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Picture Blog: My  Home Garden + Cilantro Pesto Recipe — an article on the Smart Living Network
June 22, 2012 at 11:02 AMComments: 5 Faves: 0

Picture Blog: My Home Garden + Cilantro Pesto Recipe


When I moved from an apartment in the city to a small house in the country - I was beyond elated. I've always been a nature kid that would spend all my time playing in the woods. While living in the city was cool and I loved the brick road and little businesses around the house I resided in, I needed the fresh air, trees and nature. The tiny bit I found just didn't cut it.

Now, I can't express how much I love the woods, fields, streams, rivers, marsh and even gravel pits surrounding my home. It really felt like magic when I moved in. As I admitted to a friend, it was strangely like falling in love. I was infatuated with my home and being there filled me with country living fantasies.

I decided I'd grow a huge garden, fix up the shed for a chicken coop, keep ducks and chickens for eggs and that I'd build a porch.... However, as you might have guessed, efforts feel short of ambitions and what I ACTUALLY managed was 1.) the large garden (20ft by 50ft!!) with my boyfriend/fiance/thing's (labels ;p) help AND  2.) to dig up and relocate 30 wheelbarrows of rocky clay soil  to level the ground where the porch would go BY MYSELF when he decided the large garden was more than enough work and maintained that we would need a whole crew of people to accomplish the task so it wasn't worth trying. ( I then let that area go to weeds anyway. Well done, Erin. You sure did prove your point!)

And honestly, for two young people that had never ACTUALLY tried to grow anything before - it went miraculously well. We grew herbs, tomatoes, lettuces, beans, peas, onions, squash, zucchini, even corn, sunflowers and pumpkins and LOTS of them -  that is until the deer moved in when the corn got tall, ate almost everything and killed our motivation to weed that enormous plot of land. -.-

We tried the same thing the next year, but that time built a fence to protect the garden from deer. Nature had an answer to that. A woodchuck moved in and easily burrowed under the fence.

Now this year, we're actually reaping the benefits of all that soil I moved when we first came to the Ada farmhouse (as we lovingly call it). We've downsized our garden in favor of less work, laid down tarps for less weeding and selected a (hopefully) more intimidating location to critters. So far, so good! But I'll let you know how it goes... ;)

My Backyard

farm house, home

Baby Garden

home vegetable garden

Prayer Flags to Add Tranquility

tibetan prayer flags

DIY Plant Labels Made from Cut Twigs

DIY Garden Project - Plant Labels

Fence Installed, Gate Installed, Garden is Growing Up!

home vegetable garden


tarragon plant and flowers

Purple Green Beans

purple green bean plants

Baby Iceberg and Romaine Lettuces

Baby Iceberg and Rommaine Lettuce

Zucchini Blossoms

zucchini blossoms

Baby Red Cabbage

baby red cabbage

Baby Broccoli Plant

baby broccoli plant

Pickings From Yesterday - Arugula (back) and Cilantro (front)

Cilantro Pesto Recipe (made from cilantro pictured above!)

cilantro pesto

INGREDIENTS: Big bunch of cilantro minus stems, clove of garlic, 1/4 - 1/2 chopped onion, 3 tbsp olive oil, 5 tbsp water, 1 tbsp sesame seed oil, juice from a little less than half a lime, sriracha and sea salt to taste.

DIRECTIONS: blend in your food processor. It's that easy.

USE: in all sorts of Mexican food, but also as dressing on a salad, pizza or pasta. I make this awesome shrimp linguini with peppers I roast myself, pine nuts and the cilantro pesto. :)

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  • Love it. I had a garden like that once. Someone told me that deer can jump a fence if its 6ft or under. I built an eight foot fence. Neighbors thought I was keeping large animals penned in my back yard. Weeding is always the worst part of gardening. I used cocoa bean mulch to prevent weeds. It also adds lots of nitrogen to the soil. Plus your garden will smell like chocolate.

  • I seriously can't wait to try making that cilantro pesto! It looks amazing :) I'm thinking it would be delicious on a salad that includes some kind of dark leafy green, avocado, tomato, and black it lunch yet?!

    Your garden looks beautiful and I can't wait to see how it progresses!

  • Sue - Yeah, I do love seeing the critters around, but NOT in my garden!

    The cocoa bean mulch sounds wonderful, but looking at the prices is a bit out my range. :( The gardening tarp has substantially reduced our workload though and is something I wish we had taken the time to do before. For those of you thinking about starting a veggie garden of your own - whether you use mulch or tarps or cardboard, the upfront time it takes to place barriers is COMPLETELY worth the time is will save you in the long run!

    Laura - I'm PERSONALLY of the belief that there are very few things cilantro pesto is NOT good on. It's totally addicting stuff! We actually used it mixed with a bit of vinegar on a salad the other day - it topped torn arugula from our garden mixed with baby kale, thin sliced onion, tomato and fennel, home-roasted/marinated peppers and shrimp. Wish we had some avocado to add to it as well, but it was pretty darn good as it was! :)

  • Great pictures. Now I'm jealous! Your lettuces look amazing, and your soil looks pretty healthy too. Did you add a lot of compost? Did you till that or turn it with the double digging method?

    I'm with you on resizing the garden. Started out WAY too ambitious, now I'm in kind of a minimalist phase. But, I'm feeling the crunch for space, so expanding the garden's domain this year. I'll be putting down cardboard and/or tarps over the next few weeks in preparation for my summer plantings (for fall harvest).

  • Thanks Seth! I've been taking a lot more photos lately and I think I'm starting to become pretty good at it. Besides, seeing how far we've come from the start of the garden is great motivation. When you see the garden everyday, all but the really big changes - veggies ready to be picked - can easily go unnoticed.

    The soil - we did add a few bag of compost into our soil, but I've got to say, besides the crazy abundance of rocks, our soil quality was pretty nice to begin with. Like I mentioned, I moved a lot of that soil from the spot we originally had our garden, and that spot was also the spot the previous owner chose a few years before we moved in. So it's soil had benefited from both being cultivated with a wide variety of veggies and being allowed to go fallow on and off. Not sure what the double digging method is, but I was very through in preparing the soil. I removed the top layer of soil that was carpeted with weeds and then used a large pitchfork foot by foot, making sure I could easily push it all the way into the soil, I removed rocks, boulders,and tree roots until I could. It was a test in patience because it's much easier to feel accomplished seeing a row of plant in the ground than it is knowing a quarter of the garden's soil is now plushy soft, but it's hard to fix the soil once the plants go in and I wanted to give them the best possible chances.

    I also will probably be making adjustments next year - and actually, probably every year so long as I garden! This is my first year growing broccoli for example and it's super happy, growing well, but unfortunately, it's grown so fast it's blocking my peppers. :/ Next year, they'll go to the back of the garden with the squash and I'll plant more because it's do great for us! Other changes I'd make would be earlier planting. I'm feeling pretty jealous of my facebook friends already harvesting squash and tomatoes and peas!

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