Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Harvest Pics

First harvest from earlier this month. I've harvested so much since then...but keep forgetting to take pictures!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Swiss Chard

I've decided to plant some Swiss Chard. I'm pulling out my cilantro and probably most of the lettuce and would like to plant something that will still grow for awhile. I've seen SO much information on Swiss Chard lately! It seems that everyone has Swiss Chard in their garden. I've even seen pictures of Swiss Chard used as a flower arrangement (which, to a super-allergic gal like me, is a fantastic idea)!

Let me know if you have any yummy Swiss Chard recipes that you think I should try!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bye-Bye Cilantro

So I won't be growing cilantro next year. I'm so sad. But it just didn't turn out as I'd hoped. When I was thinking about planting my garden I had the idea of growing everything I'd need to make my own salsa: tomatoes, onions, and cilantro. What I didn't think about was how long each of these thing took to grow and their harvest times. My tomatoes are just starting to appear and my onions won't be ready until late July and my cilantro has bit the dust! How sad! I noticed a weird, lacy, wispy type of leaves growing out of the cilantro a few weeks ago. I clipped them out and hoped it was nothing to worry about. I had asked if anyone knew what it was and Katie replied that it was the cilantro bolting and starting to flower and seed. The flavor of the cilantro changes once it flowers so, I've decided to pull it out and plant something else in it's place. What a shame! I didn't even get to use one single sprig!

Here you can kind of see the difference between the leaves on the bottom and the leaves on the top.

I've also decided not to plant SO much lettuce next year! 4 squares was WAY too much! We've done our best to eat as much as we can but it just keeps coming back! Another problem was that I tried a mix of red and green leaf salad mix and was not terrifically happy with the results. Some of the lettuce had a bitter, sort of spicy flavor (sort of similar to arugula--which I DO NOT LIKE!!) and we just weren't happy with it. Next year I'm going to stick with romaine and buttercrunch. They're so mild and tender and wonderful so I know I can't go wrong with those.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Garden Pics!

Here are the latest pictures from my garden. I have baby tomatoes and baby sugar snap peas and TONS of lettuce!! We ate the peas for dinner tonight. It was a teeny harvest but SO worth it! They were the sweetest, yummiest sugar snap peas I've ever had! I blanched them in a little bit of water for just a minute or two and then lightly salted them. They tasted like I'd dipped them in sugar! SOOOOO good!

Potatoes and onions

Baby Husky Cherry Red tomatoes

Baby Yellow Pear tomatoes

Herbs, lettuce, tomatoes and peppers (they're even bigger now...maybe more pics tomorrow. I seem to be a blog slacker so I'll try to be better in the future!)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What a busy last few weeks we've had! No time to garden; no time to blog about gardening. Luckily, my garden had a busy few weeks too...busy growing that is!! I now have flowers on my potato plants (which are totally huge by the way) and the peas that I thought weren't growing have flowers also. My lettuce has grown out of its box and i have teeny baby tomatoes! I'm so excited! We've been having tons of lettuce salads and they have been fantastic!

My raspberries (at least that's what I think they are) have had a few flowers and I am hoping that they will soon turn to berries. I'm so excited to try them!

Here are some pictures from a couple of weeks ago. Hopefully I'll have more current ones up tomorrow.
Oh, a couple of questions:

1. The cilantro I planted has really taken off but it has some weird non-cilantro-like things growing out the center of the plant...anyone have any idea what that is?

2. I planted Sugar Ann Snap Peas and the card that came with it said they grow in a bush. Do I still need to make a trellis for them to grow on? They sort of seem to be attacking my onion stalks and attaching their little tendrils to them!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

New Stuff

My garden is finally taking shape! Before I left town to go visit our families I planted strawberries (Ozark Beauties and Sequoias), tomatoes (Husky Cherry Red and Celebrity), peppers (Sweet Yellow Bell, Jalapeno, Hot Yellow Banana), Peas (Sugar Ann Snap) and more lettuce (Buttercrunch and Romaine). So far they are doing great. I've got 2 flowers on my Cherry Red tomato and the rest of the newbies are looking good.

My already existing plants are doing FANTASTIC! I have a pictures of the garden when I left--right after I planted--but have yet to take a picture of what they look like now. My potatoes went totally crazy after I left and are now probably 3 time as big as they were! I'll post those tomorrow.

Tonight we ate lettuce from out back! It was the first time we've picked any. I was so excited to just run out back, tear off a few leaves and run back in to wash them! We ate it on our tacos so it wasn't just a lettuce salad...but I'm pretty sure the lettuce MADE the tacos :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Rosemary Cookie Recipe

1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cream of tarter
2 cups flour
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

Cream butter and sugars. Add vegetable oil and mix until combined. Mix in egg and vanilla. Stir together baking soda, cream of tarter and flour. Add to wet mixture. This dough is really sticky. Add flour by Tbsp until it's a firmer consistency. (I think I added about 4 extra Tbsp of flour when I made it the last time). Gently stir in rosemary by hand. Roll into small balls and place on parchment covered cookie sheet. Flatten each cookie with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar. Bake for 6 minutes, turn pan and bake 2-4 more minutes until firm and the edges are slightly browned.

This makes A LOT of cookies! I got 7 dozen out of one batch! I only baked a dozen and froze the rest. I rolled and flattened all of them and froze them on cookie sheets one layer at a time. Once they were pretty firm and almost frozen through (which doesn't take long since they're pretty tiny) I removed them from the sheet and just tossed them in baggies. This way, I can just grab a couple of cookies and bake them up fresh whenever I need them!

I've tried rosemary and mint but think lavender would be good too...that's what I'm going to try next. I also think maybe some with orange zest dipped in dark chocolate might be excellent!!

Also, the first time I made them I used dried rosemary which is stronger than the fresh stuff. If you're using fresh herbs I'd probably use 2x the amount. The rosemary is strong so you might not have to use quite 2 Tbsp but if you do the mint I'd use at least that much!

Enjoy...and let me know if you try any other crazy variations :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

C is for Cookie

As I'm writing this blog entry I'm eating a freshly baked rosemary cookie. OK...I'm eating 2 freshly baked rosemary cookies...and one mint cookie!! Tonight I snipped off a sprig of rosemary and a few leaves of mint and chopped them up and made cookies. They are the most wonderful little butter cookies! The rosemary are my favorite by far. I usually don't think of rosemary as a sweet herb but when added with the sugar in these cookies they are SO great! When you bite into them you get this big whiff of perfume-y rosemary and it's just fantastic! The mint ones turned out pretty good too but I definitely need to add more mint next time. Rosemary is so powerful that just 1/2 a tablespoon goes a long way. The mint just needed a little more oomph. I won't be making these again for awhile though; I have 6 dozen (that's right SIX DOZEN) in the freezer...and I only made 1 batch!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I have a garden...with real stuff growing in it! Today I planted my herbs. They are so beautiful! They make my boxes look like a real garden instead of just boxes with dirt in them! We took a Mother's Day trip to Walmart and bought some parsley (which I had forgotten to buy the other day) and some little terra cotta pots for the mint and lavender. I got the sweet basil, rosemary, parsley and cilantro planted in the first row of one of my boxes. I decided to do the lavender and mint in pots. Mint because everywhere I read says that it can totally take over a garden and lavender because I'm not really sure what to do with it. Does anyone have any suggestions for what to use lavender for?

We also bought marigolds. A lot of marigolds. Too many marigolds. As I said in the last post, I just recently learned that marigolds are great for pest protection. So, as we were looking at the marigolds I think our brains said "PEST PROTECTION...GET AS MANY AS YOU CAN". Remember, we only have 2 4x4 garden boxes. Each carton of marigolds has 8 flowers in it. We bought 6 CARTONS!!!! As of right now, I've only used 2...I've got a lot of marigolds left!! I also planted some nasturtium seeds in between the marigolds. I'm hoping that they'll grow up and out of the box. Hopefully both these flowers will help with the hungry bunnies!!

The only thing we didn't get planted were the strawberries. I had planned to buy some soil at the store today but we bought the wrong kind--again. I wanted organic/no plant food added. Even after Dave and I both looked the bags over a few times we still missed the part that said (in large letters) "plant food will feed plants for at least 6 weeks". So, it's back to the store tomorrow to return it and buy something better.

I'm so proud of my little garden! My potatoes are doing great and my onions are wonderfully out of control and now I have my own little herb garden. I can't wait to snip some rosemary for rosemary cookies--I'm also thinking lavender cookies would be tasty too!

Friday, May 7, 2010


It's been cold. It's been windy. It's been rainy. Yuck!

It's still cold but we bought plants anyway! We had planned to buy strawberries (I'm a little late getting those in!!) but went a little crazy and bought tons of herbs: cilantro, sweet basil, mint, rosemary, lavender! We also got 2 different kinds of strawberries, the names of which I can't remember and they're in the garage and I'm I'll elaborate on those later!

I also bought something called Liquid Fence. Since I've had trouble with the bunnies loving my buttercrunch lettuce a little too much I asked for some help at the nursery today. I wasn't really keen on buying anything that had to be sprayed directly on my plants since my family will eventually be eating them. The guy working there assured me that there was no harm in it and that it was "all natural". It says you can spray it directly on edible plants just not before harvesting. Hmmmm. So it's OK a few days before you harvest but not right before you harvest? OR it's not OK before harvesting but OK after? Hmmmmm. I bought it anyway (for $12.99!!!!!!) but am certainly not going to spray it directly on my plants. I think I'll spray some around the perimeter of both the beds; since they're raised I doubt that will pose too much of a problem.

I just read about another garden blogger who was planting marigolds for pest protection and I asked her what types of pests they ward off. She was very helpful and actually wrote a whole blog entry about it! Apparently marigolds stop TONS of things...including RABBITS!!! Needless to say, we are buying lots of marigolds. Soon! Another site she recommended goes into great detail about companion planting--strategically planting things next to each other so each influences the other positively. I'm definitely going to have to look over this more carefully when I plan things out for next year.

I'm so happy to have actual things ready to plant! It's supposed to be cold tonight and tomorrow...but then--THEN--I can plant!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


"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

(thanks to skippy's vegetable garden for this quote!!)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Garden Blogs

I haven't done a thing in the garden today. 3 squares of lettuce have been planted and the potatoes and onions are doing their thing. I'm on standby until we buy more things to plant this week. So, while I wait, I've been doing some garden blog stalking :) I can't believe how many people are writing blogs about their gardens! Some are new gardeners like me and some have been writing for years; some are simply chronicaling their garden adventures and some are offering wonderful, free gardening advice. I've found tons from here in the US but also some from the UK and Austrailia. How cool is it to talk to someone who has a garden a zillion miles away?! All of them have fantastic pictures of their gardens. I've created a list of blogs I like; check out their inspiring stories and photos!!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Wascally Wabbits

Someone has been eating my lettuce. I planted my transplants a couple of days ago (see below) and they were looking pretty good. Until today. I looked out the kitchen window this morning to check on everything and there were no little green leaves peeking out at me! I ran out to check it out and at first wondered if the horrible winds we've been having these last few days had just pushed the leaves really far down. But, after I got out there I could see that something had just chomped it's way through the leaves! I guess I'll just let them be and see if they grow back. I planted more lettuce seeds today--another leaf lettuce type called summer crunch. Hopefully it will do as well as my other seeds have done.

I finally got my berry bush in a pot. It looks great! I bought a small trellis for it to climb on but am thinking I may need a taller one. I'll just have to see how things go once it starts growing.

I tried to get strawberries today but didn't because they only had roots for June bearing plants. I'd rather get the ones that bloom and produce fruit all summer so I passed them up. I think we'll head to Home Depot this week; they seemed to have a better selection of plants anyway.

So, back to my wascally wabbit problem! What do I do? In Mel's Square Foot Gardening book and on his site he recommends building another large, tall box out of chicken wire type stuff to set on top of the SqFtGarden. This seems like a lot of work :( And I don't really want to have to take the whole huge (and won't it have to be huge to fit over my vertical plants like squash and tomatoes?) off every time I want to harvest or water or plant. I looked for a type of netting today but couldn't find anything. I don't really want to sprinkle any sort of pest/animal repellent on the garden because I don't really want to eat that! Even if I only sprinkle it around the boxes I'm afraid wind and rain and weather in general will move it into my veggies...yuck! I'm going to do more research on some netting type stuff but if anyone has any suggestions I'm open to them!!

To end on a happy note, check out this sunset tonight! Just beautiful!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mystery Berries!

Can anyone help identify this berry plant? I bought it for 3 dollars at a rummage sale with the tag "Berry Bush". It has teeny, prickly thorns. I tried to get a close up of the leaves but it was dark so they're not as great as they could be. Let me know what you think :)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


We moved our potatoes tonight. It has finally been sunny, although cool, for a couple of days now and we were able to get outside and do a little bit of work. We decided to not only plant more potatoes per square but to also transfer them from the north end of the garden to the south end. I didn't really plan that box as well as I had thought and need the north end for some squash that will need a trellis. If I plant the squash on the south end they'll end up blocking all the rest of the veggies from the sun and from my kitchen window view.

I also planted some of my buttercrunch lettuce transplants. I know I shouldn't have planted them quite yet (frost warning tonight) but they were looking VERY sad and sickly since they'd been hanging out in my garage for, well, a really long time. I figured they were going to die in the garage anyway, might as well give them a chance in the outdoors!

My little lettuce seeds have finally popped up through the dirt! It was no 3 days like Mr. Man from Wal-Mart assured me but they're really growing. When I planted them I discovered the seeds were SO tiny that I couldn't pick them out and plant one seed per I just dropped a bunch in. Now there are little bunches of lettuce all over the square instead of nice neat rows...oh well!

My onions are AWESOME! I only hope they are looking as wonderful underneath all that soil as they are up above! They're doing so well that we planted another square :)

Only about a week and a half left until we can get started planting all the rest of the goodies...I can't wait!

Monday, April 26, 2010


"No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden"

Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

Dear Rain,

Thank you for watering my potatoes and onions and lettuce for me. It has been really nice not to have to worry about remembering to give my little babies a drink. However, you have made the days terribly damp and dreary; cold and gray.

I have a favor to ask, Rain. Please let me get a few days of warm, sunshiny weather in this next week. I need to plant strawberries and more lettuce, and squash, and tomatoes and, well, just a lot of stuff! The longer you stay around, the longer I have to wait to plant.

Please don't take this as a plea for you to stay away indefinitely; my plants and I need you. Please just give us a little break!


Saturday, April 24, 2010


Our church had a rummage sale this morning. By the time we got there most of the things were gone but there was a huge selection of plants that were going pretty cheap! I looked through them and saw some nice plants but nothing that really fit my fancy. As I got to the end though, I saw a sign for "berry bushes". I started to ask around to find out exactly what kind of berries these bushes would produce. I kept getting answers like "hmmmmmmm".

We got it narrowed down to either blueberries or blackberries and, since I like both of those, and the big bush was only three dollars, I decided to buy it. I'm going to plant it in a container since berries tend to take over underground and can monopolize space other plants may need. Mel's book advises building a 2 x 2 box and using it only for berries--one type of berry per box. Neither Dave or I want to build another box--that was exciting enough the first time--so we're just going to use a big pot. I'll put some rocks in the bottom so the soil doesn't get moldy and cause problems for the roots and then I think I'll make up a little of Mel's mix if I can find the right "ingredients". I'll probably need some type of structure for it to climb up as well.

I'm not exactly sure what will grow from this plant but hopefully it will be some type of yummy, delicious berry. Hmmmmm....we shall see!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Bible

I bought the bible of square foot gardeners today: "All New Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew. It's really great. It gives a lot of in depth info about square foot gardening...the kind of info you want BEFORE you start your garden! I should have bought it sooner.

In his book Mel talks about how to build the boxes (that part we did mostly right) and what exactly to fill them with so you don't have to weed. We filled our boxes with plain ol' dirt from the huge pile in our yard and mixed it with lots of peat moss to soften it up. I'm sure it will be ok for this year but next year I really want to try to make "Mel's Mix." It's a combination of peat moss, compost and vermiculite. He also puts down a black plastic sheet under the box so no weeds from the ground can come up through the mixture. I've been pulling lots of weeds out of the boxes already and I'm really sorry I didn't pay more attention and buy this book first.

Mel also gives really detailed info about how many of each vegetable to plant in each square. Most of what I found on the internet said to plant 1 potato per square but Mel's book says to do 4. We still haven't seen any potatoes growing yet so I think we're going to chance it and dig up what we've planted already and get more in each square. We may also relocate them to the bottom of the square grid. We initially put them at the north end of the grid but now, after reading the book I realize I'm probably going to need that north end for more vertical growing plants like my squash. I've also decided to plant some sugar snap peas which will need a trellis to grow on too so I think I'll rework my grid and put those things on the north end.

Still no lettuce news to report but tonight when I went out to water I counted 15 onions sprouting out of the ground! How wonderful is that?! We planted 27 onions and we have some coming from all 3 squares we planted in. As I stand at my kitchen window I can look right out into the garden and see them peeking out at me. It's so exciting!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Here They Are!

My onions have arrived. At least 5 of them anyway! They're a little hard to see so I've included some helpers.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Well, the Garden Gods have looked down upon my two 4 x 4 boxes of dirt and peat moss and decided that yes, they will indeed grant me the ability to grow at least something. As I was out this evening watering the potatoes, onions and lettuce and staring as hard as I could at the little squares, trying to make out something coming up from the ground, I saw what I'd been looking for! There, right where I was looking was a teeny tiny nub of ONION STALK!!!!! I, of course, started screaming. Dave came over and looked and assured me that it was actually a real, honest-to-goodness piece of something coming out of the ground! As I looked around a little I found more! All together I spotted 5 little green guys poking their heads out!

Although I've been excited since deciding to quit talking about the garden and actually do it, I've been a little scared that nothing would grow. Ever. And even though I know just because the tippity-tops of what will become--hopefully--a nice, big, juicy onion does not necessarily mean that the whole garden will be perfect and disease/pest/animal free, it does give me a giant helping of optimism that is sure to last me quite awhile!!

Monday, April 19, 2010


"I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation. It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a rose of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green."

--Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mosses from an Old Manse

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Lettuce Entertain You

1 square of lettuce is in the ground! The seeds are supposed to sprout in 7-10 days...I can't wait! I held off on planting the transplants because they're not supposed to go in the ground until the actual week of the last frost date (which is supposedly May 10th). The seeds can go in 2-3 weeks ahead of time. All my research says to put 16 seeds per square but when I opened the packet of seeds and poured some out in my hand they were SO small that there was no possible way to only place one seed at a time. So, I may end up with a giant square packed full of lettuce! Hopefully this won't interfere with the way they grow. I keep reading about how to "thin" seeds once they start to come up through the ground but I don't really understand I'm going with the let's-just-see-what-happens method.

I plan on planting 4 total squares of lettuce. I'm spacing out the planting dates by a week or so in order to have each square available for harvesting at different times. This will let me cut leaves from one square each week and give that lettuce time to replenish while we're chowing down on lettuce from the other 3 squares.

In other news, my garden binder (yes, I have a garden binder! I'm now a bit of an organizing freak--thanks to that even bigger organizing freak who is my husband!) is now up to date with a brand-spankin'-new Excel spreadsheet with my garden plans! Have I mentioned that I'm REALLY excited about this new garden thing?! I've planned it out twice on paper; changed positions of the veggies a million times in my head; and now I think I finally have a finished product. It looks so cool in print--let's just hope it looks equally cool when it's growing in our backyard! In case you're super into charts like me, here's what it looks like:

I've emailed a copy of my plans to another garden blogger, Emily. She's the creator of this site. Hopefully she'll email me back and give me some tips. Since I haven't planted anything except for the onions, potatoes and one square of lettuce, I should be able to change things around if need be. Ahhhh organizing, you make me feel so accomplished!!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

HE Grows Them

Samuel and I checked out the veggie transplant selection yesterday at Wal-Mart and ended up buying 3 transplants of Buttercrunch lettuce and 2 little bags of seeds. I was a bit reluctant to buy seeds because I wasn't sure how they'd grow if they weren't started indoors and then replanted outside. Luckily, while I was perusing the seed isle (which by the way is incredibly expansive) I asked a nice looking older couple what they knew about lettuce. The wife gave me kind of a funny look and said, "Well, HE grows them," and pointed her thumb at her husband. HE turned out to be a kindly old gentleman who told me pretty much all I ever need to know about lettuce. HE doesn't grow the heads; I told him I didn't want to either. HE said that I didn't need transplants; that I could just use seeds. HE told me that I'd see some little shoots in about 3 days. Then, in true married-for-a-million-years fashion, he pointed his thumb back at his wife and said, "SHE just goes out every day and snips off a few leaves and we eat them the very same day." I showed him the two bags of seeds I'd picked out and told him we were going to plant them soon. HE came back with, "'re getting THAT kind." I just smiled and told him I thought we'd try them.

We talked for awhile about what he had already planted in his garden--2 bags of potatoes from "a fancy catalogue from out east" that are guaranteed to produce 13 (yep, that's right 13...what a weird number) pounds of potatoes each; and a bunch of onions. I told him we'd also planted potatoes and onions and at about that time SHE grabbed his arm and told him she'd picked out her seeds and it was time to go. We wished each other luck with our gardens and went our separate ways.

I left with my transplants and THOSE kinds of lettuce seeds and a smile on my face. How often does a trip to Wal-Mart leave you smiling?! I thought of all the fun we're going to have running out to the garden to get our lettuce and eat it that very day and how my new friends were probably doing that very same thing :) I hope someday someone asks me about lettuce and I can throw my thumb towards Dave and say, "Well, HE grows them!"

Friday, April 16, 2010

po-TAY-to, po-TAH-to

We got our first veggies in! Last night, after Samuel hit the sack, Dave and I planted our seed potatoes and onion sets. I'd heard different dates to have these cold-weather-growers planted, so hopefully we've gotten them in the ground early enough that they'll actually produce enough to matter.
When planting potatoes using the square foot method you only plant one seed potato per square. We took about 6 inches of soil out of each square and placed the seed potatoes in --thanks to Becca's dad for those!!--and then barely covered them with a layer of soil. As they grow, we'll keep covering them with more and more dirt; this is supposed to help them develop a strong root system and produce more potatoes. I'm not sure how many potatoes we'll get from each square (we planted 6 squares in all) but I'm hoping it's more than 1! The onions only produce one per plant so we planted 9 onions per square; 3 squares total.
I've been so excited all day about the new stuff in the ground. I think I have been outside 3 times during the day to "check" on them. I know before I get out there that nothing could have possibly grown overnight but I don't want to miss anything!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Plan

We're starting a square-foot garden. Neither Dave or I have EVER gardened before. I'm not sure what the opposite of a green thumb is but whatever it is, that's what I've got. Brown-dead-plant thumb maybe? Dave's mom gave us a philodendron plant for our was given to her when Dave was born. I killed it. So, needless to say, this should be an interesting experiment!
We made a list of veggies we love to eat and got lots of magazines. (We're the kind of people who can't do anything without researching the heck out of it first!) This year we're doing mostly transplants. Since we're beginning gardeners we though it'd be best to start with some of the work already done. We've built our boxes and filled them up with dirt. Now all that's left is waiting for it to be warm enough to start planting!
Wish us luck!!