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Saturday, January 30, 2016

How to Plan Your Vegetable Garden

Spring is right around the corner and it will soon be time to brush off those garden tools and garden gloves and get to work.

Here in Indiana we have had several sunshine days and warmer temperatures. Nice weather in January definitely gets you in the Spring mood and ready to be thinking about working outside and fresh vegetables from the garden, among many other things!! 

Seed catalogs start filling up mailboxes makes everyone anxious for fresh produce harvested from the garden. 

So here early on, is the time to start the garden planning. How to plan your vegetable garden?

We grow produce to sell at the farmers market and for our CSA, but when ordering seed and picking varieties we also think about what we like to eat ourselves during the gardening season as well as what I am going to preserve by canning and freezing for the year. For this post, we will address it as in your own personal vegetable garden.

Things to think about when planning out your vegetable garden.

If you have grown a garden in previous years, you may have saved your seed from last season. Go through your seed and see what you have left. You may only need to get a little bit of one variety instead of a larger amount. Write down what you already have available so that you have a list ready when ordering your seed. This will help you know what you already have instead of going back and looking. A lot of time with gardening for several years in a row, you might make notes of what you liked on certain varieties of vegetables. This can also help you decide if you want to order specific varieties again or change it up.

You might be one who preserves the harvest from your garden. If so or want to try, go through your canned goods and your frozen produce and see what you have left. For example, we eat a lot of green beans that I can each summer. It is almost certain that every year we need to plant a good amount of green beans for me to put up several quarts each season. Although, I am the only one in my family that eats pickled beets, and we generally have some left over, so we take note that we don't need to sow as many beet seeds for ourselves.

Review all the seed catalogs that come in the mail. We have favorites we order from and you may too, but we also check out for the best prices and look for different varieties we want to try that another company might not carry.

Buying in bulk is great when you need to plant a substantial amount of one variety. A lot of these seed catalogs you can buy in bulk, but also don't forget to check out your local garden shops and centers. A lot of garden centers will have bulk seed you can buy by weight. Seed packets are also available at many stores and garden centers if you only need a little of a specific variety and want to go that route.

Where are you going to plant your garden. You might draw out a diagram of your planting space for your garden. Draw out the complete section and section off where you will plant each vegetable. Grid paper is great for this. You can use the rule that one square is equal to one square foot. If your garden is smaller or larger, you can adjust accordingly. This will also be helpful after planting has been done to remember when you planted things. If planting more than one variety of a vegetable, be sure to indicate on your diagram what variety is planted where and then you will know when the plants come up and grow as well as when the vegetable is harvested.

Seed planting schedule. You can plant several of varieties of vegetables indoors and get an early start. Then transplant them later when it is warmer outside. This is how we get started with our vegetables each year. Refer to your seed catalogs or seed packets of your different varieties of seed as to when to start your seeds either indoors or direct sow outdoors based on days of maturity.

We have the garden season on our minds. These are some of the things we are thinking about as we have been ordering seed and spacing out our garden planting. Looking forward to a great growing season and watching the vegetables grow and enjoying them!!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Loaded Cauliflower Chowder

Loaded Cauliflower Chowder, a simple alternative with a lighter calorie load than a loaded potato soup. Enjoy the great flavors with an added bonus vegetable included. It will really hit the spot on a cool evening and also on a nice summer day.

We don't eat soup often in our home, but it is certainly enjoyed when we do. I would like to incorporate more soup meals in our meal plan. I especially love a variety of soups, but the kids aren't big fans of soup.

A nice bowl of soup is always perfect in the winter months on a cool weather day.

Using fresh produce from the garden in the summer is always a great way to put together dinners as well. We love to use our home grown cauliflower for a variety of different meals. It is a healthy alternative as well to other carbs.

Here in the Midwest in mid January we are doing a lot of planning for the upcoming growing season. Planning out what we want to plant and how much. Getting our seed order prepared also is an important part of our planning. We have our CSA open for sign ups as well. During the busy winter months, a nice warm bowl of soup always is a perfect meal and hits the spot.

We really love this Loaded Cauliflower Chowder, very similar to loaded potato soup, but substituting most of the potatoes with a less calorie option, cauliflower.

Top it off with bacon, cheese and even a dollop of sour cream to complete the yummy dish.

Loaded Cauliflower Chowder

1 cup water
2 cups chicken broth
2 cup milk
2 tbsp butter
1/4 onion - chopped
1/4 cup celery
2 potatoes - peeled and diced (you can also leave the skin on, I like it off more for this recipe)
1 head cauliflower -chopped into florets pieces
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
pepper to taste
6 strips of bacon - or desired amount
sour cream (optional)

- Fry the bacon until crispy, crumble into small pieces and set aside.
- In a large stock pot, combine water, chicken brother, milk, butter, onion, and celery and cook on medium heat.
- Steam potatoes in microwave until tender and add to stock pot.
- Steam cauliflower in microwave until tender and add to stock pot.
- Bring to a boil. I then use my hand stick blender and blend out the chunks
- Mix in the shredded cheese and add pepper to your liking
- Place in bowls and top off with bacon, cheese, and sour cream to complete the dish.


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Christmas In The Country Reveal 2015

The Christmas decorations are down as the holiday season has come and gone. I love the joy the holiday season brings! We are in a fresh new year and it's exciting to look forward to a new year as well.
This is my second year participating in Christmas In the Country, a secret gift exchange among bloggers! It's a fun way to give and receive a gift and connect with bloggers.

This year my gift was from Katherine over at Katherine's Corner. I'm glad this exchange linked me to finding her blog and shops on Etsy! An inspiration! I enjoyed reading some of her posts! Katherine really took heed of my cues for the exchange and built her gift on my favorite colors mason jar blue and chartreuse green and the fact that I crochet!! She gifted me a crochet caddy, a crochet hook wallet to store a variety of hooks in, and some super comfy and fun socks!! I love everything and have been using them since they were delivered!! The crochet caddy and hook wallet is super helpful as I take my crochet projects when traveling. I look forward to bringing it along on many trips!
Love everything!!
Fun and cozy socks
Crochet hook organizer
Crochet Project tote - already carrying with my current projects
In addition to receiving a gift, it was equally as fun to put together a gift!! Head over to Home on The Range Exchange to find out what I sent to Lori.

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