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.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Mom! She's doing it again!

Gardening. In Winter. Again. Because I may have an addiction. Plus there's Climate Change and El Nino.

Unseasonably warm early winter (tied for warmest year on record, warmest November/December and wettest- 2015 for the region (61 inches) ~40inches is the norm) kept me at it. 3-4 days of continuous rain caused a lot of flood damage, levee breaches in the MO-Il area. Luckily, we are on higher ground.

Planting in December & January?
Nature taught me to plant potatoes in fall/winter. Nature corrected what I thought I knew- what I had been taught about planting taters. I've since read others who are doing it. My dad still says I'm doing it wrong, but he should know I don't listen well. So, these 15 sprouting in the pantry were the first to go out in a 10'x3' bed topped with 6 inches of leaves.
 Garden Row 1 (above)

In row 3 were potatoes unharvested. I wanted to move them
because I had taters in this bed 2 years, so I dug and this is what I found:
 Potatoes DO grow in winter (here). 
You could even leave them for occasional harvest so long
as the ground doesn't freeze and become impossible to dig.
 It never fails that I unearth a toad whilst
winter gardening and I feel awful about it.
It was a gorgeous sunny day in the 40s. This one
slowly opened eyes, a worm slithered around without
occasion and I plunked a tater in the hole and covered him or her 
back up. Hope she/he is fine. 
 You can easily tell the purple taters by the sprouts.

Dug taters (41) were planted in Row 2 and strawed. I still have
some left. I'm thinking I'm going to plant more in row 1. I cleaned more 
of that bed this morning. 

I can't remember if I mentioned this, but I made this terrible discovery that plants could be purchased through Amazon. What?! Yeah, and I found 3 I had to have for cheap. This is information I shouldn't have. So, I bought a native honeysuckle shrub, Diervilla Kodiak Orange, a Caryopteris- Beyond Midnight and Sunny Anniversary Abelia. I planted the Diervilla and Abelia out and the Caryopteris is in the garage window for protection until spring. I'm impressed with the seller.  

I took cuttings of a butterfly bush. I'm hoping to plant
these in the orchard without the chickens killing them.
 The garage window with sheltered plants- catnip, butterfly bush cuttings, 
caryopteris, a blueberry, verbena bonariensis. All is well here. (below)

 The pineapple is finally rooting!

The coleus cuttings are nuts. 
I'll probably need to trim the leaves back soon.

The geranium cuttings are flowering!
 Geranium cutting roots (below). 
 The fig cuttings, taken in November have rooted in the bags
on top of the fridge and were transplanted into this pot (below). 
That was too easy. Now the dilemma to plant in pots or in ground. 

This winter parsnip was shredded with carrots and
put in a wrap. Yum. It was spicy!

Still killing grass...
Kiddo and I turned over the soil along this side (42 ft long) of the property &
garden to plant in native grass/wildflower seeds. Pollinator Palooza is
the mix, from Prairie Moon Nursery. I decided to do this
after reading 5-10% of the garden should be in flowers- to attract both
beneficial and non-bene insects. Non-benes, because the good ones
need something to eat, right? 

The asparagus and blueberries beds were cleaned
and mulched.

*Not pictured- the pepper seeds I started in baggies germinated in 5 days! I transplanted them into soil yesterday. 

Veg pancakes, fav roasted beans and the obvious.

So glad I bought this fresh and prepped if for the
freezer/winter from the local farm last spring! 
Gorgeous broc.
 With mushrooms and tofu.

 Walnut, lemon, parm, parsley...
 tossed with Angel Hair

These are going into muffins today!

Trouble coming?
I bought this at my school's plant sale and was told it was a tropical passion vine. It isn't. Ha. It grew super fast and tall, covering the garage, didn't bloom and then failed to die. This is what it looks like today. So, naturally I am worried. I'm wondering if it isn't P. caerulea, from S America. It can be aggressive in the south. I've posted to an Illinois Botany group to see if anyone has experience with it. It may have to die. 

A closing shot

The Kitchen Window in Winter