Monday, January 16, 2012

Planning My Garden

So, two post ago I said to sketch your garden out.  Here is my garden to show you what I mean.

This year I am working two garden areas.  One is my vegetable garden, which I replant every year, the other is a new permanent garden.  (O.K.  The dirt patch has been there for like 10 yrs, but I finally got the retaining wall put in and my difficult shade plants figured out so I can plant this year.)

In my permanent garden bed, I drew it and then just wrote in what plants go where.  Some I will have to buy/order, some are already there and some will be planted/transplanted this spring.

I have places for elderberry bushes, lilac, various roses, wintergreen, dwarf dogwood, meadowsweet and I still have some open space that I havn't decided yet.  I am debating between herb robert, joe pye and figwort.

This has some pretty deep shade, and some moderate shade but nothing that qualifies as 'sun/lightshade' except the front corner which already has elderberry in it.  So many choices, so little ground. 

In my ever changing vegetable garden, I have one bed which has perennial plants, and the rest are blank.  I sectioned it off into square feet (since that's the type of bed I have, if yours is different you can try rows) so that I can determine how many of what plants I will put in.  I photo copy my blank garden so that I don't have to re-draw it every year.  If you are not using garden beds, don't forget walking space between rows!

I have 6- 4x8 and 3- 2x8 beds.  This is not the exact layout, but this is the quantity and sizes of beds I have.

Then I just have to decide how many of which plants to put in.
So this year, my garden will look like this

With this layout, I will have the following plants and quantities:
Potato - 16
Zucchini - 2
Yellow Crookneck - 2
Spaghetti Squash - 2
Hubbard - 2
Purple Cherokee Tomato - 4
Roma Tomato - 8
Carrot - 288 (approx)
Beet - 144 (approx)
Cabbage - 6
Brussel Sprout - 3 (experimental)
Pablano Pepper - 2
Bell Pepper - 4
Anaheim - 4
Jalapeno - 4
Habanero - 2

I will also companion plant to help with pest problems:
Nasturtiums - Inter-planted in the Squash
Icicle Radishes - Inter-planted in the Squash
Hyssop - Inter-planted in the Cabbage
Thyme - Inter-planted in the Cabbage

My Perennial herb bed has:
Coriander/Cilantro (Yes. They are the same plant.)
Anise Hyssop

Monday, January 9, 2012

Beef Stroganoff

A fantastic comfort food, and although similar to Beef Monterrey, it does have a different flavor and so I feel it is worth including as a separate meal.
I love that it is a one pan meal, makes clean up and prep much easier.  This would make a great meal in a bag.

Beef Stroganoff
Serves 4-5

1/2 c. Gravy Mix
3 T. Sour Cream Powder
1 tsp Beef Bouillon
1 1/2 tsp Dried Minced Onions
1/4 tsp Basil
1/4 tsp Thyme
1 1/2 tsp Parsley
3/4 tsp Garlic
1 can Mushrooms (7 oz can)
1/2 pt Beef
1 1/4 c. Macaroni
3 c. Water

Pick a 3 qt pan, any shape with a lid.  Whisk the gravy mix, sour cream powder and spices into half the water.  Add the mushrooms, with liquid (about 1/4 c. per can) the beef with any broth, the macaroni and the last 1 1/2 c. water.  Put the lid on and simmer until the pasta is cooked, about 15-20 minutes.

I added about 2 tsp of Worcestershire Sauce since this is something we keep in our food storage.  I will serve the meal with the bottle (Makes me sound like a lush, eh?) on the table for those who are bigger fans of it than I.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

It's Garden Time

It's January and even though here in Utah we havn't even had REAL snow yet, believe it or not, it is time to start planning the next garden!

The last few months are a necessary break from the garden for me.  Some people even garden through those months using cold frames but I prefer the break for now.  Maybe next year I will be ambitious and try some sort of season extender.

For now, lets go over the basics of planning our gardens:

Step 1:  Sketch your garden to scale on a piece of paper.  I prefer graph paper since it helps keep things squared up.  This is especially important if it's your first garden or if you recently made changes.  The only thing worse than not planning enough plants, is planning too many and they go to waste.

Step 2:  Determine which plants you will have this year.  Some people prefer to have basically the same garden every year (like my veggie garden) and some people shake it up.  It is frustrating to think you are going to have carrots and broccoli and squash and watermelon and pumpkin only to realize come spring that you only have room for a few of those things and not all.

Step 3. Pencil in the locations of each item you will grow.  This helps to know how many plants to start or seedling to buy later and it helps keep it in perspective so you don't buy a 6 pack and realize you only have room for 2.

Step 4. Get your starting kits, soil and seeds ready.  Inventory left overs from last year and make a list of new ones to buy.  Place your internet orders for plants and seeds so that they will arrive at the appropriate time and your favorites are not sold out.  Even if you go the grocery store seed route, you need to do this now since seeds will be hitting the shelves very soon.

Step 5. Don't forget you can double up on some areas, by planting an early crop and a late crop.  This is best done with plants that tend to bolt or die off during the heat of the summer and short season items like carrots and beets.

This year I plan to grow extras of my plants and sell some to the neighbors.  This means I need to be very organized so that I know exactly how many plants I am growing for sale.  I always like to have an extra in case of bad luck like stems snapping when the wind catches the almost empty tray I am transplanting from and turns it over or other silly things, but you don't want to buy or grow so many that there is substantial waste.

I will post again soon with suggestions for early/late crops and planting guides for starting your own seedlings.

Happy Garden Planning!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Ranch Dressing

Wonderful Ranch substitute.  Very tasty!


1/2 c. Buttermilk Powder
1 Tbs Parsley
1 tsp Dill Weed
1 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1/4 tsp Pepper

Mix 1-2 Tbs Ranch Seasoning into 1/2 c. Mayo and 1/2 c. Sour Cream.  For a slightly sweet version, use plain yogurt instead of sour cream or mayo.