Meal Planning

Trying to eat plant-based, non-processed, real FOOD and being organized pretty much go hand in hand. It’s near impossible to make good food choices without a bit of prep work behind the scenes and some thinking ahead. Beautiful salads don’t magically appear I’m afraid. I sure wish they did. So, with all this in mind, I finally had some spare time today to create a meal plan template that I can use for each week. It’s been a bit of a process….

I went from winging it every week (which means- a higher grocery bill, with more wasted food, and more nights of me wondering, “what should I make for dinner”???), to this:jvKME%ltTby2VbRZQ5dZhgTo this!XVuham2+RwaYFlIhu05JAAIsn’t it pretty?? I’m such a nerd for organization. I’m already seeing ways I need to alter it though. I know I won’t sit down and highlight different colors for each different grocery store every week, so I need to separate the lists out as I write: one list for Nature’s Green Grocer in Peterborough (If I were rich I would just buy everything there, but for now I just stick to their bulk items and beautiful produce and fish), Trader Joe’s (so far away from my house but you just can’t beat their prices for organic stuff!) and good ole Market Basket (close to home but an utterly depressing shopping experience lol).

I chose to start my week on a Wednesday you may notice, because that is the night I am able to do my grocery shopping. However, this is the tricky part for me since I shop at 3 different places… there’s no way I’ll go to Trader Joes and Natures in the same day. Some weeks I may have to alter the day of the week I start on is all. It will be tough, but I am determined to get into a good food rhythm for healthy (mostly) plant-based meals! Of course, this time of year is also excellent with the garden providing so much for us! The goal is to be totally garden-dependent in the summer for produce (someday!)

Here is a link to a PDF version of the Meal Planner  I made up so you can print it out for yourself as well! I hope it comes in handy. I designed it so it can be folded in half like so:4tBbd0VgQUqiIn%EmqwImQDanBWTERTw+KeytALnA I hope this meal planner is useful for you! Let me know in the comments if you have any other suggestions or helpful methods: I’m all ears! 🙂

Garden Centers: Southern New Hampshire

Memorial Day weekend is planting time for a lot of folks in New England, myself included. We actually got our veggies in last weekend, which is the earliest ever, so this weekend I focused on flowers! I managed to go to 8 garden centers between Saturday and Monday (for the blog, is what I told myself, but really, I just love garden centers) and now I’m going to tell you all about them 🙂

Rosaly’s Garden and Farmstand: Peterborough, NHimg_6206


For starters, we went to Rosaly’s Garden and Farmstand in Peterborough for all of our vegetables. It’s the oldest certified organic farm in the state of New Hampshire. They have a beautiful, sprawling property, with a great view of Mount Monadnock (the photos above were taken last summer-the blue skies give that away! We haven’t had much of those lately haha). Come mid-summer it’s fun to just stroll around their fields of flowers (which they allow and welcome). This year we planted a lot of cucumbers, in the hopes of trying to make pickles this fall. We also got leeks, plenty of onions, zucchini, grape tomatoes, lots of basil, curly parsley (to add to my perennial herb bed- thyme, mint, oregano and lavender) and I think that is it. We have very small beds for planting unfortunately. How I long for a flat yard sometimes! 🙂 We’ve always had great success with starter plants from Rosaly’s!
Getting There: Rosaly’s Garden and Farmstand, Route 123 South, just off of Route 101 in Peterborough (website in the link above provides more detailed directions).
My Verdict: The best place to buy organic starter vegetable plants around, hands down.

Amazing Flower Farm: New Ipswich, NHimg_6334

Settled on a back road in New Ipswich, New Hampshire, the Amazing Flower Farm sells everything from vegetables to perennials to very unique annuals. They have a whole greenhouse practically dedicated to annuals, with many ready-made arranged annual baskets and hanging pots. I love the “painted” variety of Violets they had this year, the petals literally look like an impressionistic painting. I got some for my mom, and also some pansies. The colors of pansies they offer are more muted, and delicate than some of the other ones I’ve seen, which I prefer. I remember last year they had “galaxy” impatients (or something like that)- dark purple flowers with starbursts of white speckled all over them, like paint splatters. I had never seen them before. Also, it is worth mentioning that all of the plants we purchased from them last year performed really well (even during the drought!) and the perennials have all come back nicely so far this year too.fullsizeoutput_1a90fullsizeoutput_1a94

Getting There: Amazing Flower Farm, 202 Poor Farm Road {off Route 124} New Ipswich, NH, 03071
My Verdict: A go-to spot if you love making elaborate annual planters, or if you love really unique annuals.

Mason Hollow Nursery: Mason, NHimg_6348

 


Definitely off the beaten track down a small dirt road in Mason, New Hampshire, Mason Hollow Nursery felt like finding a hidden gem. I didn’t know what to expect at all when I drove down the long dirt driveway. I was delighted when, upon going through the barn to enter, I saw a sprawling nursery surrounded by beautiful display gardens. They have a huge selection of Hostas. I mean, huge. Hundreds of varieties. I never knew that many varieties of Hostas even existed! My appreciation and fondness for Hostas is definitely growing as of late. I used to not like them, but lately I’ve been noticing their varied leaves more and loving the delicate contrast created when different varieties are planted side by side in a shade garden. I bought a couple of Hostas from Mason Hollow, along with a variegated Solomon’s Seal. They also have a really cute, friendly dog wandering around the nursery, a big Burmese Moutain dog named Nokken. Also, one tip I will mention is to bring bug spray. Maybe it was just the day I happened to visit, but there were a number of mosquitos buzzing around. That aside, it was a lovely place.img_6352img_6342Getting There: Mason Hollow Nursery, 47 Scripps Lane Mason, NH 03048 (603) 878-4347
My verdict: Expensive, but worth a trip, to see this beautiful family-run property with an elaborate and unique selection.

Pickity Place: Mason, New Hampshireimg_6357Pickity Place in Mason, NH is a magical place. Even more off the beaten path than Mason Hollow, it’s a little cottage tucked away in the woods off a winding, bumpy dirt road. Not only is it an exquisite place to have lunch and wander around their gorgeous gardens (I’ll do another, more in-depth post on Pickity someday), but it is also an excellent place to buy plants. Pickity Place has a large greenhouse out behind the restaurant which sells perennials, annuals, and a huge selection of herbs. Silly me, I didn’t take any pictures of the greenhouse while I was there because it was my 3rd garden center that afternoon and I was antsy to get home and plant, but just trust me when I say that it’s worth a trip. Also, the vast majority of their herbs and perennials are priced under 5 dollars.
Getting There: Pickity Place, 248 Nutting Hill Road Mason, NH 03048 (603)878-1151
My verdict: Excellent value in an idyllic setting. The place to go if you’re looking for a varied and unique herb selection.

Uncanoonuc Mt. Perennials, Goffstown, New Hampshireimg_6495img_6516


My mom and I drove up to Uncanoonuc Mt. Perennials in the rain on Memorial Day, but sadly they were closed (we should have called first) but just being there brought back memories from when I was little. I remember going there a long time ago and thinking their display garden was the most magical place. It still is! We poked around and snapped a few photos, and then drove on to the next nursery. I definitely want to come back here though, it looks like there is a huge selection. And it’s worth it just to walk around the display garden again!img_6542
Getting There: Uncanoonuc Mt. Perennials, 452 Mountain Road, Goffstown, NH 03045 603) 497-3975
My Verdict: Closed when I went so I can’t speak to the prices or selection, but worth going just to wander their display garden.

Tanglewood Gardens: Bedford, New Hampshireimg_6551Tanglewood Gardens is a classic don’t-judge-a-book-by-it’s-cover sort of place. Not going to lie, I didn’t have high hopes when we drove up to the somewhat overgrown property. We weren’t even sure they were open. But we opened up one of the greenhouse doors and were pleasantly surprised by a huge selection, and a very kind and attentive gentleman working there. They had all sorts of vegetables, even unique things like Okra and Sweet Potato plants. There also were annuals and perennials. We went through both of the greenhouses and were happy with the selection and the prices. The plants all looked very healthy as well. Mom bought plants to put together her annual planters. We will definitely come back to Tanglewood Gardens.img_6553
Getting There: Tanglewood Gardens, 424 Route 101, Bedford, NH 03110
My Verdict: Don’t let outer appearances fool you: they have a great variety and lots of unique selections.

Fitch’s Corner: Milford, New Hampshireimg_6557img_6560Good ole’ Fitch’s Corner in Milford New Hampshire (sorry they don’t have a website that I can find to link to it). A quaint farm store year-round, but also a great place to buy plants in the spring. They have a nice selection of cottage-type perennials, my favorites. I picked up some Foxgloves and Campanulas. Both in white, I love white gardens 🙂 Their prices are great, generally everything is under 5 dollars. I didn’t even go into their greenhouse, but they do have one, and there are many annuals and perennials inside.
Getting There: Fitch’s Corner Farmstand, 499 North River Road Milford, NH 03055
My verdict: Not a huge nursery by any means, but a nice selection of perennials and a great farm store too!

House by the Side of the Road: Wilton, New Hampshireimg_6576

 


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From houseplants, to shrubs, to Cacti, to Succulents, House by the Side of the Road in Wilton, NH has it all. Numerous greenhouses are packed completely full with plants of every kind and description. This is a place a plant lover could get lost in for hours. They have an indoor turtle pond, supplies to make terrariums, and even free popcorn and cookies! I had never been fully to their section outside before, and was amazed to see the varieties of perennials they offered. I even found one of my all time favorites- a Lunaria (silver dollar plant). A couple of those came home with me. What a fun place! And right on route 101, it is easy to find. It’s also an amazing place to wander around in during the winter time, just to feel some tropical air!


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Getting There: House by the Side of the Road, 370 Gibbons Highway (Route 101) Wilton, NH 03086 (603)654-9888
My verdict: An all around amazing and huge selection with generally pretty good prices.

Well there you have it, my Southern New Hampshire Nursery and Garden Center extravaganza. I hope this was helpful. There are countless other great garden places around- please share your favorites with me in the comments. I also plan to do a garden tour post, to share our plantings from this year, so stay tuned 🙂

My Garden Journal

As winter storm Stella rages on outside, my mind is drifting towards warmer thoughts. It’s mid-March already and I am itching to get outside in the garden. Just the other day there was bare ground and I could see all the garden and yard clean up work that needs to be done. I love work like that. Clearing the leaves and preparing the beds with compost; all the while thinking of ideas for new plantings. I am definitely an amateur gardener. It wasn’t until just last spring that I even really got into flower planting (and when I say “got into” I mean “mildly obsessed”). We’ve had veggie gardens every summer since we’ve been married, but now that we’ve built our apartment at my mom’s house, I know we will be sticking around- for a few years at least 😉 This gives me quite a big yard to work with, and a very supportive landlord (my mom! haha) who loves flower gardening as well. With our combined efforts, we were able to plant quite a bit last spring. With a new yard, and being a beginner gardener, I started a garden journal to help me keep track of what I planted where, and how the plant did in it’s first season.
With a lot of things in life, I often assume my memory is better than it is. I put off making my gardening journal for weeks (I don’t think I actually made it until late fall–I can’t remember! ha!) I almost didn’t even do it, thinking I would be able to remember all the things I planted and the lessons that I learned. I’m glad I didn’t listen to my own faulty reasoning. Just flipping through the pages quickly today showed me a variety of things I never would have remembered otherwise. So having a lousy memory alone is a good of a reason as any to make a gardening journal. I also wanted to have the ability to see how things do year after year. That way, I can stop investing money into plants that fail repeatedly. For the journal itself, I used a few empty middle pages of a big sketchbook I’ve had for years. I wish I got a new fresh book as a designated gardening journal, because there are not a whole lot of empty pages left in that sketchbook now. Oh well, next season I will make another one 🙂

I started by making a basic sketch of our yard from above, and added some loose watercolor to differentiate sections of our space. I didn’t spend too much time making that page a work of art, the point of it is to be a key for the journal. I then numbered the areas in my yard where I planted something, and numbered the corresponding descriptions.As you can see, I cut out the pretty seed packet illustrations and plant photos on the markers to add interest and decorate the journal. When I could remember, I would record where the plant came from. When I planted seed mixes, I cut out the list of varieties included in the mix and taped that in the journal. I also came to the conclusion that I will not use seed mixes anymore until I really learn how to differentiate weeds from flowers. I foolishly planted 3 different mixes on a hillside covered with weeds, so now, this spring, I generally won’t be able to tell what is a weed and what is a flower until the plants are big and established. Darn. Lesson learned- and recorded in my garden journal 🙂Along with lessons about the plants themselves, I also noticed trends as far as where the healthiest and weakest plants came from. All across the board, the plants we got from Amazing Flower Farm in New Ipswich, New Hampshire performed the best. We will definitely go there again. After describing all my flowers, I also briefly described my veggies. It was a really tough year for vegetable growing. We had the drought to contend with for one thing. We also had a really late start on our seeds and got the very last available starter plants because of traveling the majority of last spring.
 The last section of my journal describes the bulbs that I planted this fall, which I am eagerly still awaiting to come up! Garlic, Tuips, Daffodils, Crocuses, Narcissus… I hope they all do well! Time will tell. They are all still sleeping under a bed of white snow. I am itching to get out and use my old gardening tools and plant new things! Alas, I am going to have to be patient… as this is the current scene…