A Walk Outside with the Boys (A Mini Garden Update)


Considering the fact that Cary arrived right in the middle of Spring harvest time, we enjoyed our garden immensely. It’s easy to think that this year was “a failure” again because I wasn’t able to really work or tend to the garden. It was sort of left to itself aside from the enormous amount of work my mom put into it while she was here.

However, the boys loved going out to see what was growing, we all enjoyed endless salads filled with broccoli and cherry tomatoes, and it was encouraging to know we did, in fact, grow food for ourselves again. Even if we aren’t completely self-sufficient. 😛


This was a disaster. A complete and total disaster. ha! Our peas and green beans above were a little overcrowded, don’t ya’ think?thumb_img_1604_1024 thumb_img_1609_1024


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I look forward to watching these boys grow, and for their SISTER to join them out here next year!


A Garden Update {May 2016}

The month of May was filled with gardening, gardening, and more gardening. There was a lot of work to be done on the property, and though most of my time was NOT spent in the actual vegetable garden, I’ve spent enough time there to begin reaping a harvest which is very exciting.


The oregano, lemon thyme, and chives really took off. They just look pretty out there. I replanted Swiss chard several time in the front bed and back bed to TRY to get something going. I’m still waiting to see what they do. This varmint of ours is quite the beast. He has dug up every single bed several times, but thankfully most of the food has survived him. My Swiss chard is the only thing that can’t seem to withstand him. We’ve just about determined it must be a raccoon.

Anyway, the Rocky Mountain Lettuce Mix in this bed continued to be dismal, but that’s okay. Lesson learned.


Our trellis did not work like we thought it would and because of all the rain I wasn’t able to really guide my peas the way I wanted to. So it could have been the rain. It could have been the trellis. I do not know, but I do know that I will do a different trellis for my peas next year. Either way we’ve been unclumping peas all month and hoping they do okay. thumb_IMG_1295_1024

The beans have sprouted up nicely as well and are reaching for the trellis. I can’t wait to see what either of these crops produce.

The four spinach plants I got from Walmart ended up doing okay and we had several meals of spinach. I don’t have a picture because they’ve bolted now that the weather has turned blazing hot. They took some serious attention when they went into the bed, but they were worth the effort. I would grow spinach again.


In the above bed, the front right is a squash plant sprouted. There were supposed to be two but the raccoon demolished the one on the left. I didn’t replant because I was sick and then put on bed rest later for pregnancy stuff. I figured we’d just see what our one plant does this year.

The Parris Island Lettuce, however, has done beautifully. We’ve been harvesting and enjoying salads all month long. Since it was doing so well, we planted some more with our garlic. We figured the garlic would grow a bit larger giving the lettuce a little shade in the month of June when we hope to harvest it.



Speaking of garlic, it seems to be doing okay too. I cannot figure out if it has scapes yet or not … It’s a bit confusing and I’m tired (still pregnant … ) so I’m just going with it.


The carrots are bushing up a bit and I’ve been working to keep them thinned. I’ve never been great at thinning my vegetables, but I’m trying really hard this year. It’s such a simple concept, but I often feel like I’m doing it all wrong. ha!


The broccoli plants are like whoa! They have THOROUGHLY impressed me. I got the plants from Home Depot and we’ve been enjoying baby broccoli in our salads every time I harvest lettuce. I would definitely grow these again! The beets are still growing under there, but I don’t know if they need more sun … time will tell. I didn’t expect the broccoli plants to grow so huge. The above picture was taken with one week left to go in the month and more rain made them grow to almost double the above size. Wow!


We managed to get four tomato plants in this month. We got them from a local nursery and they are doing fabulous. Again, this was taken before another big rain and all the plants have doubled in size. We will be staking them this month as the fruit begins to grow. Almost all of them have some green tomatoes on them.


We planted four pepper plants (from Home Depot) and four pickling cucumber plants (bush variety from local nursery).

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The peppers are growing and we’re waiting to see what the cucumbers do. They went in around the first of the month.


The spearmint is thriving in its little pot.


The peppermint invites us into the garden nicely. thumb_IMG_1267_1024

And the chocolate mint is equally as inviting and I’m hopeful that in the next year or so it will take over this pot. thumb_IMG_1271_1024

The pineapple sage and cilantro grew out of control – again thank you rain.


This is a hot mess. I don’t even know what all is in here still. I had to let it all come up this year just to see how it works, but after these flowers bloom I’m getting a hold of this forest. There has been something blooming in here since mid-April but we’ve not enjoyed any of it because it all comes up in big clumps. So this needs some sorting out. My lemon balm and oregano is under there somewhere. Phew!


And once these day lillies have their moment of glory this summer, I will be thinning this out too. This is SNAKE-VILLE. They may be pretty, but there is just too much of a good thing going on in here. We’ve seen several snakes running to hide here. No thank you. Not this close to where I spend most of my time. 😛

So the month of May brought with it a lot of salads and fresh tea. We’ll see what June brings!

A Garden Update {April 2016}

I forgot to update about the garden in April. We had a lot going on and though my intentions were very, very good, I … well, I just forgot.

But I do have some pictures that I hope will be helpful to my future self when I begin planting again next year. At least I remembered to keep my notebook with dates and seed name and brands, right?


The herb bed continues to look a bit sparse, but you can see lettuce starting to pop up as well as some Swiss chard (planted in the front closest to us). The lettuce did not all sprout and I won’t buy Rocky Mountain Lettuce again. It has done pretty poorly compared to the other variety of lettuce I planted.

In the containers, I planted lettuce, but we’ve harvest very little from them. I won’t even bother with container gardening next year. I thought it would give visual variety, but the rain and birds destroyed them. Not worth the effort.

The back bed in the above picture – you can see the peas sprouted along with our make shift trellis. Another thing that didn’t really go all that well. The trellis looks great in this picture, but … well, I’ll update in May how it’s doing.

We also had a varmint get into our garden to chase a skink around and ended up digging up several of my peas and the Swiss chard along the right hand side of the back bed. I replanted in the hopes that we’d have the amount of peas we wanted and I really wanted to try my hand at Swiss chard.

The spinach on the left of this bed looks a little sad but I added some fertilizer and bone meal to the soil and I think we might get some spinach after all.


Our Parris Island lettuce is coming up very, very nicely! It’s doing much better than the Rocky Mountain lettuce mix. This is exciting because I’ve never had a great harvest of lettuce. Fingers crossed.


It’s hard to see, but there are SPROUTS for our carrots. With all the rain, I was worried my seeds were just washed away, but it looks like most all of them took. I look forward to thinning them in a few weeks.


Our broccoli plants that I put in for an experiment looks great. They have really grown!


Broccoli is even starting fruit. Exciting!


The beets have sprouted and almost ready for me to come through to thin. I planted them in with the broccoli so we’ll see how they do.


The garlic continues to grow and the base is looking much more sturdy this month.

We built our other two beds, but I don’t have a picture. You’ll see them next month though!


Gardening 2016 {March}

Gardening is something I discovered a deep love for in Colorado. I’ve always loved fields of wildflowers, streams of water with lush vegetation growing alongside it, botanical gardens, and fruit trees, but I never thought I would ever be able to create this sort of beauty myself.


Then God moved us to Virginia and nestled us on a hill of two acres of land previously owned by a master gardener. What a joy that we get to invest deeply into this land – weeding, raking, mulching, and watering to cultivate beauty all around us.

Our bones ache (especially my 8 months pregnant ones), but every night I turn into bed with a deep satisfaction that I did something today that truly mattered. Mattered to my family and mattered to the beautiful creation God has given us. There is just something primal and rooted in partaking and contributing to the first work ever started on this land.

Nature is a place that I feel most alive and I don’t know if it has to do with simply how God created me uniquely or just simply the way we’re all created, but there is a worship of Him and an awe of Him that happens nowhere else for me than when my hands are in soil or observing a bee pulling nectar or listening to the birds sing a simple song of thanksgiving.

Mark and I started our first ever garden when we lived in a two-story town home nestled in the woods of Tennessee.

Our first attempt at vegetable and herb gardens

I will never forget that initial investment into learning the ropes of container gardening – actually mostly learning just how hard it is to grow vegetables and herbs! They say it’s easy, but God says it’s work. You can’t expect it to be anything short of hard work to reap a harvest of food for your family. The watering alone can wear your bones thin and leave you panting in the heat of summer. We learned this truth the hard way. Never again will I expect to reap a harvest without blood, sweat, and tears to boot.

We learned a lot from our over-ambitious container garden, and took those lessons with us to Colorado where we attempted to grow our own food in the summer of 2013.


Sam wasn’t much older than Timmy is now when we tried our hand at a raised bed garden. We observed our neighbors the year before pulling in a harvest of lettuce and rhubarb and peas and we thought, “Why can’t we do this?”

So, the next Memorial Day weekend, I made a plan for a new garden (you can see what we planted here). Again, I found myself more frustrated than successful, but again I learned more about growing vegetables and made hasty notes here and there throughout the summer.

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We very successfully grew garlic and peas that year. As a matter of fact, we had the biggest, most voluptuous peas on the block (several families in our neighborhood had small garden beds, so we all shared notes and stories all summer long!).

We ate a few strawberries fresh off the vine and even enjoyed several salads complete with a radish or two. We enjoyed a butterfly garden and herbs, and added another small bed to cultivate the next year. We planted a grape vine and apple trees, and boy did we enjoy the beautiful flowers native to the area that we were able to snag from discount bins and occasionally the full price splurge.

eating peas

Of course, God moved us and we never got to enjoy the additions to our small postage stamp piece of land, but that’s neither here nor there. We continued to work and invest and learn. A lot. We learned a lot.

Now, here we are – planting time again in a new town, a new zone (7b to be exact), and a beautiful kitchen garden just waiting for us to give vegetable gardening another go!

This is our first year in our new home and we look forward to developing this land into our simple vision of sustainable living. There is no shortage of ideas, but first … the vegetable garden.


This is what the kitchen garden looked like when we moved it. It was a whole lot of growth … overgrowth! And weeds … and overgrowth. Did I say that already?


But I knew that a little lot weeding, tending, and hard work, it would give us a chance at growing our own food the next year! the entire area is fenced in and apart from a few repairs, I think we should be able to keep out the rabbits and other critters that like to eat from our garden. This reminds me, we do need to add a scarecrow.


With the help of the boys (big and small), we’ve done a lot of work to clear the beds, fertilize, weed, rearrange, and manage.

On the right hand side, I added edging fence to help us know where to keep the plants contained. Growing on the far right of the fence are various bee and butterfly attracting flowers along with oregano and lemon balm. To be honest, I don’t know what all is in there … we’ll have to wait and see. In the containers, I’ve planted cool weather lettuce and will be adding Swiss chard to the middle pot tomorrow.

There are currently five raised beds left from the previous owners. Three in the middle and two along the backside.


The first one (on the right) is an herb bed. The previous owners left some healthy oregano and chives. I did split off the oregano and added it to the edging for cover last fall, but it still crept back into this bed which is fine. It’s smaller and more manageable! There is a sad sprout of rosemary thinking about coming up along with lemon thyme growing in the far back right corner. I added lettuce to the bed just today, and will be adding some Swiss chard tomorrow.

The second bed currently has something growing that smells like mosquito repellent which was left from the previous owners. I need to make a positive identification on this one. I’ve added carrots and lettuce, and will add pole beans after the threat of frost has passed. I’m hoping the timing of the lettuce and beans will work out the way I want it to giving me room to plant more beans after we harvest the lettuce.

The bed along the backside is waiting on peas to go in (seeds are soaking) and I’m experimenting with some spinach. I’ve never successfully grown spinach, so I got a few plants to see if I can’t toy with them this year and maybe get one successful plant at least! I’ve already discovered the soil is nitrogen deficient, and I’ve treated the area in hopes of saving my poor little seedlings. Thankfully peas will replenish nitrogen in the soil so that will help the bed for future planting!


The third center bed grew a few nice tomatoes last year. This year I wanted to try broccoli so I added it to this bed. Broccoli and spinach are my two experimental plants. I’ve never successfully grown either, so we’ll see. I was very intentional about only allowing myself two plants that I’ve never tried before or had success with. I’ve learned my lesson about taking on too many new plants at one time.

So there are nine broccoli plants that were already started for me in this bed and I will be adding beets tomorrow. I did some reading about companion planting and the two are supposed to grow well together. We shall see! Beets were my borderline plant … I’ve planted them before and had zero luck. But looking back at pictures, I realize now that I didn’t thin them properly or feed them enough. Since we LOVE beets, I want to figure this one out, so I went ahead and got the seeds. Mark gave me the look when I told him … I thought you were only going with two experimental plants? *ahem*

The back bed currently has garlic growing. I used some organic garlic from Trader Joe’s which might be a no-no. I don’t know. They weren’t “planting” bulbs, but they’re growing so … maybe it worked?

The container there on the left has chocolate mint growing in it. I’m not sure this will stay. We love chocolate mint, but I might find a smaller pot for it, or let it be ground cover somewhere else. I’m not sure yet. I might need the pot for rhubarb. Decisions, decisions …


This section was filled with purple cone-flower last year. Which I have to admit was very pretty and attracted loads of butterflies. You can see it in the background in the first picture of the kitchen garden (the one that screams OVERGROWTH!).

But look at all that space that could be used for food! We’ve decided to relocate as much of the cone-flower as we can to other areas of our home (we have 2 acres to play with), and add a couple more raised beds. We have a blackberry bush that might work along the fence line (this is likely wishful thinking, but we’re going to try), and the additional bed will allow us to plant some tomatoes and peppers.


There are so many beautiful flowers growing along the fence line (both sides) and I plan to pepper a few more throughout the garden in containers that I don’t think eliminating the cone-flower overgrowth will matter too much for pollination. I imagine this section will take us a couple of years to get right though.

Side note: The above picture was just last summer. How have the boys already grown so much? I can’t wait to snag a picture this June of them standing in this exact spot! Sam was 4 and Timmy wasn’t quite 2 yet.


In Colorado I had quite the herb selection going. I’ve been collecting plants here and there as my grocery budget allows and right now I have parsley and basil. I’m watching the temperature religiously to protect my basil …

To recap (for personal inventory), the herbs I currently have growing:

  • Sweet Basil
  • Parsley
  • Garlic
  • Lemon Thyme
  • Lemon Balm ( my favorite so please Lord let this one grow!)
  • Oregano
  • Onion chives
  • Garlic chives
  • Rosemary (trying really hard to live)
  • Chocolate mint
  • Echinacea (need to figure out how to harvest and use)
  • Something that smells like mosquito repellent

Herbs I want to add to the garden:

  • Pineapple sage
  • Peppermint
  • Catnip
  • Cilantro
  • Rosemary (a healthy plant)
  • Thyme (not lemon)
  • Chamomile

I suspect that we might have an elderberry bush growing wild, but I don’t trust my judgment just yet. If so I want to take care of it and hopefully harvest some of the berries for next cold and flu season.

The blue and red pots in the picture above are strawberries that came back from a random planting last year when we lived with the in-loves. I would love to get a nice row of strawberries growing somewhere on the property, but first I have to figure out how to keep birds and other animals away. Or at least know how many I need to plant to ensure enough fruit for all of us. There’s still too much I don’t know about strawberry growing to waste the few strawberries the boys might enjoy from these little babies. The joy on their faces when they get to pluck a strawberry is worth waiting to learn more.

That’s what we have growing food-wise right now. That I know of. Ha! There’s still so much of this property yet to be discovered. We are still identifying trees, bushes, and flowers.

I smell something like peppermint growing in one of the back side yards, but I can’t seem to pinpoint where or what. I’ll try to get a full tour of the property soon, but I needed to make sure I recorded our kitchen garden for now. I’ll be using this blog to keep track of all the changes we make in the weeks, months, and years to come.

Like I said, we have big dreams for the property that include fruit trees, more food, and even chickens … But the kitchen garden first. That’s all we’re taking on this year. It’s not like I’ll be adding another little boy to the mix in about 6-8 weeks or anything. I know one thing – at the very least all this work has my body strong and ready for labor. 🙂

Summer Pretties that Make Me Smile

One of my favorite things about living here is this time of year. I love being outside all the time. I love the sun and the breeze. I love the cool shade and the lack of humidity. I’ve discovered a love for gardening and even more that I’m actually seeing the fruit of my labors. I love watching Sam play endlessly outside, and the sound of the ice cream truck is glorious. I’m just so incredibly thankful.

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