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Camp Frémont

Gardening, Photography, and Homeschool.

- by Sarah Fremont

  • Writer's pictureSarah Fremont

Our front yard in Minnesota received the most sun, so it only made sense to create my garden there. I would head out in the spring mornings and work towards ripping the lawn up. My neighbors were horrified. But why would I choose the shady, damp far off reaches of my backyard? I did not even have to make any amendments to the dark, black soil underneath, I just began throwing all the seedlings in—tomatoes, of course, and as many as I could fit. By mid-summer the crop came bursting in, and it was obvious I had been a little overzealous with my plantings for a family of three! We harvested the fruit as quickly as they came in and shared our bounty with neighbors and friends. My two-year-old obviously thought we had an overabundance as I discovered him eating them quickly off the vine and throwing them just as quickly at his friend across the fence!

Once you start growing your own tomatoes, store bought tomatoes will be ruined forever for you. The two are so drastically different, you will wonder if they are even the same fruit! Tomatoes allowed to ripen on the vine (versus those bred to survive a country transport) are delightfully both sweet and savory, and full of nutrient goodness. Although it took very little thought to grow tomatoes in Minnesota, our Texas garden required a little more preparation, so I will share what I learned. Growing your own tomatoes will be so worth the effort!

Tomato Growing Recommendations:

  1. Sun! Plant in an area that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight. (Morning sun preferably.)

  2. Plant in the richest soil possible. In Texas my raised garden bed was half soil and half non-manure based compost.

  3. Plant a variety of tomatoes. Choose varieties that are fairly quick to mature. If your growing season is short, make sure the time of harvest occurs before the first frost. I would also grow a couple varieties so the maturing time was spread over the growing season.

  4. Planting and growing temperatures are critical. Plants are harmed by temperatures below 45℉ and will quit growing at temperatures above 90℉.

  5. Watering is important. Keep the soil moist throughout the growing season and try to avoid wetting the leaves to prevent disease.

  6. Your tomatoes need nutrients. I like to feed my plants with a seaweed spray to promote health and growth.

Once you start growing your own tomatoes it will become obvious why it is the most popular crop grown by the home gardener. Nothing can compare to the delicious eruption of flavors. Cheers to the end of the store bought tomatoes. Happy planting! xo

  • Writer's pictureSarah Fremont

I have now built six gardens from scratch and I am about to start my seventh garden this spring. I would like to stop these shenanigans and stay put with this next garden I create! The one positive outcome of all my garden development is that I can now whip up a lovely garden fairly quickly with less wasted money on purchasing the wrong plants. I expect a lot from my garden purchases. I want the plants to be edible, come back year after year, and be pretty to look at. My favorite must-have addition to any garden that meets these requirements—the humble chive!

My quick how to’s:

  1. I like to dedicate one entire bed to garlic chives, and one entire bed to onion chives.

  2. Plant them en masse! For my last garden I planted twenty per garden bed.

  3. Allow them to flower in the spring and summer for the showiest display.

  4. Heading out to the garden to snip a few fresh chives for breakfast or dinner is my favorite meal time addition.

Dedicate a place in your garden for this lovely herb and you will grow something delicious and beautiful year after year! Happy gardening! xo

  • Writer's pictureSarah Fremont

A few months ago, our neighbor was over for tea and cookies. “I was approved to host honey bees on my property, and my payment will be free honey,” she said. “I can’t wait!” As lovers of honey ourselves, we were quite intrigued, so we asked her how she got approved. She explained, “I applied for a very unique beekeeping program, located in our town, that looks for suitable land to place their hives that will provide forage for their bees. In exchange, they give you a share of the honey.” We currently have a vegetable garden and a wildflower garden, and we knew that both gardens would benefit from an increase in pollinating residents. She gave me the contact information, and later that day I sent an inquiry to the beekeeper:

Hello Mr. Beekeeper,

We would love to be considered for a hive to be placed on our property.

We have two large gardens . . . a large vegetable garden and a large wildflower garden. In addition, our entire property is native grass and wildflowers.

We also would love the educational aspect of learning more about bees.

Thank you!

The Beekeeper replied:

All we ask is that our members use organic practices, zero pesticides, and as much planting for pollinators as possible!


The Beekeeper

Since we are completely organic gardeners, and do not use pesticides, we were approved as a host site for the honey bees and they arrived in April! The beekeepers primary interest is in their own bee’s welfare, but their secondary interest is in educating us on how to become beekeepers ourselves, in hopes that we will eventually want to manage our own hives. For now, we will be keen observers and learn from them as they manage the hives.

Honey bees are not native to the United States. The introduction of the honey bee began with European colonization of the Americas in the 17th century. There are about 4,000 native bee species in North America, including about 50 different bumblebee species. Native bees and honey bees are both critical in our agricultural world for transferring pollen and seeds from one flower to another, and fertilizing the plant so it can grow and produce food. Even if you do not have the opportunity to host a honey bee hive on your property, there are still things you can do to create a welcoming environment for the native bees in your own neck of the woods:

-Plant native flowers. And aim to provide blooms over several seasons. Bees also like nectar from flowering trees.

-Provide a water source. Bees need to drink water as they forage and pollinate.

-Keep your yard pesticide free. Pesticides are harmful to bees and keep them from pollinating your flowers. We have found many organic treatments to help manage garden problems.

-Make a bug hotel to create a safe living space for solitary bees. With the exception of honey bees, most bees live alone. Our neighbor simply drills various sized holes into a piece of wood to provide a home for the bees.

Be kind to the bees, and happy hosting!

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