Yes, it REALLY is!!! Here in Florida, we are biting at the bit, pushing at the garden gate, and ready to dig in (pun intended!). You MAY be somewhere that is still in the big chill, you might even be bracing yourself for yet another winter storm. If that's so and you just can't stand to read this, I totally understand, but you might grab a tip that will come in handy in a month or two, so don't be so quick to run away just yet!
...has informed me that she and her hubby have purchased some veggie plants to pop into a garden this coming weekend. She thought this would be a good time for me to do a blog about that very subject, and I'm glad she suggested it! :)
There is SO much that can be said about starting a Spring Garden, I'll try to make it as short and sweet as possible. I'm no gardening expert, but it is definitely one of my passions and I've spent the last 10 years gleaning information from various books, videos (and any nursery worker that wouldn't bend their ears to me).
The top 2 most important aspects, in my opinion, are LOCATION and SOIL, so let's hit those first.
You want your garden to have a good southern exposure.
For example I live in South Facing home, and I have a garden in my backyard. It would be a bad idea for me to have that garden up against the back of my house, where it would most likely not recieve enough sun to grow a healthy garden. Instead I chose the back of my yard, up agaist the fence. This is great location because it recieves plenty of sun each day. The idea is to plant your tallest plants, or climbing vines toward the back, and the shorter varieties toward the front (unless you want to give some shade to tender lettuce leaves in the harsh sun.
Here in Florida we suffer from SSS...that's my term for Super Sandy Soil. :) However, that doesn't make it impossible to garden, it just makes it a little bit more work. Adding a lot of organic matter to your soil is the only way to achieve this.
Typical SSS in our yards or gardens...
Healthy Soil that has been amended...
Comparing the two...
One thing I HIGHLY recommend is Timberline Organic Compost. I buy it in 40 lb bags for around $1.30. I buy a BUNCH of bags and spread it liberally, about 3 inches thick, working it gently into the top 4-6 inches of soil. There is one other thing I do, and if you can do it I HIGHLY recommend it. I do the EASIEST style of composting I have ever heard of. Simply collect your kitchen scraps, for a list of what to (or not to) compost, click here, or here. Basically everything that's NOT meat or dairy is a good rule of thumb, to include coffee grounds, egg shells, old bread, seeds, veggies, fruit, even coffee filters. I collect it all in a countertop canister. When it's full, I bury it in my garden. Move to another spot and bury more. I do this all year long and plant in alternating rows. It makes for a great gathering place for earthworms that break it down, making wonderful food for the roots of your plants. Don't forget to toss in some dry leaves, twigs, and grass clippings every now and again.
Dig a trench or hole and dump in your goodies...stab them with your shovel a bunch of times to chop 'em up...
Cover with the soil and water well....
That's what works for me, but it's always a good idea to test your soil using an inexpensive test kit from the nursery. This will tell you if you have acidic or alkaline soil and what you can add to amend it.
CHOOSING AND PUTTIN' IN PLANTS
When purchasing plants for your garden, always choose compact plants that aren't lanky, yellowing, or dried out. Check the bottom for roots. If there are 3-5 teeny little roots dangling out, you're good to go. If there is a mass of roots all tangled up at the bottom, put it back on the shelf and go elsewhere. When I'm putting a plant into the ground, I like to dig a hole a few inches wider than the pot, add a little of that compost to the hole and stir it just a bit to mix. Gently loosen the roots of your plant and place it in the hole. Check to see that the top of the plant soil is going to be level with the ground, only cover it by about 1/2 inch of soil. You don't want to bury it too deep, or you may kill it. The exception???? Tomatoes...but we'll get there in a minute. Gently push soil around the plant to fill it in and press ever so lightly to set it in place, water well and step away. Don't walk around the edges of your plants, this presses soil down and makes for an unhealthy environment. I am a bit of a rebel when it comes to spacing. I've read far too many books that say it's OK to push the limit a bit if you are tight on space. I usually space big things like peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower about 1 to 1 1/2 feet apart. Lettuce 6 inches if I'm going to cut it as baby leaves, 8-10 inches if I'm going to let it grow fully.
A few things I have in my garden from "purchased plants"...
Green and Purple Cabbage...the green had a fight with some aphids, so it's in recovery mode... :)
The Purple is still trying to decide if he just wants to be leaves this year or actually form a head... ??
Herb patch...Flat Leaf Italian Parsley...spaghetti, meatballs, garnish...soups and stews...AND BUTTERFLIES!
Italian Oregano...all of the above purposes, plus add to favorite mexican dishes too!
Thyme...fish, chicken, soups, sauces...Mmmmm
Curly leaf parsley...many of the same uses as flat leaf...
I don't eat these, lol...they are great around veggies as they help ward off some bad bugs in your garden...They also add a touch of sunny color that makes me smile. :)
There are a few things that need to be planted from seed, because they just don't like being transplanted...green beans, peas and most tender vines, like cucumbers and melons prefer this method. Another good reason to plant from seed is variety...you can choose so many different varieties when you purchase seeds than if you purchase plants at a garden center.
Follow the spacing directions on your seed packet. Have fun with your rows, I like curves and using strange things for trellises, make your garden fun. I use these ladders and old iron gates as trellises because I think they make a fun accent. It's YOUR garden - enjoy it!
I like to plant 2-3 seeds in the same space in case one doesn't sprout, or so I can pinch off the weakest one. There are usually plenty of seeds in the packet for this if you have a small home garden.
I just 3 varieties of peas, they don't typically do well in our heat, but I like a good garden fight so I'm trying again...so far so good...
Although I purchased this particular plant as is, I love to grow basil from seed, because it's easy! If you let a couple of the plants bloom, let the flowers dry and then crinkle them in you hand, you'll have 100's of seeds to plant yourself!
My precious hubby built these herb box planters. They are right outside the back door, and I can see them from my kitchen window. While they don't receive enough sunlight to house tomatoes or peppers, they are great for tender lettuce and most herbs. I like their close proxmity to the house, as I just pop out there while I'm cooking dinner and clip fresh herbs...
I always like to save a little spot in the garden for "experimentation". These were a big surprise. I had these unknown plants growing in the middle of my path, and thought they were tomato plants from a sore tomato I had buried, however when I dug them up, I realized they were potato plants! They even had about 5 little new potatoes at the base...I was so excited! I only buy organic potatoes, so I knew they weren't treated with anything and I figured, hey, why not see what they do. I moved them to the "experimental spot" and here they are.
I've never grown potatoes before, but I've read about them, so I have some clue on their growth habit. I'm excited to see what happens here!
For the most part, until you get red tomatoes on your plants, your gardens are going to be GREEN....so don't forget to throw some color out there!!! :)
MOST IMPORTANT TIP:
Have fun! Gardening is a learning experience...it won't always go the way you planned, take your time, enjoy the process, get your hands dirty, grow something you've never eaten, throw caution to the wind and make your rows wavy instead of straight! God gave us this great earth, and all these great foods, let's do our best to make Him smile while we learn how to handle it all. Happy Planting!
"You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain..."
"Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy....you shall not do any work..."
"Honor you father and your mother..."
"You shall not murder."
"You shall not commit adultery."
"You shall not steal."
"You shall not bear false witness..."
"You shall not covet..."
"Do not enter..."
"Do not let..."
"Do not turn..."
"Do not abandon..."
"Do not forsake..."
"Do not envy..."
"Do not contend..."
"Do not withhold..."
"Do not be wise in your own eyes..."
Wow, is our God really a God of "Thou Shalt Not's"? Have you ever heard (or even felt) that the Bible is full of rules and regulations that tell us all the things we CAN'T do. Is God trying to supress our fun in life? Is he trying to pin us down to a life of boredom? Does he just want us to be robots that follow rules blindly? Why do you think God has put these fences around His sheep?
As parents, have you ever been accused of being too strict? Of setting too many boundaries? Laying down too many rules? Doling out punishment "unfairly" when these rules are broken? Why have you, as a parent, put these fences around your children?
Fences, not walls. Fences that can be climbed, pushed down, broken through. Not walls that are impossible to penetrate. We have free will, we can choose to disobey God. Our children can choose to disobey us. But in both cases, there will be consequences to that choice. Those fences are there for protection, because our loving Father knows the dangers that lie beyond. He cares for us, he knows what our sinful, careless hearts are capable of, and He is warning us to stay within the safety of His protection. We do the same as parents...
This past Saturday night there was an awful accident in our normally quiet little city. Four young teenage friends were dropped off at the mall by their parents. At some point, they decided to take a city bus downtown to see the cool shops.
I don't know the answer to this, but I wonder if this was within their boundaries? Were their parents aware that they would be leaving the Mall area? Or were they jumping fences?
After spending some time downtown, they decided to go to the beach. It was nearly 6:30, and it was dark, they decided to take what they thought was a shortcut.
The teens, 3 girls and one young man, all around 15 years of age, decided to cross this trestle bridge...
The signs were posted. NO TRESSPASSING. DANGER! DO NOT CROSS. At least one fisherman near the bridge warned them not to cross this dangerous bridge. They did not heed the warning, instead they began the long walk to the other side. As the young man made it safely across, he heard a train coming. He turned just in time to see it barrelling toward his 3 friends. He yelled to them to run, then he yelled to them to jump. They were flustered, confused and, no doubt, full of fear. They didn't jump. As the train came around a curve, imagine the frantic feeling the engineer must have felt. The bridge suddenly came into sight, he pulled on his emergency brake, but there was no time for the heavy train full of cars to stop. All 3 of those girls were hit and killed in the middle of the bridge.
There were signs....warnings. Now there is a price to be paid. My heart breaks for that young man, who will play that picture over and over again in his mind. Will he beat himself up with guilt? Will this change the person he could have become someday? Will this affect his parenting, his relationships in the future? There is a long line of consequences to disobedience. The consequence for the girls was death, but it doesn't end there. Their families and friends are forever scarred, pain, hurt, depression, anger, frustration...all consequences.
What about the witnesses? Why should they have to suffer now? Nightmares? Pictures in their minds, wishing they could have stopped them.
How about the train's engineer? How must he feel? He had no choice, he could do nothing. There are signs, which should make it safe for him to come around that corner and safely cross a bridge. The signs were ignored, and now he must live forever with the memory of this incident in his mind and heart.
I ache for these people, all of them. I ache at the sadness of what happense when we ignore "Thou Shalt Not...". We are NEVER the only ones affected by our decision to disobey.
Are there signs in your life that you are ignoring? Are you secretly taking nails out of your protective fencing? Are you dancing along the edge of a dangerous railway? Heed the signs...RUN! JUMP! Do whatever it takes to turn away...the rules, the signs, the boundaries...they are there because you and I are loved. Our heavenly Father loves us more than we will ever understand in this life. He has laid this out for our protection, for our safe passage through this world and into His loving arms.
Heed the signs.
"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
I love celebrating Valentines day...mostly because it's my hubby's Birthday, which just makes me smile all over...it's fun to have a theme to go along with his special day. :) We celebreated on Saturday evening, in the same manner that we always do, our best friends came over for an intimate, fun night of dinner and games.
Kim and Brad
I love to decorate the table all fun and Valentinesy...this year I went with a more elegant theme...
Since there were only 4 of us, I splurged on dinner and made a Beef Tenderloin from Cooking Light. I had made this one year for Christmas, and Kim's been requesting it ever since, lol... It was a special treat for all of us...
After we ate, we played a game where we had to write rhyming poems to our spouses using words we blindly picked from a cup...for example, mop, toolbox, sewing needle, work boots,...let's just say we have some real creativity running through this house..
Then of course, there was dessert...this was, after all, a Birthday party...
Wanna know what happens when you blow out 40-something candles? LOL!
There was a funny twist to the night though, LOL...and I can't believe I didn't get video of this! I didn't want to eat cake for dessert, but wanted to have all those candles for hubby to blow out, so I made a "fake" cake....
The funny part was that Mikey didn't KNOW it was fake, hee hee....
He must have suspected something when I said he could cut the first piece (because I never let him do that, LOL)...He said he was thinking it must've been rice kripsie treats or something!
The big clue was when the "cake" came off the plate, LOL...
Of course there WAS dessert, just not cake...I made French Vanilla, Raspberry and Almond Crepes with a side of Stuffed Strawberries that were drizzled in dark chocolate! YUM!
These were divine, if I might say so myself... :)
After dinner we played games....wow, we ARE getting old, LOL
Ok, we were in digestion mode there LOL...we did have a fun time playing PIT, our all time favorite game 'cause we just like gettin' a little loud. :)
All in all it was a wonderful, romantic, yummy, fun, Birthday Celebration...
The next morning, on Valentines, my Precious Husband made me breakfast on his own birthday! :) Yummy Scrambled eggs with onions and peppers! :)
I hope you all had a lovely Valentines, it's not about the cards and goodies you recieve, but about the love you can dish out! :)
Today I'm linking up with Kimba for DIY day. Pop on over there to see more DIY projects and enter your own for a chance to win a beautiful cupcake stand! I decided to make these cute little fabric hearts as Valentine's gifts this year. I personalized them with the names of my sisters and, of course, my best friend. They were super easy to make, and I'm gonna show you how I did it...
Muslin or plain white fabric
Wonder Under Transfer Web
A decorative button
First, choose your fabric and cut out 2 hearts (front and back) ~ I used a 6-inch heart pan as my pattern...
Next, cut out a smaller heart out of the muslin and lightly write on a name or word in some pretty style of script...
If you have horrible handwriting trouble free-handing cute words, print it off your computer and copy it! :)
Using 3 strands of embroidery thread, just use simple straight stitches to fill in the script...I added little french knots, if you don't know how to do this and WANT to know, I'll do my best to explain. :)
Next, you're gonna want to grab your Wonder-Under (from now on referred to as WU)
~ this has nothing to do with fancy undies by the way! ~
Wonder Under is fusible web (use your iron) that makes one piece of fabric stick to another...
Cut out a heart from the WU just a smidgen smaller than your muslin heart...
There will be a smooth paper side and a more textured side. Place your muslin heart face down on the ironing board, and place your WU heart with the textured side toucing the wrong side of your embroidered heart...got it? Iron it with a hot, NO steam iron. This only takes a few seconds.
Let it cool for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, then peel off the paper, making sure the web isn't coming off too.
Now, lay your pretty fabric heart on the ironing board FACE UP. Lay your muslin heart on top FACE UP. Center it, and iron it on in the same manner. Voila! It's on there!
Now for a pretty edge. To get the "blanket stitch" look, I use a "serging" stitch on my machine. Practice this on scrap before you begin, so you know where the edge of the heart should line up under your presser foot. You can do this by hand if you want.
Now place your two pretty heart pieces WRONG SIDES together. Stitch with a regular straight stitch about 1/4 - 1/2 inch from the edge, leaving a small 1 1/2 inch opening to stuff it.
I stitched mine twice to make it darker. :)
Stuff it lightly, not too fat. Stitch the opening closed either by hand or using a zipper foot. If you have pinking sheers, clip the very edge so it won't fray looks cute. OR, if you DON'T have pinking shears (like me, ugh!) sit there for 15 minutes getting a cramp in your hand and make little pointed cuts all around the edge.
There you have it! A lovely little heart to give as a gift or add a little love to your home. :)