Because I am planting flowers

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I came across a comic recently that helped me to look ahead to 2019 with some hope and more joy. 2018 was an incredibly hard year for me personally—incredibly hard—- and finding joy is something I have struggled with since losing my son in 2014. The current state of the politics in our country and the lack of compassion from people can leave a person feeling very defeated. I am an empathic person anyway so I tend to feel more than most and then take on more suffering than I should. I have turned off much of the news. I have backed away a LOT from social media and am trying to focus on taking better care of myself and, while that feels selfish, I also feel that I can only give myself what I need, as those around me seem to be doing that for themselves. 

Meditation has been a large part of my life since losing my son. It has helped to wake me up in ways that I had no idea. I can now look at my emotions and watch them flow through my body. That isn’t to say that I can’t still feel them and experience extreme hurt. I do. But I am learning the importance of being alone. Of going inward. Of silence. Of looking at how the selfish behavior of those around me affects how I respond. The importance of taking care of myself. The importance of letting go of expectations from others, to understand my empathic nature, and to realize I need to give myself the love and care that I can’t get from others. The realization that I AM alone and that the things I thought I had, that were precious to me, were NOT really there at all. That it is all an illusion. That the definition of some words are different to me than they are to those closest to me. But the hardest part is that I can’t change the definitions that others have in their heads even when they don’t match my own definitions. And I have let go of ANY communication to this effect as I have learned that it doesn’t do any good. Sometimes it hurts worse to hold ON than it does to let go. 

Soooooooo, I am going to take care of my own garden and am going to plant flowers. It is that time of year you know, when the seed catalogs are coming in and you dream of growing more color in the yard. Of the changes of the season going into the cold part of the year as well as the anniversary of John’s stupid death and knowing that there will be warmer days ahead. 

I have always wanted a greenhouse so that I can start the flowers for my garden. I have had a makeshift greenhouse for many years. The years that my emotions were healthy I have made the effort and started flats of seeds in there and filled my yard with zinnias and marigolds and vegetables that have produced enough to share with friends and neighbors. So, this year, I found a cheap greenhouse from Harbor Freight for $299. With a coupon, I spent $250 on it. There are tons of YouTube videos about how to beef up this little guy so that it will withstand the elements better. I have been watching those and today will go out and start cutting the lumber for the foundation. 

I’ve already ordered some seeds. My usual greens and vegetables and adding some new strawberries, because the bed I have has not been producing much the past few years. And this morning I ordered flowers. Yay!

seeds

Here are a few photos and I’ll post more as it progresses.

I cleared the concrete slab area of all the junk we had on it and filled in the concrete gaps that were on the slab with some quickcrete. I then took an old tent side and drew the dimensions of the greenhouse on it so that I could lay it down and get an idea of the positioning of the house. 

Got my work shoes on and gloves and it is supposed to get to 60 degrees today and by the weekend snow….Let’s see how much I can build today!

Olla Pots…

IMG_0840A couple of years ago, a friend gave me a ton of clay. Literally, a ton of clay. We know that because as Herb was unloading it out of the truck, he was doing a calculation in his head and it was more than we should’ve carried in our little truck. The repair bill later was proof of that. But the clay is piled up under a tarp in the back of our lot and I need to start working through the pile and using this clay.

Last year, I went through the clay and made an inventory of what was there and now, looking at the list, there is a low fire terra cotta. It fires to cone 2, which is low for what I normally work in. So, I was looking at a video this morning from a homesteading family. The Dervaes Family in California who are harvesting 3 tons of food on 1/10th of an acre of land. It is pretty amazing what they have done. So, it occurred to me that I could make some irrigation pots like these from that terra cotta clay. They are called Olla pots and they are a way to conserve water, which I am all about.

Olla pots have been in use for many centuries and are buried in the garden. The idea is that the terra cotta clay weeps the water into the ground and allows the plants to take in the water that they need, at the roots, where they need it the most. According to Wikipedia, it is a very efficient method because very little water is lost to evaporation because the water is stored underground. You can also see how to make your own Olla pots here at this awesome site Global Buckets whose goal is about growing food in 5 gallon buckets. Another good site that shows how they are used is Walden Labs. And here is a great illustration of how the pot works in the ground at this Permaculture link.Old-Pot-Technology.slideshow

This will be a way to use up the clay and give me a new item to make and to help with the Community garden

This is what an Olla Pot looks like...

This is what an Olla Pot looks like…

or my own garden with water usage during times of drought.

Now to find the clay in the pile of clay and get some water added to it so that I can start the process of making a batch of these pots.

Vintage Woodstock Festival

 

 

 

Just a quick post this morning to let everyone know that I am doing an event this Friday night in Woodstock, VA called Vintage Woodstock. I have never been to this event, but it is local, and I am trying to be as local with my new work as possible. If you are looking for something to do this Friday evening, head to Woodstock, and stop in and see my new fairy garden items and new mug designs.

I’d love to see you there!

 

 

 

Garden Party in September

Thomas and Belle are getting married in October of this year. So a few weeks ago they called to say they wanted to invite their friends from DC out to our house for a pot luck backyard picnic. Needless to say, Herb and I went into gardener mode and started working on the yard. We have been extremely lucky so far that we have had lots of regular rain so that the yard isn’t brown like it was this time last year. I have ordered seeds to plant flowers about and tried to look at the date and back up from there so that I would have things blooming by the September 24th date that they have given us. I’m not hopeful that I will have the look that I want but the yard being green is probably all I can really hope for. We have, over the years, had to deal with high water rates and using rain water for my flower beds to keep the perennials alive and so we are used to the additional care that goes into keeping things green. Having a cistern and rainbarrels really help.

At this point, I should back up and give a history of the yard. We have now lived here for 16 years and when we moved in the yard looked like a landing strip. Long straight and narrow. There are sidewalks almost all the way around the perimeter of the yard and there were three outbuildings, one of which we housed a rabbit for many years to use the poop as a fertilizer. That building finally got so bad that it had to come down and all that is left is a concrete foundation of sorts that I have put a simple patio area on and my makeshift greenhouse. After 16 years of labor, the yard is finally starting to look mature and is a real joy to spend time in so I am sure that is why the kids wanted to have a party in the backyard. The building you see in the photo was an old garage and is now called “man’s world”. (No real explanation needed). There is another building beside the patio up closer to the house that I hope to take down in the coming year and replace with a studio to get all the hobby stuff out of the house and into my own space.

Last September, I began a series of cold frame gardens that are now doing well, all things considered. The fact that I didn’t know if it would work and the experimentation of trying to grow greens through the winter has me excited to give it another try this coming winter. We have thoroughly enjoyed lots butterhead lettuce and arugula and now have carrots, celeriac, and tomatoes and green beans and berries coming on. Even a couple of cucumbers and I’ve planted some gourds for the fall for some color for our tables.

I have had problems with ground hogs coming into the yard from my neighbors yard and, together with that neighbor, we have trapped about 6 total and given them the heave ho. I also went to Lowes and purchased some chicken wire fencing, which will come down before the backyard party to try and keep the greens that are still surviving the heat from getting eaten up by “someone” besides us.

Now Appearing….seedlings!

I have baby seedlings in my seed flats in the makeshift greenhouse. I wanted to share the little guys with you.

Since I built the greenhouse, we have had windy days with 50 MPH winds and aside from having to push the staples back into the ground and run a strip of duct tape in a few places, it has survived. I know, I’m amazed too.

Then we had a downpour and the mud to get to it was pretty bad so I moved some of the stepping stones from my garden areas to give me some safe places to step.

stepping stones

The seeds that are making their debut are tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, alyssum, calendula, green tassel amaranth, foxgloves, primrose, cleome & zinnias. I have some seeds that need to be direct seeding into the garden because they don’t transplant well. And it won’t be long before I can put the peas out so that we can have a few fresh peas in the spring.

We have had several really pretty days that have allowed me to work on my flower beds to get them ready for the new plants. And a couple of days the temperatures inside the greenhouse have been well over 100 degrees so I have to be careful that I allow some air flow into it to keep it from cooking my new little seedlings. So far, they are loving the heat and show no signs of wilting, but I am keeping a watchful eye on them.

I have purchased some larger compostable pots to transplant the seedlings into once they reach the stage where they need a bigger space. I have tried to avoid plastic pots. While they are recyclable, I would prefer using something that I can just plant into the ground to avoid the plant having the shock of transplanting.

Foxgloves

So far everyone is happy and hoping that the wind doesn’t return. We just started March though and it is the windy month so we’ll see how the little plastic covered house holds up.

My Makeshift Greenhouse

Spring is just around the corner and I always get excited about starting my plants. Sometimes too soon. A couple of years ago I had built a bean arbor from some rebar and cattle fence and it was really handy to grow beans on because you could just walk under the arbor and pick the beans and not have to deal so much with the vines. Last fall, as I was building my cold frames, and needed some shade to work up my compost for the boxes, I used my boys’ old trampoline as a shade structure under that same arbor. That got me thinking that I could enclose the arbor and use it to start seeds in a makeshift greenhouse. A few online purchases later from greenhouse suppliers, I have a small greenhouse that I have started my spring flowers and tomatoes. Here is how I did it…

First, I moved the arbor to the location that we have tried unsuccessfully to grow potatoes  and moved a table I had built to work on inside the frame. Perfect fit.

arbor with table inside

Then, I had the idea to sew the plastic to create a tent to cover the arbor. This idea was eventually scrapped due to 50 mph winds that decided to use the seams as perforations and take the tent off the frame.

attempting to sew the cover

After having a frustrating start, I started over, this time without the wind and a roll of duct tape. Much better. I used binder clips to clip the plastic to the frame to fit the frame like a dressmaker and cut from there. Better fit and held in place.

white duct tape

I am lucky enough to have an electrical outlet close by that is in a flexible conduit and it fits into one corner so that I could purchase a small greenhouse heater to keep the temperature consistent as the spring gets closer. The heater has a thermostat and a tip safety feature so that it is a very safe little guy and blows a quiet stream of warm air into the little room. I had an old door that fit perfectly onto the bottom shelf of the table so that I can keep the heater up off the ground and in a protected space.

power

Once every thing was in place I could start the seeds. Today I started zinnias, calendulas, basil, amaranth, false queen annes lace, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Now it is a waiting game to see if the wind allows it to stay put and the seeds to emerge.

Dayton Convection Heater

My sources for supplies were Charley’s Green House and Johnny’s Seeds. I spent roughly $250 for all the supplies and now have a place to start seeds for a few years to come.