A Year Gone By

Well, as with so many things in my life, good intentions don’t always come to fruition.  Life took a drastic turn for us last year with an addition of a family member for a month or so, then the garden took off, we added new animals (four chickens), school started back up come fall, my best friend (and garden buddy) moved away, the holidays, and here we are again at the beginning of a new year.

I would like to say maybe this blog will be a journal for this year’s gardening/homesteading endeavors, but I make no promises.  Life just seems to stay busy, even as we begin to approach the years with children leaving the nest.

I am starting to dream of spring, even though winter has really only just started here in Northern NY.  We had a very mild fall with little to no snow up until this past week.  Highly unusual when you live in the snow belt of Lake Ontario.  I am happy to announce that the ground has several inches of snow on the ground – although I heard something about the possibility of rain tomorrow.

The new members of our family aren’t too sure of this white stuff.  The first day we had any significant amount, they refused to leave their coop – leaving me stranded on how to feed and water them since that usually occurs in the run.  With some quick improvising, we managed to get food and water to them and all seems well.  Here is a picture of our coop taken shortly after the girls arrived last spring.

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I never thought chickens would be so amusing.  To watch them come running when you call them is quite a sight to see.  And having fresh eggs is amazing.  I hope I never have to go back to store bought eggs again.

Well, I could go on and on, but I’ll stop my ramblings for now.  Good to be back, I look forward to your comments again.

Until next time – Happy Gardening!

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Oh What a Beautiful Day…

A glimpse of spring today.  Maybe it will be here soon!  I ventured out this afternoon to take advantage of warm temps.  I was actually rather warm in my sweatshirt!  I sorted some stuff on my back porch that I use for potting plants – I’ve been collecting boxes there for the garden.  I then ventured to my compost pile and gave it a turn.  Around the outer parts it was still frozen but deep inside it was nice and loose.  Threw on some kitchen scraps to give it a little green since I had already fed the worms this week.  Hopefully it will continue to cook down some more so it’s ready to go when the gardens are.

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Doesn’t it look wonderful?

I checked out the raised beds that weren’t still covered in snow and the garlic is peeking through.  Then I took a walk around to the front of the house to my flower bed and was pleased to find the buds on the lilac trees, and the daffodils and tulips are poking up.

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Daffodils

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Tulips

I recruited my children to help me pick up some sticks in the yard then sent them off to play.  We have a huge quarry behind us that always becomes a lake in the spring so they headed down the hill to “build a bridge” to the “island” about eight feet into the “lake”.

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I don’t think I want to know why the sled is down here.  My son thinks he needs a boat for his birthday – unfortunately by the time his birthday gets here the “lake” will be all dried up.

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On the seed planting front my broccoli, cauliflower and onions have all germinated and are doing well but I’ll save that for another post.

Until next time – Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  Rainbow

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And we have light–for real this time!

Yes, I finally have my grow light working.  Picked up two lights bulbs yesterday at Lowes, put them in and wahlah – they work!

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As you can see I put my herbs under it already and I think they are enjoying it considering the sun here is hit and miss this time of year.  I also gave them a drink of fish water thanks to my daughter’s gold fish.  I think they were due for some fertilizer as the leaves on a few were looking a bit yellow so hopefully this will help them out.

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I managed to get some of my pots cleaned up today and have a couple of them filled with vermiculite soaking up water so I can get some seeds started.  I’m a little behind in planting from what I had planned, but the nice thing about plants is – they’re forgiving (well unless you are really late Winking smile).

Until next time – Thinking Spring!  Umbrella

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Here a seed, there a seed, everywhere a seed, seed…

I’m trying to firm up my seed order so I can get it placed, but it’s so overwhelming Confused smile sometimes when you don’t really know much about the different varieties.  I already have quite a few seeds left over from last year, but I’m finding it’s fun to try new ones.  My grandparents always went with the same varieties and never saved seeds (at least as far as I know).

I came across this website today Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners put up by Cornell University.  You can search different plants and it brings up a brief description of the varieties that are available.  You can also refine your search so if you want just heirlooms, you can check that off.  Of course then you have to find a supplier but at least you can get an idea of what’s out there.  If you register with the site, you can also vote on the varieties.  I think I may be browsing this site quite a bit the next few days.

I am hoping to start some seeds this weekend.  I was reading that you can put your planted seeds on top of your refrigerator for a nice warm spot to start them, then move to your grow lights after they germinate.  Of course that means cleaning off the top of the refrigerators first.  Maybe I’ll tackle that tomorrow when I’m cleaning them out.  Winking smile 

Update on the worms.  I just ventured down to the abyss and am happy to report no more of the little buggers have decided to look for new digs.  I saw quite a few more babies and they seem to have found the new batch of food I put in there Monday.  So maybe it will be a success after all.  Laughing out loud

Until next time – Happy Gardening!  High five

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And the wormz have it…

I must confess, I have avoided writing about my worms since I got them because I was concerned I had done something wrong…  Sad smile

A little over a week ago I picked up some worms at Walmart.  I didn’t know if they were the red wriggler as the package didn’t specifically say they were but from what I could find on the internet it looked like they might be.  I think the package said there was about 30 worms per container. 

I brought them home and introduced them to their new home.  The next day I couldn’t resist heading down in the basement to see how they were settling in.  To my dismay  there were about 8 or so dead worms on my basement floor.  Sad smile  I was distressed!  Did I make the holes in the tub too big?  Was my bedding too wet for them?  Did they not like the moldy spaghetti I gave them?  Was the basement too cold.  You would have thought I lost my favorite pet!

I opened up the box, did a little search in the bedding and found some of them had dug down to where their food was, some were climbing the walls and I quickly shooed them back where they belonged.  They didn’t seem to react to the light like I had read they would (but the light source is a distance from their box so it may just not be bright enough).

A few days later I investigated again.  A couple more on the floor.  Crying face  I dug around again and found a few worms but they seemed to be barely moving when I picked them up.  A few even seemed lifeless.  Sigh…  It looked like I would have to order some (which I still may do).  I did find two that were mating (that was strange – lol). Embarrassed smile  I did do a little reading and found out that worms don’t actually eat the food you give them but the microorganisms that break down the food – like mold.  That made me feel better about the moldy spaghetti. 

This morning I had to go into the basement to check something and I couldn’t resist taking a peek at my houseguests.  Upon opening the lid I was greeted by a number of tiny little worms that were climbing the side of the box.  Babies?  Maybe.  I also dug around to check on their food supply because I my bucket was just about full and I wanted to feed them.  I  discovered the moldy spaghetti was no where to be found.  WOW – that was a shock. Surprised smile  Made me feel much better and the worms I did find seemed a bit more lively.  So maybe this will work after all.  I think I’m still going to order some worms this week that I know are red wrigglers.  Smile

My 12 year old son just walked by and asked what I was writing about.  I told him “my worms”.  He rolled his eyes Eye rolling smile and said “okay…?”.  My kids just don’t understand me – they take after their father.  Laughing out loud

Until next time – Happy Gardening!  Fingers crossed

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Some serious problems here

A link came through today for the following article: The Santa Barbara Syndrome: Evidence of a Broken Food System.  If you haven’t seen it yet I encourage to read it (it’s short).

How sad Crying face is it that food grown in an area is shipped to other areas, and the food they eat is shipped in from other elsewhere?  And what is even more sad is this is happening across America.  My good friend first told me about trying to eat food that is locally grown and raised as much as possible.  She was reading the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life and I happened to have it on my shelf (found it at a thrift store and thought it looked interesting) so I started to read it as well.  It really made me start to do a lot of thinking about our food and where it’s coming from.

I must confess that I’m not always very good at trying to buy local or in season foods.  We still like our occasional chips and crackers, and there is just something about Florida grapefruit for breakfast, but I am trying to be more aware.  I buy less prepared foods and try to cook more from scratch when ever I can.  I would like to be able to grow enough food in my garden to last us through most of the winter.  We purchased locally raised beef last spring for the first time and I won’t go back to store bought if I don’t have to.  I would like to get some pork the same way as soon as I have some money for it. 

I am hoping this year to make better use of our local farmers market when it starts back up.  I’m all for the entrepreneur/farmer/stay at home working mom (I am all three after all Winking smile) trying to make ends meet.  We can all help each other out by first looking local – even if it costs a little more (just think what you’re saving in gas).  We can change where our food (and other things) come from, one household at a time and help our neighbors at the same time.

Until next time – Buy Local!  Left hugGift with a bowRight hug

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Tag–You’re It!

I had a few minutes here and decided to do a quick project – making tags for my plants this year.  I mentioned a link to this project a few weeks ago I think.  Very simple and I now have a lot of tags ready to go when I start to plant.  Last year I used wooden tongue depressors but they fell apart as they year went on.  Fortunately I knew by then what every thing was, but not necessarily what kind (important for seed saving).

I didn’t see much sense in spending money on some plastic ones when you can quickly make them with something you are likely to throw away anyhow.  We happened to have these cookie containers from our trip last week that I saved.  They worked great.  The one that is already cut up was from a 15oz Ricotta cheese container.

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Just cut them up to what ever thickness you want, you can point the ends if you want and poof – plant tags!  Use a Sharpie to write what your plant is along with any other info you want to remember.  I’m going to put the date I started, germination time, and when they should be ready to harvest.   These three containers gave me a lot, might even be enough for my entire season but I do have a container of cottage cheese in the fridge I may cut a few more – just to be safe!  Nerd smile

Until next time – Happy Gardening!  Clock

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