Home Garden Preparation: Seedlings and Tilling

I am excited to report that we are in the midst of preparing for our home garden again this year! You may remember that last weekend we broke down the raised border from last year’s garden. This weekend we planted our seed starters and tilled the soil over the new garden space.

On Saturday morning, we sat down together as a family in our living room to plant our vegetable and flower seedlings for the home garden. Why were we inside? As I mentioned before, Michael and I were still recovering from what was most likely the flu. Even the thought of corralling the kids aCranioDad showing Zoey and David the seedling trays for the home garden.way from mud puddles and the road while trying to provide Preschool Seed Planting 101 was exhausting. Hence, we limited them to a rag rug on the floor and stayed in pretty much one place for the entire duration of preparing our seedlings.

We used some helpful little kits that included soil pellets, trays, loosely-fitting covers, and a few labeling guides for the trays. We also added our own Popsicle stick labels to help organize our seeds. We planted tomatoes, carrots, onions, lettuce, peppers, green beans, and cucumbers in the vegetable trays.


We also gave the kids a bucket for some Marigolds, and a separate starter tray for sunflowers. The kids enjoyed watering and planting their flowers almost as much as getting dirty.

Tilling the home garden.Supervising the home garden.
That afternoon we ventured to the backyard for some much-needed fresh air. Michael continued with tilling and expanding the plot for this year’s vegetable home garden. If you haven’t yet, you can watch more of this stage in our video: How Does Your Garden Grow? – A DIY Adventure in Tilling.

After our thrilling and unexpected success last year with zucchini and cucumber, we are preparing to roughly double our garden size. The soil isn’t completely ready for planting at this point, but we are now a few steps closer. We estimate the seedlings will be ready for planting in early April, which gives Michael a few more weeks to build a new protective border around the tilled soil.

‘Tis the Season for Sickness and Garden Prep

Michael has been hit hard all month with ear infections and sinus infections. I was just celebrating because we had dodged the stomach bug bullet that seems to be going around our area. Unfortunately, this morning the kids all seemed to be fighting something as well, with low-grade fevers and a general lethargy that is seldom observed in our house. Hopefully this was just a minor event and they won’t get hit any harder tomorrow. 

A big highlight came when Michael’s dad and stepmom stopped by this morning for a quick visit. These times always seem far too short, but we really appreciated their effort in coming to the sick house since we weren’t wanting to further contaminate our extended family with any germs we had accumulated. Thank you so much for hanging out with us!!

Energy levels picked up a bit after lunch, and we all spent some time in the sunshine, working out in the yard. Michael pulled up a good portion of last year’s overgrown vegetable garden to repurpose the leftover lumber. The plan is to expand our garden a bit with new materials since we had so much success with it last year. Today we were able to re-use some railroad ties from the old border to line our driveway. Our lot sits on a hill that slopes toward the front of the house. This causes a lot of standing water to accumulate in the front yard when there is heavy rain, so we’ve been channeling the excess along our driveway in a small, open trench. It’s functional, but more of a work in progress as far as gathering any curb appeal. Hopefully the railroad ties are a step in that direction. Our thought is to fill in the trench with some gravel. What do you think?

The kids were more interested in exploring on their own than contributing to our effort, but I managed to get a few minutes of video with everyone helping out. It should be posted in the next few days.

Green Peppers

While we were cleaning up the backyard, I made the mistake of remarking how many ripe green peppers we had growing on our single plant. I thought it was dying, but it had doubled in size over the past 2-3 weeks. Within seconds of me noticing, the kids were bringing me full branches with ripe peppers. It is hard to be upset when they were so eager to help. They even washed them in the kitchen all on their own. If only cleaning up dinner dishes were this easy of a sell.

Zucchini Relish

Another first today! I’m trying out a family zucchini relish recipe with some zucchini from our garden. I made a half batch, which yielded almost 3 pints. This semi-filled third jar is going to the fridge for us to try later today. I’m liking the idea of being able to test it out the same day I make it! The other 2 pints have been sealed and added to the growing collection of dill pickles in our linen closet…er pantry.

First Round of Pickling!

Guess what we did today?! After filling two metal strainers with cucumbers from our garden this week, with just as many cucumbers still flowering and growing, I realized we need to get a move on pickling. I used a simple recipe with fresh dill and garlic in addition to the brine, and it smells very promising. Despite cracking one jar, we still had a final yield of 4 quarts and 6 pints of dill pickles for our family’s first canning and pickling experience! I’m so excited to have first-time success with the whole process from starter to jar. Plus, we have some yummy pickles in store for this fall and winter!

Second Pick


I picked the rest of our ripe cucumbers on Wednesday afternoon with the kids. Their favorite part was probably launching them over the short chicken wire fence onto the back lawn. We planted a strain for pickling and one for sweet cucumbers, and everything seems to be ripe within a few days of each other. The largest 3 shown here are from our accidental zucchini starter that took over its half of the box. I’m not a huge fan of zucchini, but these are so pretty it makes me want to plant more next season.

I’ll probably be making my first attempt at pickling a few jars this weekend while they are still in good shape. Any tips or techniques on some good pickling recipes?

Planting


We finally got around to planting today. Since we missed the best time window for seeds, we are using mostly potted starters this round. You can check out CranioDad’s coming blog posts for video and more pictures on the garden project. Side note, I crowded the flowers in the kids’ little box in full expectation that about half will probably be uprooted.  In the bigger boxes we have cucumbers, a bell pepper, onion, a cantaloupe, kohlrabi, a zucchini, and three varieties of tomatoes. It’s very much a testing year, and hopefully we can gain some better ideas for the fall and next year. I would love to develop a dependable vegetable garden with a few fruit trees over the next few years. I am definitely missing the fresh produce from my years in central California. We won’t be able to grow many of the same things at this climate, but we still have some good options.