Friday, April 27, 2018

Garden Friday & Going Local Series

Welcome to Garden Friday!
We're taking a field trip today to  
just outside of Denver, NC.

 Mike's has been in business for over 10 years
and carries just about everything a gardener could need.

 Don't let this modest building fool you,
Mike's has an expansive selection of plants, tools 
and whatever else you might need to make your gardening dreams come true!

 Just the collection of shrubs and trees alone is shocking.
It was wonderful to stroll through the display
and read about the different varieties on the tags.
A pink dogwood is on my list and they have it,
so I need to get busy with my garden design to make room for it.

 All of the trees looked so healthy and well-cared for.
Here's a Japanese maple, which seems to be quite popular these days.

Inside the greenhouse were more plants than I could count!
Everything from ferns,

 to this unusual black liriope,

to racks and racks of assorted tomato varieties.
They carry other veggies and herbs for your garden as well.

 One of the things I liked best about Mike's,
was that they had a great selection of smaller pots.
I tend to buy the smaller pots so that I can purchase more plants.

 There is a good supply of butterfly-friendly plants.
One of my upcoming projects is putting in a butterfly garden
near our mailbox.
I bought a few things to get it started.
Milkweed is a staple of butterfly gardens,
as it is the host plant for Monarch butterflies,
so I'll have to make sure we have plenty.

 So many colors and textures,
I wanted to bring home one of each.

 So many plants, so little garden space...

 This beauty stunned me.
I'm hoping to add some house plants to the homestead.
They clean the air and add a bit of life to the indoors.
I think I may have to go back and pick one of these up.
'Cause you know I'll be back!

Go ahead and pay Mike's a visit 
and see what you can't live without.
Tell 'em daisy sent ya!

Mike's Growers Outlet
1485 S Highway 16
Stanley, North Carolina 28164
(704) 827-5980
Open 7 days a week!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Stuffed Peppers (Vegan)

This is an allergy-friendly meal,
as it contains no gluten, dairy, eggs or nuts.
It's also vegetarian and vegan.
One thing it's not lacking is flavor.
Even Big K sampled it!

A friend told me she made stuffed peppers for her hubby
and when I saw these beautiful peppers on sale,
I knew I wanted to make my own version.

I hollowed out the peppers and chopped up the tops,
 and diced about 1/4 of a yellow onion.
I also added a couple of stalks of chopped celery.
There was some leftover rice from another meal
and I always have beans made ahead and stored in the freezer.
The pinto beans take the place of meat, since I don't eat beef or poultry.
A few simple spices add just the right seasoning.
Here I used chili powder, cumin and sea salt,
but the herbs can be mixed and matched every time this dish is made.

 The veg was sauteed in a bit of olive oil until softened,
 and the spices were added.

 All of the ingredients were combined,
adding a little more olive oil to bind them together.

Before adding the filling, 
the insides of the peppers were salted.
They were then stuffed and baked in the oven 
about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Garden Artistry

Last week,
I paid a visit to a fellow classmate's farm
(we are both enrolled in the Master Gardener program).
I was excited, knowing that anything farm-related
is time well spent.
What I didn't expect 
was the incredible beauty and serenity found.

Welcome to Popple Springs.
These two homesteaders are the caretakers of this 26-acre property in nearby Vale.
They have lived on this family parcel for 2 years 
and have been working toward self-reliance for some time.

Jannah has a background in design, which is highly evident
in her planting beds.
Having been raised here, she has a natural affinity for the land
and all of its inhabitants.
These gardens are truly a labor of love.

Every well-tended bed is a testament 
to steadfast dedication and an undeniable respect for the land.

The diversity of plants is astounding,
and much of the property is low maintenance,
relying on rain water and proper placement to foster the gardens' health and vitality.

Around every corner is another stunning display,
encouraging you to spend some quiet time drinking in the scenery.

Hand-made artwork is showcased throughout the grounds,
such as this simple but elegant wine bottle bird feeder.

This area enticed me to explore further.
The lilac-colored chairs evoke a spiritual vibe,
which was appropriate in this case.

You see, this is Jannah's pet memorial garden,
where she can spend time with those who have gone on.
What a beautiful and touching tribute.

We continued our tour by discovering the food production area.
One of the main reasons John and Jannah moved back here,
was to support a healthy lifestyle,
including growing as much of their own food as possible.
Here, straw bales are used in growing raspberries.

Blackberry plants have been nurtured nearby.

The grapevine has successfully produced fruit
that is used for drinking and jam-making.
We sampled the grape juice, (no sugar added),
 and it was so refreshing.
Jannah is hoping to give wine making a try.

Further back on the property is a large expanse of growing fields.
The peas here are doing well,
and Jannah told me about a new variety she is trying called Tom Thumb,
which only gets up to 8 inches tall and takes less than 2 months until harvest.

Nearby, kales and greens share space.
I love the curves in this bed
which add interest to the design.

Here's a chicken tractor called "The Eglu", (made with recycled plastic), 
that will be moved around as needed. 
This coop comes as a kit and has wheels,
which makes it easy for two people to move.
The model Jannah owns will house 2-3 hens.
Chickens can scratch up the dirt, add their special blend of fertilizer,
and help themselves to any bugs they may find in the garden.

Several cold frames ensure that veggies can be sown year-round.

The raised beds were bursting with goodies.
Jannah also has a large greenhouse in which to start seedlings.
This is my kind of office!

Daily vigilance means that care is taken to meet the needs of each and every crop.

Gourds awaiting processing

The back of the property will host a large pond,
a project still over a year away.
It's plain that planning is key to this farm's success,
and Jannah rises early forming her to-do list.
Completing larger tasks one at a time will make the undertaking less daunting.

Chickens and ducks share a large run on the farm
and work to earn their keep.
These critters provide food, pest control, fertilizer
and hours of entertainment with their antics.
The sound of the hens clucking is somehow soothing.

Headin' in to roost for a spell.

Remember the gourds you saw earlier?
This Purple Martin Condo was fashioned by John
using an old tv antenna and the painted gourds they grew themselves.

Who wouldn't feel right at home here?
I adore the way things are repurposed on this farm.
Unfortunately, we don't have enough open space to host these birds.
It would still be a lot of fun to create the houses 
and maybe donate them to a public or community garden.

What a treat spending time with such a creative spirit and ardent lover of nature.
I'm so appreciative of those who are willing to share their sacred spaces.

It's difficult not to feel motivated to improve your own homestead
when you see what a lot of hard work and vision can create.

I certainly obtained many ideas from visiting with Jannah
and I know it will foster inspiration for quite some time.