Gallery
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My Backyard Garden is Growing

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Ridiculously Good Radishes

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I started gardening two years ago, and it has been a really fun family experience ever since. We started growing the basics like tomatoes, zucchini, peppers and cucumbers. Last year we branched out with green beans, lettuce, snow peas, and garlic. So, when I was selecting seeds and planning for this year’s garden, I wanted to expand even farther. While shopping, a pack of radish seeds caught my eye, so I grabbed them and figured, why not?

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Well, I had no idea how fun radishes could be. They were the first little shoots to appear in the garden, and we were so excited to see those peeks of green as a welcome sign of the season to come. I was so surprised to see how quickly those tiny shoots turned into big leafy greens! At that point, being the radish novice that I am, I turned to the internet to find out just when to pick them. I also learned, through my farmer’s market escapades, that the leaves can be eaten, too. In fact, the leaves pack more nutritional punch than the radishes themselves. And, boy are they tasty! I will never discard them again.

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You can imagine our excitement today when we picked our first crop, and they were great. I started simple, with what I knew. I washed the roots and the leaves well, then cut the leaves off and tossed them with some fresh spinach. Then I sliced the radishes and tossed them in as well. Finally, I drizzled the salad with a simple, Italian vinaigrette. It was a great, fresh side salad to compliment tonight’s dinner.

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Radishes will now become a staple in my garden. Let me know in the comments below if you have any creative uses for radishes or the tasty greens.

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My Heirloom Garden

Normally when you hear of heirloom gardening, it is in reference to heirloom tomatoes or heirloom seeds, but never an actual heirloom garden. Well, this weekend, as a family, we created our very own heirloom garden.

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Recently, while trolling through Pinterest, I came across this great pin about creating a garden from an old dresser. When I suggested the idea to my husband, he thought I was nuts and equated me to my very eccentric neighbor who plants plastic flowers.

Well, I had to expand my current garden, especially after the drastic guerrilla gardening measures I took last season! I had a strong need to expand, a creative vision, and an old, slightly warped dresser that belonged to my grandmother long ago. So, yesterday morning, while I sipped my coffee on the patio and gazed at my unplanted garden, I decided that I would turn my grandmother’s ugly dresser into an adorable garden, regardless of what my husband thought.

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First, I enlisted the help of my girls. After my husband grudgingly carried the beast upstairs, we went to work wiping it free of dust and grime.

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Next, we removed all of the drawers and flipped it on its back. I left the drawer dividers intact so they could serve as a planting guide. The girls were ecstatic that I let them paint it for me. It just needed to be covered, so it was a perfect painting task for kids. It did not need to be a fancy paint job since we hid this surface in the next step.

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Once dry, we covered the exterior with 24 in. woven picket fencing to give the garden a polished professional look. (I really don’t want to be that crazy neighbor who plants old furniture in her backyard!) Here is where my husband gets the credit…I will admit that he suggested the picket fence idea. Ok. So we nailed each picket to the dresser, covering all four sides. We used two nails, one towards the top and one towards the bottom. Finally, we used wire cutters to remove any excess fencing and bent the ends of the wires to avoid the sharp edges being exposed.

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At the end, we decided to drill some holes. We drilled a few in the bottom and along the sides, between some of the pickets, close to the ground to allow any excess water to drain. Finally, we moved it to a nice, level, sunny spot in the yard, and filled the bottom with gravel & stone to encourage good drainage, and then filled the rest with soil and compost.

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I have started seeds indoors for a few veggies, and when the weather warms up, I will fill the garden with zucchini, tomatoes, squash, and peppers. Happily, I was able to take an old heirloom that had lost its luster and re-purpose it into an afternoon of family time, fun memories, and a hands on lesson in nutrition, which are all heirlooms in their own right.

Be sure to stop back and check the progress of my garden.

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Guerilla Gardening and Green Bean Stalking

I absolutely love my house and my neighborhood, but I really wish my yard was bigger. When my husband and I moved here from a more urban setting a few years ago, I thought this yard had plenty of space, but now I have developed a passion for gardening. It started with the existing flower beds which showered me with endless summer flowers and a beautiful backdrop for reading and relaxation. It has now morphed into a vegetable passion, bordering on obsession.

Last Mother’s Day, my husband and children bought me a raised garden, and I put a few standard plants in.

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Wow! I never expected to feel so much excitement. That is where the stalking behavior started. I checked my tomatoes, zucchini, and cucumbers multiple times daily and cheered when new sprouts appeared. My garden was the highlight of my summer (With the exception of the great pickle experiment which yielded some of the most horrifically tasting pickles ever created.)

Now I am no longer a rookie gardener, and I am stepping up my game. My existing garden was quickly filled with Roma tomatoes, basil, zucchini, and peppers, but there was no room for my cucumbers… I asked my husband for another raised bed, but he balked. So out of desperation, I have resorted to “guerilla gardening”. Now my cucumbers are secretly nestled between my crepe myrtles, my gourds and pumpkins are hidden in my flower beds, and I built a teepee for my green beans.

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Now I stalk my green beans and marvel at the lettuce as I lounge on the patio. Let this be a lesson to those of you who don’t think you have the space. A little creativity, and a patient husband can make a gardener out of any of us.

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