PLOWSHARE THURSDAY – COMPANIONS.

The thing I am most grateful for in our gardening endeavors today is that we learned how to use “companion planting” to our benefit!

Those that may not have heard of this before: It is the method of planting that puts one or more plants next to each other, to naturally protect and strengthen them.

What this means is very simple:

  • Plant carrots with tomatoes.

carrots n tomatoes

  • Plant dill with just about everything.

dill-in-gh.jpg

  • Plant marigolds with just about everything.

marigolds

  • Oh, and when possible, leave a place totally natural – untouched!

wild plant area

The last one is a HUGE secret that we found out about last year.

The fire three years ago set us back on all of our normal routines.  The biggest damage occurred on the land and gardens.  To have something, anything, for harvest in the fall of 2014; we chose to let parts of the farm and gardens go natural.

Then in 2015, we were still trying to get a handle on things, and I was still doing surgeries.  Since I am the main person working on the farm and gardens, I was in no shape to keep up with it all (and we only garden on about 5 of our 20 acres.).

It was summer of 2016 when it came time to finally tame the whole area.  We have one long field that is about 100-feet wide by about 200-feet long.  It is the length of the whole main area of our farm.  Nothing is growing in there except weeds and wild grasses.  The chickens loved roaming around in there after bugs and worms.  The problem by mid-summer is that we could not see the chickens in the tall grasses anymore – HUGE DANGER FOR CHICKEN FARMERS!

Even though we had not seen or heard a coyote or fox in a couple of years, we did not want to take the chance.  Thus the major mowing finally began.  My sister was smart!  Out of the fire funds, we managed to purchase a John Deere Riding Mower – best investment ever!!

I put on my pretty sun hat (not – but it works- ha ha), doused myself with sun screen and bug repellant started the monster up and away I went.  What fun it actually was!  I could get pretty close to things so we would only have to push-mow a few spots when I was done.

When I got to the long field, I went around the first corner, and a praying mantis landed on my arm!  I stopped mowing, caught it with my hand and put it into the greenhouse.  It took me about 3 hours that first day to clear that long field (normal is only about 1 hour), due to the friendly critters!

We then realized that the corner where we had a pile of old wooden posts had attracted a bunch of bad bugs, which then attracted a bunch of good bugs – viola – natural pest controls!

We used to trim up everything thinking that this would keep the nasties away – nope, the best we ever did was to leave the woodsy area alone.  Most of the long field gets mowed now, but a large section with the wood gets left untouched.

Companion planting works in the same manner.  You plant things next to each other to deter the bad bugs and naturally attract the good bugs.  I even let the dill in the greenhouse run amok this summer.  It is over five-feet tall.  Has seed heads the size of basketballs, and attracts the aphids.  I have no clue why they love the dill more than all else, but they do.

I can now plant dill in succession and simply cut down and bad the old buggy stuff and throw it in the trash.  The plastic bags will suck out the air and kill them, or they will be moved to the dump when the trash guy comes.

I can still find a bit on my food plants – but not as much and it is easy to take care of with wash or wiping.

Hope this helps – happy gardening!

(If you enjoyed this bit of humor, please feel free to visit my latest blog: Life Lessons Lived  to get more laughter in your life!)

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SEASON TWO – WOO HOO!!

It’s time for the next game-plan here on our little slice of heaven – food season!

The grandson started school this week. Therefore I now have more time to spend on/in the gardens (can you hear me jumping for joy?!).

First thing I am working on is revamping the greenhouse.  It’s been going well for the last five years, but it’s time for some improvements, at least I hope they will be in the long run.

  1. Tomato Racks: We have tried a number of ways to work with our tomatoes to get the best results:
    1. Wire tomato cages – not good in the greenhouse. The weather in there makes the cages fall apart after only a couple of years.
    2. We took an idea from our local Corp. Hydroponic Tomato Plant. They “hang” their tomatoes on long lines.  Once I understood the necessity of trimming off lower branches and useless branches, hanging seemed like a great idea.  Nope, the ropes disintegrated, and wires cut the stalks.
    3. Let them lay where they will. VERY WRONG IDEA!  Yes, we had tons of tomatoes, but we could not find most of them until too late.  Either they would rot or get stepped on.  Unless we could see them, we would lose them (and we lost too many for our liking!).
    4. Now we think we have a solution – a wooden rack:

 

So far, so good!  The only issue we have is that I thought of it too late.  The tomatoes in the background (pic on the left shows best – the walkway disappeared – hee hee), are how long and bushy we are already.

We had to go on one row/side of the plot and flip all the branches over to the other side.  Then we installed the rack.  Once in place, we very delicately found each vine and hung it on the rack.  There is a metal field fence (has 4”x4” squares to it) piece attached to the wooden rack for us to build the vines on.

They went into a bit of shock right after propping up; however, it has been about two weeks now, and they are starting to bounce back.  During the whole time, we had plenty of tomatoes.  We had enough that we can begin our barter time:

  • Eggs for tomatoes.
  • Squash for tomatoes
  • Fruit for tomatoes
  • Even got a new thermostat on the truck for a loaf of bread and a bunch of tomatoes (tiny eaters and large sandwich type).

We hope to have the three racks installed in that row by the end of the month (mid-September at the latest).  The front faces west which is our most intense heat.  This leaves the east side in full to partial shade by mid-afternoon.  Carrots, lettuce, spinach are going in there.  We are also building frames to go over the racks for extra cover on really cold nights.  One other year we had tomatoes through Christmas. Hope we can do that again this year.  Fresh tomatoes make such a great gift!

Happy gardening!!

(If you enjoyed this bit of humor, please feel free to visit my latest blog: Life Lessons Lived  to get more laughter in your life!)

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IS THIS WAY COOL OR WHAT?

I was around for the last big one but was not so close to its path of observance before.  The total solar eclipse!  Here in Colorado, it is supposed to be a spectacular show this time around.

I think this is a really cool thing, and I hope that all of the schools (especially the younger grades) will allow the students to watch it.  My grandson will be starting third grade on Monday – the day of the eclipse.  I do know that a bunch of schools have purchased the special glasses for the students and they do have plans to have them attend the event.

solar eclipse

This bit of trivia came across my email this morning:

What Folklore Tells Us About Eclipses

It was so interesting that I just wanted to share it with you.  I especially liked how the NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller described it:  “The sky starts to get cool and dark, a couple minutes before totality. And all of your instincts, all of a sudden, start to freak out. Something’s going wrong. . . . There’s this deep basic panic that sets in as the whole world changes in a way it’s not supposed to. All of a sudden it feels like you’re standing on another planet.”
Now, how cool is that?!?  Too bad it’s not falling on a Friday the 13th as well!  We could all then turn into freakazoids – LOL!

I love folklore, old wives’ tales, and any other bits of trivia from the past.  The best part about them all now is that if you spend some time on the net, you can find out how, where, and when most of them came to be.

My mother (and her side of the family) were notorious for this stuff.

  • Bad news comes in 3’s
  • Drop a spoon and company is coming
  • If your nose itches, you will kiss a fool (ya, done that one too many times!)
  • If your right ear is ringing, someone is talking good about you.
  • If your left ear is ringing, someone is talking bad about you.

These and so many more were a huge part of my growing up.  I also remember her and my Aunts and some of their friends all gathering for séance.  As kids growing up in the 1960’s, this was way cool.  Mind you that NONE of the men participated (no imagination, LOL).  I remember that a year before she died, her sister came to visit.  Mom insisted that we had to visit her Psychic.  I do not remember her name, but I will never forget the trip.

I was never much of a believer in all this, but it was fun to do never-the-less.  Sissy (mom’s sister/my aunt) went first.  Then mom.  Then me.  Now, from my own experiences with all this, they NEVER tell you bad news.  Warnings or omens but they were always vague.  This visit was not vague.

She invited me into her private room and closed the door behind us – normal.

She then took my hand and said:“Prepare yourself, your mother will not live another year.” WHAT????!!!!

Totally threw me for a loop!  She went on to say that I am the strong one in the family and I will help the others to get through it all.

DAMN – that darn woman was right!

Roughly ten months later mom died in my arms.

-WOW-

The trip was two months before mom went into her final surgery.  Her cancer had been reduced to a small node on her liver.  They performed a new freezing procedure on her that ended up freezing a major part of her liver.  Nothing further to do.  February of the following year she was gone.

I am a more “logical” mind person so to me she may have seen the signs that mom was pale.  Looked tired, and maybe, in their visit, mom had shared her ill feelings.  But, for this Psychic to flat out tell me this was astounding!

I still trust in science.  I do know for a fact that there is a reason for everything.  But I am humble enough to believe that there are some things in the universe that you just cannot explain in simple terms.  I do not ever want to know the meaning of life as you would ask from God.  I chose to believe that I was put here to help others.  I love to make people laugh – at me, at themselves, at life in general.  So, if this little story of mine gave you a bit of a giggle, my work here is done!

Have a nice day!

(Oh, and enjoy the eclipse!)

(If you enjoyed this bit of humor, please feel free to visit my latest blog: Life Lessons Lived  to get more laughter in your life!)

IS THIS WAY COOL OR WHAT?
I was around for the last big one but was not so close to its path of observance before. The total solar eclipse! Here in Colorado, it is supposed to be a spectacular show this time around.
I think this is a really cool thing, and I hope that all of the schools (especially the younger grades) will allow the students to watch it. My grandson will be starting third grade on Monday – the day of the eclipse. I do know that a bunch of schools have purchased the special glasses for the students and they do have plans to have them attend the event.

This bit of trivia came across my email this morning:
What Folklore Tells Us About Eclipses
It was so interesting that I just wanted to share it with you. I especially liked how the NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller described it: “The sky starts to get cool and dark, a couple minutes before totality. And all of your instincts, all of a sudden, start to freak out. Something’s going wrong. . . . There’s this deep basic panic that sets in as the whole world changes in a way it’s not supposed to. All of a sudden it feels like you’re standing on another planet.”

Now, how cool is that?!? Too bad it’s not falling on a Friday the 13th as well! We could all then turn into freakazoids – LOL!
I love folklore, old wives’ tales, and any other bits of trivia from the past. The best part about them all now is that if you spend some time on the net, you can find out how, where, and when most of them came to be.
My mother (and her side of the family) were notorious for this stuff.
• Bad news comes in 3’s
• Drop a spoon and company is coming
• If your nose itches, you will kiss a fool (ya, done that one too many times!)
• If your right ear is ringing, someone is talking good about you.
• If your left ear is ringing, someone is talking bad about you.
These and so many more were a huge part of my growing up. I also remember her and my Aunts and some of their friends all gathering for séance. As kids growing up in the 1960’s, this was way cool. Mind you that NONE of the men participated (no imagination, LOL). I remember that a year before she died, her sister came to visit. Mom insisted that we had to visit her Psychic. I do not remember her name, but I will never forget the trip.
I was never much of a believer in all this, but it was fun to do never-the-less. Sissy (mom’s sister/my aunt) went first. Then mom. Then me. Now, from my own experiences with all this, they NEVER tell you bad news. Warnings or omens but they were always vague. This visit was not vague.
She invited me into her private room and closed the door behind us – normal.
She then took my hand and said:

Prepare yourself, your mother will not live another year.” WHAT????!!!!

Totally threw me for a loop! She went on to say that I am the strong one in the family and I will help the others to get through it all.
DAMN – that darn woman was right!
Roughly ten months later mom died in my arms.

-WOW-

The trip was two months before mom went into her final surgery. Her cancer had been reduced to a small node on her liver. They performed a new freezing procedure on her that ended up freezing a major part of her liver. Nothing further to do. February of the following year she was gone.
I am a more “logical” mind person so to me she may have seen the signs that mom was pale. Looked tired, and maybe, in their visit, mom had shared her ill feelings. But, for this Psychic to flat out tell me this was astounding!
I still trust in science. I do know for a fact that there is a reason for everything. But I am humble enough to believe that there are some things in the universe that you just cannot explain in simple terms. I do not ever want to know the meaning of life as you would ask from God. I chose to believe that I was put here to help others. I love to make people laugh – at me, at themselves, at life in general. So, if this little story of mine gave you a bit of a giggle, my work here is done!

Have a nice day!

goofy smile face (Oh, and enjoy the eclipse!)

(If you enjoyed this bit of humor, please feel free to visit my latest blog: Life Lessons Lived to get more laughter in your life!)
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

PLOWSHARE THURSDAY AUGUST 17, 2017:

I was away for a bit, but am now back.  Since I was also away from my gardens and garden work, I had a TON of catching up to do.  Funny how falling out of sync for just one week can throw your gardens into an ugly frenzy!

My share today, because of the garden frenzy, is this great little invention:

y-faucet connectorHere we call it a Y-connector.  Most people will attach it to their outside faucet to obtain the ability to water two spots at once.  We go the next step.  We have drip lines EVERYWHERE in our gardens.  They are most helpful in the greenhouse as there is no rain to supply backup water in there.

Even with our whole end swamp cooler going, the plots in there can still dry out pretty fast.  Especially on those 90+ degree days with full sun.  When we initially started up the greenhouse, everything was watered by human power.  Dragging a hose with a nozzle on the end of it up and down, over and under all the plots and plants – not a good thing Martha!

Then (as it always seems to happen) we got smart!  Drip lines were installed.  We tried several different types with several different connections and extensions.  Over the years, and a ton of trial and fail, we came up with running two long lines about six to eight inches away from the edges of the plots the full length of the plots.  Since the plots are about forty feet long and the lines are about fifty feet long, we looped the ends to come back into the center of the plots.  We used to connect to each line one-at-a-time – DUH!  Thus the inclusion of Y-connectors.

We now have both drip lines connected to the same single y-connector.  The end of that has a quick-connect attachment which we can then simply snap on and off each plot for easy, even watering.  We have our own well, but I set a timer for everything I do.  The normal time of each plot is thirty minutes.  This manages to place the water right where the plant root systems are set.  We also (just this year – another “get smart” idea that came to us) set the lines about two to three inches below the surface.  This has managed to deep water beautifully!

We used this maneuver on one of our outside tomato lines for the first time this year – outstanding results!  Before this, we would just place them on the top of the soil near the plant stalk.  It never appeared to be providing the amount of water that we wanted.  By setting them up “BELOW” the surface, the results have been amazing.

It should be noted that we do not use any type of poking device to make a hole for the initial sets transplants.  Hands work just fine, and my finger nails get a strong dose of great minerals that make them stronger (don’t know how that works, just that it does?).

Please feel free to comment any questions you have in our method(s), and I will be happy to share our secrets with you.

Happy Gardening!

 

WHERE DO YOU DO “IT” AT?

Ok, most of you – get out of the gutter! I am talking about food processing here.
We have such a nice new house with outstanding new porches that it would be a shame not to use them every chance we get.
Well, the food processing season has come upon us once again. This time around we decided to do the messiest parts of the job outside whenever possible. The beginning project is beets.
Those of you have (and love) done up pickled beets know just how messy they get. The red in them, I swear, could dye the roughest of materials! With having such a beautiful, huge, new kitchen; the last thing we wanted to do was dye areas with bits of the red mess. Thus our decision to process them outside.
The cooking was done inside as that is easy enough to maintain, but the peeling and cutting are definitely done outside.
I sit on one side of the 8’x8’ area:

8-4 my fav process spot

My sister sits on the other:

8-4 d fav process spot

(Her delicate butt gets the extra chair pad – so not fair as mine is rutabaga style and deserves more!)
We have our garden tool box, music, some plants that will go back into the house come fall, and of course a place to set our drinks. The pics here are when we enjoy the area the most – early morning!
There is a yellow bug light bulb in the porch light to keep most of them at bay. The fun part is when we turn on the south door light (a regular 60-watt bulb), it will draw up all kinds of critters. The critters find their way to the front yard, and we can view them comfortably from our perch.
The honeysuckle is just past the porch which attracts some really cool critters: humming birds, humming bird moths, during the day we get a variety of bees and butterflies. I think I prefer the night ones; they are usually more interesting.
Once we have the base steps done in the house, it is time to venture to the veranda:

8-5 how we process foods-beets

If you look close at the bottom, you can see one of our many un-requested helpers doing what they normally do – sleep (animals!?). Also, note how smart my sister is! She remembered to put on her latex gloves BEFORE beginning – woo hoo smartie! We purchased boxes of the disposable things specifically for the beets and hot peppers. Now we need to have some type of auto-reminder not to touch your face when you are processing foods as you will end up with pepper juice in the eyes, and very pretty red dye streaks all over your face and neck (yes, been there, done that!).

If you enjoyed this (and maybe laughed a bit), then please check out my new blog: Life Lessons Lived where I share more bits and pieces of my humoristic life!

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