Tag Archives | garden

7 Reasons To Grow A Home Garden

I’m not a gardening expert. In fact, I don’t know that I even qualify as a “gardener”.

What I do know is that each Spring I get out in my home garden with the kids and do my best (okay, perhaps not my “best”) to learn more about growing our own fruits and vegetables at home. My efforts have yet to yield a harvest that can be viewed by anyone as worth the effort. Last Summer I think we got four radishes. That doesn’t seem worth the hours we put into gardening each week.

So why do I garden? Here are seven reasons.


Reason #1: “It’s Fun”- Cassidy Spilsbury (It’s Also a Great Learning Experience for Kids)

According to Cassidy who is standing right next to me as I’m typing, gardening is “fun”. “It’s fun doing all the steps, from planting to watering”, she continues. I’ll throw in the fact that it’s an amazing learning opportunity for the kids to not only learn about growing food, but about where food comes from. In fact, studies have shown that students who participate in school gardening programs score higher on standardized testing (Bartosh, 2003).

Home Garden

read “A Bit of Earth” blog post here

The truth is, there’s no better family project to do while purposefully working toward something together than gardening. It’s where team work and learning meet fun and creativity for every member of our family.

The kids help me plan our garden by choosing which vegetables and herbs we’ll grow. We research growing season and carefully select seeds. Okay, that sounds like we know a lot more about what we’re doing than we actually do… let’s just say that it’s been a big learning experience.

Read more here about the Great Tomato Seedling Disaster of 2011:

Home Garden

Read “The One That Got Away” blog post here


Reason #2: Not To Sound Cliche, but It’s Relaxing

I may not be an expert on gardening, but I do know a thing or two… or three about the need to relax. My sister recently described me as a “cyclone” that is “constantly in motion”. Here’s what I said in early 2011 about gardening:

“After spending a couple hours working in my garden today, I came inside feeling as light and crisp as a freshly picked snap pea. I totally understand now why gardening is a hobby for so many people.”

Home Gardening

oh yeah, these died too.


Reason #3: What If

Last year I wrote about “Victory Gardening”, a movement during World War II to help the food shortage by planting home gardens. During the war, the government’s edict on rationing kept food supply at an all-time low, so Americans began growing food in any plot of dirt they could get their hands on.

Our food supply is fine right now. But what if. What if something happened (God forbid) that disrupted that supply: war, pandemic, bee shortage? Hello!- bee shortage?

I don’t want to be the person trying to figure out how to plant a garden a day late and a dollar short. Many apologies for the dramatic scenarios, but I’m “just saying”.

Victory Gardening

read “Victory Gardening” blog post here



Reason #4: GMO’s (No More Frankenstein Food, Please)

If you’re one of the many Americans who is completely oblivious to the severity of the situation of our genetically modified foods (GMO’s), I urge you to take a minute to learn more about it now because I guarantee you will be outraged. (video at bottom of this page)

If you’re my age, then like me, you remember a time when kids could pack peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to school. You remember growing up and entering adulthood having never heard the word “gluten”. There were no gluten-free foods because everyone could eat it. You are what you eat, and when your food is being mutated, your body will follow.

Before you write off the need to educate yourself on GMO’s, know that in Europe, 7% of their food comes from genetically modified crops, while in the U.S. it’s 77%. Stupide Americaans (in French accent). Major chocolate manufacturers create two batches of chocolate- one made with GMO’s for the ignorant Americans and one batch of chocolate made from ingredients not genetically modified for the rest of the world that cares to care.

I don’t know where this road is taking us, so I’m going to learn more now about growing my own food.


Reason #5: Photo Opp

Let’s lighten the mood a bit with another reason to grow your own home garden. It creates great photo opportunities.

If you’re a photography addict like I am, you know a good opportunity when you see it. A few years ago I created an entire photo shoot of my kids in the garden to use for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day photo gifts.

Summer Garden Photo Shoot

check out “Kids Garden Photo Shoot” here

Reason #6: Economics

Unless radishes are running around $75.00 each, I can’t honestly say that gardening has been “frugal” for me… yet. I still consider the time and money I’ve put into gardening well worth it however, just in educational experience and fun with the kids.

If you are able to yield a harvest that enables you to reduce your grocery spending, that’s a huge benefit combined with the fact that it’s organic and all-natural. A recent trip to my local farmers market brought me avocados at $2.50 each (yes, each) and organic kale for $3.00 a bundle. I use two bundles of kale a week just for my green smoothies. You do the math.

Now that I’m composting, I expect my future gardens to bear much fruit.

one of our garden successes



Reason #7: Because You Get To Do This

One thing I have managed to grow well in my garden is herbs. For someone who uses many herbs in recipes, this has been a great resource. I love cooking in the kitchen and running out to my garden to clip some rosemary or basil (or asking the kids to do it) to use in my meal.

When I’m producing more herbs than we can use, I like to chop them up and store them in ice cube trays with melted butter, olive oil and garlic. Then, during the Fall and Winter months, I simply pop out a couple of these cubes to use in sautes or soups.


Herb Garden



Learn more about composting:

Home Composting

home composting


And just in case you’re interested in “getting in the know” about the food you eat every day that comes from genetically modified crops (GMO’s):


Grow A Home Garden

Email this to a Friend Email this to a Friend
Comments { 0 }

Summer Garden Herbs Are Here. Now What?

Storing Fresh Herbs

Herbs have been abundant this summer and I’ve enjoyed using them in my kitchen.  I’m producing more herbs than I can possibly use, so I’m looking at other ways to use them store for later use.

Herb Garden


Sure I could make pesto and freeze it in baby food jars, and that’s a great option.  I could also give fresh herbs away to friends.

But here’s what I decided to do this year.

Just about every soup, saute or sauce begins with the combination of  butter, olive oil and garlic.  With some herbs adding fresh flavor to the mix, I would have a head start in the kitchen by making Herb Ice Cubes.

By mixing fresh chopped fresh herbs with melted butter, olive oil and garlic and freezing in ice cube trays, cooking over the Fall and Winter will still taste like Spring.



Store Fresh Herbs Toni Spilsbury The Organized Cook


During a recent cooking demonstration in front of a live audience, I began my instructions for a saute and paused, “this is normally when I tell you to heat some olive oil, butter and garlic in a saute pan”.  Noelle, my producer, looked a little puzzled as I went on, “but let me show you my ice cubes full of these staples with some added basil, parsley and chives.”  The audience loved it.

It’s simple to do.  For a printable recipe for storing fresh herbs, visit Herb Ice Cubes Recipe.  Or, you can follow my photo tutorial below.


Fresh Parley Toni Spilsbury The Organized Cook

Fresh Parsley

Fresh Basil Toni Spilsbury The Organized Cook

Fresh Basil

Fresh Chives Toni Spilsbury The Organized Cook

Fresh Chives. You don’t need all three- any combination or just one herb will do.

Fresh Herbs Toni Spilsbury The Organized Cook


Fresh Herbs Toni Spilsbury The Organized Cook

melt butter

Fresh Herbs Toni Spilsbury The Organized Cook

add garlic

Fresh Herbs Toni Spilsbury The Organized Cook

add olive oil

Fresh Herbs Storage Toni Spilsbury The Organized Cook

pour into ice cube tray

Fresh Herbs Storage Toni Spilsbury The Organized Cook

place in freezer

Fresh Herbs Storage Toni Spilsbury The Organized Cook

use cubes for sautes, soups or sauces; 1 cube – 1 tablespoon


Check out a simple recipe for using Herb Ice Cubes, in Summer Herb Potatoes:

Herb Potatoes by Toni Spilsbury The Organized Cook

Summer Herb Sauteed Potatoes


Herb Storage

Herb Storage

Email this to a Friend Email this to a Friend
Comments { 1 }

A Summer Garden Photo Shoot

Every Spring I usually get professional photos of the kids, but this year was unusually hectic, so Spring, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day all came and went… without photos.

With my new camera and a growing garden, I thought, “why not a summer garden photo shoot?”.


It was a windy day and since Connor doesn’t like the wind, he didn’t last long outside.

We’re very proud of our garden.  Readers need to remember that we reside in Las Vegas- not the ideal place to grow vegetables.  So, combine my lack of gardening knowledge with the the most undesirable soil for growing, and yes- we are ecstatic.

Pumpkin vines.

For blogs about Toni’s Garden:

The One That Got Away

Seeds of Hope

A Bit of Earth

The Earth Is Generous To





Email this to a Friend Email this to a Friend
Comments { 0 }

The One That Got Away

I started a tray of seeds indoors because, after all, it’s cheating to purchase grown garden plants, right?

Every day we watered and watched tomato and peppers seeds bloom into about 50 beautiful plants.  I was almost feeling like an expert.

Now, before you get too excited looking at this photo, know that every one of these vegetable plants died the day after we planted them into the garden… except one, which I named Nemo.

Indoor garden

Apparently I was supposed to let the plants “harden off” before transplanting them, so I basically shocked them to death.  I thought that for gardeners this must be similar to what a fisherman might feel when a big fish gets away.

Oh well, at least I got a photo first.

The good news is that we’re having a lot of fun in the garden this Spring.

Toni Spilsbury garden

I totally understand now why gardening is a hobby for so many people.  After spending a couple hours working in my garden today, I came inside feeling as light and crisp as a freshly picked snap pea.

Toni Spilsbury garden

It’s true that I don’t have the time to dedicate to making gardening an official hobby for me, but the short amount of time I can spend in my garden is so therapeutic.

Garden Strawberries Toni Spilsbury

The kids also love it.  I don’t know exactly what it is, but I have a sense of satisfaction when I can say “run out and water the herbs”, or “I need some thyme, go pick me some”.

Read more about my garden:

Seeds of Hope

A Bit of Earth

The Earth Is Generous To


Email this to a Friend Email this to a Friend
Comments { 1 }