Monthly Archives: May 2017

Continued Establishment

This past weekend was packed with planting trees, planting bushes, moving our turkeys out of their brooder, a surprise birthday party for my Mother-in-Law and Mothers day.

It was a good, good weekend.

Turkeys

Let’s start with the turkeys.  We have two white broad breasted turkeys we bought from Meyers Hatchery.  We brooded them until they were feathered out (when all of their down turns to feathers).

The gobblers in their brooder

Yesterday, Chris built a three sided lean-to for their protection out of scrap left on the property by the last owner, and we moved the turkeys outside into the electro-netting.  Electro-netting is a flexible fence that can be easily electrified to keep out predators such as raccoons, fox, and coyotes.

Now, if you are a fox, raccoon or coyote, I’d appreciate you stop reading.  The details I am about to provide will lead to heartache for me and dinner for you.  So as a favor, please stop.

In our move, we seemed to have misplaced our fence energizer.

This means that during the night, the only thing that is standing between predators and  our little turkeys is a sheet of old plywood haphazardly placed in front of their three sided coop.  We now have sitting ducks, or more correctly, sitting turkeys.  Being so small makes them extra vulnerable.  ***UPDATE*** while I was writing this post, Chris created a door.  Our Turkeys are now safe.

Aside from predator fears (which are now allayed), watching them running around and experience the grass between the clawed toes was so much fun to watch.  They are now hanging out in their lean-to.

Turkeys relaxing in their coop. Fresh water, fresh greens, fresh air. Turkey-ing it up.

The coop was made of trash the previous owner left behind. No trip to the hardware store needed!

Trees/Perennials

We are still filling in our food forest landscape with trees.  We received another Plum, a Golden Delicious and another paw paw.  We planted the paw paw and the Golden Delicious in our backyard orchard, and we added the plum to the front yard orchard.  (as we’re keeping track of cost, each tree cost $18.16, but we already accounted for the paw paw, so let’s add another $36.32 (2 x $18.16) to our overall bill.

We decided to put our fruit trees in two concentrated areas.  This will allow to care for and harvest a bit easier.  We should also be able to fence off and fend of any deer that may think they want our trees or fruits as a nice snack.

Blueberries:

My in-laws gifted us with two blueberry bushes.  What a fantastic present!!  They are large and beautiful.  One was a “Blue Crop” and the other is “Patriot “.

Blueberry plant that was gifted to us is ripening. YUM!

We are planting the blueberries on the north and west side of the strawberry patch. This will allow for the strawberries to soak up all the morning sun, but be shielded from the afternoon sun.  Both strawberries and blueberries like acidic soil, so these berries are happy to be together.

More of What We’ve Planted

We are working to invest in perennials on our property.

In our Stark Brothers order, which included Strawberries, we also bought oodles of other plants.  Including:

  • 1 Bare-root Sugar Maple
    • Why: This is a hard wood tree.  It doesn’t really have a lot of food value, unless we decide to tap for maple syrup (which I know nothing about).  It’s beautiful in Fall and helps to create a diverse environment, as well as provide habitat for whatever creatures.
    • Where: We planted this in our front yard.  Our driveway is pretty long, but you can still see the house from the street, and the street from the yard.  I would like to feel like I live in the middle of a forest. How do you do that?  By reforesting, of course!
    • Cost: $26.99

Sugar Maple

After being planted for about 2 weeks, the leaves are starting to come forth.

  • 2 Elderberries (Adams and York)
    • Why: I planted these are the old house, and had great success with them.  They turn into bushy plants with white flowers and medicinal berries.  The birds love it.  I plan to add the other two cultivars Stark Brothers has available.  I couldn’t find any real difference between the York and the Adams.  I’m not really sure what the difference is, aside from the name.
    • Where:  I planted this out back of our porch.  We have a beautiful view of a valley, but I don’t really get to see the little song birds flit around.  I hope that by giving the birds a place to congregate, I can see them play from my kitchen table.
    • Cost: $8.99 and $11.99 for a total of $20.89Image may contain: cloud, sky, plant, tree, outdoor and nature
  • Chicago Hardy Fig
    • Why: Because, YUM! We planted this at our old house and hand a harvest of 5 figs the first year, and over 50 by year 3.  Fresh figs in a store cost about $1/piece, so this tree paid for itself, quickly!
    • Where: I planted this between the two elderberries.  A nice little place for the birds.  The birds left the figs alone at the old house.  Let’s hope they do the same here!
    • Cost: $21.99
  • Hall’s Hardy Almond
    • Why: this is starting to sound like I’m on repeat,  but it’s true! We had this tree at the old house, and it did really well. It didn’t bear fruit (nuts, actually) while we lived there, but the flowers were beautiful.  Chris and I drove past the old house, and saw the Almond Tree in full bloom.  I went home and ordered this.
    • Where: Out front of the house
    • Cost: $29.99
  • Paw-Paw (Pennsylvania and Seedling)
    • Why: I want to taste a Paw-Paw!  And Stark Brothers didn’t have many left.  It takes 7 years for a tree to bear fruit, so we wanted to get these in the ground ASAP.  We bought 2 Pennsylvania cultivars and 1 seedling.  The seedling will work as a pollinator for the Pennsylvania.  We will continue to add varieties as time goes by.
    • Where: We are starting a small orchard so that we can effectively fence this off from deer pressure, if that becomes a problems.  While it’s good to have similar species spread out to avoid a total wipe out due to disease or pest infestation, having similar plants with similar needs together allows for easier care and harvesting.  This is an area where I’m stepping away from a Permaculture ideal to move towards my own simplicity.
    • Cost: 2 Pennsylvania Golden Paw Paw (2 at $18.16) and a Seedling ($26.99) for a total of $63.31
  • Asparagus (Purple Passion from Stark Brothers and Jersey Knight from a local nursery)
    • Why: this is really simple.  it’s because I love asparagus and because I like to try new things.  So purple asparagus.  SURE! I bought the Jersey Knight Asparagus because that’s what the store had.  The crown were a little sad, but I was able to plant six crown total. The Jersey Knight gives good yields and is heat and cold tolerant.
    • Where: In our asparagus bed.  We have it heavily mulched with wood chips.
    • Cost: Purple Aspargus ($14.99 (better qulaity and more crowns)), Jersey Knight ($5.99) for a total of $20.98
  • Beauregard Sweet Potato (not perennial, but I bought this from Stark Brothers)
    • Why: Sweet potatoes are amazing and super healthy.  See my post here.  Clearly I’ve had them before.
    • Where: They came super early and cannot be planted until the ground has warmed up.  Probably June.  I’m not sure where their final place will be.  To store them until planting, I put them in a quart Mason Jar.  The spruced right up, and have roots that are starting to sprout.  We’ll see how it turns out when we actually plant them.
    • Cost: $31.99 for 25 slips

Sweet potato slips biding time until it’s warm enough to plant them in the ground.

  • Bubblegum Plum
    • Why: I like Plums, and the name!!!  I have another plum tree ordered as a pollinator.  It should be here next week.  At that time, I’ll update you!
    • Where: In front of our home.  It seems to be doing well.
    • Cost: $29.99

So far, we’re really enjoying building our food forest. Its been rather expensive thus far, but we only have to plant these trees once, and we should get to harvest from them for years.  Perennials are also better for your environment, as it is a steadfast habitat for critters in the soil and above.

 

Strawberries of 2017

When we moved into our cottage (aside: Yes, I want to call this a cottage.  It is 1200 square feet with two bedrooms, one bath and NO STORAGE), I wanted to focus on the inside of the home and really make it ours.

In our old house, we did NOTHING inside and spent hundreds of hours installing chicken coops, chicken runs, turkey coups, gardens and trees. When we got ready to sell, we painted, installed new carpets, and made the inside shine.  I decided the new cottage would be different.  We would put our mark on the inside of the cottage.  After all, it’s on the inside that counts, right?

And we did.

Kind of.

We painted everything in the cottage except for the bedrooms.  And it looked great. But it’s been almost five months, and the bedrooms have yet to be painted. And then we stopped.

Now, I have 22 chickens ordered, two turkeys in the brooder and various things planted and planned to be planted outside.  So you can see I didn’t quite learn my lesson.  But the soil calls me,  having a part in creating my own food is so wonderful, and helps to make me feel connected to the real world around me.  I also feel like it’s making my place in space a little bit better and healthier, as far as the environment and soil is concerned.

For my record, as well as (possibly / hopefully) your enjoyment, I’ve outlined what, where, why, and the cost of what I planted. As I will being detailing our adventure thoroughly, this will be a series of posts.  Starting with our Strawberries.

When:

We  planted these on April 29 and 30.

Where:

I used the garden bed that was established by the previous owner to plant strawberries.  This bed is optimally placed.  It has perfect Southern and Eastern exposure and is shaded from the afternoon sunshine.

I have heavily mulched the bed with straw and wood chips.

 

75 strawberry plants of three different varieties: Sparkle (25) , Honeoye (25) and Ozark (25).  These came in the “All summer long” variety pack from Stark Brothers.

I love Stark Brothers for two big reasons.  The first reason is that they have the BEST descriptions. I’ve done research on certain varieties that I’ve found on other website and local garden centers.  I’ve found that the Google machine seems to send me to Stark Brothers page first. Secondly, I have an account on Stark Brothers.  This keeps track of what I bought and when. When deciding what to buy, I was able to access my account and see what I planted at the old house.

Back to the planted strawberries.

Cost:

I chose the “All Summer Long” package because it was on sale.  And I thought it would be nice to have strawberries all summer long.  I bought 75 bare-root plants for $18.16.  This was part of their anniversary sale and they were founded in $18.16.  If I would have bought each variety by itself, each order of 25 bare root plants would have cost $14.99 for a total cost of $44.97.  My savings: $26.81.

What:

The first variety I planted was Sparkle, a June Bearer.  Per Stark Brothers’ website:

Shining taste and appearance. Medium-sized fruit has outstanding flavor whether they’re enjoyed fresh, frozen, or in preserves. Plant are productive and easy to grow, bearing reliable crops of deep red berries even in northern gardens. Escapes frost injury. Cold-hardy. Ripens in late June. Self-pollinating.

Sparkle Strawberry

After that I planted Honeoye, another June Bearer:

A hardy, consistent producer. This vigorous plant bears crops reliably, with good runner production. The strawberries are delicious fresh, frozen, or in jams and wines. Cold hardy. Ripens in June. Self-pollinating. A licensed variety of Cornell University.

Honeoye Strawberry June Bearer

And finally, my “everbearing” variety, the Ozark Beauty:

Enjoy fruit and a protective ground cover. In addition to keeping weeds at bay, this everbearer produces wave after wave of sweet, delicious, scarlet-red strawberries. In our test plots, this is one of the hardiest, most vigorous, heaviest-producing everbearing strawberries. Cold hardy. Ripens in early summer and continues to fruit until first frost. Self-pollinating.

Ozark Beauty Strawberry

Why?

So, uh, have you tasted a strawberry?  Well, they are delicious, especially eaten directly from the plant, slightly warmed from the sun.  YUM!

I’m also planning on making Jam from it for my kid’s peanut butter and jelly.

How are they doing so far?

It has been just under a week since we planted the strawberries, and I think they are doing pretty well.  We had almost a full day of perfect rain for the garden.  That light rain that soaks deep into the ground an nourishes the root systems of plants.  Our strawberries have turned from brown to vibrant green.  I think they are settling in quite nicely.

 

 

Our New Place in Space (and other Updates)

Forgive me readers, for I have sinned.  It has been over one year since I have posted.

Here’s what’s going on in my world:

We recently purchased a new property.  It is lovely.

  • 4 acres
  • Flat (oh, I don’t have to contend with a hill when making design plans!)
  • Beautiful View
  • Cute, small, simple house

Did I mention the view?

Okay, I guess you have to see it!

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You can see three miles into the distance.  And when fireworks go off in the valley, you can see those!

I know in a past post, I declared that I was D-O-N-E with all this DIY.  Well, in order to sell the house, we needed to rip out the garden.  I also went all-in on work.

Well, all work and no play makes Julia a dull girl.

I missed getting my hands dirty.  I missed growing my own food.  One full season away from anything agricultural showed me that.

And now, I’m working on cultivating this piece of flat land.  And I’m doing it more simply, and I’m not trying to do it all.  All at once. or All by myself.

I am doing this one step at a time.  I’m using some more conventional methods.  And my husband is walking arm and arm with me.

I’m sharing this journey so that I have an online record of where the property and our family has been, I want to see where we end up.  And I’d like you to join me!

I’m also intending to keep track of yields and what, when and where we’ve planted things, along the the results.