A blog about family, food and fun!

Tag: vegetables

Easy Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Easy Baked Sweet Potato Fries

My oldest daughter and I love these sweet potato fries.  I make them every couple of weeks and they are usually gone by the end of the night.  The younger two kids either really love sweet potatoes or they can’t stand them so I usually […]

Gardening Update May 8th 2017

Gardening Update May 8th 2017

The weather has been cooperative so we made a huge amount of progress in the garden this week! Everything has been growing like crazy and most of the fruits are blooming which makes me very excited! My gigantic hydrangeas are almost all the way leafed […]

Gardening Update May 2, 2017

Gardening Update May 2, 2017

This past weekend we started our work on completely overhauling our front bed. It was originally planted with all ornamental plants and last year we removed a couple of large bushes and installed a planter box we were gifted from our neighbor.  After a winter of neglect it was pretty much due for some major work. My eventual goal is to remove all of the plants up until the boxwood which are planted along the property line blocking the sewer drain from sight. I do not particularly care for them but they do their job well and require very little maintenance besides trimming them twice a year. I am at a loss as to what to do with the tree. I have no idea what it is and it isn’t particularly pretty nor does it shade the area so it isn’t really in the way. I would hate to cut it down but I have nowhere else to put it. I am still debating what to do with it so it may stay there until next year.



I moved one of the butterfly bushes down our hill to shade a large south facing window.  I am re-homing it there temporarily until I figure out what to do with it.  There were two gigantic butterfly bushes in the front garden bed originally that took up way too much space.  The other one is going to be planted at my mom’s house.  I cut these back at least two feet last year and they are still taller than me.  We have had a cold spring so far so I don’t anticipate a huge growth season this year.



The roots on all of the bushes I took out are mysteriously shallow and I am having very little trouble pulling out large bushes.  I think we have very shallow top soil that the previous owners must have covered with some high quality soil since everything grew so much last year.  It makes me a little bit nervous about planting any more trees since we get quite a bit of wind for most of the year.



Here is where we added the planter box last week. My kids have been using it as a sand box so it is well weeded and the soil has been turned over quite a bit. I am going to have an issue keeping them out of it when I plant my seeds.



I bought some Marigolds as a pest deterrent. I planted one in each corner of our first box and I will add a couple to the second box once we get some good quality soil in there.  The rest I am going to put into pots around the plants I am putting directly into the soil. I am concerned they will be covered up by the sprawling vines.



A sunflower! Hopefully it won’t get eaten!



I had a few plastic containers I am using for mini-greenhouses since the weather has decided to be cold and yucky again.  I only found a few so I put them on only a couple of plants. I did not get around to removing the stickers on them but my seedlings are already almost to big for them so they won’t be on there long.




Our son helping out in the garden. He was fascinated with Daddy changing the oil in his car. We also started to put up a pest control fence but were only able to get some of the stakes all the way in.  Our kids got hungry so we ran out of time and we will hopefully get to it next weekend. It makes me a little nervous that we didn’t get the fence up since last year some sort of rodent at all of our non-nightshade seedlings within a few days of planting them.  Luckily they left the tomatoes, beans, ground cherries and spicy peppers but our daughter was very disappointed they ate our very healthy watermelon plants.




I planted about half of the pumpkin seedlings and covered two of them with my makeshift greenhouses.




I did not get around to thinning my seedlings which I know is a big no no but they were too intertwined to separate at this point so I kept them together.  We are still taking baby steps towards figuring out how to grow our own food so a lot of what we are doing is mostly trial and error.  I think next year our children will be older and we will have more time to prep the soil over the winter so we will have a more organized year for sure. This year we are still trying to figure out what works.




Healthy pumpkin seedling.



Here is a view from the bottom of the bed towards the street. It still looks a little messy and hopefully we can get some mulch down soon but I am really happy with what we got done this week.




Another view from the top.  The red plant and some of the smaller ones will go in the planting strip near where the fence will go in and the larger bushes still need homes.  I have no idea where I am going to put the biggest one but I have more people coming this week to dig up extra plants along the side yard so I might put the extras there.



A view of the beds and the seed starts.  I am probably going to add a row of squash along the rock wall to the left of the pumpkins.



Last minute I added three rows of carrot seedlings in the larger garden bed next to the Marigolds. I am probably going to plant a couple of pea plants in here and I wanted something low that wouldn’t block the light.



After the kids went to bed I checked on our seedlings in the laundry room.  We have two cucumbers popping up in the tray I planted last week.




There is also one and part of another watermelon seedling coming up.  My ground cherries still are not germinating so I am definitely buying some starts this weekend at the local plant sales.  Our lettuce seeds are starting to germinate as well in the strawberry planter but they were way too small to take a picture of!  We are planning on buying more Marigolds and I was talked into some Hula strawberries by the three year old so I will be planting those some time this week as well but I have no idea where since I already planted strawberries.  Have you seen the Hula-berries? They are white strawberries that taste like pineapple.  I am not sure about the taste but our daughter will love them and we love to have our kids excited about healthy food! Gardening is the best way to get your kids involved in what they eat and it is a ton of fun!


My plans for the next couple of weeks are to get the beans and peas in, finish our fence, empty out the rest of the ornamental plants from the vegetable beds and plant the rest of the seedlings from the laundry room.  May and June are super insane for us normally but this year we have the added craziness of our oldest graduating from high school so hopefully we can fit in all of our gardening plans.


Happy gardening everyone!


Garden Update April 23, 2017

Garden Update April 23, 2017

We have finally been able to make some progress on our garden this week.  Our pumpkin and sunflower seedlings are growing well and are almost ready for hardening off and transplant.  I checked this morning and the watermelon seedlings are just starting to peek through […]

Easy Slow Cooker Cauliflower Coconut Curry (Dairy-Free/Vegan Option)

Easy Slow Cooker Cauliflower Coconut Curry (Dairy-Free/Vegan Option)

I love mild coconut curry with potatoes.  My mother-in-law makes a chicken coconut curry that is my absolute favorite but she doesn’t ever give up her real recipes so I created this cauliflower coconut curry recipe based on the many curry recipes I found.  Since […]

2017 Seed Starts

2017 Seed Starts

We are a bit late starting seeds this year.  We have been dealing with back to back sickness for months and a lot of our projects have been pushed aside. Last week I started some watermelons, sunflowers, pumpkins and ground cherries. Next week I am going to add broccoli, lettuce varieties and maybe peas but I think it might still be too early for that. We have not had luck starting tomatoes on our own so we buy the starts at Costco and sometimes local plant sales hosted by garden clubs.  We have had super healthy tomato plants from Costco both years we bought them there and last year we grew way more tomatoes than we could eat.


I thought I would post a few photos of my setup.  We luckily have a laundry room with a shelf where we are able to place seed trays and a light. We bought  the Fluorescent 4-Tube Fixture from Amazon.  It is 4 feet long so it covers a lot of space for seeds and we used hangers similar to the Elfin Growth 1/8″ Adjustable-Height Grow Light Fixture Ratchet Hangers to hang it from the ceiling.  It is super convenient to adjust the height of the light all the way up when we aren’t using it.  I get my laundry shelf back in the off season!


Seed Starting Setup


As you can see we use the red cup method for starting our seeds. We  bought a gigantic pack from Costco and cut 3 small holes in the bottom of the cups with kitchen shears, fill them with good soil, add a layer of seed starter to the top and plant our seeds.  This allows us to water the seeds from below and prevent any molds or fungi from growing on too damp plants.  I have thought about using toilet paper rolls to start my seeds, and I may try it later this year with my beans and peas.  My kids constantly play with the used cups after I plant the seeds.  They love to fill them with dirt or water and dump it out.


The brown and green containers are ones that have been floating around in our garage for many, many years. I found them while cleaning and instead of throwing them out (they are seriously older than my teenager) I decided to repurpose them for seed starting and they are the perfect height.  You can also use long shallow containers such as these Sterilite 32 Quart/30 Liter ClearView Latch Box  but any container that holds water and isn’t taller than your cups will work. You might even be able to find something at a thrift store. I was in a hurry when I planted these so my handwriting is pretty illegible on the sticks but I can read them and that is all that counts right?



So far my sunflower and pumpkin seeds have sprouted.  The sunflower seeds are growing fast and will soon be too tall for the light so I may have to move them a bit.  Last year I started them outside but they were immediately eaten after sprouting so I thought I would try inside this year.  We are still new to this whole growing things in our yard. Last year we discovered we have a huge slug problem and some sort of animal that is eating our seedlings.  We are going to try hardware cloth this year and see if that helps.




I am excited to grow more of our food this year! I will keep updating our garden progress as projects get completed.


Happy Gardening!


Spring in our Garden

Spring in our Garden

  The leaves are just starting to come out on our plants and bulbs are beginning to come up. I thought I would post some pictures from around the garden to show the current state it is in. Most of the plants in our garden […]