“Ch-Ch-Ch-Cherry Tree!”

(Gotta throw in a little Rock-and-Roll once in awhile)

Lo and behold!  There are a few things in flower at the Country Mouse House!  One appears to be a cherry tree.  A couple of years ago, we spotted cherries on it, but it’s so close to a bunch of other trees, we never could remember which one it was.  Last year, our tree fruit was sparse at best, and I don’t think this tree went into flower at all.  Well, just look at it now!

From a distance:

Up close and personal:

Those are cherry blossoms, yes?  I sure hope so!  Although, with the bird and other wildlife sightings these days, we might not get to taste any.  We’ll have to see.

Here is our little “grove” of cherry plums:

Farmer Joel discovered these quite by accident a couple of years back.  They were the tiniest plums I’ve ever seen, but very tasty.  The only not-so-great thing is that the pit is almost the size of the fruit itself, so it’s a lot of work for a little fruit.  If we get a good harvest this year, I’ll try to can something with them.  Maybe jelly.

And now for some other spring blossoms:

I love my daffodils and narcissus!

  

Anything blooming in your garden yet?

Wendy

Garden in Spring

Hello friends!  Welcome to Springtime!  I don’t miss the snow very much.  It snowed through this month.  I HOPE it is finished.  I’m ready to garden!  I’ve already begun pruning, and we put some Northern Pecan trees, as well as a couple of more Carpathian Walnut trees in the ground.  We also added Blueberries, Black raspberries, Nanking cherries, a Butterfly bush, and some various plants to attract pollinators.  These include Comfrey, Bergamot, Yarrow, Hyssop, Russian sage, and Baptisia.

Here is a short video of an early Garden “Tour.”

I hope you are enjoying this time of year wherever you are!  Wishing you all a beautiful day.

Wendy

Another Friday with Finn

Yes, it’s been awhile.  I’ve moved twice in the last two years….just from one “Town Mouse House” to another.  We’ve spent a good deal of time fixing up the “Country Mouse House.”  This year, we concentrated on the gardens and planted a wee orchard.  Of course, our goal is to continue to find ways towards better self-sufficiency.  Growing more fruit could help us do just that.

Here is a little peak at what Finn is doing right now:

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What a life he has.  He does have a very expressive face, as well.  Here is Finn with a smile:

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Now that we have the Finn update, I’ll fill you in on the orchard.  We already inherited several types of OLD apple trees.  Among them are crab apples, and what appear to be Golden Delicious.  The main type of apple tree bears a fruit that resembles MacIntosh apples, but they seem to be a bit sweeter.  We put a tree in the ground several years ago and forgot about it.  Last year, it was filled with apples.  It is a “Columnar” tree, and almost just as soon as it fruited, the fruit vanished.  It is a fairly tall tree, so Farmer Joel decided it must have been the work of a giraffe :D.

This year, the trees we planted were: 5 heirloom apple, 2 pear, 2 cherry, 2 paw paw, 2 mulberry, 2 walnut, 2 hazelnut.  We also planted 4 blueberry bushes and 3 red currants.  Of these, it looks like we only lost 1 walnut, the 2 hazelnut, and 1 or 2 of the currants.  Since we already had 4 blueberry bushes, we hope to increase our blueberry yield.  Blueberries are very popular in our family, as you know.  We also already have established gooseberries, raspberries, blackberries, and rhubarb.

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That’s our little orchard.  We put chicken wire cages around each tree, as well as mulch.  We’re hoping to increase the number of trees next year, but not by such a great number.  As Farmer Joel was digging the holes(I did help with some of them), he was muttering something about being able to live long enough to actually eat some of the fruit and nuts.  Hehehehe…….

Plant your food trees and shrubs and perennials this spring – don’t wait!  The sooner you do, the sooner you will reap the fruits of your labor!  Also, you have the whole winter to plan where you’ll put everything.

Since we are in the Northeast, we had good luck with the trees we ordered from Fedco, as well as from Raintree.  Enjoy the nice weather while we still have it.  And happy weekend!

Wendy

Wenz Day

Finally the snow begins to melt at Country Mouse House!

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We have had one heck of a winter.  And I don’t believe it is quite finished yet.  Today, however, the sun shines.  See the rose garden in the foreground, below, and the vegetable garden in the background:

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This past weekend, Farmer Joel and I took the first module of a class in Permaculture Design.  It was offered by the Hancock Permaculture Center.   This has been a dream of mine for a few years now.  Permaculture is a Design Science, and is based on 3 Ethics:  1- Care for the Earth, 2- Care for People, and 3- Sharing the Surplus.  How wonderful!

Here is my herb garden, which will be changing as I learn more in my class:

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Do you see how it is a straight, old feeding trough?  As you know, we are renovating the house, so this herb garden will not be configured into the new design.  I will be looking to build, as per Permaculture, an Herb Spiral.  I recommend Googling the term “Herb Spiral, Image,” and take a look at the numerous ways to design and build them.  This straight 15 feet of trough can be curled, enabling not only a more efficient use of space, but a very lovely-looking garden as well.  Spiral shapes occur in nature, and nature is what Permaculture strives to mimic.

My little bed of rhubarb, asparagus, horseradish, primroses, columbines, lambs’ ears, and hosta looks about ready to awaken as well(all beside and beneath my hemlock tree):

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Upon closer inspection, I see the rhubarb just beginning to peek through:

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See the little red nubs?  Notice, also, the natural mulch created by the nearby tree.  Unbeknownst to me, I had already begun what Permaculture calls a “Guild,” by planting certain plants harmoniously which will benefit each other, as well as benefit the soil.

If you’d like to see a short (less than one minute) video of the property from a different perspective, I invite you to this link:

In our class, we met so many interesting, knowledgeable people.  One person keeps bees, and is very involved in helping others learn about them.  I have a strong interest in learning about bees.  We need to help the bees- now more than ever.  See my previous post, Yellow Flowers and Bees.

What are your plans for this Spring?  Have things begun to awaken in your natural surroundings?

Wendy

 

Garden Dreams

Happy New Year!  Even though I am a few days late….

Have seed catalogs been pouring into your mailboxes these days?  I have been receiving them and all I can say is that I can’t wait to get my garden underway again!

Here is one of my favorite catalogs:

http://www.rhshumway.com/

They offer both plants and flowers, which makes for convenient shopping.  This year, Joel said he wants to plant corn and cauliflower, two things absent in last year’s garden.  I have to figure out how to do this.  Corn will take up a fair amount of space – I will probably dedicate one whole 4′ x 8′ bed just to corn, but then, I read that the Native Americans used to plant pumpkins next to corn and/or sunflowers so the vines would have something on which to climb.  Hmmmm……..

Cauliflower used to be a big crop in the little pocket of Northeastern USA where we live at Country Mouse House.  In fact, every Fall, there is a local Cauliflower Festival!  That’s right!  There are rides and treats for little ones as well as flea market-type merchandise for sale.  It is an awesome celebration complete with a Cauliflower Cook-Off, where local chefs prepare and share their Cauliflower Culinary Competence.

I don’t know if our future cauliflower will meet any sort of Festival Qualifications.  I will first have to see if I can even grow it at all.  I tried it once before, with very poor results.  I am more hopeful this year, given our better fencing and critter prevention methods.

What helped me this past year was the Mother Earth News Vegetable Garden Planner.  I highly recommend it.  It has a very comprehensive list of plants, plus you can customize it if you don’t see your particular plant choices.  This is a big help because I often plant more than one variety of the same plant.  I planted 5 types of tomatoes and 3 of eggplant, for example.  The planner helped me keep track of what was where.  It works for any type of garden, and best of all, you can try it for 30 days for FREE!  After that I believe the cost was $25 for a whole year.  I think it is worth the $25, personally.   Here was my very imperfect plan for 2013:

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You can also print out a list which gives a key.  Here was my little back-door kitchen herb garden plan last year:

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If you don’t do your planning this way, then good ol’ fashioned paper and pencil works great.  I have used graph paper in the past because the squares are an especially stupendous tool for the Square Foot Gardening method.  I use a modified variation of this method.  (I don’t mark all the squares in all the beds, and I use 4′ x 8′ beds instead of 4′ x 4′ or smaller.)

Here is my sketch for the coming year:

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Looking closely, I have practiced crop rotation wherever possible, adding the cauliflower in the bed upper left, which is really lower left if you quarter-turn it once to the left.  I left it this direction because I wrote on it across this way.  Does that make any sense whatsoever?  Now, I placed corn and pumpkins upper middle, which is really middle left.  I can’t move the grapevine, hyssop, or mint.  They are all perennial.  But then, I might play with the mint a bit.  It is very hardy and will need to be thinned anyway.  Notice, also, that I have some daffodils and allium growing OUTside the fence, along with sunflowers.  We’ll see how that goes with my birdie friends!  I also plan to plant the castor plants again.  They are annual, so I have to start them anew every single year.  I think it’s worth it, though.

Again, I wish you all a very HAPPY HEALTHY 2014!  Stay warm!

Wendy

Great Pumpkin

I am still without my camera, and the small, computer-like device on which photos are taken in other circumstances keeps ending up elsewhere.  (Hopefully not hidden by ferrets)

I have projects on the horizon to share!  Since the temperature keeps dropping, I will be moving onto indoor projects soon!  As an update, though, I picked a total of 8 pumpkins and removed the vines(scraped up my arms in the process).  The apples were not quite ready, but maybe within a week or so.  I only picked a few of those (had one in my oatmeal this morning).  There are still tomatoes, which are partially shielded from the elements with plastic.  I managed to pick most of the remaining vegetables, but the Brussels sprouts and Swiss Chard are not ready  yet.

I managed to find a few photos I took with my phone……

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Here is one of the sunflowers:

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I read somewhere that the Native Americans planted pumpkins alongside corn and sunflowers, so that the vines could climb up the stalks.  I still needed to use trellis-like contraptions, but it’s the thought that counts!

A very happy birthday to my beloved husband!

Wendy

Squashed

As is the case with many-a-gardener this time of year, I am seeing more than my fair share of squash.  It is definitely a mixed blessing!

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I happen to love squash, but other than my usual uses:

1- Slicing raw and tossing into a salad.

2- Stirring in skillet with a little olive oil and/or butter with salt, pepper, and garlic or onion.

3- Giving away to family and friends.

I am a little bit at a loss for creative ways to use this up.  I found a cool-looking recipe which I think I will try:

Summer Squash Bread

Probably similar to zucchini bread or carrot cake.  I hope it’s good!  If anyone has a new way to use Summer Squash, I am open to ideas!

Have a brilliant day!

Wendy