Plant crocus bulbs just underneath your grass in fall for early spring color. 'Hokus Crocus,' shown here, is a mix of purple, white and purple-white striped varieties. These dainty flowers like a sunny garden spot and typically multiply as time goes by. Wait six to eight weeks before you mow over their foliage so you'll have repeat blooms next year. (The small bulbs usually flower before the grass needs mowing anyway, and the thin, narrow leaves blend in with your lawn.)
Soybean, also known as edamame, earns its spot on the challenging list because of how much critters love it. Grow a crop of edamame, and you’re rolling out the welcome mat for deer, groundhogs and rabbits. These animals consider soybeans candy. Take care to protect plants as soon as you plant, which shouldn’t be too early, because soybean is very cold sensitive. Wait until temps are reliably above 55 F.
Looking down on the pumpkin reveals how various colored succulents work well together to create a beautiful patchwork of texture. Try adding a pumpkin like this to the holiday table or even to your outdoor living space. The pumpkin should last for weeks. When you are ready to toss the pumpkin, simply remove the succulents and plant them in a container.
If you want to add live greenery to your front porch entry but worry about proper care and upkeep, stick with arborvitae in ceramic pots. As long as the front porch receives direct sunlight for a good portion of the day, the trees will thrive for a month or so leading up to the end of the holiday season. After that, it's best to plant them outside in full sunlight.
Vermicomposting is a great way to teach kids about composting while they play in the dirt. To get started, add some holes for air and drainage to a premade bin or box, or make your own. You'll also need some worms--red wiggler worms, or Eisenia fetida, to be specific. As you add food scraps to the bin, the worms will eat them and excrete (okay, poop) castings you can use in your garden. The castings are great for amending your soil and fertilizing plants. Read more about how to care for the worms in chapter 7 of Balz's book (their needs are pretty simple).
How gorgeous is this combo of copper pot, chunky purple amethyst, hawthoria 'Zebra' and sempervivum? To create this look, cut your hen and chicks (sempervivum) and position at an angle in the pot, filling your container with cactus potting mix. Rocks at the bottom of the container help with drainage. End the design with your amethyst and moss. Don't forget to soak your hen and chicks every two weeks and replace. Lightly water your hawthoria with about one tablespoon of water every two weeks.
Keep in mind, says Fried, that you can make your succulent designs even more easy care by using succulent cuttings rather than planting them in containers. Cut where the root begins, says Fried and position in your container. Cuttings can be easily changed out. Just remember to soak your cuttings every two or three weeks in a bowl of water and they should last for months without roots. When you are done with your arrangement you can place the cutting in soil in a container or in your backyard and "watch it root and grow" says Fried.