Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Recycled Container Gardening

As I mentioned previously, the Lord has been blessing us abundantly with rain. We have had a 18 day stretch of rain daily. Some days more than others, but thoughts of having Beloved build an ark were beginning to take place. LOL

We have started putting wooden shipping crates in the garden to use as planting boxes. We put old hay in the bottom with top soil on the top. These are going to work out great. They end up being about waist high which will eliminate the problem of aching backs or knees from weeding the garden. We are putting weed barrier cloth - a black plastic with tiny holes in it to allow water to drian through - on top of the soil before planting our seedlings. This will further eliminate the need to be weeding the garden so much. The weed barrier also will help to hold in the moisture in the soil. One word of caution however - always place some mulch on top of the plastic if you have very hot summers! If you neglect to do this, you tomato and other plants can get too hot and be burned.

We have plans to add to the number of crates each year. We may end up building some from old pallets also if we run out of crates. Our garden area is about 88' x 108' in size. The crates are about 4' square. We can place a lot of these crates in that area. I am planning to have a portion of the garden area for the vining plants to be planted directly in the ground. Most likely they will be in the back portion.

If you live near a business that receives product in the wooden shipping crates, you may want to consider talking to the owner or manager. Some businesses will burn or otherwise destroy the crates even though they are in very good condition. You may be able to get the crates for a very low cost or free. If you are handy with hand tools, you can also make your own crates using old wood pallets. In our area, the local Ace Hardware & Lumber Stores give away the old wooden pallets. Be sure to specify the old ones as they also have new ones which they sell. We have often gone to their store and loaded up a trailer with a full load of pallets for free.

Looking around, you can find many recycleable containers that would be suitable for gardening. The only criteria being that they can hold the soil & water. Bakeries and restaurants often have plastic buckets that they recieve food products in. These often get thrown away unless people ask for the containers. Put a few drainage holes in the bottom and you have a nice container for your tomatoes or other plants.

Be creative. You may find that there is a vast array of options available to you.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

When it pours

......and pours, and pours! Such is the way of it the last few weeks. The Lord saw a need for us to have rain and over the past weeks has been blessing us.....abundantly! With the rain has come new challenges and lessons to learn.

The first has been how to dry laundry without being able to hang it out on a clothesline. That has been a challenge for me. One solution has been to take advantage of the cooler temps brought by the rains and to light the wood stove. I hang the laundry on hangers to be placed on a clothes rack near the stove to dry. I also have a wooden dowel type drying rack that fits perfectly on top of the stove for drying additional items. We are planning to add a clothes drying area in the laundry room at some point this summer to prepare for winter when line drying is more difficult.

Another challenge has been the garden. Alas, with all the blessings of rain has come a serious delay in the tilling & planting of the garden. I had seeds already started and have had to rethink where to plant so that I could get the seedlings out of the containers before they became root bound. I finally found a nice area in the side yard where the seedlings are now set out and will grow well. Not the first choice of a garden area, but we are making use of what we can. Once the spring rains are over and the garden area can be tilled, we will set about planting the summer garden. The seed varieties that I have not been able to set out due to the rains now will be planted in late summer to give me a nice autumn garden crop. We are already making plans to attend farmers markets in the region to buy what we are unable to grow this season. This will allow me to be able to can and stock our pantry in preparation for winter.

Abigail is getting so "grown up" in her play and how she interacts with others. She has been working on preschool level workbooks for a couple of months now. Yesterday, she began writing the capital letter "A" and did quite well. I had to hold her hand steady at first while she made the letter, but she picked it up pretty fast. We are going to buy her some writing tablets for her age level so that she can practice her letters easier.

Micah is finally walking! Whoo Hoo!!!!! He is so funny. As he walks, he laughs and is really enjoying it. Now, he only needs to gain the confidence to let go of our hands.

The lamb is growing very nicely and grazes most of the time now. He is such a funny little guy to watch. When he runs and is excited, he jumps and hops as he runs. We are looking forward to expanding the herd a little more so that we can start raising them for meat.

Thank you for all the comments and pen pal letters that I have been receiving. I am thoroughly enjoying them. My Beloved has set up my prepay cell phone to accept and send emails, so if you have my email address @ gmail, feel free to write. I truly enjoy being able to stay in touch.

May the Lord's blessings be with you,

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Close Encounter with Nature

You know, I have always for a weird fascination with women who are able to scream. Not just a little one, but the blood curdling screams like those of a horror movie. I have never been able to do that....thankfully! Well, on April 26th I had the perfect opportunity to learn that skill.

We had attended a local church that morning. After returning home, I went into our bedroom to change into a different dress before preparing lunch. As you walk into the bedroom, beside the doorway on the right side is a large chest of drawers. As I passed the chest, I heard a sound. I looked back to see a rattlesnake on top of the dresser! I had passed within 2 feet of it! I gave my best effort of the horror movie scream. Not planned, but for some reason the situation pulled the scream out of me. Was it the horror movie quality? Not by a long shot, but it was enough to have my Beloved come running!

The snake had dropped off the chest and so we (okay my Beloved) had to search for it. I estimated that it was about 2 ft. long. I then remembered that his sock drawer had been partially opened. He took a look in there and sure enough, the snake was coiled up in tha back corner of his sock drawer.

Much to my fright, my husband carefully pulled the drawer out and carried the drawer - snake and all - through the house to the back porch where he carefully set it down. The snake was a curiosity to the cats, but one quick attempt to strike at the cat was enough to get them to expercise caution. Beloved went through the house and back out through the front door in an attempt to get in a position where he could properly deal with the snake without risk of being bitten. In the time it took for him to do so, the snake got away.

The snake, we believe, had come through the hole in the ceiling above the cheast of drawers. We are making repairs and that area had not be finished up yet. There was a very large firewood pile in front of the house that had been moved and stacked along a fence. We think the snake must have been using that wood pile as a home, but left when the firewood was being moved to it's new location.

So many things could have gone wrong that day. The snake could have struck myself or Beloved very easily as we were each well within strike range. It could also have hidden in the house only to be found by one of the children. The Lord watched over our family that day. He blessed us with protection.

Did I ever acheive that horror film quality of a scream? Nope! But I did get to meet a rattlesnake up close, which is an event I hope never to repeat!