This has been our first year really attempting to grow some of our own produce and for serious rookies, I’d say we’ve been pretty successful.  We’ve learned a lot and done A LOT of things wrong, but we are keeping a journal to hopefully learn from our mistakes for next year.  We have also managed to do a few things right and are really enjoying the fruits (or vegetables) of our labor.

You can check out my initial gardening post here.

In our first bed, we planted snap peas, Walla Walla sweet onions and spinach.  The spinach took off like wild fire and we honestly had more than we could use so we gave it away like crazy.

My husband built a great trellis out of chicken wire for the snap peas, but the way I planted them turned into one big hot mess.  We had tons of peas, but most of them were impossible to get through.  I ended up ripping them out and replanting just along the back of the bed to hopefully avoid the pea jungle again.

The peas we did have were out of control delicious though, so I can’t wait for more.













Can I ever grow kale?  Apparently I was a professional kale farmer in a former life.  It could also be that it’s just very easy to grow.

In our second bed we planted kale, cilantro and cucumbers.  I have probably harvested the kale five or six times and it is coming back stronger than ever.  Honestly, I’d never cooked with it before so I’ve been forced to get a little creative.  I made a version of Olive Garden’s kale, sausage and potato soup and blended it raw into smoothies for my kids.  I also pureed a huge batch in the blender and threw it into the freezer to add to pasta sauces.

Our cucumbers are going strong as well.  I planted them along the sides of the bed so they can trail over.  My kids are getting a kick out of the tiny little prickly cucumbers that are starting to pop out.

I harvested the cilantro at least three full times before it went to seed, which is way more than I’ve been able to do in the past years.  I started it from seed this year instead of buying starts, so I’m not sure if this is why.  Either way, it’s mighty delicious.













For our third bed, I started tons of tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers and pepperoncinis inside in a small greenhouse.  They did really well, I hardened them by putting them outside for a few hours a day for almost two weeks and then planted outside.  They all died except for three sad little plants.

I truly have no idea what I did wrong, but I nursed those babies back to health.  I’m a little protective of them now, ever since there brothers and sisters made such an abrupt farewell.  I felt so sad for them that I added some flowers to the corner of the bed so they wouldn’t feel lonely.







I wouldn’t say that we have come anywhere near supplementing our produce this year, but I feel like we have made some great strides.  My son has been helping me water every day and I think he has finally grasped the idea that all these vegetables grew from the seeds that we planted.

Gardening was so overwhelming to me in the beginning (and truthfully still is).  I felt like the only way I would ever feel comfortable was just to jump in feet first and figure out what works.  And what definitely doesn’t.

I would love to hear about your progress this year.  Please share any tips you have for me, I’m trying to turn into a gardening sponge!


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You can check out my initial backyard garden post here, but I’ll give you a quick recap.

My husband built us three raised beds for the backyard and we started successive planting at the beginning of April.

In the first bed shown in the pictures above, we planted snap peas, onions, lettuce and spinach.  The first picture was taken on May 5th and the second picture was taken on May 18th.  We’ve had a significant amount of both sun and rain, which has helped everything just totally take off.  We have already picked spinach twice for salads!

In the beginning, our lettuce was completely decimated by bugs.  I was at a loss as to what to do, since our goal was to keep the garden as organic as possible.  I did some research and found out that spraying a mixture of ammonia and water on the leaves will kill those pesky bugs.  I quadruple-checked that information, because it just seemed wrong to spray our food with ammonia, but apparently it turns to nitrogen and is okay.  (Please don’t take my word for it, do your own research before attempting anything I say on here!)

If you can tell from the pictures, the lettuce in the bottom left of the bed is coming back stronger than ever!







Bed #2 was planted on May 8th and if you look REALLY closely, you can just see the sweet little kale leaves popping up.  We have cucumbers planted on both edges of the bed, kale and cilantro in the middle.













These are the seeds that will be transplanted into bed #2: Two varieties of tomatoes, bell peppers, pepperoncinis and jalapeno peppers.

The first picture was taken May 5th, the second was taken May 18th.  I thinned everything out to a single start per pot and am hoping to move them outside in the next few weeks.  The tomatoes can’t be contained much longer!

We are learning SO much this year and basically teaching ourselves from the ground up (HA! No pun intended).  It’s been really rewarding to watch our efforts actually produce something that resembles vegetables plants.

I’m really hoping having this small garden will take a decent chunk out of what we spend each month towards groceries.  Between this and the weekly CSA pick-up we are signed up for, we should be swimming in produce.

Speaking of our CSA pick-up..







My husband came home with these after our very first CSA pick-up yesterday.  This is only two of the three items we can get each week.  They are very flexible and will let you bank your items for later weeks when you need more produce.

We paid a flat fee at the beginning of the spring that works out to an average of $6 per week.  Well worth it.  And then some.

It’s going to be a good summer.

Do you have a garden this year?  Share your tips and stories with us!

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Gardening for rookies

by Melody on May 5, 2011







Seriously.  Rookies.  My husband and I are learning every single step of the way.  We have used a lot of Google.

We have always ate fairly healthy and exercised off and on, but the stars have aligned this year and we both seem to agree that we need to really focus on living the best lifestyle we can for ourselves AND for our children.  Not to mention we watched Food Inc and were a bit horrified by what we saw.

My husband built three of the raised beds that you see in the picture above.  (I’m very lucky to have such a handy husband whose attention to detail is, shall we say, a bit over the top).  We filled each about halfway with dirt, then added top soil and organic fertilizer.

In this first bed we planted snap peas, lettuce, spinach and onions.  Remember the rookie status?  Our lettuce is being completely eaten by bugs, so we are attempting to figure it out.  Everything else looks great though and we are thrilled with the progress.

The second bed will contain cucumbers, kale, cilantro and possibly some peppers that will be transplanted outside a little later, when the weather gets warmer.







The third bed will contain all the transplants from our seed starts shown above.  We have two types of tomatoes, bell peppers, pepperoncinis and jalapeno peppers.  The little starts look wonderful and popped up almost immediately.  Our son is having a blast watching them grow a little more and more each day.

Our initial out of pocket for this project was probably around $175, but most of that went towards the materials for the beds, which should last us several years.  We saved money on some of the starts, seeds and fertilizer by buying a half-price voucher to a nursery through Living Social and today’s half-price voucher to Gamache Landscaping through Seize the Deal.

This has been such a fun project for my husband and I to work on together and we are enjoying watching the fruits of our labor.  I can’t wait for our son to be able to pick some of his own vegetables.  He is already a great eater (he picks salad over anything else on most days), but this is going to give him such a connection to his food.  I think.  And hope.

Feel free to share your best tips with us or just share what you are planting this year.  I’ll do my best to keep you updated on how we are doing!


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