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

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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!

My Plan

I’ve been reading about anemia of course on the web all morning.  It’s amazing that there are so many reasons and so many different types of anemia.  Since I don’t have enough information yet, I’m going to work with my diet.  I found a wonder Herbal Tonic that I’ll fix up today…..hoping I have yellow dock root,opps, I know I don’ t have any molasses, so it looks like I need to stop at the Health Food Store before swimming class.

An iron-rich herbal tonic can also me made using the following recipe:

  • soak 1/2 oz of yellow dock root and 1/2 oz dandelion root in 1 qt of boiled water for four to 8 hours
  • strain and simmer until the amount of liquid is reduced to 1 cup
  • remove from heat and add 1/2 cup black strap molasses, mixing well
  • store in refrigerator; take 1 tsp-2 Tbsp daily

Here is a list of foods that I can focus on, even though I already eat lots of these, I’ll take my Crispy Almonds with me in the car and munch on them before and after swimming.

It’s really amazing that I haven’ t drowned!!!  Think about it.  How on earth have I had the energy to do water jogging for an hour, twice a week?  Maybe it’s a God thing!!!  I do love God things!

And good news on that front…not only did I drop 1 pants size, I can fit (uncomfortably) into another size down from that.  So, that’s 2 pant sizes!!!!!!!!!! Wahoo!  Now I know why they tell you not to look at the scale, but to measure by how your undies fit! 😀

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Hey I don’t see spinach on this list….isn’t spinach full of iron?  I cut a bunch from the garden for dinner.

Anyone who has anemia caused by poor nutrition should modify his or her diet to include more vitamins, minerals, and iron. Vitamin C can stimulate iron absorption. The following foods are also good sources of iron:

“Because light and heat destroy folic acid, fruits and vegetables should be eaten raw or cooked as little as possible.

Some examples of iron-rich herbs are dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), parsley (Petroselinum crispum), and nettle (Urtica dioica).”

My New Growing Challenge~Crows!

My trusty guard owl on the fence.

My growing challenge for this week is those DangBum Crows!!! I’ve been gardening since I was knee high to a grasshopper and I’ve never had crows! I’m not sure if it’s because our property now is grown and there are more places for the to roost???? I don’t know, but I do know they are a pain in my backside.

Poor corn

They have torn havoc on my corn and now they seem to think my little tiny pepper plants are for their pleasure also. If you remember, I started these peppers indoors this winter….my first growing challenge. Then it took forever, but they got in the ground. And, I’m not sure why, but these peppers just aren’t growing much, so they’ve gotten lots of TLC. Then I transplant them to a bigger space so they can reach out to the sun and grow. That’s when the crows came by and pulled a couple out of the soil. No, they didn’t eat them. They left them to die. 😦 They come in and bomb the plastic owl that’s perched there to protect my garden. It’s when I see Mr. Owl knocked over that I know the crows have been back.

I strung string around my little plants to give the crows a visual illusion!

It is working for the corn now….but it’s too late for the corn.

My tiny little pepper.

I finally bought a Jalapeño because I’m afraid when it’s time for Salsa, my little guys would still be growing.

Other than the crows everything else is growing splendidly! I’m very pleased with my little garden! 😀

Ariel view from the top of some cinder blocks.

The spinach is done. I saved one plant to try and salvage seeds. I’ve never done that, so here’s another Growing Challenge.

Spinach Seed Head

Beautiful bag of greens. They have been so good this year! I really love young kale.

Hair cuts for everyone. All the greens got cut off. They keep putting out though.

My last planting (3rd) of pole beans are really doing great. I think it’s the soil, they really are booming and I got the string up not a day too soon. They are grabbing for it and climbing.

My tomatoes are staked well. I have to keep them tied or they’ll take over the entire space.

Almost all my tomatoes are from volunteer seeds, only three were purchased from Cooks Garden.

Full beds means NO weeds!

My newest herb garden. The sage I started from seed are doing great as well as the borage.

The little fence is to keep the “Toto” dog Lady out. Even though she still manages to get in!

I tried casting lots of herb seeds on the soil this year. Not much produced though. I did get lovely Ca Poppies and I think these are Echinacea Purpurea. Does anyone know? I’ve had to wait on the weeds to grow, because I can identify them by site….but not herb seedlings.

My potatoes are really doing swell! They are big and I haven’t had a one potato bug!

Now lets pray there are potatoes under that ground!!! 😀