Jun 24, 2011 Love Your Veggies
So our garden is coming along surprisingly well, after a few bumps in the road. The first bump was when I returned from a three-day trip to find one of my planters dug up and filled with several days of cat poop. After cleaning it up and throwing up in my mouth a few times I hit the internet and did some research and came away with some things to try. Then, I vented about it on twitter
and a follower, NorthWestMommy, came to my rescue:
So, first I watered all of the areas the cats could dig in, figuring that the chili powder would stick better. Then I sprinkled all of the chili powder I had in the house. I checked the next day, and no poop. No poop the next day either. I was convinced, so I ordered some giant jars of chili powder and have been using it since, and have had zero problem with anything digging anything up! I reapply after a very hard rain. The only lingering problem from the cats is that I think they might have dug up all of the hot pepper seeds, because I just realized this morning that I don’t really see any of those coming up, but I’m not completely sure. I guess time will tell.
The next bump was the fact that 48 hours after Fiona and I planted all of our carrots, there was a huge, all-night downpour. I was afraid that those little seeds, which were only 1/2 inch below the surface, were splashed right out of the container. But finally, earlier this week, I saw their tiny little leaves break through!
So we’ve got tomatoes (the big ones on the outside are beefsteak, the small ones in the middle are regular old small round ones (I forget the name)…
And zucchini (and possibly hot peppers, but thankfully no cat poop)..
And cauliflower and romanesco broccoli…
And itty bitty carrot plants…
And even watermelon!
I hope this inspires you to get your garden going. It’s not too late! Lots of the stuff I planted could have been planted in July. In fact, if it looks like I’ve got some extra space I might add some more in a few weeks.
And a huge thank you to the fantastic folks at Hidden Valley for the excellent prizes and support!
Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. This post has a Compensation Level of 14. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information.
Jun 22, 2011 What's Going On
I slept for eleven hours last night. Of course, the night before I slept for a whopping two hours, so together they barely average out to two decent nights of sleep, but I feel much better. And after doing some disaster relief in my kitchen and laundry room (I found Sean Penn under a pile of dirty underwear) I’m ready to take on the world.
It’s all-out war this summer against mosquitoes at Casa Selfish, and this is the latest round in my gun, so I need to unpack it and see if it works. The reviews of the Stinger Indoor Insect Trap on Amazon.com were pretty good, but if it catches even one skeeter today I’ll consider it money well spent. I hate those little suckers with every inch of my mosquito-ravaged skin.
The latest installment of The Blogging Angels’ podcast will be put up later today, by me, which is why it’s late, because everything I’ve done lately has been late. (Hell, I wanted to post this post about five hours ago.) But look for it later on our facebook page.
If you’ve never listened to a Blogging Angels podcast and have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, I do a weekly (ish) podcast with three other bloggers: Rebecca, Nancy, and Heidi. The podcasts cover everything from blogging and social media to family tech and work-life balance, and I’ve been told by many non-bloggers that we’re funny and interesting enough to listen to even if you have no interest in the behind-the-scenes world of blogging (although that can be interesting for non-bloggers too!).
Speaking of The Blogging Angels, I need to get my thoughts together for a panel three of us are speaking on tomorrow morning at ten as part of Consumer Electronics Week in New York, put on by the same group that does the fabulous Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas each January (you know, the one down the street from the annual porn convention – Ah, Vegas!).
We’ll be speaking to a group of brand reps and public relations people about how to work with mom bloggers in a way that’s mutually beneficial to the brand, the blogger, and the readers. Also known as, how not to piss me off so much that I mention our terrible interaction on a Blogging Angels podcast and never get invited to another Ford event again (true story, and a shame for both sides).
Later today I’ll be announcing the two winners of my Love Your Veggies gardening giveaway. I really enjoyed holding that giveaway, and am thrilled to announce that as of this week, every single thing that I’ve planted so far has popped through the soil. Even the watermelon!
Tonight after my husband gets home I’ll be racing into the city to catch the second half of a holiday gift guide show. I went to two yesterday, and as I was falling asleep last night I asked myself, what holiday? That’s when I realized that I had spent half of the first day of summer looking at gifts that companies want to promote for Christmas. Well, I can’t wait until Christmas, so I’ll be posting my top picks sooner than that.
And last, getting on my treadmill for even twenty minutes would be fantastic. Let’s see if it happens.
Enjoy your day! How the hell did get to be almost 2pm already…
Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. This post has a Compensation Level of 14 (Love Your Veggies). Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information.
Jun 12, 2011 Posted From My Phone
I was was just joking around on twitter about growing my own avocados, since I spend so much on them. Then I started googling it and decided to give it a try! I’ll let you know in five to ten years if my efforts bear fruit.
Originally posted on SelfishMom, from Amy’s cell phone (so please excuse any weird formatting). All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. This post has a Compensation Level of 0 . Please see Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information.
May 26, 2011 Love Your Veggies
I’m writing this post under the best possible circumstances: in the early morning light, out in my newly-renovated back yard, gazing upon my new raised garden beds just waiting to be filled. (If any of my neighbors are looking my way, they’re not getting as good a deal – they’re gazing on me in my pajama pants and a ratty tank top.) In the two years since I started gardening very modestly with a Chia Herb Garden, I’ve come a long way. I’ve learned how to produce more tomatoes than I could ever eat in one container, and now I’m ready to graduate to the next step with lots more room for lots more veggies (and one fruit that Fiona begged for).
After consulting with the family, we decided on the following:
- Tomatoes. They will always be my first choice for planting because after eating home-grown tomatoes, anything else tastes like a plastic red nothing.
- Romanesco Broccoli. Because I’ve only seen it on TV and I really want to try it!
- Orange Cauliflower. Because I go through a couple heads a week, mashing it and mixing it with potatoes and Hidden Valley Ranch dressing. So why not make it orange?
- Purple and Orange Carrots. Because my son loves carrots sautéed with dill, and the purple ones will freak him out, and Fiona and I dip these in Hidden Valley Ranch dressing for a quick, colorful snack.
- Zucchini. I go through these like crazy, sautéing them with dill for pasta, shredding them for zucchini pancakes, and making loaves of the most delicious zucchini bread ever.
- Jabanero Peppers. Because my husband likes things HOT!
- Watermelon. I have no idea if watermelon will grow in Brooklyn, but our backyard is super sunny, so it’s worth a try. This was Fiona’s first choice, so how could I say no?
- Herbs. I haven’t decided which ones yet, although parsley, chives and basil are the ones I use the most so that’s probably what I’ll grow.
I actually wanted to get started almost two weeks ago, but almost as soon as the backyard renovation was done I threw my back out. But now I’m feeling great and ready to go, just in time for the long weekend!
Because of our totally leaded soil here in Brooklyn we still have to grow our vegetables in containers (I prefer my children un-leaded). So I’ve got two big round containers, a long trough, and a giant bathtub, although now they’ll be buried and looking like they’re part of the raised beds.
The BIG Giveaway
I’m extraordinary lucky that I was able to have these planting beds built for me. But I’m even luckier that thanks to the wonderful people at Hidden Valley’s Love Your Veggies, as a mom panelist I get to help two of my readers start their own vegetable gardens in a very big way, and help them enjoy their veggies once they’re grown. Two winners will each get the following:
Frame It All Raised Vegetable Garden, 8’X8’X12”. This amazing raised bed system can be put together quickly with a hammer and screwdriver, and the shape can be adapted for your space. Don’t have grass or even a yard? Just take out the stakes on the bottom, set it up on a patio or on cement, fill with dirt, and you’re ready to garden!
Vertex 7-Piece Garden Tool Set with Folding Seat, because I’m one of those people who believes having the right tools makes any project more fun.
Magid Terra Women’s Gardening Gloves, so that you don’t have to get dirt under your nails (I hate that!).
Ball Home Canning Starter Kit, because trust me, you will grow more than you know what to do with.
Twelve Ball Jars with Canning Lids
$35 Gift Certificate to Home Depot, to pick up seeds, soil, Miracle Grow, whatever else you need to get your garden started.
And of course, products from Hidden Valley to eat your veggies with!
The total prize value for each winner is just a few cents short of $500!
To enter to win, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling me about where you are with gardening. Are you a seasoned pro who’s constantly delivering extra veggies to grateful neighbors? Do you have a window box full of lush herbs? Or are you a beginner eager to get started?
For a second entry, you may tweet about this contest with a link back to this page. Or, you can copy and tweet the following:
Hidden Valley & @SelfishMom are giving away 2 gardening packages worth $500 each, everything you need! http://bit.ly/ke1jt0 #LoveYourVeggies
Make sure to leave a second comment with a link to your tweet, or it won’t count (instructions on how to find and post the url of your tweet can be found here).
So, that’s a maximum of two entries per household please! This contest will close at noon-ish on Monday, June 13th. The two winners will be chosen by random.org. You must be at least 18 years of age to enter. Prizes may be shipped within the continental United States and Canada only. See my complete Giveaway Rules page for more information.
Good luck! I am so excited to be holding this contest and want to give a BIG shout out to the folks at Love Your Veggies, who have been a dream to work with. Now let’s get gardening!
Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. This post has Compensation Levels of 9 & 14. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information.
May 12, 2011 What's Going On
This is the story of how our backyard went from being a disaster to being a beautiful oasis of grass and bricks in just two short weeks. Five years and two weeks.
When we moved in to our brownstone the backyard was a complete mess. It had a hideous plastic and wood “shelter” built on to the back of the house that contained two hornets’ nests. There was a cracked and ugly cement patio, a mess of wires covering the back wall, and ugly weeds and bushes everywhere. The ground was littered with glass, metal and rocks, and it wasn’t just on the surface either: decades of abuse had filled the dirt with layers of garbage. It wasn’t just ugly, it was unusable. and dangerous.
For the first couple of years we didn’t care much. We were only living in the top half of our house, so we never came into contact with the backyard, except out of the windows. As our renovation progressed more junk got put back there: wood, pipes, two big radiators that no longer worked, a bathtub, and other contractor junk.
Eventually my husband started tackling the backyard. He had a plan: he would dig down a couple of feet and “sift” the metal, glass and rocks out of the dirt using a big wood-and-chicken-wire contraption he built. Some weekends the kids would help him. I begged him to just hire someone and get it done quickly, but honestly I think he was enjoying taking things into his own hands.
He dug for two summers. As much time as he spent on it, he seemed to be making little progress. He did find some interesting things though: old bottles and coins, a pipe, and most impressively, an almost-intact toilet buried in the back next to a tree.
I’m not positive what pushed him over the edge this year, but I suspect it was visiting a friend’s renovated house. He decided to give up on his little project, and hired the same guys who had done his friend’s backyard. They got to work two weeks ago today.
The first step was to break apart the old cement patio. The crazy thing is, they found a layer of blue stone under it, which my next door neighbor’s husband happily took off our hands. After that mess was cleared out, the bricks and sand and cement mix started coming in.
And kept coming.
And kept coming.
The raised garden beds were the first to go in. We had them bury some containers in there so that we could grow vegetables without our dirt getting mixed in with the completely leaded Brooklyn dirt, and we’ll be putting in a bunch of flowers too.
Days of leveling and brick-laying followed.
Finally our lawn was pieced together. That was the day I almost cried. And in the three days that we’ve had grass I’ve turned into one of those lawn-obsessed people. Thank goodness it’s behind the house, so I only have to chase my own children off of it (I’m not being mean, we have to water it three times a day and treat it very gently for a few weeks, until the roots take hold in our dirt).
The very last thing left to do is to put a big awning on the back of the house over the patio (our backyard gets sun pretty much all day), and that should be done tomorrow, so basically it’s finished. I keep glancing out of the window expecting to see the hideous mess that I’d been looking at for so long, but instead I see a gorgeous space that I’ve been looking forward to for years.
Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. This post has a Compensation Level of 0. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information.
Apr 5, 2011 What's Going On
A few days ago Jake came home from school with a little plant. He said that “everyone” got one, and whoever has the best plant at the end of the school year will get a $1,000 college scholarship.
He was unable to tell me how much competition there was for this scholarship: his class? His grade? All of Brooklyn? No clue. But I figured it was worthwhile to try no matter what the odds. I put it on the kitchen counter and told him I’d help him transplant it into a proper pot. I like gardening, so this would be fun.
We both forgot about it until the next morning, when I came downstairs to find dirt scattered all over the counter and most of the leaves gone. That’s when I remembered that for the first ten years our cat had lived with us, we couldn’t have a single house plant. But in the six years that she’d been living with my mother, I’d managed to forget.
I cleaned things up and surveyed the damage. It was salvageable. I put it back on the counter and searched for the inevitable green cat puke.
And I forgot about it. Again.
Until the next morning, when I raced downstairs late for an event, and found the rest of the leaves gone, and most of the dirt spread across a bigger piece of the counter, and more cat puke, this time on the very shoes I wanted to wear that day. Not exactly on, but next to, with a little splashed on the side. Wonderful.
So, finally, after all that, we got around to re-planting it into a bigger pot. The roots were all fine so I’m hoping it makes a comeback. But there’s so little left of it it’s pretty pathetic. It’s now sitting on a high windowsill in a bathroom. The cat may still be able to reach it, but she’s just as likely to lose her footing and fall into the toilet, which would serve her right.
In a way, it’s fitting. Our kids’ college funds are in decent shape, despite the beating they’ve taken over the past few years (the funds, not the kids). So Jake is starting the competition with a handicap.
Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. This post has a Compensation Level of 0. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information. Amy also blogs at Filming In Brooklyn, Behind the Screen, and Momtourage, and podcasts with The Blogging Angels.
Jun 21, 2009 What's Going On
But I’ll keep it quick, because I really need a shower. The only part of me not dirty is my hands, because I was wearing gardening gloves that are so cute I was reluctant to get them dirty (but I did because I really hate cleaning dirt out from under my nails). I came home from the Love Your Veggies retreat with a bunch of gardening gifts, including a little shovel thing, a spiky soil mixing thing, a knee pad for in-the-ground gardening comfort, and the gloves. Even if nothing grows, at least I did it with cute equipment.
I set the pots up on bricks to help drainage through the bottom, and tried to move the first bag of soil a little closer. My husband had carried it out for me before I knew where I wanted it, and I couldn’t get it moving so I spent the next ten minutes shoveling dirt from the bag to the closest pot, until it was light enough to pick up and dump the rest in. Then I dragged a second bag out, checked my pulse, decided not to call an ambulance, and filled the second pot.
I constructed a little thing for the tomatoes to climb up, and planted the corn kernals in one pot and the tomatoes and cucumbers in the other. Everything is planted way closer than every single book, website, and friend says they should be, but I’ll prove them all wrong!
I gave them a very light water, since it’s definitely going to rain later. Since the seeds are close to the surface, I’m wondering if I should cover them with something when it rains? Just until they sprout and have roots to help them stay put. Hmmm, not sure.
Something should pop to the surface in a couple of weeks, I hope.
Jun 20, 2009 Love Your Veggies
- If you think you’ll be able to show up at Home Depot towards the end of June and find seeds, you’re in for a surprise.
- Bags of potting soil are heavy. Really heavy. And if they start to slip from your grip and you try to lift them up, they spill dirt all over you.
- By mid June, Burpee.com is done shipping tomato plants.
- The really pretty, huge, well-designed strawberry pot you saw in a magazine costs $600.
- Corn cross pollinates, and since you only have room right now to grow 6-8 stalks, you may end up producing 12 cornless cobs.
- No matter how hungry your kids say they are when you stop at the local hardware store to get seeds, look carefully at what you’re buying, because bush beans are not the same a pole beans and will not climb up the corn stalk.
- If you can’t find corn seeds, you may or may not be able to buy corn on the cob, take off some kernels, and plant them. I guess we’ll find out.
- When your husband says that he will be done with your planting tub in a week, ignore him and go out and buy containers right away so that you don’t miss planting season.
Despite all that, tomorrow I’ll be planting the tomatoes, the cucumbers, and one pot (half) of the corn. Corn is supposed to be planted in warm sunny dry weather, but that’s not coming to Brooklyn any time soon, so if I wait for that, there’s more chance that I’ll be harvesting corn in the snow. So, I’m going to plant half now in the 60-degree rain, and half in a couple of weeks in the sunny dry weather. We’ll see what happens. If/when the corn germinates, I’ll plant the beans and zucchini around them.
When I was in Chicago for the Love Your Veggies retreat, sponsored by Hidden Valley Ranch, I was raring to go. I wanted to hit the ground running with the planting as soon as I got back to Brooklyn. But the renovation, back doors, and ambitious husbands got in the way. This may not be my year for yummy corn and juicy tomatoes, but I’m going to try my hardest! What gives me hope is the memory of my sister wanting to plant tomatoes when we were kids. She cut open a tomato, put a dozen or so seeds on a paper towel to dry, and planted them. We all laughed at her. Until huge delicious tomatoes started growing.