May 29, 2009

And So it Begins!

Heirloom radishes, ahhhhh... Good radishes are so refreshing, and always one of the first rewards out of the ground. We've been planting a few at a time so they'll mature in small batches. Look here, the recipe page of the blog, to see a lovely way to enjoy them.

Except for the second planting of corn, the garden is all in, and popping up green. DH was working hard last night to get some mulching done - go away weeds - while I was off gabbing at a Women's Fellowship meeting. We've got hot weather coming around this weekend and we'll hopefully finish mulching, and a few more tweaks. This little window of time is actually the calm before the storm, for it won't be long until the cooking, canning, and freezing begins!

Hope you're off and running with your garden, big or small, and looking forward to abundance from this beautiful earth. Genesis 27:28 "May God give you of heaven's dew and of earth's richness - an abundance of grain and new wine."

May 27, 2009

Hellos and Goodbyes

We've had an emotional last several days. In the midst of much ado, our 24th wedding anniversary quietly passed by. Next year's anniversary will NOT be quiet - Lord willing! Our baby got home from the two week tour she took with her college choir to the Netherlands, and we had about 24 hours with her before she headed back north to start her summer job - make that three jobs - oh, the energy! It was hard to say goodbye since this will be the first summer she won't be at home. Another passage. We are so blessed to have this child to love and parent.

More hellos and goodbyes happened in Colorado, where we went for Memorial Day weekend, to attend my niece's high school graduation. All four siblings in my family were together for the first time in a long while. I said hello to a brother I hadn't seen for two years, and goodbye to my sister and her family who are all off to Alaska to live. Passages never stop do they? I thank God for all the love the four of us share and the bonds that haven't broken over the years. And I'm thankful for the brief time we had together!

Here we are in Deer Creek Canyon for a breakfast cookout.

And a hike through the beautiful cliffs.

This is Eagle Cliff, look closely to see the formation.

Swallow nests on the sides of the cliffs.

There were also wildflowers along the way but my pictures weren't good. However, we came home to the beautiful sight of our own Colorado columbines blooming out front! There really is no place like home, once you find out what that means.


May 19, 2009

Square Footing

Our garden is a mixture of many styles of planting and growing this year. One of the styles we're revisiting is Square Foot Gardening. If you look at my Gardening Books site, you can take a look at the awesome book. Here are the steps we followed for our square section of the garden.

We started with this pile of supplies, which of course included our new garden wagon, The Gorilla Cart, filled with the "dirt" components, and this little bundle of white vinyl pieces we purchased from the Square Foot Gardening site...


We assembled the bundle of white pieces into these nifty 4x4 squares and put the lining fabric in the bottom...


Then mixed the dirt components, which are vermiculite, peat, and compost. We were fortunate to get some of this as organic matter. DH saved his back power a little by mixing these together with his tiller! Then, this planting medium was shoveled into the cart and dumped into the squares...


There is a removable grid that you assemble as a planting guide, and you simply snug your seedlings down into this lovely soft dirt and voila - your square foot garden is off and growing!


It was no small job transplanting 48 seedlings into these plots, but don't they look nifty, especially with the colorful veggie cans surrounding them for protection?! My Uncle J uses these for new transplants in his garden, and he supplied us with an abundance of our own this year. I wonder who it was that cut the tops and bottoms out of these cans before they were given to us??? Some nice guy I suppose.

I hope you try this style of gardening, whether you buy the components, or make them yourself. It's very user friendly and gives encouraging results with just a little TLC!

May 14, 2009

One Potato, Two Potato

Our first real year of potato growing! We started by ordering some good quality heirloom seed potatoes from Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, IA. As I mentioned in an earlier post, these are French Fingerling and German Butterball varieties. When you place the order, you can decide when you want them shipped. We chose delivery in late April, and we'll probably get them one week earlier next year.

The next step is to let them sit out in a warm, light environment so they develop eyes, in other words, the very thing you don't want them to do in your refrigerator when you bring them home from the grocery store!

The next step, a couple of days before you plan to plant them, is to cut them into smaller pieces. Each piece of course, should have at least one eye. The cuts need a couple of days to heal over. The instructions that came with them said that any seed potatoes that were the size of a golf ball or smaller could be planted without cutting them. The ones in the photo with the red veining are the French Fingerlings - pretty huh?!

Then comes the planting. DH had the thrill of tilling these furrows in a small gale with 25 mph gusts - such fun! But when you need to plant, you NEED to plant. It proceeded to storm that evening, so the next night we went out at about 8:30pm and plopped these babies down as fast as we could. They go in cut side down. These pictures are less than stellar since I neglected to switch my camera to 'night mode' - silly.

Once these come up, we'll keep piling dirt up around the shoots so that we end up with hills of potatoes that can be dug in a gradual fashion. Hopefully these long stretches of potato furrows mean that we'll have potatoes all winter the way some of my relatives do!

Yep - on potato night we experienced planting by the moon in a literal sense!

Well, this is all then.

May 13, 2009

Lilac Love

Once in a while I'm very easy to please, and this little arrangement just makes me happy, happy, happy! I brought it in from our front yard last night. The smaller budded blooms are a dwarf Korean lilac and the larger, bicolored blooms come from our new lilac bush called "Sensation". You really have to click on this picture to see the beauty of these flowers.

Hope you're enjoying spring as much as we are!

May 11, 2009

Suffering Seedlings!

Oh, such optimism, such excitement, such a sense of accomplishment to see these beautiful plants popping up under the grow lights in the basement. BUT, not so fast there. DH decided to try planting the seeds right into peat pots, so that they would be able to be plopped directly in the ground and therefore skip the step of transplanting the tiny little things into bigger pots during the seedling process. We found that particular step a little stressful last year, since those new plants are so very tender. However, what we've now learned is that the peat pots tend to suck the moisture away from the tiny roots and cause them to dry out too much and starve. In a few words, we lost most of what we planted in the beginning. Live and learn. So, re-planting happened with a better watering schedule and going back to what worked last year. Happily the new batch of seedlings is doing well and will work for a second round of planting, and in the meantime...

we are very fortunate that we have an heirloom gardening center near us and we could supplement what we lost. For the most part we got the cruciferous vegetables and tomatoes, plus the most essential herbs for our kitchen - parsley, basil, and cilantro. We weren't able to get 100% heirlooms as replacements, but pretty darn close. We'll get these in now and follow up with the smaller seedlings soon. Gardening is a grand experiment!

Well, this is all then.

May 8, 2009

Announcing...

There are two more blogs to enjoy from an Iowa Acreage! Click on the links in the sidebar of this blog to get there. They are in the baby stages, so there may be more changes in the near future, and hopefully there will be more coming. I'm trying to isolate some books, recipes, gadgets, etc. that we can vouch for, so that they are fun and easy to find. If you have a favorite vegetable and you want to see recipes for that vegetable posted, let me know and I'll look through my collection. Also, if there is anything you've seen us using in our gardening adventures and you want to know what it is and where we got it, just leave a comment. Thanks for visiting!

Well, this is all then.

May 4, 2009

Pella Tulip Trip

On May Day, a friend and I had the privilege of spending the day in beautiful Pella, IA. We were actually there one week before the official tulip festival, which means that we missed out on some of the activities, but all of the crowds! I'm not too patient with throngs of people trying to photograph the same tulip at the same time, so our timing was perfect for me!

You guessed it, this is a Dutch town with a long heritage of being so. There is an amazing bakery, a special meat market (which happens to sell cheese made by another friend's family Frisian Farms), and a number of other lovely shops. Let's just say the two of us stimulated the economy of Pella in our own little way! I'll also say that the baked goods and special meat and cheese purchases helped warm our husbands to the fact that we were gone all day long!



You can see from the photos, that this is an enchanting town this time of year. Not only were the tulips perfect, but the red bud and crab apple trees were in prime bloom too, which made for petal showers throughout the day - lovely!


But of course, the stars of the day were all the common, and not-so-common tulips. I am told that the tulips are dug up and new bulbs of varying type are re-planted every year - wow! That explains why people throng to Pella year after year. It's truly inspiring!


Love the tiger stripes on these tulip leaves!



Well, this is all then.