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Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

Jackie Clay

It finally stopped raining

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

And boy are we busy! We couldn’t do any cultivating or anything else, during the rain so we’re hurrying to catch up (as if one ever does!). The weeds loved that warm, wet weather and parts of our gardens look like a lettuce bed. And our North garden and pig pasture gardens, because they’re mostly clay, were too wet to even walk in.

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The bad news is all of our pig pasture corn rotted in the ground and never sprouted. Today Will’s going over to help at our carpenter friend, Tom’s, homestead where they’re going to pour five truckloads of concrete — with a little manual help. After that’s done, Will’s going to till up the corn patch in the pig pasture and I’ll replant it, hoping we’ll have a long enough growing season to harvest corn from it to can. (I do have other sweet corn patches that ARE up, however, but we sure hate to lose any.) All the beans and North garden crops are up and lookin’ good as are the crops in our main garden and berry patch. Hooray!

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Now we’re working like mad to get the weeds under control before they get big. Will tilled and tilled yesterday, finishing our main garden and then going out to the North garden. He had a setback when our Troybilt’s fuel pump quit. Luckily, Will had another he’d salvaged from somewhere and after an hour of changing over, he was back at tilling. The garden was still damp but it tilled up fine and it looks so much better without the weeds!

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The peppers and pole beans in our big hoop house look great. I’ve got six different rare pole beans inside as they’re relatively long season beans. Plus we have tons of different beans outside, both pole and bush. They just POP out of the ground. It’s so cool! Mittens sometimes sits by a bean row and watches them. She’s a homesteader cat and it doesn’t take much to make her happy. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

It’s still raining

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

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Seven inches Sunday and four last night! I’ll swear I saw a bearded man at the lumberyard ordering cubits of lumber for an ark … Luckily, our gardens were well tilled before it hit and there aren’t lakes on them to rot the seed.

We’ve still been planting a few odd things here and there. (No, they’re not “odd,” just kind of leftover stuff we didn’t get around to getting in sooner.)

There’s a mama killdeer with a nest out in the corn on our north garden so we don’t bother her area. The rows need tilling with the weeds flourishing out there but it’s too wet now and we don’t want to disturb her while she’s sitting on eggs. Speaking of eggs, one of our turkeys came off the nest with three babies and another hatched a CHICK — not a poult. One chick. She found a nest with one chicken egg and became attached to it. Now she has a baby to raise up and love. Strange but cool.

Our tomato plants look awesome! Very stocky and dark green. Unfortunately, we have billions of volunteer tomatoes all over the garden; our only weeds this year! Luckily, they’re easy to till up and pull. It’s time to stake and cage the tomatoes and start in weeding and mulching the main garden. As soon as the rain quits, that is.

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My flowers look great this year and my Yellow Rose of Texas is blooming its head off. I’ve been hitting one flower bed at a time trying to get rid of the weeds, especially perennial weeds like nettles and raspberries that keep popping up. And it’s working. So far I’ve got four beds pretty well “domesticated” and another bed pretty good. Mulching after weeding helps a lot. I’m using wood chip mulch about six inches deep. The peonies, delphiniums, hostas, and daylilies look great and make me smile as I sit on the front porch. Ah, homesteading! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We had a hard frost but no damage

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

At 5 a.m. I went outside and saw heavy frost on the roof and on the windshield of our Subaru. And this was on top of the ridge; our garden is down below where frost will settle. But our tomatoes were fine because Will and I worked all day yesterday covering our them. A dear friend had given me some larger plastic nursery pots and we had a few others so we used 50 to cover tomatoes. Then I had a bright idea. Gina, a friend of ours, has a greenhouse in Cook and I remembered seeing piles of used pots along their fence.

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I drove in and sure enough, Gina quickly helped me load 50 more pots into the car. (I told her I’d return them today.) When I got home, Will and I finished covering the plants then set a cap of hay on each one as they do have holes and we didn’t want frost seeping inside. We had a little corn and beans up, so I quickly hoed a little dirt over each plant.

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This morning I walked down and uncovered a few tomatoes. They are in perfect shape! Will is uncovering the rest right now as our temperatures are swiftly climbing and no cold nights in the forecast. Whew! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Rain, rain, go away

Monday, June 6th, 2016

While it looked like a hot, dry summer weeks ago, when temps were in the high 80s, the last two weeks have brought rain. Lately, it’s been every day. Boy, is it hard to get stuff planted, especially out on the new north garden, where the soil is minimally improved white clay. It sticks to our feet when we walk and soon our boots are carrying pounds that refuse to be shaken or scraped off! Luckily, just before the rains got serious, Will got in with the tractor and planted 3 different varieties of pumpkins and squash; 12 rows each, with 30-foot spaces between, 100 feet long. I’ve hand-planted dozens of hills of pumpkins and squash so far but still have many more to go and it’s almost getting too late to plant. After all, we often get our fall frosts mid-September … or earlier.

In the house, I’ve started many different rare and heirloom beans (folks have sent some to us and we have bought some from various places across the country) that are long-season maturing beans. Some will go in the hoop house while others will be planted outside on each end, hopefully absorbing some heat from the structure. Others will go on our stock panel trellises in the garden.

Polebeans_0281

Meanwhile, Will built a rack for our new solar array and while friends Mike and Dara were here to help, we put it up. We’re really excited as it will increase our charging capability from 100 watts to over 1,000 watts. Huge improvement. We’re waiting now for the combiner box and the cables Will ordered. I can’t wait to have the thing hooked up to our battery bank!

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The weather radio forecasted scattered frosts after midnight for tomorrow night. And we have 107 unprotected tomato plants out in the garden. They’re too big for hot caps and too tender to throw plastic over. So we’re going to use thin slices of hay off square bales to make tipis over each one. After the frost danger has passed, we’ll use the hay as mulch around the plants. We harvest our own reed canary grass which is seed- and weed-free so we don’t plant a hayfield in our garden. Been there; done that! Luckily, none of our other crops are up yet except for some onions which don’t mind frost. Homesteading is never easy but the challenges make it exciting for sure. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

Planting, planting, planting … between the rains

We’ve been getting very little sunshine between the rains. When it’s nice, we’ve been planting like crazy. So far we’ve got in tons of different corns in various isolation gardens around the 120 acres, lots of beans from all over the world from Maine to China! We also have 107 tomatoes, including 68 varieties, this year. I also got 11 hills of Atlantic Giant pumpkins planted yesterday. We planted all of this just before the rain hit this morning. It looks like it will continue for a couple of days.

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Inside, we’ve started several pumpkins, squash and long-season beans to set out when the weather is warmed up for good. And on these rainy days, we keep busy inside. Will is painting polyurethane on the home-sawn oak planks that will be the mantel shelves behind our wood stove. So far they look great! What a wonderful addition they’ll make.

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For those of you who are wondering how Sir, our wonder goat kid, is doing, he’s growing like a weed! He’s still very friendly and follows me all over the pasture when I go out to check the electric wires on the fence.

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— Jackie

Jackie Clay

Summer seems to have arrived

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

We know summer hasn’t really arrived — there’s still a good chance of frost around the corner. So while the apple trees are blooming like mad, I’m continuing to plant crops like late-season pumpkins, squash, pole beans, and melons inside. Yesterday, I sprayed our apricot and plum trees with Surround, a kaolin clay compound which confuses and repels our nemesis, the plum curculio. This insect bites a tiny piece of immature fruit, lays eggs in it and goes away. Then the fruit drops off the tree.

Orchard_0268

The Surround makes the tree leaves and tiny fruitlets look white, coated with white clay. And we hope it will work as the trees are loaded with fruit this year.

Clematis_0245

On our driveway there’s a big wild clematis vine and it blooms very early, even before the trees are leafed out. It’s so pretty and we look forward to it each year. When we see it, we know spring is here for sure. It started blooming two weeks ago and is still in full bloom!

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— Jackie

Jackie Clay

It’s springtime crazy around here!

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

After waiting so long for nice weather, we’re making very good use of it! We disbudded all five of our goat kids. That’s one of our least favorite homestead jobs but we feel it’s very necessary for the goats’ sake so they won’t get caught in fences, water pails, each other’s collars, or any other dangers. And we won’t get smacked in the face as they swing around to chase a fly. We also got our donkey, Crystal’s, feet trimmed. She has terrible feet which tend to grow twisted over winter. So we have to keep them well trimmed to prevent that. Poor Will, with his bad back, did the job while I handed him tools. Luckily, Crystal was pretty good throughout the process. I think she knows we’re helping her walk well.

While I finished transplanting our tomatoes and peppers, Will spread lime on our main garden as our soil is pretty acidic. He had also done the new north garden and the old hog pasture. So yesterday, he went ahead and tilled them with our tractor mounted tiller because it’s supposed to rain soon.

Lime_0249

He also seeded two more of our hayfields into oats and clover. (He slept very well last night!)

Our orchard is simply wonderful this spring. The trees are in full bloom and as they are getting bigger, the whole orchard looks like a snowstorm. Magnificent!

While I was driving to town, I noticed a Canada goose on a nest, on an old beaver lodge, in a creek. She’s sitting tight and didn’t move when I stopped to take a picture. She’ll be hatching soon and we probably won’t see the family again as they leave the nesting area right away after hatching.

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Last night we were all tired. I had to laugh when I came into the living room to find Hondo cuddled around a big Hopi Pale Grey squash Will had brought out to show some visitors. We all like our HPGs!

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— Jackie

Jackie Clay

I had a great time at the Self Reliance Expo in Irving, Texas

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

I was so happy to get to meet so many of my extended BHM family at this show! Thank you, all of you, for stopping by and saying hi, giving me a hug and telling me how much you enjoy what I do. It really means a lot to me. I spoke two days on gardening and canning, to a “full house” although I did have competition from a nearby group demonstrating their noisy attack dogs with BIG voices! (I much prefer our “attack” dogs, Spencer and Hondo, who, I’m sure would attack a “bad guy” if necessary but are gentle and saps for petting from “good guys”… and are MUCH quieter!)

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While I was gone, I kept in touch with Will at home, who said we had a quarter-inch of snow on the ground and temps in the high 20s-30s. Luckily, he took in my tender plants and Mother’s Day hanging baskets!

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Now, it’s back to homesteading. This afternoon I’m going to set out my onion sets and plant the peas; I’d meant to get that done earlier but somehow it always got shoved back to a lower priority. That happens on the homestead! Now I’ve got to play catch-up. Sort of like disbudding our goat kids. They’re way overdue so this afternoon we’ll get that done. (God willing and the crick don’t rise!)

Speaking of the creek, our pair of Canada geese came off the nest this morning with five (we think) babies. So cool. They nest on our small beaver pond every spring. But, unfortunately, they move the babies on to the large pond as soon as they hatch so we don’t get to see much of them after hatching. — Jackie

 
 


 
 

 
 
 
 
 
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