Saturday, February 26, 2011

blooms and blossoms

So many things are already blooming and blossoming it is almost disturbing. The fruit trees are all budded and putting out leaves.Maple and poplar too. Rhubarb and asparagus are poking their heads out. The peas in the greenhouse are flowering and the seeds I have been planting outside are already coming up.The bees are already out in good numbers beginning their work.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I admit...I have a gambling addiction

No, no not that sort of gambling, although I once did spend five dollars at a casino! My problem is with something far less destructive and with much better odds of winning than that sort of gambling. But, it is something I turn to that gives me comfort when I feel as though life is going to spin out of control. It also has a very grounding effect on me and gives me the illusion that everything is gonna be alright, even if it ain't. Besides, after a couple weeks of beautiful weather near 70 and no freezing nights in the longest range forecast I can find, what is a farm girl supposed to do?

One of the things about having a greenhouse in the south, even a sorry little greenhouse like ours, is that things will live in there all winter long without much care. An extra layer of plastic or a tarp and most cole crops, peas and greens will grow until early spring. They grow VERY slow! So very slow that most everything is still small enough to transplant outside when the weather warms a bit. What this does though is create a conundrum as space is needed for new plantlings and cole crops do not grow well in GH's once the temps go above 50 or so outside. It gets too hot in there for them without running fans. Since we try not to use electricity unless it is needed and because the other plantlings need warmer temps, it means having to gamble or feed all those perfectly good veggie plants to the critters. I simply can't do that so I gamble.

Yesterday I went through all the beds in the GH and took all the baby cabbages out of the table bed. There ended up being 22 cabbage plants in there !! Maybe that's part of the reason they were growing so slow. I then took the turnip greens out and took some to the shack and some to the critters. Next, I sorted through the other greens and moved them to locations outside where I had overwintered greens and filled in any gaps. I then cut two of the three broccoli plants as I harvested the last of their shoots for dinner the other night and pulled the remaining Asian greens. One mess of greens came to the house and others went to critters. I did leave the spinach plants , one broccoli, a cabbage, the weeds (as they are all edible), and much of the lettuce

To replace what I pulled from the GH, I planted a few melon seeds, transplanted a couple zucchini and several cucumbers and brought my onion, tomato, cabbage, leek and bok choy babies down to grow until the real time to plant. I fully intend upon having zucchini and cukes to eat in April and maters in May. The GH is set up so that I can put plastic over the tops of all the beds and create small hoop houses within the GH if need be.

Outside, I cleaned up all the overwintered veggies so they weren't so ugly looking, filled in gaps, planted some potatoes(hot tub), ginger, turnips, peas, spinach, beets, collards, mustard, and carrots. It is still a few weeks early to plant for the cole crop veggies here but I figured that the more we have growing the less we need to depend on others and with the way things are in the world today it is worth the gamble. Everything planted is in areas that we can cover if need be and quite frankly, the few dollars in seeds and plant babies that I have used for my addiction are worth the risk of losing them in the worst case scenario.

Still coming fresh out of the gardens are onions, garlic, turnips, carrots, greens of all sorts, lettuces of many varieties and of course an abundance of edible weeds.

Monday, February 21, 2011

growing ginger in containers

Today I planted some ginger. Since it is something we use and it is supposed to be fairly easy to cultivate I thought it would make a nice addition to the homestead. Last time we were in town the ginger was already beginning to show growth nubs so I picked up a few rhizomes specifically for this purpose. Since I used this tutorial and because I really do not know much about the cultivation of ginger, here is the site I used.

I used a large tote for my container with about 7 inches of soil. I used 6 pieces of rhizome in all for the container and planted them a couple inches down and then covered with a few inches with mulch. Should be fun and interesting to see how well or not it grows.

an urban homestead shaped me...

Ok... so where I grew up was not exactly what I would call urban by any means but it was most definitely an incorporated town and I lived within the confines of that town. Towns in 1975 were a little different than towns or cities we see today in that if there were ordinances on such things like having gardens and/or critters and selling that produce or critters, they were not enforced and we were pretty much able to do as we pleased.

We had chickens, goats, rabbits, horses, pigs, cows and even sheep on occasion. We had a big old garden too. From those gardens and from those critters on our little homestead we ate well and sold some of our produce and products from the critters. My mother sewed all of our clothes and made all of our food from scratch. Sound familiar?

Ummmmmmm... Did I mention that this was in the early 1970's and not 2009 or 2011.

Though we did not call it anything in particular other than "the funny farm," it indeed was urban homesteading and without it I would not be who and what I am today. I would not be growing 90% of our food. I would likely not be walking lightly upon the Earth and leaving as small of a footprint behind me as I can. I would likely not grind my grains, make my noodles, slaughter my chickens or make my own clothes. If I had not grown up where I did and how I did,my children would also not know these things, but they do !!!

You see this is a lifestyle and it is not new. It has been occurring since the dawn of time. People have been growing food on their little plots of land, attempting to preserve their way of life by teaching others, protecting the Earth and walking softly while upon it and even "inventing" "new," improved ways of doing it for thousands and thousands of years. It is not something anyone can trademark or patent as it not an idea but a verb, an action, not a possession.

The very idea that someone has tried to and has succeeded sickens me to the very core. Another case of "the vision got lost" along the way or perhaps people only saw what they wanted to see and made idols out of things that should not be idolized. No matter, it seems the nose has been chopped to spite the face and now things will play out as they need to. Fortunately, homesteaders of all sorts are being brought together by the mess that has been created and we are standing up together for that which we believe in. Kings are losing their crowns all over these days!!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

another tater experiment-growing in straw/hay

Over the course of the last couple growing seasons, the growing medium (based off of hugelkultur) in the hot tub garden has settled by quite a bit. Faced with having to figure out how to fill the thing back up with soil of some sort and having a nice little pile of mulch hay here, we decided to try growing some taters in there using the straw method based off of the bin method. Theoretically, this experiment should produce a shitpot load of taters because we have seen countless testimonials telling us that they do. I think I will still plant our normal amount of taters though, just in case.

I am using potatoes just as I did last year in my potato experiment. I am planting them about a month early for this area but supposedly the straw will keep things warmer by about ten degrees and the hot tub is very easy to cover on the few real cold nights we may have left. I don't think that things will freeze solid again and if they do , I have lost a couple dollars worth of seed. If it works it is a gain of a nice early harvest of taters that we will be in need of. To get started I just laid the tiny pieces of potatoes on the soil that was in the tub, then they got covered with 3-4 inches of the mulch hay. Lastly, they got watered in.

This should be a fun experiment and I will do periodic updates through the season to see how well or not they do.

silent sunday