ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
2019-04-22 10:42 pm

The day disappeared

Mostly this is for me to remember. If you are easily bored, feel free to skip today's entry.

Seedlings got put outside. This took longer than I expected. I felt cold last night so I probably brought in more trays than I'd planned. I also tried the rolling cart outside instead of in my front window on top the old sewing machine. A curbside find, it holds four trays of seedlings. Also added to my menagerie, another repurposed stand. A yarn vendor was throwing out a slightly lopsided wire rack. (One leg is bent) I arranged that in the grass. The wires go right into the ground. No wobbling! It holds one long tray and four smaller seed pots. Should work for the scallions, eggplants and some tomatoes. Lots of jugs got filled with water for the seedlings. Then everybody else got a drink, from up the hill, all 50 some containers of potatoes, to my recently moved bushes, the carrots, peas, cinderblock garden, and fenceline. The hose seems to reach everywhere. I worked on cleaning the back porch. Finally found all the components to rebuild my broken wind chimes. Didn't do it but found all the chimes.

From sometime in the past:
Arugula Microgreens

I went through the seed cupboard, looking for lettuce seed we had harvested ourselves. Did not find it. Instead, arugula was planted in the shallow terra cotta pot, see above. The ground cherry seed insisted it wanted to be planted NOW. Nothing like falling on top your head to get your attention. So a pretty blue pot on the front porch was commandeered. I cleaned up broken terra cotta bottom trays and the boards on top the old cistern cover. Three strawberry planters are waiting for plants. I don't have any for them yet. An old ceramic pipe which probably fed the old cistern is just the right size for the shallow bowl. I also found a half coconut shell which I may drill holes in for my chimes. It would certainly look more interesting than the standard wind chimes that come in a box.

From a previous year, the wooden cistern cover, just sitting on a pile of bricks:
Taking the Strawberries from sprawl to vertical

The lawnmower started. Almost out of gas but enough to mow the patio, driveway, and curbside. I had to move a pile of wood off the patio area. I really need a sawzall or chainsaw to cut wood. The branches are too thick to handsaw off the main trunk. Yes, I have an old-fashioned strip of grass going down the center of my driveway. My driveway also has a metal loop, cast into it at the top to hookup a winch. Somedays I scratch my head at the oddities in this house. Also accomplished today- dill planted in high traffic deer areas. They hate the smell. Also sowed columbine seed in shade areas of the mandala garden. Love that columbine! So maybe I actually did something today. Today's acquisitions for tomorrow's project: rebar for stabilizing a tomato trellis and another 1/2" electrical conduit to finish the front yard trellis. Let's hope I can find zip ties.

May Flowers
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
2019-04-21 12:26 am

Taking a break from potatoes

Yes, there are still plenty more to do. But I also want to eat other things this year besides potatoes. After moving out lots of trays today, I got to repotting the soil blocks into containers. Soil blocks air prune root systems so your plants don't wrap their roots into a bundle. After all the classes I took with PASA, it looks like I'm the only one using a soil blocker around here. None of the other seedling businesses use it. It does tend to dry out faster, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Once the plant starts to get big enough, I transplant them into bigger containers. There is no transplant shock. Just pop their cube into a bigger container. Eliott Coleman developed the tool and Johnny's Seeds carries it. https://www.johnnyseeds.com/tools-supplies/seed-starting-supplies/soil-block-makers/hand-held-4-soil-blocker-7862.html#q=Soil%2Bblocker&lang=en_US&start=1
I like it. It allows me to fill up grow trays without little, wasteful, plastic pots that break but end up in a landfill. Oops! Managed to double plant a section.

I still use plenty of plastic, but it's reuse, not new. And I use them year after year; yogurt containers and milk containers. The meat thermometer makes a great tool to punch holes in the bottom for water drainage. Today I repotted the rest of the tomatoes and celery. Some cabbage and chard got put into the garden beds today. Since it's been the full moon, I planted root crops, like parsnips, radishes, and carrots, direct sow.
The babies are growing fast

Purple Cabbage

Then I pulled weeds around the roses. I raked the mess the ground hog left behind. I cleaned up the old propane bottles and stacked them neatly next to the garage. I mixed the coffee grounds into the garage garden. I found volunteer tomatoes coming up as well as carrots. There is evidence the deer came through the front yard garden. Hoof prints in mud are a dead giveaway. So I dragged the portable animal fencing to the front yard. Chrono helped me set it up. I'm running out of T-posts. Then I moved the lovage behind the valerian. They both look like skirret. I dug a hole for the apple tree. It'll be another month before the tree arrives. Do you think I could find the darn T-post pounder? I put a T-post to mark wher the apple will go. It doubles as a stake to tie the tree to for straightening or to put deer/rabbit protection around. An hour later I had a good bit of the garage cleaned up. Eventually I found the post pounder. My 3 pound sledge is in the van which is still in the shop.

With everything done, it was time to run errands. I wanted some winemaking supplies so I can bottle last year's bounty before this year's needs to ferment. More dirt for potatoes, why? I found more containers in the garage while cleaning. The car needed gas too. And the cat was out of food, well, acceptable food anyway. Chrono wasn't feeling well. She was craving limes for a sore throat. Since we hit a sale, she'll make lime curd too. So off to another store for English muffins. I think we hit three different grocery stores plus Big Lots for the soil and A & M Winemaking. I picked up yeast while I was there. If the weather holds, I should be able to make more rhubarb wine. And of course, Starbucks for more coffee grounds. Saturday is usually on the light side. I'll deal with mixing those grounds in tomorrow.

We raced a storm home in time to move all the seedlings to safe locations. I'm up to 22 trays right now. Not all are full. There were plenty of seed cubes that didn't germinate. The onions benefited from being outside in diffuse light. The dianthus benefited from going back in under direct grow lights. They like it sunny but I needed to repot the tomatoes who were also in their tray. Everybody's inside except three trays, celery, cabbage, and chard. Tonight's low in the mid-40s. I need to remember to plant dill tomorrow. The deer hate it. Should keep them away from my chard. Still so much more to do and my ankle is all swollen again. I overdid it.

Storm coming

A quick reference guide for how much should you plant? https://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2018/03/how-much-to-plant-per-person-garden.html
Mostly, we are learning our limits as we go. 80 pounds of pumpkin was too much last year. 60 would have been better. I could have made pumpkin wine though and didn't. Never plant more than 3 eggplants unless you have friends who will help you eat it. Wish I could get onions to grow. Never enough of those or carrots. Never enough greens either. Could have used more basil. We'll see how the fruit does this year. The Asian pear bloomed nicely. The goumi too. Blueberries and currents have been slow to produce. The plum only had three blossums. The raspberries spread out. Lots of new growth. They throw suckers. Not sure if the canes need to be second year. Sure could use T-posts for them as well. Well, we'll get what we get. Stay tuned!
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
2019-04-18 09:50 pm

Early harvest

The low tunnel paid off. I picked a huge salad for dinner tonight. Claytonia, two kinds of lettuce, French sorrel, a couple radishes, and there is also arugula in flower right now along with something in the mustard family. Scallions are up as well. The strawberries are blooming. And carrots are almost ready. All these were under plastic over winter. Low tunnels really do help extend the season. The rhubarb looks as if I never picked any, more harvesting tomorrow. Hubby will get a workout, chopping vegetables.

The Amish Paste Tomatoes got transplanted today. I actually put a few plants in the ground today. The cabbage (2) and Rainbow Chard (4) are hanging out in the Fire Ring garden with some onions. I think the squirrel ate quite a few of the onions. I have it covered in netting now.

I decided to bring some of my excess celery plants to the Viking Festival. 48 plants are too many for a family of three. About half the seedlings are outside tonight. The wind was wicked today from the south. So I took everybody around back to the north side, six trays. I left a tray of chard under the maple tree and more cabbage under the tule in the cinderblock garden. I may just go out and move the chard. The deer don't need to eat my babies.

The wrens setup a nest on the back porch, under the eaves. They are being fed bugs from my woodpile. Great location, they barely have to fly ten feet for food. The wood bees were also after those logs. So I have to wonder if the wrens are just stealing the wood bee's larva's food? Those are some savy wrens. They aren't bothered by us being on the porch.
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
2019-04-15 12:15 pm

Just too much to do

I've just a few days to figure out where to put all my potatoes. They are all eyes now, almost no potato left. I've a whole box of fingerling seed potatoes, another of blue potatoes, and Red Cloud to find homes for. Some I put in sand which is supposed to prevent early sprouting, but not so well. There may even be German butterballs somewhere but they don't grow well here. I may skip them altogether. The company is out of grow bags for the season. I used my 30 for the Red Norlands. I worry that the grow bags are too small. Every cracked bottom bucket I have, went into planting the Austrian Crescent potatoes. I have them in the secret garden. Must be 12 buckets now, just lining the fenceline. (The bottoms crack when they are left outside all winter.) I need to shim the containers because of the slope in the secret garden. Some of the Red Norlands are already up, despite the 35° F temperature this morning. One more day of cold temperatures then comes a hot, not warm, front. Almost 80° predicted for Thursday. This crazy weather is seriously messing with food production. I have an Asian pear in full bloom. Just hope I don't lose the whole crop. I also need pollinators who have been scarce with all the new round-up spraying subdivisions going in.

Help! We need a home.

I watched Doug and Stacy (YouTube) on beekeeping. I would love to try to lure a wild hive. Dr. Leo has a Russian style horizontal hive. I think he sells the building plans. I even have a place for it next to the garage, in between rose bushes. Sigh. Not this year. I have three more years on my austerity plan. The credit cards must go!

I already started transplanting the tomatoes from their 2" soil blocks into bigger pots indoors. I am hoping the workload lessens once I can get the seedlings outside, hardening off. Taking trays of plants in and out each day is annoying. I have up to 18 trays but only 6 are cold hardy enough to go in/out right now. (chard, cabbage, onions) I'm keeping them inside today for this cold snap, but none like the dry heat of the furnace. I see why people have greenhouses to start off plants in. For now, I will be putting them out on Tuesday for good. I have row covers for late frosts. Celery and Tomatoes are the next in/out trays. I've 40 celery plants. The celery germination rate was so high! Pretty easy to grow too, wonder why more people don't grow these?

Next up is to plant pumpkins, cucumbers and melons. Also more radishes, lettuce, turnips, parsnips, carrots, arugula, and beets.

The new honeyberry ships on April 21st. I will be focusing on the NW quad of the mandala garden. A blueberry needs to be moved about a foot. It didn't do well this last winter, too exposed. The hellabore needs to move to make room for the new honeyberry. Also there is a walnut under the birdbath that must go! Permies.com had a nice discussion on honeyberries or hascaps as they call them. Originally from Siberia, many species are being developed for different climates. I have the Japanese ones, both late blooming, designed for warmer climates, Blue Pagoda and Hokkaido(TM). The University of Saskatchewan developed a cold hardy, super sweet variety called Aurora. https://permies.com/t/87194/berry/Haskap-Honeyberries Why honeyberries? Similar to blueberries, growing taller and not as fussy about pH, they are simply, brain nutrition. Growing both allows me to cope with climate change a little better too. By picking/eating your own various types of fruit, as ripe as possible, your body benefits from a compound call salvestrol (sp?) which kills cancer cells. So another reason to grow your own. Fruits shipped long distance do not have this compound. Studies on Salvestrol are being done in Japan. More info http://www.salvestrol.ca/index.asp

I like this recipe : Soak them in schnapps and add sugar Maybe some lemon rind (avoid the white pith as it's very bitter) or cinnamon or cloves if you enjoy those. Keep them soaked for a month or two, in my experience they don't need a lot of time. And then let it sit another couple of months after filtering. Same as any other liqueur really. It's a good idea to add sugar in steps and taste as you go, otherwise you might end up with a taste like Gummi-Bär.

I was saddened to hear that by Bayer buying Monsanto, round-up is being marketed around the EU now, in Ireland especially. European bees are what we in America call honeybees. And their days are numbered due to corporate greed. So tragic because it was preventable. Please don't spray your dandelions! I pray that the neighbor's house isn't sold to someone who just wants a green lawn. She's having work done which may mean changes soon.

Back to work.

But there was no room to spare.

But there was no room to spare.

But there was no room to spare.

And the pictures go on and on.
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
2019-04-12 11:57 pm

I messed up

I worked so hard, making a map of the yard, finding trees that are the appropriate size, laying it all out with the tape measure and putting posts where everything is supposed to go. I bought organic soil amendments for the trees so there would be no issues. And I started moving the other plants from around the yard where I planned for them to go. I dug up the aronia (Viking berry). I put it into place. I even left a t-post there in case I need to tie the tree to the post to straighten it. I went out to the Kuiper Belt (the furthest part of my yard) to find the honey berries. I was supposed to have two. There is only one there. The gooseberry in front of it has wicked thorns. The gooseberry is spreading outward, not upward. It looks like a wicked tumbleweed. There were sticks from the hugelbed but no second honeyberry. It was kind of weird because it still has its tag on the bush, but I didn't find a bush or a tag. It wasn't doing well last year which is why I wanted to move it. I don't know if it will start to grow somewhere and surprise me or is truly dead. Time will tell.

Layout of the food forest

The other honey berry bush was getting crowded out, between the gooseberry and a blackberry. I got it out with the shovel and moved it to it's new home, gave it water, and mulched around it. Honey berries are in the honey suckle family, but are a bush and produce an oblong berry that is similar to a blueberry. It takes two bushes to pollinate properly. I only have the one bush. I need to reorder a second bush. I head over to the website, and discover there are 2 types, an early blooming and a late blooming. Had to look up my old receipt. Mine is a late bloomer, called a blue pagoda. Then I read that they do NOT do well in full sun which is exactly where I moved it, south facing and no shade at all. Doh!

I have a second bush on order. They really don't cost all that much. I think shipping is more than the plant. But now I have to find them a location. The honeyberry can grow to be 4' high. I don't want them shading other plants. After some additional weeding in the yard, I found them a place. They like a pH between 6 and 7. They had been in an alkline soil of 8. I have an underpopulated section in the Mandala garden. It's mostly shade. I decided the put them as gate keepers (or sentinels) on the north end. One will go in the NE garden and one in the NW garden. The NE has just a few plants, a black currant, a hellabore, French Sorrel, and a coral bell. I think the Lady's Mantle died. The NW has three blueberries, two lingonberries, two massive hellabores, and some columbine. One of the hellabores will have to be relocated to make room. That solves the honeyberry problem, but now I have two holes where I need a sun-loving 4' high bush, that won't spread. That's going to have to wait until next year. I'm out of time and I want to give it some thought. A nitrogen fixer, like a scarlet goumi? A pollinator, like a butterfly bush? Not sure. I just don't want to mess up again.

More wine bottles in place
They'll go in the bottom of this picture, one on either side of the pathway/keyhole.
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
2019-04-10 12:03 am
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
2019-04-07 08:53 pm
Entry tags:

Coming together

I found I'd already done a lot of the data compilation for taxes on paper. I entered it into the computer. I may not have done as bad as I thought. Only a few handwovens are left to do, to figure out the cost of the yarn for inventory. Oh, and mileage! Tax appointment is tomorrow.

The weather held. Some of the seedlings spent their second day outside, cabbage, onions, and chard. More cleanup work on defining the garden beds. The search for glass bottles was on. I had enough to do the NE corner of the Mandala garden. I probably have enough to do one more section. The new trellis is looking good. I tied it to the neighbor's fence with wholey basketman socks. Sh! Only you know that. Don't tell the neighbors!

More wine bottles in place

More potatoes got planted today. Three grow bags of German butterball potatoes got tagged and added to the conga line next to the house. I wish it hadn't been so hot and me so tired last summer. The neighbor had left pots full of dirt on the curb for pickup. I only snagged one. That was some fantastic potting soil. Free soil is not to be sneezed at. These should be happy potatoes!

Back in January, I had an epiphany about how to layout the rest of the front yard. Being on the southwest corner, the summer sun is brutal. Coupled with overhead electrical lines, too much water in th rainy season and not enough during droughts, I needed a better solution. I wanted more fruit trees, but they needed to fit in this awkward space. I hit upon a collection of dwarf trees and bushes that will fill the bill nicely. Herveus convinced me that my asparagus would be very happy in this small orchard as well. (Thanks for the tale of wild asparagus in the orchards of New Jersey!) This might just work. Here's the sketch I came up with:
The new garden plan

Today we laid the ground work. With tape measure and map in hand, we placed posts where all the trees and bushes will go in. Each has a circle of it's expected spread. I think I will switch the quince and aronia though. I've heard aronia can turn into trees. The overhead electrical line is near that location. More work needs to be done to remove crabgrass and level the ground. Then holes must be dug. I'm very pleased with the spacing.

Layout of the food forest

I am waiting to finish the work until it's a little colder. The reason for the crabgrass is ground hornets. They move the nest each year so not sure where it'll turn up. I can handle 40° tempratures. They can't. I read somewhere that 56° is the temperature where they are active. Today it hit 70°. I'll just wait for the cold front. The aronia is still dormant as is the honeyberry. A couple more days won't hurt. Supposedly the trees won't ship until the end of May, however, the nursery ran the charge today. They might just come sooner. May 28th seemed late to me. Berry bushes need to arrive before April 23rd or else they don't do well. We'll see if I get a shipping notice tomorrow.

Speaking of berry bushes, I got out the shovel and moved a bunch of raspberries out of my pathway. It's suppose to rain so hopefully they'll take to their new location. I am giving the red raspberries all of middle earth. It's about 16 feet long of garden bed. It started as hugel culture, with a pile of fallen tree limbs covered in dirt and coffee grounds. We really like harvesting these berries and the leaves for tea. They too had a ground hornet nest last year, but not at the moment. The thing that will deter the raspberries from taking over the walkway is urine. It kills them on contact. I forsee a solution later this year.

Rhubarb soon!
Spring in the Garden

And tomorrow taxes. Fingers crossed!
ursulas_alcove: Paul Darrow at his best (severely annoyed)
2019-04-05 09:29 pm

First Time

Trying out the new old computer (new to me but a discard from a friend who upgraded). There is no way to scroll down to the bottom of the page, although it does feel good to use a full keyboard again. For those of you who learned to type on a typewriter, you know what I mean. I like using all ten fingers. With a little help, I learned a keyboard shortcut to scroll down. Function and Arrow key. Apple laptop keyboards don't have a page down button.

It's been a long day, one in a series of many. I went to bed at 2 am and got up at 10 am. I got dressed and headed downstairs. Hubby sleeps in because he spends the night getting up to go to the bathroom a lot. It's nice and quiet, working without interruption. I feed the cat. She doesn't fuss much. She is somewhat feral, and doesn't make any noise. Usually I start the day out in the kitchen with dishes. They have to be done during daylight because there is no functioning sink light. When I finally have bowls and spoons clean, I get cereal and milk with tea. Today I did a lot more work. I collected all the dirty clothes and found out which pile all my missing blue jeans got buried in. With a load of laundry washing, I decided I would sweep the living room carpet before hanging the clothes on the rack over the furnace. I found the broom with the stiff bristles and had a good half hour cardio workout, sweeping all the dirt out of the living room carpet and onto the wooden dining floor, about 12 x 24 feet of carpet, before scooping it up in the dust pan. I do this every couple of days. Happy with the results, I brought up all the clean, wet clothing and hung them on the two Yankee clotheslines over the furnace registers.

Grow lights get turned on and seedlings get water from the spray bottle. Onions are not looking healthy. I have four varieties. None are doing stellar. I am going to let them dry out a bit. Maybe I overwatered? The soil blocker onions are still okay. Just the bigger transplants are not flourishing. Maybe I should try a disinfectant in the water like sage or camomile. The leeks look fine. There are no bugs in the living room. Fungus gnats have been a scourge in years past. Home Depot called. My potting soil arrived. Organic soil is hard to come by. I ordered online and had it delivered to the store. I will need it when I transplant the celery into bigger pots. The tomatoes are looking good. Three basil so far out of eight. I still want to plant St. John's wort for its natural dye. I also have Lime Basil to plant. I am absolutely out of space. I only have six spots under grow lights. The rest are stacked like cord wood in front of the south-facing front window. It's too cold and unstable to put anything outside yet. I should find the clip fan and start getting them used to wind.

Looking at the radar, I decided since we had just hit new moon, to get some planting done before it started raining again. I put a small amount of radishes in two different beds. Then I went down to the basement to cut 10.5" circles out of old cardboard boxes. I got three done today. The box cutter wasn't the best tool to use. I use cardboard for the grow bags to stiffen the bottoms before adding dirt. Three more bags planted today. I'm up to 23 grow bags of early Red Norlands. Seven more to go. Looks like the other potatoes in the basement want to get planted now as well. Lots of long, scraggly growth greeted me when I opened their boxes. I had planned on 50 grow bags but could only afford 30. I have four broken-bottom kitty litter buckets and four older, smaller grow bags left from last year. I'll have to make due but I won't get as good a yield. I have several more varieties of potatoes to plant. The rest shouldn't go out until after April 30th. I have French fingerlings, Austrian Crescents, German Butterballs, Blue potatoes, and Red Cloud (late variety). I have lots of French fingerlings to plant but not much of the others. Space remains an issue. Grow bags were the best solution I could come up with.

I do an awful lot of running up and down stairs every day. By now, hubby was up and it was time for me to empty his bedside commode. Two nights ago, he managed to fall and smash his bucket. He falls a lot. Another wonderful side effect of his medication, loss of control of his limbs. The bucket appears to be accordianed but not leaking. So far so good. I got some knitting time in while watching another health program on Eastern medicine, stopping every once in a while to take notes. Then time to make lunch. There were leftovers today, pumpkin soup. All the store onions want to be growing at this point. The onion is too strong in the soup. It burns going down. Yogurt helps. So onions are off the playlist for a while.

Then on to errands. There were library books to return, Chrono had orders to ship, I had potting soil to pick up and Chrono needed fabric for her next batch of patches. A small amount of groceries were also necessary. Two more days of meals anyway. We are dependent on orders and patrons in order to buy food. Large shopping excursions are impossible. If orders come in, that amount can be used for groceries, but no more than that. Some weeks, the grocery budget is $30 and other weeks, $80. If we had an actual income I could easily spend $200 to feed three adults and a cat, plus TP and laundry soap. We are totally dependent on our customers. That is the way small business works.

I missed the food pantry pickup earlier this week. Donations were down. The "My Next Door Neighbor" app posted that they ran out of food this week. They were soliciting for canned food donations. I guess I'm glad I didn't go. Nothing worse than wasting gas and two hours standing in line for rotten onions. It'll be 45 days before my radishes are ready, 60 days on lettuce. Rhubarb and asparagus will be ready in 2 to 4 weeks. This is the hungriest time of the year. But there is always pumpkin. Although I think at this point, that's running low too.

Someone sent me an invitation to pick just one crop and try to grow as much of it as we would use in a year. That to me is wrong on a lot of levels. If you put all your eggs in one basket, you may end up with nothing. Last year many people had no tomatoes because of the weather. We are having issues with Sulfur Dioxide leaks at the steel mill. The mill was fined ten times last year for air quality violations. It does affect some of the crops as do the critters- ground hogs, squirrels, rabbits, skunks, deer and raccoons. So by planting diversity, at least I have something in the cupboard at the end of the year. I have no way to know what it will be, but at least there will be something. I understand it was supposed to be a homesteading exercise. My land is too small to play such games. Polyculture will yield much more abundance than any mono-crop. I didn't have a single cabbage moth on my collard greens last year because they were mixed in with so many other plants. One even survived last winter in tact! Sorry, I don't play Russian roulette with my food supply. Also if we only had just one food, we'd get so sick of eating it because it would be the only thing to eat. So how would you even plan for a year's supply? Can you imagine 365 days of nothing except canned tomatoes to eat?

Meanwhile, the push to get all the business computer data re-entered into a new system is almost complete. One more day of tasks to finish. On Monday we have our appointment with the accountant. That will be a major milestone met. Fingers crossed that we don't have to pay. The well is dry. The van needs repairs too. I have no events until the Asheville Viking Festival. I have so much work to do for that as well. No rest for the weary.
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
2019-03-30 08:40 pm
Entry tags:

Food Security

This year's list of what we're planting isn't too much different than last years. I did pick up a few different seeds though. Since we had too many pumpkins last year, I'll cut back a bit. The goal is still to grow half our own food, about 2200 pounds. I will be lucky to hit 500 lbs. Until I terrace the backyard with cinderblock and improve the soil enough, I can't see us meeting that goal. I wrote out a business plan of all the things I'd need to reach that goal. It was expensive and extensive. It's not like you can just throw some seed in the ground. Our ground has so much clay, it's better suited for building houses or making pottery.

To meet that lofty goal of 2200 pounds, I need to add two more garden bed tiers, extend all exsisting tiers across the whole back yard, trellis, fence, add an apricot tree and another goumi, some goji berry vines, more ligonberries, a late producing blueberry, and two persimmons or hazelnuts. The current soil won't support that. I need more indoor grow lighting, shelving, garden tools, mulch, a wheelbarrow, a chipper-shredder, etc.

The plum tree may produce fruit this year. What kind and how tasty remains to be seen. I will be growing plants that don't require pollination all in one bed and using a row cover to keep critters out. I have been harping about the tall mulberry tree shading everything out. I may have to do something about that finally. So 2 new beds; the cinderblock garden replaces the bookcase and the new fire ring garden, plus 30 grow bags.

This year's plan:
Early Red Norland potatoes (30)
Assorted Onions, struggling
One pound Potato onions
American Flag Leeks (9)
Garlic, both hardneck and softneck
2 Ligonberries
12 rhubarb plants
12 sweet potato slips
2 red currant bushes
2 black currant bushes
3 blueberries- one dying
1 gooseberry
2 honey bushes- being moved
Small quantity of strawberry plants (deer ate the crowns last year)
Potted alpine strawberries
Mulberry Tree
1 Asian Pear
1 plum
New apple tree - be awhile before it produces
New Quince tree- be awhile before it produces
Cherry trees, not sure how many years before fruiting
black raspberries
Red raspberries
2 elderberries
1 tiny Aronia, transplanting to a new location
1 Goumi, which the birds love
potatoes, red cloud and french fingerling being the most prolific
Purple beans
Foot long beans
Scarlet runner beans
Black beans for drying
Purple Cherokee tomatoes
Black plum tomatoes
Sunray tomatoes
Amish paste tomatoes
Roma tomatoes
bachelor buttons
Celery (45)
Anise hyssop
Lemon balm
Lemon verbena
Honey nut squash
Butternut squash
Long Island Cheese Pumpkin
Burgundy Amaranth
Garlic chives
Red sorrel
Swiss Chard
Malabar Spinach
Minutina, Stella Erba

A lot of variety but not a lot of a single crop. Check out this article for the reason why - we typically depend on only 17 foods in the average amrican diet, https://www.treehugger.com/green-food/50-foods-save-world.html?utm_content=bufferd78b2&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Crop failure- Ground Cherries
ursulas_alcove: Paul Darrow at his best (severely annoyed)
2019-03-29 12:41 am

More weather's moving in

Actually, that's good. I got some beds planted. I put a row cover over it so they are protected from cold but will get some of the lovely rain. Just doing some square foot gardening. I did one square each of parsnips, carrots, beets, turnips, sorrel and mizuna. I didn't plant the whole bed, just a corner. When the weather settles, there will be plenty of seedlings to flush it out. The leeks, cabbage and onions will finish off that bed.

Early planting

Ever notice that it's never simple to just grab seeds and plant? The lower cinderblocks needed a height adjustment. I had to put bricks under the cinderblocks. I swiped the bricks from the plastic row covers on other beds, but that meant finding rocks to weigh the plastic down so it wouldn't blow away. I currently have the beds uncovered because it was 60° again today, but windy. Then I needed some way to measure and mark my squares for planting. I found two straight sticks to mark lines with. The dirt settled and made holes, or else the squirrel had been digging. An empty peanut shell was found at the crime scene. So I had to rerake and plug areas that settled. Now to find seed. I had two brown paper grocery bags full of carrot seed (under my loom). But where is the one with the parsnips? I grabbed some older seed from a jar but somewhere I must have last year's seed. The rest were in store-bought packages in the seed box. Now to find dirt to cover the seed? Back into the house to lug a heavy bag. Done. But I really should water. The watering can is all the way on the front porch. The spigot is still off so I must fill the can in the kitchen. The cat is mad because I won't let her hunt outside. If she's not allowed out, then neither am I. She parked herself across the door, barring my escape. Meanwhile, this watering can is heavy! Okay. Watering done, but now to find hoops to hold up the row cover. What the? There is only one. There should be two. Doh! I put it out-of-the-way on the new fire ring garden. Okay. Do I have a long enough piece of Agribon? Up to the garage to rummage around. Found it. Only has two holes. I should tape those. Nah. Sure, I'll just grab a couple of packs of seed and go plant. Ha, ha, ha!

I hobbled back into the house. My ankle has been swollen for two months since my last low paying gig. The standing on concrete without moving or sitting did me in. Last night I equalized my limp by dropping the iPad on my foot, the other one. Yes, I think I broke something. I rubbed a bone back into place and wrapped it with an Ace bandage after soaking it. So hobbling for the immediate future. Anyway, I headed to the basement to prep the rest of my grow bags for potatoes. There were only nine. I bought 20. I planted 10. Rummage, rummage rummage. Nope, just nine. When I bought them, I counted 20. I am getting used to being perplexed.

With rain moving in and Tax Day rapidly approaching, I spent some quality time re-creating a database from scratch. I got through my inventory. Major accomplishment! I have a list of items to check tomorrow and a pile of expenses yet to enter. Old paper files are being purged as well; receipts from 2002 aren't necessary. Too many suppliers have disappeared. As I finished up, I turned around, my missing grow bag is in the attic in my office. In the push to card fleece for Gulf Wars, I used it to collect scrap bits of fleece to help hold moisture. Totally forgot about it. Mystery solved. Tomorrow's rain will force me to stay inside and finish the tax receipts. All in all, a blessing.
ursulas_alcove: My favorite doctor (c is for civilized)
2019-03-27 08:09 pm

More Planting Underway

Meet my new aquisition, the Fire Ring garden. I have it under the dogwood tree this year. I filled it with compost, leaves, coffee grounds, etc. It may take a year to get the right composition. I put potato onions in around the rim. I hope to add Swiss Chard among other things to fill in the space later. It will be a partial shade bed.

New Garden bed

So in watching videoes on planting the potato onions, I discovered how I should have tackled the hillside. I just don't have enough cinderblock. I need 16 for each step. I am short about 48 blocks. For reference, blocks are 8" x 8" x 16". Also potato onions should be planted 10" apart. This year I will be falling short of my goals because of lack of resources. I didn't get enough grow bags for potatoes. I don't have enough organic potting soil, still haven't replaced my spade, no wheelbarrow or pitchfork. My seedlings fell short on germination too. With re-doing the front yard into a food forest, I will be short garden space for annuals. Sigh.

Potato Onions and Potatoes

I planted all the potato onions today. The biggest went into the garage garden, some into the raspberry bed, a few around the plum, a couple by the gooseberry, and as previously mentioned, the fire ring. Early Red Norland Potatoes, I planted 10 out of 30 into grow bags. The rest will have to wait for planting. I am cutting cardboard to stiffen the grow bags. That takes time. Moving cinderblocks is hard work. I tinkered with my layout a little. I am trying to straighten the curved garage walkway. Raspberries overgrew the path. Go figure. So I am encouraging them to grow on the lower side. I leveled a portion, removed wooden branches, and added cinderblocks. When I picked up coffee grounds, I filled in the gaps. It's still very curved but not as bad. Heavy gloves and trimming thorn bushes comes next.


Tonight I am soaking peas for planting along the front fence. I picked up a mammoth snow pea from the food co-op. I also am planting scallions inside in pots as well as eggplant. I bought seed starting mix. Yeah, NO! They always get a start-up organic company and manage to package mulch as seed starter. Not the same thing! I have three bags of ground up wood shavings that wouldn't support life last year. I will use it as mulch this year but I need a good organic soil. I'm going to call my Home Depot to see if they are carrying this Vermont Organic: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Vermont-Organics-Reclamation-Soil-25-Qt-Oragnic-Growers-Potting-Soil-OGPM1CF/204894858 Ace has one from Northrup King. It's nice but a small bag runs $9. It doesn't come in a bigger size. I might have to check out Big Lots. Sometimes they have large bags. I need it for repotting my 45 celery seedlings and 25 Swiss Chard. Eventually, there will also be tomatoes, squash and cukes to transplant. I need at least 60 quarts. The potatoes used a lot of my worm castings, compost pile, and old plant soil. I feel frustrated not having what I need. Well, Rome wasn't built in a day. It was very nice today. Sunny and Mid 60's.

Tree update: My dwarf Liberty apple will ship the week of May 28th. I also ordered a Quince. Sweet potatoes will ship in June. I am getting six Orleans and six Burgundy potatoes. With more and more evidence that GMOs and Round-Up ready crops are really bad for your health, I am buying organic. https://www.mainepotatolady.com/productcart/pc/viewCategories.asp?idCategory=101

I did not order the Elliott late producing Blueberry nor more ligonberries or gooseberries. My plan also calls for an additional Goumi berry and 2 Persimmons. My stretch goal was Goji berry vines. Since the new trees cost so much, the bushes got put on hold. Trees take so long to establish that the apple and quince took priority. Late in the week, I will tackle layout of the front yard food forest.
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
2019-03-21 01:01 pm


So much to do! Everything needs my attention. I was gone for a bit. Before I left, I planted several trays inside. I had planted onions, celery, cabbage, chard, and a few other things, like Alpine Stawberries. Now everything needs to be transplanted all at once. Plus new things need to be planted. Last frost date is six weeks away (in theory). Time to plant the warm weather crops soon in trays. Basil, several kinds of tomatoes, St. John's Wort, just to name a few. Fast growing crops like squash, pumpkins, and cucumbers will be planted mid-April.

Onions and lettuce

Outside, it's been a bit dry. I planted snow peas today. I have more fencing to install to plant even more peas. Rain is moving in. Tomorrow night, the temp will dip down to 25° but after that, I don't see any night time temperatures below 28°. Why is 28° important? Because the agri-bon row covers are good down to 28°. The green house plastic goes even lower. Double covers can also be used for bitter temps. I plan to jump start the season by planting under cover a tad early. The Agribon row cover nets me two weeks earlier planting dates. This will go on my new garden bed. Since I plan to move my garden beds that have the plastic row covers, I don't want to plant anything new there. I have a lot of outdoor layout work to do.

Yesterday, I harvested arugula from the single cover bed. Great way to spice up a salad! I have salads on my mind. There are a number of things I want to plant outside to provide more diversity in my salads. I also picked up a 12.5" fire ring to plant inside of. This is my only souvenir from Gulf Wars. There is no Menards in Pittsburgh so I went to one on my trip home from war. Yes, I'm a weird consumer but Jeff Bezos has enough money. He doesn't need mine. I like going to stores. This Menards was right by the gas station where I needed to refuel. Also, Ohio closed the rest areas on I-71. So very necessary to stop at a business. Justifiable tourism.

My early red Norland seed potatoes arrived while I was away. I have them chitting in a tray in the front window. Placing them in sunlight to let the eyes grow is called chitting. They'll get planted the first week in April.


Germination of my onions is not very high. The King Richard Leeks did not sprout at all, zero out of 48 planted. The burgundy onions and spanish onions had slightly less than half germinate. I may get one Walla Walla onion out of 48. I replanted with the seed I had left but have very low expectations. The American Flag Leeks gave me about nine plants out of 44. Celery surprised me. There were none before I left and now I have a full tray. Very happy about that!


Cabbage and Rainbow Chard

I went through my seeds today. My package of spinach only had 2 seeds. Going to have to watch for spinach seed in the stores. I planted Minitina and Red Sorrel because I want an interesting salad. The minitina is in the plantain family. It's a perennial that will eventually live around the apple tree. I have my heart set on a dwarf Liberty apple tree. They are currently out of stock. I am to call again next week when a new shipment of plants should be coming in. Fingers crossed!
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
2019-02-22 02:08 pm

Growing More Food

I rather like Luke's saying from the MI Gardener, "Grow Big or go home!" This year I have more seedlings started than ever before. The onions and leeks take forever to grow so I am starting in February. Here's this year's seed:
Onions are on my mind.

Although I bought a bunch of new grow light bulbs, I managed to short out two of them. Yes, I'm a klutz. So, I find myself a little short on light. The two trays in darkness were just planted so I am giving them a little time before I find a work around. One tray of each of the above seeds plus one tray of celery and one of the Alpine Strawberries. So far, I have red onions and American Flag Leeks. The Alpines may have a few tiny green dots which could grow into plants. These will take a while. About half the leeks sprouted. The rest, I am still waiting on. I hope they are just long germinators.

Need more lights

Burgundy Red Onions

If I won the lottery, I'd hang out at the hardware store. I need a spade, wheelbarrow, more trellis, a cow panel or two, fire rings, T-posts, lights, PVC and Douglas Fir for cold frames. This limited budget is holding me back. But it is what it is. So today I worked with what I have. For comparison, last year I had potatoes in the bookcase garden.

French Fingerling progress

This year, I converted it into a 2' wide by 12' long bed. It was so hard to cut the grass around the bookcase. The bookcase detiorated but some of the boards will give me another year. So as to stretch my limited supply of cinderblock, this is what I did:

New garden bed for 2019

New garden bed for 2019

Gardening Time

Peas will be going along the upper edge where the trellis is. The rest will have carrots, parsnips, onions, and leeks. The whole bed, except the peas, will get covered in a fine mesh of tule fabric as none of these things need pollination. This should keep out the rabbits and other critters. (Wasps too). I have to remember to plan around the ground wasps. I never know where they will turn up. I do need them for pollination of other plants. Last year they were in the raspberries. I need to move the clothesline next. My plan for world domination through gardening depends on it. There is a lot of work involved in being an evil overlord.
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
2019-02-18 12:18 pm

Salt Mines

No data for me. The hard drive is dead. Must recreate the whole thing from scratch. I'll be searching for an old backup but will be reentering expense data from a huge pile of papers. Yuck! I will be busy with data entry and inventory for the next month. Then on to taxes. It's going to keep me busy, that's for sure.

The leeks are sprouting from Imbolc. The onions which got planted later are still sleeping. This full moon will be the closest that the moon comes to the earth this year on February 19th. Still learning more about planting by the moon to maximize yield. I hope to get at celery and lettuce today. From working all weekend, I have lots of yogurt cups to plant in. I have some washing and sterilizing to do.

We don't know it yet, but the economy is about to get real. With the Chinese tariffs, Brexit, and the slowing Chinese economy, recession is on the horizon. I recommend you listen to John Oliver for an update on Brexit. https://youtu.be/HaBQfSAVt0s

We are preparing for the worst case scenario. I think the US has a little bit of time, unlike Great Britain. I, for one, wish I could stockpile. There is no money for it. My concentration this year is on water. I need to divert it from my house. After listening to the farmers at my symposium, our rain is doubling with climate change. The Gulf of Mexico has been feeding storms up the Ohio River Valley. Once it hits the jet stream coming from the west, storms are merging into giant, torrential downpours, similar to superstorm Sandy. We are getting more of these. Where I live, they cause slides and erosion. My basement is suffering because of an old cystern. Part of it is still hooked up to active drain pipes. These leak into the basement causing mold. My goal is to unhook the drainpipe and collect the water in a storage container with excess drainage leading away from the house or perhaps to a pond. I am slowly gathering pieces of equipment to do so.

Another thing to help manage water is a series of swales down my hillside. That is what my cinderblocks are for. I also want disease resistant trees to help drink up the slack and provide shade. The house roof also needs repair as do the gutters. These, I cannot fix. There is no money, not even for my own ladder. The gutters were all designed to fill a cystern. They come to a central point. In 90 years, no one rerouted them. The garage gutter is actually falling off. I got a repair quote for the garage of $900. But property tax is due next month. That is not to be. Still another item to consider, because our water is being polluted from overflowing open frack waste ponds, I am also looking at Berkey water filtration systems. They are expensive but getting cancer from our drinking water would be even more so expensive. Some days I feel like the little Dutch boy, running out of fingers to plug all the holes in the dike. There is never enough money. I will be focusing on listing things on etsy once the computer situation is fixed. Sadly, I am still using a 20 year old computer as my "new" machine. If I can get a thumb drive to work on it, that is. It is what it is.
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
2019-02-14 01:46 pm
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Some days are like that

While rearranging the seedlings, I blew a bulb. The metal reflector shield was loose and touched the electrical portion of the bulb. It didn't blow the circuit breaker or electrocute me but I will be thinking about a different system for next year. That was a twenty dollar bulb. Ouch!

Potting soil is on order. I qualified for free shipping so yay! Hubby's sister gave him an Amazon gift card. He didn't know what to use it on so I ordered a spigot for the rain barrel. I also ordered a connector hose for between the two barrels. I still need a second spigot and the attachment to the rain sprout. Here are some helpful videos on setting up a rain barrel - the Alberta Gardener https://youtu.be/K8D6leyW47U
And installing a RainPal Rain Barrel Spigot https://youtu.be/tln2u7LnBg0

Today I will be shipping out my harddrive to a friend in hopes of getting data off it. Then on to money management and planning. I will be working all weekend. Toodles!
ursulas_alcove: Woodcut from Robin Hood (Spock's Raised Eyebrow)
2019-02-12 08:24 pm
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Class was a Roundtable

Some very helpful organic growers from around the area were on hand to talk about extended season, production schedules, yields, best crops, tracking software, and so much more!

Chatham University has 400 acres they manage north of town to teach sustainable ag, provide for the campus cafeterias, and sell to restaurants and Wigle Whiskey. They grow everything from Shitake mushrooms to ginger roots, heads of lettuce being their best seller. They use Goggle docs to log data, having 12 interns and needing a system that shares data. They typically order from Fedco. The recommendation is to use no more than three suppliers to make it easier for tracking sources for organic certification. They use rye, buckwheat or daikon radishes for cover crops. Daikon breaks up clay. Sometimes they actually harvest the cover crops too, but it depends on timing, because of the school schedule and labor availibilty.

Grow Pittsburgh's Braddock farm provides restaurants and a farm stand. They are members of a co-op, offering online sales. The co-op (Penn's Corner) is like a farmer's market but without having to sit around all day. The manager uses spreadsheets and maps with clearly labeled plots to communicate with workers. Each bed gets a number. This helps tracking crop rotation. His hardest challenge is to keep the farmstand stocked.

Since they started before I got there, I missed who the lady was with the 1/4 acre farm. She concentrates on selling seedlings. It could have been Garden Dreams. She is also a member of the growers co-op. She relies heavily on Johnny's Seeds. Johnny's website and catalog has downloadable spreadsheets too. Her best crop is zucchini. She covers it because it doesn't need pollinators, self pollinating. She is trying a paper covering for weed control this year. Other farmers didn't like covering with paper because it deteriorates too quickly. She said it may depend on the length of the growing cycle. Match the lifespan of the paper with a crop that matches. It's an experiment.

Most of the recommended reading I have already read. Chatham recommended listening to farmer-to-farmer podcasts while working. Not suitable for spouses who aren't into new tillage methods. I asked about seed saving. Most find it easier to buy each year for certification purposes. Several had one heirloom that isn't in catalogs anymore that they continue to save seed. We talked about equipment, over-priced stuff, what works, like a water wheel for seeding, and controlled temperature seed heaters to kill germs but not seeds. This helps improve germination rates. I think this is why Larry, the microgreens guy uses hydrogen peroxide. Several big outfits like Penn State bought $100,000 heaters which you can now buy at Target for $50. Weed pressure was the number one thing on their minds. Apparently there is a farm on a shale hill in NE PA that uses horses to farm. They have no weeds. They hoe daily. We talked about heavy black plastic weed barriers. They actually don't destroy good soil bacteria but they don't work in climates with heavy sun like in Colorado. Many farmers are trying them for the first time this year.

We talked about climate change. Our area received double the average rainfall last year. I may need to invest in some gauges. We talked about soil temperature (growing degree days) and germination so you know when your window of opportunity to plant is. Many farmers look to places north of us for data and information. Farms in Maine and Vermont have soil temperature data. Like me, most have little use for planning schedules coming out of the south or California. (Although UC Santa Cruz has generic data online for free). Chatham University uses Jean Claude Foutier's method. I picked up his book from the library. I was quite impressed but have no desire to have quite as much broccoli as he plants. Pam Dawling's book was recommended out of Virginia, Sustainable Market Farming. Anothr publication called "Weed the soil, not the crop" was recommended.

Timing and leeway were discussed. Crops that went to flowet too quickly like kale or dill can be sold in a bouquet. Edible flowers can also be sold in salad mixes, like mustard that's gone too quickly. When in doubt, taste the item. If too bitter, compost it. With carrots, one farmer felt they take much longer than the recommended days-to-maturity so he doubles it in his planning.

We wrapped up with a look at Ag Square, a software that will help track costs as well as a calendar and crop data, days to market, yield, etc. Another helpful tool is just your phone camera. Everything has a date and location stamp so you know when pests hit, when crops went to market, etc. Reviewing your Instagram account and marketing pictures helps you track dates. All-in-all, the workshop was very informative.
ursulas_alcove: My favorite doctor (c is for civilized)
2019-02-12 01:27 pm
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Just about to Leave

I like free classes. I'm on my way to Grow Pittsburgh to take a class on maximizing production. It's being run by PASA, PA Sustainable Agriculture. https://pasafarming.org/event/crop-planning-for-better-production-panel-discussion-craft/

I have my list of plants I plan to grow, notebook, and a pencil. I have containers and bags to visit the Co-op when I'm done. Definitely need groceries. I emptied the coffee grounds into the garden. Chrono will have to pick up tonight's grounds. Now, I'm just waiting for noodles to boil so I have some food in my system.

Onions are on my mind.

I planted today's tray of seedlings, King Richard Leeks, 44 in total. I am out of dirt and light bulbs now. I still need to plant a tray of Utah yellow onions. Then on to celery and swiss chard. I called work. I am entitled to 2 hours of pay for the day the store sent me home. They didn't carry the product I was suppose to give out samples of. I'll get that pay next week. Should be about $20. Not enough but a start. It's going to be a tight squeeze because property tax is due. I hate to eat and run, but I will update this blog on the class tonight.

Still need two more bulbs, potting mix, and one more light fixture
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
2019-02-03 12:26 am
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It was a strange sort of day. Bright and sunny. They say Punxatawny Phil did not see his shadow. They start festivities at the crack of dawn. I don't know how Phil could ever see his shadow. The sun doesn't clear the mountains until 9:30 am. Which raised another question. In Ireland, they celebrate Imbolc on February 1st. But in America, we celebrate on the 2nd. So which day do you use to figure out when spring happens? A friend posted a nice summary of the ancient myth. The goddess slumbers all winter. She awakes on Imbolc or St. Brigit's Day. If it's sunny, she gets up and collects more firewood, so spring is later because she can stay inside (asleep) longer. If it's cloudy, she rolls over and goes back to sleep but her firewood runs out and spring is earlier. It's a nice way to remember the myth. This is important (if you believe the myth) because it snowed like the dickens on the first but was sunny and clear on the 2nd. Hmmm.

Front Yard Garden

I started looking for organic apple trees. I want a dwarf with a 10' diameter span. Chronographia wants a honeycrisp. I was looking at an Arkansas Black. Although they keep a long time, they are unremarkable taste-wise. I like tart apples but no one else does. It was so sunny today, I thought I'd go out and mark the locations in the garden where I want to put everything. Nope. Not yet. The ground is still frozen. Sticks won't go into the ground. I'll have to wait for Monday. (I work all weekend.) An apple tree should have been planted back in December. If I can get a hole dug, I may order one yet. Around here April is still the best planting time, but California is on a different growing schedule. I'll have to check other nurseries. https://www.groworganic.com/apple-honey-crisp-dwarf-tree.html

Onions are on my mind.

We started a few trays of seedlings today. One tray got 40 American Flag Leeks and another got Alpine Strawberries. I'm hoping something comes up. I used coconut core plugs. Not sure I like them. The leeks got put into soil blocks. I had to stretch my potting mix with worm castings. I sterilized them first in the oven.

I haven't dared look to see what the polar vortex did to my low tunnels. Cover needs to come off tomorrow because of the warmup into the 50s. We'll see what I find.
ursulas_alcove: Blakes 7 (intelligence)
2019-01-30 10:46 pm
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Too cold

Stayed under the covers this morning and did some research. Ipads are handy things. So I wrote down all the fruit trees I looked at. I put down their footprints as well. Got rid of any that were fussy or out of my zone. If climate change means more extremes like today, I need plants that can handle both hot and cold temperatures. I also need a tree on the south west corner of my house that will offer shade in the summer and sun in the winter. We are technically in Zone 6. Trees grown for regions/zones 5-8 are preferred.

For the record

I gathered all my info, grabbed a pencil and eraser and drafted a new plan. The beauty is that I already have several of these plants but they are in areas where they are not thriving due to lack of sun. By moving them into the sun with soil that has been worked and improved, they should do much better, assuming they survive the week. I have them arranged by height so the tallest plants are in the back. Another part of the placement accounts for existing perennials in that section. Trees and bushes take a while to establish. So nothing should be shaded out. I've lovage, valerian, savory, thyme, and asparagus to think about. Here's the current plan:

The new garden plan

It requires the purchase of two new plants, a dwarf apple tree and a quince tree. It should be much more affordable this way, filling in the space nicely. A second path will be in between the quince/aronia and the honeyberries (not marked) for picking. Judging by the honeyberries, they are just sticks, despite being two years old. Same goes for the aronia. It will give me time to dig out the new paths, which will also be swales, filled with sawdust. Looking forward to implementing this new plan. The only big question is what apple to get? Do I want one that I harvest and can or one that stays firm and stores well? Decisions, decisions. More research for another day.