The Two Little Gardeners is one of our favorite Golden Books. It is in our spring/summer book rotation so of course we have been reading it very frequently.
Well, these two little gardeners had help over Easter weekend. It was a “get-er-done” kind of weekend. It is a joke that if anyone randomly stops in, and they frequently do, we put them to work. Only because we are knee deep in some kind of project and it is only hospitable to include them, right? So after Easter brunch Grandpa wanted to test out his new tractor and till up our garden. Since we had family visiting, Brook enlisted his brother to cut down a tree that was shading the garden. Somehow cutting down a tree is not a chore, but an excuse to use a chain saw. Plus, it gives us an early start to the wood pile for next winter.
Ugh… I just said “next winter”!
AND……I planted my spring veggies. Onions, snap peas, hull peas, Pontiac red potatoes, blue potatoes, radishes, spinach, and a variety of lettuce.
Needless to say, what would have taken an entire weekend or more, took only an afternoon to complete. We are thankful for the help.
We have learned our lessons on what to plant and what not to plant. We went crazy on our first garden. Those seed catalogs came rolling in and we were ordering purple beans, tomatoes shaped like peppers, celery, ground cherries, and yes…even peanuts! Did you know peanuts grow under ground? Yeah, it was one of the first of many bets I lost with Brook.
Lessons learned don’t bet Brook on anything and do not plant everything from the seed catalog.
We have learned to keep our garden simple with only the fruits and veggies our family will eat fresh or preserved.
One of the treasures of living in a farming community is a seed store located a few towns over. Rohrer Seeds is one of the seed companies we order from every year. I finally convinced Brook to take the short 40 minute trip to the seed store this year.
Why have we not done this sooner????
Brooks reply was, “We are NEVER ordering from a seed catalog again!”
If you are like us and can’t wait for the seed catalogs to start appearing in the mail in January, then you will love visiting a local seed store even more. There is something about the old fashion feel and charm of visiting a locally family owned seed company.
Go Prepared – I had my catalog marked with what we needed for the 2015 garden. I took inventory of last years seeds (we save extra seeds in the freezer) and made a list of what we needed as well as a few new things we wanted to try. If I had not made that list I would have lost all self control, and you guessed it, the whole store would have been in my cart.
Set a Budget and Stick to the List – It is easy to get swept up in the moment and toss in a few more items than you need. Eh hem…like the two mini shovels I thought the girls just had to have! Or my new pair of womens work gloves. I must admit though, my work gloves are my new favorite accessory. They fit my hands better then Brooks “man gloves” and they add some style when cleaning a horse stall.
Not Just Seeds – Think about your entire homestead. Will you need any organic pest control, twine, netting, plastic, or pasture seed? This year we budgeted for a 50lb bag of horse pasture mixture to replenish what was tramples and eaten over the winter.
Our 2015 Annual Garden Will Feature:
Strike Bush Beans, Detroit Dark Red Beets, Packman Broccoli, Long Island Brussels Sprouts, Cabbages, Scarlet Nantes and Purple Dragon Carrots, Sweet Corn, Parisian Pickling Cucumbers, Straight Eight Cucumbers, Kale, Lettuce Greens (including amaranth greens and quinoa greens) Candy Onions, Walla Walla Sweet Onions, Red Onions, Early Freezer Hull Peas, Sugar Snap Peas, Banana Peppers, Big Red Peppers, Pumpkin and Gourd Mixture, Spaghetti Squash, Butternut Squash, Watermelon Radishes, Baby Spinach, Black Beauty Zucchini, Straightneck Yellow Zucchini, Summer Crookneck Zucchini, Patty Pan Squash, Too many tomatoes to list, Sangria Watermelon, Sweet Italian Basil and various herbs, Red Pontiac Potatoes, Kennebec Potatoes, blue potatoes, and sweet potatoes.
I can’t forget the beauties of the garden… my Giant Sunflowers and Zinnias. I do love to have fresh cut flowers just as much as fresh veggies in the summer.
If you were wondering, we do try our best to choose mostly heirloom and organic seeds. Rohrer’s carries Baker Creek and a variety of other organic seeds. They also have a nice selection of their own heirloom seeds to choose from.
Additions to the Orchard and Perennial Garden:
Champenel Grape Vines, Honeyo and Ozark Beauty Strawberries, Native Plum Trees, Hardy Kiwi Vines, and Elderberry Bushes.
A Few Garden Tips…
- For less weeding lay black plastic on your rows after tilling. Punch holes and plant things like beans, squash, tomatoes, watermelon. The plastic helps to keep moisture in and saves you time when the weeds start growing.
- Lay grass clippings, wood chips, straw, or leaves between rows for less weeding. We keep a layer of grass clippings around our rhubarb and blackberries as well.
- Be resourceful. I always thought a garden had to look like Martha Stewart’s gardens. NOT! Brook has rolls of orange and blue twine and he uses it for EVERYTHING. It may not be the prettiest twine but it serves its purpose. He also has rolls of black plastic netting. In my opinion it is another unattractive addition to the garden, but it works to trellis the peas or to keep the free range chickens out of the freshly planted garden. Look at free items with a different set of eyes. Think “How can I utilize that on the homestead?” Warning… you may just end up with a barn full of
junkmisfit items. It will come in handy one day. I promise!
- Seeds have an expiration date. I mentioned above that we save our seeds from the year or years prior. If you keep your seed packets organized in a plastic container stored in the freezer, they will keep for a few years. I think I just threw out seeds from 2010. I was not going to take a chance. We have used seeds that were two and even three years old. The seeds will go dormant. The expiration date is good to know how long you have been storing them, but do not think you have to throw them out every year and buy brand new seeds.
Have fun getting your hands dirty!