Posts tagged “square foot gardening

The Secret Garden

Posted on May 4, 2014



Murray the Office Dog is a joy, but he also likes to eat things like bricks (pictured above) and rocks and, well, plants. This is why we had to build a fence around our backyard vegetable garden. Our dear Murray just has his own horticultural ideas, and they usually involve pulling plants up by the roots and shaking them for all they’re worth. As you can imagine, this sort of behavior is not conducive to a productive growing season.

Thus the fence…which our clever pup has also figured out how to open…which is why it is now fastened shut with a vise.

Our dear Murray, and all that.

The luxury of this fence (if you can call it that), is that it has given me a way to claim more turf for planting whatever I want. So my daughter and I have been working really hard on filling in the space, when we haven’t been telling Murray to kindly remove his meaty boy paws from the top of the bloody fence. We’ve nicknamed it the Secret Garden, because we have romantic notions of being able to hide in there once we’re done turning it into the lush and productive plot of our dreams.

Here’s a taste of what we’ve been up to…


This morning’s radish haul.


 Someday when this little bud grows up, it will be a red bell pepper.


A pea pod. These normally don’t stick around for long, as my girl eats them straight from the vine.


I’m pretty excited about these. These little spikes will grow up to be haricots verts someday.




Looking forward to the day when this vine sprouts its first cucumbers.


Kale. Of course.


Tomatoes. I would love it if they would hurry up and ripen.

Not pictured: wild garlic, carrots, strawberries, potatoes (for obvious reasons), vidalia onions, leeks, lavender, okra, canteloupe, watermelon, black-eyed peas, butternut squash and various herbs.

I’m really excited that I’ve been able to get my garden back up and running and will be updating here and there with the garden’s progress and how and what I’m cooking with what it yields.  I’ll also be sharing the ups and downs of what it takes to keep this going, through heat and through fierce red ant invasions (we had a massive one two weeks ago) and changing seasons. I hope you enjoy those stories!

In the meantime, if you are looking to start or maintain a vegetable garden of your own, here are two books that should have at the ready:

* Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew


* Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte

Do you have any other book recommendations, or gardening resources, etc that you like? Please let me know in comments.

Morning in the Garden of Good and Evil

Posted on October 2, 2012

I have morning routines that set me up for working through the rest of the day. Generally, I devote an hour to yoga or a walk each day, but I also throw in a bit of gardening for good measure. I started a backyard vegetable garden when I first moved to Louisiana two years ago and it has been the site of just as many glories (tender baby carrots, sweet leeks and sugar peas in Spring) as defeats (the wilt disease that gobbled up my cucumbers and squash this Summer). But I keep at it because a. there’s something wildly therapeutic about weeding (out with the bad so the good can flourish) and b. it’s a way to bring something good and positive into the world.

After my walk this morning, I checked in with my backyard plot, which has begun to sprout fall produce. Here are a couple of highlights:

tomatilloTomatillo: I saw these seeds over the summer and thought I’d try them, largely because they’re supposed to yield purple fruit when they’re ripe. Roasted, they should serve as the base for a good salsa that could include the onions (you can see them poking up in the background in this picture) and cilantro growing in other parts of this box. The authors of Latin Chic also have a great tomatillo salad dressing recipe that was a hit at a baby shower I once catered for a friend in Atlanta. So I have big plans for this crop and hope it continues to flourish.

wintersquashWinter squash: I wish I knew what type of squash this was. I bought a general winter squash seed packet that included butternut squash, acorn squash, and spaghetti squash seeds. But the seeds were all mixed up, so I’m not sure what I planted here or on the other side of my plot. It’ll be a surprise. I like surprises. I’ll either have something that will make a great soup (butternut), something that will be a healthy pasta substitute (spaghetti), or something that will be great roasted on its own (acorn).

okraOkra: This plant is almost tall and sturdy enough for my child to climb. It is also yielding a constant supply of pods that I’ve tossed into gumbos, fried in cornmeal, or packed in my kid’s lunch. The kid will eat raw okra, which is amazing to me, especially because it took me a while to acquire a taste for them. One thing I might try this fall: Pickling okra. Pickled okra make good stirrers in a Bloody Mary, after all.

blackeyedpeaBlack-eyed peas: I’ve tried and failed with a lot of different things in this box over the past two years. But I decided over the summer that as a self-respecting Southern gardener, I needed to plant black-eyed peas. I had no idea this plant would grow the way it did, exploding with yellow and white blooms that yield pods of sweet, fresh peas. In my house they don’t last long, but I’ll be stockpiling some for a black-eyed pea hummus.

Basil Pesto

Posted on August 11, 2011


Up until a week or so ago, I was growing more basil than I could manage on my own. Lucky for me (I guess) some vile swarm of locusts took out an entire quadrant of my backyard vegetable garden. A shame, really. Because basil lemonade is seriously good.

But basil pesto is also good. So consider the above picture my little look on the bright side. I made it a week or so ago, using the remnants of my basil stash and this recipe from the June 2011 issue of Southern Living. It was a tasty end to my 2011 basil campaign.

Cucumber soup

Posted on August 3, 2011


If I can get some more cucumbers out of my remaining cucumber plant, I will be making cucumber soup again. It is cold and refreshing, which is a good thing because it is hot as blazes in South Louisiana right now. As you can see, I dressed mine up with a pretty parsley leaf because I was in the mood to be frilly. Even without the parsley leaf, the soup is a pretty shade of pale green.

Here is the recipe I used from Try it and let me know what you think.


Posted on July 21, 2011


This time last week I was excited about a barely visible honeydew melon in my backyard garden. Now I’m a lot more excited, a. because this melon is much easier to see and b. because it fits neatly in the palm of my hand. Another honeydew is forming just inches from where this one sits.

I’m licking my chops.

When I moved here a year ago,

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The Return of the Mad Gardener

Posted on April 18, 2011


A couple of years ago, I experimented with vegetable gardening. Though I am a plant murderer of the first order, I successfully grew tomatoes and basil in containers for a while. Things went wrong when I tried to grow a lot of things from seed. Part of the reason for the demise of said plants was I left the newbie sprouts for a week while I was out of the country. The other reason things went wrong: I came back from my trip and there was a month’s worth of torrential rain. Plants do like water, but perhaps not that much water.

Well, I moved to Louisiana.

And then I got bold.

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