Thursday, April 28, 2011

Greenhouse Tour

Our resident photographer paid a visit to the greenhouse and so you get to take a peek. Actually, that would be the photographer being blown away by the wind.... so obviously, she handed me the camera for a minute.

Notice the little wood stove Dale VonBergen gave us to use in the greenhouse.
It's a collapsible camping stove he bought for horse camping,
but he never used it. It's working for us,
though we have to stoke it in the night
because obviously it's SMALL!
The Japanese Shiro Plum in full bloom!

The Dirty Dozen

I was reading here: Sunzonia Family Farms

This is a blog by my friend Janice, commonly known as "Janice Attic" among the kids:-) (Yes, my kids have always been big Janice's Attic fans.)  They have an incredible farm in Arizona. I'd love to actually go there and visit someday. They introduced me to micro-greens some years back. Anyway, she mentioned the DIRTY DOZEN and how lettuce is on that list. I had to investigate further.

Oh, MY!

We think we're being healthy when we eat our salads. And celery??? Sixty-Seven pesticides?? Okay. I'm done buying non-organic celery! The Dirty Dozen is the 12 top foods for pesticides. They also list the clean 15. So, there's a bit of good news in the bad.

Check out CNN's report: CNN and the Dirty Dozen

I think it's crucial to grow what you can in this day and age so you can know.. .

Meet Chip. He's the super bunny... we've had him 10 years. Many bunnies have come and gone, but good ole Chip lives on. He should have died once, but the girls prayed for him with tears. We were told to put him out of his misery, but instead God heard a little child's prayer and he survived the devastating disease.He wasn't really into having his picture taken, he really just wanted me to pet him.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Half House

Or temporary cold frame set up and completely seeded. The girls and I set this all up and worked the soil by hand. We knew if we had to wait for the man of the house, we might have to wait until next year as he is way behind on all the projects around here.

Planted in this 21 X 5 foot bed are several baby salad and mixed greens.
Included are:
Corn salad
Elegance Greens Mix
Braising Mix
Premium Greens Mix
Ovation Greens Mix

The soil in this area near the bank is poor. I used a few bags of peat, manure, and composted soil to amend it. It was so poor that it was like chopping through concrete and few weeds grew there, but near the far end Brianna had made a bed for her plants last year and had layered grass, leaves, straw, manure, and whatever else she could get her hands on and that part was soft and dark and FULL of weed roots that had to be picked out one by one. We had to water this patch a few times today because dry peat moss takes awhile to soak up all the water it can hold. The red strip is a salvaged piece of carpet from our newly renovated church. Makes a great weed barrier.

Worm Farming

By request I am sharing about our little worm bin.

It's pretty simple, really. I bought two rubber maid containers the same size and drilled holes in one of the lids for air circulation, and discarded the other lid.  We drilled similar holes in the bottom of one container for drainage.

I slipped the container with the holes inside the other container. Any extra liquid should drain into the second bin, but if there is very much drainage it would be safe to say that there is probably too much moisture in your worm bedding.

 We ordered red wigglers online. There is a ton of information on how to care for them out there. Basically, I made a bed of shredded newspaper and some peat moss, wet it down a little, threw in the worms and since then adding my trays of roots and soil for them to recycle for me. You want the atmosphere to be wrung dry rather than wet or just dry. So far so good.

I tried this awhile back and lost my worms because I was keeping them in the laundry room and that is where the water pump is. The pump and the dryer cause some vibration which the worms hate and they were escaping as fast as they possibly could. Also, I had been told that I could put regular salad compost in the bin and they would eat it up, but I have since found out that the compost needs to be in a very decomposed state for the little worms to scarf up. The best way to hasten that process is to freeze the greens, or blend them up in some water. We have been putting the trays in the freezer for a day or so before dumping them in. I've also been stirring up the bedding a little just to break up those fibrous roots to allow quicker breakdown.

Worm castings are very useful fertilizer, although, I have learned a new word: veganic, or veganically grown. Which would mean a person would not use any animal products or byproducts at all in their gardens. That's a whole new idea to me. So far I've decided that manure from a disgusting feed lot where cattle are fed poorly and medicated to the hilt is indeed a gross thought, but excluding worm castings? Probably not.  After all, the worms in my garden down by the barn are thriving and helping our garden a lot. I think God had something to do with putting them there.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Indoor Garden

Every morning I wake up to this:

Looking forward to the garden being outside, but I have to say I enjoy all the plants.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

My Preference

When it comes to microgreens and sprouts and shoots...

my very favorite is PEA SHOOTS!

They are so yummy and sweet and my favorite way to eat them is to just pinch them off and stuff them in my mouth.  Of course, they are great in salads and on haystacks and in green drinks, too, but I do notice that their mildness gets lost in super flavorful salads such as Asian salad.

The nice thing is they are one of the least expensive seed.

we've come to the end of our first tray...
and our plan is to recycle the soil with our worm farm.
First I stuck the tray of roots and soil in the freezer for a couple of hours to kind of make thing wilt and soften up a little. Next it will be dumped in the worm bin with the rest of my soil and sprouting waste.

Just a pic of the basil... just because.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Many Hands Make Light Work

* Made more headway breaking up the soil on the new patch with Natalie and Ellie's help.
* Picked up a load of ROTTEN Moldy hay for mulch from Sines.
* Julia managed to get rotten hay slime all over her outfit but she stills smiles just as beautifully as always.
* The Pastor's trailer is getting a real workout!
* We actually see progress happening on the greenhouse!  YEAH!!!!
* Not pictured is Shiana helping in the kitchen to stir up some supper.
* That totals 8 girls busily working on the homestead.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Picking the Blossoms

With utmost care Steve pruned away on the apricot tree...
oblivious to the fact that
the little boy below him under the tree
was just as meticulously picking each blossom bud off the branches...
Ah, the things we learn in life.
Did you know that bud and blossom precede fruit?
There must be a spiritual lesson in that.
He was a blushing when he learned the truth. Apricots are his favorite fruit.

I sort of hesitate to show you the next step in the greenhouse building,
'cause I'm thinking you might not understand what we're doing...
but since we don't really know ourselves,
here's the latest:

Some of our ideas are working and some are not.
Regardless, the day is shot.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Kids are Eating the Compost!

And it's almost temping...

Ran down to Cr*nch Pak with the trailer a couple times and brought home the apple waste. They are happy to load your trailer and loan you the bins. The best part is I don't have to back up anywhere with the trailer. I pull in from the side and when I'm loaded I carry on around the loop. Cr*nch Pak is an interesting company that slices and cores apples for people who don't have teeth and haven't figured out how to use a paring knife...Well, something like that. I like my apples just the way they come off the tree - not already cut for me two week previous and sprayed with a preservative. Anyway, I'm happy they'll give us the cores.

Say, what is that little boy doing?

Hey bud!! I know that apple cider is awesome stuff, but do you realize this is the same trailer we carted the horse manure in last week?????

YUK! Picking apples to eat out of the bin is one thing, drinking the apple run off is quite another!

First thing we did this morning was mow grass.

We spread it over the garden,

then we spread apple over the clippings,

tomorrow we will till it in.
Hopefully, before we attract too many deer.

Friday, April 8, 2011


They have no idea they are being educated.

they think they are just helping,
BUT there is a whole lot more going on, by design, than that.
 9 days since last transplanting and we're amazed at the growth.
Not sure I can keep up.

We're starting to feel a little crowded in this house.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Sneak Peak into the Micro-Operation

A quick peak under the bed reveals that the peas are still doing fine. 
Their little roots are digging down into the soil.
Peas and sunflowers are considered shoots.
I have found the field peas are the least expensive seed for this kind of salad green.
I got mine from Johnny's Select Seed. You want to buy seed that isn't treated with chemicals.

Arugula micro-greens - the 4th day. 
I am particularly looking forward to eating these because I love arugula. 
I will use some as micro-greens and some as mini-greens.
Are you all confused by the terms yet?
 Pak Choi - the 4th day.

And here are some of the herbs for the garden:

Monday, April 4, 2011

Of Seeds and Shoots

 Sunflower seeds soaked for 8 hours, then rinsed and drained 
every 8-12 hours for the next two days or so and 
then spread out on an inch or so of soil, watered and covered with a dark tray to all the little roots 
to bury themselves in the soil.
Specific instructions here:
The Sprout People

 Pea shoots done the same way...

And so we wait . . . 2 to 3 days.
To be continued.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Day of Grace

Steve got up and went to work as usual at 6:30 only to find out he wasn't scheduled to work!
He had one more day of vacation... YEAH!

Day 6:

Anybody know how to attach the plastic to the frame?

Us either.

Friday, April 1, 2011

And We're Running Out of Spring Break

Day 4:

We carted loads of manure from the Kahlers horses. Now if manure can be awesome - then this is as awesome as it gets. It's probably three years old or so and composted perfectly! A great addition to our poor soil.

Day 5:

Last night at 10 pm we discovered we couldn't lift the frame up high enough to put it in place. Steve decided he needed a hand from some of his guy friends. . .

There's nothing wrong with a little girl power!

Slowly, but surely...