My Little Victory Garden: Entry One

Daily Harvest - This one was from September 26, 2010.

Gardening means so many positive things to me that I was having a hard time finding just the right phrase to title my new series.  I gave serious consideration to “Kelly Does Dirt,” “Dirty Fingernails Are Nature’s Perfect Manicure,” “Fresh Veggies Are Better Than Making Whoopee,” …well, you get the picture.  In other words, I was having a hard core creativity block.

When I gave up brainstorming and closed my laptop, the title “Victory Garden” popped into my head.  I realized I didn’t even know the history of the term.  So, I “Wikied” it.  *I’m guessing I utilize the resource at least once a day.  Here’s what I learned:

Victory gardens, also called war gardens or food gardens for defense, were vegetable, fruit and herb gardens planted at private residences and public parks in United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Germany[1] during World War I and World War II to reduce the pressure on the public food supply brought on by the war effort. In addition to indirectly aiding the war effort these gardens were also considered a civil “morale booster” — in that gardeners could feel empowered by their contribution of labor and rewarded by the produce grown. This made victory gardens become a part of daily life on the home front.

What a gift! History had at that moment handed me what I needed.  It seems that there has been somewhat of a resurgence the past few years in private residence and public community gardens.  Further, my gardens have been my own personal morale booster; they truly have helped me feel empowered by the contribution to our family and health.  The “reward of labor” comes almost daily at the height of summer’s harvest.

My first garden's carrots, ready the last week in June, 2009.

So, here’s the point:  I’m going to start a series on Monday afternoons following Julie’s “Homestead and Garden” posts in keeping with her topical theme.  I may be cooking what’s in my garden, struggling with pests, celebrating or failing…but I’ll be sharing it with you this year.  Sometimes I might skip a week if my project is a little stagnant, but if growing veggies this year will be anything like the last few years, “stagnant” will never happen!

Week One – “The last of the greens, in hopes of some greens”

This past Friday I spent my lunch hour in one of my favorite places: Horn’s Seed Company.  Oh, who am I kidding?  I like pretty much every nursery and “seed company” I visit.  I’m looking forward to buying my summer vegetable plants and seeds and am planning to go to another place in Guthrie. I’ll make sure and show you that little spot – it’s a “goodie.”  However, right now it’s only time for early Spring, or cold weather vegetable gardening.  On my list? Lettuce, spinach and Swiss chard seeds, broccoli and cauliflower plants, onion bulbs and a few seeds for my flower beds.  I grabbed a bag of chicken manure compost as well because I don’t have enough homegrown brew (compost) right now and needed to give my garden a treat. I can’t decide whether to plant carrots or potatoes for my final square inches, so won’t do that until next week.

Mick repaired the rototiller, turned up the soil (wow – so soft and beautiful…dirt smells good!), and I was ready to go.  I had asked him to please toss the last couple of green onions from my winter planting out onto the grass before he turned everything under.   He did, but there were more than a couple!  I’d been using them and some reseeded cilantro most of the entire winter, but didn’t remember I had this many.  They survived the snow and 20-below temperatures just fine…amazing! Perhaps because they were packed in snow.  So this was my job tonight: clean and prepare the last of the winter goodness.

By the time I had washed and cleaned a few, I remembered we were grilling chicken this evening. I decided to add them to my rice pilaf recipe for an extra flavor boost. Ever had Armenian rice pilaf? If not, I'm getting ready to share the recipe with you - it's so easy!
For tonight's version, just take four green onions and chop them up. I think it's fun to see green onions chopped...the color gradation is the same as the onion, just a different product.
All you need is one stick of butter, one cup of long-grain rice, and one cup of thin egg noodles. I didn't have egg noodles so I'm using macaroni tonight.
These are the copper measuring cups I got when Mick and I were married, 25 years ago. I treasure them!
Next, simply turn your burner on medium heat, and begin browning the pasta in your butter. I like using my teak wood spatula my sister-in-law sent me from's a nice weight, and almost acts as a scoop for rice tossing/stirring. Don't you love the different sounds of cooking? I made you a short video so I could share them with you...

When the pasta begins to brown, toss in the green onions and stir.
Quickly add one cup of rice, and stir until it is coated with butter.
Add two and one-half cups of very hot liquid. You can use water, chicken stock, vegetable broth, etc. I'm just using water because I already have a nice mild onion flavor. Add pepper...wait 'till it's done to add salt. You never want to over salt your precious food!
I use Kerr glass jars to heat liquids quickly in the microwave. I don't like heating liquids in plastic because of the little petroleum molecules floating around. Kerr jars are marked with 1/2-cup marks!
Uh oh, remember these? I need to finish this job while my pilaf is cooking.
Cover your pilaf and cook at on a medium heat for approximately 15-20 minutes. I set my timer at 18 and check, but it's usually done by that time. I think I stir only once.
Okay, I've now cleaned the last of my winter garden harvest, but something's left to do...
Yep. Time to visit the composter. I need to name him/her. Any ideas?
We got this composter off Craigslist for $50, but had to have the center sheet metal portion replaced due to serious rusting out problems. We invested $75.00 into the new sheet metal, paint and rivets. Hence, a $250.00 composter all nice and new again, for $125.00. Not bad! Any names come to mind yet?
Oh, great. I didn't take the tape off the box before I threw it in there last week, and someone put colored paper covered cardboard in the mix...oops! We're still learning all the guidelines for good composting etiquette.
I ran around to the front to check on my garden. It looks just like it did one hour ago. Imagine that!
I got this for Christmas from my daughter's future mother-in-law. Normally, I'm not a "crafty" kind of gal, but this message is just right. Amen!
Here's the rototiller. All ready for the Spring work. Yes, those are Mick's sandals. Don't tell OSHA...he tills in them because he can wash them off easily in the slop sink. I hope I don't have an emergency room entry in the next few weeks!
Well, the chicken is done, the pilaf is done, we have a bunch of leftover strawberries from a wedding here's dinner tonight. By the way, the grilled chicken was perfect, thanks to the man of the house.

Just a few last notes about nutrition and health regarding the pilaf recipe.  I’ve made it with as little as 1/2 the butter and it turned out just fine.  I’ve also mixed 1/2 butter and 1/2 olive oil.  I’m sure you could make it with 1/4 c. of olive oil and no butter and you would be fine too.  As with all recipes, the salt comes late in the game.  I always use less than a recipe calls for if it has nothing to do with chemistry (mixing with baking soda, etc.).  And, it truly doesn’t matter what kind of pasta you use.  I’ve broken up spaghetti, used rotini, macaroni (obviously), and many more “inis.”  It will be just fine with whatever pasta you have unless you’re planning something crazy like using lasagna noodles!

Next week preview: I’ll make a decision about carrots or potatoes, talk to my neighbor about garden-sharing…are there veggies we can grow to split between us? And, decide whether or not this is the year we extend our garden to twice its size.  See you then!




*Sometimes Wikipedia just says it all.  In fact, four times a year, I donate ten dollars to Wikipedia because I just appreciate the project so much.




7 thoughts on “My Little Victory Garden: Entry One”

  1. Why not just call ‘it’ Precious? Because that’s exactly what it would be to my mind… changing basically trash into black gold to make our gardens better. I’d be asking Precious if it had finished something wonderful for our home. I also talk to my plants and some people think that’s a little off but they haven’t started answering me yet so I feel I’m still on the level… lol


    1. Ah, Helen…”Precious” is a highly viable candidate for naming our composter. My father talks to his trees on a regular basis, and I feel certain he probably talked to his garden when he had one. That’s probably a good litmus test…once the plants begin to reply, it’s time to check on – um – something! Look forward to visiting with you soon. My daughter and brother are both Normanites, so I’m always looking for a reason to head that way. Happy Spring feelings! ~ RDK

  2. I think we are doing raised beds this year. Well, we’ve got a barn to finish first. I’m proud of your composting efforts! My husband actually asked for the compost bucket (a plastic coffee can kept at the sink) while he was standing in the kitchen holding the used coffee grounds and filter. It’s become a really good habit keeping items that go in the pile. I’m super excited about this series!

    1. Hey, Julie! My neighbor had three built a few years back. She has arthritis and can’t bend over, so they were the perfect choice for her. One problem they are having with the design is drainage. If you go ahead and build them (after the barn!? woot!), check out that part of the design. Just IN CASE Tennessee gets drowned out by flooding, I don’t want your plants to suffer! Take care, Kelly

  3. I have not made rice pilaf in years!!! Thanks for the inspiration and sharing your onions, etc with us! As always, you make me smile… 🙂

    1. Paula – you’re welcome. Happy pilaf eating 🙂 Perhaps it was en vogue in the 80s? Who knows…all I know is that my family loves it! Have a great day…stay warm!

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