Well, I can tell you what’s not up, and it wouldn’t make Bugs happy. The carrots dang it. I’ve gotten pretty good at growing a few different things, but carrots are not one of them. Actually, I take that back, once they’ve sprouted I do a pretty good job. It’s the germination that’s tricky. I think it took me three tries last year to get some sprouts, and I’ve been failing big time this year. See? Nothin’.
So with gardening, nothing beats experience. I have read a TON of gardening books, and while I have learned a lot from them and enjoyed them immensely, I’ve learned more by doing and also by listening to veteran gardeners. I was recently told by a gardener to try covering my seeds with vermiculite instead of soil. Carrot seeds need to stay consistently moist to germinate. If they dry out you get a lotta nothin’. So guess what I went out and bought?
Since it has rained the past two days, and the ground is really damp and it’s nice and cool for the next few days, I headed down to the garden for some quick carrot planting.
Those seeds are so dang tiny! I just sprinkled them in a line-ish and didn’t get too crazy trying to space or keep them perfectly straight. Finally, the vermiculite got spread over top.
My little carrot corner. Hopefully….
I’ll let you know how this little experiment goes. It would be awesome if I have found the trick to growing carrots at last! Were you wondering about the broken pot? It’s our garden toad house. The marigolds grow up around it and keep it cool and hidden. At least they do when the slugs don’t eat them all gone. I have a couple left who have pulled through and more in the greenhouse that are about ready to go out and face those slimy pigs. May the force be with them!
Did you get to spend a lot of time in the garden over the holiday weekend? My little Sweet Pea joined me out there and we spent hours and hours trying to get our garden caught up. With the never-ending winter and then craziness that is our lives in the spring, we were so far behind. We planted all but 6 of our tomatoes, all the peppers and some cucumbers. It’s coming along nicely now.
The nasturtiums are popping up. I love them so much that I’ve planted a bunch more than last year.
I can’t wait to see them blooming with the Borage in front of the tomato plants.
The Kale is so happy it rained and cooled down.
I thought something was making a meal of my green beans, but come to find out, we have leaf cutter bees. The plants will not be eaten and will survive and we’ll have some much needed pollinators. Win. Win.
I really, really, really hate spiders, but this garden spider was pretty cool looking and I thought my little Monster man would like to see it later. As long as she eats some bad bugs and stays (far, far) out of my way, we’ll get along just fine.
I have a little cartoon on my Pinterest page that says “It’s not a hobby it’s a post apocalyptic life skill.” My husband and I L.O.V.E “The Walking Dead” (which I still can’t believe, even after watching all this time since I am NOT really a zombie kinda girl), so that gave me a chuckle. If this justifies the amount of time I spend knitting, then that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! 🙂 I wish I had more free time to knit, but as a mom of three, my knitting time is snatched in bits and pieces at soccer practices, waiting for doctor’s appointments and sometimes for an hour or so watching tv at night when the kids have gone to bed. I always tell people it’s so relaxing and therapeutic for me. There’s something about the rhythm that calms and quiets my mind. LOOOOOOOOVE it!
I’ve been knitting for about 6 or so years now. My skills have improved greatly over the years, so that now I’m not too shabby and actually give what I make as gifts. See!! Not just a hobby!!!! 🙂 I get asked all the time how I started knitting. I think most people expect a heartwarming story about how my grandmother taught me at her knee, or something like that. Truth? Knitting for Dummies. For real. I had tried crochet when my first two were born so that I could make them little baby blankets, and while I did produce a blanket for them each, I was NOT good and really hated it. Sooooo, while expecting #3 I walked past a copy of Knitting for Dummies at a store and grabbed it thinking maybe this knitting thing would save me from the torture of crocheting another blanket. I tried it and LOVED it. If you’ve always wanted to try and didn’t know where to start, that’s my secret! 🙂
If you’ve always wanted to learn, I highly recommend that book. You can also find tons of instructional videos on YouTube, or if you need more hands on instruction, you can’t beat a class at your local yarn shop. I am going to share my current projects here from time to time. I hope that those of you who are knitters will enjoy the posts and perhaps find a great new pattern to try. If you are not yet a knitter, then I hope to entice some of you to try with pictures of pretty yarn and fun looking projects.
My other knitting secret weapon? Ravelry. Knitting any pattern is a commitment. You have to buy your yarn and invest your time into it. I hate wasting money and I hate wasting my time even more. Ravelry is super awesome because so many patterns are offered for free or at low cost. It’s always great for me to be able to buy a single pattern instead of buying a whole book just for one or two. Plus, you get to look at tons of pictures other knitters have posted of their results and read their notes, which is always helpful when I am trying to choose a good pattern. I am not affiliated with them in any way, other than being a member. If you are cool enough to read this blog, I want to make sure that you know about some of the best things I’ve found along the way if you don’t already.
Free pattern. Skill level is easy peasy lemon squeezy (as my little dude loves to say). This is a quick knit and would be great as one of your first projects if you are just starting or one of those easy take-along projects for more seasoned knitters. Big bonus is that they are really sturdy and work really well! I’ve been using one for a couple of months now and it’s still working great and hanging together. Knit a little stack and they make a great gift too!
yarn over (Yarn over instructions can be found at the bottom of this increase page)
My daughter loves rainbows. I think she came by it naturally. 🙂
This was my first experience with knitting dishcloths, but it won’t be my last.
Next time we talk knitting I have a very special, year long project to share with you. I was so excited to start it this year and am far behind and trying to catch up before I share.
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I figure I owe you a good, photo-packed post after the long ramble that was my last one. Let’s take a walk in the garden, shall we?
The beans have popped up and are so pretty. I’ve planted all of the bush beans, but still need to fix the supports for the pole beans and get them in. The way I see it, anyone can plant in perfectly straight rows, so why would I want to do that? I’m so awesome I even manage to plant crooked rows when using a length of twine as a guide. So I don’t do that anymore. 🙂 I’m going for the wild, natural look. Ha!
It’s squash ba-by! Woo Hoo!! If you’re wondering what the heck the cage is for, it’s a little “basket” we made to save the main root and stem from the mole/vole invasion that occurred last year. I had the biggest, most beautiful squash and zucchini plants, until one by one they died. I’d pick them up and find the root missing and a big ‘ole hole under the dying plant. It was so sad. The micro-destroyers took out a lot of my garden, as a matter-of-fact. It’s war this year!
Poor Rosita! She’s not too thrilled with life outdoors quite yet. A slug fell for her and nibbled her pretty leaves before I caught him. I’m hoping she’ll find happiness soon and start sinking her roots deep.
Tomatoes are going in. Things just got real people.
Some romaine in the garlic patch. See what I mean? Straight rows are totally for amateurs. (Woo Hoo! I spelled it right the first time!!! I’m a TERRIBLE speller and was sure that nasty red you’re-wrong-you-stupid-idiot line would appear under amateurs as soon as I hit the space bar. Nope. I’m rockstar awesome today! Dang. Is it rock star then? Crap).
How in the heck did I get a head of Speckles Butterhead Lettuce growing out of the compost pile? The tomatoes I understand, because a ton of tomatoes made the compost bin after the rotten scoundrel squirrels took bites out of them. But the lettuce? No clue. It’s lookin’ good though. I see a yummy salad in my future.
So I dug up a bunch of wild blackberries and raspberries and put them in the garden last year. I know. I know. You’re not supposed to do that. You’re supposed to buy the good, reliable ones if you want fruit. I ran out of garden cash, so I thought I’d give it a try. I didn’t get any berries, so yeah, I told you so is appropriate. If I get a lot of nothin’ this year I’ll be doing a lot of painful pulling and digging to get rid of them. There are tons of flowers…
Strawberries are going strong. We’ve only been able to pick one so far, but look at all the berries they are cranking out!
I wish I could have captured just how juicy this was. In “Back to Eden” they mention and show how water-filled Paul’s fruits and vegetables are. I won’t have anything like his for quite some time, but if this is any indication, wow!
Happy Dance! Happy Dance! We have baby peaches!
Yep. I dug up some dandelions, potted them up and am taking care of them. I need to find a bigger pot and put them all in it soon too. Their roots are CRAZY!! Why? We have bunnies, so I’m not only trying to grow healthy fruits and vegetables for my family, but for a couple of cute, fuzzy bunnies as well.
The only thing making me more excited than baby peaches and tons of strawberries about to ripen? THIS:
While we are peeking into the greenhouse, here is some fennel, bronze fennel, pineapple sage, ground cherries and other assorted goodies waiting to go in the ground. My daughter also asked if we could save a few of the volunteer tomatoes from the compost pile, so we dug up 3 and are going to see what we get.
Super awesome husband got the gutters up in the greenhouse. 🙂 I need to get something planted in them now!
This is the pup-sicle. He was hanging out waiting for me to finish so he could go back inside. I thought I’d introduce you, but he wouldn’t look at me. This is the look I got after asking him if he wanted a cookie. Love the curled lip and “huh?!?!?! What did you say???” expression. So everybody, this is Echo, the seriously spoiled pup-sicle. Eater of carrots and apples and see-saws. He doesn’t believe in straight rows either. 🙂
A little warning now, this post is long-winded. I thought it was necessary though, to give you the story behind my position on our food system and to let you know why I have become so passionate about gardening and providing safer, healthier food for my family.
Our youngest was born in 2009, and just a few short weeks later my journey towards a more healthy life began, even though I didn’t realize it at the time. When your month old baby begins having blood in his stools, it’s enough to freak out most people. When you are told it is food allergies, you think okay now I have an answer, work to identify the culprits, eliminate them and then have loads of time to think about the whys and hows. It took me weeks of elimination diet trial and error until I figured out what my little dude was allergic to. I had two choices since I was nursing. I could stop and feed him hypoallergenic formula or I could eat just a couple of foods and slowly add things one at a time until I identified what he was allergic to. He was too young for allergy testing to work, and I was staying home and able to nurse, so I knew what my choice was.
It was a miserable couple of months. I’m not going to lie. My first attempt failed because in choosing 4 or 5 of the least allergenic foods to begin with, I chose potatoes which he WAS allergic to. You get bored really quickly only eating apples, oatmeal, rice, squash and chicken. When I finally had my list of problem foods it got a little easier. I’m not a very creative cook, so I pretty much ate oatmeal or a special recipe pumpkin muffin for breakfast and salads, stir fries or baked chicken with veggies for lunch and dinner. He was allergic to milk, corn, soy, potatoes, beef, and chocolate (although I think chocolate was because of the milk. I never really tried plain cocoa).
Once I settled into a routine I had time to wonder how this little person who hadn’t even had a bite of these foods could be allergic to them, and why these foods? I read and read and read. I am a science nerd at heart, and my degree is in Clinical Laboratory Science, so research was something I turned to naturally. I know the science behind food allergies, but the more I researched and looked at that list, the more I began to wonder if it wasn’t what people had done to those foods, and not the foods themselves, that was the problem. I wish I had had my garden then and could have tried those foods grown organically to test my theory. Corn and soy are in everything processed. Today these ingredients are also quite often genetically modified so that great amounts of pesticides/herbacides/fungicides can be sprayed all over them. Could it be he was reacting to the unnatural, genetically modified food or the gross amounts of chemicals on them? Milk and beef, of course come from cows. Factory farms are truly terrible, horrible hells on earth. These cows are generating huge amounts of stress hormones, which we ingest when we eat them or their milk. They are also pumped with antibiotics and fed unnatural diets of, you guessed it, genetically modified corn. Hmmm. Pattern much? Potatoes are supposed to be one of the least allergenic foods. This gave me all kinds of fits trying to figure out what was bothering the dude. You know what else is true about potatoes? They are sprayed with an incredible amount of chemical so that they keep and don’t sprout. They are also a root crop which takes in everything from the soil it is grown in. Heavy metals and chemicals all sucked in and stored in its tubers. So at 20-some days old and consuming only mama’s milk, was he really allergic to these things or was it something man-made? I’ll never know for sure, but I think you can figure out which way I am leaning.
So for almost two years I ate a special diet so I could nurse the little dude and pump milk for him so that we didn’t have to do the hypoallergenic formula. This consumed the rest of 2009, all of 2010 and the beginning of 2011. The allergist told us he most likely would outgrow these allergies around the age of 2, so one by one we carefully tried adding the foods to our diets and found his now stronger body and immune system was able to handle them. I went a little nuts, as you can imagine. Sodas and chocolate were my vices, and went overboard like a castaway who had been deprived of food. I gained weight and felt terribly and proved to myself that fast food, processed food, sweets and sodas were really, really terrible for the body.
With 2012 approaching, and a whole lot more reading and documentary watching under my belt, I knew I had to start making some serious changes. I decided that instead of overwhelming myself with changing so many things at once, that I would choose a couple of things each year for the next few years and hopefully, with so much focus, I would be setting myself up for success and a new, healthier lifestyle. In 2012 I cut the majority of sugar out of my diet. The evils of processed sugar are a topic we could spend days on, but I think it’s pretty much accepted that it is terrible for you. For me and my sweet tooth, this was major. I had to give up my beloved soda, which was the hardest. It’s nice for the grocery budget though. 🙂 I allowed myself one sweet a week, and after about a month they were all so incredibly sweet that I didn’t want much, if any. It IS hard at first, but really, if you can stick with it, the cravings do go away. Oh, and I lost 15 pounds. BO-NUS!!!!
2013 was my year to add regular exercise and begin cutting back on the meat I was eating. (Shhh! I also started cutting back on the meat my family was eating as well. Very slowly, and not as much as I was cutting, but little victories are still victories)! I had a secret longing to be a runner, even though I despised running and was never able to do it for long, even when I played team sports in my younger days. I downloaded the Couch to 5K running app on my phone. 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week for 9 weeks seemed doable, especially since I made a deal with myself to run every other day and not move up in the workouts until I was comfortable doing so. No pressure to get done in any certain amount of time. Exercising for 30 minutes, every other day, was exercising no matter what I was doing. I found I loved it, and not only went through the Couch to 5K program, but the 5K to 10K as well. I felt like a kick, um, butt 🙂 rockstar running for one hour when six months ago running for one minute kicked my butt. I started the program with my daughter a couple weeks ago. I’m training myself a running buddy. 🙂
This year my goals were to continue to cut out meat, do a lot of juicing and either get chickens or switch to local, farm fresh eggs. I’m still working on these, but have found a lady near me who sells her extra eggs from her lovely, free-range chickens. So until I can work out having our own tiny flock of hens, I will enjoy the fresh, beautiful eggs from her’s. If you haven’t looked closer at where your food is coming from yet, please take a moment and do. I come from a long line of meat eaters and even hunters. I love animals, but always thought it was okay to consume animal products because of that idyllic, bright red barn and rolling green pasture farm that I pictured all of our meat animals coming from. I don’t know when our humanity changed to allow animals to be treated the way they are now, or when the conditions they are kept in became acceptable for their health and well-being or ours as consumers, but I won’t support it any longer. I know me no longer purchasing a dozen eggs a week from the grocery store is having little effect on the factory egg industry, but if we ALL choose to make little changes they WILL add up. Try it. Make one change this year. We have to start doing something.
I’ll talk about it more another time, since I’ve certainly rambled on long enough today, but your local farm fresh eggs not only taste better and are crazy healthier, but you can’t beat how pretty they are. Ditch the plain white and brown for an assortment of blues, greens, browns, pinks and creams. They’ll remind you every time you open the fridge of the changes you’re making and the difference you are making, and you’ll smile.
This past weekend was absolutely beautiful and I was totally spoiled for Mother’s Day! We had a lovely picnic at the park and I even got to spend a little time in the garden. I was surprised by an extra special gift when I walked out back later in the afternoon. My mom gave me some of my great-grandmother’s iris about 12 years ago. I remember them blooming beautifully at her house, and my mom has tons that always bloom at her’s. Mine have never bloomed in all the years I’ve had them. Never. Not once. I’ve moved them, fed them and begged them. Nada. I walk outside Sunday and what do I see?
I’d like to think it was my great-grandmother sending me a Mother’s Day gift. 🙂 I’m so happy to finally have them bloom.
Dew drops on strawberries. I love how there is always magic in the garden if you take a second and look around. There are a lot of evenings when I will sneak out of the house for a few minutes just for a quiet moment alone with the plants. You can call it therapeutic or renewing or spiritual, but it really is good for the soul.
Can’t wait for them to ripen!
I really can’t believe how healthy the plants are! The leaves are HUGE and you can tell how happy they are this year!
My unused chives in bloom. 🙂 Aren’t they pretty?? They earn their keep making me smile.
Remember the Pink Senorita Zinnias I showed you growing in my greenhouse? Well I dug through my photo files from last year and found a shot I got while they were blooming. I don’t know if this is true for all Zinnias, since last year was my first year to grow them, but the blooms lasted FOREVER! I hate when you have this gorgeous flower one day and it is gone the next, so I was thrilled to death to go out day after day after day and see these. I actually bought seeds for two other kinds of Zinnias to try this year for that reason. I’m really hoping to attract and keep some bees around, so I am adding lots of flowers to my garden this year. The drop in our bee population is very noticeable and very scary.
Does anyone else have an obsession with succulents? I love the colors and shapes and how easy they are to care for. I have this spot at the bottom of the deck stairs, right up against the house that is overrun with weeds every year. Nothing grows well there, well except for the weeds. I’m trying a pretty succulent garden there this year and hoping that they really are hardy enough to survive the heat and cold. I found this beauty over the weekend at our local farm stand and might have to go back for another. I’m in LOVE!!!! I’ll have to do a whole post one day soon about succulents. They really are a LOT of fun!
I hope all the mamas had a wonderful Mother’s Day!
Sorry! I know that’s incredibly corny. 🙂 I decided that before I got too far in to this whole blogging adventure I needed to make it official and get a template that had everything I needed and get my domain purchased and running. I’m certainly not saying the look won’t change again in the near future, but I’ve settled on this for now. (A week of clicking through templates and trying them out was enough to make me insane and I need to get out in the garden people)!! I changed the banner image for the springtime too while I was at it. My daughter informed me she preferred the bird in the tree, but winter lasted long enough this year! I didn’t want to look at the snowy branches here any longer.
So please, if you like what you see when you visit, sign up on the right side to receive email notifications when I post so you don’t miss anything. Also, you can find links to my Facebook page, Twitter (though I still need to learn Twitter) and Pinterest here now as well. They are all set up, but I may need a few more days to get everything really linked and rolling.
Enough rambling? Want a garden update and some pictures? Me too! 🙂
With the weather being so crazy I never did get peas planted in the garden. 🙁 I have a couple of pots of sugar snaps on my deck, so hopefully they will give us a good bunch to snack on.
The peppers looking gorgeous! I wish I had enough pots to move them up a size and give them a little more room like I did with the tomatoes. Maybe next year I will buy some since I have lots of extra room with the new greenhouse. I am also trying an experiment with a handful of them destroying them by chopping the whole top off, I mean carefully pruning them. I recently watched a video which demonstrated pepper pruning, so scary as it might be, I decided to try it out on a few that were trying to bloom right now, before they got put into the ground. I’ll let you know how it goes!
Redbor Kale looking mighty fine! I have some in several different places, and the color is all slightly different. Most of it is more purple, but this window box is in a slightly warmer/brighter spot, so it is more green. So cool!
I have had this window box on my back deck for a very long time. I’m pretty sure I put it out there right after we moved here, so probably like 12ish years? I planted marigolds once and have always dropped seeds from the plants on top when they finally fizzle for the year and I chop the dead ones down. I love that I never have to replant them, and last year I added rabbit manure to the box and they were so huge, I had to dig some out and put them in the garden because there wasn’t enough room for them all. I think our insane winter ruined my streak though. :/ Either that, or I will have to just let the 4 or 5 plants that came up have the box to themselves this year and hope for better seed survival next year. We’ll see…
My herb “garden.” If you don’t do any container gardening, you really, REALLY should! It’s so fun and easy and WAY convenient! My herbs have always been in window boxes on the deck. I use them a lot more when I can just step out the door and cut myself some beautiful, fresh herbs! There is also basil and parsley that reseeded on their own coming up in this box. The purple sage is new for me this year. It’s so pretty! I’ve wanted some for quite a while and am really excited to have found some!
The chives and oregano. These both came from my mom’s garden years ago, and come back every year so pretty. I’ll tell you a secret though. I have never, ever used the chives. Ever. I keep them because the flowers are sooooo pretty and they originally came from my grandmother’s garden. I guess I’m a sentimental gardener, but there’s something special about having plants that came from people dear to your heart. 🙂
There’s a little action from the main garden for you. Beets making their appearance. See, told you I was late. :/ Darn weather!
Nature is so awesome! This is the spot I dumped the contents of our compost bin last fall. It was almost ready, but not quite, so I covered it with straw to hopefully keep out any critters and let it finish over the winter. There are literally hundreds of baby tomato plants coming up! I wish I knew what type they were. It will kill me to pull them all up, but this is the spot for the squash and cucumbers. I normally love volunteers, but there’s just too many of the silly things.
I have to go out again and count the number of flowers and baby berries on this one plant. I just couldn’t believe it! I planted the strawberries last year and covered them with woodchips when they were done. (Had to add some straw a couple months ago when they were popping up and it was going to snow again). I am hoping we are going to have tons of berries soon! Strawberries are my favorite!!! And apparently they go ga-ga for woodchips!
Ah! Now here’s a volunteer that gets to stay! Pretty sure it’s a pumpkin, but we’ll have to wait and see. I didn’t leave anything in this spot, so I’m not quite sure what got carried there. I think I put the broccoli and cauliflower in too late again. Sigh. One year I’ll get it right!
The plum tree. So exciting to see the “sticks” that I planted coming alive!
Now my parents gave me a GORGEOUS peach tree for my birthday! It was covered in blooms and so pretty really that I would want one even if it didn’t fruit. One of our late frosts got the blooms, but I am keeping my fingers crossed they had time to get themselves pollinated. I’m not sure if these are baby peaches or not. Fingers crossed!!
Another volunteer. Can you see it on this side of the strawberry plant? It’s a sunflower! We fed the birds this winter and one must’ve dropped one of the black oiled sunflower seeds, because I found the shell next to this little guy. I’m still trying to decide if I need to move him or not.
I’ve been cutting buds off the tomato plants all week, but decided to leave these on one of my Sweet Pea Currants. It might stunt the plant, but do I care? NOPE. This girl is ready for some ‘maters! 🙂
They’re going in the garden this weekend!!!!! Woo Hoo!!!!
Malabar Climbing Spinach anyone? My mom brought me the seeds from a plant and garden show. Yay mom!
An extra Japanese Black Trifele plant I’m leaving the blooms on too.
Look who I found sunning himself in my yard. He was so itty bitty he was almost cute. Almost. Hopefully he’ll grow up and eat some of my stupid moles and voles and we can be friends.
Can’t wait to get in the garden this weekend!!!!! 🙂