Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Accidental Squash

When my husband and I unloaded the first mushroom compost, I never expected what could grow from a couple of hidden squash seeds.

From early March, when the seeds first sprouted to mid-June, the squash has been taken over the garden area and beyond.

Since I am mostly preparing soil, I am OK with it.

I am reminded of the story I heard as a little girl called “The Quick Running Squash”.

A little boy sees his squash growing so fast that he jumps on it as the vine keeps growing and growing and then he rides it all over the country.  I think it ends with a farmer cutting the vine with an ax to rescue the boy.

I totally understand the inspiration for the story now!

The story is by Alicia Aspinwall and it begins on page 201 of Volume One of "My Book House", and you can see it with the illustrations as I heard it and then read it as a child with this link.

© 2017 Kathryn Hardage

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Winter Garden

In December, I wrote: It has gotten frosty for the past couple of days.

My winter kales and thyme are still growing in their raised bed.

Even the collards are crisp and tangy in their containers on the deck.

As this growing season ends, I am planning the straw bales in the spring, along with fruit trees.

I am designing space for vermiculture and composting.

It will be fun to implement another step as  I learn to frow a little more food to live a little more sustainably.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Growing Peace in My Garden

I have been reading about growing food in my own garden.

I have even tried it a few times with minimal results.

However, I am still encouraged.

The way I am going about it this year, is with more knowledge and better timing.

I have one raised bed, which my husband built for me last Fall.  

I grew two kinds of kale in it and some thyme.

I also planted garlic, which due to the extremes of warm and cold weather back and forth, has decided to sprout early.

I have started new raised beds with kitchen scraps and compost and soil from my containers from last year.

I am putting cardboard or old carpet under them, then adding the kitchen scraps and covering them with the compost and soil.

I also sprinkle red pepper flakes to discourage neighborhood pets and wildlife.

So far, so good.

My small collection of seeds which are sprouting will be transplanted into two containers by a north window of my kitchen until the last frost is past.  (We hope!  Wo can tell anymore?)

I will start more seeds.

I am looking forward to eating from my own garden this year.

It is an encouraging and peaceful feeling, that I will have food that close at hand.

I am also looking forward to sharing the abundance.

In order to have an orderly and peaceful and successful experience, I will plant herbs among the vegetables, and flowers, as well.

I will plant mints and aromatics in pots to discourage rodents.  The pots will help contain these plants which like to spread.

This will give me more peace, as I learn to protect my plants in ways that are beneficial to pollinators and which discourage pests.

So, this new gardener looks forward to the new season with great hope, once again.

© 2017 Kathryn Hardage

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A New Backyard and A New Container Garden

My new backyard garden is a container garden.  It sits in the middle of a mowed acre on rocky soil.  It is portable, which is good because I was able to move it from its rainwater catchment location to the center of the meadow.  There are almost no weeds.

I have several varieties of tomatoes and peppers, along with two kinds of squash, three kinds of kale and assorted other vegetables.

I am enjoying it very much.  At first, I took daily photos of the first peppers and tomatoes.  Since then, I have eaten a couple of brand new strawberries, and my husband and I each ate one new Black Cherry tomato.

I will cook a Hungarian Wax Pepper with my next stew.  
It looks like it will be a hot variety.

After collecting five-gallon buckets in Texas, I have found a business in Missouri which is saving them for me.  Now, I am expanding my garden.

I have also set up a small strawbale garden.  I am starting some new vegetables and flowers from seed for it.  I am using a seed starting kit with coir pellets and will transplant them when they get big enough.

The strawbale garden needs a rabbit fence, so I have the wire fencing to install.

Although I sewed some potato grow bags, I don’t think they are going to produce any potatoes.  We had such rainy weather when I started the seed potatoes in them, or else I started them too late.  I haven’t seen any growth coming from them yet.

I am delighted to have a garden started this year which is growing veggies and herbs.  I am looking forward to experiencing the harvest in a couple more months.

© 2015 Kathryn Hardage

Monday, November 24, 2014

Canning and More Canning

I have been spending more and more time learning to can, water bath can and pressure can.

I started with jams and conserves.  So far, I am too impatient for jellies.

I am pressure canning veggies and meats.

I canned corn, organic, freshly grown, harvested and shucked corn for the first time last summer.  There will definitely be more of that!

My goal is to fill up a pantry with two years worth of food while I learn to grow it.

I am looking for wholesale sources now, since I am buying in bulk.

I am also learning how to dehydrate.  So far I have done it in the oven and in the solar oven and in a hooded grill.

I have yet to build my outdoor dehydrator, but it will happen.

We moved to our land in Missouri last June, 2014, stayed there for five months before returning to the DFW Metroplex for my husband’s seasonal business.

I am continuing to can while living here.  I have canned 15 pints of pinto beans, a couple of cases of stews and soups.

I am getting ready to order cheese-making supplies.

The more food preparation I learn, the more I will free myself to learn more homesteading skills.

I am having the time of my life!

© 2014 Kathryn Hardage

Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Smaller Garden

I am helping a friend design her tiny backyard.

At first I planted herbs, spacing them to allow for their mature size.


Lavender                                 Thyme                                   Rosemary


Oregano                                     Fennel                                  Sage

Then she decided large pots would give her more flexibility.

She used an organic treatment to cut down on weeds and put in a mulched and stone walk.

Marigolds help to distract bugs from her herb, vegetable and fruit transplants and provide a colorful border.

What a beautiful transformation!

© 2014 Kathryn Hardage

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Fourth Fruit Tree

This year, I worried about the unusually heavy winter weather in North Texas. As we moved toward Spring, the last frost date kept getting pushed back farther and farther. Even though I was grateful that we would not have to worry about enough chill hours to set fruit, as in previous very mild winters, it seemed like Spring would never come.
Then when it finally did, my peach tree began to blossom beautifully.  Lovely pink blossoms, budding out all over the tree.   When it had about a quarter to a third of a tree full of blossoms, the weather turned freezing cold and we received quarter-sized hail.  Many of the peach blossoms were destroyed.  We all felt cruelly fooled again by the weather.

However,  since all the buds had not blossomed yet, I realized there was a possibility that all was not lost.  So it turned out to be.  Gratefully, more buds blossomed into their beautiful pink color during the next couple of weeks.  Tiny peaches began to grow.

Two of my other fruit trees began to bud before the hail, but the third one just looked like a tall dead stick with small dead branches.  It just stayed looking dead as everything else began to grow around it.  A few weeks after the other fruit trees had budded and were beginning to blossom, the fourth fruit tree finally began to bud.  It actually was not dead, just dormant until the right time for it to bud out. 

I draw a metaphor from this experience.

I have many projects which I wish would all happen right away when I think of them.

I write, plan, collect resources, and wish and hope and work, but some of them just take a much longer time to come to fruition, like the fourth fruit tree.  I could live more calmly and with much less anxiety if I realized this.  Obviously, it will be worth learning more patience.

© 2014 Kathryn Hardage