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Archive for May, 2009

Spinach seedlings that is..

spinach seedlings

spinach seedlings

And though I got them off to a late start this year and thankfully May showered us with some fine weather thye seem to be thriving well.  It looks like we have some good sowing weather ahead too, so who can complain?  I’ve been so busy  getting my seed in the ground and still cleaning out the beds and adding even more raised beds.  I needed to make some room for warm weather crops like peppers, eggplant and tomatoes.  The onions are in and I’m thrilled the spinach and chard are looking good!  I can’t wait to make a spinach frittata  🙂

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spinach, almost ready to pick

spinach, almost ready to pick

I didn’t get my peas planted as early as they should go in the ground either, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed we’ll have a few more cool nights.  The beans have just poked up out of the ground but so far no signs of scarlet runner beans on the teepee poles.

The garden is finally beginning to look like a garden.  I had no idea what an undertaking I had taken on with this project.  I’ll be hanging a sign this week..  ‘garden of weedin’  as  I’ve never seen quite so much weed in one garden.. the worst of it being milkweed! Ugh 😦   But all in all, it’s finally taking shape.  These are a couple of pics of where it began 4 weeks ago up until this week.

The beginning.. clean up begins

The beginning.. clean up begins

After two weeks of hauling out debris and  weed!!

Plum Farm wk2

Planting begins… and trellis’s built and put into place.

new veggie trellises

new veggie trellises

Last weeks updated shot.. finally taking shape.

Last weeks update shot

Last weeks update shot

Today the rosemary, basils, tarragon, edible marigolds, thyme, sages, patchiouli and comfrey beds were established.  AND I started my first grape arbor!  After working in the fields all day..  those grapes had better pay off bigtime  LOL 🙂

Have a great Memorial Day!

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The Nubble Light is getting a facelift this week.. the painters were behind with our rains this week.

NubblesFaceliftthymegoesby

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There’s little wonder that no one knows which came first, the chicken or the egg!

Springtime in our barnyard meant hatching season.  We had quite an assortment of hens in our yard..egglayers..Rhode Island Reds, Barred Rocks, Concords, Leghorns and Aracaunas.. who lay the prettiest tinted colored eggs in all colors, pinks, blues and greens.  In addition to our egglayers we had many banties of various breeds who were wonderful mothers and most friendly.  No farm, even the smallest would be complete without a flock of hens

Gertie was our oldest hen and one of the best broody girls in our henhouse.  I could easily gather up any fertilized eggs from the other ‘girls’ in the coop and Gert would happily hatch them out. You could set your watch by her built in timer.. twenty-one days and out popped a chick!

Broody Gert

Broody Gert

And these eggs will hatch only after they have undergone a period called incubation. We preferred to not use high tech hatcheries..and incubators, but chose to let Mother nature, and fine mother hens incubate their own on our farm.

During incubation..mother hen keeps her eggs warm & dry.  In nature this is all accomplished by the hen.  Presumably hens do not know what they are doing, or why they are doing it; they just take a notion to go off to a quiet corner or find an undesturbed spot..usually where you’d least expect it..and sit on a clutch of eggs for the twenty one days.

This kind of sitting is called..’setting’, and a hen that is in this mood to do so is called ‘broody’.   If you didn’t want a hen to set, you have to break her up, which means discouraging her broodiness through various means.  An old tale  often told is a story of….  Breaking Up the Settin’ Hen:

“Go dunk our biddy once in the creek.

She’s been clucking around all week..

“Now it’s time for her to lay

An egg for us to sell each day.”

So Grandma told her family

They responded quite willingly.

Down the creek went the children 10.

Each took one turn to dunk the hen.

A sad and sorrowful group returned,

carrying a limp hen, and much concerned.

Poor shocked Grandma wrung her hands and said,

“Good land of Goshen! The hen is dead!”

“We’re sorry! said Will with a look of surprise,

“She just said ‘chee-awk’.. and then closed her eyes.”

Of course.. as you very well might know…

This happened many many years ago!

It was common practice about a century ago for farmers  to get their sitting hens who had raised their family of chicks to stop clucking and begin laying eggs once again by dunking them in water.  Though “mad as a wet hen,” they’d quit their clucking!



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New kids.. Spring 2007

New kids.. Spring 2007

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Potting Shed

Potting Shed

My first garden was a secret garden and a place no grown ups ever knew about.  Behind our house was an old run down farm in dire need of repair, and between the two pieces of properties stood a hedge of lilac and forsythia that had been planted to hide one of the old out buildings of the farm.

This garden that I shared only with my brother and neighborhood friends consisted of a strip of unplanted ground between the hedge and broken fence.  To a six year old though, the space made by the climbing branches of the forsythia was as grand as the inside of a church, with room enough for a world of play for us between the liliac and barn walls.   Whenever I needed to be out of adult radar I’d crawl beneath the arches of forsythias  and creep between the lilac bushes to find myself in my own green world.

I think often of this place today as a garden..not only because it offered an enclosed and secret space out of doors but because it was here that I actually grew something.

One day while horsing around with my friends in our ‘garden’ we  spotted this oddly striped football sitting in a tangle of vines and huge broad leaves.  It was a watermelon! It had meandered through the farmers back field to the edge of our ‘garden’.  Now I’m not certain this was an intentional planting on the farmers part or a spit out seed and buried months before on the part of myself and friends.  But at this point it doesn’t matter.  All we knew was that a treasure had been found its way into our secret garden.. where it continued to grow until we decided to crack it open to savor it’s deliciously sweet fruit.

To this day I still adore the first watermelon of the season.  I’ve spent thousands of hours in the garden since that summer and there is perhaps some sense in which all this time has been spent..maybe I’m trying to recover memories of childhood days gone by. Whatever the reason..I often tell my hubby.. the day I stop gardening is the day he will need to plant me! 🙂

Yesterday I met an elder gardener, Tony-who recognizing a kindred spirit took me aside and whispered his secret of gardening success.  Whipping out a well-worn booklet of moon signs, he said “this is how I plant”.  It was an almanac showing the passage of the moon through the Zodiac indicating it’s planetary conjunction with each month.

Master gardener.. Tony

Master gardener.. Tony

Who was I to to say it didn’t work?  One look about at hundreds of healthy seedlings, beds of strawberries ,vegetables and stunning perennial garden beds told me Tony was doing something right and had been doing so for many years.

As part of this old gardeners philosophy, planting and transplanting by the moon is essential for greatest success.   Days are lengthening and the earths surging juices commence on another life cycle.  If you want to better your previous gardening record why not try this most important aspect of gardening by using some of  Tony’s secrets?  Here’s a few of his suggestions:

  1. Two nights before the full moon plant veggies that grow above the ground –they will be pulled upwards.
  2. For a quick germination of seeds, plant two days before the full moon.  If you sow during the waning moon seeds won’t germinate until the next month.
  3. Transplant two days before the full moon, and the seeds will take hold immediately.

Timeless traditions passed on from generation to generation of gardeners. Happy gardening!

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Some of our children and grandkids are down in Colombia on holiday and they sent us a few shots of their trip before they headed down the Amazon River. They had to cross this gorge before they entered the forest. Looks like they are enjoying themselves!

Natalia & Marina - Colombia

Natalia & Marina - Colombia

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Jackson's kayaking days

Jackson's kayaking days

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