Thursday, April 28, 2011

On the floral side...

I have been concentrating on my veggies and haven't been simply enjoying the flowers. Let me share some with you. Below are the dianthus in full bloom and the lovely surprise is the hummingbird. That sucker was so fast and I had already disturbed him once so I didn't think I would catch a picture but it appears I did in spite of falling all over myself.

The iris' are gorgeous this year. I plan to divide and conquer after the bloom and take a bunch of them down to the farm. Right now they appear to be in position to take over the front yard. Doesn't this one look like he is sticking out his tongue?
The sweet woodruff is at its peak as well. This is supposedly an herb but I need to get to know it a little better and find out its herbal qualities - other than pretty.

And this sweet flower and its grower are two of my favorites. A and his brother helped me to plant 45 anenome bulbs last year. We've been eagerly awaiting their arrival. Apparently the squirrels enjoyed them for lunch since all we have is 5 little flowers. A said he'll "get me some more." It's so wonderful to have a personal gardener (SMILES:)

Coming in Quite Nicely

I am very pleased with the progress of my home garden! This year I am experimenting with the concept of the square foot garden. Everything is planted within a square foot for ease of picking planting and weeding (or supposed lack thereof) I must say so far I have been pleased with the idea and it has been an easy garden to put in and maintain. I haven't been exactly as precise as I am supposed to be but then again I never am! In this garden which contains approximately 20 sq feet I have planted radishes, spinach, beets, carrots, beans, sweet cherry peppers, jalopeno peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, roma tomatoes, onions, sunflowers, verbena, globe amaranth, marigolds, basil and nasturtium. In other places I also have peas, lettuce, strawberries and lots of herbs as well as perennial and annual flowers. It sounds ambitious and I have never had it all in by the end of April so I am pretty pleased with myself! I find gardening to be very therapeutic and very stress relieving - I guess that is a good thing since I have lots of it to do both at home and at the farm.

First things in were spinach, radishes, beets and carrots. They are all up and growing. A second planting of each of those was done 2 weeks later (so you don't harvest all at the same time) and in this picture you can also see the beans in the background. Peas are coming along nicely as well.

Onion sets standing straight and tall. We planted these in the dark one night so not sure if we are getting red or white onions here. Always part of the fun!

It looks so comically small for all the stuff that is planted in there.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

weekend at the farm...ahhhhh

The blues were so blue and the greens so green. What a perfect weekend to enjoy the farm. The weather forecast was a bit ominous, but by the time we arrived all that was left were puddles and big fluffy clouds. Lynnette came along and since she hadn't been there in a while we took the atv for a "Round about" - a quick trip to all the corners of the farm to see what was new.
Then we did the slower more observant version by taking a good long hike.

John Deare stayed busy all weekend on his big and little tractors - boys and their toys and all that but he has now made THREE garden beds ready for planting. Guess we are committed - or need to be - haha. The front two gardens equal 420 and 480 square feet and then he tilled what we have dubbed "the pumpkin patch" a plot about 24 x 30 FEET. On the menu this year are pumpkins, potatoes, onions, squash, gourds - mostly low-er maintenance veggies and ones that take up room. I plan to have one of the front gardens in flowers for beauty and cutting and am plotting (ha-pun intended) to plant the other garden in perennials - mostly herbs I am thinking. and then we have one more bed that we are working on - a perennial/bulb garden that marks the entrance to the property. Yes ambitious and we are probably crazy but it fuels the soul and makes us happy to be in the dirt. Other projects for this summer include a fence and gate across the front and a pavilion for cover by the fire pit. Meanwhile we continue to call the little trailer home and hope someday that our little piece of paradise will bless others with rest and peace the way it does us.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

First Farmer's Market Findings

The Farmer's Market is back!! So exciting. Today is actually the third week they have been open but my first visit to them. A little birthday treat to myself. I purchased Kale - going to try the crispy fried kale that is supposed to be a healthy alternative to french fries (skeptical??), some young lettuce (surely grown under cover), some bok choy, a basil plant and a ciabatta. Not a bad start I'd say. And I was so excited to see the progress in my garden but that is another post at another time.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Walking in the Woods

Springtime in Virginia means Bluebells and last Sunday we went on a bluebell walk. The farm where we invested in the CSA last summer was sponsoring a bluebell walk in their woods along Broad Run River. I love bluebells and couldn't wait to get close enough to really enjoy them. Usually we spend a Sunday afternoon at the Manassas battlefield where the bluebells are rampant but National parks can get kind of picky about staying on the trail and not getting too close so this hike was even more fun as we walked - carefully - through the bluebells. I had never seen white ones before and other wild flowers sparked my interest as well. So many were still waiting for their turn to bloom that I am sure in another weekend or two the place will be alive with blue.

Hopefully I will get back soon. I have a sweet deal for this summer. I am going to blog and photograph my way through the CSA season at Stoney Lonesome Farm in exchange for a Harvest Helper share. Two of my favorite things (photographing and artistic expression) combined and exchanged for the delicious fresh organic veggies. What more could a girl want?!! My schedule doesn't permit me to get into the field this summer so I was so excited to make this work another way.

You can follow me on It will be a few weeks before I really get started but the site is being developed and we are all eager to get started.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Before and After Gardens

"Before" gardens are kind of scary... overgrown, lots of weeds, a scattered vision of possibilities. We've been working on developing these two gardens over the years (not that you can tell from these pictures,) but one began as a vegetable garden and one began as a perennial garden. Last summer I finally gave in to the fact that the bigger of the two was not the best location for growing vegetables so I took half of it and planted shade perennials. This year the project was to remove the remainder of the vegs and herbs and make it all perennials. Of course that meant moving all the perennials from one to the other so lots of back labor and clean up. But worth the effort, I think. Time will tell if it will all take off or not. I'll need to find a home for the dianthus after they finish blooming - we'll just pretend they are a vegetable this summer (*grins*)

"After" gardens: The vegetable garden is now ready for planting. I am experimenting with the idea of "square foot gardening" this year. Farm boy is allowing me to try this method - because he can be indulgent like that. Last week I put in lettuce and peas, yesterday the first round of radishes, spinach, carrots and beets went in. According to some it is a bit late, according to others it might be a little early so good thing it is all an experiment.
The perennial garden is now mulched and ready to be left alone. I still have a corner of oregano - mostly because I have no other place for it at the moment but the rest of the sunny side has rudbeckia (Black-eyed susans), and sedum, an unidentified plant and some echinacea. The shady side has grasses, ivy and hostas. Will probably add something for color after a trip to the garden store.

Last but by no means least is the HERB GARDEN. I probably shocked the heck out of this poor garden's system. The lavender was out of control, as was the sage, mostly from lack of care on my part. You have to prune those perennials if you want them to stay nice and I just don't, so they had gotten woody and half dead and needed some serious cleanup. The garlic chives had also taken over the place and some other surprises were waiting for me too - like thyme in unexpected places and oregano trying to hide under the sage. So WHACK WHACK WHACK - I attacked this garden. Chives are now in their corner, wild strawberries are moved over from another garden, sage is confined to the one stick left standing and the lavender - well I need to pray over those plants - it really took a hit but they are all blooming again and turning green except one so I am reasonably psyched that it will be back. I rebuilt the rock wall and after cleaning out the leaves I found lots of sweet woodruff starting to fill in some bare patches. A little mulch and I'll leave the garden alone for a bit and see what comes back. I have herbs everywhere it seems so I need to take inventory and decide if I am going to keep it haphazard or if I should get a bit more organized. Perhaps if I tried organization I wouldn't have oregano in three gardens? perhaps.....
Well there are more beds to tend to so back to work for this gardener!