Monday, January 25, 2010

Random thoughts on Monday...

Snowflakes in the backyard

It's back to winter here in MN. Over the weekend we had above freezing temps during the day with rain. Now it's about 20 degrees and blowing snow. Below zero is forecast in the next few days. It's a good time to think about greenhouses and planting! :-)

Who has checked out what was left in their freezer from last summer. Mike and I went through our 2 chest freezers and condensed down to 1. We found a lot of frozen rhubarb, broccoli, snowpeas, and cauliflower from the garden. Other treasures we discovered were frozen strawberries and corn (from another local farm). We decided it's time to start using this stuff up! So yesterday I thawed some rhubarb and made rhubarb cake--what a treat! It was like a little taste of spring in the midst of this bleak landscape of winter foods. (Now don't get me wrong--I love winter foods: comfort dishes like hotdishes, good keepers like squash and potatoes, canned fruits, etc. But that cake brought the odors of spring. It reminded us of fresh peas, greens, and, of course, rhubarb!) Tomorrow we'll be having a side dish of cauliflower with our supper. So I encourage you to dig in the freezer and see what you find!

During the school year, I teach piano lessons on Mondays. I have decided to incorporate a little "me time" into the schedule, because when I'm home the rest of the week there is NO TIME for mom time. We are busy with school, housework, and keeping our family fed! This means MOM is busy doing all those things! :-) So today, I had some extra time which I'm using right now to blog. As I was driving up our driveway this afternoon, I came across a small group of turkeys, which after looking it up in Google, I now know that it is correctly called a "rafter" of turkeys. There were about seven meandering across the driveway, no doubt eating some gravel which they need for digestion. Quite close to the turkeys was a small doe, poking through the woods. This has been a rather common spectacle on our farm. Since we are somewhat isolated and surrounded by a lot of woods, there are large populations of deer and turkeys.

You may wonder if these cause some problems in the garden. Short answer=YES. The turkeys haven't been much trouble (although they enjoy visiting our domestic turkeys when we raise them), but the deer have caused much anguish during my gardening career. Last year we completed a deer fence around the entire fence. Even though it's only 5 feet high, it accomplished it's task quite well. I think it was just enough of a deterrent that the deer figured they could just as easily get lunch elsewhere. Now that the snow is drifted about 3 feet deep around the deer fence, though, the deer have decided to come visiting once more. You see, I made the mistake of leaving an uncovered round bale of straw in the garden. I used part of it for mulching the strawberries, and was planning to use the rest this spring for the same purpose and in the raspberry patch. Even though there are about 7 strawbales outside of the fence, the deer felt a need to destroy that one partial bale INSIDE the fence. One day I sent Greg up to chase the deer away--there were at least 20 inside the fence! Most of them easily cleared the fence, though a few had their hind legs tripped up on it. So, plan B will probably be put into place this spring--topping the fence with electric strands and colored tape-flags. My kids think I'm obsessed with my no-deer-in-the-garden plans. I even have a Plan C and D! Well, someday when they wander up there for a snack of sugarsnap peas to find that every last one has been nosed out by the evil deer, they will understand.

One thing that I did today as I was enjoying some quiet was finish going through the FEDCO/Organic Growers Supply catalog. I was reading through the descriptions of all the organic soil amendments and resolved to test the garden soil again this spring and see if needs some additional rock powders, greensand, etc. We use no synthetic fertilizers in the garden, depending on rotation, compost, composted manure, and cover crops to boost the fertility. It seems to be working, if you look at this jungle of tomato plants. This picture was taken a couple years ago. Last year's tomato plants were even more massive and loaded with fruit. I will be given them a bit more space this year, since I anticipate an even better season!

Well, my free time is up! Time to go back to the cold and snow, and leave my garden daydreams for another time.


Anonymous said...

Wow, sounds like your garden is a lot of fun. I can't wait to help you with it this spring and summer!! It'll be time for us to catch up and all.

April said...

It will be great! Just watch out--if you say you want to garden I'll really put you to work! :-) I absolutely LOVE to work in the garden with someone--it IS a great time to catch up. We'll have so much fun... and then we'll jump in the pool!!!

Jessika said...

Nathan and I want to have a garden this summer so I'm sure we'll be asking you a few questions since you seem to be the garden expert.

April said...

Jessika--COOL!!! I will save some tomato, pepper, and jalapeno plants just for you!

And if you care to go check out a book--I'd suggest "Square Foot Gardening." It's perfect for gardening in small places and keeps everything neat and cute and productive!!!