spectating participant

August 28, 2008

farmer’s market outisde my front door

Filed under: garden, life — suzanne henderson @ 12:43 pm

There are lots of little perks to living in a rural community and networking with a group of folk that like growing things and supporting each other. For a few weeks, a small group of us have been gathering weekly to trade and sell items we grow or make. This came about as a way to use up abundant harvests and get a variety of items. I hosted this weeks trade which works out to a mini farmers market right outside my door.

This week I offered up fresh baked whole wheat bread, still warm from the oven, and free range eggs. People got to see, and children chase, the same chickens that laid the eggs. I sold and traded for some peach tomatoes (not peaches and tomatoes, peach tomatoes - alex says they’re yummy), basil, homemade dip mix, roma tomatoes, canned dilly beans, fig-raspeberry jam, and mouse melons. We also had carrots, cukes, beets, pumpkins, fresh herbs, vinegar mixes, canned peaches, local honey, canned jellies and jams, salsas, and hand-ground wheat flour available that other people traded for. I’m probably missing a few things too.

This is such a great idea and a great experience. We’re meeting weekly as the produce is available and then I imagine we’ll scale back when fall arrives. People bring things to trade or cash to buy outright. I’m sure I broke even if not made a little in exchange for what I offered and took home.

April 18, 2008

Dinner Theatre: Sports Addition

Filed under: garden, food — suzanne henderson @ 1:37 am

Two-Week Old Chicks

The chickens continue to provide us with endless entertainment, though Alex’s fascination seems to be fading a little. We’re still weighing them daily - I’ve yet to make a graph that I find useful enough to share - and we’re still watching them on the TV when we’re not peering over the edge of the brooder. I’m impressed at their growth and feathering rates and at how they seem to be getting more and more accustomed to handling. But, this is the sport addition, so lets get to that part.

I was goofing off online and ignoring the tv while Chris was over playing with the birds. It seems he’s noticed they have a new game to play - chicken football. While he was watching them, a chick grabbed a large piece of wood shaving (their bedding material/litter) and started running around, peeping wildly. Several other chicks joined in and the lucky chick with the “ball” then started doing quick little touch-downs in each of the brooder corners, all while being chased by louder and louder peeping chicks. It was hilarious to watch because they were clearly having a ton of fun in their little game.

Chris has since learned tricks to get a new game started. He’ll reach into the brooder and slowly pick up some litter - this gets them all excited and one or two birds will come pecking after him and take it away. The first few tries, the chicks seem more interested in just getting that wood shaving back into their domain and will go about their business. But, as a critical mass of chicken attention develops, the excitement builds on repeated attempts and eventually a chick will steal the shaving/ball and start running around, peeping madly with it’s prize. Sometimes the other chicks follow, sometimes they just watch the antics of the lucky winner. Chris and I, on the other hand, are laughing hysterically each time.

March 23, 2008

Garden: March 23, 2008

Filed under: garden — suzanne henderson @ 2:54 pm

- Our broccoli and unknown seedlings have started on true sets of leaves.
- We planted cabbage, brussesls sprouts, and more broccoli last weekend. We had to put a heating pad under the tray and they are now sprouting.
- This weekend, we started some asparagus seeds and thinned out some more of the unknown seedlings into individual trays.
- We picked up 4 strawberry plants while at Home Depot looking for seedling trays.

We were pretty disturbed to find that Home Depot sells seeds and potting soil, but no seedling trays — uhh!. Guess they aren’t used to people really planning out their gardens and extending their harvest by starting seeds indoors. But, while we were disappointed to come home without the trays, we were happy to have some locally grown strawberry plants in the car with us.

In other news, the plan is to bring home 5 baby chicks next weekend. We’re still a little unsure about what will become the brooder, but we’ve at least cleared out a space for them. I really want to order some 20-week pullets now that I know that means we’ll get fresh eggs sooner, but Chris isn’t as excited about that plan. So, we’ll keep with the starting small plan, which is probably the best plan.

March 9, 2008

Garden: March 9, 2008

Filed under: garden — suzanne henderson @ 1:43 pm

A quick update on this year’s garden:

We ordered seeds from Territorial Seed Company on February 11 and they arrived within a week. At the same time, we also ordered from artisticgardens.com and the seeds never arrived. I contacted them after a couple weeks and our order had been lost, so I re-placed the order on March 4 and the seeds arrive on March 8 (sans one back-ordered packet of pumpkin seeds).

We started seedlings last Sunday (March 2): broccoli and mystery seeds. We set the broccoli seedlings on top of the office computer monitor and the mystery seeds hung out in the kitchen window above the radiator. The broccoli sprouted tall by Thursday (March 6) and the mystery seeds were pushing up a day later (March 7). Since sprouting, we’ve moved my wire craft shelving to the living room window and have put them there in hopes of getting a decent amount of sunlight. We’re also supplementing with artificial light, since the days aren’t quite long enough yet, and need a better lamp stand in. We may also add some white sheeting to help reflect more sunlight at the plants as well.

Yesterday, Chris and I went through his stock of seeds and added them to our spreadsheet (which I hope to make publicly available at a later time). We have 82 packets of seeds on hands and more than 52 different plant varieties, which includes companion-planting flowers and two specialty crops (luffa sponges and kale walking sticks). Some of Chris’ stock is many years old, so we’re not sure if they are all viable - but they have been properly stored cold and dry and there is a good chance they’ll all be good. The broccoli that sprouted were from one of the older packets since the ones we ordered from artisticgardens.com had not yet arrived.

In somewhat related news, We’ve been reading “Animal, Plant, Miracle” in the evenings before bed and I’m renewing my interest in eating locally AND adding interest in eating in season. The author basically journals her year in food and doing the same and I think we’ll incorporate as much locally grown and seasonally appropriate foods into our diet as possible, with hopes at being fully in-season by next year (which will also be easier when we have our root cellar, freezer, and jars of canned foods available to consumption). Reading this book has also shared new information, such as the connection between Monsanto and Territorial Seed company (no more ordering from Territorial for me) and heirloom versus hybrid seeds. I plan to order a few more seeds for this year from either Baker Seed Catalog or Seed Savers since getting more information on the importance of heirloom plant varieties and diversity in our food sources.

Items we still need to buy for our garden: seed potatoes, garlic, onions, strawberries.

Today gardening to-do list includes making up a gardening journal to help track data on seedlings, transplants, maturity dates, harvest, and all that good stuff. I may actually move my gardening journal over to my business site since it may be slightly more relevant there in terms of gardening in Carroll County and possibly directing more work my way — gotta love passive advertising, I guess. May also be moving all my crafting posts over there as well, but thats another subject altogether.