Posts

Make your victory garden even more patriotic by lining beds with American flags.

American Victory Gardens – A Brief History of Food and Freedom

Starting a garden is a fitting way to show your patriotism this Fourth of July. That’s right, fresh grown veggies and fruits are the very reason Cobb Salads and apple pies are so American. And, it just so happens, planting food for freedom is part of our nation’s history.

Victory, Garden Style

During the first half of the twentieth century, as our nation was entangled in World Wars I and II, growing fruits, vegetables and herbs was actually a part of the war effort. These civilian contributions came to be known as Victory Gardens.

By producing food locally, communities were able to subsist on their own harvests while easing demand on the national food supply. Plots ranged from small raised bed gardening on urban rooftops, to large suburban yards and rural fields. According to The National WWII Museum archives, at the height of the Victory Garden during World War II, there were more than 20 million individual plots operating across the USA. Now that’s what we call patriotic produce!

Make your victory garden even more patriotic by lining beds with American flags.

Make your victory garden even more patriotic by lining beds with American flags.

Local Food Fuels Freedom

While container and vegetable gardening obviously did not win the war outright, communities banding together for the common good rightly demonstrates the American Way. While soldiers sacrificed to fight battles thousands of miles away, their families were at home helping to free up food supplies needed overseas while boosting civilian morale.

In peacetime, the same idea of better living and stronger communities rings true. Things have changed a lot since the Victory Gardens of WWII, but the lingering sentiment is just as relevant today. When we have access to our food source and understand its workings, Americans emerge empowered.

Present Day Victory Gardens

Today, nearly 70 years since the Second World War ended, the United States has undergone rapid changes in the way our food is produced, packaged and sold. While supply shortages are no longer a concern as a direct result of war, our country faces new struggles tied to sustenance. As evidenced by childhood and adolescent obesity rates that loom higher than ever (see: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), many Americans have gone astray when it comes to basic nutrition. When did we lose touch with what we put on our meal table?

Many claim the reason behind this quandary is simple: Limited knowledge of or connection to our food sources. Detachment leads to choices based on what is available and affordable, even if that means frozen and processed goods with little to no real nutrition. But what if we could change all that and put American communities back in touch with agriculture and the food they eat?

Several community-based and grassroots movements are aiming to do just that. The Victory Garden Initiative is one such effort, citing in their mission statement that, “When everyone is a farmer, we will have a socially and environmentally just food system.” Kind of like farming for freedom.

Food For Thought this 4th of July

Working to ensure there is fresh and wholesome meals on the table at breakfast, lunch and dinner is about as American as it gets. And on no day is this more apparent than July 4th. This summer, though, rather than relying fully on big box stores for mealtime ingredients, show your local farmers a little love. Or, better yet, grow your own!

To get started on a small scale, raised bed gardening in cedar or redwood is a great way to go. It works anywhere, from the back yard to a downtown rooftop. Also, check out some tips tied to the modern-day Victory Garden, courtesy of the aptly named PBS program.

Curb Appeal Tip: Flanking doors and pathways is a simple way to play up your home's architectural features.

Father’s Day Gifts with Curb Appeal

Father’s Day is just around the corner, and you know what that means – it’s time to get shopping! But it seems that men, and especially dads, are notoriously hard to shop for, which makes Father’s Day gifts hard to come by. Forget the necktie or barbeque ties, this year give dad a gift that will keep on giving by improving his home’s curb appeal. Here are three gift ideas for him to spruce up his front garden and curb appeal.

Your mailbox is just like your cover letter - it's the first impression your home makes!

Your mailbox is just like your cover letter – it’s the first impression your home makes!

Outdoor Planters

Add structure and architectural elements to your father’s home with the help of garden planters. Planters come in all shapes, sizes, and materials, so choose wisely to find the planter to meet your dad’s style, environment, and plants. As a general rule of thumb, tall planters are best by an entryway or garage door, and longer planters work well to outline a space or run underneath a window. Composite, or PVC planters, are best for the low-maintenance dad because they provide the look and feel of wood without requiring upkeep for the long haul. With a few new planters, your dad’s front garden will look better than ever.

Decorative Mailboxes

Help your dad upgrade from the standard mailbox to something more eye-catching. Decorative mailboxes are an easy way to extend a home’s style all the way to the curb. This black aluminum mailbox is a classic option that will add a touch of sophistication to any home. For a more contemporary look, this vinyl double mailbox will tie in strong lines with sleek style. And for the dad who likes to garden, give him the mailbox with planter for the best of both worlds. And don’t worry about installation-decorative mailboxes are easy to install over a wood post. You can even give your dad the gift of construction and let him put it together himself!

Curb Appeal Tip: Flanking doors and pathways is a simple way to play up your home's architectural features.

Curb Appeal Tip: Flanking doors is a simple way to play up your home’s architectural features.

Plants

Help you dad establish the colors and style of his home with a fresh batch of plants. Adding plants and flowers to a yard can make a huge difference and breathe a sense of life into a home. When buying plants as a Father’s Day gift, consider the location of the garden and of the home, especially the amount of sun and shade available in the front garden. Choose plants that will thrive in their designated area. Pick plants that will match the style and color scheme of the house and that will look good and grow well together. And of course, don’t forget about your dad’s green thumb-be sure to choose plants he can keep up with and keep thriving.

Kids Gardening – How to Get Everyone Involved at Home

Forget the TV, smart phones, and other gadgets-this summer get your kids outdoors with fun garden activities for the whole family! Gardening is a fun project for kids and teaches them useful skills, all while they enjoy time outdoors with the family. Here are three easy garden projects to get your kids involved:

Terrarium

A terrarium is small enough that it is manageable for a child, and the great growth conditions ensure that nearly everything they plant will thrive. Terrariums are great year round, or if you live in a climate that makes outdoor gardening difficult. It also creates a conversation piece and allows your child to show off their work! To begin, pick out a terrarium container. A great option is this fun apple shaped terrarium. Next, have your child help pick out the plants. Because terrariums act like mini-greenhouses, plants like succulents and cacti are great options. Pair with some river rocks and soil, and soon the plants will be growing. Terrariums can be placed indoors or outdoors and work on nearly every surface, even hung from the ceiling.

Photo Credit: tienvijftien

Give the kids a breath of fresh air this summer with fun garden projects that are just their size!
Photo Credit: tienvijftien

Window boxes

For a project that will always be in view, have your child take charge of a window planter. Wooden planters are great options because they are durable and will match whatever your child decides to plant inside. This redwood planter can be used as a window box or even as a standalone planter. Your child’s creativity can run wild when picking flowers and plants for the box-just remember to take into account the location of the planter in regards to sun and water needs. By picking a variety of colors, heights, and textures, your child can create their own masterpiece in plant form and it will be right outside the window to enjoy each day!

Outdoor planters

A large garden can be intimidating for children, but many outdoor planters come in sizes that are perfect for little fingers. If your child needs a little gardening motivation, consider giving them a uniquely shaped planter to pique their interest. These volcanic rock planters are a fun option. For a larger project, this vertical pot garden allows kids to be in charge of just a few small pots that will still have a big impact. Help your child choose the right materials for planting, such as soil, fertilizer, and plants. Be sure to choose plants that will work in your climate and that are durable enough to withstand a novice junior gardener.

Gardening is a perfect family activity and a great chance for kids to get their hands dirty in a comfortable environment. With these fun kids gardening ideas, your family will be growing their green thumbs in no time!

How to Add Curb Appeal with Outdoor Planters

Group outdoor planters together for a welcoming burst of color on the deck or patio.

Group outdoor planters together for a welcoming burst of color on the deck or patio.

Admit it: your house might not be the dumpiest on the street, but it could probably use a little pick-me-up. It doesn’t take much to spruce up your house and add a little extra curb appeal, especially through container gardening. Outdoor planters are a fantastic and easy way to add a little extra oomph and increase your home’s curb appeal.

Flank front entrances symmetrically with vinyl planters for a curb appeal knockout!

Flank front entrances symmetrically with vinyl planters for a curb appeal knockout!

Entryway

The front door can speak volumes about a house – it’s where visitors get their first impression of your home and the people inside. Outdoor planters can add a touch of life to the entryway to make your home more inviting and warm. When decorating around the front door, symmetry is key. Add a tall planter box, like the Doral Terra Cotta Half Round Planter, to either side of your front door with bright flowers or tall leafy plants. Line the walkway to your front door with smaller planter boxes in coordinating plants and flowers. A great option is the neutral but stylish Palo Alto Redwood Planter. Choose plants that fit with the overall style and feel of your home, such as papyrus for a modern home or impatiens for a more traditional style.

Driveway

An often forgotten part of the home, the driveway and garage doors have a huge impact on curb appeal. Not only is the driveway one of the largest parts of a home’s outdoor space, but it is virtually a blank canvas full of possibility. To spice up an often bland area, place outdoor planters between the garage doors. Tall planters, such as this Tall Tapered Patio Planter, can add height to a space and break up the monotony of multiple garage doors. Add plants such as verbena or alyssum for a pop of energy-just make sure the planters are far enough away from the garage door that you won’t hit them with your car! To define the driveway with more than just concrete, place large planter pots along the edges. For these planters, it is better to opt for lower plants like coleus or white licorice that will define the space but still allow you to see into the front yard and entryway.

entrance-planters

Deck

Just because a deck might be on the backside of the house doesn’t mean it can escape a curb appeal improvement. Instead of allowing your deck to turn into a yard furniture wasteland, add some large planter boxes. The color and life will work wonders on the space and create a more defined outdoor entertaining area. A grouping of large planter pots full of coordinating plants is an easy way to add a sense of style and personality to your deck.

Low planter boxes around the edge of the deck set off the area but still allow view into the backyard and surrounding areas. A great option is the versatile Hampton deck planter, which looks great on its own or lined with others.

Ready to start your own container garden?

Shop outdoor planters now for the best selection of the season!