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.
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).
They included traditional favorites like bee balm and sunflowers, as well as unassuming ground covers like sweet alyssum and sedum. I also let things like cilantro and parsley go to seed every season for this very reason (aside from my general laziness in cleaning up the garden right away).
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.
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!
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.”
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.)
As the companion to my bestselling title The New Camp Cookbook, The Backyard Fire Cookbook brings your favorite outdoor cooking closer to home and right into your own backyard — or front yard, or courtyard, or wherever you can carve out a little space for a fire.
If you’re planning to grow a summer garden, you’re most likely going to grow tomatoes in it. These plump, juicy fruits are the pinnacle of every vegetable gardener’s summer harvest, but it’s not always easy to get the ultimate tomato of our dreams: firm yet ripe, sweet yet tangy, a blemish-free fruit that’s perfectly moist and warm from the sun.
I’ve grown tomatoes every which way: straight in the ground, up in a raised bed, arranged in containers, even indoors for a short spell. I’ve tried almost every trick in the book — both science-based and those rooted in folk wisdom — to improve my harvest each time.
What I’ve found is that there aren’t really any “tricks” to achieving an abundant crop, only a series of well-timed steps that will give you great tomatoes. Every time.
Perhaps the sweetest moment of an author’s life (aside from the second we hit “send” upon completion of our manuscript) is the day the very first copy of our book arrives. And that day, my friends, has come.
Though The Backyard Fire Cookbook officially releases on May 14, 2019, we (the publisher and I) have received our initial copies to read through, hold tight, and squeal over. (The latter being mostly me, that is.)
It’s surreal to see a project of this magnitude come to life in the form of a neatly bound hardcover, and while I had visions of how the book might turn out, I’m blown away by how utterly good it is now that I have it in my hands!
The printer, editors, and design team did a killer job, and the images that Will captured in our backyard and kitchen last summer are incredible. The bold cover, square shape, and smooth, matte pages give the book a modern, artistic feel that I’m really loving.
I’m often asked by my readers, “Are preorders really that important?” or “Doesn’t your publisher do all the work of promoting the book?” And my responses to those questions are, “Yes! Yes!” and “To a certain extent.”
In my very first year of gardening, I did what any ambitious beginner would do in a brand-new garden: I bought a bunch of seeds that looked good, threw them in the ground, and hoped at least a few of them would come up.
Some seeds did come up, but many others either took their sweet time germinating (laying dormant for weeks until I’d forgotten about them) or never sprouted at all, becoming a free buffet for a passing bird or slug.
It took several seasons of trial and error before I mastered the tricks of seed starting, learned which varieties grew best in my climate, and figured out when to plant them for a productive harvest.
Ironically, it took much less time than that to realize that patience — a somewhat necessary trait for a gardener — was not one of my strong suits, and after a winter of minimal sun and slow-growing crops, I wanted near-instant gratification in the garden come spring. I didn’t want to wait alllll season long for my first harvest, I didn’t want to coddle seedlings or worry whether I was doing it “right.” Yet, I really loved growing my own food from seed.
In short, I just wanted it to be easy. Fun, fast, and easy.
It didn’t seem so long ago that I shared the making of the cover for my third book, The Backyard Fire Cookbook: Get Outside and Master Ember Roasting, Charcoal Grilling, Cast-Iron Cooking, and Live-Fire Feasting (which we shot last summer), but here we are, just a month away from release!
May 14, 2019, is the official release date for the book, but initial copies have already been delivered to the publisher and my own FIRST COPY arrived this week!
Will (my photographer and in-house taste tester) and I have been gleefully poring over its pages the last couple days, and I can’t wait to share a video preview with you soon.