HOME and GARDEN 101, Ironite and a Sponsored Give-Away


What could be better on a homeschool mama’s blog this time of year than a “Home and Garden 101″ series (which is happily sponsored by Central Pet & Garden – who are also providing my readers with a 25$ AMEX gift card give away)?

Make sure to read to the end so you can enter to win 25$ – and come back every Friday from now through the next 4 weeks to win more!

I apologize up front for not having as many photos in this post. I was busy taking video instead! Click to watch below

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After having two babies in two years, my garden and yard became last on my project list. This spring, I decided to get out there again with my now 4 & 2 year old toddlers, the teens, and my tree-whispering, green-thumb husband. Since April, we have tackled the weeds, trimmed the trees, re-vamped the garden, planted new things, and otherwise improved our landscaping. But there’s plenty more work to be done!

While I was at the Blissdom Conference, I met the Central Pet and Garden folks, who offered to allow me to work with them on some campaigns they have this spring and summer to introduce people to their best gardening products. These are products we would have been buying anyway, so I jumped on board. It never hurts to get paid to spruce up your own yard, right? I wish they would pay me for doing my laundry, too…

A month ago I did a give away for Pennington Smart Feed fertilizer and their new clear canister garden-hose attachment. We used that on our trees and garden. Some people suggest fertilizing every month on your yard and trees, and others suggest fertilizing once each season. We are more of the once-a-season type, and usually try to fertilize in spring and early summer before it gets too hot, and then we do it again in the fall and maybe once in winter.

In the past, my husband has used Medina HastaGro (6-12-6) every month on our trees (which he actually measured out and watered in at the base of the tree, which took a bit more work). I don’t think once a month feeding is too much for trees, but I wouldn’t do the same thing with grass because I have heard that when the roots are too thick, it actually prevents the grass from looking really nice. We only fertilize the grass seasonally.

As for moving plants and trees, we normally do that in fall – before the first freeze, or in very early spring – after the last freeze. This year I missed my window with all the baby Vitex trees, so I’ll have to move them this October.

Central Pet and Garden has provided our little homeschool garden with four new products to use in our yard, and I’ve decided to make a weekly garden update and little how-to-video out of using them all – and give away a 25$ Amex to my readers each week (give-aways on Friday, winner’s announced on Wednesdays).

I’ll probably continue to share about the garden all the way through harvest now that it is well established. I can’t wait to dig up the CILANTRO forest and plant new things in my second raised bed, and to see what yummy things end up growing on my plants that are already doing well. The tomato plants have already doubled in size in a month and I have some small hot peppers growing on one of the pepper plants that came without a label. They look like De Arbol or Guajillo peppers right now… jury is out.


This past week we pulled weeds, watered, tried to figure out where the ant beds were, trimmed roses, and used Ironite Plus Lawn & Plant Food on our flower beds and trees.

Ironite Brand mineral supplements have been around for more than 55 years, helping gardeners to develop strong roots and green growth in their grasses, trees, and plants. I hadn’t used Ironite before, but it was just as easy to use as our last fertilizer – attaching to the garden spray hose. The liquid lawn and garden spray is a 6-2-1 fertilizer that feeds through the plant’s foliage and roots (and you don’t have to worry about “burn” if you spray some on the leaves). The formula is supposed to have 1% iron. Your plants need their vitamins, too!

We made a silly little how-to video showing you just how easy it is to use, and giving you an update on how our garden is growing….

If you are doing yard and garden work and want to share your photos on Twitter or Instagram, use the #HG101 hashtag so everyone following along can see them. I’m using this hashtag on Twitter, Instagram, and even Pinterest. In fact, I created a Home and Garden 101 pin board where I’m planning to pin my garden and yard progress this year, share fun gardening and outdoor projects I find online, and more. If you want to follow along, you can.

My 16yo is going to share some about garden pests and beneficial bugs this July. He has a zillion books about bugs and has been studying them since he was barely able to read. He prevented me from killing the unsightly bed of overripe cilantro because he pointed out that the aphids that are all over them are a feeding ground for lady bugs (which I love). He also told us about how fire ants actually FARM aphids and prevent lady bugs from killing them if they can.

I’m not sure I can stand that ugly patch of Cilantro much longer. What do you think I should plant there – now that it is getting hot outside and the summer is near? Texas summers are unforgiving. I’m thinking okra, and watermelon… but I don’t want to water all summer long. Any suggestions?

Our rain fall lately has been great — which works wonders for my water bill, but prevents me from using DE powder on the fire ants. DE washes away in the rain. Which is why I’ll be using a little bit of bug spray on the fire ants if we don’t get enough straight sunshine soon. I have been seeing them on the house – and want to make sure they don’t get inside!

So – how is your garden and lawn coming along this spring? Have you used any affordable and easy fertilizers to keep your plants nourished? Want to win a 25$ gift card each Friday for the next 4 weeks during my Home and Garden 101 series?

Use the easy Rafflecopter below to enter and win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

{ Check back Wednesday, the 22nd of May, to see who won! }

In Him,


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Disclosure Statement
Central Garden & Pet partnered with bloggers such as me to help educate us all about their products. As part of this program, I received compensation. They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about the use of the products. Central Garden & Pet believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Central Garden & Pet’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations. A winner will be chosen by random and gift card fulfillment will be handled by a third party.


  1. Sheila Laurence says

    I have no idea what to plant in Texas! :) I know my Dad has planted the things you mentioned in southern Oklahoma successfully (along with great cantaloupe!), but he has a spring he can use for water. We live on the side of a mountain, so it’s hard to plant veggies here and we usually only have a few container plants. We are trying one spot beside the house this year to see how it goes.

  2. Mary Happymommy says

    I don’t have a green thumb, unfortunately! I wish I knew what to plant.

  3. Jeri says

    How does that work with being chemical free? We don’t use chemicals. Is it considered a chemical?
    ps: is there an option to choose to be notified for follow up comments? I missed the previous ones until I came back to the blog.

    • says

      As far as fertilizers go, synthetic and natural are ok, as far as I have seen in my garden and yard. We use both. The Medina Hastogro is a 6-12-6 and is organic. My husband has used it in the past on our trees only – about once a month. We have the biggest, healthiest trees in our neighborhood that were not fully established when the area was undeveloped. It was a field for the most part – but there are a few mature trees that they kept here (one thing I love about Austin – they respect the trees while developing land).

      However, with plants that live for less time than trees – bushes, veggies, grasses… I see no harm in using quicker, more soluble fertilizers that are man-made. We just don’t use them often enough to cause any burning and always try to use them before a storm is predicted so that they dissolve in to the soil well. We live in an area that is predominantly LIME. I joke that we have about an inch of dirt on top of solid limestone rock – a genuine HILL made of rock – so our soil is very alkaline.

      Check out this article on the Texas Hill Country for more soil type info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_Hill_Country
      and this one… http://www.sabot.org/?nd=hillln

      For us to grow many of the plants we love, we have to resort to extra acids and nutrients, and sometimes the chemical ones are the quickest and easiest to come by. I’m much more liberal in the use of man-made fertilizers than I am with the use of insecticides. It is RARE when I use bug killers. However, when you have an infestation of some types of bugs that are harmful to your family/crops/plants/pets, you DO have to make an exception.

      Recently we had like 15 different hornet and yellow jacket nests on our property around our house (because we are mostly bug-spray free and have so many awesome plants and keep our yard well – a breeding ground for spiders!)… and we had to use sprays to get rid of them or risk being harmed. On some of the nests, we waited until winter and knocked them down, though. We use as little sprays/dusts as we can, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do! One of those nests was 2 feet from my front door and was the size of a dessert plate! SWARMING. My husband used a bit of wasp spray on it and then got out the water hose & drowned it – and we used a stick to dislodge it and threw it away before the bugs were able to get to us. They relocated to the Cypress tree in the front yard way up high and we left them alone there. Right now I have a tiny nest in the mirror of my SUV! I am leaving them alone as long as they leave us alone. I see them crawling in behind the mirror every time I get in my car.

  4. Jennifer Marie says

    Hmm…maybe plant some marigolds? I know we had those when I was a kid.

    lilnursejen at yahoo dot com

    • says

      I need to plant more flowers. I have some yellow daisies my mother rescued from Walmart on my kitchen table that are next up! One of the flowers had gone to seed, so I’m going to bury those and see what happens, too!

    • says

      Practice! 😉 I’ve come a long way in the few years I’ve been doing it — we started our first garden in JUNE in TEXAS. Spent a million on water – and had December watermelon. LOL #FAIL

    • says

      I have a nice maiden hair grass (I call it grickle grass) out in the front yard near those unsightly neighborhood pipes that all the homes in the suburb come with. I want to cover those things with fake rocks or little wooden structures – maybe with bird houses on them? Don’t know. One day! So many projects in the yard to consider… you could really never be done with gardening.

  5. Lisa Brown says

    Not sure what to plant in Texas 😉 but I will be planting some succulents around my side year, they need less watering, and will be growing tomatoes and zucchini this year, hopefully :)
    jslbrown_03 at yahoo dot com

  6. Sharon Smith says

    I’m a big yard person. Would stay there if I could. Enjoyed your video. Keep em coming! Sharon

    • says

      Yeah, I’m working on making ours more wonderful… but I’m realizing that I didn’t plan for the future with so many trees… now that they are getting big, I may not have a sunny spot to garden veggies!

  7. Ashley C says

    We live in Florida so it’s a little different region, but there are some herbs (especially rosemary) that are fairly low-maintenance. They’re actually considered weeds because of how easily they grow and take over!


    • says

      Yes! I love Rosemary. Actually, you find it all over this region as a low maintenance bedding plant. I especially love the raised white limestone enclosed stepping-stone flower beds around most of our shopping areas where they have the trailing rosemary cascading over the side. Very pretty! I like to pick some here and there on walks and bring it home to cook in my potatoes. :) I have a small Rosemary plant I put near my back door recently. It seems to have taken root! I’ve killed a bunch of them in pots from the nursery because I either watered too sporadically or too much before transplanting. Hope this time the little dude lives! I like that he’s right outside my back door (next to the kitchen).

  8. Tammy S says

    My father in law lives in Texas and has planted a lot of pecan trees. I am not sure if they require a lot of water or not. There is nothing like fresh pecans. Yum!

  9. Ellie W says

    I’m not much help on what to plant. I’m in Texas too and everything I plant I either kill of it commits suicide from fright.
    Thanks for the giveaway!
    eswright18 at gmail dot com

  10. rebecca shockley says

    I would have to guess since I’m all the way up here in MN, but I would say eggplant, IDK. Good Luck!
    rjwashington2000 at yahoo dot com

  11. Barbara Montag says

    Since I live in MN hard for me to give you tips.
    We have a shorter growing season & I’m getting the garden ready to plant.
    I’ve heard that beans do not need a lot of water.
    Flowers – coneflowers and moss roses are drought resistant.
    Thank you.

    barbara dot montyj at gmail dot com

  12. Ruby Daniels says

    I really have no ideal what to plant in Texas, good luck on whatever you decide

  13. nscpbrat says

    I like planting things that I can turn into jams, relishes or pickles so that I can enjoy them past the picking season. Otherwise, I end up with too much to use and it goes to waste. good luck!!

  14. Ann Fantom says

    Sorry, since I’m in the Northeast were it is raining right now, I don’t have a clue what grows in texas

    abfantom at yahoo dot com

  15. Deb C says

    You could try Nandina, also known as Heavenly Bamboo. But if it takes off, look out. It can be invasive.

  16. ky2here says

    I’m in a completely different growing zone (northern kentucky) but I could still recommend gaillardia. I’ve grown it up here and then noticed it growing wild in South Carolina. I’m sure no one watered it there!

    ky2here at msn dot com

  17. Margaret Smith says

    I’m in NJ, so I’m not too sure what would be best, but it’s fairly easy to care for tomatoes.

  18. rich morris says

    i don’t live in texas but i have indoor cacti & think that some varieties would be cool to plant in a yard outside in the appropriate climates

  19. Karrie Millheim says

    I am not really good at having a green thumb but i do try to keep the grass green by watering it often and fertilizing. I am really thinking about growing my own garden and really interested in looking into it.

  20. Suzanne K says

    Sorry, no help on what you can plant, I’m in the desert of So Cal and trying to shade plants and deep water to keep alive… then there’s my bugs… just ate a cucumber! But, I keep trying!

  21. Sarah S says

    I have always loved succulents… I think those do well in Texas, but I’m no expert. :)

  22. Daniel M says

    never been to texas but having a herb garden is always nice, easy & inexpensive way to spice up your own food

  23. Stephanie Larison says

    I have no gardening skills whatsoever, lol so I have no idea. I’m deathly afraid of bugs and I don’t like to get dirty. I do like the look of flowers, my fave are tulips. Pretty simple, I’ve heard they’re easy to maintain too, so maybe those?

  24. Susan Smith says

    I don’t have any suggestions on what to plant as I’m really a beginner when it comes to gardening.

  25. Valerie Taylor Mabrey says

    I have no idea what to plant but in Ohio I like tulip trees
    vmkids3 at msn dot com

  26. Erin E says

    How similar we are! I had 2 babies 11 months apart (they are now 10 months and 21 months), and I totally let my yard and garden slide the last few years. This year I’m getting back into it. I don’t know what to plant in Texas, but here in S. California I just planted some tomatoes. I’m starting out slow this year 😉 Thank you for the fabulous giveaway!
    Erin E
    fairyfractal at gmail dot com

  27. Peter G says

    I live in Florida and with heat and drought here where I live, planting is not recommended. I can only water once a week.
    I would check with the local garden clubs or environmental groups to see what is best for the area.

    Good luck with the gardening.

  28. Paula Tavernie says

    Im not sure what to plant that doesn’t need much watering!
    ptavernie at yahoo dot com

  29. harolde says

    Cuban Buttercup are great to plant and survive and bloom with little watering, it would be a great plant for Texas!

  30. Debra Hall says

    all i have done so far is re-plant the ones that have been in the house all winter
    debrahall one nine six one at yahoo dot com

  31. Starr Greenwell says

    I only have a patio but I love to plant flowers. My tip is to regulate the watering very carefully, not too much – not too little and use plant food.

  32. Amanda Sakovitz says

    I’m going to go with a cactus or maybe a bonsai tree inside. I just got one and you only have to water it about 2-3 times a week.

  33. Lisa Garner says

    I’m a novice gardener so I don’t have any planting tips yet.
    lisalmg25 at gmail dot com

  34. K. Cleaver says

    Someone above mentioned cilantro. It’ll do well if it you plant it someplace where it gets some light shade.

  35. susan smoaks says

    we are in florida and we are planting tomatoes and bell pepper, i imagine texas would be the same

  36. Lynn says

    Hi there, i was thinking about starting a small garden and i stumbled on your blog, I have old soil so i don’t know if i should get rid of it or just and fertilizes and nutrients….
    i live in San Francisco, and my problem isn’t hot summers. we get cold weather and in my area racoons. I’m also thinking about plants that don’t require too much watering as well.

  37. Angela Nichols says

    I would have to say roses and just try and keep them watered.

    jazzyangel75 at gmail dot com

  38. Crystal F says

    I don’t know anything about gardens or flowers. I’m going to do my best to keep the flower that my daugther started me alive. I will be doing amazing if I can do just that. lol thank you!

  39. Erica C. says

    I’m definitely not the person to give advice on what to plant! Thanks for the giveaway :)

  40. McKim says

    I have no idea what to plant in Texas. In Wyoming we get little rain, and haven’t had much luck with growing a garden. We did have fairly good luck with onions, zuchinni and carrots.