What on Earth Should I Plant in My Veggie Garden?

So, here are some tips about what to plant in your veggie garden that we’ve figured out along the way. We hope they will point you in the right direction in deciding what plants to get and what seeds to start.

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Easy tips and strategies for planning your best veggie garden yet!It may be a bit early to think of gardening for some of you and we know the groundhog saw his shadow and all that jazz, but here in California we are getting warmer and warmer everyday.  Winter was very, VERY mild this year and never really held on.  I’m sure this sounds wonderful to some, but we really missed the snow,  rain, and chilly weather that reaches a lot of areas in our state.  After that horrific, record breaking drought and wildfires, we hoped for more than just one wet year (2016-2017).   It wasn’t meant to be apparently, so now it’s time to move on and be grateful for longer days, (and hopefully some spring showers!)  Longer days mean there will soon be new fruits and veggies popping up in grocery stores, farmers’ markets and possibly your own back yard!  Not sure why you should grow your own food?  Check out our post about why you should consider homesteading and why its great for modern families.Morro Bay Overlook Highway 46

“I’ve never grown my own food, what on earth should I plant in my garden?!”

One of the questions we get asked a lot is, “I’ve never grown my own food, what on earth should I plant in my garden?!”  It’s a good question and super complex.  Until we moved to the cottage, we always had limited space to plant or unique gardening circumstances like minimal sunlight, poor soil etc.  As we’ve mentioned before, we both grew up with summer gardens that we loved,  so we knew we just needed to work with what we had and figure out the rest.  We learned that even a small deck can provide a good amount of fruits or veggies if you choose the right ones for you and your family.  You may not be able to grow everything you want, but you’ll know what you can grow successfully and save yourself a ton of money and frustration. Continue reading “What on Earth Should I Plant in My Veggie Garden?”


Falling for Pickles!

The other beautiful part of fall is the abundance of produce that ripens at the end of summer/early fall. Especially cucumbers, tomatoes, and green beans. The cooler weather also makes pickling a little less exhausting at the cottage. Pickles are full of vitamins and minerals and are often consumed to aid digestion as well as other ailments.

Simple Cottage Dill Pickles
A classic and tasty recipe perfect for the whole family.

Fall is officially here and it’s starting to show. Our maple tree is turning red, the plum tree is turning too. We love autumn, especially here on the coast.  The weather is mild and sunny and most of the tourists are back home in school. The other beautiful part of fall is the abundance of produce that ripens at the end of summer/early fall.  Especially cucumbers, tomatoes, and green beans.  The cooler weather also makes pickling a little less exhausting at the cottage. Continue reading “Falling for Pickles!”

Spicy Stone Fruit Chutney

Our Spicy Stone Fruit Chutney is the perfect match for grilled pork chops, goat cheese flatbread, or paired with your favorite meats and cheeses.

In true punny form, we are ending this series with a bang!  Today we bring you a delicious and spicy condiment in Day 7 of our Summer Produce Series.  Our Spicy Stone Fruit Chutney is the perfect match for grilled pork chops, goat cheese flatbread, or paired with your favorite meats and cheeses. Continue reading “Spicy Stone Fruit Chutney”

Summer Red Sangria

One of our favorite drinks from that restaurant was the House Sangria. It paired so well with the warm and slightly spicy flavors of the dishes. It was light, sweet and refreshing.

We moved to the central coast back in 2012 for a job.  Dave had recently graduated culinary school and the recession hit us pretty hard.  We quickly realized that the jobs back in the mountains would always be seasonal, (at one point in late 2011, Dave worked a grand total of 36 hours in a month…MONTH not week!) and that the competition for each position would be cutthroat.  The recession ended up becoming the best adventure for us.  With only a few weeks notice, we packed up our whole life and moved 4 hours from everyone and everything we knew.

img_2072The job he took was for a new restaurant owned by a local restaurateur.  It was a tapas style restaurant with global and Spanish dishes.  We had never even heard of tapas before and had a hard time pronouncing items on their menu. We quickly learned all about this type of cuisine and what made it unique.  It’s now one of our favorite types of dining because of its unique social aspect. Continue reading “Summer Red Sangria”

Sparkling Strawberry Basil Lemonade

We are right in the middle of summer here in California.  The Central Valley has had a month of triple digits and that heat has extended over to the coast.  When our Sprout was a newborn, I often drove the twenty minutes over to the central coast just to get a break from the heat. It was so nice to top those hills in Atascadero, and drift down into Avila Beach, Morro Bay or Cayucos.

Now that we live on the coast, I am spoiled with lovely weather every day, or almost every day.  Instead of running to the coast to get a break, I now get to run home from our activities inland and breathe a sigh of relief when I see that fog cresting over the hills.

Heat or no heat, there is one thing that we make all the time during the summer…lemonade!  This is the season when bright, beautiful citrus is ready for your kitchen!  There’s a reason all the kids in your neighborhood start pulling out their card tables and plastic cups.  Lemonade is a classic drink that satisfies your sweet tooth as well as your thirst.

In today’s recipe for our Summer Produce Series, we pair juicy lemons with sweet strawberries and a hint of fresh basil.  It’s topped off with some sparkling water to make it refreshing and satisfying.

The recipe is easy to prepare and customize.  Any berry can be substituted for the strawberries and the basil can be swapped out for rosemary, or mint.  Another favorite of ours is blueberry/rosemary lemonade.

img_2039The key to our lemonade is to use a fruity flavored honey.  We buy it locally at our farmers’ market.  I tend to use “Orange Blossom” or “Wildflower.”  They both add a layer of flavor that you won’t find with store brand honey.

This is a great option to use up strawberries that are starting to over ripen or basil that is less than perfect.  Just wash all produce well and remove blemishes.

Another tip is to use Meyer lemons if you can.  Meyers are thought to be a cross between a mandarin and a lemon.  They have a richness and natural sweetness that allows you to reduce the amount of sweetener used, in this case, honey.

img_2052We hope you enjoy this recipe!  Follow us on Pinterest and Instagram.  Don’t forget to tag #TheSproutedCottage in your posts!



Sparkling, Strawberry Basil Lemonade

  • Servings: 8 Cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A bright and summery lemonade with a refreshing twist.


  • 2 pounds strawberries, halved and stems removed
  • 6-8 medium basil leaves
  • 4 Meyer Lemons, (yields about 1 cup of juice)
  • 1 cup honey (more or less to taste)
  • 6 cups sparkling water or club soda


  1. In a blender, puree the strawberries, basil, lemon juice and honey until smooth and syrup like.
  2. Pour the strawberry mixture into a pitcher or carafe. Mix in the sparkling water and chill for 1 hour.
  3. Serve over ice and garnish with lemon slices or strawberries.

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