Category Archives: A to Z Blog Challenge

Zipping Along

The vineyard changes daily. Several times a day.

In the afternoon, I find new growth that wasn’t there in the morning.

I walk to get the mail and bright spurts of color catch my eye.

Shades of every green and yellow pop out at me every time I wander by.

Hops carpet the vineyard.

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They climb up the trellis.

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They crowd out the dandelions.

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Beautiful green and pink grape leaves unfurl.

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Bright green kiwi leaves spring out of winding vines.

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The pretty purple phlox, a lone survivor of 8, has doubled in size since only a few weeks ago.

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The goji berries I planted last year, the ones I thought would never come back, are quietly reaching through the mulch to say hello.

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Spring is zipping along into Summer.

Spring bounces along
Summer, with a sigh, rushes
Long days, bright sun…joy

Youngsters

All the chicks are growing
All yellows turning white
All their feathers flowing
Much to our delight

Sweet Pecky’s growing quickly
The yellows, not so fast
Her feathers came in thickly
Her feet so big and vast

She seems to be the leader
She takes care of them all
If one’s outside the feeder
Oh how she does bawl!

It may still be too early
We cannot really know
If Pecky is a girlie
Or a rooster with a crow

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(e)Xtraordinary

Today, it’s cloudy, cold and rainy. Yet…even in this dull gray weather, I can see that everything is turning green.

The trees.

The plants.

The weeds.

Dandelions carpet the ground and bees buzz all around.

In the vineyard, the kiwi, grapes and hops are leafing out.

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Kiwi vines

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Grapes

The mint is starting to take over.

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The very first apple tree we planted has blossoms. Gorgeous pink blossoms.

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The aronias are peppered with tiny white buds.

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The thornless blackberries are leafy and a rogue seaberry plant has popped up underneath one of them.

I did not know that seaberries suckered. We only planted these two years ago and already the root system has spread and new plants have popped up.

I discovered this one last year and another one this year. They aren’t small either.

The aronia’s are doing the same thing.

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I checked on the burning bush we planted three years ago and noticed that tiger lilies we transplanted last year are popping up…all over the place.

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Our honeyberries have blossoms. I cannot wait to taste these. Some people say they taste like a blueberry/raspberry cross. Others say they have a kiwi flavor and still others a grape flavor.

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Our strawberry patch is ridiculous. They’ve spread and completely taken over the area under the rose bushes.

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I’m a little worried about one of the rose bushes. While two are booming and blooming, one has several empty branches and the leaves, rather than being a bright green, are a sad greenish yellow.

I am going to try fertilizing this one and cutting out the empty branches. It could be that it is being flooded. It’s right by a leaky spicket.

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Comfrey is everywhere in the swales.

Comfrey is a dynamic accumulator…in other words it’s a miner. The roots go deep and mine nutrients from the soil. The nutrients make their way up through the roots and leaves.

The nutrients in the soil increase by just having this miracle plant in the ground. We plan to dig up some of these, split them and transplant them around our newly planted trees.

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Every single cherry tree we planted a few weeks ago has leaves.

Every. Single. One.

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And finally, our little chicks have grown into pullets…or teenagers.

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Yep, quite a bit is booming and blooming on our homestead.

I take before, midway and after pictures every season and the transformation from dull grey to extraordinary green never ceases to amaze and impress me.

From plain, dull grey-brown
To vibrant and beautiful
Nature works wonders

Wanting to Learn

The boys got a Venus flytrap as a gift from a friend.

What started as a cool gift quickly turned into an investigative journey.

They wanted to learn more.

And more.

And MORE.

We watched videos about Venus flytraps which led to learning about other predatory plants.

We looked up facts about Venus  flytraps which led to long discussions about digestion which led to laughter because…well, they’re little boys.

We made paper plate Venus flytraps which led to chasing each other around the house making chomping noises.

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Joe even drew a picture and explained to me how the Venus flytrap eats.

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Then he acted it out.

I smiled and laughed and learned that it takes up to 10 days for the trap to digest its meal. That it only has 4-6 snaps before it turns brown, shrivels and dies. That it can grow as big as a cheeseburger.

It was fun and it was cool and the best part?

They were interested.

They were engaged.

They wanted to learn more.

Trapping little flies
Watching their little minds whirl
Learning…chomp, chomp, chomp!

Very Confused Hen

We have a hen who’s broody
We call her Broods-a-lot
She thinks it is her duty
To sit in the “Egg Spot”

She lays her egg and warms it
She thinks she has a chick
The other girls don’t get it
They think her head is thick

For no hen who has brain cells
Can think their eggs have more
Than yolks and whites inside their shells
Without a rooster to do more

The other hens aren’t happy
They lay their eggs there too
They have to get real snappy
To make her get a clue

The boys both think it’s silly
To hear her sqwauck and puff
But soon I think we’ll really
Have all had quite enough

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Broody McBroods-a-lot

 

Underneath

On top, the soil looks like a dry, cracked and dusty gray stone.

But underneath...roots tangle, worms slither and grubs battle. Underneath a whole world erupts, struggles and thrives.

Underneath. Back stage. Behind the curtain.

It’s where the work starts and where the foundation must be built strong.

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When we planted trees a few weeks ago, they all looked like a brown sticks jutting out of the ground.

We planted them in good, well-drained soil.

We mulched and we watered and we mulched some more.

Then we left them.

For days and days, nothing happened…above ground that is.

But now leaves are budding.

Underneath, the roots were making friends and allies and were hard at work getting those leaves to bud.

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The roots are fully engaged and strong.

There will be small skirmishes with Japanese beetles and aphids or deer or some other pesky nuisance, but the roots are primed for the tree to succeed.

There is no turning back now.

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A good foundation
A place that it all begins
The root of it all

Trading Places

If I could trade places
With little, happy boys
I’d fit in tiny spaces
I’d play with fun new toys

If I could run and play
With glee and wild delight
I’d relish each new day
I’d drink in each new sight

If I could dance and rolick
With wildness, joy and cheer
I’d race around and frolick
I’d gallop far and near

But now that I am growing
I should act more my age
But oh how staid and boring
To turn to that new page

So I’ll still play and scamper
With my two little boys
And I won’t put a damper
On their delight and joy


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Seeing the Future

Sometimes I think I can see the future.

When I sow a seed, I can see it grow into a beautiful plant.

When I collect and egg, I can see it on a plate with bacon and toast.

When I plant a tree, I can see it heavy with fruit.

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Sometimes I am disappointed when it doesn’t work out the way I see it.

When that seed doesn’t grow, I feel sad.

When that egg breaks on the floor, I feel glum.

When that tree never fruits, I feel grieved.

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But sometimes...sometimes the future surprises me.

When that seed sprouts into a plant, larger and more beautiful than I had imagined, I’m delighted.

When that egg turns out to have a double, or even a triple yolk, I’m excited.

When that tree shows those first white buds, a sign of fruit to come, I’m elated.

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Yes, sometimes I think I can see the future…but most times, I know that what I see is nothing as wonderful as what it will be.

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Behold the wonder
Gaze at the beauty of life
Marvel at the sight

Racing

Racing through the seasons
Running through them all
Trying not to blunder
Hoping not to fall

Teaching them to help me
Guiding them to thrive
Counting each new learning
Keeping joy alive

Planting every seedling
Sowing all the seeds
Giving them the toolbox
Plucking out the weeds

Praying they won’t flounder
Noting that they will
Seeing all their wonder
Taking all my fill

Loving every minute
Wanting it to last
Watching all their wonder
Knowing time goes fast

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Quite Frustrating

This weekend, I opened up my winter sown seeds and discovered…not much.

The cabbage and broccoli were puny, the tomatoes and peppers non-existent and the herbs barely sprouted.

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Cabbage and broccoli…sage on the left.

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Non-existent tomatoes and peppers.

I was sad and quite frustrated.

I spent quite a bit of time making my mini green houses, drilling my holes and planting my seeds. So many blogs and fellow gardeners have had such success with this method.

What did I do wrong?

Did I take the lids off too soon?

I don’t think so. I waited until early April to remove the lids and we did not have another frost or near frost after that.

Did the soil get too wet?

I think this may have been part of the issue and a big reason why many of the seeds didn’t even sprout. The greenish moss/mold looking stuff I found may just be algae, but it is a sign that the soil is getting too wet and the seeds are drowning. It may be that I didn’t drill big enough drainage holes.

Did I use the wrong containers?

Possibly. The seeds that did sprout were in clear 2-liter bottles and milk jugs that were more transparent. The clear containers allowed more sunlight to penetrate, and worked more like an actual greenhouse.

Did I let the soil get too dry?

Should I have opened the tops on those really warm days?

Were the seeds too old, affecting the germination rate?

In all my research, these are a few common mistakes, but most of them happen to the sprouted seedlings and do not affect the germination.

Luckily, this was an experiment and I did not rely on this method for starting ALL my seeds. I started more tomatoes and peppers under grow lights in the basement.

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Even though I’m disappointed at the failure of this method, I’m not going to completely give up.

I’m going to try it again next year, but focus more on those cold-hardy annuals.

  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Lettuce
  • Kale

I’m going to drill bigger holes for drainage and make sure to take the tops off on really warm days.

I’m going to make sure to use seeds that have not “expired”.

And…I’m going to try another experiment.

Ray remembers seeing a sea of milk jug tops in his grandma’s garden in the winter, and I remember seeing the same in my babysitter’s garden when I was younger.

I didn’t really understand what she was doing, and I didn’t think to ask why.

Now I get it.

They were using mini greenhouses, similar to row covers and starting their seeds directly in the ground.

In winter.

I see lovage and chives already growing in my garden. Volunteers from last year.

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I see cilantro sprout, tomatoes take over and dill grow into a forest.

I see plants we let go to seed sprout up, stronger and more aggressive than the seedlings we start, baby and transplant.

I went back and re-read the post I wrote in January when I first learned about winter sowing. This passage struck me:

And why not? Just think of all the volunteers that sprout and grow, most of them ending up being stronger than the seeds I start.

They are outside, hibernating all Winter.

They aren’t watered and pampered…to death.

They wake up in the Spring and push through the soil and end up being stronger than the seeds I start in my basement.

It’s observing then interacting with Nature. It’s Permaculture.

I’ll save my mini greenhouses and give it another try next year, but this time…I’ll plant the seeds in the ground and cover them with the tops.

And why not?

I feel so very silly
That I failed to see
That sowing seeds in winter
Is done so easily

I’ll plant seeds in the fall
I’ll cover them with tops
I’ll look for volunteers
My perfect winter crops!