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My vision is to create a business from my garden, so that I can afford to leave my job, have the garden as income, and paint and write. I also want my customers to read the story of my garden, look at pictures, and get an idea of the process of the work of the garden.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I thought I would talk about my plans for next Spring's garden, as the seed catalogs are now starting to come in. I am waiting for Fedco, my favorite catalogueur, and from whom I get the bulk of my seeds. I am also helping a friend start a small backyard garden, and I am will supply her with seedling and in exchange, she has helped me to get more organized at home with the clutter.

Planning the garden in advance is important, because one needs to be mindful of where crops were planted 'cause if you follow organic gardening principles, you will need to rotate crops. This throws a monkey-wrench into the plans of the overwintering bugs as well as not depleting the soil of minerals. Different plants take up different minerals in different proportions.

Also benefits of planning in advance, I get to inventory seeds on hand and the condition of my structural devices (garden fabrics, plastics, hoops, trays, etc. When the seed catalogues come in the mail, I spend hours reading the descriptions, the cultivation suggestions for the varieties, and Fedco has good writing about agriculture politics as well.

I have whole packets of seeds left over, as I actually forgot to get some things planted last spring and summer. Some vegetables I didn't get planted and that I will definitely plant for next year are carrots, rutabagas, and daikon radish. What I won't plant again this year is broccoli--because they take up too much space for my yields, and potatoes--because I don't eat them anymore, and my husband doesn't like the fingerlings I used to grow. Although I may grow a few red potatoe plants for him somwhere.

Things I will plant more of: edamame soybeans and maybe black soybeans. There is also a mix of greens that is good to plant in the early spring, as well as for fall--it is perfect for eating in salads--the mix includes japanese greens such as tatsoi, and mizuna as well as red russian kale and arugula. I didn't really order enough of that mix last year, and I want to expand that amount.

Another favorite and what produced well this year is beets--specifically chioggia (bright pink and white striped) and yellow grek, and maybe white beets. These beets are sweet and tender cooked, don't bleed, and keep well in the ground through fall. I hope to learn how to pickle some beets for canning.

My main focus will be on greens--red russian kale, lacinato kale, and white russian kale. These have to be grown under row covers, and even with the row covers, there are losses, as sometimes if it is really windy, the row covers get blown off if I have been in a rush and haven't secured them carefully. This past year I planted two seasons of them, and I am thinking that maybe three plantings is better yet. Other greens are senposai and morubi santoh--both of these are good to cook (replacing collards) and they last a long time as long as they are securely under row covers. Then I grow different lettuce mixes, starting with mix for spring, summer mix, winter hardy mix for winter (in the greenhouse and cold frames) I like the mixes, as they incorporate a lot of different kinds of lettuce in one packet. Then, bok choi, and tatsoi for early spring and again for winter. And Swiss Chard--my absolute favorite dark green of all--great sauteed in olive oil with garlic.

Definitely the roots--beets, turnips, rutabagas, daikon radish, and french breakfast radish, as well as carrots, which I inexplicably left out this year. These are good for storage in the winter, and wonderful cooked, except for the radish. There is the celery root as well, the queen of the root cellar, and I grew a large amount last year. This vegetable needs an early start and thrives in the cool spring and can stand all summer without much care (weeding) until the fall when you can harvest up to a killing frost. Also it is flexible--can be eaten (mashed or pureed after cooking, or grated raw into a mustard sauce, or directly into salads).

Then there are the summer vegetables, and the king of keeping in storage is the tomato; I have cooked up and frozen much to eat throughout the Winter and Spring, as well as the fabulous eating out of hand in the summer. I grow Brandywine and this year I grew another heirloom, Black Krim--which I don't think is as good as Brandywine, but perhaps a bit earlier in ripening. I think I will grow mostly Brandywine, as we absolutely think it is the best tasting tomato ever, and I may grow an earlier heirloom, so need to read up on what's good. Also I grew Amish paste, and a cherry variety.

Today is Thanksgiving, and we had a lovely relaxed dinner. I cooked the fresh turkey, and made a celery root puree and a salad from the garden and coldframe. I also roasted some rutabaga thinly sliced, and we had brussels sprouts--that we bought, because mine were planted kind of late, and produced only really small sprouts. Then of course there was cranberry relish, stuffing, wonderful creamy cheeses from NYC, and a number of pie choices. Good black coffee. We went for a walk in the late afternoon up to the nature preserve, with the dog. The neighborhood, which is mainly second homes, was very quiet. We saw no one, and no cars passed as we walked. Now we are home, the wood stove burning nicely warm, and people are gathering in the kitchen again for their second Thanksgiving meal--leftovers. Probably we will watch a movie on the vcr tonight, or just read and relax. There are leaves to rake tomorrow, and still gardens to work on, mainly the wild meadow herb garden, with much woody debris needed to be taken away. Saturday there is the heldover library book fair, and we are all book fiends, so we will definitely go and browse and buy something.

Hope everyone and anyone has a lovely warm and healthy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It's been quite a long time since I have posted here. My garden has taken on a huge new role in my life, due to the economic meltdown. This year we are edging up on becoming more self-sufficient with the garden, in terms of vegetables, and fruit. Thanks to the freezer in the barn, I have put away a lot of frozen greens, like bok choi, kale, and swiss chard, as well as tomato sauce, and edamame soybeans. We also went peach picking this summer and I froze 8 oz packets of sliced peaches. Plenty for one a week for a while (a healthy substitute for ice cream, for me). And I have been nurturing the new strawberry bed for the whole spring and summer--next spring I will be able to freeze a lot of strawberries, plus make some jam for Michel.

Then, my neighbor has allowed me to put some root vegetables in his root cellar. This is a great boon, as I have the "queen of root cellar vegetables," celery root, or celeriac, in a huge bag put away there. My new favorite way of using it is, diced, boiled, and pureed, as a mash potatoes substitute. I also like to grate it raw, and use it alone, with a mustard sauce, or just plain in salads, as a raw vegetable. I may have to haul a huge bag of turnips that I have in the fridge over to the root cellar this week, to make way for the 14-lb turkey that will be picked up today.

Having the freezer and the root cellar to use is very convenient for storage. Also in the kitchen here in the house I have three collections of winter squash, butternut, spaghetti, and acorn.

Still left in the garden are Swiss chard, celery, some more celery root, a few turnips, sorrel, and flat-leaf parsley, and in the cold frames and greenhouse there is spinach coming up, and salad greens (lettuce, arugula, and some radishes). Plus there is still watercress thriving in the pond.

This is the latest in November we have had such warm weather in thirteen years. I remember the year we moved here, I was harvesting lettuce in late November, before I had the greenhouse and the cold frames. All of these tools are necessary for Northeast self-sufficiency--freezer, root cellar, cold frames, greenhouse. Because of lack of time what with the full-time job I have, I did not get to doing some of the other ways to put food by, such as canning, or pickling. I still need to learn more about pickling, and look forward to doing some of that with beets, and daikon radish. And as far as the canning, to do more of that with applesauce, tomato sauce, and maybe peaches. I did make some red currant jelly for Michel this summer, as we do have the current bushes that were here when we moved in, and I have to do something with them.

Unfortunately, our quince trees have not been productive these past few years. The old quince tree has gotten more and more shade due to the trees across the street (neighbors' property), whereas I used to get a few from that tree and cut out the wormy parts and make at least one or two apple and quince tart tatin for our holidays. And our newer trees, that Michel planted from suckers from the old one, have been disappointing in their fruit output.

Oh, we've made so many mistakes with the garden. But that is all in the learning, I suppose.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Hello, everyone--not too much going on, dyed my hair red, actually using henna now. Everyone says they like it, everyone except my sister, but the only one I need to please is myself.

New job chugging along. Easier than I thought. Just takes time to adjust. And it's not that I want easy, because I would rather be very busy, and learning. I've learned some things, but it is not as busy as I thought it would be.

After not being able to paint much of the winter, I started again. Did a portrait of a friend with her little girl, as a gift. Very happy with it. Now that the days are longer, warmer, and I can get up early enough to work for an hour before I drive to work. I want to do enough and get ready for a show.

That's it. We thought we had to sell the house, but luckily, for now, we don't. My husband got a better bill of health than we thought he would get, and my job seems enough for us right now.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Well, I've landed a long-term temp job at a major pharmaceutical company, and it will last for one year. Apparently, they have to let you go after a year, due to some savvy temps suing Microsoft a while back and winning--they were temp status for years and years, trying to be absorbed into the company, but always having to stay temp with no benefits.

So now large companies hire temps--cheaper than a permanent position, and they let you go after one year. Luckily, I will be making enough to pay for our health insurance. Believe me, I am grateful, because I have been interviewing for permanent jobs, but haven't been hired.

Now I can breathe for a while. A sense of security. We can pay the mortgage and the health insurance. I am exploring a couple of other things to do on the side to bring in extra money, also. Home health care worker, for one--to do on weekend evenings or nights, and I am going to explore a home-party-type of business run by Crayola--can use my art background. I am afraid to do this, but I will at least explore it by getting information. I already signed up with the home health care agency, and my friends have gotten the forms so they can recommend me. I expect them to call me soon.

I will still have time to paint. I am definite about that. I get up very early, and can work for an hour to an hour and a half in my studio in the dawn before I go out to work. I am committing to 14 hours a week painting.

We are going to NY on Sunday and Monday to see the expert in my husband's illness. I think we are both nervous about that.

I am excited about the new temp job--I enjoyed my interviews, and I will be doing some internet research, and uploading stuff to the internet, as well as usual admin stuff--answering phones, and doing calendar work and other support work. The company is very large, and they might have a fitness center. I already did my research for local AA meetings, one in the early morning, and one at noontime. Now I will research Al-anon, also. There is a printmaking school nearby, and I am going to take a class in March.

We are talking to some people tomorrow who might be interested in buying our place.

Latest fantasies--moving to Portland, Maine, or moving to Paris for a year.

Monday, January 16, 2006

I just re-read my previous posts, and have to admit I have spent the last few weeks in an anguish of sorts. Don't know why I let my anxiety rule my life, but I do. I went to an AA meeting yesterday, and I went to the same meeting last Sunday, and at both meetings I got the same message--I need to meditate.

I have not been doing so. But I did some yesterday morning, and today. And both days I had a sense of peace. So for two days, I have let go of my financial anxiety enough to have some quality time. With my husband, with my dog, and with myself.

We have been slowly taking actions on selling our place. Some of the actions are internal, letting go. Grieving. Others are talking to people. We haven't arrived at whether we will even sell, yet. But my financial anxiety pushes me to push my husband, and together we manage to take small actions. I wish I could be more like him--he refuses to get upset about anything. I get upset about everything. Not having an income upsets me more than anything, but he seems to feel that as long as there is something in the savings, there is no need to panic.

I have been working--but it was supposed to be long-term, and I think we will wind up the job at the end of this week. Then I will have to generate another temp job, or something. I am thinking of applying for rural letter carrier. My uncle did that for years, and my father was a letter carrier, so it kind of runs in the family. I think I would like driving around the country roads, listening to tapes, and putting mail in mailboxes. But I might not like it at all. It just seems like a better choice than going into yet another corporation and doing something there, either on the computer or telephone, or whatever. Dressing to fit the part. I am getting so tired of all of that. Yet, I need to keep on moving, to bring in the income, or we have to sell. Today, I am more willing to find the spiritual solution. To seek God's will, instead of insisting on mine.

More willing, but I know myself, and I am not totally willing. But for today, I meditated, I enjoyed the morning with my husband and with the dog, and we did some work in the kitchen together. Tonight I am going to another meeting with my sponsee, and tomorrow I will go back to work at the temp job. I have been delighted with my fellow temp workers on this project. We have talked together and laughed together for four weeks, and I have grown to love them.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Can someone tell me how to fix the huge space that occurs either before my post or after?

Merry Merry to all!

I have secured a long-term temporary job for a few months, and have found the company to be a very pleasant place to work. I don't like the commute--it is in congested, fast traffic, but I am grateful to have the job. It gives me a bit more breathing space, and I need that right now.

Unemployment came through and sent me all the checks it had been withholding--so that increases the breathing space. Whew!

We have started a few processes--looking into selling some of our land--and finding out if we can do that from the township--and of course, if the neighbor is really interested in purchasing the land.

We are also looking into selling the whole place--at least starting to talk with realtors to find out what the current prices are for comparable properties in the neighborhood. All of this is very challenging for me. We are talking with friends, and others who can help guide us through some very tricky processes.

It's challenging in the letting go part also. So much to let go of. Visions, dreams, fears, all to let go of. Old visions will turn into new ones, I am told. We will all lose everyone and everything in the end, but the process of letting go does not come easy. One day at a time, I will try each day to live in the moment, to cherish the moment, to pray to be guided to know what is the best, and to be able to let go, and trust in the goodness of the future. Not to fall into fear, anxiety, and dread, and loss.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

A little bit of time has gone by since my last post, and I still have not found work. I am sending out letters and resumes now, but so far, no work. Tomorrow I will call temp agencies, and see if I can work this week. If nothing materializes, I will continue to do as I have been. Unemployment is making a decision this week as to whether I will be able to get some money from them.

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