Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday Rambling

Virtues of plastic

Oh what a plastic world we live in.
From plastic in your food from China to cheek implants..

However there are some plastics that are very helpful in the garden.
2 of them are: black plastic mulch and beverage jugs I've used 1 gal.water jugs and 2 liter soda bottles.

If you want an earlier start on getting your summer veggies into the ground, tomatoes, peppers, melons, and eggplants,
these 2 items will help get you off to an early start. The black plastic heats up the soil and holds the warmth. And if you put a jug with the bottom cut out over your transplant on a cool night it will create a warm little greenhouse.
I try to not put my transplants out until the nights are over 50' but it never fails, jack frost bites me in the ass every year.

After amending your soil with all the compost and yummy stuff your plants will be growing in, pull it up to a long berm. Water the whole thing well.
Lay your black plastic over it. You can buy it in rolls 3x50 at any home improvement or most hardware stores. OR, you can use trash bags, OR you can use weed cloth. Secure the edges with dirt, rocks or lawn timbers.

Determine how far apart your plants will be and cut an X where you will set your plant. Dig a hole and set in your transplant. If planting tomatoes, I dig a hole deep enough to put the whole plant down into except for the top few leaves and cover the whole thing up. poke holes here and there for rain unless using weed cloth, it already has tiny holes all over.

After a good rain go out and see if there are any areas where rain is pooling on the plastic and poke a hole in the middle of the puddle so it can seep in.

I do use a couple of amendments when I plant, a bit of epsom salt for peppers, and for all my plants I use a pinch of Mycoboost and aqua rocks in each hole.



Spiders are our gardening friends

I have a pet spider in my greenhouse. I noticed her about 5 days ago and she has gotten bigger. She hangs in the corner by my potting table. Every day she is there waiting....

I hope she is a writing spider. She does have some white on her butt and I've had them before, through the whole season, eating bugs and watching me.

We got a bug sucker. It's a vacume that stays charged and it sucks bugs. You then have the option of being executioner or not. Push the tube down all the way into the base and the fryer turns on, kind of a bug electric chair. Or you can choose to let them go outside on their merry buggy way. I hate any poisons sprayed in the house.

Here is how it works with me:

Waterbugs, flys, mosquitoes, centipedes, fleas, ticks= execute
Spiders, lightening bugs, lady bugs, ants= stay of execution and release

I am no Buddhist.

We eat alot of Mexican food.

It's cheap,easy and pretty healthy if you don't use the high fat cheese, the white flour based tortillas and use alot of fresh veggies with it.

We had nachos the other night.

I bought some of these white corn tortillas and fried them in some coconut/canola oil.

I cut them in quarters first and did them for about 1 minute on each side. Put them on a paper bag and sprinkled with sea salt.

Then laid them out on a cookie sheet and sprinkled some red bean, onion, shredded cheese mixture that I seasoned with a little mole' sauce. (I heated all this up in a skillet first and stirred in the cheese.)
Popped it into a 375' oven for 7 minutes.
Then smeared on some home made soy sour cream, some chopped up lettuce, cherry tomatoes and some chopped green olives. Poured a bit of salsa over the top and YUMMEE!

SO much better than store bought chips. They are way too salty for me and heavy tasting. These were so light and fresh tasting and you could taste the corn in them.

I just went out a while ago and collected some grape hyacinth seeds.

I've never planted them from seed before but I noticed this year that there were alot more plants than last year so I made a note to collect some seed when they were done blooming. In each of those little round pods there are about 6 seeds.
I love them.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Rain barrels gonna save it all, I hope

I mentioned in my second post about our droughts here in Southern OH. They can be soo bad, like last years lasting well into the fall. I had a small veggie garden and ended up with 2 tomato plants and 3 banana pepper plants and that was it.

Our well went dry, and I just kind of gave up. It was hard enough to truck water in from the spring thats about 8 miles from us, for dishes, cooking, bathing etc. So watering a garden was just not gonna happen.

So now that the house is pretty much done and we have the time and a bit more resources,our attention has turned to the yard, greenhouse, veggie garden and small projects that seem to have piled up.

Larry was determined to set up some kind of tank or barrel system that would see us through the worst of the scorching hot days as far as watering our food beds and taking showers.

This is where we started, 16 food grade drums. all connected together with a hose outlet at the bottom and a built in rain gauge.

The barrels were 9.00 a piece and the pvc connectors were a few bucks. He also used a piece of old garden hose cut up. The downspout goes into the far barrel on the top and the water flows through filling up each barrel as it goes.
They are sitting on treated 4x4's on top of packed earth.

We will be adding 4 more down at the greenhouse on a platform so we can have pressure behind what flows in.
These 16 are uphill a bit behind our workshop. They will gravity feed nicely down to the greenhouse. Then inside the greenhouse will be our old wringer washer, a sink and a shower.

These barrels came from Keebler and had "tutti-frutti" flavoring, whatever THAT is.
All I know is the whole place reeked of juicy fruit gum smell for weeks. It wasn't bad though. In the foreground you can see a little of a blue barrel, they have these at the same place and although mt favorite color in the garden as far as flowers and some garden furniture goes is blue, these barrels I find garish. They smelt yummy when we got them, some chocolate, some lemon and some butterscotch.
I saw that one of the members on Plant Swap painted theirs beautifully with plants and butterflys.So I may breakdown and do some rain barrel painting myself.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A loaf of total YUMMMM and a visitor

I have been teasing Larry all week about making Zucchini bread. You see back in 1970 when we first met, we lived on communal land. 600 acres of "Free land for Free People". The name of this land being Earth Peoples Park, way up in Norton Vt.
There was quite a great group of people there, some built houses, some lived in tipi's, some came for the summer... and we pretty much shared in the work, the laughter, the tears and the groove of the times.

Okay, I do have a zucchini point here, the point being that we were all rather poor, and while we did eat every day, it was at times slim pickin's. Squash was something that grew rather well and was a constant companion to your stomach. And unless it was a time when the pantry was stocked, there was little to season said squash with and truth be told, boiled plain squash can be rather um.... BLAND.

So Larry is not a squash fan, he had too many meals of bland squash poor guy.
So the teasing began and he would look at me like "Oh yeah...well I ain't eating no squash bread". And I would say " Oh you'll eat it, I'll disguise it and sneak it in on ya". He would come back with "Yeah right we'll see".

Well let's just say he ate a piece after dinner and another at bedtime and he'll cut another after dinner tonight I'm sure.

Zucchini Bread with Lemon glaze
Adapted from several sources

Yield: I made one loaf to make sure I tweeaked it okay. Or double for 2 loaves or make muffins. This would make about 12 small muffins as written.

1 egg
1/4 cup olive or canola oil
1/4 c of unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cups sugar
1 cup grated zucchini
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1/2 cup dried cranberries,cherries, raisins or chocolate chips or a combination thereof (optional)I used dried cherries and chocolate chips.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Grease and flour a 9x5 inch loaf pan, liberally. Or line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Mix in oil, applesauce and sugar, then zucchini and vanilla.

Combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
Stir this into the egg mixture. A third at a time,then gently fold in nuts, chocolate chips and/or dried fruit, if using.

Pour into prepared pan or muffin cups.

Bake loaf for 60 minutes, plus or minus ten, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.( Mine was 60 min exactly.) Muffins will bake far more quickly, approximately 20 to 25 minutes.

Lemon Glaze

1 c. powdered sugar
2 T. lemon juice
1 tsp. soft butter or Smart Balance light or coconut oil
1 tsp. lemon zest

Stir this until smooth. Pour over loaf after it is cool.
You may have to increase/decrease liquid or sugar until a good consistency I really did not measure the glaze ing. As I tend to eyeball stuff like this.

Last night at dusk we were sitting in the great room and had the door to the porch open. I saw something move and realized there was a deer in the yard. Larry snapped a couple pictures. This is one of the best things about living in the woods.

When were first moved here and started to clear the land and build, the deer would come to the edge of our clearing and munch on brush and watch the silly humans wearing themselves out. They got so used to us they would just walk around like we weren't here. Since we got Jackeddy they don't come right up to the house much anymore. And the recent addition of Mikeddy really keeps them at bay. Such a mouth he has.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Strawberries MMMMM...

One of my favorite things about summer.

And nothing compares to picking them from your own garden.
Did you know that on the list of the most sprayed fruits and vegetables these little lovelies are way up there?
Like little sponges they are. So it is far better to buy them from a local organic or without pesticide farm stand. I say "without pesticide" because the "powers that think they be" have deemed it nearly impossible for small farmers to pay to be certified organic. Even though they may be in every sense of the word, they cannot legally label themselves or their produce as "Organic". However, they can say they are pesticide and herbicide free.
So go and yak it up at the local farm market or roadside stand, or find a CSA farm and support those growing locally, they are doing us all a favor.

Okay, so here is my answer to those supermarket,factory farm, or overseas (who knows what they are spraying them with) strawberries....


This is a bed Larry and I built out of 4 old lawn timbers, some scrap 2x4's, galvanized nails, hardware cloth (for the moles and voles), straw, and shredded pine bark mulch. Oh, and a little Hollytone organic fertilizer stirred in.
24 strawberry plants that came very late from Autumn Ridge Nursery. They were running behind so it took me 3 weeks to get them. But they are here and I soaked them in some kelp tea then put them to bed. Of course all buds should be cut off the first year so they do not produce but I bet I will cheat and let one plant have at least a few small berries.....

Monday, May 25, 2009

Greenhouse is up and running

For the last few years, when trying to garden, I have been fighting bugs, the drought, and the scorching sun during the drought.
So haveing a hothouse to grow some food in raised beds is truly a blessing.

We used some materials left from building the house along with some new stuff and came up with a 12 x 24 building that could be converted to a garage or a small house if ever the need arises.

Raised beds were built and the bottoms lined with hardware cloth because we have a crazy mole and vole problem here.

Then we laid newspaper down 4 sheets thick a good 2 inches of straw and a soil less mix of peat,organic manure and hummus and compost.

Across the back is unfinished as we had to start getting things planted, time was already running a bit late as I have not been able to have a spring garden. But a good summer and fall one. And soon across the back wall will be a raised platform with a sink, our wringer washer and a shower.
In the center of each bed is a trellis that goes up to the ceiling and tomatoes, cukes, squash and melons can be tied to.
There is some great netting at Lowes for this. Very inexpensive. Like 8.00 for 2x50 feet.

Everything is doing really well. Here are some pics of what's growing so far...

This is a bed of "blue Lake Bush Beans" and over by the wall are 3 "Armanian" cukes. The little seed tray has my home made markers made from an old mini blind.

This is a bed of 3 "Big Bertha" peppers in front, with "German Johnson" tomatoes in the back. You can see "Sugar baby" watermelons on the other side of the trelli.
There are also a couple of "Yellow Pear" cherry tomatoes and some red onion sets and a couple of Borage.

These are "Roma" tomatoes, a couple of dill "Bouquet" and some "Pickling" cukes by the wall (gherkin type).

And here is a pic of some of the potatoes coming through the straw in my garbage bag potato garden.
Take a big good quality trash bag. Poke a bunch of holes in the bottom.Lay it on a bed of mulch or straw. Fill the bottom with a layer of straw, then a layer of peat (taters love a bit of acid) lay in your eyes and cover with a layer of straw. Wet it down till moist but not soggy. Wait about 10 days and you will see some growth peeping through the straw. Then keep layering straw and misting well. At the end of the season, you can bust the bag open and have a bunch of taters. Set them out in the warm air for an hour or so till nice and dry and store.
Of course I reach in and pull out baby taters all summer.
These are red potatoes and I also have some Kennebeck.

I will post pics of the other beds in a day or so, we are having some thunder now and I must sign off. Damn Satellite internet....

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Well I'm finally here in Blog Land

I'm sure I'll be doing alot of stumbling around trying to get the hang of it.

So I suppose I will have to find out how to link to other blogs to actually have someone other than Larry (DH) read this. And that will be fun, but first I must get a few posts up so there is something to actually read.

The name of this Blog "Turn left at the pigs..." comes from the original directions we got when coming to look at this land when we were shopping for a place to settle.
There was no street sign on the road we had to turn left on, but there was a fenced in pigpen right there. Still no "official" sign there, but there is a hand painted wooden board nailed to a fence post.
And that's fine with us. Larry has even included something about it in a song he wrote.

So I will be sharing a bit of our home life with you, as we believe that we live a good life out here in the woods and that during these times and actually all times living frugally is it's own reward in so many ways.

We built our house (about 1000 sq. ft.) for under 8,000 bucks. By going to salvage yards, barn sales, construction dumpsters, demolision sites, the dump and watching for sales at home improvement stores.
It helped that Larry knows about electrical wiring and worked with his brother, an electrician, when they were younger. He knows water seeks its own level and poop flows downhill.
We also found a part of the country where no building permits are required and no building inspectors take your money for telling you how high to build your front steps.
This was important to us as we believe in small government and that people should leave each other the hell alone.

So here is a pic of what our 4 hands came up with...