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Well hello, friends!
Somehow, it’s nearing the end of April, and it seems like I was just beginning to think that I should start a list of April to-dos. Obviously, that list never happened. I’ve always wanted to be the person who makes lists of garden tasks with a super organized schedule of what needs to happen and precisely when. I’m not that person.
Instead, when the weather is cooperating, I’m the person who goes outside and starts whatever project will produce results. Case in point: if you’ve been following my daily stories on Facebook or Instagram, you may have seen me redoing some flowerbeds. I’m constantly scheming and dreaming about my gardens, even with somewhat half-formed ideas. And that means that sometimes I need to “live” with an area for a time, even if it’s in slight disarray, to realize what it needs.
I had my new front walkway installed a year and a half ago, and I did some planting around it, but it never felt quite right. This spring, I realized what I wanted and went about making it happen. That’s the thing about gardening: we all see pictures of perfectly designed and installed yards, but it’s not the reality for so many of us. A garden takes time, and I don’t think it’s ever truly finished. Instead, it’s always a work in progress.
So, in that vein, April has been a work in progress for me. And this is our chance to talk about it. Grab a cup of coffee or whatever you drink, and let’s catch up!
Let’s talk about the vegetable garden.
Last month, I started many of the early, cooler season seeds. Just recently, I planted them outdoors in the vegetable garden. Like so many places in the Midwest, April weather is all over the map. We should be staying close to or above the freezing mark for nighttime lows, but that doesn’t mean we do. Last week, we had temperatures dip down to 27°F! These cool nights meant that the cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli needed coverage with plastic cloches to protect them. On the coldest night, I even threw blankets over the cloches! The heads of lettuce were also covered, but the nighttime winds blew off the blankets and nipped some of the delicate leaves. Thankfully, after a few warm days in the sun, the heads of lettuce are just fine and will continue to grow.
This temperature saga usually begs the question: why do I plant a garden so early? I think the answer is different for each gardener. Growing up, it seemed that Mom and Grandma would almost get enjoyment out of who could put in the earliest garden. For me, there are a few reasons:
- The privilege of growing food excites me so much that I cannot wait to begin!
- Having the cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli planted early means having an entire growing season before the harsh heat of summer may hurt them. While all plants need the sun and warmth to grow, those conditions aren’t plentiful at this time of year. But when placed under plastic cloches, the plants have a mini greenhouse. This allows them time to thrive and get a jump-start on the upcoming season.
- My grocery bill is always better during the growing season, and if I can help that earlier, I will.
A gardener always thinks they can best the weather and figure out a way to extend the season. Do we ever win against Mother Nature? Probably not, but that won’t stop me from trying! 🤪
Let’s talk about Kip.
Many of you have noticed Kip’s continued improvements in walking and eye infection. Kip’s eye looks much better after reducing one of his immunosuppressive medications. Thankfully, the dermatology team was impressed with his improvement as well.
The one drawback with the reduction of medication is that I have noticed some slight regression in the walking ability of his back legs. This regression was what I needed to watch for, as it’s hard to know if the medication was having any effect. There is a fine line in medication changes with a diagnosis like Kip’s since you don’t always know how the medications work until you make adjustments.
Since I noticed some changes, we’ve stayed the course with the reduced medication but did increase a different one, hoping to see the regression disappear.
These are a lot of words that sound scary, but overall, Kip is still able to be with me outside. As we come close to a year since his initial paralyzation, I’m overwhelmed with joy for the miraculous walking he is doing!
Let’s talk about food.
I’m at the time of year when I change up how I eat. During winter, I have more time indoors to prepare comfort foods (like lasagna) or soups (like homemade chicken noodle). When spring comes around, and I start spending more time outdoors, coming indoors later, I still enjoy spending time in the kitchen preparing a meal. But my food mood changes.
Instead of heavier dishes, I often opt for salads. And that’s no surprise because I love anything that involves a bed of greens and a layer of roasted vegetables, which come directly from my garden.
Some of my seasonal favorites:
- My recipe for a spring Cobb salad with an herby dressing that’s both sharp and bright.
- My salmon and roasted vegetables salad that’s easy to prepare and utilizes beets, sweet potatoes, carrots, and parsnips.
I recently posted a Reel of salmon with a glazed marinade that I love to prepare. To make it easy, I keep individual filets of salmon in the freezer. The night before I want to eat one, I pop a frozen filet in the refrigerator to thaw so I can quickly assemble the dish the next day. I usually throw broccoli or carrots on the sheet pan and roast them alongside the fish.
Salmon is excellent because it roasts in 8-15 minutes, depending on the oven, and is super delicious. The fish is full of healthy fats and numerous nutrients. This is my favorite way to enjoy a complete meal on those nights when I want something a bit quicker.
Let’s talk about some happenings.
A magazine article.
If you receive Allrecipes magazine, you may have found an article about me in the April/May issue. Articles like this happen months before they come out, so I had almost forgotten about it, but I love how this one turned out! The piece feels very much true to me, and the recipes included in the article are ones from the website that I love:
Here I come, Pittsburgh.
I’ll be traveling to Pittsburg on April 22-24 for the International Association of Culinary Professionals conference. On the 24th, I’m part of a panel with a handful of notable foodies who are truly amazing at their craft. We’ll be talking about building a brand and how we each use social media.
This speaking honor is a testament to all of my wonderful followers, whether you’ve been here from day one or yesterday. Two years ago, I had hopes and dreams of connecting with others through food and gardening, but I never thought those dreams would go anywhere. You have changed that! By following along, liking, and sharing my content, you help make this a career so I can keep teaching and “guiding.”
That’s all for this month of April! I’ll be back again in what I’m sure will feel like no time with a May newsletter!
Until then, be nice and find some joy this month!
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