Category Archives: Garden Stories

The Test Group

Because it’s SO gorgeous…and warm…and sunny, we decided to take the seedlings out for a little fresh air and direct sunlight.

They looked happy once they were released from the stuffy indoors. They gazed longingly at the freshly scratched soil in the kitchen garden. They begged me with their green leaves to get them in the ground.

“Ok,” I told them. “But just a few of you.

I planted a tomato that had started to droop. I dug a deep hole, planted it past the first set of leaves and lightly covered it with straw.

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The seedling looked so big in its little pot and seemed so puny once in the ground.

Next, a sad and sagging broccoli plant went in the ground. It too looked so small once settled in the garden. It got the same treatment as the tomato with a blanket of straw to keep it warm.

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I sowed some lettuce, orach and choy in a raised bed just off the deck. Then, I planted my large oregano smack in the middle.

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I was just about ready to call it quits for the day, when the strawberry starts stretched their stems as if shouting, “Me, me, pick me!”

I planted all 6 seedlings in another raised bed and both seed packets. I’ve never planted strawberries from seed before. I don’t have much hope for them, but the picture on the seed packet looked so delicious that I couldn’t resist.

My two assistants worked hard. Jake dug the holes, I planted and Joe watered. At the end, we worked together to cover the entire bed with a row cover. We made quite the team.

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Frost, frost, stay away
Don’t come back until Winter
And don’t kill my plants

We’re Ready!

We’re reaching! We’re straining!
We’re stretching our leaves!
Hey sunshine! Get out here
And roll up your sleeves!

The chickens have finished
The garden is planned
We need to get out there
Please give us a hand!

We’re ready! We’re eager!
It’s time for the show!
Warm weather is nearing…
Let’s get on our grow!

Ready, Set…Grow!

I’m a little late to the game this year, but the seeds are finally started. All 68 filled and fertilized seed pods are sitting in the South facing window of the schoolroom, waiting.

In a Sunday afternoon, my assistant and I managed to get all the tomatoes, peppers, greens, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and assorted herbs planted.

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Normally, I would have stagger started the seeds, but since it’s March I thought it best to go full blast.

Are all 68 going to bud? Probably not, but we have plenty of room for them even if they do, and plenty of people we can share them with if we get tired of digging holes.

My assistant and I also planted spinach, onions and shallots in a raised bed.

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He even found a spot right next to the driveway where he planted marigolds. He thought it would be a good place for them to grow.

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My seed-starting process was a little different this year.

I bought plastic shoe boxes to hold each pot and wooden clothes pins as labels.

I’ve used plant labels, popsicle sticks and masking tape in the past. All three have been utter failures. I suppose that throwing them out in frustration when they move around and pop out of the pots is a user issue, I’m just not sure. But I’m hoping the clothes pins work out better.

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It was a long process, but my adorable assistant stuck by me through it all and even helped me carry each shoe box into the school room.

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Spring seeds are started
Chickens are prepping the soil
Let the season start!

The Preview

Summer’s coming
Muddy feet
Fresh-picked berries
Ripe and sweet

Hot sun shining
Grass turns green
Kids are playing
Squeals and screams

Kitties climbing
Garden beds
Ripe tomatoes
Leafy heads

Harsh winds blow
Rain soaks the ground
Sun shines bright
Warmth all around
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What to plant…

As I combed through the Baker Creek Seed Catalog this morning while sipping my coffee, I realized that I may have a problem.

I started with restraint, keeping my seed budget in mind. But as I made my way through the greens, peppers and tomatoes, my resolve faltered and I went a little crazy.

Luckily, I came down from the mania and had enough sense to cross out seeds I already had saved from last season. Whew!

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This year, our big focus is on greens. We, like the rest of the world, made a resolution to eat healthier and (so far) we’ve stuck to it by, sort of, following a ketogenic diet.

We eat salads with just about every meal. And while iceberg lettuce is crisp, it offers little in the way of nutrients.

Greens, purples and reds. Spinach, kale, cabbage and chard. Brussels sprouts and arugula. All super nutrient rich, leafy and delicious in salads.

We’re trying out heirloom variety tomatoes and peppers. We have a dealer for jalapenos so I’m done even trying to grow them.

I’m throwing in a few flowers just for fun. Bells of Ireland, spider flower and euphorbia are unique…at least to me.

We’ll plant a bunch of herbs this year as well. Sadly, they will not go in our herb spiral.

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Planting it around a dead tree stump was a bad idea. Even though we’ve drilled holes in the stump and poured Epsom salt water over and over again, the Bradford pear just refuses to die.

Instead, one of the raised beds we got from the neighbors will be dedicated to herbs.

We have 9 raised beds in all. 6 are filled with topsoil already. They will all eventually go in the greenhouse, but this season we’ll be using all 6.

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One will be an herb bed. Two will be for leafy greens. Another couple for strawberries.

Our kitchen garden will be filled with tomatoes, peppers, beans, cucumbers, carrots, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, okra, zucchini and cabbage.

I’m both excited about and dreading planting the kitchen garden. For the past few years, we’ve let the chickens prep the garden for us. All winter they’ve scratched up, eaten pests and fertilized the soil. But thanks to the fox, that didn’t happen.

Thanks a lot Mr. Fox. Thanks a lot.

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Spring is on the Way!

I have a confession…I have lost my motivation. 

Not for homeschooling. Our year so far has been wonderful. I love the freedom we have to alter our day as we see fit. The boys are thriving and we are having fun. 

Not for writing…I’m still researching publishing houses, sending my work out to magazines and adding to my collection of rejection letters.  

No, what I’ve lost my motivation for is planning the garden.

I have no idea where it went. Perhaps the fox stole it when he ruthlessly slaughtered our chickens or the Japanese beetles killed it with their constant assault on the garden.  

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In an effort to find that lost drive, I looked back at the goals we set at the start of the year. What progress have we made?

  • Start and plant seeds early. Uh…nope.
  • Prepare for the war with pests. Specifically, you guessed it, Japanese Beetles. Well…it has been really, really cold. I’m hopeful that most of the grubs will have frozen to death resulting in fewer beetles. And…I do plan to hit the yard with another treatment of milky spore in Spring.
  • Really, really, REALLY create a strategy for keeping up with the weeds. ?
  • Get that greenhouse going for Spring crops. Well…it has been really, really cold…
  • Order replacement chickens. Hmmm…

After reading through these goals and realizing I’ve done little nothing to meet them, my enthusiasm is in overdrive and my mind is whirring with ideas, wants and wishes. There is so much to do! With the last frost date only a few months away, there are plans to make, seeds to start and chicks to order. 

The first step? Inventory seeds and drool over this gorgeous seed catalog. Oh, and try not to go overboard this year. Again. 

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Motivation found
Time to plan, start and order
Spring is on the way

 

 

 

 

 

Bitter Victories

These bitter winds
I do not mind
Nor the chilly nights

The salted roads
Don’t bother me
I like the cold and ice

The ground is cold
The frost is thick
The wind has quite a bite

It’s how I know
When Spring arrives
Most grubs won’t see the light

Let Winter stay
Until late March
‘Til all her work is done

We’ll win a fight
Against our foe
Beetles: 5; Us: 1

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Tender Shoots

Slowly and with little steps
They grow each passing day
Their tender limbs reach to the sun
They blossom in new ways

We gently tend those little seeds
And help them plant their roots
We strengthen them with soft blown winds
Those gentle little shoots

When it’s time to take them out
And plant them on their own
We worry what will happen
When they’re out there all alone

As the season stretches out
Their fruit grows on the vine
We water them and with a smile
We know they’ll be just fine
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And then there’s the garden…

Now that the holiday whirlwind has passed and the elves have returned to the North Pole, I’m feeling a little exhausted and just a tad uninspired.

But…then there’s the garden and all the planning and excitement of this new season.

There are seeds to buy and start.

There are beds to plan and plant.

There are strategies to determine and execute.

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I absolutely love this time of year. Sure, it’s frigid with temps below zero, but I can curl up with my favorite seed catalogs and dream of planting my Spring, Summer and Fall garden.

The seed catalogs are already starting to come in the mailbox bringing with them excitement and dreams of a lush and productive garden.

I’ll circle and plan to buy millions of seeds and come back down to reality when I see the price tag on said seeds.

Goals for this year:

  • Start and plant seeds early.
  • Prepare for the war with pests. Specifically, you guessed it, Japanese Beetles.
  • Really, really, REALLY create a strategy for keeping up with the weeds.
  • Get that greenhouse going for Spring crops.
  • Order replacement chickens.

First, I will determine what to plant and create my seed starting schedule.

Next, I’ll research battle strategies for dealing with pests and keeping up with the weeds using cardboard, weed block and good old-fashioned elbow grease.

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Third, we’ll make plans to get our greenhouse up and going as soon as possible in early Spring.

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Finally, we’ll research the best, kid-friendly, egg-laying replacements for our flock and find fox, raccoon and opossum repelling tricks to beef up coop security.

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The next two months will definitely not be tedious. We have a garden to plan.

Though winter is cold
Though winds blow and chill the land
We joyfully plan

 

 

 

Mischief Makers: Wrapping Paper War

Nim, Lil and Glitter zipped around the kitchen throwing wrapping paper balls at each other.

“That’s for making me dress up!” Glitter lobbed tangled ribbon at Nim as he zoomed by, wrapping paper streaming behind him.

“Dodge this one!” Nim threw a tissue paper missile at Glitter.

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Glitter paused mid-air and, for a moment, a small niggling of dismay started to creep over her. Then, just as quickly as it had come, it was gone and she hurled a bag full of Christmas bows at her two friends.

As the battle died down, the trio sat on the table, drinking sugar water and gazing at their handiwork.

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The kitchen was covered in paper balls. Ripped paper hung from the cabinets and streamed across the floor. Ribbon was scattered down the hallway.

“What next?” asked Nim. “Should we get the cotton balls out for round 2?”

“I have a better idea,” Lil floated down to the roll of paper on the floor and began wrapping cabinet doors.

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They covered the cabinets with wrapping paper, getting even more on the floor and counters and wrapping tape around themselves.

When they were finished, the sprites hung above the stove to review their handiwork while Glitter pretended to kick wrapping paper around.

You know she’s really trying to clean up,” Nim whispered.

“You can take the reindeer out of the stickler, but you can’t take the stickler out of the reindeer.”

Both Mischief Makers were well satisfied with the job they had done.

Deck the halls and wrap the cabinets
Fa-la-la-la-la La-la-la-la
Hang up tinsel with some magnets
Fa-la-la-la-la La-la-la-la

Nim then flew above the sink and got settled in for the wait.

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Lil spun around singing the rest of the carol before landing gracefully on the opposite side of the sink.

Watch as Glitter tries to clean up
Fa-la-la, la-la-la, la-la-la
She’ll get tackled by a green pup
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la!

I’m so glad we got to work together this year!” whispered Nim.

And I’m so glad you helped me relax a bit,” Glitter whispered back.

Lil smiled and winked and they all anxiously waited for morning to come.

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