Sunday, December 5, 2010

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

Oh the weather outside is frightful, with icy roads and bitter winds. But inside the smell of bayberry and oranges spiked with cloves, the sounds of football intermingled with Christmas carols, and the sights of decorations, lights, and very excited grandchildren!

Not too much baking this year. I am about to go into surgery and have been on a liquid protein diet for a couple of weeks so nobody is getting anything!! It was bad enough to have to prepare the Thanksgiving feast and just watch everyone else devour it.
We had a wonderful decorating party yesterday. What memories awaken when the boxes marked "Christmas" are lugged upstairs and opened. Handmade decorations  the kids had made through the years; ones handed done from loved ones no longer with us. Try explaining to a 4-year old that the "Night Before Christmas" book they find is older than Grandma! Hot cocoa awaits the frozen few that ventured out to string lights and garlands round the fence and to hang up the wreathes and flags. The fortunate ones stayed inside and put out candles, wreathes, window clings, and all sorts of finery.
It is a record this year because of my pending surgery, that all the Christmas shopping is done and all the presents wrapped.

And still, work must go on outside too. Hoses must be brought out to refill water barrels in the greenhouse and chicken coop. Paths shoveled for dogs so they will venture out and leaves mounded up on pots of various perennials to keep them frozen till spring.
I want huge quantities of snow. Hey, I won't be able to drive so why not? I want snow days so everybody has to stay home with their families. I want to hear the whine of snowmobiles running up and down the road because the cars can't make it through. Neighbors having snowball fights and kids making snow forts and sledding runs. Why can't we hibernate like the bears used to do, all snuggled together. Think how much money we could save on everything.

In the coming weeks I hope I am able to keep you posted on my recovery; my trials and tribulations; all the gory details!
Till then, embrace the Spirit of Christmas around you, down to the very smallest detail.
Joy To The World!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Having a Vintage Thanksgiving!

Do you remember Thanksgiving when you were a child? I don't remember the meal as much as the preparation beforehand; the cleaning, the making of decorations, the excitement in the air.
Mom was a home economics teacher. She had that knack of having everything come out just right. I'm sure if she were here she would say otherwise, but I remember marveling at how perfect she made everything feel.
She had a  file cabinet I would sneak peeks in filled with construction paper, drawings, templates of  glorious decorating ideas. I can recall the feeling when she started decorating.
I want that feeling for my Holiday. I found myself at midnight, digging thru drawers, searching the Internet, thinking of times past.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Death Has Come To The Garden

It is the time of year I dislike the most. I try to stay positive and look forward to the Holidays and all their colors and display. But you see the devastation that the frost brings and it is really disheartening. All the accumulated work of the Spring and Summer destroyed overnight.
 My  tomato plants, outgrowing their cages, laden with tomatoes not yet ripe.  Now mushy and limp, fruits translucent. The water hyacinths in the pond, blackened. The bamboo, wisteria, and kiwi sheltering the Love Shack, bent down as if in pain.

Now the work begins to wipe away all traces of the garden that sustained us all summer. To take away all blooms and vines that thrilled us. Down come the ornaments, the lighting, umbrellas, fountains,chairs and tables. Benches go back into the greenhouse to be filled with pots of hostas, lilies, rhubarb and other plants not sold at Market.

Shovels, pruners, and hoes are cleaned, sharpened and oiled. Snow shovels are brought out in their place. Rakes are brought out in anticipation of fallen leaves.
And yet, my roses are still blooming, the sedum is in full color, and the leaves; every color of the spectrum. The koi, looking so bright against the dark water, soaking in the last warmth before heading down deep to hibernate. The birds adding to their nests bits of vine and fluff.

After Farmers Market today which was a truly cold and wet experience, I arrived home and had a burst of energy. Perhaps it was the latte I drank earlier or just the need to erase the yard of the sad dead things. With the help of my daughter piled the tomato cages we pulled up all the vegetable plants, leaving the fruits on the ground for the chickens. We emptied and stacked pots, broke down carts, trimmed back the bamboo and did a general cleanup; and what an improvement!  Now it looks promising, not quite so gray. Even with the pouring rain the brightness shines through. The vivid colors of fall are here.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Frost Is Inevitable !

Well, it's that time of year. A frost is right around the corner. So now we have to scurry around the yard looking for stray houseplants that have sat out all season, and plants we want to keep going just a little while longer. 
I found a Echeveria on the front porch that needs protection along with the red-blooming Mandevilla hanging out with the hummingbird feeder. I guess the feeders can be scrubbed out and put away for the winter too.

The sun room is almost finished. (I keep saying that) Last week I saw a picture in a magazine/book somewhere that showed a room with a shelf at the top and part-way up from the bottom all the way around the room. So of course I had to have that! Darling Hubby really hates when I pick up a mag or book! So I have been scouring my basement and shop for shelving pieces, spindles, and corbels I have collected over the years waiting for that perfect project. And then cutting, painting and assembling!

Anyway, I digress. After writing the last paragraph I went on a Google spree looking for different crafts using spindles and balusters. Now my creative juices are flowing when instead I should be outside cleaning up and carting plants to the greenhouse or loading the car for Farmers Market tomorrow.

The lilies are blooming even tho their leaves have browned and fallen off! And my rose out front is blooming. The grand kids have been eating the grapes but I think they are still sour. They need a frost to bring out the sugar.

The 25 baby chickens in the greenhouse are getting big. They are about 4 weeks old, so in a couple more I can release them into the coop with the older hens. They have really grown and put on their "big girl" feathers; well all except one who is behind schedule. She is half the size of the others and walks around with her eyes shut. She eats and drinks fine and is very tame because I have been picking her up alot to make sure she is okay. She jumps onto my arm as soon as I open the front of the cage and loves to run up onto my shoulder and put her head in my hair. All with her eyes shut. I know her eyes work because on rare occasions they have opened.
Well, I have procrastinated enough. I will post some pictures and then get to work. Unless something else gets in the way. But that frost is coming, one way or 'nother!

Okay, one more pic. This is the Angel Trumpet I purchased this year. I have wanted one for years and finally found a good deal on them. I bought 3 different colors, but have misplaced the tags so I don't know which color it will bloom. It took long enough, but there it is!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Is age slowing me down?

I have been meaning to write for several months but am too tired and too busy. I remember when I worked in the construction field and could work all day and play all night and still have energy that following day!
Lots has been going on in the greenhouse and garden. It was a strange year for vegetables and flowers. I harvested more cucumbers than zucchini's and one patch of tomatoes did very well but another grew lots of fruits but never ripened.
The lily crop that I counted on for Market was sporadic at best. Some are just now emerging and others are now blooming for the first time. My strawberry roots I planted in late spring never did anything, but the rhubarb was fantastic.
Market showed the recession hit a bit with slightly smaller sales, plus the weather didn't always cooperate.
The egg scare helped us knock home how important local raised fresh foods are for everyone. Of course there wasn't enough eggs to make everyone happy, so I currently have 25 baby chicks in the greenhouse to add to the flock this winter.
The greenhouse needs cleaning again.  Houseplants waiting for the new sun-room, a few basil plants, some squash that grew under the benches. And no matter how much I stress "plants only", there is a continual stream of empty pots and flats, fertilizer containers, and miscellaneous stuff that doesn't belong there. I guess I need to put "potting shed" on the long list of to-do's.
The kitchen is a disaster with all the canning paraphernalia needed for the jams, pickles, and vinegars made and being made. I haven't seen the dining room table all season as it is loaded with cases of jars, both empty and full. Gallon jugs are full of flavored vinegars, branches of dill hang over paper bags to collect the seeds. The sauerkraut ferments in a crock in the corner, and various containers of seeds collected here and there dry for next years planting.
Well, I am writing this as opposed to cleaning the office which I set out to do this morning. But the beautiful day drew me outside to walk amongst the last of the blooms, to watch the frogs, turtles, and koi in the pond, and to tear up some weeds to feed to the chickens. And now the day is waning, and I better have some work done to show for it.
So now I vow to try and find more energy to do everything I want to do  and still find time for this blog. Wish me luck!


Friday, April 9, 2010

Unfit Gardener: Will Spring Ever Arrive?

Unfit Gardener: Will Spring Ever Arrive?

Will Spring Ever Arrive?

Well its April and our weather is finally acting like winter. We have the winds, hail, snow and clear cold nights.
All the tomato plants are up in the greenhouse and Dan has them all transplanted into bigger, individual pots. He seems tireless in his determination to get everything tagged and in their rightful pots. He barely manages to drag himself in at the end of the day.
We are boosting the heater up for added warmth and have the fans running over the plants to make their stems and roots very strong. I love going in there when it is storming outside. It is cosy warm and smells of damp earth. Even the dogs venture in occasionally and sit by the door.
The compost tea is alive and brewing in the corner and we use this as an additional defense against disease and weakness.
The peppers are a bit slow but coming on steadily and all the other veggies have emerged. We planted the pumpkins a little early this year and they are HUGE!
I am putting two sunflowers to a pot this year as last year they were a little weak-looking.
My flower baskets are less this year than last because of the shortage of plastic baskets from the supplier. So my flats of flowers sit waiting to be intermingled into hanging masterpieces. Hopefully they will come in soon. I have  had to supplement bags of potting mix from Home Depot to keep us going as the pallet of bales I ordered is on back order. I need to find more local or close suppliers so this doesn't happen again.
My aquatic plant order is also late due to the company misplacing my order but they have assured me it has been shipped. My water hyacinths are always the biggest at the show because I get them going in warm water in the greenhouse.
Went to my Farmers Market meeting last Saturday morning and got signed up for another year. The work party to get the booths set up is on the 24th. Saturday Betsy took Blue out (our good ole Chevy dump-truck) and got some loads of composted manure and garden mix for the new garden bed on the side of the shop. We cut back the pussy willow without removing it entirely to make way for it. The reflection off the shop should really warm up the tomato plants we will plant there.
Easter did cooperate for us with a warm sunny day. The Easter egg hunt was a huge success with a bonus silly string and water fight. Lots of eggs were found and the chickens even were  sitting on some money-filled eggs that they didn't want to give up to the children.
Dan got an early birthday present this year. I bought a riding lawn mower for him at the Depot. The doctor doesn't want me mowing because of  tendonitis in my feet, and Dan shouldn't do it as well. My lawn is narrow but long; big enough to wear him out. I told him he will get to drive it down to James and Jenna's and mow theirs as well. The lawn does seem to be greening up finally and the lilacs and other shrubs are budding out. Rhubarb is going full tilt in their pots and the viburnum in the greenhouse is blooming. So fragrant!
We decided not to go to the big home show at the convention center today as my hip was causing me pain, but we wanted to get information on solar and wind suppliers in the area. We are trying to get net-metering hooked up and possibly a wind turbine on the roof to help supplement our energy usages. With all the wind we have been having the last week, it really would have been going great guns!
My first show is just around the corner. So much still to plan and get done. My carts seem to have suffered a bit over the winter so replacing some wheels and other parts. Bought a new one also as it was on sale at Harbor Freight and Dan is building a second tier on it so it will carry more.
The kids are coming over tomorrow to help out. Greatly appreciated. Cleaning out the shop is tops on the list so the rider can have a home.
Here's to Spring! Please come soon!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Unfit Gardener: Late Winter Chores

Unfit Gardener: Late Winter Chores

Late Winter Chores

 This title has a double meaning. Chores that can be done during the down time gardeners have during winter and the fact that I am late getting some of those chores done.
 Winter is the perfect time for pruning. Take a walk around the property and look for shrubs and trees that have gotten out of hand. Are they shading too much of your growing area? Are they hanging over property lines, too close to power lines?
 Look at each individual tree, whether fruiting or ornamental. Prune out any branches growing towards the inside of the tree. Remove any branches that are rubbing together or crossing each other. Open up the inside for good air circulation. When cutting at the trunk get as close to the trunk as possible; don't leave any stubs for disease or bugs to find a home. I don't apply anything to the cuts. I feel they heal on their own just fine.
Think of your tree as a big balloon. Prune out any branches that protrude outside that imaginary balloon.
Remember, safety first. Consult or hire a professional for anything that you feel is beyond your scope.
 Dig out all your tools and get them ready. ( I guess I should have mentioned this before talking about the pruning. ) Sharpen blades and clean  off any rust. Give them a good lube. ( I like that!) Disinfect pruners trowels etc. Get your lawn mower out and make sure fluids are fresh and the blades are straight and sharpened. Find all your hoses and sprinklers and nozzles. Replace any washers.
Dig out your garden journal and plan for this years garden. Make sure to rotate crops and make the most of your space by plotting out beds. Take a trip to the library or your own bookshelf and check out some books on square foot gardening, organic gardening, composting. If you don't already, think about starting a compost or worm bin.Home Depot even has composters for sale this year!
 Think outside of the box. Make the most of the space you have.  There are alot of veggies adapted for pots. Potatoes love growing in old tires. Cucumbers, tomatoes,  zucchinis, have bush varieties that do well in pots. Think vertical. Hang baskets of tomatoes, herbs.
Look thru garden catalogs. Try something different. And plant extra. Local food banks appreciate fresh food to help feed people who might otherwise not get the opportunity for a vine-ripened tomato or a head of lettuce. And get your kids involved. They might like to eat those beans and squash if they had a hand in growing them. Granddaughter Cheyenne already has broccoli,  swiss chard, beans and cucumbers coming up in her flat in the greenhouse.

Friday, March 12, 2010

We are up and growing!

Well after much consideration we decided that we should take the flats of seeds into the house to sprout. We could have cranked on the heat in the greenhouse for them but we figured since it was already a consistent heat in the house we might as well take advantage of it. Our little way of conserving energy if you will. So there they sit on shelves by the back patio door. The register vent is not too far away for added bottom warmth and the misting bottle is at the ready.
So it has been a day shy of a week since planting and I think all the flats are alive and growing. The only light source at this time is coming from the slider so as the plants crane their necks towards it we turn the flats a quarter turn to keep them straight. We are readying the fluorescent lights in the greenhouse so I think we will move the seedlings out there tomorrow.
I need to dig out the tags that I have for the different kinds of tomatoes that I grew last year and order the new varieties. I also must get my description list started. I want to add color pictures to it this year.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

So Much To Do

A person can get bogged down and give up before they even start when there are so many things to do. Just a quick walk through the yard and I have a list of must-do's.
We are removing trees in our backyard so we have more garden space. The pussy willow that I spoke of in an earlier blog is coming down. That way we can make use of the reflective heat coming from the side of the shop for such things as peppers and tomatoes.
We are thinking of taking down our sweet cherry tree. It often takes a late hit from frost so we don't get cherries that year. Plus it shades valuable growing area. But it is also that shade that I will miss. I have often sat and even slept in that shade after a frenzy of digging and weeding, too exhausted to drag myself to the porch and comfort of a chair. That tree sheltered our chickens and even turkeys when the coop was closer to the house.
A couple of fairly new apple trees on the side yard by the greenhouse are also slated for removal, plus the extra raspberries that for some reason my husband thought should go there. I am even entertaining thoughts of the demise of my beloved Green Gage plum tree that I put in after a trip to Europe.
I will research and find dwarf fruit trees that I can espalier against the fence line. All the fruits that I want without taking up all that space!
Viva la demolition!

Unfit Gardener: The Greenhouse Is Open!

Unfit Gardener: The Greenhouse Is Open!

The Greenhouse Is Open!

Yea! We have the greenhouse open and cleaned out and ready for planting!!
We set the benches up and pulled out all the flats and inserts from the shed.
Opened our bags of germination soil (we use Sunshine Mix #3) and mixed 50/50 with
our own mix of compost and secret ingredients. I feel like a mad scientist!
Our containers were filled and ready for seeds. We are starting about 60 different
kinds of tomatoes this year along with several basils, and assorted veggies. I am
also growing some peppers this year due to peoples requesta at the Farmers Market.
Also, some different kinds of veggies that I want to enter in the local county fair.
If I can remember to get my entry forms in on time.
Anyway, back to the greenhouse. My daughter and 2 granddaughters are there to help us.
We have an assembly line going. I mix the soils, Betsy fills the pots, Jessica stacks the flats, and Cheyenne
oversees us while running out periodically to check the chickens for eggs and chase the dogs.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pussy Willows

As I look out my office window, the large pussy willow shrub by the pond is alive. I go outside to revel in late winter wonder. Not only are the catkins swollen with fuzzy life, but as you draw near, a loud hum is heard. Looking up above my head, hundreds of bees are gathering substanance from the nectar. Their tiny legs are fat with yellow, almost to the point of making them earth-bound. But they somehow stay aloft, and head towards another soft grey feeding station.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A fine mess you've got me in

Oh! My office is a disaster. I need to get organized. I have seed catalogs stacked everywhere. My orders are getting placed, the seeds are coming in, and it all lands in here. I have file cabinets and folders at the ready, just to find the time to separate and file. I keep getting distracted. It is so sunny outside and I can see out the door to the backyard. The birds are singing and darting about. My mind is wandering towards ideas for the garden this spring. I will need to plant around the new sunroom (if it ever gets built) and move some plants around in the courtyard. New paths have to be laid.
But back to reality. I need to get busy. It's almost time to start the tomatoes, peppers and basil, and then there won't be time for the office.

Ideas, ideas, ideas!

Coming up with new ideas for this years Farmers Market.
The trends according to the trade shows are edible landscapes and succulents.
So, a unique way to provide everyday veggies into a work of art. Something decorative but useful.
How to pack a punch in a small space.
Recycle containers to be eco-friendly.
Organic practices for our families well-being.
Make fresh food available to everyone.