I have been mentioning lately about our quest to find a healthier lifestyle. It has taken about 1 1/2 to 2 years to transition into a more healthy way of eating. I feel like to make better habits stick you should start slow. I think when you try to do everything at once and do it quick it doesn’t always stick with you, at least in my case. You can get burnt out really easily. To get my family to eat more veggies, I started cutting them up really small and adding them in to the food I was cooking. I just add stuff in sometimes and don’t tell anyone. If they don’t make a fuss about it, then I just keep doing it! Kind of like adding that flaxseed to these Breakfast Bars!
When I make my bi-weekly trips to Publix, 3/4 of my grocery cart is filled with fresh produce. Of course, there are no coupons for that and there is rarely a sale in that department. It doesn’t stop me though, I know that is what I want to buy and I know what the cost is, so I just budget that amount. It is amazing how much money you save when you don’t go out to eat anymore. The thing I thought would be the best long term money saving solution was to grow our own produce in our garden.
Our big plan for this garden started at the end of last year. We looked for ideas and figured out what the best plan would be for our yard and our needs. I had planned to start things from seeds, but that plan just didn’t work out and I wasn’t able to get the seeds and get them planted in time. My biggest thing was that I did not want any plants that were genetically modified. I won’t go into all that in this blog, but you should do your own research on GMO’s. After a little searching I was able to find some plants locally that were non-GMO and I was so excited. This is the company I purchased them from, and they have a lot of information about gardening on their site.
On March 22 we purchased all the supplies to make two raised beds and a gutter garden. The business my husband and I own is doing home renovation and handyman services, so I told him what I wanted and he drew up an idea and knew exactly what to do to make it happen. Since my biggest concern was making sure I remembered to water all this stuff every day, he ran some new water lines out to the backyard and installed a sprinkler system on a timer and also added a faucet out there, so I wouldn’t have to drag the hose all the way back to that corner. I figured that would be the only solution to making sure these plants didn’t die in this Florida heat.
We built two raised planter beds.
I saw this idea for gutter gardening circling around the internet and thought it was a fantastic idea. Only the husband said that there is no way we were attaching those to our house because they would cause leaks eventually. So, we decided on doing them raised between these beds. It turned out to be a great idea!
It just so happened that down the street from us they have been excavating some ground for a new parking lot for a building. We have been waiting until we saw that they had dug the ground really far down. When they did, we took our trailer and they let us fill it up with dirt to take home. We added this dirt as filler for the bottom of the beds and gutter system. Then we added a chemical free fertilizer and saturated the soil with it and left it overnight. Then we added organic soil for fruits, herbs and veggies to the top of all of that the next day so that we could get all the plants planted.
Once we got all the plants in we added on two little squares and some lattice to grow a blueberry…
In this bed we have cayenne peppers, red, yellow and green bell peppers, giant marconi sweet peppers, cherry tomato, pimento pepper, mamoth jalepeno pepper and banana pepper.
In, under and hanging from the gutter garden we have dill, chocolate mint, sweet basil, chives, parsley, lemon verbena, peppermint, cilantro, sweet mint, 3 kinds of tomatoes, strawberries, sweet Georgia and Texas onions and lettuce. (After this original picture we added a bottom row of gutter for the onions.) My husband wanted to try the Topsy Turvy planters just to see how they worked. I still need to get terracotta pots for the ones on the ground.
Over the last 14 days I have been going out and checking in on things every day. After one week I added the fertilizer to all the top soil of the plants. When I went out yesterday to take some pictures I was just amazed at how quickly everything was growing. Some things have tripled in size in that short period of time. All of the vegetable plants have tiny blooms on them, all the herbs are growing great and we have already picked off some strawberries!
I am still trying to find a couple more types of lettuce to plant in the top middle of the gutter garden. I can hardly wait until they really start producing and we can bring it all to the table! I have been trying to think up recipes now so that I am ready to cook when they are ready.