Category: gardening


March Wrap-Up

March was a really beautiful month here in GA!  And the beautiful weather was accompanied by allergies, sunburns, and pollen-covered cars.  But it was still beautiful. 🙂

March was also full of soccer.  (Go, Team Mexico!)  Autumn is loving every minute of every game and practice.  She looks forward to it all week and practices with her Daddy in every spare moment he can get.  We are loving this soccer league and, I have to admit, debating over whether or not to return to Upward in the fall.  She is learning a lot more about the game here and gets more playing time with the smaller teams, but we love the Upward program.  Thoughts?

We wrapped up our Owl Moon unit (I’m so far behind on blogging these – ACK!) and made cupcakes to celebrate. Autumn’s favorite part was dissecting an owl pellet. We also finished the semester of co-op.  We enjoyed our time at Family Night, watching performances put on by various classes.  We had a couple display tables set up to show off the work the kids did in my Great Artists class.  This class was  so much fun to teach.  Really looking forward to doing it again next semester!

     

The garden is going again.  I got started very late this year, but finally built one (of several) raised beds from reclaimed wood.  Also, put together a couple simple compost bins, and did lots of work clearing the garden area of weeds and laying down cardboard and mulch.  This is just one of those jobs that never seems to get finished.  We’re really enjoying our botany curriculum and Autumn built a light hut this month to grow herbs.

    

We had a great family outing to visit the Ocmulgee National Monument for a Lantern Light tour this month.  We have visited the Indian mounds several times, but this visit was magical.  We had a ranger give a guided tour teaching about the history of the area all by lantern light.  The path was lit with flickering luminarias and everyone carried a small lantern with a candle inside.  The night was gorgeous and our visit couldn’t have been more perfect.

   

Oh, and the toothfairy made some visits, too! Autumn is now toothless in front and finding eating very difficult. But she sure is cute!  Well, maybe not with this face. 😉

 

 

 

Freezer Pesto

One thing that grows down here in the hot dry summers, even when the rest of the garden has literally cooked to a crisp, is basil.  And we love it.  It keeps going and going and going…but I’m not complaining.  Just keep picking and making pesto! I don’t actually use a recipe for pesto, I just add this and that until it looks right, but if you don’t cook like this, you might want to try this recipe.  Just keep in mind that it can be modified a LOT and still be delicious!

Here is my method.

1. Pick a bucket full of basil and wash thoroughly.  Then take a picture because it is pretty.  If you are using spinach, you can use an amount equal to the amount of basil.  I find that the spinach doesn’t really change the flavor of the pesto much, but it makes the pesto stay green better in the freezer as well as (obviously) increasing yield.

2. Gather up the rest of your supplies.  You will need:

EVOO

Nuts of some kind (Pine nuts are too expensive, so I use what I have.  I’ve used walnuts, pecans, almonds, etc.  You can also add in some sunflower or pumpkin seeds, though I use them sparingly.)

Fresh Garlic

Fresh Lemons

Sea Salt

Black Pepper

Fresh Baby Spinach (optional)

You will also need Parmesan cheese, but not yet

3. Roast Garlic and Toast Nuts

Cook the nuts in a single layer until they just start to get crisp and golden, but be careful because it’s easy to overcook them.

  

Cut the tops off the garlic, just exposing the top of each clove. Then place in a baking pan and drizzle over the top with EVOO. Roast at 400-450 until golden and the cloves are beginning to pop out of the top.  Pull out of oven and let cool.  Then you should be able to just pop the cloves right out of the paper. Super easy.

4. Start throwing things in the food processor. I fill the bowl with spinach and basil, add some garlic cloves, lemon juice, salt and pepper and then start the machine.  Pour EVOO into the food processor slowly until it all blends up evenly.  When smooth, use a spatula to scrape the pesto into a big bowl.

5. Do this about a million more times.  Keep adding batches to the big bowl. You don’t have to worry that every batch has the same amount of all the ingredients because once everything has gone through the blender, you want to stir it up and taste it.

6. Adjust seasoning. Add whatever you need to taste.  The flavor will be strong because a little bit goes a long way.  So it’s not a big deal if it tastes a little too salty or peppery.

7. Run it all through the food processor again.  This will help make sure that everything is incorporated evenly and will hopefully make it nice and smooth.

8. Fill Jars. Or whatever freezer containers you are using.  I LOVE tiny little four-ounce jelly jars for this.  One tiny jar will actually make a lot of pasta!  We love to add the pesto to other things: instead of mayo on grilled sandwiches, to flavor roasted meat or veggies, etc.

9. Label and Freeze. Make sure to include the date.

10. Use. When you are ready to use, make sure to add Parmesan cheese to taste.  And if you are using it on pasta, reserve the starchy cooking water and add a cup to your pasta when tossing with the pesto and cheese.  So yummy!

 

 

LOTS of groceries this week!  Hit up some really awesome markdowns in the produce section at Kroger (over 5lbs of cherries for less than $2?  Yes, please!).  Also, we had some credit card rewards come in, so that helped out at Kroger, too.  Paid for some meat.

 

Both types of cottage cheese and the shredded cheese were all free item coupons.

 

 

 

Chicken, steak, and porkchops!  Love meat markdowns!

 

More FREE Ken’s dressing, too

 

And of course, garden and farmer’s market goodies.  We ate one of the local cantaloupe too fast for it to make it in the pictures!

 

F

 

GF Pizza Crust Mix.  For .30 cents shipped after using some Swagbucks Amazon codes. 🙂

And lastly, over several transactions and trips, 20 bags of free rice.  Part of these will be headed to the food pantry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have been enjoying plenty of produce from the garden lately!  To be honest, the cherry tomatoes rarely stay around for more than a few minutes, as Autumn LOVES them, and steals them off the vine and gobbles them up before they even get inside. We’re also getting random late asparagus and yard-long beans which are delicious!  FIL gave us a bucket of small peaches which are quite yummy, but most of them were very buggy, so ended up in the compost.

 

A new grocery store opened up in our town and was running several in-store specials.  I stocked up on brick and string cheese, as they were .75 cents each.  I’ve been waiting for a cheese sale for MONTHS.  Also, brats and sausage for .99 cents a pack. Great for the grill. 🙂

 

Oh, and markdown ground beef and .99 cent cantaloupe, too!

 

We also got quite a bit of produce from the farmer’s market.  As mentioned before, I don’t calculate this in, as it’s more of a barter system.

 

Strawberries and blueberries got eaten up before I could get a picture. 😉

 

Harvested white carrots from our raised beds this week.

 

And garlic, too!

 

And some more yard-long beans.  Will definitely plant these again next year- so so good!

Unfortunately, all this stocking up on cheese means I went way over budget this week.  Leaving me only $8 in the budget for next week.  Can I do it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s take a walk to the garden. The sugar snap peas are finally on!  Above they are climbing out of the top of a 5.5ft tomato cage.

DD is picking strawberries.

The first of the bush beans are coming on too.

Carrots. 🙂

Cinder block bed of tomatillos and tomatoes.  This bed is really happy!

Mainly kale and parsley and onions and peppers here.  I’ll be pulling up the kale soon to make more space.  It’s getting too buggy as we head into summer.

YUMMY.  I planted this bucket of beets and have been loving the greens.  We’ll be planting again…even if we don’t get actual beets.  We love the peppery greens.

Look mom!

Blueberries.  These really need to be netted soon, so the birds don’t get them all. Dont’cha love my berry-stained nails?

Baby tomatoes!  🙂

A couple days before Easter I decided we needed a day off from school and we headed outside in the morning.  Autumn played in the sprinkler (which was also watering the garden)…

…while I played around with some vintage sheet music…

But then she saw all the gluey mess and had to get in on the fun too!

So we made nests and eggs out of vintage sheet music and bits of paper lunch sacks.  And, of course, lots of messy glue.

And the nests made the perfect candy and egg bowls for our Easter celebration!

YUM!

The garden is really starting to produce greens!  Love salads that all come from the backyard!

Romaine, baby collards and kale, baby beet greens, baby chard

 

So I found tomatoes 50 cents/6-pack a few weeks ago, and just couldn’t resist even though my raised beds are full.  Sooooo…

We found a HUGE stack of 5-gallon buckets next to the side of the road and picked them up one night….

Then found a fairy to help scrub the remnants of putty and paint from them…

Drilled drainage holes…

Had a lot of fun getting wet…

Filled with good quality soil and tomatoes…

So far they seem to be doing very well.  🙂

Outside Today

Autumn ADORES her sandbox. She would happily spend 24 hours a day in it if I would let her.

First of the Day Lilies to bloom.


A couple raised beds. I’m not sure why one of them is so much more productive than the other one. Since they’re basically the same. I think the second one must just need more compost.

A note on seeds: Even most small seed packets come filled with far more seeds than one average gardener can use. Save more money by splitting seeds with a friend! You can also save seeds from many plants in the fall and then plant them the next spring. Visit WinterSown for more information and ideas.

Once you have your seeds planted, use duct tape to tape the jugs closed.

I generally put a plant marker in each jug, but I also write whatever the plants are on a piece of duct tape and attach it to the bottom of the jug, just in case it fades too much from the sun.

As long as there is condensation on the inside of the jugs (as shown in the top picture), you don’t need to water the plants. If they look dry, either spritz or drip water in until all the soil is moist.

According to what I’ve read, if you live where it’s colder, you can leave these containers out all winter in the snow and everything. We don’t really have much winter, so ours grow pretty fast. Once your plants are big enough, you can remove the duct tape and let the little plants get some sun during the day, then just tilt the top back over for protection at night.

I don’t follow any hard and fast rules about when to transplant from the containers into the garden soil, but generally if the plants have some secondary leaves and the weather is good enough, and they have been “hardened off” by having the tape removed for several days or a a week, I will transplant. The little swiss chard seedlings in the photo above will go into the ground sometime this week.

Another one of my favorite containers to plant in is foam cups with clear lids. These are great for plants that need a little more space, like tomatoes. You can plant just a couple seeds in each of these. There is a great step-by-step tutorial at WinterSown for these.