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How to Seal Coat a Driveway

This is step two of our driveway renovation project. If you haven’t filled your driveway cracks, you’ll need to do that first! These are the two least sexy projects we’ve done, but they were absolutely necessary to prepare for this winter!

Seal coating the driveway was considerably easier than filling the cracks. But waiting for everything to dry took FOREVER. Alright, not forever, it took about 3 days before we could drive on it. But in dog life, that’s 21 days.

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We started off by cleaning the driveway with this cleaner/degreaser, found at Home Depot. It hooked directly into the hose and was so easy to use! Screw it on, turn on the hose, and let it rip!

After the driveway has been thoroughly coated with the cleaner, you’ll need a large outdoor broom to scrub! Don’t kill yourself. Just scrub enough to see the white bubbles appear. When you’ve covered the driveway, you’ll need to rinse everything down with hose water.

First wait step! We did this on a cool, overcast day. So it took about 2-ish hours to dry.

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Here’s the sealer we chose. There’s a bunch of different options at Home Depot, but we went with the option that would best seal our very dilapidated driveway. We used two containers. Follow the instructions on the container to figure out how many square feet you’ll need.

My head DIY assistant poured a straight line of the sealer across the top of the driveway. Make sure you’re wearing DIY designated clothing. You will ABSOLUTELY get your shoes and clothes dirty. Do not wear a pair of shoes that you love, you’ll be sad.

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Squeegee time! This little guy is awesome. It was right next to the sealer at Home Depot. Basically, pretend like your cleaning car windows. Except the car window is huge and you’re standing on it. Brian was running back and forth from side to side on the driveway and pulling the sealer with him. There were some large blobs at the top where he first poured, so in this picture he’s pulling the extra down towards him.

Originally I was dipping the brush roller in the sealer tub and painting the sides of the driveway. We wanted to be a little more precise on the edges so we didn’t loose sealer in the grass and ultimately kill parts of our lawn. But it was going so slow. Brian had the genius idea to use a Chinese food container to scoop the sealer so I could pour it out as needed. He’s brilliant. And hot. Also, that’s my super serious DIY face that I apparently make for every second of every project I’m working on… according to my hot design assistant.

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I sealed about 16 inches in from the sides all the way down the driveway. You can already see the difference between the sealer and the asphalt disaster we were up against.

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Here’s the driveway after one coat. We waited another 24 hours and put on a second coat. Then waited 2 days before we drove on it. The weather was pretty cool when we did this and we wanted to make sure we got the best results possible.

Just to give you an idea of where we were when we started take a look at this before picture.

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Now take a look at this picture I snagged on my way to work. This was the morning after the second coat.

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Hello, gorgeous.

 

 

How to Fill Driveway Cracks

This was one of the most long overdue projects at our home. We’ve been talking about what a hot mess the driveway was for the last two and a half years. There were chunks of top coat missing from years neglect, 2 of which were admittedly our fault, and patches of grass.

I was almost half tempted to let it grow and see what the earth had in store for this asphalt disaster. But I figured it would be another 50 years of neglect and overgrowth before it actually looked balanced enough to photograph and I don’t have that kind of time. So we opted to fill in the cracks.

The first step to fill in the cracks is to remove the grass from them. I was actually surprised about the depth of the cracks once we removed the grass. I may or may not have role played God looking looking down at the Grand Canyon. “Thou shalt be a giant crack in the earth’s crust, illuminated by the light of surrounding casinos.”

After we revealed the canyons of cracks in our driveway, Brian edged the side. Why not clean it all up, right?

Then there was dirt everywhere, but no grass! So we rinsed it off.

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This will need time to dry before you start filling in the cracks. Next, you’ll need a bag of sand, which by the way will be ridiculously heavy. I don’t know if you knew this, but a 20 lb bag of sand weighs about the same as a small hippo. After 10 ft of holding the 20 lb bag and shuffling around the driveway, we took a ziplock back, filled it with sand, and cut out the corner. I highly recommend the ziplock bag strategy.

You don’t need to fill all the cracks with sand, but it’s recommended that you fill cracks larger than the size of your nail with sand before sealing with the crack sealing tar. The sand will keep the tar from settling deep in the cracks and cracking itself. It’s also more cost efficient to use sand than it is to fill everything with 100% tar.

Look at that stud hard at work. Ready to seal the cracks!

This blacktop crack filler is available at Home Depot. At first we started off with one small bottle, then we realized we were going to need stock in this stuff. For the second go-round, we went back to Home Depot and opted for the village sized bottle (which we used 100% of), which was only a couple dollars more than the hut sized bottle. When in doubt, always buy extra. Having to stop in the middle of your project is a major buzzkill and derails your momentum.

We poured the crack filler generously over the sand and used a flexible joint knife (the trowel-looking thing to smooth out drywall spackle) to flatten the crack filler, sealing it down. This part was the most fun. It also went the fastest. We moved quickly because this stuff cures in the blink of an eye.

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I’m not sure if it’s some chemical they intentionally put in there, like wet pink spackle, or if the sun changes it, but I almost had a heart attack when I saw the filler was brown. I though we would have been better off with the grass look, but thankfully it dried black.

It took a few hours to dry to the point of being tacky and about 24 hours to dry completely. But now our cracks are filled and we’re grass free!

Ready to seal coat your entire driveway? Check it out >

 

Black & White Photo Gallery

I celebrated my birthday this weekend with my spectacular husband and family. Brian gives the most thoughtful gifts, but he’s too excited to give them. I could only handle two days of, “You’re going to love your birthday gift,” before I couldn’t take it anymore. I needed to know what it was. So he went upstairs, got the gift, made me close my eyes, and when I opened them I saw……

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This is my absolute favorite picture of Duke and Duchess. Brian had it hand drawn by an artist! It’s gorgeous and even more beautiful in person. Here’s the original photo.

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Original Photo

I was so inspired by the classic black and white shades of the picture I knew I needed to give it a prominent place in our home. I decided to do a black and white photo gallery, which I nick-named “The Dog Wall”.

My rules for the wall were simple. 1. All pictures must be black and white. 2. At least one dog must be present in each picture. That’s it!

I started by scrolling through my albums and editing photos using my iPhone to change the image to black and white. Once I chose the pictures I printed at a Rite-Aid. I ordered 11 photos in different sizes. The total cost was $18.

Aside from the idea of having 12 pictures of our 3 dogs (of course Lady was included!) on the wall, the most exciting part of the project was the assortment of frames! My mom had a few old frames that were in a box in the attic. For the remaining frames, I went to Goodwill and picked out some extremely tired frames that needed a sexy new look! 6 frames cost $10 at Goodwill.

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I removed the glass and the backs from all of the frames in order to spray paint them. I did this in our basement because it was raining outside and I was too impatient to wait until it stopped. Our house smelled like paint for a few hours. So I’m probably not going to do that again. Most likely.

I went over the frames with two healthy coats of black spray paint. I could not contain myself while I was waiting for these to dry. I waited a full 24 hours before touching the frames to avoid having finger prints on the wood. But it was tough keeping my hands to myself!

Once they were completely dry, I put the glass back in and added the pictures!

Here’s the wall the pictures went on before they were up. My little helper wanted to be in the picture. I’m not kidding. She posed as soon as I took my phone out.

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Gallery walls can be tricky, especially when you have 12 different frames. ¬†I recommend How to Hang Stuff, Like a Girl. I’m very visual and I need to plan out how the wall is going to look and make adjustments.

Here’s the finished look!

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It’s tough getting a picture of this wall because it’s in a hallway, but I crawled inside the coat closet across from the frames so you could see how it looks up close!

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We love our dogs!

Chili

There’s nothing like a full belly from a hearty bowl of chili. This is one of the easiest recipes I have and it goes such a long way. People typically only make soup when it’s cold out. You’re supposed to eat chili when it’s chilly, get it? ūüôā But this chili is good on burgers, nachos, hot dogs, literally everything. By popular request, I make this bad boy often.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large green peppers
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 29 oz cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cans of tomato sauce
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 2 cans of black beans
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 2 tsp fajita seasoning
  • 4 cups corn
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 3 tsp sea salt

Dice and saut√© the peppers and onion in a large cast-iron pan (if you don’t have cast-iron, any pan will do. But I strongly recommend a cast-iron). Start with the peppers. They usually take a little longer to caramelize than the onions. After they’ve gotten a good sweat on, I add a tsp of sugar and stir. It adds a nice sweetness and helps bring out the goldenness of the onions and char the peppers lightly.

In a large pot, add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste. Turn on medium to get the heat moving quickly. Pour the black beans into a large strainer and rinse well to remove the bean water. Add the beans to the pot with the tomatoes.

When the peppers and onions are finished, add them to the pot of beans and tomatoes. In the same pan as the peppers and onions, add the ground turkey. We love this Butterball Everyday turkey. Brian actually had no idea that I use turkey until I added this recipe to my Instagram stories. I think it tastes better than ground beef and it’s definitely leaner. I add a dash of fajita seasoning to add some flavor to the meat.

After it browns, add it to the pot.

This was not a part of my original recipe, but I have recently loved the bright pop of sweet corn in chili so I’ve been adding 4 cups to every pot of chili I make. You can use frozen or fresh corn.

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The seasonings are really what drives this baby home. Once all the ingredients are in the pot, add your chili powder, salt, and garlic.

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Partially cover on LOW heat, for 3 hours stirring occasionally. Then enjoy!

Pupsicles

If you can’t tell, we LOVE our dogs! This 4th of July we wanted them to have something delicious to help keep them cool. So we’ve made home made popsicles for them to enjoy.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Carrots
  • 1 1/2 Cup Water
  • 1 1/2 tsp Sodium Free Beef Bouillon
  • Hand full of dog food

Put water on high heat until it boils. While the water gets going finely chop 1/2 cup of carrots. When the water is ready, add the bouillon. Stir well so it dissolves completely. Then add the carrots. Bring the heat down to a nice simmer for 5 mins to slightly soften the carrots.

Take a hand full of whatever dog food you use and place 3 or 4 kibbles in each ice cube tray. This will add some nice crunch and a familiar flavor that your pup will most certainly enjoy!

 

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Take the pot off the stove and strain the broth to separate from the carrots. I used a measuring cup, but you can use anything with a spout. This will make pouring the broth evenly into the ice cube tray effortless.

While the broth is cooling, take the carrots and add them evenly to each ice cube tray. I used a spoon to do this. You can also add a few ice cubes to the broth to cool it faster.

When the broth is cool, take the measuring cup and evenly pour into each tray.

When the tray is full put it in the freezer! Freeze completely before letting your fur babies enjoy these refreshing pupsicles!

 

 

Outdoor Couch Cushion

We try and do everything on a budget. We’re on a mission to redo this house with the tears of Abe Lincon. EVERY penny counts. Truth be told, our old neighbors in our apartment complex were throwing these couches away and Brian snagged them at the last second.

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Before

They are awesome. So awesome in fact, a brand new set retails for over $2,000. These cushions have seen better days. They started to smell like moldy fabric death and tear at the corners. I looked up the manufacturer to order replacement cushions and they were RIDICULOUS. Like $300 per cushion. We could have ordered a new love seat for what we would have paid for just the essence of the chair (any Friends fans out there?! “That’s right, I’m taking the essence!”) I tried finding replacement cushions from literally every single english speaking company that has a website. This couch is such a awkward length we had only one more option: DIY.

Here’s the alternative we came up with for about $80 (and an additional $80 for the top pillows I got from Target). Even at $160 all in, that was still a better option than the replacement cushions.

How all good DIY stories start out, once upon a Saturday we went to Home Depot. We got a large piece of plywood for $20. As always, because Home Depot is the best, they cut the wood to size for us (we measured before so we knew the dimensions).

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Then we went to Joanne Fabric and picked out some outdoor fabric for $11. If you subscribe to their text messages they’ll send you coupons. I had a 60% off fabric coupon. I go to Joanne Fabric maybe once a year, but their frequent text messages are totally worth it when you make an awesome score like this.

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Here’s the outdoor fabric we chose

ALWAYS do your research when getting materials for projects. We needed memory foam to complete this project and Joanne’s was selling 2 inch memory foam for $79. We found a larger 3 inch memory foam piece on Amazon for $50. So we opted to wait for the two day delivery to save $29 and get a better piece of padding. We’re so glad we did!

Here’s how it’s done:

Take the cushions and line them up on the plywood. With a pen or pencil, outline the cushions.

With a jigsaw, follow the outline you made cutting away the excess wood.

Don’t go crazy cutting. It’s better to go slow, see what fits and make adjustments. We shaped up the plywood multiple times to make sure that it fit exactly into the frame of the couch.

When you’re happy with the shape of the plywood, place it on top of the memory foam. Use a utility knife to cut along the shape of the plywood, using it as a template.

When you’re finished cutting out the memory foam, take the fabric and place it upside down on a flat surface. Then place the memory foam on the fabric and the plywood on top of the memory foam.

Using a stapler, pull the excess fabric up and staple it to the plywood. Work your way around the plywood stapling the fabric into place. Be sure to pull tightly in the corners and staple generously to keep the fabric in place.

Here’s the final product being enjoyed by The Royals! The blue pillows are from Target. I got all three of them for 15% off for a total of $80. Making the entire project total $180. I think it was pretty worth it!

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Duke is looking ROYALLY comfortable!
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Finished product!

Right on Time

We’re so excited about all the amazing advances that are happening at our home and in our lives. God has been exceedingly and abundantly good to us and we’re overwhelmed by His faithfulness.

We’re excited to announce after 5 years at Clemens Food Group Brian’s time there has come to an end. He has been extended an outstanding opportunity and accepted a position with Campbell’s Soup. I’m so proud of his leadership not only in our home, but at his place of employment.

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This vision is for a future time. 
It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place.    It will not be delayed. Habakkuk 2:3This transition took longer than we would have preferred, but we know that God’s promises are true. Waiting is not something we do easily, but we have lived in confidence and expectation that one day this vision would come to pass.

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God’s timing is always perfect and we know He always works things out together for our good! Brian is excited to start his new job with his new timepiece as a constant reminder that God is always on time.

If you like Brian’s watch you can enter to win a $100 credit for a Jord Wood Watch by clicking here. Everyone that enters will receive a $25 credit, but one person will take home the $100 prize!

Brian loves his new watch and receives compliments on its uniqueness wherever we go. It’s light weight and is made with excellent quality. Every watch comes in a beautiful wood protective case with a care package and instructions to care for your wood watch.

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Enter here to win $100 towards your own! Check out all the Jord styles, you’re sure to find something you’ll love!

 

Guacamole

Guac is a staple in our house. Mainly because we celebrate Taco Tuesday almost religiously. This is a simple 10 min guacamole recipe we engineered over the years.

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Ingredients:

  • Avocado
  • Tomato
  • Cilantro
  • Oregano
  • Salt
  • Garlic Powder
  • Pepper
  • Jalape√Īo or Crushed Red Pepper (optional)

If you’re feeling spicy, you can add a jalape√Īo! We’ll be adding¬†jalape√Īos from our garden just as soon as they arrive!¬†When we don’t have fresh jalape√Īos sometimes we add crushed red pepper flakes.¬†We¬†like a lot of spice in our¬†life.

Half the avocado and remove the pit. If the avocado is perfectly ripe you should be able to scoop it out using a spoon with ease. Then dice a tomato. Sometimes I cut the end off of the tomato and squeeze out some of the juice before dicing it. This is the best way to keep the guac from getting watery.

Next into the bowl are spices! We started growing fresh cilantro in our herb garden this year. Fresh cilantro is KEY. As soon as I started cutting it I could smell the zest and it was OUTRAGEOUS. My mouth is watering thinking about the cilantro.

Once you’ve cut the fresh parsley and oregano you can add that to the guac along with the salt, pepper, and garlic powder –these ingredients are to taste. So you can go as heavy or as light on them as you wish.

Once all the ingredients are in you can mash it all together.

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We got this molcajete bowl from CostCo¬†when we first got married. It’s incredibly heavy and annoying to store.

When to stop mixing the guacamole is a person preference thing. I do not like guacamole that is pureed. I like it a little chunky. So I stop mashing when it starts to look like this.

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Enjoy your next Taco Tuesday! Adios.

Wood Arrow Decor

A few months ago I made a custom decor piece for my sister’s birthday. She’s been¬†obsessed¬†with arrows for months and I wanted to give her something special. I made a wood canvas with 3 arrows and wrote¬†her kids names on them.

I posted this picture on my instagram of the finished project and I was so overwhelmed by the awesome response I got.

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One of my very good friends is having a baby and when she told me the nursery theme is arrows, I knew I needed to make something for the new little man.

I used a table saw cut the wood and the same guided template I created when I made my sister’s decor to make the individual pieces. Normally I start projects with unpainted or unstained wood, but this was a large scrap piece I had from a previous project. I never used to be a hoarder. Actually, I get great joy out of throwing stuff away. I hate clutter. But I have a really difficult time throwing project scraps away because they can always be used int he future for one project or another. ANYWAY….

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I made cuts according to the guide for the set of 3 arrows I was working on, but then my creative juices took over. I scrapped the guide and started to work out this vision I had in my head. I was so excited about the layering look in the arrow head I could barely contain myself on the driveway as I was assembling the pieces.

I moved my operation from the driveway to the basement so I could stain and paint the wood. It was pretty windy the day I worked on this and I didn’t want grass blowing onto the wood¬†while it was drying.

I played around with a couple different color patterns, but ultimately, I went with something I thought looked rustic-chic. My friend told me she painted the¬†nursery shades of gray with a mint green accent color. I went with a rich colored stain and white to balance it out. I played around with the placement of white versus stain, but ultimately I went with the stain on the bottom. I tried putting it between the two white arrows, but it was too stripe-looking and immediately annoyed me. So I opted for this unbalanced look, which ironically looks incredibly proportionate¬†because the brown stain is so much heavier than the white paint. Funny how our¬†eyes and our brains play tricks on us¬†like that, right? Or maybe I’m just a crazy lady.

I carried the color scheme through to the next decor piece to make them feel like a set. But I gave this one some flare because it was screaming at me to do something fun.

I fastened each piece with wood glue, but to be safe I used the nail gun to really secure all the wood pieces together.

Here they are in their sweet new baby boy home¬†ūüôā

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Also, here’s this little guy that I hand painted. It’s the same stain color, just a different take on the arrow theme!

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My friends make the sweetest babies! I’m so happy I got the opportunity to be a part of this little Prince’s world before he has even entered it. He’s going to be a mighty little boy!

Veggie Garden in 8 Hours

This was one of my favorite projects, but I have to admit, I was not prepared for the level of work this was going to take. If you already have a spot with no grass, or an existing garden to work with, I envy you. We picked the spot on the side of our house that the dogs cannot reach and started digging. Holy crap was this a lot of work. The digging was fun, but I was thinking¬†ok, this is going to take 30 mins.¬†WRONG. Our garden is 8X4. Which really isn’t even all that big. We were going to do 8×8 because we’re ambitious and I’m a crazy tomato lady. I want hundreds of tomatoes. I want enough tomatoes to create my very own¬†little Italy in our¬†neighborhood. But,¬†I’m glad we scaled it back for our first garden experience because all my digging muscles hurt for two days.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 4×4 pressure treated wood
  • Wood rails (you decide the length) pressure treated
  • Shovel or tiller
  • Deck¬†screws
  • Soil
  • Plants to grow!

Here’s the area we started with. We took on piece of wood and placed it on the ground so we could start outlining the area our garden was going to be.

Digging the grass out and turning soil took 2-3 hours. The best advice I can give you is to wait until after it rains to start digging. It rained for almost 3 straight days before we started our garden, making the ground very¬†pliable. We dug about 8 inches down and 16 inches in the corners. SUPER IMPORTANT: Spend the time to remove all the weeds grass, roots, and¬†whatever else you see that can be disruptive to your veggies growth. This will also eliminate a serious amount of weeding that you’ll need to do in the future.

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This hand tiller really helped us turn the soil and find things in the ground that needed to be removed.

You’ll need a 4×4 cut down into 4 posts. Ours were just over 12 inches. We used scraps from a previous project. We used pressure treated wood so the frame wouldn’t degrade in the elements over time.

You’ll need wood screws to join the post to the frame for the garden bed. This part took maybe 20 mins and we did it on a flat surface. It was the easiest part of the project. Continue to work around the 4 sides screwing the frame into the 4×4 posts. Remember, the posts will go down into the ground. So when you’re screwing, line them up with the end of the post, not the middle.

Once the frame¬†is finished, place it over the garden. You might need to reshape the corners of your garden if they’re not perfectly square. After the frame is in place, push the dirt around the edges to secure the posts into the ground and close any spaces between the wood and the ground.

A garden rake wil help you accomplish this step with speed. It will also bring to the surface any large rocks, weeds, or roots that you may have missed before.

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Once you’re happy with your foundation, you can add the soil! We used an all-purpose garden soil that Home Depot had one sale. We were trying to do this on budget, so sale soil it was! We used 14 bags of soil in total. Take a look at the measurements on the bag. It’ll tell you how many bags you need according the the square footage of your garden.

We put 10 bags of soil down, then we starting spacing out our plants. Pay attention to how far apart each plant needs to be from one another. In all honesty, we cheated a few inches. But it’s important that you give them some space so the roots don’t choke each other.

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Once you have all the place in their positions, you can add the remaining bags of soil. Depending on what kind of veggies you got, you’ll need to burry them at different depths. Pay attention to the watering requirements and depth requirements of each plant! Water them right away! They’ll need to adapt to their new environment and the best way to do that is to feed them!

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We planted 4 different types of tomatoes, 3 different types of sweet peppers, serrano and jalape√Īo peppers, eggplant and strawberries!¬†I’ll let you know in 6-8 weeks if this was worth it! ūüôā