I hope this works….

If you don't experiment, you don't learn.

It’s Spring…..Maybe….

Wow.  The Hoop House worked!  Last fall, on the advice of a dear friend, I made a simple hoop house out of PVC pipe, black irrigation pipe,  heavy duty gardening cloth, 3 mil plastic and some outside decorator lights that another dear friend found for me when I needed a way to keep the hoop house warm during cold spells.  Please note that the pictures are HUGE.  I didn’t plan it that way.  I don’t know what happened.  

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immmmm, that picture was supposed to be smaller……BUT, that is a pic of my hoop house.  You can see the black irrigation pipe that is held in place with short lengths of ½ inch PVC pipe at each end. There are four of them with wooden lathe that runs along the top and helps hold it together.  The heavy duty garden cloth is closest to the plants and the plastic is on top and the black plastic bags are filled with leaves and were used to help insulate the house.  I just stuck them around the outside.  The cloth and plastic ends are long enough that I can twist them shut.

On to more pics!  CHIVES!  

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Why are these pics so big?   Anyway, It looks like the Chives, Parsley, Oregano and Thyme made it through the winter.  I don’t know about the Rosemary.  It is all brown, so I didn’t take a picture of it.  It was three years old too.  I kept it in the house last winter.  We shall see.

So now I know that it works, I will probably make some more this year unless we move.  Even if we move, I shall make some more. All the stuff I used in this house was recycled, so I want to continue the trend.  It is easy when you are married to my dear hubby.  He is a pack rat of the highest order.  A couple of years ago, I wanted to make a potting bench/table thingy in my greenhouse, so I raided our shed and found an old wooden box that used to hold electrical equipment.  it was about 4 x 4 ft x 10 inches deep.  I turned it on end, made some shelves across the middle and nailed a few boards across the top that stuck out over the edge.  Voila!  A place to potter with pots. I think that box had been in that shed for about 10 years.  Sometimes I think he takes it to extremes tho.  His Garage Mahal is filled to the brim with stuff we don’t use….but will come in handy someday for someone else.  When I throw out something or give it away, he says, “You’ll wish you hadn’t done that.”  And he is right.  Usually within a month, there will be a need for what I just gave away.  Unless it is clothes.  He never says anything about my giving away clothes to the Goodwill. He does pay attention to the number of shoes I own tho, and will comment on that fact. “Don’t you think you have enough shoes?”  “What” I say crossly.  “I need shoes for work, gardening, hiking, running and church.” I point to a pair of shoes he bought and only wore once, because he bought cheap shoes.  They are sitting on a pile of boxes in the garage. “What about you? At least I wear the shoes I buy.”  He grins and we are “even” until the next go-around.  I don’t keep track of these exchanges.  Really.

 

 

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Gardening and Food

Today was a busy day.  The squirrels have decided to leave me alone, which meant I actually got some gardening done!  I only have a few things left to transplant, but the big news is that my DH is helping me (read: cut the wood) to make a strawberry bed!!!!!  It will get done this weekend.  Yay!!!!!

I was at the local nursery this afternoon to pick up some chives, thyme and some bagged dirt as I have run out of readily available compost, when I saw the strawberry plants.  Sweet memories of childhood surfaced…..eating strawberries til I got sick of them….. My summer job one year was picking strawberries.  I was around 12.  I didn’t make very much money as I kept eating them. I have not liked strawberries very much since then, but home-grown ones always taste better anyway….and I can’t eat 5 quarts in one go.

This year the new things I am trying are: Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherries and my new fave, the afore-mentioned in an earlier post, the Italian Snap Pole Bean. I am also thinking ahead (gasp) and want to do a straw bale cold frame for growing things in the winter.  It should only take about 8 bales and a bit of heavy plastic for the cover. It is a cheap and easy way to make a cold frame and I got the idea from this book, Year Round Vegetable Gardener.

And now on a completely different subject:

I make my own yogurt and cereal.  They taste yummy together. Especially with fresh fruit on it. Usually I like variety in my breakfasts, but I have been eating this for almost three weeks straight now.  It is Very Good.

The cereal is comprised of raw rolled oats/nuts and seeds/dried fruit/flavorings.   I don’t like Quaker oats as they taste stale, so I buy the bulk oats at the health-food store – only 99 cents a pound! I fill a mason quart jar about half full of oats, then add in different things.  The one I have now has sunflower seeds, flax seeds, chopped cashew nuts, dried cherries (from my parent’s orchard) cinnamon, raw sugar and shaved coconut. I put between a tablespoon and a quarter cup of each thing (depending on my mood).  Then I shake it up.  It keeps a long time, but I eat it pretty fast.  It is good on ice cream and in fruit salads. You could also add cocoa powder or chocolate chips for something different.

Yogurt is easy-peasy to make.  I use a cooler to incubate the yogurt culture for 10-12 hours.  I put a half gallon jar of hot water in the center of the cooler and then place my yogurt jars around it (not touching) and then throw a blanket on top and shut the cooler.  It works great!  You don’t need a commercial incubator, I’ve seen ppl use a crock pot, a cardboard box, the oven with only the light on, an old electric skillet, and on top of the refrigerator….basically anyplace that keeps your culture between 110 and 105 degrees f.  I usually add about a third cup of instant milk and honey to it.  The instant milk adds protein and thickens it up a bit.  There are a lot of yogurt-making websites and Youtube vids out there, so I’m sure you will find one you like.  The only time I had my yogurt fail was when I didn’t scald my milk and when I added too much of the starter.  I’m afraid I was guilty of the “more is better” style of cooking and you really only need a tablespoon or two of the starter per half gallon of milk to make yogurt….it likes lots of elbow room to grow.

I picture a little yogurt dude in a cowboy hat standing on the open range singing,  “Giiiiiiiive me Roooooooooom!”

 

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More Gardening stuff…I am obsessed right now.

It didn’t snow and I did play in the garden this afternoon!  I re-planted the spinach and the peas….the spinach I planted on the 4th of April didn’t grow at all, but there were three pea plants….:)  The squirrels got the rest I assume, as the pea patch was riddled with holes.  I also planted Butterhead Lettuce and Rainbow Swiss Chard.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I did the garden up last fall using the Lasagna Gardening method.  Right now my gardens are heaps of straw and manure and leaves.  When I “planted” the seeds, I put down compost on top of the straw, broadcast the seeds on top of that, then added a shower of dirt and then watered them.  I have no idea if it will work, but the book says it will.  I am trusting the book.  I want a healthy garden this year.

Last year I had tons of aphids and cabbage eaters and this white mold-like stuff on all my squash leaves.  All the rest of my green babies did well, except for the bush beans, they hardly produced at all for no reason I could discern.

I went to a local gardening shop and bought stuff I forgot to get seeds for.  I forgot to buy Cucumber seeds!  Can you believe it?  I can’t, yet I did. So I bought 2 baby cukes and 2 baby golden sweet peppers and 1 baby parsley plant, 6 cabbage and 6 Brussels sprouts…I have had no luck with the last two veggies, but hope springs eternal and I love to eat them, so I am going to try again.  Of course, last year we had 2 horrid, terrible hail storms in two days, so a lot of things got damaged and never quite recovered.

I also bought 2,000 lady bugs today.  I find it funny that you have to water them every day. I think if I name them all “Bob” (a friend’s suggestion) and make that sound when I mist them, they will come to associate that sound with sudden flooding and run in the opposite direction.  I might be able to control them that way……

 

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Spring Gardening

I have 8 raised beds. I like veggies.  I want chickens. I have 5 sickly-looking rose bushes.  I don’t know if they made it through this dry winter.

This week, I planted peas and spinach outside and peppers, eggplants and parsnips inside.  They have joined the growing ranks on my little gro-lite shelf of leeks and tomatoes.

Last fall I tried the “Lasagna Gardening” (by Patricia Lanza) method of enriching my soil.  I stole leaves from my neighbors and bought two bales of straw, four bags of peat and found a place where I could get free goat/chicken manure. I didn’t build it up to two feet high as I didn’t have the resources to do so, so my piles of organic material were not quite a foot tall.  They have sank down a little, but not much.  I didn’t water them at all.  My hubby just informed me that we are on water rationing. It started last week.  We are an even numbered house so can water on Wed and Sun.  Hand-held sprayers and drip irrigation systems are exempt. Four of my raised beds are on the same system as the yard. I might have to start hand-watering.

Anyway, the organic matter on my raised beds is pretty dry, but there is some rotting going on. The squirrels have been gleefully digging holes…at least I think it is squirrels.  Could be mice or snakes….. but on the whole, things don’t look like there is much activity going on.  When I planted the peas, I dug down a little til I reached dirt, them shoved them in.  The spinach I broadcast on top of the ground up leaves and compost and then sprinkled a bit of potting soil on top then watered them…..

I hope it works.

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