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Gardening

Where’d the time go? right here, in the dirt.

May 25, 2015
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There’s a reason my fingernails and toenails are stained, my farmers tan is well on its way, and my hair has been in a pony for most of the past 2 weeks…the garden has landed.

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The ground breaking actually began when I was in AZ. The Hubs and the kids cleaned up a fence row and piles of picked stone (stone picking anyone? a fun first job for most farm kids). These piles had been dumped when this fifty acres held nothing but alfalfa.. but now that there’s a homestead here, we’ve been cleaning up a few of the old piles :) In this picture I’m dumping some of the stones beside our laneway, to widen it a bit. We borrowed this fine tractor from our neighbour…what a treat it was to drive…may I remind you that this was precisely the kind of tractor  I THOUGHT I had bought at the auction. sigh.

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The tractor (of my dreams) also had a rototiller feature that was fantastic for working up the ground and preparing a beautifully soft seedbed.

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The Hubs then smoothed out the remaining gravel we had piled up at the end of the laneway, and ta-da, we had a wider laneway.

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The kids have been such great helpers…hoeing and planting and staking the rows so that they’re straight. Gabe helped The Hubs build a pole bean trellis for the plants to climb and also a cucumber trellis, which is a bit of an experiment. I’m hoping the pickling cucs will climb up and provide a bit of shade for the lettuce which loves cooler temps. Time will tell!

 

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This is what it looked like after it had all been worked up and our extra patio stones had been laid for a walkway.

Yesterday was the day for irrigation. We’ve had enough vegetable gardens to know that if we don’t consistently water it, we’re gonna end up with puny veggies or dead plants. Our go to method was filling up watering cans and slowly walking through the rows. This worked okay, but watering the roots is a better method than spraying the entire plant with water, and I also know that from previous years, we lose steam about halfway through summer and just pray for rain. This year it had to be different. The Hubs read a few articles on using soaker hoses and watched a few you-tube videos, so we thought we’d give it a whirl. There is a bit of an initial investment, but this system can be broken down and used for many, many more years to come. It involves using a large container for a water holding tank, this one was sourced from The Hubs workplace.

He hooked up a pvc pipe to the tote of water, then put valves on the pipe where our soaker hoses begin.

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So far I’ve gotten the following in: Peppers (red and green) tomatoes (several varieties including cherry and beefsteak as well as an organic extremely sweet plum tomato..thanks to my favourite organic farmer) pickling cucumbers, dill, garlic, red onion, shallots (which have yet to pop and I may have buries too deep) pole beans, cauliflower, kale (love this in the a dutch dish that mixes mashed potatoes and kale) bok choy, 2 varieties of sweet corn (staggard plant every 2 weeks so that we don’t have 300 cobs the same week heh.) leeks (I have a fabulous cheesy leek dip from Jaime Oliver that I’m drooling for) I also have some sunflowers, lavender, holly hocks, and a pink grass starting in there so that they too get lots of water.

Still to plant: Mesclun mix, romaine lettuce, and butternut squash and the remainder of the corn area.

Pretty soon, I’ll have to dust off that canner and get my mason jars in the dishwasher!!

 

 

 

The daily grind..

April 27, 2015
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Well, we’re back at it…a 5 day holiday was just what I needed to feel re-charged and go head long into this final phase of our schooling year. I’ve gone through each of the kids books and we’re on target for completion at the end of May, because of the delightful season change and because we are finally able to step foot OUTDOORS without fear and trepidation of being assaulted by the elements.

Although, the kids have agreed that we’ll keep up with a couple pages of math per day throughout the summer months so that come September they’re not re-learning for the first few weeks. Soon, I’ll be thinking through what needs to be ordered for August and then it’s time to close up shop for the summer. I find that if I think ahead now, I save myself a lot of grief trying to figure out curriculum come fall, best to do it while my head is still in the game. I say ‘close up shop’ but I have to admit, some of our best learning comes through the summer. The kids have a chance to read for as long as they’d like about whatever interests them, explore to their hearts content, and imagine anything their mind allows them. This, I might add, is how that jewel of a game ‘Helen Keller’ was developed…good ol’ summer pastime.  I do find I need to provide a few prompts now and again, and I do plan to have a few boredom busters up my sleeves, but the freedom summer provides is something my heart is yearning for.

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In gardening news, the seedlings are growing well. So far I have the following growing on bench under the windowsill:

Cherry tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, red peppers, green peppers, sugar- baby watermelons, pickling cucumbers, green beans, cauliflower, leeks, basil, parsley and for fun: lavender, burgundy sunflowers, and pink pampas grass, white foxgloves, and a lupin from PEI.

While I was in AZ, The Hubs and the kids worked from sun up to sun down on that Saturday, to clean up a scruffy fence row that lined the side of our backyard. It was decided a few months ago while the white stuff was still piled high, that we would be putting our future garden there. (We had put one closer to the house last year, but the soil conditions weren’t favourable, it was actually a lot more clay and stone than good soil and the plants showed the lack of nutrients.) When I got home and saw all the work that had been done by my lovies, I could have cried…this is just how my family is…they completely understand that dirt is my love language.

Soon, the neighbour will be bringing over his roto-vator on his tractor and will be giving us a nice deep till, that turns the dirt into a beautifully fine seed bed. We’ll work in some compost from the farm and pick stones  and then it’s planting time! This year I’d like to make a bean trellis and try to train the cucumbers to grow vertically as well…we’ll see how that goes.

Anyone else with big gardening plans? if so, I’d love to hear about them!