A Peek At My Garden + OXO #SproutTime Giveaway

I am so happy to finally give you a little peek at my 2014 garden, the place where my husband and I have been working our butts off most weekends for the past few months.

garden lead photo

Here’s what it looked like earlier this spring…
March 21, 2013:

march garden 1

April 20, 2013:

april garden 1

april garden 2

The top photo in this post and the photos below show what it looks like this morning!
June 23, 2014:

garden in bloom 1

garden in bloom 2

garden in bloom 3

(Want to see what it looked like 5 years ago when we got started? Check out this post.)

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Organic Container Gardening

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Organic Choice. All opinions are 100% mine.

As I mentioned in a recent post, we purchased our home because of the property: we were so excited by the gardening potential of our sunny lot. As we got going in our gardening endeavors, however, we quickly learned that the soil here isn't great… it contains so much heavy clay. So we built raised beds and we've trucked in a heck of a lot of good quality soil that we've amended in many different ways over the years. We've learned first hand that the success of a garden depends so very much on the quality of the soil.

In a future post, I will definitely talk more about how we amend the soil in our raised beds. But since not everyone has the space or inclination to garden in raised beds, today I want to focus on another form of gardening that's potentially more "do-able": organic container gardening.

Organic container gardening is great because the only thing you really need to get started is a bit of outdoor space (in the city, this could be a balcony or rooftop) and some sun (6-8 hours/day). Many people are accustomed to growing flowers and maybe herbs in containers, but you can absolutely grow organic vegetables in containers, too. The vegetables that do particularly well with organic container gardening include tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and zucchini (ratatouille, anyone?). Many types of greens including lettuce varieties and Swiss chard should also do well in containers.

A couple of things to keep in mind:

-Because plants such as tomato and eggplant can get quite large, look for varieties that are meant to go in containers. The names connote smaller stature such as "patio", "pixie", "dwarf", and "compact".

-Most herbs will be successful in containers, but I’ve read that dill and tarragon are two that prefer to be in-ground (unless you are able to use a very deep pot).

Choosing a Container

You can go with a standard plastic or terra-cotta pots for organic container gardening, or use your imagination: take your pick from gorgeous ceramic urns to food-grade plastic pails and buckets. I have heard of opening up a bag of potting soil and planting vegetables directly into it- you can't get much simpler or less expensive than that. And I've seen some fantastic vertical container gardens made with upcycled pallets: I took this photo at a Sustainable Living Fair recently. (This pallet garden was made by a local company called Earth Designs and features flowers, succulents, herbs, and greens.) 

pallet garden | healthy green kitchen

Make sure you have holes at the bottom of your container for adequate water drainage; if you don't, the roots of your plants may rot. It is often suggested that you line the bottom of your pots with something such as small pebbles to keep your potting soil from from escaping and to promote good drainage.

Note that tomatoes and eggplants need to be in large containers- figure about 5 gallons per plant. If you plant them in a smaller container, they may not be very happy. It is very tempting when the plants are small to want to put more than one plant into each pot, but for the most successful organic container gardening, refrain from doing this- your plants won't do well if they are crowded.

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Fixing Up My Garden #SAVEITSUNDAY

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Glad in conjunction with their #SAVEITSUNDAY program. With #SAVEITSUNDAY, Glad hopes to educate the public about the consequences of food waste, and I am proud they’ve asked me to be a part of the program. I am being compensated to share my #SAVEITSUNDAY experiences; all opinions are 100% my own.

fixing up my garden | healthy green kitchen

As I mentioned back in my first #SAVEITSUNDAY post, the average American wastes $1500 worth of food each year. That’s right: $1500…quite a chunk of change to basically be tossing in the garbage.

Throughout my previous posts in this series, I’ve shared ways you can prepare and store food in order to cut down on food waste. My goal has been to help you decrease the amount of trash you are sending to landfills (food represents the single largest component of municipal solid waste reaching landfills, and food waste eventually converts to methane, a greenhouse gas implicated in global warming). The average American throws away 25% of the food they buy…we need to work to get this percentage down, and when we do, we’ll be saving more of our hand-earned cash.

As part of my compensation for blogging about the #SAVEITSUNDAY program, Glad recently sent me a $1500 educational grant. This money is meant to symbolize the $1500 that may be saved by each of us when we prepare and store our foods properly so they keep fresher longer. Glad asked me to share how I am going to be spending the money with you.

We moved to this house largely because of the property. Our previous home was on a small shaded lot and all of my vegetable gardening attempts were a disaster; I fell in love with the potential of the giant sunny yard we have here. I wanted plenty of space for our dogs and cats to roam, plus my husband and I fantasized about not just a big garden, but keeping chickens and bees, as well. Fast forward a few years and we’ve got the big garden (I wrote about how we built our garden here) and the chickens. (I did give the beekeeping a try, but my bees died. I am trying to decide if I should give it another go.) Now that we’ve been doing all this for a few years, we’ve got quite a few improvements we need to make at this point. So I’m going to put my $1500 toward making fixes to our garden and the area in which our chickens hang out, and I’ll also purchase plants (and possible fruit trees) for the garden. (Any money left over will be donated to our local food pantry.)

What needs fixing exactly? Well the winter has really taken its toll on just about everything, but our fencing has really suffered quite a lot. Between the deer and my animals, fencing is not optional here and ours is kind of a mess right now. We are also going to be opening up a bigger area in which the chickens can free range, and that will need to be fenced as well (because I don’t want my chickens to be vulnerable to predators).

chickens | healthy green kitchen

chickens | healthy green kitchen

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Preparing For The First Frost (and Fall Garden Clean Up Tips)

I spend a lot of time fretting about the weather: it’s the gardener in me. Starting early in the spring, worries about temperature and precipitation occupy my brain space on a daily basis.

If all goes well, fall rolls around without there having been too many heat waves or crazy storms to kick my concerns into overdrive. But then a different sort of worrying sets in, because the first frost isn’t too far off.

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One Simple Change: Get Closer to Your Food

This past weekend was my son Dylan’s Bar Mitzvah. It was everything we were hoping it would be and much, much more…thank you all for the sweet wishes leading up to and on my family’s special day. The timing of the event- right at the end of school/beginning of summer for my kids- means I’ve … Read more