Welcome to Bepa's Garden!
This blog is about organic gardening, healthy eating and healthy living.
Each month I will be posting Garden To-Do Lists, Tips & Techniques, Garden Project Plans, Photos from the Garden, Recipes and Book Reviews.
I hope you enjoy reading and I hope I can inspire others to start a backyard garden!
Happy Gardening!

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Building a Greenhouse - 9 years later...

I built my first greenhouse 9 years ago as a way to grow more of our own food on our 1/4 acre lot, who would have thought that I would be depending on it so much today to provide fresh food for my family.

Here is the greenhouse today. Everything is original, including the 6 mil plastic ...

It's been though a couple hurricanes and a some heavy northeast snow, but it's still holding up well. Right now it's full of seedlings waiting to go into the garden.

Tomato Seedlings
Winter Squash, Cucumbers and Summer Squash
Growing Sweet Potato Slips
Organic Ginger 
With everything going on in the world today, there has been a rush of people wanting to grow their own food. It's no wonder as it's been harder and harder to find fresh produce at the grocery store and farmers markets have been cancelled or are opening but are limiting the number of people who can attend. 

There has also been a huge increase in the number of people purchasing seeds from seed companies since March. Most of the companies I usually order from have had long delays in filling orders or have stopped taking orders all-together until June or July. I am glad that I save seeds every year so I didn't have to purchase any for this season.

Seedlings in the kitchen on my seed starting rack.

After building my first greenhouse, I wanted to encourage others to build one for themselves and take a part in growing their own food so I listed my plans in my ETSY store and the response has been very surprising. I have sold thousands of plans to people all over the world. Since March I have had people contacting me daily inquiring about my plans who are excited to build their own greenhouse.

Since listing my original plans, I have come up with several new designs for different sizes of greenhouses after getting many requests from people wanting to build one to fit their particular needs.

The most popular sizes have been the original 6'-10" x 8'-0" and the 8' x 12'

6'-10" x 8'-0" Greenhouse

8' x 12' Greenhouse

I now have plans for several sizes ranging from 6' to 8' wide and lengths from 8' to 16' long. I am also working on plans for 10' wide greenhouses. I have designed many custom greenhouses, greenhouses with chicken coops attached and lean-to greenhouses.

8' x 8' Greenhouse
8' x 16' Greenhouse
If you're interested in building your own greenhouse, visit my ETSY store and use the the code SAVE10 to receive a 10% discount from 5/3/20 to 6/3/20.

Mini-Greenhouse with perennials

We have added backyard chickens to our gardens for the benefits of having natural pest management and fresh eggs! I am finishing up the plans for the backyard chicken coop and they will also be available soon in my ETSY store.


Monday, September 14, 2015

Growing Flint Red Corn

It's been quite some time since I've posted anything, but now that fall is ever so slowly approaching and the gardens are just about done for the season, I am finding the ambition to sit down and write again.

We are still searching for our farmhouse in Vermont with enough land to start a small organic farm. While we aren't quite ready to move just yet (we still need to finish renovations and repairs on our current home), we seem to be getting closer to finding that perfect house. In the meantime I am trying to work with the space I have with my current property, and at the school garden, to feed my desire to farm!

One of the many reasons I garden is to try to grow as much of our own food as possible. Knowing that our food is grown organically, comes from open-pollinated or organic seeds, and is picked fresh and is nutritious means a lot. Nothing compares to freshly harvested and prepared food! What we don't grow, which seemed to be quite a lot this year, we try and get from local farmers.

Building a seed inventory is another goal of mine. I've been selecting varieties to grow out and save based on several different criteria including, flavor, variety, and regional history.

This year I tried growing Roy's Calais Red Flint Corn.
Here is a little bit of history (from slowfoodsusa.org):

"Roy's Flint Red Corn is an open-pollinated heirloom variety which was originally cultivated by the western Abenaki people in Vermont, and grown and maintained by pioneer farmers, including Roy and Ruth Fair of North Calais, VT. In 1996, Tom Searns obtained the seed from local farmers like Mike and Doug Guy, who had received the corn and seed saving information from Roy Fair. Tom Searns crossed all of the inbred strains and grew out the variety introducing it through his company, High Mowing Seeds of Wolcott, VT."
If you are interested in reading more about the history, click here.

Roy's Flint Red Corn is an heirloom variety that is said to be ideal for cornmeal, flour and hominy. It is an eight row flint variety that has a short growing season which is ideal for northern climates. According to Fruition Seeds, "it has a significantly higher amount of protein than other varieties of corn. It requires long cooking to break down the hard starch, but you will never go back to off the shelf polenta after this."

We had planted quite a few seeds at the school garden in hopes of doing an activity of grinding the corn into meal and making corn bread, but we ended up with fewer ears of corn than we had hoped for. We did however grow enough seed to over plant next year to try again growing this variety!

As you can see in the photos below, the variety of colors are truly fall-like and amazing.

We now have several pounds of seed for next year, and are planning on building the soil over the winter with either cover crops or compost and leaves, and amending again in the spring so there are plenty of nutrients available for this heavy feeding variety.

We are hopeful that next year we will be able to grow enough to grind to try making flour or cornmeal!

This will be another variety that will be added to my seed bank and grown out each year. It's very rewarding growing your own food, but it makes it even more meaningful when you are preserving a part of history and your food has a story behind it, something I hope to pass along to my children!


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Waiting for spring...

It certainly doesn't feel like spring is just around the corner, especially when you look outside, but the grow room is already filled with germinating seeds waiting to make the trip out to the greenhouse, as soon as it warms up a bit of course!

This year I was actually able to start seeds on time so we can enjoy some early crops of kale, lettuce, spinach, cabbage and swiss chard. 

Blue Curled Scotch Kale
Red Express Cabbage
For the first time in several years I was able to start the artichoke and celery seeds on time as well. The taste of store bought celery just doesn't compare to celery fresh from the garden, but then again I guess that's true with just about anything!

Globe Artichoke
Utah Tall Celery
There are also trays of onions, leeks, broccoli, cauliflower and eggplant, as well as flowers and the herbs for medicinal and culinary herb garden. I think it's time for a larger greenhouse!

I can't believe it's been almost a year since I posted last, but things have been really busy and I have been spending more time to doing and less time talking about it. The school garden project has been consuming a lot of time, but it is well worth it. I have been working on crop planning, plant & harvest schedules and whittling down the 300+ varieties that I have in my seed collection to include only those varieties that we have had success with and want to keep growing year after year. 

This year there are some exciting projects planned, like the completion of the garden shed and construction of a self sufficient greenhouse at the school garden. I am also planning on {finally} building the garden shed for our home garden as well as a larger, more permanent, greenhouse so I have the room to grow enough vegetable seedlings and flowers to sell at farmers' markets. 

The big goal, as always, is to grow enough food for my family so we can eat mostly from the garden and spend less at the grocery store, and it looks like we are well on are way to doing that this year, weather permitting!

Stay tuned...


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Scenes from the garden...

This is turning out to be a very busy year!
 Managing both the school garden and our garden at home hasn't left me much time for posts, so here is a quick update on what's been happening in the gardens.

Sweet basil waiting to be planted.
The greenhouse is starting to empty, but still has several trays of plants waiting to go into the garden. 
Most of the plants went into the school garden but there are still more flowers, herbs and a few vegetable seedlings that still need to get planted.

Drunken Woman Fringed Head Lettuce - almost ready to be picked!
Another tray of lettuce, still in the 3/4" soil blocks!

A tray of tomatoes, lemon balm and mint.

This year I started several varieties of flowers to plant a cutting garden. 
I started zinnias, calendula, dahlia, ageratum, amaranth, morning glory and lots of sunflowers.

Ageratum - Dondo Blue.

Calendula - Mixed.
I also started several varieties of herbs to create a medicinal herb garden. The plan is to grow my own organic herbs for salves, teas and tinctures. I started lemon grass, several different varieties of basil, rosemary, thyme, sage, chamomile, cayenne peppers, lemon balm, evening primrose, mint, marshmallow, licorice and peppermint.

The fence is already up, but the beds still need to be turned before I can get the seedlings in the ground.

Lemon Grass
Holy Basil (Tulsi)
Lemon Balm
Evening Primrose
Some new varieties that I am trying for the first time this year are rhubarb and pop corn. 
I purchased seeds from a supplier in Vermont and am excited to see what kind of results I get.

Rhubarb seedling.
A tray of pop corn, started in soil blocks so the seeds wouldn't get eaten in the garden.
I am always amazed by how well the plants grow in soil blocks. Using them has really cut down on the cost of plastic starting trays and pots.

The kale, lettuce and greens that I planted last fall have all started to go to seed. I am just waiting for the pods to turn brown so I can harvest the seed for next season.

Kale, lettuce and greens going to seed.
Seed pods on the Ruby Streak - greens

At the school garden, we added more beds, increasing the growing area to 1,200 square feet!
We also put up a fence to keep the deer out after seeing signs of them eating the greens last fall! 
In a couple weeks we will be putting up a tool storage shed, building cold-frames and building one of my greenhouses so we can start seedlings right in the garden!

Most of the beds have already been planted and the beans we put in last week are just starting to emerge!

That's what's been going on in the gardens this spring. 
While I wish I had more time for more posts, I am really enjoying the time spent working out in the gardens. Hopefully once everything is planted, and things settle down a bit, I can find time to share my results with growing the new varieties.