Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Dandelions and Sugar Maples

It's early spring in central Minnesota and gardens are only beginning to be planted with the earliest crops like peas, radishes, lettuce, and cole plants. Cheerful dandelions have sprung into bloom and the little plum trees as well. This is such a satisfying time of year as we re-energize with the now stronger sun. We love the useful dandelions that provide early pollen for the bees, blossoms for wine, leaves for salads, and roots for teas and tinctures.  

We planted Sugar Maples along the east side of the driveway this week. There are 25 of them, planted 30 feet apart and 3 feet in from the existing pasture fence. I've always admired Sugar Maples and am excited to see a line of them finally planted the way I envisioned it 20 years ago when I was buying this land. This planting is also a gift to the future owner of this home who will have an easy row of trees to tap for syrup, as well as a glorious fall display.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Ellie's Warning

Tom was greeted with this note when he returned from work early this morning. Ellie had a dissection unit in her CC class yesterday and elected to bring the project home for further study. I suggested she warn her dad about what was in the refrigerator.

We don't suppose he would have eaten it once he opened the bag and smelled the formaldehyde, but one can never be too careful!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Planting Begins

Isaac waters the peas we planted a couple of days ago. There are two 50' rows of Kelvedon Wonder here. I am trying this variety because my peas (with the exception of field peas) have been succumbing early to powdery mildew. This variety is supposed to be resistant. I sure hope so.  The same day we planted Early Scarlet Globe radishes - a salad variety and Pusa Gulabi radish, a "winter" variety that is new to me. It is supposed to store well if planted late summer and is harvested and used like parsnips they say. I'm trying them out and will replant later this summer if we like them. The orange fencing is protecting fifty new strawberry plants (Seascape) from the sheep, who are temporarily sharing the garden area.

The rhubarb is growing like crazy. almost doubling every two days. It won't be long and we'll be enjoying rhubarb slushies, tea, sauce, crisp, and cake. It's the first fruit of every spring, and very welcome!

Isaac has completed his regular classes for this school year and will concentrate this summer on getting through more math lessons and finishing his memorization of the multiplication tables - we've been a bit behind. He's also tearing through our collection of "Hank the Cowdog" books now that he has more free time.

Ellie is finishing up her last two weeks of classes, and preparing for her "Blue Book" exams which will document what she has learned this year. Some of that will include a large freehand (from memory) drawing and labeling 700 major features of the world map, including countries. She will also be drawing, (also freehand from memory) 9 different human body systems with labels, including the eye, the circulatory system, etc. 116 points of information in all. The rest of the exam will cover latin, writing, and rhetoric, including logic. She's looking forward to a summer of only reading and math, like her brother.

We're all looking forward to eating from the garden though, as the real highlight of the summer!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Spring planting

The garden is getting prepped and ready for planting. 16,000 square feet here in the main garden. We neglected to plant our cover crop in most of the garden late last summer so we'll be fighting a lot of weeds this year. We have the garden divided in half with a walkway down the middle to facilitate rotation and to have a "field crop" on the opposing side every year. Things to grow there are flint corn, sweet corn, field peas, sorghum, grains, etc.
This summer though, it will be successive plantings of buckwheat to choke out weeds and improve the soil. That's a row of roses on the left that have to be moved to the front of the house. Lots of plans, but the laborers are few.  
Speaking of laborers, the chickens are assisting in scratching out weeds around the rhubarb. The raspberries behind them are slowly coming to life.
We planted five more apple trees, another grape, and an apricot tree this weekend. It was a perfectly beautiful spring weekend.

I also repotted all the pepper seedlings into larger pots. I'm not quite ready to trust the weather to plant them outside covered yet.
I'm running out of room by the window. Looking forward to a greenhouse next year. It's coming along!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Spring is Coming to Minnesota

It took me a few missteps, but I am finally able to consistently sprout all my own seedlings.

I have peppers, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, and herbs so far. I am trialing several new-to-me varieties of tomato and pepper. This year I'll also be canning up a lot of tomatoes and peppers to last a few years. I like to concentrate on bulk production of a few items for massive canning marathons which makes it easier for me.
Our area has the average last frost at the end of May, so we have a while to go yet. I'll be getting radishes and peas in the main garden soon though. We're hoping for another great garden like last year's. Here are some images from that 2015 garden.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Fiber Arts

Feeding my need to dabble in artsy stuff, I have been exploring the world of fiber arts for the last several years. Here are some of my more recent creations, rag rugs. I am a new weaver and learning fast.
My first little rug attempt. It's a denim rug from old jeans. I learned a lot doing this one.

I like this rug much better. My warp spacing was much improved and I like the warp striping. I made this one from old sheets.

Made on my newly acquired Cranbrook countermarche loom. Much easier to make a rug on this loom. This one was for the family room. We had to rip up the carpet and have cement floors right now. This rug was made from old T-shirts (cotton knit)

And a matching pillow. I like this.

A boot rug for my daughter. There were a couple of mis-threadings in the warp, visible here.

I like this rug. Especially the color. Made from old sheets.

This rug is also from old sheets. Tom picks them up at garage sales for me. I did this one with doubled strips so it is thicker.