“If I grow anything, I’ll consider it a success.”

Alternatively, “If I don’t kill everything, I’ll consider it a success.” That was my motto for my first garden. I have to admit, last year not much planning went into my garden. I didn’t worry about planning for crop rotation or even really WHAT I was going to put in my garden. We moved into our new house at the end of May and soon after dug out the 4×15 rectangle for my first garden. I bought a few plants/seeds and simply put them in the ground, hoping for the best. I really am amazed that I grew anything with that type of “planning” but somehow it worked out for me.

garden-mustsThis year I knew that with my garden being so much bigger, I need to have a good plan in place. I thought that sharing my process might be helpful for my other garden newbies. I am just in my second year of gardening, but I found the following to be super helpful for this year.

1. read up as much as you can. for Christmas I received Organic Gardening For Dummies and The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener and finished them quickly. You can also get region-specific gardening magazines and publications. Home & Garden shows are perfect for resources like this.

2. watch some videos that teach about crop rotation, common mistakes and proper items to plant. Gotta love Google and YouTube…you can find just about whatever you need for whatever you’re trying to learn.

garden planner3. sign up for the free trial of the garden planner. I’m sure there are others out there, but this is the one that I landed on and fell in love with. And yes, I did purchase the membership because it’s not very expensive and it will remember my plan from year to year, making it really easy to do my crop rotation the following year. One of the things that I love about the garden planner is that it categorizes the plants so that it’s easy to put like items together (for example, beans and peas are legumes and should be planted together for crop rotation).

seeds4. research where to buy your seeds. I had three non-GMO suppliers in mind: Urban Farmer Seeds, Baker Creek and High Mowing Organic Seeds. They all looked pretty good and some were priced just a bit higher. I finally settled on Urban Farmer Seeds because it is local and they had a sale running the weekend when I went to order. They arrived about a week after I ordered them! I love that the owner uses old magazines to make the seed packets (reduce, reuse, recycle)!

garden planner plant list5. sow (plant) the appropriate seeds inside at the right time. Yet another plug for the Garden Planner! Once I laid out my garden I was able to generate a plant list, which tells me how many to order, spacing, row spacing and when I can start sowing seeds indoors (vs. which to sow outside after the last frost). The Garden Planner also tells me when I should be able to harvest each item which is great for a beginner who might not know that information.

Now it’s time for me to start thinking about tilling the ground and laying out my garden to prepare to plant after the last frost. I’m still deciding whether or not to fence around my garden to keep critters out…any thoughts on that from my gardening experts?

photo(2)This year my very first garden couldn’t have gone any better (in my mind)…I had very low expectations for my first garden and the fact that it produced anything was beyond what I thought would happen. We’ve had peppers, zucchini, cucumbers & tomatoes like crazy. It makes me excited for next year!

This past week I had too many ripe tomatoes and wasn’t sure what to do with them, so I did a quick search on Pinterest and found this recipe from Mrs. Happy Homemaker. She used tomatoes from the garden to make her sauce instead of a can and made it in the crock pot so I knew I wanted to try it.

photo 1Here’s my version:
9c tomatoes, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt, pepper, oregano, basil to taste

photo 3cook it in the slow-cooker for 3 hours, puree in a blender or food processor, cook for 3 more hours. I then split it into two batches – one to freeze and one for the next day.

photo 4The next day I put the sauce in a sauce pan with a can of tomato paste and some frozen meatballs. I heated the meatballs until they were cooked and put the sauce on top of some farfalle pasta. All in all, it was pretty good! I’ll make it again, maybe adding a bit more salt & garlic {and try to sneak in some more veggies!}.

I can’t even describe how excited I am that some of my flowers have bloomed before we move on Friday. I’ve loved having my flower garden around our house and can’t wait to work on landscaping the new house (which is going to be a HUGE job…have to pull out the big guns for that…more on that after we close!). The flowers were so gorgeous this morning that I didn’t even have to edit these pictures, I just cropped them down to size. No color editing or anything – God makes beautiful things! See you all next week from our new home!

IMG_8248 “light is sweet; how pleasant to see a new day dawning…” (eccl. 11:7)

IMG_8258Last night I got to sit and listen to the rain fall, it’s such a peaceful sound.
It’s one of the many reasons I love springtime.
That and the fact that spring brings all things new.

IMG_8261 The buds starting to come out, promising beauty if we’re just patient.
A new day, new life, new beauty.

IMG_8251There’s a new day dawning, what are you looking forward to?

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If you’ve read the dreams for our next home, you know that I someday want to have a large garden where I have an abundance of food that I can share with friends & family. I can’t wait for the year where I’m an experienced gardener and I have so many tomatoes that I have to give most of them away because we can’t eat them all. In the spirit of gardening season, I wanted to share a few of my favorite finds on how to plant your garden and maintain it.

No further information except the picture, but
I love this tub idea for raised garden beds.

How to layout and make the ultimate
compost bin to use for your garden.

An easy to grow vegetable garden idea.

My bff in our neighborhood just made a complete life change…she’s converted their home to be chemical free (mostly) and they are eating almost all “real” foods. She’s started her raised garden just recently and I can’t wait to learn more from her. You can see more of her favorite gardening pins here. She’s an inspiration!