Sunday, March 20, 2016

Spring Break

Spring break began Friday, March 11th with a high of 75F and ends today with snow (promptly melting of course). Expected freeze (30F) tonight. And today is the first day of Spring!

What is in bloom (that faces impending doom): Spicebush, Plum, Peach, Apricot, Honeyberry.
Also in bloom: Hellebores, Daffodils, Hyacinth

Varying Hellebores in the Northeastern Perimeter bed

Growing on 
Mache, Chinese Cabbage, Red Kale  and Perpetual Chard overwintered in coldframes (above)

 First Asparagus

Bitter Endive reseeds about the yard

Under lights
Little Lupine doing well (above)
All of the tomato plants are up (but the ground cherries are not) (below)
Began transplanting peppers this weekend.
Projects: New Upright Cold frame
I decided to build an upright cold frame inspired by one I saw on the internet. I plan to use it for storing nursery plants, overwintering, cold stratification, late summer starts (for the fall/winter garden), early spring starts and hardening off. It's like an unheated greenhouse, but cheaper and with a small footprint. I plan to build doors at some point (fall probably). It also now has walls on both sides (the one on the right is missing in this pic) Below with temporary plastic covering. 
 Will have 3 shelves. I think I already have them full.
I made need a second one. ; )

Projects: The Orchard Overhaul continues
Beds were topped with compost, conduit frames and bird nettting.
I discovered the chickens won't go near this stuff. Why hasn't anyone
written about this yet?! It's a game changer.
Ready for planting. 
 Pots were topped with compost and protective bird netting.
 Papi in foreground. Angry Mattilda was moved
into his new home just behind the blooming Plums.
 Going to plant a Fig in this double tire.
Hoping the tire will work as insulation for winter-keeping.
 The raspberry beds got new frames (below)
Squiggy supervising.
 Pots circle the south side of the hoophouse. 1 lavendar
was planted. Waiting for warm up!
And inside the hoop (below). Chard, Kale, Collards, 
Arugula, Mustard, leeks, Green onions
Hardy Kiwi leafing out (below)

Other Spring Break Activities:
Spent most of Friday burning at a coworker's place. 

I doubt there is better weather to end spring break than snow. It keeps me inside so my body can heal and I can get some grading done!       View from office window looking down into the orchard (aka beeyard. chickenyard).

It's been a gorgeous and productive week. Thankful for my awesome job.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Snowy and 70s

On Wednesday:

On Saturday: Sunny and 70s
Roll with it. What more can you do?

Basement Nursery:                      Little Delight Lupine
 Various perennial flowers, mustard (right)
 Onion & parsley seedlings
 Lots of Peppers this year (fingers crossed)
 First tomato seedlings up (Roma)
Going to compare a hybrid and open pollinated Roma this year.
The OP germinated first (out of all of the tomato seeds)
Might explain why they are also one of the first types to produce?

So yums. Ruby & Emerald Steaks Mustard
Really starting to like these mustards (when young)
 Yarrow & Blanketflower seedlings

I overwintered a tomato plant and it has made a few fruits.
Too bad they aren't very tasty. Ah, well.

Outside progress:
Feb in the Biergarten
 Front yard with burn pile evidence
 Cleaned perennial bed by Biergarten
need to replace the edging. This was suppose to be a temp 
border reused from something else.

 New path between prairie, new native bed (on left)
and a veg bed (in the back)
 The new native bed cleaned and ready 
for mulch and plants
 February in the fresh burned prairie (below)
 And March- daffs coming up
 Garden prepped
potatoes planted (in December)
 The tommi crocuses have been blooming for
about a week. The bees are happy they have these.

Seeds in pots.

Brandywine (a purple) Raspberry in new pot
with poppy seeds.
 Rural King onions ready for planting...

Seeds started in a window in the shed
 Bok Choy (above) and Kale (below)

                                          My first attempt at Chicago-style pizza. Yum.

One of our new favs: roasted sweet potatoes, mushrooms & onions.
A little soy sauce (for saltiness). Add cheddar cheese and put in a wrap.
Toast the wraps for extra crunch. Still have lots of pumpkins and sweet taters
in the larder.

Finally organized my spice cabinet. I can't tell
you how happy this makes me. Also labelled
everything because hubs has started to cook 
and I told him these words will haunt him if I die soon, 
   "You will cook." I had to make it easier for him. 
Plus, I'm writing it here. Hold him to it. No excuses.

Snow is again in the forecast or is it rain? 
We'll know when we know. 
Until blue skies arrive
 we can just dream of gardening.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Snow- a dusting.

Forget about the El Nino/Climate Change perpetual fallish winter we've been enjoying. It's now Winter. Having never had roosters and winter together before I feel like I've failed miserably and been a crappy animal protector. The Roos both got frostbite. Papi has only had a couple of points on his comb injured, but Mattilda took it bad. Both comb and wattles are significantly burned. I suspect he will lose his points and wattle skin (whatever it is officially called, I have no idea). I would take a picture, but I'm horrified. Hubs and I reinforced the coop by surrounding it with straw bales. The inside of the coop was about 10 degrees warmer than outside temp and no drafts this morn, so I am happy with that. Tonight it is suppose to get down to 5F. Hens are much hardier than Roos. Lesson learned. I've never had a problem with my girls.

Not the best pic., but what is in the black plastic pot on the other side of the chicken-fence is a Aristolochia (Dutchman's Pipevine-native) I am tempting to propagate. Fill pot with dirt, rest nodes of vines on top of soil, top with a brick. Hopefully roots will grow from the node and I will have some new plants come spring.

I've really been babying these cuttings along. They are now in a ziplock bag (in this pot). I'm not sure if they will ever root, but they are hanging on. Scarlet Honeysuckle (native)

 Sea Oats/ River Oats collected from yard. Tossed on top of soil in this cat litter container.

Lid isn't completely cut off, creating a mini-greenhouse for
the seedlings. Stored outside for cold-moist stratification. 

 These sweets started to sprout so I potted them up.
Put soil on top. I will use these in the summer garden. 
I haven't bought sweet potato starts in 3 years. These
are Georgia Jet, which seem to do well for me. Growing
in the basement under shop lights.

Have thought on and off about doing this- bottle edging. It's begun. I guess I'll need to drink more.

Hubs made me some "new" planters from old tires. 
I fell in love with these when I first saw them in
a school garden in South Africa. They had a bunch of different
shapes and sizes- all painted in bright colors.

Made a few trellises from collected sticks & wild grape vine.

What else do you do when winter begins and you're stuck indoors? 
Mile High Blackberry Muffins

Black Raspberry-Lime Muffin Cookies

Eggplant Pad Phet
w/eggplant & peppers (frozen) and chard (fresh)

Hen of the Woods Mushroom Soup
Peaches canned in honey
Spinach salad

This is a must keep peach recipe! 
I thought canned peaches surely would be awful,
but that's just not true! Plus the syrup makes
for a nice cocktail mixer. ; )

Thank you dear chickens for continuing
to give me breakfast throughout this horrible cold. 
Peppers, Onions, Mushrooms.

Final notes
Raised beds have extra blankets and I am leaving them covered on the coldest days. Inside the geohoop all is lovely and green. I'm harvesting corn salad for the ladies. I'm waiting to start picking a lot from the other greens when the days start getting over 10 hours long ~ Jan 24th I believe. Then growth should start picking up. Started 4 kinds of Milkweed in tall pots outside- Showy, Common, Poke and Sullivant's. Pepper seedlings are coming up. I started a few perennials- yarrow, P coneflowers, blanket flower, dianthus- no germination yet. Kale & Bok Choy started in the garage have germinated. The new "Pollinator Palooza" seed mix was sown on 1/14/16 in the new compost/bed. I need to take pics of that and post. 
If things stay this cold there won't be a lot going on outside for me. I don't mind working outside in the cold, but when the ground is frozen, it's cold AND gray or cold and windy- then I am stuck indoors. Cold and sunny or cold and not windy- I'm all good. 

We've been having a lot of wonderful sunrises. I'll just have to enjoy those for now.