Busy, Busy, Busy

I told Honey last night as we laid in bed….”I can’t wait till I get to take a rest.”  He guffawed!!!!  I said, “yea, it’s not happenin, is it?”  He guffawed some more!
Adding more raised beds has bed a ton of work.  And I mean a ton!!! OR two tons to be exact.  I’ve moved 2 tons of dirt to fill 4 boxes that are 4×12.  That’s a lot of dirt!

The topsoil that we have gotten in the last few yrs turned out to be full of weed seeds.  Looking at my two full beds looked as if I’d planted them.  But instead they were full of weeds.  It made me sick.  Our plan was to scoop off the top of the two full beds and fill the bottoms of the two empty beds.  Then to buy bagged topsoil from WalMart for $1 a bag!  That was a deal…not only was it manageable, but it is weed free.  Then I added Peat and Leaf Gro and hoed only the top layer.  I amend it so that I will have lots of these little buys!

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We’re hoping that this works.  The best part of raised beds has been minimal weeds. So you can see how this really defeated the purpose.

I worked the back two beds first so that I could get the corn and green beans planted.  I put one row or Mama Lima in the next bed as a center row.  Once my corn is up in the back box, I’ll plant three more rows in the Mama Lima box for the Mama Lima’s to climb on the corn.

My India Eggplant arrived from Cook’s Garden along with Godfather Peppers.  I can’t remember if the Godfather are hot or not.  I didn’t have much success growing peppers from seed last year and that was my reason for order a few.  But, I had huge success this year and I think I have about 9 pepper plants from seed.

I put my tomatoes in on Monday, along with some Marigolds.

My peas are doing great and the branches seem to be working great for them to climb.

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I had to thin the beets and carrots which is extremely painful for me.  I just hate pulling a perfectly good plant out of the ground.  I actually apologize to the little guys as I’m pulling….I know weird….I get that from my mom’s side of the family!

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I saved the beet green and will either cook them with other greens or we’ll eat them in a salad.

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I thinned the Mangels.

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Berries are growing!

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I use our old mailbox atop of several cinder blocks to hold things that I always wish I had when I’m in the garden….my favorite hand tools (since that’s all that’s needed for raised beds), a couple pair of gloves, twine, a good sharp paring knife, a marker and whatever else I can fit.  Then I use the blocks as you can see to hold my phone and camera….just so you know….I don’t always take my phone to the garden.  I go there for peace and take breaks in my favorite pink chair!

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I’ve been dampening off my tiny herb plants and will transfer them to a save location in the garden and then transplant them later when they are hardier.

I direct sowed Mother Wort, Calendula, St John’s Wort….????…..I bought a couple scented Geraniums, Lemon Verbena, and this lovely little perennial called a Wallflower.

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I love how delicate the flowers are.

Yesterday, I attached all the insulators on the posts for the electric fence….yea, the bovines didn’t make it last weekend.  I requested a special test that took a good couple weeks, BUT they are scheduled to arrive on Sunday because all the tests came back negative except for the important one; the pregnancy is of course positive……and as the saying goes, “Good Lord willin and if the creek don’t rise!”

Last night Honey ran the IntelliTwine.

AND if that’s not enough…..

Sweet Girl arrived home on Mother’s Day.

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A big hug from Ben.

So today is another mental health day.  I’m off to do a little pottery and give my aching back and feet a break!

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Winter Gardening

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Honey built these wonderful garden tunnels/greenhouses for me before we went to NC on vacation in Oct. I was anxious to see if the seed that I’d sown was up when we arrived home. Sure enough it was. Of course all the plants including the lettuce are cold hardy. The lettuce is more beautiful than what I grow in the spring. I found a few of the harlequin bugs and smashed them on the spot. Then I sprayed well with Neem.

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I’m really glad that my Rosemary will not be killed by the freezing temps and my German Chamomile looks gorgeous!

In this bed we have Purple Mustard Greens, Winter Kale, Rosemary, Chamomile, Lettuce and Carrots.

It seems as if the moisture from the ground is coming up in the boxes and it’s nice and humid inside. I still need to rig up some black painted containers of water to retain the daytime heat for the cold winter months to come.

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In the other bed we have beets and spinach.

We had some Kansas winds blow through Maryland yesterday and as Dorothy & Toto were flying by the window, I looked out to see one plastic sheet come off. It mostly stayed in tact,and was only pulled half way off. After the front pushed though, Honey rigged it better with some cinder blocks and hopefully it will hold up this winter. I’ll have to be sure to brush the snow off when I go out to milk Butter Cupp and pick-up eggs! I’m really not a lover of the cold months but it looks like I’m gonna have to get used to it.

It’s looking more and more like we will soon be on the 100 Yard Diet. More than 80% of our food will come from our backyard! Our footprints will be from the house to the barnyard and the garden! It’s a good feeling to know that we can raise our own food and to know what went into producing it.

I’m so grateful to the Lord that He provides for all of our needs.

Isaiah 55:2

“Listen, listen, eat what is good and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.”

I recommend “Four-Season Harvest” by Eliot Coleman

Fall Gardening

St Francis of Assisi

It is said that St Francis of Assisi preached to the birds of the air saying;

“My sister birds, you owe much to God, and you must always and in everyplace give praise to Him; for He has given you freedom to wing through the sky and He has clothed you…you neither sow nor reap, and God feeds you and gives you rivers and fountains for your thirst, and mountains and valleys for shelter, and tall trees for your nests. And although you neither know how to spin or weave, God dresses you and your children, for the Creator loves you greatly and He blesses you abundantly. Therefore… always seek to praise God.”

This is not much different than what Jesus taught in Matthew 6:25-27:

25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[b]?

Scripture also reminds us that all of creation knows it’s Creator.

I find my time in the garden one of great peace and tranquility. I suppose it’s because I see the hand of my Creator God everywhere I look. To imagine that a tiny mustard seed can spring up out of the hard clods of dirt and produce a beautiful crop of greens, how can one not believe in Creator God? To see the earth worm wiggle his way into the soil and create for me a rich bed that I had no part in, how can one not believe in Creator God? To listen as the Canadian Geese migrate south every winter and sing choruses of praise to Creator God, how can one not believe?

I didn’t get the grass cut, but I did clean out my garden for a couple hours. My back is not happy about the pulling and tugging I did and it has given out on me again. I managed to plant several beds of fall crops that will be protected by my new winter tunnels.

I planted Winter Kale, Beets, Osaka Purple Mustard, and Perpetual Spinach. Our night time temps will remain above freezing for at least another week. I hope with some good sunny days these seeds will germinate and will grow with some protection. I’ll place 5 gallon buckets painted black inside the tunnels to help generate some heat especially during the cold winter months.

I cleared enough beds to plant my garlic crop. It will be ready to harvest in the spring. So, it’s my plan to use that space for a rotating crop. I’m not sure which one that will be right now. But I’ve got a lot of time to figure it out. I plan to start my tomatoes very early indoors for an earlier tomato season next year. And God willing, with my health holding out and improving over the winter, I’ll enlarge my borders!!!

That reminds me of a great prayer that has “infected” my life. The prayer of Jabez. “Lord, bless me indeed. Enlarge my borders and may Your hand always be with me. Keep me from evil so I do not cause pain.” And God granted Jabez’s request. I’ve been praying this prayer from II Chronicles for 9 years now and I’ve seen incredible miracles of God’s blessings and His enlarging my borders.

My kale that this little bug ate to nothin.

Anybody know what this bug is??? Mary????

Thankfully he didn’t eat my spinach. I planted 3 more rows.

And he didn’t eat my beet greens. I planted 2 more rows.

Nor my carrots.

Thank goodness not my lettuce! It’s these top two beds that will have tunnels to protect my winter greens.

I only planted a small row of green beans in August. I wish I’d planted 2 more. The pole beans are looking great, but I don’t think they have time to grow beans before winter.

Here’s a nice big leek. I pulled a bunch and used them in some chicken soup.

I got this bed cleaned out from the climbers. Cuc’s, melons and even a few onions. The onions remaining are heirlooms and I’m going to cover them with straw and hopefully they will winter over just fine.

My sweet Italian and Hungarian peppers are still turning red. I’ll leave them until the first threat of frost.

Plus lots of Jalapeño that have turned red. I’m not sure what to do with all of them.

It was pulling the corn stalks that did my back in…but it looks nice now and I’ll probably put my garlic here.

The leeks are suppose to winter over in the garden. Some of them are rotting, so I’ll just pull them up and cover the rest with straw.

The biggest mess in my book is cleaning up the tomatoes. I saved seeds from all of them. So I can just compost the mess and be done with it. And then next year, just like this year, I’ll have a lovely crop in my compost bins!

I can’t wait to harvest my sweet potatoes out of the compost boxes. They are amazing. And to think that I threw the left over slips in there and the ones I lovingly planted in the garden died.

Again, it points to Creator God!!!!

Fall Harvests in Zone 7

Red Skin Potatoes

I planted 4 red skin potatoes from my local health food store on 8-4-08. I’d never planted a fall crop of potatoes and in fact I didn’t know that I could until my Mom mentioned it. Boy am I glad I did. I really am not too impressed with the “seed” Purple Majesty that I bought. They didn’t produce a very large crop. My greatest success with potatoes has come from purchasing “seed” potatoes from my local health food store and cutting them into 4-6 pieces each with an eye.

These are probably the most lovely potatoes I’ve ever grown. And I’ve been gardening for almost 30 years. Some are at least 3-4 inches in diameter. I think I have at least 10 lbs. In a 5 gallon bucket it filled it 1/3 full.

I’m really happy with these babies. And they taste so deliciously sweet. We had some the other night fried in coconut oil for my birthday dinner. Mmmmm

I planted spinach, kale, mustard greens, lettuce, carrots and beets also around 8-4-08, and they are doing well. Except for the kale and mustard. Some nasty little bug ate them to nubbins! I think it looks like a potato bug. I sprinkled some diatomateous earth but it didn’t phase them. They are still there looking for yummy food to eat. They didn’t touch the spinach. Hummm that makes me think whatever they are they like the cruciferous family. ????? I’ll have to get out the neem. I’m going to replant the mustard, kale and more spinach this AM. Hopefully my row covers will be here at the first of the week and I can get my little hoops made. It will be so nice to be able to have our own greens this winter.

Yesterday, is my unofficial first frost date. I use birthdays to do my frost dates. Ben’s b-day is May 16-last frost, mine is Oct 16-first frost. At least even if life is throwing me some curve balls like it’s been doing lately I have something that will ring a bell in my dense fog. I’m thankful that we’ve had a mild autumn. It’s only been really cold for a few days at a time. The grass hasn’t slowed down one bit. I’ve been cutting 5 acres every week since spring and I’m really tired of it.

So, here I go on another, hopefully my last, mowathon! I’ll see you again tomorrow. Cause this will take the good part of 4 hrs to complete…that doesn’t even include things like trimming, which usually doesn’t get done! I’m just too tired when me & John are finished with all this grass…John Deere that is!

Gardening in August~Zone 7

I was reading in the magazine Organic Gardening that when the hot summer temps are over 85 it’s hard for the plants to produce fruit and so they start to peter out. One suggestion was to place old screens over them to provide shade and to help cool things down a bit. So, I found some old screens in the basement and they are being put to some very good use.

We’ve had a remarkable wet spring and summer until a week ago. I had to water yesterday and today, hoping to get my new seeds up.

These are my Indian Eggplant which are really doing great and I just love them. These are the little kind I would eat in India. I fix them the way that they did for us. Heat a skillet with EVOO and add bite size pieces of eggplant, a chopped up tomato, onion, and lots and lots of garlic. Throw in salt, cayenne and some brown mustard seed.

YUM!

This is especially good with Dahl and rice.

Today, I finished planting my seeds for a fall harvest.

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Beets, Red Skin Potatoes, Pole Beans

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Osaka Purple Mustard, Perpetual Spinach, Kuroda Organic Carrots, Kale Winterbor Hyrbid, Fall & Winter Lettuce Mix

Today:

I harvested the remainder Carrots, Beets & Tops, Cut the Kale back, Butter Beans, tiny handful of Green Beans, and Pulled 5 leeks for soup-leeks can winter over in garden.

The watermelon are spreading all over, even climbing up the corn. I have about 6 on the vine with babies popping up everyday. The lopes are also doing great. I think I counted 6.

The idea of growing vertical was a good one, it’s just the idea of using pantyhose to hang the melons wasn’t!

Those tangbum things are like girdles and the melons wouldn’t even fit in a leg….how on earth did I at one time wear them???? I was trying to hang a bowling ball size melon and it fell off…I nearly cried. What a waste, so no more torturing my melons with pantyhose.

One of my Growing Challenges was the pepper plants. I started them from seed which took several tries. Once they started they only grew about 2 inches and then wouldn’t grow anymore. I thought putting them in the ground would help, but I think I discovered that they need pretty warm soil. I was scared that they wouldn’t make it so I bought one Jalepeno plant. As you can see they are ALL the same size now as the bought Jalepeno.

Good Job.

I lost count of the Sweet Italian and Sweet Hungarian. From the looks of it they are all Sweet Hungarian.

The volunteer Zinnia’s have taken over the front corner as usual. I just can’t bring myself to pull a volunteer and throw it away.

I love it when the Butterflies & Bumble Bees grace my garden. It makes me want to open shop right there and then.

I’ve decided that as long as my health holds up, I need to double my garden next year.

Shhhh, don’t let Honey here that….I’ll spring it on him next spring!