Independence Days Update: At Twilight

Sharon April 21st, 2010

During the day it can be very hard to pay attention.  There’s so much work to do, so much laundry to hang and food to cook and digging to do. We’re into the part of the year where the days stretch out into exhausting proportions, and while we’re outside, often I’m looking down or sweating as I haul something and trying not to trip over the goats.

And then there are the kids, who are wonderful, and engaged, and who are little question factories, demanding thought and attention.  Just as I enter the meditative mode, digging, I hear “Mom, who was President when Laura Ingalls was born?  What about when Ma was born?” from Isaiah, or from Simon “Did you know that there can be six different species of algae on a two-toed sloth?  Aren’t sloths cool?!”

From Eli there’s a request for an apple, from Asher for help with his bike or a push on the swing. Isaiah wants to know if he can help me, which entails finding a small shovel, and now Asher needs one too.  Simon brings a bug over for identification, and we all troop over to watch the green snake sunning herself.  There is a constant stream of observations and talk, but not much time for listening.  Then there’s schooling, which goes on while we dig, reciting multiplication tables and poems and discussing soil biology.

Which is why I find myself seeking excuses to go out at twilight, after the kids are settled in their rooms, after the chores are done.  Perhaps because the human life is quieter then, the creatures are less shy – or maybe they were there all along and I just wasn’t in a position to notice.  Last night I watched the lesser flycatchers chasing bugs.  The barn swallows haven’t returned yet, so they have the small side yard field to themselves.

The night before, I watched a lone Canada Goose land in the pond across the road and call for her companions.  They came down thunderously to spend the night, dismaying the beavers who were swimming the ponds.  With a slap of  flat tails the beavers retreated, probably cursing in beaver language.

There are the peepers of course, and the sight of new plants and blossoms each day.  I watch Culpeper trotting across a field, vole in mouth and hear the dogs speaking to other dogs miles away.  On the night of the first thunderstorm of the season (way early for us), we watched the dogs – we could detect the smell of a storm in the air, but they could hear the thunder long before we could, and tell us about it.

It is at twilight that I spot the yellow warbler’s nest – she always builds it in the lilac bush, but this year it was cannily concealed beneath a vine.  I can hear the cedar waxwings, although I can’t see them, and the wrens that nest on the porch are building, because I can see two twigs and a scrap of straw that weren’t there before.  In daylight, I’d never notice it.

At twilight, as we put them in, I notice one of the young ducks has shifted from his baby peep to an assertive quack.  At twilight along the creek, I know I will see the first firefly – not yet, but eventually.  At twilight all the change building around me becomes visible – not because it was not there, but because now I can see.

Daytimes, however, are for work.  The barn is finally almost clean – it was a tough chore this year – because of the heavy snows in early March, it was April before we could begin it, and an extra month of bedding represents many, many extra trips to the compost pile and garden, and pounds of manure and bedding.  We only have to clear out the stall where the rabbits wintered, since it will be our kidding pen.

The big excitement this week was the arrival of a gift from my husband – 500 lightly used cinder blocks, salvaged from an industrial building project.  I’ve replaced the sides of my raised beds too many times – time to build permanent ones.  They are heavy as hell, and we’re moving them by wheelbarrow, but boy will it be worth it.Eric and I also cleaned out the root cellar, which needed it.  We composted only a few veggies this year, and I’m pleased about that. 

We’re eating sorrel, dandelion, good king henry and chives and nettles and the first lettuces in abundance now.  Beet greens and spinach are nearly ready.  And the ramps and fiddleheads are producing now, so the first greens of the season are up.  I don’t think of our growing season as officially starting, however, until we get something red – it is the rhubarb that is the official first crop, the rest are thinnings and good fortune.  And that we’re still waiting for.

We have tons of milk and enough eggs to feed Canada these days, so that’s good – these are our primary crops right now.  As we build the new beds, the medicinals are waiting for their spots – some of them don’t need beds, since we’re focusing on producing wetland herbs, but most of them aren’t quite large enough not to get lost in the weeds!  So there’s a ton to do and not enough hours in the day – but it is so satisfying, and there’s always twilight for noticing.

Plant something: Lettuce, kale, broccoli, mache, chard, beets, carrots, peas, sweet peas, pansies, dianthus, fava beans, cilantro, dill, turnips, cabbage, probably some other stuff too ;-) .  Also marigolds and calendula in flats, chard, cabbage, brussels sprouts and late tomatoes in flats.

Harvest something: sorrel, dandelions, burdock root, marshmallow root, chives, lettuce thinnings, nettle shoots.  Also, milk, eggs and angora fiber.

Preserve something: Nah, too early to bother.

Waste Not: Reduced waste in rotting root cellar produce by better management or good luck (not sure which this year, let’s see if I can duplicate it), built raised beds with manures, used feed sacks for mulch, compsted and fed things to other things as usual, salvaged used cinder blocks for raised beds.

Want Not: Nothing this week, too busy.

Eat the food: Lots of salads and stir fried greens, nothing really fancy.

Build community food systems: Nothing, too tired.  Oh, wait, one radio show.

How about you?


24 Responses to “Independence Days Update: At Twilight”

  1. Leigh says:

    Lovely post. I felt like I was there! My update is here –

    Sometimes I feel like I’m just spinning my wheels, but I finally realized that this is because I don’t have a seasonal routine yet. This land and area are new to us. That means a new garden and new plantings. Chickens are new. Fortunately I have an experiential base for gardening in general as well as food preservation. I just need to keep reminding myself to enjoy the learning process, take the mistakes and failures in stride, and keep my eyes and heart focused on our vision for the future.

  2. Eleanor says:

    Here’s what I did this past week.

    Things seem to be picking up, now that it is warming up. It makes me very happy to finally have some warm weather.

  3. Jennie says:

    Here’s mine!

    Lots of planting, nothing more than dandelions to harvest. :-) Yay for early warm weather though, Iowa is a good week or two ahead of where it normally is.

  4. Susan in Virginia says:

    A somewhat slow week. Some of the time I usually spend gardening this time of the year is being supplanted with family gatherings and preparations for family gatherings – weddings, showers, graduations, etc. etc. But I love this “reporting in” as it gives me a chance to stop & think about what I have gotten done.

    1) Plant Something: made preparations – cleaned out most of last year’s vegetable garden, put up a lean-to near my vegetable garden area to store extra gardening stuff under (tomato cages, stakes, etc.), finally settled on clover for a ground cover for the beds I will leave bare this year, ordered a seeder that looks easy to use for the ground cover seed. I’ve ordered some herb plants and more herb seed. Finally decided to grow herbs in pots on the deck until I can determine a final location for my herb garden. I miss my herbs so much and since I have moved, I just haven’t settled on a spot for them yet. So I am looking forward to more fresh herbs this year. Set my tomato plants out on the weekend to start “hardening off.” I’ve always thought that was a strange term for getting them used to the outside.

    2) Harvest Something: Mostly just chives for now. Eggs, too, from the chickens.

    3) Preserve Something: not this week.

    4)Waste Not: Just shredded paper from work. I use it for chicken litter and also makes great mulch in the veg. garden.

    5) Want Not: nothing new here

    6) Community: not really; but did have a fun time at my niece’s wedding shower – one of the games I did was “Name that Herb.” We had a great time with it and it led to conversations about gardens and growing your own food

    7) Eat the food: Love having the fresh chives in rice dishes. A really great fast dish is rice, peas & chives with eggs – cook the rice, peas & chives together until rice is done, then quickly stir in raw scrambled eggs. The eggs cook in the hot rice. It is quite yummy and can be a quick 1 dish meal when short on time.

    Hope all are having a great week! Take care.

  5. Lynne says:

    That was a beautiful, Sharon.

    The weather turned beautiful and I got less done than I could have. Too much time sitting outside, glass of wine in hand, not enough time with shovel in hand….but leaves popped, hummingbirds are back, robins attacking their reflections in our window well, bulbs and trees blooming….. how’s a girl supposed to get any work done with all of this beauty?

    Plant: second round of radish; early corn (in flats, for transplanting), nasturtiums, sunflowers; more potting up tomatoes, basil

    Harvest: same as for the last few weeks – lettuce, spinach, kale and eggs

    Preserve: This morning attacked a big sugar pumpkin to use in muffins and put up in freezer.

    Waste not: Pumpkin. Going through emergency kit to use up things about to expire.

    Want not: Nothing really

    Community: Family stuff, also putting our name in for the local grain csa again this year

    Eat: Veggie chili, frittata and assorted egg dishes, salads, bread, pancakes with homegrown fixings, muffins, pickles, chutney,

  6. KC says:

    In central Virginia: The cover crops are finally taking off (purple vetch, wheat…etc). I need to dig them under soon. I applied foliar spray to the kales and kolrabis and they are looking happier. The beans and squash are growing – slowly but surely and I picked my first greens from this year’s plantings. I planted Wild Garden Seeds spring mix and it has some really interesting greens. The rainbarrels are reinstalled. I was thrilled to see volunteer mustards from my “mild mustard mix” planting from last year. I harvested a few leaves. Yummm … delicious. Mild mustard greens are a favorite. The fava beans are up and a few moth beans are coming along.

    I put soapstone pieces next to some plants to help warm the soil. It really makes a difference. I saw one plant that was mulched with soapstone grow 3 times as much as another without the mulch. I will look for more rocks for “stone mulch”.

    Plant something: another small row of royalty purple pod beans (they are supposed to be good for cold weather planting ) and 1 hill of zuchinni. I planted some nasturtiums and a wildflower mix . second planting of dill. maximillian sunflower and second planting of peppers in flats. transplanted some flowers into the garden.

    Harvest something: beet greens, pansies, mustard greens, a few lettuce leaves from first plantings (or it might be crinkled cress), kale, arugula, and other greens from fall plantings.

    Preserve something: no

    Waste Not: building terraced beds out of salvaged lumber. We are still mulching with spent brewery grains. We found a used lawn mower – (we want to chop leaves and mow the perimeter of the garden with it.

    Want Not: the retreat center gave me some pears, apples, broccoli, parsley and carrots – leftover food from a retreat.

    Eat the food: greens, wild asparagus, and morrel mushrooms in a spring soup. I received a kefir culture and have been making and drinking kefir daily. I love it. I think of it as body ecology. We work so hard at feeding the microorganisms in the soil … so now I am feeding the microorganisms that predigest the food in my gut! It has made a difference. I feel better nourished.

    Build community food systems: garden talk with friends.

  7. Sue says:

    I have read here a lot but never posted. But finally I am going to do it. I love this challenge. It keeps me focused on what I hope to accomplish.

    Plant Something: a Peach and cherry tree

    Harvest Something- almost have rhubarb, some sorrel

    Preserve something- nope, but got parts for my pressure canner.

    waste not- hauled out all the chicken carcasses that I optimistically put in the freezer over time and never got around to and made the mother of all soups.

    want not- went through storage, sorting and culling

    eat the food– from the pantry, peaches canned last summer- yum, plus the chicken veggie soup with everything I rescued from the freezer, plant and animal alike

    build community food systems- am asking around at work to see who wants to go in with me if I raise turkeys– my own micro-CSA of sorts

    Thanks for all the inspiration.


  8. Kylie says:

    What a beatiful post. I was just up at my parents’ farm a few weeks ago and it was wonderful to hear the redwing blackbirds and the chickadees singing away. Am looking forward to being back there for good in another month. Thanks for the reminder of home.

  9. Gina says:

    Still reeling from my tree incident (longer story on blog, but jerk neighbor used bulldozer to “trim limbs” as he called it. Instead, he pushed over three of my producing apples, black cherry trees [harvested cherries and timber], mulberries adn maples. All of the trees were well on my woodland property and he had no business being across the property lines with his equipment. State law says the trunk determines the ownership of the tree and the owner is the only one who can remove a tree. The neighbor can only trim back to his property line and even then the symmetry and health of the tree must be maintained. This guy ripped limbs off the trees that were at least 5 feet or more off the property line. My 6 acres of woods is next to his (cash rent) farm field. We aren’t talking about mulberries falling on his car or anything! Now the trees will be susceptible to disease and insects. Speaking of which, many of these trees fed my bees and he was only feet from the area I have my hives). Sr stretched a fence wire between our (survey) property stakes and all of the damage lies beyond the stakes (I mean at least 5 feet) onto the land we pay taxes for; he stole the trees I loved so much. I cried all over for my apple trees which Sunday morning were in full bloom. Now the leaves and flowers have wilted as they lie dying in the brambles. Such a set-back!

    So, with the heartbreak still fresh…

    Planted: all brassicas are in (cauliflower, red and green cabbage, broccoli, collard greens)-well, except for Kohlrabi which I may skip this year due to space. Started two types of winter squash indoors (sweet meat and Long Island Cheese), plus watermelon (can’t think of the kind off hand). Transplanted tomato seedlings to bigger pots (yep, late…) and the peppers (4-5 dif kinds) are coming up finally.

    Harvested: dandelion greens for rabbit; eggs; garlic mustard (eat those invasives!). Shawnee harvested the gorgeous Giant White Trillium I found in the woods (the only one I have ever found in the 6-7 acre woods and he found and picked it! :( Oh, and I ate a wild onion fresh in the woods! And, of course, the a-hole neighbor harvested my trees. I guess we’ll have plenty of firewood and garden stakes now.

    Preserved: Juiced and pulped ripening grapefruit, but it is still in the refrig. for future processing (; dried some of the garlic mustard for an experiment

    Stored and Want Not: One quail hatched two days early (tomorrow is actual hatch date) and he is so cute & tiny! I hope the other dozen or so hatch tonight and tomorrow. I bought more chicks at the farm store (they received a late batch). I also bought two goslings (so cute!) and four ducklings. I have more ordered (25 layers and 25 broilers) and then I am done with chicks for the year. Bought for storage at grocery liquidator: coffee, canned beans, dried pinto and yellow lentils, canned soups (mostly for Sr’s meals-on-the-road), cereal, and apple juice. We also purchased farm supplies like new chicken waterers (one cracked), heat lamps, spark plugs for mowers. Stored notebooks made from banana fibers (on sale), laundry soap, and aspirin. Thanks to the diet and exercise, I am in a pair of jeans and overalls I’ve stored away for years hoping they would eventually fit (I hope I don’t sound like I am bragging-I actually have had a horrible week this week and ate a bunch of Easter candy. I *gained* 7 pounds. WTF? Why is it I can gain it back so easy? The opposite-no chocolate for months-would have yielded, hmm, maybe 1 lb off).

    Waste Not: Mom gave me twenty egg cartons (much needed as we are getting 2 dozen a day). the usual R’s: recycle, reduce, reuse. Sister told me she is having a yard sale in late May and I need to sort Lyndon’s too small clothing and other junk we have around here. I used newspapers from hotel stay a few weeks ago (yes, I brought home all my recycleables-weird, huh?) to line chick brooders. Bought pop bottle animal waterer converters and made larger water bottles for rabbits out of 2-Liters I saved from in-laws.

    Eat the Food: Bad week. I can’t even think of anything we ate…I am almost certain I became ill after eating split pea soup I made from left over Easter ham. I ended up throwing it all away (not even feeding it to dogs).

    Community: Does ripping your neighbor a new —— count? Well, that is my fantasy anyway! (OK, not very nice, but I really did love my trees!)
    I did share eggs with my beekeeping neighbor (very nice man), my mother and some friends of ours.

  10. sueinithaca says:


    Didn’t palnt anything. Ate a bunch of eggs from our chickens, as well as a lot of previously preserved food. Released the peeps into the pasture now that they have all their feathers. Re-raccoon-proofed the chicken coop to stop the slaughter. Cleared out the freezer of most of the frozen fruit, which was made into delicious delicious jam in order to make way for the meat of a lamb that was bought from a friend of a friend. Finally turned my CSA into and LLC (filed the paperwork, anyway) and started advertising for the summer season. Ate the last pork chops from our pigs last fall.

    Hey! That actually sounds like I was pretty productive this week!

  11. Plant something: broccoli rabe, curry plant.

    Harvest something: lettuce (radiccio, cos, mizuna), parsley, basil, chillis, spring onions, nasturtium leaves. Jerusalem artichokes galore!

    Preserved something: not this week

    Waste not: usual composting, worm-farming & recycling. Good use of left-overs, and items hitting their use-by dates.

    Want not: stocked up on toothpaste & some other bodycare things. Scored some cost-price olive sour-dough on the ‘day old’ rack at the bakery.

    Build Community Food Systems: Shared some recipes, organised some surplus pots & other garden bits & pieces for freecycle.

    Eat the food: Blackbean/sweetpotato tacos with home-grown salad, grilled tofu & peanut sauce. Veggie curry with homemade chutney. Lots of homemade lime juice cordial, home-brewed beer & ginger beer to drink. Roast veggie salad with jerusalem artichokes.

  12. Sharon says:

    Gina, I’m so, so sorry – how awful for you. All my sympathies.

    Not quite the same (if only because there’s no one but the voles to rip any holes in and the cats handle that ;-) ), but we lost almost half our young trees this year to girdling – we’ve never had any trouble with it, so they weren’t wrapped, but I think because it got so bitterly cold so early and stayed that way so long in December, they went wild. I’m amazed at how many have actually survived, but we lost beautiful trees – 2 plums, 3 cherries, 2 pears and 6 apples. It makes me want to cry just thinking about it.

    So all my sympathies!


  13. AnneT says:

    Plant: carrots, started early jalepeno peppers. Transplanted my potted rosemary to a new spot I can easily protect in the winter: it’s already putting out new green. The usual sprouts.

    Harvest: garlic chives, regular chives, sprouts.

    Waste not: bought solid stain to refurbish our decks from Habitat ReStore, also a small double-pane window for a coldframe, some citrus cleaner, and nails. All stuff diverted from land fill to support a good cause.

    Want not: stocked up on citrus cleaner, sunflower oil.

    Community food: gardening advice to a neighbor (and she shared some asparagus seeds with me), shopped the farmers’ market for cheese, eggs, and peppers.

    Eat the food: home made crackers and Algerian flat-bread with cheeses, my pickles, and my mango fruit cocktail contributions to a lunch with friends, local grass-fed beef in stir-fry, burgers, pasta, steak. Using up the last of the stored potatoes. Sprouts in stir-fry and salads.

  14. Julie Mason says:

    Any bats winging through your twilight? I’ve been looking, but to no avail. A presentation at our local conservation association’s annual meeting told of entire hibernating colonies found dead here in central Pennsylvania. Love to hear from others if they’re seeing any and how the numbers compare to last year. I’ll keep watching the skies and hoping.

  15. Wendy says:

    there’s a ton to do and not enough hours in the day.

    Yup. Even on my tiny quarter acre, there’s a ton to do. We’re planning to build a (second) chicken coop and a bird yard to fence off the chickens and ducks from the rest of the backyard. The bees will be here in two weeks (so exciting!), and we need to get the bird yard up before then.

    And then, there’s the plan for the outdoor kitchen.

    And the plan to rip out the rhododendron’s and replace them with espaliered apple trees.

    And all the while there’s this pesky thing called “work” that my husband and I both have to do (that has nothing to do with our homesteading efforts) so that we can continue to pay the bills :) .

    It will all get done, though. Thanks for continuing to host the IDC. It helps keep things focused and in perspective ;) .

  16. Susan in NJ says:

    Haven’t posted any updates this go round yet. I’ve been too busy the last couple of months — lost my salaried job (this has been coming for over a year), traversed the gov’t benefit maze well prepared (thanks Robyn if you are reading for the suggestion to research in advance), and am now starting my own solo law practice and doing a lot of groundwork for that.
    Plant: Nothing and it’s starting to bother me although the weather keeps slipping from spring to deep summer to late winter, etc. But I won’t have to worry about shiso, our favorite big leaf self-seeded again. And I have lettuce that self-seeded coming up in the cracks of my concrete driveway – an interesting idea for future plantings perhaps.
    Harvest: Thyme, lettuce (from starts that have yet to get permanent homes), sage (it’s taking over the world), chives, rosemary
    Preserve: No
    Waste Not: Work on finishing off the “root-cellared” vegies or moving to different storage areas; work on eating down the freezer – I didn’t do a very good job last winter of actually eating the frozen fruit we stored maybe because the year before we didn’t store enough and ate it up too fast; work on marshalling the family finances – a major project for reasons I won’t detail here. Restarted our fitness programs.
    Want Not: We got bikes, finally, yeah, and we’re riding them for local errands. Mine is a longterm loan, even better. Last weekend was the town yard sale, got some corelle to use in the kitchen and some free tins for storage.
    Community Food: Farmer’s market starts soon, picked up our last winter meat delivery, researched why a very local food pantry failed (it was buying food for the ever growing client list rather than paying its utilities)

  17. Lorri says:

    I’m posting this over the weekends at my blog, but here’s an update:

    Plant: Nothing. I’m learning the hard way that seeds don’t want to sprout on my balcony so I plan on buying starts for lettuce, chard, spinach, and a few other items. They should do fine.

    Harvest: nada

    Preserve: nothing

    Waste not: Ate the last of the stored sweet potatoes.

    Want not: Nothing really

    Community: waiting for the farmers market to re-open. Gave Mother a jar of homemade, local apple pie filling I made.

    Eat: Elk pot pie; made trail mix for DFH out of the pantry.

  18. Susan in Virginia says:

    For Julie Mason: I’ve seen a few bats this spring. They usually pick up as the summer progresses, so I’ll keep an eye out to see if there appear to be fewer this year.

    KC: Tell me more about “soapstone mulch.” Is that a local stone? Have you tried other stones? I am guessing the stones help heat up the ground?

  19. NM says:

    Gina, I’m sad for you! That is awful. Hope you can fence the neighbor out to protect your remaining trees. Or maybe hedge him out with something viciously thorny …
    I’m not focusing so much on the homesteading stuff this year, in order to focus instead on building a business plan for the (future) farm. Am watching vegetable starts eagerly, but haven’t planted anything more yet.
    Harvest: local eggs, csa and market vegetables.
    Want not: We Finally got the freezer defrosted. That was a major project that’s been hanging over me for two years; what a relief. Also made me realize that our diets have become so seasonal we’re not eating nearly as much of the food I preserve. So maybe I don’t need to be preserving so much!
    On the general doing stuff front: Continuing my business and permaculture classes and reading; researching green building, making incremental steps in getting house to sell.
    Waste not: nothing comes to mind.
    Community food systems: promised to share vegetable starts with a friend whose husband just got laid off.
    Eat the food: Chard and mushrooms with fettucine, turnip soup, asparagus, chard and spinach calzone, homemade bread, fruit filbert buns, homemade citrus scones with plum jam, eggs, parsnip hashbrowns (new discovery, much happiness), oven pancakes with topping from pie cherries that got defrosted during the freezer defrosting; whole grain raspberry bars with raspberries that got defrosted during the freezer adventure …

  20. Sonrisa says:

    I was busting butt trying to get potatoes in while the weather was good and I missed last week, so this is for two weeks.

    Plant: Outside-turnips, kale, radish, beets, carrots, dill, potatoes. In flats green beans, long keeper tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, and three big flats of rice (it probably wont have time to mature, but I have a concrete pond that leaks and I’ve been filling with dirt, so we’ll give it a try).

    Harvest: lettuce, broccoli leaves, and peas form the greenhouse. Asparagus, green onions, eggs, milk, and wheat grass for the goats and pigs.

    preserve: nope

    Waste not: nothing new

    Want not: Ordered some more dry stuff (tomato powder etc).

    Community: nope

  21. Claire says:

    The spring roller-coaster weather continues … cooler but dry till the last couple days. We are way down on rainfall for April. Hope we get more over the weekend (but not all the time, so I can plant more).

    Planted: I had to water the bed for the lettuce and cole crops before I could broadfork it. Got that done, planted 8 varieties of lettuce seedlings and one early cabbage variety (all homegrown), and turnip seeds. Planted the Welsh onion seedlings into one of the perennial veggie beds since they are reputed to be perennial … we shall see.

    Harvested: asparagus (maybe the last this year because the bed is still young), sorrel, a few arugula leaves off the overwintered and bolting plants in the cold frame, green onions, some dandelion and mustard leaves. The DH found a lone morel in a very unlikely place.

    Preserved: nothing, not enough sun to dry anything so I concentrated on planting.

    Waste not: just the usual.

    Want not: the DH received a trash bag full of unwanted clothing from our neighbor, most of which he kept, the rest of which got donated.

    Community food systems: mentioned what I planted this week on Facebook.

    Eat the food: just got finished eating a homemade pizza that my DH and I collaborated in making. I made the dough for the crust, rolled out the crusts, and shredded the cheese. He made the sauce, cut the onions and peppers, put the pizzas together and baked them. He used some of the frozen Ancho peppers from last year’s crop and the herbs and garlic were also from my gardens. It really hit the spot.

  22. KC says:

    for : Susan in Virginia
    There are soapstone quarries in Nelson county – (one of the few places in the country where it can be found). Soapstone holds the heat really well – (there are woodstoves that are made from soapstone). I have also used slate and also regular stones (like granite and quartz). They all work … but soapstone works the best. They warm up during the day and then release heat at night. I imagine that they work a little like the “wall-o-water” that I see advertised for setting out early tomato plants. I want to check the soil temp with a soil thermometer.

  23. Gina says:

    Thank you for your kind, supportive comments regarding my stolen trees. Once I opened the flood gate of frustration, I couldn’t stop complaining, LOL!!

    Sonrisa: Let us know how the rice experiment goes for you. I have been thinking about trying to start some wild rice from Northern Michigan and planting it (um, ahem…) near the neighbor’s and my lowland wetlands/pond area.

    NM: I so want to ‘Eat the Food’ at your house. Those dishes sound so yummy!

  24. Gabrielle says:

    Forgot to post this last week:
    We spent most of this weekend outside, working, tending, planting, watering, and playing. My body aches, my shoulders are red, and my spirits couldn’t be higher. Notice there is an “and” there instead of a “but”. I love feeling my muscles and knowing they have had purposeful work. While I should have worn sunscreen and been a bit more sensible about that, I love that the sun was shining on me and that I basked in the rays. Ahh, the sensations of spring!

    The garden is looking good this year. I planted more early spring vegetables than I normally do. The broccoli raab and radishes are lush and green. The onions are already about 10 inches tall. The spinach finally perked up and is doing its thing. The lettuces will be ready to thin and enjoy in another week or so. And the peas, I can’t wait for the first flowers of peas! The garlic, leeks, green onions, beets, and pakchoi are all doing well. The only thing that seems to be struggling is the Chinese cabbage. Since it is my first year to grow it, though, I’m not entirely sure what to expect.


    Pots/Containers: I repotted two apple trees. I haven’t found a place for them in our yard even though we’ve had them 3 years now. I have decided that they might work perfectly flanking the walkway to my father’s new house. I put together two large pots for our front porch. I’m not entirely pleased with them and may tweak them a bit this week.

    Veggies: I decided to plant a few extra kale seeds, though it is a bit late in our area to do so. I planted 6 bell peppers, 6 jalapenos, heirloom red okra seeds, yellow crookneck squash, zucchini, 2 Early Girl, 1 cherry tomato. I found some old lima bean seeds (some being my favorite Christmas lima beans). I planted them a little early for our area, deciding that if they didn’t come up I have time to pick up some new seeds. Our area is calling for a little cooler weather so I didn’t plant any other beans or anything else in the squash family.

    Flowers: 6 candytuft plants. I fought and fought with nutsedge for years in one of our garden plots. This year I decided to till the whole thing up (yes, I know that will ultimately make the nutsedge worse) and plant the heck out of it with flowers. I planted about a pound of mixed wildflower seeds from Wildseed Farms. (If you are ever in Fredericksburg, TX I highly recommend that you stop in to see the farm). I also added some seeds of sunflowers (Moulin Rouge and Valentine), hyacinth bean on the trellis, and nasturtiums.

    Harvest—I have just about had to tie my hands to keep from picking more asparagus. I picked two as a little gift for our daughter’s teacher, but other than that I’m going to try and let the rest of them frond out. I picked a few herbs and onions. I made a few flower arrangements.

    Preserve—I can’t think of anything that I preserved this week.

    Waste Not/Reduce Waste—I used some potatoes that were sprouting before they went bad. We continue to use our energy saving strategies, recycling, reusing, composting, and all of the regular stuff that would go into this category. I’ve been making a point to use a large bowl to collect any water when cooking or prepping food to use to water the plants.

    Want Not/Prep/Storage—We did a lot of work outside—weeding, mulching, and prepping beds. Hubby continues to make progress with the play area for our daughter. I added some dried apricots to storage.

    Building Community Food Systems—I was a speaker at a local church group, teaching about budgeting and couponing. It wasn’t the best talk I’ve ever done, but I hope they still were able to glean something from the information presented. Hubby, daughter, and I helped with the Angel Food Distribution. I’ve been trying to promote the area farmers markets and farmers via my blog. I’m working with friends to place a bulk coconut oil order. I made a batch of homemade hummus for a friend of mine per her request. We did a little bartering, though I was more than happy to make it just for the flattery of her saying she liked my recipe best.

    Eat the Food— I made the mistake of not planning the meals for this week, and as a result I’ve not been doing so hot in the cooking area.

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