Springtime in Oregon

Springtime…The windows are open and it is quiet and still outside except for a few bird sounds. In the distance I can hear the cars begin to drive by taking their passengers to work. The chickens were let out and are enjoying ranging all over the homestead. The garden has been watered and we had a fine healthy breakfast that included fresh greens from our garden.

The first bed of our garden looks like this on April 30, 2016.garden160430 Not bad for this time of year. We are eating fresh salad daily from our garden. We have four tomato plants planted with many more to come. We have four varieties of squash planted thus far.

This year we planted potato towers. Dirt, potato seeds around the edge, dirt, potato seeds, dirt, potato seeds dirt potato seeds, dirt with dill planted in the top. Straw is placed all around the outside as you go up. We have potato leaves beginning to grow out the side of the straw just as they are suppose to. Exciting….potatoesgrowing5potatotowers

Ever since we lived in California when we were first married I have wanted to make my own ketchup. I had a recipe way back then that was thick and looked so good. When we changed our diet and did away with processed food eight years ago, we gave up using ketchup because of the preservatives, and sugar content. This weekend I finally made some. I did not have the original recipe but found another one. (I did not have fresh tomatoes so I used Hunts diced tomatoes. They are the only brand not chemically processed without added junk.) A cheese cloth filled with garlic, whole allspice, whole cloves, peppercorn, and cinnamon sticks is sitting inside the tomato, onion and pepper mixture as it simmers and reduces. Well, here are the results. Now the first time we took some over to our kids to use it at the cookout their dog got to it first and he thoroughly enjoyed it so we did not. But Wendy and I had tasted it first and we look forward to actually eating it at the next shindig. I made 20 bottles and it is dog-approved.Ketchup

 

Then there are our chickens. We love them. They are Delawares. 

chickens

We got them as newborns on Feb 4th and they will begin laying about the first of June. They are a larger breed than others and extremely friendly. They are   imprinted to us so follow us around. One of our girls turned out to be a Roo so we will see about having a brooder and raising our own chicks but I am still not sure about that. With a dozen chicks we will get about 60 eggs a week. We eat a lot of eggs, but we will still have plenty to share and sell.

Grandpa Had A Garden

Grow tomatoes

 Grandpa always had a garden. When I was a small child, he and many of my aunts and uncles had a very large plot in a community garden.  We went to the garden often and watched as Grandpa taught his posterity. He lovingly weeded, pruned, watered, and dug.  Gardening was a part of his soul. My favorite was the irrigation, a necessity since we lived in the western desert.  Water would flow down one row and turn at the end flowing up the next row until all the rows were filled with water. 

It was a magic place and time with Grandpa. There was never a time Grandpa did not have a garden.  When he and Grandma moved to an apartment, either he would grow tomatoes in the 2x3 foot plot of land near the patio or he would grow tomato plants in containers.  Each time he would harvest, he would lovingly hold the tomato in his hand.  He would caress his treasure and allow the person near him to smell it and then he sliced that red juicy fruit and served.  Tomatoes were his trademark. 

Recipe For A Soil Block

WHAT IS A SOIL BLOCK?blocks in tray

A soil block is a block of growing medium that has been lightly compressed and shaped by a form.

A soil block serves as both a container and the soil for starting and growing seedlings, eliminating the need for plastic pots and trays for transplanted seedlings.

Seedlings grown in soil blocks form stronger root systems than those grown in containers due to increased oxygen to the roots and the soil block’s natural tendency to “prune” roots. This creates a substantial advantage when seedlings are transplanted into the field, because plants establish themselves more quickly and, because of lessened root disruption, they are less prone to transplant shock.

The key to making good soil blocks is to use a mix containing the correct proportions of peat, compost, soil, and sand or perlite. A “blocking” mix needs extra fibrous material—peat—to bind the material together and help the block retain moisture.

Some commercially available peat-lite mixes may work but often contain wetting agents and/or fertilizers that make it unsuitable for organic use. 

 

Winter 2015

The precipitation is breaking records this year. I expected to be hampered by the winter rain but what is happening now is a huge surprise.  Most of my time has been used to study for a certification test but when the weather has been good and I needed a study break I have been able to spend time working on projects to prepare our small scale farm.

farmPlan01 1We have a plan to create about 1000 square feet of raised bed space with other non-raised space for plants which spread out. Not really large but it fits the area we have and will push our budget. We also plan to have a few bee hives included.raised beds The garden will be surrounded by a chicken run, actually two chicken runs. The north east corner of the garden area will be a double chicken coup with runs extending from the north side and the west side. The runs will form a double, covered fence around the garden. Such a fence will prevent deer and rabbits from getting to the garden. The bee hives will sit in the far north end of the garden. The garden will contain six sets of raised beds which are 4' X 20'. Some and maybe all the beds will have covers for season extension. I am even thinking about using a rocket mass stove to provide heat during colder nights and days so we can have greens all year long.

Thus far I have acquired enough lumber to make one pair of beds. I still need to complete leveling the frame and fill the beds with top soil.

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