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Renee’s Garden Seeds – July 2016 Results

End of July Garden Update

-Renee’s Garden Seed Review for 2016

Please note that I received free seeds as part of a promotional privilege from Renee’s Garden Seeds. I am going to share my honest opinion of seeds we have used for many years.


What did we plant this year?

Blue Lake Heirloom Pole Beans – So far we have only lush looking plants and no beans to harvest. We planted these on 5/23 so we should have seen some beans forming. I’m not sure what is going on with these.

Renees Garden Slenderette green beans

Classic Slenderette Bush Beans – This are a winner! We have been enjoying this easy to grow and pick variety for over a month now. They are tasty, tender, and I find them super easy to pick. The plants are compact and have given us an abundance of beans.

Pandorino Italian Grape Tomato – I planted these in the wrong spot and they are shaded by the zucchini. The plants are starting to look great so maybe there is still hope that they will produce some tomatoes soon.

Renees Garden raven zucchini

Raven Dark Green Zucchini – Yum, yum! We are eating this zucchini every other day now that it is producing. The plants look great and the zucchini is easy to pick and tastes delicious!

 Renees Garden Lion Zinnia

Sundancer Sunflowers – These are growing well but no blossoms yet.

Scarlett O’Hara Heirloom Morning Glory – This is such a pretty color flower and it is just getting started blooming. I am going to enjoy it for some time to come.

Snow Sonata Knee High White Cosmos – These are something new we are trying and they look healthy…hopefully some flowers soon!

White Wonder – Heirloom Double Feverfew I can’t find any of these growing in the box…maybe I’m missing them and they will come up later.

Mighty Lion – Butterfly Zinnia Amazing flowers! This is my favorite new zinnia ever. The flowers are so large and orange that you can’t help but be happy when you see them in the garden.

Paradise Mix Echinacea – Butterfly Flowers This is another one that doesn’t seem to have grown.

White Bishop’s Lace- Butterfly Flowers Pretty flowers! This is another new flower in the garden box and you can be sure it will be grown again!

I am loving my garden this year…in the actual square foot garden boxes. The last few years with the drought we have been unable to plant a real garden so this is a delight.


If you are creating a garden journal or using your garden as your nature study subject this summer, I highly recommend the notebooking pages linked below. Please note these are my affiliate links.

Note these are affiliate links to products I love!
Wildflowers, Weeds, & Garden Flowers Notebooking PagesNature Study Notebooking Pages

Download a FREE sample of A-Z Animal Notebooking Pages from









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Garden Update – Beans, Berries, and Assorted Other Edibles

We went camping in Oregon for a week and while we were gone our garden decided to spring into life. I have it all on an automatic drip system so we knew it would be nicely watered in our absence. There were some surprises for us when we got back.

Our green beans have all started climbing their poles and I am afraid that I over-planted this veggie. We love green beans and I may need to learn how to preserve them so they don’t go to waste.

The tomato decided to really grow! It looks super healthy and I can hardly wait for the fruits to appear and ripen…then it will truly feel like summer.

The squash has come alive as well. The plants have green luscious leaves and seem to like the box I chose for them this year.

My patio tomatoes look fantastic…they are from Renee’s Garden in their Container Kitchen Garden Collection.

The Pots of Gold Chard (from Renee’s Garden Container Kitchen Garden collection) looks great too and I hope it is not going to get too hot for it before we harvest. I may pick some smaller leaves and add them to some soup.

The blackberries are thick with fruit this year. We had to trim the vines back because they were beginning to take over their little space over in the front corner garden. We had lots of berry treats in Oregon and it whetted my appetite for our own blackberries that will ripen next month. Then I will have blue stained fingers most mornings as I make my round of the garden, nibbling the delicious sweet berries.

There are lots of flower seedlings in my fence garden and I will share those as they mature and bloom. I can hardly stand the wait. The sunflowers are up tall and look like they will burst open with huge flower heads any day! That is always a fun time as they all start to blossom and the bees and butterflies arrive to enjoy them too.

Is your garden growing like mine?

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Garden Update – Renee’s Garden Seeds

This year Renee’s Garden sent me my whole seed order as a gift so that I could share my results with my dear blog readers. I love the selection of seeds found at Renee’s Garden and I have grown them in my garden for many years. I usually order them directly from their website but my dad purchased his whole garden seed order at our local Orchard Supply Hardware (OSH) which would even be easier!

We got our seeds in the ground last month and we are already seeing tremendous growth in the veggie and flower gardens!

Our Blue Lake pole beans have all sprouted and with the heat we are getting this week we should probably see them double in size. The seeds we planted are from Renee’s Garden Organic Seed Collection. I am so thrilled to have these in my garden that I planted two different boxes with these green bean sesds. I am anxious to see how they taste!

This is something new for our family from Renee’s: Tricolor Zucchini. The zucchini seeds are mixed in the packet and contain three different kinds of squash. The seedlings look strong and are growing like crazy. I have a whole houseful of zucchini lovers so hopefully we will get our fill of squash this summer.

A whole row of sunflowers…which need to be thinned a bit. We have three really big ones which were self-sowed from last year’s crop but there are some little seedlings that we planted from our Renee’s Garden seeds. There are Van Gogh, Chocolate Cherry, and Royal Flush.

We planted plenty of morning glories right in the middle of our back garden. I am hoping they do well here and have been watching them grow week by week. Morning glories make me super happy and I love to draw them in my nature journal…relaxing. The seeds we picked are a heritage blend that are traditionally grown to decorate fences and mailboxes.

There are also some really pretty showy flowers in the garden right now which are not from Renee’s Garden but I want to share with you.

The hydrangeas are very happy this year and this is my favorite color…so delicate.

In my container deck garden there is a beautiful calla lily blooming. This plant always surprises me when it pops back to life after the winter weather. It soon will be a whole pot full of blooms which the hummingbirds and I will enjoy.

It is very hard to believe that it is day lily blooming time but they are all budding out and a few are blossoming.

I love the peachy color of this day lily and am always happy to see it in bloom in my butterfly/hummingbird garden.

There are lots more of Renee’s Garden seeds to share and I will as the season progresses. I am always happy to share our favorite seed company with my blog readers.

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Petunia Flower Study Using the Handbook of Nature Study

Pretty Petunia Nature Study in My Garden

Purple and pink petunias are a garden favorite around here. Well, any purple flower is my favorite but petunias are a great color spot even in my vegetable garden.

I decided years ago that I like to mix up my garden boxes and include pretty flowers as well as veggies.This year we planted marigolds and petunias to add that splash of color for the early spring boxes.

I am looking forward to spending some time observing my petunias over the summer season and completing a petunia nature study…especially to see how the insects navigate the flower tube.

You can find a Petunia Flower Study notebooking page in last week’s Petunia Flower Study Challenge.

Have you planted your petunias yet?

Some extra links for you:
Wild Petunia Coloring Pages
How to Deadhead Your Petunias -YouTube

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Spring Garden Box Clean-Up and Planning

We had a chance to work on our garden boxes this past weekend….cleaning up the debris and tilling the soil. It is always a joy to see what is already sprouting and growing without much effort. We made some hard choices this year about which things to continue growing and which things to get rid of in each box.

Box number one is historically my box to plant and care for…I change it up every year. With the clean-up this weekend I realized that the Prairie Sunflowers are really going to fill the whole box up. I should probably thin the plants out but I will let them go one more year. They are great bird attractive plants and I have other boxes I can use for edibles.

Box number two has always been Mr. A’s box. He is a simple guy and enjoys his strawberries and dahlias. This is a no fuss kind of box. The berry plants are already growing like crazy and there are blossoms! There is one corner where all the strawberries died for some reason so we will be picking up some need seedlings next time we are at the garden nursery. He has both everbearing and June bearing plants in his box.

Box number three is Mr. B’s box. He is the herb man. This was where we made the executive decision to pull ALL the oregano from the box this year. Mr. B has lost interest in his herb garden so I am going to be using part of his box for my veggies. We left the lemon thyme and the garlic chives. There are also two small mystery plants that we will leave until we figure out what they are.

Box number four is Amanda’s box but she is off having the time of her life in Bolivia this year so I will be nurturing her box while she is gone. She has always had a cutting flower garden in her box….even after leaving home we still consider it her box. The coneflowers and daisies are looking healthy and I will be planting some zinnias and other colorful flowers to fill the box when it is time.

Garden Color

The rest of the yard is looking so spring-like. The climbing rose is dazzling yellow and there are so many promises in other parts of the garden as well. The roses are in bud, the butterfly bush and lavender are growing like crazy, the day lilies are all filling in….can’t wait for the show to begin. Something new this week- apple blossoms!

Plans for Garden Boxes – 2013
Box 1 – Prairie Sunflowers, shade tolerant herbs (dill, cilantro)
Box 2 – Add more strawberries and add stakes for dahlias.
Box 3 – Existing herbs, zucchini and green beans
Box 4 – Coneflowers, daisies, zinnias

Other Areas:
Under Birdfeeder – Morning glories
Large bed in back – Sunflowers

Deck Containers – I am receiving and reviewing from Renee’s Garden the Easy to Grow – Container Kitchen Vegetable Garden collection which includes tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, chard, and basil. Excited to see how this goes this year!

I would totally love to add a blueberry bed in a different area of the garden. The spot where my current blueberries live is just not right…they are not thriving. I am trying to convince my husband to help me add a row of blueberries as an experiment…we shall see.

How are your garden plans coming?

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Garden Focus: Bees, Birds, and Color….with Veggies Too

Hummingbird Feeder and Potted Plants
Flowers in Pots Attract the Bees and Hummingbirds…Easy to Maintain

My goals this year for our garden are a little different than those in the recent past. I usually focus on growing veggies and accent with flowers. This year I am going to be a rebel and do the exact opposite. I am growing color and accenting with edibles. I am hoping for more of an “artist’s garden” this year, providing a space to sit with watercolors and colored pencils and oil pastels on those long hot summer afternoons. Sometimes a garden is more than just for growing food, healing and refreshing us with its beauty and vitality. Of course, you can really call it a “bee garden” since the focus has been on flowers that will attract bees, birds, and/or butterflies.

Our deck usually has some herbs and a few veggies in pots, keeping them close for the dinner time crunch. It is a great plan and I will do the same this year with two tomatoes and some basil.

5 7 11 Hummingbirds (2)
We have had a lot of hummingbird traffic at our two feeders as well as the colorful flowers.

I am keeping just a few flowers on the deck and most of them will be to try to entice the hummingbirds up to the feeders. Red geraniums, bright daisies, and a hummingbird favorite lantana or two. I started my zinnia seeds and much to my surprise I found a pot full of milkweed growing already over in the corner. Seeds and seedlings are all tucked in ready to go. We are planning on studying our geraniums along with the Handbook of Nature Study (Lesson #163) this summer.

Back in the main veggie garden I am going to be growing pole beans…Kentucky Wonders. I am dreaming of the green towers of vines and the never-ending picking that will come as the summer progresses.

Bee Balm
Lots and lots of Bee Balm growing in the butterfly garden.

What will be missing are many of the water thirsty plants that I usually have that yield very little in proportion to the effort like bell peppers.I have lots of great plants that are well established that will give color without a lot of work.

Flower Box - Coneflowers Daisies
These are coneflowers, chrysanthemums, and daisies from last year. I will fill in the empty spots with seeds.

The boxes this year are filled in with coneflowers and zinnias, dahlias and daisies. The bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds are going to be having a party all summer long out there. I love having a cutting garden to fill oodles of vases indoors.

New Garden - WIP
We ended up transplanting a few daylilies to the front of the box and the rest is waiting for me to come finish planting the sunflower seeds. Thunderstorm rolled in this day and I had to give up.

My new garden space is coming together and the seeds are almost all in the ground. We had a composting problem and somehow a load was dumped in the garden space with un-composted rotten potatoes so we are sifting through again to get those out before planting the Three Sisters Garden (pumpkins, corn, and beans). The pumpkins, corn, and sunflowers will also be part of our summer nature study using the Handbook of Nature Study.

Garden 5 6 11 Zucchini
Happy Squash.

I have four zucchini seedlings happily growing in their new spot and the sunflowers are all showing signs of sprouting as the garden comes alive.

Garden Front Yard 5 6 11 (20)
Looks a little different than the last time…now the lavender is the predominant plant, along with the blooming dogwood.

I am hoping that I don’t regret our decision to shift our garden focus this year but as with anything we can always change things back next year. We have a wonderful Farmer’s Market in our town where we can put our hands on any veggies we decide we need. Still eating healthy and with local produce….an important goal in our family.

That is this week’s garden update… week hopefully I will share our Three Sisters Garden.

Jami’s Tuesday Garden Party meme is open from Tuesday to Thursday so there is still time for you to jump in and participate!

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Spring Gardens – Filled With Promise

Plum Tree -Spring Leaves
Our Plum Tree – Leaves are coming on fast this week with the little sunshine we experienced. Plum jelly in the making.

I have started reading  An Oregon Cottage and she has a great gardening/home blog that hosts a Tuesday Garden Party meme.I thought this week I would join up and share with all of you what is going on in my garden right now as spring starts to burst forth.

My garden is definitely not a winter garden. I don’t do much more than throw out a few lettuce and carrot seeds in the late fall and those have long been harvested. My boys planted snap peas this past autumn but some critter of the night came and munched them down to the ground. I accept that I live in a habitat that offers yummy treats to my fellow creatures so I took the peas in stride.

Walnut Tree Branches with Sky
Our Walnut Tree – Perhaps the squirrels will leave us some this year. 🙂

I think the theme of this post is going to be the PROMISE of a summer garden and fall harvest since that is what I observed as I toured around yesterday.

3 29 11 Chives

Our garlic chives are starting to grow again…can’t wait.

3 29 11 Oregano

The oregano is filling in and hints at the summer pizza and sauces to come…of course, I had to nip a few leaves just to smell as I walked around the boxes.

3 29 11 Strawberry leaves

My son’s strawberry box is greening up nicely as well. We are going to be adding a new strawberry box as soon as we can get through mud to built it. (see the last photo for a photo of the location)

3 29 11 Onions

This should tell you how badly I need to tend to the garden after a long winter. These onions are popping up despite being mixed in with the mullein and the dusty miller. I know I am not going to get to this part of the garden for at least a couple of weeks….just being honest.

3 29 11 Garden Box with Weeds

So as long as I’m being honest, here is what the state of most of our garden boxes at this very moment. Very sad and in need of a good weeding before we can even think about getting something new planted. The saddest part is that if I put my mind to it, I could have this tidied up in an afternoon.

3 28 11 Tulip

Moving away from the vegetable garden and onto the flower boxes is a little bit more cheerful. The tulips are just beginning to give us a hint of their deep purple blooms to come. I love my little tulip patch and look forward to watercoloring the flowers once they start to really shine.

3 28 11 Chrysanthemums

The chrysanthemums that I planted last year look like they made it through the winter nicely. I look forward to seeing their happy little faces in a few months. This box has coneflowers as well so this spot has flowers long into the autumn once it gets started. I decided a long time ago that I needed to include a couple of flower boxes along with the vegetables because it cheers me up to see the color when I look out the window. Food for the soul.

3 28 11 Wallflower

This wallflower has been a great plant in our garden for the last two years. I actually saw some bees buzzing in it too! Happy bees.

3 29 11 Mushrooms

Here are some guys who came uninvited to my garden! My son spotted these whoppers in the back of the bed and of course I had to take a photo.

Now for the exciting part of the post!

New Garden Site

See that fresh garden territory? I finally convinced my husband that this “lawn” was using up valuable garden space and very expensive water (rates just increased again!). We are trying out a few possible configurations to build some raised boxes with one center block bed to hold something artsy. Any ideas are welcome. It usually gets summer sun mid-morning to late afternoon so probably about six+ hours altogether.

So there ends my garden survey for this first week in the spring season. I am truly looking forward to the change of the season.

Jami’s Tuesday Garden Party meme is open from Tuesday to Thursday so there is still time for you to jump in and participate!

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Weekend in the Garden

I’m tired after a really busy weekend. Spring weather and the call to be outdoors getting dirt under my fingernails kept us busy, busy, busy.

Here are a few images to share a few glimpses into our weekend.

squirrel in the birdfeeder
Our resident squirrel in the birdfeeder. I love his tail.

Onions and radishes
Harvesting the radishes and the first round of onions.

Blueberries 5 14 10
Blueberries growing so round and plump.

lavender close up
Lavender that is alive with bees.

First weeding of the garden
The first round of weeding around the garden boxes is complete thanks to Mr. A. He and I have been working diligently at getting the weeds under control before the warm weather sets in for good. The boxes are all ready for the seedlings we have been nursing upstairs.

Cricket on a rose petal
We found this guy when we were working in the roses. It was perfect timing since I am working on a cricket challenge for the Summer Series ebook. We were able to do some up close observations before we left him comfortably back on the rose bush.
Edit to add: K left me a comment saying that there is an ovipositor so my he is really a she. Thanks K.

First Strawberries of the Season
No one says that hard work in the garden does not have its rewards. Yummy first strawberries were picked and eaten. The best ever end to a long weekend outdoors, except for maybe the grilled burgers my dear husband made us for dinner which we ate outside on our deck.

Hope you all had some time to get outdoors and enjoy whatever your world offered this weekend. I know that some of you have written to say that you don’t have an apple tree to study but you could just as well study any tree you find in the Handbook of Nature Study as a substitute or you could do a general apple study using some apples you have on hand. If all else fails, spend fifteen minutes outdoors with your children and enjoy whatever comes your way.

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Another Garden Update-Flowers and Veggies and Critters and an Outdoor Hour Challenge Update

Do you see the short fence around the box? Yes, we had critters get in last week and dig holes and uproot all of our onions. We think it is our resident skunk since we can smell him at night and early mornings. So far the fence has deterred him from digging anymore holes.

Many of our day lilies are blooming and this one is our newest variety, Lemon Sachet. It is gorgeous!

The coneflowers are just about ready to burst out in Amanda’s garden box. I love to have a fresh bouquet of these flowers on my dining room table since they make me smile.

Amanda’s zinnias and cosmos are growing tall and the cosmos have flower buds…it won’t be long now.

My flower garden is cheerful and colorful this year. I have black-eyed susans, roses, alyssum, sunflowers, morning glories, a hydrangea, and gladiolas all at varying degrees of maturity. The hummingbirds are already making themselves at home.

The green beans have perfect little blossoms and lots of them! I can hardly wait to have some crisp green beans for dinner.

Look at those baby tomatoes. I think they double in size every day now that the weather has turned hot.

Squash blossoms are a favorite of the bees in the garden.

Monster zucchini plant! The little ones next to it are winter squash. This is a new area to my garden this year and it receives a lot of sun…perfect for squash.

Last but not least, here are some peppers and blossoms. We have three varieties of peppers this year and they are all looking good so far. We tend to have puny peppers so I am hoping that this time I picked varieties that like our soil and weather.

I hope you enjoyed a glimpse into this week’s garden. I am working on a post where I share our hiking/wildflower/camping adventure from last week’s trip to the Oregon Coast.

Gardens ebook Outdoor Hour challenge

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New Beginnings: Square Foot Garden Updates

Our garden has always been grown in raised garden boxes using the square foot gardening techniques but this year we replaced all of our string grids with wooden grids. Wow! It looks great and I am anxious to get started on this year’s garden.

You knew it was coming…the transition from wildflowers to garden talk. I’m so predictable. Now that we think our last frost is past, we will be spending more time in the yard with our hands in the dirt. We have a few things sprouting in pots on the deck but not much. My dad has been busy sprouting seeds in his garage for a few weeks and he always shares so I’m not worried.

My son had a zucchini seedling from his grandpa that he wanted to put into his box and I asked him if he would show us how to plant a seedling. I thought some of you might enjoy viewing a little video with your children to inspire them to get out and garden.

This guy has been my gardening partner since he was able to toddle around the garden. 🙂 He was a little nervous on the video but he is a very confident gardener. His favorite things to grow? Zucchini and pumpkins.

Here are some other views of our new grids on our old boxes. The second box in the photo does not have a grid…it is almost all filled in with strawberries at the moment. It will have dahlias as the summer progresses.

This is my box and it has been totally wiped clean and freshly composted. We are going to try some different veggies in here this year and we will see how it goes. I still need to fill in with a little more soil to level it out but we are all exhausted and it will have to wait until the weekend now…..I would rather play in the garden but my hubby has to go back to work tomorrow. He will haul some soil up from the other side of the yard where we are composting and building up some mulch in a stash.

Here is a view from the other side. The closest box is Amanda’s box and she grows mostly flowers in her garden. You also can see my new bird bath which the dog thinks is a doggie drinking fountain.

We added a new section along the fence for some more veggies. What do you think? How about pole beans in the back and something shorter planted in front? This area gets about 6-7 hours of sun in the summertime.

I also noticed that over the last week, I have a whole crop of sunflowers that have volunteered in this garden bed. I am not surprised at all because this is where we had the really tall sunflowers last year and I left them in pretty much all fall for the birds to eat from. We shall see how many plants we have as time goes on. I had quite a crop of sunflower seeds to save for the birds which was really nice. The boys enjoy harvesting the seeds for me and it is an easy job.

This is my flower section from last year that I started from seed. Read this entry to see how we did it and I encourage you to give it a try.

We are going to be adding two more sections of veggies this year along the other fence so we should have quite a bit to harvest once we get going. It is all on an drip irrigation system so it makes my life easier. The kids help with the little bit of weeding and the upkeep of the boxes. I give them ownership of their own box and that helps keep them interested. I also let them pick what goes in their box as well as let them decide how to plant the squares.