Urban farming

It’s official… we’re urban farmers! The tricks to our success? Creating a nutrient-rich environment (tilling our own organic soil and compost, sand, coconut husks, and organic fertilizer) for our fruits and veggies to flourish in and doing nothing.

About six weeks ago we constructed and planted some planter boxes. After planting, we basically did nothing but monitor nature doing it’s thing. Job well done, nature!

Here’s how our kale box started in early March:

Raised bed #1: Raspberries, strawberries, kale, beets, garlic bulbs and carrots!

Raised bed #1: Raspberries, strawberries, kale, beets, garlic bulbs and carrots!

And at the end of March:

They're growing! The raspberries took the early lead in growth

They’re growing! The raspberries took the early lead in growth

Easter Sunday:

Kale has taken the lead, but the raspberries are holding on strong

Kale has taken the lead, but the raspberries are holding on strong

The next week:

Holy greens! Nothing like April showers and sun to get that garden growing!

Holy greens! Nothing like April showers and sun to get that garden growing!

This past weekend:

Kale progress: ready for harvest!

Kale progress: ready for harvest!

And today:

Harvesting our first kale crop!!!

Harvesting our first kale crop!!!

Thanks, kale, for a delicious dinner!

Yum! Kale, sausage and mushroom pasta for dinner tonight

Yum! Kale, sausage and mushroom pasta for dinner tonight

Spring has sprung {2015}

It’s here! It’s here! Happy spring to you!

Here on Megan’s Island and in the Pacific Northwest, we never really saw a winter (sorry to rub it in, east coast) so this spring transition isn’t as big as it is some years.

Look, this Magnolia tree is almost done with this round of blooming! It’s been spring for SO long here!

It's raining flowers on Megan's Island!

It’s raining flowers on Megan’s Island!

With the days getting longer and warmer, I’ve scoured the internet for some ideas to help spring shine inside and out.

Spring!

Spring!

Tulip wreath 

Tulip wreath

Flower cookie bowls

Flower cookie bowls

So many other great things about spring: Easter, baseball, tulips, the list goes on!

Here are some more signs of spring in our yard!

Signs of spring in the backyard

Signs of spring in the backyard

Flowers for days!!

Flowers for days!!

For all of my finds, visit my “Sunshine-y days” Pinterest Board! And get out there and enjoy the warm sun-showers!

New planter boxes!

Or are they raised beds? I don’t really know the difference. What I do know, however, is that I love them!

Our new planter boxes/raised beds

Our new planter boxes/raised beds

I’ve been thinking about some iteration of these boxes for the past couple of years and other things (like the pizza oven) have taken priority… until now. Brandon and I took advantage of our early spring weather and the leftover cedar from the front fence to build these beauties.

Planting beet seeds

Planting beet seeds

Each box is 4′ long x 2.5′ wide and is planted with all sorts of goodies: raspberries, strawberries, garlic bulbs, kale, carrots, snap peas, peppers, beets, and a couple of lettuces. (Letti?)

Raised bed #1: Raspberries, strawberries, kale, beets, garlic bulbs and carrots!

Raised bed #1: Raspberries, strawberries, kale, garlic bulbs and carrots!

Raised bed #2: Lettuces, sweet peppers, snap peas, and beets

Raised bed #2: Lettuces, sweet peppers, snap peas, and beets

Here are some of the in-progress photos for your enjoyment:

Before shot of our new garden area

Before shot of our new garden area

Before photo: stocking up on soil, plants and seeds

Before photo: stocking up on soil, plants and seeds

Box construction

Box construction

The boxes are Brandon-sized!

The boxes are Brandon-sized!

Lightweight!

Lightweight!

Proud of his work!

Proud of his work!

Is it spring in your neck of the woods? Did you take advantage of the nice weather? Tell me all about it!

Basil-mint pesto

Oh, look! A new post! Sorry about the blogging hiatus, my day job has been occupying all of my blogging time and energy.

Anyway, over the weekend Brandon and I made a delicious dinner, that was also extremely photogenic. It was also very popular with my Instagram followers, including a recipe request. So, here it is:

A few months ago we planted a “basil-mint” plant with our fig tree, in hopes that planting them together would be mutually beneficial. Our experiment has been somewhat successful, although I don’t know if it’s my master gardening skills or the combination of sun and rain the garden has been getting.

Our basil-mint bush

Our basil-mint bush

We definitely won’t have figs this year (although the tree has doubled in size since last year!) and we have more than enough basil mint. This stuff is great. It tastes like basil and is hearty like mint. It also spreads like crazy. We cut off a whole stalk of basil and used Brandon’s Dad’s not-so-secret recipe to make the pesto (see below).

Basil-mint pesto

Basil-mint pesto

We took the extra time to make pasta from scratch for this dinner, and it was well worth it. We used our pasta maker with the rigatoni attachment. The pasta was perfect.

Homemade rigatoni

Homemade rigatoni

While we let the pasta dough rest, we sauteed Italian sausage ground turkey LINK and peas. Once the noodles were cooked, we added them to the meat and peas, added a touch of pesto and some parmesan. Voila! Dinner!

Delicious! Our basil-mint pesto final product

Delicious! Our basil-mint pesto final product

Brandon’s Dad’s Pesto Recipe 

(Yield: 1 3/4 cups, 4 servings)

  • 2 c. fresh basil
  • 3/4 c. Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 c. chopped hazelnuts (Or any nut, really. We used pine nuts this with this pesto)
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2/3 c. olive oil

Put all ingredients in the blender until preferred consistency is reached. You can add a squeeze of lemon to help hold the color, but don’t add too much or it will flavor the pesto. Use immediately or place in an airtight container. Refrigerate pesto up to one week or freeze up to six months.

 

Spring to-do list

The combination of multiple 70+ degree days and record-breaking rain has done a very positive number on our garden. We’ve been maintaining everything pretty well and over the weekend I spent some time cleaning up and taking inventory of what’s next on the to do list. In honor of my favorite Young House Love bloggers, my very own Listy McListerson…

Needed: More moss ground cover

Needed: More moss ground cover

Front yard

  • Clean, stain and seal our bench in the front courtyard
  • Clean and stain fence
  • Drill drainage holes in the front retaining wall
  • Exchange busted walkway lighting for ones that work (Thanks, Lowe’s. Not.)
  • Get a new hose (Maybe one of those shrink-until-they’re-full-of-water fabric hoses?)
  • Import more moss for ground cover
  • Even out the concrete slabs
  • Think about replanting the plants along the walkway
  • Fix light above garage
  • New front door mat (Our Pinterest project gone wrong isn’t cutting it anymore…)

Side yard

  • Remove grass and weeds
  • Build and plant raised beds (It’s time to grow our own kale… and tomatoes, squash, and raspberries, among others…)
  • Drill drainage holes in the wine barrel planters (side and back yards)
Side yard: before

Side yard: before

Back yard

We're so close to finishing our pizza oven!

We’re so close to finishing our pizza oven!

  • Pizza oven! Pizza oven! Pizza oven! We’re so close to getting it done and will this spring!
  • Make a wine barrel cocktail table (on wheels, with a plexiglass tabletop) for the deck
  • Build lower deck bench seat (Ideas here)
  • Have landscaper out to trim the hedges, get rid of the blackberry on the tree

Just a small little list, right? I’m not promising that this is all going to get done this year, but now that I have a list I’ll have more direction for how to proceed. We have a three-day weekend coming up soon. Maybe we’ll tackle this list then.