May 18, 2015

summer backyard gardening workshop 2015!

You guys! Today I get to share some details about a special project my husband and I have been dreaming up and I'm just so, so excited!

For those that have been around this blog, or instagram (@lesleyzellers), you know my husband, Eric, and I have a mutual love of gardening. We spend most days outside with our two daughters working in our yard and love being able to try new things and provide fresh food for our family.

For Eric, it's been a long-time dream to somehow use his passion for gardening and share it with others. For me, it's been a dream to watch him use those God-given talents and passions to help others.


Not too long ago, God placed this crazy idea on my heart to open our backyard to our local community and have a relaxed little workshop where we could bring our dreams to life and share our passions with others in hopes of giving people confidence and understanding to go home and grow their own food.

I talked it over with Eric and his eyes literally lit up! We immediately started planning, scheming and dreaming.


And now today, it is with so much excitement that I get to announce our very first gardening workshop we'll be hosting right here in our backyard!!

Here are the details:


Saturday, July 11th, 2015
Zellers Backyard - Tulsa, OK
9am-1pm (or as long as you want to hang out)
Livi Lee's donuts + coffee, snacks and lunch will be provided

We are so excited to invite you to join us for a relaxed, hands-on experience as we discuss some of our favorite gardening techniques, show you real-life examples in our garden, talk about different methods of growing food as well as make new friends and above all else, have a great time! And my amazingly talented friend, Jessie of Jessie Leigh Photography, will be here to capture or day in the garden! We'll wrap up the workshop with a little q&a session and picnic - so bring your garden layout or any questions you want answered.

Some topics we'll address:
• soil basics
• container gardening
• companion planting
• permaculture principles
• natural fertilizers and insect repellants
• preserving your harvest
• and more!

Donuts provided by local hot spot, Livi Lee's + coffee will start the day with some fresh garden snacks + beverages during the workshop followed by an afternoon picnic to wrap things up.

Each guest will go home with some gardening goodies, some of my favorite recipes using garden produce, a set of companion planning cards and gardening tips - plus more surprises I can't wait to share!

You can see more details and reserve your spot here. Spaces are limited and I really hope to see you there!

Also, you should check out the post my sister wrote today. Have I told y'all lately how blessed I am to have such a supportive family? Thanks, Ash.

I have to end on one of my favorite videos in my garden. Because carrots!

For more on our favorite gardening posts I've shared, check out these: our garden design, beginner gardening tips, garden planning, indoor planting, soil prep, spring planting, comfrey and buckwheat, strawberries.

Apr 1, 2015

our garden design in photos

I know what you're thinking, another garden post? Ugh. Or yay! Depending on why you come around these parts anyways.

If you like garden and dirt talk, you might like this post. If not, see ya next time?

I've mentioned in previous posts, and instagram, that we decided to try a new design for the garden this year. If you were around last year, you know we had just moved to a temporary spot and started our garden from scratch. We had to make the fence, work the soil and get some plants in. So for time sake, we went with rows. I like rows for several reasons as do a lot of people, however, it's not what we dreamed when we picture the garden. And let me also make it clear, if rows are your thing, awesome! This is not a post about what way is best because I don't think there's a right or wrong way to garden. This is just a post about our garden and why we changed it up.


This was what it looked like in January.


Most of you know my husband and I (which I will refer to as "we") are a tad obsessed with growing things. We love everything about it, well, most things. Pulling weeds in 100+ temps isn't glorious. Anyway, he's always been the brains and vision to what we do. I just help carry out the plan. It's like a chef and sous chef but in the garden. And while this design isn't our DREAM garden, it's a whole lot closer to it.


So here's a little photo overview of how we did it with a little why mixed in.

First the plan and layout.

In permaculture design, one of the principles is to mimic successful patterns in nature. No straight lines, as those don't really appear anywhere in nature. So we based the layout with a fish scale or feather approach. For the bed dividers we used wood from our land that had been cut down when we built the pond. I loved that the wood wasn't wasted and it adds a natural touch, which is another couple of principles in permaculture, use renewable resources and produce no waste. Basically, we are turning into hippie gardeners and that's okay by me. haha.



Once the logs were cut and laid out, we dug small trenches to bury the logs. We wanted the beds to be raised and kind of based the bed design on the idea of a hugelkultur bed. It's a permaculture term and you can read more about the whys behind it in my favorite gardening book, the vegetable gardener's guide to permaculture, or online. Basically, it's like planting on a compost pile. Not really but that's the gist. You layer all kinds of things like logs, brush, leaves, compost, rotting material, etc. and top it with dirt and as it composts, the soil is enriched and feeds your plants.


It's supposed to be a mound but we don't follow directions. So after the logs were laid in, we dug a trench, piled the dirt in a mound for later, filled the trench with wood chips (free from a friend), compost, leaves we piled during fall and winter, rabbit manure (found a lady on craigslist selling it by the truckload for cheap) and leftover stalks and vines from last seasons okra and tomato plants (something I learned from my grandpa). With the addition of all those materials, it naturally raised our bed and then we topped it off with the soil we saved from the trenches we dug for the logs and filler.


We repeated that process for each scale.


About the time the scales were finished, it was Valentine's Day, which means onion planting day. So we planted onions, as snow and cold temps don't hurt them.


And again, we planted the onions in a fish scale pattern among the larger scales with the idea of planting different lettuces or plants within each smaller scale.


Then we waited until it was warmer and worked on the back part of the garden.

We wanted to do something different in this area and still had some logs left over so we laid out a simple path with growing space on either side. We did the same basic trench idea but for the whole bed. We dug out the area for the garden, dug trenches for the log border, filled the are with composting material, topped with soil and took a breather. Then we filled the path with pea gravel and planted some things.


So that's what it looks like now. Not finished but man, I love it.


One thing I've learned about gardening, for me at least, my garden will never be perfect. There will always be work, something to change, something to add or remove. Lessons learned. But just starting gets it going.

I hear people talk about being afraid to start. What's the worst that could happen? You kill a few plants? Been there. Done that. But, seriously, if you want a garden - go for it. Just start! Don't try to be a hero and have a BH&G space the first year. Start small and learn as you grow. The garden we have now could not have happened our first year trying. I probably would've given up all together attempting it all. But man, I'm so glad we got a couple of buckets and planted a few plants all those years ago. I'm happy we started, even if it made a complete garden nerd out of me.

For more garden posts and tips: beginner gardening tips, garden planning, indoor planting, soil prep, spring planting, comfrey and buckwheat, strawberries.

Mar 28, 2015

beginner gardening tips on Moms of Tulsa - guest post

I have been getting a lot of, "I've never grown anything but want to start. What do I do?" questions.

For that person, I am sharing some tips over at Moms of Tulsa today. Check it out and let me know what you think!

Mar 24, 2015

egg salad recipe

Now that our chickens are back to laying, after taking it easy over the winter, we have eggs a plenty. It is not a bad problem to have. We eat what we can and share the rest.

One of the things I've been making quite a bit lately is egg salad. Put it on some bread or on some greens and you've got yourself a nice lunch.

I shared a picture of it on instagram (@lesleyzellers) and several people asked for the recipe. I posted a link a while back and you can find it here. But, as with most things, I adapt it for my tastes so I'll share how I like it here.

Here's what you'll need:
8 hard-boiled eggs - peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 cup mayo or lite mayo or vegenaise
1 teaspoon Jack Daniels No. 7 mustard - this is my go-to mustard for all things & is key in this recipe, it's pictured above
3 green onions - green and white parts chopped
1/4 teaspoon paprika
salt & fresh black pepper to taste
sweet pickle relish - I don't add it to mine but do if I'm making it for my husband

To hard boil eggs, I put them in a pot, cover with water about an inch over the eggs, bring to a boil, cover pot and remove from heat, take eggs out after 12 minutes. Put eggs in a a bowl of ice water and let cool for a few minutes. Refrigerate and peel when ready.

Put all ingredients in a bowl and stir until mixed.

That's it.

Put on some fresh greens.

On bread with fresh greens.

Or as my husband prefers. On toast with sweet relish.


Mar 5, 2015

a day in the garden

So I totally forgot to share some pictures my funny and talented friend, Jessie, took of my little fam this past fall. I was going through the pictures trying to decide which ones to print on canvas for the house and realized I never shared these here.

Choosing a few to print on canvas is next to impossible because there are TOO many great ones to choose from!!!

Maybe you guys can help me decide.

Here's the thing, Jessie came over one weekend to capture a typical weekend in the garden. And by typical, I mean just about any weekend when the temps are above freezing. Weekends are spent nearly entirely outdoors. Something my non-cold-weather-loving-heart has been longing for. I cherish our time in our backyard. Since we moved here just over a year ago, I have grown to love this space. Moving to our land and starting all over will be tough but my oh my, it will be good.

Anyway, back to the pictures.

So what's a typical weekend in the zellers backyard?

Bare feet. Always bare feet.

Sorry neighbors.

Girls on the tramp.

Something on the grill.

Time in the garden.

Chickens on the loose.

please notice the black cat on the right. no chickens have ever been harmed by the cat

Dinner on the porch, homegrown salads, dilly beans and sweet iced tea.

And more blessings than I deserve.

See, you guys. How am I supposed to choose a few. I want them all!!! Maybe I can do a wall wrap through my entire house. Would that be weird?

Jessie. You're good you. Words can never tell you thank you enough for the laughs you bring and the talent you shared with my family. I'll make sure to can a whole batch of dilly beans for you this year!

Thank you friend.

Also, I don't know if Jessie is booked for spring/summer/wedding sessions, but if you're interested in having her come document your family for a bit or looking for an amazing Tulsa photographer, check out her website or find her on instagram, @jessieleighphotos.

(I hope you don't mind the plug, Jessie.)