Monday, February 24, 2014

Back To Basics

You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on.

-Mary Oliver

So, I didn’t do so good at keeping up the blog. However, you will be happy to know that nothing happened over the fall and winter that bears mentioning.  I became caught up in the work flow of life that does not lend itself to free time. I did begin a poppy seed head family of small dolls, but quickly abandoned them, when hours needed to be traded for money. All thoughts turned away from creation and instead focused on getting through. 

I didn’t enjoy the holidays this year. Halloween and Christmas where dismal. Thanksgiving was a lovely bright spot, as we visited family in Seattle and spent a couple days exploring downtown from our rental (a fantastic service btw). I got swine flu on christmas eve and was sick for a solid month. During that sickness however, my oldest son came to visit, and that was a supremely magical time. 

For any of you that followed the blog last summer and were following totals, I failed. I set out to harvest 500 lbs of food from my property. I did not make it. But, I came REALLY close. Some particular soul told me I was cheating since the majority of the food came from my fruit trees that were already here when I moved in. Considering that I pruned and cared for those trees, and hand harvested all the fruit, I am counting them. I harvested a total of 442 lbs of food last summer, just 58 lbs short of my goal. 192 lbs of that was what I planted. Here are my totals:

10 lbs cherries
10 lbs beans
1 lb  strawberries
9.5 lbs  carrots
17 lbs onions
4 lbs rainbow chard
12 lbs lemon cucumber
62 lbs plums
1 lbs Blackberries
12 lbs Victoria plums
145 lbs apples
3.5 lbs Corni De Toro peppers
4 lbs Poblano peppers
32 lbs tomatillos
10 lbs ground cherries
16 lbs potatoes
72 lbs tomatoes
31 lbs pears


Potato Buckets- Apparently they were serious when they said use at least a 5 gallon bucket. While I did grow 4x my seed potatoes, I should have been able to grow 40 lbs of each type instead of around 4 lbs of each type. My free 3.5 gallon buckets just didn’t have enough space. 

I will be trying again this year, but this time I will have a proper tower. When I harvested my yukon golds, they got washed, chopped, and thrown right in a pan. They made a most heavenly breakfast, the likes of which I lustily dream about. I can’t say enough good things about growing your own potatoes. 

Buried herb buckets- In theory, this should have worked well. In my over zealous enthusiasm, I started the herbs too soon. There may have been a drainage issue, and I should have used better amended soil. So, I did not get to play around with the Valerian, or Meadowsweet. Bummer. 

This year, I think I am going to build an herb box right outside my front door. If you cook, growing herbs is a no brainer. It will save you tons of money.

Garden planning- I am positive that other people have made this mistake, but I feel fairly silly that I planned my garden layout in early spring . I notated shade zones and hours of sunlight, but didn’t take into account all the leaves that would be on the trees, nor the different position of the sun come summer. What that means is I actually had a lot less usable space than I had originally anticipated.  I utilized the extra shade to grow greens and lettuces, but the chickens devoured them every damn time they found a way in, and I got NONE. No kale, no spinach, no romaine, no baby greens salad mix. Only chard, cause they don’t like it. Ha! Also, the side of the house and front bed definitely should have been better amended, nothing grew that well there.

This year I will be properly amending all the beds first thing. I am planning on building a couple boxes to utilize, and possibly a couple of smaller moveable ones on wheels, so they can move in and out of the sun. 

Irrigation- I hand watered all season last year. That is a huge time sucker and I felt that sometimes I didn’t water enough. 

This year, I am going to try to come up with some budget irrigation ideas and build them into all areas. 


It was all a success! I learned so much last year, by simply doing and experimenting. I loved every minute that I spent in the garden and can’t wait to do it again this year.  Here is my current working list of things I will be growing:

Chinese red noodle bean
Atomic red carrot
Amarillo yellow carrot
Lemon cucumber
Parisan Pickling cucumber
Boston pickling cucumber
Lacinto kale
blue de solaise leek
Parris island cos melon
Flashy butter oak lettuce
Rich sweetness lettuce
Oregon sugar pod peas
Japanese minowase daikon radish
Pink beauty radish
Amsterdam prickly spinach
Gray zucchini
Purple tomatillo
Dad’s sunset orange tomato
Black icicle tomato
Purple bumblebee cherry tomato

emily basil
german chamomile
wild thyme
vietnamese mint
mammoth sunflower

Other goals for this year

Build a chicken coop with deep litter method, and get another chicken or two
Learn how to make soap
Brew beer and try making cider again
Explore shrubs, ratafias, and fruit wine
Paint more
Learn to play guitar

So friends, lots in store. Stay tuned.  

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