Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Backyard Homestead Project

Dear Friends,

We decided to grow some plant starts to sell later this spring, for a little extra spending cash. There was only one problem: Where to keep the seedlings? Someplace where chickens and squirrels wouldn't be able to get in and ruin everything?

Our answer came when we remembered the chicken coop stand that was started two years ago and never finished. We put a couple pieces of plywood on top for a floor, then attached pvc pipes from a failed cold frame project to the stand, et voila! a mini-hoop house!

We started our seeds by placing them in wet paper towels in zip-top bags on a plate over the crockpot, which was filled with water and left on low. Within one day the basil and zinnia seeds sprouted, so we had to rush out and get some potting soil and containers for them. Thankfully, Costco has large plastic cups that were easy to drill holes into and are the size of regular starter plant pots at the nurseries, as well as organic potting soil in large bags.

Here's where we put the sprouted seeds, while waiting for the hoop house to be built (we had to get creative and find the highest, safest place!)~

Once the hoop house had its plastic covering in place, we put the seedlings out for their first day. It's going to be cold for the next few days, so they'll have to be inside, but the weather forecast calls for temperatures in the 60s and 70s after that, so back outside they'll go!

Frankie said he wanted to sleep in it tonight, but the thunder storm we had in the evening changed his mind!

p.s. Big red plastic cups also make good towers!



Saturday, February 18, 2017

Late Winter/ Early Spring Wild Edibles

Dear Friends,

Our weather here in Missouri has been very mild and dry lately; we have even seen mosquitoes about, and honeybees trying to get to the honey in our house!

The wild greens are starting to pop up all over the yard; they especially appreciate the warm environment of this cold frame, planted in arugula.

The chickweed has been lying low all winter, and the chickens pointed out this fresh growth to me the other day.

Wild garlic and birdseye speedwell (Veronica persica) are up and at 'em (the speedwell is the lower green plant, with tiny blue flowers). Garlic is of course familiar, but the tiny speedwell is a wonderful little herb full of vitamins and worth chopping and adding to salads or smoothies.

Purple Dead Nettle (Lamium purpurea) grows profusely in gardens and fields as well, although it doesn't have its pretty little blooms yet. It has a very earthy flavor that tastes good in savory dishes. It is also traditionally used for easing excessive menstrual flow and menstrual cramps. A good plant to befriend if you're a female!

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Ground Ivy tries diligently to take over my front flower bed every year, giving me lots of plant matter to use as I weed it out! It is great dried and used in teas, or fresh in smoothies. It is said to chelate heavy metals from the body, which is a plus in this toxic day and age!

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I hope you enjoyed this little weed tour of our yard this time of year, and I hope that I've encouraged you to try putting wild greens into your diet this year. Just make very sure you have a correct ID! If you see something that you're not sure about, take a picture of it and email it to me, and I'll see if I can help figure it out for you.



Saturday, February 11, 2017

A Bluebird Day

 Dear Friends,

Today I heard a lovely trilling in the trees in the neighborhood. Since I didn't have my glasses on, I enlisted my "eyes" (children) to help see what was making the sound. Before long, we discovered the source of the mysterious song: Eastern Bluebirds!

We were able to zoom in on them and get a few nice photos before they moved on. There were two males and two females, presumably pairs. These are the best of all we took~

In Idaho, where we're from, bluebirds can be hard to get a look at, usually up in the hills. We'll have to put up a nesting box or two!

In other news, Frankie helped me make a homemade seasoning salt to use at the table. We included sea salt, black pepper, granulated garlic, herbs de Provence, ground sesame and sunflower seeds, and powdered shiso from last year's garden. Easy and thrifty!

We have been growing wheatgrass to juice and share with our cat. My children love to chew on it like gum, as well! Wheatgrass has been much more reliable for me that microgreens, which seem to suffer from lack of natural sunlight in the house.

What thrifty things have you been up to?