Strawberries from the Garden

Strawberries from the Garden

Jun 9, 2013

Kimchi- First Thing Canned from the Garden!

 The weather has been kind of odd this year, a little cooler and a lot more rain than normal. But then you'll have crazy days where it's in the 90's! It's been hard to get a handle on. The good news is, I was able to harvest some chinese cabbage about 3 weeks ago. Many years it bolts and I do not get as much, but it grew quite nice this year.

I found a lot of different recipes and as usual for me, I kind of created my own recipe using the parts I liked the most from each. The only thing you have to be careful of is acid content and sugar and fat content if you are canning. I followed the fermentation guides and hot water bath canning guides and it looks like everything came together pretty well.

My Recipe for Kimchi

The following ingredients are layered with salt (Approximately 2 cups of Kosher or Sea Salt)  and soaked in cold water for 24 hours.
6 small heads of Chinese Cabbage (chopped into 1 inch pieces)
3 Baby Bok Choy (chopped)
1 1/2 cups of Carrots (cut up, thin)
1 bunch of spring onions

The following ingredients are put into a food processor or blender until smooth to make a sauce.
2 1/2 inches of fresh Ginger grated
1 head of Garlic (peeled, and minced)
1 large White or Yellow Onion
1 Pear cut up
8 oz jar of Chili Garlic Sauce

Mix the sauce in with the vegetables until everything is coated. Pack down into a clean crock.Seal the top of the crock with a plastic wrap. Then cover with a kitchen towel and tie in place. Place the crock in an area that stays a pretty consistent
temperature, but not too warm.

I let the Kimchi ferment in the crock for 3 weeks. I uncovered the crock, tasted a piece and found it to still have crunch, a nice combination of salty and spicy.

Next, I heated the Kimchi in a pot on the stove while I prepared my jars and my water bath canner. I packed the jars hot and put them in the hot bath to process for 20 minutes. I was able to can 10 half pint jars and 1 pint jar.

Mar 10, 2013

Preparing for Cole Crops

This weekend I was able to get a couple of my raised beds ready for early season plantings such as cole crops and peas. I have 2 beds that I put in post with wire for peas now and to support tomatoes later. One of my beds I prepared for beans and potatoes. I will plant my potatoes in the 'valleys' and my beans on the 'hills'. As the potatoes grow and I add dirt to 'hill' them, they will end up slightly higher than the beans but they will be more secure in between the hills of beans. (I'll post pictures of what I mean as they grow.) I have one bed planted with green cabbage and Chinese cabbage. My husband helped me to put down soaker hose. I then used fiberglass rods to make hoops over the bed so I could protect the bed with frost cloth. I'm not done prepping beds, but I think I'm off to a good start!

Mar 6, 2013

Garden Progress as of 3-6-2013

Riesentraube Tomato Plants

Pepperoncini Plants
Large Leaf Italian Basil

First Signs of Broccoli and Cauliflower

Fish Peppers

Pac Choi
Lots of Tomato Plants

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Transplanting Seedlings according to John Jeavons

 I find that when I am preparing my plants for the garden, a lot of what I do comes from reading everything I can get my hands on, what I remember from working in a garden with various grown-ups when I was a child, and just hands-on experience. I find that sometimes when I share what I have learned I get puzzled looks or that 'yeah, right' look. So, when I find someone else saying the say thing that I believe to be true based on my experiences, it makes me happy.

Yesterday, I picked up the book How to Grow More Vegetables* (and fruits, nuts, berries, grains, and other crops) *than you ever thought possible on less land than you can imagine by John Jeavons. Barnes & Noble link to the book

The book is not filled with a lot of beautiful photos or quick how-to tricks, it's all about the basics of growing BIOINTENSIVE. Which, anyone who knows me or is familiar with my blog knows is basically how I garden.

So, this morning, as I was looking through the information on seeds, I was really happy to come across very useful information on transplanting seeds. A couple of years ago I began to start all of my plants from seed and I have found that my plants are healthier and I am much happier with the varieties that I can grow. I have also found that I am just happier with plants that I start from seed. As I was reading in this book, I found that transplanting is actually preferred over direct sowing due to improved root health. Based on what I have experienced, I totally agree.

There were a couple of simple drawings in the book that I would like to share with you in regards to transplanting seedlings. You should transplant your seedlings up to their first two true leaves. This is how I treat my seedlings and they are just healthier.

This book has a lot of valuable information for those of you who are really serious about utilizing your space in a self-sustaining manner. For those who work with companion planting, this book is awesome. I will be adding this book to my gift list for friends and family who garden!

Feb 18, 2013

Companion Planting Vegetables for Increased Crop Yield | Eartheasy Blog

Companion Planting Vegetables for Increased Crop Yield | Eartheasy Blog

Great post to check out!

Planning the Layout for the 2013 Garden

Today, I was able to sit down and plan how I would rotate the beds in my garden. My garden is set up in "Neighborhoods" so to speak and within each neighborhood there are plants that benefit one another. Think back to stories of the Native Americans planting the "Three Sisters", corn, beans, and squash, and you have the right idea. This is also known as companion gardening. For the most comprehensive book I have found on this type of gardening, check out "Great Garden Companions; A Companion-Planting System for a Beautiful, Chemical-Free Vegetable Garden" by Sally Jean Cunningham.

In order to keep track of my rotations and plantings each year, I keep a garden notebook with all of my notes and observations. At this point in my planning, I have the following planned; 3 Tomato Neighborhoods, 3 Bean/ Squash Neighborhoods, 2 Roots/Greens Neighborhoods, 2 Blueberry Neighborhoods, 1 Strawberry Neighborhood, 2 Cabbage Neighborhoods, 1 Asparagus Bed, 1 long fence line of red raspberries, a 3ft row of Blackberries, and 1 Herb bed. The far right corner of the garden is anchored with a corner perennial bed to help attract beneficial insects. Flowers and herbs are interplanted throughout the garden for that same purpose. Not only does this approach cut down on harmful insects, it makes for an attractive garden.

Feb 10, 2013

Seedlings as of February 10, 2013

Today, I started thinning my seedlings and transplanting the ones that were large enough to move. I find it is a very tedious process as you carefully separate some of the seedlings from one another. But this is a process that is absolutely necessary.

For optimum growth and development the seedlings cannot be fighting for space and nutrients. Did I accidentally damage a few, yes, but nothing to be upset about. Some people just cut off the seedlings to thin so they do not disturb the roots. I prefer to carefully work the seedlings and roots from the soil and transplant as many as possible. I loose a few, but not many.

 The tomatoes and peppers are actually doing really well right now. Who knows how large these plants will be when it's time to harden them off for the garden!

I am disappointed with my broccoli and cauliflower seedlings. They appear to have gotten too warm and dry. I will need to start seed for them again.

From time to time you will have seeds that don't do well and need to be resown, but it's not very often. I usually start my seeds so early, there's still time to plant again.

I will also need to start some of my other seeds soon as well. Everything is moving in the right direction!

Feb 9, 2013

Check out a great site for gardening advice

Varieties You Select
A great site to check out for all of your gardening basics is a site put together by the University of Maryland's College of Agriculture & Natural Resources. The site is called Grow It! Eat It! Here is the link:
Grow It! Eat It!

Their current post discusses the many benefits of starting your own seeds indoors and even gives you easy directions to follow to make your own PVC light stand that can be used.

Also on the site, you may find the Vegetable Planting Calendar useful. I have included a link here;
Vegetable Planting Calendar for Central Maryland

I hope to work on transplanting seedlings tomorrow, I'll post my progress then.

Control Over Growing Conditions
It takes some extra time, planning, and an investment in the beginning, but ultimately, I can't imagine not starting all of my plants from seed anymore. It's so wonderful selecting all of your favorite varieties and then nurturing them from seed to table. Plus, it means I can dig in the dirt a little in February!
More Varieties Available in Seeds

Feb 3, 2013

Garden Plants are Starting to Emerge

 Today, when I checked my seedlings, I saw that some of them are actually starting to develop the second leaves. (The leaf shapes we are more familiar with when looking at plants.) When seedlings first emerge, they all look pretty similar. It's not until they begin to set the second leaf that they begin to look like something distinct.

There are some differences even in the first sets. Plants such as peppers, eggplant, and tomato, often have more long, narrow leaves.

Plants such as broccoli, cabbage, and herbs such as basil (pictured on the left) all begin with a leaf that is more round and short.

Most of the seeds were started in cell inserts and they will be transplanted into peat pots when they start to set the second leaf. This is a tedious process, but if done carefully, you can plant almost all of the seedlings.

I usually have enough plants for me and enough of each variety to share. I always plant more than I think I will need in case something happens along the way. Sometimes they make it all the way to the hardening off process and then I lose them. But usually, I have a pretty good success rate.

Based on how the seedlings are coming along, I will be able to begin transplanting in a few days, a week at the most.

Feb 1, 2013

Creating Garden Tags

I think I've found another way for my artistic side to become a functional part of my garden. I have experimented with all kinds of markers from wood and plastic, to aluminum and copper. The artist in me is not content unless my garden has wonderful form and beauty as well as function. So, today I decided to experiment with making ceramic markers.

I roll the clay across a stamp pattern I sometimes use in my jewelry designs, cut out an oval shape, and then use a small square cutter to cut a hole for hanging. Before the clay becomes too dry, I carefully create a smooth area across the middle of the disc that can be used for writing the names of the garden seeds/plants.

Once the clay discs are completely dry, I use pan underglazes to create a watercolor effect in green and then I use a dark glaze color to write the names. I'm not sure if these ceramic markers will be what I've been looking for, but I'm going to give them a try in this year's garden and see how they work. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Jan 22, 2013


SmartGardener: is a consumer technology solution that enables food gardeners - individuals and community gardeners - to easily plan, grow, manage and harvest their own food.

This is a great site!

Jan 21, 2013

Prim Roses - a promise of spring!

I've always enjoyed the prim rose. I'm not too picky about the color, I just feel happy when I see one in bloom. They seem to be a little reminder or promise that spring will come. It's a great flower to pick up this time of year to add a little color and life to your home. The best part is the fact that by the time it starts to fade it will be just about the time for my prim roses and crocuses in the garden to bloom. As the soil warms, I'll find a spot for this prim rose and it will be there in the early spring for me next year. A promise of spring, a promise of a smile. Until then, there's a little promise of spring in my kitchen window and I feel happy.

The First Signs of My 2013 Garden

It's been a week since I planted my first flats of seeds for the garden and the seedlings are starting to push through. I am excited to see the first signs of the garden!

Jan 13, 2013

Starting Seeds

Today was the day that I started my first seeds for the garden. Yeah! I'm so excited to finally get things moving for the garden!

I use a combination of very small peat pots and plastic cell inserts. I find that the seed starter soil from Henry Fields is fantastic. I always have very good results with it and I do not have a problem with my soil drying out. (A big hazard with delicate seedlings.)

I have heat mats that are placed under my seed trays to help keep the temperature of the seed trays a little warmer. Last year was my first year to try them. I had two and I found they really helped with starting seeds such as tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers. I bought two more this year and I am excited to see if they help push my cole crops along so that they have a good size in time for early spring planting. Word of advice, when buying heat mats for seeds, search online at so you can find the best deal. They can be very expensive and I have found I can get them for about $16 online.
I have a plant rack that my husband and I have attached aquarium light hoods to in a way that allows me to move them up and down as the plants grow. The plant rack has been a great investment! I start most of my plants from seeds and purchase very few plants for the garden. (Sometimes, I can't resist a cool new variety of a vegetable or a flower that will make a great companion plant.)

My plant rack will hold 8 trays, right now I only have 3 1/2 trays started. These are the seeds I started today;
Fast Vantage Cabbage, Farmer's Extra Early Cauliflower, Hybrid Premium Crop Broccoli, Perfection Drumhead Savoy Cabbage, Cherokee Purple Tomato, San Marzano Tomato, Black Krim Tomato, Diamond Eggplant, Baby Bok Choy, Riesentraube Tomato, Black Cherry Tomato, Fish Pepper, Italian Pepperoncini Pepper, Mulato Islano Poblano Hot Pepper, Hybrid Twilight Eggplant, Sweet Bell Mix Sweet Pepper, Lg. Leaf Italian Basil, Tango Celery, Coriander, Cilantro, Curled Parsley, Bok Choy, Jalapeno Pepper, Sweet Bell California Wonder, Blue Scotch Kale.
The cole crops need to be started so they are of good size and strength for early spring planting. If I don't start them early enough, they will not mature before it begins to get too hot and then they will bolt. The warm weather crops, such as tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers, always produce so much better if they are a good size when they are introduced to the garden. It's the hardening off process that is a pain, but it's all worth it!

I feel that I'm off to a good start with this year's garden. Now I just have to figure out where my different 'neighborhoods' will be and make sure I rotate my beds. Back to my notebook!

Jan 5, 2013

A New Year - A New Garden

As I begin to prepare for the new year, I actually begin to feel a little excitement. A new year always means a fresh start with my garden. I can look at my notes, look at what we have in the freezer and pantry, and begin to plan what needs to be planted and the layout I want to use. (This is the stuff that makes me feel like a little kid!)

I went to the garden today to see what I could find. I was very pleased with my small harvest! I was able to bring in carrots, kale, and Swiss Chard. Not bad for January 5th!

I also found that some of my herbs still looked pretty good and the ground was only frozen in the upper 1 inch of soil. So, we'll see what happens. I brought in Italian parsley, curled leaf parsley, some shallots, and some celery. I'll be curious to see what they do inside.

Yesterday, I was very excited to see that my seed orders arrived! Now, I'm in the process of getting everything set up so I can begin to get seeds started.

I have had very good luck with the seeds I order from Henry Field's and I find that their quantities of seeds in a pack and prices are very reasonable.

Some things I can't find at Henry Field's I get from companies such as Baker Creek. I usually get seeds such as Fish Pepper and Cherokee Trail of Tears beans from Baker Creek.
I will begin planting seeds this week in order to have cole crop plants large and healthy in time for early spring planting. Even though I'm just in the planning stages and haven't done any planting yet, I am excited to see the 2013 Garden begin to take shape! I hope to share my garden as it unfolds in my posts here. Thank you for sharing in the fun of gardening!