Tag Archives: gardening

Around the Garden

I wandered around the garden a bit today thinking about what we’ve accomplished so far and what is to come.   It’s exciting to see things starting to bloom and peek through the soil, but a bit overwhelming to think of all the work ahead.  W has a detailed plan for the garden that he created using the software he wrote (www.smallfarmmanager.com), so each bed has a carefully designed plan for the season.

Right now, the garlic is up and the bee hive is buzzing.   You can see my second hive – the bright yellow top bar hive – on the left hand side.  It’s bee-less right now, but is expecting company soon.   The lambs ear appears to be completely unaware of the cold winter we just had and is thriving.

W built a cold frame out of an old door from his parent’s house and its currently full of a lovely peppery lettuce mix that’s ready to be harvested.

Around the yard flowers are coming up as well.  Our hellebores always bloom just before anything else.  I fell in love with them at a garden show a few years ago and returned with quite a few.  We have two colors currently blooming at the front of the house.

Our daylilly bed looks like its going to be spectacular – it’s amazing how quickly they spread.   We started with some plants from a friend who was cleaning out a bed and now they’ve practically taken over a bed here.

Walking around today, I noticed an ivy-like plant (I’m sure its a weed) climbing around the house with cute little purple flowers.

Last but not least, our bee balm is once again spreading like wild fire.  In the middle of this patch is a lovely plant whose name totally escapes me, but it always makes me smile when it first comes up because it appears to startlingly similar to asparagus.

Overall, it’s been a beautiful weekend.  I didn’t spend as much time outside as I wanted to (school work, laundry, and cooking took up a large portion of the weekend), but the time I did spent communing with the plants was wonderfully calming.

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Update

As usual we have a ton of things going on.  First, we made an offer on a 6+ acre property in a nearby town and after some negotiations our offer was accepted.  At this point we’re waiting for an appraisal and perk test to ensure it is truly ours.  We are trying to contain our excitement.  This will finally feel like a step in the right direction for us.

We’ve also started many, many seedlings in our garage.  Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, and lettuce (I’m sure I’m leaving out a few).  Some are going to a friend who is starting a CSA, others are being scattered around our garden and yard.

Next weekend we head to Morganton to pick up my second hive of bees.  I’m excited and a bit scared.  We don’t own an open back truck or car, so we’ll have the bees in the car with us so we have to  make sure they are tightly contained before leaving.  I’ve also never transferred a hive alone and was hoping to someone get them into the top bar hive I purchased over the winter.

Lots of excitement ahead.  🙂

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Organic Grower’s School

Once again we attended the OGS in Asheville this past weekend.  And once again, we loved it.   This is the fourth year we’ve attended, but the first year it was held at UNCA.   The conference last year was what prompted my growing love of beekeeping and pushed me to bug David until I got my own hive.   It was my favorite class of 2009.

This year W and I took a pasta class where we learned to make our own homemade pasta.  We both enjoyed the experience and hope to soon try it at home.   W also took a Germination class where he (among other things) actually participated in building a hoop house on campus that was later auctioned off.

My favorite class this year by far was “Organic Farming- What to Expect Your First Year” taught by Anna & Paul Littman from True Leaf Farm.   Anna and Paul are a young couple who decided to leap into farming and are doing quite well.  They shared tons of practical tips including must-have equipment and thoughts about planning your business.  It was refreshing to hear them discuss what they are actually bringing in and how they set goals for themselves along the way (they both still maintain off farm jobs).  They encouraged each of us to discover our skill set and then find a partner who has strengths were you have weaknesses.  I left the class with a mental list of to-dos (a few of which I have actually accomplished this week!), and an overall we-can-actually-do-this feeling which is still resonating.

More than anything else, W and I love attending these events because its so wonderful to be surrounded by like-minded folks.  Its lovely to walk through and just hear the discussions that the other 1500 people are having that attend the OGS and how the mindset is all so similar.  We miss that kind of kinship terribly where we live.  The community just doesn’t exist, but we’re hopeful that we can start establishing it through our example and our actions.

Next up (I hope):

North Carolina State Beekeepers Meeting – July 2010

Southeastern Energy Expo – August 2010

Eastern Apicultural Society – August 2010

The Sustainable Agriculture Conference – Dec 2010

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Something Old and Something New

Over the weekend, W and I attended the Mountain Farm Tour with David and Tina.  We always enjoy coming together with other like-minded folk on the tours.  This year we visited a few new farms that are noteable: Flying Cloud and Gladheart.  W was particularily fond of the blueberries we picked at Flying Cloud and the Peach Yerba Mate they were kind enough to share at Gladheart.  I loved watching the goat milking and seeing Gladheart’s impressive biodiesel operation.   We managed to see goats galore over the weekend and even saw an angora goat for the first time.  They are wild looking!

Flying Cloud Farm

Flying Cloud Farm

Lessons learned: we can likely get by with less than 10 acres and be just fine.  In fact, we learned that two people can manage 2-3 acres in full production.  Anything over that seems to require the assistance of interns or generous friends.  Hoop houses seem to be the way to go in extending the growing season and increasing yield per acre.

Firefly Farm Hoop House

Firefly Farm Hoop House

I was particularily aware of the different atmosphere of each farm.  Some are hippy-driven, communal living situations where people seem to want to just live happily off the land.  Others are family-based businesses which are still warm and fuzzy feeling, but definitely driven to succeed.  Lastly, there are farms that are pure business.  There is an obvious concern and passion for sustainable living, but the farm is their job. They are keenly aware that it is their livelihood, and needs to be treated appropriately.  I am personally drawn to the communal living situation and the idea of living sustainably for ourselves regardless of profit whereas W is drawn to the latter situation and wants to farm in order to retire.  I hope somewhere along the way we can manage to find a happy medium.

Gladheart Yurt

Gladheart Yurt

All in all we had two very enjoyable days with new friends and old acquantinces.

Mountain Farm "Kid Barn"

Mountain Farm "Kid Barn"

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Bees galore

In March, W & I (and about 1300 other people) had the privilege of attending the Organic Grower’s School.  We always learn quite a bit and made the decision this year to split up for individual classes.  W opted for Building an Outdoor Clay Oven and I took Beginning Beekeeping.  Neither of us were disappointed with our choice.  W built an oven start to finish and came out of the process feeling confident he could recreate it himself (and quite dirty).  I came out of the class with a grand desire for a hive of my very own.  The level-headed suggestion from the class was that each of us should spend some quality time with a beekeeper before jumping in and starting our own hives.

So since class I have been dutifully bugging David and Tina to allow me to come over whenever they happen to open their hives and they have been kind enough to humor me.  I’ve been twice now – once when David was just checking on the hives and (significantly more exciting I must say) today when he was in the middle of catching a swarm.  Someone’s wayward bees (a wild hive maybe?) had planted themselves in the top of a quite tall hollow tree.  David managed to get himself up there and cut down the top, lowering it gently to the ground.  He then relocated the bees in the top of the tree as well as those in a bucket he collected prior to cutting into the tree.  The whole process was enthralling.  W took a couple pics from a safe distance and I shot a few of the tree and bees.  You can click on those below to see larger images.

Needless to say, I returned home and promptly ordered my very own hive.  🙂

Bees - Suiting UpBees - Cutting down treeBees - lowering topBees - Top of TreeBees - moving to hiveBees - Frame2 Bees - Frame

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I stand in awe of all created things

I absolutely adore the color & texture of this plant that lives beside our house.  It is forever changing, but this time of year is by far my favorite.

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Farms Galore

We had an exciting two weeks – Eddie Izzard in Nashville, lunch beside Julia Butterfly Hill, and the Mountain Farm Tour (always my favorite).  Eddie Izzard was hilarious as expected.  He never disappoints.  W and I enjoyed Nashville.  It was our first visit and we did many of the touristy things, but also trekked out on our own a bit. 

The Farm Tour was nothing short of spectacular and it renewed my need for the solace that comes with a simplier life.  Don’t get me wrong, I know the work will be hard and there will be days that we’ll regret the decision to own a farm, but I think on the whole the satisfaction will outweigh the hardships. 

We visited an old favorite – Firefly Farm – and were glad to see they seem to be doing quite well.  We also visited Full Circle Family Farm, a first for us.  We were quite impressed.  They are completely off grid and appear to be mostly self-sustaining.  They have 11 acres in total – 1 1/2 in production – and grow tons of veggies, raise goats & chickens and keep bees.  I could picture myself living on that land and feeling satisfied.

We listened to the Alchemist on the way to Nashville and can only feel that the search for land and that type of life is now our own personal destiny.

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