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This time of year my phone blows up…why? Lots of friends and colleagues get the spring fever and want to start their own garden. ¬†LOVE IT!

Instead of emailing or telling them on the phone, I thought I would write a post for all.

It’s really quite easy, but it does take a little investment and some sweat equity. Get your garden gloves, it’s going to be dirty ūüėČ

Fastest I have ever put in my veggies, all due to my Mantis!

Here is my garden bed. ¬†It’s a picture from last year..I will put my baby plants in next weekend after fear of frost is gone.

Here are the 7 steps to starting your own vegetable garden this year.

  1. Raised bed – You need to create a raised bed for your plants. ¬†Why? Usually in this area you have 1 of 2 types of soil and they are all bad ūüėČ It’s Clay or Sandy depending on if you are more east or west. ¬†Again, it’s all bad. While we may be an agrarian state, our soil honestly wasn’t blessed with the best conditions. ¬†Raised beds, not only give you some room to add the right nutrient-rich soil, but also it helps keep about your grass and other weeds from encroaching.

You can usually buy a kit, or you can go and get some 2X4s and make your own.  How big? It depends on how          much time you have to take care of it. Height matters, you want at least 1 foot above ground.

  1. Nutrient rich soil – the best investment you can ever make in your garden isn’t the sexy stuff…no, it’s the soil. That’s the foundation and really the secret to being successful. ¬†You can go to your local nursery or big box home improvement store. It’s usually labeled on the package – soil for veggies. ¬†You don’t have to get the name brand, the generic will do.
  2. Compost – If you have your own, awesome! If not, you can buy some. I usually get 1 of the expensive Black Cow and then one of the generic.
  3. Fertilizer – you can go organic or not…up to your philosophy. ¬†Try to get a slow release fertilizer.
  4. Mix Рjust like a good DJ, mixing matters.  I do 2-1 soil to compost.  Then I add the fertilizer in according to the instructions on the bottle or box.
  5. Plants – add¬†plants. Here in the south tomatoes are a must. ¬†Other vegetables I have had luck with in the summer are cucumbers, squash, zucchini, eggplant and herbs like parsley and basil. ¬†There are others, but those are the staples, and I would say the easiest to manage if you are starting out. <There may still be time to grow your lettuce, kail and spinach…they usually like a few cooler nights to do really well. I like to put a few of these in pots near my house, so I can cut and eat easily.>

Plants or seeds?  That depends.  I find if you are just starting out, you will usually have far more success with           baby plants than seeds, but they are more expensive.  If you are going the seed route, make sure you look at           the germination and growth times and plant accordingly.

6. Water – it sounds so simple, just add water. ¬†After you plant your crop, remember you must water them…almost over water them that first time you transferred them from pot to bed. ¬†I think of it like this…those plants just ran a marathon and are super thirsty and need some water to rest and get settled. ¬†After the initial watering, you will need to keep an eye out for them. ¬†The first few weeks are critical. ¬†Make sure the soil doesn’t get too dry, i.e. cracked, etc. ¬†Don’t drown them…they aren’t trying to swim.

Voila – your first garden. ¬†Kids love them, because they get tp see the magic of something growing. It’s a good lesson for us all in patience too.

NOTE – if you are eager to do this now, beware of the danger of frost. ¬†Usually in NC we wait until after tax day. These summer plants aren’t up for any winter shenanigans. ¬†Have no fear, if you have already done it. ¬†Just keep an eye on the news and if the weather folks say it will frost, get some sheets and cover over night. ¬†Enjoy! Go out there and get dirty!

Happy Gardening.

Melissa


I know it isn’t very nice or southern to brag, but my tomato plants are kicking butt! They are almost 4 feet tall already and I see at least a dozen or more blooms.

Tomato Wars

Don’t be #jelly! My tomato plants are about 4 feet tall and growing strong.

I am officially starting a war….a Tomato War.

How are your tomato plants?

Show me what you got!


I think I know what it must feel like to be a millionaire. ¬†Not because I became one from some fat inheritance or selling my latest Start up…no, no….that is NOT the case.

It’s my tomatoes!

T3

 

I got my second harvest and my first BIG one.  I had to re-stake them and ask for a hand because so of them are now close to 8 feet tall.  And all the little green, promising fruit makes my eyes twinkle.

T4

I honestly felt so rich today. Abundance doesn’t have to be defined by cash or the value of your retirement portfolio. ¬†No, no…you can feel wealthy from the most humble of¬†things…like tomatoes.

T2

Now, I know what it feels like to be a millionaire. ¬†To have so much and be so thankful….and share.

Anyone want to come over for a tomato snack?

Just call me loaded ūüôā

Happy Gardening.

m

 

 


Best Classic Tomato Sandwich

Best Classic Tomato Sandwich

Tis the season for tomatoes.  Now I hate the heat (shocking thing for a southerner to say, but it is true), but I love tomatoes and you need the heat to produce the best ones.

Here are the 7 things you need to make the perfect tomato sandwich:

Classic Tomato Sandwich ingredients

My Tomato-Making Still Life

  1. Tomatoes (this time of year they are abundant and flavorful–check local farmer’s markets or even your grocery store that supplies local produce might be an option)
  2. Serrated Knife – a serrated knife is best to cut through the tomato skin
  3. Cutting board – keep your counters intact
  4. White bread – I cheat and have “white wheat” but for some reason it isn’t a traditional tomato sandwich without it
  5. Mayonnaise – you know I am partial to Duke’s but you can use your favorite, I will look the other way.
  6. Salt
  7. Pepper

That’s it. ¬†This time of year, I eat them as much as possible because come fall, tomatoes won’t be worth eating, especially as the featured ingredient in a dish.

Happy Gardening.

m


My tomatoes are making me proud.

Ok, they’re not all giant-sized¬†like this one–But they’re all delicious.¬† Homegrown tomatoes are soooo much better than store bought…I don’t think any plant is more rewarding.

So in honor of first large tomatoes at my house, and blog-partner Melissa’s, we’ve proclaimed it Tomato Week.

Share you favorite tomato recipes and growing tips.

Here are mine:

Making bruschetta with Sweet Chelsea tomatoes, garlic and lots of good olive oil

Best Recipe:¬† Bruschetta is an Italian appetizer that’s so easy even beginners can make it.¬† It’s also a great way to use cherry tomatoes which are the easiest and most¬†productive of all varieties.

Chop tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, and drench with good olive oil, (I buy mine at Capri Flavors).  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon over toasted bread (8-10 minutes at 350) and serve with lot of napkins.

Ready in minutes...and going fast--

Best tip:¬† Follow the sun with your tomato plants.¬† I’m¬†having the best year ever because¬†I turned¬†my half of the driveway¬†into¬†a tomato field.¬† Plants grow in large plastic pots, that are insulated with recycled packing materials from¬†my¬†friend Jon’s¬†florist shop.¬† The¬†growers mix is Fafard¬†Professional¬†from Stone¬†Brothers.¬† I mixed in Osmocote and lime and I ¬†water almost everyday.

Bill does the picking.  It keeps him busy.

Ok–your turn.¬†¬†Please share your favorite ways to grow and ¬†eat homegrown tomatoes and help us celebrate Tomato Week!

A long-time gardener and a passionate beginner share the dirt on their NC gardens-

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