Owie – A Sacrifice To My Garden?

So I was weeding around my raspberries and blueberries today (I’m so excited because I have a ton of baby raspberry canes coming up!), and for some reason, as I was using my hand rake, my eyes decided not to see this big white rock (probably slightly smaller than the size of my head, though oblong), and as I went in at some weeds, I hit my middle finger… twice!

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If you look at my middle finger (I know, the picture doesn’t really tell much of what it really looks like in real life), you’ll notice my middle joint and just above it is blueish (much more so in real life). Also, it’s quite puffy compared to my other joints. Funny thing, that finger has been hurting for no reason the past few days… ??

Also, I like the picture I took of my poor finger, looks like I’m trying to reach through the glass to the squishy green below 🙂

So perhaps now you’d like to know about how things are going in the garden?
Quite swell! I had dug up and turned over the soil of one of the ginormous beds (you know, I think I may take a screen cap of my garden plan so you can get what’s going on…

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Oh look, there it is 🙂 I know, I know, I took a photo with my phone of the tablet screen, my tablet’s keyboard doesn’t have a print screen key. And I’m lazy.

It’s pretty big! You’ll notice down in the left hand corner of the left bed is empty space, that’s where my other herbs are going since the program (smartgarden) didn’t have some of my herbs. I wanted to dig out the whole thing by hand so I could take out all the weeds. Well, I got to the end of one of the two plots, and the dense grass was too much. I don’t seem to have as much digging energy as I did last year. So what we’re doing is having someone come in with their gas tiller to do the rest of the first plot, and all of the second plot.

I figure since I know better this year how things are going to grow in the garden (I’ve set up the plan by hand so that bigger plants can shade small plants that need less sunlight, and companion planting as well), along with more precautionary measures and different ways of growing some plants (vertical gourds). I will be protecting my brassicas this year, which sadly got eaten by the dreaded cabbage whitefly, and I’m not 100% sure yet how I’m going to do my potatoes, other than they’re not going to be directly in ground. I’m thinking of making makeshift raised beds with chicken wire and hay around the edges to keep the soil in. Potato towers seem not to be as magically wonderful as they appear on Pinterest. So raised potato beds will help with rotting and hopefully with yields.

I feel good about this year’s gardening adventures, after having a season of learning how the vegs work on this piece of land. I am likely getting a dehydrator next month for my birthday, so that will come in handy for drying herbs as well as vegetables and berries (I want veggie chips, and get a bushel of apples for apple chips in the fall, as well as all the kinds of fruits and veggie chips you can think of!). That way we’ll have less to keep in the deep freezer (we’re getting a second one, as we’ll be buying half a cow and a whole pig come autumn).

I’m hoping for good berry crops for some homegrown, homemade jam, so I’ll be building a cage around the berries so the birds can’t get at them. Lots to do this year! Lots indeed!

Along with all the gardening, I’ll be starting my Yule gifts soon as I will be doing cross-stitch things, which, takes like forever.
On top of that, planning for something special next summer (details likely to come in the future, though likely way closer to the date).

And, trying to put my tarot reading shop out there more, I believe there may be some tangible items likely to be put in at some point. Not exactly sure when, though I’ll keep you updated.

So how is your spring going? Making lots of plans and beginning to implement them for the coming harvest? Or gearing up for winter rest if you’re in the Southern hemisphere?

Back in the Garden

Finally!

Now, I currently don’t have a proper working phone to go take pictures of what I am doing at the moment, but I hope to get my new phone within a week or two! Also, I am not bringing my good camera out, I just know I will drop it and break it.

But in the garden! It was lovely. I spent over 3 hours digging. I am getting rid of all the little paths between the two sets of beds, and having just two very large beds with a central path in between. I was worried I was going to have to actually dig out the paths like I did last year, however I had gotten one of those hand tillers (with twisty spikes on the end that are also quite good at twisting weeds out), and it seems like that is sufficient (and much quicker) to dig out the grassed paths!

I was pretty impressed that the ground wasn’t soggier than it is, but I can’t say I’m unhappy about it 🙂
You may also be wondering why I’d be so happy about digging. About back hurting work (and I don’t have the nicest of backs to be sure). I also suspect those who enjoy gardening get it though.

I think it’s something hardwired in us as it wasn’t that long ago that most people were still growing their own food, unless they lived in cities or were rich. It’s only been the tiniest blip of human history that we haven’t been farming. And at this time of year, when we finally get to sink our tools in the thawed earth, there’s so much promise, excitement and hope for what is to come.

As I dug, I said a prayer to Freyja and Freyr. I suspect I’ll be doing a rite at some point soon before seeds are sown, as well as a blessing over the new seeds that were purchased this year and last fall along with the rest of last years’ seeds.

Now that I now better what kind of problems I will be facing this year, I also have things planned to keep the garden better nourished and protected. Things such as netting for the brassicas (which were hastily eaten last year by cabbage white butterflies), netting to protect my peas from wee bunnies, and a vigilant eye as well as a spraybottle full of garlic and cayenne to keep the Colorado potato beetles at bay, and some better placement of tender lettuces and spinach so that they don’t turn bitter.
I’m also planning on lining the beds (which will cost less now that I will have just two big beds, and not twelve beds with an enormous amount of perimeter) to keep out the grass. Plus weeding. I gave up a bit last year, and that’s fine since I had to see what gardening on this lot of land is like. I have been planning the beds in a way that utilizes companion planting, so I’m hoping no other pests than the white butterfly and potato beetles will show up this year.
The potatoes will also be going into potato towers, so we shall see how that works out as well, as last year, some of the in ground potatoes rotted. If you’re curious, I’m planning on making the towers from chicken wire and hay, pulling leaves out between the wires so they have lots of sun access as the plants grow upwards.

The gourds will also be grown up structures, I’m going to have a think about it, but I’m already leaning to tomato towers for them, as even the pumpkins aren’t overly large (I have two different kinds of smaller pumpkin seeds). And hopefully my eggplants will make a show this year as well.  My rhubarb is staying in its spot, and I will have to dig up and put some plant food down for my berries.
Speaking of plant food, this is the year to build a little compost area out back. I really hate throwing out all the lovely food scraps knowing it could have helped make a lovely food source for the garden, so hopefully the pallet gods will be nice to me this year and provide me with what I need to have a nice big pile. If not, I am going to look into what else is available.

There’s lots of things planned for the garden, and lots of things planned for how I’m going to process and preserve all the food (also buying a dehydrator this year for my herbs mainly, and then to make fruit chips, veggie chips, all good dried things). It’s funny, last harvest time, I was thinking about this spring, and now that spring is here, I’m thinking about the coming harvest.

I’m a busy, busy bee with growing and my new shop, The Forest Witch (tarot readings, yo!). I hope you are all enjoying the lovely spring. Well, so long as you’re somewhere that spring has actually come. If you are in the southern hemisphere, happy autumn harvests!!

Busy

I’ve been busy making things while contemplating some heavy stuff.
Having to focus on something very precisely, like making jam and following the recipe to a t helps to quiet the mind for a while. It also gives you delicious jam 😉

fresh picked

We picked these Cornelian Dogwood Cherries, and the taste is fantastic! It’s a mix of cherry and rhubarb, with a hint of cranberry. I’ve saved a few pips to plant my own next year. I have a feeling a bit of espalier training will take place!

Breaking down

I just added one of the cups of sugar required to the fruit to get it to soften so that I could easily take out the pips. Or so I thought!
I spent almost an hour with a potato masher pushing the fruit through a strainer while the pips stayed behind.

Sugary mush

What resulted was a lovely paste, and more sugar was added to it! For four cups of cherry like fruit, you add 7 cups of sugar. They say you’re supposed to take the pips out first, but I tend to make my own rules.

Silver sparkle jam

The end result tastes like heaven. The reason why this batch of jam was so urgently made late at night is because I have a craving for crepes. So tomorrow morning will be a delicious one with fluffy, thin crepes with a spoonful of this heavenly jam, all rolled up with powdered sugar lightly dusted on top.

What I love the most about this jam is that I will never find it in a store. The flavours will only grace the pantries of a small amount of people in the whole world who are fortunate enough to have some of these trees around, and interested in making home made preserves.

risen

Oh, have I mentioned I’ve been bread baking?

Oh yes indeed. I’ve delved into what makes a delicious bakery bread delicious. Mostly we think of French bakery bread when we imagine those still warm, lightly buttered slices of bread. I’ve looked into how the French were baking their bread before the advent of packaged or bottled yeasts.
So what’s missing? Eggs? Butter or oils? Milk? What gives it that fantastic flavour?
Two words:
Sour dough.

sponge

So if you’re planning on making an actual sour dough bread, then you’ll use more sour dough starter, but if you’re looking for a delicious French bread taste, then you use much less. Right now, I’m playing around with how much the man and I like in the bread. Mostly I’m just eye-balling it because I always use the same amount of flour for our bread tin.

What I also like to do is to use regular bottled yeast to make sure it rises sufficiently. It can be tricky learning how to wait for wild yeasts to rise, so I’m still experimenting with it. But bread yeast isn’t a huge expense, and it helps with consistent results.

I have a feeling with the mead making and bread making, I’m supposed to work with yeast. It is a most wonderful and magical living organism, full of transformative powers.

I’ve also been planning a garden that will feed us and my parents once we move back to Ontario. I’m trying to implement companion planting, so the plans have taken a long time to finish!

So a busy bee I’ve been.

New Year, New You

Found this inspiring, awesome idea at Deb’s blog. I’m so excited, I can’t even tell you! I’ve been wanting to figure out ways to improve myself and my life this year, and here is a lovely way to do it! I don’t have to only rely on myself, which is good, cuz I have an amazing tendency to get lazy and put things off for an eternity.

I’ve been meaning to sit down and write out some goals for the next year, big ones to be accomplished over the course of the year, monthly ones, weekly ones and daily ones. I find that if things are meant to happen for me, I will see something that matches perfectly over and over again. I have seen this New Year, New You stuff all over today, so, what the Hel, I’ll take up arms and troop through my own inner and outer battles for once!

Since I’m a few weeks behind, I will be playing catch up in the next couple of posts… stay tuned!!