Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Damn Aphids

 This is the damage done to our potatoes in just a weeks time by a hoard of aphids. They all of a sudden have turned up everywhere, They are on the lemon balm and parsley, as well as the butterfly bush and honeysuckle. The potatoes have seemed to take the worst of it though. Curiously, they haven't yet touched and of the other vegetables. Maybe because of the garlic and onions? I've read that those plants can deter pests, but I don't know if Aphids are included. To combat them, we have ordered an army of ladbugs (3,000 of them) and hopefully they will arrive in time. No where in Chattanooga sells live ladybugs, so we ordered them from Amazon  using some rewards points. They actually ended up being free. An adult ladybug can eat of to 80 Aphids a day. I think the onslaught might have come after our neighbor sprayed his yard. All the his pest migrated to our nice pesticide free yard. Damn Aphids.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Great Find

The Gardener's Weather Bible: How to Predict and Prepare for Garden Success in Any Kind of WeatherSo I admit to having something bordering on a hoarding problem when it comes to books. I love not only reading them, but having them too. I love to go to the used book store and buy a basket full, but I never bring any to trade. I will probably never own a Nook, or Kindle, or one of those other devices for reading because I just don't feel the same when I am holding one of those (my Mom frequently downloads books to her I-Pad, and I tried it out). They just don't smell the same. Anyway, because of this addiction of mine, I sometimes find books I forgot I bought, and today I unearthed this one.The Gardener's Weather Bible: How to Predict and Prepare for Garden Success in Any Kind of Weather.. . It's actually really great. It's full of practical information, as well as cute quotes and funny stories that I usually think could just as easily be about me.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


We harvested these yesterday evening. They are oh so yummy! Maybe it's the satisfaction of knowing you've grown something yourself, but I think they taste infinitely better than anything I've even purchased at a grocery store. I will do another crop in the fall since they are so easy and grow so fast.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

New Old Freezer

Andrew and I have been talking for a while now about getting a separate freezer to keep in the basement. We freeze a lot of our produce from the garden, and sometimes Andrew's dad goes hunting, and we get half of the deer. In our kitchen we have a pretty decent sized freezer attached to our fridge - it's one of those that is a drawer at the bottom as opposed to on the top - but it still fills up quickly. I mentioned this to my parents one day a few weeks ago, and then a few days ago, my dad called and said they were replacing theirs and wanted to know if we wanted their old one. I, of course, said yes. The one they gave us is an upright freezer, which I wanted but thought we couldn't afford, that they have had as long as I can remember. They bought it used in 1990 for 100 bucks, and it's still in great condition today. My parents never had any trouble out of it, and aside from a few scratch and dents (what can you expect out of an appliance that's more that 20 years old?) There is absolutely nothing wrong with it. I gave it a good scrub, and as soon as Andrew moves it to its permanent home in our basement, we will plug it up and start freezing! I'm really thrilled because now we can also buy our meat in bulk. We've already been in contact with a local farmer and we are planning on purchasing half of a cow from him. Best of all, it was completely free!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Good Book

Simple Prosperity: Finding Real Wealth in a Sustainable LifestyleI have read, and am re-reading the book, Simple Prosperity, by David Wann. (Davis Wann is the co-author of popular book: Affluenza - also a very good book). It's a wonderful book for anyone who has a yen for the simpler life. A lot of books that touch on social and environmental issues can leave you with a sense of dread about the world, but Wann's book leaves you with a sense of hope. He doesn't sugar coat any problems, but he give a real sense that there are ways to help make things better. Give it a look.

Innocence of Being Two

 Isabelle will be two in August, just three short months away. I don't know how that happened so quick. I swear I just had her last week. Yesterday, watching her play outside, I couldn't help but think about what her life must be like in her two year old eyes. So simple and yet at the same to so full of wonder. She's fascinated with the mock wild strawberries (Duchesnea indica) that grow all over the yard. She loves to pick them and smash them between her fingers. She also gets great joy from blowing the dandelions that have gone to seed. What must it be like to have no real worries, no to do list? She doesn't yet know a thing about money. She isn't worried about the safety of her community, or the effects of global warming. Gas prices mean nothing to her. Nothing to fear, no pain - except the occasional boo boo -but anything can be made better with hugs and kisses. I realize not every two year old is lucky enough to have this carefree type of existence. I want this to last for her as long as possible. Most of us don't remember being two. My earliest memories start around five or six I think. One of my biggest fears, is what kind of world there is out there for her. I think about what is was like when I was born and how much has changed. I was born in 1985. Back then my parents didn't have cell phones or a home computer. Never mind HD and Internet. Not that all of these innovations are bad, Thanks to some of them I am sitting here writing this blog. But I can't help but be uncomfortable with all of the technology invading our lives. I yearn for a simpler way of life, not just for myself, but for everybody. I feel like we are all being consumed by the pressures of today's consumer society. Is she going to feel like less because when she starts school she doesn't have the latest version of the I-phone? I hope not. I really hope she will understand and appreciate our values. I know as hard as you try, your children don't always become what you think or hope they will be. I am prime example. My parents look at me as someone they used to know. They aren't sure how to talk to me. Mostly it's because they don't understand me, or what I believe, and I don't know how to make them. I think, that with all of the communication technology out there, we have lost how to communicate with each other. It's something I will have to actively work at as she grows up, because it's not something I ever learned.
  But for now, I am happy to just watch her be carefree and two. I think this is what people are searching for. Somewhere in their subconscience they remember a time when life was easy. That is the ultimate goal isn't it? But can we ever get there again? Can we ever get back the innocence of being two?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Coming Along Nicely (Mostly)

Pictures of the things we are growing. I know the yard really needs to be mowed and it's obvious in these pictures, but that's one of my least favorite outdoor activities, Besides, it takes both me and Andrew being home during daylight hours so one of us can watch Isabelle, and nice weather. Very unusual. Speaking of nice weather, I can't get over just how gorgeous it is today. It's only in the 60's and breezy, with lots of sunshine. Now this is what I call spring weather. Save the eighty plus stuff for summertime. I have the windows open and as soon as Isabelle wakes up from her nap, we are headed outside.

I am amazed at how well these potatoes are doing in these containers. This is great because next year we will probably do them in an area of the yard we can't dig in. That's where the septic lines run. I can't wait to see if using this method really does produce more potatoes.
I started these pepper plant from seed. They are doing very well. Looking rather perky after yesterday's nice rain. I say nice because that's all it was - rain. A refreshing downpour with no nasty side affects. No raging winds or dangerous lighting. I love those kinds of rains.
I can't get over how quickly radishes grow. They can go from seeds to your mouth in about a month. I just planted these from seed about twenty days ago, and they will be ready for harvest in about a week and a half. They make a good space saver crop. When these come up, beans will go in their place.
This is the first time I've ever grown onions. They are looking pretty good, though they have come up sporadically in the bed. I have an onion here and and onion there.
The garlic, however, is growing in a nice pretty row. This is first time I have done garlic too. I use it in almost everything, though, so it seemed worthwhile to try growing it myself.
My tomato plants are also looking happier after yesterday's rain. One of them even has gotten a little bloom started on it. This year I am growing brandywine.
Both the parsley and the basil are really taking off. The parsley is looking a bit wild. I will probably cut a bunch soon and hang it to dry
Unfortunately my apple tree is not faring so well. The caterpillars have eaten the heck out of it. I don't even know if we will get any apples, because we lost our other tree last summer in a storm. Sad.
But we will definitely have pears. Our pear tree has a tendency to flower really early, because we get what I call pretend spring days where it will get really warm, and then the temperature drops again. We almost always loose most of the blooms to a frost and only get a handful of pears. Not this year though!
The honeysuckle has started to bloom. I love the smell of them, especially in the evening time sitting on the back deck watching Isabelle play. We have two different kinds growing on our fence. One is a slow grower, but produces those fantastic orange flowers that cover the plant. The other is very vigorous (I have to cut it back several times a year) and produces smaller whiter flowers. On  this one, the leaves turn a lovely deep burgundy color during the winter.

Monday, May 2, 2011

We are OK

Wednesday April 27 was a very scary night where we live. We spent much of the night in the basement hoping a tornado wouldn't come. We were very lucky that night. Our house was spared, and the worse we suffered was being without power for a few days.  So many houses, and lives were not. As I've written before, Chattanooga, and the TN valley are not considered part of tornado alley, but we do see them every year, and they are more dangerous here because you can't usually see them coming because of the trees and mountains. Also, we don't have tornado sirens around here. Sadly, many people were under the misconception that the mountains block tornadoes, but as I think everyone learned Wednesday, that is so not the case.