2013 Garden Update

We’ve been working on our garden since March, and since we already had two square foot garden boxes in place, I was able to plant as soon as the ground defrosted. It’s been about a month and a half, and we have fantastic lettuce, onions, and radishes on their way to becoming a delicious salad. The swish chard and carrots are taking their time, because I didn’t sprout them before I planted, but they are still coming. I’m trying out red and green cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower this year. These are wonderful for a spring crop, because they can be snowed on and still survive. It’s almost like they do better the colder it is.

Cabbage and Such Lettuce

We’re ripping up grass by the side of the house to make way for more garden boxes. This house came with far too much grass (a.k.a. dandelion field) and I’m trying to find ways to get rid of some of it, so that my poor husband doesn’t have so much to mow. I planted strawberries in these new boxes, in hopes that these plants will survive a few years, and I won’t just rip them out when all the other annuals are dead. Sadly, the deer like strawberry plants and ate the leaves off of some of my precious plants. We’re currently working on a way to keep them protected from the deer, while still getting enough sun and water. The upside to having cooler weather is that I don’t feel totally weird when I cover my boxes with sheets to keep the deer from eating them.

Strawberry Plants Potato Plant

And, in some pots, until we clear out the weeds from the space we intend to plant them in, are some thornless raspberries. We put them in the larger pots, because they were becoming too big for the pots we bought them in. Plus, they’re able to take advantage of the fantastic Mel’s mix we surrounded them with. And, in the other pots are potatoes! What? Potatoes in a pot? Yeah, I’ve no idea if it will work, but they’re growing, and I have a fun blue variety in there.

Raspberry Plant Jonathan Apple Tree

Some of our friends have enough land to plant their own little mini orchard, and in the spirit of having fruit in your backyard, we bought our first fruit tree! Yes, just one, compared to their twelve, but it was all we could afford at the moment, and the only tree I was sure I wanted. We got a Jonathan Apple tree. These are by far my favorite apples ever, with a wonderful tart flavor, and perfect for whatever you want to do with them. We won’t be getting any fruit off of the tree for another three to five years, but it will be wonderful when we do.

In our future, we’re planning to rip out three feet of grass along the entire west side of our house. We’re going to plant eight tomato plants there, and I am super excited for it. We are getting many different varieties this year, some for canning, some for saucing, and most for eating. Since I’m new to canning, I’m sure I’ll even end up freezing a lot of them. We’re getting our plants from here. The guy who grows them lives just down the street, and it’s been really fun to watch them grow from seeds. I, also, have enough weeds cleared for another square foot garden box, and will soon have space for a second.

Protecting My Spring Crop

While, I am extremely grateful to be out of the dry spell from last year, it has caused me to care about plants in a way I never have before. This is the first year in my gardening history that I have taken the time to monitor the weather and cover my plants should freezing temperatures occur. Covering plants raises the temperature around them by about five degrees, so when the low of 31°F hits around 5 A.M. tomorrow morning, my plants should be a cozy 36°F.

To cover our plants, we just used some bed sheets that my mother-in-law gave us when she was decluttering one of her closets. Some of them are flat sheets, and some are fitted. We use them all. The fitted sheets work great around our square foot gardening boxes. The elastic holds them decently in place. We use the flat sheets for our garden beds right against the house. To secure the sheets, especially tonight with all the wind, we take advantage of a pile of rocks left to us by the previous owners. We were going to throw them away last year, but we’re very glad that we didn’t, because I don’t know what we’d hold the sheets down with otherwise.

These precious strawberry plants are now protected from the wind and any snow that my come our way tonight and tomorrow.

These precious strawberry plants are now protected from the wind and any snow that my come our way tonight and tomorrow.

Shelf Reliance Sausage Vegi Soup

This is Shelf Reliance soup all the way. It was delicious and filled me up without needing any bread to dip in it! It took me less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Sausage Vegi Soup


  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T onions (FD)
  • 1/2 C sausage crumbles (FD)
  • 2 C chicken stock/ vegi stock/ water
  • 2 T celery (FD)
  • 2 T carrots (dehydrated)
  • 1/2 C green beans (FD)
  • 1/2 C zucchini (FD)
  • sea salt
  • pepper


  1. In a sauce pan, brown onions and sausage in butter.
  2. Add stock.
  3. Add celery, carrots, green beans, and zucchini and simmer until hydrated.
  4. Sea salt and pepper to taste.

Gardening Makes Eating Worth It

Gardening makes eating worth it. I know that probably sounds totally bizarre, and it might even explain why I’m not over weight, but being one who is addicted to sugar and is trying so hard to stop, this statement is spot on. I use sugar like a drug. While I am using sugar, my body hurts less; I feel like I can relax and think clearer, and then when I’m done down my ice cream (my very favorite form of sugar), I go back to feeling absolutely disgusting. In fact, many times I even feel worse, because I over ate, or over dosed.

As a teenager, I marveled at the girls that could just down sugar without a second thought. I wasn’t worried about how much weight they wouldn’t gain, because that wasn’t a problem for me. I was wondering how in the world they could possibly not get sick from eating so much sugar. It wasn’t until I married my husband that I found someone like me. My sister-in-law has the same problem I do. We both get ill from eating too much sugar. Being different people, there are different types and amounts of sugar that will set us off, but we both understand the nausea that accompanies a poor choice of too much dessert or snacks or breakfast…

These all came from my garden and were wonderfully sweet.

So, back to my wonderful garden. Do you remember the day you learned that tomatoes are a fruit? And you couldn’t possibly imagine how that could be, because they’re not even sweet? No store bought tomato is ever going to be the sweet you think of when talking about fruit. It simply can’t happen. The tomatoes are picked well before they are ripe, and then shipped in a truck that ripens them along the way. A tomato that is not picked red off the vine will never be sweet. (And those tomatoes on the vine don’t count either. They just cut the vine and let the tomatoes ripen on a cut vine.) A tomato that is allowed to ripen completely on a vine that is attached to roots in the ground will be the sweetest tomato you ever eat. Not only that, it will be the reddest tomato you ever eat. (Unless of course you are eating an orange or yellow variety.)

And that is why growing a garden makes eating worth it for me. Cane sugar, the kind of sugar I have yet to give up, (Somehow I managed to give up the more heavily manufactured kinds of sugar/sweeteners.) plagues me with temptation daily. So, when I take a bite out of one of my home grown tomatoes, and revel in the delicious sweetness that I was not only able to produce, but am also able to eat without any of the ill side effects of other sugary foods, garden definitely makes eating worth it.

Ramen Vegi Soup

Everything came from my food storage.

Browsing Pinterest, I came across a wonderful blog post about simplifying your life with children. It’s a wonderful read, and it lead me to another post about this lady’s daily routine. Part of their routine is lunch, like most people, and she says that she just makes soup for lunch, because it simplifies things. I love soup! For some crazy reason, it never occurred to me that it would be okay to eat soup everyday. So, today I made soup. This is a food storage soup all the way.

Ramen Vegi Soup


  • 1/4 C onions (FD)
  • 1/2 C dehydrated carrots
  • 2 C green beans (FD)
  • 1 C green peas (FD)
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 pkg ramen, crushed and seasoning packets removed
  • 1 qt of chicken stock
  • 1 qt of water
  • Salt and pepper


  1. In a large pot, combine stock, water, onions, carrots, green beans, green peas, and tomatoes.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add ramen, and cook for 3 minutes.
  5. Serve with milk.

It’s delicious, easy, and a great way to get rid of all those ramen noodles before they go stale.

What’s faster than fast food?

Well that would be Thrive Express Entrees, Soups, and Sides!  Announced at convention just two hours ago, in 15 minutes or less, just add water and stir.  These new products fall right in line with the Thrive food line.  They have a 5-10 year shelf life, are made using freeze dried Thrive ingredients, and are nutritious and tasty.  They come in 5-packs or variety packs, and the boxes have a tear-away front for grab n’ go access.  Thrive is already one of the fastest, ways to cook, with pre-cut food available at its freshest.  These Thrive Express products step up the convenience while maintaining healthy meals for your family.  Use Thrive Express to replace fast food, microwave dinners, and boxed dinners full of preservatives.

The new selections are: Creamy Beef & Noodles, Pasta Carbonara, Southwestern-Style Chicken & Rice, Garden Fresh Vegetable Pasta, Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup, Baked Potato Cheese Soup, Broccoli Cheese Soup, Creamy Garden Vegetable Chowder, Hearty Chili with Beans, Chili Lime chicken Rice, Loaded Scalloped Potatoes, Wild Rice Pilaf.

Food Storage Frozen Yogurt

My favorite part about being a Shelf Reliance Independent Consultant is experimenting with the food.  Today, I made frozen yogurt using my food storage!  And, it didn’t take any time at all.  Shelf Reliance sells freeze dried yogurt bites in seven different flavors: vanilla, strawberry, cherry, orange, pomegranate, passion fruit, and blueberry. And they’re on sale this month.  Let me know if you’re interested in buying some.

They’re absolutely wonderful to snack on in their freeze dried state, but if just add a little water, you’ve got yogurt!  One of the best things about the freeze dried yogurt bites is that the probiotics go dormant when they are frozen, and wake back up when you rehydrate them, which includes just eating them as is.

To make the frozen yogurt, pick your favorite flavor, and add 2 ½ tablespoons of water per cup of yogurt bites.  Let them rehydrate for about 5-10 minutes, and then mix.  If you think there are still too many yogurt bites that didn’t rehydrate, add more water in ½-1 tablespoon increments until you are satisfied, but be careful not to add too much water, or you’ll have really thin yogurt.  At this point, not all of the yogurt bites need to be rehydrated, the mixture can be a little lumpy still.  Chill the mixture for about 30 minutes.  When that’s done, mix it again to get rid of all the lumps.  Then follow the instructions on your ice cream maker, and you’ll have a great treat straight from your food storage!

I’ve found that two cups of yogurt bites and 5 tablespoons of water make the perfect amount for one person.  Try adding some freeze dried berries while you’re at it.