Friday, March 30, 2018

Garden Friday

Garden Friday finds us excited about spring!
The temperatures finally got into the 70's this week,
and we are working on the garden almost daily.

The straw bale garden will be planted today.
This week I worked on realigning the soaker hose.
Here's how the bales looked before.
The next time I do a straw bale garden,
it will most likely be laid out with bales end to end,
instead of sitting next to each other.
It just makes more sense.

I found this soaker hose at the ReStore in town for only $3.
It was snaked around each bale
to get better watering coverage.

Can I tell you how much I'm diggin' this way of watering?
Just turn on the spigot and walk away!
I'm planning on expanding the system to include other parts of the garden

I realized this hose that was left here by the previous owners
is a soaker hose!

These containers are currently taking up space between the bales,
so the soaker hose can water them too.
After the growing season, I'll revisit their placement
and see if I want to do a separate container garden elsewhere.

I had some wire just sittin' around,

so I cut it into strips

and fashioned garden staples out of them.

They aren't quite as heavy-duty as the ones made out of thicker wire,
but they'll do in a pinch.

I also used some to kink off the end of the hose

until I remembered Big K telling me that the other soaker hose had a cap.

There just seems to be no end to the goodies coming our way.
I got all of this fabulous wire from someone on Craig's List.
I simply posted an ad that I was looking for chicken wire,
and the nicest folks contacted me and let me have it all.
It will be used for trellising, making arches and 
possibly used to keep rabbits out of the garden.
What a beautiful example of God's abundance in my life..

 I did a quick inventory of what seeds I still need to get for the veggie garden.
I keep a garden journal, but I can't say I'm that good at keeping up with it.
My veggie seeds are kept in an old enamelware tin.
(I think I might need to look for something bigger.)

 I'm a bit behind on seedlings, 
but the deck is starting to become peppered with lil' pots.
This is the northeast side of the property,
so it gets a good 6 hours a day of sunlight.
It's so easy to work out there,
because it's right off the kitchen.
Having a table to work on would be a good idea.
I'll have to keep my eye out for something utilitarian.

 I'm hoping to grow more herbs this year.
I love the idea of doing a wheeled herb garden.
That's where you take an old metal wagon wheel
and plant herbs in between the spokes.
These herbs will be shared with Sister's momma.

The garlic, kale, leek, and shallots,
all sown last year, are still growing strong.

 My flower seeds are kept in this worn ammo tin.
It's waterproof and pretty heavy-duty.
I love old.

I noticed there is mint coming up near the container garden.
It sure wasn't planted by me.
I know better than to plant mint in soil,
as it can be highly invasive.
There is nothing else growing over here,
so I think I'll just let it be.

The last two days have been absolutely gorgeous!
We are enjoying the blooms coming up every day.

 The first azalea blossom showed itself this week.

Bee Heaven!
 It is outstanding that we can have a lawn that looks like this
and no one bothers us about it!
(I still have flashbacks of the trouble with our HOA in Florida.)
The bees can go to town!

 We've been delighted to have these fresh-cut tulips in the house.
They are fanciful and bring a bit o' spring to every room.

Spring has sprung!

I hope that you are able to rejoice in springtime pleasures!
Each day brings new blessings.
Be Blissed!

Happy Easter and Passover to those who celebrate!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Sweet Music

A few months ago, Sister and I attended a craft show in Mooresville.
There, we came upon a booth like no other.
Mr. Thomas Gillian is an artist who crafts dulcimers.
It was such a pleasure talking with him,
and he was kind enough to teach me a tune.
At that time, I shared how enchanted I became with this glorious instrument.
You can read about it here.
(Scroll to nearly the end of the post.)

Well, the time had come to take the next step.
I had been saving for one of my own,
and I figured that if I was still as charmed by this lilting sound
by the time I had enough to purchase one, then it was meant to be.
The fascination hasn't waned, so I called Mr. Thomas.
He handcrafts these gorgeous instruments at his home in Hickory, NC.

He suggested that I try out each of the three wood types,
black walnut, cedar and maple.
I was drawn immediately to the maple,
not only because of the stunning dark striations against the light color,
but the curious connection (maple) to this blog.
After playing the song that Mr. Thomas originally taught me at the craft show,
Sister helped me with the decision,
but in the end, the cedar dulcimer chose me.
The sound is amazingly clear and resonates so exquisitely .

 Music practice in the afternoon is now one of my favorite times of the day.
Having played guitar in the past,
I can tell you that this instrument is much simpler.
The bonus for me is that, although I played guitar and sang in choirs for years,
I never really got the hang of reading music.
The dulcimer lends itself well to those 
who are intimidated about learning a new skill, but want to explore a musical instrument.

As I tackle each new song in my accompanying songbook,
I feel a bit more confident and relaxed.
Even C gave me a boost when he told me
that he recognized one of the songs I was playing.
That keeps me motivated to keep practicing.
Hopefully, by the time the holidays roll around,
I'll have many hours of playing under my belt
and I will be able to scratch out some carols for us to enjoy.
In the meantime,
I will continue to get my practice time in and enjoy the journey.
I am grateful to Mr. Thomas for using his talents
to enrich so many lives.

What new skills do you want to undertake?

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Lincolnton Community Garden Workday

It started out as a gloomy Saturday morning,
but there was work to be done.

The Lincolnton Community garden workshop would not be deterred!
I recently found out about this organization, attended one of their monthly meetings,
and was so happy to find out that they had a workday coming up!
This is just the type of group with whom I've been interested in communing!
This assembly of garden fanatics enthusiasts serve the community by
tending this property, containing over 2 dozen beds.
We met up at Sally's YMCA in Denver, NC.

The garden beds are rented for $50 per year,
which includes the soil and watering services.
Each lessee has the option to grow whatever they choose in their plot.
There are also beds designated strictly for growing veg for a local food pantry.

On this workday,
we got busy adding and raking in soil for the new season.
When planting time arrives,
the caretakers of each bed will be ready to sow.

The soil was rich and loose, perfect for growing most anything.
Members come and "play in the dirt" as their schedule allows
and make connections with other avid gardeners.

Some folks still have things growing through the winter,

so we added soil where we could in those beds
so as not to disturb what is established.

I love the idea of using this cattle panel
to support top-heavy plants.

There were several beds which utilized cages,
panels or wire mesh for use as future supports.

The other major task we worked on 
was taming the grapevine that had embraced the fence
that encircles the garden beds.
The vine has its own support on which to grow,
but it managed to reach over to the perimeter fencing.
It was pruned back and the posts were moved farther away
so that this should no longer be a problem.

One of our crafty crew fashioned this lovely wreath out of the discards.

The garden has a large compost pile
where weeds and other cuttings are placed.

finished compost!

The shed on the property corrals all the tools needed.

It was a fun morning and with so many helping hands,
we got all of the work done in no time.
I'm looking forward to the next event!

Want to find out more about
starting a Community Garden?
Read this.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Garden Friday

Welcome back to Garden Friday.
Each week, we share what's going on in our North Carolina gardens.
There is so much gardening going on right now,
that it may require daily posts to get caught up!
It's ALL GO(O)D!

 Last week, we showed you how we created potato towers.
I've gotten feedback on this method,
some folks swear by it, others say they didn't have much success with it.
It's all a great experiment!

seed potatoes

 With the towers in place, it was time to plant the taters.
They were cured for a few days,
which just means that they are left to dry out.
We sliced them in half and placed them on a cookie sheet which was covered with a large rag
and placed them on top of the refrigerator.
The vital step in this process is to make sure that you have at least 3 "eyes" on each piece.
These are the spots where the potato leaves sprout and grow up.

 Our materials were gathered and we headed outside.
I decided to make things interesting by planting with three different types of fertilzer.

 In all three towers, vermiculite was added to the soil.
This soil is from a big box store and wasn't as loose as I'd like,
so the vermiculite should help with aeration and drainage.

 In the first tower, rabbit poop was added.
I had gotten this supply from a fellow vendor at the 
Mooresville Farmers' Market last season.

 The second tower was fed with compost tea,
made from turkey poop and aged a good, long while.

In the third tower, the turkey poop (Mighty Grow) that I found at Ford's Seeds
(where I also bought the seed potatoes)
was added.  It will be interesting to see if there are any differences in growth.

Each tower got 7 seed potatoes, nestled into the soil and amendments.

 The cut side is placed down against the soil
so that the "eyes" can find the sun.
The spuds were then covered with a layer of soil.
The pinkish bumps can be seen here
and if all goes according to plan,
that's where the leaves start to sprout.

After some heavy rain, I noticed some of the potatoes were peeking out of the soil.
That's a no-no.  Potatoes don't like the sun.
If they are exposed to sun and start to turn green,
they are not fit to eat, and can make a body very ill.
Only the leaves should be showing themselves,
so I added a layer of composted straw to cover them up.
They've been watered each day when we've had no rain.
They will continue to be water only as needed,
and hopefully, soon, we will be seeing some foliage popping up! 
Once the leaves start to head for the sky,
more soil is added, and then more mulch or straw.
This is done a few times until harvest. 

One  astounding discovery was made earlier in the week
as I was adding leaves to the leaf mulch bin.
This pile was already quite large when we bought the house.
We have an abundance of leaves on the property.
I decided to dig into it to see what might be taking up residence there.

All sorts of wonderful slimy critters were hanging out.
What a goldmine for the garden!
I'll be adding some of these workhorses to the containers
and any beds I may decide to throw together.
They do a fabulous job of composting and adding nutrients to the soil.
There are plans in the works to start a worm bin,
but I guess I have a good running start!

 Although we are still having temperatures overnight in the 30's,
Mother Nature is screaming for spring to begin!
Look at these lovely, delicate Grape Hyacinths (thanks for the i.d., Ben) 
we have speckling our property.
After these have finished blooming,
the plan is to relocate them into some of the established beds,
although these bulbs are fairly easy-going
and can even be transplanted while blooming.

From all accounts, this looks like the foliage of a tulip.
I was thinking maybe they are some sort of parrot tulip,
but now I'm not so sure. 
There is so much to learn about all of these amazing bulbs shooting up.

What a treat to witness all of God's handcrafted wonder.

What's going on in your garden this spring?