Saturday, September 17, 2016

Adam's Latest Creative Genius:

Big raised bed planters, made from old tires!
Four old tires were left on our farm behind the barn. Adam turned them inside out (not an easy feat) -- he had to cut side walls off on the big truck tires. He cut a floral edge on the one above.
And he did a straight edge on the one below.
He set them where we want them in the yard and filled them with dirt from the orchard.
I chose the farm-green color, but when that can of spray paint ran out, he bought some yellow and red.
I have more sedate taste; Adam prefers COLOR!
These are open on the bottom, which is what we want -- not an enclosed planter, but a small raised bed. The impetus for this project was the death of our rosemary bush. (boohoo!!!) The herb garden is a damp area, and the rosemary had inadequate drainage. These small raised beds will allow us to lift a drainage-sensitive plant up, It also provides a good barrier to prevent a plant from spreading. We'll transplant our mint into one of these as well, as it's inclined to take over.

The green plain one will have the new rosemary bush. The floral-edged green one will have a new lemongrass plant by the driveway. The small spotted one will have mint. I think Adam should get used tires from a local repair place and make these to sell at the market, don't you?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Gossamer Ships in Morning Mist

I stepped outside this morning to let the chickens explode from the coop. Then I strolled to the garden to see if anything at all was happening there ... well, anything except the small cantaloupe Ned picked this morning and ate half of for breakfast. Quite a damp, misty morning.
The ground was covered with tiny pocket spiders' webs.
The tall grass in the pasture was even more sparkling with larger webs.

(It wasn't really that big; I was very close.)
But the tiny pocket webs hanging suspended in the short grass -- 
I found myself dazzled by their shapes.
They look like sailing ships on their way somewhere through a grassy sea.
Masts erect, sails spread, bowsprit forward! 
Do you see it?
A craftsman could work days to replicate such a beauty,
but a simple spider makes that in the dark, in hours.
This one's a thicker vessel with multiple masts,
slowly forging its way through heavy seas.
The spider, I suppose, is the captain.
Elsewhere in the garden there is beauty.
This is just a weed climbing and blooming among the dead cucumber vines.
A gourd blossom sparkles in dewy sunlight.
The gourd itself hides among the vines and weeds.
This is what made me go back to the house to retrieve my camera: 
late tomato blossoms, detailed in dew like rime frost.
If I hadn't run, I might have missed it
 if the sun had run faster and dried the pasture,
the webs and the ships and the waves and the rime.
Beauty is fleeting like a smile.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Egg-Layers, Sick Hostas, Mason Jars

My henny-pennies are doing their job! Other chicken ladies say that they have fifteen nesting boxes for 40 hens ... and all the hens use the same two boxes, haha :) Well, I have three hens laying so far. Two nesting boxes (below). And nobody, but NOBODY, cares to share the space. One lays in one box. One lays in the other box ...
And Ethel hunkers down in the dirt between the nesting box and the wall, and deposits her daily egg there. Good grief!
The is Punkin. She's crazy. She's laying about every other day. This is an old ant mound in their chicken yard, but now it's their bath.
Hostas in the front flower beds were an utter failure. I really wanted them to thrive there, but it was clear they would not cooperate. Too Much Sun. So we took them out, poor things.
We moved them to a shade bed on the side of the house.
The one above survived the best. The one below -- argh!
Here's where we put them, near the three hostas that have loved living here:

In their place in the front beds I put lantana and echinacea.
The three healthy hostas had flowered, and the stalks with seed pods were hanging around. Normally I'd cut them off and throw them out. But then I wondered ...
What if I harvested the hosta seeds and started my own hosta plants next year? Does anybody do that? Well, yes! I found a only-slightly-long-winded-and-annoying youtuber who told me how.
Hosta seeds are light-weight, flat, and black. Each pod has about a dozen, I guess.
I'm waiting on some of the green pods to dry, but I already about about 100 seeds. I put them in a half-pint Mason jar with a cloth lid.
It would be lovely to have my own hosta plants to put in the ground here; we have so much shade. And I love hostas.
Just this afternoon a good friend gifted me with many, many canning jars, Ball and Mason.
That's 23 quart jars in beautiful condition that I washed. There are that many again of wide-mouthed pint jars. I'm so excited! I may not need them this year, but I do hope in the future to can lots and lots of green beans and other veggies from our garden. Yippee!!
Today was hot and somewhat miserable outside. 90 degrees :(  But we know that autumn is coming soon, so I'm already burning candles ...
That's a Bath and Body Works "Pumpkin Woods" 3-wick candle, and the one behind is called "Clove and Chestnut." They were 1/2 off, plus a had a coupon for a free one!
I even sprung for a new autumn tablecloth from WalMart. I love pumpkins. The fall farm is looking quiet and comfortable.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Fall Garden

This week Adam is working hard to transition into our fall garden. That means ripping out all the tomato plants:
 They were still bearing, but they were massacred by horn worms and other pests, and the fruit was awful-looking.
 I made one more quart of good tomato sauce from a last picking, and then the plants went into the compost.
He also removed the first cucumber bed ... nice and clean now!
He's put Wando sweet peas in these three beds. We discovered in early summer that we could eat about as many peas as we could grow, haha!
And he nourished the soil with Worm Tea from our worm bin.
"Black Gold! Texas Tea!"
The asparagus is looking fine. In the other small raised bed, and in the old cucumber bed, he'll plant lettuces and spinach for autumn salads.
Today he's also weed-eating the bean mounds. Our beans were pitiful this year, in spite of doing a second planting. Molested by bugs at first, they did recover, and they've bloomed, etc., but never really yielded many good beans.

Our pepper plants are bearing well now:
But one of them is decimated by something eating away at it. Not sure what.
Our second planting of zucchini and squash are looking quite healthy -- they are on the far left in the photo below:
 Oh -- the purpose of the photo above is also to show that we didn't rip out absolutely all of the tomato plants. We have about six plants left that are still bearing well. We kept them.
And our two horseradish plants are looking fabulous now that Adam ripped out the old broccoli plants around them:
The dogs love to play while Adam works.
But Beau sometimes tires of these antics and hides under the truck.
While Adam poured Worm Tea into the beds, I sat in a chair in the shade and perused our little farm that he's worked so hard on. He is the labor; I am the photographer, chicken lady, and occasional help. Here's a short video, complete with road noise and insects humming:

It's so peaceful sitting there. I'm very thankful for where we live.
More on chickens and hostas in the next post!

Monday, September 5, 2016

That First Cool Morning

(Note - this post was written in late August. I saved it in a draft and failed to publish it for days and days.)
This morning was it -- the first morning when Adam said to me, "Go out the back door and feel that air. It's cool." And it was.
He scythed in front of the bees, always a nervous thing.
They get after him, and he has to come back later to finish up.
My camera went caputee last time before I could take all the veggie pictures I wanted to share with you, particularly this tall tomato plant. Look at it! One of the last ones I put into a bed, it didn't seem a likely candidate for Best Tomato this year. It's about 7 feet tall.
Most of our other tomatoes are perking up a lot with somewhat cooler weather. They're growing again, putting out new flowers and fruit, and looking happy.
See? I don't trim them or cut out suckers or anything. As one gardener said, "Why would you take away the plants source of food -- the leaves that photosynthesize?" Good point. And my tomatoes have done very well this year, better than any year when I pinched anything off.

We've had a few pretty peppers this year too.
Our beans. They've finally slithered up those strings, but we've never gotten many actual beans off them. We live in hope.
The little asparagus bed is looking good. Of course, when you take plants from the greenhouse and put them into a bed, they're a bit shocked. But they've put up new shoots, so their roots are establishing.
Horseradish. We have two nice clumps.
Our corn failed because of weeds. Our sunflowers also, probably because we went cheap and didn't buy good seed. Live and learn!