Photo: Great grandparents at their farm in Blandinsville, IL, with five of their six children .. my grandpa was yet a twinkle in grandma's eye. Stable boy and governess also pictured. Hodges farm, circa 1903-4

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Room Of My Own

Week #1: 

Our daughter, Ann, recently moved out on her own and I inherited her room to turn into my own little space.  As you can see it's a clean blank slate ready for a makeover.  My plan is to set up the sewing machine in a permanent cabinet .. my entire life, I've had to schlep it to the kitchen table and put everything away each night.  This will be nice in that I can keep a sewing project out until it's finished. 
The sewing machine might be in front of the bay window .. the view is inspiring and beautiful!

Extra deep closet .. ahem .. hubby somehow has some 'stuff' in here already!

Yes .. I'm a vanilla color nut :)

I envision antiques including a bed and small rocking chair.  A washstand with a towel bar and tiled back splash to hold a pitcher and bowl.  Perhaps an old dress form and a pretty lamp with a painted glass shade and a chimney.  Now it's time to scour the flea markets and garage sales ... AND check the basement for items to re-purpose.  Check back for week #2.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Picture Perfect Weather

Today is a beautiful sunny day in the North Woods.  I'm hoping the temps are warm enough to kick start some growth in the garden.  My rhubarb plants have been producing for a few weeks and it's time to start thinking about preserving some of their yummy goodness.  Perhaps canning some rhubarb sauce this week is in order.  Rhubarb freezes well .. it's great to pull out in the winter to bake up a pie or for stewing.

The leaves are poisonous .. but you can add them to the compost heap without a problem.  Nothing says it's gardening time better than the arrival of rhubarb.

Simmered Rhubarb:

4 cups diced rhubarb stalks
3/4 cup sugar
water to cover

Simmer the rhubarb for a few minutes then cover the pan and let it sit until cool.  This method keeps the rhubarb pieces whole.  For a sweeter version, cook uncovered until tender and liquid has reduced by about 1/3 to 1/2 in volume ..  Rhubarb goes well with strawberries and apples in pies.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Coaxing Some Warmth In The Garden

So far this spring has been a fizzle.  Not to say that I'm disappointed with so many people's lives torn apart from horrific weather in the mid-west and southern parts of the United States and elsewhere around the world ... but our damp, cloudy, rainy cool weather in the Pacific and Inland Northwest has given gardeners a run for their money.  Hubby and I are just about finished with the newly installed raised bed garden; we are adding fine bark on the ground to suppress weeds.  Fencing has been put up around the center section of the garden.  As you can see from the photo, I have some beds sitting outside the fence.  These are my deeper beds with fine wire mesh installed in the bottoms that are a foot deep to be used for root veggies.  Hoops or wire surrounds will eventually be installed to keep the deer and moose from lunching on the plants.  The mesh wire is to keep the pesky voles from stealing whole crops from underground tunnels.  This interior/exterior fence planting has worked for us in the past as it keeps the large animals from attempting to leap over the fence .. and I really didn't want the expense nor view of an 8 foot garden fence.

The white fabric is covering our tomato, pepper and eggplants.  It's breathable and lets in some rain .. but traps heat during our cold spell this spring.  On sunny warm days (which are few) the coverings are peeled back.  A few heirloom tomato plants and peppers have been mingled in with our plants started from seed .. just as an extra measure of success.  This year I have done some companion planting .. and have left room for planting in succession. 

How is your garden growing?

Friday, May 20, 2011

New Raised Beds .. and Family Life

We've been busy at the Thrifty Garden Home with installing our raised beds.  Everything is set for the garden fence to be put up on the already installed fence posts tomorrow.  Family life has taken over gardening plans as our youngest was being checked for leukemia after a scary white blood count during a recent out patient dental visit.  This crisis has passed as he does not have leukemia .. but still wondering why such a low count .. a time of worry has passed .. although always lingering. 

The garden is sprouting .. potatoes are poking through the soil .. raspberry canes are green, the strawberry bed planted a few years ago is beginning bud with berries, asparagus is being picked here and there from a two year old bed, and the chard that managed to survive winter is about ready to be picked.  Most everything has been planted .. except for corn and pumpkins .. We have had nights in the 40's .. and should they drop, I have means to cover the tender plants.  What's growing in your garden?

Friday, May 06, 2011

2011 Square Foot Garden Planting

This is just a reference list for my square foot garden for 2011; my first attempt at this type of gardening.  I found an easy way to mark the garden using ground eggshells.  Just use a pointed stick as you measure your planting grid area and apply a thin line of eggshells as a planting guide.  The grounds last a few days and add calcium into the soil.  This is less work than making a wooden grid.  I will be adding my planting schedule and pictures later.  We have above freezing night time temps this week and the tomatoes, peppers and other plants are hardening off in the shelter of the front porch.  What's up in your garden this week?

Update (May 20, 2011)

To date garden planting

April 24 - broccoli, wala-wala onions, radish, replanted garlic planted last fall, red and Yukon gold potatoes, new asparagus bed
May 3   - bulb onions, sugar snap peas
May 12 - broccoli, bulb onions, celery, kale, parsley, petunias, tomatoes
May 18 - pepper plants (started from seed), eggplant, rosemary, carrots, cabbage plants, yellow crookneck squash, rosemary, broccoli, lettuce, chard, spinach, cilantro, ever-bearing strawberries, butternut squash (plants) cucumbers (plants), nasturtium
May 27 - corn, pumpkins (orange & white), replanted horseradish to a better location, green beans, zucchini, peas, lettuce plants started from seed, Russian kale plants (from seed), sweet peas, broccoli plants (grown  from seed), Danish ball head cabbage plants (grown from seed)
May 29 - cauliflower plants (given to me by a friend), red sweet pepper plant