Thursday, December 31, 2009

Cage Method for Growing Potatoes

So many gardeners have tried the "cage" method when growing potatoes (this where a structure is built and the cage is continually filled over the growing season) and the results have been very mixed.  The answer to this success or lack there of all comes down to variety.  Yup, that is the wild card when using this planting method.  After many hours of researching this method, and it's results I finally came across a site that mentions specific varieties- YES!!!

I already knew Yukon Gold tots would not yield more using this method.  And now I know three out of the four varieties I ordered this year will not be appropriate for this method.  (Darn!)  Almost had 2 varieties to cage, almost.... turns out fingerlings (yay, thats me!), Yellow Fin, Red Pontiac (my almost), and Indian Pit are recommended by this outfit,  Irish Eyes.  That link will bring you to their potato growing tips page which is loaded with good information.  More information on building a cage can also be found on their site under "How to Grow 100 lbs. of Potatoes in 4 Square Feet" in the Grower's Guide.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Seed Stash and 2010 Ordering

Inventory your seeds (From Johnny's Seeds)

Before you order seeds, take a look at what you have left over from previous years. A few guidelines will help you decide which seeds are still good and which should be discarded.

Of primary importance is the way seeds have been stored. Exposure to moisture causes seed viability to decline, so seeds should be stored in a dry place in an airtight, watertight container. Zipper freezer bags, glass jars, plastic containers, and metal boxes can be used if they seal tightly. Buckets with tight lids also work for larger seeds like beans and corn. In humid climates, a desiccant such as silica gel or dry milk powder can be placed in the container to absorb moisture. Seed also should be kept cool, and can even be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.

If seeds have been stored properly, and are not pelleted or otherwise pre-treated, this is the number of years you can expect them to remain viable:

  • 1 year: onions, parsnips, parsley, salsify, scorzonera, and spinach;
  • 2 years: corn, peas, beans, chives, okra, dandelion;
  • 3 years: carrots, leeks, asparagus, turnips, rutabagas;
  • 4 years: peppers, chard, pumpkins, squash, watermelons, basil, artichokes and cardoons;
  • 5 years: most brassicas, beets, tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, muskmelons, celery, celeriac, lettuce, endive, chicory.

Do your own germination testing
If you are in doubt about the viability of leftover seeds, don't take chances. You can test the germination easily. Moisten a coffee filter or piece of paper towel and place on it a specific number of seeds, such as 10 or 100. Fold the moistened paper over the seeds and put it in a plastic bag in a warm place. Take the paper out and inspect the seeds twice a day, spraying with water as needed to maintain moisture around the seeds. After the usual number of days required to germinate that variety, count to see how many have germinated and calculate the percentage of germination. Compare it to the germination rate on the Johnny's label; if it's close, your seeds are fine to plant. If germination is much lower or slower than expected, order new seeds.

Order early
Demand often exceeds supply for certain plants and seeds. This is particularly true of leeks, onions, and potatoes, so place your order soon. If you want potatoes in February for early planting or greensprouting, the deadline for ordering is Jan. 15. We've found an insulated carton that will get them to you in top shape, even if it's freezing here in Maine, at your farm, or somewhere in between. Specific varieties are available in 25 lb. increments. Reserve on the website right now, and your credit card won't be charged until your potatoes ship in February.

Here is what I have ordered so far after doing my inventory:

12 Georgia Jets Sweet Potato slips  (These I plan on growing in containers this year.)
 - Reportedly best for Northern growers, though yields are less than Beauregard variety which I grew last year.  Loved the flavor of the B's, but with the cool weather they just did not have time to bulk up.

 - Northern growers need to cover planting site with black plastic at least 2 weeks prior to planting to warm the soil.  This year I am going to plant through some type of mulch to aid in keeping the soil temp up.  This combined with raised container height (which also makes soil warmer) should help give my yields a boost!

- Ordered from, $11.50 for 12 plants shipped.  Requested April 19th ship date.

Moose Tubers Order:

 - LaRatte Organic Fingerlings, 3# - 'the mouse' potato.  Plump nutty flavored yellow flesh.  LATE
 - Purple Viking, 2.5# - purple skin, white slightly mealy flesh.  Great for baking or mashing.  MID
 - Keuka Gold, 2.5# - newer variety; similar to Yukon Gold but higher yielding.  Moist, firm flesh. MID
 - Red Gold, 2.5# - very early potato, around 65 days. Red skin, yellow waxy flesh.  Poor storers. VE

 - Picasso Shallots, 1#
Total:  $47.15

Nourse Farms Order:

 - Pink Champagne Currant (1)
 - Reka Blueberry (1)
 - Ouchita Blackberry (5)
Total: 49.90

Johnny's Selected Seeds:

 - Inoculant
 - Peas: Feisty, Casselode, and Premium
 - Tomatoes: Sungold and Green Zebra Indeterminate; Polbig, early Determinate
 - Cukes: Northern Pickling and Diva
 - German Extra Hardy Garlic (Oct. ship)
 - Carrots: Mokum and Sugarsnax
 - Lipstick Pepper (will compare to Carmen which I have 4 seeds left of, my current favorite)
 - Victoria Rhubarb, 3 plants
Total: $74.95
~Phew, that should about cover it!!~

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

How are you all doing with your seed stash?  Will you be doing much ordering this year?  (See this guy's face to the left here?  He is Mr. Shrimp Goby and I just find him to be so ugly he's cute.....the fish never make the blog, thought I should change that!)

OK, back to gardening.  I need to compile a stock list soon.  Today I am mulling over potatoes.  I love 'em.  I want to grow 'em.  I just don't have any room for them.   There are so many darn methods/suggestions for growing potatoes out there one can get overwhelmed......bags, bins, barrels, wire, tires, straw, and of coarse good old fashioned garden soil.  I think I am going to use straw this coming year, but hill it over a standard SFG bed.  This will allow me to use a standard depth bed (right now I only have one extra deep).  The straw will make hilling and digging at season's end easier as well as keep the soil temp up and moisture level more stable.  Last year my yields were terrible, hoping for much improvement this coming year.

My list of wanted seeds is short and sweet this year thanks to my overindulgence last year.  I will be adding a few new heirloom tomato varieties (seeds already purchased), quite a few potatoes, and as many peas as possible.  The garden needs expanding, sigh.

What will you be trying for the first time come Spring?

What can you absolutely not live without in your garden?

Are you an heirloom or a hybrid tomato grower?  (Or maybe a little bit of each like myself?)

As for us the kids ate the peas the second they were ready to be picked, I snacked daily on the heavenly Sungold tomatoes, and the Carmen and Joe E. Parker peppers were picked nightly for some role in dinner or a late night nacho snack.  These are the garden favorites in our house.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

What we have been up to......

Never call my daughter to help you move:

Digging for Dinosaur bones is messy business.
(Ella has grabbed the chisel from the junior paleontologist.  Negotiations are taking place.):

OK, back to business.

Finally, after 2.5 years of kicking around my house this snowman kit can finally be put to good use:

What you can't see is this beast tearing off Frosty's left limb shortly after this picture was taken.
 We now have an amputee on our hands.

My snow angel (runny nose and all!):

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas, Making memories, and Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas!  I have been catching up on everyone's blogs after being down for the count this past week (a nasty stomach virus). I wish I could say things are quiet here in the literal sense, but they are not since the kids are somehow still running on all cylinders.  But things are quiet this year since too many of us are sick and all the relatives are all elsewhere, some home and miserable with their own illnesses.

Yes, lets Christmas cards didn't get done this year, Santa had to leave a note about a special toy being sent via the post, and I have so much food it isn't even funny.  This will certainly be a Christmas to remember, lol!! It has been a reminder that the two most important things in life, health and family, can never be taken for granted.  I have spent the week reminiscing about my childhood holidays, wishing I could go back to one of those Christmas Eve parties when my favorite Uncle Bill and my Grandmother were still there laughing and enjoying the company of family, good food, and good drink.  Holidays really are special, they make up the memories that cloud the mind, and in the end, they may be all we have left of our loved ones.  Today I was laughing with my "Bop" about how "Ma" (my Dad's mother) used to get laughing so hard, and so loudly after a few stiff party drinks.  This would get my father going, and then his sister, and before you knew it everyone was in tears from laughing so hard.....God only knows over what.  These are the memories I never want to forget,  I am so thankful to have them in the first place.  I hope you all have been busy making your own special memories- especially ones involving liquor and laughs!

I  went to a site after visiting Farmgirl Fare's Blog, she posted some of her favorite charities.  I have my own list, but I am adding one of hers to a different 'list' of mine, that famed resolution list that usually involves losing weight or giving up a bad habit.  I gave up on the standard run years ago and tend to not even bother anymore, but this charity is going to receive a small monthly donation from myself for 2010.  It won't be much but I know every little bit helps.  I added the charity to my side bar as a reminder to follow through with this coming resolution:  To help these creatures that have no words, to help them heal at the hands of good people so they will know something other than hurt from our hands and hearts.  Thanks to Farmgirl for mentioning this wonderful charity, her blog is linked in sidebar for anyone that does not already read it!

It has been a great year, I am looking forward to what 2010 will bring (hoping it's not blight again), Happy (Almost) New Year everyone!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Windy Wintery Wonderland

My two labs have been romping around in the fluffy stuff all morning, it was past their bellies so they were hopping like bunnies around the deck when they first went out, it was very entertaining as we cheered them on.  The third, neurotic doggie child is in the corner shaking.  The poor thing is so easily disturbed.....lets see how long he can hold it today before finding the will to head out in the weather.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The mantel is finally decorated.

The tree is trimmed, the fire is cozy, the dogs have assumed their positions for winter.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Last Dig

I FINALLY made it out to the garden today to do my final dig for the year.  All the recent rain made pulling dahlia and gladiola tubers an easy task.  Well, aside from the dahlia that was intertwined with a rat's nest of asparagus roots, that one took a beating as I tugged and ripped the tubers off the main stem one by one....I am hoping rot does not set in in all the newly exposed flesh.

I also pulled most of the remaining carrots.  One of the later sowings had not put on much growth, so I left is the bunch I pulled, disappointing!

I have so many carrot varieties growing in three different beds, too many for me to keep straight....not sure which 2 varieties these are, but I can at least narrow it down:  the carrots in the spinner basket are either Mokum or Bolero.  The bunch to the left of the basket are either Petite 'n Sweet or Short 'n Sweet.  They smelled so good as they were tugged from the earth, it will be interesting to see if the cold weather sweetened them up or not.  The Napoli I sowed never took off (my bad, they went in quite late).  I am going to cover them with straw and hope they winter over for an early Spring carrot.

Lastly, some Rouge D' Hiver romaine will be on the menu tonight, nothing like being spoiled by crisp greens from the garden in mid- December!

(P.S.- we have a Christmas tree on the premises, though it has not made it IN the house.  Baby steps.  :)  )

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Household projects and school have been keeping me busy.....the turkey review is long overdue!  First, we are sad to announce that we will not likely purchase these turkeys again, the bird was so stiff I couldn't tuck the wings or tie the legs, and that did not improve even after 5 hours of slow cooking.  The meat was rather tough (which is to be expected since the bird actually roamed), and so we figure why pay more money for a tougher bird?  My husband found the dark meat to be inedible and this is his favorite part.  I used the carcass to make stock for soup, and after an additional half a day in the stock pot the meat was FINALLY falling off the bones.  On to the flavor...fabulous!  We have found that we prefer the meat the next day, the smoke flavor seems to change a bit after some refrigeration and it makes a delicious sandwich.  The kids wolfed it down- and my son normally won't eat turkey.  They kept saying it smelled like bacon, I think that was the wow factor for them.  Even my dog who could care less about food stalked me whenever I had some turkey.  It was quite entertaining!  (I limited the birds time in the smoker, starting and finishing it in the oven so that the flavor would not be overwhelming.)

I have yet to pull my dahlia tubers out of the garden, it has been so wet.  The temperatures are really going to drop in the coming days and weeks so it is now or never......things certainly are not getting any dryer, my wetlands are looking more like swamplands these days!

We still need to put up a Christmas tree. Again, the kitchen project and wet weather has foiled every attempt we have made.  Do you all have your trees up?  If so I would like to make a request.....would you post a picture of the tree on your blogs?  I would love to see some Christmas cheer (if you have already done this forgive me, i have not 'done the rounds' lately)..... wish somebody delivered the darn things around here.  :)  I have my fingers crossed for a white Christmas here in coastal Massachusetts, that is my wish for Santa.  Happy Holidays!

(EDIT:  The smoker is actually quite simple Thomas.  There are two doors.  The bottom section houses the flame, the wood pan, and the water pan.  The top has racks to place the food on.  This is not a true pit type smoker, it has been adapted for the average Joe via the use of wood chips which are soaked in water prior to being set over the heat.  I took it a step further and went with a propane version which makes controlling the temperature a breeze, I am able to control just as you would on any gas grill.)

Friday, December 4, 2009

More Turkey Talk....

Here is one of the birds I purchased locally from Run Dog Run Farm.  The cavity was stuffed with rosemary and sage fresh from the garden, apples, onion, and carrot.  A butter, lemon juice, and herb mixture was applied to the top and underside of the skin.  Next came a soaking of Pinot Grigio.  This bird was officially ready to hit the heat.

I started it off in the oven since the smoker still needed to be cured.  After an hour the transfer was made, and the applewood was a smokin'!!  (A little too much I might add, the heat was left on high about ten minutes too long thanks to my daughter peeing on the rug, a book, and her blanket.  Operation Clean Pee resulted in the chips catching fire in the wood pan....hoping this hiccup did not ruin the bird!)  Here is the insane smoke that resulted:

Now for a shot of the appropriate smoking of the applewood chips:

I was very disappointed to find there were no innards & neck in the cavity.  This was not an inexpensive turkey, I expected all standard parts to be included!  Besides, the neck meat is one of my favorite parts of a roasted turkey......and everybody wants gravy right?

Everyone keep your turkey toes crossed that this bird will not only be edible, but enjoyable.  I will report in tomorrow with the outcome.   I am thinking smoked salmon will be the next experiment.

Garden Update

Since I am currently having a nice time with my insomnia I figured I would do an update as I sit at the kitchen counter with the laptop as not to disturb the husband in my bed, and the child on my floor.   I made the mistake of leaving "my" dog behind and he is on the other side of the bedroom door growing more perturbed by the minute.   Anyway, now that you know what I am doing as today crosses over into tomorrow I can share that I FINALLY made it out to the garden today to snap a couple of photos and check in on things, and I am happy to report all is well! The carrots seem very happy, as does the lettuce under the cold frame. Winter rye is peaking through the straw, I am just hoping it doesn't grow too long or turning it over come Spring is going to be quite a chore. I totally forgot to peak in on the garlic (just realized this)....I would have to imagine it has sprouted with all this rain and warm weather we have been having, nothing like a sixty-something sunny day in December! (All the animals at the zoo today seemed quite pleased as well, even the bears were energetic.) Here are a couple of photos- one of some carrots, the other of the rye amongst the straw and leaves.

We have been enjoying some of our 'put by' food from summer.  Peach and Blueberry Crumble for dessert (frozen peach pie filling with some blueberries thrown in for good measure), and Strawberry Jalapeno Jam on english muffins for breakfast.  I had to smile at the memories of canning in the heat, knowing I would enjoy a little taste of summer's bounty come winter.  And seriously, I could just eat that jam by the spoonful when no one was looking..... and actually come to think of it, my daughter has.  Luckily at two years of age her thighs are still considered "cute" when squishy and dimply (though they aren't, she's a twig).  I guess I should hand over the jar and a spoon and just watch in envy.

My little guy just came out to see what I was up to, so much for not disturbing the family.  It's all the dog's fault.  Border's and their neurosis, gotta love em!  If you are ever bored just google something like "neurotic border collies" and be prepared to laugh at the stories folks have of their dogs shredding their mattress or breaking through the window to drag out every last couch cushion.  These dogs are too smart for their own good and are so good at herding because they are cookoo.  They really are.  Mine was medicated for years just so I could leave him to go to work everyday.  Sorry, I seem to have gotten side tracked.   I think this rambling is a sign that it's time for some Sleepy Time Tea and a cuddle with a seed catalog, the Seed Saver's hasn't been cracked yet....good night all!

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Tale of Two Turkeys

We are a bit unusual in that we share Thanksgiving with friends that we only see once or twice a year on holidays. This tradition started many, many years ago when we moved to Massachusetts and knew few people well. One of my mother's career moves (she was a teacher), landed her an aid that quickly became a close friend, and we have been sharing this special holiday with them, the Black family, ever since.

Mr. Black has been doing his bird on the Weber for as long as I can remember. A couple of years ago he added a second bird to the mix, this one is smoked. I have always had a love for smoked foods. I remember smoked pheasant being a favorite of mine as a kid (I lived in Wisconsin, everything is shot, then smoked in those parts). Smoked cheese, ribs, and any other protein really. I love it all.

This long story is coming to an end, an end in which I get to declare that I am finally the proud owner of a smoker. I have had one of these bad boys 'on my list' for about 7 years now. I have done the cedar plank thing, and the smoker box insert thing. Neither of them impressed me. Now before you all get too impressed let me fess up and tell you I purchased the one that hooks up to my propane tank. This isn't true authentic Q, but it will do in a pinch, because after all, I am a modern woman and the gas grill is my version of microwave convenience.

This new contraption was filed under the "kitchen reno" project so at this point it's expense is a drop in the now overflowing bucket. I have two turkeys from a local farm waiting in my freezer, my husband already has the grill assembled. (He asked if I was going to do a bird tomorrow before we had even left Home Depot. I had to explain no, because they are still frozen. Besides, I need to hunt around for some fruit wood.) I hope you all had a wonderful meal with friends and family yesterday, we all have so many things to be thankful for- and this holiday of food celebration is always on the top of the list for us foodies. My favorite part of the meal was clearly the smoked turkey (which by the way is heaven on earth when pulled from the fridge for a snack the next day), what was yours?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Making Some Progress....

Pictured above: Sink Mock-Up. The cuts are all finished, just 4 more coats of sealer and the counters can be dropped in. I LOVE my hammered copper sink. My son however, has informed me that he "doesn't really agree with it". My daughter has sanded some counter (against the grain), and attempted to cut the ends with kitchen shears. She also managed to sneak three jig saw blades up to her room and dance in the kitchen sink when no one was looking. Ha!

The Before:

The kitchen reno has officially begun! Luckily I remembered to capture a 'before' image since the vision of this kitchen will soon be banished from my temporal lobe. The two shades of green I am mulling over are to the left of the window. We have 95% of the cutting done on the new counters and they have their fist layer of sealant on, boy is my house toxic from all those nasty chemicals. We are holed up in the one room that doesn't require a mask to breathe. Oh, and those red beasts? GONE!!!!

My garden? What is that again?!? I still have not been out there to check on things and dig up the bulbs. Hopefully the garden is patient because it is going to be a while.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Where's The Beef (Recipes)?

Alrighty. So I have 90-something pounds of beef in my freezer and very little beef braising experience aside from your standard Beef Stew. A pot of Boeuf Bourguignon is in the oven (using Face Rump Roast), hoping this will be as good as Julia Child claims it to be.

Does anyone have any favorite beef recipes they would like to share? Roasts, Stews, and hamburg dishes are welcome. I am way out of my league here....HELP!

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Woolly's Portrait, Beef, and love of Julia

Here are the very delayed caterpiller pictures. The big fat one belly up has me a bit worried, but he is still alive (and belly up).

I think I may have mentioned my computer troubles...well after failed attempts at a fix by a fabulous gal at my husband's work we brought it to Best Buy. The money they wanted to ATTEMPT to fix it was ridiculous, half the cost of this here new MacBook Pro I am typing on. So bear with me as I learn the ropes of the Apple world, I love this machine- but there are some WiFi snags which I am not thrilled about. For instance, there is a constant loop of failed 'save' attempts going on right now. Hm.

In other news, the beef has arrived! Ninety-something pounds of butcher paper goodness. I am not familiar with so many of the cuts. Some web surfing led to more frustration over my lack of knowledge so off to the book store I went. After an hour of thumbing through rows of cookbooks I found Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child to be the only one mentioning all(most) of my cuts of beef. Thank goodness for Julia!! Does no one sell these cuts of meat anymore? I wouldn't know since I buy steaks and ground beef only, that is until this recent bulk purchase......I can't seem to kick the nasty cold/flu bugs and this viral pink-eye has been a real blast! Hope you all are faring better than myself!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Pioneer Woman Saves Dinner

I had one pound of beef kickin' around in the freezer from my last meat order and not a whole lot else for accouterments. I thought this might be a good time to seek out Pioneer Woman's collection of country fare, and boy am I glad I did: BBQ Meatballs. Yum. Meat? Check. Onions? Check. Oatmeal? Check. Sauce is a basic ketchup and vinegar based concoction.

Check these saucy babies out:

OK, so not the roundest meatball, but luckily shape does effect it's taste. These are something you will either love or hate. Do you like those cocktail party meats that come in a crock-pot with some sort of jelly ridden sauce? If yes, then you must try these meatballs. Both my kids have declared them delicious, and that my friends is a VERY special thing. I am following Pioneer Woman's suggestion of pairing them with mashed potatoes. Dinner is going to be good tonight.....better call hubby to pick up some (more) beer. I am thinking it may be another half Woodchuck Hard Cider, half Sam Adams kind of night. Anyone else enjoy this cider/ale combination?

(For the BBQ Meatballs recipe visit site, head to cooking section and it will be found under "beef". This Mac is not allowing me to paste the link, seems as though Erin may need to give me some operational pointers.)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Wooly Bear Den

A week or so ago the kids and myself went out bear hunting, woolly bear caterpillars that is. Of coarse I had been removing them from paths of destruction for weeks not thinking to capture them for observation. And when looking for something it always becomes hard to find right? But lady luck was on our side and eventually we found two (one was in the asparagus). We put together a habitat and have named it the "Woolly Bear Den".

Currently there are two inhabitants. The den is out on my bedroom porch with the apples and squash, away from the reach of our naughty canines. Here the little fuzzies will hibernate through winter (they can survive -90 degree temperatures by making their own 'anti-freeze'), and awake in Spring to have a snack and spin a cacoon. One little fella seems to have forgotten to curl up in a ball before going to sleep, today I found him belly-up. Hmm...dead? Nope, still twitches when poked. Hoping he is not his 'way out'. (The other bear was eating and up and about.)

I took some pictures, but my lap-top is on the fritz and in for repair. They will have to wait...check out the information below for a little woolly bear fun!

From Ohio Sate University Extension: Cute, fuzzy and downright fun to watch it inch its way across a sidewalk, the harmless caterpillar has enjoyed being at the center of weather folklore. Like the groundhog's shadow, the woolly bear's 13 distinctive black and reddish-brown bands have become a rule of thumb in forecasting winter.

According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, the longer the middle brown band, the milder and shorter the coming winter; the shorter the brown band, the longer and more severe winter will be.

The truth behind the woolly bear's band length actually has more to do with age than with predicting the weather. As the caterpillar prepares to overwinter, the caterpillar molts, becoming less black and more reddish-brown as it ages. Woolly bears overwinter from September to May, and are commonly found along nature trails and wooded edges and crossing sidewalks and roadways seeking overwintering sites.

"The length of the bands have nothing to do with the severity of winter," said Bloestcher. "Woolly bears hole themselves up somewhere for winter. What do they care what color they are?"

The woolly bear, also known as the woolly worm and the black-ended bear, is the larva of the Isabella tiger moth. The caterpillar falls under "bristled" species, of which there are several different colors: all black, all brown, yellow and gray. But the black-and brown-banded species is considered the true banded woolly bear.

Woolly bears share winter predictions with some of nature's other critters, like honeybees and yellow jackets. Folklore tells that honeybees will store honey en masse in preparation for a severe winter and yellow jackets will build nests either high in the trees or in the ground depending on what the coming winter has in store.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My new lights are officially in 'Chelmsdale' Massachusetts (that's really Chelmsford, but I can't help myself). Somehow they are not due on my doorstep until tomorrow, but whatever. Here they are courtesy of PB:

I am sure you are wondering why I am going on about these lights, but the fact of the matter is these stinkin track lights were the first bit of change, which brought about the counter tops, which has now created a whole landslide and now I just want to go stick my head in a hole (or go rob a bank).

My counters are 1.5 inch thick Oak and from IKEA (not custom Mesquite as shown here), but all these custom wood people use the Waterlox which is shown here on these gorgeous counters. As I was making dinner last night (baked ziti) I remembered what a messy cook I am. There was sauce everywhere! I have 2 lbs of beeswax on it's way since I was originally set on a spoon oil finish, but I think that may not be the best choice. We may do a 2 or 3 foot section with just the oil and wax to use as a cutting/prep area. There will unfortunately be many seams since the sections are 8 ft each and I have a 10 foot run with two corners. Wood is just such a sanitary surface, I hate to ruin that everywhere by sealing it. Decisions, decisions- my head is spinning!
I am off to clean out the fridge and ponder this mess I have gotten myself into, what I really need to do is get out to the garden and dig up my dahlias and glads!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Totally Off Topic....

Does anyone have experience with wood finishes? We recently purchased butcher block countertops for the kitchen and I am all over the moment I am leaning towards mineral oil and beeswax, the next it's a Waterlox impermeable finish.

Each has pro's and con's, I guess I need to decide if I want an old European worn and stained look, or a more modern furniture type finish that can not be cut on, ever. Oil and wax is completely non-toxic. A poly marine type finish will keep the water out but I question it's ability to truly be food safe....then again I feed my kids right off the kitchen table all the time and that is not 'food safe'.

Really I have been waiting years for soapstone, but it just is not in the budget, nor will it be after going over budget on our recent addition. Keep in mind my house is post and beam, so the kitchen ceiling is pine, and the cabinets are maple. Now I am adding oak to the mix- thank goodness the floor in the kitchen is tiled!!

(oh, and what about copper sinks, anyone have experience with that? I love their natural anti-microbial properties and think the staining wouldn't bother me.)

Friday, November 6, 2009

It's Here...

The first seed catalog for 2010 found it's way to my mailbox a couple of days ago. I have not cracked the sucker open...why you ask? Because I have plenty of seeds. Sure, there are a handful of things I need to pick up along the way, but for the most part I could grow two gardens with what I have stashed away.

But here is the problem folks, I feel as though I could use a seed intervention, a Seed Buyers Anonymous. Why are these darn catalogs so addicting? Is it the power we have over our own future, the possibility of a varied and beautiful harvest? Is it the crinkling paper and noise the seeds make in the packets when we sort through them, each their own little natural treasure?

I don't know what it is exactly, but I do know I love seeds and their catalogs, and now that the 2010's are arriving I should probably part with my very worn stash of 2009's. I suppose my next post should be a tally of what I currently hold in my little plastic box, my own catalog of sorts. Is anyone else out there feeling like a seed addict, always wanting more?

The house is quiet, the coffee has been poured, and I am going to dive into that High Mowing catalog...wish me luck!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Step Back to the Early 1800's

Yesterday we went to Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge Massachusetts. This museum re-creates life as it was in rural new England back in the years (1790-1840). I had a nice long talk with one of the farmers while he was showing me his root cellar. It was interesting to hear that there has been a large interest in the farming activities in the Village of late, where as 5 years ago no one cared how food was obtained or stored by our ancestors. The thing that stood out the most to me was the lack of chickens. Was chicken keeping not common or popular practice? There were sheep, pigs, and cows; the dishes being prepared contained ground beef or pork and lard or suet. No chickens or eggs in sight aside from the two I saw roaming with the sheep. One of the villagers did mention practically everyone had a cow, just an acre or two would do.

Now I am curious to know if chickens were out of fashion in New England at that time. Here are a couple of pictures I took along the way:

My son kept asking where all the cars were, he just couldn't conceptualize that weren't any. He is very happy to have modern day plumbing after seeing the chamber pots and out houses, and of course the Oxen were his favorite part. Once we were home he asked where the toilet paper was, that would have been a good question for the villagers as I have no knowledge of colonial hygiene aside from wash bins and rare use of soap. We left with some fun souvenirs- a gun, a broom, money from the first 13 States, a drop spindle and some wool, and The United States School Primer (New York, 1850's), a school book for a one room schoolhouse.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Here it is.....

For those of you that been asking, this this is the one.  :)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

All Tucked In

Today was a good day to tackle our never-ending "to to list". We (and by we I mean my husband) tackled the dust and grime hiding in skylights, beams, and unreachable walls. My job was to foot the counts right?
Outside, the garden was tucked in for winter. The garlic bed, herbs, and carrots have thick blanket of straw to keep them warm. The youngest of the carrot seedlings are under plastic frame, and the greens are safely sheltered in the coldframe. Winter Rye was spread willy-nilly in any free areas and covered with a bit of straw for good measure. We came across a mouse nest and lots of red-back salamanders during our clean up.

The pumpkin seeds were finally roasted today, what a tasty treat! Ell and I are enjoying some right now. And finally, here are my little trick-or-treaters:

Halloween, a wonderful end to October.

Friday, October 30, 2009

K Curriculum is Here!

This has been a great day! The coldframe is finally sheltering some greens and the remainder of my curriculum arrived. Here is my spread minus our 'home library' and art supplies:


Just kidding, but in all honesty I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all. I love, love, love the Singapore Math workbooks, but the Scince is a bit elementary in my opinion. Probably more geared towards Pre-K. No problems there thanks to all our books and encyclopedias, luckily for Shaun his Mom is a Science geek. :) The Critical Thinking workbooks are also impressive, I want to order some for myself! Check out their site if you are looking for some stimulating material for the kids. I hope this jumble of hand picked curriculum doesn't leave anything out. Thank-you all for the wonderful support over the past couple of months, this has been a tough decision, and now my little man and I must relax and enjoy this opportunity.

This week was the last CSA pick-up for the year. I will miss it, though I am still undecided as to what to do next year. We are still waiting for the first frost to come and the leaves are really beginning to fall now. Plans to expand the garden, or at a minimum the fence, are in the works. Thomas has me longing for more crisp garden greens and hoop houses.

I was approached by a company to purchase a photo of mine for their upcoming catalog this week, did anyone else have this same experience? I am under the impression they were blog browsing. Anyway, my Cipollini Onions photo will be featured if all goes as planned and I was tickled pink by the request....this is exciting stuff for a stay-at-home-mom! I hope everyone is staying healthy or is on the mend. Hold onto those hoes, this is going to be one wild winter!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I received an e-mail today from River Rock Farm that the cows are on the way to the butcher today. After hanging for two weeks the beef will be ready.

My initial reaction was extreme sadness knowing these beautiful creatures will lose their life today. What can I say, I am a sappy animal lover! I have seen with my own eyes the humane and free life they have led until now and this does bring comfort. I hope I will continue to have the choice of eating meat raised on this farm knowing I am supporting the right way to raise heads for slaughter, not the wrong, as this is not an easy opportunity to come by.

edit: Home Scool Update- The Letter of Intent has been filed and I met with Shaun's teacher and principal yesterday. Friday will be his last day. His wonderful teacher will hold a spot for him in her class until Fall of next year, and the principle offered for him to return any time. I will bring him in for testing in May to determine his placement (K or 1st) should he return to public school for the following year. All is falling into place.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What we have been up to...

Well first I will start with the laundry list of things I have been doing (all non-gardening related):
  • being sick and lazy.
  • freaking out over my son's high fevers; so high the digital thermometer could not read it, only goes to 105 degrees. YIKES!
  • deciding to grant my son's wish of being homeschooled. Curriculum has been ordered, lesson plans are made, letter of intent being drafted.
  • trips to the Pediatrician and Veterinarian.
  • waiting for the co-op truck to arrive for five and a half hours in a parking lot with two sick kids and one sick Mom only to discover one of the precious angels turned on my parking lights and we now have a dead battery and no jumper cables. Not to worry, fabulous hubby saved the day!
  • lastly, a fun farm field trip on our first day of having 3 fever free people!! YEAH!
I am so behind on posts it is ridiculous.
Weeks ago I realized I had a ripe, albeit minuscule melon. Sweet victory!

We have found a use for all the garden runts, mantel decorations (there are squash and melons in there)!

Here are the photos from our recent farm trip. The tour included seeing how the carrots are processed for retail sale (up the conveyor belt into the drum where they are washed, then hand sorted and bagged), bagging some carrots to take home, a tractor tour of the farm, and picking a small pumpkin out of a 'patch'. The kids had a blast, my daughter was clutching those carrots like they were the last four on earth, lol. She even ate one!

I am off to catch up on what you all have been doing!