Posts tagged ‘kitchen garden’

May 29, 2012

transitions

we’re moving from the cooler spring weather into the heat of summer.  i just harvested the last of our kale, chard, and beets and i’m still trying to coax along some lettuce seedlings under the shade of our back porch.  normally at this time, the beets from this bed would be replaced with the warmer weather crops like tomatoes or zucchini.  instead we’ve yanked out the chicken wire (serving as a barrier for curious doggies) and put in bedding plants (which i don’t much care for) in order to  make the yard pretty for a prospective buyer.

it’s the end of an era.

and while we’re on to bigger and better things, it still makes me feel a little sad.

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May 22, 2012

just in case you were wondering….

this is what happens when the bees cross pollinate a wedding white zinnia with a red one:

isn’t it pretty?

May 3, 2012

we like peas

due to our being “in transition mode” i only planted one 4′ row of bush peas this year.  i thought we’d at least get enough for one or two meals.  i still have some yet to harvest, but yesterday this was all we got:

just enough to garnish some penne pasta with shallots, pancetta, and alfredo sauce.

after i picked them, i set the bucket down on the porch to tend to something else in the garden.

i guess we aren’t the only ones who love fresh peas.

April 26, 2012

portable property

even though we are tentatively planning on moving late this summer, i couldn’t bear the thought of a summer without tomatoes, which, if all goes as planned, would be  coming on just as we’re getting ready to leave.

i’ve heard through the grapevine that this could potentially be the summer for tomatoes.  the last two years in a row the weather here has been so hot, and the spider mites so bad, that few tomatoes were to be had. but this year, this year, could be… The Year.  and i don’t want to miss out.  i decided to plant them all in plastic buckets, so that, come time to move, we can bring them along.

i purchased a series of plastic five gallon buckets at lowe’s and husby drilled holes in the bottom  to allow for drainage.

           

i then loaded them up with soil, dug a little hole and added some egg shells for a calcium boost.  this was a little trick i learned  that helps eliminate blossom end rot.  it really does work.

           

i put in the plants,  labeled them….

           

set the cage around the plant, and placed them in the back of the yard where they should receive the needed 6-8 hours of sun a day.

in addition to one ancho pepper plant, i have two roma tomatoes, and four cherokee purples.  we decided to add some grape tomatoes, and i wanted to give something new and funky (for us at least) a try: a cream sausage tomato.

the buckets, along with all the other things i have in pots in preparation for the move, really make the yard look junkie, but, they are happily growing and i’m keeping my fingers crossed for homemade spaghetti sauce (the romas), and roasted tomato pie (the cherokee purples) prepared in our new kitchen late this summer.

April 24, 2012

my kale has started going to seed.  we usually eat it up rather quickly.  but this spring i just haven’t been harvesting it as often.

who knew that red russian kale produced such pretty little blossoms?

who knew that this kale,

this cole crop, whose cooked “aroma”  hangs in the kitchen for days afterward,

when combined with blue batchelor’s buttons that have self seeded,

could be

so

pretty?

 

April 7, 2012

lovely lettuces all in a row…

from back to front: red velvet, yugoslavian butterhead, and amish deer tongue.  i’ve worked on these since february.  we’ll probably consume them in about a week.   i definitely need more space….

March 20, 2012

10 ways to welcome spring…

in my part of the world it has gone from winter cold to very warm, very fast.  we almost seem to have bypassed spring and gone straight into early summer.  nevertheless these are some things i’m looking forward to doing this spring when we aren’t busy planning the building of and move to our farm:

  1. opening all the windows and airing out the house
  2. while the windows are open, giving the house a good clean from top to bottom
  3. washing, starching, and ironing the curtains so they look pretty when they catch the breeze from the open windows
  4. (so as not to focus completely on housekeeping) getting a pedicure and having my toes painted pink
  5. making deviled eggs
  6. going for long walks and taking in the blooming daffodils, tulips, dogwoods, and redbud trees
  7. planting a vegetable garden
  8. making a pretty spring wreath for the front door
  9. mowing the lawn, then sitting out on the back porch and enjoying the smell of the cut grass
  10. flying a kite

happy first day of spring!  what are your plans from now until summer?

March 7, 2012

pea sprout on a windy wednesday morning

Image

green arrow pea

March 2, 2012

the curse of the land (well my land at least)

when God told adam the ground was cursed to bring forth thorns and thistles i often wonder if this little plant was one of those thorns/thistles.

when i work the county extension office hotline about this time every year, i invariably get at least one call from a home owner wanting to know what all the green stuff is with little purple flowers invading the lawn.

i used to like those little purple flowers.  as a child, i gathered bouquets of them by the fistful regarding them as the loveliest of wildflowers.

but this is not a wildflower.

this ladies and gentlemen, this….is henbit.

i’m told it is called so because the hens love it for breakfast.  at the moment however, i have no hens to eat it so removing it is my responsibility.

it prefers cooler weather so it is always  the first to appear in masses in the spring, making a second unwanted appearance again in the fall.  because it grows before it is usually too warm for round-up it can be difficult to control, especially if one doesn’t treat one’s lawn with a pre-emergent herbicide.

the only way to get rid of it really, is to pull it out by hand.

honestly, i don’t mind so much.  i spent a lovely afternoon one recent sunday working hard to get one vegetable bed looking like this:

to looking like this.

it was unseasonably warm, the soil was moist, making for easy pulling and i love the smell of it as it is just starting to warm up.

in the end i had a wonderful pile ready for the compost bin.

and the chicken wire around the beds? that keeps this one out:

he, unfortunately loves beet greens and tomatoes.

if only he would acquire a taste for henbit.

February 16, 2012

farmette? or homestead?

last friday we became first time land owners.  we now own ten acres in a very small farming community with a population of less than 1,800.  we’ve spent the past several months dreaming, scheming, scratching out figures, drawing up floor plans, researching,  land shopping, then land shopping again (we had one false start), and finally closing out on a place we absolutely love.

the desire we’ve had for some time was to have a place where we could have a large garden, a few fruit trees, and some small livestock; a place that would basically become self-sustaining.  i use the word “self-sustaining” loosely because to some self-sustaining means that one crafts one’s bricks from the dirt in one’s yard – then uses said bricks to build one’s house.  that isn’t at all what i mean.  i mean self-sustaining in the sense that one simply grows and produces the majority of one’s own food but still unashamedly uses the grocery store from time to time  for staples.

last year when asked about our plans for an acreage i described it as “ a sort of homestead” .  i said “sort of” because our scenario doesn’t really fit that of the typical homestead: about 2-5 acres with a garden and some small livestock.  at the same time i couldn’t really say we were planning a  farm because your average farm consists of several hundred acres and a series of out buildings.  i later picked up the term “farmette”.  not only did it describe our situation to a “t” , but  i loved the sound of the word.  wiki describes a farmette as “a small residential farm run by an owner who earns income from a source other than the farm. “  farmettes typically are no more than fifty acres,  and contain a garden and some small livestock.

our farmette will feature ten acres and a pond, a small simple “starter home”, a single outbuilding to serve as a shop and garage, a honkin’ big garden,  and some small livestock.  for the sake of not getting too overwhelmed, we’ve divided our plan into three phases.  phase one: the actual purchase of the land already being completed.

the second part of our plan is to now build  our home. we’re starting out small and temporary (most likely).   i see this as the modern day equivalent to the sod houses and log cabins of our pioneer ancestors.   i’ve found that in starting out on the land  it is common to use a travel trailer, a mobile home, or in some cases even a yurt as a temporary residence while the permanent home is being built.  but my husband and i are not good at roughing it.  we hate camping.  we must have heat.  we must have running water.  so we’ve decided instead to build a small barn,  influenced by the traditional red barns seen in a children’s story book; and fit it out as a cottage.  it will be very, very simple but i still plan to give it some style.  my decor has evolved over the years, starting out very colefax and fowler, to  williamsburg colonial, now to modernish vintage country chic (is there such a thing?).  my hope is that when we open the front door to our  new home for the first time our reaction will be “this is gorgeous! let’s just stay here!” instead of “omg.  what on earth have we done!?”  once we have the home built we’ll put our current little house on the market, and move.  we’ll do a lot of landscaping (i’m thinking native perennials) and put in a kitchen garden similar in size to what we have now.  then we’ll purchase three chickens.

phase three will be to establish a very large garden, large enough to provide the majority of our produce with enough left over to freeze and can.  we have also toyed with the idea of growing enough to someday enter the farmer’s market arena as a small business.  the garden phase  will also include some apple trees and blackberry bushes.  then, we’ll  purchase a few more chickens.

if i’ve learned anything since we’ve started acting on our  plan, it is that things never go according to the plan.  so i’m trying to keep it all loose and just go with the flow.  should however, things actually go as planned, they may look a little something like this:

~ increase the chicken flock to provide adequate eggs and meat

~ add some ducks and turkeys to the mix; maybe geese if they will be nice

~look into the possibility of taking on small ruminants (dairy goats and sheep)

~ train the sheep to graze picturesquely on the front lawn.  ::sigh:: ok maybe not.

~mmmmmaaybe…raise a pig or two so we can have bacon with the eggs

~plant millions of daffodils on the slope below the pond

~toy with the idea of a dairy cow

~contemplate bee keeping

~dig out the pond a little deeper and see what it would take to stock it

and finally:

~build a new-to-look-old-white clapboard farmhouse depending on how much we like our barn cottage and whether or not we decide we need or even want anything more than that.

i know we’ll be crazy busy.  i know it will be a lot of work.  i know it will be a tremendous challenge, but it is a challenge we welcome and we can’t wait to get started.

as for timing?  i really don’t know.  we plan to start as soon as we can but i’m sure we’ll encounter some snags and delays along the way.   again, i plan to just try and go with the flow and in the words of tim gunn “make it work” regardless of what happens.