Gardening 101

Do you like the fact that I planted a garden approximately 6 weeks ago and I already am writing a blog post like I’m qualified to give advice about it?

But really, this is less of a “gardening 101” post and more of a “how I’ve so far not managed to kill everything I’ve planted” post. (We’ve still got a ways to go so KNOCKONWOOD again y’all.)

When I started the garden this year, I got advice from friends, the lovely Master Gardeners of Southwestern Indiana, and of course, the Internet. I’m going to compile the list of helpful things I found online plus some of the things we purchased if you are curious. And so I can reference it again next year. 🙂

Total Beginner Info

Planting Calendar and Zone Finder

Vegetable Gardening for Beginners

Common Gardening Mistakes and What I’ve Learned from Them

Raised Bed Gardening

Raised Bed Basics

How to Build a Raised Bed

Soil Info

Soil Calculator

The Perfect Soil Mixture for Filling Your Raised Bed

We ended up using a pre-mixed organic soil (because I’m lazy and didn’t want to buy a bunch of different soils and mix them together). We used this Harvest Organics brand from Lowe’s.

Other Helpful Stuff

Mulch for Vegetable Gardens

Rain Barrel How-To

Seed Starting FAQ

My Beginner Notes

Like I noted earlier, we used a pre-mixed organic soil, and I think the quality of the soil has really done most of the work in the garden for us.

My friend at work told me to put straw down (see the post on mulching your vegetable garden above). I was doubtful at first because I had never seen anyone do that, and it would make the garden look a little…ugly. I am so glad that we did. A bale of straw was probably $5 at Lowe’s, and we used about 1/4 of it. So far, I think I’ve pulled one weed out of the garden, and the soil is usually pretty moist since the straw helps it retain water.

NOTE: Don’t get hay. Get straw. Maybe you already know the difference between the 2, but I didn’t. If you cover your garden in hay, you’re going to be pulling weeds all summer.

For questions on specific plants, I’ve been referring to my friends who have gardens or searching gardeners.com advice section. They have lots of specific articles on different fruit, veg, and flowers, so I’ve found myself on their site several times, especially when I was first planting.

Hopefully I’ll be back soon with an update when our veggies actually come in. Until then, I’ll keep anxiously checking every night while I water. ❤

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Starting My First Garden

As a kid, my mom and dad would take me and my younger sister to a Lowe’s or Home Depot every year to pick out flowers. There was a small flower bed alongside our back patio, and they thought it would be a good experience for us to learn to plant and take care of something. She and I hated it, and finally, one year my mom stepped in and told my dad, “We’re not doing this anymore. They hate picking out flowers.”

That was basically the extent of my gardening experience until about 2 months ago. Moving to a house with a big yard, I had always thought it would someday be fun to have a garden. Someday.

In April, my boyfriend and I offhandedly started talking about starting a garden. And then one day I came home to this.

(He’s pretty handy.)

OK, so we’re starting a garden, I thought. For real. And with this beautiful setup, the pressure is going to be on me to make it work.

Luckily, I had coworkers and friends and the Internet to help me navigate. I spent several night reading alllll about organic gardening at home, when to plant, HOW to plant…basically I created my own Vegetable Gardening for Dummies manual.

Since it was kind of late in the season, a friend at work recommended that I go to the Master Gardeners plant sale, which was in a few days. They had plants already started, and she thought they would be more trustworthy than picking them up at a local garden center. So I headed to the plant sale that Saturday morning with my boyfriend’s sister and loaded up.

I found everything I was looking for and more…including a succulent and a couple hanging baskets. Seriously, the Master Gardeners are amazing and the plant sale was so much fun. I’m looking forward to going next year.

That weekend, we finished getting the fence and beds built, and then it was time to plant!

This is our bigger bed, which had several plants I got from the Master Gardeners, plus a few I was starting from seeds (zucchini, yellow squash, and spinach).

Here’s our smaller bed, which had 2 strawberry plants from the Master Gardeners and arugula and leaf lettuce that I was starting from seeds.

I also got several herbs, which I put in small pots so I could use them year-round.

My biggest fear when starting a garden is that I know myself, and I historically get very excited about projects like this and then lose interest very quickly. We had spent a lot of time and money investing in this, and I was worried I would get lazy and let everything die.

However, we are only 2 months in, but I’m happy to report that I LOVE having a garden! It’s so fun to go out every day and see how the veggie plant babies are doing. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that my first garden has done pretty darn well. (*KNOCK ON WOOD*)

This is a picture I took about a week ago, and the tomato plants are probably a foot taller and the zucchini is enormous.

Here are the herb babies. I planted the mint from seeds and it is finally coming up.

I would like to take a moment to remember my yellow squash, which has unfortunately passed on to veggie heaven. I might try to replant in a separate container and see if it does better like that, otherwise, we’ll just continue purchasing organic yellow squash at the grocery store. 🙂

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Fancy Seeing You Around Here

So…it’s been 6 months since I posted on here last? (Actually, when I logged in I realized I had started a post in March and never got around to finishing it. Delete.)

Well, we had the holidays and then work got really busy for the first few months of 2017, and then I just…lost interest. I kind of felt like, what do I even have to post about? I snooze too late every morning, go to work, spend 8-ish hours there that are sometimes awesome, sometimes frustrating, and then go home. Maybe I’ll hit up a hot yoga class or spend some time outside. Maybe I’ll plop down on the couch and watch mindless TV for the next few hours. And then get ready for bed, read a chapter of a book, and hit the lights.

Occasionally, I would think about my poor little blog, and how I kind of missed posting on here, and my mom and boyfriend also missed it (or so they say ❤ ), but then…it seemed like so much work. I only really wanted to be on here because I enjoyed it, felt like I had something to SAY, and could provide some benefit to the people who read it. I still think I would like that.

I mean, I’m never going to be one of those bloggers who strikes gold and quits her job and just does this for a living. But those people often become incredibly unrelatable and boring. So I already know I’m not going to be posting on here 3 times a week. Hell, I may not post on here 3 times a month. But my aim is to stop in here occasionally and tell you what’s been going on in lovely southern Indiana.

If you’d like that, I hope you stop by sometimes. I’ll try to post lots of photos of Dora and Cooper, because I know that’s what people mostly want to see. Thanks for checking back in. ❤

 

Ten bucks says I won’t post on here again before June. 😉

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What I Learned on Vacation

About 2 weeks ago, I got back from vacation. My boyfriend and I went to visit some friends in California, and it was amazing.

We had a nightmare day of travel out to California, but like the champions we are, we didn’t let it get us down. On the docket for the week was a visit to Yosemite National Park, hanging out in Sacramento (kind of our home base for vacation, where our friends lived), and a trip to San Francisco. It was a lot to cram into 1 week of vacation!

I’m not going to recap the play-by-play of our vacation, because I honestly HATE reading vacation recaps. I don’t want to read about you lounging on the beach and going out to dinner at a different restaurant every night! It’s boring! What I am going to do is leave you with some things I learned during vacation—after all, the purpose of taking time off is to recharge and get some new perspective.

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Sunshine and movement is everything.

Some of you may know, but I have had anxiety issues for the last several years. The week we were in California, I felt SO GOOD. Like, it was kind of unbelievable. There are a lot of factors here—we were on vacation, all of my everyday stresses were on the back burner, we were spending a week with friends doing fun things—so feeling good is to be expected. But I think a large part of it was that we were outside in the sun getting lots of exercise. The weather was amazing and I got like 2 mosquito bites the entire week. We WANTED to spend time outside.

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So we come home and the humidity is 200% and mosquitoes feasted on my arms and legs the moment I stepped outside. It’s a little harder to enjoy being outside in summer in southern Indiana, but I’m trying to exercise a few times a week and walk our big dog in the morning, before the misery sets in.

I’ve been keeping a journal for the last few weeks and documenting how I feel each day, especially in relation to what kinds of food I’m eating and how much exercise and sleep I’m getting. I’ve noticed such an improvement on the days that I make time to go for a run or take Cooper out in the morning.

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Be willing to try new things.

I am more of an indoorsy city girl—basically a wimp when it comes to roughing it. So I knew that our plans included visiting Yosemite for a couple days, and to be honest, I thought that I would tolerate it. Joshua has always wanted to visit and I thought I would just play the role of supportive girlfriend while we were there. I was much more looking forward to San Francisco and being in the middle of a busy city.

But I absolutely LOVED Yosemite. Guys, it was by far my favorite part of vacation. We walked in streams! We saw a mama deer nursing her babies! We drove really far up a mountain and saw breathtaking views!

Moral of the story—sometimes you have to suck it up and try something you’re not super excited about. But sometimes that pays off. I’m so thankful that I had an open mind and positive attitude about our visit to Yosemite because it helped me realize that I can learn to enjoy things that maybe aren’t what I would expect. (Also I’m currently planning all of our future vacations to national parks.)

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Friends over phones.

File this under “duh,” but it never hurts to reinforce this lesson. Did I take lots of photos on Instagram during vacation? Yes. Do I regret that? No. Do I regret basically ignoring social media for the rest of the week? Heck no.

While I love being able to see what my friends are up to, social media can also be depressing as hell. Especially since most people (myself included) are only posting their highlight reels—not real life. So it’s easy for me to go in a black hole of scrolling through pictures of other people’s lives and forget to live mine or to fall into the comparison trap. Our week away helped me to see how much better I feel when I’m connecting with real life people instead of worrying about what other people are doing. Since we’ve gotten back, I’ve found myself on my phone less and less, and it feels really good.

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Since we’re back to reality (and have been for the past few weeks), I really want to try to keep these vacation habits going. Plus, it’s fun to pretend that I live in sunny California. 🙂

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10-Month Catch-Up

Hi! SO. My last post was in October 2015. The thing about having a blog is that it is time-consuming. As much as I would love to think that this blog will really take off and become my sole source of income and that I would just get paid to shill a bunch of stuff to my friends and family via the internet, it probably won’t. And when I have approximately 1,000,000 things going on, maintaining this little site is the least of my priorities.

So what’s been going on in the last 10 months? I’m glad you asked.

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I FINISHED MY DEGREE!

Yup, I now am the proud holder of 2 bachelor’s degrees—a B.A. in English Literature and a B.S. in Food and Nutrition. I have truly loved being in school for the last 2.5 years, but I am thankful that it is over.

When I decided to go back to school in December 2013, my life was in a very ‘meh’ place. I was living alone, single, working at a job that I didn’t feel challenged in, and watching a lot of my friends move into new and exciting stages of their lives. I had to make a change. And so even though I was really scared, I decided to enroll in classes part time.

In January 2014, I started taking a chem class in the evenings and 2 online classes. I was working full time, and at the time work was very busy. But I loved my classes and knew this was something I had to go for full force. So the following semester, I started taking classes full time and moved to part time at my job.

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This is where things got out of hand.

I loved my classes and, unlike when I was in college as a 20-year-old, actually cared about my grades. My life was basically consumed with work, going to class, and studying. If I was lucky, I would be able to do 1 fun thing a week. Around this time I also had met this great guy, and was trying to figure out how to fit that in to my life. Needless to say, I was pretty busy and a stress monster.

So now I’m back to just normal adulting. My degree is finished, and while I’m kind of sad that I’m done with school learning for this chapter of my life, I’m excited to start new ventures.

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What kind of new ventures? For one, I’m hoping to post on here more often. I have learned so much over the last few years, and I can’t wait to share some of it with you. I also am excited about committing to my own health again—mentally, emotionally, and physically. Yoga has been making a comeback lately, and I couldn’t be more pleased.

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I have a lot of other ideas going around in my head, and I haven’t had time to fully develop them yet. Classes ended at the end of June, and July was a whirlwind of weddings and vacation and general summertime. But now that I’ve had a little bit of rest, I’m excited to get back into working on a few projects. Stay tuned. ❤

What’s New Wednesday

Hi! Hello. What’s new? This week is Fall Festival week in Evansville, and I am sick. Those two things are actually unrelated. I’m blaming this random bout of sickness that came out of nowhere on Monday night on the ridiculous weather we’ve been having. The last couple weeks here have been sunny and warm during the week and then cold and dreary on the weekends. I went to the store and loaded up on Emergen-C, distilled water (hello, neti pot!), bottled water, orange juice, throat drops, and the behind-the-counter Mucinex. Oh yeah.

So what else has been going on?

I started my lab rotations in the Sodexo kitchen at school.

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That, my friends, is me in my lovely chef’s coat. (Notice Dora behind me not caring less about it.) For one of my classes this semester, we’re working in the kitchens at school. Cue me being a nervous wreck: I’ve never worked in a kitchen and am not a terribly good cook. Thankfully, we only do this once a week for a month, and everyone (so far) has been incredibly patient and kind to me.

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Also, the chef I worked with last week rewarded us with this amazing brownie…thing? I split it with my boyfriend last week and it was to die for.

Still doing the running thing, although probably not as consistently as I would like. Meaning none so far this week, but I really can’t afford to get SICK sick right now—so I’m being kind to my body and giving myself a break. On Sunday I ran along the greenway downtown. It was the day after the half marathon, and there were lots of chalk messages still leftover on the path.

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Very inspirational, even if they weren’t for me necessarily.

On Monday, I tried Sunshine Juice Co.‘s new seasonal blend, appropriately named Fall.

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It is organic spinach, pear, and ginger, and definitely a winner. I know a lot of people are turned off by green juice, and some of it does taste like…you cleaned off the bottom of your lawnmower, as a coworker described it to me recently. I swear, stick with it. Your palate will adapt. But anyway, Fall does not taste like mowed grass. It’s sweet and mild and delicious. Definitely go pick some up ASAP. (And PSA: Sunshine Juice is doing some buy X amount get one free deals this weekend for their 1-year anniversary!)

Lastly, I make my boyfriend watch Wheel of Fortune all the time, which he hates. Why? I don’t know—maybe I’m actually a grandma, or maybe he has bad taste in classic TV shows. But anyway, we were watching last night and compelled to look up how old Pat and Vanna are on IMDB. (Side note: Is anyone else on IMDB like every day? It’s one of my most-used apps.) Anyway, I came across this bio of Vanna White on there:

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I loved this way too much. I hope IMDB never takes that down.

Well, now I’m off to drink some OJ + Emergen-C (which my friend Brit would point out as being completely pointless, because you just pee out what you don’t need) and to take a nice hot shower. Have a great evening, guys!

Tuesday, Lately

Well hello there! I hope you are having a lovely Tuesday so far. The weather here is absolutely beautiful—sunny and warm, but not hot or humid. And the evenings have been chilly, so like the basic B that I am, I’m hoping that fall is just around the corner.

Some things of late:

My boyfriend is a huge Notre Dame fan, and so I am also one now by default (cue real sports fans everywhere being super annoyed by that statement).

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We threw a party for the first football game of the season, and it was awesome. He built a huge screen to project the game on outside, we had a campfire + s’mores + pizza, and generally a really good time hanging out, watching the game, and chatting (that was more me than him).

I’m still trucking along with the Couch to 5K thing.

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And today’s run was brought to you by 50 Shades of Blue. (I hope that’s not a thing.) I haven’t been following the Couch to 5K program strictly, but I’ve managed to get couple run/walk times in each week, and I’m happy with that. I don’t have an end goal or anything in mind, so as far as I’m concerned, I can take my sweet time.

Also, I got a massage yesterday at the chiropractor’s office, and it killed me. That’s all.

This past weekend, I worked as a server at an event for one of my classes. I have never waited tables before in my life—I was an absolute nervous wreck leading up to it. Fortunately, everything was fine, except for the exhaustion that took me the whole next day to recover from. To all of you in the food service industry: Respect. I don’t know how you do it.

And lastly, little baby Dora wasn’t feeling well last week.

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She’s being a little overdramatic in that photo, as per usual. Basically, she got in the trash one night last week, then spent the next 2 days vomiting up everything. So much dog vomit. I took her to the vet to make sure nothing else was wrong, and then paid $100 for them to tell me, Yup, she just got in the trash. To top it all off, she has a tooth that needs pulled soon. (I should mention here that I also had car trouble last week, which was not cheap.) When it rains, it pours.

And now, we’re all caught up. I’m off to get ready for an event tonight, and I’m actually dressing up—yoga pants are staying in the drawer tonight. 🙂