Fresh Beginnings

As with every new year we settle down and rethink our plans for the upcoming year on the homestead. What can we expand, what should be dropped, what new projects can we take on?

This year sees us re-certifying our kitchen to allow us to go back full force to canning and making our much loved chicken pot pie and rhubarb rosemary BBQ sauce. We have applied to be part of a local craft fair in November 2018 so plans for that are under way. The raising of chickens is being expanded as are the bees. We have been experimenting with the brewing of honey mead and have come up with a very nice fruit flavored mead we hope to continue and expand on.

Our newest and most exciting project this year is creating a Saturday morning farmers market here on the homestead. We have our seeds ordered for early vegetables and are also doing an early batch of chickens. They should be ready just in time for the first market weekend.

To top off the plans is our application to the Future Farmers Program that should be able to assist us to become full fledged farmers. We are currently working on a rough business plan. To this point we have been working off our lists and personal drive but the time has come to get official and narrow down a 5 year plan to get us to our goals.

 

From all of this we can tell you it is never too late to make your life into what you dream of. From a couple of “almost old timers”, make a plan, be flexible and look for your local resources. If at first your plan doesn’t work, take a break and look at it with fresh eyes and enthusiasm and try again.

What else are you doing but living your life?

 

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Red Onion Powder

 

In an endeavor to create all of our own spices from what we grow, we need to step back and look at what we use and love. Onion powder is high on the list of frequently used items. As it turns out, it is a very simple process to make and the results will blow your mind. The flavor intensity is out of this world. I use this in our absolutely favorite recipes…Red Onion Powder.

It starts with approximately 2 pounds of organic (or chemical free home grown) red onions peeled and finely minced (food processors are great).  Spread the eye burning mess on a parchment paper covered sheet pan and bake at 250 degrees until dry. Your house will burn with a unique essence that encourages outdoor activities. Go outside and enjoy the fresh air, plant something, weed something or just go for a short walk.

When the air has cleared and all is crispy and cool, throw in a coffee grinder and voila, red onion powder.

Really, make the time. There is nothing like it.

Savory for life!

Prepping for winter

The time has flown past us is in a whirl wind of activity as we struck items off our to do list this spring and summer. Now we look, with tired bodies, at what is ready and what still needs to be prepped in the garden and for the bees before winter sets in.

It’s been a good season.

The chicken coop is shingled, protected from the weather this year. Now the buildings match, which we appreciate.

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The buckwheat has fallen and is ready to be tilled in or left to frost kill and we can do it next spring…whatever.

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The raspberry patch as been taken down to 2 feet, weeded and mowed.

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The garlic bed buckwheat has been tilled under and is ready to plant this weekend. Roses love garlic so we are planting some behind the rose arches in hopes it helps with aphids.

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The saffron crocus are in bloom and need to be protected and harvested daily as they bloom.

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The final pea planting is hooped with a tarp at the ready for frosty nights.

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The empty beds have been over planted with oats for cover crop.

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The bees have their small entrance reducers on, honey has been harvested and they will have their final inspection and winterizing this weekend. Each gets a bottom foam board and a solid plywood board under that then a sugar feed board topped with sugar. Any weak swarm captures may be combined with a stronger established hive, we’ll see at inspection if the queens are alive and thriving. We have saved full honey frames from the harvest to give back if needed, it’s better than sugar and we really don’t need all 126 lbs we stole from them.

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There is the last of the carrot, beets and turnip to pull and store as well. The frost helps them sweeten so we are in no hurry other than watching for overgrowth and cracking, and they are going a wee bit over board at the moment.

 

I think that about covers the progress and to-do for now.

Loving the cooler air, the sweet smell of fresh juniper wood (8 cord) still to be cut.  Things move slower now, more time spent wrapped in blankets in the rocking chairs on the deck, enjoying the last of the quiet evenings while we can. Some how the time is more precious knowing the snow will blow soon.

 

Saffron

The time is finally here for the saffron crocus to bloom. It is dormant most of the year and has a very short bloom, so timing is everything. We have been protecting the plants from the frost with straw and a tarp. Not to mention the wire cage they were planted in to keep our rodent gardening partners out. So far, so good.

There are still 16 or so to come into bloom with three little stamen each. A bit excited to have grown saffron in Eastern Canada. Who knew it could be done? Now to decide what to do with it! Proverbial horse before the cart, but it intrigued me so we tried it.

The “grow it bug” is stronger than the desire to consume at times. Some people climb mountains…we grow things. To each their own.

Beware the first seed you plant, it may cause irrevocable addiction that will have you going to work with dirt under your nails and seed suppliers knowing you on a first name basis. It can happen to your sister, your brother, your friends…help them…give them seeds.

 

Garden Tour 2017

We held a little talk at our work place to explain what it is we do; grow our own food. People were genuinely interested in what and why we were doing this. From that came many requests to visit our yard and see what we do. We decided we might as well sign up for the Summerside and Area Garden Tour for the year and have everyone come on one day when we were clean and ready. So we did.

Here are some pictures. We had a good day, we answered many questions and also learned so much from our guests. So many great hints and tips shared that we are looking into(Lady bugs are already here).

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The yard 2017 summer
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The arches and garlic.
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7 new potato beds this year…not liking the beetles in the front of the yard.
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View from the greenhouse to the garage deck and down the archway.
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The perfect place to sit to view the back yard GH and gardens.
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View from the side deck(BBQ and Smoking kingdom) of the bee garden. It grows yearly.
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Tiffany Rose
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Bees and their garden
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3 rows Raspberry, one Black current and one Rhubarb with a white clover ground over.
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Hella climbing rose, sweetly fragrant.
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Hummingbird feeder on old door

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Don Juan climbing rose

 

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The only annuals I can get to grow.
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The rose arches to the green house.

Giving ourselves the deadline of a showing moved many projects to completion that would have taken us years at a leisurely pace. There are of course new projects that came into being because of the ones we finished and we will work on those as we feel like it. The pressure is off.

Gardening is a way of life, never completed but built upon.

Enjoy growing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good bugs vs Bad bugs

So,I cannot say enough about the importance of talking with random strangers who love to do what you do. Some of the best advice is hidden in those moments.

We had our garden tour (pics later when we recover) and although our roses are clear of aphids, our potatoes this year are over run with potato beetle.  It seemed as though as soon as it was commented that we didn’t have aphids, they appeared the next day. Do aphids travel with people?

As it happens, a guest at the tour commented that she ordered lady bugs from Costco to combat her “bad bug”problems. I took it in stride, thinking I heard wrong or she said the wrong name of  the garden supplier she bought from. Our thoughts on bulk consumerism are not the kindest and isn’t Costco the place you buy 1000 precooked coconut shrimp in the freezer department and can also pick up a big screen TV, and maybe some nice 20 pack underwear for everyone your love?

I told the hubby anyway and he looked it up on line.  Sure enough, you can buy lady bugs by 1000 per bag, shipped right to you! So we now are in possession of 2000 lady bugs to be released tonight. And I might just not dislike Costco so much, OK I still don’t like the bulk processed food shopping zombies, but on this they get a pass. Kudos on the lady bugs!

They come in a bag with what looks like sprouts for them to feed on and the instructions are to keep them in a refrigerated so they stay dormant. They are to be released in batches over a one week period in the evenings, with leaf/plant coverage to protect them. The will breed and lay eggs that will continue to feed, for 3-4 weeks, on all the eggs and larvae you do not want. They do not eat your plants.

We are very excited to see if this works. We have tried diatomaceous earth with little success for the beetle. It does works great on slugs though.

So here goes the first release. Grow and eat and breed you little beauties.

I can only imagine the for the small cost for 1000 lady bugs they would make a nice back yard addition to anyone with kids. To walk around your back yard for 3-4 weeks and see so many lady bugs around would be thrilling for a little one. That of course is not to mention that every garden(veg or flower) could benefit from a few good bugs.

Go buy yourself some lady bugs! Who knew?

A Picture-less Post, tired…

So, spring is turning to summer and finally we have some heat to plant the gardens in. We thought it might never happen. We took 3 days off work plus the upcoming weekend to getter’ done. Days one and two are behind us and we are exhausted. There is no other way to put it.

The potatoes were planted 3 weeks ago and ,with some loving watering, are breaking through the straw covering. The peas and snow peas went in about the same time and have stayed alive, I ask for no more at this time.

The coop needed some repairs, the compost piles needed to be turned/moved, the picket fence needed some more painting(it’s almost done, just some rhubarb to move to access the rest) and we have busily been digging up strawberry, rhubarb and raspberry to give away to happy recipients as we had far too much.

We have planted all of the seeds and by the end of the weekend will plant the starts from the greenhouse as they are hardening off.

We are gluttons for punishment and just couldn’t resist the add on a local selling site that listed “fire grass” for sale, I mean it sounds so cool. Then they had other plants too so our collective OCD took over and ,40 plants later, we have them planted today. We (and I use this phrase loosely) may also have dug up 17 other plants ,we got them last year at end of season sales and were thrown in an open garden bed, and potted them to be moved…just maybe.

That and mowing the grass finally (we waited until June so the bees would have the dandelions and/or to save us work…it’s all good) which included quite a bit of raking. Not bad though as it all goes in the compost rows.

With a well needed rain storm, we rest. It’s time for rhubarb pie, some baked BBQ ribs, garlic mashed potatoes and the couch. I it weren’t for rain and full time jobs we might never rest. Yes, going to work on Monday is viewed as a rest as neither of us are required to dig holes at work.

The pie is calling. Enjoy your weekend.