A Peek Into My Garden

A Peek Into My Garden - When Caterpillars Fly

Its been about 3 weeks since my last post, so I thought I would share what’s been keepin me busy! Every spare second has been spent outside working hard to get the garden up in a reasonable time. Since we moved last summer, I’ve mostly had to start from scratch this year, except for two 4’x4′ raised beds that we did manage to get up last year.

I have stuffed gardening into every imaginable space on our small lot. This isn’t our forever home, but I can’t just sit around for the next couple of years and not grow my gardening experience! So I’m having a ton of fun experimenting with all kinds of options. And I’ve done a decent job of keeping it within a reasonable budget so I’m hoping I’ll be able to break even with fresh produce. Maybe not this year, but at the least next year! I’ve already saved from having to buy 3 heads of lettuce and a bunch of kale, so that’s something, right?

So I’d like to invite you to come meander through my little piece of earth. Its kept me busy and I’m finally at a point now where I can get back to focusing on some other stuff. Well, that is if I can keep myself indoors after being cooped up for winter! This page has a lot of pictures so may take a few minutes to fully load.

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So for starters, lets go over the layout. The majority of my garden is on the northeast side of my house. Here in Texas, the setting (western) sun is a scorcher. So only the hottest of plants can bear it. I knew this side would be more ideal for most of my crop. Below you can see from one side of the patch. I have a little corn plot here in the front that I am growing “Strawberry Popcorn Corn” in. Its a dwarf variety with pink kernels! Neat, huh?

Right behind it is my daughter’s bean pole hut that I hope will be a little hideaway for her when the beans get taller! Moving on back, you can see my new concrete block raised bed. It has carrots, peppers (several varieties), some tomatoes, garlic, beans (several varieties) and I just put some loofah seeds in that I’m waiting to sprout! Then I have herbs in the black pots on the edges. Basil, Oregano, Safe, Thyme, Spearmint and Rosemary (which for some reason is in the grass in this picture)

Behind the concrete bed is a small 2’x2′ wooden raised bed that currently holds my onions, which are growing really well! Even after I lost a few from the recent hail storm!

Behind the onions are two 4’x4′ boxes – the ones from last year. The first one has some beans, green beans, flax (yes! Trying my hand at flax! I’m excited.) and these incredible tomatoes. I have tried for MONTHS to get these to grow inside and they wouldn’t. So out of desperation, I dropped a few in this bed and every single one germinated and has grown like crazy! Go figure.

  

Next up is the cool weather bed. This one has peas, kale, spinach and two kinds of lettuce. I’m experimenting with a slanted trellis for my pumpkin plants, in hopes that the pumpkins leaves will shade the greens and maybe I can extend lettuce season just a bit! We shall see!

Look at those gorgeous peas! I can’t wait to taste them!

And some of the lettuce I’ve brought in this week. The “Deer’s Tongue” lettuce makes for a FABULOUS salad!

The last raised bed is also a new one and its got some more beans, flax and oats – yeah, oats! I didn’t want just your standard veggies! I wanted to grow stuff nobody else grows. I figured flax and oats and Smurf Tomatoes count!

And last on this side of the house are my potato bins. I made the mistake of putting these in old plastic tubs. My original thought was that I could re-purpose these tubs and save having to get rid of them. But I didn’t think about what happens to plastic when it gets hot. I know it doesnt matter to some, but organic gardening is important to me and plastic chemicals don’t count. Ha! I’m gonna deal with it this year, and come up with a better solution next year. I have them in a spot that doesn’t get too warm, so I think it will be ok. The potatoes are taking off well too!

So lets hope over to the other side of the house – the HOT side! Over here I did something different than a raised bed. I really wanted to get a feel for the native earth. And let me tell you, that was a TERRIBLE idea. Terrible. Where I live we have “black clay”, which is supposed to be nutrient dense but getting into it is a joke! After much research and debating, we chose to till it up and amend the soil. Not my first choice because I know tilling destroys much of the goodies in the soil. But if I had tried to mulch this, it would have taken years to break this clay up. After tilling, I mixed it with a compost/shale blend to help break up the clay and I’ve added back in some fertilizer and some worm castings to get beneficial life moving again. Picture below is my daughter helping me put worm castings in. Starting this one young!!

On this side, I’ve planted regular corn, sweet potatoes, okra, and my one determinate roma tomato. Its just a small patch, but I have to say, it seems to bring me more joy than the raised beds. Something about being IN the soil is amazing!

A Peek Into My Garden - When Caterpillars Fly

Sweet potatoes by the shed. Corn in the bigger patch and then okra and my one roma tomato plant in the skinny patch. Below is a picture of some of the sweet potatoes in the ground as well as a shot of the biggest of my slips inside. I started this from a (organic) potato from the store so I was pretty excited that they grew so well! I just put them in the ground today, so fingers crossed they make it!

  

And here’s my tiny okra. These are the “Cowhorn” variety which is supposed to get to 10′ tall and puts out long, tender okra. I started these from seeds inside and I’m happy to see them growing so well. Okra is my favorite plant to grow because it really is bullet proof. Even my aphid infestation last year couldn’t hurt it!

Corn sprouts! Corn!!!

My store bought tomato. For some reason none of my tomato seeds worked inside. This is my first year starting so many from seeds so I’m still fine tuning.

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And no good veggie gardener can go without some pretty flowers! I’ve also been working on getting some native, pollinator friendly plants in for the landscape. Its so important to provide food for the bees and the butterflies. I still need to mulch around my flowers, but maybe I’ll get to that next week. Definitely before it gets too hot! And look at this adorable little picket fence!

And last but not least, we planted a tree for Earth Day (mostly because I impulse bought a tree a week before Earth Day. We may plant another for Arbor Day too!) this is a Mexican Plum and it grows to 12′-15′ and puts out little tiny plums, not big enough for eating but I’ve heard it makes a mean jam! We shall see! It won’t provide too much shade, but I think next year it may be just big enough to put a lawn chair underneath!

Whew! That’s a lot of pictures! Not pictured are the 4 Longwood Blue bushes at the front of the house (the bees LOVE THEM), the patch of Sunflowers I’ve planted behind the house and the little patch of Gerbera Daisies by the grill (they need to be mulched too). I hope you have enjoyed this little tour of my little piece of earth. I know it brings me so much joy and I’m glad to be instilling a love for nature and plants in my toddler so early. Loving the earth is really one of the best things we can do!

Checking Out The New “Wal-mart Grocery” Delivery/Pickup Program

Checking Out The New "Wal-mart Grocery" Delivery/Pickup Program

Wal-mart recently rolled out a new program, called “Wal-mart Grocery” where you can order online and then drive to the store where someone will load your car for you or, in some areas, even deliver to your house. Sounds magical, right? I agree!

Now, most of you know I prefer to do most of my shopping with local farmers, individual artisans and crafters or supporting my favorite natural food store, however sometimes I still need to buy a regular ole, mainstream product – like Tide, the only thing that works on my cloth diapers. And when I do, I generally end up at Wal-mart to purchase it.

So when I found out about this new pick up service, I figured I’d check it out and come share my experience with you guys!

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Before I get to all the details, here is a link that they have given me to share with you. If you click on this link, you will be given a code to save $10 off your first purchase of $50 through their online ordering system. I don’t know about you, but I don’t turn down an offer of 20% off!

So now onto all the juicy details!

First, this is NOT the same thing as their “Site To Store” delivery – where you order something online, wait for it to be delivered, then go to the customer service area to pick it up. Instead, this pulls from the store’s inventory and they have your items ready in as little as a few hours at a time of your choosing – and its a window of time, so you have some flexibility. Then you drive to a special door and either go in, call or they will come check with you (depending on location), get your name and order number and then go get your items and bring them right to your car. Now, as a mom with a toddler, I find this very exciting.

Also, this is NOT available at every store. I assume that if the program works well, they will roll it out to all stores but for now its only in certain pilot stores. You’ll have to check their online store finder to see which store is nearest to you. Because I live fairly close to a major city, I was able to choose from several stores.

Finally, they really make you jump through a bunch of hoops to place the first order. I found this mildly annoying, but I’m hoping that my review will clear up some of the confusion for you. Also, here is a FAQ page from their website that answers a few questions. You basically have to create an account with them to do almost anything. I dislike making new accounts with programs before I make the decision to purchase so this annoyed me. But in the end, I mean, its Wal-mart, it’ll be fine. Also, just a note, you do have to purchase at least $30 to be able to place your Wal-mart Grocery order (for my location, other locations may vary). But pickup is free!

The program is marketed towards the food departments and I can see this program being great for perhaps an elderly person living alone, especially if they live in a delivery area. Then they could have someone else shop for them! For me, though, I’m very picky on my produce so I probably wouldn’t want someone else to pick out my produce and I also like to check expiration on things such as milk, meats and cheeses. But that’s just me!

What I did instead, to try out the program, is I ordered a box of Tide (the magic that keeps my cloth diapers clean!) and a bag of dog food. Because I really hate having to go into the store, get a cart, load those things into the cart and then checkout. And let me tell you, the process with Wal-mart Grocery was wonderful! I simply added the items I wanted onto my online cart, picked the store I wanted and then chose a pickup time. Then I drove over there, went to the assigned door, an employee came out to my car to get my order number, went back inside for the items and brought them back out. Easy as pie!

So here’s the recap: Use this link to save $10 off your first order of $50, create an account, locate the nearest store to you, add at least $50 in products (in order to get the $10 off), set up a time and then go pick up! You won’t need to take your kids into Wal-mart (because who wants to do that??) or deal with carts or lines. Its wonderful!!

What do you think? Have you tried the new Wal-mart Grocery program?

 

My Simple Spring Capsule Wardrobe

My Simple Spring Capsule Wardrobe | When Caterpillars Fly

Capsule wardrobes seem to be all the rage right now. And with good reason! Having an organized, limited wardrobe is a great way to reduce stress by not having to worry about what to wear – without resorting to yoga pants every day. (You know, unless you WANT to wear yoga pants!)

This is my third season to try my hand at a capsule wardrobe and I am completely satisfied with out it turned out! The entire wardrobe includes 18 pieces, everything matches well together, I have tons of choices and it takes just minutes to get dressed in the morning! Today I want to share with you how I pulled this fabulous wardrobe together.
… Read more

A Day To Say Goodbye

 

Mila And TiggerI generally enjoy writing blog posts but today I have to write one that truly makes me sad…

You may have read the story about the kitten born with twisted legs. To recap, we moved to our current home 10 months ago and within a week of moving in, we had adopted a beautiful stray neighborhood cat. She reminded me of a cat I had years ago that I miss dearly so it was even more special to have her join our family. … Read more

Starting Seeds In Newspaper Pots

 

Starting Seeds In Newspaper PotsI’m always looking for ways to save money on my garden. I have a pretty limited budget and I work hard to make it stretch! So you can imagine how excited I am about my absolutely free newspaper seed starting pots!

The first year I did a garden, I bought quite a few “kits”, mostly because I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. One of those kits was a “seed starting kit” with these cute little biodegradable pots that you fill with seed starter mix and add seeds. Now, don’t get me wrong, those are GREAT, but they are like $.50 a piece and that adds up!

Then I came across these awesome little newspaper pots. … Read more

My Toddler’s Horse Themed Birthday

My Toddler's Horse Themed Birthday

Birthdays are kind of a big thing in our house. A birthday here is a day full of family tradition and special treats for the birthday person. And when that person is a toddler who loves horses, well… its even more fun!

Now when I say loves horses, I’m not exaggerating.… Read more

Reusable Shopping Bags (My Zero Waste Project)

My Zero Waste Project: Reusable Shopping Bags

You’ve seen it. The heartbreaking image of plastic bags littering a beautiful beach. Or worse, an innocent animal that has been injured, or even died, all because of a plastic bag. But the saddest part of all? Its all completely preventable.

I wanted the very first post of My Zero Waste Project to be something that would make a difference. A huge difference. And I cant think of anything easier or more impactful than switching to reusable shopping bags. … Read more

My Zero Waste Project

My Zero Waste Project

Have you heard about “Zero Waste”? Its basically the concept of producing little to no trash and cutting down on the massive amount of trash that goes into the landfill. I first read about it here and then I came across it again here and here.

When I first read about it, I was pretty much blown away. That a woman could go 2 years and only have enough trash to fit into a small mason jar. … Read more