Monday, March 31, 2008

We Got the Poop!

The Poop and The Poop Master
(we are now official farmers, because we have our own pitchfork)The Helper
Many, Many Wheelbarrow-loads Full
And A Load To Carry Back Up
Hold On Tight!
Just a Little Ways Left
And Fill 'Er Up Again...
Rich got his workout today, hauling 2 1/2 yards of alpaca manure down our hill. This will make the perfect mulch, though, and we are so excited to get the rest of our paths dug and the beds mulched.

We had our 2nd meeting with our backyard farmers, and it was even better than the first (if that's possible)! We got a new chapter for our book and learned all about succession planting, they helped us to plan out exactly where each vegetable will go in our garden, and left us with a list of homework to do over the next month. They will also be bringing out lots of seeds and starts this week for us to plant!

The weather today was gorgeous--sunny and crisp--a wonderful gift while working outside!

An Update About Nothing to Update About

The weather, and our lives, this last week have been entirely too crazy to get much done in the garden. I cut and set our potatoes out to dry, in order to prepare them for planting...but we are concerned that they are too dry now. I haven't measured the temperature of the soil in the garden, but we have had snow every day this week!

I joined 2 yahoogroups this favorite way to learn about new topics! One for backyard chickens and one for mini dairy goats. We'll see what I can learn...

To respond to Ms. Nosey's question, here is a detailed description of the measurements of our garden:

The entire large garden plot (not counting the separate bed next to the shed) is 52' x 52', which I keep calculating over and over and it keeps adding up to be 2700 sq. ft...which seems entirely too huge.

The section shown in the picture is 368 sq. ft., including the un-composted paths.

We have re-scheduled the alpaca poop-gathering mission for tomorrow. Wish us luck. :)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Cold Streak

Yesterday and today we have had snow and hail, and it is supposed to continue for the rest of the week. It is so beautiful and exciting to look out our windows and see the snowflakes falling. Very strange, though, that it is the end of March and doing this--especially after such spring-y weather in February. I wonder what would've happened if we already got our peas, shallots, and potatoes in the ground??

Rich turned the compost in with the soil last night, with a shovel. He said he just took a big scoop and turned it over. We'll see if we're doing this right on Tuesday...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


The plan to get manure this morning went to poop (ha ha ha!) when Rich & my dad couldn't get the uniloader out of the trailer that was supposed to haul said poop. They quickly switched to plan B and went to Portland Nursery to buy the compost we needed to prepare our beds, and we will make a trip to get the alpaca dung another day.
Rich carried all of the bags down the looooong hill to the garden shed, and from there we spread the mushroom compost, and then the planting compost evenly over the beds. This was like the blind leading the blind...neither of us have any experience getting beds ready to plant, but hopefully our backyard farmers can tell us if we really screwed it up next week when they come.
Kylin helped out by picking weeds, looking for earthworms (and buried treasure), and rounding up all of the stray empty compost bags.

30 bags of compost: 20 E.B. Stone Organic Planting Compost,
10 E.B. Stone Organic Mushroom Compost
Cold in the shade
But warm in the sun!
UrbanHippieMama, spreading the love
Aren't they beeee-u-teeful?
This is 243 sq. ft. of bed space, 368 sq. ft. total (including paths)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Why Trim Back Perfectly Good Ferns?

In the middle of shaving all of the fronds off of what felt like the 100th fern today, I wondered why I was doing this. I have heard stories of old family habits being passed down from generation to generation, even though the function was obsolete. So, why do you cut all of the beautiful, full, green fronds off of a fern?!? I think Stan had said that if you don't do it all at once now, then when these fronds turn brown and the new ones grow in you have to sort them out of the new growth... I guess that makes sense. Maybe I will leave one like it is (with all of its pretty green fronds) and see what happens.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

When the Going Gets Tough

As I meditatively clipped the raspberry bushes yesterday while basking in the warm spring sun, a distinct thought occurred to me: "Am I going to love working out here this much even when it is pouring down rain?" Well, today was that day.

We knew we had to get a little more done today, to prepare for the manure we will get on Tuesday (which is supposed to be another rainy day), so when we woke up and saw the gray clouds we heaved a little sigh. After breakfast we donned our rubber boots, each strapped a bundled baby on our backs, and headed out back. I, in my infinite naivety optimism, assumed that this task of measuring and staking out the garden plot that we are going to use this season would be quick. Rich had drawn up the design very anally carefully, I had critiqued it we had discussed it several times, and it seemed we had a plan that would be easy to execute and aesthetically pleasing to both of us.

Somehow these undertakings never perform as smoothly or with as low of blood pressure as I would appreciate. Somehow I get my panties in a bunch and get myself all frustrated and overly critical over silly little nothings.

A knock-knock joke**, to illustrate what I'm trying to say:

Me: "Knock-Knock"
You: "Who's there?"
Me: "Control freak"
You: (about to take a breath)
Me: (before you have a chance to respond) "Now you're supposed to say 'control freak, who?' "

Yah. That's me.

Lets just say that I was secretly glad that it began raining enough that it warranted me taking Kiran into the house to keep him dry, so that I could save face and manage to not be any more annoying than I was already being.

So, despite my nay-saying and poo-pooing his plan, Rich has managed to stake out our beautiful and interesting garden plot, and get it ready for poop-spreading.

**Courtesy of Leah

Saturday, March 22, 2008

First Garden Adventure

Today was forecasted to be the only nice day of the weekend, and boy, was it nice! After helping my sister move, Rich came home and we went to work in the garden, cutting off the old growth from the raspberry bushes. The previous owner did a magnificent job taking care of this place, especially considering he lived in another state for the last 2 years, but the garden is in need of a little bit of work before we can start planting.
The boys, ready to get dirty
Along for the ride
"Green is Growing"
What's left (you can see the pile of raspberry brambles)
This summer's crop!!

After Rich went to work I ran some errands. When I returned home the boys were both sleeping in their carseats. I decided to take advantage of the baby-free moment and do some weeding and trimming in the front yard, where it is more difficult to work without them running into the street (to go visit Leah and Mayan-dore).

Stan had told me that the ferns should be cut back now, to make way for the new growth and to expose the beautiful trilliums for their spring appearance. It took me 2 weeks to get to it, and I'm really glad I did it today because they are already blossoming. I wouldn't want to miss any of their beauty!
The ferns were still very gorgeous
It's a shame to have to look at them like this for awhile
But this is what I uncovered
Kiran woke up, halfway into the 2nd fern, so I wore him on my back. What a great workout!

I bought these gardening gloves at New Seasons and after wearing them today I really like them. They are cotton with a rubber palm--very comfortable to wear, breathable, and not bulky.
Tomorrow is supposed to be very rainy, and not sure about Monday, but Tuesday we are going to get a load of alpaca manure to put on the garden!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Our Backyard Farmers

I have always considered myself a "black thumb" when it came to growing things or keeping things alive. Houseplants never survive me, the tomato plants I planted in my dad's garden were severely neglected, I send the amaryllis that I get as an annual gift from a relative to my parents' house to live because it always dies at mine and flourishes at theirs.

But, when we first saw this house, one of the aspects that we fell in love with was the garden and the idea of growing our own food. This endeavor has opened a whole new world to us, in which we are developing a homestead that is more sustainable and self-sufficient than we had anticipated. Our vision and plans are evolving so quickly but in such a natural way--it is almost like we stepped onto a train that is leading intuitively down this path.

Because we are embarking on a completely foreign venture, we decided it would be tremendously helpful--both now and for years to come--if we laid a solid foundation by getting some guidance right from the start. We had our first meeting with Donna and Robyn, our Backyard Farmers, and from the first 5 minutes we sat down and talked with them Rich and I were overcome with excitement (for what we are going to be creating), relief (from imagining what this journey may have been like without their help), and ideas (for our soon-to-be garden).

We first talked through the technical aspects of hiring them as consultants for the 9-month program. They will come out once a month for 2 hours, bring us a new chapter to the notebook we are building and referring to, teach us what we need to be doing for that month, and leave us with the seeds and transplants to put into our garden. When we are finished in November, we will not only have enjoyed fresh produce from our own backyard for 9 months, but we will have a personalized month-by-month notebook outlining how we did it so that we can re-create it and perfect it next year.

In addition to the notebook, we have been instructed to keep a journal, documenting our gardening adventure. Everything we do in the garden needs to be recorded: sowing/planting dates, soil temperatures, harvest dates, any extreme weather, and all info we may want to refer to at a later date. I'm sure you are not surprised, but we have decided to keep this journal online--as another blog. I just can't help but love the medium--it is easily searchable, archivable, I can add photos, links to helpful sites...everything I need to help refresh my memory.

So, today we begin the UrbanHippie Farm... stay tuned to witness our trials, mishaps, and joys in the months to come.