Saturday, July 26, 2008

Prince Charles endorses Victory Gardens

"It doesn't need an acre of garden, a window box is a very good start."

Prince Charles, in a look-back to the "Dig for Victory" campaign of WWII, is endorsing a new campaign of victory gardening. I am so very happy that we now have a royal reason to enjoy our backyard gardens in addition to the pleasures of fresh food, we can now take pride that the Victory Garden movement is royally official.

Along with our own gardens it is important to buy locally as much as possible to help support local farmers and local suppliers of goods and services. The closer to home we shop the better it is for Mother Earth and for the local community.

During the world wars, our parents and grandparents learned the benefits of community. Everyone had to pull together to support the war effort. But as soon as the war was over, the "modern era" emerged with more and more technology driven ways to support our needs and wants. Along with the growth of the multinational corporations whose pursuit to supply demand with ever cheaper products, modern technology at low cost has driven us to the ends of the earth to supply our everyday needs.

This has wrought benefits, but the burden of producing this lifestyle has weighed heavy on our environment and our local communities. Our pursuit of the "modern" life has brought us to a crisis that will require an effort similar to that of WWII to support the war against global warming.

It is good to know that we can make a difference by digging in our own backyards.

Buzz it up

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

At the Beach!

We have been at the beach for the past week at our annual Weaver family reunion! It was great to see everyone again. It was a true vacation from the computer. My day job is very computer intensive work -- so I was determined not to touch a computer or think about work! However, I missed my garden and blogging!

To prepare my gardens before leaving, I set up soaker hoses on the raised bed and on the herb garden. I put timers on the faucets to water every other day. Our summer vacation has been a gardening challenge in years past. My soaker hoses worked well and no plants were lost this year!

In the raised bed, I used one 50' soaker hose and wound it up and back spacing out about a foot apart. In the front I have a long narrow bed, so I took a 50' hose and cut it into 4 pieces. I bought male and female connectors and caps for the hose ends and then hooked them up to a four-way splitter. I cut my regular garden hose so it would be just long enough to connect the splitter to the front faucet and connected it to a timer.

I had a couple of challenges. I learned that you have to inspect the hardware pieces closely before purchase. One piece I bought was the wrong type which had been placed in the bin with the pieces I did need. Another piece had a screw that had no groove in the head. After overcoming those challenges, I hooked up the timer on the faucet, hooked up the hose and turned it on. The faucet stem packing was wearing out and the pressure from the timer caused a massive leak. I had to schedule a plumber to fix it. Just in time, all the work came together and now it works like a champ.

Buzz it up

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Just Plain Fun to Read: Blogs worth your time!

Anajz from the Sustainable Backyard kindly awarded "Joy's Victory Garden" with an award and now it is my turn to pass on the award to a few of my favorite spots on the web. There are so many blogs I enjoy that it is hard to pick and I will probaby have to have a few more rounds of awards in the future!

I pass on the "just plain fun to read" award to the following blogs:

And I must also include the Sustainable Backyard as one of my favorites! Hope it's OK to circle back around!

If you would like to see more blogs & things that I read, check out the OFE Blog Roll & Other Resources.

Buzz it up

Sunday, July 6, 2008

An Award for Joy's Victory Garden! - just plain fun to read

Anajz from the Sustainable Backyard kindly awarded "Joy's Victory Garden" with an award! Thanks Anajz! This is so exciting!

Now I will pass on the fun and will send this on to some of my favorite to read blogs! Stay-tuned.

Buzz it up

The joys of herbs!

I purchased more herbs than would fit in my raised bed this season so I decided to plant herbs among my perennials where I generally planted flowering annuals in the bed alongside our driveway. I am enjoying the different textures of the plants in the garden and the butterflies and bees seem to enjoy the variety too.

This morning I snipped some stems from my basil plants that were starting to flower. The plants are still rather small so I don't want them to spend all their energy flowering and producing seeds. Trimming helps promote bushier growth. The lovely thing about trimming herbs is that you can put them to immediate use.

For instance, I snipped some herbs as well as some long stemmed flowers from my garden and created a table bouquet. Then for breakfast I cooked some scrambled eggs and added fresh trimmed basil, rosemary and parsley as well as some chopped garlic and salt-free organic seasoning. Delicious!

Growing herbs sparks creativity, adds beauty to your garden and your table while also providing some important health benefits. Research shows that Basil has benefits of DNA protection, antibacterial properties, anti-inflammatory effects, and essential nutrients for cardiac health. Rosemary contains substances that are useful for stimulating the immune system, increasing circulation, and improving digestion. Rosemary also contains anti-inflammatory compounds that may make it useful for reducing the severity of asthma attacks. In addition, rosemary has been shown to increase the blood flow to the head and brain, improving concentration. Parsley is a rich source of antioxidant nutrients, is a good source of folic acid, promotes cardiovascular health and helps fight rheumatoid arthritis. Garlic, a super herb about which many have been written, is an excellent source of manganese, a very good source of vitamin B6 and vitamin C and a good source of selenium. It promotes cardiovascular health, operates as an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral agent and protects against many cancers.

Wow, those scrambled eggs with herbs can really pack a health punch!

Buzz it up

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Firecracker Day Trip, Berries, Cider, and Wine

Morning stop at the garden
The zucchini is blooming this morning. As small as the plant is, I wonder if I should pluck the blooms and let the vine get a bit bigger.

I found mushrooms popping up all over the bed this morning. I got out a hand trowel and broke them up into the soil. Not sure what type of 'shrooms they are, but I figure they can compost and nourish the soil. And, while I was working the soil, I did see some red wrigglers so they did survive the rainy weather of the first night in their new home.

A berry pickin' we will go...
We checked the "Picking Report" and figured we better get to the Berry Patch early. The fields were picked out by 1:00 PM on Tuesday. The Berry Patch opened two weeks late because we have had a cool spring. I guess the berry picking crowds were trying to make up for lost time! Over 20,000 people visit the Berry Patch each season.

Here's a tip for you: if you plan on visiting the Berry Patch, you are going to encounter a fresh baked blueberry muffin that is warm, decadently fragrant and fresh from the Berry Patch store oven. They are in high demand. You might drop by the store before you head out to pick and put you name on the muffin list. They have a posted schedule of when they expect batches of muffins to be done. Plan well and you can beat the crowd. Also, they have a delicious blueberry lemonade that is definitely worth a try along with many other blueberry products. You can also pick up some great relishes and jams.

Everybody gets one bucket, but as many plastic bags as you think you can fill with berries. The process is run very efficiently.

The berries were a bit on the green side today. By tomorrow there may be more ripe berries. Next Tuesday will probably be a prime day. The patch is closed on Sunday and Monday.

Brian took the challenge to search out the best and the blue-ist berries.

We ended up with a little over five pounds of berries by the time we called it quits. We were hoping for some blackberries as well. The blackberry bushes were laden with berries but very few were ready to pick. They might be looking pretty good by next Tuesday. If only I had the day off! Maybe a vacation day is in order. The Berry Patch says they will have berries through July and into August.

Berries in tow, we headed back to pay-up and wait in line with many other hungry muffin shoppers. You can watch as they cook the muffins, but if your name is down a ways on the list it becomes a bit of torture as you wait for the muffins to get done. Just don't give up, the yummy muffins are worth the wait. You will want a muffin on the spot and more to take home. We purchased two muffins, some blueberry lemonade, a quart of blueberry syrup, and especially for Brian: a jar of blue cheese stuffed olives.

On the road again...
My husband loves apple cider. Why do I mention this? Because the Louisburg Cider Mill is just 8 miles away from the Berry Patch. With his new GPS in hand, he was ready for more day trip. Our next stop - the Louisburg Cider Mill where you can find wonderful unfiltered cider and awesome apple-cinnamon doughnuts.

They have a great variety of other sundries in their store as well. I came home with some raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and a new two-cup teapot which I will take to the office so I can properly brew my tea. Styrofoam cups do not make a real cup of steeped tea in my book. Brian also got a root beer float to go with his doughnut and a gallon of unfiltered apple cider to take home.

Wait, how did we get to Sonoma?
On the way to Louisburg Cider Mill we saw signs for Somerset Ridge Vineyard & Winery. This was a bonus adventure since we had never been there before. Just a few miles from the cider mill, it's a lovely place and the owners, Cindy and Dennis Reynolds are enthusiastic about introducing you to their wonderful wines. We did a wine tasting. I was very impressed. We brought home three bottles: their newest red - Flyboy Red, Buffalo Red, and a white wine, Traminette. They were also serving lunch for the Fourth - organic hot dogs with all the trimmings.

The vines are full of fruit waiting to become great Somerset Ridge wines!

You may not think of Kansas or Missouri when think about great wines, but did you know that Missouri is credited with saving French vineyards?

A bit of history - in the 1860's French vineyards were plagued with vine diseases most likely accidentally imported from America. Missouri grape vines were grafted to vines in France and credited for saving the French vineyards. Missouri exported 10 million root stocks to France. Somerset Ridge in just on the Kansas side of the state line between Kansas and Missouri. Next time you enjoy a French wine, remember that it has a heritage that extends back to the Missouri/Kansas wine country.

Buzz it up

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Red Wrigglers have Arrived!

A box, smaller than I imaged, was waiting on my porch when I got home on Wednesday evening. Red Wriggler's! Could there really be 2,000 Red Wriggler's in that small box?

Then my next concern was "how long had the box been on the porch?" Were my wormies still alive? I opened the box and pulled back a sheet of newspaper packing. There was a cloth bag, tightly tied by a draw string. The bag was about as big as a quart-size baggy. I carefully opened it and peered in. At first it just looked like a bag of compost. Then I noticed some movement. Yep, the worms were "wriggling."

Also included in the box were some simple directions from Uncle Jim: dig a hole in the middle of the bed and place all of the worms in it. Cover with dirt, then cover with the two pieces of newspaper included in the box. Water to dampen the paper. The directions assured me that the worms would disperse on their own and they live best in colonies - so all 2,000 worms went into the vegetable garden.

This would have been simple, except about the time I was walking out to the garden, it started raining and then a bit later grape-sized hail started falling. Just as I started to prepare a spot to plant the worms, I had to turn and run for cover carefully cradling the bag of worms to safety.

Brian took this picture of me digging in the garden. Such a lovely pose. And no, I don't really have a basset hound hanging off my butt. ;-) Just a little camera trickery and interesting framing by Brian. Did he realize this???

Not wanting to leave the worms in the bag over night, I waited out the hail, then donned a rain jacket and headed back out. I followed Uncle Jim's directions except I didn't need to worry about watering to dampen the paper. I was throughly soaked by the time I got back inside. I was a little concerned that the worms might get too much rain, however my raised bed has about 16" of very loose growing medium so I think they will be alright.

I had considered putting some worms into my compost bins, but in trying to research whether this would work, I couldn't find anything conclusive. My concern was that my bins might be too hot for the worms. And that was my final decision. I did learn a lot about vermiculture. Now I have a hankering to get or make a worm composting container.

It sounds like worms will eat almost anything from eggshells to junk mail. And the worm composter collects liquid produced by the worms as they compost that you can use as liquid fertilizer on your garden and house plants. Pretty cool stuff.

I added a few links to my "Composting" reference where you can find more information about vermiculture (composting with worms). I now have 2000 and four pets - two basset hounds, two cats, and 2000 worms. Oh, and Uncle Jim assures me that after the worms are mature, they will reproduce about every thirty days. Lots of worms!

When I looked out my front window this morning I had a nice surprise. After all the rain of the night before, my day lilies decided to bloom!

I purchased these lovely ladies from the Berry Patch several years ago. Tomorrow we are rising early and starting our Independence Day by heading out to the Berry Patch in hopes of picking some fresh blueberries! On their website they say that they have some nice blueberry bushes for sale. I might just come home with two or three along with a gallon of fresh berries.

Buzz it up

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Perennials and things

Each year my perennials return in their own time. As winter is passing, I look for them and wonder where they are hiding and how they fared the winter cold. When tender green shoots start pushing through the soil I welcome my old friends once more with a special reverence and joy and hope for another season of riotous beauty.

Lavender lilacs hedge around my house and make a backdrop for my yard. The flowers hang like Chinese lanterns. So sweetly fragrant, they welcome spring looking every bit as luscious as a ripe bunch of grapes.

I was wrestling with the ivy and wild morning glory and wild grape vines that have woven themselves through my front garden bed when I stopped for a moment and saw the beauty they had created. I stepped back surprised that what I saw as a nuisance and was trying so hard to uproot had such awesome beauty when viewed with the right state of mind. I grabbed my camera to catch the moment and now I look at my vines in a new light. I purchased a wire trellis so that my vines can weave more beauty in my garden.

I love my yucca's rich white flowers reaching to the tallest heights of the garden in late spring. Now that summer has arrived, the yucca blooms are falling. So beautiful for such a short time. Flowers teach us to treasure the seasons and the times of our lives.

Buzz it up

Food, Nutrition, Gardening Blogs