Good Morning Garden Soldiers!  This giveaway is just for you!!!  I’m starting my one year blogiversary bash with a gardening giveaway suitable for anyone.  Whether you live in a rural acreage or have a tiny apartment in the busiest urban city the Garden Patch™ Grow Box™ will allow you to Grow Your Own Food!

I was super excited when I saw this product as I’m also a container gardener.  Besides plots of land scattered throughout the city I also container garden on my front and back patios.  I’ve grown annuals, carrots, beets, tomatoes, and peppers in containers.  For me the most difficult part of growing in containers has been finding a cost efficient, durable container that lasts.

Here’s a bit of what they have to say.

Easily pick 60 lbs of tomatoes from just one Grow Box. Replace an entire in-ground garden with just 6! The Garden Patch is so simple and efficient, it takes care of itself.

Sets Up in Less Than 5 Minutes

Works anywhere, every time – even for first-time gardeners.

Grows the biggest, juiciest, best tasting tomatoes you’ve ever had.

Automatic feeding and watering without guessing

Comes complete with FREE fertilizer.

No Weeding or back aches – Finally you’ll enjoy your garden instead of toiling in it.

Grows peppers and flowers like a pro.

No guessing or hassles of box gardens and hydroponics. Pays for itself in less than one season.

100% Natural growing.

Guaranteed to be the easiest and most productive garden or your money back.

A mighty little garden for a very little price!

More productive than in-ground gardens and twice the fun.

You can see why I got so excited!!  Typically, I write a review when I get a product and test it out.  Well, this is going to be a special case.  I get to review and blog about this product throughout the entire season.  The Garden Patch is sending me 2 boxes in terra cotta to review. I am planning on growing tomatoes in one and peppers in the other.  I’m hoping that by the end of the season my tomato plants will do as well as the one above :)  I’m curious and will blog about how it holds up to disease.  I’m optimistic since it’s in a container, you water from below and there is a clear barrier between the plant and soil.  All key elements.

Check out some of these other pictures.

This last man is growing sweet corn on a rooftop of his apartment. This very well may be a revolutionary easy way to provide nourishing food for your family!  If you live in a tiny apartment, check out your rooftop and if there is space, ask your apartment owner if you can grow some veggies up there.  For more fun pictures of the Grow Box in action, click here.

What I am really excited about is that The Garden Patch has agreed to send one lucky ready there very own Grow Box which retails at $29.95!  The lucky winner will also have the option to choose their Grow Box in Terra Cotta or Green.

How to Enter..
For your first entry, please comment on what you would like to grow in your Garden Patch Grow Box.  Easy Peasy!

Extra Entries…
Leave a separate comment for each entry: A total of 8 chances!
  1. Become a fan of A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa on Facebook and share on your wall 
  2. Subscribe to receive my posts via email.
  3. Follow me on Twitter and tweet about the giveaway. (copy and paste)

    @dianabauman Garden Patch Giveaway! Perfect container for growing your own in small spaces. http://tinyurl.com/yzzwvw7 #gardening #giveaway

  4. Stumble this post using the StumbleUpon icon below
  5. Post the I Grow My Own Food badge on your blog.  Doing this qualifies you for 3 extra chances.  You can pull the code from the right sidebar.
Please leave a separate comment for each entry.  If you decide to place the badge on your blog, please leave 3 separate comments.  Badge 1, Badge 2, Badge 3.
Please Remember, leave a separate comment for each entry, or your extra entries will not count!

Every comment must include an email address – it’s ok if you comment with your blog account as long as I can get to your email through your blog!  The giveaway ends April 1st and is open to the Continental US only.  The winner will be chosen by random.org.

Good Luck Garden Soldiers!

Part 1: Ordering Seed Catalogs
Part 2: Understanding the differences between Heirloom, Hybrid, GMO, and Organic Seeds 
Part 3: Planting Zones, Frost Dates, and Planting Calendars
Part 4. Understanding Succession Planting
Part 5. Spring Time is Near!  It’s Time to Start Those Seedlings! 
Part 6. Growing Seeds Indoors Under Supplemental Lighting

Tomorrow, I will continue onto part 7 of our gardening series, tending your seedlings as so many of us are going through this right now.  Thanks again for a wonderful year :D

This post is a part of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday!

    My kids gearing up for gardening season 2010!

    I am so excited.  March marks the one year mark for A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa.  I really can’t believe what an exciting year it has been for me in blogging.  I was able to visit San Francisco, New York, was featured on Oprah.com and met so many amazing people throughout this entire world.  Thank you so much friends and family for visiting me here and taking the time to leave me comments.  It really does mean so much to me especially when I can learn and be edified through your comments.

    A couple weeks ago I wrote a post called Resting in the Lord.  In it I shared my heart for where I am in my spiritual life and opened up that my husband and I were praying about home schooling.  I wanted to share that we have decided to home school our boys and honestly it was through all of you that shared with me through your comments and emails that I felt confirmation that this is the direction the Lord wants me to take with our boys.

    I’m really excited as I am going to be attending my first home school meeting tomorrow with a new group of women.  Maria from www.veryblessedmommy.blogspot.com sent me an email and I am so blessed that she did!  She lives here in Iowa and opened up her home to my sister and I.  We will meet tomorrow night and chat home school.  I can’t wait!

    She wrote to me…

    I read a story a while back about a homeschooling mom who was dying way too young and her only regret was that she wished she had “baked less bread”.  Her reason for saying that was that she felt like she was always so busy DOING things, baking, making, cleaning, trying to make her home look and feel like she wanted it to be and like she thought it should be when what she really should have been doing was just being with her kids….spending time with them, reading to them, listening to them.  My point in all this is, we only get one childhood with our kids, but God-willing we will have many years to bake, make, clean, etc.  Homeschooling is a big commitment and it is time consuming, but I can’t begin to describe how fulfilling it is!  :)

    Seriously what I needed to hear.  Thanks Maria!  I can’t wait to meet you tomorrow :)

    I also was so blessed by a new mami I met named Kelli.  She lives in Oregon and will be moving to Iowa soon!  This part of her comment really tugged on me.

    I homeschool. God told me to homeschool, I didn’t want to, I sent my daughter to 1st grade at public school and my second daughter was going to a private preschool, and that whole year was God telling us to homeschool. I am sooo glad that He knows best! It has been the best thing ever for our family. I made a list of pros and cons, and on the pros were all kinds of wonderful things, and on the cons were only selfish things. Like, I want a clean house, I want to be able to go to lunch with my friends, I want to be able to exercise. Well, the pro list has grown in so many beautiful ways, I KNOW my kids.

    When she wrote this I could very much relate.  I was a little bit excited to be able to send my kids to school and have me time.  Which is definitely what we all need every once in awhile but I want to KNOW my kids.  I really feel God wanting me to home school in that my oldest son Nehemiah is very smart.  I’m not saying this to brag or to be one of those moms but he’s been a kid that has enjoyed learning.  He takes something and runs with it.  Because of this, I’m excited to be able to challenge him, keep him learning, and keep him involved in activities.  The more I think about it, the more excited I get.

    I was also very excited to hear from my friend Bridget at Bake at 350.  I was so blessed to have met Bridget at Kelly’s Cake Off For A Cause.  Bridget has been home schooling her son for 3 years.  Here’s what she had to say that also shed some light.

    I was so afraid to do it, but then I didn’t want to look back at my life and WISH I had.  It’s hard somedays, but I really have gotten to know my child well.  He’ll probably be going to our parish school in the fall.  There are so many opportunities for electives that I feel like I can’t give him as he gets into middle school.  I know some parents are FABULOUS at that…I’m just not one of them. :)  I feel like he’ll be going with a good foundation. 

    It’s great to know that she was able to home school and set that foundation.  He will be attending school in the Fall and that’s okay.  God will direct our paths and we just need to be obedient to what he wants from us now.  Thanks Bridget!!

    What really confirmed my decision was in hearing from a home schooler that I have known since she was an itty bitty.  My friend Sarah was home schooled through high school.  She is now married and attending a University.  Here is what she shared with me that was so encouraging!

    I was home schooled from 2nd grade through high school and I L.O.V.E.D. it. I’m so glad you asked me about it. Honestly, I was surprised that you hadn’t decided to home school already. I think that homeschooling would be a great fit for you. Your lifestyle (gardening and raising chickens, etc) would mesh really well with homeschooling. You’re like a home school family already. :) That’s what so great about it: home schoolers learn about REAL life. It’s more than just the academic aspect. You get to learn about how real life works.
    My favorite part about it was that I never felt bored. I never felt like I wasn’t learning anything. I think this was because there’s so much flexibility. You’re allowed to learn in the way that best fits you and at your own pace. It’s so cool because, as long as you’re learning what you’re supposed to, it doesn’t matter how.

    I remember one year in elementary school, my sister and I were really into the Little House on the Prairie series. So my mom found a curriculum that was based off the books. We learned how to make bread and we sewed bonnets…made butter from a homemade butter churn….it was awesome!

    Another year we were really into Medieval stuff, so we researched different royal houses and even made our own catapult and Medieval weapons.

    I basically only have fond, fun memories of school. It was just more fun and I was never jealous of anything about public school.

    After about 6th grade, basically every fall, my parents gave me a choice of whether I wanted to start public school or be home schooled again. I never picked public school and I don’t regret it at all. I’m just really glad my mom was willing to stay home with us.
    I also liked the fact that I was never taught anything that conflicted with Christian values. I never had to stop and ask myself “Does this go along with what the Bible says?” I feel like I got a solid foundation and was able to get a good feeling, like “Ok. This is what I believe. This is what I know.” I didn’t have to sort through information. Not to say that I was kept ignorant of what was going on in the world (which is what a lot of people end up thinking); we learned about other religions as well…you just don’t have to be directly exposed to the wrong thing to know what it looks like.

    Anyways….
    I finished high school in 3 years and had ZERO problems transitioning from being home schooled to college. I had lots of friends while I was home schooled and was able to make tons more in college. No ill effects, so far :) I think that the positive definitely outweighs the negative.

    Two things really tugged at my heart.

    1. I’m just really glad my mom was willing to stay home with us
    2. After about 6th grade, basically every fall, my parents gave me a choice of whether I wanted to start public school or be home schooled again.

    I really like this in that it was in her decision to continue to be home schooled or not.  A greater challenge for me to make sure that my kids are not just learning what they are supposed to but that they are learning about things they enjoy and making sure they are continually involved in something.  Whether that’s sports, 4H, boyscouts etc..

    Anyways, yes… one year for my blog and so many more blessings at home with my friends and family!  I do have a few giveaways to commemorate 1 year!  Keep an eye out as tomorrow I will host my first and it has to do with organic gardening!!!  People with small spaces, this is for you!!!

    Oh… Ha!  I almost forgot!  I’m going to Spain in May!!!!!  Yeah, I am that excited.  It’s been 3 years.  I’m super excited to visit my family, give tons of kisses, and eat TONS of good food!!  You better believe I’ll be blogging from there and may have some special Spanish giveaways!!  Sevilla Tiene Un Color Especial!!!!  All right, it’s a good day :D  I’ll see you tomorrow for my first blogiversary giveaway!

    garden_badge

    Good morning garden soldiers!  I was a little concerned thinking I was way behind starting my seeds.  Excitedly, I’m not late at all!  I still have some seeds to order and throughout the next 2 weeks will be in the process of germinating and placing my seedlings under supplemental lighting in my basement.

    To all of you that are starting your seeds indoors the best place to let your seedlings take off is under natural light.  If you have a sunroom or a large south facing window this will work great!  In my case, I don’t have adequate lighting, so I have built my own growing area with artificial lights.  It’s super easy to do and very cost efficient.  Gardening magazines and supply stores sell beautiful glow ‘n grow light gardens.  However, they range anywhere from $200 – $500.  These systems can be replicated at home for a fraction of the cost using ordinary shop lights and florescent bulbs.

    This will be my third year starting seedlings indoors.  Every year I buy a new set at Walmart to keep my costs down and only grow what I can under the lights that I have.  The shop light cost $10 and the florescent bulbs cost $6.97.  Super affordable!!

    This is my setup that I currently have and worked out great last year.

    My husband suspended the shop lights from the ceiling over a long fold out table.

    I did have to raise up my platform in order to keep my seedlings 2 inches away from the light source.  They need to be very close to the light and warmth.  The lights also need to be able to adjust higher as the seedlings grow.

    Since my setup is in my basement and I live in Iowa, I needed an extra source of heat especially for my tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants.  It’s way to cold in my basement to encourage their growth.  Placing a heater directly underneath my table worked out great and raised the soil temps.  I have also read about some gardeners using a cool and a warm bulb under each shop light.  I may give this a try this year and see how it turns out.  Has anyone used this method before?

    The last and most important piece of equipment that you will need is a light timer ;)

    Generally, seedlings need about 16 hours of light a day.  Setting your lights on a timer makes this a thoughtless process and one less thing to worry about.

    This year, I am actually upgrading!  My hubby will be working on my new setup this weekend.  A bakers shelf with the lighting suspended above each unit.  This will enable me to grow more variety of plants.  Here is an image of the setup that I will be using this year. Photo from Skippy’s Vegetable Garden.

    Stick with me as next week, I am going to go through the technical issues (heat, airflow, fertilizer, and water) in my next post, tending your seedlings.  Utilizing an indoor system like this and tending to your seedlings will take your little germinated seeds from cotelydon leaves (the first leaves that appear) to two true leaves and the beginning of a plant!

    Update: As you’ll find out soon… once you start you only get bigger. Here’s my new setup:

    Starting Seeds Indoors | myhumblekitchen.com

    Part 1: Ordering Seed Catalogs
    Part 2: Understanding the differences between Heirloom, Hybrid, GMO, and Organic Seeds
    Part 3: Planting Zones, Frost Dates, and Planting Calendars
    Part 4. Understanding Succession Planting
    Part 5. Spring Time is Near! It’s Time to Start Those Seedlings!
    Part 6. Growing Seeds Indoors Under Supplemental Lighting
    Part 7. Tending your seedlings
    Part 8. Methods of Urban Gardening

    potatoegratin2
    Gratins have become one of my favorite dishes to make.  You can make them in numerous variations with different vegetables.  They are so comforting during these cold, long days and so easy to make.  My hubby especially loves potato gratin.  When we first got married I used to buy those twenty minute packages of potato gratin.  The boxes that contain the transparent thin pieces of dehydrated potatoes.  Eeek, I know!  We loved them though, but that was way before we realized just how GOOD making them from scratch can be.  By mixing in fresh, whole cream, a variation of pecorino romano cheese or  parmesan, and real butter… there is just no comparison.  It does take an hour or so to bake so it you work outside of the home it is something that you can prepare for your family on a weekend.

    potatoes_sweetpotatoes

    Organic potatoes that I buy in bulk through Azure Standard and a sweet potato from last September’s farmers market.  Can you believe I had it that long?!  I enjoy storing root vegetables and that sweet potato was delicious.

    cream
    La crème de la crème.  Fresh whole cream!

    Potato and Sweet Potato Gratin
    Ingredients:
    • 1/2 lb sliced sweet potatoes
    • 1/2 lb sliced potatoes
    • 2 cups whole cream (feel free to substitute 1 cup of cream with milk)
    • 2 tbls butter
    • 1 cup shredded pecorino romano cheese
    • salt and pepper to taste
    Method:
    1. Preheat oven to 350.
    2. In a casserole dish layer half of the sliced sweet potatoes and potatoes.  
    3. Sprinkle with one tablespoons butter and 1/2 cup shredded cheese.
    4. Pour 1 cup cream over the ingredients and season with salt and pepper.
    5. Layer the remaining potatoes, butter, cream, seasoning, and cheese.
    6. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes.
    7. Remove the aluminum foil, press the potatoes under the liquid and bake for an additional 35 – 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender and the cheese has browned on top.
    Buen Provecho!

    raw apple tart

    To all the garden soldiers out there, I’m running behind on my own gardening seedlings :(  My plan is to get going on this tomorrow and into the weekend so I’ll post our next series as soon as I get caught up :D

    On to the recipe!  First off, let me give credit where it’s due. This beautiful raw apple cranberry tart, as I call it, is a recipe I found on RAWMAZING. A beautiful site with beautiful pictures and simply amazing raw recipes. Susan actually calls it an Apple Cranberry “Cheesecake.” Me being me, I didn’t realize that this is not supposed to taste like cheesecake since it’s not made with cheese. I know, total duh moment. I actually made this tart for my church’s Valentines dinner and didn’t know what to think of it at first. First of all, it didn’t taste like cheesecake. Also, I just wasn’t sure if it was going to be sweet enough for people’s expectations of dessert. To be honest, my tastebuds are completely different now that I’ve cut out all white refined sugar. Anything that has too much sugar in it honestly blows me away. I like things more in their natural state of sweetness so when I saw this, although hesitant, I knew I wanted to make it. Apples dehydrated with honey and cashews soaked and ground to a paste with coconut oil. Seriously, what’s not to like! My older sister loved it as well so right away I knew it was share worthy! Super yummy!!

    One thing I enjoy about Susan’s blog is she reminds us that although these desserts are healthy and nutrient dense, they are also calorie dense. They can spike our blood sugar level and give us way too many calories than needed. So with any kind of dessert, eat them minimally. One thing to think about as well, healthy dessert or not, too many sweets in the house will also fall down to our children and ultimately give them bad habits.

    Raw Apple Cranberry Tart
    (I substituted raw honey and used coconut oil instead of butter. I also added 1 tbls of arrowroot powder to the filling to make sure it would set)

    Crust:

    • 1 cup Almonds (soaked and dehydrated)
    • 6 dates
    Topping:
    • 3 apples, peeled and sliced thinly
    • 1/4 cup raw honey
    • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
    • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
    • 2 tbl coconut oil
    • 1/2 cup crust
    Filling:
    • 2 cups cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
    • 1 tsp lemon juice
    • 1/2 cup coconut oil
    • 1/4 cup raw honey
    • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
    • 1/4 tsp cloves
    • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
    • 1 tbls arrowroot powder
    Method:
    1. 2 hours before: Combine apples, raw honey and cinnamon. Dehydrate at 116 for 2 hours
    2. Make crust: Place almonds in food processor. Process until finely ground.
    3. Add dates, process until well mixed.
    4. Set aside 1/3 cup of the crust.
    5. Press remaining into 6″ spring form pan. (I used a 9″ and definitely recommend a 6″ if you want it to be as thick as cheesecake)
    6. Place crust in refrigerator.
    7. Make Filling: Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Process until smooth.
    8. Pat over crust and return to refrigerator.
    9. Finish Topping: Combine dehydrated apples, dried cranberries, coconut oil and 1/3 cup crust.
    10. Press over top of tart.
    11. Return to refrigerator and chill for 2 hours before serving.
    12. Slice with a sharp knife.
    Raw cooking and “baking” is so new to me and I can’t wait to learn more!!

    I have so many posts backed up ready to share, however, I wanted to take some time to share with you a little bit of what’s been going on in my life.

    I love this picture!  Yummy fresh sardines!  So nourishing, so tasty!  Well, that post will be for another day.

    I’m currently at DMACC.  My class ended early and I need to stay until 9pm to lock down the building.  What a perfect time to share with you my heart and where I’m currently at in my spiritual health.

    I attended a wonderful women’s retreat this past weekend where I had the opportunity to spend some time with woman who are living for God.  Now, they’re not all perfect.  In fact, none of us are.  We had a great opportunity to share what God is currently doing in our lives, our struggles and our victories.

    For me, the biggest struggle in my life (which seems to never end) is my time and how I spend it.  I’m a wife, mother, organic gardener, urban homesteader, web/graphic designer, web instructor, sister and friend.  As you can tell, I’m a busy person and often that means neglecting God and his priorities that he has set before me.  Being a wife and mother!

    Is anyone else in the same boat??

    Right before attending this retreat, I was considering a class to teach people how to source and cook Real Food.  I was super excited and quite honestly knew it wasn’t what God wanted me to do.  However, I wanted to do it anyways.  How fun, right?  Meeting new people, interacting, teaching, why not?!

    Well, I just don’t have the time!  That’s why, lol!!

    God totally burned me.  I enjoy social media and meeting new people online, however, I know I need to slow down!!  I can’t compromise my time with my husband and children.  Now that Nehemiah is getting older, I’ve been working on preschool lessons with him.  He’s taking off and I know God wants me to put 100% into my kids.  I’m currently praying about homeschooling and all which that entails.

    Do any of you homeschool?  Any resources to recommend?  Directions??  Any help is way appreciated!

    At the retreat I also had the opportunity to speak to woman about food.  One thing I realized and was a little saddened by, is that when people see me or speak to me, the first thought that comes to their mind is food.  As much as I love to teach people what I’ve learned over the years, I want to take this time to let people know that my life is NOT all about food and eating local, organic, and the such.

    I want to apologize to all of my readers also, if by reading my blog that you have felt inadequate.  If I have made you to feel that you are not doing all that you can to nourish your family by buying organic, and local and making everything from scratch, I deeply apologize!

    First and foremost, our relationship with Jesus Christ is what is truly important.  Eating local, organic and cooking everything from scratch does NOT secure us a seat next to our Father.  Also, only our God knows the number of our days!!  Please remember this.  Their is NOTHING you can do that will keep you alive on this planet one extra day than what God has already planned!

    With that said, I am NOT perfect.  Who is?!  Let me tell you, I’m a working mama.  When I pull 12 hour days working on Monday’s and Wednesday’s, the last place I want to be is in my kitchen.  Praise the Lord for freezer meal groups, however, when I don’t have a freezer meal, you had better believe I feel guilt free on ordering a Pizza Hut pizza!  Yeah, I can make a darn good pizza from scratch but when I’m exhausted, the last thing my family needs is a grumpy mom and wife!

    If I were to feel like I NEEDED to make a pizza for the sake of my families health, I would then be carrying a burden.  A burden I was NEVER meant to carry!  I would be chained to making something.  What freedom is in that?  It’s when I give these pressures to the Lord and ask him to bless my family and food that I then experience peace and live in Christ, not in my own actions.

    Now, I’m not saying to order away and live your life in processed food, but to not LIVE for REAL FOOD.  It can become an idol and something we think about so often that it replaces our one and only true and Living God!

    I have an entire post coming up on Nourishing Traditions and The Makers Diet.  One thing to think about… Is this a new diet fad? I enjoy NT and how it’s teaching so many americans how to stop eating processed foods and how to make a lifestyle change in making real food traditionally. Lord knows, many americans need this information. However, there are many inaccuracies in both books and although great resources they should never be held as complete truth and one should never live their lives for any book written by man.

    I’m really excited as local Iowa moms and myself are going to be creating a new website focusing on community.  Focusing on how we can love our neighbor as God has commanded us to help each other.  A key component that is not stressed enough and has been lost over the years. Not just in food, but in life.  Each one of us will be able to contribute and keep each other grounded in Christ. Living it local, living it in community, living it in Christ!  Really, it’s going to be exciting as we teach other!!  If this sounds like something you would like to be a part of, drop me a note at diana@phileodesign.com.

    A few of my lovely ladies can be found at…

    Abby - http://lovemadetheradishgrow.blogspot.com/
    Danelle - http://mytotalpv.blogspot.com/
    Shanen - http://greenranchingmom.blogspot.com/

    Until then, relax… surrender… take comfort in HIM!