The First Steps

 I try to use as much as I can from what we are able to produce for ourselves. We produce eggs, some of our meat, goats milk (for a few more days before they are off to a new home) and veggies. The garden just might be the largest source of our food, well, eggs are abundant and full of protein. Either way, the garden is certainly the cheapest, most varied and most convenient way to feed ourselves. I can be assured that our veggies are organically grown, and are clean and fresh.

DSCN6925When you grow your own food you’re part of the cycle. You plant the seeds, care for the plants, harvest the veggies. You know the struggles of pests, droughts or too much rain, and the joy of rain when you need it. You know the importance of beneficial insects (or reptiles, e.g. snakes and toads) who eat those pests and/or pollinate your plants. Food doesn’t just magically appear on the shelves nicely packaged. Real food involves dirt, animals, including insects, blood and guts, sweat and even some tears of frustration and loss. This is the reality of life.  DSCN6922

Perhaps even more importantly, is the link between our food and our freedom. We all need to eat but if we can’t produce anything to eat ourselves we are utterly dependent on those who do produce food and subject to their whims. To quote Gene Logsdon: “[We must] realize the danger of depending absolutely on politically motivated governmental processes for food, clothing and shelter. In the world we must live in from now on to produce our own food is the beginning of independence and to accept that responsibility is the first step toward real freedom.”

So we try. We’re nowhere near producing all of our own food but, we’re taking our first steps- and getting a little steadier on our feet. Our kids are learning that ultimately food sprouts from the earth, that sunshine and rain are equally important and that not all insects are “bad”. By growing our own food we avoid pesticides, GMOs, high fructose corn syrup and overly processed (and packaged) products. Here are a few ideas to get the most out of your garden.

  • Start small – don’t get overwhelmed.
  • Grow what you eat. You’ll know what to make with it and you won’t have to buy it.
  • Leafy greens grow quickly and are packed with vitamins. Plants like lettuce, spinach, and kale can be picked and will grow back repeatedly.
  • Plant more than once. Get two harvests, or more… arugula and radishes grow fast (about 30 days to harvest). This leaves lots  of room for trying again if you lose a planting to misfortune.
  • Thin your seedlings for larger and healthier plants. Some seedlings can be replanted further apart or eat those thinnings. Try beet seedlings in salad or, if the thinnings are older, use the greens as you would spinach or swiss chard. Onion thinnings are similar to chives or green onion tops, try them in a potato salad.
  • Examine what you’re tossing. I’ve always thought radish and carrot tops were suppose to be tossed. Not so! Radish tops can be roasted. Try this carrot top pesto next time you roast carrots.
  • Feed your scraps to your livestock. No livestock? How about a worm bin, or compost it.
  • Remember it all starts with the soil. Healthy soil = healthy plants.
  • Try, try again. Goats eat your plants? Chickens eat your seeds? Garden in too wet or too sunny of an area? And, that’s just in the last two years. A new (fenced!) garden area is paying off. There’s always more to learn- from failures and from successes.

 

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sharing with Fight Back Friday and Fat Tuesday and Farmgirl Friday

 

 

The Weekender Bag

DSCN6985Kale,lettuce radishes,peas….they’re all growing so fast! My current harvesting basket just isn’t large enough to hold it all. I started this weekenders bag with harvesting in mind but it’s coming out so nicely that I’m considering making it a project/store/etc bag and finding something else to help carry the harvest back from the garden.

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KCCO/Yarn Along

The Gardens

This year we have a small collection of gardens. I tend to refer to them as the Upper Garden, which were 2 former pig pens, and the Large Garden. The Large Garden was a section of field I covered with the goat barn’s contents when I cleaned it out last fall. I covered it with plastic over the winter. Definitely much easier than double-digging!

Here’s section 1 of the Upper Garden as of last week (see this post for an early May view):

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We’ve been enjoying a lot of kale….

DSCN6810and several plantings of radishes out of here. The boys love to pretend they’re rabbits and raid the garden. They like the kale but radishes are the rabbits’ favorite. Thank goodness they grow so fast.

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This section also has broccoli (which I’m in the process of thinning and planting into the Large garden) and peas.

DSCN6849 DSCN6847 The second section of the Upper Gardens has carrots, spinach, bush beans, lettuce, beets, parsley, cucumbers, basil, onions and a few tomatoes. The lettuce, parsley and onions need to be thinned soon. DSCN6796 DSCN6797 DSCN6798 DSCN6799As for the large garden, well, I had to fence and replant it due to the chickens.

DSCN6504The kids and I had a garden party and planted a bunch of starter plants my MIL and a family friend gave us. I’ve seeded a few areas too. In the blue plastic we’ve planted a bunch of pumpkins from my folks.

Singapore’s pen borders the Large garden. She’s good company and her roof is a great hang out spot for little ones.

DSCN6820 DSCN6821 Now we have tomatoes, peppers, celeriac, potatoes, basil, swiss chard, arugula, carrots, bush beans,cauliflower, broccoli, pole beans, melons ( watermelon & ? from the worm compost bin) and a whole mess of pumpkins. A few more things need to go in, like the celery from the cold frame, and of course, the fall plantings.

Everything is growing fast!

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Shea and The Adventures of OJ

On occasion, one of the boys will borrow my camera and take some photos. It’s always a pleasant surprise to be uploading photos and find some that I didn’t take. Interesting too, ’cause you never know what they’ll be taking photos of. Here are a few of my favorites that Noah took the other day. Cats, siblings, and a couple of his bear, OJ. You never know where that bear will turn up.

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It’s a boys’ life

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Sometimes you just have to stop and have some fun!

Struggling_along picked up some model rockets and boy, are they a blast! The boys love every bit of it, from setting it up to retrieval. To top it off the boys were elated to go camping out for the weekend; even little Ishmael spent a whole night out in the tent. We also had a fantastic cook out: steak, salad from the garden, and of course the traditional hot dogs and marshmallows (or s’mores) for those who wanted them.

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Summer, just the way it should be.

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Three!

 

DSCN6558Ishmael is three!

What a fun day we had. The older boys arranged some games to play with Ishmael and we read Ishi’s favorite book: Let’s eat! Taking time to carefully study the birthday party scene. I think three is the first birthday when they can understand and fully embrace that their day is, well, their day. As per tradition we hung the birthday banner, set the table (with the blue table-cloth), lit a candle and ate the birthday boy’s requested meals: mac and cheese for lunch and for supper: roasted chicken with baked potatoes, corn and a salad (from our garden). And, of course, there was cake (blue cake), presents and three boys happily playing together (Molly wiggled about excitedly).

Ishmael always loves to help in the kitchen so rather than having the birthday cake make a surprise appearance Ishmael helped to make it. Of course a cook in the kitchen needs an apron. We have only one child’s apron and you can imagine the scene when two or more boys want to help. So I made Ishmael his very own apron. He picked out the (blue) dinosaur fabric from my stash. I had some matching yellow fabric that I used for the bias tape, which also is the neck and waist tie.

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While I had the sewing machine out I made him a zippered pillow case as well. It turned out nicely. The fabric has cute animals on it and I found a matching zipper which I managed to sew in successfully. Sorry no photos of it or the birthday party because my camera is lost.Cross your fingers we find it soon!

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KCCO