2011 Farm and Garden Planning

This week I started preliminary planning for the 2011 garden season. I have been doing some research in an attempt to make our garden more productive. Using last year’s garden plan, I mapped out the garden for 2011 making sure that crops of the nightshade and cucurbit family will not be planted in the same beds this year. This also gave me an opportunity to inventory my seeds and make a list of things to purchase. I was also able to mark dates on the calendar for starting seedlings, direct seeding to the garden and transplanting seedlings based on our zone and the specific needs of the particular vegetable.  I started several kinds of cruciferous vegetables in our planting rack.

seeds in cups

This year I am trying individual cups

We have had several guests lately that we were able to pick their brains about additional tips for saving seeds plus proper times to prune and spray our fruit trees. We are thankful for all of the helpful resources gleaned from our community of gardening friends.

I have also been researching chickens and trying to decide which would be the best multipurpose breed for starting our sustainable flock. I am seriously considering Brahmas. Roosters weigh in at 12 pounds and the hens are good layers and good setters. I will  be ordering them for shipment in mid-April.

The 100 Mile Challenge, Garden Preparation

Paula read a book, Animal Vegetable Miracle, in which the author discusses the 100 mile challenge – eat only foods produced within a 100 mile radius of your home. I think we’re going to try this.

Last night Paula bought a large stand mixer with dough hooks – something she’s been wanting for a while. After shopping many brands she chose an Oster model FPSTSM5102. Seemed like the most “bang for the buck.” They were on sale at WalMart for 89.95, but there was one on the shelf with a label on it that listed the product and model and had a price of 79.95, so we saved an additional $10.00. She also is researching a yogurt maker.

It’s time to start preparing for the garden already. We’re going to invite some friends over for dinner who do “seed saving”. My goal for this year is to get our chickens, and our vegetables, to reproduce themselves in a sustainable fashion.

Just in time

This morning we have an inch of snow and more big flakes falling down. Looks like I got the garden cleaned out just in time. Yesterday I finished cleaning up squash, peppers and watermelons. Now I’m done until somebody bags a deer:)
KC is working on the storage room wall. It’s much easier to get things done with a little heat in the basement.

First frost today

We had our first hard frost today…bye bye remains of the garden and annual flowers. Time for the final clean outside up.
Today I am working on beets and carrots that the kids and I pulled on Saturday.

Ready to move the chickens

Got the "winter" chicken coop ready today – we’ll be moving the laying hens from the little coop to the big coop tonight. I put plastic over the windows (cuz I didn’t get the windows done – again.) Ryan worked on the electric. Grandma and the kids pulled up the old chicken wire in preparation for putting up the new run. Grandma and the kids (and Shelli) also worked in the garden, bringing in a little more harvest and cleaning up a little more.

More Peppers…

Yesterday was very busy. I boiled all the wee potatoes and peeled them. I put up 5 more pints of beets and another gallon bag of broccoli. I painted the ” Savanna” room in the basement. I picked another big bowl of peppers. We got 17 eggs from 18 chickens…they must have been very happy yesterday. I baked three pies…one was an experimental recipe…Simply Orange Mango juice…kind of like lemon meringue only kickier…
Today I will wash all the bedding and get ready to move things downstairs. I was up at 5:30 am making food for a neighbor who got very ill from getting a flu shot. Stuffed 8 peppers and will make more pepper rings later.
Full load of kids today…lots of little boys…fun.

The produce rolls in…

As garden clean up continues, we are finding a few more treasures under the weeds. Last evening we dug potatoes…it was pretty paltry-about 15 lbs. We were late getting them planted and I think the “straw” had too much poo in it. We also pulled another bucket of beets and found a few tiny watermelons (we’ll feed those to the home group kids on Sunday.)

Tonight I will paint the front downstairs bedroom in preparation for rearranging the bedrooms and getting the basement ready for home group.

We didn’t really end up saving any seeds this year but still have a bunch left over so we’re okay for next year.

More work in the gardens.

I’d really like to use this blog as blogs were intended to be used; kind of a daily on line diary of the happenings here at Big Oak Ridge.

Unfortunately, there never seems to be enough time in a day …

Monday night I attended my first township meeting (see citizens for a free pa for information on that).
Paula wrote an article for the local paper about the March on Washington (never heard anything back).

Tuesday night I went to prayer meeting.
Paula washed all the outside toys for the play yard and washed the truck.

Wednesday we mowed grass (fast and furious!) got MOST of the yard done by dark. It wasn’t the best mowing job we’ve ever done, but at least we don’t have to use  a machete to get from the house to the chicken coop.

Thursday we picked tomatoes. We’ve started putting the garden to bed, so we’re pulling plants as we harvest. We got some more cucumbers and squash also. In the process of harvesting the tomatoes we found two “volunteer” potato plants with some nice potatoes on them!

Friday Paula processed tomato juice, mopped the floors, made some more pickled peppers, and did the laundry. Friday afternoon Paula paid bills (we had a REAL MIRACLE there! Thank you JESUS!), took Shelli and the grandkids to do some errands. I met up with them after work and we had dinner at Long John Silver’s.

I’ve spent a lot of time this week on the new web site, Citizens for a Free Pennsylvania (so has Ryan). We’ve got it pretty much up and running now; all we need is some volunteer “cub reporters” to attend meetings and report back on issues and items of interest.

Today I became a “township worker” – I went and purchased a truck load of unwashed limestone and filled in some holes on my road. I got another load of 1B limestone and fixed the front patio area by the ponds.  We hosted my mom and our son Jon for dinner; Jon is staying with us for the weekend. Tomorrow  “Big Oak Ridge Fellowship of Believers” (our home group ) will be here.

More Garden Produce

The garden is winding down for the year and we’ve started putting it to bed.

The tomatoes got blighted this year and we didn’t get very many. We were pretty bummed about that because we had planned on making sauce, salsa,  ketchup, etc. this year. Hopefully next year will be better for tomatoes.
The beans, of course, did well (they always do). I’m not complaining, I like beans, so that’s not a bad thing. We also got some winter squash which I am thankful for. I hope it tastes good – the fruit looks good but the vines looked pathetic, so I wonder what the quality will be like.
We need to figure out what we’re doing right and what we’re doing wrong. Overall I expected our garden to produce better this year than it did, and that concerns me somewhat. We might need to actually do some of those “master gardener” things like check our soil composition and pH, etc.
Well, next year perfection.

Clearing pasture

We have been spending that last couple weeks clearing pasture for cows and goats. This also provides us with a nice jump start on our firewood for this year. It means that we are sore tired a lot though. 🙂