Category Archives: Gardening

Garden Blooms

I love discovering the first blooms in the garden.

The first visible signs that you are on your way to fresh veggie deliciousness.  No matter that the actually veggies won’t show up for weeks, it is just nice to know they are on their way.

Here are the first few from our garden:

Tomato

Bell Pepper

Beans

Peas

Strawberries

The herbs are flowering as well.  This is less exciting than when veggies bloom, because you don’t need the blooms from herbs to get the good stuff.  The leaves are the good stuff.  But herb flowers are often very pretty, as is the case with the bloomers I have now.  And… they are all purple.  Herbs after my own heart.

Chives

Sage

Lavender – the prettiest by far

I really hope the lavender fields are in bloom when we go to Seattle in June.  I bet they are spectacular.

I hope wonderful things are blooming for you as well!

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The Herb Chronicles

Fresh herbs are like manna from heaven. Fragrant, yummy manna.

The smell of a fresh basil plant does special things to me.  Things that cannot be discussed here.  But good, good things. I’ve instructed my husband to figure out how to keep basil inside all winter.  Winters are extra long and extra cold with no fresh herbs for cooking.

I put a few herbs in the garden this evening.  Here are some pictures.  I wish I had a scratch and sniff blog.  The only real way to experience herbs is through scent, but this will have to do for now.

Parsley

 

Oregano

 

Thyme

And my love…

Basil

 

I planted 6 basil plants.  I’m not sure that is enough.  The hubs seems to think it is.  We’ll see.

I also planted dill and purple basil (not included in the 6) but forgot to take pictures.  I will get more tomorrow.  There is so much to talk about with herbs.  Scents and textures and colors, oh my!  I hope to be able to talk more about my herbs and what I do with them.  I’d love you hear your herb stories too!

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The Almost Garden Disaster

We take really great care of the raised beds that make up our garden.  Too much care probably.  We don’t have pets or kids, so our garden gets all of our attention.  But putting all that love and care into our beds means that other things do not get enough attention.  Like our yard.  Our backyard is home to much more than grass.  Lettuce, weeds, dandelions, crabgrass and all kinds of icky stuff that makes it look bad.

So we had someone come and spray the yard to kill the weeds and fertilize the grass.  Not a big deal, right?  Probably not.  Unless the weed killer is sprayed on a day that is windy and it blows up on all your other plants that you’ve worked so hard on.  Yeah.  That’s bad.

All of our green onions and chives wilted and fell over.  The leaves on our strawberries, flowers and hydrangeas curled up.  The parsley that was full and green and healthy fell over and yellowed.  The rose bush wilted.  It was heartbreaking.  I imagine it is how people feel when their pets go to the vet for something and they are not sure what it is.  Will it be bad, treatable, nothing, life threatening?  I wondered all of these things about my plant babies.  Some of which are not babies anymore, we’ve been nurturing them for two or three years.

We got lucky.  Mostly.  The hydrangeas and strawberries have perked back up and look as good as they did before.  There weren’t any berries yet, so we won’t lose any of our harvest.  We cut back the onions and chives, but they have already started to grow new shoots in just one day.  The rose bush is the only thing that looks like it may not make it.  But we have hope.  I wish I had before and after pics to show you, but I did not think to take any when things were looking grim.

The moral of the story?  Either get your own spray and target the weeds specifically (which I think we will do in the future, I’m too gun shy about it now) or make sure that there is not ANY wind when you have your yard treated.  This could have been a huge disaster for us.  We got really lucky.

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Seed Starting Update

Seedlings!

I love my little plant babies.  They are so cute and young and at this point it is hard to believe they will grow into something we can eat.  After just one week, almost everything has sprouted.  Take a look…

Lettuces

 

Tomatoes

 

Look at all that green!

 

Spinach

 

Cilantro

 

I cannot wait until they get fully grown and start producing.  THAT is the best part of gardening.

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Garden Phase II: Seed Starting

We like to grow our plants from seed.  It’s just so much more fun that way, I think.  More work, for sure. But I love knowing that this tiny little seed I planted will turn out to be the most wonderful, delicious, fresh vegetable later.  I imagine it is somewhat like the feeling of having a baby.  You planted something and grew it.  Not exactly the same I know, but I’m not a baby person.  Anyway…. I digress.

You can also get so much more variety in your plants when you start from seed.  For instance, we are growing purple, white and yellow tomatoes, carrots and bell peppers, along with the standard red, green and orange .  No way could you get that at Lowes.

We planted our first seeds last weekend.  Here is what we started:

  • Cherry Tomatoes – Yellow pear, old ivory egg, snow white, aunt ruby yellow, black cherry, sugar snack, green grape.
  • Regular Tomatoes – Green zebra, purple smudge, yellow 1884, Cherokee purple, Arkansas traveler, Wisconsin 55
  • Sweet Bell Peppers – Green, red, yellow, Carnival Blend (mixture of purple, white, yellow & red)
  • Hot Peppers – Pepper chili, Serrano
  • Lettuce – red velvet, green leaf, romaine, pok choi, spinach, purple cabbage
  • Herbs – Chives, cilantro, purple basil, tarragon, dill, parsley, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil
  • Onions – red, yellow
  • Other:  Brussels sprouts

We also put carrots and beets outside last weekend. They can be started earlier because they are root vegetables.  We have round Tonga di Pargi carrots, baby carrots and a carnival blend (purple, white and yellow).

It is important to me to have a wide range of vegetables, especially those you cannot easily get at the store, and the more purple the better.  We have purple carrots, tomatoes, beans, basil and sage.  I love purple veggies and herbs!

The rest of our veggies will be started outside once it warms up.  Those include:

  • Beans – Color Trio (purple, yellow, green) and black
  • Peas – snow and sugar snap
  • Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Garlic
  • Butternut Squash

We also have herbs that are coming back from last year:

  • Chives
  • Rosemary
  • Marjoram
  • Parsley
  • Sage
  • Dill (we think and hope)

As you can see, we are just a tiny bit garden crazy.  But once we have all these fresh veggies and herbs, you are going to be jealous.  Trust me, I know.

Some pics of the seed starting process:

 

Seed packets.  I love the artwork on these packs, which is why I buy from this company (Botanical Interests).

Tomato seeds that we saved from previous years.

The seed starting contraption my hubs built.  He is so crafty.  The seeds need to have warm soil to germinate and lots of light once they do.  We practically have a seed resort.

Flats of seeds, labeled and ready to go.

Planting carrots and beets in the garden. The hubs is particular about his measurements and spacing.

I would love to hear your seed starting or gardening tales. Happy gardening!

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Garden Phase I

Manual labor.  The worst part of gardening.

Luckily, my husband loves manual labor.  Turning soil, pulling weeds, building garden contraptions.  All that fun stuff.  In fact, he could farm full-time.  This is him layering leaves into the beds, making the soil rich and nutritious.

One of my favorite garden tools does involve manual labor but I use it sparingly.  It makes my arms hurt.  I am a wuss.

However, this weekend I not only shoveled, but I shoveled compost.  Nasty stuff.  I’ve never seen food so decomposed and gross before.  I shoveled the top layer of the compost into one of the beds in hopes it will more fully decompose and make the soil that much more rich and nutritious.  Good gardening is all about good soil.  So I shoveled compost.  Never again.

A few stragglers from last years garden still survive.  Our green onions are out of control.  Two feet of snow and all they do is wrinkle up.  Funny looking things.

And the lettuce we did not pull up at the end of last season flowered, seeded and dispersed into our yard.  Yes, that is lettuce growing in our yard.  It is kind of everywhere.  We tried to transplant this one, it was the biggest.  We’ll see how that goes.

Up next, starting seeds inside to get ready for the planting season.  Herbs, tomatoes, onions, peppers, some other yummy veggies.

Happy Gardening!

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The Wondrous Joy of a Vegetable Garden – A Saga, Part 4

Soon fall arrived and the cooler temperatures began to take their toll on the joyous garden.  After a long fought battle, we gave the vegetable plants back to the Earth in hopes of even better soil for the next year. The herbs we kept around a little longer.  Because they were on the patio in boxes, we could pull them away from the weather.  Eventually, their time also came.  We harvested what was left to freeze and use throughout the winter.  I knew it was going to be a long cold winter without my fresh herbs.

A few weeks prior to the burial of the vegetable plants we harvested all of the basil leaves (we had 25 to 30 plants) to make pesto.  Mmmm… pesto. 

Fresh pesto is soooo good.  In fact, it is joyous. 

I have mentioned in the past my love of basil, so I am sure this comes as no surprise.  We purchased pine nuts in bulk online, as they tend to be pretty pricey, but other than that pesto is relatively easy and inexpensive to make. Our harvest resulted in about 10 serving size containers of green pasty goodness.  (I did read that it is better to add the grated parmesan after thawing the pesto, so we did not add it in to what we made.)

Throughout the winter we have used the frozen pesto for a number of dishes, my favorite being pesto shrimp pasta.  Shrimp sautéed in butter and pesto is ah-ma-zing. Seriously.  I will have to post that recipe soon. 

There has definitely been less joy in the backyard and in the cooking since the veggies and herbs went away.  Plenty of joy in other places.  We are newlyweds, after all. 

But never fear!  Spring is on its way back and we have already started our seedlings for this season.  More to come on that, it has been a tomato massacre around here for some reason.

A new saga awaits!  A fresh tale of gardening joy and sorrow has already started in 2010.  This year will be bigger and better than before.  I will try my best to bring you the saga as it unfolds, instead of after the final chapter.  (Although – I am already a bit behind.  But I have started playing catch up.)

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