Garden 2013: (Finally) Getting In the Ground

I haven’t posted about our garden lately… mostly because it hadn’t changed since the last post. Despite my incredible soreness from the CaliFit Mamas workouts that I have been following PAINstakingly, I decided I needed to get something accomplished in the garden today. If we don’t get the rest of the seeds planted this month, we may not see much happen, and that would be such a shame (and another failure on my part, which my ego just can’t handle!). So today, I planted the tomatoes in the garden area. My husband borrowed a really nice gas-powered tiller from his co-worker, and all the rain we have had in the Midwest lately made it a pretty easy task. I was able to plant all the little seedlings in a half hour. Some of them are already in need of support, so we will get them tied up soon!

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Of course, it helps if you’re not worried about your one-year-old yanking the plants out of the ground as fast as you can get them in soil. So I went for an easy fifteen-minute run/walk before I started gardening, and he slept in the shade while I planted. Tomorrow I plan on doing the same routine so that I can get our peppers in the ground.

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After nearly three years of living in a home with many fruit trees, this is the first year that we were able to pick our cherries from the cherry tree before the birds devoured them. We learned (the hard way) that we have to pick them as soon as we see red. If we wait even a day longer for them to ripen more, the birds will have their fill of them and we’d be left cherry-less. Again. We picked about a pound of them last night, and they are delicious.

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There is nothing that says sustainable-living more than being able to pick fresh fruits and vegetables from your own backyard.

How is your garden growing this year? We are a little behind schedule, but it’s getting there!

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There Are a Lot of Green Things Growing Over Here!

We are almost three weeks into growing our first family vegetable garden, and we are having good results so far. All of the plants that we started over two weeks ago have now sprouted (the green peppers were the last to pop up from that group; just as I was starting to worry about them, they started peaking through the soil!).

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Last Sunday, we started our second group of plants which includes two kinds of tomatoes and some lavender. None of those have sprouted yet, so they are still under their plastic “greenhouse” cover. Once they begin sprouting, the cover will be removed, and they will find a sunshiny spot in a windowsill too.

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I’ve been researching natural remedies, and I have found that dried lavender is potentially useful for things from digestion/anti-bloating, to keeping  your dresser drawers smelling fresh and keeping the moths away (which is a problem I’ve never actually experienced… Does that really even happen?), to a calming aide for better sleep. These uses are all supposedly due to the relaxing properties in the lavender. Of course, be sure you do your own research before you go munching on a bunch of lavender flowers. (I do have a Lavender Butter Cookie recipe from a friend that I can’t wait to use! They are YUM.) This is all knowledge that I’m just beginning to acquire, and by no means am I an expert, but it’s very interesting!

One of the most pressing reasons that we wanted to start a vegetable garden this year is to get back to eating more “real” foods. There are so many digestive issues out there that really can be solved or soothed by simply getting back to the foods that God and his natural creation has provided us. It makes sense, doesn’t it? When humans get ahold of something, we try to alter it, process it, to fit it for our own agenda or convenience, and doing so takes away some of the natural, perfect properties of the food. The more wholesome foods we can get our hands on, the better off our bodies will be. Simple. And what a rewarding experience it will be to get to eat the “fruits” of our labor. 😉

Stay tuned: the next step is to plant these babies (and more) into the GROUND!

Have you started a garden this year? How is it going for you so far? Please share your tips and tricks with us below! I love learning from YOU.


Cultivating a Green Thumb

Happy Feel Good Friday, y’all!

This gorgeous spring weather is bringing me out of the funk that I was in. I’ve learned since my last post (with the help of your comments, thank you!) that even if I seem to be going no where right now, I’m making small steps in many directions. I’m planting the seeds in many areas of my life, and sometimes I just need some patience to allow them to grow and bloom.

Speaking of seeds and growing, we have started growing our vegetable garden this week! Yes, it’s adding one more thing to my sometimes overflowing plate of commitments, but it’s another step in the direction of healthy living for my family, so it is worth it. Not only is growing a garden as a family fun, but it’s educational and gives us some quality bonding time. There are so many benefits in the process of growing a garden that the end result of being able to eat homegrown fruit and veggies is just a big bonus!

This is our second year of attempting to grow a full garden. Though I’ve grown tomatoes and flowers before, our first attempt at a vegetable garden as a family was last year. Although it started out well, May was hot and dry. When it came time to start transferring the three inch tall sprouts outside, we were supposed to leave the plants out during the day and bring them in at night. We had their spot in the yard tilled up and ready for them to be planted in the yard, once they had completed their transition period. However, one Monday morning we left them outside when went to work, but we didn’t come home until three days later! That was when my little one was unexpectedly born! By the time we came home from the hospital, the little green sprouts were dried up and brown. It was a huge bummer, but in hindsight, having to take care of a newborn and learn about the complex disease of cystic fibrosis that he was born with, it would have been stressful to take care of the plants on top of it all last summer anyway.

This year, we are excited to start fresh, and I want to share our gardening experience with you all. I have a feeling that many of you will give me many more helpful tips than I can give you, but that’s one of the best things about blogging for me is not what I can teach you, but what you can teach me. So if you see something we should or shouldn’t be doing along the way in my garden updates, please don’t skimp out on the advice! And if you’ve never grown a garden before, then we are technically in the same boat, and we can float along together!

Close Families Garden 2013: The Beginning
We began with a plan. We decided what we wanted to grow (what we like to eat), bought the supplies, and researched when and how to plant each type of plant. Some required starting them indoors eight weeks before planting them outdoors, some at six weeks, some at four weeks, and some directly outdoors. So I made a list of what and when to plant.

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Next we planted the first group of plants. My six-year-old helped a lot with this, and although getting the soil moist enough and using a pencil to make a little hole for each seed was time consuming and messy, we had fun! I let him use a spoon to dump the soil in, help pour the water on the soil, use a pencil to mix the soil with the water and make the hole, and then dropped two seeds in each section. Then we covered the seeds lightly with more soil and sprayed it thoroughly. This first group is broccoli, green peppers, onions, banana peppers, and jalapeño peppers. I used blue painter’s tape and permanent marker in front of each row so that I know which row has which type of plant.

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All that’s left to do after the planting (besides cleaning up a big mess!) is to keep the soil moist. We use a spray bottle of room temperature water to spray them lightly once or twice a day as needed. If they get too dry, the seeds won’t start growing so remember to water them!

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Just five days after planting, we have tiny little broccoli sprouts popping through the soil! Beautiful!

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I also sing and talk to the plants, which my husband thinks is strange, but he plays along anyway. God love him. 😉

After we plant the second group in another week, I will give you another garden update and hopefully we will have a lot more green things growing!

Happy Friday!


Everything is Going Green.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! For the past two years, my family and I have ventured downtown to watch the big St. Patrick’s Day parade, and we have always enjoyed it. Yet this year, we somehow were not feeling up to the journey. We live over an hour away from the nearest city that would host such a celebration. When we considered the hour-plus drive, rising gas prices, and the fact that I’m pregnant somewhat lazy, we decided to spend St. Patrick’s Day in the comfort of our home. But we still managed to have some “green” in our day!

The weather here has been gorgeous all week, and this morning was no exception. From the warmth of the sun all week and the occasional rainstorms, the grass is growing and turning from dead and brown to a lush green, and our fruit trees are sprouting their colorful little buds. The birds have been singing and chasing each other nonstop, like they are all “twitterpated” (any Disney fans? That’s what they call it in Bambi!). Spring is here, indeed! And I love what spring means for my family, as mentioned in a previous post.

So we spent our St. Patrick’s Day morning playing outside right alongside Spring and its natural green. It took a bit of coaxing for our five-year-old. He was more inclined to watch Saturday morning cartoons in his bedroom, but we were not about to let him miss a morning full of outdoor play like today! So he gathered up some trucks and G.I. Joes and took them out for some sun and fresh air, while my hubby and I sat reading on the porch. It was lunchtime before we knew it.

After lunch, our son wanted to have some T-Ball practice, although truth be told, our five-year-old prefers us to pitch to him, so there was no “T” involved. He is admittedly quite good at it! This will be his second season of T-Ball, and I’m hoping his knowledgep and experience of the game will bring out the natural leader that he likes to be once he gets over his initial shyness, so that he can be helpful to some of the younger players on his team this year. Our family loves this sport, and we are all excited for it to start!

And then the rain began. We had to take a break from practice, because while none of us are bothered by a little rain, holding a metal bat with lightning flashing in the distance just didn’t seem like a good idea. So we ventured indoors to the TV to flip back and forth between NASCAR and Spring Training MLB. Whether it was the flipping of channels, the exercise, or the fresh air, our son soon fell asleep for an afternoon nap. We took advantage of the opportunity, and turned it into a nap for the whole family, which is a very rare event in this household! I highly recommend it, should you ever be so lucky as to fit one into your own family’s busy schedule!

By the time we all woke up, the rain had ceased, and our stomachs were on empty. The perfect time for grilling. After we ate a delicious combination of Alfredo pasta topped with grilled chicken and a side of green beans, we moved onto our next green adventure: starting a garden! This will be our first garden as a family, and although it’s going to be a lot of work, we are all excited and invested in it. We started tonight by planting our seeds that need to begin growing indoors: broccoli, green peppers, jalapeño peppers, and onions. Our son really liked helping us, and we talked about the next steps to come of watering, planting, weeding, harvesting, and eating. He’s very interested in the parts that involve getting dirty, and somewhat unsure about the eating of some of the vegetables, but we can worry about that once we see some progress in the plants. I feel my thumbs turning green already!

While this St. Patrick’s Day didn’t feel particularly special or much like a holiday, it was a great day for my family. We enjoyed our own version of “being green” today very much! Maybe next year we will venture back out into the city’s celebrations… Or maybe we will choose again to stay close to home.

I hope you enjoyed the day with your loved ones as well!