A Rose Trellis By Any Other Name Would Smell as Sweet

My husband putting the finishing touches on our new rose trellis

I recently mentioned that one of my projects for this spring would be to convert our three unused flagpoles into a climbing rose trellis. Last weekend we had some cattle panels delivered and set to work transforming it into a floriferous paradise of climbing roses.

An order of cattle panels from the local farm store.

The flagpoles received a heavy duty mulching of corrugated cardboard and wood chips before we started. I’ll likely extend the mulch out another foot or so to provide ample growing space, and then add a border of pavers or large rocks to tidy it all up. But this will do for now — it was most important to get a decent amount of mulch down before attaching the panels.

The beginning stage of the flag poles turned rose trellis

Each panel is 16 feet long, and the distance between the two end poles is just about an inch longer than the panel, but we made it work with only the tiniest visible gap. We secured the panels to the poles with zip ties with a 120 pound tensile weight, so we don’t have to worry about them breaking. Cattle panels are surprisingly heavier than you’d think!

The second panel was added by butting it up against the already attached one, and then connecting them at the top with zip ties so it would act like a hinge — all we had to do was flip it upward, tighten the ties up, and have one person hold it while the other added the rest of the ties to the sides and middle pole. It was a quick and easy project, and I think we only spent 30 minutes on it, not counting the mulching (which we did the weekend prior).

The finished climbing rose trellis

Even though there’s nothing growing on it yet, it still looks much better than before, in my opinion. It at least looks like something now and provides a little visual interest.

I have two roses I’ll be planting here: climbing Cecile Brunner and Raspberry Cream Twirl, and there’s room to add another panel later on if they need more climbing space — did I mention they both climb 10 to 20 feet??

I’m thinking I might also propagate some lavender from our out of control “shrub” to plant at the bottom, and maybe I’ll add some clematis. It’s fun planning a new flower bed — I’ve got lots of options!

Next up I’ll start the process of removing the evergreen shrub border and figuring out exactly what kind of arbor I want — I love the planning phase.

If you need me, I’ll be in the field — starry eyed and dreaming of drifts and drifts of  fragrant roses.


DIY Plant Tags From Old Mini-Blinds


If you’ve been following along with my winter sowing adventure, then you probably know that I’ve been labeling my milk jugs with a Sharpie. I’ve been mildly worried about this since we get so much rain here in the Pacific Northwest — if the rain washes off the marker, I’ll be in quite the predicament come spring when I’m trying to transplant a bunch of mystery seedlings.

As many of you also know, I absolutely loathe buying anything brand new — and gardening gear is no exception. So when I was scrolling through posts on the Winter Sowers Facebook group and I saw someone mention making plant tags out of old mini-blinds, I knew I had to try it.

So I hopped on over to our Habitat for Humanity ReStore and promptly found a box of vinyl mini-blinds for $6. Score! And just in time for my second batch of winter sowing.


Being careful not to cut the string (so the slats wouldn’t come tumbling off), I cut off 5-inch sections of vinyl slats, then cut a point on one end. I got 5 tags from one slat, and with 74 slats total, I calculated that this one mini-blind will yield 370 plant tags. What a deal!

Label these with a pencil, and the water won’t wash the writing away. You could even reuse these for other plants in the future — just use an eraser and then relabel with pencil. I plan on making a bunch of these to label my dahlias as well.

And there you have it — an easy project that you can do while watching TV in the evening! If you’re in need of some plant tags, I hope you give this a try — and let me know how they turn out if you do.

Happy sowing!

DIY Orange-Vinegar Multipurpose Cleaner

Who doesn’t love a natural, nontoxic cleaning solution? I’ve mentioned my homemade orange-vinegar cleaner a few times now, so I thought I’d share with you how to make it! (It’s super easy!)

You’ll need:

  • Orange peels (or any citrus fruit peels)
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • A jar with a lid
  • Time, patience
  1. Place your citrus peels in a jar or a ziplock baggie. (I like to keep a jar in the freezer and add peels to it throughout the week until it’s full.)
  2. Fill a jar with distilled white vinegar until peels are covered.
  3. Cover jar and let sit for two weeks, periodically checking to make sure peels are still submerged.
  4. After two weeks, strain liquid from peels. You now have a citrus-vinegar concentrate.
  5. Dilute with water and pour into spray bottles. Clean to your heart’s content!

This cleaner is awesome, and I love that my bathroom doesn’t smell like weird chemicals when I’m done wiping everything down. And it works great for tough stains when combined with a little baking soda. I usually have a jar of orange vinegar in the works plus a jar of peels in the freezer at any given time — I eat a lot of clementines.

You should note that this is a multipurpose cleaner, not an all-purpose cleaner, and I’ve heard it shouldn’t be used on wood, or on stone or granite countertops. You should be sure to test it on an inconspicuous spot before liberally using.

I’ll admit I’m not the inventor of this DIY — I have the zero waste community to thank for this idea, and it’s too easy and simple not to share!

Happy cleaning, and don’t forget to compost the peels! 😉

DIY Newspaper Seed Starting Pots

Pumpkin sprouts in DIY newspaper pots

I watched my parents start seeds indoors every spring as I was growing up. They had amassed quite the collection of plastic pots, and they’d start their seeds in those. The pots would get grouped together on cafeteria trays and lightly covered with a sheet of plastic wrap, then set in the sun.

Now that the frog choir seems to be in session nearly every evening and the primroses are blooming outside our bedroom window, I’m starting to think more about how I’ll start my own seeds this spring. I don’t have a plethora of pots like my parents do, and I refuse to buy seed starting trays (even secondhand) when I can make do with things I have around our house.

Egg cartons are great for starting seeds, but I unfortunately only have two of them.

Over the last few months, I’ve collected a few things I’ll be trying to start seeds in, ranging from egg cartons to paper towel tubes to plastic clamshell packaging (makeshift mini “greenhouses”). But my focus will be on DIYing newspaper pots. This appeals to me on many levels: they’re cheap (practically free), easy to make, and you can plant them right in the ground when the seedlings are big enough.

Yes, there is a nice wooden tool you can buy to help you make your newspaper pots, but it’s totally doable without it. All you need is a tin can or a glass jar, a lid the base of the jar will fit into, and some newspapers.

Here’s what I did:

1. Cut a strip of newspaper. One sheet of newspaper will make 4 strips to wrap around a 16 ounce tin can.

2. Wrap the newspaper around the can/jar, leaving about an inch of extra paper at the bottom.

3. Tuck the extra paper under, like you’re wrapping a present, and then mash the jar into the lid. This extra force will help the paper crease better.

4. Slide the jar/can out and fold about 1/4 inch of the top inward on itself to form a lip that will keep keep the top closed.

5. Fill with soil and sow some seeds! 

Patiently waiting for seeds to sprout. A plastic clamshell package makes a great mini “greenhouse.”

Alternatively, you can lightly wet the bottom of the newspaper pots and set them on a tray to dry if you’re not ready to fill them yet. I made a handful and have been keeping them in a box in our guest room until I’m ready to use them.

A stockpile of newspaper pots just waiting to be filled

This is an easy, mindless activity you can do while watching TV in the evening or if you have a few minutes of downtime while dinner is cooking, etc. You can even experiment with different sizes of jars/cans for larger or smaller newspaper pots as you see fit.

I hope you give this a try, and let me know how it works for you! Happy growing!