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





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.

real baby food.

dhara’s first official meal of gently mashed avocado

My little baby is growing up.  Her first tooth made it’s appearance last week.  It’s still in the crowning phase, but yep, it’s there.  Makes me sad.  This tooth signifies the next phase of life — solids.  I personally wanted to delay the introduction of solids to her, and keep her solely on breast milk, but my mom would never let me do that!  : )  So at 5.5 months, she had her first taste of avocado.

Greg purchased two of these wonderful wooden bowls from a yard sale before we were married.  He so proudly brought them to me the day after his purchase.  I just love the artist signature on the bottom.  After I found out I was pregnant, I went searching for these two bowls because I wanted something made of natural materials for the baby, and I knew these two would work out great as baby bowls.  Their size is just baby perfect.

I don’t know exactly why, but I have a small wooden spoon collection — had it since college.  There’s something so age-old about wooden cutlery and dishes that makes food tasty and wholesome.  I remember giving Greg a wooden spoon to carry around in his pocket during our college years.  He did so for quite a while.  Sometimes if you looked closely, you could see the handle sticking out of his pocket.  It was pretty darn cute.

But back to the topic at hand, so what has Dhara been eating?  I’ve been using two sources as references during this new adventure in first foods, Real Food for Mother and Baby, by Nina Planck and Super Baby Food, by Ruth Yaron.  Before reading Nina Planck’s great book, I probably would have given Dhara some baby cereal.  But, I read this interesting bit:

“Years ago, eating solids early in life was considered essential.  Among the principal beneficiaries of this philosophy were manufacturers of the baby cereal.  Bland and slightly sweet, cereal is easily ingested by a young baby who does not need to eat solid foods yet.  Nowadays, babies start on solids around six months, when they are ready to chew and are more coordinated, and by that point they have little interest in largely tasteless cereals.  Babies don’t need cereals.  Cereals are constipating and starchy.  An early emphasis on starch contributes to both a predilection for white foods (rice, potatoes, etc.) and the acquisition of a sweet tooth later on.”

Love this book.  It makes so much sense.


and more beets

creamy cottage cheese and banana

deliciously ripe mangoes

avocado, and sometimes with a dollop of plain yogurt

sweet potatoes with a small pad of homemade butter

she loves a bottle of freshly blended, cold, refreshing watermelon juice. the coldness probably feels good on her sore gums too.

As you can see, this little one is growing in leaps and bounds!  She’s not a big solid food eater, but she loves to try various foods and feel the different textures in her mouth.  After four to five baby spoon fulls, she’s done.  The past few nights have been hard for her because of the emergence of her new tooth.  She ran a small temperature and has cried off and on during the night.  Hopefully it’ll be all over soon.  And then onto more solids.

Next up for this little one, I’d like to introduce meats, fish, lightly cooked egg yolk, and cod liver oil.