Monday, January 2, 2017

Growing a Garden: January

Before I knew anything about gardening, I considered it to be a hobby relegated to the spring and summer. Now I know that for every month of the year, there are activities to be tended to to ensure a fantastic garden year round. I stumbled upon this guide during the last year, and I think it sums up nicely what a vegetable gardener in my zone (8a) can expect to get into and at what time. {Monthly Garden Calendar for the Piedmont} Here it is now the first week of January, and I'm getting ready to start my first seedlings (leeks - both American Flag & Carentan) by this weekend. This will be my first venture into indoor growing using Jiffy Pellets & a Shop Light. As is common with me, I tend to stumble upon an EVEN BETTER WAY to do almost everything garden related after I've already committed to something else. In this case, I learned about Winter Sowing the day after Christmas. Of course this was after Santa delivered BIG TIME and brought me a shop light and many many jiffy peat pellets. Alas. I'm saving up 2 liter bottles (I need 33 more) in order to "Winter Sow" my tomatoes, peppers & cukes, and I'll be starting my other indoor starts (brassicas, mainly) under the grow lights.

Other exciting garden endeavors? I went down to Tractor Supply w/ Pa-in-law and acquired 2 cattle panels, and a pile of t-posts. These cattle panels will be used to trellis tomatoes & other vining fruit.

More to come on the gardening front, but I'll make sure to post some pics from the garden soon!

Monday, December 12, 2016

2017: For Every Season...

Hello friends!

I'm so excited to finally pull a seat back up to this place. I've been so distracted for so long. I know that no one single event (*cough* an election *cough*) should consume a person's time for so long and to such great distraction, but that is what has happened to me. C'est la vie. Now that all of this is behind us, I feel like I can finally really begin paying attention to all of the other things that are so important to me (in lieu of never tearing my gaze away from Fox, Twitter and Drudge). For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. Now is the time for nurturing, caring for a home, growing a garden and raising a family.

I have plans for this place - it's original intent was to be a digital scrapbook of sorts for my children. I still want that to be its main purpose, but I would like to expand that purpose to sharing the little bits & pieces of wisdom & knowledge I have acquired along the way. Not only am I going to talk about why it's important to keep a tidy home, I'm going to show you my own methods on video shared through my youtube channel. Cleaning tips, gardening tips, crochet tips, cooking tips - and not just those things, but all things related to our home life. I'll also be sharing my first great effort at decorating our home. It turns out that cozy minimalist is a real genre, and I look to implement that theme throughout our home.

In the meantime, in these last few weeks of 2016, I'll be frantically crocheting some last minute gifts, cooking, cleaning, chasing after the kids and eating well with my people. I'm sure I'll pop in from time to time before January 1st - but if you don't come across these pages until then, Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Do you want to build a (vegetable) garden?

If only I knew then what I know now... and other things I never thought I would say about vegetable gardening.

In the 24 years I lived in Arizona, I never felt much of an urge to grow anything (besides our family). Upon arriving in the South, I quickly realized that gardening is a *thing* here. If folks weren't growing flowers in their yard, they probably were growing tomatoes (at least in a pot). Our first summer here we were the benefactor of many gallon ziplock bags full of peppers and tomatoes. Almost out of nowhere the overwhelming urge to start our very own veggie garden began to weigh heavily on my mind. Then, last spring (after too many springs had passed us by) a neighbor gifted us a raised bed out of galvanized metal. My father in law decided to bring his raised bed down to our place (after vegetables had failed to thrive in his shady yard) and we officially had 72 sq ft of raised beds to grow our own vegetables.

$200+ later, the beds were filled with straw, top soil and mushroom compost, plus peppers, tomatoes, cucumber and sweet potato slips. I recorded a video recapping our first year experience here:

It was so much fun, and such a fantastic experience... but I quickly wished that I had more space to grow, and was discouraged by how much it was going to cost to build the additional raised beds I needed. I needed more raised beds because here in the Upstate of South Carolina, the soil lends itself more to making pottery than it does to growing carrots. I lamented that there wasn't a way for me to just grow right in the ground without the exorbitant cost of bringing in tons of soil/compost. 

Somewhere along the way I stumbled upon the mittleider method, and I was pretty stoked about that. Raised beds full of material that didn't have to be soil (mittleider often calls for a mixture of sand and sawdust to fill the beds), and I just had to feed it weekly with this mittleider mix/plant food to yield excellent results? Sign me up! Then, while researching more about the mittleider method, I started to come across youtube videos with titles like "Mittleider vs Back to Eden"... and because I'm curious, I wanted to know more about the Back to Eden method. Back to Eden lead me to Ruth Stout, Deep Mulching and basically the concept of growing a vegetable garden employing permaculture methods. The basic concept, no matter what you call it, is this: cover your ground with a thick layer of organic material (such as wood chips, leaves, straw... ) and over several months, that material will break down and begin to work wonders on even the crappiest of soil, making it friable, loamy, and full of rich nutrients that will keep you plants super happy! Added bonus - the deep covering keeps the soil nice and moist, so watering is greatly reduced.

So, if I knew then what I know now, what would I have done differently? Well - instead of having my husband blow all the leaves into piles to be mulched off to the side of our property last fall, I would have had him mulch the leaves over where I wanted my garden to be planted. I would have piled the leaf mulch up so high (8-12 inches) and then this past spring I would have planted straight into the ground. 

I am here to tell you - it doesn't need to cost hundreds of dollars in building raised beds and filling them with soil and other fertilizers. Forget all that. If you have a yard and a space to grow vegetables, just cover it with mulch this fall! Next spring you will thank me!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Fall 2016

Sometimes I forget that I live in such a beautiful place. I thought it might be nice to share some photos from around the yard, and a quick video tour I made today. Enjoy the beautiful leaves!

October 2016

I'm going to go ahead and call this my last photo dump post. It's helpful for me to have any activity on the blog, but dumping all these pictures in one place without context about what we were doing isn't really staying true to my intention of using this blog as a family photo album of sorts. I've recently started to enjoy making "vlogs" and posting them to youtube (especially about gardening) and I hope to continue expanding on that with videos not only on gardening, but cooking, cleaning and other matters of the home. 

Anyway - here is October 2016!



Mike promoted to "banana" belt 

Boys @ the dentist - no cavities!

Woodchips piled up in my future Ruth Stout/B2E/Deep Mulch Garden

Garden plans for Spring 2017

Beautiful Dogwoods in all their fall splendor

The boys enjoying the view from Pretty Place Chapel, SC

Ellers & Daddy at Pretty Place Chapel

Pretty Place Chapel (Aunt Sarah officially made Bryan "Uncle" to the Beasties)

The boys & Uncle Steve right before Sarah & Bryan's wedding

Ellers was a kitty cat again this Halloween. She makes one cute kitten.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Ruth Stout, Back to Eden, Deep Mulch, No Dig etc...

With the help of my fantastic husband, the ground is being prepared for the spring. Here in 8A the excitement begins in early spring --- I'll even be planting asparagus in February! I've got my garden all mapped out, and most of my seed is purchased. The area of my garden is increasing from 72 sq ft to over 800 sq ft, so in a way I'm glad for the small break I will have this fall/winter - I'm expecting a lot more work next year :) --- anyway, here is a video I recorded earlier today giving a tour of the new garden space!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Leaf Mulch, and a solar analysis...

So, here is a video of me digging in the existing leaf mulch in the front yard. In case you didn't catch on watching the video, I'm so excited about leaf mulch!

Also, with the first day of fall arriving tomorrow, it is time for another solar analysis. I did one (back in July I think) and as you can see from my charting, I have limited direct sun (and barely 6 hours of it, if that, where I do get it). Now, I didn't set a timer, and I'm going to be more thorough this time around, and particularly going to focus on where i have the raised beds as that is where I plan on having my garden in early spring next year.