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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