Garden bounty is still trickling in.  Though we had a sparse year, we still got plenty of little gems like these beauties.

Garden Gems

Garden Gems

The beautiful purple cherry tomatoes are a favorite of mine for color and beauty, though they are quite tart.  This is probably due to lack of sunshine, though most people say they become quite sweet, normally.  Remember I am growing in a shady area.  They are called blue berries tomatoes.  Aren’t they beautiful?  Some of them in the picture still need to ripen up.  When they are ripe they are that deep purple/blue on top and quite reddish at the bottom.  You can get the seeds at Baker Creek seeds here.  There are also quite a few sungold tomatoes, a tiny mini chocolate bell pepper on the far left, lots of green tomatoes from a variety of plants (usually green tomatoes will ripen indoors if you need to pick them at the end of the season), a single purple bean (these are fun because they turn green when you cook them and the children think it’s like magic), a single green bean several hot peppers (Serrano and Grandpa’s Home peppers, I think).   We picked some of the main garden and everything that was left in the forest garden because the deer broke down the fence yet again in the forest garden.  Grrrrr.  The main garden still has more cherry tomatoes and a few other things.  A couple more yellow squash.  And one red marconi pepper that is huge and slowly ripening.  I really wanted to taste it and the plant only produced one.  I am hoping it can hold on and finish ripening before the frost gets it.


It is fall again and the basil has gone to seed. Though I am down for my surgery recovery, I can sit in one spot and separate basil seeds from the chaff. I am spending time today saving basil seeds and cilantro seeds. Easy to do…I have a previous article on this here. One thing to be aware of that I didn’t mention in the seed saving article is that both basil and cilantro will cross pollinate with other basils and cilantros.

Basil Seeds

Basil Seeds

Cross pollination is the spreading of pollen from one type of plant (say a Genovese basil) to another type of plant of the same family (like a Thai basil.) The seeds saved from plants that have been cross pollinated will not produce new plants that are true to type. So, if you have a happy little pot that contains both Thai bail and Genovese basil and you let them cross pollinate, they will both taste normal the year they are growing but any seeds you save from the Genovese basil to plant next year may grow and have characteristics of the Thai basil that was growing next to it last year. And visa versa. If you want to save seeds and keep the seeds true you will need to either only plant one variety (I have heard that you need to keep different varieties separated by 2 miles) or net your plants to keep the bees from spreading the love. I have purchased little organza craft bags like these for this purpose, though I have yet to use them – they are still in storage somewhere since the move.

In the past I have only grown sweet basil and haven’t had to concern myself with cross pollination. That holds true this year for the cilantro. I only grew one type of cilantro so I am saving seeds without any concern that my cilantro will not be exactly what I expect it to be next year. That being said…I am expecting some exciting possibilities from my basil next year. This past summer, I put Genovese, Pistou, Purple Petra, and Thai basil all together in the same area. So I could have some pretty weird combinations from the seeds that I save this year. The Genovese was a sweet basil with broad leaves. The Pistou was a bushy, tiny leafed basil. The Purple Petra was, obviously, purple – but very good. The Thai basil was very anise flavored (like licorice) and not my favorite, though the blooms were gorgeous with tall, purple spikes.

So next year’s planting I will use some older seed packets of known varieties, but I am planning a surprise basil pot to see what I get. I am only saving the Genovese and Pistou seeds, but I won’t know until next year what genetic combinations are stored in those tiny little seeds. It’s fascinating really. I can’t wait! Happy seed saving!

– Kate


*This post contains affiliate links that help support this website.



Tagged with:

So….yeah. I had to have surgery three weeks ago today and I have had to spend the last three weeks just sitting around, not able to do anything (including chasing my children about). Can I just tell you, I am TIRED of sitting in the recliner. ARGH. It is hard to not do anything. Especially since I hate being told what to do and the doctor told me I have to rest and recover so my recovery will go more smoothly. The kids seem to know that I am unable to discipline very well. The noise level is crazy sauce in here. They run downstairs and I can’t go down and tell them to use their indoor voices. Wait – what’s an indoor voice? We don’t really know what that is. At least the children don’t. Our volume level goes from no talking to light yelling (because someone in another room might not hear you) to full blast yelling (because all the neighbors might not hear you). The two younger ones have decided that the coffee table is a race track and “come here” means “Run quickly! Faster! Maybe you can act like you didn’t hear her!”

On the positive side, Elise just informed me that she loves me to the Caribbean and back. Which sounds pretty magical, if you asked me. So there’s that. The children have been watching far too much television, and eating meals at completely random times. (i.e. We have football at 5:00, and scouts at 7:00, so we better eat at 4:00. Who cares, really, if we just finished our lunch at 3:00?) My poor husband is trying to work, parent, be a caregiver, taxi driver, and activities director. Luckily, my parents were here to help post surgery manage the house and the children. We would have been lost without their help. The laundry alone would have buried us. Mountains, I tell you. But they are gone now and we are alone. Alone with stir crazy children and a super stir crazy momma

I can direct much of our homeschool from my recliner, much to the childrens’ disappointment. :)

I am not supposed to feel a lot better until around the 4-6 week mark. My e-mail accounts, normally overflowing, are the smallest they have been in years. My fingernails are well trimmed. I am current on all major news stories. I have read more (both fiction and non) in the last three weeks than I had for the entire year so far, researching jewelry making, homeschooling issues, cooking, gardening, homesteading, real estate options, and a host of other fun rabbit trails starting at Pinterest. I have completed art projects. I have binge watched enough television shows on Netflix to last a very long time. Let’s see…what now? Just 2-3 more weeks to go.


Once again, my favorite little farm in Boise, Idaho has done something amazing for the community. I love the idea of being able to give something back like this and help kids in your area. What a neat project. Well done.

Tagged with:

For all you in Boise/Meridian/Nampa, Idaho…this is my very favorite place to buy heirloom tomato starts.  They are awesome and I love their culture.  The video I am posting is last years, but my absolute favorite.  The plant sale this year will be starting May 9 and 10 and continuing on the 16th and 17th!  They have 160 varieties of peppers and 170 varieties of tomatoes, plus cucumbers, squash, etc.  Don’t miss it!




Cat with Big Eyes

It’s no secret that I am not a huge fan of cats.  It’s not that I don’t think they are cute and cuddly, it’s just that I HATE them using my veggie garden as their own personal toilet.  I have tried various methods to keep the cats away (orange peels, cayenne pepper, etc., etc.) and the one that has worked the best is to use cattle panel or some other wire structure (like chicken wire) that you can lay across the tops of your beds and the plants can come up around or through.  I have also just set wire tomato cages or wire trellises (lying down) around your planting beds.  Once the plants start to come up, they don’t seem as interested in the garden and I am able to remove most of the wire/cages.  If needed, the wire panels can be left on the ground and the plants will just grow around them (assuming you used a wide panel wire, like cattle panel).

Short of this working as a deterrent, I have actually considered getting my own outdoor cat – sort of an “If you can’t beat them, join them” approach.  I have heard that having your own cat keeps other cats away because they establish their territory, which includes your garden/yard and other cats will mostly stay out.  I have also heard that they won’t go in your garden because it is their territory.  Additionally my son really wants one.  I am betting though, that my cat would make friends with all the neighbor cats and then have smashing good parties in my yard at night with them all using the garden as their toilet.  Just my luck.  Have fun defending your garden!


Photo Credit:  Tambako the Jaguar


Here is a planting record sheet for your own personal use.  I made it today to help with my own garden record keeping.  Hope that you find it helps you keep an idea of what you have done and what worked for you!  I know I just can’t seem to remember what I have done throughout the planting time and it is a great idea to make notes of what works in your particular area and what you liked.  Click on the link below and enjoy!  Happy planting!


Screenshot section of Planting Record

Screenshot section of Planting Record


Planting Record


I haven’t posted in almost a year.  It has been a rough year for planting.  Last winter, on the 24th day of January, I started onion starts, lettuces, artichokes, and kohlrabi.  On the first day of February, I started about 50 tomato plants.  On February 16, I started about 50 more.  Early February I also started peppers and a few flowers.  By February 23, 2004, I had planted radishes and snap peas outside in the garden because it was so nice and warm so early last year.  Everything thrived and grew beautifully, with only a few minor setbacks.  I had started my tomatoes a bit early for our area, southwestern Idaho, so I could do an experiment with trench planting my tomatoes.

A Beautiful Tomato Start

A Beautiful Tomato Start

Plant Starts

Lots of Tomato Starts!

Then we put our house on the market.  I planted my garden anyway.  I planted at the church.  I gave some of the plants to my friends and family.  Then we sold our house.  And moved.  And I lost my entire garden.  I have no idea how the second year with the bark mulch (a.k.a. Back to Eden method) worked amended with chicken compost.  I have no idea how the tomatoes did trench planted.  I know that the tomato plants I gave to friends did fairly well.  But I don’t know which of the new varieties were the best, or how they grew.  I feel like I lost a year of knowledge.  More, really, because I was in the middle of multiple year long experiments and will have to start those from scratch.  But the good news is that I am getting settled in my new (colder) climate.  This year, I will begin learning all over.  I will try to share what I learn here and we can learn together.  I have been reading up on Permaculture and SPIN farming (among other things) and will be sharing that information soon. :)

King of the North Pepper -

King of the North Pepper –


That being said, if you live in southwestern Idaho, now is the time to get cracking.  If you want big, beautiful peppers by the time you are ready to plant them out, I would start your pepper starts as soon as possible (By the way for colder planting zones you either want to start more cold tolerant varieties like King of the North pepper or any of the small peppers – most bell peppers don’t grow as well in colder zones as the smaller sweet or spicy ones).

Also start your onions (if you haven’t already) and cold things you want to get a jump on – lettuces, artichokes, cabbages, broccoli, etc.  The tomatoes can be started now if you want to trench plant them, or you can wait and start them more mid to late March, depending on how early you want to plant them out.  Last frost date for the Boise/Meridian area is May 10 according to the Farmer’s almanac.  I like to give my plants a pretty decent head start, and I also plant them out early because I use walls-of-water around them to protect them from late frosts.  So I would probably start my tomatoes mid March.  Trench planting might be something I will try again another time, but for regular planting, mid to late March is a good time to get things going.

In my new planting zone (4b-5a depending on the exact location in the valley), the planting season starts a bit later, but not too much, so I need to get busy here too.  Although I am pretty sure looking out and seeing the snow still more than a foot deep in places, that I won’t be out there planting radishes and snap peas next weekend. :)  Happy planting!  If you have questions, feel free to leave a comment and I will try to address them asap.  Thanks!

Last year I tried a new-to-me method for my tomato starts.  Unfortunately, I moved and didn’t get so see the results of my experiment.  This method has been recommended for either those who want to grow really strong tomato plants or those who end up with very leggy tomato starts.  It is a method that utilizes an interesting feature of tomato plants.  If you have a tomato plant and look closely at the stem you will see small, little bumps all along the length of the stem.  If those bumps come in contact with the dirt, the tomato plant will send out a new root from each of the little bumps.  Perhaps you have heard the phrase that you should “plant tomatoes up to their armpits” – meaning to plant them deep.  The trench method goes a step beyond that to plant tomatoes in a trench, rather than just deep.  Thus the name.

If you can see the tomatoes in the back, right corner of the picture - those are getting a bit leggy and would be good candidates for Trench Planting.

If you can see the tomatoes in the back, right corner of the picture – those especially are getting a bit leggy and would be good candidates for trench planting.

Start your tomato starts as normal, maybe a bit early to make sure the stems grow nice and long.  You want to make sure that your plants have a decent length on the stem, which is why leggy plants work so well for this.  When it is just a few days from planting time, take all of the lower leaves off the stem.  Make sure and leave plenty of leaves near the top.  Then take your tomato plants out to start hardening them off as you normally would but instead of setting them out upright, lay the whole planting cup on its side, so that the tomato is laying down on the ground.  After a couple of days of being partially outside lying on their sides, the tomato will naturally turn and start growing up toward the sun.  This is what you want.  A long sideways stem, with a bit of tomato turning upward and growing up.  When they are hardened off, you dig your trench.  Not too deep (4 or so inches deep) that is as long as the main stem branching out away from where you want your plant to come out of the ground and you bury the whole stem in the trench (with your compost and epsom salts!) and just leave the bit of the tomato that had turned sticking up out of the soil.

The one thing to remember about trench planting is that you need to mark where your trench is so that later in the season when you start weeding you don’t accidentally sever your tomato’s strong root system with your hoe!  Happy planting!  If you happen to try this method, I would love to hear how it worked for you!

Well, free as long as you are a milk drinker.  Or if you know people who are willing to give you some of their recyclables.  All you need is a clean, empty milk jug, a pair of sharp scissors, and a black Sharpie.

After my close call with dampening off I wanted to get away from using any materials in my seed starting cells that would rot in the damp conditions seeds need to germinate.  I came across the idea from an article I saw on making plant markers from empty yogurt containers.   I tried the yogurt thing and all of the markers were curved and weird and it just didn’t work for me.  So I thought of using the milk jugs instead because we go through a ton of milk around here with 4 kiddos and it worked perfectly.

First you want to cut out all of the areas on your milk jug that are mostly flat.  It will then look something like this.

Milk Jug Plant Markers

The Milk Jug All Cut Apart

Then simply cut each flat section into as many little plant markers as you can.  I cut mine into strips 3 and 1/2 inches long  and a little over 1 and 1/2 inch wide.  Then I tapered the end that would go into the planting pot.  This is what they looked like when finished.

Finished Recycled Milk Jug Plant Markers

Finished Recycled Milk Jug Plant Markers

I swished these babies around in a 1:10 part bleach and water solution, just like I do with my planters to make sure and kill any bacteria that may have been remaining on them.  Then I wrote on them with a black permanent marker to label my plants and they have been great.  Much better than the wooden popsicle sticks, as they can’t rot in the damp potting mix while I wait for the seeds to germinate.  Plus, you can’t beat free!

Here is a shot of my seed trays with the plastic markers, after I took out the rotting wooden ones.  Sorry the pic is a tad fuzzy, but you can still see that they are so much better!  This was actually done about a month ago and they still look just as good.  They moved right along with the plants when I transplanted them into bigger “homes” just recently and now are the labels in large solo cups.  I will post the pics of the plant craziness at my house very soon.

Seedlings Re-Labeled With Milk Jug Plant Markers

Seedlings Re-Labeled With Milk Jug Plant Markers


Happy planting!  And a super happy St. Patrick’s Day!!!  Gotta love a green holiday, eh?

– Kate



Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.