Tag Archive for beans

Garden Planning: So it begins…

The Christmas and Yule decorations are put away and another festive season has ended just in time for the round robins of nor’easters to start. Today’s storm is slated to drop 10″ – 18″ on us. Who knows what next week’s storm will grace us with. In the meanwhile, we stoke up the fire, throw on an extra layer, and huddle like chickens in our coop, keeping warm and fed.

The past couple years, as I’m putting away the Christmas decorations, I begin planning for the spring. However, until now, it’s all been pipe-dreams until it comes crunch time. This year the Raymond Homestead is right on the ball. So far we have all of our seeding selected and the order form ready to fill in. It’s just a matter of sending it. This season’s selection will consist of:

  • Tomatoes: San Diegos and Glacier Organics
  • Bell Peppers: King of the North Organics
  • Carrots: Over the Rainbow Mix
  • Sting Beans: Kentucky Wonders (This is the third second year growing strong beans from our own saved seeds.)
  • Broccoli: Will be purchased as seedlings from Hoof’n’Paw
  • Pumpkins: Long Pie Organics
  • Lettuce: Organic Lettuce Mix
  • Shell Peas: Coral
  • Hot Peppers: Long Red Cayennes (We’re hoping to use seeds that I saved from last year to start these, but we do have the back-up option of buying seedlings from Hoof’n’Paw.)
  • Cucumbers: Ministro
  • Drying Beans: Ireland Creek Annie
  • Basil: Sweet Organic
  • Dill: Fernleaf
  • Spinach: Donkey
  • Thyme: German Thyme
  • Beets: Early Wonder Tall Top Organic
  • Radishes: Easter Egg
  • Celery: Ventura
  • Potatoes: Classic Keepers 12 1/2 pound mix

While this seems like a long list, I’m hoping to add more variety in the follow years as well, but this was a good start that the hubby and I agreed upon. Given that the entire north garden will be converted to raised beds, we definitely have our work cut out for us. On the plus side, all the gardens are fenced in now, so that’s one less thing on the list.

As far as where we’re going to get our seeds, the answer to that is easy: FedCo Seeds. After having very submarginal luck from store-bought seeds, we decided that this year we’re going to go with a company known for their quality – both in seeds and service. More importantly, this ensures that we’re buying from lines that are able to survive in the north east regions and we’re helping to keep other farmers going. Please, even if you’re only doing containers, buy from FedCo, not Agway, Walmart, or any place else that sells seeds!

Now that I’m done my public service announcement, what do you lovely folks plan on planting in the spring?

Trips, Harvests, and Winter On The Way

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So for those who may have not heard, the Raymond family will be taking a trip out to New York. The man of the house has training to do out there for work. We’ve been blessed that work will pay for the wife and the kiddo to go along, as no one in this house has even been out that way. As nerve wracked as we all are about the upcoming trip, we lucked out and will have a very awesome family friend who has dealt with both anxiety riddled dogs and chickens before staying at the house.  With a house/criddo sitter lined up, the stress is reduced some, but it still means that there’s way more to do than there are hours in the day.

The gardens still need to be finished up for the winter. Seeds need to be collected from some areas, and others need the carcasses of plants pulled up and composted. Manure needs to be laid down for winter, or at least a layer or two of newspaper. There are a few beds (lettuce and broccoli) that will remain untouched as an experiment to see if theses things will indeed come back year after year.

We’ve collected all the hot peppers, bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers, and lettuce that we could eek out of the gardens. Now we’re simply waiting for the beans to finish drying up before we can harvest the seeds. This year we’re planning on gathering the usual bean seeds – both bush and pole style – and pumpkin seeds, but we’ll be adding in cucumber seeds, basil, hog’s heart tomato, Cheyenne, and stuffing pepper seeds. With any luck, we’ll be able to sprout them next spring.

We’re slowly gaining on our wood needs. The kindling bin is half full. We have two and a half cords cut, split, and stacked. About a third to a half cord lies in wait for the ax. We were gifted three Ranger fulls of wood by Uncle Dennis and Aunt Leona. There are also a few trees on the side of the road that we’ll be weeding out. It will be tight seasoning some of it by the time we crack into it, but at least it will be there. We may need to resort to borrowing or renting a splitter to get it all finished up, however.

There is plastic waiting in the basement for the windows, and scraps piled up to make a couple window quilts to help cut the draft on the kitchen windows. Clothes still need to have holes mended, blankets need to be washed and laid out, and inventory needs to be taken of things to knit. Planting supplies needs to go into the basement, and the shovels need to arise from their slumber.

The next three weeks will be crazy, to say the least. Wonderful, eventful, busy, and crazy, but we’ll be loving every minute of it.

Prepping For the Frost

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Tonight will bring our area of the North East its first frost/freeze warning. Normally I don’t get too bent out of shape when it comes to these things. I might put blankets over some of the more delicate plants, and say a quick spell or two to the gnomes and such, but the map that was put up on the local weather channel shocked me.

When the map shows this much of an area lit up for frost and freeze warnings, it causes a person to sit up and take notice. Normally this comes after three or four small, patchy frosts. This is early. (While part of me hopes my hunches are true for an old fashioned new England winter, the lack of wood makes me hope that we still have a couple more months before it all comes in.)

Taking a word of advice from my intuition, and letting the wind wrap around my face so I could feel its bite, I decided to run amuck and collect all the produce left on the vines and still growing.

It’s a small harvest, to be sure. We didn’t have much luck with the produce this year, with the exception of the beans that we’ve been picking like mad and the cukes that have already come and gone. The lettuce is our second crop, so I guess I can’t complain too much on that spectrum. While it seems like a little, we’re thankful for every bit of it.

We will still be covering the tomato and pepper plants, along with the small bits of lettuce that I’m hoping will survive and have a little longer to grow. Part of me hopes that I pulled everything a bit prematurely and Mother Nature will prove my instincts wrong. The problem with that: I’ve been correct on our winters the past two years. Sometimes it stinks to be right.

Oh, and as you can see, that’s a desk temporarily in front of the cupboards. It was the computer/office desk and will be moved upstairs shortly to be a sewing/knitting machine desk. As a gift to ourselves, we welcomed in a new piece of furniture into the home that will hopefully entice us to be more business oriented when it comes to the homestead and will allow me to think/work more professionally on my thesis.

Another Garden Update

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Weather means more when you have a garden.  There’s nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it is soaking in around your green beans.  ~Marcelene Cox

All the gardens are finally in as of last week. This year everything seemed to take longer, but according to my diary and last year’s calendar, we’re right on schedule. We may not have an early set of anything, but things are in the ground. Part of what slowed us down, aside from the new addition of our son, was the new addition of chickens. Last year the ladies spent much of their time in chicken tractors, but now they’re completely free-range during the day, which means all five gardens needed to be fenced in.

The North garden is a bit of a hodge-podge when it comes to fencing material. On the far side from the camera, where the potatoes are planted, we used two half pallets for moving large yard equipment. It looked much more pleasing before I had to add the top pieces and twine to keep the chickens from hoping in. Where the large beams are live our lettuce, celery, bush peas, and broccoli. Closest to the camera are the tomato racks with a bed of spinach between them. Everything is surrounded by chicken wire.

We were very careful in how we set up beds this year and made sure to ensure that we would have walking aisles so that we could actually week them all efficiently and hopefully avoid some of the pitfalls from last year.

The four south gardens all ended up with different fencing that gave them each a unique look and feel.

The hot pepper bed, sporting cayenne and Anaheim this year, is fenced in by two pieces of crib and chicken wire. (The crib was something given to us by a friend of ours before my parents bought us a sold side one for Vaughn. Right now drop sides can no longer be sold in our state, so we weren’t even able to thrift store this one. So we decided to reuse it in a very creative fashion.)

The cucumber bed, using the other two pieces from the crib, looks very sparse right now. Last year we planted dill in with the cucumbers, but I had no time to harvest it. If things go well with the bed this year we’ll try dill again in 2013.

While this was the last bed to be planted, and it’s only been three days since this picture, there’s a lot of green there now! The pole beans (Kentucky Wonders I saved seeds from two years ago) and the pumpkins (some sort of pie pumpkin I bought at the farmer’s market and saved seeds from) are growing like mad.  for this bed you can see that we used another large pallet for the east facing wall and used strapping to make a lattice out of it. the beans on that side will love having that amazing structure to grow on! The branches in front only go to where we planted the beans. On the sides we’ll be stringing up twine for the beans to climb on. All in all, it will look really cool when all 42 (Yes, I said 42 – 42 our of 46 planted beans are growing!) are turning this garden into a living shed.

This is what I’ve been calling the Hodge-Podge garden as it have a little of everything growing in it. Chives, onions, green peppers, carrots, and bush beans are all thriving right now. This bed, as you can kind of see in the far side of the picture, is fenced in using the branches that we dropped into the ground three years ago when we first created this bed. We chicken wired it in to keep the three ladies out.

On the left, you can see some plants growing on the outside of the bed, they’re the same ones that are in the far back right hand corner over-shadowing and providing protection for the carrots. Those are sunchokes. They’re a native sunflower to north America with edible roots that can be used like potatoes but supposedly have a different flavor. There were tons of tubers from them in the soil we got from Joe’s parents. Normally we pick them out and throw them away as they do have a tendency to take over everything. After some careful reading, and thinking hard about foraging and the like, I decided to take a chance and actually let some grow this year. The only ones allowed in the garden are the ones over shadowing the carrots, all the ones on the outside are tubers I unceremoniously dumped while weeding. We’ll see what we get!

Pigs-in-a-Blanket and General Goingons

Before I get around to doing a general update on what’s been happening around our little patch of land, I wanted to share the new family favorite when it comes to hot dogs. In lieu of trying to make our own buns or eating them with bread, which is sacrilegious in the way of hotdogs, if you ask me, we’ve come to making homemade pigs-in-a-blanket.

I can’t recall where or when I came across the recipe, but what we used for the blankets I titled “Super Quick Wheat Buns.”

  • 1 c. warm water
  • 3 tbs. warm water
  • 1/3 c. oil
  • 1/4 c. sugar or honey
  • 2 tbs. yeast
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 1/2 c. whole wheat flour

Begin by combining the water, yeast, oil, and sweetener, letting that rest for 15 minutes. After adding in the additional ingredients, roll out and cut into triangles. Wrap a triangle around each hotdog, using a little egg wash or water to help seal the dough down. Bake these off at 400F for 8 to 10 minutes on a greased cooking sheet. We’ve also made hamburger buns with this recipe as well. It’s very universal.

In other news, we’re almost there on the gardens. We’ve been slowly fencing them all in, recycling some old cribs and pallets for some of the fencing and using basic chicken wire in other areas. It’s a bit of a hodge-podge, but each garden will have it’s own style and look to it.  Our chickens like to follow me wherever I am, and unfortunately this also means into the gardens for weeding. Some plants have already been started, and others transplanted. Onions, chives, green peppers, carrots, and bush beans have all found their way into the soil. Here’s hoping that cucumbers, tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, pole beans, bush peas, pumpkins, and potatoes will be soon after.

There’s a lot to go, still, and we’re hoping to chip away at it this week and have everything done this weekend.  I’m hoping in the new future to get a chance to update the garden page and add some photos of our garden beds as well. Hopefully that will become more of a living record of how things progress through the season.

Joe has been doing a lot of work on the front and back stairs that we’re hoping to post pictures of eventually. The back stairs needed a lot of shoring up, especially since there were no braces underneath. The front stairs, while intact, we really wanted to add a larger top landing to for safety’s sake. We were able to recycle free pallets for the wood in both projects, and once their painted, they will both look great!

Speaking of painting, we’ve been spending the last four weekends working on patching up the paint on our house to appease the powers that be. Joe’s folks have been kind enough to help us out with that. It will be grand when everything’s done and over, though, as it’s really cutting into the time that we’ve been able to spend on the gardens and putting up next year’s wood supply. With the upcoming long weekend, we’re hoping to play catch-up.