Winter Prep

By the time I roll out of bed in the morning, the temp’s have been in the low 40’s. And since my animals eat before I do….burrr baby it’s cold outside! This morning the steam was rising from the bovine girls into the crisp cool air. They’re starting to grow their winter coats getting ready for snow and ice. The dew has been very heavy, so I think it’s time to put the row covers over my raised beds just in case. I’d hate to lose my lettuce at this point. It’s good for at least another 3 months before it freezes under cover.

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The mullein needs a trim to fit inside the hoop. The spinach, beets and kale are up. I love kale in the winter for soups. I’m hoping these cold temps will give it a nice sweet taste. I’ve spotted a few Harlequin Bugs and have been squishing them. I better make sure they are all gone before I cover things up or they will do a number on my kale like they did last year. They suck the juice right out of plants in the Brassica family until they kill them. A soapy spray or pytrethrin will do the trick. Last year I used a mixture of Neem Oil and kitchen soap.

Harliquin Bug

Harlequin Bug

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I pulled the rest of the carrots and have been very very slow about sowing more seed. We might and we might not have carrots this winter.

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Most of the peepers have been picked. Although there are still a few growing. I had 4 volunteer pepper plants in last years bed and they all seem to be HOT!

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I will cover my Rosemary plants and pray that they make it again this year. If I do get my greenhouse built, I’ll pot them along with my Holy Basil and move them into the greenhouse for the winter. I love having lots of fresh dried herbs on hand for winter cooking. I buy my sausage from a local farmer and it’s plain ground pork so I can add my own seasoning of black pepper, salt and lots of freshly dried sage. I dry my herbs hanging them upside down in the cool, dry basement. Then placing them in a paper bag whole. I crush them when I’m ready to use them to keep their essential oils in tact.

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I picked out my choicest garlic from last years crop. Planting only 1/3 of what I ordered last year and using 16 Elephant cloves and 16 ??? I’m not sure what the other is….I know….a short pencil is better than a long memory. I didn’t mark them and I couldn’t remember what went where. I thought I planted them by alphabetical order….to help me remember…..but that didn’t work. I’ve plum forgot! Whatever they were, they are a nice medium compact bulb. The small variety didn’t do quite as well and that might of been the German that the company said they had some issues with. I don’t really care, when I chop it up and put it in a sauce no one cares what it’s called. If I end up passing it down or along to a friend, I guess it will get a new name….Peaceful Acres Garlic or something of that sort.

I guess we’re ready for old man winter. The dark days are coming. But I’ll enjoy the beauty that surrounds me now.

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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!

Counting Down

23 DAYS

That’s the number of days before spring arrives on March 20th! I count down every year, since March 20th is also my wedding anniversary!  OH, and don’t forget March 17th!!!!  That’s the date I plant potatoes.  Only 20 days till then!!!

What a gorgeous day we had in Maryland today. The wind finally stopped blowing frigid air and I think it got up to 50*F. I put on my light weight barn jacket that I got in the thrift store some 15 years ago (man was that a steal-Eddie Bauer $1.00 all because of one little hole) and headed for the shed. With shovel and rack in hand I picked up the wheel barrow and moved several loads of wonderful black gold—compost to the garden! I noticed my blueberry bush was bursting with buds.

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The picture doesn’t do it justice. It really is a lovely black.

Since I didn’t get my garden beds cleaned up in the fall due to an episode of Hemolytic Anemia, today was the day. My energy levels have been excellent and I’m so grateful to the Lord for each and every day.

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Before

After a couple trips to the new compost pile in the chicken yard, I was finished. In 3 hrs I raked and cleaned up the pea gravel, moved 3 wheel barrow loads of rubbish, turned 4 beds, added composted dirt to 2 beds and took down the split rail fence I was using for a trellis.

Not bad.

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After

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I even sat in my pink chair and enjoyed the view.

I’ve got to get out my book, Carrots love Tomatoes so I can figure out where to plant this year. I do know that the corn is going where the potatoes were and visa versa. The tomatoes are going where i grew carrots this winter. I’m not sure about the rest. Oh and I think that I’ll plant some more sweet potato slips in the compost pile! The ones I threw away did great in there last year. Doesn’t that just figure.

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Amazing how these fragile paper shells made it through a harsh winter of snow and ice.

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And I kept hearing a faint cry in the distance, “are ya done yet? huh, huh???”

Growing Challenge Update

I’m not really sure what week I’m suppose to be on with The Growing Challenge, but I sure have been motivated and busy. I’ve actually been so busy I haven’t had time to blog. Wow! That’s truly amazing and truly a miracle! God has been blessing me with absolute, divine health and every day I’m truly grateful.

This morning I was awake with the dawn…however I didn’t rise until nearly an hour later….Oh the life of an empty nester!!! During these years of resting, I’ve learned to do just that; rest. What’s the hurry? We live in such a fast paced society just outside of Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. Even the slow lane is fast. So, when I can, I rest….BUT today was not a day of rest….thank goodness tomorrow IS!

I pulled weeds in my garden and went to our local garden store. I bought lots of herbs that I couldn’t grow from seed and a few annuals for potting. I’m really very much a perennial girl. I prefer plants that can stand on their own once they get established. It’s that leaky memory I have and if I have to water it then it usually dies. Honey finished the two boxes that he started lasts weekend before he had his little accident. Thank God, his eye is fine and he hasn’t given it any thought. In my quest to make room for the two boxes I decided to push the fence back further for…..well….. two more!!!! Honey built them without my even asking. So, now I have to fill them with dirt and get them planted in a snap. I got the sweet potato boxes filled with peat, sand & vermiculite. Hopefully they will be happy there. I still need to put in a couple posts and string them up for the vines to climb. BUT for today, I’m finished, I’m exhausted and it feels soooo GOOD! 🙂

I planted 100 onion & leeks

onions & leeks

My kitchen garden of herbs

Borage & Basil seedlings….not too big yet

new annuals to plant

lots of new herbs to use as medicinal and culinary, not to mention beauty