A Roundup of Our Most Popular Posts from 2013

With the end of the year just around the corner and a frozen backyard providing me with little inspiration to write (in all honesty), what a perfect time to round up all the most viewed and most favorited posts from the year... 


Christmas Homemade Food Gifts. A 'Pinteresting' Collection of Heartfelt and Edible Gift Ideas!

With under two weeks left until the big morning around the Tree opening Christmas gifts for festive celebrateurs around the world, it is the time to be checking your Christmas gift lists for anything you might missed. If you still need to start, well, this is definitely the time to get on it! 

Homemade Christmas gifts were pretty common around the Christmas Tree of my childhood, we all still try our best to stick to that theme with our gift giving over the holidays. As I always end of leaving my gift arranging to the bitter last minute and quite often scraping by this point in the year, many of the great homemade gift ideas I dreamed up throughout of the year often fall short in preparation time. Most of these ideas then move to the ‘For Next Year’ pile and, in honesty, the same thing usually happens again.


Plastic Bottles and Organic Backyard Gardening, Do They Mix?

Concerns about the harmful chemicals found in plastic bottles have been growing for many years. Many simply try to avoid using plastic bottles or products, or at least limiting the use around the kitchen, home and most importantly, the children. What about in the garden though?
plastic bottle recycling bins
VIA http://www.clker.com/clipart-9918.html
Plastics are used in gardening for many things, from hoses, to buckets, vapor barrier, spray bottles, tools, even the pots that grow our plants. Most of these garden tools and supplies are not the problem, though. What I have been ever curious about, is whether or not the plastic pots and containers, so widely used to grow food, are really all that safe for this purpose?


4 Awesome YouTube Videos All About Organic Backyard Gardening

My, how a week can fly by! So much for my bi-weekly post schedule... Today I have a collected up some of my most favorite YouTube videos for you, all to do with backyard and patio organic food gardening.

The following collection of YouTube videos includes; a self watering planter system made entirely from recycled plastic bottles, a discussion about DIY aquaponics gardening, a great video clip about The Urban Homestead and what a sustainable living community is all about, as well as, an instructional video about what to compost and how to set up a 'super' composting station in your own backyard.

The Life Cycle of a Vertical Garden 
Self Watering Planters Made from Plastic Bottles

VIA Willem Van Cotthem


Plants and #Gardening For The #Children

Over the last few weeks, I have noticed several posts and articles discussing the importance of children being introduced to gardening. It is a topic that has been on my mind for quite some time now. Since seeing these recent posts, I could not help but again jot down some of my own thoughts.

There are countless benefits to introducing and teaching our children about gardening organically and how to grow food. Not only for the child and their own future, but also for the family, the community, and the future of this dear planet! 

These natural skills, this ageless knowledge, and our historical heirloom seeds, all need to be preserved and savored for our generations to come, now more than ever! Not only could these skills become crucial to simply existing in the future, gardening also teaches many other life necessary lessons and habits that come from growing a garden of any sort!


Vertical Vegetable Garden Design Ideas to Compliment Your Living Spaces, Inside and Out!

Small space organic gardening is a reality for many homes of today, as more and more families incorporate backyard vegetable garden design and attempt to feed themselves from the fruits of their backyard gardens, patio vegetable garden, or urban homestead, while some even establish successful urban farms. In all cases every square inch of growing space becomes extremely beneficial. Vertical vegetable gardening is often the next best step to maximizing your growing space to its full potential.
Vertical gardening and landscaping is by no means, a new concept. According to the article Vertical Gardens: Plants for Walls (About.com) by Lisa Hallett Taylor vertical gardening and living walls were incorporated into gardens, courtyards and other outdoor living areas as early as 3000 BC. I first touched on this idea in a post written back in September, Vertical Vegetables, on a Platter of Raised Garden Bed, in which I discussed the inspiration of this fascination. As this was more an organization session of my thoughts at the time, I felt compelled to write another post discussing primarily vertical vegetable garden ideas.

In the following examples, several design options for vertical gardening will be discussed. Many of these designs I plan to incorporate into my upcoming backyard reno. Past these examples, I leave creation up to your creative mind.


Friday's "Must See" Gathering of Groovy Gardeners!

Monet's Garden - Water Lillies, Pond and Bridge
Monet's Garden Via Elliot Brown

Today’s post is all about “sharing the love”, so to speak. Over the last few months of tending my little social media garden, I have had the chance to meet a lovely bunch of organic gardeners, heirloom plant enthusiasts, garden landscape designers, and related business owners, many with great sites of their own. So, today I wanted to feature a few of these great people and their projects, blogs, sites, and businesses.

The following links are very much worthy of a visit and have been included for their helpful gardening, landscaping and yard tips, gorgeous photography, and well written creative content (or a mixture there in between). 


A Four Seasons Greenhouse and the Winter Crops to Grow for #Christmas Feasting

A greenhouse for growing vegetables, winter greenhouse crops and starting my garden seeds has been on my backyard plan wish list for quite some time now

Winter Greenhouse
VIA Rhonda Fleming Hayes (Some Rights Reserved)

During a cold, Canadian winter, the produce section at the market, or grocery store, can begin to look a bit bleak once the last of the local produce disappears for the year. When produce tags and stickers on the peppers, apples, and other fruits and veggies start appearing from origins on the other side of the planet, I try my best to avoid them. I do not mean to sound picky or ungrateful and I am not, I just have a hard time stomaching the whole idea of these foods being shipped from far off lands when they could quite easily be grown right where I live.

Leading back into my greenhouse plans... So many wonderful, extremely healthy crops can be grown through the winter with an appropriately designed greenhouse right in your backyard, even in a land known primarily for it's igloos, hockey, and the toque! I am determined to find the best and most affordable solution to my winter gardening and vegetable quandary.


The Sprouts of My Garden, A Sprinkle of Historical Reflection.

3457 Martha in flower garden

With Summer over, Fall gone and Winter now taking over my garden, what a great time for a bit of reflection and introspection. Looking over past posts the other day, I was brought to considering the reasons for creating this blog.

Garden. Plant. Grow. Eat sprouted from my concern with the food that we grow and eat. As mentioned in, From a Meadow, Grew a Garden, my love for plants and gardening began when I was a young child. The miracle of a little shoot growing from a seed, the blades of grass popping up in the lawn and the delicate plant sprouts arriving in the garden every spring, was amazing to me. From there, my respect, fascination and admiration for everything Mother Nature provides for us, grew.


Our first #GooglePlus #Garden Event, Gardening with #Heirlooms.

Let me start out with a great big Thank You to +Seed Savers Exchange, and author Rosalind Creasy, for the great +Google+  Event, Gardening with Heirlooms. The information and history we were given regarding heirloom garden seeds, growing vegetables and saving these precious seeds, is priceless! Again, Thank You +Seed Savers Exchange

Rosalind discussed so many wonderful vegetables and plants throughout the hours conversation. The most interesting parts of the discussion, for me, were about the pink potatoes she so loving described, the beautiful French pumpkins and recipe Rosalind mentioned.

Localized seed saving and heirloom vegetables are much more important to the future of our food chain, our gardens, our kitchen, and this planet, than many of us might realize!
I am so glad I was able to attend this Garden Event. Thank you +Seed Savers Exchange!


20 Inspiring Pinboards for Garden Landscape Designers, Organic Vegetable Lovers and Foodies!


Please bear with... Many of the links are broken and in dire need of update. I will be back to fix is ASAP!

~ Original Post ~

Pinterest has become one of my latest online obsessions. With the endless stream of creative images, projects, YouTube videos, and ideas that Pinterest pours out, it is the collection of all collections for those seeking out online inspiration. What an awesome place for home, garden, yard, and food lovers to connect, collect and visually share their ideas! In my opinion, Pinterest is easily the best marketing online for garden landscape designers and other design professionals, for anyone really… I just can’t stay away!

The following Pinterest Pin Boards still have much growing to do, make sure to follow any that interest you! New and noteworthy Pins are added weekly, and even sometime daily...

Feel free to dig into the Pin Boards below! Click on any of the titles to be taken to the related Pinterest Board.
Beautiful Food ~ NEW
Autumn in the Garden 
Creative Compost Ideas 
Garden. Plant. Grow. Eat. 

Organic Gardening 
Edible Gardens & Landscaping 
Vertical Garden Ideas 
Indoor Gardening 
Container Gardening 
Raised Garden Beds
DIY Pallet Gardens and Creations
Straw Bale Gardening
Inspiring Garden Project Pins
Sustainable Landscaping 
Seeds & Planting 
Awesome Yard & Garden DIY Projects
Landscape Water Features
Random Garden Pins 
Tree Care
I hope you enjoyed the Pinterest Pin Boards. Remember, tons of new Pins and Pin Boards will be added to the Garden throughout the Winter!

UPDATE ~ In closing, a huge Thank You goes out to all the Pin creators and original Pinners. You ideas, information and compilations are greatly appreciated!


Coffee or Tea: The Age Old Beverage Debate.

For me, coffee it has to be! My morning is just not complete without that first ‘cup of Joe’ that I crave, then maybe a second and a third. Tea just doesn't seem to do it. Green tea, black tea, herbal tea, loose tea, I like all kinds of tea… But, there is no replacing the smell of fresh roasted coffee, or the espresso machine, first thing in the morning! 

How did ‘a cup of coffee’ end up turn into ‘a cup of Joe’? Who is ‘Joe’, anyway? Hmm… I might have to look into that.
A cup of coffee
Now, we have Keurig coffee, the new man in town! K Cups are not a ‘thing’ I got into. I’m sure they are great for the office or during the daily morning rush of a busy household. It is exactly the type of product I am trying desperately to avoid, though! What’s so hard about throwing a cup of ground coffee in the coffee maker before jumping in the shower? Is it not almost the exact same steps to put a coffee pod into the Keurig coffee machine?


150 Amazing Zucchini Recipes to try out this Fall!

Zucchini Parmesan Crisps! Hmmm... This is one of those healthy cooking recipes I will be sure to save. Zucchini recipes have been on my mind quite a bit recently. I have been shredding, slicing, freezing, baking zucchini casseroles, chocolate zucchini muffins, zucchini bread, trying all sorts of ideas to subdue the season’s surplus from my mother’s garden. I never particularly liked zucchini… I ate them anyway, but they were never a part of the meal I enjoyed.

Baked chips are such a great idea. Here's the dish! I'm still saving this one for later... 

The last zucchini of the year just arrived. The sucker is nearly twice the size of the last one my mother gave me. Recently, I tried zucchini muffins, which ending up being more of a chocolate, zucchini, banana, and raisin muffin/ cake creation. I guess that would be a cupcake, now wouldn't it. Regardless of the name, they were yummy! I cannot say they were “healthy”, by any means... 

Hunting again for some yummy, healthy, quick, and easy ways to prepare and store the last zucchini, I found these four highly recommendable recipe collections. Yes, I have for you 'a collection of great collections'. Thank you, in advance, to those who compiled these huge zucchini recipe resources!

Originally, I was planning a Top 10 Zucchini Recipe Collection. Once realizing these four sites listed below contained over 150 recipes in whole, I thought to add any more would be maybe a little overkill. I couldn't narrow down these four recipe collections due to their sheer greatness.

Instead, I thought what could be better than finding more than 150 Scrumptious Zucchini Recipes all in one place!

Warning: Do not proceed on an empty stomach, explicit images of food ahead!


Garden Giggles... A Perfect Pink Flower Stands Last in the Garden.

Perennial Pink flower
The last "lady" standing...
This lone, little pink flower… This little lady deserves a spot in the limelight!

Let me start by explaining that this was the first year of gardening for me in a new climate zone, new soil, and someone else’s ex-garden. It was very much a learning experience, to stay the least!  


5 Easy #DIY Raised #Garden Bed Projects that are Attractive and Practical!

Raised garden beds are a fantastic way to utilize yard spaces, large and small. Whether, planning to add new vegetable beds, a herb garden, or flowers for you, the #hummingbirds, butterflies, and #bees, the plants (and insects) will thank you as they flourish from the many benefits of growing in raised gardens.

Raised garden designs can be as simple and inexpensive of a #DIY project, as an arrangement of straw bales, recycled wood, or basic pallet garden, to more ‘concrete’ options including the use of cinder blocks, paving stones, bricks, and rock.

In all reality, wild and crazy gardeners out there will make a raised garden bed from just about anything they can get their dirty gloves on, that will hold soil! Design ideas are endless.

In my search for raised garden ideas to incorporate into my own edible garden designs for the upcoming growing season, a handful of basic ideas have moved into my “Favorite” pile. These guys made the cut primarily because of the cost, labor intensity (or lack, there of…), sustainable attributes, and overall, attractiveness.  


Grow. Eat. Compost. Repeat. Part 2 - The Compost Pail, Bins, Tumblers, and Tea Makers

Composting may already be part of your household routine. If so, you are most likely already aware of the importance of recycling your food waste and the many benefits of collecting nature’s best organic fertilizer and garden mulch. If you are not already composting, it is time to start! Take away food waste from your household garbage; you may be extremely surprised how little refuse is left for the garbage man (after appropriately recycling the other recyclable materials, of course).

Usually, I do not like to start off a post directing my readers to do this, or that, or forcing my opinion on anyone. When it comes to something as important as the health of our fragile ecosystem, I cannot help myself.

I am sure none of us like to admit that we actually waste food when there are people starving around the world. However, food waste does result from cooking, eating and snacking throughout the day, whether we like to admit it, or not… And we all must eat!

Considering this is my second (actually, third) post about compost, only exemplifies how strongly I feel about the many benefits of composting. Part 1 of my composting series, Grow. Eat. Compost. Repeat. A Beginner’s Guide to Composting focuses more on the why’s, what’s, and how to’s of DIY home composting. I felt the need write this second installment of Grow. Eat. Compost. Repeat. because not everyone is necessarily interested in another DIY project and may be considering a more desirable, somewhat ‘cleaner’ way, to compost at home. Be it a simple, store bought, composting pail or bin, an elaborate Compost Tumbler, or costly Compost Tea Maker, the options are many. 

Follow me and let's take a closer look at these composting products... 


Family Ordered to Remove Urban Garden ~ Video Link CTV BC

I would love to hear some opinions on this! Take a look at the mulch piles and video link below... Please share your thoughts?

At what point does an urban garden become "too much garden"? This story raises several questions in my mind, as someone in the midst of designing an edible urban landscape that isn't going to piss off my neighbor's.

I feel for the families, on both sides of the fence. This is an argument, I think we may be seeing much, much more of, unfortunately, as more and more families return to growing much of their food at home...


The Evolution of the Carrot (Harvested from the Garden)

The time to harvest the last of the garden has finally arrived. I have been so patiently, and eagerly, awaiting this! Most of the vegetables have finished by now, of course. As the vegetable garden was planted quite late this year, the carrots, cucumber, the last of the tomatoes, and some lingering kitchen greens and herbs, are still to come.
Carrot Tops
I began pulling the carrots on the weekend, my pair of cucumbers (one, that my daughter immediately ate), and what ripe tomatoes I could find. I wanted to get as much of what was there, in, before the weather turned too harshly. I had to stop after the first bushel of carrots…


Vertical Vegetables, on a Platter of Raised Garden Bed.

Vertical gardening, landscaping and roof top gardens, have all been a fascination of mine for many years now. When you can’t grow out, why not grow up? The plants want to grow there anyway. It is wonderful to see that these progressive and sustainable landscaping ideas are becoming such a growing trend in the dense urban centers of many countries around the world. Let the cities breath!

Recently, I have been collecting together heaps of new and inspiring edible landscaping ideas to evaluate which will best suit my new urban edible garden design. My ultimate goal is a micro-farm, or “Urban Homestead”. I want to be growing as many of the vegetables, fruits and herbs that my family will need for the year, at home, on our small urban plot of land. As I have mentioned in previous posts, vertical gardening will ultimately be the best way to utilize my small space. Once I have decided on which vertical garden designs and techniques will best suit the gardens here, this will be a large part of the additions to the garden of next year.

The yard I am now working with has been green lawn for many years... This means, in order to transform the area into ground level garden space a whole heck of a lot of back breaking work will be required! Raised garden beds will be the perfect solution. Again, I am still pondering the exact design. I want to find the most cost efficient way of building the beds, as the installation of the vertical gardens and changes that will be needed to the irrigation system could be somewhat costly to ‘the old cookie jar’! Let’s just say, I have my work cut out for me if all goes as planned!

In closing… Throughout all of the information I have found recently, the best way to utilize the space in my new edible landscape (aka back yard) design will be to grow up, up and up! Vegetables gardens away!

Be sure to check back for new DIY, vertically enhancing, garden ideas and designs that I will be searching out throughout the winter.

Have a great vertical garden design idea you wish to share? Please add a link or comment below for moderation.  

While you are here, check out these 39 Insanely Cool Vertical Gardens! The gardens compiled in the list are absolutely incredible! Vertical Garden Design and Patrick Blanc’s latest vertical garden are also some awesome examples of vertical gardens and landscaping. Enjoy!

Follow this blog @DrylandGardens. Follow me @JessyAnneTucker.

Thanks for reading:) ~ Your Blogging Gardener


Food News! British Columbia Politicians to Support a GE-free Province

Let us hope they follow through with the removal of GMO's from our food! Great food news for British Columbia. I feel it is long overdue!

Personally, I am going to continue trying to grow as much food in my own garden at home, as I possible can!

Read all about the great news in the following link...
Politicians support GE-free B.C. - Victoria News


Grow, Eat, Compost, Repeat! A Beginner's Guide to Composting

October 10, 2013 Update 

Visit Part 2 - The Compost Pail, Bins, Tumblers, and Tea Makers!

Original Post

The dreaded compost pile, composting bins, expensive tumblers, DIY backyard compost designs, worms, compost tea… Where to start? Well, whether it is a simple bucket out in the garden or an elaborate, state of the art Compost Tumblerthe most important part is to just start composting! 

After writing last month’s post 1 Part Compost + 1 Part Top Soil = 2 Happy Raised Vegetable Garden Beds & Some Massive Zucchinis! and watching the continued success of my mother’s garden throughout the summer, I have decided that a compost bin in the backyard is a must. Thinking about it has gone on long enough!

I was surprised when I moved into my new home that there was not an existing compost bin or pile somewhere in the yard, considering the well-kept yard and garden that the previous owner’s kept. Being accustomed to having some sort of compost area in the yard (or chickens), I quickly noticed how much household waste and recycling is eliminated by a simple compost bin. I will be the first to admit, I have taken composting for granted!

The 1:1 ratio of compost to top soil was perfect for her raised beds. The vegetable garden has produced an endless supply of gigantic zucchinis and beautiful tomatoes, with bowls full of peppers soon to come. If it were not for this rich compost mix I wonder if there would be the same results…

I have been trying to decide the best way to go about this new composting area for the yard. The typical plastic Compost Bin is great for a season or two, but they always seem to loose shape in sun and weather after a while. I wanted to find a more creative, attractive and unnoticeable way of composting, without spending a fortune on a store bought composting bin, or tumbler. The best, creative composting ideas I found have been pinned to the Creative Composting Ideas Pinterest Board for your viewing. I never considered “hiding” your compost bin, I will be taking advantage of that idea. I know the perfect place. I love the Composting for Kids Pin, what a smart idea!

I have included the following links to informative sites and pages discussing how and what to compost, homemade compost bins, Do It Yourself composting tumblers, worm composting, as well as, a great guide to concocting your own nutrient rich compost tea.

How to compost     How To Compost.org

What to compost     Organic Gardening.com Composting ingredients.
Composting Bins     Sunset.comBuild The Perfect Compost Bin
                              Amazon.com ~ Tumbleweed Compost Bin, 58-Gallon

The Greater Vancouver Regional District provides extremely detailed plans for a helpful Rodent Resistant Three Bin Compost System. Although, it would be lovely to have this elaborate compost system for the backyard it might be slightly overkill for what I have in mind right.  

Is it worth it to buy a Compost Tumbler though?  
Check out the discussion at GrowVeg.com.

Worm Composting     Wormcomposting.ca~ information and supplies

Making Compost Tea
Making a good compost tea is definitely a form of fine art. As I searched around online, it was quickly evident that there are many different ways to brew up a batch of rich, organic compost tea; some simple and some quite complex.

Interested in learning more about making compost tea? Watch this YouTube video, E-Z Compost Tea (Simplest Method on Earth). Please watch this before purchasing a brand new $650 Compost Tea Maker!

We all should be composting. There are so many different options for composting at home, many urban centers now have large scale composting programs in place, there is no excuse! As the 'old recycling motto' goes, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”.
Happy Composting!


Shallots, anyone?

Onions have never been a favorite of mine. Shallots on the other hand, I am having a hard time keeping out of my dinner these days. During a beautiful Salmon dinner last month, I found a new love for these little tuber treasures. I have probably eaten them many times before without even realizing it. Since that dinner, I have been noticing that Shallots keep finding their way into my produce selections at the market, regardless of their ridiculous price.
By Evan-Amos (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Evan-Amos (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Growing Shallots

The price of these little treasures led me immediately to thinking about growing shallots in next year’s garden. Off a googling I went, “how to grow shallots”. After weeding through the many search results, I found the most helpful and ‘to the point’ information at the Cornell University website in their Vegetable Growing Guide for Shallots.

Unfortunately, Shallots will not be a feasible crop for my garden. After looking into growing Shallots at home, it might be smarter to simply moderate my consumption a little bit and maybe keep them out of the kitchen, unless we are cooking a special meal.

Shallots Recipes

My ‘latest and greatest’ Shallots creation was soooo yummy; I could not help but share. I will be the first to admit, the following is nothing fancy. My two year old's taste buds and limitations on ‘spice’ were definitely foremost on mind when preparing this side dish. The best part, it took about five minutes to through together, apart from the oven time.
First, I collected together my ingredients… 
#1 Red Shallots (most important, of course) 
The Potatoes 
Butter (it does not have to be ‘butter’) 
Thyme (from the garden) 
And one big baking pan to through it all into! 
Oven set to 350, “Check!” 
From there, I chopped up my garlic. The garlic and butter then went into the pan to warm in the oven. While the buttery garlic goodness was greasing the warming pan, the potatoes were washed and chopped. My two medium sized Red Shallots were pealed and then finely sliced. By that time the butter and garlic were nicely melted and into the pan the potatoes and Shallots went, then were topped off with the thyme (any selected herb would do). Give it all a quick toss. Then bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Check and toss every 10 to 15.

While dinner was cooking, I could not help but take a look for some other yummy Shallots recipes! The following links will take you to the sites where I found the yummiest Shallots recipes...

#1 Epicuious- Roasted Potatoes and Shallots
This recipe is very similar to what I concocted above, but the extended, fancy version…

#2 Canadian Living- 8 Savoury Shallot Recipes

#3 Better Homes and Garden- Pan Roasted Chicken with Shallots

#4 Food.com- Shallots recipe collection

#5 Recipe Bridge- Shallots Mushrooms Recipes

Lastly, for everything Shallots related, Shallot.com is an extremely informative site.

In conclusion, I am in love with Shallots. Sadly, growing them will be out of the question. 

Note to self: Shallots are only for special occasions!


Enjoying the Labor Day Long Weekend

The sun is shining, the air is warm and we have had no rain (over the weekend, anyway). This has to be the first long weekend of the summer with no rain, too sad it is the last… I hope the nice weather has accompanied your Labor Day long weekend, as well.

JA Tucker ~ 2013
Originally, I had told myself “No Work This Weekend!” and I have failed. I could not stay out of the garden, I could not stay out of the kitchen and I could not stay away from my keyboard. This brought me to thinking about the importance of time management and self-control in working for one’s self.  When working in an unconventional workplace (as many do today), the “advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest” (Wikipedia) set forth in the Labor Union Movement, seems somewhat obsolete in today’s fast paced world.

How many people actually work an eight hour day? Recreation eight hours, I don’t think so! And sleep, eight hours. Well, hopefully (hence, the lack of eight hours in a day for “recreation”)! My guess is that work very much out rules the other two, for most working people today. It all really comes down to what you consider work and what you consider enjoyment, or recreation. Take a moment this long weekend to consider how much “work” has cut into the other two thirds of your life, I know I should!

To my readers, I hope you have a happy and safe finale to your Labor Day long weekend. Make sure to take a moment and 'smell the roses'!

PS Come Twitter @DrylandGardens

Source Accredidation: Wikipedia


A Collection of Inspiring Garden Projects and Websites

With the garden of information that the internet quite literally grows on a daily basis, it can sometimes be difficult to uncover interesting websites or blogs among the overgrowth of weeds. My online travels this week encompassed topics from sustainable landscaping practices, edible landscaping, organic gardening concepts, to urban homesteading

First Corn in the Garden
JA Tucker 2013
The following collection of website and blog links will lead you to my most inspiring and interesting garden finds of the week, so far... 

Please click on the following title links to be taken to the site!

I absolutely love this site, the project and the lifestyle!
Join the family on Twitter @urbanhomestead

The name had me immediately sold! An informative “urban organic” (HeavyPetal) blog from the West Coast of Canada, this is a site I look forward to checking back on!

Life on the Balcony focuses on container garden ideas and inspiration (Perfect, seeing as I was looking for some inspiration!). The site is well designed and full of great ideas to start your new container garden or build on your existing one.

This is a great resource website for those interested in farming and sustainable agriculture in the US.

Now, would this not be the ultimate field trip?!? 
This project first caught my eye many years ago.

This site has tons of information, be sure to find a comfy spot to sit before biting into this site!

Come across other inspiring garden projects, websites or blogs recently? Share the goods with us!

While you are here, please take a moment to show some love and follow Garden. Plant. Grow. Eat. at one of the following links, or sidebar widgets:)


1 Part Compost + 1 Part Top Soil = 2 Happy Raised Vegetable Garden Beds & Some Massive Zucchinis!

Before I get too deep into this garden tale, I will admit this is a story about my mother’s raised vegetable garden. The edible garden design consists of two raised beds, a few tomato plants, some variety of hot peppers, zucchinis, squash and a collection of miscellaneous kitchen herbs. 

The garden design started as two simple raised beds made out of 2X8’s. I remember the day they filled the beds. As I watched a very well-aged pile of yard waste compost be deposited between the two beds, filling them half way, I wondered what kind of garden this mix was going to grow… Proceeding from there, the beds were filled with a rich, black top soil, thoroughly mixed, and then planted.  

A month or so later, I received a phone call from my mother regarding a concern with some very recent growth in her garden. There had been a few heavy rains in the week prior and one good electrical storm. She was concerned because her tomato plants had almost doubled in size, out of control, in a matter of days and these massive zucchinis were appearing everywhere! I had to go take a look…

JA Tucker 2013
Mom was right! These tomato plants were all over the place, the weight of the fruit breaking branches, and huge tomatoes. Oh, and by the way, would anyone like some zucchini? They were (and still are) exploding from everywhere in and around her raised beds, and seem to be getting larger as the season wears on. The last one I brought home for the freezer was over fourteen inches long! This is all grown from a simple mix of compost, top soil, water, sun, and love, completely organic and no additives. You can bet I am kickin’ myself for not taking a bag of that compost for my garden when it was offered!  

Between the heavy rain, the electrical storm, and her great soil mix, I am not surprised, at all, her garden took such a jump and is doing so well. Add a little warm weather, and there you go! Her garden looks great, I am so proud of her.

Speaking of freezing zucchini… Any advice on tasty ways of preserving our excess zucs for the winter that you would not mind to share would be greatly appreciated!

Moral of this garden tale: You can never use to much compost!


The Great Melon Debate

Calling all melon lovers! Voice your opinion in The Great Melon Debate

What is your favorite melon, and why? 
By Steve Evans (Watermelons) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], 
via Wikimedia Commons
That first bite of a fresh, juicy watermelon in the heat of a mid-summer day is hard to beat. As the watermelon has come to be known as a common site on picnic tables, or at a summer BBQ, one could hastily conclude that it would be the all-star favorite melon of the melon consuming population. This may very well not be the case though… 

Back in the spring, I had written a Guide to buying heirloom and hybrid melons. Prior to researching the article I simply let my taste buds guide me. After only mildly looking into the health benefits of the many different varieties of melons, I quickly realized their importance in one’s diet. 

Is it the watermelon, a cantaloupe, casaba, honeydew, a hybrid variety, or a special heirloom melon, that you would consider the best tasting, or healthiest? Share your thoughts, knowledge, melon myths, stories, or interesting nutritional secrets about melons, and weigh in on the debate in the ‘Comments’ field below, or through the Poll placed to your Right. 

Have your own relevant site or blog? Post you opinion, add a link to The Great Melon Debate in your post, and email the related address to gardenplantgroweat@live.com to have your site linked in.


Guest Bloggers, Relevant Links and Product Reviews.

Have a great garden story, book, photo, relevant blog, website or product you would like to share? 

Are you a fellow home and garden blogger, a garden expert or enthusiast? Or do you  simply have a passion for gardening, eating home grown food, or building sustainable, low impact landscapes? Share your wisdom with us!

Throughout the month, many changes have, and will, be happening within the pages of GPGE. As the calender for the remainder of the year fills up, it would be great to add some new voices to our 'garden'.

Please email the Editor all content related suggestions, guest blogger associations, advertising inquiries, or link related requests you would like to share to the address included below.

~ Jessica

Garden. Plant. Grow. Eat.


The Cusp of Summer and a Scorched Lawn

Purple Basil
The cusp of summer is upon us again in Southern Canada. With it has arrived the usual high soaring temperatures, very little precipitation and the dry, gusty winds of summer. These three factors combined can be extremely damaging, and even fatal, to green areas of the yard, garden, or newly introduced plant material in the region. As I quickly learn the vast differences between growing in a cold, mountainous climate and the sweltering desert heat of the valley bottom, my garden has overcome me (in the best of ways, of course…).

The weeds are in no short supply, of course. The hot pepper plants and corn are almost at eye level. My snap peas and radishes are long gone. Mystery plants have popped up here and there over the season, and the welcomed have simply become part of the landscape. The lawn… well, the poor lawn. I have tried my best to keep it green without straying from my “low consumption” water behaviors. Sadly, some areas of the yard have definitely suffered. These will be my first areas of attack for the new landscape installs. This means new raised beds, more edible plant material, rock, mulching, and a few new trees and shrubs for next year. 

This year is a learning experience and a great chance to plan out exactly, the best way to landscape the yard and plant the gardens. I look forward to the gardens of next year and transforming my high maintenance lawns into a manageable, low maintenance, dry land yard design.

Stay tuned... for more information on low impact landscaping, plant selection and gardening!


The Dreaded Name Change...

For months now, I have been contemplating the future of my existing blogs and what exactly I wanted to do with these dinosaurs lurking in my online presence. 

As much as I hate to admit defeat, some of these ancient projects of mine had to be laid to rest. When it came to “A Growing Garden”, I just could not bring myself to select ‘Delete’. Too much thought and heart has been put in to it, to simply up and walk away. I figured with some minor upgrades the site could be neat, shiny, new in no time. 

The Monarch- July 2013
JA Tucker

The first, and most important of these changes was selecting a new name. After learning that “A Growing Garden” actually belongs to another website, I had to take care of this immediately. However, selecting a new title and address (that has not already been taken) is not as easy as it sounds. Finally, it came to me! The best and most encompassing name came to me with my first sip of coffee this morning. 

Now begins the journey of... 

Please visit the above link to view the latest posts!


Garden. Plant. Grow. Eat.


Budgeting for That New Backyard

Backyard renovations and new landscape installations are an exciting feat for me. It is very easy though, for my creative and unruly side to overwhelm my rational, realistic side when planning a new garden or landscape design. What can I say, I love plants. 'The more, the merrier.' Sadly, budgets are a reality that many must abide by when considering the addition of new landscape features to a yard or property. 

After having to tone down my spring garden plans and landscaping projects for the yard this year, and meet my own frugal budget, I thought what a perfect topic for a new article. My latest featured Helium article, Tips and tricks to landscaping on a budget, discusses my predicament further, and provides some hopefully helpful advice to assist in the organizing the budget for your new backyard or landscaping project. 

Please feel free to share any tips or advice you may have about landscaping on a budget in the comments area…


Turning the Garden Soil

Apricot blossoms
~by J A Tucker

The gardens are calling! The warm sun is finally shining, and the new shoots of springs are erupting all over the yard. Mission of the week: get the garden soil turned and ready for all the new plants.

Spring has been extremely busy so far this year. Between the massive spring cleanup of my new yard and gardens, and the endless mountain of boxes that overtook my new office during the move, sadly my writing was forced to the back burner, so to speak. Still in search of the office I know exists somewhere behind that pile boxes, I decided that I should not be letting it hold me back from returning to my writing.

Over the next week or so, I will be doing a few springtime updates. Feel free to take a quick peek at what’s new.

Make sure to check back throughout the summer for new posts as I build my new vegetable garden, berry and melon patches, kitchen/ herb garden, and update my out-of-date front and backyard. I have loads of work to do!