How to Grow Your Own Food – 4/24/2013 Garden Tally

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herb container garden organic

This year I’m on a mission to grow 4,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables in my suburban backyard. In 2012 I was able to grow 2,028 pounds, and in 2013 I’m going double or nothing. I have absolutely no idea if I’ll be able to achieve my goal. But, as with any adventure, half the fun is getting there.   ~Mavis

*******

gardening in gutters romaine lettuce

Guess who harvested romaine lettuce last night? We had homemade lasagna and mini Cesar salads and it was awesome! Could I have waited a little longer to harvest the lettuce? But of course darrrrling,  but I just couldn’t wait. Nope.

I also harvested a wee bit of oregano from the container herb garden, sampled some spinach and brought in a boatload of eggs this week too.

But that isn’t the coolest part.

Are you ready for a story?

Last night I called my neighbor. I asked to speak to her older daughter who is about to graduate. She will be studying nutrition in college and I thought I’d see if she would be interested in helping me this summer in the garden.

What I didn’t know was that I had actually called her mothers cell number and not their home phone {it was meant to be I tell you!}.

Unfortunately {but good for her!} the daughter had  just accepted a summer job someplace really, really cool. I was happy for her, but also a wee bit disappointed because I could really use a farm hand.

Then something awesome happened.

Her mom had been thinking about approaching me and asking if she could work in my backyard garden in exchange for fresh veggies and eggs but wasn’t sure how much time she could commit and a weekly basis. And plus, we live in suburbia so the whole I can afford to buy my own food, but can I eat yours instead because I like working in the garden and want to learn more about canning and some other stuff – might come off as a little odd.

What? Did I just hear that right? You want to barter weeding and garden chores for vegetables and eggs? Are you kidding me? When can you start?

Tomorrow apparently. Wahooooooooo!

Life is good.

Here is what I have harvested so far this year:


beets

Beets - 14 ounces

carrots

Carrots – 3 ounces

chives growing in spring

Chives – 4 ounces


fresh eggs

Egg Count – 856

The chickens are egg laying machines. What can I say?

romaine lettuce
Lettuce
– 10 ounces
Microgreens 5 ounces

oregano container herb garden

Oregano - 1 ounce

potatoes

Potatoes – 2 pounds 9 ounces

grow your own sprouts

Sprouts -11 ounces

Rainbow-Swiss-Chard-picture

Swiss Chard 11 ounces

cut-wheatgrass

Wheatgrass - 7 ounces

Total Food Harvested in 2013: 6 pounds 11 ounces

Total Eggs Collected in 2013: 856

Get out there and grow!

~Mavis

Urban Homesteading Heirloom Skills for Sustainable Living

Urban Homesteading -Heirloom Skills for Sustainable Living

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How to Grow Vegetables in a Greenhouse – Lettuce, Spinach, Tomatoes, Basil and More

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magnum glass greenhouse gardening

Lucy and I have been working out in the garden this morning and we snapped a few pictures to show you how the vegetables are coming along in the greenhouse.

greenhouse gardening eliot coleman

The plants are growing like crazy! I need more hours in the day to get all these seedlings planted.

growing food in gutters

Check out the gutters. Pretty cool huh?

We have spinach in the top gutter followed by Swiss chard, mesclun lettuce and romaine lettuce on the bottom. Click here to see what the gutters looked liked 1 month ago. What a difference a few weeks make!

romaine lettuce

I think I’ll harvest some of that romaine lettuce tonight for a mini salad.

growing food in gutters swiss chard

Swiss chard!

strawberries in gutters

The strawberries we planted in gutters are looking great too.

organic tomatoes

Now, if we could just speed up time 3 weeks I could set my latest batch of tomatoes into the raised garden beds.

organic vegetables seedlings

So many plants, so little time.

~Mavis

Looking for a great gardening book?  You Grow Girl is a hip, humorous how-to for crafty gals everywhere who are discovering a passion for gardening but lack the know-how to turn their dreams of homegrown tomatoes and fresh-cut flowers into a reality. I own a copy and love it!

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Mavis Garden Blog – Planting Chinese Cabbage

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raised garden beds

After I discovered my broccoli raab had bolted while we were away, I had to pull it up and plant something else in it’s place.
Chinese cabbage seedlings organic garden

Luckily I have a bunch of seedlings growing in the greenhouse and indoors. Since it’s still a wee bit chilly out, I thought Chinese cabbage seemed like a good fit for the space. Even though we have 16 raised garden beds, I am trying to hold off on planting the rest of them for now. It’s hard, but I want to be able to maximize the space by planting a boatload of tomatoes, cucumbers and beans in the beds. If I fill them up with more cold weather crops now, I won’t have room when I set out the warmer crops in about another 3 weeks or so.

It’s a tough call, but I think it’s the right one for now.

Chinese cabbage raised garden bed

Now, I suppose the question is, what am I going to do with all this Chinese cabbage when it’s ready to harvest? Ha! I guess I’ll have to cross that bridge when we get to it.

Unless YOU have some ideas of course!

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

What Is Bolting – What It Means When A Plant Bolts

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What It Means When A Plant Bolts

I have the most amazing readers, and most of the time, it is me learning from you, but every once in awhile, someone sends in a question that I think, “Hey, I bet lots of people would love to know the answer to that.”  So, I am going to try to feature some of your questions and answer them, the best I can.

Cheryl writes:

I have a question, you said the broccoli raab has bolted, how can you tell if something has bolted and why does it happen?

First of all, in case you don’t know, bolting is when your plant rapidly turns from leafy to mostly flower and seed.  {Whenever I hear the term bolt, I have to try to resist the urge to picture it lifting up its roots and running for a different yard, where it might be happier.}

Typically, plants will bolt due to hot weather.  When the temperature of the soil gets above a temperature where the plant is happy, it bolts.  Think of it as a survival mechanism for the plant.  The plant gets nervous that it won’t have time to produce another generation, so it quickly goes to seed.  Also, remember, hot weather to us, is different than each plants definition.  Cool weather crops can bolt long before the dead heat of summer.

What It Means When A Plant Bolts broccoli raab seed head

Once a plant has completely bolted, it is inedible–not because it is harmful, but because the process causes the plant to taste like barf.  If you happen to notice your plant going to seed in the early stages, you can occasionally slow down the process.  Trim back the flowers and flower buds {this is particularly effective for plants like basil}.  Other plants, such as lettuce and broccoli, may still taste bitter, despite your best efforts.

Bolting is a sign of the beginning of the end for the life cycle of that plant.  Each plant prefers a certain season.  If you make sure to plan your garden by season, you should be able to get a great crop out of your plant before it bolts.

Cheryl, I hope this answered your question–and keep ‘em coming.

Happy Gardening,

Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Square Foot Gardening – The Planting Continues

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square foot gardening

Yesterday Lucy the Puggle Dog and I spent some time working in our square foot garden. As you can see she is very interested in growing food. If there is one thing she loves it’s fresh vegetables {and biting!}.

puggle dog in garden

I was only able to get a few lettuce seeds out of the packet before Lucy ran off with it. By the time I got the packet out of her mouth the remaining seeds were gone. It will be interesting to see where she “planted” them. I guess I’ll find out in a week or two when the seeds start popping up.

radish seeds

More of my favorite French Breakfast Radish seeds were planted.

sugar snap pea vines

Sugar snap peas.

toy bok choy

Toy Bok Choy.

walla walla onion starts

The Walla Walla onions are doing great! I hope I’m not over crowding them with 5 planted in one square foot.

square foot gardening grid

So far this whole square foot gardening thing is going pretty good. I have 18 squares planted and 14 left to go. I think I’ll plant tomatoes, beans and cucumbers and a few other seeds in the remaining square.

I must admit, it’s kind of fun planting a little of this and a little of that. I think it will be interesting to see how many pounds of food we can grow in just one 4×8 foot bed.

Have you tried square foot gardening before? Do you think I have too many different things planted? I’d love some advise.

Mavis

All New Square Foot Gardening

For more information, check out All New Square Foot Gardening.  It is an amazon bestseller and the author, Mel Bartholomew is basically the king of square foot gardening.

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Mavis Butterfield | Backyard Garden Plot Pictures – Week 17 of 52

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raised garden bedsBackyard Garden Plot Pictures – Week 17 of 52

It’s amazing how different a garden can look when you’ve been away for a week. In my opinion  this is when it starts to get fun {picture wise}. Now that the weather is starting to warm up we can see more growth and green stuff sprouting up in the garden beds. Pretty stinkin’ awesome if you ask me.

potting bench old watering cans

The garden fence is my favorite part of the garden right now. It’s popping with color and I LOVE it!

raised garden beds

The broccoli raab bolted while we were out of town. Boo! Now I have to pull it up and re-plant the raised garden bed. I’m not sure why it happened but I have more started in the greenhouse so I’m not too disappointed.

bean teepees

The bases around the DIY pea teepees is starting to fill up.

sugar snap peas garden trellis

I’d say we are about another 5 to 6 weeks away from a bumper sugar snap pea harvest.

magnum glass greenhouse

After visiting Eliot Coleman’s greenhouse at Four Season Farm, I seriously need to get my act together and fill this sucker to the top with garden starts. After seeing his greenhouses, mine is practically bare.

how to build potato towers

According to the gnomes there has been no new growth in the potato towers.

wooded backyard red mulch bark

Here is a view from the back deck. I still need to have the HH get a truck load of dirt and put it in that bare patch juts behind the daffodils that are sitting under the cedar tree. Also, our second batch of peas {green arrow I think} are starting to appear in the patch of soil near the chicken coop.

omlet chicken coop eglu cube orange

The fava beans in front of the chicken coop are looking really healthy.

fava bean chickens

I haven’t grown them in so long I’ll have to look up a few recipes before we harvest them later this summer.

backyard garden design

The future pumpkin patch looks totally bare and lonely. It didn’t occur to me until just now that I should go out there and plant a bunch of lettuce seeds or radishes.

backyard garden

I can’t believe the daffodils are still hanging in there.

western washington raspberry canes

A view of the raspberry patch from the kitchen window.

container herb garden

My container herb garden.

oregano in container herb garden

Check out the oregano. It’s looking pretty fierce.

What’s new at your place? Have you planted anything yet?

~Mavis

free shipping botanical interests

This years garden is being sponsored by the awesome folks at Botanical Interests Seed Company. You can check out their website HERE, order their new 2013 Garden Seed Catalog HERE.

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Four Seasons Farm – Eliot Coleman Barbara Damrosch

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four season farm eliot coleman maine

On Thursday we woke up in Portland, Maine {awesome city!} and drove 3+ hours to Four Seasons Farm. If you have never heard of it, I highly recommend you check out some of the owners’ books.  They {Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman} have a farm in Harborside, Maine, and have basically mastered the art of four seasons of growing.

eliot coleman four season farm greenhouse

I had emailed Barbara ahead of time and asked if it would be okay to stop by and she said yes. She could not guarantee her or her husband would be there, but she said we were welcome to check out the farm and snap all the pictures we wanted to.

greenhouse tomatoes eliot coleman

Did you read the part where I said they are in Maine {read:  cold, bitter winters}? It was actually hailing a bit on the way to the farm. The farm and their practices are totally motivational and make me want to try to grow all year long too.

four seasons farm eliot coleman

Barbara and Eliot are basically total rock stars in the gardening world, with more than 70 years experience between the both of them.

eilot coleman root cellar

Check out this root cellar. It’s situated beneath one of the greenhouses. Presumably to store their winter vegetables.

eliot coleman four season farm chicken

Chickens!!! Barbara, Eliot and their small crew are able to farm year round by using a ton of different methods, and they’re nationally recognized for their small-scale sustainable agricultural methods.

poly tunnel greenhouse eliot coleman four season farm

They use several greenhouses in the winter that are equipped with propane heaters and fans. We also spotted several garden beds with rolling row covers protecting vegetables like kale {of course!} lettuce, artichokes and spinach.

spinach growing in a greenhouse

Did I mention it was pretty freakin’ awesome and now I want to move to Maine? I just need to find an old farm house and make a stop at LL Bean first to stock up on warm clothing and then I should be all set. Oh and some firewood. I’m thinking I would need quite a bit of that.

eiolt coleman four season farm maine

Oh and guess who The Girl and I ran into while were checking out one of the greenhouses? Eliot Coleman. Yep. I even got him to sign a few copies of his new The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook for an upcoming giveaway too.

Ahhhh Maine. I love you.

~Mavis

the four season farm cookbook

Barbara Damrosch and Eliot used to be regular correspondents on the PBS series The Victory Garden and Barbara also co-hosted the series Gardening Naturally on the Learning Channel. Her and Eliot Coleman has authored several books. You can find all their book on Amazon.com {of course!}.

Also be sure and check out this cool New York Times interview with Barbara Damrosch and Eliot Coleman for a little more information about their farm and their practices.

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Friday Night at the Movies – The Secrets of Highclere Castle

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Tonight The Girl and I are going to watch The Secrets of Highclere Castle.  It is a PBS documentary on the true past and present of the castle and family Downton Abbey is based upon.  It’s supposed to be a pretty interesting look into the English aristocracy.  Plus, I LOVE my Downton Abbey, and think it would be kind of cool to know the basis.

The Secrets of Highclere Castle

It first aired on PBS in January, so some of you may have already seen it, I’m going to suck it up and pay the $1.99 to rent in on Amazon Instant Video, though.  I figure $1.99 for a night of entertainment for me and The Girl is more than worth it.

Let me know what you think if you decide to watch it–or if you have already seen it.  Did you love it? Hate it? Can’t wait to watch it over and over?

Looking for more movies?

Check out the full list of my Friday Night at the Movies Selections or click on over & look at all the movies on Amazon Instant Video. There are a ton of videos to choose from that will cost you absolutely nothing {nada, zilch, free-o} with Amazon Prime; like thousands of regular movies & TV shows & hundreds of documentaries {Wahoo!}. Get all the details HERE!

Peace out Girl Scouts & have yourself a great weekend,

~Mavis

 

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

How to Grow Fenugreek Sprouts {Start to Finish}

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fenugreek seeds botanical interests

Do you grow your own sprouts? My online boyfriend Ryan from Botanical Interests Seed Company asked me if I had tried fenugreek sprouts before {I hadn’t} so I decided to give them a try. The verdict? Delicious!

Have you tried them?

Brief description:  Fenugreek is a legume typically used as a spice.  When sprouted it provides high levels of vitamins, flavonoids, and antioxidants.

Where to Plant Fenugreek Sprouts:  In glass jars or sprouters indoors.  Keep out of direct sunlight, and make sure you keep them in a place with good air circulation.

victorio seed sprouter tray

Planting Seeds:  Fenugreek seeds must be disinfected and soaked prior to sprouting in order to minimize potential E. Coli.  To do this, simply soak in 1 tsp. bleach to 1 cup hot tap water for 15 minutes.  Then, rinse thoroughly.

I use a Victorio 4 Tray Kitchen Sprouter, but you could also use a canning jar to sprout.  Once you have disinfected seeds, soak them in plain old tap water for 6 hours.  This softens the exterior of the fenugreek seed.  Finally, spread your seeds out in the sprouter trays {or in the bottom of your jar}.  Fill the top tray with 2 cups of water and wait for it to trickle through.  Repeat the process every 12 hours using fresh water.  For a jar, rinse seeds and drain completely every 3-4 hours.

grow your own sprouts

Growing Tips:  Once sprouts are ready to eat, you can slow down their growth by placing them in the fridge, giving you a longer time to enjoy them.  Also, make sure during the rinsing process, you don’t let your seeds dry out completely–it will make them very angry.

How to Harvest:  When sprouts are ready, you simply rinse and eat the whole thing.  Fenugreek sprouts are best eaten before green leaves appear, though.

Cool Fact: Fenugreek is a widely used spice in India, especially in curries.  Fenugreek sprouts have an equally desirable flavor, with all of the nutritional benefits.

seed sprouter botanical interests

Because I’m all pumped up about sprouts these days, I just ordered the new Botanical Interest Seed Sprouter. I like the design of this one a little better than the one I have right now, plus it has 4 see through compartments which I think is pretty cool as well.

I’ll let you know what I think about it once I get it and try it out.

Peace Out Girl Scouts.

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

DIY Hummingbird Nectar Recipe

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 make your own hummingbird nectar
{
photo credit}

I am always so happy when I see a hummingbird in my yard.  Do you feel that way?  Like your garden is so hospitable that it attracts the most delicate little birds–like you’ve somehow arrived in the gardening world?  Okay, so maybe it has something to do with providing them with food, but whatever.  You can EASILY and CHEAPLY make your own hummingbird nectar.

You’ll need {brace yourself, this is an extensive list}:

  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 4 Cups Boiling Water
  • A container to store it in the fridge

That it–just mix the sugar to the boiling water, stirring until it dissolves completely.  Then, put it in the fridge to cool.  When you are ready, pour it in the hummingbird feeder as needed.  Easy right?

***Did you know hummingbirds’ heart rates are about 1200 beats per minute?  They typically weigh less than a nickel, and they can’t use their feet to walk or hop–only to scoot sideways if they are perched.  Crazy.

Want to attract more birds to your garden?  Check out my how-to post.

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

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