How to plan your spring garden

It is almost January.

Garden plan from spring 2021

Depending on where you live, it is either freezing with tons of snow (hi to my family in North Dakota) or you’re in a place that is seeing a warmer than normal winter, like me. Today, in Myrtle Beach, it is 75 and cloudy.

While many North Dakotans might not be thinking of tomatoes and squash just yet, I’m ready to start planning and then, soon, getting seeds started.

If you’re ready to start planning too, I’ve got a list of to-dos you can easily start with and “grow” from there.

1. Do a seed inventory.
Not only will you see what you have and what you need, you can also make sure your seeds aren’t expired. Expired seeds will probably still be good, but you risk a lower germination rate.
2. Look at seed catalogues
My favorite mail this time of year are seed catalogues. I love to look at new varieties.
3. Order seeds now
Once you know what you have and don’t have – order what you’d like to try. The last few years have been tough for seed suppliers, so you don’t want to miss out on a specific variety if they’re sold out.
4. Clean up your garden space
Soil health is important. If you prepare your soil properly now, your plants will thrive. Cleaning up can include digging up old plant roots, spreading fresh compost on your beds and adding chopped leaf mulch.
5. Know your space
By knowing how much space you have to plant, you can plan properly when ordering seeds. You don’t want to over order and then have any go to waste.
6. Research your seeds and your grow zone
If you know your grow zone, you can research or look on the back of seed packets to find out when to start seeds. Many plants benefit from a head start instead of direct sowing in the ground. This includes tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and some flowers like zinnias, cosmos and strawflowers.
7. Plan out your garden
This step is when I decide what will go where and how many of each plant I need to start early. I always plan too much and things end up changing, but that is OK. I feel good going into a season knowing what I want to do.
8. Start your plants!
Many plants benefit from being started 6-8 weeks (and sometimes earlier) before a last frost for your area. A quick google search can tell you when your last frost is expected. Here in Myrtle Beach, that is often near the end of March. The seeds can be started in seed trays and placed on warming mats in a green house. I have a very simple green house set up outside on my porch – but you can also go all out and get a growing station with grow lights, heat mats and a fan.
9. Watch your garden thrive
By planning ahead, you not only get to dream of spring in January, you can easily pivot if things change. Your early-started plants will be fruiting and blooming before you know it – and you can then start the next round of flowers or vegetables to have an even longer growing season.

Growing plan from 2021

If you have any questions at all, please reach out. I’d be excited to help.
Happy Growing!

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Baking Through History: Great Grandma’s Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

If you remember my second video about Ginger Cookies, you’ll remember how much my great grandma Laura loved to bake. Read more on those cookies – HERE.

Here again is another recipe from her given to me by her daughter, my great aunt, Betty.

Betty wrote about this recipe in the email to me and said, “I love the taste of this dough because of the nutmeg in it. I loved helping so I could eat the dough. I liked my mother-in-laws caramel syrup better than mom’s, so I don’t have mom’s recipe for the syrup. Mom also used this dough recipe to make her kuchen. Hope this helps. I haven’t made these in years!” – – Betty

I love these kinds of recipes – ones passed down from mother to daughter and down the line. 

Caramel Rolls

It is interesting to me that there is shortening in the dough. I did quite a bit of research on this because I expected butter.

Shortening, according to King Arthur Flour, adds a tenderness to dough and cakes. It can also help if your all-butter cookies are spreading too much in the oven. Shortening can be substituted in any recipe 1-to-1 for butter. The reason so many recipes call for butter over shortening…flavor. Butter has more flavor than shortening. In this recipe, however, there is butter in the filling, which I am sure will make these delicious.

You can make them as regular cinnamon rolls and add your own favorite frosting recipe or you can make caramel rolls as listed below.
I tried both – baking half and half in different pans.
This can make 15 large rolls or 24 medium size rolls.
You’ll need multiple pans and an instant read thermometer.

Here is the recipe as sent to me by Betty:
Cinnamon Rolls
Betty Goetz from her mom, Laura Berreth

Step One:

  • 1 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
  • 2 packages active dry yeast

Dissolve yeast in warm water.

Step Two:

  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 1 cup milk, scalded

Heat milk to 180 degrees. Mix shortening into the milk to melt. Milk will need to cool to below 110 degrees before adding to mixing bowl for dough, so it doesn’t kill the yeast.

Step Three:

  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs (beat them first before adding)
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 T. lemon juice (if desired)
  • 7- 8 cups bread flour
  • Mix all ingredients (including yeast mixture and milk mixture) into stand mixer or bowl. Slowly add in flour and knead dough until it can be handled without sticking to your hands.

Transfer dough to lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rise 60-90 minutes, punch down, and then rise again for 60 minutes.

Step Four:

  • 1/2 stick of butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup brown sugar (depending on size of rectangle)
  • 2 T. Cinnamon

Roll dough into large rectangle; spread with soft butter, sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.
Roll up, beginning at wide side.
Cut into 1 and 1/2 inch pieces.
Place in pan or pans and let rise until puffy.
Add optional caramel syrup (recipe below) after they have risen but before baking.
Bake 20-30 minutes at 325 degrees.

Step Five (if making rolls with frosting):

  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tblspn milk

Mix together to create cream cheese frosting.
Spread over cooled buns.

Caramel Syrup for Cinnamon Rolls
Betty Goetz from Stella Goetz (Dwight’s mom):

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • ½ cup margarine or butter
  • 4 T. water
  • 4 T. white corn syrup
  • 1 T. vinegar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup whipping cream

Mix together first 6 ingredients in a sauce pan, stirring constantly.
Bring to a boil.
Boil 1 minute and then, off the heat, add 1 cup cream.
Cool before pouring over unbaked, risen rolls.
Bake rolls as noted above.
**Caramel rolls might take a few minutes longer.

My great grandma’s recipe is absolutely delicious. The rolls come out tender and soft. I used bread flour in it, though the original recipe didn’t note which kind to use. I also added the measurements for the filling since those were not listed in the original.
I will definitely bake these on a cookie sheet with them separated rather than smooshed into a square pan. I think the air circulation will be better and they will brown more.

If you bake this recipe, let me know! I’d love to hear from you on how it went.

I have two more recipes from my great grandma that I’m going to bake up for you. One is called Peppernut Cookies and the other is a Christmas favorite in my family. Kuchen. I’ll be baking up the kuchen on Dec. 14, so stay tuned for that episode!

I have also come across a recipe for potato chip cookies and one for cookies baked in a casserole dish… I am too intrigued to not make those for you. Thanks for watching!

Other posts about Baking Through History:

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How did Pig Dog Farm come to be?

There once was a dog named Pig. He was what is known as a Valley Bulldog, which is an English Bulldog/Boxer mix.

He was a very happy boy, who went on many adventures during his 11 and a half years.

But, he also had many obstacles to overcome. You see, he had hemophilia – a blood disorder that made him very delicate.

Piggy in the car on a trip.

HOWEVER, none of that stopped him from loving life and loving adventures.

He loved walks, hikes, breweries, car rides, couches, grass, towels, Milk-Bones, cheese, chips, snacks, gravy and cuddles (sometimes.) He was very loved by everyone and, especially, his mama and daddy. Everything they did included him and that’s why he got to go on so many adventures.

Piggy was born in April 2008 in North Charleston, S.C. He came to live with his mommy and daddy in June 2008. They drove down to Charleston to get him. On the way home, he sat in his daddy’s lap and bit his fingers the entire way home.

Piggy was a special boy right from the beginning – even before his parents knew of his health issues. He loved to sleep under the bed and under tables and run around outside while chewing a stick. He was a very happy boy who loved to be comfortable…no matter what.

Piggy also had about a million names. They included: “Pig Dog Gole,” “monkey-monster- dog-Pig-bear-goat-camel-cow -hippopotamus,” “Bertha,” “Marge,” “Margorie,” “Bubbles,” “Bubbie,” and “Baby.” The name “Pig Dog Gole” came after a pharmacy got our last name wrong on a prescription for him, and it stuck. We called him that for years.

During the first few years of his life, he went on many walks, ate lots of sticks, saw his grandma, who lived in Forestbrook, and went to “camp” to see his other grandma in Anderson. Everyone loved to see him because of his smile and his beautiful personality.

In 2011, Piggy got his own yard! His mommy and daddy moved into a house with a big yard that was all his. There is even a video that shows just how happy he is to have his own space. From then on, Piggy was the king of his domain. He would explore, sniff and snaff, pee, eat dirt, lay in the sun, and roll in the grass.

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Piggy rolling in the grass.

The yard was all his. He also had a great porch where he could lay, on a towel of course, and catch the breeze to sniff. He loved the breeze. If he wasn’t on the porch, he would sit on the back of the couch with the window open and sniff the air. His cute little nose was always sniffing.

For many years, most of Piggy’s adventures were just around town. But after Pig’s mom got a new job, there was more time to explore and to go on adventures further away from home.

Piggy’s first trip was to Banner Elk, N.C. His daddy found a pet-friendly hotel and planned things for him to do. Piggy went hiking on many trails, walking on many greenways and to more breweries and wineries than most people. He loved every minute because he was on an adventure and he was with his mom and dad. Once he was tuckered out, his mom and dad put him to bed in the hotel. He was such a good boy – they never once got a call that he was causing a ruckus. He just slept and slept.

Piggy as a baby.

That first trip was an eye-opener. Piggy was such a good boy that his mom and dad started planning more fun places to go. He went to many places including: Charleston (multiple times), Banner Elk (multiple times), Asheville (multiple times), Charlottesville, Pittsburgh, Richmond (multiple times), Williamsburg (multiple times), Norfolk, Alexandria, Charlotte (multiple times) and many other small towns along the way. As long as he had his crate to sleep in and food, he was a happy boy.

In his life, Piggy did have many health problems because of the hemophilia. He underwent multiple fresh frozen plasma transfusions to stop the bleeding if he hurt himself. His mom was always ready to go and get him any help he needed. After he got help, everything went back to normal. One day, however, the doctors couldn’t help him and he went on to heaven. He died on Oct. 19, 2019. His mom and dad were devastated, but know that he will continue to live on in their memories and hearts.

Piggy and mommy on an adventure.

Piglet Bully Gale, his official full name, was so very loved by everyone he met and led such a fun life – in spite of his medical problems. He could be a beacon of hope for anyone facing obstacles because he never let anything get him down. Even at the very end, when he couldn’t walk anymore because of the blood clot stuck in his leg, he didn’t let what was happening get him down.

There is not one moment going forward that his mom and dad won’t miss him, think about him or wonder what he is doing. He will always be missed and will always be loved.