Saturday, March 15, 2014

You harvest what you plant whether it's in your garden or in life

If you haven't planted garlic before, please don't be afraid of it. It is wonderful and easy to grow.

In the Fall (after your garden had been tilled)

#1 separate the pieces of the bulb
#2 plant the larger pieces (there's no decision making with hard neck garlic because all the cloves are large)
#3 dig a trench about 3 or 4 inches deep
#4 space the cloves 3 inches apart
#5 cover the cloves with soil
#6 water regularly all summer (I use a drip line and timer) and when the soft neck garlic starts to fall over around the middle or end of July, pull it out of the ground.
#7 dry in a place out of the reach of birds (they'll peck holes in them - um just trust me on this)
#8 store in a cool dry place, saving a few cloves to plant next year.

Just a note: unless you have amazing soil make sure to fertilize with a great organic bone meal. (Always test your soil before adding anything to it)

So how does this compare to my regular every day life. In the fall, we think about putting our gardens to bed for the winter. But there is something about knowing I've got garlic growing. Knowing is going to pop up in the spring. Usually when it shows up I know it's time to plant peas. It's a motivator to start gardening again. 

The Daily, weekly, yearly stuff can become mundane. Sometimes we just need a little something to get us going again. By planting something good in my garden in the fall, I'm more likely to plant other good things in the spring. 

A few months ago, I held a baby during church so a young mom could get a little more out of the lesson. Today that mom put her arm around me and gave me a hug when I cried during the closing hymn. It's those moments of kindness that keep us going. 

You harvest what you plant whether it's in your garden or in life. Let's be more kind, thoughtful, and willing to help others, myself included. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Canning chicken stock is proof that I can change - text fixed

The other day there was a special on boxes of fresh chicken. 40lbs of chicken for $1.49 a pound. I trimmed up the chicken and placed 3 chicken breasts per gallon freezer bag. I ended up with 16 bags. Looks like I need to go buy some more. It also left me with 6 pounds of trimmings. I then put the trimmings in a large pot with 8 quarts of water, 5 celery sticks, 4 sliced onions, and 20 peppercorns. Simmered all of that for 2 hours and ended up with 6 quarts of Neff todo needchicken stock after I skimmed the fat off the top.

There is something amazing that happens when we work to make the most of what we have while saving and preserving what we can. There is a sense of accomplishment and gratitude. I'm grateful for the skills I've learned. I don't remember my mom canning anything during my growing up years, so I didn't learn to do this by example. I bought a Presto canner and the Ball Blue Book with recipes and canning instructions.  This is something I learned to do on my own. I do need to thank my mother in law for showing me the high elevation pressure change section of the instruction book. By the way, the Ball chicken stock recipe is delicious. This one small part of my life is proof that people can change for the better. I became more frugal, self sufficient, and able to follow instructions by choosing to learn this skill - which originally came from preserving vegetable from my garden. Having a garden is life changing in so many ways. 

How has learning to garden changed you?

Laura - to garden is to believe in tomorrow

Monday, March 10, 2014

Cultivating good soil and Cultivating a good life

Many of you have already figured out that square foot garden soil can be difficult to keep filled with the right nutrients for your plants to be productive. Every year something must be added and in my case, this year, a whole bunch of stuff must be added. I purchased a vegetable and tomato organic fertilizer (please don't ask me to make my own stuff from compost - I haven't progressed that far) and an organic bone meal (it has not been bleached white). I added both to my West garden and some to my South garden. It took me some time to figure out exactly how much I would need but luckily the wonderful soil test kit makes recommendations for very low NPK results. With that in mind, I had to add way more organic fertilizer than I had originally planned. This calls for another trip to the store but I'd rather do the extra work than end up with low production in my garden.

The nice thing about organic fertilizer is that it is slow release so if it's a wet spring, I don't have to worry about it running right out of my garden. Another nice thing is that it's full of other micro-nutrients you don't find in chemical fertilizers. One more thing is that it is filled with beneficial microbes, creating a healthier soil that's a little bit more self sustaining.

Thankfully there is sunshine in addition to soil and water.

I find myself needing to balance the the give and take. You can't give away more than you receive unless you allow the light of the Lord to amplify your efforts. Right now I find myself letting go of things that are draining me. And I am trying to improve my prayers with my Heavenly Father. And I am seeking to be around those who encourage rather than tear down. I'm working to avoid more of the offensive and putting more effort into seeking out the good. Just as I must cultivate good soil, I must also cultivate a good life.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Getting organized for Spring Gardening

The other day I made a quick stop downstairs to see my little sprouts as I was taking items (canning jars) to the utility room for storage. I thinned the Swiss Chard (a new plant for me) and then took the thinned out pieces up to Kiwi and Mambo, my Green Cheek Conure parrots. It's always fun to try something new in the garden just like trying something new in real life. In fact I made some progress in that matter this spring. I actually jumped ski jumps in the terrain park at the local ski mountain. I surprised my husband and my children. After a few jumps I was done and happy. 

Back to why I was in the basement working on my indoor garden. My whole goal was to get the laundry room clean and organized before I start pouring my efforts into the yard. Some items needed to go back where they belonged. It's been raining and so it is easier to stay and work indoors.

I knew the laundry room would take a while so I started with the drawers. Lots of little disorganized odds and ends and bits of dust and grime. It feels so good to get it all cleaned out. I scrubbed the drawers and trays. They were once again white inside. 

Kind of reminds me of repentance. Sometimes in our lives we don't realized that certain things needs to be cleaned up before we can continue to progress.  For years I had no idea how much control anxiety had over me. How much control I had allowed it to take. I've spent time working with a wonderful counselor and then using the work book she recommended for follow up. Since then I've started swimming again and skiing. While I was afraid at first, I exercised my ability to choose to spend time with my family and to choose to do things I love. I found new things to enjoy and am progressing in life again. Choice is so powerful.  The grime of anxiety is slowly but surely being wiped away from my life.

Wonderful new or refined activities fill my life just like the organized items that went back into the drawers in my laundry room.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Soil Testing my row garden and square foot gardens

This video goes through preparing the soil for the test. Make sure you dig 4 inches down to collect the soil. The results are in the photos. Have any of you ever tried to change the  alkalinity of your soil. I'm afraid if I add sand, I'll end up with cement.


What new plants are going in my garden this year?

Sage is the newest member of my garden. Last fall I called my husband's grandmother to get her recipe for Thanksgiving dressing (bread crumbs, sage, milk, celery, onion, salt). It was delicious and I knew I could make a gluten free, dairy free version. I loved the sage so much that I decided to try growing some this year.

Other herbs and spices I've grown in the past are Garlic, Oregano, Thyme,  Cilantro, and Basil. I always get excited about new stuff. And of course today I will be planting basil. The Thyme and Oregano are perennials and pop up each year without any effort.

I'm also adding a photo of the celery I have going. The seeds are amazingly small and so are the tiny little plants that first pop up.  Looking forward to a Thanksgiving feast for straight out of the garden this year.