado perennial garden

Fall is the best time to plant perennials in many locations across the country. Why not rebuild that barren side yard garden bed that has been plaguing you this fall? Several years ago I had a rather desolate area on the side of my home (see photo right)  that I converted into a flagstone walking path surrounded by shade perennials.

Side yards often come with adverse conditions. In my case, I have an oak tree planted on the side of my house that gives shade to cool our home, but is located in such a way as to prevent most light from making an appearance in the side garden. This isShady Side Yard Demolition common in side yards and I have a solution: a quiet path combined with shade plants.

Flagstone can be a large investment, however, it is also possible to make a path from old bark or mulch. I placed lots of organic matter in the soil then planted it up with a mixture of ferns, hostas, and other part-shade to shade loving perennials.

2 Awesome Perennials For Shade

Ferns

Dependent upon the variety of fern, you can plant a native to your region, which can be a beneficial home for small mammals like lizards and songbirds. I have often seen frogs and turtles hide in ferns as well. In the photo at top you see Lady Ferns which can grow up to 3 feet tall in my garden. They were given to me as pass-along plants by my mother-in-law and I love them. Squirrels often romp at the base of the oak tree in the ferns. In a dry year the plants will fall to the ground in drought, but will recover in the spring and sprout new fronds reliably. Ferns typically like a rich soil and shady conditions, so they do very well here. Lady Fern, Cinnamon Fern, and New York Fern are some of the easiest to grow.

Hostas

While not native plants, I find hostas to be great hummingbird and pollinator attractors. Hosta leaves can be amazingly colorful as well and do a lot to brighten up a dull space. Hostas prefer rich, well drained, and moist soil. This area of my garden can be rather dry. Therefore, I plant the hostas, then mulch well in anticipation of drier conditions. I planted several varieties along the walk way including Hosta ‘Honeybells’, ‘Guacamole’, and ‘Halcyon’ – all favorite’s within my garden.

Try one of these plants out in your side yard for an easy solution to shady conditions. Plant before the first frost and water well until established.

Side Yard Perennial Plant Garden of Shawna Coronado


Shawna Coronado

3 Ways To Frost Proof Your Garden

Fall Raised Bed Frost Cover Greenhouse Shawna Coronado

Fall is almost upon us, so it is time to start planning for how you are going to extend those garden crops for as long as possible through the frost season (see the before picture on the right). Helping your vegetables survive through fall means a longer growing season and money saved in the bank. There are two types of frosts to be aware of. Advective Frosts are plant killers; very coldFall Raised Bed Shawna Coronado temperatures that drop below plant hardiness levels. Radiation Frosts are survivable for your plants if they are covered and generally represent the frosts most likely to occur in early fall.

Below are three super-easy ways to help save your crops from a radiation type of frost. Advective frosts are tough to fight and you might need more powerful protection tools. All the below concepts involve covering the crop and trapping the heat of the soil beneath the covering. These coverings work as long as they do not get wet. A wet cover makes the temperatures surrounding the plant cooler.

1. Blanket and Sheet Covers

These are the simplest to use. Simply toss a lightweight blanket or sheet over the area of garden you are trying to protect. I have been known to use all the blankets in my house and ask my neighbors for theirs, but have had regular success in saving the garden for many weeks if there is only a one or two night frost situation; the covers help the plants survive those two nights in order to enjoy the Indian Summer later in the fall. Be sure to remove the blanket in the morning so the plants receive sunlight and warmth during the day.

2. Floating Row Crop Covers

Floating covers keep frost and insects off the plants, but allow daylight to provide enough light for growth. Depending on the plant, you can leave the row cover up all day without a problem. Do not forget to water the plants that are beneath the floating row covers.

3. Plastic and Garden Covers

Plastic covers work, particularly if you have a supportive frame to cover the planting bed. If you like, you can add lights at night to increase warmth within the protective frame. In the top photo you see the miniature greenhouse garden cover I have placed over my raised beds from Greenland Gardener. The garden cover is easy to assemble – it took me less than 15 minutes to put this together and place it properly. Unfold, assemble support pole, place in position, tighten Velcro (see photo below), tie the poles together at the top, place over beds, and DONE!

Fall Raised Bed Frost Cover Greenland Gardener Greenhouse

Fall Raised Bed Frost Cover Greenhouse Velcro

According the FTC, I need to let you know that I received products in this story at no cost in exchange for reviewing them. They worked well and I am happy about that.


Shawna Coronado

Chilled Bloody Mary Cocktail Salad Recipe

 

Bloody Mary Cocktail Salad by Shawna Coronado

From the 1930’s to 1950’s women were preparing cold tomato aspic; a popular side dish of that era served at luncheons and card parties across America. This recipe for Chilled Bloody Mary Cocktail Salad is my own modern day take of my 96 year old grandmother’s tomato aspic which I remember fondly. Filled with nutritious veggies from the garden, it is perfect on a hot day served with sandwiches or at a picnic with cold chicken. Best yet, it uses all the fresh veggies I can harvest from my garden which is currently bursting with bounty.

Chilled Bloody Mary Cocktail  Salad

Chilled Bloody Mary Cocktail Salad by Shawna Coronado

Ingredients -
2 (3 oz) packages lemon gelatin (or 2 .30 oz packages of sugar free gelatin)
3 cups Spicy V-8 Juice
1 cup chilled lemonade
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1 ½ cups diced carrots
1 ½ cups diced onions
1 ½ cups diced celery
Salt and pepper to taste
Mayonnaise

How to -
Heat V-8 juice to boiling. Stir in the boiling V-8 with the lemon gelatin until the gelatin is dissolved. Stir in chilled lemonade (or water if you prefer), horseradish, and salt/pepper. Refrigerate until slightly thickened, about one hour.

When the gelatin has set up a bit, gently stir in the diced vegetables (feel free to substitute with whatever veggies you are currently harvesting), place in martini glasses or serving dish. Chill in the refrigerator for four hours or until firm.

Serve with a dollop of mayonnaise and a smile.

If you want to add a real quick kick to this Cold Bloody Mary Cocktail Salad recipe, toss in a couple shots of cucumber vodka with the lemonade during the chill up (like this delicious vodka seen in the photo – Organic Cucumber Vodka from Prairie). Harvest those vegetables, make some deliciousness, and if you have leftover vegetables from the harvest be sure to donate to your local food pantry.

According the FTC, I need to let you know that I received products in this story at no cost in exchange for reviewing them.


Shawna Coronado

Save Water With Your Container Gardens – 2 Easy-To-Do Ideas

Succulent plants in a container from Shawna Coronado

Want container gardens without the pain of regular watering? Planting succulents in creative container gardens usually means you water less, but still have all the beauty of gorgeous plants on your patio or balcony. In the photo right I have combined three succulents in individual pots (Rainbow Bush – Variegated Elephant Plant, Coppertone Stonecrop, and Jet Beads Stonecrop). Top photo shows several succulents within a single container (Ghost Plant, Paddle Plant, and Sedum ‘Bertram Anderson’).

Succulents in containers at Shawna Coronado garden.

Top 3 Tips for Growing Succulents

1. Use a loose soil that drains freely. Too much water is the curse of death for a succulent. Buy commercial succulent and cactus soil or make your own using 1/3 course sand, 1/3 compost, and 1/3 grit (usually a mix of lava fines, pumice, and/or perlite).

2. Position succulent containers in bright growing conditions or in direct full sunlight.

3. Never let water stand in a succulent container and feed with an organic cactus fertilizer.

Ideas for Standard Containers

What about the standard containers you have out now? Perhaps the hot late August weather is encouraging them to dry out a bit. I have an awesome solution: Plant Nanny’s!

Plant Nanny’s are glass watering globes that help you water without constant hovering over your containers. Insert the Plant Nanny stake into moist soil, then fill the watering globe and place into the stake. When the water gets low, you know you need to water again.

Both ideas above offer great late summer time saving ideas for containers. All the beauty with far less watering worries!

Plant Nanny in Shawna Coronado garden.

According the FTC, I need to let you know that I received products in this story at no cost in exchange for reviewing them.


Shawna Coronado

Weatherproof Picture Frames For Your Special Outdoor Room

Weatherproof outdoor snap frame photo wall with chandelier fireplace and insulators

Garden rooms offer up a unique twist to the traditional garden. Every garden room needs garden art, of course, and I have the perfect solution for you to hang your favorite photos and posters into your garden haven. Recently a garden writer and photographer friend of mine, Christopher Tidrick, gifted me with a few of his gorgeous black and white photos. I came up with a solution to display them in a special way by installing the art in a unique weatherproof outdoor picture frame as part of a larger garden room wall.

Weatherproof outdoor snap frames can be ordered online at standard sizes or custom ordered to specific sizes via Snapframesdirect.com. Frames cannot support any additional matting as it leaves a space that water can leak into. In fact, weatherproof does not mean completely waterproof, but I have had tremendous success with the frames this season with no leaks whatsoever.

Below you can see how we put together the main garden room wall design using the weatherproof photo frames, old Formica, a non-working chandelier, and a fireplace surround.

How To Put Together My Garden Room Wall Design

First we need to find the best spot to hang an attractive grouping. Below you see my blank slate, the side of my deck, which will be the center of attention when you sit in my garden room.

Weatherproof picture Frame Wall

Weatherproof outdoor picture base formica counter top

My awesome carpenter helper buddy, Ricky Rolon, is helping me reuse a bright blue Formica countertop from the 1960’s [above]. He cut it into a large rectangle using a power saw. We hung that as the base for the trio of photos [below].

Weatherproof outdoor snap frame with formica counter top base

Weatherproof outdoor snap photo frame screws

Screwing the picture frames into the base is super-easy and then we just snap in the beautiful black and white photos [above]. After that we painted a white frame to go around the entire ensemble [below].

Weatherproof outdoor snap frame outer trim

Weatherproof outdoor snap frame chandelier support

Ricky nailed the white frame up around the Formica and installed a special support for the chandelier. Earlier this season I found the old brass chandelier for free. I cut out the old wiring, removed and cleaned the crystals, spray painted the chandelier white, and replaced the crystals. The white fireplace surround has been in my garden for years – I painted it white to better show off the garden wall and placed a mirror behind it to have it look more finished.

Below you see a close photo of the chandelier and snap frames with the Formica background. As an added touch I set out a collection of glass insulators on the fireplace because they remind me of my grandmother. With the addition of snap on weatherproof outdoor photo frames, a chandelier, and the fireplace surround, we were able to create a sweet little outdoor room garden wall filled with memories of friends and family.

Weatherproof outdoor snap fram photo with chandelier and fireplace

According the FTC, I need to let you know that I received products in this story at no cost in exchange for reviewing them.


Shawna Coronado

Top 5 Secret and Natural Soil Additives For A Healthy Garden

Shawna Coronado front lawn vegetable garden

Eleven years ago I was a “traditional gardener”, meaning I used the traditionally advertised products on the market that were filled with chemicals to treat my garden. This led to over-fertilizing and using chemical pesticides regularly. Bottom line: I wantonly abandoned the idea of doing healthy things for my garden in favor of what the media told me I should do. At that time I would consider my garden an average garden even with all of my chemical efforts. Then one season a friend of mine suggested I grow in an environmentally healthy fashion and stop listening to the hype. I thoroughly researched the importance of how to go chemical free and gradually converted my entire property over to about 98.9% organic and natural. An amazing and surprising thing happened in response to that changeover – my garden grew more beautiful, astounding, and lush than it had ever been when I used all those chemical solutions.

The secret for using less chemicals and pesticides in your garden is this: good soil grows healthy plant roots. With healthy plant roots you have strong plants that can survive tough conditions. Over the last ten years I have discovered what type of amendments work best in gardens nationwide and in my own garden. I have my favorite list of five all natural products and organic matter that really work well in my front lawn vegetable garden (seen in the photo above) and in gardens all across the country.

5 Amazing Soil Additives

Rotted Manure

Without a doubt, rotted manure is an important organic amendment for your soil because of its nutrient rich content which is the basis for building a strong structure of carbon compounds within the soil. Be sure that the manure is well rotted or it will burn your plants. You can get it in bagged form at your local garden center or find a farmer nearby. Be advised that manure from a farmer sometimes contains grass and weed seed. I add a generous amount of well rotted manure to the garden soil before I plant a garden, then again annually as a top dressing around plants.

Worm castings

Worm castings is worm poop – that’s right – worm poop. Like rotted manure, worm castings create a strong soil structure and add beneficial biology to the root zone of your plants. Worm castings help hold moisture so you water less. Mix ¼ cup of worm castings into the soil planting hole for each plant. I use Organic Mechanics worm castings which are OMRI and Organic certified (below you see a mix of rotted manure and worm castings added to my spring front lawn vegetable garden).

Spring rotted manure application on Shawna Coronado front lawn vegetable garden

Actino-Iron

Soil Amendment Actino-Iron 2Actino-Iron is an all natural OMRI certified granular soil additive that combines the Actinovate organic fungicide with organic iron and humates. Actino-Iron is a product that is already used in many of the soil mixes you find professionally in the market because it helps control root diseases and keep your plants greener. I have used it for three years in a row and found it works very well to strengthen the root systems of my plants. Last year I had a drought and the plants stayed green and healthier because Actino-Iron builds a relationship between the root zone and soil microbes, strengthening the roots by growing more root hairs. I had a couple tablespoons in the root zone of each plant (see photo below).

Soil amendment Actino-Iron

Pure Elements SoilSuccess

Soil Amendment Pure Elements SoilSuccessPure Elements has several gypsum based products that are great soil amendments for all types of growing such as grass renewal, perennial beds, annual flower gardens, and vegetable gardening. My favorite is Pure Elements SoilSuccess Renew + Transform because it adds humates to the soil and helps reduce tomato bottom end rot. This is a good product to increase soil microbial activity and improve germination, shoot, and root growth in all your garden beds, particularly your vegetable beds. My plants are crazy huge this season and I applied about one pound of SoilSuccess per 100 feet of garden.

Homemade Compost

#1 rule of healthy organic gardening – make your own compost. Below is a photo of my overly stuffed composter doing its happy work in my garden. While there are many ways to make your own compost, the fact that it is absolutely free for you to build makes it one of the best ideas ever. Using grass clippings, kitchen scraps, dry leaves, and all types of natural things from your home like coffee grounds, you can create “black gold” for your garden beds. Compost has amazing nutrients in it which helps your garden soil be the perfect place for microbes to interact with root hairs. In other words, by adding compost, you are building stronger roots. I add compost to the soil in new gardens and also use it as a top dressing to smother weeds around healthy plants.

Shawna Coronado Soil Amendment Compost Bin

According the FTC, you need to know that I received products in this story at no cost in exchange for reviewing them.