Organic pest control 101: how to get rid of fig beetles naturally
Garden of Eatin', Pests & Diseases

Organic Pest Control 101: How to Get Rid of Fig Beetles Naturally

I like to call them the “bumbling pilots of the garden,” and every summer, those loud, buzzy, clumsy fig beetles are quite an amusing sight to see.

If they’re not, ahem, getting down to business, they’re firmly planted on fruit trees, sucking the juice of not only their namesake figs, but other soft-skinned, rotting fruits like peaches, plums, apricots, and berries.

Fig beetles aren’t harmful to the garden the way other pests are; they won’t spread diseases, kill your trees, or attract more pests. But, they can be a nuisance if they’re feeding on your crop before you get around to harvesting it. Learn how to get rid of fig beetles organically and control their populations in the garden.

Continue Reading

Save the harvest: how to fix blossom end rot
Garden of Eatin', How-To, Vegetables

Save the Harvest: How to Fix Blossom End Rot

At some point in the season as you inspect your tomato crop, you may have noticed a rotten, sunken spot on the end of the fruit. It looks like a yellow or brown water-soaked spot where the blossom used to be, and over time, it turns into a hard, decaying, dark brown or black patch.

This anomaly isn’t a disease or insect damage, and its cause came long before you discovered what was happening. It’s called blossom end rot (also known as BER) and it frequently affects tomatoes, as well as peppers, cucumbers, melons, and eggplant. It appears on green or ripening fruit, especially with the first flush of the season.

Continue Reading

The decision to build our home
Garden Betty Builds a House, House & Home

The Decision to Build Our Home

Before we lucked out on finding our land, my husband Will and I went back and forth endlessly between building or renovating a house.

For him, there’s a bit of nostalgia to it. His parents found a pristine plot of land in the 60s and spent the next 10 years building their dream home, much of it with their own hands (and it’s still going strong today). He grew up remembering all the sacrifices, hard work, and rewards that came with a solidly built house that involved your own sweat and tears.

On the other hand, I never thought that my first home purchase (especially as I’m nearing 40 years old) would be a teardown-come-new-construction. Renovations, DIY, and working within the confines of an old home with character were things I’d just assumed would be in my future. So while Will was familiar with what it took to start from scratch, home building was uncharted territory for me.

Continue Reading

Behind the scenes of The Backyard Fire Cookbook
Makings of a Book, Work

Behind the Scenes of The Backyard Fire Cookbook

It’s been a little over two months since the release of The Backyard Fire Cookbook, and summer is in full swing around here. For us, that means lazy days on the river and lakes, the ever-present smell of sunscreen in the air, and the savory, smoky scent of barbecue and bonfires outside our door.

I’ve been having a lot of fun revisiting the recipes in my book as we plan our weekly grocery shopping and prepare for camping trips. (We’ve actually been making them more in camp than at home, so this is a book that also travels well!)

Continue Reading

Adventures in parenting: camping with a newborn
Parenthood

Adventures in Parenthood: Camping With a Newborn Baby

This post is in partnership with Baby Deedee. All thoughts and words are my own. Keep reading for a special discount offered exclusively for Garden Betty friends!

When I was pregnant, the notion of camping with a newborn baby was appealing and a little intimidating. But no matter how many naysayers I came across, and in spite of how many parents laughed at me, insisting, “Oh, you’ll see,” I knew I wasn’t going to wait years for my child to be “ready.”

My thinking was, better to break the kid in sooner than later… get her used to long car rides, simple pleasures, and strange and exciting environments. I didn’t know if there was an “appropriate” age to take a baby camping, but I didn’t want to get too comfortable with the assumption that it was too hard, or too risky, or this, or that… and if I didn’t at least try, I’d never know if it was possible.

So my husband and I set off for one of our favorite summertime destinations, Kern River in Southern California, when Gemma was nine weeks old. Just the three of us. Into the great unknown: sharing a tent with a newborn.

How did we do?

Continue Reading

And just like that, we are officially landowners
Garden Betty Builds a House, House & Home

And Just Like That, We Are Officially Landowners

In other big news (the first being baby number two, which you can read more about here if you missed our announcement), we just closed on our first piece of property! [Insert ear-to-ear grins and happy dances]

Before I get into the when, what, why, and how of our house hunt, let’s rewind two years (has it already been that long?!) to this previous post I wrote about our impending move to Central Oregon.

Continue Reading

Foolproof five: the best plants to grow for bees
Flowers & Herbs, Garden of Eatin'

Foolproof Five: The Best Plants to Grow for Bees

Blanket flower (Gaillardia)

Growing a bee garden is as easy at it gets for a home gardener. There’s no need to seek out exotic blooms or struggle with fussy flowers that need to be pampered. Some of the best plants to grow for bees are what I consider the underdogs of a garden: those “plain Jane” flowers and hard-working herbs that normally wouldn’t get a second glance.

In fact, all my bee gardens over the years were planted primarily because of how low-maintenance they were. They’re fairly drought-tolerant, self-seeded freely as annuals, grew back every year as perennials, and did double-duty as human food and pollinator food (as was the case with my herbs).

Continue Reading

How to grow tomatoes in pots like a gardening pro
Garden of Eatin', How-To

How to Grow Tomatoes in Pots Like a Gardening Pro

Tomatoes are the holy grail of gardens. Who can resist all those sweet, juicy orbs ripening in the sun every summer, filling the air with that unmistakable heady scent of tomato vine?

Hands down, it’s one of my favorite plants to grow every year and I grew it without abandon in my last garden, in the ground, when space was not an issue for these large, unwieldy plants.

But when I uprooted to a different part of the country and found myself in a rental home for the short term, with only a deck that was suitable for gardening, I thought my tomato dreams were dashed for the next couple summers.

Not so!

Continue Reading

Makings of a Book, Work

The Backyard Fire Cookbook Is Here! Hooray!

The day is here! The Backyard Fire Cookbook: Get Outside and Master Ember Roasting, Charcoal Grilling, Cast-Iron Cooking, and Live-Fire Feasting officially makes landfall in bookstores and mailboxes everywhere, and I cannot wait to hear what you think of it!

The Backyard Fire Cookbook is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository (for non-USA readers — they offer free international shipping!), Books A Million, Indigo (for Canadian readers), or your local independent bookshop.

I’ve always felt that grilling is made to look more intimidating than it really is… the overnight brines, complicated grill accessories, and huge hunks of meat splayed across a Weber, not to mention the macho fanfare and stereotype that grilling is “a guy thing.”

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Continue Reading

A little bean is sprouting in the fall
Parenthood

A Little Bean Is Sprouting in the Fall

It’s been a while since I’ve shared some personal news, so here’s a happy update from the Garden Betty family: We’re growing by one this fall!

Will and I are thrilled to be welcoming a baby girl in September, and Gemma’s beyond ecstatic and babbling daily about her soon-to-be sister — how she’s going to feed her, change her diaper, and tuck her in the crib. A real live doll for her to take care of! The sweetness of it all just makes my heart explode.

(If you walk into our house at any given moment, there’s no less than half a dozen dolls and stuffed animals covered in blankets and carefully paired with their own little loveys and bottles.)

Continue Reading