Here are The Best Perennial Veggies and Herbs for Your Garden

Do you want to expand your garden without needing to put even more work into it each year? Planting a new garden every year is daunting. It takes weeks of preparing and planting to make your dreams come true. Perennial plants can change that.

Perennial vegetables and herbs are planted once and harvested year after year. Gardeners rarely plant these vegetables, which is a shame because most are low-maintenance and still provide you with a bountiful harvest. Planting perennial veggies and herbs save you time and money. You don’t have to purchase new plants each year, prepare the garden bed and wait for the seed to germinate.

While all of these plants are perennials, they may not be in certain climates and locations. Plants that come back in your zone may not come back in another, so check for compatibility for your location. You can always grow them as an annual plant!

Perennial Vegetables

Artichokes

Artichokes need to be harvested before it starts to flower. Once the plant blooms, the artichoke is barely edible. You can grow artichokes as a perennial in areas with cool summers and mild winters. As a perennial, you can expect one plant to produce a harvest for five years. That’s impressive!

Artichokes are only perennials up to USDA Hardiness Zone 7. If you live in zones 5 and 6, you might be able to provide protection and get them to grow like a perennial. You might consider overwintering them indoors or in a greenhouse.

Asparagus

Asparagus requires patience because it might take three years to see a true harvest. If you have the patience to wait for fresh asparagus – a seriously good reason to wait – plant some asparagus in a raised bed. If you live in zones 4 to 9, asparagus grows as a perennial and can produce a harvest for 20 years. One planting can lead to a lot of asparagus!

Good King Henry

Many Americans are unaware of this European vegetable. It is a spinach relative that needs to be planted in full sun or partial shade. Make sure the soil is moist and well-draining. It is hardy to zone 3.

Groundnut

Another forgotten perennial vegetable is the American groundnut. It is also called the Indian potato. While it doesn’t get much attention, groundnut is a great addition to any garden. Groundnut is a perennial vine that grows edible beans and large edible tubers. The vines reach six feet long and need a trellis to grow upwards. You harvest groundnuts in the fall. Then, you leave some in the ground to continue next year’s growth.

Jerusalem Artichoke

Jerusalem artichokes are known as sunchokes. The flavor is nutty and similar to artichokes, but sunchokes have a texture similar to potatoes. This vegetable is in the sunflower family and produces beautiful yellow flowers in the fall.

Be aware that sunchokes love to spread aggressively in garden beds. You harvest the tubers, so you dig them up to harvest. The tubers left in the ground will grow next year.

Rhubarb

Rhubarb has a unique flavor that works well in desserts and jams. I added rhubarb to my strawberry jam! Make sure you don’t eat the leaves or roots because they are poisonous. Rhubarb requires full sun and well-draining soil, and you will harvest in the spring. Typically, you plant a rhubarb crown and wait two years or more before harvesting stalks.

Sea Kale

You might think sea kale is a simple ornamental plant, but it is an edible variety of kale. Kale lovers rejoice! Sea kale grows grey-blue leaves and white flowers. Harvest the shoots when they are around six inches tall. The plant has a unique hazelnut flavor that many people enjoy. It is a perennial up to zone 4, but make sure you plant in full sun.

Perennial Herbs

Basil 

Because of my zone location, I cannot grow basil as perennial, but you can if you live in zones 10 and up. Basil is one of my favorite herbs, especially in our spaghetti sauce or on pizza. If you don’t live in a warm enough zone to grow basil as a perennial outdoors, consider growing it in containers outside during the summer and moving it indoors throughout the colder months.

Chives

Chives grow as a perennial in zones 3 to 10. This herb is hardy! You need to plant chives in a location that receives full sun. Make sure you water often to get a bountiful harvest, and remove the flowers before the plant produces seeds.

Fennel

Those of us in northern climates can only enjoy fennel as an annual, but those of you in warmer climates can have fennel as a perennial. You lucky dogs! Throughout the growing season, make sure you water regularly if you want fennel to thrive.

Horseradish

Some call horseradish a vegetable, but most people eat horseradish as a condiment. Those who love spiciness must grow it in their garden. The leaves are boring, along with the flowers. The root is where the excitement is!

When you plant horseradish, realize that it can be invasive with its growth habits. Remove as much of the roots as possible when you harvest in the fall. Replant enough root sections to grow what you need for the following years.

Tips for Growing Perennial Vegetables and Herbs

  • Realize that perennial vegetables take time to establish. You might not see a harvest until the second or third year after planting.
  • You might notice your perennial plants taking over your garden bed. Expect to need to trim back throughout the season.
  • Perennial greens will taste bitter once they flower, just like annuals. Harvest early in the season.
  • Plant separate from your annual crops.
  • Make sure you plant appropriately where you plant your perennials because it is permanent!
  • Perennial veggies are more likely to catch a disease because you cannot practice crop rotation.
  • Incorporate perennials by planting on the border of your annual garden beds.

This list is far from exhaustive. There are dozens of perennial herbs and vegetables. Many of them are uncommon in today’s gardens, but they are making a reappearance. Save time and expand your garden by adding a few perennial plants this year.

Perennial Vegetables

Canning Supplies: Everything You Need to Get Started

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Canning season is getting closer, and it is time to get ready! If you’ve never canned before, you need to gather the essential supplies to get started. Don’t worry; it’s easier than you might think.

You want to know what is necessary and what is just nice to have. No one wants to spend money unnecessarily. Summer is busy on the homestead, so you want to get prepared now before you have a countertop full of produce ready for canning.

I love canning season, and I love watching my pantry shelves filling up with new jars with fresh food. So, what do you need to get started? Let’s take a look!

Water Bath Canner

The first thing you need is a water bath canner. It looks like a large pot or kettle, but it is made specifically for canning. The canner comes with a canning rack which stabilizes the jars and prevents them from cracking.

Pressure Canner

A pressure canner is necessary if you want to can vegetables, soups, and meats. Most newbies start off with water bath canning, but I think you can jump into both types! Using a pressure canner isn’t as scary as some people think.

Canning Jars and Lids

You won’t get very far without canning jars and lids! There are two types of mason jars: wide mouth and regular mouth.

Regular mouth jars are perfect for liquids, such as soups and salsa, or jams. Wide mouth are better for vegetables or cuts of meat. They are easier to clean as well, unless you use a bottle brush scrubber.

You want more lids than jars. Jars will come with one set of lids for each jar, but jars are reusable. Lids cannot be reused, unless you purchase Tattler lids. Those are different from the typical lids you get with your canning jars. Make sure you have a few extra boxes of lids on hand.

Canning Funnel

When you ladle soup or jam from the both into the jars, a funnel makes the job a lot easier. You won’t lose as much over the sides of your jar.

Lid Lifter

A lid lifter lets you lift the lids without burning yourself. Lids need to be placed in hot water before used. If you purchase a canning set of essentials, a lifter will be included.

Jar Lifter

A jar lifter is like a pair of tongs, but they are designed specifically to lift hot jars out of the canner. This item would also be in the above set of essentials.

Spatula 

A small spatula or bubble popper is necessary because it gets rid of all the little air bubbles in the food. Air bubbles can lead to spoilage, so pop bubbles before you put the lid on the jar.

A Large Stock Pot

Whether you are making jam or soup, you need a large pot where you can cook the food. Soup needs to simmer. Of course, this pot isn’t just for canning, but you need to make sure you have one on hand!

Canning Cookbook

This isn’t totally necessary, but a canning cookbook is  great to have on hand. Nowadays, you can find hundreds of canning recipes on the internet. A new canner might feel comfortable using a book with proven recipes rather than trusting the internet.

Now, you are ready to get canning! Need some inspiration? Try my Easy Strawberry Jam recipe! It is my family’s favorite. They can’t get enough of it, and it is perfect for a new canner.

Mom of 4: My Newborn Baby Must-Have Items

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Jolene is two months old now, and that means I’ve officially had four newborn babies in the last eight years. That seems crazy to me, but time goes fast.

Over the years, I started to embrace minimalism when it comes to the items that babies and children require. Our house is less than 1,000 square feet. Yes, you read that right! We have a smaller home, so each item we bring into our house needs to have a specific purpose.

Babies don’t NEED too many items. It is the parents who think babies need the entire infant section at Target. We want to purchase all of the cute clothes, create a Pinterest worthy nursery, and buy all the new parenting gadgets.

If that’s how you want to spend your money, then go for it. I prefer to purchase the items I know I need and save our money for items that are truly wanted or needed.

DON’T GO OVERBOARD WITH CLOTHES! As much as dressing babies is adorable, they outgrow clothes so fast. Purchase mostly secondhand to save yourself money.

Now, I’m not going into the most obvious items. You need a car seat to leave the hospital or if you ever want to leave the house. You need clothes, diapers, and a way to feed the baby. Those are obvious, but what about the less obvious items?

Baby Carrier

Without a doubt, my favorite item for a baby is a baby carrier. I love babywearing! I started wearing my first because it made sense. Who doesn’t want to have both hands available? My second child was high-needs, so babywearing was essential. I had to babywear my third if I wanted to survive and take care of my two older kids. Now, with baby four, babywearing is part of my daily routine.

For the newborn stage, I love the Moby Wrap! It is so soft and comfortable, but it is tricky to learn to use. A ring sling is an invaluable tool at the newborn stage as well. I’ve used all types of wraps; woven wraps are one of my loves. I use the Tula Free to Grow the most often right now.

Muslin Blankets

Oh, I love muslin blankets! I still have several from almost six years ago; we used them heavily after the birth of my second child. Muslin gets softer with washes and use, so those are like butter.

Muslin blankets are a versatile item, which why I love it. You can use them for their intended purpose, like a blanket. They are thin and breezy for spring and summer. Fold the blanket for fall and winter. A muslin blanket makes the perfect nursing cover. Also, these are swaddle blankets, so swaddle with them! If you have large and long babies as I do, these are much easier to swaddle with than those darn hospital blankets.

Gripe Water

Babies are fussy at times. Gripe water is a sanity saver. I tell every parent I know to get a bottle. They cure hiccups, gas, tummy aches and more. Gripe water is an herbal medication safe for babies two weeks and older. Seriously, get a bottle or five.

Boppy

It is no secret that I have c-sections. A Boppy is very helpful while breastfeeding and recovering. Use it as a blocker when your toddler climbs on your lap. Your incision is safe under the Boppy. I also use it to help prop up the baby while nursing so I can have both hands to type or read my kids books. Sometimes, Jolene falls asleep in my arms, and I lay her in my lap on the Boppy.

Rock and Play or Swing 

Babies don’t need dozens of contraptions to keep your child happy. Having a Rock and Play, a swing, and a vibrating seat makes little sense. We don’t have the space for all the baby gear, and that’s ok. Pick one or two that you want to use.

We have a swing (that vibrates) and a Rock and Play. The RNP can move from room to room, so I may have it beside my recliner or in the kitchen while I teach reading. The swing is stationary in the living room.

Remember, your child might hate everything besides your arms. That’s a huge possibility.

Cosleeper

Babies need a safe place to sleep. Right now, we don’t have space for Jolene to have a separate bedroom until we finish our room addition. That’s fine because we are a co-sleeping family! We use an Arm’s Reach Cosleeper for the first months of our baby’s life.

 

After having several kids, I see how babies truly need. Most of what we buy our babies is because we want it for them. Yes, they might enjoy it. Jolene loves her play mat and looking at herself in the mirror. She likes her sit-me-up seat as well. That doesn’t make them a necessity!

If you are a minimalist like me or want to save money, stick to the basic items. That saves you a lot of money in the long run.

 

Is Soaking Seeds Necessary?

Soaking seeds is an old trick that many new gardeners ignore or never knew to try. Using this trick is supposed to decrease how long it takes for seeds to germinate. When I first heard this trick, I wondered if soaking seeds was really necessary? Does it ACTUALLY make a difference?

Why Should I Soak My Seeds?

In nature, seeds encounter different conditions. The weather can be hot or cold, wet or dry, or your seed may live in a bird or small animal’s stomach for a while. Life is not gentle on seeds.

But, we are gentle with the seeds. Soaking seeds before you plant them helps break down the natural defenses your seed develops to defend itself against Mother Nature. Breaking down the defenses leads to faster germination.

Another reason to soak seeds is to activate their internal gauge to germination mode. Seeds determine when it is time to germinate by the moisture content around them. Increased moisture sends the – hey its time to sprout – signal to the seed.

So, soaking seeds is going to speed up germination. I know I like faster germination, but I don’t have much patience.

Soaking Seeds: Is It for All Seeds? 

Big, wrinkled seeds are the best candidates for soaking. These seeds have a very hard coat. Some seeds you might want to soak are:

·         Squash

·         Pumpkins

·         Corn

·         Bens

·         Peas

Don’t soak little seeds, such as lettuce or radishes. They don’t reap the benefits, and wet, small seeds are hard to handle.

How Do You Soak Seeds?

Soaking seeds is easy! All you need is a bowl of water and the seeds. Fill up your bowl with hot, tap water. Put your seeds into the bowl, and let them stay in there as the water cools down.

You can oversoak a seed, so you can’t leave them in the water and come back in five days. You never want to soak for more than 48 hours. The recommended soaking time is 12 to 24 hours. Put them in the water before you go to bed, and they will be ready for planting the next morning. Just put the seeds right into your garden

Other Tips

Don’t soak your seeds if the weather forecast calls for rain the day you are planting. You want good planting conditions if you want to plant soaked seeds. Otherwise, the seeds will soak too much, and the soil will be compacted.

Large, harder seeds sometimes benefit from scarification. That basically means nicking the seed coat, but not puncturing all the way through! You can use a dull knife or a nail file just to nick the seed to encourage germination once soaked.

 

I love learning something new. I can attest to the benefits of soaking seeds. Last year, I heard about the recommendation, and I gave it a try with my green beans. I saw green bean sprouts in my garden beds in record time. For those impatient gardeners, give this trick a try!

Introducing Jolene Renee

I’ve been absent for several weeks, but it’s for a great reason! Our sweet baby girl arrived on March 13th, a whooping 9lbs 15oz and 23.5 inches long. Surprisingly, she wasn’t our largest baby!

My c-section went well. We did have a hiccup when we realized that my uterus was rupturing. It was scary, but we praise God that Jolene and I came out safe and happy. My recovery has been wonderful. Andrew was off work for six weeks, and he took wonderful care of me throughout my first few weeks of recovery.

She is now almost 7 weeks old, and life is slowly getting back to normal. We are trying to find our new norm, which is hard! The kids and I had a set routine before the baby arrived, and now we have to find our new norm. It is very slowly happening.

Connor, our third child, is two years old and is slightly struggling with the adjustment. He loves his baby sister a bit too much. His love is an aggressive love. However, he is craving more attention than ever before. We will find our balance soon. It’s hard to believe she has been here for only seven weeks, and we can’t imagine our life without this sweet girl.

I am so thankful and happy to be done with pregnancy. While I loved each of my pregnancies carrying my four kids, we are ready to put the chapter behind us. No more babies for this family! It is a bittersweet time, knowing that as she grows, it is the last time I will have a baby this age. However, we are ready to pursue other dreams, expand our homesteading efforts, travel, and see where God takes our family.

So, I am back and ready with some wonderful information to bring to you all! Spring gardening season is upon us, and we have seeds in the ground finally!

6 Common Seed Starting Mistakes

Starting seeds is one of my favorite times during the year. It means winter is finally coming to an end and the start of my favorite season – gardening season – is upon us. However, seed starting can be tricky for newbies. It can be tricky for me at times as well!

I’ve had many people tell me that they tried to start their seeds at home, but they always failed. There are several mistakes that people make all the time that can lead to failure. To increase your success rate, take a look at these common seed starting mistakes and avoid them!

6 Common Seed Starting Mistakes

  1. Starting Them at the Wrong Time: Every gardener needs to know their USDA Hardiness Zone and your average last frost date. Then, you need to know the best time to start each plant before that date. Every plant is different! Some need to start 10 to 12 weeks BEFORE your final frost date! The plants need to be old enough to transfer to their outdoor garden location.

If you start your seeds too early, they will too large for their pots or they might become root bound. Their growth could be stunted. Timing is crucial.

  1. Using the Incorrect Dirt: You can’t go outside and scoop out dirt from your garden. Seeds need special type of dirt because they are more prone to diseases and infections.

One of the most important factors is using a sterile soil. Otherwise, you risk passing a disease to your delicate seedlings. You also could bring insects in from outside. Who wants bugs in their home?

Don’t waste your time. Start your seeds in good potting soil! Your seeds need nutrients to start. You can buy high quality seed starting soil. For extra nutrients, add worm castings or compost.

  1. Failing to Keep The Correct Moisture Level: Dry soil won’t lead to healthy, sprouted seedlings. As your seeds are sprouting, you have to keep the soil moist at all times. If the soil dries out, you need to add moisture quickly.

At the same time, you don’t want to add too much water once your seeds are sprouted and under the grow light.

When you are germinating your seedlings, it is best to cover your pots with plastic. Doing so keeps the moisture and humidity levels higher, giving you a better chance of a high germination rate.

TIP: Don’t pour water over your seedlings. Instead, use a spray bottle to mist your plants. Doing so mimics natural rain and creates even moisture. You can also pour water directly onto the water around the seedlings rather than over top.

  1. Not Providing Enough Light: No matter what you think, you don’t have enough natural light in your house to correctly. Seedlings require a lot of light! You can purchase an artificial grow light or use a higher strength light bulb. Your lights should be kept close to your seedlings, ideally 2 to 3 inches, and gradually raised as your plants grow taller. You need to keep the lights on for 12 to 16 hours per day!
  2. Planting Too Deeply: Seeds are particular in how they want to be planted. Seed packets typically can give you all of the information you need, including how deep to plant in the soil. If the packet doesn’t tell you, you should be cautious and plant no deeper than two or three times as deep as the seeds are wide.
  3. Forgetting to Label: This mistake seems so simple, but most seedlings look very similar. Once you have raised seedlings for a few years, you might be able to tell them apart once they sprout. However, you won’t be able to tell the different pepper varieties apart. Labeling your seeds is important! One of the best methods is popsicle sticks. They are simple and readily available.

Everyone commits at least one of these mistakes when they first start seedlings. You might be making more than one! Fix your mistakes before you even start your seedlings this year.

Pan Fried Tortellini with Fresh Veggies

Do you want a simple, yet tasty, meal for your family? Do you need to use up some produce that is going bad? Pan fried tortellini with fresh veggies is a family and kid-friendly recipe!

Finding dinners that my kids all love is difficult. All of my kids tend to have different tastes. While I don’t make multiple dinners, I do ensure there is something for everyone. It seems like a rarity when I can find a dinner everyone enjoys, but this is one.

What I love about making it is that it takes less than 30 minutes – seriously. Start to finish, you can easily make this dinner in 20 minutes. On top of that, you can use whatever veggies your family loves or whatever is going bad in the produce drawer. Do you have broccoli that needs used? Add it! Mushrooms that look like they need used by tomorrow? Add them too!

Your entire family is going to love this. Oh, and the suggested amount of butter can be adjusted. More butter is always better. If someone tries to tell you otherwise, don’t listen. Who needs that negativity in life?!

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Pan Fried Tortellini with Fresh Veggies

Do you want a dinner that takes less than 30 minutes to make? Pan fried tortellini with fresh veggies is a delicious and quick meal for your family! 

Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 bag frozen tortellini
  • 4 to 6 TBSP butter
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 cups assorted fresh veggies
  • parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Melt half of the butter on one side of a griddle pan. Dump the entire bag of frozen tortellini, typically 15 ounces or 1 pound. 
  2. Chop up whatever fresh veggies you have on hand! We love broccoli, mushrooms, spinach, cauliflower, or whatever is going bad in the produce drawer.

  3. Toss the tortellini in the melted butter. 

  4. Melt the other half of the butter on the other side of the griddle. 
  5. Add all of your fresh veggies and garlic. Toss together and let cook.

  6. Continue cooking until the tortellini have a bit of a crisp to them, but don't let them burn! You might need to add more butter.

  7. Turn off the griddle and serve! Sprinkle liberally with parmesan cheese. 

Looking for another fast meal? Check out my fluffy pancakes!

Why You Should Plant Heirloom Seeds

Seed buying and gardening planning time are upon us. The two popular choices for seeds are either heirloom or hybrid. I prefer heirloom seeds, for several reasons. Many home gardeners aren’t sure what to pick.

Hybrid and GMO seeds work for many people. I know dozens of people who use these varieties for their small gardens at home. However, if your goal is to create a natural garden, heirloom seeds are the way to go. Several benefits make them superior to any other choice. Let’s take a look!

Handed Down from Generations

Many heirloom seeds carry a story with them. Some families save the same seeds for decades. Kids plant the seeds from the plants of their parents, and it continues down the line. Most heirloom seeds are at least 50 years old and have never been crossbred or altered in any manner. GMO seeds are altered.

Heirloom seeds are a way to preserve history. The plants our ancestors once grew are slowly disappearing. Using heirloom seeds, especially those with a rich past, allow you to embrace and remember our past.

Heirloom Seeds are Renewable

If you want to save money and homestead on a budget, heirloom seeds are a necessity. You might spend more in the beginning purchasing seeds, but heirloom seeds come with the ability to preserve and save the seeds from the crops you liked the most that year.

A renewable source of seeds allows you to become self-reliant for your crops. You don’t have to depend on any store for more seeds, even though I always purchase more every year. We love Baker’s Creek Seeds, and I always want to try new varieties. That isn’t a necessity though!

The Flavor is Better

Some might argue this point, but it is obvious to our family. Heirloom vegetables and herbs have a better, unique taste when compared the hybrid plants and seeds available in stores. Many of the plants have distinct flavors that are impossible to find in other plants.

The tomatoes in the store taste nothing like the tomatoes I grow in my garden. The tomatoes at a farmer’s market explode with flavor, while the ones at your local grocer tend to be less than amazing.

The Plants are More Reliable

So, you head to your local store and grab a few packs of seeds. These particular seeds originated in Spain, but you aren’t aware of that at the time. You are located in Kentucky! Now, you go home and plant rows and rows of green beans. Unfortunately, those seeds don’t produce the way you hoped because of an attack from local pests.

When you save your heirloom seeds year after year, they slowly adapt to your region. They can survive attacks by pests and diseases easier. At the end of the season, you pick seeds from the most successful plants in your garden. In the end, you get a better, locally adapted strain of veggies for your garden.

 

Our family has amazing success every year using all heirloom seeds. Do you use heirloom seeds? Let me know about your experience – good and bad!

10 Seeds to Start Directly in Your Garden

Seed starting is typically one of the right tasks a gardener begins with in the year, aside from order those seeds. I love starting seeds; it means that full gardening season isn’t very far off. I look forward to the time when I can prepare the trays and lights for my seedlings. At the same time, I am so glad that there are so many direct sow vegetables.

What is a direct sowing vegetable? It is simply a plant that you plant the seed directly into the ground outside rather than starting inside. That means you get to skip the first 8 weeks of pampering inside. It is a true win-win!

Technically, you can direct sow any seed, but it will delay your harvest and growth. If you direct sow tomato seeds in May rather than using a seedling plant, your harvest may not happen until September rather than August.

Luckily, there are several direct sow vegetables that I start each year. Here are my favorites!

Leaf Lettuce

Growing lettuce is simple, and there is no reason to start it in a pot inside. All you need to do is make shallow trenches and sprinkle the seeds in a row. As the seeds start to sprout, you’ll want to thin them out, allowing the plants plenty of space to grow.

Lettuce is a great choice for succession gardening. You can plant a row every two weeks, giving yourself a fresh supply of salads almost all season.

Spinach 

Spinach is full of vital nutrients and antioxidants for your body. You can eat it raw in salads (with your fresh grown lettuce), or you can cook it in dishes. We love spinach cooked with tomatoes and bacon in our pasta. Yum!

Spinach needs full sun or part shade. You want to make sure that you water your spinach plants consistently. It tends to want to bolt during the summer, so try to pick heat-tolerant varieties. You can also plant it behind your trellis, ensuring the plant does get some shade each day.

Corn

Corn is an easy-to-grow plant that everyone loves, especially kids. It is best to plant corn in blocks or rows. Corn is a warm-season crop, which means you must wait until the final frost date has passed for your zone. Ideally, the soil temperatures should be around 60 degrees F. You may have to wait a few weeks after the final frost date to plant to ensure good germination rates.

Beans

I love green beans! They are one of my favorite veggies all year round. You get to pick between bush and pole beans. Pole beans grow from long vines and need a support system.  They are great if you are short on space.

Bush beans tend to produce their crop quicker, giving you the chance to get several harvesting if you use the succession planting method.

When you plant your beans, it is wise to soak them in a bowl of water a few hours beforehand. Doing so allows them to germinate quickly. Sow the first round in early spring, as soon as the dangers of frost is past.

Beets

I will be honest; I’m not the biggest fan of beets personally. However, they sell well at farmer’s markets and some of my family members enjoy them. So, I plant a small section each year. Beets are a cool weather crop, and it is important not to forget that. You should plant them early, as soon as the ground is workable.

Beets can be sown every three weeks for a continuous harvest. Just like beans, you can soak beets for a few hours in water before planting to encourage faster germination.

Carrots

Carrots can be tricky because they need fluffy, obstruction-free soil to grow larger, straight carrots. The seeds are small and difficult to space because of their size. However, they are worth the time investment. Who doesn’t want homegrown carrots in their fresh chicken soup?

Carrots are a cool-season crop, planted a few weeks before the final frost date. Make sure to water well after you plant. It is important to thin your seedlings as soon as they are two inches tall. Typically, you need to try to thin to three inches per carrot.

Cucumbers

Another plant you must include is cucumbers! Cucumbers scream summertime. They’re perfect with some tomatoes and olive oil for a tasty salad.

Cucumbers are warm temperature plants, so you do have to wait until the threat of frost passes. Cucumbers can grow in mounds or grow up a trellis. I always pick to grow mine up a support system to save space.

Zucchini

Some people like to start zucchini inside, but in my experience, they do better when directly sown in the garden. Zucchini plants don’t like to have their roots disrupted, and it can slow their growth when you transfer a seedling into the garden.

Zucchini typically grow in mounds, and they need at least three feet per mound. These plants are overproducers, so you might have zucchini coming out of your ears. Just like cucumbers, zucchini are warm-season plants, so wait until the final frost date passes before planting.

Peas

My kids love peas right off the vine, and so do I. They are such an easy crop to plant if you have little kids. Their little fingers are perfect for pushing pea seeds into the ground. Peas typically require a support system and produce tall vines.

Peas are a cool weather crop, so you want to plant them a few weeks before your final frost date. They also make a great fall crop because of their tolerance of cool weather. Peas should be planted about an inch deep. These are great for beginning gardeners!

Radishes

Radishes are such an underrated vegetable. People don’t know to use them, so they don’t grow them. Radishes are great, easy addition to your salads. You can also roast them with other veggies.

The best thing about radishes is that they grow super fast. Some varieties take less than three weeks to grow from seed to harvest! That is impressive. Kids get a kick out radishes, and it gives them the chance to see their hard work actually pay off.

Radishes are cool weather crops, and they need planted in the ground a few weeks before the final frost date. They also are great for a fall crop.

 

The list is far from exhaustive. There are other choices you can plant in the ground, such as different squashes and greens. However, if you are trying to minimize how many seeds you have to start inside, include all of these on your list for your garden!

Naturally Treating a Yeast Diaper Rash

A few days before Christmas, Connor and Caelyn came down with croup. Caelyn has croup each winter because of her asthma, but it was Connor’s first encounter with the joyous viral illness. At the same time, the doctor said his ears looked infected.

Yay! Just what any mother wants to have is two sick kids over Christmas break. Typically, I would try to treat an ear infection myself before turning to antibiotics, but desperate times, folks! I didn’t want a miserable baby over the holidays. So, she prescribed us some medications and off we went home.

She prescribed a stronger antibiotic than I typically use for an ear infection, but I didn’t think much of it. However, two days later, I noticed a rash developing on Connor’s butt. Being a mom of three kids, I know my diaper rashes. Instantly, I told Andrew he had a yeast rash. I stopped giving him the antibiotics immediately and started treatment.

Yeast can be hard to kick! There are times when you will need a prescription cream. I’ve had to use those before as well. However, some yeast rashes will respond to natural treatment options. Here are some things to try!

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How to Naturally Treat a Yeast Diaper Rash

Lots of Diaper Free Time

First, you want to give your baby plenty of diaper free time. Connor is almost two years old; he loves to be naked. Yeast loves warm, moist environments, like your child’s diaper. Diaper free time dries their butt and helps get rid of that yeast-prone area.

Frequent Changes

Babies can’t be naked all the time. Connor wishes he could be, but that’s not practical a toddler not potty-trained. If you put a diaper on your baby, make sure you change him often! Every hour to hour and a half is ideal. You want to avoid that moist, warm location as much as possible. Cleanliness is crucial for ridding your baby of yeast.

Bleach Your Cloth Diapers

I know; I’m breaking some cardinal rule to cloth diapering. I’m a rebel, but hear me out. Yeast can live in cloth diapers. I’ve done it several times where I would treat the yeast rash and it would keep coming back. The diapers weren’t helping the issue. Add some bleach to your first rinse cycle to kick that yeast!

Reduce Sugars and Carbs

Yeast also loves sugar. Don’t we all? If your child is on solid foods, consider his diet. It is wise to reduce carbs and sugar for the next few days.

Probiotics

Your child will benefit from a probiotic. If you are breastfeeding and the child is not eating solids, you should take the probiotic! They sell gummy probiotics which make it even easier for your child to take them. Also, give your child some probiotic yogurt, just make sure the sugar content isn’t too high.

*You can also use yogurt, plain with probiotics, as a cream on your child’s butt! It might seem strange, but it’ll feel great.

Avoid Chemicals and Fragrances

Wipe your child with warm water and nothing else. It can lead to worse irritation. I made that mistake over Christmas and my son’s butt paid the price for my mistake.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is naturally anti-fungal, the best thing to get rid of yeast! You can use it plain as your child’s diaper cream. Another option is to mix a few drops of tea tree oil into the coconut oil, so long as your baby is over six months old and its very diluted! Tea tree oil is also anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, a double whammy for the rash.

 

If your child’s yeast diaper rash isn’t going away within a few days, consider a call to the doctor. Sometimes, yeast is so persistent that you need a prescription cream. However, starting a regime of cleanliness, air time and coconut oil should kick it before it gets bad!