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Southern Weddings

Author: Amber

When I moved to the South ten years ago, I fell in love with the beautiful blooms and fresh veggies of the spring and summer seasons. I couldn’t wait to grow all this beauty for myself! I dove right in, but of course, it did not come easy. I’m excited to share some tips I’ve learned in my own backyard, through trial and error, as you set out to start your own first newlywed garden!

The type and scale of gardening that makes sense will largely depend on the space you have to work with. Here are my best recommendations for a few different scenarios…

If you have a small patio or balcony:

If you’re hoping to grow vegetables in containers, you’ll need six to eight hours of sun a day. If you’re in a more shady spot, look instead for plants and flowers that are fans of the shade. You can easily spot these at your home improvement store because they are under the tented areas of the outdoor area vs. the varieties in the open sun!

Recommended container-grown vegetables for a sunny patio: cherry tomatoes, peppers, herbs like basil and chives, lettuce, and radish.

Tip: Purchase soil bags labeled “potting soil” for container gardens. This soil is specially created to help retain water longer vs. traditional garden soil. Look for food-safe varieties if you are growing consumables.

If you have a yard:

If your new home has some room to grow, give square foot gardening a try. A gardening kit such as this one will be the perfect start to your first vegetable garden. My own first year of gardening, I started with two 4×4 kits and grew tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and peppers. Every year after, I’ve added a bed or two — and now have 10 beds with over 115 square feet of growing space! Yes, you could say I really enjoy this gardening hobby :)

Raised beds in Lara’s garden.

Cucumbers, carrots and green beans are favorites for canning! These are pickled veggies from Lara’s garden.

Wherever you decide to place your raised bed, make sure it’s near a water source so you can easily give your plants a drink.

Tip: If you are a DIY kind of gal, you can purchase untreated cedar wood planks at your local home improvement store and have them cut to create your own 4×4 raised bed (or any size configuration) for about half the cost of a kit.

If you are interested in growing flowers:

I tell friends the best flowers to grow are ones that are offered at your local home improvement store. The varieties will be specific to your growing area and more likely will thrive in your environment. While I love the look of sweet peas, they would never tolerate our warm Nashville springs and are much more suited for my friends in the north!

Hydrangeas are always a great Southern favorite and especially wonderful if you love the idea of cutting them for arrangements in vases in your home. Limelight Hydrangea grows well in sunny spots and produces dozens of branches of lime and white blooms. Come June, my home is brimming with vases of the branches!

I’ve also had great luck with zinnias and dahlias because they generally tolerate the hot summers and will bloom until the first frost in November.

Tip: For a better and longer investment, look for flowering plants that are listed as perennials so they will come back year after year.

The best part of gardening besides enjoying the fruits of your labor? Finding friends who enjoy it with you, too! Our founder, Lara Casey, and I love to chat all things garden.

If you’re eager for more gardening tips, Lara just wrote a great three-part gardening series on her blog that dives even deeper into this topic. From how to get started, to her favorite resources, and even a sample garden plan, you’ll find lots of growing tips over there.

Of course, if you’re looking for a place to track your garden growing wins and adventures, give my very own Joyful Garden Planner a try!

I’m so excited to see what you dig into this season in your own garden! Have a garden question you’d like answered? Drop it in the comments below. You can follow along with Lara’s garden adventures at @GraciesGarden and my own garden at @JoyfulGardenPlanner.

Written with love by Amber
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  1. avatar Jessica Peddicord reply

    This is exactly what I needed!! Thanks so much for sharing Amber!

  2. avatar Olivia reply

    This was so helpful! Me and my new hubby just moved to Southern California and I can’t wait to plant a garden! Thanks for sharing!

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The fall season is officially under way in our neck of the woods, which means the South’s favorite fall season sport is in full swing, as well: football!

Appetizers and snacks for any good tailgate need to be easy to prep and carry, and generous enough to feed a large crowd. The recipes here all do just that!

I’ve rounded up some of our favorite tailgate recipes to share with you today (including two from my personal recipe box!), and the Southern Weddings gals shared their favorites, too. Whether you’re hosting a party yourself or looking to bring the perfect appetizer to the next tailgate, one of these is sure to have everyone asking you for the recipe (the true compliment of any great cook).

Nashville is known for chicken and waffles. To help you pull this classic off with ease, I’ve made my version super simple, with ready-made ingredients. Mini frozen waffles and chicken tenders cut small and drizzled with a warm maple and pepper jelly syrup make the sweetest start to your menu.

You can even assemble these onsite with toothpicks and serve on a team color coordinated tray. (My personal preference would be orange for my UT Volunteers, of course.)

This recipe is so easy to make that this card is more shopping list than how-to, but it’s still a definite pin and save to your recipe box!

Download and print the Mini Chicken & Waffles recipe card.

When I moved to the South, I quickly realized that all gatherings are required to have a cheese dip of some fashion, and this Buffalo Chicken Dip version is always a hit.

This dip be baked in the oven and served in its dish, or you can premix it in a dip-sized crockpot to carry with you and keep nice and hot during cooler weather.

To take the presentation up a notch, try serving it in mini individual glasses with celery sticks. I love anything mini, and it looks so fun presented this way on the table!

Download and print the Buffalo Chicken Dip recipe card.

Now for a few favorite tailgate recipes from the other SW ladies:

Marissa: My go-to game-day appetizer is Conecuh on the grill. It’s an extra-easy dish with good ol’ Alabama roots. Add some festive toothpicks with flags and some spicy mustard, and you’re good to go.

Nicole: Bacon jam served with mini biscuits! I’m not a sports person, but I am a big fan of tailgate food! I’ve found it tends to get smothered on not only the mini biscuits I usually bring, but the rest of the game day foods, too. It tells me that everyone loves it :) Bonus: it travels so well!

Jess: If you’ve spent just a few minutes around me, you probably know that I’m a big fan of guacamole. Fresh guacamole is always a crowd-pleaser, but I love using the Pioneer Woman’s Grilled Corn Guacamole recipe if I need to kick it up a notch!

Emily: This recipe is NOT what I’d call healthy, but is that the point of a tailgate? No, I think not. Spicy corn dip is delicious right out of the oven, but still great even once it’s cooled to room temperature. You will be the life of the party if you arrive with this dish in tow!

Kristin: Between being able to make it the night before and it not requiring cutlery to enjoy (pass the corn chips, please), this recipe for “Texas Caviar” is one of my go tos for afternoon tailgates (or game watching parties)!

Do you have a favorite tailgate recipe to share? Link up to it in the comments below!

Written with love by Amber
1 Comment
  1. avatar Mary Kay reply

    I made the chicken and waffles for a party last week and they were a big hit! Thank you for sharing such a simple, crowd-pleasing recipe!

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Sweet tea is a tradition in the South, and almost always the welcome refreshment at social gatherings.

For over 150 years, we’ve consumed this iced beverage of simple ingredients that has the unique ability to make any Southerner instantly feel at home. The first known recipe for sweet tea was printed in 1879 in a cookbook called Housekeeping in Old Virginia by Marion Cabell Tyree, who was born in Texas.

My round-up of sweet teas include recipes we debuted earlier this summer in our Fruitful Summer series. You can still sign up for our newsletter here to receive the Fruitful Summer e-book, all about deepening your relationship with your partner this season.

Summer is not quite over, and these sweet tea recipes are worth a second look if you have not had the chance to try them yet! They’re all fun, fruity twists on the classic recipe. Today, I’m highlighting a new recipe to add to the line-up: Watermelon Sweet Iced Tea.

The key to this recipe is watermelon that has a sweet flavor. Personally, I find that organic watermelons tend to be sweeter and juicer than others. My favorite part of this recipe, besides how refreshing it is? The pink hue that the drink takes on, of course!

Find all of our fruity sweet tea recipes below!

Cheers to closing out summer sipping sweet tea in the shade with your sweetheart!

Written with love by Amber
  1. avatar Rebecca reply

    These are perfect. Going to make one each day with my day campers! Thanks for the sweet tea tips. :)

  2. avatar Weekend Reads of the Best Articles, Sales, & Shopping from the Week reply

    […] A sweet tea recipe round-up. […]

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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