Friday, March 27, 2015

Garden Season and Around the Homestead.

Spring fever has hit! The last few weeks i've been drooling over seed catalogs, planning out my gardens and ordering seeds.

Baker Creek is still one of my favorite places to order online seeds from!  i still have quite a few tomato seeds left from last year, and so i didn't go overboard ordering this year.  i did get the Blue Beauty which i'm excited about, and another variety called Tigerella.  The black pineapple tomatoes were my least favorite from the varieties i grew last year, mainly because i couldn't ever tell when they were ripe. i'm going to try again this year, keeping it in a pot so i don't confuse it with the other tomatoes. 

i've managed to get a large percentage of my seeds for free this year.  i  ordered seeds from Tropical Traditions, using my referral credit.  Besides coconut oil, and coconut products they also offer organic, open pollinated,  GMO-free seeds.   i  received the The Ultimate Emergency Survival Seed kit for $1, in exchange for a review.  i signed up for the Peaceful Valley newsletter/catalog and received a $5 gift code, which i used on seeds and only paid shipping.  

i also saved many seeds from last year, so i have a really nice collection of seeds just waiting to be planted! Locally i purchase seeds from Southern Exposure Seed exchange (Harvest moon health food store) and Seeds of Change (Tractor Supply). So i tend to pick up a few new packs of seeds any time i go out.  

i always start a few seeds way too early. This year is no different. i started most of my cold crops, but also a few tomatoes. This year i've started Violent Sicilian cauliflower,  Purple sprouting broccoli, Redbor (purple kale), lots of lettuce ,  black cherry and violet jasper tomatoes. 

This eggplant was planted last year, and never did anything. It was so small, i dug it up and brought it inside and overwinter it.  This spring is has really started to grow and has bloomed twice now! :)  i think this will give me a pretty good head start on eggplant this year. :)

i have several 'lettuce bowls' planted. i find that they grow well overcrowded like this. In the spring you can pull off individual leaves to use in your salad, and once the plants are a good size and the ground is ready to plant they can be separated and transplanted into the garden. i had really good luck doing it this way last year, and look forward to it again this year.   i have 3 different pots of lettuce started, so i'll be able to have a pretty constant supply of lettuce throughout the season. The potted lettuce can be moved to cooler locations, so even in the heat of the summer you can still grow it.

i still have a ton of sweet potatoes that were harvest last fall. Most of them are still edible, but i do have a few that have begun to sprout.  The longer starts i remove and place them in water to root.  These smaller starts i'll leave until they get a bit larger.  It will be really nice if we get enough sweet potato starts that i don't have to buy any this year. In the past, i haven't been able to get them to grow starts until after it's time to plant. 

Kenan set up the cold frame for me again this year. This is a really good way to help protect seedling when it's still getting cold at night.  They can be made easily, using materials around the house. You can get old windows off of freecycle or at the Habitat Restore. Ask around, lots of folks have these taking up space in the shed or garage.  We used concrete blocks, but you can build a raised bed out of wood, or straw bales and it will work well too.  

Every year Biglots has these super cheapy greenhouses for sale. They have several different sizes, and at the end of the season they mark them way down.  Last fall i snagged this walk in greenhouse for 75% off. i paid less than $20 bucks for it. i know it will probably only last one season, but i'm still excited to have it.  It was very easy to put together and i've already got a bunch of plants stating in it.  i also bought the 4 tier greenhouse  at 75% off to use inside over the winter.  It worked really well to keep a few things, like my eggplant, going all winter long.  i also used to to get a head start on seeds while it was still below freezing outside.  Both of these greenhouses are made with pvc and are not real strong, but when you can snag them at a discount i think they are totally worth it. 

Spring is definitely in the air (even though it is snowing as i type this).  My chickens are laying like crazy, we are getting over a dozen eggs a day.  i have one broody hen setting on eggs. She is setting on 6 olive eggs, so i am hoping that they are fertile and she hatches out some olive egger babies. My OE hen has been hanging out with my Black Copper Maran rooster, so the babies (2G) should produce really dark olive eggs, i believe.  i've read conflicting info on whether the male BCM affect egg i guess we'll see as long as we hatch out a few females.

This last week we've finally had some spring weather.  The daffodils are starting to bloom and Kenan tilled up 3 of the gardens.   i'm still planning out where to plant this year, but i'm excited to get started. We are putting in lots of fruit trees this year, and more blueberry bushes.  

 Kenan's glass work is doing fantastic and i am back to beading, which i haven't done seriously since before i had kids. Lots of work to do, but making lots of progress, and finally beginning to feel like we are back on the right path again. 

“The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land.” - Abraham Lincoln


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