Monday, July 28, 2008

"Pay Dirt"

I woke up around 4:30 this morning. I just couldn't go back to sleep. I tried to read a bit and even that didn't put me to sleep. I finally just did a bit of meditating until I felt myself getting drowsy.  I meditated on how I was going to do some things in the garden, on having to get back on task with school, and just my life in general.

I did a few more things before falling back off to sleep and then finally getting up when I heard the doorbell ring. It was the DHL guy bringing me the materials for my raised bed. Woot!!! I didn't take a picture of it because it is wrapped up, but I will take a picture of it as soon as it is put together. I was SOOOOOOOOOO excited.

Right after that I left the house to run an errand and to get some gas.  I got a scratch off card for 2.00 as well. The funny thing is that I didn't even look at it again until I had gotten in my car. I was a bit chagrined when I did because it actually wasn't the one that I asked for. But as things would have it, that 2.00 netted me 100!!! ::Still doing happy dance::

After putting a little away, I went to Home Depot. I needed a few small things anyway and decided to look for seeds and for what they had on clearance. This is what I came back with:

Not the trowel or the gloves or the cutter, or the little yellow chair, but the plants and the boxes and the soil. This just happens to be my work station when I transplant. I was soooooooo very happy to be able to get a few little things to help me get my yard at least partially set up before I head back to classes next month.

After transplanting them to the boxes, this is the result:

In the first two boxes, I replanted Marigolds and Zinnias. The ones that I put directly in the ground did not prosper. I'd like to see what happens to them in a container.  The third box has Tropical Hibiscus, and the yellow flowers are Zinnias in the foreground and yellow Marigolds in the back. The pinkish looking flowers that are really red and white are also Zinnias. Home Depot had a buy one get one free sale on some of their plants and a nice mark down on others. I  just sat them out for now until I figure out how I want that area to be. 

Here is close-up of the flowers: Aren't they pretty? I am hoping that they continue to bloom and are healthy.

I also re-transplanted a tomato plant. This is what fell off in the process:

Hopefully they will continue to grow in the sun. I also re-planted the watermelon plants that were not making any real progress directly in the ground. We'll see what happens.

I also planted my potatoes today. I buried them deep in a nice sized container. I can't wait to see what happens.

I need to get the Pumpkins and the beans that have sprouted into the ground. I am hoping that I can do that plus put together my raised bed as a weekend project.

But even more fun almost than found money is the little treasures that you find in your own backyard. This is my "Home Shopping Network". Yesterday, I needed to retrieve something from my shed. I hadn't been in there to give it a good cleaning in quite some time. Plus, some new things were added that just cluttered things up even more. While in the shed, I began pulling things out and found a treasure trove of things that I can use in the garden;

I was so happy to find these two storage containers and both of them have lids. I can keep my extra soil, and mulch in them to protect them from the rain. I found my wide rake top as well. I have the handle but couldn't remember what had happend to the rake. I also found the two tomato cages standing in front of the darker storage bin. I had them back from when I had my last garden and had put them away for safe keeping. In the lighter blue bin was a wide variety of pots, baskets and smaller storage boxes that will definitely come in handy in the garden. I was also able to fish out and use this old tool box:

I can both store away and lock my tools inside so that I don't have to bring everything outside each and every time I come out to work. I saw a great barn-like shed at Home Depot today that is my dream to one day have to store all my supplies. Here is my trusty pocket knife. It really comes in handy when I am outside.

All in all, it was a GREAT day on the Homestead!!

I also decided to attach to this entry my vegetable of the week. I am still working on trying different veggies and fruits to see if they would be something that I could attempt to grow in my own garden. Today's choice was:

 "The Artichoke".

I have never had an artichoke before and don't even know how to cook it. But I plan to figure out how and then partake of it. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Till next time......

Sunday, July 27, 2008

"A Good Tired"

Yesterday was a very busy day. I was intent on getting an area of my yard ready for the fall planting. I wanted to have a weed free spot that would hold not only some raised beds, but some containers as well. I plan to use both methods on my homestead.

The day was very overcast but always quite humid. I went out around 8:30 and raked the entire backyard which had a nice accumulation of leaves and some pinestraw. I put some in a pile for future composting needs and used the rest to further fill out "Pumpkins Poo" spot.

After I finished raking, I started hand weeding the "Fall" section using a small hand weed puller and scissors. Let me tell you, this is NOT easy or for the faint at heart. And speaking of faint at heart, I discovered something else in my yard yesterday, but more on that later.

Although the area that I was working in did not have a lot of grass, it had lots of roots, and tuffs of grass and weeds in scattered areas.  This is only a partial area. It looked something like this:

So I took to the ground alone at first but later on in the morning called in my trusty "Farm Assistant" (ie, "Teenager) to assist.

After much toil we yielded good results which I neglected to take a good before and after picture of. But, it did get us ready to face the task that was the goal: The laying of the weed material: The blackened area is where we used to burn things when we were allowed to burn and weren't under drought conditions. As you can see, the tufts of weed and roots are gone.

Here it is after completion from two different angles.

So now that I have the beginning touches on my area, I can start to fill it in. I won't have to worry as much about the weeds and things growing back, plus it gives me a nice visual to build from as to placement and what types of plants I will use there. I will still need to put a fence around it since Pumpkin and other animals won't be able to run through or pick over the plants that will go into the raised beds, or the shorter containers. But one step at a  time. I still have fencing left over from my last project and just need a couple more wood stakes and some bird netting as I have a lot of fence sitters in this area.

And back to the faint of heart portion of this story. While doing the weeding yesterday, I saw something in the yard that looked very odd. I had seen many various types of bugs in the yard including a spider that had a body that reminded me of patent leather. I'm serious!!! But among the tufts of grass there was something that looked like a grasshopper/spider mutant but different from any grasshopper/spider mutant that I had ever seen. The antennas were longer and looked thicker, more rigid, and its body looked like it was plated in armor. I mean when you live in the country and are exposed to all sorts of wildlife, insects, etc. you never know what will show up. So I watched it, it watched me and I couldn't figure out if it was alive or dead at first. So I got a stick, starting poking it and upon further observation realized that this is what it was: (this is also a close-up of the weeds that were pulled as well)

From first glance and with sweat in your eyes (yeah, that's it sweat) could you tell that your nine year old left his toys out and your puppy found it and deposited it in your work spot? Nah, me either!!!!

So after a day of discovering a "new" species of insect, and after raking and laying weeding material, I came inside and did what every homesteader/gardener/farmer does:


I de-cobbed( is that a word?) it and sauteed it in some butter, and had it with a T-bone steak and a small baked potato. Can you say DELICIOUS!!! Because it was.

All in all it was a very good, although exhausting day. Today, I am feeling the work in my knees, thighs, and upper back and shoulder muscles. I wanted to go out and do some transplanting today, but might need to give myself a day of rest in-between for saftety sake. After all, if I throw my back out again, everything will come to a halt.

It is just so difficult to not go full tilt when you are working on a dream, but especially a dream deferred. This is my passion, rapidly becoming my heart, and even though long coming, my life.



Friday, July 25, 2008

"A Day on the Homestead"

Today was a very tiring day. I hadn't really worked in my garden with the exception of watering since I got back to town last Monday. I haven't been feeling well. I have a sore throat, some body aches, and just a general feeling of malaise. Plus, my back is a little dicey.  I would go out and look at the plants, see if something needed tending but I didn't feel up to really getting out there and working to my full capacity.

I decided that had to stop today. I have some new plants that need to be transplanted and I wanted to get my fall gardening area situated. So I got up this morning with the mindset to set those things in motion.

One thing that has slowed down a lot of my progress was the leftover debris that I moved out of the chill center and onto the other part of the yard. Remember the very first photos of the areas that I needed to work on?

This is how it looks today. I made a section for flowers that only a few buds are coming up in. Plus, Pumpkin likes to use it as her play area and today I saw her use it as her personal toilet. So I put up a barrier to keep her out.

This entire section will one day be transformed into the chill area. This is where I will house the grill, hopefully a gazebo, a table and a few chairs. I hope to go around the borders of the fence with flowers.

I also decided to use the "Toxic Turtle" to plant some flowers in as well. It will hold a nice mound of soil and will be a different sort of flower pot.

I also raked the yard today. I added some more soil, and leaves, and pine straw and the bin of materials from the house into the compost bin to continue cooking. I also added fresh leaves to the area of the yard that I am trying to train Pumpkin to do her business in.

I strung out a load of "Teenager's" laundry and I went through the plants to get rid of dying leaves and to check on each thing individually. The cantaloupes are growing so good that I put them on a bin to give them some height. Look at all the pretty yellow flowers:

Here are a few of the other plants:

Pepper flowers are budding and so are the watermelons:

But, I will have to say that "THE" most fulfilling project that I took care of today was this: remember when this section of my yard looked like this when I transfered the junk pile over:

Well, here is what it looks like today:

This morning, teenager and I systematically took every piece of the debris to the dump. I had been trying to get a truck to no avail but knew that if I didn't get this area cleaned up soon, I would have to go back to school and fall planting would be imminent. So yesterday while out, I bought a nice, heavy duty piece of tarp, draped my trunk and the rest was history. What was wet, nasty, too bug infested or downright rancid, I broke down as best I could and placed it in 39 gallon bags. I was so focused on the job at hand that I neglected to take pictures which I am now regretting. It took 5 trips to the dump but I got the area clean, was able to transport it, albeit slowly to the dump and now my area is ready to get ready for the fall planting. Can you say HAPPY? It was a VERY hard, back-breaking job ( and my back is dealing with it tonight) but I plan to rest this evening and just do some minor planting tomorrow. So all in all I had a VERY busy, yet VERY satisfying day on "Ye Olde Homestead".

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Well, I made it back. I got home yesterday but was EXTREMELY tired!! The flight was VERY tiresome with no air and having to sit on the tarmac for an hour after boarding.

I am assuming that due to the high cost of gas they are cutting down on the air-conditioning. There were little bursts of air coming from shoots directly above our seats but for a large plane and seats so close together, you would think that ESPECIALLY during the summer they would be more considerate. But, I guess this is one of the effects of our crumbling economy and the things we will have to get used to. Flying now feels not much different from a "Greyhound Bus" ride. You now get a cup of water rather than the individual bottles of water. Two passengers share one can of soda or juice, and now you have to buy snacks. So many people had bags of fast food and drinks on the plane. This was something I had rarely if ever run into when flying in the past. But the most important thing is that I made it there and back safely.

Even though I was only on the plane for a little over two hours, my body showed me just how tired that I was. All those late nights and early mornings finally caught up with me. On the upside, I was able to sleep like a log while in New York and hated that my trip was so short.

It was a great visit.  It was too hot to really do all the walking that we usually do each time I am there. Still, there were nice meals, cafes, and the feel of the city. I found myself lost in the street markets looking at all the produce as we walked by and feeling a certain sense of "kindred" as the beautiful fruit and vegetables were stacked high by their vendors. It made me even more excited about my own garden back at home.

And speaking of my own garden, things were fine. I was in contact with my son and he did as I asked him with the watering. I was only gone for 3 days, but in that time, some VERY nice surprises awaited me when I returned.

When I last posted on Thursday evening, I placed a picture of the pumpkins and beans that had begun to sprout, here is how they looked on Thursday when I took the picture:

Here is how they look now:

Can you say: "THAT'S INCREDIBLE!!!!! When I walked out onto the porch I almost fainted. I was SHOCKED to see the progress in that short period of time. I don't know when I was able to shut my mouth!!! Obviously the plastic, makeshift greenhouses that I had put over the plants REALLY did a wonderful job. I am STILL in shock!!

Here are some more shots of the seedlings:

These are the beans.

Snap Beans



The only thing yet to sprout is my lettuce. I will keep watching it and if no results happen, I will simply re-seed it and see what happens.

All in al the garden looks great. Here are the other plants:

The first flower on the watermelon plant.

Another tomato hiding under the leaves.

 After pruning some of the dead yellow leaves off of this tomato plant, the leves seem to have turned so green!! On the other side is two little tomatos peeking out.

Overall, even with the intense heat, my little piece of heaven is still heavenly.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

"I'm Leavin' On A Jet Plane"

Well, I'll be heading to the airport around 4 a.m. to catch a flight taking me to New York. Manhattan to be exact. My trip was a gift given to me by a dear friend in behalf of the efforts that I put forth to pass a math class that I had failed 3 times. I guess the "4th" time is the actual charm!!! It was a VERY welcome surprise and will be a much needed respite before heading back to school next month and starting the next phase of math.

I am leaving my garden in the hands of my 15 year old. I spent time with him in the garden this evening instructing him how to water the plants and look after things for me while I am gone. Fingers crossed. To help lessen the load on him, I purchased an 18 gallon plastic container. I filled it with water and showed him how to fill the watering can and how to water the plants at the root not on the leaves. I figured it would be safer to water from the can than from the hose and possibly damage the already flowering fruit. I further instructed him to fill up the container each evening so that all he will have to do is to fill up the can and water. Again, fingers crossed!!! I keep hearing George Michael's song: "You Gotta Have Faith" rattling in my head.

On the day that I purchased the 18 gallon container, I had another brainstorm



Why not use some of these containers in the garden. They are sturdy, and tall which would provide a good growing base for the heavier fruited vines and what have you. I could place them against the sections of my fence for support for the vined vegetables like beans. They would also appear to be nice and spacious for onions, and potatoes and other root vegetables. Plus, they would be a lot cheaper and more convenient until I can get raised beds. I know that I won't be able to afford a lot of raised beds or the materials to make them, at least not right away, but I don't want that to deter me from planting. So until I can get the raised beds going, I am going to use these containers. I just have to make sure that I have enough drainage holes and read that if larger containers are sat on bricks it will provide even better drainage. I can grow a lot of potatoes and onions, and beans in one of these babies!!!

I also thought that these storage drawers were interesting:

Already sectioned off, seems deep enough and with two side by side some nice plants can come out of it. When I think of all the drawers that I threw away from old chest of drawers I could kick myself. I think that flowers would like nice in something like this for the chill center.

Just trying to think of some ways to use what is available, more easily accessible, or already on hand.

And speaking of hands, let's hear a big round of applause for the already "budding" appearance of the plants that I just germinated last Sunday. Say hello to my little friends:

The Pumpkins:

The Beans: Kind of Blurry

And More Beans:

Don't know why those shots came out so blurry but hope that you can see the growth.

Well, that is all for "Ye Olde Homestead" today. I hope to see you guys in a few days. Till then, take care and for Goodness sake, Miss Me!!! :-)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

"Around the Homestead"

After tending to the inside of the Homestead, I ventured out into the heart and soul of it: The Garden. I looked around to see what needed to be done and did a few things here and there. First, I checked on the progress of the produce:

The cantaloupe before:

The cantaloupe now:

If you look closely, you can see various tendrils hanging from the vine. How exciting. Also, small buds are appearing as well.

The watermelon plant also seems to be faring well: To the right is a close-up of a little bud that is breaking through.

Here is one of the surviving Sweet Potato and Collard plants:

The tomatoes continue to grow:

My peppers are growing tall like crazy: You can see the buds that will soon open to flowers and then peppers.

If you use your imagination and look real close, you can see the one bud that is coming up where I planted the zinnias and marigolds.

All in all, things are looking good in the "Garden-Stead".

Some other observations I made in my yard is the need to save to get someone to cut down some trees. After the last storm, this branch broke off.

We have had a huge tree fall down during a bad storm before. I don't know if it is clear in the picture but it lying down and rotting. When the men were clearing the property directly behind my house for a tract of 236 homes they cut it into several pieces.

From this spot to the darker trunked tree in the background is also a part of our property line. If I could afford to have some of the trees cut and the land cleared, I could extend my garden back here. Or if I was zoned, I would have 1 cow, 1 rooster, 6 chickens and 2 goats. I know, wishful thinking. Hey, a girl can dream can't she?

I forgot to add this picture to the entry of the day before. This is how the tent looks with the window open and the protective cover taken off: Quite the makeshift greenhouse.

And last but not least, here is a photo my one farm animal: Pumpkin in her "Pup Tent"

 Get it? Pup Tent...she's a pup, that's her ten.... Ahhhh, Shaddup!!!!