Monthly Archives: January 2017

Planning and Preparing our Vegetable Garden: Part 3

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Today, I will be sharing with you the next set of steps in the process we followed to ensure that we set ourselves up for gardening success! This is the third post in a series of four total, sharing our experience-From the planning stages through to the finished product, trouble-shooting throughout the season, and improvements we plan to make next year. So, make sure you continue to check back so you don’t miss any posts in this great gardening series!

If you missed the first post, check it out here!

If you missed the second post, check it out here!

So far we’ve covered the planning process which included planning out our garden, choosing the best location and what supplies we needed to be successful. Next we covered how we got our garden plot ready, including building our fence and preparing the soil….Now what’s left? In my personal opinion, the best part of the whole gardening process-choosing and planting our veggies and seeds!!

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This is the largest garden we have ever planted, so we had the opportunity to plant a lot more variety than we have in the past. We have a “core” group of vegetables that we like to plant every year which include tomatoes, bell peppers, kale, beets & carrots. This list also usually includes green beans-however, we still have quite a stock of these canned from previous years, so we decided to skip them this year. When you are choosing what to plant in your own garden, be sure to consider what your family likes to eat. Make sure that you choose foods that you use a lot of and your family loves to eat. Also keep in mind the quantity that would be fitting for your family! Sometimes, you can be very surprised by the quantity that even a small garden produces over the course of the summer. If there is going to be more harvest than what you can eat fresh, make sure that you have a plan in place for what you are going to do with the surplus. You can store root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, etc) in a cool dark place like a root cellar or even in your basement. Other vegetables can be preserved by canning, freezing or dehydrating. It’s important to have a plan, so that your harvest that you put so much time and effort into, doesn’t go to waste!

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We typically plant a variety of both plants and seeds. Some plants, I just find harder to start from seed because we would have to start them inside. I don’t know why, but we have always struggled with starting seeds indoors prior to garden season beginning. This is just not a talent I have acquired yet. So typically we like to stick with buying plants at a local greenhouse for a few vegetables and the rest we sow directly into the garden.

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Let’s get right down to the details…here is what we planted…

Plants

12 Tomatoes
8 Bell Peppers
8 Kale
3 Jalapeno Peppers
Strawberries (a whole bunch!)*

Seeds

Arugula*
Swiss Chard*
Lettuce
Cucumbers*
Cantaloupe*
Delicata Squash*
Acorn Squash*
Butternut Squash*
Pie Pumpkins*
Turnips*
Beets
Carrots
Peas*
Sweet Corn

All of the vegetable listed above with an asterisk beside them are ones we were planting for the first time. As you can see, there are quite a few vegetables that we were planting for the first time this year.

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We did run into some soil drainage issues so unfortunately we did not have luck with some of our seeds. Our greens (arugula, Swiss chard and lettuce) did not come up. Our root vegetables (beets, carrots, and turnips) did not do well either. They started to come up, but then the seedlings did not survive. We planted a second round of root vegetables later in the summer. They did grow, however they did not produce very good vegetables. Even though we ran into some issues, we were still very happy with our overall results! Take a look at our garden yields…

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Tomatoes: We picked well over 14 dozen red tomatoes from our 12 tomato plants. This isn’t including the ones we picked to eat fresh, this is only counting the ones picked for canning. These were made into stewed tomatoes and tomato soup. We also picked a large quantity of green tomatoes before our first frost (not included in the total count). We made these into salsa verde.

Bell Peppers: I didn’t keep as close of a count of these but my estimate is 40-50 peppers.

Jalapeno Peppers: We picked 105 peppers from our jalapeno  plants. A portion we pickled and canned. And the second portion we smoked and ground into chipotle powder.

Potatoes: Our potatoes didn’t do extremely well, however we had enough to can some for the winter. And we also enjoyed one meal of fresh roasted potatoes! They were delicious!!

Squash: Overall, our squash plants did not do well because we got a bad case of powdery mildew pretty early into the season. I had never had issues with this before, so by the time I realized there was something wrong with my plants, it was too late and it had already destroyed the plants. This caused quite a hit to our squash yields, but we still have enough to enjoy throughout the fall! Here are the individual numbers for our squash…

Butternut Squash: 8

Acorn Squash: 2

Delicata Squash: 2

Pie Pumpkins: 2

Sweet Corn: We got 37 ears of corn! This was our first time planting corn, so that was an exciting result!! Some of them were pretty small but we still harvested enough to have one fresh meal of grilled corn and some to freeze for the winter!

Kale & Peas: These I do not have an exact “harvest” amount on. We just cut these as they were ready to eat and had a pretty steady supply throughout the entire summer!

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Check back soon! Part 4 will be covering how we resolved the issues that we ran into throughout the season. I will also share what improvements we plan to make next year to have better results!

What are your favorite fruits or vegetables to plant in your garden? What are your tips & tricks for planning & preparing your vegetable garden? Share your thoughts in the comments below-I love to hear from my readers!

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Bringing Home Baby: 4 Tips To Make Your First Week Easier

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It has officially been 1 full week since we brought home our first baby from the hospital! It has been an incredible week filled with both highs and lows, and I wouldn’t change a second of it. Our first week has truly been a week of learning and adjustment. But overall, I feel like it has gone smoothly, without too many bumps in the road! Today, I want to share what I’ve learned and my advice to any first-time expectant moms on their journey to motherhood in the hopes that it may make your first weeks a little bit easier!!

#1 Ask Questions!

While you are in the hospital, take advantage of the knowledge and experience that you are surrounded by. (After all, a few short days after giving birth you are sent home and expected to do this all on your own without the constant 24-hour help and advice of your doctors and nurses.) I am very thankful that I did this and have felt much more confident as a new mom back at home because of it. I asked every single, silly, little question that came to my mind before I left the hospital. There was a wealth of knowledge at my finger tips: from educational videos available for me to watch from the comfort of my bed, to nursery nurses who were willing to teach me one-on-one how to do anything from cleaning my baby’s umbilical cord to how to bathe him, and of course the patient & knowledgeable nurses who answered my one million questions about how to care for both myself and my newborn when we returned home. And to go along with this, remember to take a notebook to write down all of the answers to your questions. You may think that you’ll remember everything, but trust me, those first few days postpartum are a blur and you will be glad that you wrote everything down once you return home!

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#2 Prepare Ahead of Time!

You will be glad that you did! I put quite a bit of thought and effort into preparing ahead of time to ensure that our return home and first few weeks postpartum would go smoothly. Here are a few things that I did ahead of time that I was so glad that I did:

Meal Preparation: If you know me at all, you know I can’t go without talking about meal planning! The month prior to my due date, (with the help of my mom) I prepared a bunch of freezer meals so that dinner time would go smoothly in the first several weeks! I am so glad that I did this! It has made dinner time a breeze and both my husband and myself have really been enjoying having a hot, homemade meal for dinner every night!

Keep the House Clean: In the weeks leading up to your due date, try to keep the house clean and in order because you never know when the moment will come for your little bundle of joy to enter the world! Your last few weeks of pregnancy, you will definitely be tired and exhausted, so don’t overdo it. Pace yourself and just do a few things a day. I don’t know about you, but if I have tasks undone, it stresses me out! It is much less stressful to know that you don’t have anything hanging over your head and everything at home is in good order for you to return home to.

Relax and Rest: Make sure that in your flurry of nesting in your final days of pregnancy that you don’t forget to take time to prop up your feet and rest! After all, these may be your last days to get a long afternoon nap, watch an uninterrupted movie or get a full nights sleep! Take advantage and rest your body for the marathon of labor, delivery and newborn care that is right around the corner!!

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#3 Have Confidence in Yourself!

You can do this mama! Yes, there is a lot to know and so many worries and questions running through your mind, but you can do this!! You are strong and capable and before you know it, you will be a pro! You were made to do this and so much of it will come as instinct to you! But when you have a moment of doubt, call your mom, a mom-friend or your pediatrician to answer those nagging questions!

#4 Accept Help When Offered!

When friends and family offer you a helping hand, by all means, accept their help! Whether it is picking up a few groceries for you or running the vacuum while they are over for a visit, take advantage of your loved one’s generosity. You will be focusing on caring for your baby and your own recovery, so this is one time in your life when it will be impossible to keep up with your normal tasks and errands. Accept other’s help, you’ll be glad you did!

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And one final thought, make sure you take time to enjoy every single second! I speak from experience! This first week has flown by entirely too fast! Treasure & cherish every single second of this experience because you will never get it back. Just consciously pause often and remind yourself what is going on! In the moments of a contraction ripping through your body, you don’t think you will ever be sad that this moment has passed. But, you will be. These moments pass too quickly, so be sure to pause and enjoy! From the first contraction, to the first cries of your little one, to your first night at home: pause, soak up the joy & excitement of each moment, and remember to cherish each and every second with your little one. Because time is so fleeting and before you know it, you will be longing to relive those times!

These are just a few things that I could think of and I’m barely scratching the surface. I’m sure that there are many more pieces of advice that I could give. I am definitely not a professional in this subject but just wanted to share my thoughts after experiencing my first week as a mom! It has been exciting, rewarding and so very fulfilling! I am excited about this journey of motherhood that I have begun and look forward to the many special moments that lie ahead of me!

What are your memories from your first week with your first child? What lessons did you learn? What surprised you most? Share your thoughts and comments below in the comments, I love to hear from my readers!

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