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

 

Appetizing Harvest

Happy Day after Labor Day!  Over the weekend, we were invited to our dear friends’, Lisa and John’s house.  Remember Lisa’s garden?  Well, as usual, they made a fabulous meal, and I contributed an appetizer from my bounty.  It was a bit of a twist on the tomato-mozzarella-basil recipe that continues to be popular, especially this time of year:

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For the photo, I displayed this on a Depression Glass dish.  (I think Depression glass is so pretty)  Can you find the “secret” ingredient?  Well, look at the bottom layer.  That is a small piece of one of my mammoth zucchinis.  (I keep finding ways to use it out of necessity)  Next, of course, is the traditional basil leaf, then small mozzarella ball, then a half of a Sun sugar cherry tomato.

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I used kale, parsley, and those delightfully Purple String BeansCIMG2467as garnish for the platter.

Here is another view from the top:

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Now for an update!  Remember the little stair banister I was getting ready to paint?  Here it is all finished!

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And since everybody loves a before and after:

BEFORE

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AFTER:

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It looks OH SO MUCH BETTER!  YAY!

What projects are you setting out to accomplish?  Have you completed anything?

Wendy

Finally

Well, yesterday felt a little bit like Spring, anyway.  Today, not so much.  Windy, chilly, rainy, blah blah, wah wah……

It could always be worse.

Here are some pictures of my Spring blossoms at Town Mouse House:

 RED TULIP

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 FORSYTHIA

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EASTER LILY

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PERIWINKLE(Vinca)

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I’ve decided not to grow much in the way of edibles at Town Mouse House anymore.  The houses in this suburb are stacked so closely that one person’s pesticide run-off could invade my otherwise organic efforts.  I still have a few herbs, though, and my two potted dwarf fruit trees.  I just can’t help myself!

LAVENDER

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DWARF CHERRY TREE(North Star, the apple is not blooming yet)

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(I’m hoping to get enough of a yield this year for at least one pie.  Last year I only got a small bowlful of fruit.)

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(Has a tangy, lemony flavor that is lovely in salads.  I’ve cooked it, too, with garlic as a green vegetable.)

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LEMON BALM

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A fortunate characteristic of most herbs is that wildlife doesn’t usually prefer to dine on them.  Some herbs actually repel critters, as well.   The added bonus is the fragrance, especially if planted near windows and doors.

It’s good to be back in the Blogging Realm.  We have suffered much loss this year.  My Mom and Joel’s Dad passed on within a couple of months of one another.  We feel like we haven’t been able to come up for air.  Hopefully, things will become a little less stressful.  My best therapy happens in the garden.  There is nothing like the smell and feel of the Earth to bring me out of a “Blue Funk,” as my Mother would have called it!

I’d love to hear about some of your favorite plants and garden activities!  Don’t hesitate!

Get out there and pull some weeds, dig in the dirt, and do a little planting and pruning.  You will feel better, I promise!

Wendy

The Garden Before

Hello,

I realized that I hadn’t shown any pictures of what the garden looked like in early spring of this year, BEFORE all the goodness got growing!

Here is one perspective:

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The tree in the background on the right side is a crabapple.  Here is one that shows the beginnings of my little bean teepee:

IMG_20130526_122515_218You can also see some of the irrigation hoses.  Putting those in was a fun day!  Actually, for all the aggravation, it was so worth it.  I have peace of mind when it comes to watering.

Here is a shot of our “covered wagon” experiment.  It worked out well because I put some tomatoes(plus celery, etc) in about a week before Memorial Day weekend.  The temperature did drop and freeze a time or two before it got nice and hot in June.  Covering these supports with plastic sheeting(held down with bricks) protected the tomato plants.

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And I just had to snap one of Farmer Joel(taken right before we built the covered wagon support)!  He was the one who pushed to have this BIG GARDEN, after all!

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A “Before” and “After” comparison —

Before:

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After:

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Actually, the above was more like a “During…”  Take a look now:

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The sunflowers are over 8 feet tall now.  No blooms yet, but soon!

Just for fun, here is our beloved Finn with his precious Frisbee:

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See how he actually smiles?  🙂

Happy Day!

Wendy

Vegetables Part 2

Here’s Part 2 of “I-Don’t-Know-How-Many-Parts of the Vegetable Post”.  Here is one photo of the vegetable garden in the daytime:

Vegetable Garden July 14, 2013That’s my cute little farm house in the background.  🙂  Now, in the lower left corner, you can see eggplant leaves.  Putting cayenne pepper on the leaves has helped reduce the amount being chewed by some kind of bug.  I noticed that a Japanese beetle or two might just like spice, though!  Just to the right of the eggplant is arugula, which has started to bolt.  That’s okay, the leaves are still good to eat, and I will save the seeds for next year.  On the other side of the eggplant(which is not in the picture) are pole beans with all sorts of pretty-colored flowers.  Here is one:

Purple bean flower

Still on the left in the next box is green kale, purple kale, broccoli, onions, chives and Brussels sprouts.  I just put in some beet seeds and they are coming in well.  Also in this box by the arbor is a tiny Concord grape(that will hopefully climb the arbor over time)and I planted hyssop next to it.  I read that grapes and hyssop do well together.  This is my first try with hyssop and it has tripled in size since I brought home the scrawny little plant.  I don’t know how I will use it.  Has anyone used hyssop in anything?  I read somewhere it can flavor stews real well.

Behind that box are sunflowers(also with leaves getting chewed up), my one zucchini(shhh!), and pumpkins.  I put nasturtiums in that box because they are supposed to do well with the squash family.  So far so good.  I also stuck some Swiss Chard seeds in there and they have started coming in.

The upper right corner contains yellow squash, butter crunch lettuce, cucumbers, and some radishes that I have let bolt.  The radishes are supposed to be protective of the cucumbers.  It seems to be true, because the radish leaves are all chewed up but so far the cukes seem to be okay.

The box with the covered wagon frame is the home of 5 different tomato plants, and we’ve already eaten a few of the Early Girls.  We also have celery, sugar snap peas, carrots, green peppers, one hot pepper (red peppers are not doing great), basil, spinach, chamomile, and a flower starting to climb up the arbor called “Cardinal Climber”:

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The last box contains mostly beans, potatoes and onions.  There are a couple of mint plants, nasturtiums, marigolds, and some lettuce seedlings(for when I’ve picked all the other lettuce.)

A view of the arbor, taken last month, in the evening:

photo (11)Those solar mason jar lights are just the coolest!     I have seen them in Home Depot as well as in Tractor Supply Co. 

Here is the box with the tomatoes, etc. from a different angle.  The peas are climbing on the fake windmill.

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There will be more vegetable updates to come!  As well as other garden areas…..this year we got the apple trees pruned and they are COVERED with apples!  I am going to be baking and canning up a storm!  🙂

Have a delicious day!

Wendy

Vegetables!

Hello again,

One of my favorite things about gardening is the fresh food we grow.  Nothing compares to fresh-picked.  We put a new vegetable garden together last year, thanks to our neighbor, and now it has grown beyond my expectations.  Here are some highlights:

DSC02139There are six 4′ x 8′ raised garden beds.  Each contains its own unique variety of plants.  That is a hose reaching for the garden, as we installed a drip watering system and my Super-Smart-Hubby put it on a timer.  This way the plants get watered every morning even if we forget.

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The arbor in the middle is there to support a grapevine someday.(if it grows big enough)  The petunias are hanging there just because I like them and they are pretty.

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Here are some sunflowers and pumpkins.  There is a zucchini in there (I just had to sneak in ONE zucchini – the gift that keeps on giving!)  I planted them all from seed.  I didn’t expect such a vigorous return, but you just never know what will happen in the garden sometimes.  I had to put some supports in for the pumpkin vines because they are already enormous!  The support for the sunflowers is easy to build yourself.  It is made of electrical conduit pipes, rebar, elbow connectors, nylon netting, and zip ties.  The instructions are in Chapter 8, starting on page number 145,  in the book, “Square Foot Gardening” by Mel Bartholomew.  If I can do it, I think anybody can!

Stay tuned for more vegetable gardening!

Wendy