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Archive for March, 2010

GrapevinesPlanting on the homestead continues….

We got our blackberries, strawberries, and grapes in the ground. The blackberries (3 plants – Chester Thornless) weren't too bad because you only had to dig a 4 inch hole for them.

The 50 strawberry plants β€” 25 Ozark Beauties and 25 Tributes β€” went into  two of our 4×8 beds. Everything I read about planting strawberries said you HAD to plant them at the right depth or they wouldn't be happy but I think I did ok on that ;) 

BUT… we had to dig a 12" x 12" hole for each of our Reliance grape vines.  YIKES! Fortunately we only ordered 2 vines for this year. We plan to train them into an arbor instead of trellising them (like a vineyard).

It's sad to think that it will be several seasons before we reap the full benefits of today's work but we knew that homesteading was going to be a long term commitment.

BTW… if you're thinking about planting any berries or grapes you should definitely check out Louise Riotte's book β€” The Complete Guide to Growing Berries and Grapes. It's one of my favorites!

I want to give Miller Nurseries, the company we ordered our plants from, a pat on the back. They're family owned and operated (always a plus in my opinion), their prices are reasonable, they offer a good selection of trees, berries, ornamentals (and more!), and they have an easy to use web site (http://millernurseries.com/).

I initially found them online and placed my order. The order arrived in good condition at the correct time for planting. They included a current catalog and a printed guide with good planting instructions.

If you're still in the market for something special to plant this year you should go check them out!

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We finally got to plant the first seeds in our garden. We've been hoping to get our order of top soil in so we could work some into the bed before we planted but we just couldn't wait. So we took the wheelbarrow into the woods and raked up enough leaf mold and soil for one bed. We took a little bit from several spots so we didn't disturb the forest floor any more than needed.

We got sugar snap peas, radishes, lettuce, spinach, kale, carrots, bok choy, and beets planted. We only planted a small amount of them (except for the peas) because we'll continue to plant more of the cool weather crops every week to stagger the harvest until the heat of the summer. Then we'll start these up again in the fall until the first frost.

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(Click image for larger view.)

As you can see, the ever active Blaze just had to be in the picture… AGAIN!

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I caught Blaze in the garden looking cute and sitting still for once. She is definitely in the ACTIVE PUPPY phase.

Blazegarden01 
(Click image for larger view.)

If you want a reference point to judge her size, the stakes next to her are about a foot tall.

Oops! So much for sitting still!

Blazegarden02 
(Click image for larger view.)

 

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Whew!! Just got done planting all of the trees that we ordered from the Missouri Department of Conservation. No small task when you think about digging holes big enough for 1 year old tree seedlings.

Did I mention that we ordered 140 trees?

  • 25 Sandbar Willows
  • 25 Osage Orange
  • 25 Black Locust
  • 25 Pitch x Loblolly Pines
  • 40 Pecan (10 each of 4 different varieties)

Like I said, we ordered them from the DOC at a very reasonable price. Each set of 25 was $8 and the pecan trees were $25. All trees ordered from them must be planted within the state.

The planting instructions mentioned that a mattock might be needed to dig the holes. What an understatement!!

Anyway, we got them planted (well… most of them). As you can see they blend in with the existing trees and brush so we marked them with fluorescent pink tape to make sure we didn't turn around and cut them back down πŸ˜‰

Osageorangetrees 
(Click image for larger view.)

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We've begun to prepare our 4' by 8' garden beds. Easier said than done! For those of you who aren't familiar with Southern Missouri let me tell you…. it's very rocky!

Here's the deal β€” we never thought we'd be roto-tilling with a mattock! First we go through the bed with the mattock one direction. We sink the mattock as deep as it will go. Almost every time we hear it strike a rock. Sometimes it breaks the rock up and sometimes you just come to a sudden stop β€” THUNK! It's best to pick out the rocks as you work your way through the bed and throw them in the wheelbarrow. Don't worry if you miss a rock or two (or 50!) now you get to turn around and go through the bed the other direction.

Be sure to empty the wheelbarrow before it gets too full!

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4x8_gardenbed 

We're going to start out with 10 or 11 of them β€” if we survive!

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Radishes_coldframe

Here are some radishes that I harvested out of the cold frame. Pretty impressive when you think about how they grew doing the winter months.

I'm getting ready to harvest all of the other greens – mostly Arugula – in preparation of using the cold frame to start seeds for the main garden. (Stay tuned for more details in a future post.)

The only thing wrong with them was that there weren't more to harvest πŸ˜‰

Bob and I are really getting the urge to go browsing in the homestead garden. We can't hardly wait to pick our first sugar snap peas!

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Hey! We're still alive and kicking here on the homestead just in case you were worried. Sorry we haven't posted in awhile. Chalk it up to the end of the winter blues. When the weather was yucky we  didn't feel like making the trek into town and when it was good we were working.

Anyway… we've had quite a few comments asking how Blaze was doing so I thought I would give you an update about her.

First of all, she's grown quite a bit. We're hoping she grows into her ears!

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Blaze at 11 weeks. (click image for larger view)

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Blaze at 6 weeks. (click image for larger view)

Blaze has become quite the chow hound. While we are feeding her puppy chow we are gradually introducing any and all appropriate "people food" to her diet because that's what she'll eventually be eating exclusively.

Most of the food, like eggs and meat, she considers a TREAT but getting her to eat raw garlic has been a challenge. She finally does it without having to shove it down her throat like medicine. Eating raw garlic has many benefits but mostly we do it for flea control.

Her favorite treats are pig ears and ham bones… go figure!

She's completely housebroken, or in our case – tipi broken, now. She runs to the door and barks to let us know she needs to go outside. YEAH! She will also come, sit and speak on command.

She's still doing a lot of chewing – mostly on us! – but she should grow out of that soon.

Blaze is really getting into exploring more and more of the area surrounding the tipi. She goes a little further each day. She's been spending a lot of time with us as we're working in the garden. I'm hoping that she becomes very territorial about it because it's going to be her job to run off any critters that want to eat our plants.

However… just when you thought she sounds like the perfect homestead dog I need to let you know that she was not interested AT ALL in waking up at 2:00 am to chase the mouse that was scurrying around in the tipi this morning. Looks like we have some more training to do πŸ˜‰

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