Tag: veggies

Growing Your Own Corona Virus Victory Garden

As people pick up new hobbies while they remain in self-quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic, interest in gardening and farming is experiencing a boom among Americans. One silver lining of the corona virus lockdown is that it comes at the start of the growing season. Between now and the fall, we have the chance to coax … read more

As people pick up new hobbies while they remain in self-quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic, interest in gardening and farming is experiencing a boom among Americans. One silver lining of the corona virus lockdown is that it comes at the start of the growing season. Between now and the fall, we have the chance to coax food from the soil while also feeding the soul.

This year, a vegetable garden may also provide one thing we seem to be lacking at the moment: control over our lives. It includes the satisfaction of raising nutritious and delicious food, exercising outdoors while socially distancing, relieving pressure on the nation’s food supply system, passing essential knowledge on to your children and growing extra to share with others. At the very least, it’s a constructive distraction in a confined environment.

This is what I love the most about our community at GS, the helpfulness, and kindness of the members to mentor, and walk alongside less experienced members, and help them grow (literally in this scenario!)

Developing a green thumb is a way to pass the time for some people, but others are using it as a way to attempt to make sure they have access to fresh food after panic buying led to shortages in grocery stores. In addition to emptying shelves of seeds and gardening tools, Americans are also buying animals, particularly chickens, to produce a steady influx of eggs.

It’s no coincidence that the interest in chickens comes at a time when supermarkets in the country, particularly in the northeast, are experiencing a shortage of eggs. Regionwide, egg retailers’ orders from wholesalers have increased by anywhere from double to 600%, and supply can’t immediately be increased

The makers of GS began having conversations early on as the pandemic and it’s potential implications began to become more evident. We discussed the need for people to become more sustainable, to be able to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables in an uncertain time. We always help each other so our conversations began with the more experienced gardeners sharing tips and advice with easy-to-grow veggies for the beginners.

(< Melonie of Ruby Dew Designs (with her daughter Ruby) in their home garden in Sunny California , Visit Melonie’s shop here: https://thegslife.com/2Si6wBw )

Even if you don’t consider yourself to have a green thumb, these vegetables are considered a good place to start for first-time gardeners. I wouldn’t recommend planting ALL of them your first time growing a garden, but maybe pick 4 or 5 from the list that your family enjoys and see what happens.

Experienced gardeners are expanding or adjusting what they grow, and novices are keen to get digging. Seed companies are seeing unprecedented levels of demand, and America hasn’t been this full of horticultural zeal since the era of World War II victory gardens.

Here’s a list of some of the easier vegetables to grow in your corona virus victory garden, with some really cool garden themed products from the GS Handmade marketplace:

  • Cucumbers like sunlight and warm temperatures, as well as support for climbing. (Thanks to their vertical growth, cukes do well in containers.) Once you give them these and water them regularly, they grow almost like weeds. You’ll probably have enough cucumbers to donate to your neighbors. The National Gardening Association says bush (rather than vine) cucumbers are best for containers or small spaces and have good disease resistance.

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  • Carrots Remember those projects from grade school where you grew carrot greens from their tops? Whole carrots are pretty easy to grow in the ground as well. The only thing about carrots is they might not grow very large, especially if you have rocky soil. Deep, well-drained soil is preferable—a raised bed is a good idea. Nevertheless, carrots are simple and fun to grow (your kids might even want to help). They tolerate light shade too, although, like most plants, they prefer full sun.
  • Radishes : You can slice radishes into a salad, but they’re also much more versatile than that, as appetizers, snacks and side dishes. Even though not everyone loves them, once you see how easy they are to grow, you might add them to your garden. They take just 20 days to reach full size!

(<< Misti of Houkreative planting her “corona virus victory garden” in this awesome bed that her husband built her to ease back strain. Check out her shop  HERE for some equally amazing handmade toys )








  • Green beans: All sorts of green beans, from snap beans (or string beans) to shell or whole beans are ideal for home gardens. There are hundreds of varieties to choose from, and snapping beans to harvest them is kind of entertaining. I’ve had better luck with the vine type compared to the self-support bush types of snap peas, but the bush types require less space. Both types grow easily from seeds. Most beans prefer full sun and well-drained soil.


  • Zucchini: Zucchini grow so prolifically that they’re the butt of many a gardener’s joke. (“The only time we lock our doors around these parts is during zucchini season.”) One or two plants should cut it for most people. The blossoms are as delicious as the squash. Like beans and cucumbers, zucchini plants are prolific, whether they are grown in containers or directly in mounded soil. Like beans and radishes, they grow easily from seeds. They need good moisture, though, and prefer warm soil, so it’s best to sow seeds later in the warm season (a good plant for gardening procrastinators!)

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  • Tomatoes: Possibly the most popular vegetable for any size garden, you can grow tomatoes in hanging baskets or other containers or anywhere they’ll get lots of sun and have support for their stalks. Starter plants from a garden center at your local hardware store or a dedicated plant nurseryare the easiest to grow.


  • Lettuce : Lettuce grows quickly, is really easy to harvest (just snip the tops off the plants or pick leaves as needed), and takes up very little space. It can even be grown in containers, perhaps accompanied by flowers or tucked under taller plants. I’ve had success directly seeding them even in partly shady areas


Other things to consider when starting a garden:

Choosing a site


Few people will have enough suitable land to become totally or even mostly self-sufficient. Optimally, you would want a garden with a quarter-acre or more in growing area, intensively gardened, and with a henhouse for eggs. Tending all this would be akin to a part-time job.

If you want to can and pickle produce and store root vegetables, you will need a larger garden than one just used seasonally.

Unless you are a seasoned gardener, forget the perfect survival garden for now; start out small so that you are not overwhelmed. You can always enlarge it as you yourself grow as a gardener.

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You need paths separate from growing beds to avoid soil compaction. An ideal, modular growing bed is eight feet by four feet — this permits access without stepping into it — and in normal times might be framed in lumber to allow for efficient raised-bed cultivation. Sally McCabe, associate director of community education for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, notes that such a bed would be formed from three eight-foot boards — about the maximum you can fit into a car — with one board sawed in half. You may want to forget the boards for now; just mound up the growing bed and keep off it. The paths should be at least two feet wide but not much wider, because you are then robbing yourself of growing area.

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(<< A beautiful raised bed garden by Raenita of That’s So Addie in Oregon. Visit her shop to see all of her beautiful clothing HERE )

Size Matters:

In thinking about the appropriate size of the Stick It to the Virus Garden, McCabe has a scale of 1 to 10, from an apartment dweller with a windowsill at the low end to a budding farmer with five acres at the other. She’s more interested in the land-poor range. You can grow sprouts on your windowsill. She has several containers of sprouts grown from bags of dried lentils and beans from the grocery store. “If you combine that with rice and beans, you’ve got everything covered — starches, proteins and fresh vegetables — and you can live off that,” she said. “You’ll get really bored, but you can live off that.”

The next step is to grow herbs in containers; those will spice up any dish. If you have a patio or tiny backyard, you can grow a variety of greens and herbs.

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A few other site considerations:

Sunlight: A few leafy veggies and herbs will take partial shade, but for a garden to be successful, you must have at least six hours of direct sunlight daily, typically afternoon light.

Water: You will need access to water. In summer heat, plants may need watering daily. The problem with rain barrels (apart from mosquitoes) is that they are dry when you need water the most. Also, position growing beds away from areas with poor drainage.

Soil: Ideally, you would build the soil with compost, leaf mold and other organic material before planting a garden. This year, access to off-site soil amendments is difficult, and you may have to work with the soil you have. There may still be many fallen leaves from the autumn around to gather and incorporate into the soil. Start a compost pile.

Dorcas Reilly

Dorcas Reilly : Who is she? and Why Are We Thankful For Her This Thanksgiving?

It started with a call from the Associated Press and a question: What’s a good recipe for a vegetable side dish that features common pantry products? It is the dish everyone is expecting on the holidays, and it is so easy to make, you can serve it any day. If you plan on eating green bean … read more

It started with a call from the Associated Press and a question: What’s a good recipe for a vegetable side dish that features common pantry products? It is the dish everyone is expecting on the holidays, and it is so easy to make, you can serve it any day. If you plan on eating green bean casserole this Thanksgiving, the memory of it’s inventor will live on. Created by Campbell Test Kitchen Manager Dorcas Reilly in 1955, its creamy, smooth sauce and un-matchable flavor combined with its simplicity makes Green Bean Casserole so appealing. Just six ingredients and 10 minutes to put together, this family pleasing side has been a favorite for over 60 years.

In 1955, the AP, like other newspapers and magazines of the time, was running a feature of an easy-to-make Campbell’s Soup side. The question came with a caveat: the recipe had to be built around green beans and Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup, two items most Americans regularly had in their homes in the ’50s.

The request fell to the Campbell’s Soup Co. test kitchen in Camden, N.J., an arm of the company that focused on coming up with recipes for its products. Dorcas Reilly, a supervisor for Campbell’s home economics department, was tasked with leading her team to figure out what could be done. The group would test and grade recipes repeatedly. Only a perfect score would qualify it as ready to go. In November of that year, Reilly and her team settled on what would be first known as “the Green Bean Bake,” an easily adaptable six-ingredient recipe of green beans, cream of mushroom soup, milk, soy sauce, black pepper and French fried onions that takes 10 minutes to prep and 30 minutes to bake.

dorcas reilly

Photo Credit: Campbell’s Soup

“We worked in the kitchen with things that were most likely to be in most homes,” she told NPR in 2015. “It’s so easy. And it’s not an expensive thing to make, too.”

During a time when many women were homemakers, Reilly embarked on a career at Campbell’s Soup in Camden, New Jersey.  She worked in the test kitchens, where she and her colleagues brainstormed recipes that used Campbell’s products, and then did blind taste-tests. The test kitchen employees rated a recipe on a scale of one to ten, tweaked it if necessary, and then submitted it to headquarters for approval. When Campbell’s started to put Reilly’s recipe on the cans of its cream of mushroom soup in 1960, the popularity of the dish hit new heights. More than 60 years since the dish was invented, green bean casserole is a Thanksgiving staple, with an estimated 20 million-plus American households expected to serve it this year, according to Campbell’s.

Dorcas Reilly

Throughout her life, Reilly, a culinary trail blazer during a time when women were often on the sidelines in corporate America, remained astonished at the success of a dish based on green beans and cream of mushroom soup, one referred to by Campbell’s as “the mother of all comfort foods.”

“We all thought this is very nice, etc., and then when we got the feelings of the consumer, we were really kinda pleasantly shocked,” she said in a Campbell’s promotional video for the dish. “I’m very proud of this, and I was shocked when I realized how popular it had become.”

Reilly, an influential innovator of beloved comfort food in the U.S., died on Oct. 15 of Alzheimer’s disease in Camden. She was 92. A visitation and celebration of her life will be held on Saturday in Haddonfield, N.J.

Rest in Peace Mrs. Reilly! We will all remember you this Thanksgiving as we take a big scoop of our favorite comfort food, We’re all thankful for you and your recipe!

Dorcas Reilly

photo credit: https://www.nj.com

*Source: The Washington Post

What’s the takeaway that we can learn from Mrs. Reilly?

1. Sometimes we can think we are just “doing our jobs” but to other people, it may make a big difference. This lady invented a recipe that was just a day on the job… but 60 years later, here we are, blogging about her and being inspired by her. Her recipe has been on a kabillion soup cans since 1960, everyone knows what “green bean casserole” is.

2. She was a team leader, and when talking about the challenge, she never took all the credit. She always said “we” when speaking of herself and her team. The TEAM was important, each member of the team contributed something, and she never lost sight of that. Although Reilly cooked up the recipe, she does not take sole credit for it.

“It was about the team working together,” she said. “I didn’t do it; we did it.”

3. Sometimes things start out small, and we never know how they may end up… I’m sure when Dorcas Reilly went to work that day, she never imagined her recipe invention would be called the “mother of all comfort foods” … She didn’t give up though, she stood by her work, and her work spoke for itself in the end~ gaining fame across the country. Keep your chins up, and keep on doing the “little things” that you may think are unimportant… you never know how they may end up in the long run. Dorcas Reilly was quoted as saying, “It was such a rewarding feeling when your recipe was published,” she added. Further stressing the importance of sticking with it, and following your ideas through to fruition.

4. She was a pioneer of sorts, in post World War II America, more than most women became homemakers. Dorcas pursued a college education. In the early 1950s, there was a cultural shift; a post-war wave of consumption was prevalent in America. Marketing departments of major companies were pushing products heavily, because Americans were spending more and the economy was flourishing. Campbell’s in particular published their signature recipes (all whipped up in the test kitchen) in ads, newspapers, magazines, and on their product labels. When Reilly’s green bean casserole recipe appeared in print, it took off. Some say its popularity was initially due to the fact that it used ingredients that were typically found in American pantries; others say that the flavor alone skyrocketed it to fame. Regardless, it was a dish that was being prepared in countless American homes.

5. The Campbell’s website boasts new, more modern spin offs of the recipe, and even more current versions but there is never quite anything like the original, is there?  This reminds us to appreciate the original, to respect the creator of the REAL recipe, and give credit where credit is due. This reminds me of handmade vs handmade knock-offs… what once was a totally handmade market (not mentioning any names) that is flooded with mass -produced goods masquerading as handmade… being produced in overseas factories and imported. Nothing is as quality as handmade, nothing can capture the attention to detail that a handmade garment, sign, purse or home decor item can. One person working on one piece at a time, paying attention to the details, giving the customer one on one service and customer care.