Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Every Blooming Thing...

...isn't happening yet, but I have some! :)

Tulips have awakened, and begun to open. I wanted to also share how my perennial bed has filled out, and show the inside of the coldframe/4'x4' greenhouse. There are buds on my columbine, which is on its second year, and we don't know the mystery color I planted, but we will find out soon. So I'm just sharing some photos, and we all love photos!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

So I lied!

After 2 years of keeping chickens, I've only had and breed Silkies. I love their look, their temper and their adorable eggs! I swore no other chicken could steal my heart or my coop space.

However, I had found myself looking into Japanese bantams more and more. So small, and regal with their flaring tall tails. Also, the thought that I could have 2 of the only bantam heritage breeds out there... well... WOOHOOO!

I thought even more about it, and did some research on silkie feathered japanese bantams, and they are getting popular in Europe, but are so rare in the US they are unheard of! BREEDING PROGRAM IDEAS!!!!

So swept away in my fantasies, hubby and I changed the old duck house into a new mini coop with run and after some months of searching I introduce you to:

My new Japanese Grey Bantams
Gingko: the 6 week old roo
Calla and Canna the 6 week old pullet and 2.5 week old pullet
and the unknown 2.5 week old, who may be a roo too!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tomatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatoes...

**Originally I wrote this article for but I haven't seen any further movement on the blog lately. I didn't want this topic to get old. It is time to get thinking about your Tomatoes!**

Why are tomatoes so important to the home gardener? Simple... a produce of intense flavor, multiple uses, an abundance of choices available, and many varieties give high yields. When I think of tomatoes I think of my grandmother's garden, and all those wonderful sauces she prepared from them. She however lived in the Northeastern United States when I was a child, I now live in the hot and humid Southeastern United states. What varieties worked for her, won't exactly work for me and not necessarily will work for you.

Things to consider before you choose a tomato:
*Disease Resistance
*Heat Resistance
*Your Cooking Needs
*Expected Yield

Here are a list of Types and Varieties. Some hybrids, some heirlooms, and some open pollinating hybrids. Each type is listed by popularity for different regions of the United States. If you are not in the U.S. look at the climate type listed and see how they measure up to your region.

Slicing Tomatoes:
Brandywine – Available in Red, Pink, Brown and more. A popular heirloom variety all over the country. Brandywine does particularly well in areas such as: The hot Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, interior South, shorter season North Central and Rockies, humid Gulf coast, arid Southwest, and shorter Northeastern summers. Brandywine are early developers.

Cherry Tomato Choices:
Sungold – An Open pollinating hybrid, does really well in the Midwest, Mid-atlantic, Interior-south, Northwest, Rockies, Southwest, and Northeast.
Super Sweet 100 -Another hybrid, does well in the Midwest, Mid-atlantic, Interior-south, Northwest, Rockies, Southwest, and Northeast.

Paste Tomatoes (Also good for canning):
Amish Paste– An heirloom variety that thrives in all regions of the US. Said to have an amazing flavor.

Currently the most popular colorful heirloom is the Cherokee Purple. It needs an extra long hot summer to ripen though, so it is not best for all regions. It may be a fun one to try in your garden if you are looking to try your hand at an heirloom variety this year and you have the long season it needs!

For more information on tomatoes, varieties and how to grow them check out and search tomatoes. A lot of the information in this article was found from their site using information from their readers all over the United States.

Here's a yummy Heirloom Tomato Tart by Whirlybird I found on Bakespace I can't WAIT to try this summer:

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Peach Tree

Well yesterday the first peach tree we planted got its first official blooms going. I'm hoping for fruit this year.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring is Official!

Well, there is no way to deny it now. Spring is here and everything I can see in NC is waking up. I'm being as patient as I can not to plant too many things right now. We could still have a shocking surprise frost up until April 15th EASY! So don't get too excited.

Here's some lovely photos of the special things happening in our neck of the woods though.

These were all taken with my cellphone, so please excuse the poor quality of the photos. That's all my fault for forgetting to charge my camera battery... again! :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Community Garden Project - TCGP

I started this lovely idea back in Feb. Sorry I didn't share it here, I wasn't think it would be very big... though I use the term community is a GRAND scale! As I see it, the internet is a new age community, we track each other through blogs, forums, chats and 'communities' (ie. Facebook) so why can't we all garden together too? Think I'm crazy? Try this on for size (super sized)...

In a community garden people work together to create as much from a plot as possible, sometimes for extra space they don't have at home, but also to get involved at an affordable rate or to learn about gardening from everyone else involved. Well, I garden at home, I want to do it at an affordable rate and I want to get help gardening too. So I turn to the internet... I blog about my garden, my learning and my spending (yeah, I'm what!). I use forums, my blog, email, chats and google. Just like sooooooooo many others do, and that makes us all part of a new age gardening community.

Well what I want to know is about savings? What is my produce worth? Am I getting enough out of my land, or is my land getting enough from me? And what about you? Is this really saving you cash? Is your time well spent when it comes to your budget? Could you or I better organize our land and become more efficient?!

So I come to share this, and I hope you share with me to for the year of 2010:

That spreadsheet is what I will be keeping track of my expenses for 2010 (I'm not counting purchases from previous years in my costs column, and you shouldn't either),  I'm also weighing produce, comparing that to market value for that time of year when I harvest, and I'm sharing it all with you! So please download this spread sheet if you would like to keep track of yours and we can all compare.

If you would like more info, have more questions or would like to have more people to ask questions and to compare with come here:

This is the site I originally started the idea. There are several people involved and they are sharing their garden as they go, they are interacting as a community with the project already, so please come jump in... ask anything... share some of your struggles through the season.

Also, I am going to write a book eventually from my experiences from this, so if you would like your data to be entered at the end of the season let me know!

Enjoy, I think this project will be an eye opener for a lot of us!

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Homegrown Revolution

Sustainable living!!! That isn't a new way of thinking, its just becoming mainstream.

I think you will find this video as enlightening as I did! It's a fabulous look into how you can produce so much for your family in such a small space. Not to mention being sustainable with the earth, but giving back. Now they show a lot of things beyond gardening, but we've tried. Some I'm ok with, others just don't interest me as they should. I just CAN'T give up my washing machine, even though I do occasionally dry outside when its nice. I also highly doubt I will hand crank my blender for those margaritas I so love in the summer.

But, the important thing is the use of space, the organic ways in which they do everything AND (my favorite part) but LOCAL!!! We are trying very hard to cut our food back from being shipped in to us, to trying to find items locally grown and in season. Though we don't do this 100% by any means, I know we've cut back by more then 50% at this point. During the summer months its much easier with so much more available to us, but its a start now.

Let me know what you think, and what changes you have made or the changes you are planning on making.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

On I read... Food Inc Next?

I have been hearing about watching Food, Inc for quite some time now. I really want to finish The Omnivore's Dilemma first though. My husband, who is not a reader by any means, has found interest in the sound of the passages I've read and wants to now watch Food, Inc too. So I am hurrying my reading, but not wanting to miss anything important.

Last night I read a passage, in the chapter about the Fast Food Meal, where Michael took his family to McDonald's in the purpose of research. Undoubtedly, his wife was reluctant to go, and his son was on cloud nine with the idea. Sounds like the usual family trip to me. My own husband and daughter practice the puppy eyes on me so that we may skip another roasted chicken and peas dinner for a moment for the convenience meal.

It broke my heart, turned my stomach and even made me question my parenting to READ some of the 38 ingredients in the McDonald's Chicken Nuggets. The favorite of my daughter and I with each trip. (Rare trips, less then once a month.) Now, I could not pronounce half of them, but it was extremely clear that most were just processed corn and  food additives. They seemed no different then any of the other quick meal junk food out there. That was until I saw the line about Butane! The gas I used to fill my lighters with when I smoked. The smell filled my nose as I remembered what the stuff was. Then the thought of it ending my mouth, my veins or my child's stomach?!

All this disgust and outrage I am feeling is pointed at myself however, as I have chose to be ignorant through all this. Like most Americans I didn't question what was going on. I didn't question my government and their policies according to my food... and I surely didn't think to listen to our farmers when they were crying unfair, and going broke trying to stick to policies we shouldn't have. Though I am sure I will read more I don't agree with in the book, and be shocked twice over when I watch Food, Inc... I am choosing to no longer be in the dark.

"Ignorance is no excuse!"

Friday, March 12, 2010

The omnivore's dilemma

I am deeply engrossed in this book. The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. Thank you Heide for sending it my way.

Only 65 pages in and I already have a new deeper understanding of our country and our standards. I can no longer be shocked as to know people are over weight, or why diabetes runs rampant in this country. When we talk about or health, it seems nearly impossible to do what is required of us, as the majority of our food is so unhealthy we can't change it unless we grew our own. There are so many hidden doors in the 'food' industry we may TRULY never have the full view of what we put in our bodies... or our children's bodies. But one thing I have learned in this short read is that the government has a far reaching arm,  control from our taxes to our pantry and beyond.

Its worse knowing that so many Americans turn a blind eye to whats happening and go on just eating whatever is offered to them, without knowing the price. Like the corn fed steer, America has forgotten what once was natural.

I will finish this book soon, and I will probably have more rants and views by then. I just wanted people to know if they WANT to remove the wool from over their eyes, they can start by reading this!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sprouts Started Inside

I did my seed starting in Feburary this year rather then January like I did last year. Last year I started too early, and ended up with beans growing up my bathroom walls, and super leggy tomatoes. I also had to move a few too many out to the garden early to make room inside.... in which case I lost a good dozen or so plants from.

Now that I started at a better time this year, I'm happy with how my seedlings are doing. So of my best starts are Tomatoes, Peppers and Gerber Daisies. I photoed a few of what I have going. You don't see some of my flowers, and herbs which I have all over the house. Once I start I am overly addicted, and can't stop planting!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

...Bye Bye Tree

Now, we only burned everything that was dead, in a pile we already started. You should the pile of tree we have left to dry to have a huge bonfire next fall!

Not everything is going to stay...

...because some things no longer fit. In the landscape anyways. Hubby is removing a Bradford Pear tree that was rotting, infected with termites and pretty much came to the end of its life span. You have to give these trees lots of attention and pruning to have them survive. Unmaintained you are lucky if they live 15 years! Please realize this before you plant these fast growers. They can NOT maintain their own weight of limbs on their own.

Some things are going in the garden though, like using old tile for stepping stones where I will be planting tomatoes, peppers and beans this summer. Right now I have planted several fennel seeds, spinach and bokchoy for the time being. I think its a lovely new planting bed, and one of the few NON-raised beds I have.

So I hope you are all luck enough to have this fabulous weather we've been having, and that you have been out in your gardens too.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Gathering The Sense of Spring

Its been cold still here in North Carolina, and several of you southerners have noticed the recent late March snow we got as far south as Georgia the night before last. I do not recall the last time we ever had snow in March here!? With that thought, I was starting to lose hope in spring. Even though, like clockwork, I've started some planting inside AND out.

In the last couple of weeks I've put potatoes out in the garden (in their buckets) and popped some peas in the ground 3 days ago. I bought my very first rose, a climber called Don Juan. It went in the ground 2 weeks ago. Its supposed to be an heirloom variety, with great disease resistance in the south and a FABULOUS scent all summer. If I don't kill it, that will be a miracle enough for me. :)

This morning was sunny with little wind (its windy now) so I went to walk around and take notes of the first signs of spring. (And share the new D'anjou Pear tree my husband planted for me today.) Of course after taking some photos I found a ton of chores needing to be done. It looked like a good time to prune my peach tree, and everyone got a good spray of some Neem Oil mix for insect and disease control. I've heard a lot of good things about Neem Oil... this year I will let you know what I think.

Now for the best part, the pictures!!!!

New Blueberry/raspberry bed,  last year our berries died so we're trying again.

Hubby has started an extention of the coop's run, the chickens will be very please I think.
This raised bed is full of the Yellow Onions, and Elephant Garlic I planted in October.

Zoe standing and showing the extension of the front planting bed with Japanese Maple.

Our Orchard Trees: 2 Johnathon Apple, 2 Lode Apple, 1 Peach and 1 New Pear Tree

Buds on my Peach Tree.

My New D' Anjou Pear

My Don Juan Rose Climber has come to life!

Random tiny purple flowers have popped up in between the orchard trees.

Potato Buckets: I use 5 gallon buckets with holes drilled, then I layer dirt and straw inside. As the potatoes grow I pile more layers of dirt and straw.

New Strawberry Growth

Several of my Tulips are popping up in beds all over the yard!!!


Monday, March 1, 2010

My Husband Has Moved Up!

Its been rough repairing and upgrading our home over the last 2 years. Other then the siding, termite damage repair, septic repair, adding walks, adding gardens (of course) and the dozens of other building jobs.

ex: deck, coops, garden boxes, stairs, closets, swing set and playhouse

My husband, so handy, so creative.... was laid off from another company in January. After running through dozens of home repairs here. We've decided rather then him working for anyone else any longer, its time he worked for himself. Most people are only hiring 1099 (which is considered subcontracted) meaning, they don't take out taxes, you pay your own. You need your own insurance and any additional required licensing. No benefits, no retirement, no vacation. So you know what that means.... SELF EMPLOYED!

So we've created where now other wives are welcome to rent my husband by the hour! We've gotten him insured and he is completely legal, and completely useful... all in one!

Anyways, feel free to share your thoughts on the website, I'm working on it now... all me... so creative :)

We Have a Winner!

Congrats Heide! She was sign up #3, and won the 3 packs of the Basil. (#3 won 3, pardon the irony... it really is a random drawing done by random computer generation.)

That was a fun drawing, and we'd like to thank Ramona again too. It was wonderful of you to donate those to our followers.

I already have our next contest item selected. This won't be seeds, but it is for your garden, and its green (friendly/eco) too!!! Pardon yet another ironic moment, they item is also the color green. Ok, no more hints for today.