Momma’s Garden Project

SONY DSCI replenished over the weekend, and I replaced a lot of my fruit and vegetables that lost a fatal battle with the insane heat the Central Valley has become accustomed to over the last few weeks. I lost some basil, a couple pepper plants, my lavender and a whole row of flowers.

So, I picked up some new flowers, two new basil plants, a new lavender plant, a couple pepper plants. I also got some cilantro, rosemary and chives. So, I’m hoping these will hang in there. Luckily, my tomato and zucchini plants have been holding strong. Although I think a pesky little visitor got into my zucchini plant because the flower that was there when I took the photo yesterday is now gone!

SONY DSC SONY DSCThen, in the front yard, we have a patch of a pretty big rock area with lots of succulent plants, and also lots of dead plants, since they weren’t well maintained before we bought the house, and since I was so focused on the backyard, I slacked on my plant mama duties. So I pulled out the majority of the dead plants, and left all the succulents that were there. I’m going to add more as I get them and make that the succulent garden. I also moved the lavender plant to the side of the front door so people can smell it coming in, and I added a daisy plant.

If anything, this garden experience has taught me patience and perseverance. It’s something I work on every day (although I do need to get better about trimming) and I sincerely love watching the progress every day. It started slow, and now I see new developments popping up every day – literally! I really don’t think your garden is ever complete, and I love that it’s a continuous project that I can work on and learn from every day.

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My beautiful zucchini flower that is now gone :(

My lovely zucchini flower that is now gone 😦

Do you have a garden? Share your progress and photos with me in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest!

My Healthy Life: A Recipe

my healthy life

Last week, I decided to try the Vegetarian Lentil Soup that I shared from Relishing It. Turns out, I didn’t have all the ingredients listed in the recipe. Also, I might have forgotten that I needed to cook the dry lentils before adding them to the soup, which led to quite the experiment in lentil extraction. Needless to say, I had to improvise a little. And the soup turned out good. So good, in fact, that I decided to share my version of the recipe with you.

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  • 2 cups dry brown lentils, rinsed – let’s not revisit the lentil mishap
  • 2/3 cup dry red beans (or 1 can), rinsed – (1) 16.5 oz can of kidney beans – don’t drain it
  • 2/3 cup dry black beans (or 1 can), rinsed – (1) 16.5 oz can of black beans – again, don’t drain
  • (1) 16.5 oz can of pinto beans – you catch my drift
  • 4 potatoes – peeled and diced
  • 1 cup of carrots – chopped
  • 2 celery stalks – chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped white onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 quart puréed or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 quart vegetable broth (or use chicken, if you’re not trying to stay vegetarian)
  • 1 heaping cup frozen corn – (1) 16.5 oz can of corn
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • juice of one lime
  • handful of spinach
  • scallions, jalapeños, sour cream (if vegan isn’t your aim) and limes as garnish options

The taco seasoning recipe is below. After all the lentil drama, I was pretty beat. So, I did a few shakes of:

  • ground cumin
  • paprika
  • garlic powder
  • chili powder
  • allspice
  • salt
  • black pepper

For the Taco Seasoning:

(makes a scant 1/2 cup)

  • 2 tablespoons ancho chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons coarse black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

You can find the entire recipe by visiting Relishing It here. I did not use a dutch oven – just a regular soup pot. I threw the potatoes and carrots in first, since they take the longest, and I threw everything else in as I chopped it. I also topped mine with fresh avocado…which of course was perfect…because it’s avocado. We decided that, again, it could use a little more of a kick so I will add some chilli peppers next time. We also reheated it up today and threw in a cup of rice to add a little variety to it. Few days later, and it was still just as good and hearty. I love soup season!

Do you have a favorite healthy soup recipe? Or did you give this one a go? Share in the comments and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #myhealthylife. You can also find more healthy inspiration on my Pinterest! I will continue to share more recipes, exercises and blogs that I find awesome and worthy of sharing…so please let me know of any that you would love to see on the blog!

Momma’s Garden Project: The beginning of the end

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This is everything I pulled from my garden yesterday. To say my garden is a mess would be a huge understatement. I let it get away from me for a few weeks, and weeds took over everything. There are ants everywhere and it’s almost too much for me to maintain with the small amount of time I get to spend on it.

So, here is what I’ve learned from my first garden:

  • You don’t need to plant everything you see at the Nursery
  • One garden bed per new mom
  • Maybe don’t even start with garden beds. One garden pot per new mom
  • You don’t need an entire six-pack of peppers. Start with one pack.
  • Look at when it’s good to plant something
  • Think about what you actually eat and decide to start there

I am going to make hot sauce with most of the peppers and then dry the rest. But, it’s almost too consuming for me right now. I shouldn’t have taken on such a big garden for my first time, and I should have dedicated every Sunday to it, like I planned.

I’m going to pull what is left next weekend then I will probably take the plants down before the frost hits. I’m going to get the rest of my basil out now and make all my pesto, then maybe downsize to a smaller herb garden that I can put in front so it will be sheltered from the rain.

At least I can say that I was able to give a lot of family and friends gifts from my garden, and we haven’t bought tomatoes in a long, long time! It was an awesome learning experience and I’m so glad I started it. I have truly learned that to be good at anything, you need to put a lot of time into your practice. This will help me on so many levels, and I’m not sure I would have seen this so clearly if I had not started my garden.

The best part of it all – I can finally get into canning!

Momma’s garden project

Sadly, a lot has changed since I last wrote about my garden, and it’s rather depressing. My potatoes didn’t last in the ground, and they did not make it through the transplant into my pots. After I planted those dang things, I read up on them a bit (yes, I know it’s better to read before planting, but obviously I don’t roll like that) and learned that they are actually very tender plants and need some TLC to correctly grow.

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So, I’m hoping that the next time I try to plant them, they will actually survive, now that I know what I need to do. My tomatoes are going good but the sun pretty much destroyed a huge chunk of the plants. I was able to get rid of a lot of the burnt parts, and now they’re growing better. We have been lucky enough to pick tomatoes whenever we need them, so I shouldn’t complain.

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And I had to get rid of my broccoli because the sun also destroyed that plant to the point of no return, and I realized that I never really use broccoli in my cooking. Maybe for a stir-fry or something, but I could definitely do without it.

The only plants that have lasted through this heat without too much maintenance are all of the peppers. We literally just pick the peppers when we use them, and they have lasted for a long time. Thinking of making some good salsa and hot sauce! Every time family members come over, I usually send them off with some peppers. Even if they don’t like them.

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My basil also made a surprising comeback, and is flourishing out of control right now. Hooray for pesto upon pesto upon pesto! I’ve also been able to use it for a bunch of other dishes, so I’m really happy it’s growing so well, cause it ain’t cheap. And the compost is doing it’s thing and, you know, composting.

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This week seemed to mesh really well with the last prompt on the Grow Write Guild, which is: This Plant is Driving Me Nuts. The potatoes were definitely driving me nuts, and sometimes the tomatoes can make me frustrated! I did what I could with the potatoes, but luckily I was able to resurrect what was left of the tomatoes and they are still harvesting.

I just have to keep reminding myself that this is my first time with a garden that houses more than just herbs, so I need to cut myself a little slack. But just a little. I’m excited to move these plants out when they’re done and try this shtick all over again.

Momma’s garden project: Week 13

I was fearing for the worst when my garden started to die due to the heat over the last few weeks. But then I increased the amount I was watering them and all of a sudden, they were blooming again! The most awesome plant in my garden thus far has been the tomato. I have been able to give A LOT of them to my family and still keep a bunch for us. We always buy tomatoes when we go to the grocery store so it’s pretty awesome to not have worry about that for a while.

The peppers have also been insane as of late, so it looks like I’ll be making some salsa soon! Along with the homemade tortillas I’m learning to make, we’ll be good! The only issues I’m having are with the potatoes and red onions, which are in the ground. We tried to pull them a couple weeks ago to see how they were doing, and we got nothing. But I’m going to pull them again next week and hopefully I will have a few potatoes to show for it!

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The most recent prompt for the Grow Write Guild was to write about a plant that is in bloom, which seems to perfect for right now, since all I can talk about is how wonderful my tomatoes are right now! I’m not even a tomato fan, I just can’t wait to make my salsa right now! The only thing I would change about the tomato is getting cages for all the plants. I do like the way it looks growing wild, but when I water it, I end up watering all the weeds too so it would be better if it was maintained!

Definitely getting cages for all of the plants next time around.

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The broccoli isn’t really doing too good right now. I’ve been pulling the weedy parts, so that all of the water goes to the broccoli, but it’s still taking a while. I’m going to pull the flowers that I have growing right now to see how they do.

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But what has been improving is my compost! I stopped adding to it, started mixing it up a lot more and kept it hydrated, so the food was able to compost faster. I’m hoping to have the compost ready by next Spring since I already have enough soil to last me for now. Luckily, the smell doesn’t completely blow me away when I go out there and I haven’t found any unwanted visitors…yet.

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So this is my garden right now, how is yours doing?

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Feel free to share your garden’s progress with pictures and the hashtag #yardlife on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Or share your pictures and stories by linking to your blog in the comments! You can check out more of my project on Facebook page and see more of my garden inspiration on Pinterest.

Momma’s garden project: Week 11

Remember the red tomato that I wrote about in my blog post about last week?

IMG_3859I pulled it last night and then while I was out in the garden today, another tomato fell right off! So needless to say, the tomatoes are going like crazy last night! Unfortunately for me, I’m not a tomato fan. But I do love salsa! And, this will be perfect time for me to get into canning. Sam also LOVES tomatoes and I’m planning on giving some away to family and friends.IMG_4069

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The rest of the garden is growing good, too. I was able to pull out the dead plants and the weeds, so all of the resources can be used on the plants that are thriving.

IMG_4065So, in this box we have five different peppers, chives, spinach and broccoli. I was able to spot a few peppers that are almost ready to pluck. And there are a lot that are getting ready to sprout! I am so unbelievably excited about my garden. Like I’ve said before, I have planted herbs and tomatoes before, but nothing ever worked out.

IMG_4055 IMG_4056 IMG_4057 IMG_4058 IMG_4059 IMG_4061 IMG_4063I also have four rows of potatoes. Didn’t quite think about the fact that we’re definitely going to be able to eat four rows worth of potatoes. So…more gifts from the garden for our family and friends! For some silly reason, I forgot to take pictures of them so I will have to update next week. I think I’m going to check them out next Sunday to see if I can pull them. Because that would be awesome.

Then, there is my headache. The compost pile. I’m worried that it will take a while for this stuff to compost, which is fine because we won’t need new soil until next Spring. We have enough to last us until then. But still! I need immediate results!

IMG_4066And with that in mind, this is what I’ve learned from gardening: patience. You have to work with these plants while you wait for them to bloom and you have to take care of them. I can spend a few hours each weekend just pruning everything back and pulling weeds. But my goodness, when that first tomato came in, it all felt worth it. It was so gratifying and I appreciated it so much more because I literally sat and watched tomatoes grow for about three months now.

There is so much more I want to do with my garden, but I know that will all come with time. I’m going to plan everything out, and do it when I can. And that is something I’ve never been able to do before.