Friday, November 30, 2018

Garden Friday

It's slim pickins' this Garden Friday.
With the seasons seemingly going from summer to winter
without much autumn in between,
the garden is at nearly a standstill.
The only thing growing with any vigor is the kale.
I pulled up a few teeny carrots just to take a taste.
Sweet as sugar, but not enough to feed a mouse.
I left them for the resident bunnies to find.

 About the only thing that got my juices going this week
was the sight of the cover crops sprouting.
We had a couple of days of constant rain,
and that was enough to germinate these seeds.
This is my first experience with cover crops,
and it will be exciting to see how it affects these raised rows in the spring.

 For the most part,
it's leaf invasion time!
Our lawn is strewn with a crinkled and crunchy cover.
I see raking in my future.
Big K will most likely run the mower over them one more time,
to break up the bigger bits.
This way, they can be gathered up to use as flower bed mulch,
or left in place to feed the soil for springtime.

Our neighbor has bagged up and donated her stash,
so that it can be added to our leaf bin.
This leaf bin was here when we bought the house
and we just continue to add to it.
I haven't been good about turning it,
but I can imagine it will make a great soil additive. 
Here's a fabulous video about making leaf mold.
I like his idea of keeping the leaves in the plastic bags,
and just poking them with a pitchfork to aerate.
I'm gonna try that this year with some of the leaves
and then note how they break down compared with those in the open bin.
If you don't already subscribe to this chap's video channel,
you're really missing out.
Every couple of weeks he sends a link to his latest gardening video
and there is always something to learn.

Big K scored bigtime when he was perusing a local swap-n-shop site.
The folks were cleaning out their garage and found this "Lawn Buddy"
that they no longer needed.
He got in touch with them right away and we went to pick it up.
It looked brand new and was a real bargain for $15!

These little carts are so useful in the garden.
Even if you have raised beds, it's sometimes necessary to bend over to tend them.
With these cute gadgets, it sits at just the right height
so that you can weed, plant or harvest while seated.
They can also assist with hauling tools, seedling pots, soil
or small harvests and the lid folds over to use as a handle,
so that you can pull it behind you.
My farmer friends Faye and Lynn in Florida have a few of these
and they are invaluable.
What a great find!

We are hoping for a few more autumnal days
before the harsher December weather kicks in.
Garden Friday may be taking a hiatus
if nothing much is worth reporting.
We'll see how it works out.

What's happening in your neck of the woods?

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Little Things

We've been in our house for a year and a half now.
It's on the small side, at just over 1400 square feet,
but it suits us.
We were determined when we moved here
to make it our own,
as we hadn't done much to our house when we lived in Florida.
For 11 years, not one color changed on the walls,
and we changed all of that here.
Last year, Big K and I sat down and created a project list
of things we wanted to change.
One of the easiest things we've done is paint the interior.
Each room is a different color, how liberating!
We finally completed the last area of the house,
the foyer and main hallway.

 I'm not sure why, but it took me forever to figure out what color I wanted.
A couple of ideas were discussed and then it just sat there,

 After a few months, the color celadon came to me.
I'm not sure why this popped into my head,
but it kept returning when I thought about the feeling I wanted in this area of the house.

The actual color we chose was Wasabi and it seems just right.
I like that it adds a soothing vibe to the entrance
and when heading to bed for the evening,
the warm color accompanies you to slumberland.
I think it was worth the wait.

Here's one thing that wasn't on our original list,
but it kept gnawing at me.
We had already replaced the mailbox with a larger, rural box,
but never did anything with the post or the barely readable numbers on it.

A fresh coat of white paint and new numbers really made a difference.
Sometimes, you don't have to spend a lot of money
to create a big impact.

A few more things crossed off our to-do list
makes me feel that we accomplished a lot this year.
We still have two or three major projects to start,
including a kitchen makeover and two bathroom updates.
We are also considering relocating our laundry room
to another area of the house where plumbing is already in place,
and turning the current laundry "closet" into a pantry.
This house is a bit on the quirky side,
so we're trying to make it work for our family.

With only a month left in the year,
we hope to complete the front door install
and replace all of the interior door handles.
That will put a good dent in the list
and keep us motivated to get the others knocked off in the new year.
I'm also going to re-evaluate our storage areas
and do some reorganizing to make everything more orderly.
It will most likely become a series next year.
There's nothing like taking a new look at old spaces
to spark fresh ideas for living more efficiently.

What home projects have you tackled this year?

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Handmade for the Holidays

Autumn is the season of craft festivals.
A couple of weeks ago, we ventured out to the annual
"Handmade for the Holidays" event here in Lincolnton.
A few of my Master Gardener friends and I enjoyed strolling through the booths
and witnessing the amazing creativity of the artisans.

Nancy Richards Ball at Hand Crafted Clay had a large display
of hand-sculptured creations.
With so many critters to choose from,
there's bound to be something that your favorite animal lover would adore.

Smarty Cat had hair accessories, buttons
and other trinkets available for purchase.

The girlbage booth featured some of the most unique signs
I'd ever seen. 
These two sisters transform trash into gorgeous treasures.
You can find their etsy page here.

An assortment of hand-crafted wooden items were showcased
by Jerry Bartusch.
He can be reached at 704-257-6663 or
Isn't it wonderful when practical items can also be beautiful?

These cheerful snowpeople were one of my favorites,
and I wish that I had brought one home.
If I find this artist again, I will be sure to pick one up.
Cindy Jones can be reached at 704-560-4407.

Black Sheep Farmstead is one of the regular vendors
every week at the Lincolnton Farmers' Market.
Their handmade soaps are works of art.

This gal does everything required to create these lovely soaps,
from milking the goats to fashioning the designs.
You can find their facebook page here.

Woods and Goods proved to be too cute to resist.
I saw many of these reindeer walking out the door
with their new owners.
A few of these wooden ornaments came home with me,
as well as one of the spindle snowmen you see on the left.
If you want one of your own, 
you can reach Ronnie Pittman at 828-234-3638.

Bags by Sheila offered up a large variety of prints and styles
of purses, totes and wallets.
From her website:
" It is our belief that there is nothing average about the average woman 
with an average income. She works hard and often does without for her family. 
This woman deserves beauty, style and quality at a reasonable price."

Dontcha just love that?

These delightful suncatchers are made from recycled C/Ds.
Isn't that clever?
displayed these along with dozens of ceramic pieces.
The local studio would make a great gal's day out adventure!

We enjoyed talking to Marge Crunkleton,
the artist who creates these engaging Santa sculptures.
We were mesmerized by the detail and lifelike quality.
You can see more of Marge's work here.

Miscellaneous Moose has a wide variety of home decor,
all hand-crafted and ready to spruce up any home.
You can find more of their handiwork here.

It's so inspiring to see all of the artists displaying their wares,
knowing that they have put their hearts and souls into
creating something for others to enjoy.
This show is sure to become an seasonal favorite.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Garden Friday

 We're back with Garden Friday, y'all
on this day after Thanksgiving.
The color is wild in these parts,
and will most likely get even more dramatic as autumn lingers.

 The lemongrass experiment has begun.
I snipped off the stalks on the larger of the two plants,
and left the smaller one uncovered to see how it fares over the winter.
Lemongrass popsicles, anyone?

What a sad sight to see the tithonia plants absolutely done for.
This Mexican sunflower did well into the beginning of fall,
but the freezing temperatures and almost daily frost did it in.
We'll be sure to get a head start resowing these in the early spring.

Amazingly, the parsley has sailed through the cold snaps
without being covered or pampered in any way.
This kitchen staple is one of the easiest herbs to grow,
and can be used in so many dishes.
Since I don't care for cilantro, parsley stands in nicely.

 How can you not love a crop that takes absolutely no care?
The garlic and shallots are oblivious to the cold and frost.
They will remain in place until mid-May
when we harvest our goodies.

Without much growing out there,
it is thrilling to see the broccoli thriving.
Being planted in containers allows me to keep it well insulated
with mulch or straw.
It would be easy enough to create a cover for each container
utilizing sheets and dowels, should the need arise.
For now, I'm just letting them enjoy the elements.

The carrots are bustin' out of the tub.
Instead of thinning these out,
I'm trying to let them grow close together,
and will just harvest the larger veg to make more room for the little guys.
We'll see how that works out.

The peas still look good,
even though I stopped covering them.
I don't think anything will come of them,
as there are no flowers to be found,
but I just want to see how long it takes before the cold affects the crop.
These will be planted in earnest in the early spring.
Love me some sugar snaps!

 For the first time, I'm growing a cover crop.
Sow True has a variety of cover crops
and I decided on this "Cover and Color Mix" type.

Five raised row beds were created in the veggie garden for just this purpose.
I showed the process here.

The cover crops were directly sown on top of the beds,
then covered with mulch.
Never having done this before,
I simply emptied out the bag of seed onto all five rows.

The whole kit-n-kaboodle was covered with straw.
The cover crop is supposed to grow right out of the straw
and can be cut down a few times in the early spring.
The remnants feed the soil and balance out the nutrients in the bed.
When it comes time to sow spring veggies,
seeds can be directly sown right through the cover crop.
You can read more about the method here.

Enjoy your weekend y'all!
Keep the gratitude goin'!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving 2018

Hoping that your list of blessings
is as tall as the trees!
Happy Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Community Garden Workday for November

We were an army of three. 
No, not this trio.

Three of us braved the cold to tend the Community Garden on Saturday.
It turned out to be a productive and gorgeous morning,
with temperatures hovering around 50 and the sun draping us in warm light. 
With each month's visit, changes are discernible.

One of my first missions was to find out how the garlic was doing.
and as you can see, it's coming along quite nicely!

The goal of this garden is to provide food for the community 
through a local food bank.
No doubt they will be thrilled to have plenty of garlic.

In other beds, a few stalwart crops remain,
such as this row of carrots,

and hearty edibles ready for harvesting.

This monstrous mound of greens is not the least bit fazed by the cold.

While a bed of irises is sure to please its tender
with gorgeous blooms come early spring.

What a difference a month has made to the loofah!
This heat lover did not fare well with the freeze that came through last week.

Some of the gourds remain to be picked.

Further evidence of the harsher temperatures is evident.
Today's goal was to tidy up the beds and walkways.

We didn't get to the grapevine this go around,
but future visits may allow us to give it some attention.
It's a wild and tangled mess!

The remaining blooms were snuffed out for another season,
unable to withstand the cold and frost.

This tree had been covered in bagworms.
It has been mostly defoliated and is scheduled to be cut down.
We hope to do that before the spring thaw.

Here's the same variety of tree, on the other side of the entrance, unaffected by pests.
Striking, isn't it?

What a pleasure to share the love of gardening
with folks who have such generous spirits.

"In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.
It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being.
We should all be thankful for those people
who rekindle the inner spirit."
~Albert Schweitzer