Friday, November 16, 2018

C's Birthday!

We're taking Garden Friday off this week.
In the first place,
with the miserable weather we've had,
there is not a thing going on out there.

But, more importantly,
it's my baby boy's 18th birthday!
Where in the name of Mike did the time go?
We love you more than chocolate, Legos,
and tractors!
We are SO glad you were born!
Big love,
Momma & Dad & Auntie

"May the good Lord be with you, down every road you roam.
And may sunshine and happiness 
surround you when you're far from home.
And may you grow to be proud, dignified and true.
And do unto others as you'd have done to you.
Be courageous and be brave,
and in my heart you'll always stay,
Forever young.
Forever young."
~Rod Stewart

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Another Dream Come True!

I recently reflected on the dream job I've been doing
for almost a year.
My self-proclaimed job title is "garden fairy",
as I am not a professionally trained gardener,
and it just seems to fit better.
 Thankfully, that assignment is still in place,
and the folks for whom I am working seem pleased with my efforts.
What a blessing they have been in my life,
in so many ways.

I started an additional job last week.
This new appointment takes place at another private home,
with someone I met through a volunteer activity.
The initial goals are to tidy up the gardens for spring planting,
(thus keeping my job title firmly in place),
and to organize the tool shed,
a secondary skill I adore polishing.
Progress has already been made,
and I'm hoping that the goals I have set for myself
can be accomplished before the harshest of weather descends.

God got me these gigs, that goes without saying.
I've learned that the more I learn to trust and let go,
the better things turn out.
I just needed to get out of my own way. 
 This blog was started many years ago
with the intention of creating, sharing, and teaching.
The name "Maple Hill 101" just came to me,
as things sometimes do without effort. 
As I sat quietly while on my lunch break at this most recent job,
it occurred to me that I was surrounded by maple trees.
It was all the assurance I needed to confirm
that God has a plan for me.
I either trust Him, or I don't.

It's almost overwhelming to think about the depth of gratitude in my heart.
I could just weep when I think of how privileged I feel
to be able to do a job that is so fulfilling, so intrinsically rewarding,
and with full knowledge that it is an instrument of service to others.
I can't seem to decide which fills my heart more,
that God is using me to help others,
or that I get paid to do what I love.
I guess it doesn't really matter,
because when you figure out what you are meant to do,
everything is right with the world.

It is my most heartfelt prayer
that others are able to live their dreams, 
as I am doing now. 
I urge you to sit back and just listen.
Even if you're a late bloomer like me,
it can happen.

Be Blissed!

"My riches consist not in the extent of my possessions,
but in the fewness of my wants."
~Joseph Brotherton

Friday, November 9, 2018

Garden Friday

 It's Garden Friday!
Mid-November finds the garden pretty quiet.
We are in a state of transition as we await colder weather.

With Sunday's predicted temperatures in the 30's,
we will be covering our sugar snap peas in the hugelkultur bed
so that we might be able to get at least one harvest in.
This variety grows amazingly well back in Florida during the winter,
but it may be just too doggone cold here.
Time will tell.

 The kale in the same bed will not be covered all winter long.
Last year, I was able to grow kale through freezes, snow and ice!

 The carrots will remain uncovered as well,
although because they are grown in a container,
it would be easy enough to do.

In one of the smaller raised beds,
the shallots finally showed themselves.
They are growing along the garlic 
Can you believe the flowers we are still getting?

 Surprisingly, the lettuce that was reseeded a couple of weeks ago
in the hugelkultur bed is popping up.
We have buttercrunch, green oakleaf and red salad bowl varieties.

 There are backups in cell packs to ensure that the lettuce keeps on coming!

 The cabbage seedlings seem to be responding to the 
worm casting compost tea they've been given weekly.

The leaves are flying like crazy here the last week or so.
As far as I'm concerned, it makes a great groundcover.

 And some of the foliage around the neighborhood is striking!
Look at this beautiful crimson bush right across the street.
So amazing!

 Back in our garden, we still have plenty of blooms.
But with temperatures getting ready to take a nosedive this weekend,
we may not see them for long.

 The tithonia is one flower I never want to be without in the garden.

 It's the most vibrant shade of orange, one of my favorite colors.
Even though I planted these rather late in the season,
we've been graced with many a blossom to take us right into autumn.

The spent blooms are stunning!
Just look at the detail and intricacy in each flower head.

 Shades of blue are my absolute favorite to use in the garden.
Here is a grouping by the front porch
that adds some bold color to the front of the house.
Alyssum, lantana and salvia in various tones of indigo.

 Of course, pansies are a staple around here in winter.
They add not only color,
but a bright, cheery feeling to our front door.
The enamelware pot is one of my favorite materials.

What's going on where you are this second week of November?

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Fermented Ketchup (gf,cf,sf,df)

With gut health in mind,
I've decided to introduce more fermented foods into our diets.
Keeping the gut balanced with the right good bacteria
enables us to be our healthiest
because our bodies are working at their peak.
Our son C had to give up ketchup
since he tested sensitive to corn on his last allergy test. 
Most commercial ketchup (and other condiments)
are made with white vinegar, which is corn-based.

I was so happy that he said he would be willing to try 
homemade fermented ketchup.

With just a handful of ingredients,
we were able to throw this recipe together.

 This concoction couldn't be easier to put together
and it's free of gluten, corn, sugar and dairy.
Just throw everything in a bowl and whisk.
I like that it uses water kefir,
something we're already making daily for gut health.
The texture can be adjusted to your liking
by adding more water.
This recipe is loosely based on 
We always change things up a bit to our taste.

After sitting on the counter for a few days,
it was ready to refrigerate.
C gave it a big thumb's up
and that's good enough for me.
Something else to cross off the shopping list!

Fermented Ketchup
(Doug & Stacey You Tube)
1 can tomato paste
2 T water kefir (or whey)
1/4 C apple cider vinegar
1/8 t black pepper
3/4 t salt
5 T honey (we added less)
2-4 T water (to taste)
(I added about 1/2 t of garlic powder.)

Friday, November 2, 2018

Garden Friday

Welcome to Garden Friday, y'all!
We have been loving the weather this week.
Can you believe it's already November?
Here's what's going on in our garden.

We were blessed to receive a ton of bulbs from a couple of friends.
These are day lilies that will bloom in springtime.
Many had been given away to some of the Master Gardeners,
but we still had an ample amount to decorate our property.

Since these hadn't been divided as soon as was ideal,
the root system was fairly outta control.
I trimmed them a bit and also cut the tops down to a few inches.
If day lilies are too crowded, they don't bloom as well,
so it really is advisable to divide them every few years.
The bonus is that you have some to share!

The best tool for the job of digging them up as well as planting them is a pitch fork.
When you are retrieving them from the ground,
it lifts them up without much trauma.
When they are being installed,
loosening up the soil just a bit makes them easier to plant.
As a no-till gardener, I try to disturb the soil as little as possible.

As you can see here, we have friends in low places.

After removing any dead leaves, the lilies were planted near the surface.
Firmly tamping them down with your hand helps the roots get established in their new home.

They will happily hibernate all winter long
and come spring, we should have a pleasing pop of orange and yellow color.

Placing the branches as a border will ensure
that the mower stays away from the tender bulbs.

 In the veggie beds, slow but steady progress is giving us hope.
This premium kale variety is actually getting some size to it.
I can't wait to harvest and taste it for the first time.
I've never grown this particular kale before,
but so far, I've never met a kale I didn't like!

 The 4 Seasons lettuce that germinated is beginning to grow.
This was directly seeded in the hugelkultur bed,
and this is one of the only lettuce varieties that actually came up.

An improvement in the tat soil was noticed this week.
I'm not sure if it was just waiting for cooler temperatures,
but it seems to be doing better.
This Chinese green is a wonderful addition to salads.

 I'm hopeful that these golden beets will 
be able to be transplanted to one of the raised beds.

 Two types of chard were transplanted from cell packs
to the hugelkultur bed.
This is the first time I'm growing this crop,
but my neighbor swears it's the best thing since sliced bread.
Time will tell.

The container broccoli is doing well since being fertilized.
I'll continue to add the turkey poop every month until harvest.

We are also still getting lots of blossoms,
although we've had close to frost these past few mornings.
The nasturtiums should do well for quite some time. 

 The profusion of pigment has surprised me this close to Thanksgiving.

I've been able to cut some blooms to bring in the house.
Time was taken to prune a few evergreens as well,
to add some seasonal elements to our indoor space.

 The alyssum thrives at this time of year.
It is spilling out all over our front butterfly bed
and the pollinators have taken notice.
So grateful to be able to provide food for our friends.

The lantana has been flowering nonstop since late spring.
This is one plant that keeps on giving.
It will be interesting to see what happens once the real cold hits.
Will it come back?
We'll have to wait and see!

 Soon, it will be time once again to gather leaves
so that our leaf bin can be filled with compost helpers.
It's a big job, but an activity I relish.
A fellow gardener in the neighborhood has already told me
that he plans to ask neighbors for leaves,
so I will have my competition for this valuable resource.

 Even the lemongrass is nodding toward autumn.
This year an experiment will be performed.
I will cut back the larger of the two plants and cover it with mulch,
while leaving this smaller plant uncovered for the winter months.
If this one doesn't make it, I'll still have the other to divide in the spring.

This year finds me so grateful to be living this seasonal life.
It just feels right in a way that living in Florida
(with 9 months of summer)
never did.

 Autumn has us slowing down just a bit,
readying us for colder weather and more time indoors.
For now though, as much time as possible is being spent
in the great outdoors.

Soon our suet feeders will be full,
and we will enjoy the knowledge that nature is part of who we are
and we can do our part to get them through the months to come.
What a remarkable responsibility.