If I Plant It, It Will Grow – Growing Tomatoes From Seed and Building More Square Foot Gardens!

Tomato Seedlings“If I Plant it, it will grow”.

This year I am doing something I’ve never done before – start tomatoes from seeds inside!  I saved seeds from my heirloom tomatoes last year and I also purchased several different heirloom varieties from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (their catalog is breathtaking!).  I disinfected my containers with a solution of water and bleach, moistened my seed starting mix and planted 20 tomato plants.  All went well, except for one mistake!  It is always a good idea to read through all instructions first instead of going step by step.  I only wanted 20 tomato plants in my garden.  I followed the instructions to plant 2-3 seeds per container thinking I would just cut away the tomatoes that looked to be the weaker seedling.  Well, that is not what followed in the instructions … it told me that once the “true leaves” of the tomato appear to transplant each of the tomatoes into a 4 inch pot!  Yikes!!  That would mean I’d have 60+ tomato plants (all my seeds germinated)!  I will transplant more than 20 and give some away to friends and plant less next year.  

Tim built me shelves for my plants and I bought double light fluorescent light fixtures for my plants.  The tomatoes germinated in 7 days, with my seeds that I saved germinating first!  They are thriving under the light which I leave on approximately 16 hours per day. It is fun to watch them grow and now will be ready to transplant as the first true leaves have emerged.

Tomato Plants

Tomatoes transplanted after first true leaves

I’m hoping for tomatoes like I had last year!  Grow baby grow!

Rainbow Carrots and Heirloom Tomatoes

It has been almost 1 month since I planted the tomato seeds and they are thriving!

Tomato Plants

Tomatoes not quite a month old!

Tomatoes not quite a month old!

This weekend I purchased two more square foot cedar bed kits at Home Depot (they were on sale) and added them to the existing 4×4 bed and look what we came up with!  Now I will have plenty of gardening room to plant everything I love.


Spring is really taking its time here in NE Ohio.  I looked at pictures at the same time last year (check it out here and learn more about square foot gardening) and all the leaves on the bushes and trees were out fully  by now!  I can hardly wait to start planting outside … but I think I’ll have to patient and wait a few more weeks.

Happy gardening!


If I Plant It, It Will Grow: I’m Growing Baby Eggplants, not a baby!

Aren’t they beautiful?!  Being a first time gardener I get very excited by things like this!  I’ve never grown eggplants and my Dad never grew eggplants, so on the day I saw my first baby eggplants I was very excited! 

Funny Story:

I was so excited on the day I saw the baby eggplants that I sent a text message to my husband.   It said “I’m so excited I’m growing baby eggplants”.  He texted me back saying “I thought your message said you were so excited YOU were growing a baby.  I’m okay now that I picked myself off the floor”.  Ha ha ha  … make sure you read all the words of a text message!

All my eggplants are growing  a lot of babies and I’m searching for new eggplant recipes to make when they are fully grown.  I can’t wait!

Happy gardening!

What to do with all those beets – try canning some Pickled Beets and make Your Own Beautiful Canning Labels!

Do you have a lot of beets in your garden or do you just love pickled beets?  Try canning them.  It’s super easy and you’ll have delicious pickled beets in the winter.  I love almost all vegetables, and although I like beets, I could take them or leave them.  But … pickled beets that is entirely another story!  I could eat them by the jar full.  I loved my mother’s pickled beets and it’s been years since I’ve tasted devoured them.  I don’t know why I never tried canning beets myself, but I am so glad I finally did.  I’ll have to save a jar for my mother …although, they won’t be quite as good as hers!

I’ve spoken before of my Dad having a huge garden and now that I have my own small garden, I appreciate so much more all the work my Dad put into the garden and all the work my mother did preparing, canning, and cooking the vegetables.  Considering the size of their garden I would find that quite overwhelming!  Isn’t it awesome the things our parents pass on to us, perhaps, without even realizing they are doing so and what a gift it is!

My Mother’s Pickled Beets

  • 3-4 pints beets
  • 1-1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 pint of water
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 2 Cups of sugar

Prepare your beets by trimming all but 2 inches of the stem and leaving the root on and cover with water.  Boil approximately 40 minutes or until tender.  Cool, slip off skins and cut into chunks or slices.

Prepare canner, jars and lids (get easy to follow instructions here).

Combine vinegar, water, salt and sugar and bring to a boil, simmer for 5 minutes.

Add beets to mixture and return to a boil, simmer 5 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, ladle beets into hot jars to within a generous 1/2 inch of top of jar.  Ladle hot pickling liquid into jar to cover beets, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding more pickling liquid.  Wipe rim with a clean damp cloth.  Center lid on jar.  Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight – do not overtighten.

Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water.  Bring to a boil and process for 30 minutes.  Remove canner lid.  Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.

Enjoy … and pass on the tradition!

After you’re done why not make some pretty labels?  I wasn’t loving the canning labels I saw to buy, so I created my own!  I designed the labels in Publisher and used Avery mailing labels – 6 per sheet. Get creative and show off your hard work!

Garden Update – Nourish Your Soul

On April 10th I posted “My First Vegetable Garden – If I Plant it, It Will Grow”.  What a difference 7 weeks has made in the growth of my vegetables.  My mantra “if I plant it, it will grow” is working.  Having a vegetable garden would definitely go on my list of “Why have I never done this before?!”.  I’m sure we all have those “lists“.  What are some of the things that would go on your list of “Why have I never done this before”?

I’m just happy that I have discovered the joys of vegetable gardening now!  Who would have thought that a little girl and grown woman that doesn’t like to get dirt all over her hands and under her nails would fall in love with vegetable gardening?!  It happened … each morning now I walk down to look at my vegetables and observe them and view the changes.  It is amazing to me that something that I planted from seed and nourished has grown and continues to grow.  It truly is nourishment for the soul.  I never “got it” until I actually started my own vegetable garden. I find immense pleasure in watching my vegetables grow and in watering and caring for them.  I had my first lettuce salad from the garden and an arugula and lettuce turkey sandwich – that was one of the best turkey sandwiches I’ve had!  I also discovered that arugula is one of the fastest growing vegetables from seed … it should be ready to harvest 30 days from planting.

Take a morning walk with me and see what’s growing in the gardens.

Peas, Arugula, Potatoes, Kale, Beans, Eggplant, Beets, Tomatoes, Sage, Lemon Basil, Lime Basil, Peppers, Cauliflower, Lettuce, Swiss chard

Radish, Carrots, Purple Basil

Isn’t this the most beautiful color of lettuce?!

Growing in a container I have Citrus Mint.

And … Chocolate Mint.  This smells heavenly!

I hope you enjoyed the walk through the vegetable garden.

May all your gardens grow well and flourish!

Stir Fry Snow Peas and Mushrooms – Keeping it Healthy & Vacation Memories

I’m back after 11 days of vacation in Fort Myers Beach, Florida.  It was hard to leave, it is always difficult for me to leave as the beach is my favorite place to be.  I spent each early morning walking the beach, taking photos and looking for shells. During our morning walks we saw dolphins, manatees, stingrays and a variety of birds.  The days in the sun and surf went like the speed of lightning and before I knew it our 11 days were gone!  Reality hit me in the face this morning as I got up and got ready to face the work week.  My body is here, but my mind and spirit are still at the beach, walking along the gulf, finding beautiful shells, swimming, watching sunsets and eating delicious seafood!

Come walk with me and catch a glimpse of what I saw on my beach walks!

Roseate Spoonbill

Young Roseate Spoonbill

We discovered a superb new restaurant that just opened in March of this year in Fort Myers beach.  Fresh Catch Bistro is directly on the beach and is a much-needed restaurant for Fort Myers Beach!  The food and presentation are incredible as well as the service, and the view can’t be beat!  If you are in the area be sure not to miss it!

Already I’m missing fresh seafood and the gourmet fare of Fresh Catch Bistro!  I way over-ate on vacation … so it’s time to start eating healthier again and what better way to start out then to make some veggies!  I love vegetables, I crave vegetables and this is one recipe that is easy, healthy and delicious.  Enjoy!

Stir Fry Snow Peas and Mushrooms


  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 pound snow peas
  • Red Pepper, sliced thin
  • 4 ounces fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce


  1. In a medium skillet over medium heat, cook the sesame seeds about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until lightly browned. Remove from heat, and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in the skillet over medium high heat. Stir in snow peas, red peppers and mushrooms, and cook 3 to 4 minutes, until tender.
  3. Transfer snow peas and mushrooms to a medium bowl. Toss with sesame seeds and teriyaki sauce, and serve warm.

Source:  Allrecipes.com

My First Vegetable Garden – If I Plant it, it Will Grow

I could not help but think of the line from the movie “A Field of Dreams” “If you build it they will come” as I was planting my first vegetable garden.  I said to Tim, If I plant it, it will grow”.  People have told me not to be disappointed if my garden doesn’t do so well the first year.  If my veggies don’t do well this summer I will be disappointed!  That’s just the way I am.  However, I’m remaining optimistically confident and repeating my mantra If I plant it, it will grow”.

Topsy Turvy Hanging Frame Tim built last year. We grew tomatoes and peppers in topsy turvys and had great success.

I have only grown tomatoes, peppers and herbs, never a vegetable garden, and never from seed.  I started looking on the Internet for beginning gardening advice, tips, etc. and discovered a wealth of information.  Seriously … what can’t you find on the Internet!   What interested me most was Square Foot Gardening.  The square foot garden is a raised bed and is sectioned off  in a grid of square feet.  The premise is you are able to harvest a lot more produce in a smaller contained area with less work and less weeds –  no more row gardening.  For example, you would plant 16 carrots in one square, larger plants like tomatoes, one per square.  Sounds perfect to me!  Mel Bartholomew wrote his first book on this entitled Square Foot Gardening and a wealth of information about Square Foot Gardening is also available on-line.  I purchased Mel’s second book “All New Square Foot Gardening”.

(I bought this small 4×4 raised bed kit, I didn’ t have the heart to ask Tim to build me another bed, at least not this year!)

I couldn’t contain my excitement and as you might imagine Tim was just thrilled to be involved in yet another one of my projects, which meant he was building my garden!  Ha ha … there is a downside to being so talented at building and fixing things around the home!  I really do think he enjoys building me things even though he may grumble at first.  He constructed my raised bed and even dug up and tilled the grass for me, set the frame down once it was built, and filled the bed with soil we had delivered.  Of course I was out there watching . . . we joked that I made a good supervisor!  Just like road crews, one person working and 3 standing around watching (me and Irish & Bailey were watching).  Just like any good supervisor I did my homework, read and planned the garden.  I never had any idea that vegetables had companion plants and that the vegetables needed to be rotated each year.  The rest of my job was easy and fun; staining the bed, writing names of vegetables on my seed marker signs and planting.  As a supervisor, I will also be in charge of watering, fertilizing and pulling any weeds that may make their way into my garden.

Even though this is my first garden and I really knew zilch about gardening, you could say I started gardening at a young age, helping my dad plant seeds in his vegetable garden. He had a huge garden that he maintained for years and my mom froze and canned vegetables. 

A garden that massive was a tremendous amount of work and we all helped out and pitched in.  When I told my mother I was building a raised bed garden I think she was surprised, but pleased.  She said when I was younger I never liked working in the garden and getting my hands dirty.  I still don’t like to get my hands dirty and dirt under my nails … but that’s what gardening gloves are for!

I’m so excited to be starting a vegetable garden – just the thought of being able to pick fresh produce in my backyard produces a smile!  And now … one more time I’ll repeat my mantra “If I plant them they will grow!”

My spring flowers are growing beautifully!

Kale, Butternut Squash & Sausage

I had kale, butternut squash and sausage in the fridge and came up with this recipe.  This recipe is 5 ingredients, super easy, and packed full of flavor.  I love garlic, but I must admit I overdid the garlic with 5 cloves of garlic!  Yikes … I feel sorry for the people who came anywhere near me after all the garlic I had!  The taste sensations are ridiculously crazy good – and as an added bonus Kale has so many super health benefits! 


  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups cubed and peeled butternut squash
  • 4 cups chopped kale, stems included
  • 2 links of sausage hot and sweet, removed from casings

Saute chopped garlic in olive oil until lightly browned, add sausage and brown.  Add cubed butternut squash and saute for approximately 10 minutes until cooked.  Add Kale and continue cooking.  Serve and enjoy!

Veggie Pizza

I have had an on again and off again love affair . . . with pizza that is!  Quite a few years ago I lived in Westchester County, New York and the Jersey Shore and truly awesome pizza was abundant; my love affair with pizza was steamy!  Living in Northeastern Ohio I have been hard pressed to find a great pizza so my love affair has sizzled; that is until I started making my own pizza and dough.  My love affair with pizza is reaching heights I never imagined.  The possibilities are endless.

This particular pizza is a white (no red sauce) veggie pizza.  I brushed olive oil on the bottom of the crust and layered it with crushed garlic, fresh basil, tomatoes, red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms and a mixture of mozzarella and parmesan cheese.

Pizza Dough

Yields:  2 large pizzas

  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water (110 degrees to 115 degrees)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4-5 cups all-purpose flour

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water.  Let stand 5 minutes or until creamy.  Add oil, salt, and 4 cups flour. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.  Replace with dough hook and knead an additional 6 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic.  Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rest in a warm place for 10 minutes.

Bake 425 for 20 minutes.

Mmmmm it smells wonderful!