Backyard Garden Year Two

This is my second year of gardening here as I mentioned a few times before. I learned a lot last year and did a lot of amendments but I was super pregnant and my energies were limited.

This year has been pretty awesome although I can see I still have a lot of improving to do. One of the best parts about gardening is that you never ‘arrive’. You constantly learn, adjust, improve, fail, and grow some more.


This is the view from the deck but is only about 85% of my garden as I can’t get quite all of it in one shot.

I haven’t weeded in three weeks or more.

Partially because I have this one particular squash plant that I’m not entirely sure what it is (Avery removed labels of a tray of squashes and cucumbers that my dad gave me) but I think it’s some sort of pumpkin, is taking over everything. I had a pathway but…..


Funny story, I found a full grown Holy Basil plant in this walkway. The plant in the bed must have seeded and I haven’t done any weeding in ages so it just took off under the cover of squash leaves.

Speaking of squash leaves, I found a squash bug the other day on my zucchini. I tried to kill it but it got away from me so I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for the eggs and today, I found them on two leaves.


One from the mystery squash plant and one from the zucchini. I completely removed the leaves and trashed them (not compost). I’ve also been finding cucumber beetles on my squashes so I’ve been killing those on sight too. The cucumber beetles did find my cucumber vines and spread bacterial wilt but some how, with stringent removal I was able to save a vine and it is still performing. I realize I’m on borrowed time with it. The vines were doing great and I’ve had over 11lbs of cucumbers off it so I really hate losing it just when it was really getting going.

Pests are an issue. Chipmunks will take a bite of anything. Even winter squashes, despite the fact that they can’t really eat them.

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Notice the bite mark scarring on the top? Yeah.

They will steal cucumbers, tomatoes, even nibble jalapenos before they realize they’re spicy. I net anything I can. Netting squashes is really hard but I manage with the cucumbers. I re-net them any time they grow out of it. Squirrels like cucumbers and tomatoes too but leave most other things alone unless it’s freshly planted seeds, they’re all about digging those up. Again though, there are ways to avoid that. I protect my seeds and sprouted seedlings using coverings and unless it’s something SUPER tasty like beets, the bunnies won’t even mess with the sprouts.

Bunnies do mess with peppers and okra. They nibble all the leaves they can reach but leave the peppers alone. Okra grows really tall and so I haven’t had an issue with them eating the actual fruit.


I wish I had planted more than two okra plants. I will definitely be giving them more space next year. The burgandy okra is incredibly beautiful.


I’ve almost harvested all my onions. They’ve been a lovely addition and again, I’ll be investing in more space for them next year. My cover crops have gotten huge but are starting to die back and I’ll be able to plant fall crops in that space without an issue. I’m grateful for knowing about cover crops like radishes and turnips. My soil and garden aesthetic benefit quite a bit.

Volunteer crops from my spring greens are in full swing right now. This napa cabbage managed to volunteer in the actual garden bed unlike the field of arugula in a pathway.



The greens this year have been so fantastic. I eat a salad every day from whatever I have. Right now, that’s a lot of kale.


As you can see, I’ve been harvesting leaves off this. I take a leaf or two from each plant and that way I never run out of them. I have two kinds of kale and then a lot of collards I’m saving for fall (they’re best after a frost), swiss chard and herbs which I use in my salads as well.

I have too much to talk about when it comes to gardening. This post could go on forever….I’m growing sweet potatoes for the first time. Will they be successful? I don’t know.


I have this volunteer vine that looks kinda like a melon? I don’t know what it is. I’m letting it happen.



I am trying to incorporate more flowers.



I haven’t had to buy a drop of water for my garden. My rain barrel has been more than sufficient.

IMG_20150728_092934971Also, I have gold fish in there. Don’t think I ever talked about that.

IMG_20150603_184639They take care of the mosquito larvae. It’s pretty amazing.

I’m kinda starved for garden conversation. Can you tell? I need more garden in my life. If you have a garden, can we work in it together? I will help you weed. Or haul mulch or whatever. People think that work sucks but I love it.

Two posts in two days people. Is it really obvious Avery is away at day camp during Ida’s nap time? No? Yes? Okay, yes, probably.





After 9 months and two weeks I can say that a lot has changed since I became a mother of three children. The first two months were alright but as things went on I found myself getting overwhelmed, spread thin and lacking  in both alone time and space, and also in getting opportunity to creatively express myself.

The more kids that you have, the more you learn about yourself. I didn’t realize that I had needed creative outlet so badly because I always managed to have one, but now I know that it’s very important for my sanity. As an extrovert, making time to be alone was never apparent. Even as extroverted as I am, having little people on me or needing me 24/7 has shown me that I do value and need time completely by myself. Mostly, just for clarity of thought without distractions.


As spring progressed, I found cultured foods helped my darker feelings, and then the warm weather hit and I was able to garden (my personal favorite creative outlet) which improved things even more.


Ida learned to crawl and Eli started an iron supplement to help his sleep issues.

Before I knew it, despite some situational trials and very little sleep, I was feeling pretty normal and used to having three kids.  I mean, they even all play independently together.


I’m not saying there aren’t super hard days and times when I’m nursing Ida back to sleep at night and right as she doses off in my arms Eli cries super loud and wakes her and he’s awake and she’s awake and there’s only one of me and I’m trying to wrangle them both in the pitch black dark of night and suddenly Avery needs to pee but is too sleepy to wake up all the way and get down from the bunk bed and is sitting, wriggling with his eyes closed. You know I have to get him to the bathroom quick and then comfort Eli back to sleep and then run into Ida’s room to start nursing her again til she calms down and falls asleep again.

But in general, I’ve got the logistics of taking three kids places, dealing with the destruction zone that is my home, always, and making sure they’re fed three tons of food per day.


So basically I got this. I’m no longer freaking out all the time. I’m no longer 100% overwhelmed all.the.time. Now, this might all change in a couple weeks when Eli starts preschool and I have to get everybody up to get out the door.

Until then, I will pretend I have a grip.


Hidden Cost of Kids

Kids are actually really cheap. I didn’t spend anything on my first until he was three, for clothes. I breastfeed, cloth diaper, thrift and have them play outside. Sure, food is a cost but I do baby led weaning so I don’t buy baby food, and once their older, I don’t buy any packaged kid food or packaged food at all really. There are, however, some hidden costs to raising kids that no one really talks about.

At least they’re cute.


Now, feeding kids real food is expensive too, just not that much. Our family has more than doubled since it was just Shane and I but I haven’t even doubled the grocery budget yet.

But kids can be expensive, and this is how. You have to have a car big enough to fit your kids. I have three kids and we still squeeze them into my Corolla hatchback so that’s not a difference but we do have to have three carseats ($$) and two cars now because with three kids you have appointments, playdates, activities, etc, constantly, which means gas mo mo too.

But at least they’re cute.


They are messy, so you spend time and money cleaning up after them.  Sure, I make my own cleaners but it seems like I’m always making more. Laundry detergent too. The dishwasher is always running, the laundry is always running and I’m always running.

At least they’re really cute.


They break stuff CONSTANTLY. So yeah, I thrift dishes all the time. Don’t tell me to buy plastic. Eli broke four plastic cups in ONE WEEK once. He’s also broken upward of a dozen mason jars by throwing them off the deck after drinking out of them.

Fortunately, they’re cute.



They do crazy destructive and expensive things. Like that one time last month when Eli flushed his shorts down the toilet and we spent $2,000 fixing it.

Still, so cute.

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They grow out of clothes every two months at most. So, that’s a lot of replacing.

At least they’re cute.


Going out to eat is a hella lot more expensive with five people.

But that’s okay, because they’re super cute.


You need lots more alcohol and chocolate to cope with the emotional stress of nonsleepers, teethers, emotional tantrumers and what not.

I’m okay with it, because they’re cuuuuute.


Kids take up space. So you have to get a bigger dining room table, more beds, dressers, and space to store the ridiculous amount of food they eat. They never stop with the food. It is always.

That’s okay, they grow too fast and are soooo cute.



They go through RIDICULOUS amounts of art supplies.

The drawings are pretty cute though (especially the Hulk boobs).



You have to go out on lots more dates because mommy and daddy time is a lot sparser when you have three kids.

It’s alright, because having kids makes you fall in love your husband a bajillion times more since seeing him as a dad is totally dreamy.

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And those are a few of the hidden costs of having lots of kids. It’s okay, the rewards are much greater mostly. Except those days when all five of us are having a meltdown. That usually results in us having to spend money on ice cream cones or something.

Memories and the Mind

I’ve had a particular thought about a million times in my life. This thought is related to many many many memories of my mother. Her garden. And a flower called statice.

You see, when I was growing up we lived in a very old farmhouse. Because there were a million kids in our family we had to promptly put up a fence around an area in the yard to contain all the littles. I don’t know, maybe the fenced in area was already there. Yes, we called it ‘the fenced in area’ and it was dreamy. My mom, being the magical person she is, planted things, magical things all around this fence. The things I remember were lemon balm, bee balm, straw flower and statice, but there were many more than that.

This old, old, farmhouse had a slightly less old addition of a sun room. It was an awkward room because the windows from the kitchen looked into it, which makes sense because those windows used to look outside. It was even more awkward because the door to the root cellar basement was on the sunroom floor and there were at least three levels of the floor which were three different materials. Some wood, some linoleum and some concrete. We used the sunroom to house a lot of our crafty projects…aka, messes.

Though I don’t think my mom considers herself very crafty, I remember her picking flowers and hanging them in bunches with twine or yarn on nails along the sunroom windows to dry. She had a bunch of different wooden vine wreaths that she would tuck the dried flowers in. I don’t remember where she hung the wreaths or what they looked like after she was done but I do remember this. She was peaceful, she worked at a slow pace that meant she was really enjoying herself. She was expressing her creativity in a chaotic world of homeschooling SEVEN children. In that time she was actually probably pregnant or breastfeeding. I have these idyllic visions of her cutting her flowers from large plants saturated in golden sunlight with butterflies and bees lazily coming off the plants and hanging in the air about her, a small smile resting on her face. It was her world, her space, her project and she loved it.

My world with little children is chaotic but I pursue the things I love for this very reason. I want my children to remember me being happy. Enjoying doing things because I love them. In a world that views stay at home moms as lazy and where a lot of value is placed on high salaries, academic achievements and  career advancements, I hope I can instill in my children that there is value elsewhere. I don’t have to be quite as intentional as Shane because I am with my kids 24/7. He has a few hours before they sleep and so he spends time wrestling, taking them on errands, playing catch in the backyard or more recently, teaching Avery how to play video games with him. These are things he loves to do and he’s able to include at least the boys in a lot of them now.

For me, MY favorite thing. It’s gardening. My happy place. The boys often help me plant and dig but mostly they just play outside or in the hose while I work. They’re peaceful because I’m peaceful.


Update on the Ole Garden

I keep forgetting to get on here and talk about gardening. I mean, I keep forgetting to get on here and talk about anything….three kids is no joke ya’ll.

Basically it’s like this. We have had more than ten inches of rain this month. More rain is coming too. So things are pretty soggy. There are only a couple kinds of plants in my garden that want this much water and comfrey is one of them.  Everything else is kinda upset about it.


This is what it looks like as of right now. Very wet. Some of my collards are starting to really feel it.

My main bed (aka, the one that gets the most sun) is currently still filled up with a lot of the greens that have gone to seed.


My lettuce is still doing awesome though.


I also have lettuce, swiss chard and a little purple kale in another bed.


Lush. This lettuce is less awesome than my romain in the other bed and is starting to bolt as well as bitter. I have a few rows of onions which i think are doing alright. I’m not sure what progress they should be at this point but given all the rain, they probably need some grace.



All my kale is doing totally awesome though. In fact, my greens in general have been pretty fantastic.


IMG_20150528_142454As my pac choy started going to seed I harvested it and some lettuce and came up with SEVEN POUNDS of greens. That’s a lot. I had to give some away because I couldn’t fit it in my fridge.

Comfrey is coming up everywhere. I have a few massive plants from last year and then these little leaves just shooting up willy nilly like they own the place.



This is lime thyme that came up from last year and just random comfrey taking over.

I’ve been pretty proactive mulching nitrogen loving plants with the comfrey leaves and stalks as they get out of control. Once the rain stops happening nonstop I’ll be dehydrating a lot of comfrey for salves and medicinal remedies.


Another pop up plant that reseeded from last year is borage. I’m finding it everywhere! I can’t wait to see those purple star blooms.


Can you see the borage plants hiding in with my soggy collards?


You may have guessed it, that’s my super full and overflowing rain barrel. Two hundred and fifty gallons. Over and over again.

I also have cucumber and squashes going. Some of them just started blooming:)


All dirty from the non stop rain.

Finally, I added a new little flower bed to work with bees and look pretty.


Phlox, poppies and a little ground cover.

Anyway, things will get more interesting soon but for now I just eat a lot of greens. This year I am trying to fill in spaces better so that I weed less, get more production and pair plants with their seasonal best friends. It’s more planning but more food. My only problem is that I have a baby and especially with all the rain, it’s hard to get her comfortable outside with me (the boys are totally cool getting muddy) so I have to work mostly during naps. I imagine next year will be much easier because she’ll be walking.



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