It’s been two and a half years since my last post. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I post pretty often, but if you don’t then I apologize for the silence. Here’s a quick update to catch you up to speed.
What a whirlwind the past few years have been. Once I got my first book deal in 2016 for Can It & Ferment It, I pretty much stopped blogging here. At the time, having a job in real estate, owning a hand stamped metal jewelry business, raising a little girl, and working on my book was just too much and the website just fell to the wayside. Fast forward five years… just two months ago, I sent my fourth book to print and am currently in negotiations for my fifth book. In addition to writing books, I have also been freelance writing for print and online publications, as well as teaching food preservation classes. A lot has happened in a seemingly short time.
For ten years I worked for one of the top real estate agent’s in Minnesota. In 2020, I decided to let that job go and focus on my writing and teaching. I had numerous classes lined up for 2020, all over the country. But, once everything was cancelled because of the pandemic, I was at a loss. I think most of us can relate to the feeling I’m referencing. For the first time ever, I had nothing to do. I wasn’t actively writing a book or writing for any publications, I couldn’t teach and I was at a complete standstill. I didn’t know what to do with myself.
In May of 2020, we had an Ash tree that was dying from the Emerald Ash Borer removed from our backyard. Little did I know that the removal of the tree would change the course of my life. Once the tree was removed, we suddenly had a large, sunny space behind our garage that used to be the “dead zone” of our yard. Conveniently, I had hundreds of seedlings started already since I had participated in a seed swap earlier in the year, but I had anticipated that I’d give most away since up to this point, we only had a few garden beds in the backyard. Well, now with the tree gone, I had plenty of space to grow! Suddenly, I had a purpose again. My husband, daughter and I worked to add garden beds to the “new” area. I had gotten some old beds from neighbors that didn’t use them (free!). My husband reinforced and reconfigured the old beds and after weeks of working on installation and filling them, we finally had a new, big garden space. I did give some of my seed starts away, but I was able to keep most for myself.
That year I grew pink celery, at least 20 tomato plants, two types of zucchini, cabbage, kale, cucumbers, beans, potatoes, various flowers, lots of herbs, swiss chard, pumpkins, spaghetti squash, more tomatoes, garlic, horseradish, (did I mention tomatoes?) and so much more. It was fantastic. The garden became my therapy. It helped me through the pandemic, when times were so uncertain and sad. I really found solace in the gardens. I loved nothing more than to go out to the backyard gardens each morning with my mug of coffee and hens – it was a great way to start the day.
I grew so many tomatoes that year that I was giving them away daily. I saved as many gallons as I could fit in our stand alone freezer (9 gallons) and made every tomato recipe you could think of – good thing we like tomatoes. In the fall, once the gardens faded, I set to preserve the frozen tomatoes and made spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, bloody mary mix, ketchup and more (all the recipes are in my books). It was wonderful. I was hooked on gardening more than ever.
In 2021, we added even more gardens to the backyard, including two cut flower beds which became my favorite part of 2021. In 2022, we converted the front yard into gardens. What fun I’ve had through the transformations. The front yard garden was a bit more nerve wracking since I wasn’t sure all neighbors would approve. I spoke to the two on the north and south sides of me before expanding and they didn’t mind. But, some peoples have strong feelings about growing vegetables in the front yard and I wanted to make sure it looked aesthetically pleasing. Design is not my strong suit, it gives me a lot of anxiety. Anyway, we dove in and added six Vego Garden beds. I grew eggplant, kale, tons of herbs, collard greens, tomatoes, potatoes, lots of flowers, bell peppers, corn, spinach, pumpkins and more, all in the front yard. It was so fun having strangers stop by and praise the changes. I loved hearing little kids pass by and exclaim, “Pumpkins!”.
I’m hoping that in 2023 I’ll have more than enough garden produce to share with the neighborhood – I have visions of setting up a little table with veggies, bouquets of cut flowers, and bundles of herbs that passersby can take freely at their leisure.
Anyway, this update was turned into a love letter to my gardens, but it really is so much of what has consumed my life for the last few years (aside from writing).
What’s next? Well, my co-author, Michelle Bruhn, and I have some great classes that we are developing and plan to teach in 2023. We have some big events we’ll also be apart of and I will announce them here (Twin Cities HOME Show and a Book Release Par-tay). We just launched our pre-order push for our new book, Small-Scale Homesteading, that is set to release in February of 2023. We have some great rewards that we’ll send monthly until our book is released, so once you pre-order from your favorite book seller, be sure to pop over and sign up for the rewards.
That’s all for now. Hope you are well!