Friday, February 15, 2019

Garden Friday

Welcome to Garden Friday!
It's actually starting to feel like spring around here!
Several sprays of daffs have been noticed around the neighborhood,
and it looks like we will be enjoying some in our yard soon too!
Temperatures here are still in the 30's overnight,
but we've had a few brilliant days in the 50's with ample sunshine.

 Recently our local Soil and Water Conservation District
had a tree seedling sale.
According to their website, this department 
"offers free technical assistance to landowners in the county 
with land management, drainage, wetlands, soils information, 
best management practices and other land resource problems".

white pine

I was able to pick up a smattering of white pine,
red bud and red cedar tree seedlings for under $20.
The goal is to add some privacy around our property
using these evergreen varieties.
What a bargain for the homeowner! 

With the weather cooperating,
I was able to get some veg seeds started.
My handy-dandy tweezers help with small seeds like lettuce.

I sowed a few trays of different lettuce varieties,
some broccoli, cabbage, kale and thyme.
The trays have been monitored to ensure they stay moist.

They will remain covered until germination takes place.
I checked them yesterday,
and no sign of it yet.
Once they have sprouted, the covers can come off during the day,
so that they can drink up the sunshine.
At night, they will be covered again,
until temperatures warm up a bit more.

 Much to my surprise,
some carrots were ready to be picked.
We roasted them yesterday with some other veggies.
The tub I grew these in somewhat stunted their growth,
so they will be sown in the raised beds from now on.

 I am absolutely blown away by this parsley!
It was planted months ago,
and made it through the winter uncovered and virtually ignored.
I'll be picking some for the freezer this weekend.

Another pleasant surprise was this broccoli growing
despite miserable conditions this winter.
We can never grow enough broccoli around here.
Both C and myself could eat it everyday.

Some of the crops in the hugelkultur bed are still trying to make something of themselves.
This Green Oakleaf looks scrumptious,

 and this Swiss chard is coming right along.
These crops have not had much attention and yet, keep right on growing.
Isn't Mother Nature just a wonder?

I'm not sure what happened to the cover crops.
This was the first time I have tried growing these,
so I'm not sure exactly what they should look like.
I guess I was thinking they would be taller.
The idea with cover crops is to keep the soil covered during the colder months,
to deter weeds, keep the soil warmer and enable earlier spring planting.

 These are the new raised rows I put in last fall.
I am still trying to decide on the final design of the garden.
I'm leaning toward all raised beds,
but the raised rows are less work and maintenance,
so the jury is still out.
We'll see how the crops do this season before making a final decision.

Meet my new best friend.
We have had a time gathering leaves, twigs,
sawdust and straw in the past couple of weeks 
since Big K brought it home.
It's been a regular rake-o-rama!
I love me some raking!

It seems that finally we are making some progress in the garden.
Slowly but surely, that task list will be tackled.
We are forecasted to have a week's worth of rain
without any letup.
So, although it will be a great time to install those tree seedlings,
not much tray work will get done.
Ah well.  
A gardener is at the mercy of the weather.

"Show me your garden
and I shall tell you what you are."
~Alfred Austin

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Morning Glory Muffins

I used to live on these in college.  
I remember many a day between classes,
sitting in the cafeteria and being amazed at the flavor of these treats.
And knowing they were a pretty decent snack
(heck, they are almost a meal in themselves),
made it even easier to savor every bite.
This recipe is based on one I found on  
but I've tweaked it per usual to accommodate my preferences.
The original recipe had a bit too much cinnamon 
and I decided to use pineapple instead of apples.
The biggest surprise was how much texture the flax seed gives them.
Wasn't sure I would like the addition,
but I'm sold.

Morning Glory Muffins

2 C flour
1 1/4 C sugar
2 t baking soda
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt
2 C shredded carrots
1/2 C walnuts
1/2 C shredded apple (I used pineapple)
1/4 C flax seed
3 eggs
1 C light olive oil
2 t vanilla
1-3 T pineapple juice

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl.
Whisk to aerate.
Add carrots, pineapple (or apple)
and remaining wet ingredients.
Stir well to combine.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Insert paper liners in muffin tins
(I made one tray of mini-muffins
and one tray of standard size muffins.)
Fill liners full (these don't raise much).
Bake 20 minutes for mini-muffins,
25-30 minutes for standard size.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019


With glorious conditions over the last couple of weeks,
it seemed like a great time to tame this storage shed.
This roomy building houses mostly garden & lawn equipment
and tools.
There is also a loft upstairs in which some furnishings are kept.
Its generous size ensures plenty of storage space 
for unused items.
The double set of doors each lead to their own space.
The area on the right has already been organized.
I forgot to take before photos,
but the after shots come later in this post.

Here's how the left side of the shed looked when I started.
As you can see, there is still plenty of room for items,
it only needed a bit of tweaking and sweeping.

The first thing I did was to empty it out of almost everything.
The heavy bags of soil against the right wall required a hand truck,
so that they could be taken to the other side of the shed.
I also used some nails to hang up the large rounds of cables,
to free up some of the floor space.
Whenever possible when organizing, I use the vertical space.

Next, I dealt with the hanging tools.
There are tools here for cleaning, gardening and lawn care.
The white cabinet was moved over to the end of these hanging rods.

I sorted the hanging tools into like piles.
There are repeats of some of the items,
but at this time we are not purging anything, just reorganizing what is there.

Even though we didn't rid ourselves of any tools,
there is ample hanging space for all of it.
Like items were hung together.
We will go through the contents at another time
to see if anything can be donated or sold.

Another task I had in mind
was to clean and sharpen anything that will be staying.
Now is a great time to tend to tools
so that they are ready for spring gardening duties.

The items on the upper rafters were not touched,
but we can tackle that on another day,
when I have access to a ladder so that I can reach everything easily.
There are a couple of shepherd's hooks that need to come down,
to accommodate new bird feeders.

For now, things are a bit tidier,
and I made sure to leave room between the collection of trash cans in the background,
so that the contents are available as needed.

Here's the before and after.
Not bad, huh?

Here's the right side of the shed that had been spiffed up previously.
What a fabulous structure to have onsite. 

A spacious potting bench lines one wall.
For now, we have placed the terra cotta pots on top,
and some odds and ends underneath.
The sink right next to it is so handy.

This storage cabinet was actually upstairs with the furniture,
but wasn't being used.

It was the perfect solution for storing all of the other pots
that had previously taken up much of the shelving space.
The heavier pots were placed near the bottom,
as the cabinet is not secured to the wall.

This was an enjoyable and very satisfying project.
In fact, I almost felt guilty getting paid to do it,
but I got over that.
My intention is to make my clients' lives easier,
more manageable, or at the very least, less worrisome.
Who doesn't want to make their  lives easier?

Do you have any spring organizing tasks planned?

Friday, February 8, 2019

Garden Friday

 Welcome to Garden Friday!
Guess who came-a-calling this week?
These bluebirds were captured by C yesterday
and seemed very interested in one of the two new birdhouses installed.
How exciting to be able to enjoy watching these sweet things
raise a family.
It has sure felt a lot like spring this week!
Yesterday's high was 77.
Wow, I could get used to that.

It was a busy week for me,
as I was occupied with tidying up several gardens,
none of which were mine.
One of the first tasks I want to tackle this weekend
is reorganizing and tidying up my outdoor work area. 
I'm also hoping to get to the actual garden zone,
to rake up leaves, check on the cover crops 
and pull out any stray veg that didn't stand a chance this winter.

The good news is that Big K and I found seed starting mix in the store.
We picked up a few bags so that we can get a jump start on sowing in trays.
(Of course, you realize, when I say "we", I mean me.
Big K is not a dirt lover.)
Oh, it did my heart good to see those shelves filled with gardening rations.
I've just been itchin' to get something started!

 I pulled out the seeds for the spring garden
that I can start within the next four weeks.
This weekend's selection will include beets, broccoli, bush beans, 
cabbage (red), kale, lettuce, spinach and tat soi.
Toward the end of the month or just into March,
I will start carrots, snap peas and Yukon Gold potatoes.
From the looks of it, I really need to use my growing space
much more efficiently or build some more beds.
It seems that every year, I yearn to try new things.
One thing is certain, 
my mouth is anticipating 
some home-grown lettuce and kale.

 Here are just a few of the varieties ordered from High Mowing Organic Seeds.
This is the first time I've ordered from them,
and I'm looking forward to seeing how they do.
One of the things I like about this company
is all the research, trials and information they share with their customers.
Real people growing these varieties have given ample feedback,
which makes it so much easier to make selections.
All of the seeds from this company are organic and open-pollinated.
That's the way I like to do business.

How are things shaping up in your spring garden?

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Clean Sweep

The last few weeks have been a bit of a challenge.
First, the boys got bad colds
with a cough that lingered for a couple of weeks.
Then I came down with some mystery tummy problem.
Still trying to figure that one out,
but I'm getting closer.
We've been sticking pretty close to home,
only venturing out for the bare necessities.

With all that nesting time,
it seemed like a great opportunity to do some tweaking around the ole' homestead.
The beginning of the year always gets me fired up
to reorganize and rethink what's working or not.

C's room needed an overhaul.
I can't even tell you how disgusted I was with it.
I couldn't bring myself to post pictures on here,
because I just want to forget it ever looked so bad.
The boy did not inherit his momma's organizing gene.
Or maybe it's just a teenage thing
(although I know my room never looked like a war zone).
He just gets so involved in his projects, 
that he loses focus on what's piling up around him.
It's mighty tough on a neatnik like me.
I tolerated it for a good while,
thinking that if he just kept the door closed,
I wouldn't have to look at it.

Well, I've come to my senses.
Last week, we took everything out of his room except for his furniture.
We cleaned it from top to bottom,
dusting, mopping, vacuuming.
Then, bit by bit, we went through every single item he owns,
cleaning it as we went, and made the decision about what would stay.
Here's what his closet looks like now,
with room left for a few more items he will be sorting.

 I also emptied his drawers in the closet
and replaced the items he recently washed
(thankfully, he now does his own laundry).
His clothes have been poorly treated,
becoming wrinkled because he would just stuff them in there.
He is a minimalist when it comes to clothing,
he does take after me in that way.
This week, after he does his wash,
I plan to show him how to properly fold everything
so that it can fit into his drawers neatly.
I will most likely post pictures in the closet,
as visual cues often help kids with autism in learning new tasks.
Everyday things need to be broken down to make them manageable.

 His bookcase is looking better,
although he needs to go through and see what books he no longer reads
so that they can be donated.
He is an avid reader and spends some time each day
engaging in this pastime.
Yes, a few of us still like turning real, paper pages.

 His fire alarm panel takes up part of one wall.
You might notice in the first picture
that he has bins full of this equipment.
It's something he's been interested in for years,
and he uses his knowledge of electronics
to make it work however he wants.
I love that his interests are so unique and intriguing.

He has yet to go through a few bins to see
what else he doesn't want anymore.
He knows it can't all fit in there,
the hard part for him is letting go.
My job is to help him understand
that items in his limited space need a purpose.
Easier said than done.
I have to admit, he did purge quite a bit more than I thought he would. 
The shocker came when he told me (more than once)
that it was fun to do this activity!

While we worked on most of this project together,
he now has a few solo tasks to complete.
His desktop needs attention.
This is where he often works on his Lego creations.
The system is not working as well as we had hoped,
so we will probably come up with different storage underneath.
The desktop was actually a door we bought from a ReStore,
but it's no longer the best option.
We'll be looking for something with more height,
so that he can have more bins for brick sorting.

These black drawers work very well for Legos.
They are designed for nuts, bolts and screws in a garage application,
but they are ideal for housing all of his bricks
and he has even labeled the drawers. 
This shows me that the potential is there for organization
and maybe some of me rubbed off on him after all!

I've been helping sort these pieces so that he can put them where they belong.
I know it may sound crazy,
but I find sorting very relaxing.
Maybe because I know that eventually, 
things will end up in their proper place.

Our next task will be to come up with a plan
so that he can more easily keep things in order.
Feeling overwhelmed is not a pleasant state of mind,
and his room should be a place of rest and creativity.
Hopefully, he is now motivated to keep it up.
We'll see how it looks in six months!