This year's raised garden beds

After a New England weekend of rain, heavy winds and (almost) freezing cold weather...they got snow in Vermont!!...Memorial Day was sunny and warm and I was able to plant my vegetables in our raised garden beds.  (You can check out last week's post to see how we installed them 2 years ago.) After doing some weeding, I added a bag of organic hummus & manure to three of the boxes to bring the soil levels up.  The fourth box has our strawberry plants that return each year.

I mixed in some vermiculite, then leveled it out.

Next I ran the string lines to define the 12 inch squares.  Into each square goes one type of plant.  The plants in the picture above are my lavender...I had four plants, but one of them didn't make it through the winter. :-(

Now comes the fun part...deciding where the plants will go!  This year I put in...

cucumbers (shown above), zucchini and yellow squash
These I plant next to the trellis so that they can grow UP instead of ALL OVER the bed (I learnt that the first year!)
Red peppers

Green beans
Tomatoes- I planted several different varieties,
some heirlooms and cherry tomatoes.  Marigolds planted near the tomato
plants keep pests away.

Fresh herbs from your garden are the best!  This lemon thyme smells delicious!
I tuck the cilantro (above) and parsley in between the larger plants
to provide them with some shade.  I found the cilantro in particular
doesn't do well when it's baking in the sun all day long. I also planted lots
of basil- pesto anyone? 
What a surprise...these tomato plants came up from seeds that dropped last summer. 
I will thin them out next week.  The broccoli is just about ready.
I had a few empty squares, so I added some cosmos and
planted nasturtium and zinnia seeds...perfect for cut flowers!
So there you have it...our veggie gardens for the summer of 2013.
What did you plant? 

Just Breathe....

My 6 year old has been home sick for the past two and a half days...that's 30 hours that I haven't been able to get anything done without 23 interuptions and the usual "Mooooooooommmmm, I need you!!!!!!!"  While taking temperatures, administering medicine, fetching food and water, and playing way to many games of Yahtzee and Uno, I am mentally going over the list of a thousand and one things I'm suppose to be getting done, and as the minutes tick by, more things get added to that list.  I can feel the muscles in my neck and shoulders tightening, that knot building in my stomach as I wonder how late I'm going to have to stay up to try to knock some of those "to do's" off my list.  And then a little voice inside my head says...

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And so that is what I will do...just breathe... because at this point, that is all I can do.

And I will go play Uno for the 36th time, give hugs and snuggles and forget about my list (for now...)

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So for now I will work on this: :-)
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Hopefully, I will be back tomorrow!

Indigo...Ballard Designs...and the southern coast of France

One of my favorite color combinations for summer is indigo (or navy) and white. It is fresh, clean and coast inspired. 
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I have been a customer of Ballard Designs for many years, and their latest catalog features many items in indigo and white that were inspired by the Cote de Sud, that romantic strip of French coastline.

Their Vera quilt features vintage block-prints hand screened in indigo and white
with coordinating shams and pillows.
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 The Mediterranee hand loomed silk and linen throw is gorgeous yet casual.
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Their La Rochelle Bedding adds crisp apple green into the mix.
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Navy and white indoor/outdoor pillows will make your outdoor space a summer oasis.
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Check out these fabrics they sell by the yard-
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Toscana Ikat Blue Fabric
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Callistro Stripe
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Antibes Blue Fabric

This fabric is named after the quaint town of Antibes, which is situated between Nice and Cannes on the southern coast of France.  Two year ago, I spent nine days there visiting my cousin Sarah and exploring the area.  It is so beautiful- the rocky coast with beaches sandwiched in between, indigo seas, and old towns nestled up in the hillside. 

For my birthday, Sarah took me to The Hotel du Cap for afternoon tea.   
The Hotel was built as a private mansion and opened as a hotel in 1870. 
Its restaurant, Eden-Roc, ranked 82nd in the Elite Travelers World’s Top Restaurants Guide 2012. 
We sat outside on the deck, overlooking the infinity pool and the ocean.
We were there the whole afternoon...we didn't want to leave!
The hotel lobby was beautiful and embraced the blue and white color scheme...
Casual white slipcovered chairs and denim sofas
mixed with gold and glass tables, gorgeous art, chinese lamps and brass sconces.
Fresh flower arrangements in blue and white were everywhere!
I wanted to pack my bags and stay at
What about you- have you decorated with indigo and white?
(Photos from my Pinterest boards and my own) 

Memorial Day

Today, let us remember and honor the men and woman in uniform who sacrificed their lives preserving our freedom.
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What are your plans this Memorial Day?
(Photos from my Pinterest boards)

Raised bed gardens

When May arrives, garden centers in New England begin putting out their vegetable plants for the season.  As soon as I see those 6-packs of lovely little plants, I want to load up my car and start planting!  But gardening in this area takes patience.  Inevitable we get a frost sometime in May and if you’re not vigilant in covering up your plants at night, you will be disappointed come morning.  This happened to me last week!  I had popped two basil plants into my raised beds, and with frost warnings for our area a few nights in a row, I covered them the first two nights, but forgot to the third night and this is what they looked like the next morning…
 So, have patience my friends, and wait until Memorial Day weekend!

 Two years ago, we put four raised beds in our back yard. 

We wanted to grow vegetables but because we live in a neighborhood with 100+ year old houses, our soil has a high lead content (probably from all the times the houses had been scraped and repainted with lead paint).  I had purchased the “All New Square Foot Gardening” book (, in which Mel Bartholomew describes how to grow more vegetables and flowers in less space using raised beds. After doing some research, we decided to follow his method.
I found these raised beds at Lowes, which were easy to assemble.  Following Mel’s instruction, we mixed equal amounts (measured by volume) of blended compost, peat moss and coarse vermiculite.  Combined properly, this mixture retains moisture, drains perfectly, and has all the nutrients and trace minerals a plant could ever want. (We did add some topsoil to the mix as well.)

 If you’re not using your own compost, try to buy various kinds so that you’ll be getting a variety of nutrients.  Options include worm casings, organic hummus, manure, and mushroom compost.

Peat moss is a natural material made up of decomposing plant material. A natural material made from decomposing plant material.  It improves existing soil by making it lighter and water retentive.

Vermiculite is mica rock mined out of the ground.  Once the rock is collected, it is ground up into small particles & heated until it explodes just like popcorn. The material is filled with nooks & crannies, which hold a tremendous amount of water and yet can breathe, making the soil extremely friable (crumbles easily) & loose.  The moisture is always there for the roots to absorb.

After mixing, shoveling and spreading, we used string to divide each bed into 1 foot squares. 

In each square we planted one type of plant.  

Depending on the size of the plant determines how many plants you can put in each square. 
For example:   1 broccoli plant (Extra Large)
                        4 Leaf Lettuce (Large)
                        9 Beets (Medium)
                       16 Radishes (Small)


From our first crop we harvested:

79 green beans, 81 tomatoes, 20 zucchini, 5 strawberries, 16 cucumbers, 53 radishes, 11 summer squash, 6 heads of lettuce, 3 peppers and 959 (Yes- that number is correct!!) cherry tomatoes!  I also planted lavender, zinnias, marigolds and nasturtium.

This weekend I’ll be planting our beds…I’ll post pictures next week.
What do you plant in your garden?