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A Year in the Zone 8 Garden

I prepared this a year ago for a little mini-class I taught on gardening in my zone, which happens to be 8b.  Knowing your zone is essential in timing planting and harvesting, because it is based on your last spring frost, first fall frost and your overall winter low temperatures. Find your zone here. I generally follow this schedule each year and it helps me to grow more in less space.  As some crops finish, others are planted in their place for a second harvest.  With our long, hot summers, we truly can get two seasons out of the garden!  Hope this helps you plan your 2016 gardening year! A Year in the Zone 8 Garden January: Beginning- order seeds, start onions, brassica family indoors.  Mid-month- start tomatoes, artichoke indoors.  Plan the garden-remember to rotate your crops! February: Beginning-Buy any remaining seeds.  Plant peas, potatoes, onions spinach, lettuce, radishes, carrots, beets, brassica family.  Start peppers, eggplants and herbs indoors. March: Last frost will be sometime early or mid-month!   Plant, Plant, Plant! Beginning-plant tomatoes (with frost protection wall of water or wait for mid-month), artichokes, beans, corn, cucumber, eggplant (with frost protection or wait till mid month), peppers (with frost protection or wait for mid-month), spinach/lettuce, radish, squash, swiss chard, kale, herbs. April: Beginning-plant melons, okra, radish, spinach/lettuce.  Begin harvesting salad greens. May: Beginning-last chance to plant artichokes, okra, radish.  Ramp-up watering.  Start harvesting! June: Enjoy the bounty of your harvest […]

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Cabin-Fever Play Dough

My daughter stayed home from school yesterday with a nasty headcold. School had only been back in session for one day.  I hope this isn’t an omen of how our next few months are going to go.  It had also been raining for three days and no one was able to play outside at home or during recess. By the end of the day, we all had cabin fever. Me most of all. Enter homemade play dough. Somehow there’s enough magic in combining just a few household ingredients and getting out the cookie cutters to bring everybody out of their funk. While this recipe lacks the strange trademark smell of the commercial versions, it’s both cheap and quick to whip up. You almost certainly have everything you need on hand already. The real key to longevity and success here is the variety of tools you offer. No, I do not mean the 492-piece-set Ice Cream Factory Playland that costs $49.99. Think more along the lines  of measuring spoons, plastic knives, spatulas, a rolling pin, some cookie cutters and a garlic press. Be imaginative here. If it’s not dangerous or breakable, let them try it out! They will undoubtedly create a mess and a masterpiece.   Play Dough 1 cup flour ½ cup salt 1 T cream of tartar 1 T oil 1 cup water 6-10 drops food coloring Heat all ingredients except food coloring over medium heat. Stir constantly until […]

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Simple Cabbage Salad With Lemon

The cabbage of my childhood came in a Styrofoam container with the red initials, “K.F.C.” on the outside.  Truth be told, I’m not sure I even knew there was cabbage in that slaw.  My dad loved it, and still does to this day.  Personally, the combination of mayonnaise and cabbage don’t do much for me.  Give me a good potato […]

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Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

There’s definitely a chill in the air and everyone seems to be passing the sniffles back and forth, which means it’s time for some chicken soup. While I do love a steaming bowl of chicken noodle soup, I admit that sometimes I like my soup sans noodles. This version is gluten free, but hearty and delicious. The batch here serves […]

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Salted Maple Pecans

Did you know that a once ounce serving of pecans contains ten percent of the fiber you need in a single day? They are also a great source of low-carb protein and low in saturated fat. A little research will yield a myriad of health benefits gained from regularly enjoying pecans. I do love them for their health benefits, but […]

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30 Day Eat-In Challenge Evaluation

Here are some lessons and ideas I came away with from our challenge to eat strictly from home for the whole month of November: Having a meal plan is imperative if you intend to eat more home-cooked meals. Look over the calendar and make arrangements for each day (I usually just plan dinner as breakfast is oatmeal, smoothie etc. and lunch is leftovers or something quick). If you have a busy night upcoming, plan for a freezer or slow cooker meal. Leftovers are worth their weight in gold. Making several extra portions can save time and hassle during the following days. Who doesn’t want to open the fridge to an already-made lunch or dinner staring back at them? Involving your kids in meal-planning and preparation usually means they will happily consume what is served.  A definite win-win! Grocery-shopping with a menu and list means you really do save a few dollars! I enjoyed tracking what I ate each day (through my Instagram posts).  I liked the feeling of self-reliance that came from planning and preparing all our meals and I can say with certainty that we will take this challenge again at least once in 2016.  Hopefully you’ll join us!

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Cranberry Orange Muffins

These muffins are easy, but also perfect for any fancy occasion with their streusel topping. When we have leftover cranberry relish from Thanksgiving it always turns into these treats on Sunday morning following the holiday. Cranberry Orange Muffins Yield: 1 dozen muffins 1 large egg ½ cup milk ¼ cup butter, melted 1 tsp real vanilla extract 1/8 tsp orange […]

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