Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Guest Post: Gardening// Ellie

 I've asked a few gardeners to guest post about their experiences with gardening and what they've learned. Being interested and passionate about natural foods and self-sufficient living has me looking forward to a garden of my own someday. 

Guest: Ellie, as she says below, recently got married and moved away from me. Our other cooking girl, Brooke, got married this week. So our cooking meet ups have taken a break, but we still keep in touch and wish we were in the kitchen together. I love Ellie and she has a passion for health and eating wholesome foods. I can't believe this garden!

Picture 1
With our recent marriage came relocation to a small town, and one of the first things we did upon arriving was plant a garden. We were lucky to find a landlord who would let us experiment with a large piece of their land, and experiment we did. We now have quite the jungle in our backyard.

We purchased our starts from a local nursery, our landlord (who grows her plants from seeds she harvests!) and from Home Depot. Home Depot has a great selection of Bonnie Plants, a brand of heirloom and traditional hybrid plants (non-GMO) that are sold in biodegradable pots.

What we planted:

A variety of peppers, a variety of tomatoes, zucchini, crookneck squash, butternut squash, eggplant, lettuce, broccoli, brussel sprouts, beans (bush and pole), beets, corn, carrots, strawberries, cilantro and basil.

What grew well:

Peppers (Anaheim, green, banana), zucchini (grew like a weed!), crookneck squash, corn, carrots, basil and cilantro.

Our tomatoes are growing rapidly but have yet to ripen, the butternut squash is just starting to come in and our beets and beans are growing nicely.

Advice from novice gardeners:

  • Find a local gardener who can help with pointers on what to plant and typical frost dates.
  • Make sure that your garden is protected from animals, especially deer in our case.  In the end, we put up deer netting around the entire garden.  
  • Invest in a cheap water timer for your hose.  Saves time.  Also helps to avoid accidentally leaving a sprinkler on all night.  
  • Pay attention to planting instructions on plant spacing and thin if necessary.  It hurts to pull up a healthy, growing plant, but it helps with overall plant growth and makes harvesting a much smoother process.  

  • Use Nutri-mulch (organic fertilizer locally produced here in Sanpete County).
  • NEVER plant more than one zucchini plant.
  • Freeze any excess produce, it’ll come in handy during soup season. I’ve been slicing/shredding produce and bagging it in 2 cup portions.
  • Don’t be afraid to try something new. I’m absolutely lost when it comes to cooking with tomatillos (I didn’t even know that they were a relative of the tomato), but after looking up a few recipes I’m excited to make some salsa verde.

Speaking of recipes, I’ve been experimenting with zucchini bread a bit. I’m teaching a health class and I’m on a kick where I’m trying to make unhealthy foods as healthy as possible. Call me crazy.

z bread

Healthy(ish) Zucchini Bread

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
⅓ cup honey
1 egg
½ cup applesauce
2 cups shredded zucchini


1. Preheat oven to 350°
2. Mix together dry ingredients
3. In a separate bowl whisk together honey, egg, applesauce and zucchini
4. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients
5. Pour batter into a greased loaf pan, spread evenly
6. Bake in a preheated oven for 35-45 minutes or until top is firm
7. Let cool, slice and enjoy!

Warning: This bread will be moist because of the moisture in the applesauce and zucchini, but it’s delicious!

 Thank you Ellie! I would love to come to your classes and learn all your healthy tips. And I can't wait to try that bread with the large zucchini on my counter.


  1. I love the pics, appreciate the advice, and can not wait to try the bread--gonna make it this afternoon.

  2. Ellie:
    You are amazing! I love the post. I am convinced that you both have many long years of gardening ahead!
    By the way, I have a recipe for a great tomatillo dressing that I am in love with. I will send it your way. I use it when I cook Mexican foods.
    Good job with your beautiful garden! Love your advice!