This morning when I woke up it was 5 degrees in the Midwest. So like all crazy mid-westerners I thought today would be a great day to start planning our garden. We moved last summer, so this year we will start from scratch at our new home. As we are planning the new garden space, the very first thing we need to do is call about where all of the underground cables are on the property. Anytime you are starting a new garden space, this needs to happen so you don’t accidently hit a utility line. You can call 811 from anywhere in the United States to get this information. Once this is done, we will plot out where the garden will be.
We will have two distinct garden plots. The first plot will be our vegetable garden. For this plot, we will have an “early” garden. The early garden will consist of lettuce, radishes and onions. We sow the lettuce and radishes directly in the ground. We will buy the onion sets. These are great early vegetables as they prefer the cool nights we have in the spring. I found this great chart online with a calendar for planting in your particular area http://www.burpee.com/gygg/growingCalendarNoZipCode.jsp.
Soon, we will also start some seedlings inside for transplanting later in the Spring when they will be ready. We did this last year for the first time and had some success. I am planning on starting some herbs (basil and cilantro), peppers, broccoli and cauliflower. We did not have great luck with tomatoes so we will likely go to the local greenhouse and buy the plants.
The second garden area will be my herb garden. This will be our fourth year for an herb garden and I finally have the basics. I am starting to do more on a personal level with herbs and natural remedies, so I will expand. In the meantime, I know we will at a minimum have basil, cilantro (lots of cilantro), rosemary, and oregano. I have begun researching other herbs that have historically grown well in our area and will expand. At our previous home, I did the herb garden as a raised bed and thrived. The picture at the top of the post was my very first herb garden right after it was planted. I will probably do the same thing here. We will also need to figure out some squirrel deterrent as there are tons of squirrels in our new neighborhood.
As the days grow longer, I know there won’t be too much more brutal weather like we are having now. I am looking forward to the warm sunshine and getting my hands in the dirt again and seeing my garden grow.
Every year we all promise to get healthier, exercise more, be more successful — all those things New Year’s resolutions are made of. As we enter the New Year, I have made a commitment to get more healthy and I am going to use this website as the platform to help me be accountable to myself.
In late November, we started back our exercise routine. Because of this, rather than gaining five pounds over the holidays, I actually lost five pounds. We were doing great — hitting the gym to walk at least three times a week. I was feeling great. THEN — the flu hit us. Not a happy time. We spent Christmas Eve morning at the doctor and then traveling all over town to find the allusive Tamiflu prescription. We were then down for the count and Christmas was officially cancelled. Well now 9 days later, I am almost back to normal and it is time to get back on track.
The first thing I am doing is setting a workout goal. This helps me keep on track. Because I have a job with a big commute, it is hard to do during the week. I am committing to working out on Saturday, Sunday and one day during the week. I am also going to try to sneak one day in a week at work.
Next — I am giving up all diet soda. I had done this in November and had not had a diet soda in almost three weeks when the dreaded flu hit. I fell off the wagon a bit, but am getting back on board. As I think it hard to make lots of changes at one time, I am planning on making a small change to our diets on a weekly basis.
After we get used to regular exercise, lots of water and no diet soda, my next change will be no cream in my coffee. Let’s face it, I’m over 50 years old — surely I can get by without cream in my coffee. We already eat pretty non-processed, but we are going to get serious. Each week, I am going to commit to set out what my weekly goals are for my healthy life. I am also going to commit to trying one new “healthy” recipe a week. If they are successful, I will share along the way. I hope you enjoy the journey with me.
It finally stopped raining here long enough for us to get into the garden and start reaping some of our bounty. The radishes look so yummy. We are planning on having them and the fresh onions later today as a snack. I also love them in a nice lettuce salad. Although our planted lettuce is not quite ready, but with the warm weather we are supposed to have later this week I expect we will have lettuce by the weekend. We are also going to cut some fresh cilantro shortly and make up a little salsa.
Although we are lucky and have a nice patch for our garden, you really don’t need a lot of space. We have a lot of our garden planted, as most of the danger of frost is past (although last night it was close). We are going to plant a few more tomatoes, peppers and broccoli today.
If you would like to give a try at container gardening, I am including a link to a great website I found for urban gardening: http://www.urbanfarmonline.com/urban-gardening/random-acts-of-gardening/7-container-gardening-tips.aspx.
Get out enjoy the sunshine and this beautiful Spring day we have today. Summer is just around the corner.
Everyone has different views about Earth Day. Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, Earth day used to mean “hippies”. Now that I am older and wiser, I know it means having a great respect for Mother nature. I am very fortunate, as I grew up in a farming community very close to a big city. So I really have had the best of both worlds. Growing up with farmers taught me not to take food for granted — it does not just magically appear on your store shelf. Growing up with lots of opportunity to go to the City taught me there are a lot of other people in the world with different food tastes other than just meat and potatoes.
When I was growing up, my grandparents lived in the City so there wasn’t much of a garden. However, I do remember we did only get fruits and vegetables that were local to our area and they were always very fresh. When I was in my early 20’s I had the opportunity to learn from a wonderful woman how to preserve fresh fruits and vegetables. I learned how to can tomatoes and green beans. I learned how to preserve strawberries (which grow very nicely in our area and are delicious fresh off the plant). I learned how to make homemade jelly (you can’t buy anything at the store like homemade). From my grandmother, I also can make a killer pie — nothing is better than a cherry pie made with the tart cherries grown around here. By the way, the Midwest grows pretty good apples too.
Now that I am in the second chapter of my life with my new husband, I plan to get back to my early adulthood a bit. This year, my dear husband and I plan to expand our garden a bit more and can all those wonderful vegetables we are growing (some from seed). We are also planting more heirloom vegetables than we have in the past. We are going to expand our herb garden and I am going to really try to dry more of those wonderful herbs this year. We are also going to create a real compost pile this year. It won’t be anything fancy, it will not be expensive — but it will get the job done.
We are going to expand the beautiful flowers in our yard. This I am doing all by seed. Yesterday, we dug all his old bird feeders out and filled them to treat our feather friends.
Our plans for the summer and fall include canning tomatoes, salsa and pasta sauce with vegetables grown from our garden. This year I AM going to figure out how to keep cilantro and basil through the winter….
We also love to take Saturday morning and visit our local farmers market. If we are really ambitious, we will drive up towards Michigan and stop at the great local places along the way (particularly during blueberry season). Both of us have done many of these things in the past, but with the two of us working towards the same goal we will be so much more successful.
So to bring this all back to my original topic — Earth Day probably means something different to everyone. For me it is to respect the land, respect our food.