“Little Swiss Brains”

As the ridiculously humorous Karen over at The Art of Doing Stuff Calls them……….I’m talking about all the Swiss Chard that I finally got around to putting up in the freezer yesterday. I always plant Swiss chard in the garden because it is so easy to grow. At some point during each season, I always start wishing I had not planted it because it just grows so fast and easily and you just.can’t. kill. it. I always end up with so much of it and, quite honestly, the husband and I don’t eat enough of it to whittle it down at all.  So there I am, every year, at the end of every summer……..staring at a big patch of something that looks like this……


And wondering what, exactly, I’m going to do with it. It’s a sea of green that seems to grow rampantly, no matter how fiercely I ignore it.  So this year, I couldn’t stand seeing it all go to waste, and–not wanting to make 1000 gallons of soup with it just to get it into the freezer–I did a little investigating. As it turns out, you can actually freeze the stuff! And it’s really simple to do. As mentioned before, Karen at The Art of Doing Stuff has an excellent tutorial on how to accomplish this. Her blog post on freezing greens for the winter is the best I’ve seen yet.

First, you pick it all from the garden. It’s better if you let your dog supervise this.


I think Cleo approves. Then you wash it, trim it, and throw it in a pot of boiling water for 2 minutes.


After 2 minutes has passed, plunge the goods into a bowl (or a sinkful) of ice water.

After 2 minutes in the cold water, you remove the leaves, squeeze them out, and roll them up into little balls. Hence, the reason they’re referred to as “Little Swiss Brains”.


Get it? Get it? After all that is done (so simple, right??), you lump them into the sandwich bags and chuck them into the freezer.


They’ll be waiting there for you when you’re ready for some fresh frozen green stuff in the middle of winter.  And now to find the time for that 1000 gallons of soup…………..


It was bound to happen…..

And this is what a decimated pea patch looks like……..


I’ve been wondering why all our seemingly overabundance of wildlife has not discovered our garden just yet.  I’ve been busy believing that they thought it was too beautiful to disturb. Not really. That’s just me. Truth be told, I think the wildlife around these parts have had enough to eat elsewhere, so they haven’t had to come looking for my garden. Well, all that has changed now. Something–and I’ve narrowed it down to either groundhogs or rabbits, or both–has most definitely located it. They’ve gone through it like rogue bandits in the night. Only it wasn’t the night. I actually have seen groundhogs scurrying away on my approach and a teenaged bunny wildly flew out of the ruins aiming for me when I was inspecting the massacre. Hence my super sleuthian, Sherlock Holmes-like detective skills in figuring out that it’s rabbits or groundhogs that have infiltrated our territory. 😉

But it’s a little strange. They are mostly eating the pea shoots and not the peas! Every now and then, I like to throw pea shoots into our salads, but it’s really the peas themselves that I’m mostly after. So it’s fine–I don’t mind sharing. And they haven’t touched anything else yet, so I’ve made sure that the fence is as secure as possible.It just looks terrible now. But I’ll look on the bright side………

The tomatoes are still flourishing………….


The potatoes will be ready within a week or so…………..


And soon I’ll have more squash than I can handle….


So we made it until the end of June before we were invaded. All in all, I’d say that’s pretty good. And we still get a pretty good “catch” every evening!



Everything is coming along quite nicely…..

As I’ve said in previous postings……..I really love Spring. It is my absolute favorite season. Always has been, always will be.  It’s my favorite at this point in my life for a different reason than it used to be. In Georgia, Spring is a time of beauty. Everything is in bloom and it is SPECTACULAR. The wisteria, azaleas, forsythia, magnolias, dogwoods and hydrangeas are all in bloom at the same time and it is absolutely glorious. I was born in the Spring and always use that as an excuse to go for a visit to see my family, but really, it’s the blooming season I’m after.  The family is just a bonus. 😉

Since I’ve moved to my transplanted home of Massachusetts, Spring is a time of rebirth, reawakening. The dregs of winter are over and you can actually walk outside without your lungs freezing. Garden dreams are mobilized and the crocus plants start to peek out of the ground. Soon after, forsythia starts to bloom and that’s when you know you’ve survived another cold season.

Although those reasons for loving Spring seemed totally different to me when I started writing this, it has since occurred to me that they are really much the same. The Spring in Georgia, in my mind, is the equivalent of Autumn in New England. Total splendor! I suppose it’s the quickening of nature that I seek after a long Winter’s slumber.

This is why I focus so much attention on my garden. So far, this attention is paying off in spades.  The lettuce is growing faster than I can keep up with. I honestly don’t know what made me think I should plant that much of it. I’ve been feeding my neighbors and coworkers regularly. IMG_3481




This one is a particularly pretty variety, although I can’t remember the name of it. And I grew it from seed! Tastes delicious, too.






I planted 3 beds of actual lettuce (WHY??), which doesn’t include the bed of Swiss Chard, spinach, or bok choy. One of the many bonuses here is that our grocery bill has decreased dramatically. Always a plus!





The Red Romaine is growing very quickly, too. And the bees love it! Can you see the bee in flight in front of it?





The tomatoes are finally big enough that I needed to stake them up this week. Instead of paying tons of money to buy prefab stakes or cages for the 48 tomato plants that I have ($$$$), my husband very resourcefully procured “natural” stakes from our property that are doing a fine job. You either love this look or hate it. I do love it, but the garden in general is starting to have that scrubby look that they get when baby plants grow up. 🙂


And look what I’m starting to see……..the first tomato blooms!! It won’t be long now…..well, probably still longer than I’d like to wait, but at least I have visible evidence that things are working.




The pea patch is out of control. If I ever go missing, look for me there. It would be easy to get sucked into it, never to be seen again.

Love the baby pea pods that are starting to pop up all over the place. It’s going to be a full time job to keep up with these when it’s time to pick them.










A close up of the pea thicket……..





The beets are growing like weeds, too. They take forever to grow!





But they are so worth the wait…..





And we’ll be knee deep in potatoes before you know it…..








This is what my kitchen counter looks like every evening…..










So, for those of you who are still unclear. I do love Spring and I will continue to love Spring. Bring it! Happy Spring!


Let the Gardening Begin……..

As most of my family, friends and casual acquaintances are well aware, I love having a garden. Especially a vegetable garden. That’s my favorite. Every year, I plan my vegetable garden to the nth degree. I tend to bite off more than I can chew (Ha! Puns :D), and then I end up trampling through the brush every August to fetch a tomato. I don’t think I’ve have really solid plans in the past.

But this year will be different. I started in the planning stages of said garden back in January,  because what else would I be doing on a -18 degree day in 600 feet of snow? Okay–maybe a bit of an exaggeration there–but you get my point. I downloaded new software (Thanks Mother Earth News! You can find their info here) and began to plan in earnest then. I bought the seeds in February. I love Annie’s Heirloom Seeds.  You can get to that website here. I started planting the seedlings indoors in February, but wasn’t able to actually transplant them outdoors until the middle of April, which is when we started building our raised beds.


Another change I’ve made this year, that I believe will help in my quest for a less labor intensive, more successful garden is that I’ve decided to use the Square Foot Gardening Method (read all about it here). In years past, I have had all great intentions when marching out to the garden area armored with all the appropriate tools, but the weeds invariably roll over me and I give up. This year, I vow things will be different. We cleared the ground before the weeds had a chance to take over, put down landscaping fabric and put the raised beds on top of that. I purchased a carefully constructed loam/manure/compost mixture (way cheaper when bought in bulk–even with the delivery fee!), laboriously filled the beds, and when the time was right……… the seeds were planted and seedlings transplanted. I started with the cool weather crops, of course. The broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, carrots, onions, and peas went in first. Love the peas…….if I had to pick a favorite, it would be the peas. Only about half of them actually make it into the house. I usually eat the other half in the garden while I’m picking them. Delish!!


Just this past week, I finally got my beloved tomatoes in. They’re my other favorite. With the SFG method, I was able to plant 48 (that’s right, 48!) plants in 48 square feet of space. Canning season should be fun around here.Then there’s the pak choi and more Swiss Chard than George and I will ever consume.


I’ve also planted  jalapenos, radishes, all kinds of lettuce, yellow summer squash, zucchini, bush beans, pole beans, beets, kale and potatoes. And I can’t forget the okra–we’ll see how that turns out. I don’t know that I’ve ever tried to grow that north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

IMG_3317I won’t lie, that one bed is crooked and it makes me twitch a little bit every time I look at it. I am only consoled by the fact that when the plants grow bigger, I won’t be able to tell it so much. But I digress……

Here’s the okra in the same bed as the spinach. While the spinach is growing at the speed of light, the okra seems to be lagging behind. Okra really likes the heat of my native south Georgia, not the coolness of May in southeastern Massachusetts. We’ll see how this turns out.












When fully filled, there will be 17-18 beds. I already have little tiny, barbie sized heads of broccoli……


The potatoes are growing almost faster than I can keep up with in their bag. They’re a lot of fun to grow. If you have children, you should definitely try this–kids love it! It teaches them the basics of gardening and they get to eat the fruits of their labor!



The radishes are already almost ready to be pulled out of the ground…..



And our bees have found their way into the garden!! That’s super exciting to me….


You really get so much more bang for your buck with SFG, not to mention not having to weed the space nearly as much. I can grow plenty of food for George and myself in our little 20′ x 40′ space!  And with a little luck, I’m sure there will be plenty left over for the neighbors and our friends, as well. Thank goodness Spring is finally here!!