2016 Garden {Week 1}

 Last weekend, we planted our 2016 Garden! 
I always try and get my garden planted by the end of April/beginning of May.
Kevin grew up with a garden in their backyard & so did I.
We LOVE homegrown veggies. 
They taste amazing...there is nothing like picking veggies straight from your backyard!
I get so excited in April when it is time to start thinking about our garden.
I carefully plan out what I am planting in each garden box (that Kevin built for me 5 years ago!)
My kids love having a garden also.
Luke loves helping Kevin dig up all the dirt & the girls love helping me plant it, water it & pick the veggies.
Here is our 2016 Garden:
Each year, we get some new dirt for our boxes & Kevin mixes in the new dirt with the old dirt.
This year we added 2 bags of new dirt to each garden box. 
The kind of dirt we added in this year is called Lum Fertilizer Garden Soil.
Ask for it at your local nursery....it is STINKY. But it is good soil.
Our backyard smelled like manure for 2 days after we added it in. YIKES!
Garden Box #1:
I make a plan for each of the 3 Garden boxes that we have.
My very favorite thing to grow is tomatoes, so I plant a lot of those!
I dedicate one Garden box to Early Girl Tomatoes.

These tomatoes are perfect for sandwiches, caprese salad, etc. YUM!
I planted 5 Early Girl tomatoes in this box:

When planting tomatoes, use wire cages and make sure you space out your planting! 
These will get pretty big and you want to make sure they are spaced out so that they aren't too crowded. They love full sun in the afternoon.

Garden Box #2
Usually for this garden box I plant 3 or 4 different varieties of cherry tomatoes and I also plant my zucchini & squash in this box. I changed things up this year because by the end of the summer, this garden box is usually out of control and WAY too crowded. And, my kids really love cherry tomatoes, so I decided to dedicate this box to just cherry tomatoes.
So, I planted 5 different varieties of cherry tomatoes in it!
Here are the 5 types of tomatoes that went in this box:
Grape Tomato:
Sugar Rush Cherry Tomato:
Yellow Cherry Sun Sugar:
Super Sweet 100:
Sun Gold:
All of these are perfect for salads & for snacking.
In the summer afternoon/evening, the kids and I will go out to the garden with a container of hummus and pick cherry tomatoes off the vine and eat them with (or without) the hummus.
My kids LOVE them.

Garden Box #3
This is the box where I plant my herbs, onions, lettuce.

I have basil:

My oregano from last year is still going strong:
Green Onions:


 This year, I decided to skip planting carrots so that I would have room to plant my squash & zucchini in this box.

Yellow Squash:


I love growing zucchini because they grow a ton & I have several recipes that use zucchini!
Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins:
Blueberry Zucchini Bread:

I love being able to cook & bake with things I grew in my garden! :)

Last year we skipped growing watermelon, pumpkins & cucumbers because we were in such a terrible California drought. The drought isn't as severe this summer thanks to the rain we got this winter. It's not over, but my kids really love growing pumpkins, so I decided they don't take that much water, so I planted 1 pumpkin plant in the back of our garden (not in a planter box because it is a vine and grows out of control!!!)
We also have a mandarin orange tree in our garden (aka "cuties")
And, an apple tree that is more like an apple bush. I thought we lost it in the drought (we lost our other apple tree) but this one came back this winter!
So, there you have it...our 2016 Garden!

Here are my gardening tips in case you have a backyard garden:
1. Plant your garden in a place in your yard that gets a lot of afternoon sun. 
We use a raised garden boxes that Kevin built. 
They are 4x8 and made with redwood. This is our 6th summer having them. I love them!
2. Make sure you water your plants 3 times a week during mild weather and every other day during a heat wave. Water directly on the base of the plant with a trickle, so that the water goes straight to the roots.
3. Get new dirt each year, more specifically one for gardens. 
We usually get a Lum Garden Mix from our local nursery. Or you can add I also add an organic compost/fertilizer.
4.  Block your garden off with a fence (or barricade) if you have a pet who likes to ruin your garden. 
A couple years ago, our yellow lab dug up half our garden within 24 hours of planting it & I had to go back & by new plants the next day!
5. If you are planting Tomatoes, you MUST get this: 

Get it HERE
It's my 6th year using it and my tomatoes are usually out of control! 
Do you have a Backyard Garden? What is your favorite thing to grow?
Let me know if you have any other garden questions or tips, gardening is one of my very favorite hobbies!


Sweet Italian Sausage, Bell Pepper & Pepperoni Pizza

Pizza is my favorite food. 
I could eat it everyday.
  At Christmas I got THIS pizza maker.
(It is also on sale HERE)
We have been making pizza for dinner at least 1 time a week since we got it! 
I have been experimenting with different pizza toppings/recipes and there have been some REALLY good ones!
Like I mentioned in January, once a month I am going to share a new pizza recipe with you.
You don't need the pizza maker (you can use your oven) but I am letting you know that using this pizza maker gives your pizza an authentic pizzeria taste! 
I am planning on sharing a new pizza recipe the last Friday of each month in honor of Friday Night Pizza Night that we have every Friday night at our house :)

Today, I am excited to share my:
 Sweet Italian Sausage, Bell Pepper & Pepperoni Pizza
Here is what you need:
- Pizza Dough (I use pre-made dough from Safeway or Trader Joes.  I like Safeway's better because it so much easier to work with & tastes better! But, it was sold out this week, so I used Trader Joe's. You can make your own dough, but when the pre-made dough is only $1.50, this is a no brainer!)
- Pizza Sauce
-Mozzarella Cheese
- Sweet Italian Sausage
- Red, Yellow & Orange Bell Peppers (you can use a green bell pepper also, but they aren't my favorite...the red, orange & yellow are sweeter & go well with the sausage & pepperoni)

Remove casings & cook your Sweet Italian Sausage.
You won't need 1 pound of sausage for this pizza, maybe 1 or 2 links, but I cook the entire package at once & then freeze the rest for when I need sausage for my Lasagna or my Spicy Spinach Sausage Pasta Bake (which I really need to blog!)
While your sausage is browning, slice up your bell peppers.
Again, you will only use about 1/3 of each bell pepper for the pizza, but I slice them all up & save the rest to put in my kids lunches or for us to snack on with some hummus. So much easier to have healthy snacks when they are already prepped!
Roll out your dough on a lightly floured surface:
I then put my dough on a piece of parchment paper & add pizza sauce:
Add some mozzarella cheese:
Add the pepperoni:
Add the cooked Italian sausage:
Add the sliced bell peppers:
Bake in your pizza oven (or regular oven at 450 degrees) for 8-10 minutes 
(I bake mine on parchment paper for 5 minutes & then slide it off the parchment paper & bake it on the pizza stone)
Slice up your pizza & Enjoy!
I really like the sweetness of the sausage & the bell peppers!
The pepperoni adds a nice spiciness to the pizza! If you wanted to use Spicy Italian Sausage instead of Sweet Italian Sausage, I think that would be really delicious as well!

 If you want to see other Pizza recipes I have posted......
In January I shared my BBQ Chicken Pizza Recipe {HERE}
In February I shared my Fig, Prosciutto & Arugula Pizza {HERE}
In March I shared my Pesto Chicken, Sundried Tomato & Artichoke Pizza {HERE}

What are your favorite pizza toppings? I have some fun ideas I am planning 

 Happy Pizza Friday & hope you have a great weekend!

Just a friendly reminder my April Specials end TOMORROW at midnight!!!
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