Tag Archive: vegetables

Sweet, Sweet Summertime!


What is it about time that makes the summer go by so super quickly?  Time seems to go so fast now anyway, but summer flashes by at light speed.  It’s crazy!  It breaks my heart to think about the kiddos going back to school next week, but I will have more blogging time if there is an upside.

Gardening this time of year mostly means a little weeding and a lot of picking.  We have also started seeds for our fall garden under grow lights in the basement.  I want to do some canning soooo badly, but I haven’t been able to get a whole bunch of tomatoes ripe at the same time yet.  We have had several dinners with marinara sauce from scratch though.  There’s nothing quite like it.  🙂


The Super Awesome Husband looks at our haul every day, shakes his head and asks what happened to the good ‘ole red tomatoes.  Hee hee!  I have some of those too, but honest to goodness people, the colors and flavors of the others are incredible!  And purple peppers?  Heck yeah!  🙂

See??  I have red.  (Or it’s actually pink, but shhhh don’t tell him)! 😉 😉   Problem is, the stupid squirrels and birds like them too.  UGH!!!  I think what bothers me even more than the fact that they steal my tomatoes, is that they leave half of them to rot on the ground.  If you little jerks are going to rob my garden, at least eat every.single.delicious.nutritious.bite!!!!  Don’t waste half of it.  OR there are plenty of little ones, so leave my huge slicers ALONE!!!!  Sorry.  Deep breath.  I can’t stand waste or tomato thieves.  🙂


Can’t have tomatoes without fresh basil.  Mmmmmmm.  I’m getting hungry now.  My favorite meal in the summer is sliced tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and basil, drizzled with balsamic vinegar.  Never gets old.


Tomatoes and basil are meant to be together.  They are fabulous companion plants.  Many of my tomato plants in the garden (like this one), and all of my tomatoes in pots have basil growing around them.  They are supposed to make the tomatoes taste even better when grown together.  Plus, it makes it super easy to pick your maters and grab a handful of basil to put on top.  🙂


See!  I told you I could grow carrots once I got them sprouted!!  It’s a jungle in there!!


Beets!!!  So far (fingers crossed) the evil mole/vole duo hasn’t cleaned out the beet patch.  This guy has a hot date with my juicer in his future.  Yummy!


I really hate the flavor of black licorice.  The Back to Eden film got me curious about fennel though.  Paul swore it was sweet and delicious and everyone seemed to love it.  Then I found a Bronze Fennel plant at our local farm stand and couldn’t resist how pretty it was.


Now I can’t walk out to the garden without breaking off a little sprig and eating it.  The flavor is amazing!!  I could probably sit and eat the whole plant.  I don’t know if they all taste this way, or if it’s my rich, Back to Eden soil.  You HAVE to try some!


Still only a couple of honeybees this summer.  I can’t wait to keep some bees one day.  Until then, we’ll have to rely on the little baby bumblebees.


My daughter’s Scarlett Runner Beans.  We love the flowers!


So I’ve been meaning to share with you some of my favorite gardening books.  I LOVE to read.  Though I don’t have a lot of time for it right now, these books keep me happy all winter while I can only dream about my little garden.

The Heirloom Life Gardener

The Gardener’s A to Z Guide to Growing Organic Food

The Weekend Homesteader: A Twelve-Month Guide to Self Sufficiency

Mini Farming:  Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre

And because I am OBSESSED with getting chickens:

Homemade Living:  Keeping Chickens

I promise you will be hearing more about my chicken obsession.  😉  Lots more….

sign off green

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Walking on Eggshells

eggshells title image

Let’s chat a little about reducing waste and building soil.  These things are so very important!  We began going green here several years ago when we started recycling.  We began with mixed recyclables, and then a year or two after that I started keeping a box for paper recycling.  We were truly amazed at how much those two things cut down on our trash.  It was a wonderful feeling knowing I had cut our contribution to the landfill by about half.  It always made me sad seeing bag after bag and box after box of garbage after Christmas morning, so this year I made the decision to go through all of the wrapping and packaging and separate the paper as well as the recyclable plastic.  I was thrilled to find we were left with only half a bag of actual trash after this.  I’m happier when I’m doing my best for my children and our beautiful planet.

Two years ago we bought a compost bin.  (This one actually: Lifetime 60058 Compost Tumbler, Black, 80-Gallon)  Once again our trash can filled even more slowly, and you just can’t beat free compost for your garden.  It always seemed like such a complicated thing that I didn’t think we could keep up with, but it’s really not a big deal at all.  When it is time to empty our bin next month, we’ll go through some steps to making great compost.

If you have a garden I hope you are not throwing away your eggshells. Please tell me you’re not!  If you are, start saving them now!  When we started out we were throwing our eggshells into the compost.  I knew they were good for it and would add lots of awesome calcium to the soil eventually.  I then read more and more about ways to use eggshells more directly, so I began to rinse them out and place them back in the carton.  When we use the whole dozen, I bake them to dry them out and kill any bacteria.  You can either bake them on your lowest oven temperature for a couple of hours or pop them in the oven after baking something and let it sit in there as the oven cools.  Once they’ve cooled, grind those bad boys up.  You can just crush them into small pieces but it will take quite a while for them to break down and really be beneficial to your plants.  I bought a mortar and pestle and set the kids to work.


It occupies them for a while, and they get to work on their arm muscles.  😉


When they are very fine to powder texture we dump them into a storage container.


I do a few different things with these now.  When I put my tomato plants in the ground at the beginning of the season I have a whole “cocktail” I add to the dug hole before adding the plant.  They get some Epsom Salt, an aspirin, rock dust, organic fertilizer (Fish emulsion or worm castings are wonderful) and a scoop of the ground eggshells.  If you have ever had a problem with blossom end rot, adding ground eggshells or bone meal at the time of planting, before your little tomato plants are even thinking about fruiting, is a wonderful preventative.  I also add them to the areas where I plant my squash and zucchinis since I’ve had trouble with blossom end rot with them as well.

Ground eggshells also help to ward off slugs.  I don’t know about your garden, but mine is a slug magnet in the spring, so I need all the help I can get protecting the plants.  I make a ring around the ground at the base of the little plants with the ground shells and, for the most part, the slugs won’t cross the shells because sharp edges cut their soft bodies.  It’s not perfect, but it is a HUGE help.

Since the pictures of eggshells aren’t overly exciting, I thought I’d add a few that I took this week of a couple of our dragonflies.  We have TONS of these guys flying around the yard lately and the kids and I just love them.


Sometimes they sit and pose for me for as long as I would like, but this week they were a little too busy and kept flying off after a few seconds.


I love the blue ones.


My daughter looked at this and asked if the patterns on dragonfly wings are all different, like fingerprints.  I LOVE when my kids come up with really awesome questions.  🙂  Of course, it also ruins the mom knows everything card.  😀


I am amazed by their eyes.  It’s probably the photographer in me obsessing over eyes, but W.O.W.!!!


Summer is going way too fast!  I hope you are enjoying every second of yours!!!

DISCLOSURE:  This post may contain affiliate links, and I may receive compensation for sharing products and information on this site.  These links help support this site, and do not cost you extra to use.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.  See this page for full site Disclosure.  Thank you for supporting Walking Softly Upon the Earth!!  🙂

Chasing Away the Crickets

Sorry for the crickets this past week. Summer vacation started for the kidlets, so we’ve been busy living it up with trips to the beach and park and hitting up their favorite playgrounds. And yes, there has been ice cream involved. We take summer vacation very seriously in this house. 🙂

The kids totally freaked out this week when these guys made their return:


I had no clue until very recently that our friends on the west coast do not have fireflies.  It’s one of those things I take for granted seeing every summer and I just assumed that everyone had them.  I can’t imagine summer without the kids running around catching these magical little guys.

I have a bunch of really cool posts in the works, but instead of making you wait while I finished them up, I thought we’d see how things were going in the garden.

Remember the sad state of affairs my marigold window box was in? Well, I spread out the few marigolds that sprouted and added some nasturtium seeds to fill it in and it’s not looking half bad now. Way less sad.


The kids and I were so excited to find a few Sweet Pea Currant tomatoes and Sun Gold Cherry tomatoes ripe this week. Sooooo tasty!! It just doesn’t get better than homegrown tomatoes!  If I HAD to choose just one thing to grow in my garden, it would probably be tomatoes.  Now ask me what kind of tomato and I would have a problem.  You need one for every color of the rainbow, right?!?!  🙂


Purple Beauty Pepper. It’s teeny tiny, but we don’t judge. 🙂  I can’t figure out who is chomping on her leaves.  I suspect a Hornworm, but haven’t found one yet and they are usually very easy to spot.  It’s a mystery.


Rosita has finally gotten over her transplant shock and her unfortunate run in with a slug. She really liked the compost tea I gave her, but what lady doesn’t like her tea? 🙂


I am loving the ground cherries. They form little lanterns like tomatillos.  If you are new I’ll tell you now, I love the out of ordinary when it comes to my garden. I pick a lot of my seeds based on unusual colors and I love stumbling across something I’ve never seen in the grocery store before.


My Sweet Pea’s lavender. She loves it like I do.


Garlic scapes I think. I planted all soft neck garlic though, so I’m not completely sure. Hmmmm…..


I may have a new garden obsession. Borage. It is so, so, so pretty!! I killed it all last year before I saw any blooms. (It’s a learning experience people)! 🙂 The plants in front of my strawberries are all way ahead of the ones by the tomatoes and are now blooming. Take a look and I bet you’ll be planting some seeds yourself.

IMG_9346 IMG_9352 IMG_9344 I’m so in love with this shot.  The fuzzy leaves and stems make it look like a watercolor painting.  I may have to print this one for the wall. IMG_9340 cropped IMG_9338  IMG_9316 IMG_9311  IMG_9321  IMG_9347 IMG_9355

See, I told you I was obsessed!!!  I get so excited when something I’ve planted from seed grows and flourishes.  If you have always purchased plants to plant in your garden, you HAVE to try growing at least one thing from seed this year.  It’s nothing short of a miracle to put this little, tiny seed in the ground, and a few weeks later get this. ^^^

This week will be packed with fun posts.  I promise not to stay away this long again.  Happy Summer everyone!!

Listen to the Whispers

I can’t even begin to stress enough that, in order to have a healthy, productive garden, you must listen!  You must listen to others with more experience, and you must listen to your plants.  They whisper, they don’t yell, so you have to listen very carefully.  (Well, except for maybe when they are being eaten alive by slugs, because I swear they scream then.  Or maybe I’m just hearing myself.  Man I hate those slimy pigs!  Ugh).

It is so very important to hear what they are telling you.  If they are yellow and sad looking they may need a little feeding or, when you look closer, you might find they are sick.  They may also be telling you that you have chosen the wrong spot for them.  Just because you think they would look pretty in a certain spot doesn’t mean that is where they will flourish.  Take, for example, my spinach.  I thought it would grow beautifully in my vertical gutter garden.  It’s doing okay.


But on the end next to the deck, where it is fairly shaded, look how much better this plant is growing.  If I hadn’t slowed down and listened, I might have missed them telling me it’s too hot and sunny in this spot.


As for my carrot experiment using vermiculite?  I think it’s safe to say it was a success.  Look at all the carrot babies!!


Aren’t they cute??


Guess who is planting with vermiculite next year?  Yep.  This girl!  So glad I listened.


Want to see what else is happening in the garden right now?  We had a carrot top survive the winter in the compost and sprout months ago with the tomatoes and lettuce head.  Carrots are one of those plants that only go to seed their second year.  We’ve left it in this spot hoping that we might get some seeds to collect.  Look at what’s happening!  It’s getting ready to bloom!!


Someone else decided to grow from the compost too.  I have no clue what this is.  Cucumber?  Squash?  Pumpkin?  No idea.  It will be fun to watch and find out though.


I absolutely adore sweet peas.  I tried growing them for years, while my thumb was still pretty black, and never kept them alive long enough to bloom.  I think now that my thumb is a pale shade of green I might give them a try this fall or next year.  There is just something special about the swirly twirly little arms and beautiful, sweet flowers.  This is my second season with snap peas, and they are so pretty (and yummy) too!  Not quite the same, but the tasty treats they supply more than makes up for the lack of color and fragrance.




The kids flipped over these last year.  I wish we had gotten tons more planted.  Maybe next year…


This folks, is our cute little garden toad.  The kids have decided to call him “Croaker.”  The pup-sicle tried to eat him last night.  Well, maybe he was just chasing with the silly little hopping creature that was in his yard, but I swooped in to the rescue anyway.  No toad eating allowed here.


Our yard is full of dragonflies right now too.  I love the green ones the most, I think, but this one is awfully pretty too.  I had one of the green ones sit and pose for me a couple of years ago, while I took pictures til my heart’s content.  I’ll have to dig those out for you sometime.


I’ve been working so hard to get everything in the ground that I haven’t checked on the other plants in a while.  I was pretty darn excited to see this:


and this:


Are you kidding me?!?!  Baby grapes???  🙂


Almost missed the blossoms on the ground cherries.  This is my first time trying these, and I am so excited to taste them and see what they are all about.  Sometimes you read the description on a packet of seeds and just have to have them.  Or is that just me??  🙂


Grape Jellybean tomatoes.  I’ll take them over candy jellybeans any day!  They are my Little Dude’s absolute favorite.


Chamomile flowers.  These all reseeded on their own.  I really need to learn how to make my own chamomile tea.  I grew them last year just because they were pretty, but I am a big tea drinker, so I shouldn’t just let them go to the compost bin when they are done.


The radishes need pulling.  They are so fun to grow.  I just need to find something yummy to do with them now.  The only way I have ever eaten radishes is in salads.  There has to be something else to do with them, right?


They are just busting out!


Sungold tomatoes on the way!


Baby Round Zucchini were one of my favorites last year.


I am so looking forward to Saturday.  The kids’ last day of school is Friday, and this will be our first soccer-free weekend in months.  There will be lots of playing in the garden and just hanging out with the family.  I hope your weekend is wonderful and all of you Dads have a great Father’s Day!