Category Archives: Gardening

Spring Garden 2012

Well, this year the weather is very weird. Usually in this part of Georgia we have a little snow or at least some ice and lots of freezing nights. This year we haven’t had any of that! It’s so weird. The warm weather really gets you in the mood for gardening though!

My seedlings are in the ground now and more seeds are sprouting inside my sun room. So far I have Sugar Snap Peas, Asian Cabbage, and Cauliflower in the ground. Oh…and garlic. I still need to get the carrots, lettuce, spinach, onions, and broccoli in the ground. Some of them have been started in seed trays inside, but things like carrots are better just planted straight into the ground.

We had a lot of fun getting the boxes and dirt ready. We actually need more dirt. I have had to start all over this year because we just moved to this house! My husband didn’t want to move our dirt, so we had to buy new dirt! ūüôā We also built a fence around our garden with some poultry fencing to keep the dogs from digging…and later the chickens from eating the garden!

I’m very excited to have this spring garden. I have never had one before. I usually wait until April/May to plant for a summer/fall crop. I am really trying to increase the production of my garden and think of it as our supply for our food and not just a fun hobby! I guess I’ll be learning a lot about preserving and canning this summer too!

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Sore-Cold-Tired

Well, despite the big plans I had for myself this week, I didn’t get much done. It wasn’t really my fault though. See a week ago I pulled something in my shoulder/neck and it still isn’t better. I woke up one day and just couldn’t move! I’ve had whiplash before, so I kinda knew what to expect. Basically all I could do was rest. There are certainly times that I look forward to a good excuse to be completely lazy, but after a few days I was just plain bored…and tired of sitting around. Each day showed an improvement, but I was still in a lot of pain. Nothing a good dose of pain pills won’t cure! But even taking pain pills, it hurt. They did help enough that I could get up and around. There was so much I wanted to get done this week, but all I could do was sit here in my favorite spot on the couch. It’s been over a week and the muscles in my shoulder are MUCH better, but still not healed. Sleeping is the worst. I can’t move around, I’m in pain all night, and when I finally get out of bed I can’t move much at all.

To top all that off, I caught a cold. **How did that happen anyway? I’ve been in this same spot on the couch all week!**

Needless to say, I didn’t get everything done I had planned. I REALLY needed some bone broth to help me feel better…but that didn’t get done at all. I haven’t been able to drive (luckily my wonderful husband is here and a huge help!) so I’ve been sitting here thinking of all the great benefits of bone broth. ūüôā

The seeds had to be done and I figured I could at least do that. Due to the fact that I haven’t been sleeping well, on pain pills, and sore…I totally messed up some of my seeds. I planted some seeds inside that should have waited to be planted outside. Oh well…we will see how they do. I planted everything in those jiffy seed pod things so they don’t have to actually be transplanted. The entire little pot they are in goes directly into the ground. Maybe since the roots won’t be disturbed they will do okay! ?

I put them on a nice rack that I stole from the garage. I have 2 heating pads (that I should be using for my shoulder) and put them under the seed trays. I keep them on “low” and rotate my seed trays so they all get their fair share.

It’s been 2-3 days and the sugar snap peas (which should have been directly planted in the ground) are already starting to sprout! Later I will do a blog just on my seeds and planting plans. But for now, I wanted to at least show you my little seedlings!

Maybe next time I will report on bone broth. ūüôā In the meantime I will continue planting my seeds and brushing with my homemade toothpaste!

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A NEW house means a NEW garden!

Well, first let me say that we moved in November. It’s not really a “new” house at all. It’s actually a pretty old house…and it’s a house that we used to live in about 3 years ago. We lived here for 1 year and did major changes inside. We tore down walls, added a sun room and office room, pulled up carpet and replaced all floors with dark laminate “wood” floors (except the bedrooms), remodeled the kitchen, replaced counters, painted cabinets, fenced the backyard… Like I said, we did a lot at this house in one year! Then we moved (long story) to help save another family owned house. Anywho, we are back and we love this house.

But…

Last time we lived here, I only gardened a little bit. Unfortunately I hadn’t read the Square Foot Garden Book. I worked very hard with little return in my little space. Now I know so much more! I’m very excited about using the SFG techniques at this house. We have a huge flat back yard, but it’s surrounded by very large trees…so shade is a problem for parts of the yard. I’ve been trying to remember which areas are sunny during the summer months so I can get my boxes set up and get some dirt in there!

I brought all my boxes from our old house. I wanted to bring my precious dirt too…but husband said there was no way he was shoveling all that dirt into the truck and then moving it here! He promised to buy me new dirt, but I’m still waiting! ūüôā In the meantime, I am setting up my garden area and making big plans for our big backyard.

I thought it would be fun to look back over pictures from last year’s garden. I realized that I didn’t blog about my garden as much as I wanted to last summer. I didn’t even take many pictures of what the garden looked like at the end of the summer. It was a huge difference from beginning to end.

It always amazes me to see how much changes from beginning to end. Here are some pictures of one of my boxes in the beginning and then again towards the end.

Tomatoes and onions

Tomatoes grown up

I even found a video that I had made during the summer that I never posted on my blog! So here it is… very late. This was done at the BEGINNING of the season, so all the plants are pretty small.

I have resolved to make more videos and take more pictures this year! I really want to record the garden from start to finish this time. IT will definitely be bigger this year! I am going for at least 2x as big as last year. I also want to really get into growing potatoes and starting a productive compost system. I also want to learn how to extend the season by growing early spring crops and late summer/ fall crops. If I can get my dirt soon, I can get some lettuce and broccoli planted soon!

Anyone else out there looking forward to a new growing season?

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Stubborn Strawberries

On the road again

Why is it so hard to get out of our “comfort zone?” We all have our places of safety. Maybe it’s our job or work place, or it could be the people we hang out with…maybe even the church we attend. It’s safe, reliable, with no surprises. Right? But then sometimes, we know that we should move on. Get a new job or ask for a raise, make new friends, find a new place of worship, move to another area….etc. But it’s hard. What are we so afraid of? Success? Failure? The unknown?

Strawberries

I noticed while weeding in our front yard, that I had some wild strawberries! They must have grown from some thrown out half-eaten strawberry. It was right by my front door way under these big bushes. I decided that they should be planted in my garden boxes with the other strawberries. The dirt was much better, they would get more sun, and generally be able to produce and grow. It was the better place for them.

I carefully pulled them up and took them to the garden boxes to plant them. I was so excited about seeing them grow. By the next day they looked horrible. They were all wilted and sad looking. I watered them, and talked to them, but day after day, they just got worse and worse. They are pretty much dead now.

The strawberries liked their comfort zone under the bushes. Even though this spot was better for them, they just couldn’t adjust. In the end they just died. They can’t go back and they can’t go forward. Isn’t that just like us sometimes? That’s why we don’t ever leave our comfort zones…we are afraid of being like those strawberries and dying, failing in our new environment. We won’t be able to go back. But that’s the thing. We aren’t strawberries. We can choose to live and survive and even flourish. We can make the change for the better and live without fear.

Fear not, for I am with you

Don’t Be a Stubborn Strawberry – motto of the day

I can choose to flourish in my surroundings and when I need to make a change, no matter how scary it might be, I can choose to be blessed, to bless others, and grow there too. All things are for a season. Don’t let the season pass you by.

By the way…those stupid stubborn strawberries came back to life. Well, they did die first. Totally died. But they had a couple little wild strawberries on the vine before they died, and those strawberry seeds, planted themselves and grew! Isn’t that just how life is? Sometimes we have to totally die to ourselves before our next blessing in life flourishes. The old had to pass away before the new could be strong!

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Cheerful Celery – You Did It!

(The following story is part of my “Life Lessons from a Square Foot Garden” series and was written a few months ago)

You did it!

This week was not a good week. I’ve been having lots of bad days lately. You know, the kind where people disappoint you. It’s not that I’m totally enraged, but I’m disappointed. I had expected more out of a couple of friends, and in the end…disappointment was what I got. It made me feel sad and a little depressed…”the blues” I guess. I hate that feeling. It puts a shade of gray over all the good stuff too. Do you ever feel that way?

Celery

I have never grown celery before, and I thought it would be fun to try it. It has a large root that looks like a turnip or something and then a big green celery stock grows right up out of the ground. Doesn’t that sound cool? You can even eat the root!

I planted the seeds in my seed tray with my other early seeds and I got a few sprouts, but then they died. They gave me such hope and excitement…a kind of promise of what was to come. In the end I got disappointment. Sound familiar? When the rest of my seedlings were transplanted to the boxes, there was no celery. All I could do was stare at the 2 empty squares where I had planned them to be. I waited a week before I tried again. Was it worth the try? Would they just die again? Should I waste my time or just use that space for something easy like beans or tomatoes? They are a sure-thing! Then I wouldn’t feel disappointed again.

A couple of weeks ago we had a beautiful spring day and I was in the mood to be positive. So I sprinkled some teeny-tiny celery seeds across the soil and patted a little layer of soil on top. I was hoping that they wouldn’t get washed away in the rain that was coming. Oh well, all I can do is put the seed in the dirt and hope for the best.

I talked to the seeds. I told them I was counting on them and they just HAD to sprout and be strong plants. My kids and I were dying to see celery grow. I talk to all my plants. Don’t judge me.

Time has gone on, and on, and on. Tomatoes are getting bigger, baby strawberries are growing, onions are growing taller each day. No celery.

Then today, my sister came over to borrow a shirt (I guess sisters do that forever), and I was showing her my growing garden. I showed her the empty squares where my celery was supposed to be growing, but wait….there was a sprout, and another. The celery was growing! I have tiny-tiny little celery sprouts now and I’m so excited.

Celebrate the Cheerful Celery – it’s my motto today. People let us down all the time, friends break promises, sometimes it is US who lets OTHERS down…but the garden is always striving to be about it’s purpose. To grow and to give. So maybe this year, it will give me celery. And maybe I can always remember to be like my celery and strive to be about MY purpose…always faithful and steady…even if I fail at first and have to start over.

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Life Lessons – Square Foot Garden

Okay, so you’re probably asking yourself what life lessons could really be learned from a square foot garden, right? Well, actually I was also surprised at how much help my little garden boxes turned out to be.

Let’s start at the beginning.

Ever since I was a child, I have always loved gardening. Growing tomatoes on the patio, rows of corn in a small plot, blueberries on a bush, and fresh cucumbers all bring me to my happy place. I’m not a farmer by any means. I come from a family of suburbanites who don’t want to live amongst the nature. A subdivision without swim/tennis is considered roughing it. We only really “roughed it” once.

Oklahoma. I was in 3rd grade when we moved to Oklahoma. We rented a log cabin on many acres. I’m not really sure why my parents picked that house. I think they knew the owner and he gave them a great deal on the rent. We were there for about 8 months, and I think if were there any longer my mother would have ran off. There was NATURE all around us; crickets, frogs, bunnies, and squirrels. But in the end it was the ticks and scorpions that bothered my mother. Every night we had to have a tick check before going to bed! The dogs also had to be checked daily. Needless to say that my mom was not a happy “camper.”

Well, we didn’t stay in Oklahoma long, but the joy of the outdoors stayed. Not that I’m a survivalist who lives off the land and eats grubs or anything…but I do believe that nature shows us how to live., and I love to see the Creator in nature.

Now I am in my mid-thirties, homeschooling mother of 2 children, and small gardener. I recently found out about Square-Foot-Gardening and started this year’s garden according to Mel’s plan in his book:
All New Square Foot Gardening

I hope that you will also learn a little something about life from the garden!

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Square Foot Gardening-The Beginning

garden seed packs

I try to plant a garden of some sort every year. ¬†Some years it is a large scale plot, and sometimes it’s a few containers with tomatoes. ¬†I don’t know why I feel the need to plant a garden each year…but it’s more than just something to do. ¬†I am truly urged to plant one each year…from within. ¬†Even as a child, I would have my parents help me plant something. ¬†I aspire to have a garden big enough to sustain our vegetable needs all year. ¬†Could I attain that?

Well, this year I am trying a new system for me. ¬†Actually, it’s not totally new. ¬†I have had raised beds before, but never saw a big difference between a raised bed and just planting in the ground. ¬†So this year, I bought the book, All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. ¬† I figured this was like the bible of all raised bed gardening books out there, and boy was I right. ¬†First, I found out exactly what I was doing WRONG! ¬†Here are some key points:

1.  Row gardening is a waste of space, money, and time (I kinda knew that)

2. Raised beds are more efficient in time, money, and crop yield.

3. You only need 6 inches of soil to plant in (YEP…That’s right! 6 inches)

4. NEVER dig up your soil.  You are not going to use it!

5. Don’t skimp on the soil you put in your bed. If you are only giving your plants 6 in. of dirt…it better be great dirt!

The book is absolutely wonderful. ¬†If you have the old version of his book, you’ll want to buy the new one. ¬†Besides being prettier and full of color, the new book has major changes to his philosophy. ¬†Over the last couple decades, he has tested and found that there was much room for improvement. ¬†Definitely¬†get his new book!

I’ll be posting about our garden adventures throughout the spring and summer…so check back.

Garden Status:

  • 3 boxes made (4′ x 4′) 1 more box that size to make and a 4’x1′ box to make
  • Seeds have been started….already getting sprouts. I let the kids pick out some seeds, but mostly I purchased veggies we buy on a regular basis. ¬†I will be trying a couple new things this year. ¬†Celery, Carrots and Potatoes. ¬†I will NOT be putting potatoes in the boxes (although you can if you raise the sides). ¬†I will be growing them in a trash can! ¬†Check back for updates on that too!

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