Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Garlic braids

Dan and I used to live in Korea where we could buy garlic braids that looked just like this. Just looking at this picture makes me happy for that reason and to know that I have a year's worth of garlic that I grew! No irradiated garlic from China for me. And it was super easy. It might become my top crop recommendation!

What's growing in the garden

Raising veggies at the neighbor's
Raising kids in our back yard. Lettuce and spinach nearing its end for the season.
The other kids in my backyard!
The wild animals in our backyard! HA!

Growing food in the front yard

Julie Bass of Oak Park, Michigan is in trouble. For growing veggies in her front yard of all things! I have equated boobs to lawns now thanks to this issue. I know it is a leap for some but it just came to me so hear me out. They are both designed to feed us. Neither are meant to be augmented and boosted by additives and chemicals. They are not meant to be purely decorative. Our soil has a purpose; to grow food. Our bodies and minds have a purpose to nourish each other literally and figuratively. If there is enjoyment and things are pleasing to the eye then that is nice but not the sole purpose of either. Some may say we need to hide veggies in the back yard like hiding breastfeeding in the bathroom but that is not the way the world was meant to be. God didn't know we were going to all go and get all twisted, over-sexualized,and control freakish! OK enough wierd ranting that doesn't make sense to anyone who doesn't get my logic or humor/irony. Before you think I am totally wackadoodle, here is a more coherant piece I wrote.

Kate B. 1 week ago

Oak Park government is not living in our current reality. People need to be able to feed themselves and should be encouraged to do so. Here are a few ways she is helping herself and the world around her.
1. Doing what she can to feed her family rather than depending on government assistance to include subsidies. (You know much of the food we buy is subsidized via ag subsidies and oil company subsidies right?)
2. Not polluting her property and adjacent areas with herbicides or fertilizers needed to maintain a lush green grass.
3. Since she mentioned that it is organic she is also not killing off pollinators such as honey bees by using pesticides.
3. Not wasting water to maintain plant material that has minimal value such as grass.
4. Reducing her carbon footprint by sourcing her food from her front yard rather than the average 1500 miles. (It doesn't get any more local than your front yard!)
5. Reducing waste by not buying the equivalent produce at the store thus not wasting produce bags, cellophane, and styrofoam packaging etc.
7. Providing revenue to local businesses through the purchase of mulch and plant material.
8. Teaching her children to fight for things they believe in. (Government is suppposed to be for the people by the people.)
9. Decreasing her stress and improving her health through garden maintenance related exercise. (That is until the city decided to criminalize feeding oneself!)
10.Possibly most importantly she is providing an educational opportunity for young and old alike to learn about food production. There may come a time when those skills are needed given our country's penchant for war and oil.

Monday, July 11, 2011

52 weeks of Garlic

After years of wanting to start garlic I finally got it accomplished last fall. Planting garlic is like planting peas for me. Getting it done is a sign of success because there is a one-time window to make it happen. If you plant beans a month late you have less beans but still you do have beans. Around here garlic a month late would mean digging in the snow. For peas it is the opposite although the weather has definitely changing so I should plant it even if I think it is too late. Heck we still have beautiful lettuce so peas would have been fine. But I digress.. So after a bit of faith last fall and a bit of uncertainty this spring.... 55 heads of garlic from my one raised bed is my reward. So happy. They were at risk for a bit because the day I harvested ended up in a downpour while I was trapped under babies (read:nursing). But I brought them in on our bread loaf rack and put a box fan under them and they are gorgeous. I will have to take garlic braid pictures another day. Softnecks don't make beautiful, yummy scapes but they do braid. :)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

June, at least I know where you went, I think

What happened in June? 10 day vacation with family at a rental house in the Outer Banks started the month off. It was fun, fun, fun. Well worth the effort and expense of travelling with 3 kiddos. Wish we could see Dan's family more. And so begins our recruiting efforts to convince them all to move! :)

We came home and played catch up. Had to dispatch a chicken who was laying internally. Easier than I thought it would be. GIANT hard boiled-ish yolk is about all the details some of you likely want.

I also started night weaning Flower to get more milk from Iris. Started harvesting spring crops like lettuce and spinach and rhubarb and radishes. Giant phallic French breakfast radishes that I was tempted to take a pic of to share. We went on two strawberry farm picking trips and picked sugar snap peas as well. 30 some jars of strawberry syrup and some frozen peas were the first things put up for the year.

We started toying with cordials. Brandy infused with cherries from our little neighborhood farmer's market. Elderflower/lemon balm/lemon peel infused vodka. Hoping to try get some green plums to make umeshu.

We also got our first taker on us harvesting fruit trees for free. We took home 20lbs of tart cherries after 3 hrs of picking that took me 3 nights to pit and freeze. We used some to make Vitamix "ice cream" and dehydrated some as well. My niece Sarah came to spend a few days so that was a whirlwind of picnics and local attractions.

At the end of the month Dan brought home a first bit of honey and comb that was being built where it shouldn't have been.

I hope to add a few more pics to this later.

And now it is July.

May sailed away too

May was full of planting, taking care of animals, worrying that my hubby might lose his job, and us preparing to take all 3 kiddos on a vacation to the Outer Banks over Memorial Day weekend. I'll have to do a whole post about our vacation another time. We also got to spend sometime with Grandpa Dan on his yearly trek through.

Planting raised beds, herb planters, and tilling up a new area to plant were the main gardening activities at home. At home we planted our many herbs, onions, shallots, lettuce mix, chard, spinach, beets, carrots, radish, peppers, and tomatoes. We tended our garlic and are so happy to have that for the first time in our garden.
We also took over a neighbor's backyard and had to clear the jungle and set up 7 raised beds and bring in soil/compost mix to get those started. We planted an herb garden, potatoes, cucumbers, beans, onions, radishes, carrots, turnips, cabbage, peppers, corn, several varieties of squash and tomatoes. We hope that it will be a successful garden and worth the time, money and effort.

March and April went to the bees and goats

How could it be that my last post was in March? Too busy I guess to document here as I'd like to. But here is the recap...

March and April were full of preparing for goats and bees. For us that meant partitioning our shed aka garage and converting half of the space into a goat pen. We also created an outdoor area in front of that for them to frolick if they desire. If you had asked me in February when we would be getting the goats, I don't know what I would have said if I was being honest with myself. It was really all up in the air until our local health dept called to say I could try goats. We actually ended up getting the goats first due to this unexpected turn. "Go while the getting is good" I think is the proper cliche. I think the last weekend in March is when we took the 2 hr drive to pick them up. We got them settled in and started milking Iris.

This necessitated a quick milk stand project that my hubby worked on in the wee hours of the night shortly after Iris and Flower arrived. Iris was too difficult to milk without it. Within 48 hours of giving hubby the plans I had a beautiful, well built milk stand in the goat pen. We'll call the milk stand my birthday present as we were so busy that my birthday was mostly uncelebrated and forgotten about. My poor wrist was taking a beating and I was grateful for the effort hubby put into it late into the night after work. There is not a thing I would change about it. I love it. Another trick I learned is to whistle while you milk. Iris calms down immediately. It is a beautiful milk stand that we got the plans for from www.fiascofarm.com/goats/milkstand.html

Anyway the bees were supposed to arrive the 2nd weekend in April. But thanks to a lucky delay in the arrival of the bees and hubby's hard work we managed to to get the two top bar hives built just in the nick of time.

The bees arrived the last weekend in April. Hubby installed them with a friend from work while the kids and I watched on. Other than knocking one plug in on one of the queens the installation went off without a hitch or even a sting.

Oh and I about forgot. We also received our shipment of apple trees x3, peach, plum, and mini-peach and mini-nectarine plus blackberry bushes. It came a bit earlier than I expected and helped make early April extra crazy for us trying to get them all into the ground. Throw in Mama getting sick in the mix, saying goodbye to a mama friend moving to Houston, Easter, Mom Prom. Yep now I know why I didn't get anything posted in April!