Tag Archives: Vegetable gardening

Sometimes you just want to enjoy a delicious curry for dinner. Where we live take-out is not an option so I have to make it myself. This Vegetable and Scallop Curry comes together with about twenty minutes of preparation and thirty minutes of cooking. Not bad if you’re pressed for time. You could even chop the vegetables ahead of time and make the prep even quicker. The recipe serves four and the leftovers are delicious for lunch the next day.Vegetable and Scallop Curry


Vegetable and Scallop CurryVegetable and Scallop Curry





2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks (about1 pound of sweet potatoes)

½ head of cauliflower, cut into small florets (3 cups)

2 tsp. oil

4 scallions, thinly sliced

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced

1 6oz bag of baby spinach

1 tsp. curry powder

½ tsp. Salt

1 cup light coconut milk

1 pound bay scallops

1 large tomato, coarsely chopped

Garnish: chopped fresh cilantro and lime wedges




Bring the potatoes and enough cold water to cover to boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes. Add the cauliflower, return to simmer. Cook until the vegetables are tender, 3-4 minutes longer. Drain, reserving ½ cup of the cooking water.


Heat oil in a large non stick skillet over medium high heat. Add scallions and peppers; cook, stirring constantly, until scallions are wilted, about 30 seconds. Add spinach and cook, stirring constantly, until wilted, about one minute. Stir in curry powder and salt.


Add coconut milk and reserved cooking water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 1 minute. Stir in scallops, tomato, and potato mixture. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, until scallops are just opaque throughout, about 2-3 minutes. If you like you can garnish with chopped fresh cilantro and lime wedges.Vegetable and Scallop Curry


This Vegetable and Scallop Curry is delicious, not extremely spicy but just a nice warmth.


As we near the end of February I begin to look forward to the gardening season. My garden is planned out and as of today my seeds are ordered! It will be a while, I can’t even plant anything outside until Memorial Day but my seeds are ordered! Filling my seed order is a rite of spring. Spending time in front of the woodstove looking at the seed catalogs helps me to realize that spring is coming.


Usually I start certain seeds indoors, like tomatoes and peppers. However this year I will be purchasing seedlings from our neighbor who has a good selection of heirloom seedlings. Why not support his local business?


These are the seeds I ordered this year:


Provider Bush Green Beans – Provider green beans are my favorite. They have an early yield and produce an abundant supply. Plenty of beans to enjoy and make dilly beans!seeds ordered

Masai Bush Haricots Vert – These beans will be a new variety to try in the garden. They are slow to fatten so if you miss a day picking you can still enjoy them.seeds are ordered

Lemon Cucumber – Another new plant for my garden! My daughter grew these cucumbers last year and my grand daughter loved them. Unlike traditional cucumbers these are round and yellow! Yellow cucumbers have a tender skin and are very prolific. I hope they grow as well for me as they grew for my daughter!seeds are ordered

Y-Star Patty Pan – another new variety to try! Also grown by my daughter last year with great success. Picked small for a tasty summer squash flavor with a hint of nuttiness.seeds are ordered

Jackpot Zucchini – One of my favorite zucchini. Produce high yields of long medium dark green zucchini. My problem is remembering that they do produce well and that two plants is more than enough!seeds are ordered

Long Pie Pumpkins – the description in the Fedco catalog sold me. Besides being an old heirloom variety they supposedly make the best pies! They remind me of the Gete okosomin squash I grew!seeds are ordered

Nantes Carrots – These are a favorite in my garden. They grow extremely well in our rocky Vermont soil and are so tasty.seeds are ordered

Red Ace Beets – A classic beet, which I have grown previously. These beets are an early producer with good yields.seeds are ordered

Tango Lettuce – another favorite. I usually plant several varieties of lettuce in the garden, as we love summer salads. Tango lettuce has a slightly tangy flavor, which makes it a winner.seeds are ordered

Sweet Basil – another plant I grow every year. This is the classic basil and is ideal for tomato sauces, pesto and salads.seeds are ordered


I still have quite a variety of seeds left over from last year so if I have any extra space I will probably use some of my flower seeds to add a bit of color. Have you ordered your seeds yet? What are your favorites. It’s always such a good feeling when my seeds are ordered!




As spring rolls around, we start to think of being outside, enjoying the wonderful weather. Now is also the time to think about establishing your vegetable garden – it’s a wonderful way to save money, get exercise, and help your family to eat healthy. And taking care of a garden is a never-ending and rewarding learning experience.


The most important thing to consider is where your garden will be located. Gardens need sun, the more the better. Locate your garden away from any shadows cast by large trees or buildings. Ideally, you would like to have level ground; if the garden is on too steep a slope, the soil will erode and nutrients will be washed away. Ideally you want to choose the sunniest, brightest spot in the whole yard. If you are limited for space you can also grow some vegetables in containers on a sunny patio or deck. I have a friend who lines their front walk with large containers planted with lettuce. It’s very pretty to look at, convenient and you are providing your family with fresh greens.


If this is your first year gardening, you also want to consider the size. It is better to start small and increase your garden size year by year. A 15 x 15 foot plot would be a good size to start with.establishing your vegetable garden


Once you have decided where to place your garden, the next thing to consider is the soil preparation. Well-prepared soil will help you have a successful garden. However, any soil can be improved. Soil quality is determined by three characteristics: composition, pH (its acidity), and fertility. All of these areas can be improved by adding generous amounts of organic humus: compost, peat moss, well-rotted manure or processed manure. Be sure to mix the organic humus thoroughly with your existing soil.establishing your vegetable garden


  • Composition: The composition of the soil determines a great deal about its growing potential. Soil is made up of clay, sand, silt and biological sediment. If the soil is too loose and sandy, or too heavy and clayish, aeration, drainage and nutrient retention will suffer. You can determine the composition of your soil by doing this simple test. Take a shovel and dig a hole about six inches deep and remove the surface layer. Spoon about one cup of the mix into a glass-canning jar and fill with 2 cups of water. Shake it up for several minutes to fully mix the contents. Let the jar sit for 24 hours and look at it. The small clay particles will be on the top; the silt will be in the middle and the coarse sand particles on the bottom. An ideal garden soil would be 40% sand, 40 % silt and 20% clay. Here is a handy graphic regarding soil composition.establishing your vegetable garden


  • pH: Vegetables require a pH range of 6.0 – 7.0, anything above or below that and optimal growth will be affected. pH measures the acidity or alkalinity of your soil. Basically it is a measure of the amount of lime contained in your soil and the type of soil you have. An acid soil has a pH lower than 7, and alkaline soil has a pH higher than 7. You can test your soil yourself with a pH soil tester which you can purchase at your local garden center or online. Your local extension bureau will also test your soil for a modest fee. Once you have determined your pH you can amend your soil. To have your soil tested by your local Extension office you purchase a kit, which includes a mailer, sample bag, and information form. The fee for the basic test in Vermont is $14.00, this incudes the pH and your potassium, phosphorus and calcium levels as well as Magnesium, Sulfur, micronutrients, CES (carbon exchange capacity) BS (basic saturation percent), organic matter and will give recommendations for one crop. When you are filling out the form you can say that you are growing mixed vegetables. This is the best way to find out exactly what shape your garden is in and what the recommendations are to improve the soil.establishing your vegetable garden



  • Fertility: The fertility of a soil refers to its ability to supply nutrients for plant growth. Insufficient fertility cannot support healthy crops. For a soil to be healthy it must have nutrients readily available and a pH value at a recommended level for the plants that will be growing in the soil. The nutrients that should be available for the plants are nitrogen (for leaf growth), phosphorus (root growth) and potassium (overall health). In addition to the essential nutrients there should also be trace elements like calcium and magnesium. Plants growing in a fertile soil will be very strong and healthy and produce well.


No matter what type of soil you have the addition of organic matter will work wonders. Organic matter is plant and animal residues in varying forms of decomposition. Compost is an excellent way to help amend your soil. Compost is already decomposed and can work wonders in the garden. If your soil is lacking nutrients and you don’t have access to compost you can purchase various fertilizers at your garden center.establishing your vegetable garden


Now that your garden plot is laid out and the soil is ready, it is time to decide what vegetables you want to plant. Before you decide what to plant in your garden, determine the eating habits of your family. You want to grow vegetables that your family will eat. There are many sources online that will help you determine just how many rows to plant of each vegetable. One source I found is this simple seed-planting chart: http://www.humeseeds.com/seedneed.htm If you want a rewarding, productive garden, do some research to find out what grows well in your area. An excellent resource is your state’s agricultural extension office. You want to make sure you know what growing zone you are living in; when your last frost date is expected in the spring, and when the first date of frost in the fall is expected. These dates will determine when you can plant outdoors, what you should try to grow, since the days to maturation will need to fit in this last frost to first frost window, and when you should be harvesting your vegetables.


You have now decided on your garden location, figured out which vegetables and how many to grow. You must now figure out where the plants will be placed in your garden. The taller crops should be planted on the north side of your garden so they don’t shade the other plants. At the southern end of the garden plant your shorter vegetables, like your carrots and lettuce. By taking time to plan out your garden now you will be rewarded with a bountiful harvest later this summer.


I was cleaning out the cupboard the other day and found a container of Epsom salt.

Epsom Salt

Epsom Salt

Probably left over from when our kids played sports. I remembered hearing that Epsom salt was good for tomatoes and decided to do a little research. I wondered if it was one of those home remedies or was there any real value.

Ripe tomatoes.

Are Epsom salts god for tomatoes?

Gardeners apply it to tomatoes, peppers, and roses, hoping to produce more flowers, greener plants, and higher yields. You can use it to improve magnesium content if you know you have a soil that’s deficient in that element, but home gardeners are most likely to apply Epsom salts to peppers, tomatoes, and roses.

Can't wait until the tomatoes turn red!

This natural mineral, discovered in the well water of Epsom, England, has been used for hundreds of years, not only to fertilize plants but to treat a range of human and animal ailments. Who hasn’t soaked sore feet in it at least once?

Chemically, Epsom salts is hydrated magnesium sulfate (about 10 percent magnesium and 13 percent sulfur). Magnesium is critical for seed germination and the production of chlorophyll, fruit, and nuts. Magnesium helps strengthen cell walls and improves plants’ uptake of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur.

Sulfur, a key element in plant growth, is critical to production of vitamins, amino acids (therefore protein), and enzymes. It’s also the compound that gives vegetables such as broccoli and onions their flavors. Sulfur is seldom deficient in garden soils in North America because acid rain and commonly used animal manures contain sulfur, as do chemical fertilizers such as ammonium sulfate.

Plants such as tomatoes, peppers, and roses need high levels of magnesium for optimal growth. However, plants may not show the effects of magnesium deficiency until it’s severe. Some common deficiency symptoms are yellowing of the leaves between the veins, leaf curling, stunted growth, and lack of sweetness in the fruit.

Magnesium tends to be lacking in old, weathered soils with low pH, notably in the Southeast and Pacific Northwest. Soils with a pH above 7 and soils high in calcium and potassium also generally have low magnesium levels. Calcium and potassium compete with magnesium for uptake by plant roots, and magnesium often loses. Sometimes, a soil test will show adequate magnesium levels in soil, but a plant grown in that soil may still be deficient because of that competition.

When diluted with water, and especially when applied as a foliar spray, Epsom salts can be taken up quickly by plants. Epsom salts’ magnesium content, high solubility, and ease of application as a foliar spray are the main reasons for the positive results many gardeners see in their plants.

Spray container

Spray container

Magnesium deficiency in the soil may be one reason your tomato leaves yellow between the leaf veins late in the season and fruit production slows down. Test your soil every 3 years or so to check on nutrient levels. Epsom salts can keep plants greener and bushier, enhance production of healthier fruit later in the season, and potentially help reduce blossom-end rot. Apply 1 tablespoon of granules around each transplant, or spray a solution of 1 tablespoon Epsom salts per gallon of water at transplanting, first flowering, and fruit set.

From the various research I read the gardeners that tried Epsom salts had better luck spraying the leaves than applying to the soil.

Spraying my tomatoes

Spraying my tomatoes

I  gave it a try. I had the tomatoes and I had the Epsom salt on hand. I’ll let you know if I see any difference!

tomatoes, prudent living

Linked To: TuesdayGardenParty, GardenTuesday, OutdoorWednesday, GreenThumbThursday


People that have acres and acres of vegetables don’t worry too much about a few straggly stalks here and there. But for those of use with much smaller gardens must use that space wisely. Many factors – from spacing to weeding have a profound effect on your garden yields. Here are a few tips to maximize your returns on your sweat equity!

Space Out. Vegetables such as melons, cucumbers and pumpkins need space to grow. Other plants are less sensitive to close spacing. Leaf crops such as spinach and lettuce can grow closely together. Upright fruit bearing plants like tomatoes have highest yields when their foliage is almost overlapping. Though increasing their spacing increases fruit size.IMG_5164

Light or Dark. Fruits such as melons and tubers like potatoes are reservoirs that hold accumulated energy gathered from sunlight by the plants’ leaves. These plants should be placed in a spot where sunlight falls on the entire plant. Leaf crops such as lettuce and Swiss chard, do not need as much light as they aren’t feeding any fruit.



Water. To produce the best crops, plants should have uninterrupted growth. This means an even, constant supply of water. Under most conditions that means about an inch per week; however the amount a plant requires may depend on the stage of growth. A little less water while fruits are ripening. Potatoes and onions will last longer post harvest if the water supply is decreased just before harvest.

Water is important to your garden.

Water is important to your garden.

Weeds Out.  Studies show that regularly weeded fields produce six times as many tomatoes as do unweeded ones; onions, more than tenfold; carrots, more than fifteen fold! Vegetables are most vulnerable to weeds from the seedling stage up until they start to bear fruit. Weed after a heavy rain; it’s easier to pull weeds out of soil that is soft and damp.

The corn is mulched!

The corn is weeded and mulched!

Follow these simple tips and you will enjoy an abundant harvest this year!

Linked To: TuesdayGardenParty, OutdoorWednesday, GreenThumbThursday, ThinkTankThursday, Link’NBlogs, WhatToDoWeekends, FromTheFarm, DIY LINKY, CleverChicksBlogHop, HomesteadBarnHop, TheBackyardFarmingConnection, TuesdaysWithATwist

Are you planning a vegetable garden this year? Starting a vegetable garden for the first time is exciting, but it can be a little intimidating too. Every gardener dreams of an abundant harvest, but it’s not always easy to know how to manage the details of what to plant and how to care for the different vegetables. Growing a garden doesn’t have to cost a fortune in time or money, but it can be unless you plan ahead.

gardening, plan

Sample garden plot

Here are a few tips to get you started.

Keep it simple and start small. Don’t try to grow everything your first year. Just plant a few easy to grown crops such as lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini and beans. Tomatoes may be a little challenging, but nothing beats the taste of a fresh garden tomato!

Start composting. Even if it’s just a pile on the edge of your property, have a place to compost. Once you’ve used compost, you’ll realize you can never have too much!

gardening, composting, prudent living


Mulch To control weeds and help retain soil moisture, cover your garden beds with a think layer of organic mulch. Grass clippings make wonderful mulch as long as you know they are from a reliable source and not from someone using weed control!

The corn is mulched!

The corn is mulched!

Visit Your Garden Often Keep an eye on your garden; pull the weeds as soon as you see them. Add mulch where it is too thin and water your plants when they are dry. Look for signs of pests and diseases and harvest your produce as soon as it’s ready.

Take notes. Keep a record of everything, what the weather is, when you plant, what pests you’ve noticed and how much you’ve harvested. I have to admit this is an area I fall short in. However, the information gathered is valuable and can be helpful year to year.

Plants crops you love! If you love tomatoes and peppers, plant a lot, if you’re not crazy about eggplant don’t waste the space!

Ripe tomatoes.

Ripe tomatoes.

Try crops your neighbors swear by. Talk to your neighbors; find out what grows well in your area. Get advice from the local nurseries and garden clubs as well.

Have fun and be adventurous.  Grow unusual edibles just for fun! One of the most enjoyable aspects of having a garden is growing what you want.

Even if your garden is only a few large pots on your deck, I hope you have a wonderful gardening season!

Linked To: GardenTuesday, TuesdayGardenParty, OutdoorWednesday, FarmgirlFriday, TheBackyardFarmingConnection

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