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Monday, April 29, 2013

Garden Pics

Well lookie at that two posts in one day.  This one being pictures.. sorry about the quality I defiantly need to get a new better camera.
  strawberryThis is one of the flowering strawberry plants we now have by my Elderberry trees.  Who by the way are trying to take over the spot here. It does not bother me that they are trying to take over there as eventually I want them to fill the space in.  Technically Elderberry is a shrub not a tree, however for a shrub it grows very large.
 I believe these strawberries are ever bearing, which would be very nice as I am planning to dry half the total berries, then half of the remainder will be jammed and the rest will be eaten straight.
 My wintergreen that was planted in the same area is trying desperately to come back, I hope it does as I was looking forward to harvesting some of that this year.  Considering only two of the four plants made it to winter, then the two seemed to be doing well all winter then they seem to have just given up once it warmed up.  I do not know why, I can just hope they come back.  Once it drys up out there I need to get into that "bed" and remove the unwanted plants.
  mint This minor monstrosity is the combined planting of the Thyme,Marjoram,and mint.  As you can see it is just a mass of green right now.  I think the thyme is going to be choked out.  While the mint and Marjoram will be fighting the remaining space out between the two of them.
 In a few hours I have my first batch of Marjoram to take out of my food dryer.  That does mean this picture was taken after I harvested mint and Marjoram from it.  They don't seem to be hurting from the haircut I gave them.  Which is a good thing as I plan on keeping it up.  I have some nice amber glass jars that I need filling and I know about how much it'll take to fill them full.
 I don't think you can see it, but the mint is trying to escape under the tire... My thought is if it does "get away" that's more mint for me.  I do now know that at least these two plants will need to be controlled once I have my herb garden set up.
  garlic I do not know if you can see this one or not, however if you can.  That's not onions.  That would be my first attempt at growing garlic.  They seem to be doing just fine, however they seem to grow slower than my onions.
 I wish I had pictures of potato sprouts, but my potatoes seem to be taking the slow route to the surface this year.  I do know they are growing as one day the chickens escaped and thankfully they were so stuffed all they did was unbury the potatoes.  They all seemed to have roots and little sprouts working their way up.
 We will be ordering some sunchokes in this next month.  We may also be buying some locally as it seems right now Craigslist is full of people trying to sell them off.  I have no problem with growing them, and letting them take over if they taste as good as I have been lead to believe.
 Well that's it on my "good" pictures as the rest did not look good enough for me to be willing to post them.  Have a great afternoon!
 Be Well, Be Safe, and Blessed Be


Fyi this is -NOT- my picture... I'm have camera issues again...
  cattail-shoot-wild-foraged-foraging-bicycle-bikeWe went out this morning and gathered some cattail shoots to try. I have never eaten them before and neither has Silver. So we went over to the pond across the street, me wearing shorts. To gather some from our neighbor as the ones we have planted do not have enough of a hold in the pond to be worth harvesting from. I am glad it is a not cold morning as the water was definitely cold and let me say unless you have a dry spot, you will be in the water to try and get your shoots. They are almost at the stage of not being small enough to eat. Granted there are tons of “baby” cattails growing there, no bigger than wild onions. From the instructions I received on it the section I want is the white part closest to the “tuber” without cutting up the tuber. I harvested about 8 of them of different sizes. They have a pleasant aroma when they are cut semi-sweet. After cleaning off the outer section that was a little tough and washing them thoroughly we tried them raw. They taste very good raw, slightly sweet. I have discovered that lightly frying them in olive oil ruins their flavor. Silver's estimation of them they would be best serves sliced up on a salad raw or maybe in a stew. If anyone has an “cooking” recommendations for cattail shoots please pass them along. I love the flavor and want to find other uses for them. BE Well, Be Safe, and Blessed Be...

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Mint Harvest

Well the mint plant I planted last year is trying to take over it's planted... and even grow under it.  So this morning before more rain hit us I went out and gathered a bunch of it to start drying it in my dehydrator.  I have enough to fill 5 trays, and I added one tray to catch any that fall through.  However I placed it right above the tray that I filled with the small pieces.  I only have 2 mesh inserts so I have to make the best use of them that I have for them.  My thought is that the small bits use it and have one empty aside from the mesh goes above that tray to catch any fall throughs during the drying process.
I had thought the mint completely took over the planted I have it and two other herbs in it.   I was wrong, it only half takes over the planter.  The other half is filled with Marjoram, the Thyme is trying to survive with both of the other two trying to choke it out.  The mint is even growing under the planter and trying to escape.  This has told me that when I do get my full herb garden growing that I'll need to have any mints growing by themselves... blocked off from the rest.  I knew catnip took over, I just did not realize all mints did.
I imagine that in about two days I'll have a bunch of dried mint that I'll have to put away for later, then I'll be working on the Marjoram.  When that one is done we'll see if the mint has grown back  enough to dry more of it.  I do hope we get our solar dryer done soon so I can use a non-electric dryer for everything.

BE Well, Be Safe, and Blessed be...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Quiet Days

We have been have a few quiet days here, between the rain and the cold.  My mom has flooding up near her in the Chicago area, though where she lives it would take a great deal of water to flood them out.  All of the seeds and plants I have put in seem to be doing well so far.  The one exception is my mini pak choi and edible chrysanthemums, something seems to like eating them;maybe I just need to give up on them.
Our next set of plans on building things is to get either the well house redo, the outdoor kitchen, or the pipe and wire for the new house.  As we sat down and figured we cannot really do any work on the house itself till the kids are fully out of school so they can help as we have at least one spot that needs three people to do the work.  ...and with how the weather has been I can't guarantee we'll have a clear day on the weekends.  So we wait on house construction till they get out and we have them around all the time.  Silly thing is we only need the "extra man" to put up the rebar for the frame the rest we can do two person.
My strawberries are starting to bloom, I'm taking that as a good sign that they like their new home.  We are going to order some huge jalapeno peppers and some sunchokes around the first and a lemon grass plant.  Seems I cannot get lemon grass to sprout at all shrugs oh well we'll just have to do with a started plant.  We are going to have to buy a pot and keep it inside in the cold weather, but I believe it'll be worth it.  I am considering when we get the dome built to get a laurel tree in a big pot.
I hope you are all about to work and get around in all the rain we've had and I alps hope you won't be in the path of any nasty snow melt when it starts up.

Be Well, Be Safe, and Blessed Be...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Rain,Rain... we need it...

We do, just hopefully not the severe stuff that is moving around.  My new day lilies are coming up and I have seen that the cattails are all sprouting nicely.  I was worried about the cattails, but seems that I did ok on the moving of the plants, a big THANK YOU to Rich and Daina who own the property kitty cornered to us for the cattails.
I got a plant/seed catalog the other day that has pond plants in it and I'm considering some of the irises.  I would not mind a few flowers there in addition to the other plants there.  My lettuce is coming up, and I believe my mini Pak Choi came up as evidenced by the "mowed down" look they have this morning.
I have found a variety of Jalapeno that is almost the size of my hand that we are considering planting this year so we can make our own "poppers".  I had gotten some a year or two ago and we stuffed them with cheese and a beef/rice mix before breading and deep frying and they came out wonderful. I'd like to try it again.
My grape has flowers on it and the red current while it lost it's top leaves, the lower buds are growing.  Also the Pecan tree seems to be holding it's own.  My mother sent me an early (one week early) birthday gift off my wish list, it's a large Ball brand water bath canner.  To see the wish list here's the link:

It's so pretty I can't wait to get a chance to use it!  However it'll probably be a few weeks as I need more lids to do more canning.  I am planning to make a "stew mix" to dry can as the year goes on, this will be a simple pour into pot add water and heat meal.  It'll contain:
dried berries (probably blue and black though if the currents produce them too)
dried potatoes
dried garlic
dried onion
dried day lily buds
dried peppers
dried potato flakes (home made hopefully)
Now why two kinds of potato?  Simple mashed potato flakes make a good thickener.  So it'll make it into a nice thick stew.  I'm going to tinker with it as I make them, and I'll probably not "assemble" them till later in the year when I have everything setup.  So we'll see how it goes.

BE Well, Be Safe, and Blessed Be...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bulb Planting Day

Yep I'm going out today to plant some flower bulbs, the ones we ordered months ago showed up early this week.  Due to the rain we were suppose to get (we only got rain 1 day) we decided to wait till today to plant them.  I do not know if they will grow today or in a year.  My cabbages and other planting seem to have taken and this morning I'll have to see if they got too cold last night due to frost.  Which is amazing due to the fact we were in the high 70's the other day.
I have jumped off the "no-poo" bandwagon, Ok not jump I dived head first off of it.  I have discovered that I have one BIG issue with going no-poo.  My hair is very dry and very thick, the issue I'd have is that it would take me a couple hours to comb through my tangled knotted hair after "washing" it.  The first time was not bad, but it got steadily worse.  So a couple days ago while in tears and barely combed through the rat's nest that my hair became I gave up and went and used shampoo and conditioner.
Now I will say if I ever needed to live washing my hair in this manner I could do it... however I'd have to cut my hair VERY short to make it easy to comb through.  Actually I did like how my hair felt while I was off shampoo(s), it felt so much better  I would recommend trying it and seeing if it works for you.  Now trying it means for at least a month.  You may be surprised.
Now I want to mention something about the "school lunch thing".
My local news is still covering how kids are still hungry after coming home from school.  Now I have a few comments in reference to this.  Most kids are not use to eating "healthy" foods.  Also most kids are not use to eating a serving size.  Which is generally much smaller than what you get in a fast food place.  This really is a home problem, however... if the kids are suppose to be properly fed at school. Well, then they need to be satisfied.  i know one BIG issue is kids would rather have chips and candy rather than fruit and cold veggies.  Now my kids will do fruit and cold veggies, however they are still coming home hungry.  Well my son is anyway.  His problem is he is a picky eater, which is his own problem.  If he doesn't want to eat enough to be full it's on him, because he refuses to eat some of the entrees they serve.
Now the reason for the change in the school lunch system is because the First Lady is trying to fight childhood obesity.  Good, however there are other ways to combat this.  The biggest one would be to increase Phys Ed, and making it more physical.  Now I say this because I know when we lived in NY my kids had a few weeks of stacking cups.  Now I know it's now considered a  hand-eye coordination sport, however it's not very physically challenging.  When I was in grammar school... many years ago... the first one I was in make the kids run a track for 10 minutes daily.  Now put that on top of sports.  That would help.  Also saying that recess suffices to exercise kids.  Watch what goes on during recess and I'm sure you'll see a lot of kids just hanging out.
So this in my opinion this is being handled wrong.  I hope someone figures this out and maybe changes something that will work better.
Be Well, Be Safe, and Blessed Be...

Friday, April 5, 2013

Happy Friday!

Well I'm sitting here waiting for my chicken bones to de-pressure so I figured I'd write something today.  Not as much as yesterday mind you... btw in case you were wondering it came out to about 4 pages on my word prossesor when I converted it over.  Looks back a few words.  I love those spelling mistakes that the "suggestions" have no correction for even when you know you spelled it wrong; but cannot spell it right.
I have watered all of my plants that I put in yesterday and they do seem to be doing rather well except for 1 of the red cabbages.  That poor thing is drooping.  I think I know why too, it got only about 1/2 of the roots available when I had to cut them apart.  So it probably does not have enough roots to make it.
We discovered this morning that the 2 hoses we are using can reach everything but... The pecan tree and the current.  No biggie, we need at least one new hose as one of the 2 like I said has a leaky connector.
I have discovered this morning that we have 1 small frog living near our pond.  I hope there is more but 1 is a start.  My blue berry is looking very promising so far and I hope it produces well this year.  It has buds everywhere, it looks as healthy as the Elderberries do.
Once I get my soup going I get to go out and do some clearing near all of my plantings from yesterday.  Just to ensure no over crowding and plenty of sun for my new plants.  I did notice the Kale seems to have sprouted finally, just when I was ready to give up on them.  I also may have one carrot sprout, we'll see as it grows.
Time to go work on the soup,

Be Well, Be Safe, and Blessed Be...

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Planting Day!

Yes today was my planting day.  It opened with showers that we just barely south of us, and a little cool.  So I started off with getting the laundry out, which kept me busy till about 10 am.  Which is when I figured it would be best to get started as I did not want to work the soil before it warmed some.  Yesterday when we picked up another straw bale for the chickens I "mucked out" the coop to use in the soil mixing I was going to do today.
  soil mix So This is the "mix" I used for my plantings today.  What it contains is:
 Peat Moss
 chicken manure (straw included)
 wood ash
 homemade charcoal
 oyster shell
 leftover compost from last year
 local "soil" which is mostly clay
 The manure and the soil needed some breaking up to be usable and mixed in.  The manure still had some straw that wasn't composted as yet.  The layer closest to the top was this way. pecan in package This is my new Pecan seedling, it's a Stuart Pecan.  From what I have looked up it says that it is a Moderate producer.  Which isn't all that bad for me.  I like Pecans, but I think one tree will suffice for us.  They also  seem to grow to 100ft tall if they do well.
 I planted this one in the end of one of the trenches we dug for the apple trees that aren't coming.  We had to back fill a little bit just so that it would be at ground level.  This little "guy" was a surprise when we went to the farm store the other day.   I had not seen them selling Pecan trees before so when I saw it and noticed the price I felt it was worth the cost to get it.
 When we planted this I put some of the nearby branches and brier into the hole before we back filled.  I know that they will eventually decompose down adding more nutrients to the soil there so it'll help.  When I finally got him out of his wrapper I noticed quite happily that this little one was not root bound at all.  It also told me just how young this seedling is too.
 We wound up putting 2 gallons of water around it.  The peat moss really soaked it up.  I also added some of the fresh straw to the ground at ground level around it.  Just to help protect it.  We had to berm up some of the straight soil next to it as we didn't want the soil or water washing away.
 Here it is fully into the ground:
  pecan in ground Isn't it cute?  I know it's tiny, but my thought on that is; it'll grow up with our home.  It came with a tiny bamboo stake to tie it too until it gets stronger.  Probably a good idea around here as I have seen trees here that are growing tilted or sideways.  I image it's due to the wind we get here.
 Also this was the first thing I planted, I figured due to the size best get it in the ground first so that it'll have the most time to acclimate before night.  That tie on it?  It came with the plant.  I also discovered that there was a second one inside the "bedding" it had.
 Funny story about the ties these kinds of plants have on them.  Like most this had one of those pieces of metal tieing it shut.  On time many years ago I cut it off... instead of untwisting it.  I learned my lesson there... The next plant we put into the ground was a Red Current:
  red current in package We did get this one from the same store as the Pecan.  Now I am a little concerned that this one won't due much as last time I bought a "boxed" plant it didn't do hardly anything.  Those were the grapes I bought from SAMs club before moving here that we planted when we moved here.  Thing is they never grew, and from what a local grape grower told me.  The ones SAMs sold didn't do anything for her either.  This woman grows them for sale to the public so she knows how to treat grapes.  ... but those ones didn't grow either.  That tells me a great deal.
 This lovely little lady has been planted near my up and coming berry patch near my pond.  Actually if you were looking right at the pond from the driveway it would be on the back side of it.  Partially obstructed by a tree stump that we left to use for growing things over.
 I am growing my berries near the pond as the blackberries along the road were the biggest near the stream running across our road.  So my thought is why not try to duplicate this by growing the berries near the pond?  Worst thing that happens is that the plants don't grow huge berries.  Ok, technically the -worst- would be that they don't grow, so far my blue berry does though.  So that gives me hope that the other berries will too.  I know the wild black berries do.
 This one and all the other "non-garden" plantings are getting stakes around them to prevent kids and people from crushing them...
  red current in ground Seeing as how most of the plantings I have done that I recall where the plants are... no one else can.  Even when they have helped me plant them.  See the little leaves?  I also noticed when I unwrapped her that there are some "sucker" plants starting.  If it becomes a massive bush I have no issues.  I want to have as many plants as I can as fruits I can dry or can.  Canning as jams and just syruped fruit.
 Before anyone asked, no I have not had currents as of yet.  However I have not tried a berry that I didn't like as of yet.  Besides if they are dried and mixed with other fruits, I doubt that if I don't like them that I would notice the flavor much.  Especially if I mix them with strawberries.
 Speaking of which, they are doing very well I  am hoping to take a few pics for my next posting.
 Now here is something interesting to note.. while the Pecan is on one side of where the house will be and the current is by the pond, the next plant is going near the pecan.  However I planted it 3rd.  The reason is, we needed to gather a bit more compost so as we had to go close to where the current was going to be planted we just did it while there.
 The next plant?  Why that's my White Niagara Grape:
  white Niagara grape in package I had to take a picture of this one on the table as  with all that growth I didn't dare put it in the wheel barrow to do so.  Yes, another "boxed" plant.  My thoughts however in this case is that with that much growth (including the starts of 3 bunches) It may do very well.
 This one is being planted right next to where my outdoor kitchen is going, it is going to be trained up the side with a goat panel.  We still need to get said goat panel.  This way we'll have a nice green screen on one wall of the outdoor kitchen.  It'll also benefit the grape as that spot gets a great deal of sun.
 Tomorrow I need to go back and do some trimming around it, as I didn't have time to as yet.  I'm sure the bramble won't choke it just yet.  It has a "hook" on the stem that we pointed so that it is growing in the right direction from the start.
 Lets just hope if it grows well in the next month I won't have to do much prying to get it where I want it.  As from what I hear it's not easy getting a wayward grape to go in the right direction if it gets too big.  These first three plants were all bought at the same store, the grape is what decided me to get any plants.  As I could not pass up how healthy this one was.
 So we had the hole for this one dug well before planting as Silver dug it while I was prepping for the current. whit niagara grape in ground The funny thing is the rest of my plantings were harder in some ways than planting these three plants.  We moved on to the garden next.
 What we did first however was to make a barrow full of the soil mix and dumped it on the spot that I had planted the Rhubarb that hasn't shown signs of life.  We planted some horseradish in this. After which we both figured out we might want to get the hose out and set it up to use.  AS it would be a big pain to water in the garden with jugs and buckets.
 We have 2 good hoses and 2 bad ones, or more like 2 "useable" ones and 2 bad ones.  I say "useable" as one of them leaks like a sieve at the connection point.  Other than that it may last the year.
 We moved onto my "middle" bed in the garden, and while Silver wrestled with the hoses I loosened the top soil.  I had to use my pickax for it.
  cabbage plants The track hoe tore up half the soil in the bed so I had to loosen it all up and respread it.  I also added a little bit of the soil mix to help add more to the soil.  These are my 12 cabbages.  They are on the outside of the bed.
 I am planning on putting 2 squash plants in the center when they can be planted.  My thoughts are that the cabbages will help keep the soil cool if we have another bad heat year.  The squash will also help the cabbages in the same manner.
 What I did with the plantings is I went one green one red all around the edge of the planting bed.  I then planted onions between each one, and a line of "spring onions  inside the bed from the cabbages.
 These were plants that were grown locally by a nearby nursery, the only thing I didn't like was that they were grown in a carton that all the roots grow together.  So I had to cut the plants out. cabbages in ground This is what the bed looked like when I finished with it.  I took the picture when I was watering the bed.  I also watered the potatoes when I was out there as they looked a little dry.
 When I was setting up the bed I had to remove a bunch of clover, which my ladies were very happy.  I'd say about 3 pounds of clover to them to inhale.  Which is what they did.
 I know my soil is getting very good now as when I had to dig it up some I found tons of worms in it.  SO I must be doing something right. After finishing all of this I went up front and after making lunch I cleared another of the tires and planted my garlic in it.  We have yet to grow it, so I am hoping it does well.
 We moved onto the sprouts and broccoli next.
  broccli I reused the buckets from last year's tomatoes with the sprouts and the broccoli as well as the remainder of the ONION and the rosemary.  I capitalized the onions as again I bought way to many so I have onions growing every where right now.
 I have 5 of these "supplement" buckets, these are buckets where the farm stores sell a feed supplement to farmers.  They sometimes bring them back to the farm stores and then they in turn resell them for people to use to plant in.
 I have noticed if you need to cut up your plants it's best to let them get a little dry first as I don't recommend cutting them when they are wet.  It's like cutting paper when they are a little dry.
 Our Rosemary is 2 pots of three plants in each pot so we are hoping they grow big, and together. I had one more thing to plant.
  tulips Tulips!
 I like Tulips, I have as yet to plant some before now.  These I bought "spent" for $1 at Walmart before they would be tossed out.  The cashier was happy to see someone buy them.  As you can just plant them in your yard after they stop blooming.
 Each pot had 6-8 bulbs in them, also a few of them had baby bulbs growing.  I had 5 pots worth of them.  I planted 2 pots up by our house sign, 2 pots by my rose, and one pot by the pond.
 So I finished at about 2:30pm so I spent hours planting.  My feet hurt as does my back.. but it's a HAPPY hurt.  I accomplished something today, getting my plants in.  Silver also set out the boards we bought yesterday to plan out our bigger well house and where the floor of the outdoor kitchen will be.  We had to buy pressure treated as they were cheaper than landscape timbers.
 Yesterday if you didn't figure it out Silver got out Wheel barrow fixed.  We had to buy an inner tube that was bigger than the one that was on it.  However it worked and now we have a wheel barrow again.
 That's my fun and busy day, I have to post my pics on pintrest then I will be making dinner!
 Be Well, Be Safe, and Blessed Be...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

New Plants!

I have some new "babies" that I'll be planting on Thursday provided the weather is good.  Yesterday we picked up 12 cabbages, 6 broccoli  and 6 sprouts.  I also picked up more onions to grow, some to be just "spring onions" some crosses fingers to be stored onions.  I checked the strawberry plants and they seem to be doing well and have new growth and almost all of them. 
Today we picked up a few more plants... We almost picked up chicks, but they didn't have any that I wanted in the shop we were in.  I still would prefer to get my new chicks from the hatchery, but if I can get the ones I want cheaper at a store then I will.  I did get a very nice looking green grape, that has what appears to be some bunches already starting on it.  I am planning on putting it next to where my outdoor kitchen is going to go.  This way I can have it grow to cover one "wall" in it.  I found a red current and I am hoping it does better than the black currents that I kept buying.. and died. 
We found some small rosemary plants and as it seems that ours may not have survived the winter we got two of them.  We picked up some  garlic and some horseradish as well.  Now my big surprise was find pecan seedlings there.  I like pecans, and I was very happy to see them in the farm store as it will probably take a few years for this one to produce.  It's about 9 inches tall not counting the root system.  I can't wait till the next no stormy day so I can get all these out and in the ground.. Thursday is the most likely of days for that it appears based on the weather pattern we have coming through. 
I am planning on getting pictures of all of them once I can, the light isn't what I'd like for it right now.  ...and it's COLD outside today.

Be Well, Be Safe, and Blessed Be...