“The first gatherings of the garden in May of salads, radishes, and herbs made me feel like a mother about her baby ― how could anything so beautiful be mine. And this emotion of wonder filled me for each vegetable as it was gathered every year. There is nothing that is comparable to it, as satisfactory or as thrilling, as gathering the vegetables one has grown.” ― Alice B. Toklas
Throughout the winter months I long for the warm days when I can get back into the dirt and smell the scent of plants growing. Yes, they do have a scent and all gardeners know it. It’s like the smell of the first lawn cutting, or the way the air smells after a heavy rain.. It is simply a romantic aroma!
Have you ever wondered how some of your gardening friends always have fresh produce when your garden seems to have given up the ghost? Or how farmers market vendors have fresh lettuce all season, and yours turns bitter and bolts?
What you may not know is their secret… and that’s what I’m going to share with you all of you today! It’s called succession planting, and it’s super easy to incorporate into your gardening plan.
Let’s talk about the benefits & techniques of succession planting. With this method, you can maximize your garden’s yield and enjoy a steady supply of fruits, herbs, & veggies throughout the growing season.
In today’s blog post, I’ll teach you the various benefits of succession planting, including increased productivity and reduced waste. I’ll also discuss the different techniques and strategies you can use to implement this method successfully. So, whether you are a seasoned gardener or just starting, today you will discover how to make the most of your garden with succession planting.
I certainly hope you are encouraged to garden. Even if you start with only two or three of these things, that’s a great start!
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You can get some really great tips in Elliot Coleman’s, Four Season Harvest! Great book! **Information adapted from Organic Gardening Magazine, “Keep It Coming” By Barbara Damrosch. Feb/Mar 2010, pg.s 42-47
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Until next time friends, eat fresh, shop local, & have a happy day, Jean
All text and images on this site are copyright of For Dragonflies And Me. Unless otherwise noted, you may not use this content.
This month I’ll be discussing how to source local food, the issues with locating it, and why it is so important to support our local farmers markets. Be sure to visit my Facebook Event Calendar & register so you don’t miss an episode!
May 3rd, 2023
Walt Gajewski, Market Manager for The Farmington Farmers & Artisans Market!
If you are a regular listener, you all know I love to share the back story with all of you on how I know and met my podcast guest… and this one is really near & dear to my heart.
I met this guy over a decade ago during my Mennonite days behind my table at the Farmington Farmers & Artisans Market. He was a volunteer with the market and always was so happy & energetic about it. He had real passion is the best way to describe it. Of course that’s why we clicked! Our hearts were both in that happy place!!!
Are you a biking enthusiast? Podcast with Bike Dearborn Founder & Lead Biker, Tracy Besek
Join me today as Founder & Lead Biker for Bike Dearborn, Tracy Besek & I chat it up about biking safety, advocacy, and being a part of this great group!
This month’s focus has been on local food, and healthy life choices. I tend to focus a lot on farmers markets, but obviously there are so many other ways to invest in healthy life choices, exercise being another obvious one!
My guest today and I met almost ten years ago during my tenure in Dearborn with both the DDA and the Chamber of Commerce. We collaborated together with the city’s farmers market I managed… OK, yep I’m going to tie in the farmers market again, LOL.
5 Reasons to Support Your Local Farmers Markets: How they benefit people both health wise & the local community!
If there is one thing I’m passionate about, it’s local food & farmers markets! I was a farmer for almost 15 years, and most of that time a farmers market vendor. I know what it’s like to be on both sides of the table~ as a vendor, and a market manager.
My heart is most at home in the garden & the farmers markets. Today I will talk to you about my heart felt desire to inspire every person to shop at the farmers market. When you do you are supporting local producers, your local economy, help the sustainability of farmland, and so much more!
Maybe you’ve even been contemplating becoming a market vendor! Do you create, bake, grow, or develop something? Well, a farmers market might be your first step to a successful business start up. Farmers markets are great starting points for local entrepreneurs!
I want this podcast to inspire you… please let me know in the comments below if I did!
Let’s talk food advocacy with Michigan Farmers Market Association (M.I.F.M.A.), Executive Director, Amanda Shreve.
Food is Medicine! Join Jean as she chats it up with Amanda Shreve, Executive Director for the Michigan Farmers Market Association.
During the month of May Jean will be focusing on local food and how to source it, along with talking to professionals in the industry who fight the good fight advocating for fair food. Jean couldn’t think of a better organization to include than MIFMA~ Michigan Farmers Market Association and its wonderful Director, Amanda Shreve!
Amanda has been part of the MIFMA team since November 2009. She says, “I am passionate about connecting the public with agriculture and growing awareness of what it takes to produce our food supply in a safe, equitable and environmentally sustainable way. I recognize that farmers markets are a very visible and tangible way to establish, maintain and grow this connection.”
May 31st, 2023
Let’s talk about growing food with Dawn Green, Horticulturist & Owner of Dawn Gardens, LLC!
Join Jean as she chats it up with fellow gardener extraordinaire, Dawn Green! We’ll discuss the importance of raising your own food, and the joy & fulfilment it brings!
“From plants that wake when others sleep, from timid jasmine buds that keep their odor to themselves all day, but when the sunlight dies away let the delicious secret out to every breeze that roams about. ” Thomas Moore
Over the years I’ve shown you oodles of photo’s of my gardens, and have always stressed my love of the cottage garden. That love has not waned once over the years. I have always been fascinated with the charm of a cottage garden. And what better way to create a stunning cottage garden than by incorporating pollinator-friendly plants in it?
In today’s blog post, I’ll start by walking you through the steps to create a beautiful cottage style pollinator garden with both annuals and perennials.
But before we get rolling, be sure to SUBSCIBE below so you don’t miss an episode!
One of the main reasons I’ve always been drawn to the cottage garden is its informal and relaxed appearance, along with a mix of colorful flowers and foliage plants. These gardens are often associated with old-world charm, and the inclusion of pollinator-friendly plants can make them even more appealing.
Pollinator gardens are designed to attract bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other beneficial insects, which help in pollinating plants, ensuring a bountiful harvest, and keeping the ecosystem in balance.
Let’s Look at the Importance of Pollinator Gardens
Pollinator gardens are essential for supporting the health and survival of our planet’s ecosystem. According to the Pollinator Partnership, pollinators are responsible for over 75% of the world’s food crops, and without them, our food supply would be severely impacted.
Pollinators are also crucial for maintaining the biodiversity of our planet, as they help in the reproduction of plants, which in turn provide food, shelter, and habitat for other wildlife.
What are the Benefits of Using Both Annuals and Perennials in Your Garden?
Annuals and perennials are two types of plants that can be used in pollinator gardens. Annuals are plants that complete their life cycle in one growing season, where perennials come back year after year. It’s beneficial to incorporate both as annuals usually fill in with blooms in between the bloom cycles of your perennials.
Using a mix of both annuals and perennials in your garden can provide several benefits. Annuals bloom all season long, providing a continuous source of nectar and pollen for pollinators. Perennials, on the other hand, provide a more stable source of food and habitat for pollinators.
Let’s Design Your Cottage Style Pollinator Garden!
Designing a cottage style pollinator garden is all about creating an informal, relaxed atmosphere. You can achieve this by incorporating a mix of plants with different heights, textures, and colors.
To create a natural-looking garden, you can plant in irregular groups or drifts, rather than in straight rows. You can also include features such as a birdbath or a small pond to attract birds and other wildlife. I love to use garden art in my gardens. I even have an antique lightning rod!
Consider these factors as well:
Is your garden up against a wall or does it have a backdrop? If so, you want to be sure to have your taller plants placed in the rear, cascading downward in height as you move towards the front of your garden.
Is your garden located in an area where it can be walked around on all sides? If so, you will want the tallest plants placed in the center, then cascading downward to the edges.
Selecting the Right Plants for Your Garden
When selecting plants for your garden, it’s essential to choose varieties native to your region. Native plants are adapted to the local climate and soil conditions, making them more resilient and less reliant on fertilizers and pesticides.
Some excellent choices for a cottage style pollinator garden include lupines, foxglove, hollyhocks, peonies, coneflowers, black-eyed susans, bee balm, and milkweed. These plants are attractive to a wide variety of pollinators and are relatively easy to grow.
Before planting your garden, it is essential to create a planting plan. This plan should take into account the size and shape of your garden, the location of existing plants and features, and the sun and soil conditions.
If it’s a brand new garden spot, then you’ll still need to design this in order to utilize your space and be sure not to over plant. I recommend if this is a new garden you fill in the empty spaces with annuals so it looks full and beautiful. The perennials will fill in the following year.
Start by drawing a rough sketch of your garden, including any existing plants or features. Then, decide on the placement of your pollinator-friendly plants, considering factors such as height, texture, and color.
Once you have a rough plan in place, you can refine it by selecting specific varieties of plants and determining the number of plants needed for each area
Another factor is if you are partial to particular colors. I personally prefer pinks, purples, blues, and whites. I tend to be drawn to plants in those colors. Use what makes you happy and fits into the scheme of things for your gardens.
Some Final Tips for a Successful Pollinator Garden!
Remember to choose plants that are native to your region, create a planting plan, and care for your garden regularly. And most importantly, have fun and enjoy the beauty and diversity of your garden!
Here are some of my favorite flowers to incorporate for pollinator gardening. Take into consideration I am a cottage gardener, so these flowers are well suited to that style. This is by far not an exhaustive list, more so a list of mine & Tim’s personal faves! Pollinator’s aren’t just for bees, I grow some of these specifically for my little feathered friends. Also, my garden themes generally incorporate purples, pinks, blues, and white. I don’t use very many red, and I don’t really include orange or yellow with the exception of Black Eyed Susan’s.
Sunflowers~ I like to incorporate a row of these in the back of my garden so the blue jays can harvest the seeds once they’ve developed.
Purple Coneflower or Echinechea~ I don’t cut back the seed heads as goldfinches feast on these in the fall and throughout the winter months.
Black Eyed Susans
Lavender~ my lavender plants are generally covered with honey bees while in bloom. I just love to hear the buzz of the little guys.
Any variety of mint~ this serves two purposes… one for me to make yummy mint tea, and one for the bees!
“Change the food in the schools and we can influence how children think. Change the curriculum and teach them how to garden and how to cook and we can show that growing food and cooking and eating together give lasting richness, meaning, and beauty to our lives.” ― Alice Waters
If you have been following me for any length of time, you know I am an advocate for kids in the garden. Over the years, you’ve watched my children grow in my gardens helping to build new raised beds, harvesting the crops, and finally helping prepare the fruits of our labors in the kitchen.
I believe every school in the country should have a school garden in order to teach our children where food comes from. I will be discussing in upcoming blogs how to incorporate kids in the garden, as well as the anonymity of food in our culture today. This is the main reason why I think it is crucial to incorporate school gardens!’
Thankfully, school gardens have become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason. Incorporating a garden into a school’s curriculum can have a range of benefits for students, teachers, and the wider community.
In today’s blog post, I am going to provide you with the many benefits of incorporating a school garden and why it’s a worthwhile investment for any educational institution.
Now let’s look at the many benefits school gardens can have!
Let’s Look at the Academic Benefits of School Gardens!
School gardens have the ability to provide a hands-on and engaging way for students to learn about science, math, and other subjects. For example, students can learn about the life cycle of plants, the importance of pollination, and the role of soil nutrients in plant growth. They can also use math skills to measure the growth of plants and calculate the amount of water and fertilizer needed.
School gardens also provide an opportunity to help students develop critical thinking skills as they problem-solve and make decisions about garden design, plant selection, and pest management.
Besides enhancing academic learning, school gardens can also foster teamwork, leadership, and communication skills. Students can work in groups to plan and plant the garden, share responsibilities for watering and weeding, and harvest the produce. They can also take on leadership roles by leading garden tours, organizing fundraising events, and teaching younger students about gardening. Through these activities, students can develop a sense of responsibility, confidence, and teamwork.
What are Some of the Potential Health Benefits of School Gardens?
School gardens can promote healthy eating habits and improve overall health. When kids can grow their own fruits and vegetables, they now have the opportunity to learn about the nutritional value of different foods and develop a taste for fresh, healthy produce. They can also learn about the benefits of eating a variety of fruits and vegetables and the importance of balanced diets.
School gardens can help address issues of food insecurity and promote healthy eating habits among students and their families. The produce grown in the garden can be used in school meals or donated to local food banks, providing fresh and nutritious food to those in need. By involving families in the garden project, schools can also encourage parents and caregivers to incorporate healthy foods into their own meals.
And let’s face it… kids are more likely to try something they decided to grow!
What are Some of the Potential Environmental Benefits of School Gardens?
School gardens can promote environmental awareness and encourage sustainable practices. By learning about the importance of soil health, water conservation, and biodiversity, students can develop a sense of stewardship for the environment. They can also learn about the impact of human activities on the environment and ways to reduce their ecological footprint.
Moreover, school gardens can provide habitat for wildlife and attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies. By planting native species and avoiding the use of pesticides and herbicides, school gardens can help support local ecosystems and promote biodiversity.
This is another opportunity to teach kids about the benefits of organic gardening and incorporating companion planting, rather than using harmful chemicals.
Can the Local Community Benefit From School Gardens?
The answer to this question is a responding YES! School gardens have the ability to serve as a valuable resource for the wider community. By donating produce to local food banks or hosting community events such as farmers’ markets or garden tours, schools can help promote healthy eating habits and support local food systems.
They can also serve as a gathering place for community members, fostering social connections and community involvement.
School gardens can also provide opportunities for intergenerational learning and mentorship. By involving older adults or community members with gardening experience, schools can create meaningful connections between generations and promote lifelong learning.
That Sounds Great! Now, How can I Help Start a School Garden in my Community?
Starting a school garden can seem daunting, but with the right resources and support, it can be a rewarding and successful project. Here are some steps to get started:
Get support from school administrators, teachers, and parents. Starting a school garden requires buy-in from all stakeholders, as well as support for funding and maintenance.
Find a suitable location for the garden. Look for a sunny, well-drained area with access to water and close to the school. Ensure that the site is safe and accessible for students.
Develop a garden plan. Consider the garden’s size, layout, and design, as well as the types of plants to grow. Involve students in the planning process to ensure that the garden reflects their interests and needs.
Secure funding and resources. Look for grants, donations, or partnerships with local organizations or businesses to support the garden’s development and maintenance.
Involve students in the garden project. Encourage students to take ownership of the garden by involving them in the planning, planting, and maintenance. Provide opportunities for leadership and teamwork.
Integrate the garden into the curriculum. Use the garden as a teaching tool to support academic learning and promote healthy lifestyles.
We Have Our School Garden! Now, How Do We Maintain It?
Maintaining a school garden requires ongoing care and attention. Here are some tips to keep the garden healthy and productive:
Develop a maintenance plan. Create a schedule for watering, weeding, fertilizing, and pest management. Involve students in the maintenance activities to ensure that they take ownership of the garden.
Provide ongoing support and training for teachers and volunteers. Ensure that they have the knowledge and skills to maintain the garden and address any issues that may arise.
Use sustainable practices. Avoid the use of pesticides and herbicides, and use organic methods for weed and pest control. Compost garden waste to improve soil health.
Involve the wider community. Encourage families and community members to volunteer in the garden and participate in events such as harvest festivals or farmers’ markets.
What are Some Curriculum Ideas for School Gardens?
School gardens can be integrated into a range of subjects and learning activities. Here are some curriculum ideas for school gardens:
Science: Learn about plant growth, soil health, and the life cycle of plants.
Math: Use the garden to teach measurement, geometry, and data analysis.
Language arts: Write garden journals, poetry, or stories about the garden.
Social studies: Learn about the history of agriculture, food systems, and cultural traditions related to gardening.
Art: Use the garden as inspiration for art projects such as painting, sculpture, or photography.
Nutrition: Learn about the nutritional value of different fruits and vegetables, and use the garden to prepare healthy meals and snacks.
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“Help us to be ever faithful gardeners of the spirit, who know that without darkness nothing comes to birth, and without light nothing flowers. ” May Sarton
Check out the great list of content coming to you in the month of February!
Who is ready to get back into the dirt?
Some of you reading this may live in a climate where gardening happily goes on year round. I live in Michigan, so unless a gardener has ways to extend their growing season, then we dream of spring.
The use of green houses, cold frames, or similar methods can increase your growing season remarkably in cold climate zones.
This month I have a great lineup of garden related posts I’ll be sharing both here, at my Podcast, AND my YouTube channel! Be sure to check out my Facebook Events page for the full line up of Podcasts and REGISTER so you don’t miss a beat!
Check out this great line up topics friends!
February How-to Garden Topics!
Heirloom Seeds: Why I prefer them, their benefits & more.PODCAST
Join me for the first topic at my Podcast as I discuss the benefits & why I prefer Heirloom Seeds over Hybrid.
Seed Catalogs: How-to get your first order in! YouTube
How do you decide what seed catalog to shop from? How do I choose from the plethora of varieties? Today I’ll help guide you through placing your order & sharing my personal favorites I’ve used for years!
My Top 10 Easy Vegetables to Grow, & How-to Care for Them.
Today I’ll share my Top 10 favorite & super easy vegetables to grow. I’ll also share tips & tricks to have a successful growing season.
My Top 10 Favorite Herbs to Grow, & How-to Care for Them.YouTube
Let’s talk herbs!!! I’ll go over my favorite tried & true herbs and how-to care for them. I’ll explain the difference between annual, biennials, & perennials herbs!
My Top 5 Favorite Perennial Fruits & Vegetables, & How-to Grow & Care for them.PODCAST
Do you want to save money on your grocery bills? Today I’ll share my Top 5 Perennial Fruits & Vegetables, and How-to grow & care for them. It’s so easy & you’ll be amazed you haven’t been growing these for years already!
How-to Plant Asparagus, Care for it, and harvest!
One of springs first vegetables. This hardy vegetable will provide your family with years of fresh asparagus! Join me today as I share tips & tricks on how-to plant, care, & harvest your asparagus.
Easy How-to Plan Your Spring Garden! PODCAST
Planning your garden is the first step to preparing for success! Join me today as I discuss the importance of mapping out your garden whether or not you have raised beds or a tradition plot garden.
How-to Design & Build a Raised Bed Garden & the Benefits over a Traditional Garden. PODCAST
I love talking about Raised Bed Gardening & showing how & why they are so much more practical then traditional tilled gardens. Join me today as I explain why you should take the leap into raised bed gardening. It’s easier than you think!
Step-by-Step How-to Build a Cold Frame.
If you live in a cold climate zone like I do, then you will want to learn how-to extend your growing season by using this simple method. Cold frames are easy & inexpensive to build. This photo was taken from Pinterest for Bonnie Plants.
Top 10 Gardening Tools Every Gardener Should Have! YouTube
With the proper gardening tools, gardening is much easier and not so hard on your hands or back. Join me today as I show you my favorite tools and discuss the best way’s to use them.
How-to Compost & the Benefits for the Home Gardener.
To compost, or not to compost… that is the question! Join me today as I discuss the benefits of composting for the home gardener. It’s easier than you think it is!
Sunflowers: My Top 10 Favorites & Why You Should Grow Them. YouTube
Who doesn’t love the sunny face of a sunflower? Did you know there are dozens of varieties? Just for fun lets wrap up the cold days of February with a beautiful display of sunflowers.
Looking forward to seeing you all in February!
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Happy Day, Jean
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Welcome me back! Well I do apologize for being gone for awhile here at For Dragonflies… my computer was giving me some issues for a bit over a week and then we have been busy here planting all the good stuff that fills our farms CSA share boxes each week and provides the lovely spread at our market tables. But this is one of my happy places and I am glad to return! Right now at The Garden Gate we are very busy… raising piggies and chickens and getting the raised beds and field planted. I love the busyness of this time of year… it is exhilarating for me… I feel refreshed and alive and cherish every moment I can be outdoors. We just planted the raised beds outside the hoop house with chard & beets today… the cherry tomatoes, lettuces and basil are growing beautifully in the hoop house beds, the sausage garden raised beds are full and growing beautifully! Green is good in more ways than one. I will give you some fun ideas on how to be green that won’t tax your time or wallet!
Being ‘Green’ has been around for awhile now and I think more and more people are finding out that it isn’t that much more expensive or time consuming to do the ‘green thing’. Here are a few easy tips for those of you that want to try to make a change in improving your ‘foot print’. *Use compostable garbage bags… this way even though you have to contribute to the mounding piles of debris in the dumps, at least the plastic will break down. We use Compostable Plastic in our fields to make our beds that we grow in. It is corn based and breaks down into the soil by mid season by the sun. No more piles of plastic getting burned or going into the land fills. *Re-cycle! If you live in the country and have to pay for trash pick up- like we do- find where your local re-cycling station is. We purchased several laundry hampers to put our junk in- one for each paper, metal, glass and plastic. We have several stations in our area. Just plan on doing the drop when you are going into town. It really doesn’t take that much more time! You will be able to find one in your location in the phone book or of course you can always ‘Google it’. *If you have either flower beds or veggie gardens use your newspaper to lay under your mulch. I love to garden but I am a lazy gardener and don’t want to do a lot of extra weeding or tilling. We lay newspaper- (not the colored sections- b&w only-) in layers and then cover with grass clippings or straw in our veggie gardens & raised beds; in my flower beds I use wood mulch on top of paper. It keeps the weeds at bay and helps hold the moisture in even better. By the end of the season it is broke down completely and ready to be tilled in with the grass or straw! *Paper towel and toilet paper card board rolls can be donated to any daycare center or school. Of course call or go on in and ask before you do the donation. These can be used in a lot of fun arts & crafts activities for the children… not to mention it saves tax dollars on supplies! *Egg cartons can be given back to your farmer! We love when our customers bring us empty egg cartons- we are happy to refill them each week and re-use! *Plastic clam shells- you know, those containers that strawberries, blue berries, raspberries, etc. and organic lettuces come in! We are always happy to get these from our customers- we like to re-use them in our CSA share boxes! …. these are just a few that I can think of off the top of my head… be creative and be green!
Well we know that spring has come and along with all the beloved blooms and birds, we also get the good & bad bugs. Here is a nifty was to get a few of the bad guys without using chemicals! Build a bug trap~ to get rid of those very nasty yellow jackets that love to pester us and hang out when ever we are trying to enjoy a nice meal on the patio, try this! *First cut the top off a plastic soda or water bottle about a quarter of the way down- 2 inches from the shoulder; invert it inside its base to make a funnel, securing the edges with tape- water proof type. *Next, mix 2 cups of warm water with 1/4 cup of sugar; mix until completely dissolved; pour into bottle. *With a nail or screw poke one hole on opposite sides of top of the bottle, about one inch from top edge; use craft wire to create a hanger by inserting into each hole and twisting so it doesn’t fall off. Hang in a tree or where you know they are active. The wasps will climb in to reach the liquid and will either drown or be unable to climb out!
Mailbox In The Garden… a truly charming way to add a bit of country to one of your flower beds in to mount an old or new mailbox on top of a post in your bed! You can keep your garden gloves, trowel and scratcher right inside it… no more wondering where you left them! To make it even cuter get one of those pretty mailbox covers or even better hand paint it! Of course plant some Shasta Daisies around the post to add that perfect final touch!
At market we will soon have fresh tomatoes grown right in the dirt in our high tunnels- vine ripened and delicious- right here in Michigan. Here is a super yummy treat right here, right now! Enjoy! Spring Spinach Topped Tomatoes
2 cups chopped fresh spinach 2 tsp. instant chicken bouillon 1 tsp. sea salt 3 large tomatoes, halved 1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated- plus extra reserved for topping 1/3 cup onion, chopped 1 cup herb seasoned corn bread stuffing 1/2 cup butter, melted 1/4 tsp. pepper 1 garlic clove 1 egg, beaten
1. Follow bouillon instructions to make 4 cups of broth; bring to a rolling boil and add spinach leaves, reduce heat to medium; cook until tender, about 2-3 minutes; drain well. Cool and press out excess liquid. 2. Lightly salt tomato halves and place with cut side down on 2 paper towels for about 15 minutes to absorb excess moisture. 3. In a small bowl, combine spinach with corn bread stuffing, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, onion, butter, egg, garlic and pepper; mix well. 4. Place tomato halves, cut side up, in a shallow baking dish; divide spinach mixture over tomatoes; sprinkle with extra shredded Parmesan cheese, if desired. 5. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.