Tag Archives: cooking from the garden

Garden 2015: The end is nigh

My cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower have been huge disappointments this year. Between the 3, I have only 9 plants currently doing their brassica thing in my garden. I was expecting 8-10 plants of each, so there are some pretty big holes that needed to be filled. Over the long weekend I decided to fill those holes with what I knew would grow–more lettuce, beets, and chard. I’m going to give the brassicas another try this fall, but for now go with what works, right?

In other news, I got my trellises built and set up this weekend! I’m very pleased with how they turned out, even if the supplies were ridiculously more expensive than I expected.

At this point in the season the updates will start tapering off until I start harvesting anything beyond lettuce. I’m relieved that everything is in and have extremely high hopes for the garden this year!

Garden 2015: A few successes

Spring is always such a busy time around our yard. The lawn starts growing and before I know it it’s up to my knees, the blackberry vines start their take over, and as I weed my garden beds I find all the peanuts the squirrels buried in the fall.

This year has been no exception–seriously, I don’t know where those squirrels are finding all those peanuts!

My seedlings are growing quite nicely and overall I’d say my starts have been a success. My tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, and cabbage are going strong and should be ready for planting at the end of April. The cauliflower and kale are a little more questionable, which is odd because I’ve never had any issues starting kale. Depending on how things shake out, I may plant a few extra seeds along side the starts just to hedge my growing bets next month. The celery on the other hand has been a complete and dismal failure. I planted 25 plants, got 3 “starts”, and those starts just disintegrated. I’m going to try direct sowing and hope for the best.

I did manage to get all but one garden bed weeded and composted last week, and the following seeds are safely in the ground: Turnips, beets, fava beans, radishes, arugula, carrots, lettuce, Swiss chard, and spinach. I also covered the beds with chicken wire to keep the squirrels, birds, raccoons, and cats (ew) away.

I’ll continue to update as things start coming up!

Garden 2015: Restarts, weeds, and in the ground

Over the winter, Andy and I had a boiler/radiator system installed in our home. The base of operations for the new system is our utility room, which used to be the coldest room in the house, and is now the warmest. I thought the heat would be great for my seedlings, and I was right! The balmy heat in the utility room worked its magic much faster than I was expecting, and my seeds started sooner than I anticipated. I wasn’t prepared to transplant them into bigger pots as early as they needed so I decidedĀ  to restart a few seeds as the original plants (namely some broccoli and cauliflower) had gotten a bit leggy and I didn’t know if the root systems would be able to develop in the larger pots. Everything else “seems” to be okay. Now I just have to keep them safe from the cats. Much easier said than done. There have been casualties.

As we’re into the middle of March (seriously, how did that happen?), I realized I should probably get my cooler weather crops sown directly into the ground within the next 7-10 days, specifically my beets, spinach, spring turnips, arugula, fava beans, radishes, and lettuce. In order to get these lovelies in the ground, I’ve got to get my act together and do some major weeding. I’ve also got to get my hands on some good compost. Once those two things are done, I should be in a good spot. Thankfully, we’re gettingĀ  little bit of sun this week as weeding in the rain isn’t my favorite activity.

Garden 2015: Starts and specs

I promised last week I would share exactly what plants I started and my general garden plan, so here goes!

Tomatoes x 20 (8 different kinds)
Peppers, sweet x 5 (California Wonder Pepper)
Peppers, hot x 10 (Jalapeno and Pepperoncini)
Cabbage x 10 (3 different kinds)
Romanesco x 2
Broccoli x 10
Kale x 10 (Curly and Lacinato)
Cauliflower x 8
Celery x 25
Onions x lots! (2 different spring plus a batch of red. It’s hard to say exactly how many, but probably around the 300 mark. Onions start differently than other veggies.)

A little over a week and I already have starts for the following: Tomatoes, cabbage, Romanesco, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, celery, and onions. I’m days away from transplanting into bigger pots and trying to figure out where I can put them that gets plenty of light, but is away from the cats, because seedlings and cats aren’t a good mix.

The peppers and some of the tomatoes are being a bit stubborn. I’m hoping they’ll come up soon, though I don’t have any experience starting celery and I’ve never had luck starting peppers.

As for the rest of our garden (remember, I’ve got 8 beds to fill!) I’ve got a fairly large handful of seeds that will be direct sown once the soil warms up sufficiently. Here’s what I’ll be putting in the ground in the next 6–8 weeks:

Pumpkins (5 kinds!)
Fava beans
Bush beans
Beets (4–5 kinds!)
Butternut squash
Cucumbers (2–3 kinds!)
Head lettuce
Swiss chard

To be perfectly honest, I’m a little nervous. This is the largest number of plants I’ve ever attempted, and it will take some dedication to the cause to keep everything going . If everything turns out, we’ll be swimming in produce, and I’ll have a lot to put up so we can eat through the winter. If it doesn’t, well I’ll have to chuck it up to another learning experience.


March 6th: Weekly meal plan

Hello and welcome to the weekend!

If you look closely at our first few meal plans, you’ll see a lot of repeats. There are a few reasons for this: 1) It makes meal planning super easy–just take what we like from the week before and have it again. 2) We like what we like. Why make a change? 3) It makes sticking to the budget fairly easy as I already know what each meal will roughly cost.

Don’t think that we eat the same thing night after night. When I do meal repeats, I like to make something at the end of the second week that we had at the beginning of the week before. In the end, it all balances out quite nicely.

Here’s a look at what Andy and I are eating this week. Enjoy!

– Egg cups and asparagus
– Broccoli and cheese egg bake/casserole
– Broccoli, sausage, and tomato bake/casserole with grain-free crumble topping
– Chorizo, mushroom, and turnip* soup with salad
– Curried cauliflower soup with salad (freezer meal!)
– Cobb salad
– Hodge Podge (clear out that fridge!)

*Our garden is chock-a-block full of turnips that I planted last fall. I need to start incorporating them into meals before they bolt as it’s been an unseasonably warm winter this year.

Garden 2015: Starting seeds

My mom’s mom, and dad’s dad both had neon green thumbs. They could make anything grow. Growing up, my mom had a vegetable garden every year that I can remember. After Andy’s diagnosis, I knew that gardening was something I wanted to try my hand at. Nothing is healthier than eating something that was growing right outside your door just hours before.

When we bought our home 2 1/2 years ago, the biggest selling point was the half-acre yard. It had an herb garden, more fruit trees than we realized, and three existing garden beds. My first project was adding a few more beds. Five to be exact for a total of eight 4′ x 8′ garden beds. Over the next two summers I bought seeds, started seeds, planted seedlings, and held my breath. I had some successes–green beens and beets, hooray! I had some failures–why has that pumpkin been only 3 inches wide for the last 4 months? But I’ve learned something every year.

Heading into the 2015 growing season (Portland’s had a very mild winter), I wanted to share (and document) my garden process. I’m still tweaking things: Figuring out which vegetables I should plant for my zone, and which plants should be grown together and which should not.

I’ve been planning all week to get my seeds going, and today it finally happened. I’ll go into the specific details of what I started–and what I will be direct sowing–in a later post, but to give you just a hint, I started over 100 plants. It sounds like a lot, I know, but when you’ve got eight garden beds, there’s some room to fill.