Once I got my foot in the door… (also known as “landwar part 2”)

The first year of my actual gardening (2011) was a bit of a struggle to convince my husband to give up even a small patch of his turf, but I loosened his grip.  The next year was much easier.  My garden of 2011 was great, but I was sure we could do better.  As far as gardens go, better means bigger, right?  Yeah, baby.

I engaged my husband’s inner handyman and we designed a new, considerably (like 5 times) larger, raised bed.  The new dimensions are 8x16ft.

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Wow! What was I going to do with all this newly acquired space? More space =  more veggies.  I purchased two more greenhouse trays to go with the one I saved from last year plus the handy-dandy refill peat pellets.  

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I planted tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, bell peppers, sugar snap peas, green beans, kale and jalapenos. We purchased trellises for the cucumbers, sugar snap peas, and green beans.  They turned out to be too small, but hey, you live and you learn.

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If you look closely at this picture, you can see the best part of my handy man husband’s contributions…an irrigation system!

In 2012, the midwestern US had a summer of nonstop oppressive heat and very little rain.  Luckily for my baby plants, the irrigation system quenched their mighty thirst.  Unfortunately, it didn’t do much to help all the heat.  All in all, the garden still fared pretty well.  We harvested bumper crops of zucchini and cucumbers.  It was super exciting at first, but then I was running out of things to do with all these veggies.  My husband isn’t a big vegetable eater on his own.  I added zucchini to spaghetti sauce, several batches of zucchini bread, and even some zucchini brownies.  I also tried canning for the first time.  I grew enough tomatoes and jalapenos to produce 2 quarts of salsa and I canned 4+ gallons of pickles (I lost count.)  I think my favorite of all the garden rewards was the kale.  I LOVE baked kale!  It’s so easy.  Just rub your torn kale leaves with some olive oil and salt.  Roast on a cookie sheet at 350 for about 20 min.  They are even better with sriracha.  Drizzle sriracha over the kale pieces after coating with the oil and salt, bake as before.  Yum!  I promise you won’t be disappointed.

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Never get involved in a land war in Asia…

One of the best things about living out here in suburbia is the SPACE.  We have a lovely spacious yard.  Now, my husband and I disagree about what should fill that space.  My husband is in LOVE with his lawn.  Even in mid August, we have a lush green outside carpet.  I admit, it is nice to look at, and even nicer on the bare feet, but not very useful for anything else. Several years ago, I voted for a swimming pool, but I was vetoed in favor of the sprinkler system.  My next request was a garden.  My husband looked at me cross-eyed.  Tear up even a small section of his beautiful park? Initially, he suggested one of those upside-down hanging gardens.  I agreed to try it out, and it was a dismal failure.  I’m still not sure what we did wrong, but trust me, it was nothing like “as seen on TV.” Is anything…ever?

I realize I’m making my husband sound stingy with his lawn, but in his defense, I’m not always the best at follow-thru with my little pet projects. The following year, I restated my commitment to home-grown veggies and suggested a small raised bed garden. He was still dubious, but then I informed him that if I was successful, it would mean fresh, homemade salsa for him.  Bingo!  My husband graciously agreed to give up a small parcel of his green gold.  I quickly went shopping for the seeds and accompanying gear.

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I picked out a greenhouse box with these little peat pellets.  You soak the pellets in water and they expand to form perfect little seed homes.  Because of the promise of homemade salsa, I planted tomatoes, Habaneros, and jalapenos.  I put the lid on the box, placed it in a sunny window and volia….plants!

These babies stayed inside until about mid-May when it was time to be moved to their new home in the great outdoors.

We found one of those kits with particle boards.  It’s basically a 3.5x7ft garden in a box….snap sides together, lay on grass, cover exposed grass with newspaper, and fill with soil.  Easy peasy.

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This worked great for our first attempt as amateur gardening.  We harvested a somewhat successful crop of tomatoes and a few handfuls of peppers.  We created some mighty nice salsa and some pepper infused vodka for bloody mary’s.  Yum.

 

 

 

 

My salsa recipe is pretty basic. We like it pretty spicy though, so be careful. 

  • 3-4 large tomatoes, diced (seeds removed if you prefer)
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped 
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (you can leave this out, sometimes I do)
  • 3-4 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced (when you remove the seeds, you remove most of the heat)
  • 1-2 Habanero peppers, seeded and minced (you may want to wear gloves when you chop the peppers)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice or white vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt

Mix and enjoy!