WHAT DOES THE GRANDMA SAY?

Spring Break stinks!  It is hard enough for a Grandma of 57 to care for her Grandson of 8 using regular daily routines.  Then the school system throws in all of these extra breaks.

Every other Friday is only a half day.  Used to be the only “break” was during Christmas, now they have a Fall and a Spring Break too!  I have custody of him, so it is a never ending mental endurance just to keep up with him.  During the extended times off, I have to come up with things to occupy his mind even more.

Lucky this Grandma is a crafter and gardener!  The last three days have been really cool and rainy (of course – just because the kids are off-grrr), so they qualified for crafting days!  I come fully prepared to handle this battle.

This is the target:

n n max 3 29 17

My Grandson is holding his second favorite cat, Max.

The tools needed to complete the job:

 

The final product for today:

(It’s up to you to decide who did which project.)

One last bit of fun to share with you.  My cousin, who lives in Alaska, sent me this pic this morning:

Jeffys AK skyline 3-28-17

His skies are awesome, but check out the snow they still have – eeek!

Happy Spring Y’All!!

 

 

 

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WHAT IS THE STORY BEHIND OUR GREENHOUSE? – Part 4 (last one)

Answers to all the little questions.

I think the first three Saturday blogs answered the

“Why did we do it?”     “What did we do it for?” and  “Why so big?” questions.

This final bit of our greenhouse process will hopefully answer more questions.  Please feel free to write me if you have more after this!

1)      Why Plants vs. flowers?  This one is easy – FOOD.  Everyone will always need food, not always need flowers.  We do plant flowers, but only for our admiration or to share with friends.

2)      Why inground instead of on tables?  In ground is more natural.  It also takes less water.  Plants can dry out much faster sitting up on a table.  The other main reason is temperature.  It would take more to heat the underside of the table vs. allowing the sun to warm the ground.

3)      Why so big?  We wanted to make sure we could produce enough (in the long run) to sell the extras.  We love to can and process our homegrowns, and it takes a lot of food to make something like a sauce.

4)      Why build it ourselves vs. hiring a company? This one I would re-think if we did this again.  I am very glad for the learning experience, but, it was hard, hot work.  I had never done something on this scale before (thank goodness our friend did) but I do love learning new things.  In hindsight, I would have paid a company to do it and just did some oversight on the hard stuff (to learn how it operates).  Also, because it took much longer than we originally anticipated, funds became scarce.  This is the main reason why we only have plots on the north end for now.  However, I and my motto (everything happens for a reason) also think we may have other ideas for the south end (a special seed start area and maybe an aquaculture spot?).

5)      How do we keep it hot?  The sun does most of it for us.  We do have natural gas heaters installed, but have never used them yet.  Thinking we may switch to electric, easier in the “alternative energy” long run.

6)      How do we keep it cool?  This is harder than the heating part!  Since we are in Colorado and we are closer to the sun, it is quite warm here during the summer/fall months.  We try to plant close to the seasons, but we also like things like spinach, lettuce, carrots, beets all year long.  During the summer months, those plants are closest to the swamp cooler (remember it is the width of the greenhouse – HUGE!), and we have started using shade cloth and warm weather crops trellised to provide more shade areas.  This helps to keep our cool weather crops cooler.  We tried to grow spinach and lettuce outside in the shady areas, didn’t work very well.

7)      How do we water?  We have our own well, plus we have rain barrels to collect any snow melt and rain that we can.  We have several tanks that we can transfer from one to another in, and if you noticed last week’s blog, there are several blue barrels that hold extra water inside the greenhouse.

8)      How do we feed the plants?  As natural as possible.  We have animals for manure, several wood chip piles that are continually composting down (part of this is through an agreement with our local tree trimmers), egg shells, coffee grounds, end of season plants (except tomatoes) are all mixed into our composting piles (yes, more than one).

9)      Do we use pesticides or garden naturally – how?  NO PESTICIDES!  We pull weeds by hand or dip in a vinegar, salt, and dish soap solution.  We use companion planting in EVERYTHING!  We have just started introducing the Weedless Gardening Methods to our exterior plots with great success.  We have free-range chickens and guineas to help keep down the pests (guineas are great for the grasshopper, snake, and rodent control).  The bummer to the birds is chickens scratch up everything.  We have to build good wire borders around the exterior plots, at least for the first couple of months.  Once the plants are established, the birds are pretty good about just going after the bugs.

We also leave part of our gardening areas weedy – this has been very beneficial!  We have left/created a natural attraction for the bugs, good and bad.   We found tons of Praying Mantis, Ladybugs, and Lacewings all over the natural area in the last years.  This then led them to our plots and protecting our food area as well.

It’s funny when you think about it; this trick was an accident!  Things got very overgrown after the fire and because of my surgeries.  It was all we could do to keep up with our food areas, so some outer areas were left to nature.  When we finally did get around to work on them, we could not believe how many good bugs were hanging out there!

Well, I hope this helps anyone that is thinking about creating their own greenhouse.  I will gladly share more with anyone that asks and give you any helpful hints that we have learned along our journey.  You do not have to go as big as we did.  There are now tons of online places to purchase some fantastic kits to help start you on your way.  My last bit of advice to you – HAVE FUN WITH IT!  We have been having a fantastic time learning all the unique attributes in all our garden areas.  We still are learning (hope that never stops!), and would love to hear what natural ideas you use!

Happy Gardening!!

20160605_091933 (1)         good pic our veggie garden

(Note: Neither garden looks like this for a couple of months yet)

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Why does Colorado make me laugh?

music note 1Snow, snow go away – rain come out so plants can play!music note 2

Got my wish!  Our fun state tied a record yesterday (3/23/17), high temp of 76 degrees at the same time as a blizzard watch (starts in our mountains):

CO tied record

We have been watching all the news channels over the last 48 hours in the hope that we would not see freezing or snow, and we did not (at least not in our perfect space)!  Colorado is so weird with its weather.  I can change from one hour to the next, but it can also give us tons of wonderful rain while 50 miles south and west are getting a blizzard.  I have seen it raining across the street and not touch us at all (that was fun!).

The rain is a welcome sight. However, this also means that I need to get my butt in gear on tuning up the mowers (love the rider, hate the push)!  Things have been greening up here a tiny bit, but after this bit, we will be bloomin’ fools.

bloomin fool

But, with everything going on around us today, couldn’t help but think of the fun movie “Evan Almighty” and the scene that hit me the most today…when the ark crashes into Congress and Steve Carell basically calls John Goodman an idiot for being so underhanded, sneaky, and self-centered.

Evan Almighty crash into congress

Hope you are all having a fun Friday and looking forward to spring finally springing!

spring colors

pretty vine n flower

 

 

Why Should Something So Red and Delicious be Bad?

Sometimes the email newsletters that I receive provide some very useful insite.  This one is just such a case:   Strawberries still top the Dirty Dozen List.  By mnn (mother nature network)

silly-kissing-fruit

My faithful readers know by now that we are trying hard to grow most all of our own food.  We like to know exactly what’s going into the stuff that goes into our bodies.  Not that we are perfect by any means, but we do try our best.

We also run away from chemicals.  We use companion planting, natural gardening, and natural pest control techniques, and good old-fashioned hard work to keep our farm running.  Every year we like to try some new method or idea that is running around.  If it works great – we keep it and share.  If it doesn’t work bummer – we lose it but will still share why/what went wrong.

The above article from MNN regarding strawberries and pesticides made us sad, and a bit angry.  To us, one of the best and easiest things to grow almost anywhere is strawberries.  So why should anyone (individual or company) need to use anything unnatural to grow them?  We have grown them straight in the ground as well as a variety of pots, both doing equally well.

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I have some friends in both very moist and very dry areas that are using different pot ideas and doing quite well with their strawberries.  So why poison them?  Sad to say, but I think it is all due to vanity!

Yep, we all are guilty of this one!  We go into a store to buy food for ourselves and our families.  What is the first thing you check out?  How good does it look?  Right?  I am just as ashamed as you are on this.  I always flip over anything in containers to see if there is a molded or rotting one in it.  I squeeze my cucs to see if they are firm – if not I don’t buy them.  I smell my tomatoes, melons, and most all fruits.  I should be held accountable for some of this problem.

I allow blemishes and cut off rotting parts on our own homegrown food, but hate to pay for something that has a bruise on it – shame on me!

bad fruit

(Oh, except bananas – they taste better a bit bruised and make better tasting bread that way too.)

I love going to Farmer’s Markets to see all the produce others have to share.  I notice that lots of that are not perfect, but I am willing to pay a reasonable price (as long as they can tell me they did not use pesticides or chemicals) for it anyway.  I would love to see more Farmer’s Markets to choose from in the late summer/early fall months.  Our local small town grocery store allows the backyard gardeners to sell their extras in their parking lot during the harvesting season.  This is a great thing!  So why am I so picky about the stuff inside the stores?

cone of shame

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FOR THOSE OF YOU THAT CARE, this is worth the read!

(A thought-provoking note for the first day of spring!)

It may just be because we grow naturally and love Mother Earth.

It may be just because I have an eight-year-old grandson that I would love to see grow up happy and healthy.

Then again, it may be just because!

We do not like to use pesticides.  We encourage good bugs.  Use companion planting.  Pull weeks and maintain our gardens by hand – inside and out!  It never bothered me to get down into the dirt (The ugly part is trying to get back up with fake knees – LOL), up close and personal with our plants.  I really enjoy it – yes, even pulling weeds.

Roughly 20 years ago, our local PBS station ran a program called: My Father’s Farm…this was eye-opening to me.  It was narrated by a woman recalling her childhood on the farm.  She shared how her father got sick and died early due to the pesticides (remember, the childhood was the 40’s – 60’s eras) used back then.  I remember growing up on a farm with animals and equipment to maintain the 80 acres we had.  I remember Dad mixing up stuff to go put on the fields to chase off the bugs and weeds, but I never thought twice about it because it was just what farmers did. (Note: I have tried in vain to find the old documentary – if I should come across it, I will share because it is worth watching!)  My father died at age 54 of cancer.

Now I am not blaming everything toxic for my father’s cancer.  He smoked like a chimney since he was a young teenager.  But I am sure the pesticides did not help.

PBS ran a similar story in 1996 called: My Father’s Garden…this is similar, but not as scary as the “farm” one.  It talks more about changes in farming and gardening.

Those of you that read me also know that I receive the MNN (Mother Nature Network) newsletter.  I just received this little beauty:  Roundup weed killer deemed a carcinogen, at least in California by Jenn Savedge

I am a fast reader, so it only took me about 15 minutes to read this article – however – I also had to swing out and check out the facts they list, which took me much longer.  Pretty scary findings from my point of view.  Just one more reason for my sister and I to choose no chemicals on our little piece of Earth.  Besides, I am pretty sure if our chickens went mutant, they would learn how to open doors, get into my bedroom at night, and scare the snot out of me!

scary mutant chicken  (This is sooo not right!!)

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WHAT IS THE STORY BEHIND OUR GREENHOUSE? – Part 3

How we set up the inside of our greenhouse and why?

First, we were going to just dig in the ground – easiest right?  WRONG!  The bindweed from hell grows here.  I’m not sure you could call it growing, more like a hostile take-over!  It is aggressive, gets into everything, and doesn’t care what you say or want – it’s not going anywhere (Hostile take-over right?)!

Even with our nine months plus efforts building the greenhouse, it did not stop.  We dug three feet underground, burmed the sides and had triple insulated sidewalls all around.  But the bindweed still finds its way in.  All we knew we could do is try to slow it down or contain where it enters.

We then decided that plots were the way to go.  We are also lucky that we have a food production plant near us that gives away its drainage cloth.   We asked them about it, and they gave us the distributor.  Come to find out; it is made of the same stuff that cloth weed barrier is made of only thicker.  They use it to drain leftover water from cheese (note: eventually this bio-degrades so we will have to keep watching our weeds).  We were able to cut off massive pieces of this stuff to use on our farm.  Since it is food – there is no chemicals that are left in the cloth to do harm.  In fact, we were surprised at just how clean the cloth was.

Once the decision to use plots was settled, the idea of a whole floor weed barrier set in.  We cut off chunks of the cloth (f.y.i. this is NOT light stuff – it is very heavy) and spread them out on the floor of the greenhouse.  We used standard garden stakes to hold it all in place.  The only gaps are around the outer edge where it meets the cement wall, and where we have to overlap pieces.  When it was all done it looked great:

DSCF5135

This pic also has the very first plot I put in.  It is what it looked like before we established all the north-end plots.It is on the far right against the wall.  Those are tomatoes growing in there.  This was late summer 2011.  You can see next to that plot is the start of another.  The ones against the wall are one foot wide, the others on the inside are 3 feet wide.  We left about a three- foot walkway in-between rows.  Wanted it to be big enough for carts to get through.  This picture is also fun because we are looking north and the swamp cooler is not in yet.

This is what it looks like now- before growing season (note the tarragon against the wall by the black cover.  There is an ever-bearing strawberry bed next to it on the right):

GH blog3 pic 2

This is what it looks like at the start growing season:

GH blog3 pic 3

This is after one month:

GH blog3 pic 4

And this is full production:

GH blog3 pic 5

There are tomatoes and peppers in with the dill.  Oh, and for all you crafters out there;  dried dill stalks make great crafting/weaving sticks – BONUS!  The top center you can see some orange mesh (It is actually used as horse fencing.  This is part of a bunch of bundles we got at the auction for about five dollars.  Works great for trellising plants.), that is where our cucumbers are going crazy.

There are Four 3’wide by 26’ long plots in the middle.  Then we have a 1’wide by 26’ long plots on both east and west sides.  All plots are made with 2’x12” painted (barn paint – non-toxic) boards with 6mil plastic lining on the inside (not bottoms) of all boards.  The plastic is the same as the greenhouse cover and is used just to keep as much moisture as possible off the board.  Our way of trying to get them to last as long as possible before needing replacement.  You can also see the weed barrier up close in this picture.  It is just a fine mesh material.

The greenhouse has been up and operating for going on seven years now.  The weeds are starting to make their way in, in some spots.  We pull what we can, and I dip the bindweed ends into vinegar in a cup.  Those of you that do not know, this is a perfect way to get to the root of the weed and kill it without killing anything else around it.  The only bummer is this is a very slow process.  The weeds move much faster than I do.

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Just How Green Are You?

One of my fav all-around veggies is cabbage.  I am half Irish, and this is a must! (Mom would find a way to haunt me about it if I don’t!  Her side of the family has always been more fun…a bit off, but more fun!)  In honor of St. Patrick’s day, my Farmer’s Almanac newsletter sent me this winner, not like I needed any more reasons to eat cabbage, but they are interesting facts:

13 HEALTHY REASONS TO START EATING MORE CABBAGE!

Happy cabbage

One of our favorite ways to have it is fried.  You can make cabbage pockets:

fried cabbage pockets

Which are yummy too, but we prefer just to chop it up, and go with it.  Sometimes we will do it with onions (sorry, bad pun!).

We have grown both varieties of green and purple.  Even tried growing Bok Choy, but didn’t have the same appeal to us as regular old cabbage.

purple cabbags          boc choy

Since it goes so well with corned beef (we have feasted on a couple of those already), we just can’t help but get going on our annual cabbage frenzy!  Those of you that may need a bit-O-help getting their cabbage on, the almanac also gave up a fool-proof recipe, check it out!  (F.Y.I., we always crockpot ours at least overnight before slicing.  Oh, and always make sure to cut against the grain.)

This year my sister wants to try making our own sauerkraut?  This should be interesting since we do not have anything like mom’s old canning crocks (try to find them now – WITHOUT a huge price tag on them) to let it soak in.

old canning crock

If any of you have a good modern recipe, I would love it if you would share!!

So, HAPPY ST. PATRICKS DAY to you all!  May it be filled with fun and enjoyment.  (It’s our Friday “game night” this year, so you know we will!)

st pat blessing

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CAN YOU FARM WITHOUT SEWING?  (or sewing gone all wrong)

I do not consider myself a very good seamstress.  I am very proud of my yarn art, crafting, painting, card making, gardening and many other things, I can even change the tires and oil on my vehicles;  but sewing not so much.  One of the many reasons maybe that on my very first attempt I ran my finger over (mom could not quit laughing at the threads hanging from the finger when I asked for her help!?).  Since half that finger is now gone, no worries – right?

finger-after

Then there was my first attempt at trying to make a piece of clothing.  Three rainy days in Wisconsin.  I was in my late teens.  I had purchased my first sewing machine, all the tools of the trade, and a great pattern for a jacket like the one Don Johnson (look him up youngsters, yes he was/is an actor) had with the patches on the elbows (from the TV show).  It was gonna be great!

Three cold, rainy days I worked away at it.  Three soggy, nasty, frigid days I gave to that sucker.  Then, on the third day, the angels sang “it is finished” – sort of.  I went into the bathroom so I could see how it looked in the mirror.  One sleeve was about four inches shorter than the other – IDIOT!  HOW DID YOU NOT NOTICE THAT??  That left a scar for many, many years to come.

sewing sleves off (Not my jacket but same issue.  Just make my bad sleeve about six more inches shorter than the other – boo hoo!!)

I limited my sewing abilities to hand embroidery and hand patching (got pretty good at both), and sewing or mending very simple things.  If there was a big project to be done, I passed it off to my mother with a lot of begging – pleeeease!!

The old sewing machine she had, managed to stay with her through all our moves.  It was a Singer, but it had these cool knob thingys.  You selected the knob by the picture that was on it.  Stuffed it into a hole on the machine and then turned it to match the line for your selection and – bam – you were sewing a special stitch!  She loved that machine.

old singer sewing mach(closest pic I could find to hers)

When she passed, it stayed with us – at least until the fire.

When we started rebuilding our lives, I knew one of the major things we were going to need was a new sewing machine.  You cannot properly manage a farm without means of patching and mending.  So, “NEW” is the operative word here!  I had no clue how much the “new” beasties had changed.  I knew that vehicles, music and the like had upgraded to digital; but I was blind-sided by how much sewing machines had transitioned that direction too.

brother sewing machineThey are still the same basic size and shape as the have always been, but the computer programming in these suckers is scary!  I had to read the instruction manual (yes, guys – I do that from time-to-time) just to figure out how to make a straight stitch!?  I am not a computer dummy by any means, nor am I a proficient geek about them; however, this new one really did scare me!

My sewing was rough at best before; now it was pure torture!  I am determined to get a handle on this monster, how soon that will be is anyone’s guess.  I managed to make some basic flannel curtains for our smoke room/porch.  They turned out really nice (which was great for my seamstress ego)!  My thought is to keep it all simple and basic for now.  One day I hope to try a new stitch a week, not now mind you.  Oh, and this devil has an embroidery feature to it that the only thing I have to do is program the picture and change colors when it stops and tells me to – show off!  It can do in hours what it takes me days to do by hand.  Not sure I like that?embroidery pic 1

Sure it’s pretty.  Yes, it is fast.  But does it put the blood, sweat, and tears – oh and the love – into its work?  I think not!  Ha Ha machine – gotcha there!  (F.Y.I.  I got REALLY STUPID and purchased a serger at the same time as the Beastie.  Can you say, IDIOT!?)

love heart pic 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

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WHAT IS THE STORY BEHIND OUR GREENHOUSE? – Part 2

How and why we decided to plant the way we do in the greenhouse:

Once we knew that we wanted the greenhouse and that we wanted to make enough out of it to supplement future retirement income; we began researching different growing techniques.

HYDROPONICS

hydroponics-system

This was a fairly new fad that was popular at the time we were doing our research.  I think we got lucky when we found a place near the farm we were buying that grew tomatoes through hydroponics.  The man/owner we met informed us of his past in Agricultural Science and how he had developed a great liquid fertilizer that he used on his plants.  His tomatoes were beautiful…perfectly formed, all about the same size, smelled like a really great tomato should.  He was kind enough to give us a free half case to sample.  We thanked him for the tour of his facility and the samples and went home.

The first thing we did was review the pictures we took and discussed his set up and operations in relation to what we had in mind.  His help was immensely helpful.  Unfortunately, the taste of the tomatoes fell flat.  They had no flavor at all – bland!  We wanted to have produce that excited your taste buds from the moment it touches your lips.

To be fair, we then went to some specialty markets in the Denver-metro area and selected a variety of “hydroponic grown” tomatoes for comparison.  We found the same end results.  Yes, they were pleasing to the eye, but all flat on flavor.  That helped us to decide that hydroponics was not for us.

ORGANIC

organic-growing-system

This was something we knew a little about, mainly due to the cultural movement at the time.  Everyone wanted to go “organic” to save the planet.  Once again I began my research on it.

I knew the basics that it was grown using better methods, thus making it better for you to eat.  This was a good start, but I needed to know “how” it was grown better.  What methods were used and why?  This is what I found:

  1. A) The first thing you are going to come to is the Wikipedia definition:
    1.      Organic horticulture is the science and art of growing fruits, vegetables, flowers, or ornamental plants by following the essential principles of organic agriculture in soil building and conservation, pest management, and heirloom variety preservation.
    2. This took me to what are “essential principles of organic agriculture”, and how can I apply them? Again on Wikipedia I found this: (fyi – it’s huge, so I only took a part of the description)
    3. The principles are intended to “apply to agriculture in the broadest sense, including the way people tend soils, water, plants and animals in order to produce, prepare and distribute goods. They concern the way people interact with living landscapes, relate to one another and shape the legacy of future generations.”

2)      The four principles of organic agriculture are as follows:

(i)       The Principle of Health – Organic agriculture should sustain and enhance the health of soil, plant, animal and human as one and indivisible.

(ii)      The Principle of Ecology – Organic agriculture should be based on living ecological systems and cycles, work with them, emulate them and help sustain them.

(iii)    The Principle of Fairness – Organic agriculture should build on relationships that ensure fairness with regard to the common environment and life opportunities.

(iv)     The Principle of Care – Organic agriculture should be managed in a precautionary and responsible manner to protect the health and well being of current and future generations and the environment.

3)      This next section I found (again in Wikipedia) goes into the pest control part – the section we were (and still very much are) concerned about:

  1. a) Integrated pest management (IPM), also known as integrated pest control (IPC) is a broad-based approach that integrates practices for economic control of pests. IPM aims to suppress pest populations below the economic injury level (EIL). The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation defines IPM as “the careful consideration of all available pest control techniques and subsequent integration of appropriate measures that discourage the development of pest populations and keep pesticides and other interventions to levels that are economically justified and reduce or minimize risks to human health and the environment. IPM emphasizes the growth of a healthy crop with the least possible disruption to agro-ecosystems and encourages natural pest control mechanisms

4)      What # 3a) is actually talking about is how much pesticides they will allow a person/business to use on their plants – YET – still be labeled as “organic.”

We did not like the sound of this. According to the USDA (e) When the practices provided for in paragraphs (a) through (d) of this section are insufficient to prevent or control crop pests, weeds, and diseases, a biological or botanical substance or a substance included on the National List of synthetic substances allowed for use in organic crop production may be applied to prevent, suppress, or control pests, weeds, or diseases: Provided, That, the conditions for using the substance are documented in the organic system plan.

The big words that stood out in our heads were “may be applied.”  They are stating that if you have tried all of the natural, or organic, methods and you still can’t get rid of your pests; here’s a list of chemicals we do allow you to use and still use the label organic.  WHAT??!!  The Federal Regulations goes into a ton of beat-around-the-bush lingo but boils down to the fact that they do allow certain types of chemicals but only up to a certain limit (last I knew was up to 15% chemicals were allowed to be used but still called organic).  The also go on to let you know the National List of synthetic (Definition: of a substance made by chemical synthesis, especially to imitate a natural product) substances allowed.  Oh, and they also have a ton of things that are exempt from all the regulations.

THIS ALL BOILED DOWN TO ONE BIG THING: We did not want to use any chemicals – AND – we did not want to have to report to “big brother”  all the time.  If a person creates income from organic foods, in excess of $5000, they have to share all their records of operations and maintenance under allowable organic methods.  Well, our personal preference is that the US Government needs to keep their eyes on bigger matters and keep they nose out of our personal lives.  Result: no organic partying for us.

NATURAL METHODS

natural-growing-system

This became our destination!  What better idea is there for us than to go “natural?”  We do not use chemicals on any of our edibles or flowers.  The only thing we do with our lawn spaces is water and mow.  The farm birds take very good care of the fertilizer part (chickens mainly), and we compost.  If any manure needs to be added, we have plenty of friends willing to assist.

We pull weeds by hand or use weedless gardening methods (this is basically covering a plot or space with bio-degradable material like cardboard or newspaper to kill off the unwanted weeds) and companion planting with EVERYTHING!  Then good soil and compost are topped on that, then plant away on top.  It does not kill off everything forever, but it does limit growth and slows them down.) so, with proper prepping and being the Constant Gardener, we can spend more time on tending to our crops needs.

We use a TON of companion planting to repel or distract unwanted pests.  Some things we grow lure bad bugs away from our good foods, some just simply keep them at bay.  We have a great list of reading materials that I would be happy to share, for anyone that would want to learn more.  Read (and still do) all kinds of different growing methods and techniques, but I still have some favs that work best.

Next, I will share How we set up the inside of our greenhouse and why.

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I HATE ROLLER COASTERS, DO YOU?

I hate roller coasters! I always have. I used to ride most other County Fair rides, just not coasters. The octopus (we called it the spider) with all of its spinning never bothered me. There’s just something about all the way up and way down that I never could stomach (literally – I would throw up every time I was stupid enough to try – ewe!)
I went to Las Vegas with a friend several years ago. We decided to visit Caesars Palace because the animated movie Atlantis came out and they had a ride related to it. Sounded like a great fun thing to do in Vegas – oh stupid me!
Got our tickets and while maneuvering the line to get in they handed out special glasses to view the movie with (STRIKE #1). My girlfriend picked the balcony front row seats I “So we get the best view of all the movie!” (STRIKE #2). We sat down in our front row, balcony seats and heard the announcer say “Everyone, please fasten your seatbelts so we can begin the show, thank you.” WHAT?? (STRIKE #3 and I wish I had been out!)
The movie ride started up. It was called Race to Atlantis, and I was about to find out why. With special glasses on, our seats started to tilt back. The little guy in the movie/ride was sitting in his water racer, and this HUGE slingshot thingy was being pulled back with a racer in it. At the same time, our seats tilted farther and farther back. The announcer on the screen yelled: “THEY’RE OFF!”; and like a shot, we were flung forward in our seats. Now, remember – we are front row balcony! The stupid glasses were a 3-D type, and I vaguely recall screaming as I was thrown forward in my seat! The rest of the movie was a maze of ups, downs, twists, and turns. When it was over, I thanked God several times for my seatbelt staying intact. Then I cursed at my girlfriend, who would not stop laughing at me, for taking me on such a thing!
Well, I am pretty sure all Farmers hate weather that roller coasters! This is exactly what our weather has been doing since the first of the year. The upper seventies one day to lower thirties the next – what the hay? Up and down and up and down – how are we supposed to plan around this mess? Then the other issue is, did all the bad monsters actually freeze out or are we going to have a huge pest infestation this summer?

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(This pic was taken with my camera 2-27-17 at about 2 p.m.)
Most of our annual flowers are starting to pop out. The trees are starting to bud (so far only leaf buds but I am worried). We have a flood of beetles on the south side of the house, and our first house flies already!
Then this:

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This pic was taken on 2-28-17 about noon. The fuzzy spot was a huge snow flake. The grey in the background is the beginning of a great snow storm.
By 5pm the whole storm thingy was over. The high never got past 20 degrees. The next 10 days are running from mid to upper 40’s to mid to upper 70’s. So, no matter how much snow we get all total, it will be gone by 5pm the next day. Now how is a body supposed to plan and plant in this stuff? Ahh the life of a farmer/gardener! The only hope is that it stays heavy/wet enough to soak in!
(P.S. Would not trade my country life for city ever again or for anything in the world!)

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