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these boots.

“These boots were made for walking,” or rather, they were made for gardening. Greg and I purchased goulashes for Dhara before she was born — it was one of those store credit purchases.  I originally wanted a red British pair, but we ended up with some paisley blue ones.

We put them on the Dhara-girl for the first time last week so she could help her mama out with some gardening.  She was a wee bit wobbly at first, falling after taking her first step, but after a little practice she was just fine.  We couldn’t have picked a better morning for planting my germinated seeds and seedlings from the farm.  Both mama and baby tromping around in the soil with their goulashes on! Dhara loves being outside; she especially loves sticking her fingers in the dirt — I think I can foresee a future for my little gardener.

we have alot of fun with her

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to the farm.

We recently paid a visit to our local farm to pick up seedlings for our garden.  I love the fact that these little guys grew in soil local to our garden — making it easier for my plants to thrive + grow.  With so many choices the farm had to offer, we finally came home with spinach, red peppers, green peppers, all sorts of hot peppers, eggplant, white eggplant, tomatoes, tomatillos, squash, cucumber, zucchini, rhubarb, cilantro, parsley, mint, lavender, basil, and some strawberry plants.  Talk about new territory for me — I am on a mission.  I would love to make some fresh strawberry and raspberry jams and do some canning this year.  The last time I made strawberry jam was like 10 years ago — I really need to revisit this tasty task.

Although I won’t be using my own strawberries this year because I recently learned from Silka that after strawberries plants are planted, you should pluck all the sweet little flowers off before they turn into fruit so that the next year you have an abundance of strawberries.  So, I’ve been snapping off each one of those little white flowers and handing them to Dhara, while believing in faith that next year I will have more strawberries than I know what to do with!  This year I will have to go strawberry picking at Larriland with the Dhara-girl.  Let’s see how my grand plans pan out!

so many choices!

my beloved strawberry plants

leafy greens

loving the fan

loving the wide open spaces to frolic + play

until next time…

seedlings.

I’m pretty pumped about starting our garden this year.  I guess you could call it Round II.  Last year’s garden was decent — we had some lovely summer salads of romaine lettuce, broccoli, and squash.  But I have higher hopes for this year.  I decided I would get a head start (compared to last year’s start) and begin germinating seeds indoors due to the unpredictable weather.  So last week I found seeds that I had purchased the year before, cleaned out some old pots, filled them with some good earth, and planted some carrots, tomatoes, beets, jalapeno peppers, cayenne peppers, black raspberries, red raspberries, and grapes.

After a trip to Roots this week, Dhara and I came home with heirloom seeds and planted purple beans, squash, red bell pepper, and eggplant.  We also have a basil plant which I’ve been caring for since January — it comes in handy for our homemade pizza nights.  Plus, my rosemary bush from last season seems to be resurrecting with life as the weather gets warmer.  I hope to plant more herbs before it gets any warmer.

I was so very pleased to find a couple days ago that my carrot, tomato and beet seeds have already sprouted and have grown about an inch — so exciting to see something come from nothing!  I now find myself becoming protective over my little seedlings.  Here’s hoping for a fruitful harvest this year!

purple beans, squash, red bell pepper

red raspberry plant

waiting

squash seeds

germinating seeds

the meager beginnings of a vegetable garden, pt 4.

[For the sake of documenting this, I woke up early this morning to our house in the midst of a great shake!  Literally.  My first thought — the Second Coming of Christ.  Made a mental note to make sure our visitor, Zac Poonen, was still here later in the morning.  Check — he was.  As many of you tri-staters know by now, we had an earthquake early this morning at 5 AM.  The center of the earthquake was specified to be in Rockville, MD.  This is the first earthquake I’ve ever experienced.  Maryland hasn’t had one in a long, long while.  So surreal when I think about it now.  I really thought I was dreaming…]

What Have We Been Growing?

cherries, from my dad’s cherry tree

lots of leafy, crisp romaine lettuce

black raspberries

lots of summer squash

pears, from my dad’s pear tree

cucumbers

broccoli

cilantro

rosemary

I don’t have photos to show for them yet, but we’ve also got lots of dill, a strawberry plant that will produce berries next season, bittergourd (pavaka), newly germinated tomato plants, mixed peppers, basil, beets, carrots, and poppies (my only flower!)

As for the raised bed, we filled it with a mixture of 40% soil, 40% composted pine bark, 20% manure/fertilizer.

As a newbie gardener, some things we would do differently next time:  1) contain excitement and wait to purchase plants — some of my strawberry plants died because I didn’t plant them in time, 2) make more raised beds — we later realized that we could probably have fit 3 more beds in our enclosed garden — three more! — we need to be better utilizers of space next time we build a garden, 3) find a better way to grow broccoli — we enjoyed the broccoli in our salads, but our broccoli heads didn’t grow nice and full, 4) purchase local soil, 5) add a drip irrigation system to the garden.

Next up, my review of avid gardener and enthusiast, Gayla Trail’s books, You Grow Girl and Grow Great Grub.  Love her folk styled gardening way of life.

the meager beginnings of a vegetable garden, pt 3.

Keeping Weeds Out

You probably noticed in my last garden post that there were a ton of weeds surrounding our raised bed garden.

I hate weeds.  I’m getting to the point where I can tell the difference between a newly germinated plant and a weed.  Almost.  Our garden is adjacent to the woods in our backyard, so there are plenty of weeds just itching to invade the small sanctuary we made for our garden.  And because many of them succeeded, Greg went out there on a cool Saturday morning and took a weed wacker/trimmer to all of them — clearing out the space until you could finally see beautiful brown dirt again.  Once he was done weed wacking, the enclosed garden looked quite nice against the thick verdure of the forest behind it.  [Side Note:  We want to keep our garden completely organic, so we haven’t used any sort of weed killer.  This keeps our garden free from those oh’ so bad chemicals.]

Next, we covered the ground with more of the corn based groundcloth in order to keep the weeds from regrowing.  I enjoy using this stuff because of it’s fabric nature.  Once the cloth was laid out, Greg had to secure the groundcloth by nailing it into the ground.

little watcher


Greg used twigs (as nails) to nail the groundcloth into the ground — I really enjoy the way this man’s mind works


And lastly, we covered the groundcloth with a nice layer of mulch and added stones around the outside of the fence (Greg dug up the stones from a creek that runs through the woods in our backyard.)  That should put a stop to most of those nasty weeds!  (It’s been a few months since we added the groundcloth and mulch, and it’s still pretty much weed free, except for the occasional outlier.)

And what a difference this has made!  I love our little garden!  I haven’t taken many photos of the container garden on our deck, but that’s exactly what it is, a garden in containers.  Hopefully photos of that in the near future.  Next up is probably the most important question, what have we been growing???

the meager beginnings of a vegetable garden, pt 2.

Feels like ages since I last wrote about our vegetable garden — April to be exact.  So much has happened since then.  What have I learned thus far about gardening?  I’ve learned that I love our little vegetable bed and container garden.  I love weeding so that our precious veggies can grow free and strong.  I LOVE when it rains, because that means our plants grow even faster.  I’ve learned that I like using a spade.  Now I just need a nice pair of gardening gloves, because I’ve been using my bare hands to dig holes, pull weeds, and plant!  Lastly, I’ve learned the beauty of organic eating (on a meager vegetable garden scale) — the earth and its produce never felt as sacred as it does now.  Oh to hold a summer squash, germinated from seed, in my hand is one of the best feelings in the world!

So back when I last wrote about our garden, I left off at fencing a garden.  And so I continue…

Fencing a Garden

Once Greg crafted the raised bed, it was time to fence it off from the myriad of deer, rabbits, and whatever else would be after our humble crop.  [Keep in mind that prior to even making the raised bed, he prepared the ground by doing a lot of leveling to make sure the bed would be on flat and even ground once it was finally placed.]

So once it came time for fencing, he measured a large enough space for the raised bed with ample room to walk around the bed.  He then laid out an eco-friendly corn based groundcloth to keep the weeds out of the raised bed garden.  He used a few rolls of fencing wire to enclose the garden, along with wood stakes placed every few feet as reinforcements for the wire.  Greg’s makeshift fence also came fully equipped with a door he crafted.  Call me silly, but I was so excited when I saw the door hinges!

See the wood block hanging from the twine?  Greg made it so that if you pull the wood block, the locking mechanism inside the door unlocks the door to our secret garden, ok, well not so secret garden.  I love my husband.  If you don’t already know this about him, he is uber cool. : )

There’s so much more I could say, but I’ll post more tomorrow.  Next up, keeping weeds out.

the meager beginnings of a vegetable garden, pt 1.

I am not a gardener.  At least not yet.  I don’t have a green thumb.  At least I don’t know if I do.  What makes me want a garden is having a baby in a world where food is filled with preservatives, pesticides, hormones, and the unreal.  I want my baby to eat real food.  My friend, Tina, recommended a book called Real Food for Mother and Baby by Nina Planck.  I’ll write a review on this book in a future post, but for now, something the author says that really resonates with me is:

“Real food is old and it’s traditional.  “Old” means we’ve been eating these foods for a long time…  The Old Foods Pantry is ample and diverse.  Meat, fish, poultry, milk, cheese, yogurt, nuts, berries, potatoes, leaves, lentils, chick peas, honey–and their close relations–are all old foods of good standing in our diet.”

I know I want to stick to whole and locally grown foods for my baby.  We live out in the country where farms and local produce are readily available, but we thought we’d also try our hand in growing a vegetable (some fruits) garden.  Now, we know nothing about gardening, except the watering part.  But we thought we’d give it a shot anyway, and learn as we go.  There is SO much information out there on gardening, I wish someone wrote a simple book on growing an organic garden — maybe even a gardening book for kids would be helpful to me.  : )

So first things first:  How do we want to build our garden?

After doing a little research, we thought that a raised bed would be better because it allows for a warmer atmosphere for plants to grow, versus growing them in the earth, where it is much cooler.  Although, I did read that some plants do better growing in cooler environments.

So off we went to Home Depot to pick up wood!  We wanted cedar or redwood to make our garden bed.  Come to realize they only sold pine wood and pressure treated pine wood (chemicals to preserve the wood from rotting and termites).  We were assured by the person in that department that everyone uses the pressure treated pine for gardening, but Greg purchased the untreated pine anyway.  He didn’t like the idea of an organic garden contained in chemically treated wood.  After doing more research, Greg came across an eco-friendly hardware store in old town Kensington, called Amicus Green.  There he found an all-natural oil that would preserve the untreated pine wood for years to come.  Score.  The typical Home Depot or hardware store does not carry something like this.

Since we live in deerland, we need to build a fence to keep the deer away if we want to taste the fruits of our labor.  Next up, fencing a garden.