Thursday, July 31, 2008

Big Bear and Planting

I must say that Swamp Creek Farm is the place to find all sorts of critters! Last night, Tom went to let our yellow Lab dog, Sandy, out. She took off like a shot after something, then, in like 5 seconds later, she was back on the front stoop, hair all raised on her back with her nose in the air and looking at something. Tom was trying to see what Sandy was looking at, so I got up and looked out the window. Lo and behold there was a BIG black bear out by my berries and it was coming toward the house right at the dog. I yelled at Tom to let Sandy in and lock the door, and we watched the bear go right through the front yard and down the slope into the marsh. Come to think of it, that ridge by the marsh is just where the moose was a couple of weeks ago. That bear was big! I haven't checked on how my berries fared yet, but tomorrow I will do so.

Today I got up early and scrubbed the floors and dusted. Then, I took care of Lara and Ed. By the time they were all squared away, it was 1:00 p.m. So, I went down into the basement to go through my seeds and decided to plant the new garden boxes. I planted French Breakfast radishes, Early White Vienna kohlrabi, Lisbon Bunching Onions, Provider green beans, English Arrow peas, Scarlet Nantes carrots, Chinese Pak Choy, Broad Leaved Sorrel, Forellenschuss lettuce, and Detroit Red Beets. If everything goes well, I will have the boxes covered before the first hard frost and should start harvesting by the end of September. In October, I will plant hardy crop seeds that will slowly grow and get off to an early spring start -- we'll see if that indeed works like Eliot Coleman says. I am really excited about these garden boxes; I am SO happy to have the water nearby to water them.

I did NOT go near the chicken coop today!

Tomorrow it's out to the field to water everything in the high tunnel and check on the crops in the field. It has been three days since I was out there. I think I will harvest the garlic and bring it to the garage to cure, and I am sure I will need to spray the collards and cabbages with Neem. Hmmm, sounds like another busy day!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Garden Boxes and First Farmers Market

Last Saturday Lara wanted to go with me to the farmers market. I was so happy she finally decided to go with me. There are some new vendors there, which really made me happy. I think our little market is going to survive! We didn't have much to sell. We had the St. Valery carrots, Wong Bok Chinese cabbage, some basil, spearmint, and parsley. Certainly not much, but we did sell all of the carrots and some cabbage. Actually, I was glad to take so much of the cabbage home because I shredded some in a salad for Lara and I for lunch, and I canned the rest using the American Canner I bought for $10 at an estate sale. I had been itching to use the canner to see how it worked, and boy, those American Canners are really #1. I had just enough cabbage for one freezer bag of leaves to use this winter in cabbage rolls, and 7 quart jars (a canner load). It smelled so good that even Tom came in from cutting the grass to ask what I had. The herbs that weren't sold I put in the dehydrator.

The heat has finally arrived and it has been very humid. Although we have had more rain this year than any of the last three years, it is still very dry. The berries here are just coming on.

Yesterday and today I worked on building the new raised bed boxes in the back yard. I thought the bugs were going to eat me alive, and even with my long-sleeved shirt and 50 SPF field hat, I still got sun burned. I took frequent breaks for water and to rest; I just don't do very well when it's hot. Anyway, I've posted some pics of Lara at the farmers market and the garden boxes. I finished the boxes after supper tonight and watered them down well. I will plant lettuce, carrots, beets, and maybe some spinach, if I have any left. Next month I will work on building tops for the beds of 1" x 4" boards and pvc pipes that I can cover with 4 mil plastic and agribon. The beds are 5' x 20' so there is a total of 300 sq. ft. to plant. With water nearby I should finally be able to grow more veggies for market. We'll just have to see how it works out.

That's about it for now. Stay safe and cool!

I had wanted to clean out the bedding from the chicken coop and mix that in the beds, but guess what -- there is a freaking rattlesnake in the the coop! What I saw was about 3' long and I didn't hang around to take a good look at it. I saw gray/tan skin with black diamonds and that was all I needed to see. I left the door open and hope the thing will go back down into the marsh.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Busy, Busy

Day before yesterday I started cutting the grass in the orchard and was very nearly eaten alive by sand flies. I was surprised at how dry the field is despite our cooler temperatures and the rain we have had -- the most I've seen since we moved here. Anyway, I was really happy to see how well the trees are doing. Most of the hazelnuts are hanging in there, too. I'll have to re-order native plums though next year, and I think instead of pushing the native juneberries, I'll buy some cultivated varieties. I'm looking forward to getting the grafted plum trees from St. Lawrence Nursey this Fall.

Yesterday, I was so sore from getting back into the field that I stayed in the house and canned peaches. Then, this morning I got up before dawn and canned peach butter, cranberry sauce, and cherry jam. Then I took care of Lara and headed out to the field where I finished cutting the orchard grass and started cutting the hay outside the fence. I did that for most of the day until I got some wire wrapped around the mower blade. After that I decided to call it quits for the day. We are supposed to get rain tomorrow so I'll wait and see what the weather is like before I decide what to do. I would like to weed the garden -- it desperately needs to be weeded -- and spray everything with Liquid Fence. The potatoes need to be hilled, too. The deer have chewed my beans down to almost nothing. Most of what I have is in the high tunnel.

I do plan to be at the farmers market in Phillips on Saturday. I will have Wong Bok Chinese cabbage, some Forellenschuss lettuce, Bull's Blood Beet greens, spearmint, catnip, St. Valery carrots, curly leafed parsley, Genovese basil, and rhubarb. I am going to check the garlic and see how that looks. Beyond that, I am waiting for everything else to simply grow. Everything is just sitting in the ground; I've never seen anything like it.

I have decided to stop killing myself. I am going to build at least three 5' x 20' raised bed garden boxes that I will double cover a la Eliot Coleman ( and put them in back of the house where I can keep an eye on them and be able to give everything enough water. Out in the field I will extend the orchard. The section in front of the high tunnel will be for hops. There will still be enough room left over to pasture either chickens or pigs if I want. The fruit bushes that I moved in front of the house are doing much better, and I will need to get bird netting if I want to have any fruit as the birds have all followed the fruits' move from the field.

I am tired, but I don't mind working hard. I am learning a lot. I am confident I will find a successful gardening method. I have to say I am disappointed in the poor germination of a lot of my seeds this year. I think I will try purchasing seed from some different suppliers next year. I'll try to take some pictures for you tomorrow.

Here's a link to the Eliot Coleman article I referred to earlier: If you click on the title to this post you should be transferred to the MOFGA web site.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

July 3rd

Today, my Grandpa Wilson would have been 105. It's funny how you remember the birthdays of people you've known, especially when they've been deceased for many years. But then, I was very fond of my Grandpa. I remember that after he died, I was upset because I didn't get to say "Good-bye" to him, and soon after, I had a dream that I went to visit him. He was living in the cutest little log cabin that had a pole fence around it. When he saw me, he came and took me fishing at a little stream that ran by the cabin. We caught some fish and were walking back to the cabin, but when we got to the fence, he told me I couldn't come past it. He told me that "later on" I could come back and go fishing with him again. I have never forgotten that dream. Anyway, I was thinking about my Grandpa today as I mowed grass in the field.

It was a gorgeous day for cutting down the grass. I got a good sized section cut inside the fence. Don't know if I'll get to cut more tomorrow as it is the 4th of July, but I would like to get it all cut before it gets rained on. I suppose it doesn't matter if it gets rained on though as I only use the grass for mulch and soil building. When I can afford it, I'll buy regular baling equipment, but until I lose 80 pounds, I'll cut grass the hard way and the baling equipment will be a gift to myself for losing all the weight!

The beans are actually looking pretty good, and the veggies in the high tunnel are doing ok, too. Most everything else looks like it is standing still in the garden --not growing because it is too cool. At least the tomatoes seem to have stopped dropping their fruit. I need to plant my fall carrots and rutabagas.

The pics posted are of my Willamette and Cascade hops, St. Valery carrots, heirloom tomatoes (the found and second seeded batch), and beet greens finally sprouting underneath a hay mulch. I'm glad I finally remembered to take some more pics!

Well, it's getting late and I'm bushed.

Oh! Our Sgt. Sarah is going to Ft. Shelby with the 783rd MPBN on the 8th. Don't know if we will see her before she goes to Afghanistan or not. Here's a link to what she did while at Ft. McCoy:
She couldn't make it home for the 4th because her address is messed up with the Army and they wouldn't pay for her to go to Wisconsin. C'est la vie!