Planting Your Garden and When to Plant

Even though many areas of the country are still knee-deep in winter weather, thoughts are quickly changing to the warmth and sunshine of spring. Sunny days, no more frosty nights – what’s not to love? Even in the coldest months of the year, though, it’s time to start planning your summer garden. These tips will help you know how and when to plant.

ven in the coldest months of the year, it’s time to start planning your summer garden. These tips will help you know how and when to plant.

Keep a Journal

Planning your garden takes some time, but it really shouldn’t take more than an afternoon. If you haven’t planted a garden before, start a small garden journal. Keep notes of plants and varieties you’d like to incorporate into your space. If you are planning a vegetable garden, order some seed catalogs from online websites. You’ll learn a lot from reading about the different varieties available.

If you had a garden last year, then you probably have notes, or at least thoughts, about what worked well for your space and what you might want to change. Did you find out that 10 zucchini plants were more than your family could deal with?

Did pumpkins take over your yard? Keeping a small notebook with notes is a great way to help plan your garden from year to year. You don’t need to make anything fancy, but have a place to keep all your garden thoughts together. Before planning this year’s garden, read through to see what you might want to change.

Visit the Garden Center

Next, make a visit to your local garden center. This is for several reasons, but the primary one is that they are familiar with your locale and know when the optimum time for planting your garden is, as well as plant varieties that will perform well in your area.

They have a wealth of information and are available to share it with you. They’ll also know if you need to amend your soil or need other kinds of nutrients in your area. They enjoy talking shop.

Focus on the Estimated Last Frost Date

The important date to focus on is the estimated last frost day. Tender young plants will die if exposed to frost. There are some methods to protect them if you get a freak cold day after you’ve planted, though. But there is nothing more infuriating than having to replant your garden because you planted too early!

Start Plants Indoors

To get a jump on the season, you can start some plants indoors before the beginning of the season. Count about eight weeks before that critical last frost date, and start your seeds then. You can plant them in almost anything from newspaper pots to peat pellets to small flower pots. If they have some sunlight, warmth, and water, they will grow.

Starting your own plants from seed will allow you to experiment with types that aren’t readily available, like some of the new developments, or old heirloom varieties. There is a lot of satisfaction in starting your own transplants, and it’s a great way to get the whole family involved in gardening, too. You can order seeds from companies like BurpeeGurney’s, or Baker Creek Heirloom.

Purchase from Your Local Nursery

If this seems like too much work, make a trek back to your local nursery to find out what varieties they have available. Try to find a garden center that raises their own plants instead of buying them from a larger commercial grower. The plants will be adapted to your day length, humidity, and may even already be acclimated to the environment.

Plants that nurseries purchase – like the big box stores – are usually greenhouse grown, under the best growing conditions, and then delivered to your store. They’re usually not the best plants for your region, and are just a generic variety that’s sold everywhere.

Be Ready to Plant

Be ready to plant your garden when all dangers of frost have passed. In temperate climates where frost is not an issue, gardens may be planted any time of the year.

Pay attention to the specific needs of the varieties you’ve picked. Some plants do better in the cooler months with shorter sunlight, and some need the hotter days of summer, along with the longer sunlight to thrive. Remember to jot down a few notes throughout the season so you can fine tune the process next year.

 

 

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Mexican Street Corn Dip

This Mexican Street Corn Dip is a delicious appetizer that is served with tortilla chips.

This Mexican Street Corn Dip is a delicious appetizer that is served with tortilla chips.

Mexican Street Corn Dip
Serves: 3 - 4
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups corn
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • ¼ cup chopped green onions
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
Instructions
  1. In a skillet over medium heat, add the corn, olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes and stir occasionally.
  2. Remove from heat and add the sour cream, parsley, green onions, and chili powder. Mix well.
  3. Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy.
Notes
Add some chopped chilies to take it to the next spicy level.

This Mexican Street Corn Dip is a delicious appetizer that is served with tortilla chips.

The post Mexican Street Corn Dip appeared first on The Happy Housewife™ :: Cooking.

  

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Lasagna Soup with Gluten-Free Option

By contributing writer Tessa

This lasagna soup is filled with delicious lasagna flavors but doesn’t require all the assembly time that the casserole does. And it can easily be made gluten free.

This lasagna soup is filled with delicious lasagna flavors but doesn't require all the assembly time that the casserole does. It can easily be made gluten free.

My mom’s lasagna was always a huge hit growing up. Years ago I saw a picture for a lasagna soup and thought it was totally brilliant. What a creative idea! When I recreated it using my mom’s recipe as a base, I was not disappointed.

It really does taste just like lasagna in soup form and comes together in under 30 minutes. With most kids adoring noodles and cheese, you have an added bonus of a totally family-friendly recipe.

So get cooking and make a warming, comforting bowl of lasagna soup!

Lasagna Soup (with Gluten-Free Option)
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 10 ounces lasagna noodles (gluten-free noodles can be used)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or other fat for sauteing
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 teaspoons Italian seasoning or 1 teaspoon each oregano, thyme, and basil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 6 - 8 cups homemade chicken or beef stock (amount depends on how brothy you like it)
  • 24 ounces favorite spaghetti sauce (could use a full can of pureed stewed tomatoes in a pinch)
  • 8 ounces shredded mozzarella
  • 8 ounces cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
  • 4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Cook the lasagna noodles until al dente (still firm when bitten) and set aside.
  2. In a large stock pot over medium heat, saute the onion, garlic, and ground beef until meat is cooked through.
  3. Stir in the spices and sea salt.
  4. Stir in the broth and spaghetti sauce until combined.
  5. Bring to a slow boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes to let flavors blend.
  6. Meanwhile, mix together the three cheeses in a bowl and set aside with the cooked noodles.
  7. To serve, place some noodles in a bowl, top with the hot soup, then dollop preferred amount of cheese mixture on top, mixing to melt.
Notes
Any pasta shape can work in this recipe

I have a dairy-free "cheese" sauce that could be used too. You can find it as part of my mom's lasagna recipe here.

This lasagna soup is filled with delicious lasagna flavors but doesn't require all the assembly time that the casserole does. It can easily be made gluten free.

You might also like…

 

The post Lasagna Soup with Gluten-Free Option appeared first on The Happy Housewife™ :: Cooking.

  

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This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Lasagna Soup with Gluten-Free Option

By contributing writer Tessa

This lasagna soup is filled with delicious lasagna flavors but doesn’t require all the assembly time that the casserole does. And it can easily be made gluten free.

This lasagna soup is filled with delicious lasagna flavors but doesn't require all the assembly time that the casserole does. It can easily be made gluten free.

My mom’s lasagna was always a huge hit growing up. Years ago I saw a picture for a lasagna soup and thought it was totally brilliant. What a creative idea! When I recreated it using my mom’s recipe as a base, I was not disappointed.

It really does taste just like lasagna in soup form and comes together in under 30 minutes. With most kids adoring noodles and cheese, you have an added bonus of a totally family-friendly recipe.

So get cooking and make a warming, comforting bowl of lasagna soup!

Lasagna Soup (with Gluten-Free Option)
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 10 ounces lasagna noodles (gluten-free noodles can be used)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or other fat for sauteing
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 teaspoons Italian seasoning or 1 teaspoon each oregano, thyme, and basil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 6 - 8 cups homemade chicken or beef stock (amount depends on how brothy you like it)
  • 24 ounces favorite spaghetti sauce (could use a full can of pureed stewed tomatoes in a pinch)
  • 8 ounces shredded mozzarella
  • 8 ounces cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
  • 4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Cook the lasagna noodles until al dente (still firm when bitten) and set aside.
  2. In a large stock pot over medium heat, saute the onion, garlic, and ground beef until meat is cooked through.
  3. Stir in the spices and sea salt.
  4. Stir in the broth and spaghetti sauce until combined.
  5. Bring to a slow boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes to let flavors blend.
  6. Meanwhile, mix together the three cheeses in a bowl and set aside with the cooked noodles.
  7. To serve, place some noodles in a bowl, top with the hot soup, then dollop preferred amount of cheese mixture on top, mixing to melt.
Notes
Any pasta shape can work in this recipe

I have a dairy-free "cheese" sauce that could be used too. You can find it as part of my mom's lasagna recipe here.

This lasagna soup is filled with delicious lasagna flavors but doesn't require all the assembly time that the casserole does. It can easily be made gluten free.

You might also like…

 

The post Lasagna Soup with Gluten-Free Option appeared first on The Happy Housewife™ :: Cooking.

  

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This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Baked Parmesan Potato Fries

Your family will love these Baked Parmesan Potato Fries. They’re easy to make and are healthier than regular fries because they’re baked. Try switching up the seasoning to use flavors that your family enjoys (Old Bay would be good!).

Baked Parmesan Potato Fries
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 6 large russet potatoes
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ tablespoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400° F and lightly coat a baking dish with non-stick spray.
  2. Slice all potatoes lengthwise into 6 wedges and place them in the baking dish.
  3. Add Parmesan cheese, oil, and spices to the potatoes and gently mix.
  4. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes then toss fries and bake for another 30 minutes.
  5. Serve and enjoy.
Notes
Add ½ piece of crushed garlic for a light pungent and spicy taste.

Your family will love these Baked Parmesan Potato Fries. They're easy to make and are healthier than regular fries because they're baked.

More potato recipes…

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Bacon Wrapped Jalepeño Poppers

By contributing writer Tessa

We have loved jalapeño poppers in our household for years!  They make a great appetizer or a fun football snack.  Everyone always loves these – it’s just an added bonus they are free of gluten and all grains!

Jalapeño poppers make a great appetizer or a fun football snack. Everyone always loves these. They just happen to be gluten free and grain free.

There is a lot of room for creativity with this recipe.  I have shared our most frequently used recipe, but if your family is not huge on spice, then make this a bubbly hot dip to be served with fresh vegetables, crackers, or bread chunks!  The bacon can be wrapped around the poppers or cooked and chopped and then mixed into the cheese filling.

And if you are dairy free, I have even made these with a cashew cream cheese and Daiya cheese shreds!

However you make them, enjoy some popper amazingness!

Jalapeño poppers make a great appetizer or a fun football snack. Everyone always loves these. They just happen to be gluten free and grain free.

Bacon Wrapped Jalepeño Poppers
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 12 jalapeños, seeded and halved lengthwise
  • 8 ounces cream cheese (low fat is fine, not fat free)
  • 4 ounces grated sharp flavored cheese (play with the varieties)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pickled jalapeños (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
  • 12 thin slices favorite bacon, cut in half lengthwise*
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. In the bowl of your mixer, mix the cream cheese, cheese, jalapenos, and garlic until well blended.
  3. Take approximately 2 teaspoons of filling and stuff the jalapeno halves.
  4. If you are wrapping the bacon, take a half strip and wrap around each pepper. I often do not need the whole slice and will tear off the extra to use on the next.
  5. Place poppers on a cookie sheet and bake for about 25 minutes until bacon is crispy.
Notes
*If your slices are too thick, they will not crisp up in the oven in the allotted time. You can try par-cooking them first, or just crisp them up, chop them, and mix into the cheese mixture.

You might also like…

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