Pascha and Picnic

I made some Greek Easter Bread for Pascha. It came out huge! I didn’t expect that at all. I hadn’t dyed any eggs this year, so I didn’t put any eggs in the bread. You’re supposed to put a couple red eggs in the dough and then bake it. Oh well.DSCN0270 DSCN0271 DSCN0272 There’s a family at Church that invites the congregation over for a meal and an egg hunt. It was so awesome. They had BBQ pork, fried chicken, raw kibbe (which I did not try – I know… how lame of me), ribs, and ice cream bars at the end of the day. I LOVE ice cream. So good.DSCN0278 DSCN0277 DSCN0276 DSCN0275 DSCN0274 DSCN0287 DSCN0286 DSCN0285 DSCN0279 DSCN0280 DSCN0281 DSCN0282 DSCN0283 DSCN0284

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Working the Garden

I’m continuing the summary for my own use of the Organic Gardening book I’m reading.

Chapter 4: Working the Organic Garden

If you plant your seeds in a hexagonal pattern, there will be less moisture loss and less germination of seeds because the foliage will cover the soil. Start by planting one seed at the corners and one seed in the center.

It is important to sterilize the seed starting equipment. Clean them and let them sit in a diluted bleach solution so as to get rid of any diseases that may be on the containers from last year.

Water the seedlings from the bottom – it encourages root growth. Mulch to reduce moisture loss. Only put mulch on a week after seedlings have become established in the garden. Turn the mulch under at the end of the season so it has time to decompose, don’t wait until the next spring.Use hay/straw/grass clippings as mulch. Most wood mulches rob the soil of nitrogen when they rot.

There’s a fairly large fruit/tree planting and care section, which I am skipping over because I don’t plan on doing that right now.

The next section is a detailed description of the plants. How to sow them and their care and maintenance, and how to harvest them.

Garden

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I’m reading this to gather as much information as I can about gardening and planning for it. I’m planning on gardening in my backyard on a very small scale. We’re going to put in raised beds for the veggies.

Concerning organic gardening: I’m not one of those crunchy people who only buys organic produce or other kinds of products. I do think that if we could get all people to do it that would be a great thing, but things like that usually come slowly, unless mandated by government. I tend to weigh each option differently, as to whether it would be good for me and my family as far as health and/or finances go. I guess it’s kind of like the pirate’s code – the whole organic gardening thing are more like guidelines. ARRRGGGH!

As I read, I’m going to put some of the ideas in blog posts so I can remember them as they apply to my situation. And so I can return the book to the library. 🙂 I love the library! We go every week.

The first chapter acquaints you with what organic gardening is – basically good science for preserving the earth and your part of it for the rest of mankind and with the least amount of effort monetarily on your part – with long range goals in mind.

The second chapter is about soil and compost. What I gleaned from this chapter is that compost is a really good idea. However, since we live in a rental, that might be problematic, and also, we don’t plan on spending much more time here so that isn’t really going to work for us, but when we move (if we move to something we plan to spend some time living in) I definitely will start a compost pile. I’m going to see if when we buy soil from wherever I’m going to buy compost and another kind of soil (there are so many types out there!)

Chapter three is about planning. Even if you don’t have that much space, the book presents varieties of plants that are ornamental but also bear fruit. I don’t plan on doing that right now because it would probably be a nuisance to the next tenants if they aren’t into growing their own food. Evidently you should use heirloom and heritage varieties of seeds. I am loving that because I’ve seen those heirloom tomatoes and they look sooooo good, I’m totally growing those. Crop rotation is also important to improve the quality of soil and to keep diseases at bay. I didn’t realize this but you should rotate not just by crop but by crop family.

These are the rules for Crop Rotation

  • Never follow this year’s crop with another member of the same family.
  • Arrange your plan so that heavy feeders always follow legumes, which enrich the soil.
  • Potatoes yield best after corn
  • Grain crops do best after legumes
  • root crops often take a lot out of the soil, so put them before legumes
  • Having brassicas follow onions is beneficial.
  • Tomatoes are narcissistic and do not like to rotate.
  • Squashes and cucumbers are beneficial to most following crops.

These are the vegetables grouped by family:

  • Goosefoot family: beets, spinach, Swiss chard
  • Daisy family: endive, chicory, artichokes, sunflowers, sunchokes, lettuces
  • Morning glory family: sweet potatoes
  • Mustard family:kale, radishes, cabbages, brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, broccoli, rutabagas, turnips, cauliflower
  • Gourd family:watermelons, melons, cucumber, summer squash, winter squash
  • Grass family: wheat, corn, rye
  • Pea and bean family: beans, peas
  • Onion family: onions, leeks, garlic
  • Buckwheat family: buckwheat
  • Nightshade family: peppers, eggplants, potatoes
  • Carrot family: celery, carrots, parsnips

Also another friendly tip is that you should take a vitamin B12 supplement if you are on a vegetarian or vegan diet.

They give you a list of vitamins in each vegetable and what they’re good for.

These are planting combinations to avoid:

  • Apples and potatoes (which I’m not planting)
  • black walnuts trees and tomatoes (and everything else): their leaves produce toxins that wash down to the dirt… bad bad bad.
  • Brassicas and tomatoes (I’m planting both of these)
  • Keep grass away from young pear and apple trees (not that I’m planting trees, but my husband loves pears so I will in the future)
  • Maple trees and wheat (not planting)
  • Spruce trees slow the growth of other trees, but encourage the growth of strawberries

Towards the end of the chapter I’m finding that I need to plant more than just vegetables. I need to create a habitat with other kinds of flowers that encourage natural predators to the pests I don’t want in my garden. More on that later.

A Fire at Chisholm Creek Trail

DSCN0126 DSCN0127 DSCN0128 DSCN0129I was walking around the Chisholm Creek Trail and I hear this crackling sound. I was trying to figure out what kind of animal or animals would make that sound. It turned out that it was no animal at all. At first I thought it was a controlled fire because I’d never come across a wild fire. After I figured out that no one was there controlling it, I called 911. The firemen got there probably five minutes later. It was one of those things that I never thought I’d ever experience.

 

Flowers

These are the flowers in my front garden bed. I didn’t think they would bloom, but since we’ve got so much rain lately I guess that helps a lot.

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This is the remnant of an unruly rose bush that was about 5 feet tall that we tried to remove. It keeps on coming back.

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October

I went outside with Anastasia today, after unloading 9 boxes of kitchen stuff and filling them with what was already there. I heard very loud gobbling. In the south field there must have been at least a herd of 50 turkeys. Sorry for the bad quality photo.

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I put on another layer of leaves on the mini rose bush flower bed. We got a slight frost a couple weeks ago. Now it’s in the 70s and 80s.

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Mini Rose Bushes Done

I finally was in the mood to finish the rose bush flower bed. I realized the other day that I should just use leaves as mulch instead if buying it. Hopefully it squashes some of the grass whose roots I couldn’t get. I’ll continue to put more layers on as needed.

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Garden Plan: updated

So, I have a new list of what we’re going to plant for the garden this spring. I have had a request or two to plant in addition to all the stuff I wanted.

My list:

  • Bell peppers
  • Onion
  • Carrots
  • Shallots
  • Garlic
  • Eggplant
  • Zucchini
  • Okra
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Potatoes – russet, new, red
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Watermelon
  • Cantaloupe
  • Green Beans
  • Corn
  • Mint
  • Cilantro
  • Oregano
  • Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Nasturtiums
  • Tomatoes – heirloom, beefsteak, and roma
  • Cucumbers
  • lettuce – green leaf and red leaf
  • spinach
  • basil
  • dill
  • pumpkin
  • rosemary
  • Asparagus – we already have a patch
  • Strawberry

Trees we already have:

  • 4 peach
  • 2 apricot (currently not producing – have to figure out why)
  • 2 cherry
  • 1 pecan (not producing – have to get the other one to pollinate it)
  • 1 pear

Additional ones:

  • black raspberry
  • red raspberry
  • Thai Basil
  • Asian Sweet Potatoes
  • Poblano peppers
  • flat leaf parsley
  • chives
  • summer squash
  • chili peppers
  • apple trees
  • grapes
  • lemon tree – inside

 

Around the Farm

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This is the back “pasture” of our farm. It has a bunch of trees seeding tiny trees. Because there’s basically no sun reaching the bottom, there is no grass growing back there. There are a bunch of old leaves covering the ground also. I haven’t done much research on this, but a low yield burn may just be what we need for that. Next summer we plan on cutting down the big trees and having a big party to invite a ton of people to come help. Firewood as a give away for those who come help.

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Yes that is rusty barbed wire randomly on the ground back there.

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This is a tree that’s in the hedgerow close to the garden. It’s HUGE! Four to five people could probably stand around it with their arms out spread holding hands.

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This is the garden. Wait, you say, it looks more like a lawn. Yes because someone planted a tall grass for the cows to eat, but never let them over in that area to have them eat it. Then it seeded and spread the seed all over the garden.
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This is the ancient rototiller. With a tub with a hole on it to “cover” it from the weather. It broke down halfway through the job. Time for a new one, I’d say.
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Yes, that’s a bunch of junk that’s probably been sitting there for years.
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This is one of the four peach trees. Not pruned very well.
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This is another peach tree and cherry tree.

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These are the two apricot trees that haven’t produced for 15 years. I’ve collected soil samples to take to the extension office to see if we can fix it by icing the soil. Hopefully we don’t have to cut hem down.
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This is the pear tree. We canned 16 quarts of pears from this, plus probably a 5 gallon barrel we gave away.
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Two more peach trees. That big tree is supposed to be a pecan tree, but it has never produced anything for lack of another tree to pollinate it or something like that. Evidently someone mowed over it in their teenage years.

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The garden after one run through with the rototiller and a raking. And after the second one and raking.
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My husband is using the tractor to cut down the tall grass around the garden. Hopefully we’ll have another free day to prep the garden and use the tractor again as well as my husband’s grandfather’s rototiller, which is substantially newer than the one pictured above.