I am far from a professional gardener. lol I’m not even a moderately experienced gardener. I’m more like an amateur enthusiast that dreams really big. But, each of the last couple years, I have learned a little more about how to produce more nutritious food for our family, stretch our grocery budget and be [...]
I am far from a professional gardener. lol I’m not even a moderately experienced gardener. I’m more like an amateur enthusiast that dreams really big. But, each of the last couple years, I have learned a little more about how to produce more nutritious food for our family, stretch our grocery budget and be a better steward of the resources God has provided us. What I lack in experience, is made up for in crazy, wild enthusiasm and a desire to learn even more (plus eat lots and lots of tomatoes)! Seriously, I’m so excited about spring and as usual, have had to restrain myself from starting a garden since that deceptively warm week in January, that each year, engages my gardening soul, trying to tempt and fool me, even though my gardening head KNOWS that January in Nebraska is not the time to put tender seedlings into the ground. *sigh*
The good news is, it’s not January anymore! I’m starting seeds inside, to be transplanted later. I’m getting started with a few cooler weather crops, in pots up on my deck, too. Regardless of where you live in the U.S., right now, if it isn’t time to get your garden in the ground, it will be soon and it’s definitely time to get some seeds going inside. Every year, I browse the seed catalogs that come to the house, dreaming and planning, planning and dreaming. To be honest, I had a gorgeous garden spot at the home we had to sell three years ago – six gorgeous raised beds, a grape arbor, blueberry bushes, a rhubarb patch and lots of potted plants in and around it all. It was bordered, trimmed and mulched to perfection. After two summers, I finally had it finished and it was producing in great abundance. And then we moved — lol. Leaving it behind sort of took the wind out of my gardening “sails” for a bit. We actually moved twice in that three years; and now, that we’ve finally landed in a more permanent situation, I’m getting my gardening mojo back and I’m ready to start, again. Last summer was our first growing season in this house and while I did get one raised bed in the back yard and had quite a container garden going on the deck, it was more a summer for seeing what would come up from the previous owner’s labors, crying and fussing a lot about what did come up and where it was placed and realizing that this summer, we were going to need to invest a lot more time and sweat to create the garden that fits our family. So, it’s March. The journey begins.
I hope that whether you have a sprawling acreage or one cute container on your patio or deck, that you will plant something, this summer. It’s indescribable joy to put your hands in the dirt, plant a tiny seed and watch it grow and produce something delicious! What an amazing God to have designed such a process and then to allow us to share in it and reap the bounty! You can do it! Plant something! You’ll be so glad you did! AAAAAAND…I’m going to make it even more exciting for you. How would you feel about a giveaway of an ENTIRE GARDEN of open-pollinated, pure, natural and non-GMO Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds? Flippin’ amazing!!??? I kind of thought you might. Let me tell you a little bit about this fabulous company and why heirloom seeds are so important. Then we’ll get this giveaway underway so you have a chance to start your own fabulous garden.
Baker Creek carries one of the largest selections of seeds (1400 varieties, from 70 countries) from the 19th century, including many Asian and European varieties. The company has stepped into the forefront of promoting and preserving a heritage in agriculture and gardening; and finding ways to help others grow food that tastes the way you remember — before hybrids and GMO’s. Jere and Emilee Gettle, owners of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, work to supply seeds to many of the world’s poorest countries and also right here in the U.S., for school gardens and educational projects, plus they are producing and saving enough to meet the demands of home gardeners, like you and me. It is their goal to educate everyone about a better, safer food supply and fight gene-altered food production. All Baker Creek Heirloom seed is non-hybrid, non-GMO, non-treated and non-patented. The Gettles and the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds company work with a network of about 100 small farmers, gardeners and seed growers to bring you the best selection of seeds available! Many of the varieties they sell were collected while the Gettles traveled abroad.
What are heirloom seeds and why are they important? Heirloom seeds come from plants that have been grown and had their seeds saved from one generation to another. They have been given great care and been saved because they are considered valuable, for one reason or another. Flavor, productivity, hardiness or adaptability all weigh into the determination of a plant variety’s value. Heirloom seeds may have been saved and passed down in families or cultures for fifty, one hundred, or for some, even three hundred years. Many of these plants would be extinct, now, if not for their careful cultivation and the saving of their seeds, over the years. The commonly held belief in commercial farming is that heirloom seeds lend themselves better to family gardening and small farms, than to mass production, which is why they are not usually considered viable options for corporate farms. For family gardening, there is a definite trend back to heirloom seeds. For many of us, it’s the desire to know what we are feeding our families, where it comes from and how it’s grown. Another part of it is a longing for the unmistakable flavors we remember from our childhood – a time when we would pick a tomato and eat it right in the garden, enjoying the delicious burst of flavor that can’t be found in today’s supermarket varieties.
Heirloom seeds are good for flavor, they are good for your family’s health and they are good for your family’s personal economy. Growing food of any kind is obviously a savings when it comes to the grocery budget, but many people don’t realize that growing heirloom seeds, means you can save seeds from your produce and plant them to create next year’s garden. That’s another savings! We’re going to learn so much more about seeds, plants, gardening and composting, this summer. I can’t wait to share what we’re doing and hear about all that you are planting, too, but for now, I want to give you a couple snapshots of how we are starting out and give you the opportunity to get in on this fabulous giveaway for a Baker Creek Seeds LARGE Collection!!! You’ll get to select either the Large Northern or Large Southern collection, to suit the growing conditions where you live. That’s a $99 value and includes over 25 types of vegetables in more than 60 varieties. I flipped when I saw all that was included! Be sure you check out all the great garden products at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Whether you wait for the giveaway or go ahead and order because you can’t wait to get started, you’ll be as pleased as I was with the service and high quality, pure seeds for your family’s garden!
So, what’s growing in your garden? Have you started? Never tried, but now you think maybe you need a tomato in the pot on your deck? I can’t wait to hear your gardening plans! Be sure to ask questions, too. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll just go track it down and then we’ll all learn, together.
You thought I was never gonna stop talking, didn’t you? No worries! I didn’t forget. Here’s the fabulously generous giveaway from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds! To enter, just visit their website and find a veggie you’d like to try or one you’ve never heard of. You choose. Then come back and leave a comment telling me what the name of it is. Click that DO IT button in the Rafflecopter form, hit ENTER and that’s it. You’re entered to win AND you will have unlocked several additional optional entries, if you’ like to increase your chances. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I received a Large Northern Seed Collection from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, in order to test the products in my own garden and write this review. No monetary compensation was received and a positive review was not required. As with all Busy-at-Home reviews, the views and opinions expressed are wholly my own and based on my personal experience with the products.
It’s crazy how fast the summer gets away from us. We have been plugging away at projects, inside and out, hosting get-togethers and family weekends, celebrating the Fourth of July in “Fourth of July City” (Independence Day is sort of a big deal, here in our little town! ) I still get to help with [...]
It’s crazy how fast the summer gets away from us. We have been plugging away at projects, inside and out, hosting get-togethers and family weekends, celebrating the Fourth of July in “Fourth of July City” (Independence Day is sort of a big deal, here in our little town! ) I still get to help with the Youth Group on Wednesday nights, because as Pastor Dan says, “Jesus doesn’t take summer break!” and I’m busy helping our little 4-H club create their projects for the upcoming county fair. Those four girls are sewing their hearts out and my sewing machine is humming and happy. And then there are the world’s greatest grandbabies, and dishes and laundry and plans for the upcoming homeschool year…did I file my paperwork, yet? hmmm….. So, needless to say, blogging has been squeezed in all the spaces around the rest of life and I have tons of pictures taken and blog posts “cooking” in my head. I just need to get them all organized and typed up for you. Have you had a wonderful, crazy, hectic summer, too? You’ll have to tell me about it!
I want to update you on my garden progress, today. The last time we talked about everything we are doing in Our Backyard Makeover, I had completed building the fabulous Double Bed Raised-Bed Garden from Greenland Gardener. And if you haven’t entered the giveaway they are sponsoring here at Busy-at-Home, so you can win your own Double Bed Raised-Bed Garden, be sure to pop over to my giveaway post and enter. So, on with the update. I can’t really show you where I’m at, until I show you where I’ve been. As spring progressed, my “garden area” became somewhat more overwhelming. The plethora of plant life coming up was scattered, with no rhyme or reason, and it was so terribly overgrown, I considered giving up before I had even started. But armed with garden gloves, a spade, our tiller and a kind-hearted husband, I dove in to conquer and tame the jungle that was threatening to take over the backyard.
So, we dug in to clear the area and get it ready for a vegetable garden. This took three passes of digging, weeding and tilling over a period of about two weeks, but we finally did make a little headway. The difficult part has been that even after an area has been cleaned, perennial plants that had been previously planted and were not ready to sprout and blossom, yet, suddenly burst into our cleaned areas. It’s amazing how much was planted in there! We also had dill and volunteer tomato plants coming up all over the place. Even though I’m not sure what variety the tomato plants are, I saved the larger ones, since my lovely heirloom tomato plants got a little toasted around the edges, sitting on my deck waiting for the garden to be ready. I saved some dill, too. Man it smells so good!
In between “cleaning” sessions, I built my raised bed garden box. After the garden box was complete, my hardworking hubby made a final pass through our backyard garden and flowerbed areas with the tiller. We had previously dug up, and moved, some of the flowers that had been growing there and I have learned a lot about myself and my “gardening philosophy” in the process of putting this all together. It’s been great fun watching as new things have popped up in the beds, here at our new home, to see what was here and all the color we have. But, I also learned that though I wouldn’t have expected it, I am a slightly more organized and “ducks in a row” kind of gardener. I don’t have to have meticulous, straight rows all in one pattern, but a carefree perennial and wildflower garden, completely mixed into, and often hiding my vegetable garden is not my style either. A very sturdy and invasive ground cover had been planted EVERYWHERE and was threatening to choke and crowd out every other new plant. So there has been a large amount of adjustment, moving and just plain “tilling under” going on, along with the ooohs and aaahs over all the plants I DO want to keep.
So after the initial “clearing”, I was ready to start my vegetable garden in earnest. I had constructed my Greenland Gardener Double Bed Raised Bed Garden Box, purchased the necessary soil to fill it, as well as landscape fabric and garden staples. I was good to go, except that as I previously mentioned, my garden plants that had been waiting on the deck for a place to grow, had gotten a little crunchy. I just hoped for the best and planted them anyway.
To get the raised bed garden area ready, I used a garden rake to smooth and level it as best I could. Then I cut landscape fabric to fit the area and fastened it down with garden staples. This step helps prevent weeds and unwanted plants from growing through the bottom of your raised bed garden. In my case, it’s a critical step, since we aren’t sure what else may be under there, waiting to sprout in the summer or fall. I am adding a second raised bed garden, so I will be continuing to extend the fabric on down the fence-line in a later post.
Once the landscape fabric was in place, I arranged my garden bed over it and began to fill it with the soil we had purchased. In the past, I have carefully mixed a growing soil using peat moss, compost, topsoil, and vermiculite, getting a perfect, loose and nutritious mix for my plants. But, as late as we were into this planting season, I was more interested in just getting my garden in the ground, this year. I purchased Miracle Grow Garden Soil at our local Wal-Mart and it seems to be working very well. If I have a compost tumbler, by next planting season, I may get more creative with my garden soil. For the time being, I am pleased as punch to have it already prepared for me.
When the boxes were filled and the soil leveled, I planted the volunteer tomatoes we dug up and the “toasted” heirloom tomatoes from the deck. I also toasted a watermelon plant, two cucumber plants and four jalapeno peppers which were promptly planted into the beds. I will be moving the watermelon, when my second garden bed arrives and is set up. After about ten days in the ground, my plants are bouncing back and feeling happy. Believe it or not, they are growing and I think they will thrive, though the harvest will definitely be later than usual. It was too embarrassing to take closeups of their condition on the day I planted them, so the above distant view is it. The later pictures show you how well they are coming back. So, believe me, if I can do this, you can, too. Grab a pot or build a raised bed and grow something. Nothing else tastes as good!
Oh, I also added trellises for the tomatoes and cucumbers. I like them so much better than tomato cages. They look better and they are just easier to work with, since I can get to both sides. They also save space in the garden, rather than leaving vining plants sprawled across your space, you can grow them vertically and produce even more in your small garden area. When both garden boxes are in, I will also cover the landscape fabric with shredded cedar mulch. It helps keep down the weeds, makes a nice sturdy path for me to walk on in the garden and it just looks good. As an added benefit, some garden pests do not like the smell of cedar. Win, win for me!
Before getting the bed organized and the garden planted, I did pot some plants on our deck, as well. I have a cucumber that I am trying to train along the privacy screen and a sausage tomato, plus some strawberries. These plants were in much earlier and they are going great guns! I am anticipating fresh cucumbers very soon!
There is still much to do. When the second garden box arrives, ( It was actually delivered during the writing of this post!) I will transplant the watermelon, plant a zucchini and what should be a second crop of green beans, though it will only be my first. I long to have an asparagus bed and a corner for herbs, as well. Asparagus will need to wait until fall, but the herbs may still happen this summer. I have a small pot of basil on the deck.
I’ll keep you posted on the next stages of our garden adventure, as I go along, and I’ll be sharing the great deal I found on outdoor furniture, recently. In the meantime, how is your garden doing? Are you reaping the bounty of your labors, yet? What’s your favorite garden recipe?