2018 Garden {Week 1}

Earlier this month, we planted our 2018 Garden! 
I always try and get my garden planted by the end of April/beginning of May.
Kevin grew up with a garden in their backyard & so did I.
We LOVE homegrown veggies. 
They taste amazing...there is nothing like picking veggies straight from your backyard!
I get so excited in the Spring when it is time to start thinking about our garden.
I carefully plan out what I am planting in each garden box.
Kevin built the garden boxes for me 7 years ago (and this year, he re-built one of them because the wood was starting to split)
My kids love having a garden also.
Luke loves helping Kevin dig up all the dirt & the girls love helping me plant it, water it & pick the veggies.
Here is our 2018 Garden:
 Each year, we get some new dirt for our boxes & Kevin mixes in the new dirt with the old dirt.
This year we added 3 bags of new dirt to each garden box. 
The kind of dirt we added in this year is called Lum Fertilizer Garden Soil.
Ask for it at your local nursery....it is STINKY. But it is good soil.
Garden Box #1: 
This has my zucchini, asparagus, green onions & then herbs.
 For the herbs, I have Rosemary:

 Italian Oregano:
6 Green Onion plants:
 Trying something new this year....Asparagus!
 I've never grown asparagus, but we love it, so I decided to try it. I usually do lettuce in this garden box, but I am not doing lettuce this year.

 I usually do 1 zucchini plant and 1 yellow squash plant, but I am not doing yellow squash this year. The past few years, our garden was over run by zucchini & squash and it took over the garden box and grew out of control.

 I love growing zucchini because they grow a ton & I have several recipes that use zucchini!
Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins:

I also love making zoodles!! I have THIS veggie spiralizer & it's awesome.
I love this Chicken & Shrimp Pad Thai with zoodles 
I love being able to cook & bake with things I grew in my garden! :)
Garden Box #2:
This it the middle garden box & I usually do my cherry tomatoes in this one, but I decided to switch it up this year & put my Early Girl Tomato Plants in them:

These tomatoes are perfect for sandwiches, caprese salad, etc. YUM!

I planted 5 Early Girl tomatoes in this box.

When planting tomatoes, use wire cages and make sure you space out your planting! 
These will get pretty big and you want to make sure they are spaced out so that they aren't too crowded. They love full sun in the afternoon.

 Garden Box #3:
This garden box has 5 different varieties of cherry tomatoes.
I have the standard Red Cherry Tomato:
 Super Sweet 100 (these take like candy!):
 Yellow Cherry Sun Sugar:
 Husky Cherry Red:
 Sun Gold:
  All of these are perfect for salads & for snacking.
In the summer afternoon/evening, the kids and I will go out to the garden with a container of hummus and pick cherry tomatoes off the vine and eat them with (or without) the hummus.
My kids LOVE them.

I planted a pumpkin plant the back of our garden (not in a planter box because it is a vine and grows out of control!!!)
These are so fun to grow & the kids love carving them in October.
 I also planted cucumbers. Haven't grown these in a few years, so excited to grown them again. These are also on the perimeter of the garden because they grow out of control:
 And, Watermelon along the perimeter.
 Can't forget about our mandarin orange tree:

We get mandarin oranges in February/March. They are so sweet.

Another view of our 2018 garden:
 I will do another update in a month...it will be well on it's way by then!

Here are my gardening tips in case you have a backyard garden:
1. Plant your garden in a place in your yard that gets a lot of afternoon sun. 
We use a raised garden boxes that Kevin built. 
They are 4x8 and made with redwood. This is our 8th summer having them. I love them!
2. Make sure you water your plants 3 times a week during mild weather and every other day during a heat wave. Water directly on the base of the plant with a trickle, so that the water goes straight to the roots.
3. Get new dirt each year, more specifically one for gardens. 
We usually get a Lum Garden Mix from our local nursery. Or you can add an organic compost/fertilizer.
4.  Block your garden off with a fence (or barricade) if you have a pet who likes to ruin your garden. 
4 years ago, our yellow lab dug up half our garden within 24 hours of planting it & I had to go back & by new plants the next day!
5. If you are planting Tomatoes, you MUST get this: 

Get it HERE
It's my 8th year using it and my tomatoes are usually out of control! 
Do you have a Backyard Garden? What is your favorite thing to grow?
Let me know if you have any other garden questions or tips...... gardening is one of my very favorite hobbies!


Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

 Today, May 15th is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day!
In honor of that, the past few years, I have shared some of my favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie recipes.
I am excited to share this recipe with you, it is based off my Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies, but I added Toffee/Heath Bar bits to the recipe. They turned out so good, so I knew I needed to blog it!
 Here is what you need:
1 cup butter (softened)
1 cup dark brown sugar (for this recipe, I use dark brown sugar, but you can use light)
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs
1 T vanilla
¾ t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1 t salt
3 cups flour
1 package Chocolate Chips (we like milk chocolate)
1 package of toffee bits (I use heath bar bits that have chocolate in them) 
Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. 
Stir until combined.

Add dry ingredients & Mix in chocolate chips and toffee chips.
Now would be a good time to have a bite of dough to make sure it's okay ;)
 Use a cookie scoop (THIS is the one I have)
Place onto a cookie sheet:
Sprinkle with Sea Salt:
Bake at 350 for 10-11 minutes.
These cookies are so delicious...the toffee & the sea salt go so well together.

If you want to make other types of Chocolate Chips Cookies in honor of Chocolate Chip Cookie day , here are some of our favorites:

Carmelitas (Chocoalte Chip Caramel Cookie Bars)
 My very favorite cookie....Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies
  Happy Chocolate Chip Cookie Day....what is your favorite kind of cookie?


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