gardening 101..sort of…

Hello, hello, my dear friends…

So, as my insta from yesterday foreshadowed, today shall be about my garden(s).  P and I have been very into planting this summer and last, both flowers and vegetables.  When I moved into my house (and P later joined me), there was a lot of great potential, but it was (and some still is) hidden under overgrowth, and a lack of upkeep by the previous owner.  We were all bright eyed and bushy tailed going into planting last spring, basically thinking it would be cake.  Now, over a year later, we’re thinking this is the hardest project we’ve ever undertaken.  Alright, that might be dramatic, but this is NOT easy, people.

I’m going to share with you a couple of our projects, my advice, and just my general thoughts on how to keep a garden that is fruitful (lol, GET IT), but not overwhelming-and you can trust me, because most of what I’m about to tell you is based on my own mistakes and attempts to remedy them.  The rest is from my mom, brother, and good friend K who have incredible green thumbs, and have taught me everything I know….

  1. DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT GET IN OVER YOUR HEAD THE FIRST TIME AROUND.  This is so crucial, you guys.  START SMALL.  You can always do more, but once you get into weeding, watering, etc., it is so easy to get overwhelmed.  Start with a small area, with pots or planting boxes, anything that will set you up for success with the maintenance of it all.  The sweet, sweet, love of my life, P, was adorable and ambitious last spring, we planted a huge garden, and a LOT of it went to shit-a. because we didn’t have the time for upkeep, b. because I don’t think either of us expected the amount of work it would take, and c. because we didn’t go in with a proper plan…..which takes me to the next point….
  2. HAVE A PLAN.  This seems like it would be unnecessary, and that I’m annoying and neurotic, and that I don’t know how to let loose and have fun and just go with the flow, but I promise you, if you do not plan YOU WILL REGRET IT.  Luckily, P took me seriously and measured an exact area for everything we planted, *swoon*, which made a huge difference.  If you’re starting from seed, there will be instructions on the packets for how far apart you should plant each plant, and how much space you should leave between rows.  While there is a little flexibility (aka don’t get in there with your ruler to 1/8th of an inch) pay attention to those! Not only does it help with the growth of the plants, they are great measurements to help you plot out where you’ll plant everything.
  3. Have a plan for weeds.  This absolutely killed P and me last year.  This year, he decided he wanted to paper and mulch over our soil (I fought him tooth and nail) because we have a bunch of mulch from trees we had put through the wood chipper.  I’m much more old school, and wanted to do the classic plant, weed, water, all summer, and not deal with rolling out the paper or spreading the mulch.  Cue P to the rescue.  He papered and mulched (I helped at the tail end), and for the most part, it’s worked pretty well.  I will caution you to make sure that when you plant, make sure to move enough mulch out of the way of your seed hole-if you don’t, you could smother the little seedlings and you do NOT want that, do you?

NOW, as you might have gleaned from my post yesterday, I haven’t been the best garden mommy the last couple weeks (or this summer in general, *sigh*) because I have been so busy with work, wedding, life, family, etc.  Here’s a list of what I have been doing, and a list of what I should be doing, to give you a little peak into my day to day life….

I have been:

  • Buying out Marshall’s, TJMaxx, At Home, Target, Jo-ann Fabrics, etc. for all things wedding related
  • Working out like a fiend
  • Stress eating (ironic when you consider my last bullet)
  • Taking 3 ashwaganda every morning for my stress
  • Doing all the following at the wedding barn:
    • Painting concrete block foundation (in case anyone was wondering, it absorbs paint like a sponge, YAY)
    • Moving about a billion pieces of firewood to various locations
    • Moving another billion pieces of equipment, including but not limited to, boats, planes (not kidding), tractors, trailers, windows, pipes, et al
    • Putting up screen
    • Putting up galvanized siding
    • Sweeping 100 years worth of dirt
  • Having my bridal shower (so fun)
  • Binge drinking my entire bridal shower weekend a la Colgate 2013
  • Getting my wedding dress!!
  • Shopping for bridal shower outfits
  • Shopping for wedding dress shoes
  • Trying desperately to figure out what gifts to buy everyone for my wedding, SO HARD

I have not been:

  • Writing blog posts (deepest apologies)
  • Taking the beauty vitamins I promised myself I would
  • Getting enough sleep
  • On a wedding diet
  • Cleaning my house
  • Cooking as much as I usually do
  • Working in my GARDEN

Which brings me to my point: gardens are amazing because even when you neglect them, they still grow!!!  Now, I have had some super-sized zucchini that aren’t good for eating (flavor is off, but shred them and freeze to use in muffins and cakes!! Waste not, friends), and I’ve lost some lettuce (gets bitter when you leave it for too long), but I went down to my garden the other day and found this INCREDIBLE bounty:

garden veggies.JPG

Broccoli (one of my faves), corn, zucchini, and beets-AMAZING, right!?  It inspired me to make two of my favorite , most simple recipes, which I will kindly outline for you all below-ENJOY!

Roasted Beets:

This has to be one of the absolutely fucking easiest recipes to ever grace our beautiful planet.  I hated beets when I was a kid-I always thought they tasted like dirt.  But, a switch flipped one day in my early adulthood, and now I cannot get enough.  I do not, however, like them steamed or boiled.  I mean, will I eat them that way?  Sure, I guess.  BUT nothing BEETS roasted BEETS (get it!?!?! I’m hilar).  So, here’s all you guys have to do:

  • Chop off the beet greens by cutting into the top of the beet, slightly-this makes it so they’ll be easy to peel, and you don’t want to deal with tiny little beet green stalks when you’re roasted.
  • Wash thoroughly-beets come out of the dirt.  So they’re dirty.  It’s very simple.
  • Peel with a small, sharp knife-the skin is very thin but it’s necessary to peel them because you don’t want it to shrivel and wrinkle in the roasting process-you want the outside of the beet to get juicy and caramelized and crispy, YUM.
  • Cut into small cubes (maybe ½ inch-1 inch) and toss in olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, whatever you want.  I’ll do turmeric sometimes and it is BOMB.
  • Spread on a baking sheet and bake that shit OFF for about a half hour, stirring a couple times to make sure they’re roasting evenly
  • EAT UP! I know this sounds so simple and boring, but I promise it’s not-they’re so salty, and sweet, and crispy, and delicious, and AHEM, so good for you.  What more could you ask for?

beets 1beets 2

Now, on to one of my personal favorite ways to eat zucchini.  ZUCCHINI FRIES.  You can, of course, fry these, but I chose to bake because 1) my wedding diet, and 2) I actually prefer them this way sometimes-they crisp up in the oven and don’t get greasy when you do them this way, and let me tell you they are fucking good.  And easy! It’s a win win.

Here’s what you have to do:

  • Slice up zucchini into whatever size fries you want-thinner will obviously cook faster, but it’s totally your call
  • Line a baking sheet with foil and brush liberally with vegetable oil-this is important so the fries don’t get stuck while they’re crisping
  • Get a dish, bowl, whatever (needs to be long enough to fit zucchini strips!) and beat 2 eggs and a little half and half-this is going to coat the zucchini so it will hold the bread crumbs that we’re making in our next step….
  • In a second dish/bowl mix together italian seasoned breadcrumbs (about a cup), parmesan cheese (½ cup, give or take), generous sprinkling of garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper.  You can add more if you want, but this is basic and perfect and works every time!
  • Now, for the fun part: dunk each “fry” in the egg wash, make sure that slimy goodness is all over the little guy, then coat with the delicious bread crumbs-make sure you coat them well!!
  • Slap those babies on the pan and bake at 425 for 20-25 mins
  • Optional: broil for a few minutes at the end to make them extra crispy and delicious (10/10 would recommend to a friend)
  • Also optional: DIPPING SAWCE-but, again, highly recommend, I will list below-apologies in advance for the lack of precise measurements
    • ½ cup mayo
    • ½ cup sour cream
    • Generous sprinkle of garlic powder
    • Juice of ½ a lemon
    • Liberal drizzle of your hottest hot sauce
    • Chopped fresh herb of your choice (parsley or dill would be the move, IMHO)
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • Fresh garlic/lemon zest optional

 

EAT UP! The cute dipping bowl is from one of my good friends at my shower this weekend, and I LOVE IT (Pier1, i believe).  A quick note: you’ll notice I didn’t exactly give you starting quantities for the veggies in these recipes.  That’s because they can be done in literally any quantity you want.  Especially with gardening, sometimes you’ll have a bounty, sometimes you’ll have a few items-work with what you’ve got, and these are great recipes for when you don’t have time to be exact.  Which, coincidentally, is my whole life.

Enjoy, friends!! I’ll be better about posting and will hopefully be back and better than ever again very soon!

XO,

S