Tag: Gardening


One Last Walk Through the Garden

Cute little cukes!

Cute little cukes!

Packing, cleaning, moving.

The last week has been full of craziness, but the last few days have been crazy awesome. For one thing, we officially have a Mankato address! After much debate over two very nice apartments, Shane and I decided on one that is slightly more expensive but has a garage, onsite laundry, and is MUCH BIGGER! It has wide windows and an open floor plan that will be ideal for hosting visitors. ūüôā

With the dilemma of finding a place to live out of the way, I didn’t think Monday could get much better. But then it did.

Soon after finding out about Shane’s job offer a few weeks ago, I began looking for jobs myself. Can you imagine my excitement when I saw a fantastic¬†position for a Children’s Librarian?! Needless to say, I applied immediately. On Monday, the library director invited me down for an interview!!! It is set for TOMORROW, and I have been doing everything I can to prepare. I hope to report that it went splendidly! It is quite literally my dream job and I am thrilled that I’ve at least got¬†a shot!

This past week, I’ve also had a chance to be in my garden. I’ve got to admit, leaving my little patch will be one of the hard parts about leaving Bemidji–especially since it’s just been going NUTS!


The garden in full bloom!

The pumpkin plant is bigger than I am!

Monster pumpkin plant!

Monster pumpkin plant!

Look at those gorgeous pumpkin blossoms!

Look at those gorgeous pumpkin blossoms!

There are also carrots, beets, beans, greens, squash, popcorn, cucumbers, and potatoes!

Carrot Jungle!

Carrot Jungle!

A bounty of beans

A bounty of beans

I may not get to see most of my produce come to fruition, but I DID get a chance to dig up over 5 lbs of organic red potatoes!

I couldn't BELIEVE how many potatoes I dug up!

I couldn’t BELIEVE how many potatoes I dug up!

This was my first year growing potatoes, and I’m definitely going to do it again–they are DELICIOUS! I’ll be posting some yummy potato recipes next week that are sure to inspire you!

Goodbye, Little Organic Garden!

Goodbye, Little Organic Garden!

Wish me luck!

Happy Wednesday!


Take a Walk in My Garden…

Welcome to my Garden!

Welcome to my Garden!

This weekend, I was able to play in the dirt between the rainstorms that swept through Minnesota. So far, my organic garden is looking superb! To me, this is the most exciting time for a gardener, when the tiny seeds¬†I planted magically sprout up and anything is possible. Including skunks. I’ve had some disagreements with¬†our new “neighbor” because he or she thinks my garden is a great place to dig for grubs, and doesn’t care what seedling he/she rips up in the process. I respectfully disagree. I’ve been sprinkling cayenne pepper around the edges, but if anyone else has recommendations, I’d love to hear them!

Since everything has finally started to come up, I decided to snap some photos and give you a tour of what we’re growing in the Lee garden this year!



I got these beautiful flowers from my librarian friends for my birthday. They are a mix of morning glories, petunias, and snap dragons. Gorgeous! They add a nice pop of color to my yard. ūüôā



Along the back edge of the garden, I also have a row of mammoth sunflowers planted. Sunflowers are my absolute favorite flower–I just love how huge, sunny, and cheerful they are.


Planted around the inside edge of my raised garden bed is a mix of salad greens: kale, spinach, mesculin, arugula, red leaf lettuce, and butter lettuce. These little¬†guys are almost ready for¬†their first harvest! I love¬†growing greens because they¬†are easy, fast, and super producers.¬†In about a month, I’ll do a second planting¬†to ensure I’ll have greens all summer.


I’ve also got a row of chard planted (a variety of Swiss and rainbow). I love my greens!


My pumpkin plants are looking pretty good! Anyone who knows me knows I ADORE pumpkin all year round. I can’t wait to have my first homegrown pumpkin this fall!


Another baby pumpkin plant poking up makes for a total of THREE!


Nestled next to my pumpkin mounds, I planted some organic popcorn kernels. I wasn’t expecting them to grow, but two of them sprouted!


Is that a honey nut butternut squash plant I see? YES! Yummmm, squash…


For root vegetables, I’ve got a lovely row of beets (seen above)


A gorgeous row of cosmic carrots (rainbow carrots!)


And a potato plant JUNGLE! Seriously, my potatoes have gone NUTS! Yay!


On the other side of the garden, I’ve got several cucumber plants! If this mound looks freshly dug, it is–by the skunk. I came outside to snap pictures and found my beautiful cucumber mound completely dug up. Fortunately, the plants didn’t seem to be damaged, so I replanted them and am hoping for the best…


For all you gardeners out there: my cucumber leaves are spotty. Does this look like a blight to you, or are my plants being munched by something? Any suggestions?


And last, but CERTAINLY not least: I HAVE A WATERMELON SEEDLING! This little guy took so long to sprout that I almost gave up hope. Watermelon is my favorite food, and I have high hopes for this plant. Grow, baby, grow!

So, there it is! My beautiful garden. I’ll post updates periodically and hopefully have photos of fat,¬†scrumptious produce to share come fall.

This weekend, though, I won’t be gardening: I’ll be at Caribou Coffee in Baxter, MN from 1-3pmfor the next stop on my book tour! From there, I’m traveling every weekend in June and July to promote Seven Stones. I hope to see you at one of my events!

That’s all for now! See you Wednesday for an interview with award-winning author, Candace Simar!

Happy Monday!


My First Organic Garden!

The sun is shining, it’s supposed to get up to 70 degrees, but you know the best part about today? I have a WHOLE DAY OFF! Naturally, my days off are filled with errands, chores, and homework. But today, I’m going to take a few hours and plant my garden!

I’ve loved being outdoors and gardening. Ever since I can remember, I’d be in the dirt helping my mom plant her giant vegetable and fruit patch. My parents grew a little bit of everything: grapes, strawberries, apples, peaches, pears, plums, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, gooseberries, mulberries, raspberries. My favorite job? Picking the ripe fruit. However, after my parents found out that I was eating more than I was putting in my basket, they made me a deal: fill the basket first, then I could eat whatever was left. DEAL!

Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE fresh produce. Fruits and veggies comprise about 70% of my diet, so being able to pick ripe produce off my own plants is beyond amazing. The taste and nutrition of homegrown food has no comparison, and that is why I’m SO excited for this year. For the past few years, I’ve been planting in pots because we lived in apartments. This year, we get to have a REAL garden for the first time! The plot is pretty small, but it is MINE and I am going to STUFF it with goodness.

I am a big believer in organic food, so I will not be employing pesticides or artificial fertilizers in my garden. Fortunately, there are a lot of really great gardening books and tips out there to help you avoid yucky poisons and get the best yield possible. You can check out my Pinterest page for some neat organic tricks to discourage pests from your garden.

One book I’m reading currently is Carrots Love Tomatoes. This book gives great advice about what to plant next to each other and what plants are natural pest deterrents. For example, if you want to discourage rabbits from eating your cabbage or lettuce, this book recommends interplanting onions and garlic between the rows of greens. Rabbits hate the strong smell–and so do a lot of bugs. Likewise, beets do well when planted next to onions and cabbage, but don’t like being next to strawberries or pole beans.¬†It’s been fun finding out what plants are “friends” and what will help keep my garden (and us!) healthy and happy!

So, my soil is tilled and ready thanks to a few hours of work last week. Here’s what I’ll be planting today–all while wearing my big, floppy gardening hat, of course!

Julia’s First Organic Garden

  1. Russian Kale
  2. Swiss Chard
  3. Snap Peas
  4. Cucumbers
  5. Watermelon
  6. Strawberries
  7. Sunflowers
  8. Marigolds
  9. Popcorn
  10. Squash
  11. Lettuce
  12. Cabbage
  13. Onions
  14. Potatoes
  15. Sweet Potatoes
  16. Sweet Peppers
  17. Pumpkin
  18. Tomatoes
  19. Beets

The Herbs

Mint: I recommend growing this amazing herb in pots as it very quickly takes over! A container will keep it under control.

Basil: I LOVE fresh basil–I can’t get enough in the summer time! I use it on pizza, bruschetta, in basil lemonade–you name it!

Cilantro: This herb is fantastic for summer dishes. The citrus flavor goes well with almost any Mexican-inspired dish. The best part is after the herb goes to seed, you get coriander! Two herbs from one plant!

Sage: I always grow fresh sage. It is a great multipurpose herb to have around and is hardy enough to survive Minnesota. 

Lavender: In addition to its fragrance, lavender is wonderful in recipes. I use it for baked goods, ice cream, and lavender lemonade!

For more ideas on what to plant, check out this post from the Greenwordchef, one of my favorite blogs with great tips on organic gardening and inspired cooking.

Keep an eye out for recipes from my garden this summer! If you know of any helpful gardening tips or plants that are easy to grow, let me know. I’m always open to adding more veggies to my list. ūüėÄ

Happy Wednesday!