Gardening in the Blind


It has been too long
February 21, 2012, 3:29 pm
Filed under: chickens, Garden Planning, Indoor Gardening, pests

soon to be started in a basement near you!

It has been too long since I lasted chatted.  We have been too busy lately.  Between dance classes, rock climbing and the gym we really don’t have much time to do anything else.  I am not so keen on this schedule, but we are trying to train for the Tough Mudder in May.  I have a lot of running to go so I am prepared for it.  I have also started a weekday “Paleo” Diet.  That means no gluten, dairy, grains etc.  It makes me appreciate the garden and miss it even more.  But I am in hopes that with the warm week ahead, the ground will thaw so that I can dig out my parsnips.  My mouth waters just at the thought of eating them!

I am still getting some seeds filtering in that were on back order.  I don’t think that I will ever be disappointed when I open the mailbox and see another package sent to me.  It makes me feel so special.  I bribed my husband to deal with the mice in the basement.  We went to Home Depot and picked three different options for traps.  So far we have only caught one well fed mouse.  Deron is in hopes of more as I promised him a nice manhattan for every dead mouse he had to deal with.  It has proven to be a wonder bribe in the past and continues to be.  The trickiest part is hiding the alcohol so he can not find it!

I have a three day workshop I am taking this weekend for my mid-life crisis of changing my profession.  I am going to try to become a personal trainer.  It should be quite fun.  When I finish the weekend, we are going to celebrate by organizing the basement for planting to start.  Hard to believe that it is already that time again.  I will keep you posted as I plant.  This year I am changing a few things for when to start, I hope to see a better production by doing so.  Only time will tell.

The girls are still not laying.  I just purchased a new feed in hopes that might encourage them.  I really miss my eggs that is for sure!

 



Garden Planning
January 21, 2012, 10:19 am
Filed under: Garden Planning

Coming Soon to a basement near you!

I fell behind this year planning my garden, but I can tell you I am finally done ordering.  This year was a little more money as I was not that good at saving any tomato seeds except for the Radiator Charlie.  I didn’t have any to use for this year.  It was unbelievable as it was the first time that I was out of seeds for them.  I guess it happens.

I decided to change it up a bit for where I purchased the seeds.  I chose to try to stay more local for the most part, however I did order a fair amount from Baker Creek Heirloom.  I ordered 14 different tomato seeds, ground cherries, mixed greens, sweet peppers and tomatillos, radishes and more.  I wanted to make sure that I gave Baker Creek some business as they do a great job protecting seeds and will test them to make sure that each seed was non-gmo.  I feel that the fact that they are actively protecting the heirloom seeds is worth supporting.

Next I explored Comstock, Ferre and Co.  This is located in CT, under an hour away from me.  They are owned by Baker Creek Heirloom.  This seed company has been around for over 200 years.  They were having to close the doors when Baker Creek purchased them to keep the company going.  What came with that was an invaluable amount of documentation, history, seeds and more.  I find it amazing to read the catalog where it shares descriptions found back in the 1800’s and I can still order them.  Going to the store is fun as well.  With all the equipment that they found, they have a kind of museum showcasing how they would sort the seeds, count them etc.  They still use some at the store today.  So I ordered hot peppers, herbs, celeric, kale, cucumbers, beans, parsnips as well as a could squash plants.  I will be blogging about them after I get them started.

I ordered from a new company as well this year.  High Mowing Organic Seeds located in VT is a great family business that has amazingly fast shipping!  I ordered Arugula, more beans, carrots, more cucumbers, more greens, more hot peppers, more herbs and lastly more tomatoes from them.  I hope it is all fantastic as I would love to give them more business next year.

Lastly was two of the oldie but goodies – Johnny Seeds in Maine and Richter’s in Canada.  Richter’s I always order a leek plug tray (12 plugs) as well as any herbs I want to start this year.  I will be having more room this year in my herbal area, so I was excited to be able to get new as well as my hopefully great raised bed in my front that I will be building first thing this spring.  Johnny’s is where I order misc. seeds, shallots and onions.  I can’t wait for spring.  I think that the mild winter we are having has made my spring fever worse as it isn’t that cold, but it is not warm either.  I just want to plant!

I will be working hard to get rid of the mice I have this year and preparing the basement for planting in the next couple of weeks.  I plan on starting my planting earlier this year – mid February with herbs, tomatoes started at the end of February.  It is amazing to be able to go downstairs in my little green oasis waiting for spring!



Chicken Time!
January 18, 2012, 6:26 pm
Filed under: animals, chickens

Eating Popcorn for the first time

I gave my chickens popcorn for the first time recently and decided that I needed to post a couple of photos.  It has been too long.  They have all recovered from the sporty bare butts that they loved all summer.  I guess it is just too cold for them.  Something is different though.  I am not getting eggs from them this winter.  It has gotten so bad that I had to break down and purchase a dozen eggs to cook with.  If I heated the coop they would probably lay, but I decided that I would give them time off.  It is not like I am dying for eggs.  I threaten them with chicken soup, but they just turn around and show the tails.  I guess they know that I would never do anything to them.

Allie showing off for me.

They seem to be very happy with the arrangement.  Although, it has become cold for the next couple of days, so I have to lock them in the coop.  Chickens instantly want to go where they can no longer go.  They are like little children with a bit of a fit.  It can’t be that they are spoiled and the parent is to blame.  I promise it is not me!  But they love me dearly when I reopen the coop to explore in the sand…so atleast it doesn’t last long.



Radiator Charlie Tomato
January 14, 2012, 3:27 pm
Filed under: Tomatoes

Radiator Charlie on the smaller size

This has to be one of my all-time favorite tomato and a have to have in the garden.  I found the seeds on local harvest.org and have been saving the seeds ever since. They have more flesh then most extra-large tomatoes, thus due to the lack of seeds perfect for people who are sensitive to the acid.  My husband was amazed that he could eat it without the heart-burn medicine.  This is huge for him.

Radiator Charlie’s are a type of mortgage lifter.  It will always amaze me that someone could develop a tomato that would pay off the mortgage.  I really don’t think that you could do that in this day in age.  It is an indeterminate – growing more than one wave of tomatoes.  I also will say that it produces later in the season, but abundantly.   It is a larger plant, but will not spread and take over a bed like Matt’s Wild Cherries.  It is a thicker bushy looking plant.  You need to add support to the plant due to the size and weight of the produce.  My record has been 3-1/2 pounds for one tomato, however, I will say the average is a little over 2 pounds.  I also have not had any problems with the tomatoes splitting, but you need to pick them as soon as they are ripe as I found that birds (at least in my backyard) are highly attracted to them.  I don’t know about you, but I am a bit of a hoarder when it comes to the tomatoes,  I don’t like to share!



Giving Thanks
November 28, 2011, 5:49 pm
Filed under: Cooking/Canning/Drying, Garden Planning, local eating, Tomatoes

What does herbs still growing outside have to do with giving thanks?  In my house it made a terrific blend for the turkey. (The turkey was from Many Hands Farm, organic and free-range.  The BEST!) As I glanced at my thanksgiving table,  I was proud of myself in knowing that Deron and I have completed a full year of organic eating.  The food is better all around.

So just what am I thankful for this year?  I am thankful that I am not worrying about GMO’s because we are eating organic food.  I am thankful that this lifestyle has only encouraged more changes for us.  We are going to the gym more, we signed up for the Tough Mudder in May and have a big adventurous year planned for next year.  We are not only getting into the best shape we have ever been in, but we are also going to expand the garden for next year!  Too much excitment I tell ya!

On top of all this, I got a new digital camera.  My new Nikon digital camera will hopefully make the pictures more exciting and encourage everyone to get out and start growing!  Starting in January I will be starting a once a week blog about different types of tomatoes.  Just in time to start planning your own garden.

I am hopefully going to start a make shift hydroponic system that I am building myself in January as well.  I will blog all about it.  Yet another item to look forward to.  If you have anything you would like me to discuss, please feel free to let me know and I will do my best to include it.

Most of all of this I give thanks for having readers like you!  Thanks for finding me at least a little interesting!



A Tale of no Tails
November 7, 2011, 8:19 am
Filed under: animals, chickens

image

My chickens were loosing feathers all summer long.  It was like they started and decided that the built-in a.c. was worth it.  I tried everything to get the feathers back.  I gave them more protein.  I checked them for mites and lice.  I dusted them with DE just in case I just didn’t see the mites and lice.  Nothing seemed to work.  Worst of all, anyone who visited suddenly thought I was not taking care of my chickens.  It doesn’t matter that they never had chickens, they were sudden experts.  I hate that look of “You must be killing them”.  I’m not a bad chicken owner, it is just what they were doing.  But as predicted, it took a couple of nights of cold and the feathers started growing back.  I went from seeing no feathers to each looking like they had ants crawling all over them (the feathers were black dots and continued to look just plain weird until they were about 1/2″ long where they started to vaguely look like the feathers they were.)  I am happy to see that they are all getting tail feathers, and not knobs anymore (Although they have a long ways to go before they truly look like tails again).  The above picture is of the tailless flock.

The down side of this is that I have not had eggs for over 2 weeks.  Not a single one.  I don’t miss them when I have a lot, but when I don’t, I all of a sudden need them.  Funny how that works.

So for all the looks from visitors, patience is key – not blaming.

On a slightly different note, I decided it was time I learned how to properly kill a chicken in case I ever had to due to injury.  I chose to volunteer at a farm that I order chickens from (to eat).  I was nervous yet excited about helping out on Misty Brook Farm.  I was afraid I would not be able to handle it.  I didn’t know what to expect.  I told my husband it was either going to make me appreciate what we eat, or I would never eat chicken again.  But either way, I would learn how to do this in order to be responsible for my animals.  While it was not the best day in the world, I am happy that I have learned it and in the process, participated in preparing the chicken I eat instead of just picking it up at a grocery store/farm stand.  I appreciate and understand what has to happen for the meat to land on my plate.  I think that is why my husband and I have reduced the amount tremendously.  I said a little wish for each that crossed my path that day.



Organic farming
November 5, 2011, 12:24 pm
Filed under: Farming, Green
image

Harvested tomatillos before the storm

Organic farming has been researched for years.  The findings are the same everytime.  The produce is more nutritous, uses less fossil fuels and has a higher soil quality.  So why, if so much better, does it cost more to prove you are responsible.  The people who use more fossil fuels, trash the soil and grow seeds that are genetically modified don’t have to pay extra to farm as such.  What is wrong with this picture?

Bioscience magazine published an article back in July entitled “Environment, energy and economic comparisions of organic and conventional farming systems”.  This article is documenting a 22-year study that found organic farming produces the same yields of corn and soybeans as conventional farming, but uses 30 percent less energy, less water and no pesticides.  This study blows holes in all that is stated about reasons why people don’t use organic farming.  If the yeilds are the same or better, why not?  Just make it pass the first four years when the soil is being built back.  I would think you would eventually save a lot of money by not purchasing and dispersing chemicals on the land that ruins the soil.  This study is a review of the Rodale Institute Farming Systems Trial, the longest running trial of its sort within the United States.  I urge you all to google it to learn more (Click Here for the Rodale Institute Site).

I have a dream.  Not an earth shattering dream, but a dream nonetheless.  Let it be free to farm organically and charge people for conventional farming.  Maybe then people might learn to appreciate the soil and environment and saftey
of produce.