Happy Earth Day!

I love that the homestead is buzzing with new life! I love to see the new blossoms on the trees, seedling plants springing up out of the black dirt, and dandelions by the millions scattered across the yard. I was so excited to find that the strawberry plants I planted last year came back this year! We were weeding the garden a few weeks ago and noticed that the dead pile of brown strawberry plants had sprung back to life! They are proliferating big time and already have little berries on them! Man…that brings joy. This truly is the best time of the year.

We have been working super hard on getting some trees transplanted. We have about 50 sunset maple trees in a small “holding garden.” They are getting big enough to transplant through the property. Planting trees is really hard work. Like REALLY hard. I am not even kidding.

We are also super excited that we got 6 new fruit trees to add to the orchard- 3 apricot and 3 plum. They have already started new growth and have leaves! Ah! Such a miracle to watch. Literally. CAN.NOT.WAIT. for the day our fruit trees start producing.

Anyways. Just wanted to share a homestead update and a fun video we made today of what a breezy day in the country looks like!! Enjoy. (Ps-Sorry the video is so small…I was just playing around with a new app and couldn’t make it bigger).

The Garden Wrap-up: 10 Commandments for Novice Gardeners

Well, like all good things…the summer garden is coming to an end…at least the first round of it! The bugs have invaded!!
It has definitely been an encouraging season…I have never had so many squash, cucumbers, and beans coming out of my ears!! It’s been so wonderful to have extra to share! We even have a freezer full of squash for when I get the wintertime blues and need some summer sunshine. Ya know? I did learn a few things…let me share with you my lessons learned.

10 Commandments of Gardening with Erica (aka-The Novice)

  1. Thou shalt cage your tomatoes before they are bushes.
  2. Thou shalt secure said tomato cages in order to prevent them from blowing over in the freak summer storms.
  3. Thou shalt not plant thy zucchini plants so close together that you can’t reach the zucchini.
  4. Thou shalt not plant pokey cucumbers again. The smooth skinned ones are much nicer to your poor fingers.
  5. Thou shalt uproot and burn your diseased tomato plants very early on so as not to infect other plants.
  6. Thou shalt trellis your beans…Even if they are “bush” beans. Unless you fancy digging in bushes to discover said beans.
  7. Thou shalt also trellis your cucumbers so as to avoid the crazy vine maze they create. Unless you just really like vine mazes and watching your kids continually trip over rampant cucumber vines.
  8. Thou shalt let nature do its thing and not too concerned when your compost pile starts sprouting strange plants of unknown origin.
  9. Thou shalt adopt and accept the motto “If at first you don’t succeed, try try again…and again…and again.”
  10. Thou shalt let go of the notion of perfection. Weeds are friends right?
  11. (I know it’s more than 10…one more for good measure). Never let your garden go a day without picking produce, lest you find baseball bat sized zucchini. Tomato baseball anyone?

Who doesn’t love summer bounty? We have been totally blessed by it this year…there is so much JOY in going to your backyard to pick things for dinner. The kids especially love it. Everyday the girls would go out and pick a small cucumber from the garden and some strawberries and then go swing on their new play set. Incredible.

photo (1)

photo

We still have more coming! The winter squash is coming along nicely! Hopefully we will get some pumpkins out of that!! I had watermelons planted, but unfortunately they didn’t do too well. Boo. See # 9 above. The sweet potatoes will be harvested in the fall! I am super excited about that! I hope they do as well as they did last year since we planted 10 times more than we planted last year! That’s a lot of potatoes yo.

Ok, I’m off to roast up some coffee for Coffee With a Mission at church this week!

Summer Garden 2014 Part 1

Ohhh this is such an exciting time of year. Zucchini, basil, and tomatoes galore! One can never have enough basil, mozzarella and tomato salad. Can I get an amen?!

I am happy (more like thrilled) to announce that my garden is doing WELL this year! I am so excited. I don’t go comparing my garden with others, so it might not be as fantastic as it could be but I’m satisfied nonetheless.

Shall we have a tour of sorts?

For starters, I thought that I would update that indeed, I CAN grow radishes. Just takes a few tries. In case you missed my radish growing saga, you can check that out here. Much better the second time around.

Radish

 

Next up we have some lovely yellow squash coming along nicely. In fact in probably a day or two I will be overrun with squash as there is a good 10-12 squash all growing the same size at the moment. I am not complaining 🙂 Funny thing about this squash is that I planted zucchini seeds and they are coming up as yellow squash. Someone must have packed those wrong! Lol. Oh well. I do have a couple of zuc plants as well.

squash

Next we have mega lettuce. Aka Christmas tree lettuce. AKA needs to be eaten soon lettuce. This is technically a spring crop, hence why it is bolting and the size of a small Christmas tree. Nevertheless, this lovely red lettuce tastes good with my new radishes in a salad! (Lea is there for size comparison by the way).

leetuce

Next we have my first real “crop” as I actually planted more than 5 of it. Most of the other plants in the garden I have only planted a few plants, even though in reality I could plant a whole field of lettuce if I really wanted to. You’re welcome to come down and do so yourself if you are so inclined. Lol. So…this crop here is sweet potatoes. 100 lovely plants. Last year we planted 20 plants, so we have majorly upped that! Sweet potatoes grew so well in the woodchips last year and they lasted forever (ya, until like yesterday when I finally ate the last one…) So, we’re hoping to get a good store of these for this winter and maybe even try canning some? Anyone know of ways to preserve sweet potatoes?

sweets

Those are the mains of the garden right now, although I do have some tomatoes, cukes, strawberries, kale, and beans planted as well. As soon as my spring crops clear out (still eatin the spinach and kale!) I’ll put in some more summer time goodness. Oh! I almost forgot we also planted a bunch of watermelons, honeydew and cantaloupes as well! It would be so sweet if we actually got any of those to eat!

Oh and I almost forgot! We harvested the wheat! If you missed my wheat growing story, check out the planting here , it’s growing herewaiting

WHEAT

I can say we have made some progress since last year as far as garden knowledge goes, however I still have a long way to go. Ever so slowly we keep going…I am truly thankful for anything that comes out of my backyard. It always tastes better when you know you have planted a seed, watered, and watched it grow (unless you are talking about mustard greens in which case…well…those are probably better left un-grown, lol.)

So to sum up, here are a few things I have learned about gardening this past year. (Yes I realize they are very rudimentary knowledge…).

  1. Water direct planted seeds daily. Last year this was such a chore since we didn’t have a water line to the garden and walking 200 ft with watering cans is impractical and hard! Thankfully, Alex was able to get me a water line much closer to the garden and so now we can water much more easily with a sprinkler.
  2. Fertilize! We are using fish emulsion. Seems to be working really well, especially to get plants going.
  3. Plant what grows and skip things that have trouble. I replanted cukes this year even though last year they were devastated by the cucumber beetle. That’s pretty much the only pest I had, except the tomato hornworm. The beetles were impossible to get rid of organically and there were a million of them. So, if my cukes get wiped out again this year I will probably just skip planting them. I would rather buy them from someone without those pests and grows without pesticides than resort to using chemicals. If anyone else has ideas on how to get rid of them let me know! The hornworms are easy enough to pick and smoosh and they never made enough damage. Lea and I had fun last year scouting them out. They are pretty creepy looking though!
  4. Plant companion plants. I have tried to do this a bit this year, although I still have a ways to go…not sure i see the “benefits” yet…but maybe its the lack of problems that is the real answer! I have nasturtiums growing all over the garden, I am looking forward to seeing some of those edible flowers soon!

That’s it for now! Check back soon for Part 2 (Probably the mid-season harvest pics!)

Erica

 

Spring Project List

No baby boy yet. Guess he’s just bulking up. Daddy doesn’t want no scrawny boy. //Kidding…//No it’s prob all this good food I’m feeding him. I wouldn’t want to leave somewhere that was feeding me such good food and making someone else gain weight. Who are we kidding here?

Anyways. Spring projects. Here’s my list.

1. Birth this child. While I love being pregnant and all the benefits (that do outweigh that difficulties) these last few weeks have been really hard. From a medical standpoint I am being treated as a sick patient, while not really exhibiting any signs of said “sickness.” So that has been challenging for me as it has meant a lot of invasive medical procedures that I would otherwise not sign up for. And while it would not have been my chosen path, I am thankful for all the support that my husband, family, friends and of course Jesus, have given me. Ya’ll are specials. 🙂

Me at 38.5 weeks!

2. Get power to Alex’s garage. This project has been on the back burner for a few months as we have been navigating through all this bojangled medical stuff. Nevertheless, we knew if we didn’t start soon it would get left on the back burner…and we know how those projects go don’t we? Like the time I left some vegetables lightly steaming on the back burner only to forget about them and return later to vegetable soup. Brilliant! Anyways. We picked up some materials for the project and Alex got working on it this past weekend. That boy is so dang smart. It amazes me all the various talents he has. My head is swimming between all the discussion of voltz, amps, circuits, sub panels, conduit, wires, overhead lights, GFCI outlets, fried chicken, direct bury, shop lighting, etc, etc, etc. (Ok, the fried chicken part was just to get your attention in case you fell asleep). Anyways, girl aint got a clue about this stuff and boy somehow figures these things out. He’s brilliant.

The man at work in his man-cave garage.
And of course no project is complete without the sweet tea!

3. Get garden in! Aye, this project is again intimidating me as I feel unprepared and uneducated as to what, when, where how you are suppose to actually grow a good garden. I tried my best to research and plan, yet I still come up with the same questions. I just really need to be able to plant seeds in the garden and have them grow. Is that too much to ask?! But alas, I shall persevere and keep trying again and again and again until something works! I did plant a few seeds this week, before this round of stupid-wont-go-away winter weather. We’ll see if anything survives.

Lemon Tree enjoying one of the spring days we had so far!

4. Build cold frames for seedlings. I REALLY need this as I have terrible luck growing seedlings in the house. I know all of my problems (inadequate lighting, leggy plants, not hardening off appropriately). My hopes is that the cold frames would really help these problems!! Luckily, I have some old windows from my dad’s garage so we just need to get some lumber and make some simple frames. Hopefully, this can get done before I need to get in some summer seeds for sprouting (which is probably like tomorrow…)

5. Get more worms for my vermicomposting bin. Did you miss my post about my new worm friends? They seem to be happy but I obviously have a lot more kitchen scraps than I have worms, so I need to get some more. Can’t overfeed the little dudes.

6. Secret project soon to be revealed. Stay tuned…you don’t want to miss this one 🙂

So that’s my plan for spring. Do-able. Affordable. We can do it!! I do kinda get this sinking feeling with the weather though that somehow we might just skip spring all together and go from this cold, wet winter to a blasted hot summer. I’ve been complaining far too much about the weather lately though. My apologies, I know we all feel the same way. I’ll stop talking about it. I just want more days in the sun so I can get my freckle tan on…don’t you think my feet are far too white?

You got any projects planned for the spring? Do share!!

Warm Weather Wishes and Worm Update

Sooo ready for Spring!! Are you??

We had a bit of a warm streak last week and everything perked up. But, now were back into the 20’s again. I’m excited about what this Spring is going to bring, but I am a tad bit nervous as this is the part of the year where “the petal hits the metal” again. Mowing acres of grass weeds, building projects, gardening, composting, NEW BABY! Haha…Yeah we have a lot on our plates this year! But I am still trying to remind myself that we are still LEARNING. Even though I desperately wish I could just instantly have all the knowledge I need to be able to do these things, I shall, like everyone else, continue to learn as I go.

I have however gotten started on one of my projects! Vermicomposting! It was on my goals for this year. For those who are not sure what this vermicomposting thing is…here’s the lowdown. I am basically creating an indoor composting system (you can do it outdoors, but its more challenging to get started). Instead of using time as my composting method, I am using worms! Alright, I know I just lost some of you…skip past the creepy crawlies if you must. For the rest of you…You basically make a little habitat for the woms to live in and you feed them your kitchen scraps. In return for your delicious leftovers, the worms will leave you with rich, nutrient dense worm poop compost for you to use as your heart desires in your gardens, flower beds, etc. It’s really probably the simplest thing to set up and doesn’t take a ton of time for a good amount of worms to create this compost. In addition, because the environment that these worms thrive in is moist, there will be a good bit of liquid that accumulates over time and this my friends, is known as (at least it is to me), the Holy Grail of plant feed- “Compost Tea.” Aka worm pee. Well, I am not really sure if worms pee, but theoretically, if dirt is worm poop, then the liquid is pee. See how sound my philosophy is??

There are lots more highly educated people who can probably explain this all better to you. I just thought I would give you the “Erica-fied” version of my understanding. Because that’s more fun to read. Ya know?

So, you might be wondering why I have any desire to have a colony of worms living in Rubbermaid containers in my laundry room, eh? Well. I had terrible luck this year with a traditional outdoor composting system. It was basically a pile of yard clippings, left over hay, and kitchen scraps. However, lots of nasty little creatures also enjoyed my pile. I had two major problems with my system. One, it took a long time for anything to break down and turn into soil before something came and “took over”. Herein lies my second problem, I had lots of…let’s just called them bugs so you don’t loose your lunch…take over. They made lots of babies in the soil that have been hibernating over the winter. So, if I were to use this soil in my garden, I would most likely be putting these BAD bug babies right into places where I am going to plant. We’re talking like tomato hornworm babies, cabbage lopers, cucumber beetles, etc. I ain’t like those in my garden. Now, to solve this problem, I COULD use my dreamy ducks or chickens to come nibble through the soil to eat all of these bug babies. That would be very handy. But alas, ducks are yet to get here. Boy they would have a feast though. Seriously, I’ve never seen so many creepies before. Ick!

Moving on…

So this concept of worm composting is attractive because it’s a little less prone to unwanted critters. Sure there are some other things that can get in there, but for the most part it’s a controlled environment. So, I am going to give it a whirl. Not to mention Lea is already smitten with the worms. She loves worms. Country kid.

So, here’s a couple of my worm set up pics. This is a highly unsophisticated system that cost me about $15 (including worms) total. There’s many other ways to do it…I just had these Rubbermaid’s already and used some shredded paper and Voila!

Photo Feb 27, 11 04 30 AM

Photo Feb 27, 11 04 44 AM

Photo Feb 26, 9 14 39 PM

If you want the details on how I constructed my bin, these are the instructions I used…

http://www.vermicompost.net/rubbermaid-worm-bin-plans/

I am also proud to say that I did it all myself. Not that I don’t love my husband helping, but there’s something that makes you feel powerful when you bust out a drill and chop saw. Ok…I’m alone again.

On a final note, I found my worms at a local bait shop. They are a tad different than I expected but after some research, I did reassure myself that they are the correct ones that I needed. So, I am happy about that! And I am sure I looked like a crazy person with my two kids, 9 month pregnant self, asking to buy a bunch of packages of red worms. Oh well.

Well, that’s that for now. I haven’t fed the little buddies yet, as I just got them nestled into their new home last night. Apparently I am supposed to wait a few days so they get themselves all nice and cozy before feeding them. I’ll let you know how it goes. 😉

In other news…

Here’s the latest look at my wheat growing! It made it through the winter and being covered in a foot of snow! I definitely need to try to plant “rows” next time instead of just scattering it, but it’s looking the same as the commercial wheat growing across the field. So, at least I am not totally off base! Here’s hoping it keeps going!

Photo Feb 27, 10 53 15 AM

Photo Feb 27, 10 53 22 AM

Alright, I’ll keep ya posted. Next time maybe our little farm boy will have arrived! Counting down the days now!!

2014 New Year Goals

Well here we are a week into Two-Thousand and Fourteen. I swear I started writing this post on the first. I apologize for it’s tardiness. Before you check out my 2014 goals, did you see my post about 2013? It’s pretty neat-o. If you missed it check it out HERE.

While I am not a believer of “New Years Resolutions” because well…we all know how those are. Nevertheless, there is something about the start of a new year that makes you feel like you have a blank slate. There is also something so rewarding about looking back after a year to see if you actually accomplished your goals. They can be small or big…some will even carry over from year to year. Once these goals are accomplished however, they become lifestyles…changes. It can be entirely too intimidating to set a resolution for yourself with no plan of how to meet those goals. So, here I am going to list my goals in broken down, easy-to-know when I accomplish them format. Yes, I realize some of my goals may be totally wacky and you should not be intimidated. I would encourage you to set a goal to accomplish something completely outside your comfort zone this year! It’s so exciting to learn new things. My favorite place to learn new things is in the kitchen (whoa, don’t read that wrong). You read it wrong. STOP!! Ok, before you go banging your head against a wall to get bad mental images out…oh gee, I forgot my siblings read this…sorry guys. Ok, I’m done. What were you thinking anyways? I was talking about making liver pate and homemade chapstick! Peeps…

Goals for 2014

Eat Better:

  • Eat More Crisco (not really…just wanted to make sure you were paying attention…click HERE to read my opinions of that Crapsco.
  • Buy More Pastured meat products. We buy a cow share usually once a year from a grass-fed, pastured cow. I’ve also found a good source for pork products. Chicken however, has been rather cost prohibitive and I am not sure exactly how we’re going to swing this…but nonetheless, I’d like to make it a goal!
  • Bake with more Non-Wheat grains. Not that any of us have been diagnosed with any gluten issues (thank the Lord!) we have a host of friends who do have issues with wheat and gluten. I would like to learn more about baking with alternative flours/seeds/etc. In addition, I would like to bake more with sprouted grains such as sprouted oat flour and sprouted millet/lentils/etc.
  • Master making homemade tortillas
  • Master making homemade pasta
  • Add more fermented foods to our daily diet. Currently, we usually only eat them once every few days. The kids will eat lacto-fermented carrots and I am currently loving lacto fermented beets. Yum. But we need to up our daily intake. This will be a lot of work but big pay offs!
  • Master making beef bone broth and fish head stock

Become More Sustainable:

  • Have a flock of ducks for eggs by the summertime. I’m really anxious and excited for this goal. Duck eggs are incredible and ducks can lay up to as many eggs per year as chickens. Plus they are so dang adorable. Eeek. I am so excited about this I can barely stand it.
  • Plant a couple of apple trees.
  • Plant a spring, summer, and fall garden.
  • Expand the garden at the end of fall to plan for next year.
  • Harvest enough vegetables to can or dehydrate them for the following year. (Specifically tomatoes).
  • Re-do the compost pile to make it more usable
  • Finally get around to getting my vermi-composting system worked out.
  • Raise a small flock of “meat chickens” (this might be a stretch for this year…but we’ll see!)

Reading List:

I am excited to see where this year takes us. Not to mention we will be adding a sweet little boy to the family in just a couple of months! We actually sat down the other night and drew up our plans for the duck house and run. I am literally giddy out of my shoes about getting some baby ducks in just a couple of months too. I know, I am crazy. New baby AND baby ducks? Well. Yes, I know I am crazy and will tell myself that over and over and over again. But hey…crazy is not new to me. Lol.

I’d love to hear some of your goals! You should leave a comment!

 

Snapshots of Moments- A Tour of Our Life in 2013

Goodbye 2013. You brought so much change, hope, love, laughter and hard moments. It is so easy to neglect all that we have done and accomplished in light of how much there is yet ahead for the next year. So, for my own sake I thought I would write at least one moment for each month of 2013 that stood out. Here’s our 2013 Journey.

January 2013

Alex goes on his first ever Missions Trip to the Dominican Republic with a group of men. They built a pole-barn structure for a YWAM camp.

DR Jan

DR Jan 2

February

This month brought lots of trips back and forth checking our the progress of our new home being built. We had hopes of moving in as early as Feb but it didn’t happen.

House Feb

March

Elyse’s First Easter! The girls even had matching dresses and coats!

March Easter

April

April brought our long awaited moving day into the new house!! April 16th we were given the keys and we promptly drove “Home”.

Moving April 16

Moving april 16 2

May

We got moved in and then instantly got running on two feet! We started building the garage for Alex to store all his man-tools in! Oh…and Elly also ate her first hot wing at her Uncle Nicholas’ birthday party!

May Garage

May Elly

June

With all kinds of left over building materials from the garage…we built our first bon fire. Yes, marshmallows were involved 🙂

June Campfire

July

We celebrated our baby girl turning the big One! We also harvested our first zucchini out of the small garden we started as soon as we moved in.

July Elly Bday

July Zuchini

August

Wow, this was an exciting month! We found out we were going to be adding a new addition to the Monroe household! A new farm-hand! We also got started (and finished) building the fence that surrounds our “back yard”.

Aug Baby Annc

Aug Fence Building

September

This was a fairly quiet month. We needed some respite from the crazy summer projects. Little projects here and there and finishing up loose ends. Lea is practicing taking care of babies in an effort to get ready for her coming baby brother. And we continued to enjoy our country views…

IMG_5265

Sept Views

October

Got the fall garden going, although it didn’t amount to much as it turns out. We also got our wheat planted and some garlic planted. Most exciting is that we harvested our summer crop of Sweet Potatoes. That was a blast!

Oct Sweet Taters

November

Gearing up for the wintertime. Winterizing all the mowers and such. Just random projects here and there around the homestead this month. Not much you feel like doing when its starting to dip into the 30’s and 40’s. But…that’s why we have a fireplace! We tried out the fireplace in the den for the first time!

Nov Fire place

December

Welcome Christmas!! Our First Christmas in the new home! That was fun and exciting! We haven’t had a live Christmas tree in a few years now since we’ve been moving around so much. It was refreshing to have a real tree this year! We thoroughly enjoyed our Christmas time off (except for a few days of sickness!).

dec

Onward!

That’s it! What a lot we accomplished in a year! New houses, new babies, new memories! We are looking forward to 2014 with anticipation of what is to come this year. I have big hopes and dreams, hopefully I will get some time to sit down and write those out so we can look back again in 12 months!

For now…Welcome 2014!! 

 

Frost Kills

Welp. It happened. Our first frost. Never really did understand the implications of that. I mean I have watched some movies where farmers all start freaking out when it comes to early frosts…but now, I get to experience it. Wow, crazy! It really does make a big difference.

I got the “Frost Warning” on my phone weather app last week (I don’t remember the day).  Knowing that it can be a big deal I started thinking about what I needed to do. My only thought was to bring in my Meyer Lemon tree…and boy am I happy I did that. I also thought about my wheat and prayed that it had had enough time to grow roots that could sustain a frost. Wheat is a winter crop, but I had read it needs at least 2-3 weeks before a frost to set firm. I thought I was totally covered being that the normal first frost date for our area is like the second week of November. Bah, guess you can’t trust the old almanac after all. Not much I could do though as I had nothing to cover my wheat with. I just prayed.

Well, early next morning I scurried out to check on my wheat and it was totally fine. Praise ya Lord! Then I turned and looked at my garden and remembered my basil plant. Oh sadness. And my peppers…oh sadness. They aren’t kidding are they? Frost Kills. You know that lovely big bowl of basil I picked the other day? Well, I am so glad I did that because I lost it all! I could have cut more of it off, but again I thought I had a little more time! Oh well, I did get that last big bowl of it. It so sad to see something so beautiful one day and literally overnight die. Wow, I had no idea. My peppers were doing AWESOME and I was getting great yields from them. But alas, they did not survive. I was able to pick off the peppers that we on the plant and some of the larger ones are ok, most of the small ones shrived up and turned brown and squishy. Frost Kills.

Dead Basil
Hard to Tell…but a shrived up cherry tomato plant.

So, there is my saga. My lesson learned. Had I been more prepared, I may have been able to cover these crops with some insulating material to protect them for  few more weeks. But I didn’t think about it nor did I have anything I could use. Plastic wrap?? Nevertheless, I am more than thankful for the bounty of basil this season, the peppers, the few tomatoes, and all the other things that were a learning experience.

Green Pepper Harvest

And…my lettuce is doing fine as it likes the chilly. Weird how some plants love it, others just keel over and die. Why is that?

I am thankful for harvest time and all that it brings. Here’s a couple of my favorite.

Pumpkin Picking!
Hay Rides with Stud Man.

So. Moral of my story is: Don’t joke the frosts. They are serious killers. (I am sure they killed some bad bugs too…so look on the bright side right?). Till next year my sweet basil. Good bye.

Wheat Week 1 and a Few Garden Goodies

Since I know you all think I am mostly crazy, I thought I would share my journey of growing wheat with you. I know…just what you care to read first thing in the morning. Haha.

Oh well.

We were gone for this past weekend and I was anxious to get home to check on my wheat to see how it was doing. We got home and and it was pitch black night, so I had to wait until the morning. Mornings haven’t been as glorious around here since the whole “it’s still dark outside when I have to wake up” time of year is here. I personally hate that. We should all awake when the sun comes up. Also, the fog has been so heavy lately, I haven’t seen a sunrise in a few weeks. Sigh. At least that was one of the beautiful things to look forward to in waking up before God created us to. (That’s my two cents at least!). There is still coffee…unless like this week, we ran out. It’s been a rough couple of days. Do you hear me? No coffee, no sunrises. Cold feet. Headaches. Cranky kids.

We were suppose to be talking about wheat. Oh yah. So, yesterday as soon as the sun did finally find it’s place high in the sky making our backyard less freaky (because who likes to walk out in the dark fog? Nah me) I went out and checked on the wheat. Oh goody goody gum drops its growing! The blades of wheat were wet with little droplets of dew and the air smelled of country freshness. Alright, I’ll admit I wrote that last line just to make sure you were still following…and to make sure you were fully convinced of my nuttiness. Either way, it’s looking great! I am happy! There are a few bare patches that I might go back and re-seed but overall, I think we’re looking good. I need to get a bale of hay and cover this wheat to help protect it from the coming winter. Anyone want to bring me a bale of hay? I am imagining strapping that onto the top of my granny car. Hilarious. Like the time I picked up compost in Rubbermaid containers and put them in my trunk. Classic.

Anyways, here’s your photos for the day.

Wheat Week 1
Wheat Week 1

And now for a few garden goodies…

Garlic Shoot
Garlic Shoot!
Lettuce Almost Ready for Harvesting!
Big bowl of basil for dehydrating! Still coming!

Stay tuned!!

Planting the Wheat and Garlic

I kinda laughed out loud just typing that title. When Alex and I first got married 6 years ago (in 4 days), I never had in my mind to make bread. Let alone grow wheat. I was probably in that mindset of some thinking “I didn’t even know you COULD grow wheat.” Our lives have changed a lot. Our priorities, dreams and goals are way different than they were when we got married. I am not sure I would even be friends with my “old self.” We are just too different. Hahah. I am sure a lot of us feel that way.

But alas, we have embraced the country life. The slowed down, not too many commitments kind of life. As we have mentioned many times on this blog, one of our goals in moving to the country (and buying 5 acres) was moving towards self-sufficiency. No, we may not ever reach full self-sufficiency because of some challenges that we face. Nevertheless, in the ways that I can reach it, bodiggidy I am going to try. One of those slightly crazy ideas is growing our own wheat and cereal grains (like rye, oats, barley, etc). In order to ever be able to do it large scale we will need a significant amount of tools and or machinery. Girl aint cutting down an acre of wheat with some garden snips. However, as it has been with everything else…before I dream big, I need to act practically. Baby steps and experiments this year, remember?

So. As it is, Alex went out with his shovel and rake and hand tilled me a plot of land about 12×18 ft for our “experiment” wheat growing. I ordered 5lbs of Hard Red Winter Wheat (as all I currently had in the kitchen was Spring Wheat). Thankfully, it had been raining for 4 days prior to our digging, so it was much easier than trying to do it on a dry week. Our soil is in pretty sad condition. We did not want to plant the wheat in our garden bed because it wouldn’t be ready for harvest until next July sometime. I didn’t want to take up space in my Spring bed with an experimental crop. After Alex tilled, I hand broadcasted about 2 1/2 lbs of the wheat. I really have no idea how much I should have used I just eye-balled it. I raked the seeds in a 1/2in to an inch deep. And it kept raining…so no watering for me! Yay! This was last Saturday. I went and checked on the wheat today, and I am happy to say that IT SPROUTED! Which means it germinated and is GROWING. Can I get a hallelujah!? I was half expecting to look out the window and see millions of birds feasting on all my seeds, but I haven’t seen that YET! So lets hope they don’t get a clue…or I might loose my precious wheat.

Wheat Plot
Wheat Seeds Sprouting!

Apparently…now, I am not a gardener…yet. But wheat will grow 30-50 times its original quantity. So like, if I planted one pound, I could get up to 50lbs back! Well, I planted just over 2 lbs and I will be thrilled to DEATH if I get 50lbs. Ok, I hope I don’t die, but I might cry. Happy sobs. And in case you are wondering…winter wheat is planted a few weeks before the first frost is expected. It gets a head start on growing, then you cover it for the winter and it sits dormant through the winter. Then, when the first warmth of spring comes it pops back awake and keeps on growing. As said above, harvest time is usually mid June-July.

When we bought the house, all the fields around us were planted with wheat. It was so awesome to watch it grow and mature. Granted, I don’t think I would actually eat the wheat they plant across the street from our house…it is a beautiful thing to watch grow. Near harvest time it gets very dried out and sways in the breeze. Hard to describe the sound, but dry wheat blowing in the breeze is a lovely, lovely sound. I’d say its as beautiful as hearing ocean waves. Sometimes it even sounds like that.

I’ll keep you posted on the wheat plot journey. And then, hopefully next Summer you can come over for some freshly baked bread. Ha. So let’s review. 6 years ago Erica bought white bread. 4 years ago, Erica started buying wheat bread. 3 years ago Erica started making bread occasionally. 2 years ago Erica really got nuts and started grinding her own grain from whole wheat berries and making bread. 1 year ago Erica started dreaming of growing wheat to grind to bake bread. Present day, Erica planted wheat to grow to cut, thresh, winnow, dry, grind, knead, bake and finally EAT a HOMEGROWN loaf of bread. Told ya, I’ve lost it!

In other breadish news…I finally sent off for a new sourdough starter. Praying I keep this one alive. I have missed Emily Elizabeth so much. My first love. I hope it will do better during the cooler months and when the dang fruit fly population has died off. Then, next summer I will try to do the refrigerator thing. More on that next summer, ok? For now…Say a little prayer for meee.

And in other news…Lea and I just got done planting a few rows of garlic. Dude, had I known growing stuff like garlic was so easy…well, at least the ACT of planting is easy…growing, we will have to see. You just literally take a head of garlic and break it into individual cloves and then plant those cloves. Each clove will yield a head of garlic. Shhweeet. Now, I learned a lesson that most garlic you get from the store is treated with an anti-sprouting agent, so basically they won’t grow a green leaf out of your garlic container. Not sure exactly why that would be bad, but…it is. So, now I know and I won’t be buying garlic from the store unless its organic (cuz they can’t spray organic ones). I was able to find some organic garlic and I put a clove in a little wet towel for a few days to make sure it sprouted and sure enough it did! Yay. So Lea and I dug two trenches and planted about 36 cloves of garlic. Then we covered it with a couple inches of good composted woodchips and soil . Those babies will sprout (hopefully!) and grow a few inches before the frosts come, then like the wheat, they will just hang out until Spring until they start growing again for a late summer harvest. I’m excited and have high hopes for these babies. I mean, I spent a total of $2 on 4 heads of organic garlic and a whopping $5 on wheat seeds. So my investments are small right now. We planted the garlic in what will be the apple orchard because garlic and onions planted near fruit trees are EXCELLENT pest deterrents. Guess the bugs don’t like Italian food. Ok, not funny…I know.

Garlic Clove
Garlic Clove
Lea planting garlic!
Lea planting garlic!

Welp, ill wrap it up here. Lea wants my help folding a pile of laundry. She loves folding laundry. What a kid…oh and El just woke from a nap. So, quiet mommy time=OVER.

See you soon!