These 5 Easy Tips will Help You Keep Fall Mums Alive All Season

Looking for tips to help you keep fall mums alive all season? Look no further! These  five easy tips will help you keep your mums beautiful until it’s time to replace them with winter decor!These 5 Easy Tips will Help You Keep Fall Mums Alive All Season

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I love decorating with fall mums – available in many colors and varieties, mums are a great addition to your outdoor fall decorating scheme. The have long lasting blooms and look great in pots and landscape as well! Check out all of these pretty ways to decorate with mums from Midwest Family Living! Like most things in life, a little effort will keep your mums looking their best all season long!

These 5 Easy Tips will Help You Keep Fall Mums Alive All Season

Re-pot fall mums after you get home

repot fall mums after buying if they are root bound in the pot

It’s important to give your mums room to grow.  Most mums you buy at the store are totally root-bound so make sure to check your mums and put them in a pot at least twice their current size if you want them to keep growing all season.

Place your fall mums in an good location

how to keep your fall mums alive

Mums need at least six hours of sunlight a day, so skip shady locations and make sure to place mums in spots that get plenty of sun! Remember that as the days become shorter the position of the sun changes. A spot that was sunny in the summer may no longer be sunny. Just be mindful of the changing sun position during the fall. If you get your fall mums early in the season, you may need to move them to a new location as fall progresses.

Make sure your fall mums get enough water

make sure to water your fall mums enough to keep them alive all season - Copy

It’s very important not to let your mums dry out or they might just die on you like the one above. Then again, it’s also important not to over water them either. How much water is enough but not too much? That’s the million dollar question. Just make sure the dirt stays moist, but not drenched. 😉

Don’t forget to deadhead to keep fall mums alive

deadhead mums to keep them alive longer - Copy

I know deadheading is no fun, but if you want your mum to re-flower – you have to get rid of the dead ones first. Grab a trusty pair of snips and cut away while listening to your favorite music or chatting with a dear friend. Or just use your fingers. Honestly, I think the easiest way to deahead mums is just to pinch off the dead flowers with my fingers. You have to be careful or you will kill the baby buds that might be lurking under the dead flowers, waiting for their chance to shine!

Cover or bring them inside if it’s going to freeze overnight.

Continued cold weather will kill your mums so watch the forecast. If a freak frost is in the forecast, either cover your mums or bring them inside over night. This practice doesn’t work long term, but it can help your mums last a few more weeks if you want to prolong their lives!

tips for keeping your fall mums beautiful


More posts on fall gardening & plant care you may like:

Tips for decorating for fall

How to start a fall vegetable garden now

How to cover a raised garden bed to extend your growing season

15 Fall gardening tasks 

Types of heirloom garlic to plant this fall

Fun ways to decorate pumpkins without carving

Want to know how to keep fall mums alive all season long? These five easy tips will help you keep your lovely fall mums beautiful for as long as possible!

5 Homemade Gourmet Vinegar Flavors to Make Easily at Home

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SKSHarvest #SeasonalSolutions #CollectiveBias

These 5 Homemade Gourmet Vinegar Flavors to make easily at home are a great way to use up the fresh herb bounty you may have growing in your garden. Not only are they delicious and beautiful, but they’re also super easy to make and are great gifts as well! Get a jump start on the gift giving season with this easy DIY!

Look at these beautiful gourmet vinegar flavors you can make easily at home! I have seen them for sale in so many gourmet stores for outrageous price tags, but you don’t need to spend the money! Made with just about any type of vinegar you can buy at the store and fresh herbs from your garden, they’re SO easy to make! They keep for 4- 6 months on your counter top or in your fridge – but they won’t last long because they are delicious!

Be sure to click the image above to shop the jars that I used for my delicious homemade gourmet vinegar!

Gourmet Vinegars to Make Easily at Home

The flavor varieties for homemade gourmet vinegar are endless. Use whatever herbs and edible flowers you have growing in your garden and a high quality vinegar. Think apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar (although it’s hard to see the herbs in the dark vinegar), and champagne vinegar. Then head out to your garden if you have one, or the store if not, and grab some fresh herbs and spices. I combined everything in SKS Clear Glass Beverage Bottles and closed them up with the included White Metal Plastisol Lined Lug Caps.  ingredients for homemade gourmet vinegar

5 Homemade Gourmet Vinegar Flavors to Make Easily at Home

Homemade gourmet vinegar can be used to liven up so many dishes. Use them in homemade salad dressings, to marinate meat, in fruit salads and other desserts, and in veggie dishes too. The options are endless. Here are the five different vinegar varieties I made to get your creative juices flowing!!

1. Gourmet Greek Garlic Herb Vinegar – 

Fabulous for meat marinades and homemade salad dressings (like this creamy roasted garlic salad dressing) and delicious on roasted veggies too!. Combine two sprigs fresh oregano, one sprig fresh basil and one garlic bulb (separated into cloves and peeled) in two cups red wine vinegar.

Gourmet Apple Cinnamon Vinegar

2. Gourmet Apple Cinnamon Vinegar – 

Great for fruit salad and salad dressings. Combine 1 chopped apple with a handful of cloves and two cinnamon sticks in two cups apple cider vinegar.

3. Gourmet Marigold Vinegar – 

Did you know marigolds are edible flowers? They are! Marigolds have a spicy, citrusy flavor and a marigold vinegar is nice addition to meat marinades and homemade salad dressings. Combine one cup marigold flowers with two cups champagne vinegar.

homemade Gourmet Hot Pepper Vinegar

4. Gourmet Hot Pepper Vinegar – 

Great for dipping sauce, homemade salad dressings, and meat marinades too! Combine one tablespoon peppercorns with five or six jalapeno peppers. Make sure to slit the peppers before adding them to the jar to really release their juices. Combine with two cups white wine vinegar for a delicious combination.

Gourmet Citrus Mint Vinegar

5. Gourmet Citrus Mint Vinegar – 

Another great vinegar for fruit salads or as a meat marinade (especially for lamb). Combine two springs fresh mint with zest of one lemon (spirals if you can! And hats off to you!) plus several lemon slices in two cups apple cider vinegar.
how to make herbed vinegar easily at home

In addition to vinegar and herbs, you’ll also need these supplies for your homemade gourmet vinegar:

I mentioned already that I used SKS Clear Glass Beverage Bottles. SKS Bottle and Packaging was founded in 1986 and sells over 6,000 different types of containers and closures online in fun colors like blue, amber and clear. Most SKS glass jars are made in the USA and are 100% recyclable. You can find the SKS clear glass beverage bottles that I used here. These bottles are great for my gourmet vinegars, homemade sauces, dressings, drinks, and more.

SKS Bottle shopping cart

You’ll also need a funnel to assist in getting the vinegar in the jars. Because of the acidity of the vinegar, you will need to put a layer of wax paper between the vinegar and the lid if you use a  metal lid.

Printable instructions for the gourmet vinegars to make easily at home

5 Gourmet Vinegars to Make Easily at Home

Easy to make herbed gourmet vinegars make great homemade gifts and are a wonderful way to use up your garden bounty of fresh herbs!

10 minPrep Time

10 minTotal Time

Save RecipeSave Recipe
Recipe Image

Ingredients

  • 2 cups vinegar of choice: red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or champagne vinegar
  • Several springs fresh herbs, fruits, edible flowers, garlic, and or spices

Instructions

  1. Sterilize glass containers by boiling for 10 minutes.
  2. Heat vinegar to just below boiling.
  3. Add herbs, fruits, spices, etc to jar.
  4. Pour heated vinegar into the jar. Shake to combine.
  5. Store jars in cool, dark spot for 3-4 weeks, gently shaking the jar every week to help the flavors meld.
  6. After the desired flavor is reached, strain the vinegar to remove add-ins. Discard the herbs, vegetables or fruit. Pour strained vinegar into clean sterilized jars and cap tightly. A few sprigs of fresh herbs, fruit or spices can be added for a decorative touch.
  7. Store in the fridge for 4-6 months.

Notes

NOTE: If flavored vinegar molds or shows signs of fermentation such as bubbling, cloudiness or sliminess, it should be discarded immediately.

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https://simplifylivelove.com/homemade-gourmet-vinegar/

Now that you see how easy it is to make your own gourmet vinegars at home, what varieties will you make?

These 5 homemade gourmet vinegar flavors make the perfect edible gifts. They are beautiful and easy, perfect for marinades, salad dressings, & more!

Where to Buy Heirloom Seedlings if You Can’t Start Them Yourself

 Welcome back to Tuesdays in the Garden! Today’s topic is spring veggies – growing and eating. Since seedlings are also a big part of spring gardening, I’m sharing a list of where to buy heirloom seedlings if you can’t start them yourself. Finding heirloom seedlings ready to plant can be a challenge, and this list of five places to look might be a big help.Where to buy heirloom seedlings when you can't start them yourself

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I enjoy starting my own seeds have done so for the last 7 years in a row. But truth be told, it’s always stressful! Pulling out the shelf and equipment. Watering every day. Harding them off. What if they don’t grow? Who’s going to babysit them when we go on spring break (we always go on spring break!) In years past, I haven’t let those complications deter me. But this year, we went to Europe right at the time when I should have been starting seeds and lining up seedling babysitters. Instead of stressing about it, I decided to let seed starting go this year.

I’m not starting my own seedlings this year!!- even though I did buy new tomato seeds for varieties I’d really love to grow in my garden. But not starting my own seeds presents a challenge – because I REALLY want to grow heirloom plants. They’re hard to find if you don’t know where to look. So instead of starting my own heirloom seedlings this year, I decided to come up with a list of where I can find heirloom seedlings started by someone else instead. I’ll keep you updated with what I find – but here’s where I’ll be buying heirloom seedlings this year!

Where to Buy Heirloom Seedlings if You Can’t Start Your Own Seeds

Buy Tomato Seedlings

Farmer’s Markets – 

Local farmer’s markets are great places to find heirloom seedlings. I haven’t visited any farmer’s markets yet this year, but I definitely remember seeing seedlings there in years’ past. Do you find heirloom seedlings at farmer’s markets? Locally, I plan to check out Freight House Farmer’s Market in Davenport and the Iowa City Farmer’s Market too.

Azure Standard

I have ordered lovely heirloom seedlings from Azure Standard (called Sarah’s Starts) and have been quite pleased with their quality. Last year, I grew a couple heirloom tomato plants from Azure Standard and also fun broccolis and cabbages. If you haven’t heard of Azure Standard before, they are an organic bulk food coop out of Oregon and deliver organic and non-gmo food and supplies all across the country. I’ve been buying in bulk from them for years and they are one way I keep my grocery budget low. You can read more about why I like them in this post.

Local Nurseries – Lowe’s, Home Depot, Menards, even Walmart

While I haven’t found a huge variety of heirloom seedlings at local nurseries, I do find a few every year. Cherokee Purple tomato seedlings seem to be a popular heirloom for big box stores to sell and I’ve seen a few other varieties too. It does take some searching, but if you look hard enough, you might find a few heirloom seeds at the big box nurseries. And Walmart! I’m not a big Walmart fan, but I really do like their nursery sometimes. They have the biggest selection of seedlings in my rural area. I’ve enjoyed buying chocolate mint starts at Walmart and other fun herb varieties that I don’t see elsewhere.

Ask friends who garden – 

It might seem an imposition to ask friends who garden, but as a person who has had good luck with seedlings in the past, I know that I happily pass my own leftovers to friends who want them! I’ve had to work hard some years to get rid of my extras and I’m always glad to find good homes for them. Facebook is a great place to advertise extra seedlings and Facebook groups are a good place to look. You can always offer your friends a barter or to pay for the seedlings, if you want!

Order direct from seed companies and sometimes even Amazon!

Two of my favorite seed companies ship out plant starts, both Seed Savers in Iowa and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in Missouri. I’ve never ordered seedlings from Seed Savers, but if you’re in the market for unique heirloom tomatoes, herbs, and peppers, definitely check out what they have to offer.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds sells heirloom sweet potato slips. I ordered a sampler last year and the plants were delightful. Unfortunately, my dogs dug up all but two of of them, and the two that were left, while prolific growers, didn’t produce much of anything. 🙁 Could be grower error, though. I have no idea why I didn’t get any sweet potatoes. The starts themselves were lovely, so it was probably grower error.


And did you know you can buy seedlings on Amazon? I want to say I am surprised to see that they sell them, but honestly, you can find everything on Amazon. I haven’t seen any heirloom seedlings yet, but it’s worth checking back for sure! Eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, and herbs are all on amazon and they ship free with Amazon Prime.

And that’s where I’ve found heirloom seedlings started by someone else! Have you found heirloom seeds to buy somewhere else? Please share in the comments!

Tuesdays in the Garden 2017

Tuesdays in the Garden!

You’re in for a treat with this week’s Tuesdays in the garden posts! From growing spring crops, to eating them – we’ve got you covered. Check out what my gardening buddies are up to this week by clicking on the photos or the links beneath.

tips for growing kale
From Shelly @FrugalFamilyHome – Tips for Growing Kale

Tips for Growing Peas

From Angie @AngleFreckledRose – Tips for Growing Peas

Tips for growing rhubarb

From Diane @HomemadeFoodJunkie – Tips for Growing Rhubarb

Shrimp & Asparagus over White Bean Puree

From Jami @ An Oregon Cottage – Shrimp & Asparagus over White Bean Puree

Favorite Recipes with Spinach

From Patti @Hearth & Vine – Favorite Spring Recipes with Spinach

5 recipe ingredients to grow in your spring gardenFrom @BrenHass – 5 Recipe Ingredients to Grow in Your Spring Gardens

Where to Buy Heirloom Seedlings if You Can't Start Them Yourself

5 Things You Need to Know About Iowa Pork Farms

Many thanks to the Iowa Pork Producers for taking me on an Iowa Pork Farms Trip in July!  I went on this trip because I think it’s important that we all know where our food comes from and I wanted to see a production pig farm first hand. 43 million hogs annually are raised in Iowa – the nation’s top pork producing state, and my own father-in-law was a pig farmer until the late 1990s. Pig farming is a pretty big deal here and it was time I learned more about it.

5 Things you need to know about Iowa Pork Farms5 Things You Need to Know About Iowa Pork Farms

While I see the outside of pig barns almost every single day, I hadn’t been inside one since when I was 20 years old.  In 1994 I took a quick tour of my future father-in-law’s pig operation. The buildings I saw on my recent #IowaTourDePork trip were not all that different from his, and I was interested to learn similarities and differences between his 1996 farm and the pig farm of 2016.

Today’s pig farms come in all shapes and sizes.

A large portion of Iowa pig farms (94%) are family owned farms and 39% of these farms raise 1,000 or fewer pigs. The Gent Family Farm that we toured supports three families by producing 35,000 pigs and growing 700 acres of soybeans and corn each year. Iowa pork farms use one-third of all the corn and soy beans that are grown in Iowa, which means the Gent Family Farm also buys crops from other Iowa farmers to feed their pigs.

#iowatourdepork finishing pigs

My father-in-law raised about 4,000 pigs a year until 1996 in a farrow-to-finish farm, which was a large pig farm in the 1990s.  I thought 35,000 pigs was an enormous farm, but we also met another pig farming family on our trip, the Brennemans, whose farms are even larger. The Brennemans have 25,000 mama sows at four different farms. You will find mama sows giving birth to 800-900 piglets every single day on three of their farms (so 2400-2700 total piglets born per day), and around 3,000 piglets are born per month at a smaller fourth farm. They finish some of their pigs themselves, and also hire contract farmers to finish their pigs as well. I can’t even fathom the scale of their operation, but I really enjoyed talking to them and learning about their farms!

salad at Pullman Diner in Iowa City

We were also treated to a delicious meal at the Pullman Diner in Iowa City. This restaurant sources  pasture-raised pork from Heartland Fresh Family Farms – a different type of pork production at the opposite end of the spectrum. We didn’t get to visit that farm unfortunately, but it’s on my list of things to do because I prefer to buy pasture-raised pork.

There are several different types of pork farms.

Nursery Barn - Gent Family Farms #IowaTourDePork

Not all pig farmers raise the same age pigs or even use the same raising methods. We toured two different types of pig barns owned by the Gent family on our trip. The first was called a nursery barn and the inside is pictured above. Piglets arrive at nursery barns when they’re between three to four weeks old, after they’ve been weaned. They stay in the nursery barn until they’re about eight weeks old.

The pigs in the nursery barn we visited were moving to a larger finishing barn the very next day after we saw them. So, we saw them at their most crowded. They live in the finishing barn until they’re around six months old and ready to go to the processor to become bacon, sausage, pork chops, ham etc. In addition to the nursery barn, we also saw two finishing barns that house 1,200 pigs each, pictured below. These barns are similar to the ones my father-in-law has. In fact, one of his finishing barns is rented and still has pigs in it.

Gent Family Farms #IowaTourDePork

Other types of pig farming include farrow/breeding farms  – where mama sows birth piglets. Some Iowa pig farmers are contract finishers which means they are hired by breeders to feed out babies but don’t really own them. We were told that being a contract pig farmer is a good way for young farmers to start their businesses because start up costs are a lot less.

This means, some Iowa pig farmers have all age pigs, some have only baby pigs, some have nursery pigs, some don’t get pigs at all until they’re eight weeks old. Most Iowa pig farmers raise their pigs indoors, but there are niche pig farmers as well. Niche farmers might pasture raise pigs or raise indoor pigs that are fed a non-gmo or organic diet.

Pig farmers are making positive changes to reduce antibiotic usage.

One big concern about pork is often the amount of antibiotics that it takes to keep the pigs healthy. I was very interested to listen to Erin Brenneman of Brenneman Pork, describe how her farms have been able to reduce antibiotics by providing around-the-clock care to the mama sows and baby piggies. Just as human babies need colostrum and breast milk to get off to the best start, piglets do too.

Erin told us that they have 25 people working three different shifts every single day to make sure all of the piglets get colostrum soon after birth. She said more piglets are born around 8 pm than any other time, and simply by having people assist the pigs born overnight, they’ve been able to drastically improve the health of their piggies and reduce antibiotic usage by 30%.

bio security during the pig farm visit #IowaTourDePork

Other changes that have deceased antibiotic usage include improved indoor air quality in the barns as well as increased bio-security measures. I was surprised to learn that farmers shower IN and OUT of their pig barns and wear only barn clothes and shoes in the barns {which they do NOT wear anywhere else).

We did not have to shower in and out during our tour, but we did have to wear two layers of booties and protective coveralls while we were in the nursery barn. We also were not allowed to have had contact with other pigs for several days before our tour. And finally, we learned that the pork industry faces big changes in 2017 when farmers will be required to work more closely with veterinarians for antibiotic prescriptions to reduce usage even further.

Patrick Gent - #iowatourdepork

Pig Farms don’t smell as bad as you might think.

Okay, pig farms definitely don’t smell like roses, but they don’t smell as bad as you might think, either. One of our gracious hosts was Patrick Gent. We sat outside his parents’ home for about an hour learning about their farms, and were very close to two barns and 2,400 pigs. Honestly, we couldn’t smell a thing. I’m sure they get a nice whiff of pig poo every now and again when the wind blows in the right direction, but not on this day.

This super family lives with 2,400 pigs in their backyard and for the most part, we couldn’t tell. By the way, I really liked this family a lot. We met mom, dad, kids, grandparents, and cousins. They let us in their homes, fed us lunch, and joked with us. The Gents reminded me a lot of my husband’s family and I really enjoyed the time we spent with them.

What happens to Mama Sow?

My pressing questions had to do with the mamas. As a mother of four myself, I feel for pregnant and nursing mamas, and I wanted to know about the mama pig’s life. So I asked. We were supposed to have visited one of the Brenneman’s farrowing barns to see the baby piglets and the mamas, but because of a death in the family, we weren’t able to at the last minute. We still met Erin, though, and she told me what I wanted to know.

Mama Pig gestates for three months, three weeks, and three days. She give birth to her piglets in a gestation crate so she can’t roll over and kill her babies, and she lives in this gestation crate until the pigs are weaned at around three to four weeks of age. Mama pig is ready to breed again via artificial insemination five days after the piglets are removed. Mama Pig has on average two and half litters of about 14 piglets per year. After about five litters, her production decreases and she’s turned into less desirable meat products like sausage and bratwurst. And that’s the life of Mama Pig. {I’m glad I’m not a mama pig.}

Food safety recommendations regarding pork have changed.

The last thing I wanted to tell you about pig farming is that the the safety recommendations regarding cooking have changed. In 2011, the USDA decreased the cooking temperature recommendation by 15 degrees. It’s safe to enjoy medium-rare pork and cook pork to 145 degrees followed by a three minute rest. That’s great news for those of us who want to enjoy juicer and more flavorful pork!

Many thanks to Iowa Pork for this opportunity. I’m glad I learned so much about pork production in my state and I hope this information benefits you as well.