Gardener Story: The Beasley Family

Gardening has always been a part of our lives. Jared’s family and mine have always had a garden – it was just part of the memories we had growing up. Even as a kid, we can still remember the little and big jobs we had working in our families gardens. Picking and breaking beans didn’t seem like a lot of fun when we were younger though! Some of the main reasons we want to have our own garden is so we can have our own fresh vegetables that are not genetically modified and for the big lessons it will teach our kids. We want our boys to experience and learn about gardening. It gives them positive feedback for their hard work and maybe a little more patience too. We hope that they will want to plant a garden of their own one day.

Build It Up has taught us so much more than we already knew about gardening. We can remember the amount of chemicals (especially Seven Dust) that was always put on plants in the gardens we had growing up. Learning about pesticides and seeing the difference an organic route of pest control can make, has been a game changer. We would rather control disease and insects in our gardens in a way that is beneficial to everyone. The other biggest lesson was about our soil. Mulching and learning how to improve your soil instead of thinking that this is our lot we are given, has helped so much. We had never heard of anyone covering their soil with mulch in the garden before, but now we see how much of a difference this makes! We have weeded less and seen a difference in watering as well as plant growth.

We are excited for our garden next year, knowing what types of mulch to use, what to stay away from, and also how to improve our soil over the winter, etc. The last biggest thing we learned was about crop rotation and plant families. Rotating our plant families to help prevent disease outbreaks and reduce insects that overwinter in the soil is something we never knew about before. We feel like we have been given the knowledge to keep our plants healthy in the years going forward.

The hardest thing about gardening for us this year was trying to make our soil better. We just built our house and this is the first garden we have had here so we weren’t so sure about our dirt. This has also been our first huge garden together. In the past, I had planted a tiny “pizza garden” with the kids so we can make homemade pizzas together, but it was nothing like having our own garden with lots of different plants. We wanted to make it fun for the kids, besides just being a lot of work. We have planted a few plants the kids are excited to see, such as the Adirondack Blue potatoes, that are actually blue, and the Bennings Green Tint squash that looks like a green UFO. We still plan to make our own homemade pizzas! Nothing tastes better than fresh homemade pizza sauce. We haven’t harvested a lot this year so far but it won’t be long. We should be able to pick zucchini this week. Here’s one of our favorite recipes to make with zucchini that we wanted to share.

Zucchini Roma:

2 lbs zucchini
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped green peppers
4 tbsp butter
16 ounces tomato sauce (with onions if store bought)
2 tbsp dry spaghetti sauce mix
8 ounces of grated Mozzarella
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tsp oregano
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Boil zucchini in 1 cup of water for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside. Sauté onions and peppers in butter. Mix tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, oregano, sugar, and salt together with half of the Parmesan cheese. Mix zucchini in with the tomato sauce. Butter a casserole dish. Put zucchini mixture in dish and cover with grated cheese and remaining Parmesan. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Build It Up has been a tremendous blessing for our family and we are thankful for the opportunity to be able to participate in this program.

More images from the Beasley’s garden!