Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Kids Built a Fort

They got really motivated to make this yesterday. They were outside playing and then came in to get us to see their fort they were building. We had a lot of scraps leftover from making the chicken coop and chicken tractors. It of course needed a flag.

Little Chick Carnage?

It looks kind of bad doesn't it? Like maybe a soccer ball rolled on through and knocked them all over.

It was just a lot of excitement over a great spot for a big group dust bath though.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Their Majesties

The girls like dressing up as princesses a lot. Eudora will curtsey to Emmeline and say, "Your Majesty!" Emmeline will curtsey back and say, "I Majesty!" I love it. 

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Peas and Potatoes

Our sugar snap peas and potatoes are looking great. We have also started to pick a few peas from the back garden over the last few days.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My Mother's Day garden fun

I got these on Mother's Day. I had wanted an old fashioned climbing rose but it never even occurred for me to have any hopes of finding a Cecile Bruner. I love them and bought one as a teen. The ONLY old fashioned climbing rose I found was able to find was a Cecile Bruner. We are going to plant this one between the kitchen window and kitchen door and train it to climb over the top of both. 

I also got some lantana. Isaac overheard me saying how much I loved them and put them in my cart and said he wanted to get them for me. He's such a sweet little boy. I also got some lovage, golden marjoram and a giant lamb's ears. The fun stuff is I found a delicious chocolate mint, rose scented geraniums and an apple scented eucalyptus. 

That's the same trip I picked out all the seeds for the fairy garden. You'd think the cashier at a Pike's Nursery wouldn't feel the need to gasp over the amount of seed someone bought! 

There's just something about being a mother. You find that you've changed and that you find yourself thinking about your children all the time even when it's supposed to be "your" time. I can't pick out seeds and plants without constantly thinking about my children and what they would like to look at, pick and taste. 

Our biggest worm ever

The boys had just gone across the street to my parents to dig for worms to go fishing and then their daddy unearthed this in the garden. I promise it was at least 18 in long when it was relaxed. 

Some recent pictures

A fairy garden

That's what we are calling it anyway. I was thinking of a sunflower house for the kids. But those giant sunflowers don't bloom long. I thought I'd just carve a section out of this bed in front of the house but we ended up going with just about the whole thing. There is a separate row of pole limas on the left and a row of tomatoes and tomatillo on the right. But the rest of it will be a kind of hidden garden. Hopefully. 

We are growing morning glories, moonflower, cypress vine and hyacinth beans up the poles. The outside of the garden is planted in a variety of sunflowers, borage and four o'clocks plus hollyhocks that will hopefully bloom next year. With the poles or "gothic arches" as we are calling them covered in vining flowers and the sunflowers filling in around them it should be a wall of flowers to play inside of. And next year the hollyhocks will help fill in even more. Closer to the inside of the garden bed is a mix of: chamomile, nasturtiums, blacked eyes susans, multicolored carrots (why not?), two colors of larkspur, bells of Ireland, russel lupines and bachelor buttons. Isaac's really excited about the chamomile to make tea with. 

Fintan has worked hard to gather all those rocks on his own that he placed in the entryway. He seemed to think we needed them. He's spent a lot of time wandering the yard and woods looking for rocks. I was mostly planning to level out the center of the garden though and put straw on it. We can put some chairs in it too. 

The birds love it so far too. We've noticed that any time we stick something tall out in the middle of the yard they flock to it. We are thinking about putting several bird houses out there in the garden for them. 

So there's the new garden! I am so excited about it. I hope it grows well and is a fun magical place for the kids. I'd like to improve the entrance this fall and put a real arbor over it that we could plant a climbing rose to climb on and maybe have a little door in it. 

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Independance Days

I first read about Independance Days from Carla Emery's book, The Encyclopedia of Country Living. Last year after doing some rereading in Carla's book I read through her part on independence days and then the very next day ran across it on Sharon Astyk's blog.  Sharon is inviting everyone to join in and share about their own attempts for Independence Days. I'd highly recommend reading her post on this. I'll be attempting to follow along and note what we accomplish here. I think I probably need separate goals called "weed something" or "water something". There is so much to be done between plant and harvest. 

Sharon's take on it is a little different than Carla's but here are her 7 goals: 

1. Plant something 

2. Harvest something

3. Preserve something

4. Reduce waste

5. Preparation and Storage

6. Build Community Food Systems

7. Eat the Food

Saturday, May 2, 2009

May 2nd

Let's see. In the vegetable garden we have:

replanted eggplant

two 45ft rows of tomatoes planted

lima poles in and the lima beans are planted

charentais melon planted

super zagross middle eastern cucumber planted- crazy name!

costata romanesca zucchini planted

gentry summer squash planted

In the bed behind the kitchen door I got my stevia plants planted. The kids love to nibble on herbs in the garden and herbs growing wild. Well the super sweet stevia is a huge hit around here!

I also got a bunch of seeds planted in the bed across the front of the chicken coop and run. They are:

blue spire larkspur

mammoth russian sunflowers

indian spring hollyhocks

purple petra basil

anise hyssop

maiden pinks

victoria pink forget-me-nots


Eudora helped me pick out some seeds on my birthday and she went a little crazy. I couldn't tell her no. I have so much that still has to be planted. I am thinking about planting an entire garden row in zinnias. I have a variety of green, lavendar, purple and white zinnias. I need a lot of flowers out there for the children. They pick some every day, always bringing me and their Yaya more bouquets. It's awfully sweet but I was not happy when they nearly wiped out my sweet williams yesterday. You should hear how Eudora pronounces sweet william. It's so cute. 

I am really thrilled with how helpful all the children are in the garden. They are really starting to pull their weight this year. David Benjamin thinks he's awfully grown up wielding a hoe. And I wish I'd had my camera out there this evening when Emmeline rounded the corner of the house following her Daddy in her little lavendar sun dress and her arms full of tomato plants. She looked so sweet. She just wants to help and do what everyone else is doing. 

Thursday, April 30, 2009


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The plan for April 29th

replant some eggplant

plant turnips in raised bed-DONE

plant scallions in raised bed-DONE

plant Blue Hubbard squash-DONE

plant Waltham Butternut squash-DONE

plant Rouge Vif d’∆ítampes pumpkins-DONE

plant Sweet Dakota Rose watermelon-DONE

make tomato and lima bean poles- some done

We also ended up hilling up most of the potatoes. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

April 28th

So today's plan was to:

prepare two rows for tomatoes-DONE

prepare bed for sweet potatoes and plant-DONE

plant cilantro-DONE

plant parsely-DONE

plant swiss chard-DONE

replant some of the eggplant-

You can see what we did and did not do. The sweet potatoes look great. I can just picture the vines as they'll look this summer. I also did a lot of watering. And I strung up about half of the twine for the peas. 

I need to come up with my goals for tomorrow. This might be a nice way to help keep me accountable as well as remember what I planted when.

We have so much planting to do!

This is in the front yard looking away from the house. 

This is looking towards the house. That small square on the upper left corner is the same plot in the first picture. This is a strip you are looking at that is about 15 ft wide and goes around the top of the hill otherwise known as our front yard. You can't see all of it in the picture but it goes all the way around and evens up with the front of that square plot above. In the front of the long strip facing the house we are planting sweet potatoes and the rest of it will be corn. 

On the other side of this strip is the hugelkultur bed we are still building. In front of that however we have prepared a row of hill gardens and are going to be planting watermelons, pumpkins and a couple of different winter squash. They will have plenty of room to just trail down the hill between the fruit trees or over the hugelkultur bed. I have a few others beds not pictured for cucumbers and hopefully some more watermelon. 

Here is the front end of the gardens on the side of the house. The peppers are too small to be seen in front of this first row of sugar snap peas. To the right I currently have royal burgundy beans and swiss chard planted. Those are the potatoes in the back ground.

The side gardens. These are two rows of potatoes here. The row to the right is okra but it's not up yet. The next two rows aren't planted yet. I am thinking I'll do the back row in zinnias and cosmos. 

This is the back garden. You can't tell from this distance but it has 4 rows of peas in the back, then a row of eggplant, two rows of a variety of peppers, a row of haricot verts and a row of crowder peas. David just finished preparing two rows in the front for tomatoes and tomatillos..after I took this picture. 

Isn't Emmeline a little doll? She thinks she is so big.

Poultry Pics

Here's a broody hen with 18 eggs she is guarding greedily. We moved her to her own broody suite. I hope she doesn't give up on setting the eggs. It would be so much fun to have our hens start to hatch their own eggs. 

Some of our newest batch of chicks in a new chicken tractor. We are planning on selling most of them. But we'll keep a few. They are mostly Buff Orpingtons, Barred Rocks and Americaunas.

Eudora is showing us the feather stuck on her thumb. The lesson is to never eat squished up marshmellows and then gather eggs. 

The ducks. They have no leader and they need one. They are terribly sweet but skittish and can't do anything on their own. They have to do whatever the others are doing so they do very little. There is just a lot of moving in a group and snuggling as a group. If you get one separated they do their darndest to get back in a group. The chickens have a little more self confidence. Our last group of ducks didn't act this way. But one of them was their leader and they followed that duck around. These ducks just can't get their act together. 

Turkey Lurkeys. Very very dumb but hopefully very tasty.

Can I brag?

This is some of the Yugoslavian Red Butterhead Lettuce I planted last fall. I am so thrilled with it. It's just beautiful. It's on the menu tonight.

Friday, April 24, 2009

April 24th

We got the Czech Black Hot Peppers planted today in one of the raised beds. They have a nice deep purple black color in the leaves. I went ahead and planted 4 short rows of Royal Burgundy Beans next to them. The Sugar Snap Peas look wonderful and we got the screws put in on the trellises. We just need to thread the twine next. 

The two 50 ft rows of potatoes behind them look gorgeous. I love the thick fleshy potato vines. I am going to need to hill them up in the next week. I can't wait to see just how many potatoes we can get. I've never had much luck with potatoes but I have never actually hilled them up before because I kept persisting in believing the fairy tales of just covering them in straw. "If you toss it they will come." 

Emmeline had a blast outside today finding bugs while I planted. There was a lot of squeals of laughter. At one point she was looking on the ground and I asked her what she was doing.  She responded with, "I need bugs". She was carrying a large ant for a while and chasing a spider at one point. I am a little concerned that she'll pick anything up. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Got some planting done today

It's starting to look nice out there. I have felt so lethargic this spring but am starting to really feel motivated to work in the garden.  

We got a 45 ft row of Masai Haricots Verts planted. I love green beans. I can't wait. 

I also have Provider Bush Beans and some Bush Romanos to eventually plant. My mom's favorite are Romanos so I got those for her as well. 

We also planted a 45 ft row of some brown crowder peas that I picked up from the feed and seed on my birthday. I don't know much more about them. Fedco Seeds is where I ordered this spring and they don't have any southern peas if I recall correctly. 

I also got two 45 ft rows of peppers planted. I have Klari Baby Cheese Sweet Pepper, Sweet Pimento Sweet Pepper, Jimmy Nardello's Sweet Pepper, Chocolate Sweet Pepper and Czech Black Hot Pepper. Yum.  

I am feeling overwhelmed about all I bought. I always do. David's the calm and rational one. He reminded me that I can just put aside what I can't grow now and do it next year.  

All the work I spent mulching our 4 rows of bush peas was for naught. The straw was full of wheat seed. Nice healthy wheat seed. It's coming up great. David just hoed out 2 rows and we had 2 other full bales that we broke up and tossed in with the chickens. They can eat the seed and fertilize the hay and then I can used it later in the garden. It's so frustrating to work hard and have something screw up though. Grr. 

We did find a guy locally that will deliver those large round bales directly to our house. What he has currently does have seed in it. But he says he's getting some without seed in this weekend.  

We lost track of time though and spent THREE hours hoeing and getting 4 rows planted though. And I had already prepared the holes for one of those rows of peppers last night. This is why I have to mulch. We just don't have the time or energy to weed that much land on our own. And I think I have a few thousand square feet of garden space this year. Actually I think we have at least 3,000 square feet if I take into account the herb garden but don't count all the fruit trees shrubs we just planted.  

The potatoes are coming up well though. And growing fast. I'll need to go hill them up soon. The bush peas in the back garden are doing ok but they didn't come up as well as the sugar snap peas in the raised beds. Oh boy I can't wait for sugar snap peas. Isaac was just telling me while I was planting the crowder peas how he wanted a garden with even more sugar snap peas. "I'll get 50 bags. Are you impressed with that?" LOL  

Eudora did such a great job helping me in the garden too. She was so cute. She carried a little bucket of the home made "Complete Organic Fertilizer" and would dump a scoop in each hole I dug. Then she carried the pepper plants in her bucket for me and had to help plant them. She did a surprisingly good job. They kids are very excited about the Chocolate Sweet Peppers and the Klari Baby Cheese Sweet Peppers. I hope they aren't disappointed when they find they taste of neither chocolate or cheese!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I didn't realize it had been so long since I posted

I am currently overwhelmed with all our plans in the garden. I just planted 100 row feet of potatoes. Yesterday I planted 32 ft of Sugar Snap Peas up 2 trellises David built for me on our new raised beds. We have two 48 foot long raised beds now. In the back garden we have four 40 foot rows of bush peas planted. We are trying to grow as much as we can in large quantities.

I didn't start a large variety of seeds this year. But we started a large number. We have Rosa Bianca Eggplant, a variety of heirloom tomatoes and peppers including a Chocolate pepper that appears to have a really crummy germination rate. I also start a few dozen rainbow swiss chard. And we also have tomatilloes. Our tomatilloes last year just made delicious salsa verde. We want to make a lot of that and can it this year. 

I got a canner the end of last summer and have been experimenting with it over the winter. It definitely takes some time to feel comfortable with it. I recently canned a lot of dried beans. Dried beans are so much cheaper than canned so we never buy canned. But it gets old having to soak them before each use or soak and freeze and then thaw bags of them. So this will be a convenience food. 

I have my two sweet little girls laying here next to me. They are watching Cinderella. Eudora says she plans to marry a prince when she grows up. LOL 

David is on a planting spree right now. We have planted or are planting now apples, pears, figs, mulberries, kiwi, juneberry, currants, blueberries, autumn olive, cherries, strawberries and asparagus. We also just cut down a tree today that will be inoculated with Shitake mushroom spawn. I can't wait. I've always wanted to grow mushrooms.

Our chickens are laying well. They had been averaging about 9 eggs a day but that has gone up recently with as much as 13 in a day. With the amount we spend on feed that comes to between .50 and .66 per dozen. We are able to feed them pretty cheaply because they eat all our scraps. 

Next week we have a poultry order shipping the day after my birthday. It's a whopping 77 birds. We are getting mostly chickens but several ducks and turkeys as well. We'd love to raise our own Christmas and Thanksgiving turkey with a couple more for the freezer. And the ducks, well we have had ducks before and they are just adorable. We have a spot for a nice little pond back by the chicken coop that we plan to excavate for them. I'd like to get a rain water catchment system set up on the coop roof that redirects to the pond only a couple of yards a way to keep it filled. The pond will also double as a water storage system for the garden. 

We have lots of plans but not enough time and energy. But we get a little bit more done each year. I was just showing David today the solar shower at Path to Freedom. That would be so nice to have and David said it looks pretty simple for him to make. We all get so grimy working outside this time of year. I think showering outdoors is so nice anyway when we have been able to do it at the beach. 

We lost the camera for over month but found it yesterday. I'll have to eventually get around to posting some pictures on here of what we are doing.