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Posts Tagged ‘Gardening’

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A burgeoning dandelion wine farm you ask? Oh no. That is our backyard. And every year I look onto this grassy wasteland of rocks and weeds hoping for inspiration. Every year I seek inspiration from the usual places; Martha, Country Living, Gardener’s Supply, etc. This year, we get serious. Stay Tuned: From Wasteland to Secret Garden in 2012.

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As I prepare my last batch of hot pepper jam for this season and plot out the holiday baking madness for the upcoming season I am also preparing to put our garden down for an extended rest.   That’s right, for Garden Season 2012 we will not be planting anything in our garden plot.   Does that mean this Farmgirl has given up only 3 years and 6 chickens in?  On the contrary,  this Farmgirl has been inspired by a great book that I picked up at my local Tractor Supply  The Backyard Homestead:

This book is a must have desk reference for anyone who wants to start a backyard homestead or begin to dabble in producing  their own food from scratch.    Upon purchasing this book I had some AHA moments about  being a bonified urban homesteader.    I have not mastered anything mind you (as clearly illustrated by this year’s less than bumper crop of carrots and beets),  but I do feel that I have a good handle on growing vegetables in a garden.    So 2012 our goal is to make our yard a well-rounded food bearing garden retreat.   We would like to add apple trees and perhaps some pear trees.  We would like to clear out the random and useless rock garden next to our pool and create a blueberry patch.   We would like to plot out a location for  raised strawberry and raspberry beds.   Perhaps a deck and real live fireplace and/or bread oven.   Perhaps a door yard full of berries and nuts.  Boxed herbs and of course a handful of containers loaded with tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.  Oh and maybe, just maybe we might actually get that compost system set up that we have been threatening to put into operation for 3 years now.

So,  you ask what will these homesteaders do for fresh and local produce next year?   Well, we will start by getting a full share in our CSA, Maplewood  Organics.   My final calculation after this last pick up of what we received for this season was nearly $350 of organic potatoes, peppers, onions (which, I might add, organic onions were going for $2 a lb. today at the grocery store) brussel sprouts, broccoli, tomatoes, fresh-cut flours, swiss chard, kale, radishes, lettuce, green beans and more.  Given that, I am super excited to see what a full share will garner us.  Of course there is always our local farmers markets and farm stands where buying in bulk is encouraged.  Having  just filled my belly with Gluten Free Lasagna made with delicious homemade tomato sauce, we will make sure to do whatever it takes to get our hands on fresh tomatoes.  So. long story not so short, we will do what our ancestors have always done and give our garden plot a rest after what can only be described as a “challenging” season for growers across the nation.    We will fill it with winter rye,  and host a potato sack race over the top of it for leap year in July!!!  We will build the backyard homestead/haven of our dream and in 2013 recreate the veggie magic of old.   And by then, ideally, I will be picking my first apples from our own tree, making my own soap, jewelry and clothes (try to contain your envy) and munching on homemade yogurt and string cheese.   At the end of the day, homesteading is an attitude and a lifestyle.  Gardening is a huge part of that, but anyone can grow a vegetable, a true homesteader grows and decorates an entire buffet.

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Fall Sunday’s are the best!! Breakfast is always delicious, especially when you are never really in danger of running out of fresh and delicious backyard eggs. Baking becomes one of my favorite hobbies and today gfree cupcakes fill the house with warmth while weight watchers approved end of garden veggie soup simmers and football graces our tv!! There will be coupon clipping with hot tea and much to my joy, Price Chopper is allowing digital coupons to be uploaded to their advantage card. It is an autumn miracle!! And of course if no day is complete until you put your kid in a bucket!!
Welcome fall!! Welcome!!

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My family has just returned from an amazing 4 day excursion to the Adirondack Mountains in New York.   We were totally off the grid and it was amazing and relaxing.  If the dream of owning an organic farm falls through, you may find us running an inn/b & b in the mountains, but that is a tale for a different day.  As it turns out, however, the garden did not tend itself while we were away.   Naturally, the days preceding our departure were some of the hottest on record so to even pick a cucumber off the trellis was exhausting, therefore weeding more or less, or really  just more, did not occur.    And there it is, the dirty word amongst all organic gardeners:  WEEDING.    As much as you mulch and till and try to ban non edible seeds from the garden plot, there is just no way around it, you will weed or you will drown your garden in pesticides.  I will take the weeds.   In fact, I find weeding to be fairly cathartic.  Nothing works out the stresses of a bad, bad day like ripping an invasive garden invader out by its roots and throwing it to the side of the garden.   Weeding also provides you with a sense of accomplishment on a day like today where my only goal was to have a goal.   Finally, it helps you to have a connection to your food, which is the primary reason I got  into gardening.   So today, as I approached what was my garden 4 days ago, I felt like a conquistador of old approaching the jungles of the New World, minus the machete.  In truth, a machete would have been super helpful, but I simply did not have one on me.  So I spent the better part of this vacation day plucking weeds and uncovering a trove of garden treasures that were not there when we left.  It was hard, hot work and it often seemed that the weeds would regrow immediately after I pulled them out.   Despite being neglected for 4 days and becoming an Amazonian forest, the garden exploded with healthy, happy and some ripe tomatoes.  Spaghetti squash was everywhere to be found.  Full size cucumbers that will become delicious refrigerator pickles tomorrow.    Herbs, peppers, lettuce and cabbage all thrived underneath the overgrowth.  Despite being attacked by Japanese beetles and being surrounded by weeds, the green beans were beginning to pop.   Peas, kale and swiss chard were almost overwhelming with their presence.     Our sugar snap peas, after an alarmingly slow beginning, seemed to appear out of nowhere.   At times, pulling out the weeds was like uncovering a secret treasure trove of plentiful veggies.   In the end, the garden looked like a garden and my kitchen was full of fresh veggies to eat, freeze and pickle.   So while I might be more likely to get back on an every other day weeding plan, it was reassuring to know that while the gardener was away the veggies would still play AND more importantly, that if you don’t get to that weeding every day your garden will not fall over and die.

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It is hot.  Stupid hot.  I am quite certain that my brain is melting.  In this kind of heat there is not much you can do but turn the sprinklers on and hope for the best.  The lettuce might bolt and the peas will slow to a grinding halt.  The tomatoes will ripen and the peppers well go gonzo.  I will float in the pool and pick when I can.  I will drink lots of water and wear lots of sunscreen.  We will use the grill and hang out in the A/C.   Take a break.  The plants will be ok until the heatwave breaks.  Stay Cool!!!

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