Monday, April 24, 2017

GARDEN UPDATE

Haven't done a garden update in a couple of weeks so here it is...


Eggplants are doing fine.  Putting on blooms but haven't set fruit yet.  One plant looked like something had nibbled on it, more insect like, not animal, but I didn't see anything.  I'll have to keep an eye on it.  

At the other end of this bed are the jalapeños.  Missed the picture of them but they are getting bigger and also have a few blooms on them.


The two okra plants are getting larger, slowly but larger.  They love the heat so once it gets warmer and stays warmer, they'll be happier.


Tomatoes are putting blooms on so hopefully small toms aren't far behind.


The zucchini is getting HUGE!  There is a yellow squash in this bed too (just off camera) but it's much smaller than this.  I might have to sacrifice it to let us have zucchini.


Cucumbers are climbing the trellis like CRAZY!  I can't believe how fast they are growing.  

I looked on the underside of the trellis and...


...a baby cuke!!!  And as you can see, more blooms in the background!  Not sure how many we'll end up with but I hope it's prolific.  It's our first time with cucumbers so this is an experiment for our garden. 


The herb bed is growing as well.  This picture doesn't show all but here are the basil, lemon thyme and Italian flat leaf parsley.  Off camera are chives and oregano.  I did harvest a bit of basil.

The garden is doing great and is becoming somewhat self-sufficient.  By that I mean I don't have to worry about watering now, looks like the timer is on the right cycle for the soaker hose.  The straw is keeping weeds down to almost non-existent (and the ones that do pop up I just pull in about 2 seconds).  Using the weedblock fabric on the ground has almost eliminated those weeds as well. I just kind of go into the garden, wander around looking at the plants and that's all I have to do.  I know it won't stay like that but for now, it's working great and I like it!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

EARTHDAY WEEKEND UPDATE




The weather has been incredible. 
Disconnected from electronic devices.  
Sleeping with the windows open. 
Got all the mowing done. 
And the edging.
Planted some things.
Weeded in the garden.
Cleared more areas.
Worked on some other projects.

But best of all, picking and eating wild dewberries warmed by the sun with a cool breeze blowing and the smell of honeysuckle filling the air...well, there is no better way to spend Earth Day weekend.

I'll catch up on comments later tonight and of course updates during the week.  We hope your weekend has been equally productive and enjoyable!



Saturday, April 22, 2017

EARTH DAY AT THE FARM


Off to the farm today, we actually have COLD weather coming!  40's later this weekend.  40's for almost May is unusual for sure.  I hope to get the yard mowed, that's the biggest project but we've had some rain this week so I'm not sure how "wet" it will be.  Any day out of the city is a good day.  

I have some big plans for another project that I hope I can get done this weekend, but we'll see, the weather needs to cooperate.  I might only get half of it done and have to finish next weekend.  


I'll have an update post later.  Hope your Earth Day weekend is off to a good start.  Get out there and enjoy the Earth as she is meant to be enjoyed!


Friday, April 21, 2017

FLOWER PRESS TRASH TO TREASURE FIND

Regular readers know that I have a new favorite place to look for bargains...our downstairs trash area!  Our building has trash chutes on every floor and they feed into a separate room, but for boxes and other things that people can't put in the chute, there is an area (indoor) near the loading dock, for people to put things they don't want.  I've found several cool items so far.


And here's another.  I love that some people just sit items at the side so they don't get lost to the trash forever.  Case in point, this was leaning up against the dumpster in the building's loading bay.  I knew immediately what it was and snatched it up.*

*(cue 2nd Man eye roll)

Flower press
A flower press! 

And from the looks of it, probably homemade. It still had some cardboard in it and even paper towels between sheets of paper and thinner cardboard.  I was hoping there might be some flowers still inside but alas, they were all gone.  

Homemade flower press
One thing about it, the bolts that screw down to tighten it (and create the "press" effect) stop before it's squashed down very far.  I'm guessing that maybe there are a few missing pieces of thicker cardboard?  Or maybe the thickness of flowers adds to that as well?  

We have so many wildflowers around the farm pretty much all times of the year, and a bunch more are planted or about to be planted, I'd really love to get into that.  And I'd love to decorate the top to make it more of "our own".

Anyone ever used a flower press?
Any tips/advice?  




Thursday, April 20, 2017

TREE STUMP DINING INSPIRATION THURSDAY

Every Thursday we like to post a picture of something we've found online that inspires us to do something similar at the farm.  
Sort of our own blog bulletin board so that we can eventually look back and someday, hopefully anyway, recreate it...enjoy!

Tree stump dining set up, image courtesy of Southernliving.com
This is just cute.  And pretty.  And rustic.  
And well, it just hits all the points that we love.  I'm not sure we have any trees that could but turned into stump seats like this but hey, maybe someone nearby does.  It would make a nice little breakfast table in the woods for sure.

Be inspired!


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

BUTTERNUT SQUASH WITH ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE RECIPE

Here is a great dish that is just a simple, good combination of flavors and really, isn't that what eating is all about?


It's sausage and butternut squash.


2nd Man took a butternut squash, peeled it and diced it into little cubes.  Instead of roasting them in the oven like one might normally do, these are cooked in a skillet with a little olive oil and salt and pepper (to taste).  Cook over medium heat. 


Next he minced up two small shallots...


...and added them to the sautéing squash.  


Finally, he sliced up a pound of Andouille sausage.  Andouille is a specially seasoned sausage that works wonderfully with the sweetness of the squash.  


This sausage is fully cooked (at least the kind we get) so it's just a matter of sautéing it with the other ingredients until everything starts to get a few brown bits (flavor!) and the squash is fork tender.

Butternut squash with Andouille sausage dinner
We served it with a side of mashed potatoes and was just delicious. We love the combination of flavors because it reminds us of the flavors of Fall or Winter.  I know we're in Spring now (at least in this part of the world) but if you can get butternut squash and sausage, it's good anytime of year.



Tuesday, April 18, 2017

USING CARDBOARD IN LANDSCAPING AND GARDENING

 When we moved to the apartment, we found the holy grail of cardboard for all of our gardening needs.  Our building has a special recycling area that keeps empty "clean" boxes separate from the regular trash.  I guess with the amount of residents moving in and out there are always a plethora of boxes, not to mention, everyone ordering mail order items and having boxes left over (gotta love Amazon!).  


  We went down a couple of months ago and picked up a bunch, loaded it all into the car and drove it to the farm to store in the barn. Then I spent an hour pulling off all the tape (always pull off the plastic tape, it WON'T break down) and it was ready for use.

Cardboard in raised bed garden
I've used them in the raised beds for both the garden and the orchard.  They kill grass and weeds better than anything I've found.  Best of all, after a few weeks under the dirt, they just become their own compost as they break down.


I've used them to make the flower beds in front of the garden fence, it makes life so much easier.  I liked having the 'flaps' to use behind the landscape timbers.  It has kept the grass from encroaching behind the fence.

Cardboard in flowerbeds
They looked great when they were first done.  Then I just filled and topped it off with soil.  The beds are doing great and so far, they are weed and grass free, a month out from building.

Cardboard in flowerbed
Most recently I used some in the front flowerbeds when I made them.  It's a great way to not have to take up all the grass and weeds, this will just smother it out.

The next plan is to try just putting cardboard sheets down (in the future bee yard) with maybe some rocks or bricks on top to hold it in place and then hoping it will smother out the grass.  Then I plan to just put soil on top and plant some flower seeds directly into the soil.  No timbers around it or outline of a bed, just a "flower mound".  

Anyone ever done anything similar? 

Monday, April 17, 2017

FRONT FLOWERBEDS DONE

Well, they are done, except for planting!  But hey, that's the fun part!  So at the risk of boring you, here are some before and after pictures.  It was a lot of work but I enjoy sharing the fruits of that hard work.


This is the water faucet area.  It was a mess.  First, I cleaned it all out and then put down (missed the picture) the same weedblock fabric that we have in the garden.  


After I did that, I filled it up with gravel.  Actually, after this photo was taken, I added four more bags of gravel.  It's the medium size gravel, in between pea-size and large.  We wanted it to be easy to step on as we hook up hoses and such but not so small that it washes out easily.  This was the perfect in-between size gravel (and it's SO pretty when it's wet).

Notice, the faucet is not centered in the flowerbed.  We could have started the next section with an even space on each side of the pipe but we needed space for the hose.  We ordered one of those hose reel things that let you put the hose inside and then roll it up via a crank on the side.  Will have that next weekend and get it all nice and neat with the hose.


You can see the edge of the water faucet area with the gravel in this picture.  Once I placed the end piece for that area, it was time to move onto the next section.  So above is before...


...here it is with the cardboard down...


...and finally filled with soil.  Ready to plant!  I snapped this pic after I was finished with all of it, you can see a sneak preview of the last section already finished in this photo.  But before that, here it is...

Flowerbed before
...the last section before I started working on it.  Oh, that hose there?  I ran over it with the mower last season and thanks to all of you, I saved it so that I can use it for the fruit trees to prevent bark/trunk damage when they get a bit bigger.  

I put down more cardboard (lather/rinse/repeat, LOL), cut the timbers and put them down and in place.  All that was left to do was to fill it up with soil.

Flowerbed after
Pretty!  Since the timbers are in 8' lengths, I just worked in 8' sections.  Instead of having one long, never-ending flowerbed from one end to the other (which could get unwieldy), we opted for smaller 4' cross sections dividing up each flowerbed.  That will let us have different things in different sections.

Front flowerbeds
Here is a photo taken while standing on the porch stairs looking toward the end.  The part in the foreground is also 8', it's the one I blogged about HERE a couple of weeks ago, so lots of space there too.  Total length from edge of stairs to the other end is 32 feet (four 8' sections).     

Oh how I love clean, freshly filled flowerbeds.  They have so much potential!  We'll start with smaller plants so they can grow and get established.  I did have a few salvia I put in the first flowerbed, we'll see how they do.  We'd like drought tolerant plants and flowers, maybe a mix of perennials and annuals.  

Time to go back and look at some "Inspiration Thursday" pictures from the past!  

Sunday, April 16, 2017

HAPPY EASTER



Hope you all have a wonderful Easter.  



Our weekend the farm was cut short due to weather but hey, at least everything is getting watered!

Weekend update later, got stuff done (yay) but got stung by a wasp (boo)...



..but at least there is always chocolate to make everything better!



Saturday, April 15, 2017

CONGRATS APRIL THE GIRAFFE NOW IT'S OFF TO THE FARM

 Been up since 7:30am watching a giraffe give birth live streaming on the Internet.  Is this a great world or what?  Congratulations to April and her beautiful little (well, if 6 feet tall is little) calf.  It makes the world just a little bit brighter to see something beautiful like this...



Now it's off to the farm to get some more stuff done.  Beautiful day today, weather is cool(ish) and overcast.  Have a load of stuff in the back of the jeep (cleaning out one of the storage units) and have some thing to plant, need rot check the garden and the orchard, edge, and hopefully just sit back a bit and enjoy.  Hopefully I can skip mowing one week and focus on the other stuff.  

Hope your weekend is off to a fabulous start!