Monday, November 29, 2010

Trip to St. Louis Zoo

During Jill's Halloween visit we took the girls to zoo. The photo at bottom right is as close as we could get to recreating the urban myth about a kid stealing a baby penguin.
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Monday, June 14, 2010

Drying Herbs & Relaxing

The basil is coming on like crazy!  I decided to try drying whole sprigs to store in mason jars and crumble as needed. 

Then I'll take my chair out to my favorite shady nook in the corner of the yard.  Who knew that the coziest spot would be between the compost(right) and the dog pen(left)? 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Dog Deterrent Yard Beautification

My little shih tzus love to escape and they love to dig to do it.  That's why we keep pots sitting along the fence...just to make their work a little harder.  I gathered them all up, striped some with masking tape and spray painted them.
Then I planted them with discounted flowers on clearance at the garden center.  I like it.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Swiss Chard is Starting

We just started picking the multicolored chard.  It's planted too close but I'm hoping the fact that it is in a raised bed will offset the issues. One hint of a problem is that japanese beetle have begun munching on the tops.  I hung a beetle trap in the hedge row at the back of the yard and am crossing my fingers that it will help distract them as they arrive.  The only plants that were bothered last year were rhubarb and zinnias. 

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Collage for Jill

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Garden Ready to Bust Loose

Here's a picture of the garden today.  From this end you see tomatoes, then beans, then kale, then broccoli and dill, with the runner bean & cucumber trellis behind.  Beyond that are more tomatoes, basil, popcorn, raspberries, yellow squash and zucchini.  We also have banana peppers, paprika peppers, brown & green cotton, potatoes, onions, garlic, shallots and purple okra. We were lucky to get everything in so early.  And we only had to water once so far. 

The lettuce, spinach, cilantro, tat soi, bok choy, and rapini are already out.

Here is a side pic of our tomato table. We have lattice supported horizontally on cinder blocks through which the tomatoes grew.  Mistake- we used 2' wide lattice instead of 4' wide. The plants are already spilling over.  When the beans come out we'll extend the landscape fabric to widen the path and give then room to spread.

The upside down cherry tomato plant is zooming right along.  Mom is worried that the roots might not be able to handle the weight.  I'm more worried about the fact that if I forget to water even one day it wilts.  It is really loaded with tomatoes. I'm almost tempted to find out what fried green cherry tomatoes are like.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Folklore & Phenology Fun

When I posted this picture on my other blog, , Mom saw it and told me about that visit (she was the photographer). Bernie was Grandpa's farm hand and lived on a house on the farm. In 1966 my parents and grandparents left the farm and moved to California. This was taken about 5 years later when back in Missouri for a visit. Mom said that Bernie had a great big garden at his place with a tree stump set just beside it. In the stump was an ax. He would set the ax with the handle facing into prevailing winds/weather to "split" any storm to miss the garden.

We've had such warm weather so far that everything seems to be coming too early. This past week I transplanted into the garden & raised bed: lettuce, spinach, giant leeks, basil, cilantro, bok choy, tat soi, & endive. The new and 2nd year asparagus is beginning to emerge.

The redbuds have been blooming and now the dogwoods, too. Some gardening folklore says to plant tomatoes and peppers when dogwoods bloom, but other says to plant tomatoes when lily of the valley or daylilies bloom, and my lily of the valley is only just emerging from the ground now and my lilies don't have buds yet. I'm going to fall on the side of better safe than sorry.

The forsythia and dandilions are in full bloom which means the crabgrass is germinating. Now is the time to weed & feed the lawn. Also, we are  in the moon's 4th quarter which is not a time for planting. From the 7th-15th is a time for weeding, fertilizing, making compost, pruning,  and other preparations. The lilac is in early bloom so I can now plant beans (after the 15th).

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday folklore & phenology

"The fair weather gardener, who will do nothing except when the wind and weather and everything else are favorable, is never master of his craft." - Henry Ellacombe

My Soil Test Kit Results
pH ~ 7.5
N = very low
P = very high
K = medium
I was suprised by the alkaline pH because I haven't added wood ashes to the garden in 3 years, and last years potatoes did not have any scab issues. My theory is test error ( I put too much soil with the water). The nitrogen was so low it was off the chart.  It took me a day to realize why. Three weeks ago when I tilled the garden there was still quite a bit of old straw on the surface. It must be binding the nitrogen as it decomposes. Even though I took the soil sample from 4" below the surface, I still had to skim out bits of straw from the solution to do the test. I already added rabbit poo but I'll also side dress with blood meal when the plants get going. The phosphorous was shockingly high. Last year we added quite a bit of a very fine compost that we bought at the farmers market. It was made from cattle waste (manure, but also bone & blood meal from slaughter) and lumbermill waste (sawdust, which should have been acidifying so, go figure).  With a reading this high I think I'm good for the season. The potasium was right on target.

"Each small task of everyday life is part of the total harmony of the universe." - St. Theresa of lisieux

The full moon on March 29  was the Worm moon. This was the last winter moon. The soil is warming and the worms are coming up. Fortunately I tilled before they surfaced and so disturbed far fewer that if I had waited.
Other names for this moon are:
   Fish Moon, Lenten Moon, Sap Moon (Colonial America)
   Windy Moon, Big Famine Moon, Moon When Eyes Are Sore From Bright Snow, Crust Moon, Crow Moon, Maple Sugar Moon (Native American)

Since we are in a waning moon phase this is the best time to focus below the ground. Plant perennials since they need good root systems. Plant root crops like carrots, potatoes, turnips, beets & bulbs. Plant strawberries during the waning moon because the especially need a strong root system. Eliminate slugs. Prune shrubs since the water table is diminishing and less sap will flow. Next week, the 4th quarter & darkest of the moon, is the most dormant and best time to cultivate weeds and do other non-planting chores.

Blooming this week:  daffodils, forsythia, maple tree, dandilions.  Peonies are up about 12 inches.  Lilies are up about 8 inches.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Today is the first day anniversary of yesterday

Folklore & Phenology Friday, one day late (totally Bloggers fault!)

My corner of Missouri is running hot & cold lately.  Yesterday I was late for work because there was a hard frost & light freeze that coated and clouded my car windows and froze my doors shut. 

On a more exciting note, look what I found...a mess of moss & brush in a half bushel basket left on the back porch all winter. (The pine cones were mine.)

I started to pull it out to clean up when I discovered this...
Five little cream colored eggs with brown specks.  Yesterday the mother started sitting on the nest.  I got a good look at her.  Its a carolina wren.  Yay!

Also, the daffodils bloomed yesterday. My neighbor across the street had his bloom 2 weeks ago. They are always earlier.  The broccoli was transplanted to the garden last week and covered with milk jugs and is doing fine. No freeze problems.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Spring! Sun! Sprouts!

The arugula was up first.
The onions are just breaking ground.
Rhubarb begins to unfurl its leaves.
The redbud tree is just barely budding.
Also, the lilac leaves are open and the maple buds are beginning to bloom.  This morning I planted asparagus.  Normally it would be planted in an 8" trench and have soil added as it grows, but I planted it shallowly since it will be in the center of my new raised bed. When I get the bed build around it the soil will be 8-10" higher.  Tomorrow is the official first day of spring but today feels more like it.  Sunny and 67 degrees. By Easter the grass will need to be mowed.  I also checked the shitake logs for signs of mushrooms but no luck.  I was hoping that last weeks cold rain followed by this weeks warm weather might start something.  I did find a disturbing amount of bark shedding from the logs which will shorten their fruiting lifespan.

When the lilacs are in first leaf it is time to plant beets, lettuce and spinach.  I already planted some lettuce and spinach so beets are next.

It seems like it takes forever for spring to arrive.  When it does, everything takes off like a rocket and I'm racing to keep up with the garden chores.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

It's Tilling Time

We rented a huge tiller for the weekend and tilled up the garden.  Extend garden into lawn? No problem.  Tree roots? This thing ate them for lunch!  It was so heavy I could barely turn it.  The garden only needs a deep till like this about every 5 years.  We were really lucky to get a warm weekend for tilling before the rains started.  Last year we never did get to till because the garden was muddy until the 4th of July.  We just hoed a bit and planted into the mud.

Here is Mom covering the onion sets and seed potatoes.  Look at those straight rows!
Our garden is 15' x 50'.  It has gotten 20 feet longer in the 5 years that I have lived here with Mom.  Today we optimistically planted red & yellow & white onion sets, red & yellow shallots, 2 kinds of garlic, red Norland potatoes, lettuce, spinach, radishes and arugula.

Friday, March 5, 2010

March Comes In Like...?

The rhubarb is on the brink of emerging.  I can see wrinkled nubs breaking.  There have been a few robins hanging around and I saw a formation of geese passing overhead to the north.  Trees, shrubs, and bulbs have arrived at the local garden center. Most days have been in the 40's and nights in the 20"s. Not a windy or stormy first week of March.

If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb.
If March comes in like a lamb, it will go out like a lion.
This week I started in pots:
1) Missouri Pink Love Apple tomaotes
2) Green Zebra tomatoes
3) Patano Romanesco tomatoes
4) Hillbilly or Flame tomatoes
5) Leutschauer Pimento peppers
6) Mississippi brown cotton
7) Giant Musselburgh leeks
8) Sweet potato slips started by Mom
9) Korean garlic

So many mists in March you see,
So many frosts in May will be.
     Traditional English proverb

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

St. Louis Skyling Hat

Here is the hat I knit for the Ravelympics.  I was running late and just embroidered the Arch on at the last minute since duplicate stitch wasn't working for me that night.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Maples are running!

I didn't  finish knitting my hat this weekend, but I did something way more fun.  We got a call from the Gorse farm that the maple sap started running on Friday so Mom & I went to see the operation.

This is a tapped tree by the house.  2 holes drilled with plastic tubing for the tap, and a hood to keep out rain, snow & squirrels.

The raw sap is collected in these large square containers until there is room in a cooking pan for it.

This is one of three cooking pans in the sugar shack.

I expected the air to be sticky and cloyingly sweet but it wasn't until Mr. Gorse stirred the 3rd-day pan that I could smell the syrup.

Other places online say that it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.  Mr Gorse says that he uses between 47-49 gallons depending on the weather and density of the sap.

We brought home 6 of these (pints) which is a year's supply for us.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday...again already?

I've been spinning more of this.  I'm almost done plying the last of the ~12 oz. that I had.  Next there is about 8oz of pepto pink to spin.  By the end of the weekend I expect to  have my original design hat finished for the Ravelympics. 

Folklore & Phrenology Friday
We placed a call to the maple syrupers today but haven't heard back yet.  The weather seems just about right now.  Freezing at night and 40's during the day, but I don't know how long it will last.  More snow may be coming.  There is a hillpeople saying that if snow stays on the ground for 3 days it will be covered by another snow.  If that's right then we may be shoveling off the garden to plant this year. 
My family always planted lettuce on Valentine's Day.  I thought that it was typical but I can't find many other people mentioning it.  Certainly not on the squirrel's ear/oak leaf level.  Even though I am now only about 100 miles north of where I grew up I can't imagine planting in mid-Feb here.  And this year I have 3" of snow still to melt.  Instead I started some basil, cilantro, broccoli and microgreens under lights. 

Friday, February 12, 2010

Ravelympics Opening Ceremonies

and the real Olympics, too, of course.  I had planned to make a dog sweater but did not organize well enough and am now out of town without the pattern or yarn.  Instead I will try to finish a hat design that I've had in mind. I already tried it once with wrong yarn and too large needles.  It came out much like any first draft...if I was a drunken college student trying to finish on the last night of spring break. There's an event for original designs but I don't remember what it is just now. 
Blogging from a borrowed computer feels kind of like borrowing shoes.  They never quite fit.  Hopefully my computer will be out of the hospital and home when I return next week.

Snow has been  on the ground all week.  We got another 2-3 inches on Tues.  This is easily the snowiest winter I have ever known here in SE Missouri.  If it continues and is an especially wet spring I worry that we may have trouble getting the garden in.  The maple syrup tappers in MO say that the sap isn't yet flowing.  It has tol be freezing at night and 40 degrees in the day to flow.  Too cold so far.  I snapped a twig on our maple and got a bit of a weep but not a good drip. 

Friday, February 5, 2010

Folklore and Phenology Friday, Feb 5,2010

I'm going to keep a weekly accounting of phenological events (events of nature that I observe) and post them on Fridays with timely bits of gardening or weather lore.  My Grandma Carter always liked to keep a 3 year diary and would note the weather on signifigant days, the date of bloomings, and the like.  For my garden's sake I'll try to be meticulous with plantings and insect arrivals.

Last week a very large flock of robins arrived on Friday and stripped the berries from the holly tree.  The next day all the berries and robins were gone.  I guess they were destined for northern climates.  They looked really fat.

"Go to the winter woods: listen there, look, watch, and “the dead months” will give you a subtler

secret than any you have yet found in the forest."

- Fiona Macleod, Where the Forest Murmurs

Here in Farmington it was cloudy on Feb 2, Groundhog Day.  That's supposed to mean we won't have 6 more weeks of winter.  The blanket of snow makes me doubtful.
If the sun shines on Groundhog Day;

Half the fuel and half the hay.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

2nd & 3rd Big Fat Stockings

Only one more to go.  Next one is blue.  If I'm not too sick of making these maybe I'll make the momma one out of all the left-over colors.
I tried an afterthought heal with the green one and I think I like it best but with a rounded rounded toe.  Also on the top cuff I prefer adding a purl row between the braids because it lays flatter and looks full.  You know what they say... 4th one's a charm.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My Parents Were Awesome, too.

I've been having fun looking at the blog .  I also just got a scanner.  Here's a glimpse of how awesome my folks were before we kids dragged them down.

And here's Mom still smokin' after 3 kids ages 3,5 &6. 
She was young so it took longer for us to break her. 

Dad on horseback.

Here is brother Wes on the motorcycle that started their first real married fight.  Dad bought it without first asking Mom  when money was tight.  Mom ended up liking it and she rode it to work every day.  If you see Grandma Carter, don't tell her.  Mom still hasn't fessed up to owning it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ravelympics- still in trials

I've joined Team Toasted Ravioli for the knitting olympics on Ravelry.  Since we're a St. Louis team we chose toasted ravioli as our mascot and  preferred snack choice.  Isn't the logo adorable?  See the arches in the rings? I love it. Thank you Scrappygurl.  We are supposed to challenge ourselves so I may be knitting a dog sweater.  Or try to spin enough wool for a complete project.  Or try to spin cotton at all.  We have until the start of the games to decide.  If I decide to throw in WIP (work in progress) it has to be something I haven't touched in a month.  Not much of a challenge there.  I've got a stack of earflap hats that have been missing the 2nd earflap for a year! 

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Big Fat Stocking for next year

Jill saw the stockings I made for Wes's kids last year and wants some for her kids next year. Pink for Abbi, purple for Miah, blue for Chrissy, and green for Isabella. I'm going to add either their initials or names on each one when I'm done.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Christmas knitting wrap-up

I made this hat & scarf/mitten set for my neice Rachel. The mittens are the ends of the scarf. I made up the pattern as I went along.

I made this six foot scarf for my neice Sarah. It's a knitted seed stitch with crochet border.

This is a drawstring backpack for my neice Isabella. Also made up design as I went along. Simple bag with I-cord through buttonholes across top. Embroidered after.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Christmas in Branson

Went to Silver Dollar City for lights & funnel cake.

Six small children opening gifts on Christmas morn was a mess!

Wes took this with timer. Every child is looking at the camera with no person behind it. The baby is even waving to it! A Christmas miracle.