Category Archives: Yard and Garden

The Sunflowers





This year was so strange for my sunflowers – first of all, not a single one bloomed until August 18th. That is by very far the latest I’ve ever seen them wait. I’ve seen them bloom as early as 4th of July, and sometimes as late as the first week of August. But I’ve never seen it take this long.


Not only that, but they didn’t grow very tall. I planted “Mammoths” exclusively. But only a few grew taller than the fence, and most petered out at only 4 feet or so. I plan to have my soil tested this fall and make necessary improvements in fertilizers.


Look at that beautiful boy growing like a weed!

But – when everything did bloom, good night, it was gorgeous.

On the Garden




Tomato Basil Pasta using fresh basil from my garden. I’m so sorry you don’t have smellernet, because this dish made my kitchen smell divine! I’ll share the recipe at the end of the post.

I haven’t mentioned how the garden is coming along . . .

Well, it’s a mixture of success of disappointment. I’ve learned some things for the future.

Things I Have Learned:

1) If you don’t “thin” out your plants properly, the plants themselves will be thin and under developed.

In my zeal to have things grow this year, I placed between 3-5 seeds in each hole. I did this on the sunflowers, the corn, and the zinnias. In the past I have only put 1 seed in each hole, and they have sprouted . . . incompletely. I really wanted my sunflowers to finally be a full row (instead of the interspersed ones I have always had) and I had trouble with my corn last year as well. So this year I figured – the more the merrier!

This would probably be true, but everything I read on packaging and my faithful gardening resource, google, said to thin out your plants when they’re 3-5 inches tall. I never did.

Because then I felt this hope that the more plants would be more awesome.

Then my neighbor Rick came over and commented on how thin the individual plants were. I didn’t tell him that I hadn’t pulled my extra plants to allow one per to grow thick and strong.

But I had also noticed my sunflowers were having the same problem. They were two feet high, but thin as a pencil. That’s not right.

So I went out and finally thinned them out. We will see if they correct themselves at this point or if I will have to wait till next year to have a beautiful row of sunflowers. *SIGH*



2) Wave Petunias -ahem- suck. I bought them at Costco because they were a great price – $10/flat. I read on my gardening resource, google, that they were great for pottings and hanging baskets, but didn’t say much about putting them in the ground except one thread on a forum that said they did great in the ground too.

But they’re horrible. Regular petunias mound and spread and fill in over the summer. My wave petunias have hardly moved. They look spindly and flat instead of mounded and full. They don’t have as many blooms on the plants. I am very disappointed in them. I will not be doing wave petunias again.


Other things in the garden are doing wonderfully. All my vegetables are taking off. I need to read up on how to help my peppers produce better, but other than that, everything seems on course. My zuchinis and squashes are going gang busters, and in about ten days I expect to have 15-20 squashes. We have used the lettuce for salads and burgers for all of our barbeques of the past week (we’ve been to three in the past week).


We had a spring crop of peas. They we delicious. The kids (and I) enjoyed picking them and eating them as snacks when ever we were outside. But we didn’t really get enough to can. Maybe I will plant more next year. It just is kinda a bummer because they take up room in the garden, then they finish, but it’s too late to plant something else. Also, they didn’t trellis well at all. I will have to work on that for next year.

And now, for that recipe that I know you’re dying to try!


Tomato Basil Pasta

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: It feeds my family of 6

Tomato Basil Pasta


  • 1/2 - 3/4 lb. Pasta of choice. It doesn't matter, just what ever you have on hand.
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Shy 1/2 cup of Olive Oil
  • Tomatoes. I used grape cut in half, you could use any just cut them into about 1 to 1/2 inch pieces
  • Handful of fresh basil
  • Fresh mozzarella cut into 1/2 inch pieces


  1. Cook pasta in salt water (you want your water to be like sea water, so don't be shy with the salt).
  2. While your pasta is cooking, heat your olive oil in a pan. Add your smashed garlic and let it warm until it's fragrant. Don't let it get brown! (Brown garlic = yuck!) When the garlic is really starting to be pungent, add your tomatoes, and let them warm through. You don't want them to break down too much, just get warm and a little juicy. Add your cooked pasta. If it's a little dry, add just a little bit of your pasta water. (It might be a little dry depending on how juicy your tomatoes are - this is just a judgement thing). Finally, tear up your basil and add your mozzarella, and stir together into your serving dish.
  3. This is so fresh, and so tasty. It is perfect for a summer evening. It's fast, light, and easy!


Another Week





This week I focused on finishing getting the yard planted. I am going to be out of town for the end of the month, so I wanted everything done before I leave.

I was able to get the garden planted (YAHOO!) and I’m excited for the veggies to come -this year we planted:

  1. Pineapple sage (1)
  2. Cilantro (3)
  3. Flat Leaf Italian Parsley (2)
  4. Sweet Basil (2)
  5. Thai Basil (1)
  6. ‘Hot & Spicy’ Oregano (1)
  7. Rosemary (1)
  8. Onions – Red & White – lots
  9. Carrots – two 4 ft. rows
  10. Lettuce – two 4 ft. rows
  11. Jalapenos, “Macho Nacho” & “Mammoth” – 2 of each
  12. Anaheim peppers
  13. ‘Gypsy’ sweet pepper
  14. ‘Chili Red’ pepper
  15. ‘Hot Golden Cayenne’ pepper
  16. ‘Big Bertha’ bell peppers
  17. Corn, lots of corn.
  18. ‘Sweet 100’ tomato
  19. ‘Early Girl’ tomato
  20. ‘Big Beef’ tomato
  21. ‘Red Beefsteak’ heirloom tomato
  22. ‘Golden Jubilee’ heirloom tomato
  23. ‘Pink Brandywine’ heirloom tomato
  24. Eggplant (1)
  25. Zucchini Squash (2)
  26. Early Prolific Yellow Squash (1)
  27. Butternut Squash (1)
  28. Spaghetti Squash (1)
  29. Yellow bell pepper
  30. Red bell pepper
  31. Cucumber (2)
  32. Sugar Snap Peas – two 4ft rows
  33. Cantelope
  34. Watermelon
  35. Pumpkins (3 – they’re planted in the back of the fence by the canal)


Hurray for gardens and summer barbeques where all your produce comes from your own yard. I enjoy gardening as a spring pass time, but I’m sure glad I don’t have to do it for survival!

The garden - almost all planted . . . it looks so much better in person (plus the garbage is now cleaned up ;P )


In addition to planting the garden, I also managed to plant the flowers along my back fence. I’m branching out this year! In addition to the sunflowers, I’m adding some Zinnias.

I planted “Mammoth” sunflowers in a row along the fence. I decided to keep it simple this year, and not go for all the varieties. I’ve also been pulling out all the little sunflowers I’ve seen coming up – reseeded from last year. I’m going to keep this planting very simple AND tidy.


And then in front of the sunflowers I planted giant zinnias – they should grow to 30″ tall or more. That sound tall except when they’ve got Mammoth Sunflowers behind them 😀

The new blue Delphinium. It will look gorgeous when it's all bloomed. Yes, that's Cal in the background sweeping the porch. He's a great helper! (He also put the sunflower seeds in the holes this afternoon!)


And the last thing I planted was a blue Delphinium in my front flower bed. My neighbor has one that I’ve admired for years, but I’ve never seen the same deep blue color. But I found one at Home Depot today. It was so big that I even divided it out of the pot and now have two in my front yard 😀

Time to Plant




These lilac blossoms are not from my yard (I wish!) But I LOVE lilacs. They take me back to my childhood when we had a fort in a lilac bush . . .

These notes are for myself – feel free to read them, but they aren’t particularly interesting. However, after keeping notes like this for about two years now, I am finding that I do go back and reference them to remember where I bought things, what I bought, etc. And that is helpful.


My bed is planted. Now it just needs to fill in!

The weather finally warmed up this week. With warm temperatures in the forecast for the next ten days I took the initiative to get  my yard planted. Normally I wait until the end of May, but I will be out of town the last week of this month, so I started early.

I found flowers at Costco this year that I liked (petunias and impatiens) in addition to the tomato plants that I usually get there. They had good prices, even better than the Mother’s Day sales that were going on at all the other nursery’s.


This is one of the Impatiens I got from Costco (it's a little chewed up. Oh well). I don't know what variety it is because it didn't have a tag in the flat. It's taller than the usual Impatiens that I see. Do you know what it is?

But I also got some plants at Home Depot because they are close and they also were better prices and surprisingly had more selection than the (one other) garden center I went to.

I didn’t bother getting any perennials this year – mostly because the two places I went didn’t have what I wanted (I’m looking for some pretty double coneflowers). But I might go back to Home Depot – they have some pretty Delphiniums that I might go for. I also might go get some Hostas for under my tree, where nothing grows.


I have always gotten my Gerbera Daisies at Costco, but this year they didn't have any, so I only got one at Home Depot because they are Wyatt's favorite. (They are also the kid's favorites to pick).

I haven’t planted my vegetable garden yet – I thought I would do that on Saturday when Wyatt was home because I thought he would want to be a part of it. But he got busy on another project – so we never got that far. I will probably do it tomorrow.


In my search for some coneflower's I came across these African Daisies. I thought they were pretty - like a purple version of my yellow daisies (see last year's pictures). We'll see if I like them at the end of the summer.

Last year I got a beautiful, delicious tomato from Connie Vining at the RS Garden Exchange. I made a mental note to ask her about it this year. I called her this week and she told me it is called a “Celebrity” tomato. She says she was told it is the type of tomato used by Campbells in their tomato soup. I noticed they do have that variety at Costco, though I didn’t get one. I will add that to my list for this week.


I was talking to Jamie Kirkham last summer about a flower in her yard that I liked. I *THINK* she said it was a Dahlia. I got a few of these. We'll see how they go.

Also, I was talking to Roy Nydeggar who told me you can get Pink Flowering Dogwood’s on sale at Nole’s Nursery this week. That’s good because everywhere I’ve been and everywhere I’ve called, has not carried that tree. I really want one.


I came across this guy as I was planting - he's in a hard cocoon with a stinger at the end that moves when you touch him. He was about 1 1/4 inch long. What is he?


Garden Journal 2013 – Starting Seeds




I’ve started my early seeds. This is the first year being on-top-of-my-life enough to add gardening to my list this early. So I’ve never planted/tried these things before. This year we are planting peas, beans, lettuce, and thyme as our early spring plants. Today I put the seeds in little cups of warm water to soak for a day or two before I put them outside. I have read this speeds up the germination time, and since I am technically almost two weeks late in my planting, I will need all the help I can get!

I am planting –

Burpee Garden Bean Kitchen King
Burpee Pea Super Sugar Snap
Burpee Pea Burpeeana Early
Burpee Lettuce Caesars Favorite
Burpee Lettuce Green Ice
Mountain Valley Seeds Thyme

All of the Burpee Seeds I bought at Walmart a few weeks ago. The Thyme – I think – is from Sharon Stewart, my visiting teacher.

So, anyhoo- I am soaking the seeds. With the Lettuce, I will continue on with the method described here:

I planted 6 types of lettuce this year, using the pre-soak method. First I soaked them in little bowls of water overnight. Then I put each type on a moist paper towel and layered those on a plastic plate & covered it all with a plastic bag. Within 48 hours all of them had germinated! So I put two of each type into inside fiber pots, (I wanted to start 25 plants inside for transplanting later, to get a jump start since the weather has been so cold lately) and the leftovers into one large container close together to use as cut-and-come again baby lettuce. So simple!



Last year I did this same thing and had more delicious lettuce then I knew what to do with. OK, well that’s not quite true- I had a party and we ate it all! 🙂

Here is a link that might be useful: picture of last fall’s lettuce


The rest of the seeds I will put into the ground tomorrow. (Except the Thyme – I might try the lettuce method on the thyme too because the seeds are so tiny).

The Good Earth




{Do you remember that book? Wasn’t it horrible? I remember hating it . . . perhaps I should add it to my list to reread. Maybe I missed something the first time around}

Olivia and Ejo working hard in the garden. All the kids helped me in the work of the clean up. They were awesome!

This weekend we put the garden away.

Green tomatoes on my torn out plants. How do I get them to ripen sooner?

We tore out the tomatoes, even though there were still about a bazillion green ones still on the vine. I need to find out how to get my plants to ripen sooner.

Some of the last things to be pulled out of the garden.

We tore out the watermelon – found about ten little teeny ones hidden throughout the garden. What the . . . !

Olivia holding a "duster" - a corn stalk and root that she cut and trimmed to make herself a cleaning tool.

We tore out the corn stalks, I tried to save some from the kids (who thought they made excellent brooms and dusters) to decorate my front porch with.

We tore out the zucchinis and yellow squash, only after plucking the last of their bounty.

We cut off and pulled off the spaghetti squash and acorn squash, and the last few peppers before pulling the plants out.

'Wait!' is what Cal said when I went to snap a picture of him working on the garden. He ran over to the weeds and returned with a piece of straw for his mouth. 'Now I look like a farmer' he told me as he allowed me to take his picture.


When everything was cleared and picked up, we raked, hoed, and cleaned the dirt to get it ready for next year.

I’m so excited for next year!

Now for a garden recap picture show:


We started in the spring by building garden boxes – 1 12×4, 2 8×4 and 2 4x4s.

Then we hauled in dirt – 1 load of top soil and 1 load of compost.

Then we mixed, raked, and planted.


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Before we knew it we had all sorts of little things popping up. Everyone helped in tending the garden. One of our favorite activities was to go out in the cool of the evening and hose the garden down.


It wasn’t long before we started to enjoy some of the harvest. Fresh tomatoes and basil and squash and corn were used all summer in salads and dinners.



One extra fun experience we had was in the middle of the summer when one of the older women in my ward called me and asked me to come pick her plum tree. She wasn’t able to harvest and use it this year as she was too busy caring for her ailing husband, but she didn’t want it to go to waste (or, I suspect, litter her beautiful and impeccable yard).


So I took the kids over on a hot hot summer day, and we spent the afternoon in the tree plucking plums. At first they complained and whined that it was so hot. But soon they were in the tree right along side me, picking plums and throwing them down for Everett to gather and Roo to eat.

At the end of the afternoon Olivia confessed: “Mom, I feel so good inside.” I told her it was because she was helping a neighbor.

She then suggested that we write this story up and submit it to The Friend. Ha ha ha!


And what did I do with 100 lbs of plums (okay, maybe not 100, but seriously, at least 70)? I made plum butter. My house smelled heavenly for a week as I sliced, pitted and stewed plums. By the end of the week I was so sick of it though!


The one great disappointment of the year was my sunflowers. I had some that reseeded from years past (like the red sunflower shown above) and I had about a half dozen come from seeds I planted this year (from over 100 seeds planted! Grr!) but most of the sunflowers were wild, weedy ones. I was so annoyed I had Wyatt pull them out in August, in hopes of not letting the weedy ones reseed. I am trying to figure out how to solve this problem for next year.

Over all the garden was a great experience. I learned a lot, and know what I’ll do different for next year. But for the most part, it really was able to be an after thought to our busy and frenetic lives. I was glad about that – that it didn’t become just this big overwhelming chore. It was fun, and the produce was great, but I didn’t feel a lick of guilt (well, maybe a lick) in throwing some of the produce away. If I couldn’t use it, I wasn’t going to beat myself up about it. So it was really just a fun family project.

I’m looking forward to next year!

The garden cleaned up and ready for next year!


Welcome Back, July!



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The best part of today? The sunflower that bloomed in the back yard. I've never seen one (of the varieties that I grow) bloom this early! It's just been that hot. But it was a great little surprise.


Remember last year, when July was over?

And now it’s back!

Welcome back July, we’re so excited to have you!

Here is a little tour of our yard on July 1st:

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View of the garden in the back yard.

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I have little tomatoes coming on! I hope they don't get ripe while I'm out of town 🙁

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Today I pulled out SIX zuccini plants, but I couldn't bear to pull out the four that were already starting to produce, even though my neighbor tells me I will be drowing in zuccini. If anyone wants some, let me know! We counted 7 so far!

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I even have a little baby pepper growing!

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View of the back yard with babies playing.

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Everett is such a big helper these days!

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View of the back yard from the back of the garden (notice Roo on the grass, and Everett playing).

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In the front yard we have things blooming too - like this yellow Day Lily. I will admit, Day Lilies are not my favorite, but at least this one is yellow instead of orange. 😀

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This is Wyatt's favorite - the fuschia Gerbera Daisy.

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I'm excited for these yellow daisies a neighbor gave me last fall.

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My pink Asiatic Lilies finally bloomed! I was begining to wonder since it seems like everyone elses bloomed like two weeks ago. They still aren't very tall - only 12 inches or so. I wonder if they will get bigger as the years come? The blooms are HUGE though - probably 6 or 8 inches across.