Let’s Get Growing!


I am thrilled to be collaborating with my friend,  Mindy, from a dandelion diary today.  Mindy has generously agreed to share her gardening expertise with us and I’ve included a recipe that can be made from your gardening efforts.  I’m hoping to convince Mindy to do a regular series through the Spring and Summer so you need to pop over to her blog and show her some lovin’,  please!

Mindy does a regular Friday post called Giving Thanks Friday that I have come to rely on to remind myself of all that I have to be grateful for.  I am not exaggerating when I say it’s had a significant impact on my life.  Give it a try – you won’t believe how good it feels!

Ok…on to gardening and recipes…


Whether it’s a conscious choice to live a healthier lifestyle, with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, the rising cost of fresh produce due to this year’s drought, or desire for non-genetically modified organics, first time gardeners are literally taking root.  If you have been considering a garden of your own, a simple way to get started is with container gardening.  It has never been easier to go organic than in containers filled with rich soil.  There is also a much lower incidence of disease or insect damage when using containers than with in-ground gardening.  Containers are perfect if you are short on space.  You can use them on patio, decks and even balconies.  It is also a convenient form of gardening for those with mobility problems, arthritis etc. as the containers can be placed on tables or stands for ease of access.




  •   First up:  The container

The number of containers is limited only by your own imagination.  You can choose from the endless varieties of terra-cotta, lined metal, wood and (if you live in a warm climate) pottery.  You can also find cement pots and, a favorite of mine, half whiskey barrels.  Of course the latter two will be hard to move after filled so keep that in mind.  Don’t overlook wicker baskets, old tea kettles, discarded metal buckets and more.  Consider what will suit your climate, clean thoroughly and be sure to add holes for drainage at the bottom. containergardening3

Keep in mind that a small container will hold less and require more watering.  A medium to large pot will leave more room for the plants to spread their roots and require less water.  If you find your container is the perfect width but is pretty deep you can fill the bottom with third or without with gravel or rock to save on cost of soil.  If you are concerned with the possibility of leeching chemicals I would avoid packing peanuts and plastic pots (many people use both) and stick to more natural materials. containergardening4

  •  Next up:  Soil

Your best bet in soil for a container is to use regular potting soil.  This is a blend perfect for growing in pots and there are many quality bagged soils available at your local garden center, including organics.  Most include built-in fertilizer that will feed your plants from start to finish.  Regular garden soil is just too heavy and will not drain well.  If you plan to plant a lot of containers you can also make your own potting soil mix.  (See link in resources below)

  •  The fun part:  Seeds or seedlings

Starting now, your local nurseries and garden centers have racks and racks of seeds and (depending on where you live) little seedlings ready to plant.  If you want instant gratification go with seedlings.  If you are the more patient type give seeds a try.  They are the most economical choice and I am amazed every single time a new bit of green pops up.  You can even do a mix of seeds and seedlings.


 A fun and easy container idea is to do a “salad” garden anchored by a variety of lettuces in reds and greens.  Add some radishes, maybe some arugula and even some edible nasturtiums or pansies for color and or topping your salad with.  Be sure to check the seed packet or check with the nursery attendant to be sure the flowers are in fact edible and have not been treated with pesticides.  Harvest the tender lettuce leaves by trimming them with scissors when plants are young and they will keep producing.  You can also add more seeds to have a continuous crop available.  Salad gardens like the cooler weather as does spinach which is also another great container plant.

As the weather warms (hooray!), you might consider sun loving vegetables like carrots or maybe some bush beans.  If you are thinking tomatoes the cherry tomatoes are a better choice for a beginner than the larger tomato varieties and just one potted plant can produce quite a crop!

PicMonkey Collagecontainergardening

In addition to vegetables, strawberries in a hanging basket, barrel or pot is also a great addition to a container garden.  Once you get your feet wet with container gardening you can branch out into many vegetables, maybe a blueberry bush in a barrel or even a dwarf fruit tree.

Be sure to read the seed packages or seedling tags for planting instructions regarding depth for planting and spacing as well as for location (sun/shade or a combination) of your container.  I have also learned the value of the trained staff at my local garden center (rather than the big box stores) who are willing to share their knowledge as well as their passion for gardening.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

I hope you are inspired to start a container (or many!) of your own.  It’s fun, it’s easy and, with your first taste of home grown spinach or a sun ripened strawberry, you will find it is also very rewarding.


Here are two recipes for those beautiful fresh vegetables and herbs that will be thriving in your containers.

Healthy After School Snack for Kids

sugar snap peas

 Sugar Snap Peas with Yogurt/Honey Dip

1 pound of trimmed, washed sugar snap peas

2/3 cup of yogurt

1.5 tablespoons honey

1.5 teaspoons Dijon mustard

 sugar snap peas

 Sugar Snap Pea Salad

This salad may look mostly green but don’t be fooled.  It’s flavors are diverse and sharp and there are many different textures.  Delicious!


10 oz sugar snap peas, washed and trimmed

3 tablespoons sliced almonds (toasting is an option)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1.5 tablespoons fruit vinegar (blackcurrant is perfect with this)

¼ tsp kosher salt

⅛ tsp freshly cracked pepper

Handful of shredded carrots (I bought the packaged ones)

3 cups lettuce (your choice, buttery baby lettuce, boston, red leaf, escarole)

1/3 cup snipped fresh chives (1/2-inch pieces)

1/3 cup chopped fresh tarragon


1. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add snap peas and cook until bright green but still crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water.  Pat dry with paper towel.

2. Toast almonds in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.

3. Whisk oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add lettuce, carrots, chives, tarragon and the snap peas and toss lightly.  Sprinkle with almonds.


This above recipe was featured on:




For suggested regional planting times for your climate check out this post from Mavis of One Hundred Dollars a Month:   http://www.onehundreddollarsamonth.com/regional-planting-guides-for-backyard-gardeners/

Find great articles and helpful tips at:  http://www.organicgardening.com/

Make your own potting mix with this recipe from Better Homes and Gardens:  http://www.bhg.com/gardening/container/basics/make-your-own-potting-mixes/


Photo Credits

 Pictures #1-4   http://www.deconome.com/

Sprout – http://www.nasdvob.org

Radishes – http://www.examiner.com

Green Onions – http://www.burpee.com

Cherry Tomatoes – www.nandyala.org


  • Reply
    Anita Rivera
    March 23, 2014 at 6:17 am

    Good morning Robyn! All I can say on this freezing morning is that I cannot wait to grow something, anything! I usually have a lovely herb garden right out my kitchen door that I enjoy looking at and clipping from in the summer so I can add fresh basil to my pizza sauce…OH, BRING IT ON! Lovely salad! Anita

    • Reply
      March 23, 2014 at 6:04 pm

      Can you believe how cold it is, Anita?! Oh my gosh..will it never end? We got 6 inches of snow on Friday night., lol. Thanks for your visit and kind words, sweet Lad!

  • Reply
    March 23, 2014 at 10:12 am

    Hello Robyn, such a great post and perfect for this time of year. Spring is here and we all are getting our yards ready, or most of us….LOL There’s nothing like fresh herbs and veggies. The taste is amazing and it also gives us so much satisfaction. I should be around most of Monday. I hope all is well with you. Lots of love, Linda

    • Reply
      March 23, 2014 at 6:05 pm

      I’ll be getting my yard ready in August at this rate, Linda, lol. I just love herbs in all my food. Thanks for visiting Wonder Woman and I`ll talk to you tomorrow. Hugs xoxo

  • Reply
    March 23, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    Love your sugar snap pea salad, so beautiful and you call it a after school snack, like that even better.

    • Reply
      March 23, 2014 at 6:06 pm

      I just love when you visit, Cheri, you`re always like a little ray of sunshine! Thanks so much. Hope you`re having a great weekend.

  • Reply
    March 24, 2014 at 8:31 am

    I love the jars tilted at an angle – what a clever idea! I may have to try that 🙂

    Happy Monday, sweet friend! Hugs and blessings to you!

    • Reply
      March 24, 2014 at 11:12 am

      Morning, Stephanie! Aren’t those cute? I may do it as well. Have a great week. xo

  • Reply
    March 24, 2014 at 8:44 am

    Good Morning, dear Robyn!
    I love gardening and all my balconies are full crowded with herbs and flowers containers! I do also have several lemon and apple trees which offer a great amount of fruits!
    Thank you for your kind comment!
    Beijinhos, querida!

    • Reply
      March 24, 2014 at 11:14 am

      Yes, I have seen pictures of your lovely plant filled balcony, Nina! You not only sew, cook, DIY – you are a gardener too! You are Super Girl, lol. Have a great day, my friend.

  • Reply
    March 24, 2014 at 10:14 am

    Lovely post! I’m antsy to at least get some containers going 🙂

    • Reply
      March 24, 2014 at 11:15 am

      Me too, Lydia, but I am afraid it will be July before the snow is all gone, lol. Thanks for visiting.

  • Reply
    Patti Tucker
    March 24, 2014 at 10:19 am

    I’m so ready to get growing!

    • Reply
      March 24, 2014 at 11:16 am

      I hope we have a really long summer, Patti. Thanks for popping by.

  • Reply
    March 27, 2014 at 5:25 am

    How cute are those tea pots for plant containers! I’m curious about planting in the glass jars and will have to look into that – how does it drain?

    • Reply
      March 27, 2014 at 1:29 pm

      You know what, Erlene? I have no idea lol. I’m sure they have small pebbles in the bottom and herbs should just be watered a small amount each day but they will need drainage. I’ll ask Mindy when she’s free and maybe she will have the answer for us. Thanks for your visit.

      • Reply
        March 27, 2014 at 6:37 pm

        Hi Erlene! Although this is not my own picture Robyn is on the right track with her suggestions. I would recommend the pebbles at the bottom but think you could get away without them if you are careful with watering. If they are outside they may dry out quickly so drainage wouldn’t be a problem. It is such a cute idea that I may be trying some herbs in jars myself! Happy gardening : )

        • Reply
          March 28, 2014 at 11:32 am

          Thanks, Mindy. That makes sense, lol, why didn’t I think of that!

  • Reply
    Bam's Kitchen
    March 27, 2014 at 9:50 am

    Adorable little tea pots! What a great little idea. I love your green salad it sounds so fresh and crunchy. I think I will start my Friday thanks by having wonderful blogging friends like you that brighten my day with their cheerful posts. Take care, BAM

    • Reply
      March 27, 2014 at 1:31 pm

      Awwwhh, you are too sweet, BAM. You were one of the first food bloggers to ever comment on my blog and I’ve really enjoyed corresponding with you, especially lately. Thanks so much! Have a great day.

  • Reply
    Kim Hall
    March 28, 2014 at 6:07 am

    This is great, as we just moved to TN, and I am considering planting a garden for the first time in decades. I’m pinning the salad recipe-it looks yummy! I am sending the potting soil recipe to my hubby, as he is the green thumb in the family. 🙂

    • Reply
      March 28, 2014 at 11:33 am

      Thanks so much, Kim. If you haven’t had a garden in years, I think containers are a good way to get back into it. With the price of fruits and veggies ready to skyrocket, I think we’ll all have to So glad you stopped in! Followed you on pinterest. 🙂

  • Reply
    janet pesaturo
    March 28, 2014 at 7:26 am

    Thanks for sharing on Real Food Fridays. Love the snap pea salad; pinned for later.

    • Reply
      March 28, 2014 at 11:34 am

      Thanks for the pinnage, Janet, and your kind words and visit. Have a great day.

  • Reply
    March 28, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    Love your ideas on the gardening – very creative and manageable ways to grow your own food. I love spring snap peas and this recipe is a winner. Will share on Pinterest & google. Thanks for sharing on Real Food Fridays Blog Hop!

    • Reply
      March 29, 2014 at 7:04 am

      Thanks so much for your kind words, Marla, and thanks for sharing my recipe. Have a great weekend.

  • Reply
    Jennifer Johnson
    March 28, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    Love snap peas! I just bought snap pea seeds!

    • Reply
      March 29, 2014 at 7:05 am

      Me too, Jennifer! They are so versatile too, and can go in almost any dish. Thanks so much for your visit.

  • Reply
    April 1, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    I can’t wait to start my herb garden – thanks for sharing at the #WWDParty.

    • Reply
      April 2, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      Me too, Antoinette! I’m guessing you’re going to be starting a lot sooner than I am, lol. Thanks for popping by.

  • Reply
    April 2, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Hi Robyn,
    Loved your post so much that I am going to feature it on tomorrow Real Food Fridays Blog Hop! Thanks so much for sharing your information with us all. Looking forward to next weeks posts. Have a wonderful healthy day! Marla

    • Reply
      April 2, 2014 at 5:17 pm

      Thanks so much, Marla! You are much too kind to me and my posts, lol. Very much appreciated! Hope your day has been fabulous.

  • Reply
    April 2, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    Awesome tips! I Pinned the teapot pic! I’m filing this away for reference – I am delighted that you shared with Home and Garden Thursday,

  • Reply
    April 2, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    Thanks, Kathy. All the great gardening tips are from Mindy. She’s got so much knowledge to share with us. Always enjoy linking up with you. Have a great day.

  • Reply
    Real Food Friday #32 – Healthy Recipes
    April 3, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    […] FAVORITE FEATURES FROM LAST WEEK: Robyn from Simply Fresh Dinners  –  Sugar-Snap-Peas Salad! Christina from Juggling Real Food And  Real Life  –  Spring-clean-your-diet! […]

  • Reply
    Jane Rutkowski
    April 4, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    I love the teapots, too! I also like the simple glass jars for growing herbs. I have no idea where I’d put these things, but they are very clever!

    • Reply
      April 5, 2014 at 8:26 am

      I agree, Jane. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a lovely staircase and railing like the one in the pic? Thanks so much for visiting.

  • Reply
    Brandi Hegerty
    April 14, 2014 at 9:40 am


    Your recipes are super and those pics of yours are simply stunning! I will head over to Mindy’s page as well. Thank you for sharing this with me and I love pinning fab pictures!! Keep in touch, and I look forward to more of your posts! 🙂

    Brandi Hegerty recently posted…Super Gardening ContainersMy Profile

  • Reply
    Ella Maclin
    August 30, 2017 at 7:57 am

    What about Garlic Parmesan Sugar Break Peas– Healthy and balanced, scrumptious as well as quick to make baked sugar break peas threw in a crispy and also tasty Parmesan cheese blend.

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