Friday, January 31, 2014

Garden Plan- Side of House

Here is our plans for the 2014 garden bed on the side of the house. Like the others this one is an in ground bed. The edging we used was broken up stone we recycled from a flower bed that had been around one of our light poles. Here is how it looked last year when things were just starting to grown. We didn't think to get a pic when everyone was looking lush and full, but this will give you an idea of the size and such.

First up is the end closest to the back. We planted cucumber and though they are small here they certainly grew!! In fact, they outgrew our little red trellis and clung to the window screen (thus you notice that for 2014 they are moving to the back where we will use a much taller system).

This picture is the opposite end of the house where we planted tomatoes and marigolds (and yes, we started them with the puny cages but built better systems later in the season).

What you don't see is the middle part where we had peppers planted. It is a long though narrow space, but we can't really build it out because there is the driveway and PB did ask that we leave enough grass for him to drive the mower down it. So it is exactly that wide. 

Here is our plan for this coming year (once again sorry for the pic quality- they were taken on the cell phone. I know you can do it straight from the phone, but I haven't figured that out yet- eventually the quality will get better). 

 Since the picture doesn't look like much (and is probably a little confusing) here is the key:

Yellow circle- Pineapple Tomato
Dark green circle- Bell Pepper
Pink circle- Potato Leaf Type Tomato
Light green circle- Banana Pepper
Red circle- Mexibel Pepper
Purple circle- 1884 Tomato
Yellow/Orange Hexagon - Marigold
Dark Green Diagonal Stripe- Mixed Leaf Lettuce Blend
Light Green Bar- Chives (or something similar to fill in)
Maroon Diagonal Stripe- Red Lettuce

We think these will work together. The only worries we have is that last year we planted tomatoes in the end where the pineapple tomatoes are going this year. Hopefully we won't have any diseases since we had no problems last  year. We also planted bell and banana peppers where the Mexibel and banana peppers are so once again crossed fingers all went well last year so hopefully no problems this next year.

Last year we didn't have much time for fill in crops so it was mostly tomatoes (which did well), pepper plants (which also did well), cucumbers (they always do well) and marigolds with some blank spots in between. This year, as you can see, we plan to have a few things that harvest quickly and we can succession sow and will hopefully fill in the spots.We may plant some quick growing crops like radish, spinach, etc. in between the tomatoes and peppers while they grown or some sort of herb or flower here and there to make it prettier. 

What do you think of our plans? Would you recommend changing any of it up or believe anything won't grow well together?

Good luck with your own 2014 plans!

Mom and E

Thursday, January 30, 2014

E's Recipes- Dorito's Locos Tacos

E has another major interest (as we've mentioned in the new layout post)- cooking. He wants to share some of his recipes.

E's loco's taco's:

E loves Taco Bell's Doritos Locos Tacos. When we found nacho cheese taco shells at Wal-Mart the other day we just knew we had to make some.


1- Cut up peppers and onions and put in cooking pan.
2- Cook on medium heat (with your choice of oil) until soft and onions are translucent.
3- Add your choice of meat and cook until done, then drain fat.
4- Add taco seasoning and 2/3 a cup of water and cook until water is evaporated.

How to build E's Locos Tacos:
1- Lay the meat flat on the bottom of the taco shell.
2- Sprinkle on a pinch of cheese and make sure it gets everywhere- use more pinches if needed.
3- Get two to three leaves of lettuce and place on top.

That's it! Eat

Of course you can add some additions (mom usually does- avocado, cilantro, tomato,sour cream and salsa), but E is a traditionalist and wanted to make it exactly like Taco Bell. They were pretty good. So good, in fact, that we neglected to get pictures in favor of stuffing our faces.

-Mom and E

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Widsom Wednesday

Old wives tales about parsley

We thought that today we would share information about old wives tales concerning parsley. We have had good luck with parsley- it is a herb that certainly grows well here in TN. In fact ours was going strong with no row covers until the polar vortex and of course it just couldn't survive a cold snap of below zero weather. We have found several different beliefs about parsley:

Parsley should never be transplanted but grown from seed

It is believed that the roots grow down to the devil and back up again.

You should pick parsley not cut it or you will be crossed in love

Never give parsley away-if you do the person who gave it away or someone in their family will be punished within a year

If you sow parsley on Good Friday it will ensure it comes up double

Parsley growing in a garden is a sign of a strong woman

Parsley will only grow outside the home of an honest man 

Parsley is a remedy for baldness (in both men and women) - simply grind it with water (nowadays we would use a food processor) and put the paste onto your scalp and massage. Then wash out.

Not an old wives tale but there are many medicinal and homeopathic uses for parsley:

It is suppose to be good for heart health

Helps protect against rheumatoid arthritis

It is suppose to help with urinary tract infections

Relives constipation

Helps with high blood pressure

It will make menstrual flow heavy  

Helps with prostate and spleen conditions

Also suppose to help with coughs and congestion

Do you know any old beliefs or sayings that deal with parsley?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Updated Wintersow Pics

We know we discussed winter sowing awhile back, but we finally got the dirt to do it. Hopefully we are not too late!! The premise is easy- if you put your seeds outside to sprout it will be more akin to how things happen in nature. Your seeds and thus seedlings (plant starts) will be more hardy come the cool weather when you first put them out. We are experimenting this year and winter sowing, starting some plants indoors and planting some directly into the ground. One of the coolest things about it is that you can recycle plastic containers (such as milk jugs and pop bottles) to start them in.

We ended up planting quite a bit this way:

-Snow White Cherry
-Chocolate Cherry
-1884 Purple
-Potato Leaf Type (wintersown- that is all the info they gave us)



Here is how they look now:

All we have left to do is get our duct tape to seal them better and write the type on to tape to the bottom - then out they go. We'll do another post closer to Spring when they start coming in!

We have never winter sown, and can't wait to see the results. Either way it turns out E had a good time:

We also planted mint for inside the house (plain pot).

Tomorrow we are going to plant an indoor herb garden with basil, parsley, cilantro, and one more but not sure yet - so when they start coming in we'll post updated pics.

Do you have any gardening projects going or are you planning and waiting impatiently for Spring?

Mom and E

Friday, January 24, 2014

Our indoor winter mini garden

Mid December: 

   When we cleaned up the garden we saw that we had a pepper plant that was tiny still. It had one small green pepper on it, so we brought it in to see how it would do. Then E wanted to plant chives and small onions. Next it was carrots and flowers. I explained things would grow slower, however he had to have it. No biggie to me- seems like it is a great winter fix and a good learning experience.

      We pinched off our pepper so that the plant could concentrate on growing. It has grown some, but not exceptionally so. I wasn't sure if our other seeds would do well for awhile- so you can imagine my surprise when I saw that OUR SEEDS HAVE SPROUTED!! That includes chives (the one I figured would grow), onions and carrots. Did I mention the carrots are cosmic purple?

Beginning of January:

The pepper plant is getting some blooms- so we will see if they turn into peppers. However, we had a little problem when we up potted it... we waited too long and it was a little root bound. As I was trying to free it from the pop bottle container (we meant to only have it in there for a little bit) The cat knocked me just right for one hand (holding the pop bottle pot) to go in one direction and the other (holding the pepper plant) to go in the other. I was knocked off balance and ummm broke the roots in half. So, we shall see. I hope it makes as it was ready to make some peppers- le sigh. E was not happy with Walle (the cat).

Our carrots are growing a little, but seem clumped up- maybe we should thin them and sow a few more in the very noticeable blank areas. Sorry no pic- I couldn't seem to get a good one.

The onions and chives are growing. In the pic is also our little cactus plants and some mint that we just planted today. Do you like E's Popsicle stick fence nestled between the chives and onions?:

The trees are going strong- these were from my grandpa's (E's great grandpa's) funeral and I was scared to death I would kill them, but I've had them since October and here they are still alive! Two of them did lose their leaves before I brought them in (it had a light frost) and I just knew that was it for them. New growth soon appeared and they are good to go. I will up pot them closer to Spring and see if they take off more. By the way, does anyone know what kind of trees these are? Are they ok to keep inside or should I consider putting them outside next fall.

Flowers- not came up yet. To be honest it could be the seeds as they were a random mix (if I remember correctly- E can't remember either so at least we are even). I didn't take a pic because they haven't sprouted. We may need to re-start them.If they ever come up we will post a pic and let everyone know what they are! We like to think of it as a surprise- and we love surprises!

Are you growing things indoors this year or have in the past? We'd love to know what you have grown and get new ideas for next winter

- Mom and E

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Widsom Wednesday

For our first Wisdom Wednesday we wanted to do an old wives tale about winter. Sure, we are in the South, and we haven't had much snow this winter- but it has been cold cold cold!! In fact, with the good ole polar vortex that blew through a few weeks ago it was the coldest it has been in 40 yrs! It even got down to -15!! We know that some of you may be from the north and are use to the 0 and below, but that just doesn't happen down in TN. We would like to have at least one good snow that we can get out and play in instead of these little dustings we seem to be getting. It just seems cruel to have a lot of cold days and no snow. :)

So in the spirit of winter and snow here is our first old wives' tale:

When there is lightening in winter expect snow in 10 days.

Perhaps instead of a snow dance we should do a lightening dance. Wonder what that would look like? We could come up with a cool zig zag type of thing - oh the possibilities. How has the weather been where you are- have you had no snow, too much snow or just enough?

Thanks for stopping by for Wisdom Wednesday!

Mom and E

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

E's Recipes - Smoothies

E has a new breakfast obsession- smoothies. He likes them because they are easy to make and oh so good. In fact he can make them all by himself. You  only need a few simple ingredients- plain or vanilla yogurt, milk or your substitute (sometimes we use milk and sometimes almond milk), and fruit. Don't worry about precise measurements, if it is too thick put in more milk and if it is too thin but in more yogurt. Also you don't need as much fruit as you think- we used one banana and three kid handfuls of blueberries and it was perfect.

Steps to a great smoothie:

Put in milk, yogurt and cut up fruit:

Then put in the blender:

See you don't need a whole lot- we got two 8 oz glasses out of this (and a small taste glass for PB):

Blend to the consistency you like:

Drink and enjoy:

-Mom and E

Monday, January 20, 2014

Wisdom Wednesdays

Since our blog posts seem to be a little erratic as opposed to a schedule of sorts we thought picking one day a week that has a set topic would be a good idea. After considering each day and something that:

1. We would enjoy and stick with
2. You might like to read
3.  Had a catchy phrase

This is what we came up with:

Wisdom Wednesdays

This would include words of wisdom, interesting quotes, old sayings and such. They could have content about gardening, being close to the earth, parenting or other similar things.

What do you all think about our little idea?

Also we are going to try to do a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday post schedule. Hopefully, we will be able to keep up with it.

Mommy and E

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Garden plan- back of house

Here is a pic of the back of the house last yr.:

It was the first time we had planted it as we expanded last year. We have new plans for this year!

 Obviously the grape plant has to stay (purple area). If we find another just like it we will probably get it. I'd like to have three there when it's all said and done. What is the black dot you ask? A chocolate cherry tomato which we will have in a hanging container.

We will have the cucumbers growing along the edge near the porch. The reason for this is that we are going to try and make a trellis and it will be easier to attach some of the string to the porch railing- that way we only need one or two side supports to make the trellis from. We may buy a trellis net instead and just secure it well to the porch railing. Our cucumbers grew well vertically last year but the metal fence deal we had last year was no where near tall enough so we'll see if this works.

We plan to have sunflowers where we planted onions last year (nearer the house to the stairs). I hope they don't block sunlight for others but since they will be in the back it should be ok. (Sunflowers are the yellow dots).

In the shady area under the porch we will be planting kale and Chinese cabbage since they need the shade (brown rectangle). We may plant other leafy type veggies as well.

We will also be planting some basil to help things out (see our companion planting post). (Green circle with outline).

Last, but not least we will be growing black eyed Susans. I love them (mom) as they remind me of childhood. It seems most of my family had these somewhere and we girls treated them as you would daisy's constantly playing he loves me he loves me not game. Plus my great aunt had them by her porch and it will remind us of her.

Any ideas of what we could add in that area or anything you think won't work?

We hope you are making some great gardening plans as you wait for winter to end!

Mommy and E

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Oh Winter!

     In the winter I get a little case of the blahs, as does PB, as does E. I think I may be one of those people who needs sunshine and outdoor evening in the warm air. E doesn't get outside as much and it just drags us all down a little. So, today instead of complaining about it we thought we'd find some sayings, books quotes, etc that talk about winter in a more favorable light. The first one is great because while we are sitting here eager to start our new garden plans (we'll post more about what we are planting in the existing beds soon) and impatient with winter we should remember how important winter is for nature.

Nature looks dead in winter because her life is gathered into her heart. She withers the plant down to the root that she may grow it up again fairer and stronger. She calls her family together within her inmost home to prepare them for being scattered abroad upon the face of the earth. ~Hugh Macmillan, "Rejuvenescence," The Ministry of Nature, 1871

 "Every gardener knows that under the cloak of winter lies a miracle ... a seed waiting to sprout, a bulb opening to the light, a bud straining to unfurl.  And the anticipation nurtures our dream." -  Barbara Winkler

 "In a way Winter is the real Spring - the time when the inner things happen, the resurgence of nature." -  Edna O'Brien 

 This is so true:
Winter is a time of promise because there is so little to do — or because you can now and then permit yourself the luxury of thinking so.
~Stanley Crawford, A Garlic Testament: Seasons on a Small New Mexico Farm, 1992

I had to smile a little at this one as it is definitely seed catalog time:

"There are two seasonal diversions that can ease the bite of any winter.  One is the January thaw.  The other is the seed catalogues."-  Hal Borland 

 Perhaps all we need is a  little perspective:

What good is the warmth of summer without the cold of winter to give it sweetness
. ~Author Unknown

 "Winter, a lingering season, is a time to gather golden moments, embark upon a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour. "-  John Boswell

Finally we leave you with this little nugget-

In seed-time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy. ~William Blake

So sit back and enjoy a little home time with a hot cup of cocoa (or coffee or tea), put your feet up and above all stay warm and cozy!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Companion Planting

     E has been reading up on companion planting. He has been trying to find the best "friends" for the garden so that they'll all get along this year. :) His favorite one is basil as it is termed "friend of the garden" since it gets a long with many plants and provides other benefits such as repelling harmful insects and encouraging beneficial ones.
     Companion planting has been going on for a long time. One great example is the three sister's garden. Corn is planted with beans growing up the stalk and squash (or another vine plant) around the bottom. The beans draw nutrients that the corn needs from their leaves and put in the ground, the corn provides something for the beans to climb on, and the vine plants give shade cover to roots and also act sort of like a mulch holding in water.
     We have done a little companion planting in previous years such as planting marigolds near the veggies - especially tomatoes. I'm on the fence as to how effective this is. I don't see many hornworms, but I do get a few of them each year. Perhaps it would be worse without the marigolds?
I can't say this with certainty since I don't have enough room to experiment. E has gotten into companion planting so I suppose we shall be doing more of this in 2014.
     What are our companion plans you ask? Well the three sisters of course, which is a new one. Also our other garden plans (yes we planned it all out- though knowing us we will change it a little) have been made with us making sure no foes are planted near each other. We will be combining more herbs in the garden. We have grown some herbs in the past, but kept them in their own herb garden. However, some go well with tomatoes and peppers, so we will be incorporating them in where there is blank spaces. (When we post plans later you will see that we don't have many herbs listed, but will instead fill in places with them). Below we list some companion plantings pertaining to some of the things we will be planting. There are certainly more companion plantings.

     We have learned a few interesting things (according to the companion planting school of thought).

  • Basil grows well with oregano, peppers, and tomatoes.
  • Beans do not grow well with: chives, garlic, leeks, onions, peppers or marigolds. 
  • Beans grow well with: broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, corn, cucumbers, peas, rosemary, strawberries, Swiss chard and tomatoes.
  • Carrots do not grow well with: dill and if planted with tomatoes they will have good flavor but stunted roots.
  • Carrots grow well with: beans, broccoli, cauliflower, chives, cucumbers, dill, garlic, lettuce, onions, parsley, peas, peppers, rosemary, sage.
  • Chives do not grow well with: beans or peas. 
  • Chives grow well with: broccoli, carrots, parsley and tomatoes.
  • Corn does not grow well with tomatoes.
  • Corn grows well with: beans, cucumbers, dill, melons, parsley, peas, squash, and sunflowers.
  • Cucumbers do not grow well with:sage.
  • Cucumbers grow well with: beans, broccoli, cauliflower, corns, dill, onions, peas, peppers and tomatoes.
  • Lettuce grows well with: broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, dill, garlic, onions, spinach, squash and tomatoes.
  • Onions do not grow well with: beans or peas.
  • Onions grow well with: broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, dill, leeks, lettuce, parsley, squash, Swiss chard, and tomatoes.
  • Peppers do not grow well with: beans, broccoli, or chives.
  • Peppers do grow well with: basil, carrots, dill, oregano, parsley, peas, rosemary,squash, Swiss chard and tomatoes. 
  • Spinach grows well with: carrots, chives, leeks, lettuce, peas and strawberries.
  • Strawberries do not grow well with: broccoli and cauliflower.
  • Strawberries do grow well with: beans, garlic, lettuce, peas, spinach and thyme.
  • Sunflowers grow well with: corn.
  • Tomatoes do not grow well with: bean, carrots (see above), cauliflower, corn or dill.
  • Tomatoes grow well with: basil, beans, cilantro, cucumbers, leeks, lettuce, onions, oregano, parsley, and peppers.
Co - Plantings that help with bug control:
  • broccoli and oregano
  • cauliflower and oregano
  • cilantro and spinach
  • marigolds and squash
  • nasturtiums and squash
  • oregano and broccoli
  • oregano and chives
Plants that are generally good and beneficial to the garden:
  • Basil
  • Sage
  • Thyme

 So, if you don't plant any herbs, maybe you should consider some of the above just to put here and there and help out your plants. We will be researching more about planting flowers amongst plants and will share what we find. Thus far, we haven't delved much into the world of flowers as I haven't had much luck growing them in the past. To be fair though, I haven't tried much aside from a potted one here and there and the marigold since I've had E- maybe he will be the good luck charm. This year we have many areas planned that will include flowers so we shall see if we have any better luck than before.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sorry It's been awhile...

Sorry, it has been almost a week since we have posted. We have been busy trying to get back into a work and (sorta) school schedule on top of E's birthday. Really I could have posted yesterday, but was too busy cleaning house and doing laundry. Having everyone home over break made for a dirty house.

My computer time has been largely taken by getting on a gardening forum I found:

I tried a few others that were fun to read, but for some reason wouldn't let me join. I have found helpful gardener was easy to sign up for, and quite enjoyable overall. Perhaps it is being able to see what others are doing in their gardens from what they plant to how they start seeds to ways to deal with pests etc. It is a friendly place where people seem to give constructive advice when needed instead of wording things in an offending way.

It feels good conversing with others about gardening and gives me a connection to others who are as garden crazy as I am.

Anyway, worth checking out if you think you would enjoy sharing your gardening experiences with others and reading about theirs. There is also a seed exchange (though you have to become a full member- post so many times- before you can participate), several types of plant forums from tomato, pepper to bonsai and succulents, seed starting forums, soil amendments, oh the list goes on and on.

Do any of you have a particular forum you enjoy visiting that you think we should check out?

Monday, January 6, 2014

E's Awesome Garden Plan

    E has came up with an awesome garden plan! He has been wanting to do a three sister's garden (corn with beans growing up the stalks and squash growing around shielding the roots of the others) for awhile. We just haven't got the room- you know what this means- expansion. We have a bush we have  been wanting to get rid of- it was out of control when we moved in (2006) and I haven't been successful at getting and keeping it back in control. PB always complains about mowing around it and getting hit in the face. So, if we find the time we are considering getting rid of it and putting a circle planting area in. If not we'll find another spot for our circle.
     Why a circle you ask? Well, E has plans for a circle garden. He wants the three sister's in the middle, with a path around and then potted flowers around that, a path and then root crops. To give you a better idea here is a pic:

Hopefully this helps- I know it's not the best quality-I had to take it on my phone, email it to myself and save it.

 Here is the key:

Brown/khaki color is the path ways.
Center green circle (lighter green with dark green border) is the three sisters planting
Small green dots with red border are potted flowers
Yellow Ovals are Cherokee bush beans
Outer green outline is root crops: carrots, parsley, purple carrots, and turnips 

I think it is pretty cool- what do you think?

P.S. Way to go E - wonderful garden design!!!

Thanks for reading- Mom and E

Friday, January 3, 2014

What A Wonderful Night

     E is back from his daddy's!!! The house feels right again- I missed him so much! It was my year to have him before Christmas and his dad to have him from then on... so it has felt like forever. I didn't want to be annoying (to E) and call everyday so I only called a few times (and let me tell you that is hard to do!).  He had a great time (of course- he always loves going there), but did say when he got in the car that he really missed me... like seriously and gave me the biggest hug. So now my cup runneth over again! I enjoyed the holidays and spending time with PB, but after a few days I'm more than ready to have E here again.
     We have to go to my dad's to get E's gift and my bestie is coming over with her daughter who is one of Ethan's friends so tomorrow will be a blast. Then usual weekend stuff and with any luck enough snow Sunday night to stay home and hang out Monday.

We hope everyone has a wonderful weekend as well!

Mommy and E

Heirloom seeds

      Heirloom seeds are seeds that have been passed down (usually in a family) and grown year after year. This is often because it grows well in a certain area, has great flavor or texture, or some other characteristic that has made it valuable to the family. While the term open pollinated is often used interchangeably with heirloom and while it is true that all heirloom seeds are open pollinated not all open pollinated seeds are heirloom. Open pollinated mean just what it's name suggests- the seed can be saved and replanted the next year and will grow the same as the plant before. Most heirlooms are at least 100 years old or more meaning they have stood the test of time as far as being desirable to plant. Although, some people have different criteria for heirloom- 1920's and up, 1950's and up - before GMO's- you get the drift. Either way it needs to have been around for some time.

Heirlooms are usually more flavorful than hybrids
Heirloom seeds can be saved, thus eliminating the need for purchasing seeds every year
When they are saved they grow "true to type" each year giving you consistent results
When you use heirloom seeds you are preserving strains that have remained for many years
They don't produce at the same time allowing some time between ripe veggies or fruit

Pro's of Hybrids:
Hybrids do allow for more disease resistance
They have a higher more uniform yield (if you are wanting a lot to ripen at the same time for canning and such it can give it to you)
They are more marketable as they don't bruise as easy and stay fresh longer (one of the main reasons they were created).

In the end you have to decide which to plant or maybe do a combination of both and see which you prefer. We are not exclusive either way, but try to do a little of each. I love the thoughts of planting something that was used a long time ago... call it sentimental but there you go.  I also like a tasty tomato with lots of flavor.

I really don't have much experience as I have only been gardening a short time and only use a few heirlooms. This year I will be using more heirlooms so we shall see. I could end up being a heirloom girl - I like the idea of it. I will just have to see how well I do at growing and if I am any good at saving seeds.

If you are interested in heirloom seeds here are some websites to help you find some:

Seed-Exchange websites:

Anyone have experience with heirloom vs. other seeds? Any advice or extra information- I'm sure many of you are more knowledgeable about it all. Would love to hear from you! :) Happy garden planning and seed picking everyone!

Mom and E

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Yr.

by: Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
      EW feet within my garden go,
      New fingers stir the sod;
      A troubadour upon the elm
      Betrays the solitude.
      New children play upon the green,
      New weary sleep below;
      And still the pensive spring returns,
      And still the punctual snow! 
      May we all have a fantastic 2014 full of love, peace and lots of blooms!
      - Mommy and E