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Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

So I finally have material for this blog! The bad news is that I barely have the time to write about it! For example, today I headed to work at 7:30, got home at 6, worked in the garden till 8, made and ate dinner. Now it’s 9:10 and I feel thoroughly ready for bed.

This place, our new home, is almost paradise to me. We sit on the north end of our big valley and no matter which way I turn, my eyes meet mountains on the horizon. The views are wide open and this time of year, with everything so intensely green, they are nothing short of breathtaking. Our neighbors are all a respectable distance away. If I cut my finger and cuss, I don’t have to feel embarrassed that someone may have heard me. But they are there to wave at and talk to and get to know. One neighbor plowed up a garden plot for me and he will show us how to run our hand irrigation lines when our alfalfa field needs it next! How’s that for a good neighbor?!

The only reason I say “almost paradise” is the mosquitoes that were harassing me today. I suppose they will be gone by the end of the month or sometime next month, though.

This weekend, we worked all day long both days, building fences, preparing the garden, planning and laying out the garden and beginning to plant. EZ was all around handyman working on his mile-long list of chores. We had fun, but the days were long and exhausting.

In contrast, this afternoon, the work seemed easy. We only had a few hours available, after all. I was able to get in a row of various Brassicas I had started and planted another row of squash. The real excitement, however, is that EZ started to get our drip irrigation going. I am so excited about this drip irrigation for the garden! When he laid out a few rows of line and started up the system, I was jumping for joy watching the water drip out along its way. After a couple of days of trying to haul a hose around my 1300 sq. ft of garden, I realize what a time and sanity saver this will be. Plus, it’s drip irrigation! How cool is that?

Well, I am happy and tired and ready to float off to sleep, savoring the deliciousness of this life we have chosen and worked for, but are so very blessed to have.

My view says ‘hi’:

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Oh, I wish I had more pictures of my creations today.

  • This morning, I headed to the Farmer’s Market with my big cloth bags. I left with at least 35 lbs of veggies and fruit! My arm was about to fall off on my walk back to the car. My big splurge for the trip was a 1 lb bag of huckleberries. I freeze them and throw a few into fruit desserts. They are so flavorful that a small amount goes a long way. They are pricey little buggers, though. A 1lb bag was $9.
  • Once I got back from that expedition, I went out to my garden and picked herbs. They are approaching the end of their season and I will have to leave the perennials alone entirely soon. I blanched some and stuck it in the freezer. I cut up the basil and put it in an ice cube tray with olive oil, which is my favorite way to preserve basil. I got some prepared for drying.
  • I have a 5-day river trip coming up next week with EZ and my Dad. Because of my food limitations, I offered to prepare the dinners. I decided to make lasagna to freeze for one dinner. I took the opportunity to make homemade Italian tomato sauce for the first time. Unfortunately, my garden is currently giving me just a trickle of tomatoes, so I had to buy some. However, I grew all the herbs that went into the sauce! That’s a nice feeling, even if a very modest accomplishment. The smell of the sauce was amazing. I can wait to try the lasagna!
  • When I was at the market, the whole chickens were on sale because they were close to their expiration date. So I bought one to make tonight. I roasted the chicken my favorite way. I left that useless old rack out and coarsely chopped potatoes, onion, zucchini, radishes, carrots, and green beans into the bottom of the roasting pan. I set the chicken on top of the veggies for a ‘rack’. Then I mixed butter, olive oil, fresh basil, parsley, sage, oregano, and garlic together, pulled up the chicken’s skin and rubbed the mixture all over the bird. About an hour later, I was the Hero of Dinnertime!
  • Finally, I used the huckleberries, blueberries and peaches I got at the Farmer’s Market to make a peach-huckleberry crisp for the river trip. Yummy!
  • After all that, I told EZ to clean the kitchen. And he did! Love that man.

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  • EZ and I were up near Flathead Lake a few weeks ago. While there, we bought 26 lbs of Flathead Cherries and 5 lbs of Ranier Cherries. We ate a lot of them. Gave away some. Froze 10+ lbs. The rest became my first experience in canning. Honestly, it was scarier than it was difficult. When I was reading up on it, I was afraid that I’d give my husband botulism or something (ok, so that’s still a possibility… we haven’t eaten any yet). It was actually fairly simple. I used “Canning and Preserving for Dummies” from my library and it was all pretty straightforward. Phew… I can’t wait to open up a can this winter!

Canned cherries

  • A bunch of my tomatoes got blossom end rot. EZ picked off all the affected tomatoes because we didn’t know what it was at first. Once we learned that it was a drought-stress and calcium deficiency problem, we limed the soil and started watering more. All our tomatoes have been OK since.
  • This morning for lunch, we had freshly picked tomatoes and basil with mozzarella, pepper and basalmic vinegar. And because we were feeling European/like drunks, we each had a glass of wine to go along. I didn’t learn anything from this, except that that’s worth doing every now and then!
  • We picked up our German Shorthaired Pointer, Stanley, from his 2 months of training this weekend. He’s now an impressive upland bird hunter. I’m so happy to have him home. Stan’s quite the character, I will have to post about him sometime. The trainer confirmed that he is very headstrong and driven, a double-edged sword in bird hunting. Watching him chase down and catch a bird that we never even took a shot at is an amazing sight. Mostly, though, he’s the best little cuddler you ever did meet (assuming he’s in the mood to cuddle)!

Stanley

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So, one thing about this whole homestead plan… The reason our plans are so squishy and undefined: we know next-to-nothing about all this homesteady-type-stuff. There, I said it. I’m a little afraid I’ll be lambasted as naive or fickle or whatnot (right when somebody actually reads this stuff!), just as we’re all a little afraid to have our dreams criticized. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve read everything I can get my hands on. I know how I want to build my chicken house and what I think I can reasonably grow in my relatively cool climate. But my hands-on experience amounts to a few days helping out around a friend’s ranch. And hands-on experience is where it’s at. I won’t claim to know how to do anything until I’ve actually done it.

All that is a long way to say that this year I planted my first vegetable garden. Also, that I’d love to get advice and tips if anything makes you wince.

We don’t have much room in our yard. The dogs have domain over the backyard and our town’s resident deer rule the front yard, so we can’t plant anything they’d like up there. So EZ built me 2 raised beds in an enclosure in the back yard. We filled them with soil bought in bulk from a local nursery. Since then, my biggest problem is the plants’ rampant growth.

 The Little Garden that could

The tomatoes are have grows right out the top of their 4′ cages. I think they love that red wall and all the heat it gives off for them.

Tomatoes coming to get you!!!

They are heavy with tomatoes though and we just got the first ripe one. He was little, but tasty! (And I grew that lettuce, too! It just keeps on coming!)

Rawr! Giant hand squash tiny tomato!

The squash are busy trying to shade out the onions (and everything really). I took this picture yesterday and 3 of those squash will be ready to pick tomorrow!

Squash

The mint. Oy, the mint. How the hell will I ever use that much mint?! I’ll have to take up heavy Mint Julep and Mint Tea consumption. I’ll be perpetually drunk and full-bladdered.

May I offer you a nice mint julep?

Now for the problem children. I used to just love the snap beans. They thrust themselves out of the ground so enthusiastically. What lust for life! But they got bored with life pretty quickly, I guess, and now they look like this:

Bah, humbug!

They are curly and short and not even pretending they’re going to produce anything. I’m going to just yank them out of the garden soon, I think. Any other suggestions?

Then there are the snap peas. They have grown tall and are beginning to produce pods, but they just look so damn sad. Now what do I do about them?

Sad

I keep meaning to get up to the areas of the National Forest that are frequented by horses to grab some leftover weed-free straw to use as mulch, but I haven’t yet. However, the weeds seem pretty easy to control if I just spend an extra two minutes pulling them in the morning when I water. I guess I wouldn’t have to water so much if I got some, though.

Anyhow, welcome to my teeny tiny garden. I adore it and love spending time there.

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