Did I Plant Enough? Canning Secrets Revealed! Shhhh!

It’s not too late…since most of the country is finally able to set seedlings in their soil, it’s not too late to add a few more.

Are you planning on canning any of your garden treasures? Here’s a secret: if you want to make pickles, a good rule of thumb is to plant as many plants as you want pickles in a jar. If you plant just 3 plants and wait until you have enough either on the vine or in your fridge waiting for more to make a full batch, you’ll end up with bitter and overgrown cucs on the vine, and wilted ones in your crisper. Believe me! I’ve learned this the hard way. The last 3 years I’ve ended up driving to my local vegetable stand to buy bags of pickling cucs. Keep in mind not all of your plants will produce at the same rate or volume, so plant more than expected and always know one of your plants will go to the bugs. It happens. That’s something I’ve come to terms with too.

If you’re going to plant Pumpkins for the fall- expect one per vine.

Planning on having Corn?- Most breeds of corn produce 1-2 ears per stalk (and you need to plant them in a group…most people say it needs to be in a 4×4 manner…it doesn’t ….we planted ours in a right angle and only had 10 plants and they all germinated well. Example 4, 3, 2, 1 so each side we looked at had a row of 4.) This is a good secret.

Dreams of Sugar Snap Peas– you’ll want at least 6 plants to get a good amount to snack on and if you’re a hungry garden snacker, plant 10. The plant is skinny and grows tall, you’ll have plenty of room for a few more. 😉 Oh! And give them something cool to grab onto. They don’t like metal. It’s too hot.

Strawberries– depending on the kind you choose, some send shooters off the main plant and will multiply faster than rabbits (tic). Make certain you snip the lifeline between the mama plant and the baby once it’s established or it’ll drain the mama.

Watermelon– expect the same as the pumpkin, one per vine. Funny story: I watched the most perfect baby seedless watermelon grow in my garden. It was perfectly round. The skin was perfect in color. It was looking nice and ripe and when I notice it had stopped growing and the flower fell off the end, I knew it was time to pick. Someone else had a better idea. I picked up my watermelon only to watch dirt fall out of it. Our neighbor’s friendly gopher (I wasn’t so friendly because he wasn’t wanted in my yard) tunneled over to the exact spot of the only watermelon in our entire yard and helped himself to it and backfilled it with soil. And if you have a great recipe for canned watermelon rind, please share it with me.

Oh! Real quick and a bit off topic but bear with me…plant pairing. Very important. Here’s a photo of my corn and beans growing together. The corn will pull the nitrogen from the soil and the beans put it back. Most say to rotate your crops but who has time for that when you want beans and corn in the same season?! I plant mine together and they live happily together. In fact, the beans use the stalks as a trellis. Success all around. Plant EnoughPlant enough 1


Make it a great day!

Your homegrown friend,


Water Harvesting…indoors. Who’d have thunk of that??

How often do you think about the water that goes down your drain? Me being from Cali, I think about it each time the faucet is turned on. I’m still working on whether this is an OCD thing or just a pet peeve.

I can remember the term “drought” being said since I was in Jr. High…and I’m in repetive digits x 4…lol! Okay, I’ll do the math, I’m 44 and it’s been an overused term for at least 33 years. Seriously. I remember the July 4 th fireworks show being halted because of the drought when I was a kid and it made an impact on my life. So when the state began restricting water usage, a lot of residents thought it was the same old sheep crying “Wolf” again. Some saw it as a threat, and some saw it as it really was.

I live near Folsom Lake, which is our water reservoir and it collects rain and the snow melt from the Sierra Mtns and last year that lake got down to its lowest levels. When you can see the bottom of the lake, you know it’s a dire state of emergency. And the water restrictions became even greater than what the restrictions were the prior year. So you cut your usage and eventually you’re penalized for going over your already reduce use from the previous year measurement. And then they cut more. I had had enough. I challenged the water company because I don’t abuse the water and the last time I was in the Check-out lane, neither my local water company nor the state were there to pay for my food. I was given the okay to use whatever I needed to grow my food.
How do I do my part, and how can I say I don’t abuse water?? I collect every bit of cold water that comes from my showerhead until the water runs hot….and I turn it to full hot as to not bring unnecessary cold water through. I have 2- 5gal buckets in my shower and the water runs directly into one until I get in. I’m not kidding when I say 3gal of cold water is collected before it even begins to warm. I know some of you are thinking ‘flow restrictor’ and I don’t use one for several reasons. I’m already paying for the water whether it comes to my shower head or just to my house, and if I’m paying, I’m going to use it in my garden. See, we pay a fee to bring water to our houses and when we cut our usage, our fees go up because the water company isn’t making money on usage and they still have to bring water to our homes so the new way to gauge our pocket is through delivery fees. The other reason is I’m short and can’t reach the showerhead. Don’t

I collect the cold water as well as any unused water while I’m hitting all the ‘hotspots’ while showering and shaving. On a day with a quickie shower, I save 7gal of water. On the days I want to ‘snuggle’ with the hubby, I save 10 gal. Can you believe the time it takes to shave you’ve used 3 gal of water?? To safely say it, just my shower collection is over 250gal a month. Now multiply that by how many are in your house, and you can adjust it to make a fair assumption of what you could save.

Now here’s a shocker- some areas of California is it illegal to harvest rainwater. Can you believe that?? It’s because too many are saving and using less water from the local water company. In Norco, California, the water company employees drive around and if they see a rain collection barrel, they come to your door and fine you. In Stockton, California, the fees are being increased 40% because the residents did as they were told and restricted their usage. 40%!!! My views on rain collection is as follows: that’s rainwater which fell on MY roof… of the house I paid for… on MY property. It’s mine!!

So this is my way around it. I’d love to see someone jump in my shower with me to say I can’t keep my water! My soap would be my defender. LOL!!

After I’ve collected my water, I use smaller buckets to haul it downstairs and outside. Yes, downstairs…and lots of trips…a great whole body workout too. It’s very entertaining for the hubby. I recently overheard him saying how he adores my dedication to doing this. BONUS POINTS!! 😉

Have fun collecting your water and happy gardening 😀

Tara, your homegrown friend

Water Harvesting

California Water hArvesting









Back to Blog

Get your tools ready, get your materials set, get those seeds started!

It’s the beginning of the year and time to begin thinking about planting the garden. Okay- some of us are already thinking about planting….what, where, when, cover crop if any, harvest dates….and it thrills me. If you are any bit like me, you know the store bought seed trays are a 50/50 success rate.

This past year I had an idea. A wacky idea. It became a successful wacky idea. I’m telling you this now because you’ll need time to gather the materials or you’ll end up asking your neighbors or co-workers a somewhat awkward question. To me, it isn’t awkward, I seem to have that gene deletion. 😉 But don’t let me stop you….toilet paper tubes. Yep! Amazing right? Those cardboard tubes only YOU know how to remove from the apparatus connected to the wall. It’s a myth one must have a PhD to operate the spring-loaded cylinder. Anyways, those are going to be the most amazing tool used in your garden this year, and every year after.

Me being the recycling warden in my home, I saved the aluminum tray we got from a pre-made entrée purchased at Costco. I repurpose almost everything. So I placed a bunch of the tubes upright in the aluminum tray and filled them with a mixture of mulch and organic seed starting soil and put my seeds in them. I set them on the partly shaded shelf in the greenhouse and waited for the magic to happen. The seeds sprouted faster and were stronger plants. The cardboard also acts as a monitoring system…when it dries out, you need to water the seedlings. When your seeds are established and you’re ready to plant them, simply pull the seedling out or rip the cardboard and toss into your mulch bin, and place the seedling in your garden. Who knew toilet paper tubes would benefit us… end-to-end?? LOL!!! I started seeds in the summer and in the winter in the greenhouse with the tubes with great success.


Here are the photos I took using both the seed tray and the tp tubes. I planted all at the same time. The progression shows the results. I was shocked to see the good ‘ol butt wipe tubes are useful in a fertile way. Ahhahahahahhahahhahahaa!!

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 11.44.52 AMScreen Shot 2016-03-31 at 11.44.57 AM Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 11.45.03 AM Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 11.45.08 AM Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 11.45.14 AM Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 11.45.19 AM Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 11.45.27 AM

Have fun planting. Get those seeds started so you’ll be ready when the last frost is past.

Tara, your homegrown friend


Intro: Meet Tara, Your Homegrown Friend!!

Living Green with Your Homegrown Friend, Tara

Hi! I’m the friend you haven’t yet met. I’m super excited about having the opportunity to share with you some of the tips and tricks I’ve picked up around town and some lifehacks I’ve discovered on my own.

I bet you want to know a bit about me and why I think I have the skills to pull this one off. Welp- I’m a homegrown farmer’s daughter. I’ve probably eaten more duck poop than most of you have ever stepped on. My childhood was spent in my dad’s back pocket, doing what he was doing and learning the knack of ingenuity. I can fix just about anything with duct tape- and I say ‘just about anything’ because I know for a fact I can’t fix heels with duct tape.

I’m mom of two boys who live with Autism. I choose to say they live with Autism because they learned accommodations and tricks to be high functioning. This has been a rewarding gift in my life to be their mom. I’m told I’m too happy about dealing with Autism on a daily basis. I have good reason. Three days prior to Christmas in 1994, I told my family what my Dr told me. I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. My sweet lil egg baskets were holding 15 maturing egg cells in each ovary, each cycle. I know!! Could you imagine?? I wouldn’t have but since I saw it happening for two months straight, it happened. What if I had gotten preggo? How many?? So the team of consulting Drs said I wouldn’t have children. Guess what?? Valentine’s was a special night. And now I have two children…..wait, let me rephrase that, I have raised two growing men and often say I am raising the hubby too. 😉 sshh. My gifts are 17 and 20 now. Let’s not try to do the math. I’ll leave out the mystery, I’m 43. Raising these two has given me the chance to see the world and society in another way, an innocent and unadulterated view free from racism, bigotry, hatred, and greed that’s in our face, around most corners these days. This is a gift.

I often say the thoughts that run through my head are spinning the wheels of a squirrel cage…..I have Tourette’s Syndrome and this means I’m extremely creative – and yes, my vocabulary can get quite creative too…life is full of popsicles and pop dots… When the wheel gets to spinning, ideas are flying and thank goodness to social media, I get to share my ideas. I’m lucky enough to have the ability to re-create things I’ve seen. Just don’t expect to see anything done on a sewing machine by me. Not going to happen anytime soon. I’d rather wear clothes made of tied reeds than learn to use a sewing machine. That is my biggest failure. But that’s okay….I have other skills to use in place of a clanking machine. Oh! Don’t have a convo with the hubby….he’ll tell you I think I can do anything to include growing my own cotton to weave my own cloth. And I’m going to. Just to prove to myself I can do it. Who doesn’t have the desire to learn what has been replaced by machines? Remind me to tell you the story of the dehydrator.

I’m an avid gardener and self- taught for the most part. If it died, I learned a lesson. I can’t wait to share the funniest lifehack I tried this summer with you. It was inspired from one of my hoarding addictions. But you’ll have to wait for it – I gotta get through this introduction first. Squirrel!

Anyways, my garden is my sanctuary. The hubby put some fluffy chairs under our Sequoia Pine in our garden. (I’ll say ‘our’ since this year was a big success from some elbow grease from the hubby.) I got tired of extricating weeds from the paths and decided on stepping stones and mulch. That was a win win! My glutes and booty got a great lift from all of the squatting, and the soil is doing much better with the added protection and shade.

If you can’t tell by now, I’m the girl who doesn’t have a problem getting dirty. I’m a naturalist. I have a genuine interest for plants and weeds. Why are they here? What is the purpose? I’m working on my Biology Degree and will be beginning a Field Work program for an Environmental Biology Certificate. It’s taken me this long to realize I should do what I love. The hubby and I take the kidlets on hikes and last minute trips frequently. I’ve caught Salmon with my bare hands, I’m a gold digger, I’ve delivered a calf, goats, lambs, and a foal, helped hatch quail and other specialty birds, and fostered a baby Mockingbird. You can see videos of Baby Bird and I on my Instagram account. That was an awesome experience. And I still hear him every few days. I was just in my greenhouse and I heard a bird singing his heart out and it kept on and on which drove me to look at the bird and it was Sparkle, the baby mockingbird.

I look forward to chatting more with you and I have a lot of tips and tricks to share with you. I’m a recycling warden in my home and I have many ideas for recycling, and upcycling, and I’m a lifehacking master….( I’ll let you in on a secret, I recently watched Hillbilly blood and was strangely comforted. LOL!)

Tara, your homegrown friend