"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

In the Greenhouse

I would prefer that this post was titled "In the Garden" but so far much of the gardens greenery still lies within our little greenhouse, a sanctuary from the cold, albeit a slight one at times. Our peppers, tomatoes, eggplants and various other plants including flowers are all doing well but growing very slowly in their little containers....very, very slowly. In less than a month they will have all doubled in size or more and be planted in the garden where they will hopefully go on to produce the fruits we so desire of them.

Squat little chocolate habaneros

Tomatoes

and tomatoes

Notice the white on the leaves of this tomatillo. This was a result of us insufficiently hardening them off and then allowing the sun to beat down on their wet leaves, same thing happened to a few of our tomatoes.

Colorful Coleus

Our eggplants are looking fairly good, we will be growing a few each of Apple Green, Thai Long Green, Long Purple, Black Beauty, and something new to us called Millionaire. It's a hybrid but supposed to be very productive and we do like our eggplants around here. Oh, and lest I forget, an interesting little eggplant called Kangaroo Apple sent to us from a friend in Vermont.:)

Echinacea

The gardens might look barren but they are teaming with life. Carrots, parsnips, beets, peas, fava beans, onions, potatoes, numerous lettuces, endive, and others are all beginning to germinate and grow...slowly. The photo below is of our shady spring salad garden, most of it has been planted although it is hard to tell from the picture. It has been in the low to mid 40's of late with a few very frosty mornings, these conditions are not conducive to a splurge of new growth. Now the weeds, on the other hand, are experiencing expeditious growth.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Some Days Are Better Than Others

...and today was another pretty darn good one, as far as foraging goes anyway.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Planting Potatoes

We finished planting our potatoes the other day and hope to have another fine harvest this fall. I have to admit to having an affinity for potatoes like some people do for tomatoes. I love to try all of the different varieties and have found very few that I don't like, and then it is mostly a performance issue and not taste. This year we will be growing many of the same potatoes as last year with the addition of two new to me varieties, Shepody and Viking Red.

These are the potatoes we saved out for seed and allowed to sprout a bit in a warmer area of our root cellar. We only ended up planting/needing about 2/3 of them.

Shepody is supposed to be a good producer, store well , and be great for french fries. We don't eat too many fries but I thought I would give it a try because of the production qualities.

Viking Red is similar to Viking Purple in that it is supposed to have a white flesh, produce well, and be resistant to scab...we shall see.

I don't have any special way of planting potatoes, we do save most of our own potatoes for seed and have done so for quite a few years now. We simply build a row of loose soil (in a different location every year) full of well composted material, plant the potato deep and pretty much call it good until fall harvest, very similar to the method described here - Modern Victory Garden. Potatoes are possibly our easiest crop to grow and the most productive of all our vegetables providing an immense amount of food for us, our chickens, and even the dog during the winter months.

My very experienced and trusty assistant planting "All Blue" potatoes

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Chief Hunter

All work and no play makes Mike and Micki very dull grandparents so we set aside our garden duties and spent the weekend foraging the river banks and forests for wild edibles with the grandson, Hunter. At some point, he decided he was part Indian and asked to be called Chief Hunter ~ I suggested "Chief Dumb Bear" but he did not approve of that title so Chief Hunter it was. Anyway, our first trip proved to be most fruitful as we found numerous asparagus plants beginning to bear, but we were about a week too soon so did not find enough for a meal.


The wild parsley, now easily identifiable, was in its prime.

Just as we were leaving Chief Hunter found a patch of morel mushrooms. "Grandma! He yelled. There are morel mushrooms everywhere!" He was so excited as this was the very first time he found them all by himself...we are such proud grandparents. The boy was able to easily identify old asparagus ferns and the new shoots that accompanied them, sage, parsley, and the mushrooms...perhaps we are rubbing off on him after all.

Today, we ventured into the forests to search a few of our favorite spots for more morels and, although we only found one, everyone had a great time. We thought perhaps our "working dog" should start learning how to become a truffle hound...he loved the idea but bit the top off the first and only mushroom we introduced him to; this new duty might take a while for him to perfect.

Rowdy, leaping across a branch of the creek.


Grandpa following suit...but with less grace.:)


Chief Hunter, sharing a moose hip bone with Rowdy. I don't know? It's Northern Idaho.


Our jeep was a muddy mess so we decided to be lazy and splurge on a car wash...one of Hunters favorite chores.:)

video

Grandma, scrounging for quarters wondering if she had enough to actually get the vehicle washed.:(

video

Friday, April 2, 2010

Seed and Seedlings

We collected a bit of seed off wild asparagus a few weeks ago that we found along a river bank. Each asparagus "berry" contains six little seeds that germinate quite readily. They can be gathered off the ferny female plants in the fall or early spring and will store for many years. Also planted were the rest of my 2007 seed that was obtained from the ancestors of my own unruly plants, they had excellent germination. It will take a few years for the plants to become established well enough to produce large spears but time passes quickly when one is patient.

We have been planting apple, pear, apricot, plum, walnut, cherry, chestnut, currant, jostaberry, gooseberry, and raspberries. I must have planted over a hundred of these little starts in our woods and field this past week, all of which were grown from seeds and rooted cuttings started last year. I am hoping that some of the trees grown from seed in previous years will start to bear fruit this summer.

A few one year old apple and pear trees in transit to a new home.

Pots of Josta berries waiting to be planted in perminant locations.

Black raspberries will root anywhere that the stem touches the ground, these ones were tip rooted last fall.

The onion seedlings are only a week or two away from being transplanted...they can't wait to be free of their confines. There are also a few leeks and chives in this bunch but the majority are Yellow of Parma and Jaune Paille des Vertus onions. Both are excellent for storage.

We purchased a few dozen ramps a while back and are happy to see that they have been growing quickly...I'm glad they like the cold as it has been pretty nasty out of late.

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