{Ms. Buena Vida}

....good living, fine taste, warm affection

Recipe for a Salad Bowl Garden

Everything that you need for a fresh salad can be right in your backyard! Lettuce, arugula, tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers and fresh herbs. Sounds good right?! It's simple, practical and perfect for first timers. If you live in a really hot climate, you might want to do lettuces in the Fall.


  • 4’ x 8’ Raised bed (click for instructions)
  • 27 Cubic feet soil/compost 50/50 mixture
  • Trellis (for cukes)
  • (2) 54" Tomato cages
  • Hose with spray nozzle
  • Pruning shears or scissors
  • (2) Tomato Plants (I recommend a cherry tomato and a yellow cherry)
  • (4) Bell Peppers (snacking peppers are great!)
  • (4-9) Cucumber plants
  • 8 Lettuces
  • 8 Arugula (or another variety of lettuce)
  • 1 Basil plant
  • 1 Flat Leaf Parsley
  • 1 Chive plant


  • Kneeling pad
  • Gardening gloves - I don’t use gloves and my nails look like trash, but I do have beneficial organisms on my skin from the soil, you know, for my immune system (I’m being serious).
  • Gardening trowel (I don’t use one. Your soil should be fluffy and easy to plant in)

You might want a big helper.


Lay out all of your plants evenly the way that you like them.

(I cropped my head out of this one. Yes, I'm THAT vain).

The tomato plants should go in the middle. The cucumbers go along your trellis. I put the herbs around the tomatoes allowing enough room for the tomatoes to grow. I like to stager the lettuce and arugula around the edge of the bed, like this: lettuce, arugula, lettuce, arugula. Got me?

I put 2 pepper plants at each end between the lettuces and tomatoes. 

Now, water gently.

I water twice a day while my plants are still young and tender (I live in zone 9, extremely hot). As they grow you can skip days between watering. If you care for your garden you will be able to enjoy some of these...

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Love, Leila

A Word About Compost

Compost is important! A 50/50 mixture of compost and soil will give your plants the nutrients that they need to grow big and healthy. If you don't make your own compost you'll need to find some....

  • A local farm might sell fresh compost or chicken manure so that you can make your own. Find a farm on LocalHarvest.org
  • Your garden center will probably sell Black Kow composted cow manure. A 50lb bag (10 square feet) is about $5. I haven't been able to find any bad reviews on the product. When I've used it I haven't a problem with weeds in my beds.
  • Mushroom compost is very popular among my friends. A truck full runs about $10 and sometimes it's given away for free. It may be high in pesticides and it may not be completely composted, but it is an excellent humus.

I have not made my own compost yet. I'm waiting for the A-Okay from Mr. Bueno Vida before I can get this...

and this...

and this...

(this is not the actual coop I couldn't find an image large enough, click the photo to see what I'm talking about).

Let's Start Some Seeds!

Spring's about to sprang (in zone 9, that is). It's time to start seeds for your Spring garden. It's easy! Here's what you'll need...

Seeds, duh.

Egg cartons and potting soil.

Natural Fertilizer, if you want.

Water-proof labels. Other wise you will have no idea what your growing. Trust me :)

Even a five year old can do it.


Keep your seeds in direct sunlight. Water as needed, keeping the soil moist, not soggy.

Check back to see the progress!

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3 1/2 transplanted

Week 6 first signs of fruit

How to Dice an Onion Perfectly

Start with a beautiful, mold free onion. Slice it in half, lengthwise.

Trim the ends.

Remove the peel, the first layer of tough onion and the core.

Put one of your onion halves flat-side down. At the ends that you already cut, begin cutting thin, EVEN slices.

Now, flip your onion around so that your slices are horizontal.  Cut even slices. The same width as before.

Oops, I forgot to tell you that you should be holding the onion with one hand to keep your slices together.

Lika so.

Perfecto! Your skills amaze me.