Posts tagged ‘vegetables’

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.

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 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.

January 16, 2012

it’s about that time…

if you are planning to start a garden in the spring and haven’t already purchased your seeds now would be the time!

in just a few weeks it will be time to sow the cool weather crops, and in a few more weeks, it will be time to start the warm weather crops indoors to be set out after the last hard frost.

this year to keep things simple i purchased all of my seeds from one source: the seed savers exchange.  founded in 1975, the sse is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of heirloom seeds.  i have ordered from them for the past four years and have always been very satisfied.  i placed my order just before christmas and am chomping at the bit to get started.

i will be sticking with a lot of our old favorites that we look forward to year after year such as the amish deer tongue lettuce; but i did add a few new things to try.  among other things: romanesco broccoli.

this is a very new venture for me.  i tried rapini once (not exactly broccoli, but close enough) with no success.  i want to try again before moving on, and i loved the look of this italian heirloom variety.

if you are going seed shopping for the first time here are a few things to remember:

~ grow what you like to eat.

~ learn what varieties grow well in your area and start with those.  if you are unsure about what to choose, contact your county extension office.

~ lettuces are very simple to grow and do well in containers if you don’t have a lot of space in your yard.

~ keep it simple and keep it small.

you can read more about beginning gardening here.

next week: how to read a seed packet.

January 3, 2012

reflections

i suppose this is the sort of post one publishes on january 1 but i consider this first week of the year still early enough to reflect upon the last year and set goals for the year to come.   as i said before, i’m not much of a resolutions sort of person, i like to set goals: reasonable goals that i can actually accomplish.  it isn’t very often that i reach every goal on the list so it is frequently added to the list again :sigh: in hopes that someday i will actually make it.  this past year was one of those years where a few on the list will be added again in hopes of possibly being able to cross them off this time next year.  2011 knocked me off my feet and not really in a good way.  we experienced some major set backs and major disappointments that we are still working through – many of my goals  simply had to be set aside for one reason or another.  so, looking back at 2011:

1. complete our dossier in a reasonable amount of time.  at the time of writing this goal we haven’t yet talked with the family coordinator from our agency so i don’t know what constitutes “reasonable amount of time”.  i would though like to have it done by spring.  if you have no earthly idea what i am talking about see the link to my other blog on the sidebar of this page and read the “our news” post.

the link on the sidebar is no longer there as our plans to adopt fell through.  i followed up with this on a post entitled “the other blog” which is tacked up on my home page.

2. by the end of ’11 i would like a place for everything and everything in its place.  this will require better time management on my part.

wayall….we’re still working on this one but i can say that my kitchen is pretty well organized.

3. continue working to establish our potager (a potager is a fancy word for kitchen garden.  i used to throw it out there periodically to show off and then discovered i wasn’t pronouncing it correctly).  i would love it if we could purchase less and less produce from the store and use more and more from our garden.

yes!  this we did accomplish and were even able to grow veggies year ’round.  i have cabbage, lettuce, and brussels sprouts happily growing along out there.

4. run the john 3:16 10k with a better finish time than last year.

5. complete the st. paddy’s day 5k in less than 32 min and 27 sec.

6. depending on whether or not we travel abroad to meet little one and when we could potentially travel, run the 15k tulsa run in october.

due to some ongoing health issues i’m still dealing with my running was very sporadic this year so the 5k, 10k, and 15k were out of the question.  this was a big disappointment for me.

7. show some things on etsy and hopefully sell them.  this is another repeat from last year which was a repeat from the year before.  we’re getting there.  at least now i know what i want to show, it is just a matter of executing it.

…aaaand this is another that had to be set aside in order to deal with set backs.  sooooo…..

goals for 2012 (in no particular order of importance)

1. show somethings on etsy and hopefully sell them.

2. start making a quilt for our queen size bed.  someone gave me a series of quilt patterns as a wedding gift and i have never made one.  my grandmother made lots of quilts, and i always wanted to follow in her footsteps but i’ve just never done it.  a quilt seems ridiculously ambitious in light of this potentially being a very busy year for us (more on that later on) but i’m afraid if i don’t just jump in and do it, it will never get done.  we need a new bedspread, this is a great opportunity to start.

3.  i want to be more punctual.   i always seem to be running 5-15 minutes behind and have no excuse for it other than i spent too much time on facebook or was having a bad hair day.

4. begin to increase our garden space to about 4,750 square feet (including paths).  are you shocked?  yes, this can be done. i’m stoked.

5. purchase three chickens.

6. while i would absolutely love to run that 15k in october, proceeded by a series of 5 and 10k’s; i’m just not sure that this will be the year so i’m not going to mark it as a goal.  i would however like to commit to regular exercise whether that be yoga, walking, or light jogging.

….and once again

7. have a place for everything and everything in its place.  that actually may happen this year, as i may not have much of a choice.

i like having seven goals.  seven is a perfect number.

what are your goals for the upcoming year?