Tag Archives: Garden

Trips, Harvests, and Winter On The Way

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

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

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!

Gearing up…

Planting season has almost slowed down. Four of the five gardens are planted, only the beans/pumpkin bed is awaiting seeds after I finish fencing it off. That’s the one thing you don’t think about when you decide that your laying hens are going to be free-range: they like seeds and sprouts – a lot. Thank heavens we thought of that before we started planting! Needless to say, come next year, everything will be going a lot smoother.

So with planting season slowing up to simply water, weeding, and planting second sets, life should be a little smoother around here, right? Wrong. Things are just gearing up. Rhubarb is up at the in-laws. We have one bag already which will be pretty much used fresh. The frozen stuff from last year needs to be thawed and jammed before I start using this season’s for that same reason.

Strawberries are up and we’ll be picking this weekend. With any luck we’ll get all twenty-five pounds done in one session so any extra I get at the end of the season will be bonus. If strawberries are up now, raspberries and blueberries are right around the corner.  We’ll be doing those at pick-your-owns this year, something we’ve done with blueberries in the past, but raspberries will be an added step. Granted, we will be picking what we can of the wild ones around the house if the birds and deer don’t get them first.

As far as tea supplies go, we’re borrowing the in-laws dehydrator so that I can collect some dandelion, raspberry, and clover, if it’s not too late to do such. I’m also hoping that this will let me get a better handle on drying the mint throughout the year as well as drying up spinach for stews and the like, if there’s’ a good harvest.

This doesn’t even touch on the other projects we have going, nor the ones we’re trying to plan. We just removed all the carpet in the master bedroom and will be painting the floor before winter. I’ve been working on cutting up a bag of scraps for braided area rugs, but that isn’t anything I plan on having done for this winter. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to sweeping instead of vacuuming the bedroom, though. That will be a plus!

There’s finally another wood bin done up. While we’re technically behind on wood still, it’s nice to be moving in the right direction.

Some say that summer’s their time to relax and breath. Personally, I know I’ll be ready to sleep away those cool winter days when they come back.

Rainy Day Reflections

As I sit here writing this, our son is fast asleep taking his first one-hour-plus nap. It’s hard to believe that he’s coming up to an age where he’ll no longer be taking four or five short cat naps during the day. The lack of napping worked in our favor this weekend, however, as we did a lot of work outside while he played in his playpen in the shade.

All the gardens still aren’t planted yet, but I’m hoping that tomorrow, once the rain dissipates for a few days, that I can get outside and work on them while the boy is sleeping. With the heat and humidity coming in it will be a bit wilty for him to be out helping mommy. In the meantime, we’ve been using up items that we still have in the freezer. Rhubarb, potatoes, strawberries, fiddleheads, and string beans were stretched throughout the winter and we’re now finishing them up. That’s not including the 15 jars of pickles in the basement or the 9 jars of jam in the freezer that we’re still working on. The new rhubarb is up at the in-laws, it’s just a matter of getting some. Strawberry picking is right around the corner, and so are raspberries and blueberries. It will be interesting doing a lot of it with a little one being trucked along. We’ll have to time our trips just right to avoid some of the unsavory weather. Every bite will be worth it, though.

In other news, we have the stairs built and painted out front. The hubby will be finihing the back stairs probably tomorrow night. Pictures will then be sent off to the insurance agency. (Who tells people n Maine in January that you need to paint your house? You can’t do that in Janurary! We lucked out we could do it in May!) While the house looks great with the paint on it, it will be great getting back to things around here that actually need doing, like the cord wood being put up and the garndens planted.