Wednesday, April 22, 2009

In the Garden - April 22 2009

I've started three posts now and haven't finished any of them. So I figure I'll just do a little pictoral of the goings on in our garden right now.

Radishes! See them popping their little heads out? Might pull the biggest one and eat it today for fun. They're always a little spicy for the kids but I'll make them taste it anyways. The first fruit of the season for us.

And woohoo the potatoes are up and looking great! This is the first time we have grown potatoes and I'm glad we did because we're going to be growing A LOT of them next year. I need to do some research to figure out how many we need to grow to try and grow enough for the family for the whole year. Clay should have the open basement/root cellar ready by then to store them. But honestly I didn't have any idea what they were even going to look like when they came up. Every weed that popped up got a good going over before it was pulled :) Once they came up though, I knew them instantly. They're so big and healthy and strong and I am in love with my potato sprouts. I am. Really. They amaze me. I'll be both happy and sad to cover most of them up with dirt in a couple weeks.

Romaine lettuce, Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower and Bok Choy progress. They're just so big and shiny and growing SO fast. The broccoli side shoots are getting little knobs on them making them just look so broccoli-y. :)

Onions. Happy happy onions. We got these sets from a friend that owns a garden center. They're just so happy they make me happy.

We also have some Amish bottle onion sets coming in the mail from someone on I'm excited. It's just thrilling to go rare heirlooms. They should look something like this when they're done.

They're supposed to be spicy and great keepers. I just better not screw them up and better figure out how to store some for next year!

Spinach. Sigh. I don't know what happened with the spinach but it's just been Sooo slow. Germinated slow. Grew slow and even now are just little seedlings. Though they have taken off like mad in the last week. From almost nothing to two true sets of leaves in a week! But they've been in the ground for forever and forever so who knows what's up with them.

Lettuce. Honestly they're one of my favorite garden items. Not only do fresh greens out of the garden taste unbelievable but little baby lettuces are just so gorgeous to me. They're the epitome of Spring. Bright green, bright, cute, and a promise of a lovely salad.

Um.. think I overseeded my mesclun patch?

Empty teepees. I learned something about peas this year. They don't like being too wet. They really need to be started EARLY. I screwed up both of those things and ended up with 3 tiny horrible pea seedlings. Well they're gone now and the ground is reworked and covered with compost for pole beans.
Clay if you're reading this... I NEED those extra teepees you promised to make me. It took the kids and I hours and hours to gather the right sticks and make these LOL!

Tomatoes. The first batch IN. I planted them all yesterday. I have maybe 5 more plants to buy but it wasn't in my budget. This was a horrible year for my attempt at growing tomato seedlings. I researched and bought loads of amazing heirloom tomato seeds. The problem? I planted them in Miracle Grow Organic soil from Walmart. Never again. Turns out I found a thread this year at homesteadingtoday that others had the exact same problem as I did - stunted seedlings turning dark purple and dying. I lost ALL my starts. Everything else I had was grown in other medium (peppers, eggplant, huckleberries) and they're all huge and green and healthy. Sigh. So I bought plants. And turns out there's not loads of heirloom starts available around here - that I've found anyways. So we've got Brandywines, Mortgage Lifters, three kinds of cherry tomatoes - Super Sweet 100, yellow cherry and Sweet Grape, Burpee Red I think, Goliath bush and... well whatever I buy next will be something early. Clay asked me if I got early tomatoes last night and I realized I didn't, so that's next.
Those are just a few of the tomatoes. I planted 18 plants in total.

It randomly got really cold last night though and I had to go outside first thing and check on them. Phew.

Now the question is... should I plant my peppers tomorrow? It's only a few days past the frost date and I know you're supposed to wait two weeks BUT we're going to have 7 straight days of 79-80 degree weather!! So that makes 1 solid 10 days past the last frost. Yeah I'm planting those bad boys. If it gets cold I'll just have to freak out and protect them. Hmm... egglants too? I think I'm talking myself into it. I'll show those next week when they're settled.

That to do today? Hmmm.. how cold is it going to get tonight? Off to check.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Storing Information

I realized the other day that I rely WAY too much on the internet. Why print things out when I can just Google? Why store recipes when I can just go to my favorite message board and run a search for it since I know it's there? That's a mistake.

Look I'm not nearly as much of a "the sky is falling" type gal but I do feel a slight pressure more than I ever have to start preparing myself. For what I don't know. Maybe the Lord has some plan for us I don't know about yet (okay of course He does lol). Maybe the world WILL fall apart. Maybe we'll just keep plugging along day after day towards our goals and I'll need the information. Maybe one day we'll turn off the internet. Maybe the power will go out for 3 weeks in a bad storm. Who knows? AND of course I find it really hard to manage all the links in bookmarks and whatnots. Nevermind the anguish when you go to a site that had somethin special and BAM it's gone. Sigh Robyn. hehe. Or Candy when she stopped one day. Yay she's back. Or any of the other gazillion sites that left me hanging. All I know is I am starting to print off some of the great tidbits of information I've been gleaning off the internet and putting them in a big binder.

Like THIS:
Yeah you can make rubber bands and waterproof fabric with dandelions. That rocks. And WHY haven't I heard this before?

I do have lots of really amazing books that have soo much information in them. I am so thankful to live in a time where amazing books are so plentiful. And I have some books I really still want like the Ball Blue Book and Root Cellaring.

But I'm going to start making myself a running list of what I want to print off. Things like:
Dandelion latex coolness.
Making lye (and drying it!!) from wood ash
Soap recipes
All sorts of gardening info
Rendering fat
Making baskets from local weeks and barks
Darning socks
Pattern Drafting info that is starting over at forums
Natural medicines
Medical info on farm animals
All sorts of plans for things like the rockin giant homemade dehydrator I just printed off or milking stands or homemade brooders, etc.
Preperation lists (love the 100 first things to go in an emergency list I'll post that soon)
And a million more things I need to figure out.

And there's something about printed information. I read all day long about winter gardening but when I sat and read Elliot Coleman's book it just clicked. Something about having it in my HAND helps me.

So I encourage you to get some of your valuable information off your computer and into your hand. Or at least I'm encouraging myself.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Who needs flowers? - Take 2

Remember my first installment of "Who Needs Flowers?" Well my sweet husband has done it again. A ways back I emailed him a nice wood cookstove that I saw on craigslist. I've wanted one forever. Slowly, way slower than I'd like hehe, we're working towards living without much electricity. I think we're still quite a ways from my hubby giving up running HOT water and flushing toilets but cooking with woodstoves and weaning off lightbulbs, we're getting there. Anyways, I've been keeping my eye out for wood cookstoves. BOY they're expensive even on craigslist. Then I found this beauty. It was almost 2 hours away and while cheap, still a fair amount of money for us. He told me he wasn't thinking we could get it. I tried to let it go but kept making little comments here and there about it. Yes I should have let it go. I tried. Honestly.

So I eventually figured we weren't getting it. Then late Friday night I made some little comment followed sweetly and jokingly by "you non woodstove getting husband hehe" He just smiled and said "who said I'm a non woodstove getting husband?" "WHAT?!!!!!!" replies his astonished wife. "I WAS going to surprise you but I'm going to get it early tomorrow morning". "I LOVE YOU!!" I squealed as I covered him with kisses.

And the next morning the alarm went off at 5 AM (on Saturday no less) and a few hours later he returned with this beauty. (ignore the fact that I had to piece two photos together and didn't feel like working on it to make it look right)

It's in pretty great condition. Very little rust, no cracks, nice white finish still. It does need a little TLC from me. I'll be getting rid of all the rust I can, either oiling it or stove blacking it (still need to research that), etc. We're not so sure about the water resevoir since it's just an open box with nothing else and there's a space under the water resevoir I need to figure out the purpose of. Clay's going to get the metal shop guys to build him a new insert for the hot water that perhaps I can lift out or.. well we haven't figured that out yet.

My hubby and son had fun because they said it was a really nice lady they brought it from. My son was more excited though about seeing all her geese and animals and whatnot but he's 9. She was happy it was going to a family that would actually use it and love it. And we will. All winter long we plan on using it. And for the summer... well my son's next job is hauling rock over to where together the kids and I will be building an outdoor grill. I'd LOVE to build an outdoor oven but one step at a time. I'll start pictures of the outdoor grill this week as we get started.

Anyways, the wood cookstove. I'm in LOVE with it. Well and my husband too. And my son who went with him.