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OH. NO.

March 31, 2011

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What the heck is this?!??!

Sheesh! And I saw robins today, for the first time this season!!! Man!

Come on, winter, end already! Nobody wants you around!

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Find the Forlorn Kitty Friday 3/18

March 19, 2011

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Poor Livvy. Photo taken two weeks ago, when we had a snowstorm that dumped 22″ on us. It took the kids ALL DAY to shovel. It was wet, heavy snow fueled from the Gulf of Mexico, not the delicate lake effect snow that we usually get. Livvy was a wreck that day. The house was soooo quiet. She sat by the back door, waiting for the kids to return.

Livvywaitingforkids

OK OK I know I’m a little late (again) with the Find the Kitty this week. I just can’t seem to catch up on my schedule. I’m struggling to maintain all that I have to do AND still cook and clean. Unfortunately, the cleaning has had to go. My house looks like a tornado hit it. It’s unnerving, because I am a neat freak. I’ve never had such a messy house. :-p I’m seriously thinking of hiring a band of housecleaners for a few weeks.

We never really got settled in after the renovation. We just dumped all the boxes and furniture back into the house and left everything there. I have been waiting for a few days off to be able to organize everything, but it just ain’t happening, folks.

Oh well, spring has only just started… here’s hoping I can squeeze some time in!

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Merry Christmas, Moms

May 9, 2010

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*grooooooaaaaan*

It’s snowing. It’s snowing hard. Big, sticky, wet flakes that drench everything. *sigh* Oh well, better than ice, I guess.

Yesterday my garden looked like this…

rainygarden

Today it looks like this!

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That’s Upstate New York for you. But darn it, I already packed the shovels and snow tires away, in preparation for the renovation. *chuckle* Gotta laugh!

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snow1

It won’t be here for long, so say the weathermen. But then again, the weathermen said that it would snow in the “higher” elevations. I’m about as low as you can get! LOL

Well, anyway, it’ll probably be gone in no time. I’m reminded of this verse– it seems perfect for Mother’s Day today:

“Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her, so he will have no lack of gain… She considers a field and buys it; from her profits she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms… She is not afraid is snow for her household, for all her household is clothed with scarlet…

Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many daughters have done well, but you have excelled them all. Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”

Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.

Proverbs 31: 1-31

Happy Mother’s Day!

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The Garden Is Done!

May 8, 2010

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Yes!! It’s done! All planted! We finished busting sod on the back end of the garden, where I plugged in the squash seeds. Here’s hoping I don’t get too much damage from the rabbits and deer.

rainygarden

The photo turned out funky. I think my camera is starting to croak. It’s not focusing very well, and the color is now acting up. I got it refurbished, hmmm….

Anyway, now that the planting is over (well, we do have to plant sunflowers and tomatoes, but that’ll be easy), I can turn my attentions to the renovation. I got a quote from another plumber and his quote was $4200. :O I almost fainted. Wow. I don’t think I can do this, folks…. the plumbing is as much as the renovation budget here… *sigh* So I’m going to get one more quote from a different guy, and see what happens. If I only had the time, I’d do it myself. But I don’t have the time. This renovation must be done by mid-August. Whew.

More to come…. we start demolition in exactly one week. It’s heavy, heavy labor. And messy. I’m gearing up for it. 8-hour shifts of ripping plaster and lathe will do it for me… (well, a girl can hope!).

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Garden Is Planted (Well, Almost)

May 6, 2010

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Two 12×24 beds. DONE.

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I love gardening, but planting is tough– you have to bend completely over to do it. By the end of the day, my back is moaning it’s disapproval.

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In case you’re wondering, we string up the beds like that to make sure the seeds are planted in straight rows. I like a pleasant-looking garden (maintaining a nice appearance REALLY helps come late June, when you have to go out to weed it AGAIN). It’s also a great guideline for the kids. They are older now, and don’t tend to create the zig-zags of peas and squash that they used to…. but I like the rows. When the seeds germinate and sprout up high enough, we remove the string.

I’ve got almost everything planted– we still have to plug in the rutabaga (it’s a late season crop, better after a frost, so I wait until June to plant it). I’ve also got sunflowers to plant– they are going along the outside of the garden, but the son must bust that sod yet… we’re skipping potatoes this year and planting almost all lettuce-y type stuff (chard, kale, collards, etc). And I’m hoping my organic bug spray will sufficiently ward off the cabbage eaters…

I usually spread a thin layer of peat moss on top of everything when I’m done, but the prices here are $8.49 per 3 cubic yards! I would need 10. NO WAY am I spending almost $100 on peat moss, no way. That would literally eat up any savings I’d make by planting my own food. So we’re going to have to do a little extra labor this year— watering and lots of weeding.

VineBud287613

The grape vine has thus far survived the roaming deer.

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High Mowing Seeds Company is Totally Cool

April 28, 2010

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Whoa.

The folks at High Mowing Seeds in Vermont saw my post where I said that I was happy with the organic seeds, but I was not so happy with the shipping packaging. Guess what? They emailed me. I am IMPRESSED. In this day and age when many companies couldn’t care less about customer satisfaction, High Mowing Seeds actually LISTENED to what I said and then they go the second mile to make me happy.

WHOA.

This is what they said:

Hi, Rebecca:

Someone here at High Mowing came across your recent blog post and brought it to my attention. First of all, thanks for your seed order and for making the commitment to supporting an independently-owned, 100% organic seed company! Second of all, I’m really sorry that you weren’t satisfied with the shipment of your seeds.

We have two goals in selecting the packaging we use to ship you seeds. One is to make sure the seed is well protected and gets to you intact. The second is to select packaging that has a small environmental footprint. We are proud to say that the packaging we use to mail you your seeds is made from recycled content and is itself completely recyclable. However, from your description, it sounds like our shipping staff may have put a few too many seed packets in the envelope and we didn’t quite meet the first of our shipping goals. Our customers’ satisfaction is important to us, and so I’m happy to offer you free shipping on your next order. [they sent me a promo coupon]

Also, please let me know if any of the packs of seeds were damaged in shipment, and we’d be happy to send you a follow-up item.

Our shipping and handling rates are based on the dollar amount of your order, which is the best way we have of estimating the cost to process and ship an order (assuming the more seed a customer buys, the more the order will cost to processes and ship). Unfortunately, this can get skewed when a customer buys more high-value seed, which increases the dollar amount of an order without necessarily increasing the shipment weight. This is partly what happened in your case, with some of the larger packet sizes that you ordered. We’re always rethinking how we do things, so I’m happy to be reminded of this issue to see if it’s something we can improve upon.

I hope that some of this helps to improve your experience with High Mowing Organic Seeds. I think you’ll find our seeds to be of great quality. Happy planting and hope you have an abundant season!

I am honored. Really. First, that this company checks up on and CARES about their reputation. Second, that they are reaching out to me this way.

myseeds2

I haven’t tried any of the seeds yet (it snowed yesterday!), but I will be planting them either this week or the next. If the seeds are anything like the customer service, I think my garden will be beautiful.

Check out highmowingseeds.com. So far, the company TOTALLY ROCKS.

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Fixing the Garden Fencing and Other Odd Jobs

April 24, 2010

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Before we go full tilt with gutting the kitchen in a few weeks, we need to prep the garden for this year’s crops. In a few short days, we’ve made good progress!

gardenrepair3

We’ve replaced the wooden border for one of the beds. Each bed is 12 feet by 24 feet. Lumber prices are sky-high suddenly, so I decided to replace only one bed. Next year, we’ll do the other.

The beds are also tilled and ready for seeds.

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When we first started the garden, it was an agonizing task to till the beds those first few years. I’ve added peat moss and compost for four years, and it’s really made a difference. The soil is light and fluffy, just beautiful.

We also fixed the fencing, replaced posts, added more rails, and have been weeding the border of weeds and out-of-control border flowers. I also pruned my grape vine and tied it to the fencing. I hope to have a great crop this year.

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Gardening is extremely physical work, but I just love gardening. It so invigorating to hoe and rake, and hammer and plant seeds! I’m out of shape right now, because I’ve spent the last two years sitting on my butt in front of a computer for a job. So right now, I’m huffing and puffing. But I was always very physically fit as a young person, and I expect I’ll come bouncing back very quickly as I usually have in the past. Boy, this is fun! 😀

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My Organic Seeds Arrived

April 21, 2010

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UPDATE! See what High Mowing Seeds has to say about my shipping and packaging complaint. WHOA!!! They rock!

—————-

I decided to go 100% non-Monsanto, 100% organic with the garden this year. No funky seeds, no funky fertilizers, no funky pesticides. It’s expensive to go organic, lol. My seeds from High Mowing Seeds, a small seed distributor in Vermont, came in.

I’m really happy with the selection of seeds, and am looking forward to planting them… but I’m a little disappointed by the packaging and shipping. I spent a whopping $11 for shipping. For that price, I nearly expected a valet to come to my front door, to roll out the red carpet and unload the packages into my gardening shed. OK, maybe a $3 sturdy box. But this is what I got:

myseeds1

Maybe I’m being a tad fussy…. I’m used to paying HALF that amount in shipping and getting TWICE as good a package. The seed packets were all smashed into this thin little envelope. I haven’t yet checked all the seeds in the envelopes to see if they are crunched. I have a husband who works for the post office, so I know how packages get a severe beating through the mail system. I’m kinda disappointed. Hopefully, the seed quality will be spectacular and more than make up for the pitiable shipping.

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Anyway, they are here. I’m really looking forward to planting leeks and kale this year! And cabbage! I’m trying out a lot of new things this year:

  • Giant Chard
  • Red Cabbage
  • Cucumber
  • Siberian Kale
  • Collards
  • A large selection of lettuces
  • Leek
  • Muskmelon
  • Snow pea
  • Spinach
  • Yellow squash
  • Zucchini
  • Roma Tomato
  • Rutabaga
  • Basil

They had no Romaine lettuce, so I need to obtain that from another company. I also plan on getting marigolds to keep the slugs at bay. And I’ve got some potatoes ready; the kids may want some pumpkins and I do want sunflowers again this year. Sunflowers do well here. This is what we got the last time we planted them.

sunflowers

It’s been cooler at nights again (high 30s), so I have to delay the seed planting until it’s a bit warmer. We also have to till the beds yet. The Hubs and I spent an afternoon replacing the rotted old wooden boards with new ones.

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Lumber prices are CRAZY. Why are they jacking up the prices THIS year?!?! Don’t they know I have a ton of work to do?! :-p These six 2 x 6 x 12s cost me $60. Ridiculous. I could only replace one bed. *whine snivel*

Well, I’m going to be pulling out some plaster and lathe this weekend. Just a little. I’m going to be testing out my plumbing skills with the washing machine set up. Mmmmm… I’ll have more on that later. Please PRAY for me!

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How to Start a Compost, Part 3

April 19, 2010

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This is the final post in my How to Start a Compost series. You can read Part 1 and Part 2 to get up to speed. I’ve already covered the essential compost general guidelines, some sage compost advice, and instructed you ow to build a simple Wire Bin. Now, I’m going to throw some lists at you.

    What to Do When Your Compost is Ready:

  • Your compost should be ready in 12-14 months. This can really vary a lot, depending on what you put in there, how often you turned it, how wet the weather has been, etc. But 1 year is a general estimate.
  • I always start a new compost pile in the spring, so that when I am ready to start next year’s garden, the compost is ready. You can add the compost to your garden beds either at spring tilling time, or fall tilling time. (I don’t do fall tilling, by the way).
  • Prepare your garden beds: pull out the weeds, the rocks, etc.
  • Grab your shovel and wheelbarrow and shovel out the compost from the bin. The humus should be loamy and rich-looking.
  • Dump the compost into the garden. Spread evenly. Roto-til or hand turn the garden soil. Water lightly.
  • That’s it! Plant your garden when you’re ready.
SprdgLeavs

The composted compost (called humus) is dark, rich, and loamy.

    What to Add to a Compost Pile:

  • Any household vegetable food waste, such as: carrot tops, discarded vegetable peels, wasted vegetables that the kids refused to eat, etc etc
  • Eggshells
  • Coffee grounds, leftover tea, or coffee
  • Dryer lint
  • Hair. Yes, hair! Spread it out well so it won’t clump in the pile. You can even add your fingernail clippings… if you want…
  • Grass clippings. Make sure the grass is not loaded with pesticides or chemicals.
  • Leaves, they are full of nitrogen.
  • Earthworms. Have the kids dig them up and plop them in. Earthworms love coffee, by the way. They are wonderful critters!
    What NOT to Add to a Compost Pile:

  • Meat waste
  • Newspapers (some ink has chemicals may disrupt the happy bacteria revelry)
  • Dog and cat food (contains meat and preservatives)
  • Corn cobs (they take FOREVER to compost!!)
  • Peach pits (see corn cobs)
  • Weeds! (They will germinate in the rich soil and you will wind up planting them in your garden next year)
  • Milk products– no cheese, yogurt, milk, nothing.
  • Oils (vegetable, grease, etc)
  • Bones
  • Silverware (can you believe that we actually find forks and spoons in the compost pile?! All the kids say they have NO IDEA how silverware gets in there! :S hmm)

So there you have it! Composting can be pretty fun. Sure, you’re getting your hands dirty. But just think of how happy you are making the worms, the bacteria, the garden plants! And think of happy you will be when you sink your teeth into those luscious tomatoes that thrived in such rich soil. 🙂

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Humus is tilled in to the bed, bed is weeded and raked, and ready for seeds.

Thanks for reading! Happy composting.

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How to Start a Compost, Part 2

April 13, 2010

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Starting a new garden? Got a limpid garden? Do you have weak, impoverished soil? Boy oh boy, do I have news for you! It’s time to play in the dirt! Compost is fun, folks! In case you missed the riveting Part 1 in this series, go ahead and read it.

This post is going to be How to Make a Wire Bin, and will be filled with tips and stories of what’s worked for me these years. First, you’ve gotta getta bin.

The Wire Bin
WHAT YOU NEED
Hammer
Shovel
Heavy-duty gloves
Tin snips or cable cutters
Four metal garden stakes or 2 x 4 posts**
Chicken wire, about 15 feet length or so
Twine or heavy-duty garden twisty ties for stakes, or metal staples for posts

Your Wire Bin will probably look a lot neater.

Of course, you can go much fancier, but don’t you really want to get a compost going right now? Sure, you do. Throw together a quick bin and get the compost going. Then you can start constructing your St. Peter’s Basilica of Compost Bins later, and take your time at it. Compost takes about a year to get ready, so time is of the essence.

1. Stake out an area in your yard that receives sun for at least half the day. Hammer the four stakes in the shape of a square. If you have a large yard with a lot of leaves and grass clippings to add, each side of the square should be approximately 4 to 5 feet, with a stake at each corner.

2. Starting at one stake, take the twisty tie and secure the chicken wire to the stake. Or, if you are using wooden posts, tack the wire onto the post using the staples. Go all the way around the square.

3. Now, you can leave the front part of the square open, as I do, or you can loosely secure the wire to the front for easy access later. Just keep in mind that in a year, you need to get all the stuff OUT of the bin.

4. Dump in your waste. Experts say it’s best to try to layer the stuff: leaves, then grass clippings, then food waste. etc. I do not layer. I just dump *whatever* in. It’s been working so far. This is nature we’re talking about– it’s well able to what it needs to do without much pampering from a human.

5. You can add stuff like compost starter to the mix, if you want. But a shovelful of garden soil or cow manure will do. The purpose for this is to give the compost a little kick-start with that wonderful aerobic bacteria that will be making your waste into humus (prepared compost). I have never added anything, and have done fine. The garden soil is a good idea, and I’ll be trying that this year.

**Do not use pressure-treated wood. PTW is coated with chemicals (such as arsenic) that will leach into the soil and into your vegetables.

    Tips for a Really Good Compost Pile:

  • Add earthworms to your pile. Earthworms are marvelous for compost. They help aerate the mix and their, uh, poop, is a great addition to any compost pile!
  • During dry spells, water the compost pile. Just a little.
  • Every month or so, turn the mix over, or stir it up best you can. I actually NEVER do this, because the pile is so heavy. My compost turns out OK. But turning may help make the compost decompose quicker. Use a shovel or pitchfork to mix the waste. Watch out for innocent earthworm bystanders.
  • Add only vegetable matter to the mix, never meats, fats, or grease. This will disrupt the bacteria revelry going on. And meats and grease may attract skunks, raccoons, and rats.
june-garden

Gardens love compost!

In the next and final installment is this series, I’ll talk about what to add to your compost bin, and what NOT to add, and what to do when you finally have your compost ready for adding to the garden. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

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