Start Your Adventure (Container Gardening Tips)

Have you ever wanted to start a container garden, but just didn’t know how to begin? It’s easier than you think! I’ll share things I learned to help you get started.

Select containers: I picked fabric bags for most of my garden. I bought Opulent Systems bags from Amazon. They’re inexpensive and hold up well. I used plastic deck flower boxes 3′ long for lettuce and put holes in the bottom for drainage. Fabric bags breath so it gets air to the roots. You also can’t over water so if you have a very wet spring/summer your garden won’t drown.

Container size matters. Tomatoes, peppers, beans, peas, corn, etc. need space for roots to grow. 5 – 7 gal worked well. 1 plant per pot. My herbs did well in 1 gal to start. When they outgrew I transferred them to 3 gal. I didn’t want them to be all roots so I didn’t start out with a big container.

Soil: I tried garden soil and container garden soil. Miracle Grow for flower and veggies in the yellow bag seems to work the best.

Water: Don’t let your plants dry out. Because the bags are fabric and air circulates they dry out faster than plants in the ground. If it’s hot water every day unless it rains. I use the hose and fill all of the bags. I’d rather over water than under water. The excess will drain.

Tend to your plants: take off dead leaves, check for insects, remove over ripe or rotten veggies. You can’t just plant and forget about them.

Even if you just plant 1 or 2 things, it’s a start. Tomatoes and peppers are easy.

Last year I started (sort of) small to see how it went. This year I was a bit adventurous. When we moved into our house in August of last year there was a garden at the back of the house with nothing in it. I decided to use that for my herb garden. I have mint, parsley, thyme and rosemary. On the side of the garage there were large, ugly bushes. We pulled those and it now has 2 blueberry bushes and broccoli. In containers I have lettuce (head and leaf), cherry and regular tomatoes, peas, green beans, corn, broccoli, and basil (that didn’t like being in my herb garden). Beets ad carrots were seeded directly in a raised bed. My intention was to have the containers sitting in different area on the patio where they’d have room to grow. Our Beagle Daisy had different ideas. Being the young, mischievous hound she is, she kept nipping off my seedlings and eating them. so the 2nd raised bed holds containers. I really need to get a 3rd so I can spread things out as they’re growing.

I’ve provided the basics to get you started. Now go out and grow! It’s very satisfying to pick fresh veggies for dinner.  Please feel free to comment or email of you have questions. I’m happy to help.




Adventures in Container Gardening

I’ve always loved vegetable gardening, but for a variety of reasons I haven’t had a garden in quite a few years. Last summer I was determined to have a garden. All I had to do is turn some very rough, overgrown pasture into a garden plot. Looking at what I had to work with and the thought of mowing, tilling and fence seemed overwhelming. I heard about container gardening and started researching.

I choose cloth bags. They were inexpensive, breathable and reusable. The drawback was watering every day if we didn’t get rain. On a good note if we got excessive rain it wouldn’t flood my plants.

Off to the local garden center to see what was available. Being a somewhat experienced, although rusty gardener I choose vegetables by what we’d eat and what grows best in containers rather than ease of growing. By the time I was finished I had several bags of soil for the broccoli, tomatoes (cherry and patio), lettuce, peppers, thyme, rosemary, mint, parsley and lavender. I couldn’t resist a few containers of Freesias.

The “New” Life At LPS Ranch

LPS Ranch has taken on many versions over the years. From a 17 acre farm to a 37′ travel trailer to our house we live in now that sits on just over 2 acres. (see More Than Critters). Just as our lives transformed over the years, I believe it’s time for the blog to transform as well.

In addition to Harlie, Indy, Mouse and Daisy, you’ll see a bit more of who we are and what we like to do. From hiking and trips to the lake with Daisy to container gardening and flower gardening to Greg’s guitars to things we do to be self sustaining in these strange times to my photography.

As always, we welcome your comments and feedback.

Apple Cinnamon Pork Chops


  • 4 boneless pork chops
  • 2 large apples, sliced
  • 6 tbsp butter, melted
  • 3/4 C brown sugar
  • 1/4 C cornstarch
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 12 oz orange juice


  • Place 2 tablespoons of butter in the bottom of the pot and push sauté
  • When the butter melts add the pork chops. Lightly brown on each side
  • Turn off the Instant Pot
  • Wash, core and slice apples. Spread evenly over the pork chops
  • Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. Add the orange juice and melted butter. Mix well.
Cook manual for 15 minutes
  • When the timer goes off and it’s finished cooking, do a natural release for 10 minutes then quick release.
  • Carefully get the pork chops from bottom of pot and serve with apples and sauce over them.


Instant Pot Beef Stew


1 ½ lbs beef stew cubes, cut into bite sized pieces and coated with flour

3 C water

2 jars of Heinz Au Jus Beef Gravy

3 tsps Better Than Bullion Beef

3 shakes Worcestershire Sauce

1/8c chopped celery and onion mixture

4 Carrots, peeled and cut in 1 inch pieces

3 medium Potatoes cut into 1 – 1/1/2” cubes

1 bay leaf


Add all ingredients to the IP. Close and lock the lid. Make sure your vent is sealing and not venting. Set to meat/stew or manual (high) and cook for 35 minutes.  When it’s finished cooking, let it sit for a natural pressure release for 10 minutes then do a quick release for the remaining pressure. If the stew needs to be thickened, turn on sauté. Take about a cup of gravy from the pot and mix with 3 tbsp flour. Stir well. Add back into pot once the stew starts to boil.

Instant Pot Beef Vegetable Soup


  • 1 ½ to 2 lbs. beef stew cubes cut into bite sized pieces
  • ½ c diced onion/celery mixture
  • 1 bag frozen mixed vegetables
  • ½ bag baby lima beans
  • 1 large potato diced
  • ¼ of a small head of cabbage
  • 8 tsp Better Than Bullion Beef
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 8 cups water
  • 15 shakes thyme leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Set the IP to sauté.
  • Add a little vegetable oil, meat and onion/celery mixture. Cook until meat is just browned. Turn off.
  • Add remaining ingredients.
  • Set IP to manual or meat and cook for 8 minutes. The pot is full & it took 30 minutes to come to pressure.
  • Do a natural pressure release for 5 – 6 minutes and quick release the remaining pressure.



Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup


  • 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
  • salt and pepper
to taste
  • 3 carrots or 10 baby carrots, sliced
  • celery and onion (I use ¼ C of an already cut up mix our store sells)
  • 12 shakes thyme leaves
  • 6 shakes basil leaves
  • 9 C chicken broth (I used 9 C water and 3 tbsp Better Than Bullion Chicken)
  • 2 C uncooked egg noodles



  • Add all ingredients to the pot and stir.
  • Set to manual or high for 8 minutes. When it’s finished do a natural pressure release for 2-3 minutes then quick release.


Instant Pot Pumpkin Pie




  • 1 ¼ C graham cracker crumbs
  • 5 tbsp butter, melted
  • ¼ c sugar

Mix all ingredients together until well blended.

Press in bottom and about ½” up the sides of a 7” springform pan that’s coated with cooking spray.



  • 1 small can pumpkin
  • ¾ C sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 can evaporated milk


Mix all ingredients except the evaporated milk in a large bowl

Slowly pour evaporated milk in while mixing and mix well.

Pour into the prepared springform pan, leaving some space at the top. I left ½”

Add 1 C water to the IP.

Place trivet in the bottom.

Slowly lower springform pan into the pot using a foil sling. Tuck the sides of the sling so they don’t stick out of the pot.

Cook on manual and for 40 minutes.

When it’s finished, do a natural pressure release for 10 minutes and them quick release the remaining pressure.

Carefully remove the pie and cool completely on a wire rack.

Cover with plastic and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours before serving.

If it’s not done, cook for another 5 minutes. It should wiggle like Jello when you tap the side of the pan.

Instant Pot Meatloaf and Mashed


Ingredients –


  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 2 pieces of bread broken into small pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 3 shakes Worstershire Sauce
  • 5 shakes or parsley
  • 4 shakes thyme leaves

 Mashed Potatoes

  • 4-5 medium red skin potatoes
  • Milk, about 1/4C
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 large spoons of sour cream
  • 1 1/2c water
  • 1 tsp better than bullion chicken


  • Add water and better than bullion to the IP
  • Wash and quarter potatoes, add to IP
  • Place trivet on top of potatoes. Make sure it sits flat and handles aren’t sticking above the top of pot.
  • Put foil on rack. Make sure there’s enough on sides to keep grease in.
  • In a large bowl, mix remaining meatloaf ingredients. Shape so it fits in pot. Place on foil and flatten a bit to take up most of the pot.
  • Manual for 30 minutes. I use a 6 qt Instant Pot. It was very full and took about 30 mins to come up to pressure.
  • When it’s finished, do a quick release.
  • Using pot holders, take the rack out, drain grease & transfer meatloaf to a plate.
  • Drain most of the liquid off of the potatoes, leaving about 1/4 C.
  • Add butter, milk and sour cream. Mix until smooth.



Feeding Your Family During the Corona Virus Quarantine

It’s been quite some time since I’ve posted. I’ve been busy with work during the week and on weekends I’ve been sneaking around swamps, in picker bushes and anyplace else I thought I could find waterfowl, in search of the perfect pictures. Waterfowl migration has ended and all of the trails are closed.  I should have time in the upcoming weeks to blog.

The world is very different than it was a few weeks ago. Families are home full time, money is tight for those not able to work from home, stress is high, feeding the family 3 meals a day without them getting bored is difficult. I thought I’d share my original Instant Pot recipes in hopes it could make some lives a bit easier during these trying times. If you don’t have an Instant Pot, I highly recommend one. You can order from Amazon or They’re very easy to use and substantially cut down cooking time. I got mine a few years ago out of desperation and I love it.

Instant Pot Spaghetti & Meat Balls


1 – 2 lb. ground meat

bread crumbs

1 egg

Spices (I use Italian seasoning, basil, parsley & thyme)

2 jars spaghetti sauce

1 C water



Mix above to form meat balls. Add 2 jars of sauce to instant pot. Place meat balls in sauce. Add 1 cup of water. Add dry spaghetti (about 2 handfuls), broken in half & in a criss cross pattern. Gently press spaghetti to get into sauce.


High pressure for 9 minutes. 5 mins natural relase