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When we returned home to the Blue Ridge last year, I knew I’d be starting a homestead all over again. That was challenging in every way, but I’m happy to say it’s starting to feel like home again. I was not thinking I’d have to start anew with the blog. But hey, when it rains…and it has been raining.
So shortly after getting back to blogging in the spring, it all melted down.Read More
The forest trees are still bare except for the red tipped maple branches. The bees are having a field day with the maple blooms and are no doubt sniffing around the apple trees—a few are starting to show pink buds.
That’s the Crow’s Egg tree above, with about the only green leaves in the yard so far. I’ve mentioned before that the highland spring, which climbs oh-so-slowly up the mountainsides, seems a long time coming to me. I knew I would miss the way spring bursts on to the scene in the Arkansas Ozarks several weeks earlier than here.
I think that’s a serviceberry (?) blooming in the woods east of the garden. The trees are still bare but the rhododendron and laurel make the forest pretty all through winter. My eyes feel hungry for green trees though.
The sun is getting that wonderful golden cast and the little garden area is starting to look like a garden. A just-started garden, but it grows visibly ever couple of weeks. We have a door now, from the kitchen to the new little deck. I’ve always dreamed of being able to walk out of the kitchen right into the garden. Nearly there!
It has been a real challenge —more than I realized —to go from a mature garden and developed farmstead back to breaking ground again. I can see it all in my imagination: the big fenced garden, the chicken coop, the greenhouse, all those fruits and new trees… I love the challenge (and I love this place) but sometimes feel like I should be doing about a hundred things at once to get it all going.
Then I remember that is somewhat missing the point. I want to slow down instead. Pay attention to the process. Study the land and let it guide me before making big design decisions. Enjoy the starting, the middling and eventually, the full bloom. I want to remember to create steady-on but have a good time too. When I remember to do all this, it becomes so full of joy and fun that it seems like I would remember to do this always! But I don’t. I’m adding “Enjoy it all” to my goal list.
Here is a certain someone, taking a break from helping prepare a garden bed, resting her back, and enjoying the sunshine. This will help me remember!Read More
How can we be throwing away so much chicken food? OK not really throwing away, but feeding to the composter. Which is good but not nearly as satisfying as watching a bevy of biddies TEAR into a fresh pile of kitchen scraps with a gleam in their eyes.Read More
Nothing like seeing tiny green specks 48 hours after putting the seed in trays! This is dwarf Siberian kale from the end of March. Yes, that is quite late to be starting from seed. For our mid-May frost day, you can start kale indoors under lights in late February, early March and transplant out around April 1st. With row cover over the transplants, you could probably do all that a week or so earlier. Even though I’m late, couldn’t resist growing some of my own kale starts. Seeing sprouts 48 hours later made setting up the seed table all worthwhile!
This is the time that you are really glad you started preparing some veggie beds last fall! Springtime at 3000 feet is slow. The soil is chilly and often wet. Raised beds prepared in fall are excellent: they dry out and warm up much quicker. All the better to put in little transplants like this spinach! Full confession is I bought these spinach starts at the store.
Having to start from the beginning on nearly everything at the farmstead means everything goes slowly. I do have some little starts on the light table, but I got them in late, so they’ll go in late. Unlike so many things under the command of nature’s schedule, that’s ok in this case. The slow arrival of spring gives a longer window to grow cool weather crops. Some years it’s cool and rainy enough to grow them all summer. Last year before we arrived it was a wet chilly El Niño year and the area got a whole year’s average rainfall by the first of August. That’s terrible for tomatoes but the upside is there was kale at the market the whole summer.
Last fall I did manage to get some garlic in the ground and it looks great so far. Some was from seed garlic I brought from the former Larrapin Garden, which I’ll call Larrapin West now. Could only plant a tiny bit as the garden space is very small so far. It’s quite an adjustment from a 2100 square foot fenced and ready-to-plant garden!
Some sedum I acquired from a division last fall is poking up and looking cheery. One sweet thing about coming back home is that friends I gave plants to years ago are offering to give divisions from those plants back to me to start at the new garden. That is a lovely full circle feeling.
I’ve got plenty of room to expand, but ‘breaking ground’ is challenging even when there is pretty decent soil underneath. Grass does not relinquish it’s dominion easily. Even when it’s not bermuda. (But oh thank goodness it is NOT bermuda. That grass will humble you fast…) The little deck off the kitchen is done. Now we just need a door! It’s in the works.
Since I didn’t have time to get cover crops established last fall, I covered everything in straw. The worms have loved this and it’s actually challenging to dig much without a worm massacre. So I’m down with hand tools as much as possible. Every one of those worms is valuable! Oh the joy of soft soil that in most (but not all!) areas of the garden just needs a dollop of compost to be dark and fluffy. In that regard, I feel very lucky!Read More
Sometimes you need to get away to come back ready to begin. The quick getaway to the South Carolina shore for Mendy’s birthday, besides being great fun all around, was just what this gardener needed. The warm breezes reminded me that spring is working its way slowly (very slowly) but surely up the mountains.
I’m just about ready to begin the first gardening season in my new home. It’s been a long time coming and I feel ready. I still feel a tiny bit daunted to begin what I consider my life masterwork – turning this big rolling property into the lush, edible garden and lively little farm I envision. It’s a project that will take several years before I even begin to see the outlines, and several more before it hits its stride. For now, I’ll be starting with a little veggie patch out back and a burst of plantings for bees and birds this first spring. If I’m lucky I’ll get to have a long journey with this land, letting it shape and guide the continuing conversation.
I returned from the beach ready to start the first steps of that journey. How happy I was to see the road home.
Interested in learning beekeeping? Class at Mayland coming up taught by Rick Harty: Basic Beekeeping: A Hobby or a Business (24 Hours) Students will enjoy learning the process of beekeeping, how to start a colony of bees, the relationship of honeybees and food, the threats to a colony, and how to sell products from the hive. 2/6- 3/27, TH, 6:00-9:00PM Harty $70 MCC Mitchell Campus 828-766-1207 or register here:http://www.mayland.edu/