I had high hopes for my garden this year. I wrote a post about all the things I planted. You can read it here.

    This summer was a bit of a fail. It started when something came and ate/trampled five of my seven sunflowers. Then the deer ate my potato plants and my green beans. Then there was a drought, and it never rained, and we were gone every weekend. Lastly, the Japanese beetles showed up to devour what the deer left behind.

    I spent today doing my fall garden clean-up. Basically, I just pulled up my one sunflower that bloomed, all of my strawberry plants, and all of my green bean plants. I decided to check on my potatoes to see how they were doing.


    Success! I actually managed to grow something this year that we were able to harvest. This is all of the potatoes from three potato plants. I planted six, so I will dig up the rest next week. We haven’t eaten them yet, but we are looking forward to some homegrown produce.

      Growing Things…

      When we moved into our house, I bought this hanging basket.

      Growing up, my mom always planted her flower bed Memorial Day weekend, but she never enjoyed gardening. I have slowly taken on gardening as a fun hobby.

      Behind our house we have a perennial garden that I inherited from the previous owner of our home. I have since ripped out ALL of the spreading plants and tried to replace them with things that I enjoy. My greatest accomplishment is that I now know what is a perennial and what is a weed.

      On the side of our house, I have four raised beds. I have grown tomatoes, carrots, green peppers, green beans, yellow squash, carrots, strawberries, basil, and cilantro. This year I am filling them with strawberries, green peppers (grown from seed), potatoes, and green beans (my first attempt at pole beans).

      Closer to the front I started a black raspberry patch. You can find out why by reading this post.

      In the front I have two planters and a hanging basket which I like to fill with annuals. This summer I am also attempting sunflowers.

      In addition to all of my plants, I have started using a rain barrel for watering and composting for soil.

      The funny thing is each year I start from scratch as I never really remember what I did the year before. This year I am starting a garden journal. I am jotting down quick notes about what I planted and when. Hopefully, this will help me make better decisions from year to year.

        New Ideas…

        I received two new purchases this weekend to help me be more “green”.

        One thing I have been interested in is making my own compost. Each spring when I need dirt for my gardening projects, we have had to buy compost from Home Depot. Every time I have looked, though, compost bins have been very expensive. Last month, I saw a small ad in our Eagan newsletter about rain barrels and compost bins for a reduced price. After buying it and paying for it, I picked it up over the weekend.

        The Earth Machine

        Two years ago for my birthday, Jesse bought me a new bike. Until that point, I had still been riding my childhood bike, and I was having trouble keeping up. Last summer I tried to ride my bike to more places (the library, out to dinner, etc.). I wanted to run more errands with my bike but had no way to carry any of my purchases home. My friend Jody is an avid garage saler. This spring I asked her to be on the lookout for a bargain bike trailer…and she found one. My goal this summer is to bike to all of my errands within 5 miles of our home…and carry my things home in my Burley.

        My new grocery cart!

          A Big Job…

          This past weekend Jesse helped me accomplish another crazy project. I only received a few murderous glares during the process…

          When Jesse built me the raised vegetable gardens, we placed them on the east side of our house. When I decided I wanted more garden space, he built me two more raised beds on the west side of our house. Because of the hot afternoon sun, the vegetables and fruit on the west side of the house have grown better than the original vegetable beds. For this reason, I had the great idea of moving the original vegetable beds to the sunny side of the house.

          Original East Side Vegetable Beds
          Original West Side Vegetable Beds

          We decided the first step was to shovel dirt out of the vegetable beds to be moved. We then moved the wooden frame together with the chicken wire into place. Next, we ripped up the grass under where the new bed would go creating sod for where the vegetable bed came from. After that, we shoveled dirt back into the frame ready for planting. Lastly, we transplanted the grass to the other side of the house. We are hoping it grows, so we have minimal seed to plant.

          Ready, Set, Go!

          When the moving was finished, I planted my vegetables. This is the first year I am trying pole green beans. The other back bed has strawberry plants. The far front bed has tomato and pepper plants. The near front bed has summer squash and will have bush green beans for staggered planting.

          Finished Project

          For those of you not interested in my gardening projects, you will be happy to know I will soon be chronicling our next adventure. Jesse and I have a 10 day trip to Italy planned in June. Check back soon for more details!


            Most of the food I grow in my summer garden is vegetables. My mother probably finds this entertaining because there are really very few vegetables I enjoy eating. I do, though, enjoy growing vegetables.

            I usually buy starter plants from my friend Jody and various garden stores. After buying a few things from Jody, I was inspired by our friend Matt to try starting my own vegetables inside before transplanting them outside. Apparently the red bedroom has a great window for growing plants indoors because the plants shot up in two weeks.

            My starters included pole green beans, summer squash, jalapeño peppers, green peppers, and carrots.

              I’m Not Perfect

              After yesterday’s gardening post, you might think I have a bit of a green thumb. I am slowly learning to become a better gardener, but I still make mistakes.

              This past fall, Jesse and I tilled up half of our front yard and planted new grass (yes, the neighbors thought we were crazy). When it came up this spring, it looked amazing. Each year as soon as I see the first dandelions of the season, I am always out in the yard with my spray bottle trying to control the weeds. This year, I made a bit of a blunder.

              Apparently, I switched my Weed-B-Gon spray bottle with my Roundup spray bottle. Whoops! Now I’m just waiting for my EZ Seed coupon to come in the mail.


                Every year around this time I begin to dream about the things I want to plant and changes I want to make outside our home. Usually, I try to wait until school is out because of the morning watering that plants require…and we all know I am not a morning person. This spring we have been spending more weekends at home, so I decided to jump start this year’s projects.

                One tradition has been to participate in Pahl’s Moss Basket Days with the original second grade team. One Saturday in March we meet for an afternoon of planting and chatting. In May we pick-up full, beautiful baskets. I have done this for two years. I like this year’s basket better, but I still haven’t found the perfect combination of plants.

                One side of our home had a variety of plants that always died by mid-summer. They were on the full sun side of our house, and they were planted in rocks. I had the bright idea to take out the rocks, pull up the plants, and plant black raspberry bushes. My grandma always grew black raspberries next to her home, and I have a great cobbler recipe. Taking out the rocks and pulling up the plants turned into a three hour project, but in the end, I was pleased with the result (I think Jesse was just tired).

                Four new plants bought from eBay!

                Next up on the agenda: moving two of our raised vegetable gardens from the shady side of the house to the sunny side, planting the front containers, and planting this year’s crop of vegetables. I’ll keep you posted!

                  Summer’s Bounty

                  One thing I love about summer is growing my own fruits and vegetables. As I posted before, all of nature seems destined to defeat my attempts to grow green beans, but I am pleased with this year’s strawberry crop. These are the first fruits.

                  Last year, I found this recipe for Strawberry-Rhubarb Bread and have made it many times since. It starts with a brown sugar base, and even the batter is delicious.

                  Plus, it uses rhubarb, and you can never have too many good rhubarb recipes. As my nephew Cody would say, “Delicious!”

                    Woman vs Nature: The War is On

                    This year has been a beautiful spring/summer in Minnesota. There was only a threat of frost once, and the soil has quickly warmed to growing temperatures. Therefore, all of my vegetables have been growing at a rapid rate. On Monday night, I had a growing green bean plot with 12 plants. Tuesday morning I walked outside to find this:

                    So frustrating!
                    So sad!

                    This year I finally grew wise and took care of the problem. Bunnies and deer, when you enter my yard looking for a midnight snack, this is what you will see:

                    And this is what you will smell:

                    The war is on!

                    Now, hopefully, my green bean plants will grow again. Sigh.

                      The Rain Barrel

                      Last summer I heard about the benefits of rain barrels. They reduce pollution, keep water away from the foundation of your house, reduce erosion, reduce city water use, and plants like untreated water better. I pitched the idea to Jesse, and he didn’t love it because all the rain barrels were ugly; the pretty ones were very expensive.

                      This spring I saw an opportunity to make a rain barrel through Community Education. I jumped at it and even invited my co-worker Lauren to join me (her husband also thought rain barrels were cool). We “made” our barrels (the guy teaching the class was a little nervous about us using the power tools), but there were many more steps in the rain barrel process.

                      The rain barrel needed painted to reduce algae inside the barrel. It needed raised up on level cinder blocks (Jesse checked it with a level), and the gutter needed re-routed.

                      We finally had everything ready for last night’s rain. We didn’t get very much rain (0.38 inches total), so we didn’t know how full our 55-gallon rain barrel would be. To my excitement, it was FULL…all the way to the top. This morning I was able to water all of my plants using fresh rainwater.

                      I could hardly contain my excitement!