Gardening 101 ~ 10 Hardy Vegetables to Plant in Zones 4 & 5 in April~ PLUS Bonus Garden Tips!

“I grow plants for many reasons: to please my eye or to please my soul, to challenge the elements or to challenge my patience, for novelty or for nostalgia, but mostly for the joy in seeing them grow.” ― David Hobson

Spring is finally here, and if you’re a newbie or avid gardener, you’re probably itching to get your hands in the dirt. Of course many of you know I started several of my seeds indoors early in March, but now it’s time to plant outdoors!  

But wait! If you live in zones 4 and 5 like I do, where the winters are harsh & the growing season is short, you may be wondering which vegetables are hardy enough to survive the cold temperatures. 

Thankfully, there are plenty of cold hardy veggies you can grow! In today’s blog post, I’m going  to discuss my top 10 cold hardy vegetables to plant in zones 4 and 5 this April. From beautiful heirloom lettuces & leafy greens to root vegetables, I’ve got you covered. Not only will these vegetables survive the cold weather, but they’ll also thrive and produce delicious, nutrient-rich crops for you and your family to enjoy. So grab your gardening gloves and let’s get started!

To watch this episode tune into my YouTube Channel!

If you enjoyed this blog , please LIKE, Follow, Share & leave me a comment! I love your feedback!

Here are the links I mentioned:

Raised Bed Gardening Part 1 Part 2
Companion Planting
Container Gardening
How to build a cold frame
Planning Your Garden
Italian Wedding Soup
Tuscan Soup
Podcast with Tim Travis & Jean on Pollinator Gardens & Natural Habitats
Pollinator Gardens
Root Storage Crop Recipes

If you enjoyed this blog , please LIKE, Follow, Share & leave me a comment! I love your feedback!

If you aren’t following me on Facebook & Instagram, go on over & give a LIKE & Follow me for daily tips & tricks for your home & garden!

Until next time friends be sure to eat fresh, shop local, & have a happy day,


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Potting Sheds… more inspiration

As promised… more inspiration for all my Dragonfly friends
This is simply a photo essay of pictures I have collected. These shots are not mine unless otherwise stated…
enjoy friends,

Wonderful use of old windows

Wonderful use of old windows

This is a wonderful little shed… the character that she affords with the cathedral style windows brings a sense of excellence yet a flare of the junque style I love. The small garden and other elements are meant only to lead you in… the building remains the focus here. Primitive cottage style is quite charming.

Nice example of cottage style

Nice example of cottage style

This is such a sweet little shed! The windows will give it a greenhouse effect and I am sure you could start some seeds in it. A small heater would work well in it. The white on white look affords a very neat, clean cottage look.

Very busy and ecclectic...

Very busy and ecclectic…

This is not quite my taste… a little to busy, but you can still glean some ideas from it I think… and some may say this is all them! To each their own I always say. I love all the wash tubs… I have several of my own that are planted up through my gardens.

This is the front of my potting shed

This is the front of my potting shed

Over the last couple years my potting shed has begun to ‘sink’ a bit in the front making it more difficult to open the door. Well last spring I couldn’t open it. We had broken up some concrete on our farm the year prior and we had several chunks of it left over from our patio. Neil used a skid loader to bring this beautiful piece over and placed it at the front door… I just love it!

This is the back of my potting shed

This is the back of my potting shed

This is the back of my potting shed. It is lined with antique agricultural tools. This summer I am planning on repainting the shed the aqua blue that I painted the house shutters and a few other ‘detail’ spots last summer. Not sure if I’m going to leave the trim the hunter green to match our steel roof on the house or paint them white to match our house… decisions, decisions. I am also planning on planting a pink climbing rose bush on both the corners here… dreams, dreams…

Cut flower garden in the works

Cut flower garden in the works

Here is the other side of my potting shed. I usually have geraniums or pansies planted in the window box. These raised beds will be our farms cut flower garden. We started it last year and actually got those two beds planted up with sunflowers. This year we will put the last five beds on the plastic… I am planning on zinnias and sunflowers.

Well, I hope this got the gears turning and inspired you to create and get out in the dirt…
Happy Day,
Be sure to check out Dragonflies Facebook, LIKE & SHARE with all your gardening friends!

My Potting Shed

All through the long winter, I dream of my garden. On the first day of spring, I dig my fingers deep into the soft earth. I can feel its energy, and my spirits soar.” ~Helen Hayes

This photo was taken of me with my potting shed shortly after we had it all done... I was so happy- I finally had the perfect spot to put my garden bike!

This photo was taken of me with my potting shed shortly after we had it all done… I was so happy- I finally had the perfect spot to put my garden bike!

If ever a quote expressed my hearts deepest yearning, this would be as close to perfect as I can imagine. The days are promising to grow warmer, so my heart languishes and pines more earnestly for them… Yes, all to soon…. all too soon there will be that earthy smell I love… the trees will begin to bud and then finally burst forth into heavenly blooms and wispy leaves. Spring… come and fill this dead winter world with awe and inspire me.

side garden12 emailver

I’ve got big plans this year that include repainting my potting shed along with a new bed to wrap around it. A lovely, cheerful aqua blue with white trim will give her an all new look… a more cottage look. Currently the back has several antique garden tools, a shelf and a french door on it (see photo). I am planning on making a bed around one side wrapping around the back. My cut flower raised bed garden is on the other side… so excited to finish that up this year. I’m going to plant two different pink climbing roses at each corner around back. The beds will be planted up primarily with perennials from what I split off my other plants this spring. I’m dreaming of my antique white hydrangea, purple cone flowers, Shasta daisies and pink peonies with several purple bell flowers dancing around them. Of course there will be lavenders, creeping phlox and thyme cascading over the rock border. Dreams… oh waiting for them to come to fruition is such a lesson in patience for me. I will share lots of ‘in progress’ photo’s with all of you, along with all the other projects that are on my list this year! Next post: making your spring garden ‘to-do’ list!

Today’s post is going to be a little bit different… I’m going to tell you the story of how my potting shed came to be.

Potting Shed_back_emailver

The story of my potting shed is quite interesting… at least to me. About six years ago a lady I knew was getting rid of there mini-barn because they were planning on purchasing a larger new one. She went on to explain that they were going to tear it down and burn it. I couldn’t believe it… I thought, “What’s wrong with it?”… so then I asked. Well, they wanted something bigger, there wasn’t really anything wrong with it. “Why?”, she asked, “You want it?” DO I WANT IT! Of course I wanted it! Soooo, as I was driving home elated as a purring cat, I started thinking about how we’d get this 8’x10′ mini-barn home…. hmm, well surely Neil would figure it out, after all, it was free! Dreaming all the way home, I just couldn’t believe it… I was finally going to have a potting shed!

When Neil got home that evening I told him the exciting news and of course, he wasn’t quite as excited and he was thinking more along the lines of a ‘mini-barn’ to store the yard tools, mower and tillers…. and hey, it was free. Neil figured out what we needed to get it home and made arrangements with a friend to help and borrow their skid steer and trailer. Overjoyed is an understatement as to how I felt.

Once the ‘building’ arrived, they put it over on a concrete slab that’s located beside our vegetable garden… perfect ‘temporary’ spot I told him… he didn’t get what I meant, but shrugged it off. I’m sure he was thinking, “Temporary nothing, I’m never moving that beast again.”


Two years later with tow straps and chains wrapped around it, my potting shed was being dragged across and down the driveway to her ‘permanent’ location… so I thought. Neil stopped for a moment to check something and the strap fell off. He told our daughter, then just thirteen, to get in the truck and when he said to go, lightly give it a bit of gas to tighten it up and move forward s-l-o-w-l-y. There wasn’t much further to go, and it ‘should’ have been fine. Well, Taylor being a bit nervous accidentally put the truck into reverse… In the meantime, Neil was standing between the truck and shed… he later told me he thought for some reason it would be smarter to move out from between and then suddenly… Rrrummmmm! SMASH!!!! right into the front corner of the potting shed. She knocked the frame right off its skid! I was inside… not watching, but I heard the smash and went to the window and looked… oh to my dismay! Neil was ready to burn it in the driveway (remember, we live in the country). Of course I wasn’t about to allow that to happen! Being the optimist I am, I said it would be fine, lets finish taking it to the spot and access the damages and what repairs would need to be made. So, Neil calmed down and took care of it….

After some tucks and band-aids, we resided the outside, put a new floor and walls on the inside- all with boards that Neil milled on our sawmill- it was a whole new building… my Potting Shed! Now it was time to paint the inside and out and then decorate it…

And today, I have a beautiful potting shed that adorns my yard. The sad part to this story is I didn’t take any photos of it before we fixed it up! I had recently been diagnosed with Hypothyroidism and had been quite sick before they found out what was wrong with me… shortly after I had a baby… so no photos. This is a perfect example of why I always encourage my readers to take photos and document your projects. I am so disappointed that I don’t have before and after photos.

In my next post I will show photos of other potting sheds to give you more inspiration!
Please be sure to visit Dragonflies Facebook page for additional daily photos, links and insprirations that can only be seen there…

Also, check out my weekly post at The Detroit News, The Good Life blog… I post the links on my Facebook page… here is a link to view… these are exclusive post! Be sure to LIKE it!

Happy Day,

Easy Rose and Coleus Topiary’s, Garden ‘Junque’ Decor, Potting Shed Door Organizer, Yummy Asparagus Bread

Keep your eyes posted for
cute bird cages to adorn your
porch or patio!
It’s easy to stay organized… read on for more nifty
ideas on potting shed organization!

Right now garage & rummage sales are around every bend along with estate sales!  I don’t always have time to go to these because I am typically at market on Saturdays and by the time we are on the way home, the last thing I feel like doing is ‘saleing’.  Thrift shopping is another story though… I know I will find just about whatever I want at the ones we drive past in the city on our way home.  But good garden junque is not so easy to find this way.  Antique shoppes, flea markets and sales are better shopping opportunity for this kind of stuff.  I love to add elements into my beds that give a feeling of invitation… cool old chairs, stools and benches say ‘come on in for a stay!’, tin pails and buckets add height and dimension in the flower beds; ladders and bird cages can be incorporated as well!  I love to get lost in my flower beds and just relax… weed, water and rest… gardening, what could anyone want more?

Topiary’s are very charming and can easily be made with many different plants.  Use large pots for them and be sure to put at least 3 inches of pea stone on the bottom of pot before adding your potting mix.  Here are a few ideas, have fun!
*Coleus- choose a single stemmed coleus; pinch out all the side growth until the stem reaches a height of about 12 to 18 inches; you will need to stake the stem to keep it straight and for extra support.  Once the plant reaches the desired height, begin to pinch back the top; when each of the two branches develops four leaves, pinch their tips.  Continue pinching the tips that form from the top branches after their four leaves develop.  The main stem will get very woody and square.  Fertilize and continue pinching out all blooms that may form. 
*Rose- to make a rose tree you will need a rather large pot~ choose a plant at least 2′ to 3′ in height that has an upright, centered ‘leader’ cane that you will be able to stake as the ‘trunk’; once selected you will need to cut all the other canes off before planting the rose.  Strip all the leaves & stems off the bottom 2/3’s leaving about 12″ of leaves & stems at top .  This will be the ‘rose ball’ on top.  As the leaves form keep cutting and shaping your top, meanwhile continually stripping any new growth on the bottom of the trunk.
Other plants to try~  Peonies and Bright Yellow Sweet Broom- (very similar in appearance as Forsythia)- follow same instructions as rose.
Good luck & have fun!

Garden Junque is so fun to incorporate in your gardens and it adds character and charm for very little.  I love to thrift shop and garage sale~ as they say, ‘one person’s trash is another persons treasure’.
*I got both my garden bikes this way.  Every garden needs at least one! Put a cute basket on the handle bars and plant some pretty trailing plants!
*Old tin pails & buckets... geraniums like nothing more!
*Enamel Ware… do I need say anything else?
*Cool old chairs  to put potted plants on and surround with Shasta daisies!
*One very cool thing to keep your eyes open for are bird cages, especially free standing ones~ table tops are cute too, but the height of free standing cages adds structure to your flower bed and an artsy touch.  I plant morning glories at the bottom to grow up the cage and then put potted sweet potato vine or nasturtiums inside the cage- two or three.  (see photo)  
*If you can find some neat old wooden ladders, put one of these in the background of a flower bed and put clay pots with petunias on each step~ or whatever suits your fancy.
… the ideas are endless!

I am all about organization, whether it be in the house, green house or the potting shed… everything has it’s place so put everything back in it’s place!  A really easy way to utilize the door of the potting shed is to be able to hang stuff on it! There are lots of great ways to do this. (see photo)
*Attach a piece of left over lattice to the inside of the door, get some ‘S’ hooks and hang more often used garden tools on it~ easy and accessible.
*Purchase a clear plastic shoe organizer and hang; you can keep packs of nails & screws, garden tags or stakes, twine, seed packets, hand tools or anything else you may have that can fit into those nifty little pockets!
*Peg board is a wonderful thing.  You can use this on the door and the walls.  Hooks come in every shape & size imaginable to hang whatever you need.  

Here is a great way to get those family members who aren’t so fond of asparagus to get the nutritional benefits from it.  This is a great variation to Zucchini bread!
Yummy Asparagus Bread

3 eggs from Garden Gate, beaten
1 cup safflower oil or similar
1 2/3 cup raw organic sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 pound asparagus, grated
3 cup bread flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional

1. Whisk together eggs, oil, sugar’s and vanilla; add asparagus; mix lightly.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk remaining ingredients except the nuts, if using; add flour mixture to liquid mixture; stir to blend; stir in nuts now if using; divide mixture equally between 2 lightly greased 9″x5″ loaf pans.
3. Bake at 325 degrees for one hour, or until a toothpick comes out of center clean.

Happy Day,