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, June 23, 2013

A Trip to the Herb Farm

Today my wife and I took a trip to one of our favorite places...

Between the outdoor plants, english gardens, greenhouses, gift shop, and animals, we could spend hours  just walking around the grounds!

 There are several gardens surrounded by stone walls. Each garden has a stick built structure covered in vines or flowers. I would love to build one of these in our school garden.

There is also a center structure that houses doves,

and metal & stone sculptures hidden around the gardens.

There are many animals to see such as rabbits, chickens, goats, and llamas.

The chickens posing for a picture.

The goat was trying to eat my camera!
The center barn contains a store that sells dried herbs, gardening clothing, jams and many other gardening related items. They also hold classes on flower arranging, making stone bowls and many other garden crafts.

Right off the barn is another greenhouse. 
I would love to build something like this off the side of my garage!

The reason for our visit today was to pick up a few more plants for our deck. Last weekend when we stopped in to pick up some plants for the school garden perennial bed we also picked up a few plants for our ourselves.

More Mint
Today we picked up some lemon verbena, so we can make some tea using our mint plants, an aloe plant and a couple perennials for the back beds.

Lemon Verbena
Aloe for the kitchen.

I would love to have enough land someday to run a business like the herb farm, but until then I am happy working in my little greenhouse and backyard gardens.

The last of the plants in the greenhouse, some basil and petunias,
Sunflower Update:

The dwarf sunflowers have been opening up these past couple of weeks and are spectacular! The potted plants have one head and are a bit smaller, but the ones planted in the gardens are taller, with larger heads. They are even starting to branch out with multiple heads that will also be flowering soon.

My only regret with these dwarf sunflowers is that they are hybrids, so I can't save the seeds for next year, but I will definitely plant them again because they add so much to the gardens. I am searching for a dwarf organic, heirloom variety so I can save seeds to replant. Hopefully I will find one soon!


Friday, June 21, 2013

Early morning reflections ...

Each morning around 5am I go to the school garden to water the plants, check for signs of pests, and snap a few progress photos.

I look forward to going each morning because it's the quietest time of my day. As I water, I envision the potential the garden holds, and gain inspiration for new projects.

The more time I spend in the garden, the more I realize that this is what I want to do with my life. It is so rewarding and fulfilling to take an empty plot of land and transform it into a space that is attracting birds, butterflies, worms and other beneficial insects, and growing food to feed and nourish others.

Each day I find myself lingering in the garden because I enjoy being there so much. It is such a quiet and relaxing place and as I watch the plants growing I can feel myself growing more towards a life in agriculture.

Every time I look at a plant I am fascinated by the potential each seed holds.
The amount of energy stored in that tiny pod, capable of growing into a plant that can produce food and  even seeds to grow more plants is mind blowing! It's nature's miracle that we get to experience every day!

Gardening for me started out as a hobby, but is quickly turning into a passion that I can't seem to control. The more I learn about things like seed saving or winter gardening, the more I become drawn in and realize this is what I want to do for a living.


Each day seems to bring new opportunities to bring me closer to this dream and I am grateful for these unexpected miracles.


Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. 
Live the life you have imagined.
Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Enjoying Father's Day planting in the garden

What better way to spend Father's Day than planting in the garden!

Today we spent some time working in the school garden, adding some butterfly attracting perennials to the center bed. It's so satisfying to see the gardens finally coming together!

We have already noticed more birds, bees and dragonflies around since we started planting and hope to attract more butterflies as well, so today we added some butterfly weed, cone flowers, bee balm and yarrow.

Butterfly weed.
Bee balm.

During Tuesday's gardening club the children will be adding some annuals and mulching the beds. We are thinking about making some cement bowls to add for decoration and to fill with water.

The  mini sunflowers are really starting to open now that the rain has stopped. I can't wait to see them in full bloom!

I am still amazed at how well the tomato plants are doing at the school garden. They are so much taller and bushier than ours at home. It's almost time to start pruning and staking them!

Hop over to the school garden blog and read my post on the progress of the garden and why we feel this project is so important!

Happy Father's Day!


Thursday, June 13, 2013

How does your garden grow?

It's been a tough growing season so far with mother nature throwing everything at us from above normal temperatures, to a late frost, a heat wave and now torrential rains and flooding!
(I am kicking myself for not setting up a rain barrel irrigation system)

Miniature sunflowers.
The flowers seem to be loving this weather and are growing much better than the vegetables.

Morning Glory getting ready to sleep last night.

Same Morning Glory this morning.
 Some of the vegetables aren't really enjoying the fluctuating temps and heavy rain too much!

The rain has been really pounding the lettuce, kale and collards. 
The romaine has been holding up well, but the leaf lettuce is looking a bit tattered.
There is plenty of new growth, so as soon as the sun comes back out it should bounce right back.

The tomatillos are loaded with puffy pods. 
This is my first year growing them so it will be interesting to see how they develop.

Cucumbers seem to be doing great. They are planted in the mini-greenhouses with the roof panels removed so they have some protection from the rain. The plants have several flowers and baby cukes!

The garlic and onions all look like they are wearing boots! 
The rain has been falling so hard that the splashing dirt has caked up around the base of the plants.

The greenhouse still holds a couple trays of basil and petunias that were started in the classrooms for the school garden. They weren't quite big enough to be planted when we planted the rest of the garden, but are ready to go in, as soon as it stops raining!

The School Garden

Most of the plants at the school garden are doing much better than the ones at our home garden. Some of the squash, peppers and tomatoes were started here in the greenhouse from the same seed, but because the school garden has more direct sunlight, and is planted in raised beds, it is fairing much better with the heavy rains.

The yellow squash that was started here in the greenhouse is already growing several small yellow squash!

The tomato plants are twice as big and are much thicker than the same ones I planted in our home garden. They were given a dose of coffee grounds, which seemed to really green them up quickly.

The squash that was transplanted just before it got it's first leaves is doing outstanding. 
I swear it doubles in size every day.

One of the most exciting plants this year has to be the sunflowers. 
I planted several different varieties, including a dwarf variety, that are just about ready to open!

I have been having such good luck with flowers so far this year that I am already planning on adding several more varieties next year. I have been diligently dead-heading the marigolds and already have thousands of seeds drying for next season! 

Every growing season is a new learning experience, especially with the changing weather patterns. I think that's part of the reason why I love growing so much. Besides growing healthy food and becoming more self-sufficient, it is always changing and you are always learning, adapting to new conditions. I was surprised at how different the growing environment is between my backyard garden and the school garden, which is only 5 minutes down the road. We have several maple trees in our yard which shade the gardens at certain times throughout the day and lower the air and ground temperatures. The school garden is in an open area, with pine trees on the north side. It gets sun all day long and gets very hot and dry because it has no shade. The plants and beds seem to dry out quickly and we have to water much more that in our backyard garden.
The growing conditions are completely different, some things are better and some worse, but it is a learning experience and it is fun to figure out how to adapt to grow successfully.

Grapes starting to form.
Hopefully all this rain will end soon, the sun will come back out and everything will continue to grow!
I think the ducks are the only ones who really enjoy all this rain!

How is your garden growing?