Monthly Archives: October 2010

Garden Renovation in Progress

At Aspendale Farm we are still hard at work renovating and moving the vegetable garden.  We’ve headed out there every afternoon this week, working until it’s time to leave for our 4:30 workout.   Since we didn’t have school today we pretty much just dug right into it.

I’m really having fun with the renovations, much as I dreaded it.  Yes, it’s a great deal of heavy work, but things are shaping up really prettily and it’s such a good feeling! This afternoon I shared with a friend of mine that I have been working part-time doing editing and proofreading lately, to earn some money to add to my clothes budget.  Jesse and I have always had a pretty small clothing budget – enough really to keep us in socks and underwear, with maybe a couple new shirts and a pair of jeans or something each year.  Seems like we’re always underfunded.  Anyhow, I decided to earn a little extra to pad my wardrobe budget … and wouldn’t you know it – I spent that money on landscape timbers for the raised garden beds.  LOL!  As I told her, I’ll get more pleasure out of raised garden beds than I would out of a new pair of shoes!  In part I am able to fund the timbers through the sales of my extra strawberry plants and half a dozen older hens.  I just put a notice on craigslist.  I’m hoping to get at least one more customer for the extra strawberry plants.  Any extra cash pays for a few more timbers at the Amish lumberyard.

I’m always delighted and somewhat astounded at the way God answers even the most mundane prayers so often.  I had asked Him for a solution to the quandry Jess presented me with.  He said he wanted to be able to pull around the back of the big barn when he was towing something behind the truck so he didn’t have to back around in such a tight space.  Pulling through will be considerably easier.  But he’ll have to go straight through my garden to do it.  It took me awhile to be able to even think about moving the garden… you know what it’s like when your head is already too full to think about one more thing!  But when I did think about it recently, I prayed and asked Him for a good solution – as we are really so very tight on space here.  I sure couldn’t come up with a good one myself.  Ten acres of woods is wonderful for hunting, horseback riding, making forts and such, but it makes for pretty poor gardening.  Only a couple acres is clear, and much of that is for the horses.  The rest is taken up largely by paths and outbuildings.  The few clear spots are in use.  Every nook and cranny that gets enough sunlight and isn’t regularly driven on or trod over has something growing there… the orchard, the vegetable garden, the raspberries, flowers, and so forth.  And I have no intention of giving up my flowers! So in response to my prayer He gave me the idea to shrink the main garden small enough for Jesse to get around, and to tuck the wandering vegetables (squash, melon, pumpkins) into the newly cleared but still very untamed plot across the way from the existing garden.  It’s a mass of tree litter and stumps, but I can dump piles of compost around the sunnier spots and sow them in spring.  Then those wild critters can sprawl as much as they like and it won’t bother a thing!  Still, I had to figure out where to move the asparagus bed and the newest addition to the garden, the rhubarb.  So I asked Him again for a solution, and again He sent an answer.  Cecily had the idea this time.

We’d tried to start some hollyhocks from seed along the back of the chicken coop.  It’s a nice spot for anything to grow, but we tried those hollyhock seeds in three locations and didn’t get a single hollyhock growing anywhere.  I wonder if they need to be started inside.  Anyway, so we had this small bed which, in my mind, was to be a flower bed.  It’s narrow, and it’s on a steep, sandy slope, so we’ll have to take those railroad ties our friends gave us and build out a retaining wall, fill it in with finished compost and transplant both the asparagus and the rhubarb to what will be a 4×16′ plot.  But it answers the need nicely.  That will be another day of hard labor!  LOL!

I am still considering our raspberry situation.  I don’t want to spend any more money on landscape timbers.  We have two raspberry beds.  One is mature but the berries are a bit sour.  They’ll be fine for jam, but the bed is only one 20′ long row.  Our second bed is 30′ long, but still immature.  Next year we should get a better harvest from them.  Enough for some good fresh eating, I hope.  I’d like to put in another couple dozen plants of different varieties to increase the quantity and quality of our overall harvest.  I’d really like to get all our raspberries from our own land instead of having to go pick them at $4+/quart.  But I have until spring to figure that one out.  I’m considering getting more railroad ties and building a raised retaining wall all along the side of the chicken yard, just outside the fence.  The chickens may eat a few on the one side of the bushes, and they may be too high up for easy picking so I’ll really have to consider it.

So I’ve really spent most of my non-school time this week renovating the garden and it’s been very pleasant indeed.

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Garden Solutions

We did get Indian Summer and it’s been beautiful!  We’ve done quite a bit of riding.  And I am finally getting ’round to putting the garden to bed and making decisions about the “to move or not to move” debate.

Cecily got into the strawberry beds and pulled out some of the older plants, then mulched it with hay for the winter.  Now I’m raking the hay back off the bed in the main garden to put 4×4 timbers in there for a raised bed.  Our current garden, though oddly shaped, ends up being about 800-900 s.f..  In order to accomodate a driveway for J’s truck pulling the camper or the boat, I’m shrinking it drastically to just three 40′ rows parallel to the big barn.  Any other vegetables we want to grow will have to find homes elsewhere.  It should work out alright to try growing squash and pumpkins in that newly cleared lot across the path from the existing vegetable garden (sorry, I don’t have a photo to help you “see” what I’m talking about.)  But I’m going to have to get creative about moving the asparagus bed and the rhubarb.  For now, though, I can keep the everbearing strawberries in the main garden.  It would be an awful job to move them!

I’ve also ordered another blueberry bush.  I’m not sure what exactly the problem is … the plants are too new, the soil isn’t acidic enough, there’s not enough sunlight – maybe a combination, but the blueberry bushes ought to be bigger than they are.  They have plenty of organic matter, so I’m going to bank on it being something to do with the lack of sunlight.  It might behoove me to move them off to the south side of the house and push that flower garden elsewhere, as it’s really just a bunch of leftover flowers thrown in there, and a primo spot for sunlight.  Very sandy, though.

Seems there’s always something to think about with the gardens.  Good thing I enjoy thinking about it!  LOL!

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Farm Update

It was 12-degrees here this morning when we went down to feed the horses and scoop.  There is no denying that autumn is here to stay.  We may not even have an Indian Summer.

I have continued to freeze and can peppers and tomatoes.  We’ve brought in squashes and parsley, too.  There is still some basil that needs drying.  We’d better get to that soon.  I’m so chirked up about the peppers and tomatoes.  I’ve grown upward of $60 worth of red peppers – and that doesn’t count another $7-8 worth of green peppers.  We let most of them turn red, as a red pepper is worth more in the market, and we use more red than green.  I’ve diced up the greens and frozen them to add to meatloaf, goulash and a scant few other dishes I use them in.  I guess all told my garden (for the first time ever) has produced a very, very respectable amount of produce – roughly:

Strawberries, fresh – $15

Strawberry Jam – $25

Snap Peas – $15

Shallots – $20

Carrots and onions – $5

Potatoes -$4

Fresh tomatoes – $100

Canned diced tomatoes – $10

Salsa – $30

Peppers, Red – $60

Peppers, Green – $10

Cooking herbs – $5

Hot Peppers – $2 (most went into salsa)

I shan’t count the raspberries, blueberries, or elderberries, nor the corn, as they were negligible.  The garlic was all dug up by the hens and the asparagus wasn’t big enough to harvest at all.  The orchard produced nothing, as it was frosted in the spring, which killed the blossoms.  We did wildcraft a dollar or two of hazelnuts, which was an exceptional surprise.  I do not know why, but I am terrible at growing lettuce and spinach, and haven’t produced an edible crop yet!

The farrier is coming this afternoon.  Lacy’s hooves hardly look as if they need trimming, so I’ll have to let Tucker decide if he’ll trim or not, but we won’t be putting shoes back on Spur.  She has hardly needed them this summer, and I don’t expect to be out where she’ll need them before winter sets in.

Our good rooster, Eddie, killed a Rhode Island Red pullet early this afternoon.  JJ has put him down – much to my chagrin.  I don’t like to be without a rooster, but neither of the men care a lick for roosters, so I guess I am outvoted now.  We’ll be having chicken quesadillas or fajitas for dinner from the pullet.  I hate to lose a pullet, but at least we’ll get some benefit from her.

As the year winds down and we head into the cold season, we’ve begun making preparations.  While we still have to put the garden to bed (and I still haven’t taken care of my strawberry beds!), we’ve laid the stall mats down in the horse barn and dug in most of the timbers at the open ends of the stalls, with dirt sloping down and out away from the stalls to drain meltwater off.  We usually have a huge problem with flooded stalls from meltwater, and sometimes even from just rainwater.  But this should take care of it.

I didn’t get my garlic ordered and Johnny’s is all out.  So I’ll be buying store garlic again to interplant with the raspberries, and will have to call down to the greenhouse south of us and see if they have any garlic in right now.  Otherwise I’ll be out of luck, I guess.

Planning is difficult without knowing yet whether we’ll be moving the garden, but I guess I have to plan something!

That is the update.  Now you know what’s been going on.  I’ve only just gotten my gumption back from being so worn out this late summer.  But it feels so good to be back!  It’s just not natural for me to sit around with no motivation to work on anything, especially with winter preparations piling up to be done!  Happy Fall, Ya’ll!

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Filed under Farm, Garden and Orchard, Horses, Poultry and Other Animals, The Country Kitchen