Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ahh! To be a honeybee in Paris

The garden is producing well. I do believe the pesticides are the main threat to our bee population. Our bees have had a hard time this year. Our neighbors pour chemicals on their lawns every weekend. Oh give me land-lots of land (or least a little away from a subdivision).
Or maybe we should move to the city.

PARIS - STRANGE as it may seem, bees get a better buzz from the urban Paris jungle than from the countryside. There are all sorts of flowers only short flights away, and little risk of death by pesticide.
Some live in penthouse hives atop historically prestigious monuments - the spectacular steel and glass domed Grand Palais exhibition hall by the banks of the Seine, for instance. 'Honeybees are happy in town, they have everything they need,' said Grand Palais director Sebastien de Gasquet.
Collecting pollen and nectar is no sweat with the Tuileries gardens lying only a short distance away, 'not to mention the Grand Palais' own flowerbeds', he said.
The two beehives set on the edge of the building's huge glass dome last May are rooms with a view of the Eiffel tower and Notre-Dame cathedral. Three or four extra hives are to be added to bring production up to half a ton of honey a year.
City bees, said Nicolas Geant, the beekeeper behind the Grand Palais scheme, nowadays produce four to five times more honey than their country cousins. 'In agricultural areas you can produce around 10 to 20 kg of honey per year per hive while in cities you can get between 80 and 100 kg' he said. And his idea of placing beehives at the Grand Palais - Paris's Garnier Opera house has had its own beehives for years - is aimed at illustrating the paradox.
In rural areas close to farms, there are fewer and fewer hedges, trees and flowers. But in the city 'there are a myriad of small flowers in parks and on balconies, as well as a wide variety of trees along streets and in public gardens - acacia, lime and chestnut trees - that are nectar to the bees.' While Paris is polluted, notably from car exhaust fumes, 'this bears no comparison with agricultural areas where pesticides, fungicides and fertilisers kill massive numbers of bees,' he said.
France's Union of Apiarists (UNAF) has signalled high mortality rates near corn, sunflower and rapeseed fields, while bee deaths across Europe have been 30 to 35 per cent higher than average since the 1980s thanks to a number of factors, including the use of pesticides.
'There are practically no pesticides in the city,' said Jean Lacube, the beekeeper in charge of eight hives at another Paris building in the city's chic 7th district.
City bees also thrive in a town's more temperate climate, he added, and are safe from attacks by the deadly Asian hornet that has decimated bees in the south-west part of France in previous years.
There are some 300 beehives in Paris, Mr Lacube said. 'But beekeeping in a city is a luxury,' he added. 'Beekeeping should be in the countryside, the future is not in the cities.' -- AFP

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Great Stats on Homeschooling!

Here is an updated study on how homeschooler fair on standardized test compared to or with public school: . I personally do not take much stock in these test as I could test well even on subject matter I do not know. I just do well on test.

I have seen children who know information and can not take a test. However, I know many family members of homeschoolers would benefit from seeing these stats.
The garden is doing well. I have planted some of my fall items. I have started broccoli and cauliflower in containers to transplant. We are waiting on cantaloupe to ripen. I have a watermelon that will be ready on October 1st. I was told it will take 8 weeks for them to ripen-we picked the last on too early. I have bell pepper and cayenne peppers ripening. Eggplants are producing. Waiting on lots of tomatoes to ripen. I have frozen lots of green beans.
I made peach perserves. Almost all the canned peaches are gone. :( In order to can enough to get through to next season I would have to can about 150 jars. I have tried freezing some as well they are almost the same amount of work and I have a freezer full so I could not freeze the peaches unless I want to devote a freezer to peaches. Here is a picture before they were eaten.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Green Beans

Yeah I am finally seeing a return on my efforts. I did try to post yesterday. It keep messing up. However today after fixing the trellises that broke in the storm. I was able to pick these green beans. This is one of the large ice cream containers. The fried green tomatoes were from Monday. This was the first time I ever tried them. So I made them and tried them. I now love fried green tomatoes. So do my children!

Monday, July 13, 2009

62 Green Tomatoes & 1 Almost Red

Last night we had thunderstorms. It knocked down one of my trellises but not the one I thought would fall. Luckily no damage.

I picked enough green beans for dinner over the last two days. I picked one red strawberry. Last week I added 9 month fertilizer to the garden. I decided to pull my marigolds out of my long box. They were growing over the peppers and crowding the tomatoes and eggplants. At least I know I can grow marigolds. I did replant them in the containers in front of the bed. I am hoping that the remaining vegetable plants will be happy with the extra room.

The watermelon is growing. I have two more in the beginning stages two fell off-which I think is good for the remaining fruits. I will be planting more watermelon, pumpkins, cucumbers and cantaloupe.

The green beans have lots of flowers and pods. I do believe I over planted one of the front boxes. A box of all green beans with a few tomato plants is alot. Square foot garden author just came out with a change that a tomato plant needs 2 square ft not one, or I just found out about the change from the square ft site. I planted 17 tomato plants in one square foot. I am going to try to make transplants from the existing plants I may try the 2 square ft. I read where you cut off sprout or top of tomato plant 5-6 inches put in water when roots appear transplant to dirt.

My biggest problems is that we either like vegetables that need to be trellised or need lots of room. For example the zucchini need 3 square feet, the tomatoes 2 and need trellis if vine which I am having better luck with. Cucumbers, pea, limas, pole beans, watermelon, cantaloupe, and pumpkins all need trellises and room. And they all need the sun of the front area. Our back bed do not get enough sun for the plants that fruit. I will be trying broccoli, and lettuces back there.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Bees used in War! No, not by me :)

I found this interesting. Of course I am excited about honey bees.

The following is from Farmers Almanac archive online.

The BEES of WarBees have been used as weapons for defense for thousands of years. One of the earliest historical accounts (first century B.C.) that mentions bees being used against enemies involves the Heptakomotes of Asia Minor (present-day Turkey) and Pompey the Great. With the aid of their bees, the Heptakometes knew that when bees gather pollen from such plants as rhododendron the honey produced is loaded with alkaloids which are harmless to bees but toxic to humans. They were able to obtain and leave a cache of poisoned honey in the path of 1000 advancing Roman soldiers.During that time, gains from raiding and looting were part of a soldier's pay, so the Romans naturally seized the honey and consumed it. They were soon deathly ill, and in no shape to resist the attack that followed.The Romans also used bees, but in a more direct manner. They would catapult beehives at enemy positions. In medieval times, castles were often designed and built with bee hives within the walls.Years later, bees also played a part in the Civil War. During the Battle of Antietam, attacking Federal troops advancing through a farmyard were routed, not by the heavy gunfire they faced, but by enraged bees from hives shattered by Confederate artillery fire. There's also a well-known case of British troops, in action in German East Africa
during WWI, encountering maddened bees, but as at Antietam, the bee attacks seem to be accidental.During the Vietnam War
, Viet Cong guerillas were masters of improvised weaponry, and before attacking, were known to lob 30 or more nests of hornets and wasps into military outposts.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Canning Peaches

Thanks to my children the peaches are canned. We had purchased three cases of peaches with the intent to can them.

Somehow a plastic bag got into the bottom case and rotted half of one case. When I asked my family everyone was surprised and I guess the ghost of "Not Me" put it there. There were at least a half of another case that were eaten.

Ben took over the preparing of the peaches. He had a system for blanching, cooling, peeling, pitting and cutting the peaches. We found the camera in with the xbox games and I took pictures of Ben with his system. While I was taking the pictures Ben commented, "I could use some help here." He got through a case and half before calling it quits. Luckily Jenna came in about that time ready to help.

So it took most of the afternoon and evening but we got 21 quarts of peaches PACKED and canned. One of the quarts broke in the boiling water or it would have been 22. I did use a lighter sugar base this time I don't think the family will like this batch as much as the last.
It would not have taken as long if I had started the process of canning while still cutting up more peaches. I did each step seperate not sure if there would have been enough room on the stove for all three large pots at one time. I also would have probably made more mistakes that way. One of my mistakes was not adding lemon to the peaches as cutting to keep from browning. Also had to dump the boiling water after the jar broke and heat fresh water. I could also only fit 5 jars at a time into the canner next time I hope to have another canner and be able to process 10 at time. I doubt that we will can smaller than quart size unless it is jam or jelly.

I will have to post pictures later just wanted to get this down before it was forgotten. Here is the link I used to can the peaches .
I also found a recipe I tried for breakfast here it was posted June 8th. You take a washed peach cut in half and pitted. Sprinkle brown sugar over both halves and broil. Serve with yogurt or sour cream. I ate mine with sour cream. It was so good! Luckily I saved a few peaches from the canning frenzy.

That is all I remember from our day of canning peaches. If you have any good peach recipes I would love to give them a try. I will buy peaches if they still have them at the farmers market but I don't believe it will be three cases again. Have a great day.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Dinner from the Garden

We had green beans and wax beans from the garden for dinner. I made a mint vinaigrette for the beans which was good. We ate some with the vinaigrette and some without. We should have had eggplant Parmesan but since we spent the day slicing and frying we did not want to eat it. Dan did the frying. I did the slicing with an electric slicer. We sliced but 4 of the eggplants which Dan wants to grill. So we have 9 dinners in the freezer and one in the refrigerator. Not bad for 10.00 spent on a case of 28 eggplants of which a few were given away.

Checked the garden today. I will have more beans to pick tomorrow. One of the tomatoes is starting to turn. I read that I can cut off part of the tomato plants to start new plants for fall tomatoes we are going to try that next weekend. I have a tiny eggplant where we can see the purple. The watermelon doubled in size overnight.

We had rain this morning. I do need to fertilize.

My son saved some fireworks for tonight so we are going to shoot them off. Have a great day or evening!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth Of July!!

I am so happy we have dragonflies! I have always loved the look of dragonflies. I had four in my garden yesterday. Really bummed we have not found the camera (Ben confessed he got it off my desk to show someone a picture it is not where he thought he put it). Then today when looking up if they were good or bad for a garden I found out they eat mesquitos. We are overrun with mesquitos I try not to go out after 6:30 I get bit really bad and I react to bug spray. Any way I love dragonflies and I read to build the water pond with plants to attract them. We have a water source for the bees that I think is also the source for the mesquitos so I am going to add some water plants if I can find some for free or very cheap.

I pulled the potatoes today. I shouldn't have they had a lot of new growth. We had not built the boxes to increase the height and the blooms had come and gone and the plants did not look like they were doing good. We will be replanting. Which leads me to the fact I read today that mid July was the time to plant broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, beets, carrots, and other fall crops. Luckily Dan is building more boxes and planning to get some mulch and dirt for me this week.

I did plant cilantro in the square next to the tomato ( need to check that is okay) I planted a box next to the pepper in the front box where the watermelon is growing. I am writing this because I could not find my marking materials. It is tough when you have older children and a husband who love to "borrow" your supplies.

Watermelon: We have a Barbie size watermelon!! We bought 2 at the farmer's market they were so GOOD from the sample we had to buy some. I bought a case of eggplant to put up in the freezer-just in case ours do not come thru. I bought 3 cases of peaches we will be canning this week. I finally did a price check on my savings at the farmer's market. When compared to the sales flyer for the week I saved 62% on the fresh fruit and vegetables I bought. That is very encouraging and convinces me I need to start a coop for others to get the same savings. It is nice to have the proof of what I will be able to save them even if I charge to cover gas and time. I think everyone will save at least 50%-60% and the items I purchased looked so much fresher than what I saw at two stores today.

My chickens are enjoying the cooler weather today. I am worried if all the fireworks are going to effect their laying. The heat is already taking a toll. As I am typing this my son is begging to set off the fireworks he got today. When we bought them it was going to be tomorrow when his dad was home to help. He has been trying to get his older siblings to watch him but they are not agreeable today. So I am going to watch him before he explodes. Have a great Fourth!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Giving up on Pictures

If I find the camera I can't find the batteries that are charged. If I get pictures taken the cord to the computer is MIA. I have been looking for the camera on and off for a week. It is possible I set it down in the garden, shed or garage. I need to get a clapper thing for the camera.

The garden is doing fine. I think. The tomatoes are not turning red I have alot of green tomatoes each plant varies with production some have one while others have 6 or more. They do increase almost daily. I have red that in temps over 85 they shut down producing. The information is as follows: Another factor in how long it takes for a tomato to turn red is the outside temperature. Tomatoes will only produce lycopene and carotene, two substances that help a tomato turn red, between the temperatures of 50F and 85F. If it is any cooler that 50F, those tomatoes will stay a stubborn green. Any warmer than 85F and the process that produces lycopene and carotene comes to a screeching halt. We have been over 85 since May. A few days were lower but not many.

I have gathered a few handfuls of wax beans and a few handful of green beans. I found a recipe for wax beans with mint. Dan said we had mint growing in the yard but I can not find it. I will be planting some herbs this weekend. I have found I want mint and cilantro. I will also be planting pumpkins and maybe more beans. I have waited to long to plant squash and more watermelon. Although I may try any way. I have a baby cucumber, and the beginnings of two watermelon. I do see buds on the eggplant and peppers.

Hubby and I spent the weekend arguing over how much to water the garden. I have been giving it a good soak once a week. He convinced me I need to water more til I researched. A more experienced gardener told me to wait til plants looked droopy to water if needed they haven't until today. I read that watering more will make good looking plants but the roots are shallow. So I will stick to watering if droopy so I will be out there tonight. Which the last time I watered was Sunday my regular day to water. It is hard to gauge the days are so hot over 95 and when the area gets rain it seems to go around us.

I waited too long to root hydrangeas. I do not have the containers to place them in or extra potting soil. I may try some in the fall as some sites have said you can in the fall.

MULCH! Such a lovely thing. My neighbor gave me enough mulch to fill in my front sidewalk area, my mailbox area, the raspberry area, the grapes and my boxes. He even let us use his riding mower and cart to get it. Then the kids hanging out at my house thought it was neat and collected and spread the mulch for me. That will make hubby's day as he figured our son would only pile it in our yard for us. Many hands make light work.

HONEYBEES: We are not getting much honey at all this year. We did better last year with the drought. I would not mind less honey if the the broods were building so we could split the hives but they are not strong hives. Hopefully we will get good stock from a different source next year. I did get a few quarts for us. I guess it will be for tea only and not baking.

Chickens: The babies are growing fast they are white fluff balls right now. We had Alice escape again. It took us almost three days to catch her. I was worried the whole time. I had to leave and saw the neighbors cat slinking into the backyard. I could run her off but she would be back before I could say boo. I figured the chicken would know to fly away from her as she had from us. It was funny watching a group of teenage boys chase the chicken the first day. Even funnier to hear "I didn't know chickens could fly" repeated several times. The other chickens were not laying thanks to all the excitement. I tried putting our broody hens in a separate cage. My son kept putting them back in when I said make sure they get food and water. He I think I will let them be broody because I do not want to be chasing Alice again. She gets out when we grab the broody hens. She is a smart bird. A second bird escaped when my hubby left the door ajar while chasing Alice we got her in a few minutes. It was the teens who got her on the third day.

We will be going to farmers market I hope the peach vendor I bought from last time will be there. I will purchase a couple of bushels to can, Jenna said she would help. I will get a bushel to eat right away. I hope to get some local blueberries and squash. The hardest part is getting every thing put away after going. It is a two day process but so worth the savings and getting fresher food.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Pictures of the Garden

These are the pictures from last week the plants are even bigger!

The beans are over the trellis now!

These are my homemade trellis with bamboo and blind cording!

These are the 4 o'clock I thought had died. They were brown and shriveled up.

My grapes, silkies, and hydrangeas!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

It is Father's Day. Hubby got his gift yesterday. An air unit for our room as our a/c has died it's final death. Something has had to be fixed each summer. We have not slept a full night since it broke because of the heat. Luckily the first floor a/c works.

He is wanting to spend the day working on projects. Makes me wish everyday was Father's Day. Of course the story below of Alice is why alot of the work did not get accomplished on Saturday. I am having one dozy of an allergic reaction to something my face is swollen and my eyes are slits so I am home alone on Sunday morning and have time to blog.

I have taken pictures of our activities with the intent to blog. When I finally found the camera with batteries that worked I could not find the cord for the computer. I got frustrated and did not blog. I now regret that as there were things I wanted to remember about the garden.

We spent yesterday chicken hunting then chicken waiting. Alice our favorite hen (don't tell the others) escaped while hubby was working on the coop. Usually the chickens I have seen fly just fly to a low branch and sit there. Alice decided to challenge the dogs in their fence area then fly off. She came back after hubby and son had searched for several hours to the dogs side of the fence. We had put them in the house as one of our dogs had killed our first batch of chickens.
She flew about level with our third story all the way across our acre and then some. Hubby decided she would come home at dark to be with the flock. I fretted because of neighborhood dogs and possibly someone else catching her and keeping her (not out of meanness just thinking they were doing good). Alice did come home.

Hive news! We are down to four hives from 12. Lessons learned never buy 2 pound packages do not buy too early in the season and research what type of queen bee you are getting sold. Also all because someone has been keeping bees for 40 plus years does not mean they are the best source. It is a shame as my husband loves his bees and it was tough to spend the money we did on the bee packages this year. We were hoping to just break even on those hives this year.
One hive however is a beautiful golden yellow. We are not getting much honey as the nectar flow was late.

Garden update- Everything is still alive. Some plants I thought died- didn't. I had decided to wait to and see as I was not ready to plant something else in their spots. The plants came back to life. One of the tomato plants is only about a foot high but it has blooms on it. Pretty good for a dead plant. I thought I had killed the four o'clocks and cloeme but they are back greener and blooming. I have been able to pick a few wax beans but there are plenty we are waiting on to ripen. The tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, and all the eggplants have blossoms! The cantaloupe and watermelon are growing from seed. The lettuce is about done. The spinach was pulled up and the broccoli never developed the heat came too early for our planting. In talking to gardeners around here most planted the broccoli, lettuce, peas, and spinach in Feb. That is another lesson learned. I am losing the war on slugs. My beer traps did not work-although a gardener at the hardware store told me they drink it and go off to die. I thought they would be in the trap. We will have to keep trying this method as I can not locate Sluggo (iron phosphate) an organic way to get rid of them except online. Someone said they learned in a class of organics to mix molasses and water and spread that down. It may get rid of the snails but I picture my bees moving into the garden in mass or swarming there which would not be good. I can only handle a few at a time in the garden. The raspberries are ripening I think we have very happy squirrels between the the strawberries and raspberries. I know I could place netting over them but the yield is so small this year I may wait til next. I made a trellis out of bamboo and string I am happy with. My hubby keeps telling me ways to improve it. It is getting the job done and is finished so I am happy with it. I think next year we will have his and her gardens. That way he can plant when and what he wants and I can plant mine. We like the same things but he is telling me plant more of this or do this. I want to do it my way and learn from my mistakes. He can do it his way and learn from his mistakes.

Hopefully soon I have all the parts of the camera together in the same place and can post pictures.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Week Later!

I can not believe a week has passed since I last posted. My time does fly. It has been an eventful week.

We were able to pull some frames to extract honey. They are waiting on us in the basement. Hubby put some empty supers in the garage and forgot it. Yesterday there were honey bees everywhere in there. Funny thing is I went in there twice and looked around and they ignored me.

A friend gave us some Silkie chickens. They have three chicks. They are such beautiful birds. When I find the camera I will take their picture. They have been laying an egg a day. I took one of the eggs yesterday. I could swear the hen was saying, "Put it back, Put it back!" She was not happy with me.

My broody hen is stubborn. We have now removed all nest boxes and so she turned over one of the water containers and made her nest in there. I am going to have to separate her I was waiting for warmer weather.

I planted on Monday even with the rain. The beans I planted have already sprouted. I planted three tomato plants that were purchased with the ones I planted on May 1st. I just did not have the room then. They have perked up and are growing. Hubby tried tomatoes from seed I finally got those in the ground. We are have the battle of the bugs. I have slugs, pill bugs, ants, and lots of others that come and go. I am trying not to use anything that is not natural but I may have to give in to save the plants. The herbs I planted to combat some of the bugs have started to spring up. Hubby said I will spend the rest of the summer trying to stop the herbs from taking over. Lovely!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My Broody Hens!

I guess it is a female spring thing. Four of the hens were trying to squeeze into one box. One of the hens has been broody for a few days. I had to research what to do. What I read made me decide I needed a cage to separate the hens. I was all geared up to build two cages and use one on the dog kennels that is open bottomed. Then I read to try blocking the nest if that does not work use the cage. I have not handled our chickens and was a little fearful as I had read that they will be more aggressive if broody.

I went to get one of the hens and the rooster decided to come at me. I looked at him and said, "NO" in my mother voice. He scampered. Our roosters are not aggressive but I was nervous. The hens which are use to being held did not resist at all. They would just take turns trying to get back in the box. So we will see how that goes.

I decided to plant herbs that fight bugs in my beds yesterday. I was trying to wait until the almanac says to plant but could not. It is suppose to rain on the 24th according to the almanac and the weather channel. On a side not the almanac has been closer than the weather channel when predicting weather. If there is a break in the weather I will be planting more beans and tomatoes. In the back bed where I planted marigolds next to the tomatoes something ate the marigolds. Luckily whatever it is does not eat tomato plants. I do believe it is a critter as I have found the red wild strawberries in the beds. The marigolds in the front are growing better than the tomatoes. They even have buds.

I planted basil near the tomatoes I read they give flavor to the tomatoes. I planted regular basil in one bed, lime basil in another and lemon basil in another. I planted oregano near the cucumbers where I planted 8 only three came up. I will plant more cucumbers. I planted thyme and dill in the back beds for the cabbage and broccoli. I have been adding coffee grinds as well as I read bugs do not like caffeine. Luckily I do like my caffeine and have a pot of grinds every morning. I guess it is a female spring thing. Four of the hens were trying to squeeze into one box. One of the hens has been broody for a few days. I had to research what to do. What I read made me decide I needed a cage to separate the hens. I was all geared up to build two cages and use one on the dog kennels that is open bottomed. Then I read to try blocking the nest if that does not work use the cage. I have not handled our chickens and was a little fearful as I had read that they will be more aggressive if broody.

I went to get one of the hens and the rooster decided to come at me. I looked at him and said, "NO" in my mother voice. He scampered. Our roosters are not aggressive but I was nervous. The hens which are use to being held did not resist at all. They would just take turns trying to get back in the box. So we will see how that goes.

I decided to plant herbs that fight bugs in my beds yesterday. I was trying to wait until the almanac says to plant but could not. It is suppose to rain on the 24th according to the almanac and the weather channel. On a side not the almanac has been closer than the weather channel when predicting weather. If there is a break in the weather I will be planting more beans and tomatoes. In the back bed where I planted marigolds next to the tomatoes something ate the marigolds. Luckily whatever it is does not eat tomato plants. I do believe it is a critter as I have found the red wild strawberries in the beds. The marigolds in the front are growing better than the tomatoes. They even have buds.

I planted basil near the tomatoes I read they give flavor to the tomatoes. I planted regular basil in one bed, lime basil in another and lemon basil in another. I planted oregano near the cucumbers where I planted 8 only three came up. I will plant more cucumbers. I planted thyme and dill in the back beds for the cabbage and broccoli. I have been adding coffee grinds as well as I read bugs do not like caffeine. Luckily I do like my caffeine and have a pot of grinds every morning.

We spent the day doing school. Then my son decided to juice the case of oranges we have. I still need to clean the kitchen.

It is fun to find seashells in the garden!
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Monday, May 18, 2009

After the rain!

We have had rain and storms off and on since last Thursday today is Monday. I am so glad I read the Farmers Almanac before buying seed. I would have bought drought resistant. I had to dump out my container plants several times over the weekend they were full of water and drowning my plants especially the strawberries. My son was playing out in the rain with a neighbor and they had puddles in the yard up to their knees.

The spinach was pelted to the ground breaking the stems. Very sad looking. The raspberries are blooming.

The wax beans in the back are growing well.
The other picture is the cloeme someone gave me. Hubby says it looks like something illegal.
The tomato plants in the back are growing well about 4 inches taller than the ones in front wonder if they will be more or less fruitful than the ones in front. We are writing our observations and guesses down for science. More Strawberries!

The eggplant in back is growing well. It was covered in splashed up dirt. The beans in front are growing well these were planted from seed May 1, 2009. I planted marigolds by the tomatoes from starters given to me they are growing faster the the tomatoes.

The root bed needs to be thinned. I am leaving that up to hubby. The picture of the front was to compare to earlier pictures to see how well growing. The plants are turning yellow I think it is too much rain we will see.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Acts 4:32[ The Believers Share Their Possessions ] All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.

That scripture came to mind as I was thinking of someone who was very generous with me yesterday. She gave me starters of marigolds, hummingbird vine, cleome (I had to look it up to know what is it) and about 25 irises in various colors. I felt like I had been given a pot of gold. I am new to gardening and drilled the poor woman to death with questions. She was happy to share her knowledge with me. This is someone who had posted the offering on freecycle.

I came home eager to plant which I did all but the irises. They were planted right away and dinner prep was pushed back. I was giddy planting these and sorry I did not have time to plant them all. Gardeners I have found are eager to share their hobby. I have had conversations with complete strangers in the seed aisle at a store, or from them seeing what is in my cart or hand at checkout. Gardening is an easy conversation starter.

This of course got me thinking about sharing about God. I will start a conversation with I am really enjoying gardening. I do not think to start a conversation with I am really enjoying reading my Bible. I like the safe ground, God is always calling me to walk near the cliff or completely jump off. These thoughts are forming while I type. I never thought I would share personal thoughts on public forum.

I want to be a generous person but focus on I have nothing to give. Yet I have the most precious gift of all to share the truth of God's Word, His love for me and them, and His plan of salvation.
When I started this blog it was to be gardening, chickens, and beekeeping yet I feel compelled to share what God is doing for me each and every day.

He has created wonderful flowers, fruits and vegetables for me to plant and tend getting a glimpse of how he might feel watching his creations grow each day. Watching the chickens enjoy a pile of leaves thrown in the pen. I think how he loves us enjoying his creation of the ocean or sunset. Watching the bees I know he has a plan to use someone like me in my weakness because by all accounts the bee should not be able to fly. He can take a little and make a lot if you look at the little amounts of pollen that go into the hive and make lots of honey. That my little bit with the little bit of others that are doing God's will will amount to alot and that I need my fellow workers.

Wow all that from a gift of flowers from a stranger. I was just going to post it is raining here and the garden is growing well. I have some strawberries ripening and the raspberries are blooming.
Time to do reading with my son.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Great Devotional

The garden is doing great! I have a lot to blog about. However this past week found us under attack about homeschooling. I believe I am under attack because I have devoted myself to being more dedicated to following God's word and plan for me. So no surprise that an old enemy has cropped up and attacked what I love most my family I am trying to remember that my anger needs to be at Satan not the person who is being used at his tool. Luckily, I have many who have offered prayers up and will continue to pray for us. It is funny how this was the devotional from Alpha Omega Publishing this morning it is so how I feel most of the time. I hope this helps if you are a homeschooler who has days that bring more than can "humanly" be done.

Following is from Alapha Omega Publishing -Nothing More to GiveMonday / May 11, 2009"It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect" (Psalm 18:32).Do you ever wake up and feel like you have nothing left to give as a homeschooling parent? During one quiet morning as I looked out the kitchen window, I felt exhausted physically, financially, and emotionally. I just wanted my house to be clean, but as I looked around the house, each task I had accomplished seemed to have been replaced by ten others. Laundry, dishes, and dirt seemed to be everywhere. Added to this overwhelming burden was a mountain of schoolwork waiting to be graded and lessons needing to be planned. I felt depleted to the point of despair and prayed, "Lord, I'm so tired. Will I ever finish all this work?"
Are you interested in a printed version of this devotional? Then check out the new Daily Focus devotional book, perfect for your own Bible study or as a gift. Order your copy today!The struggle to find strength for the battle is nothing new. We can quit homeschooling, but if countless other Christians have remained steadfast through their difficult times, we can too. Clearly, believing the old saying, "When life gets tough, the tough get going," isn't the answer. As Christian homeschooling parents, we already know we don't have the ability to conjure up strength on our own. The strength lies in our attitude toward God and acknowledging our dependency on Him. Like Paul, we must learn "for when I am weak, then am I strong" (2 Corinthians 12:10b). Like a little child strengthened by his parents to lift objects much too heavy for himself, we can rediscover God's strength to move mountains of housework, schoolwork, or whatever comes our way.If you are experiencing homeschool burnout and finding yourself shutting down, God is waiting for you. Your all-powerful and loving heavenly Father has the strength you need to face today, tomorrow, and even eternity. Stop thinking about what you can't do. Start depending on God and find out what you can do through Him today. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Philippians 4:13).Lord, homeschooling is impossible without You. Show me how to cling to You and lift me above the weight of each day's tasks. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Dog Fishing

Here is a new sport. My son and friends got bamboo stakes from the garden. Then they duct taped a string to it. Then you take a dog treat and tie it to the end. Then you cast and see if you catch a dog fish. The dogs loved the attention.

I love little boys when they play using their imagination and create things. I have better pictures but do not have permission of the other "fisher boys" to put their pictures on my blog.

I could not resist the picture of the roosters. One of the roosters later escaped when my daughter went to gather the eggs. Luckily he did not jump the fence where the dogs are. Maybe they were full from the earlier bait.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The quiet before the storm.

It is a quiet morning here. The weekend was crazy. A fabulous women's retreat on faith. My children's homeschool celebration with a play.

While at the women's retreat there was a downpour with reports of hail in our area. All I could think about was the seeds I had planted that morning in sandy soil and wondering if they had been washed to the top. The first thing I did when I got home was check the garden. Only one seed was showing. I hope the others were still underground. I guess this will work further on my character. I always want the answers now! I know God is has been trying to train me for years to wait on Him. Waiting to see if we get results from our planting is hard.

The good news my wax beans and spinach have sprouted they were planted April 30th. At least I think they are wax beans I have never seen them at this stage. The root boxes that hubby planted are a sea of green sprouts but I have no idea what is what. Maybe we figure it out this weekend when he will be home during the day. The transplanted tomatoes, eggplants, strawberries, and bell pepper seem to be doing well. We will see which soil combo they like. One strawberry plant has three berries forming.

Something is eating my broccoli and it is not growing as well as expected. The lettuce does not seem to like all the rain we are getting. There is rain and storms in the forecast for most of the week. Oh my marigolds are sprouting too!

I told my hubby and kids what I want for Mother's Day is more mulch. My youngest son was shocked "you want dirt for Mother's Day". He is determined to get something else.

It is funny the dirt we got from the lake is sprouting "sea" shells. We have found several and with the rain more are coming to the surface.

I have been checking the garden everyday. I love being able to see the progress.

The bees are out this morning. I think another hive is building to swarm I have some ideas on what to do to avoid-After looking on web and looking at our bee book. However it involves messing the with hive itself so now I have to wait that word again for hubby to be able to do the physical work. He is working a part time evening job for me to be able to be home more.

Last night I gathered eight eggs from the coop. We got 6 on Sunday. They really liked the wild strawberry leaves I put in there last night. One the roosters keep coming over to me which caused the other rooster to come over and chase him into the enclosure. They did this several times. They are such fun to watch.

This post will not include pictures because my daughter has the camera somewhere. I am hesitate to post pictures of the kids on the blog however they have them on my space. I just have not had time to take the pics. It is nice that most of the planting is in ground and just has to grow now.

Today is baseball if not rained out. I guess it is time to get busy on the housework.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

What I learned today

As I said this is to be a record of what works what doesn't. It may get long and boring. You have been warned!

It was funny last night I went out and there were kids from the neighborhood in the coop with the chickens with my son. It was funny to watch! They have been laying today and were very noisy. I took pictures of the eggs they look larger than they are.

I spent the morning with my coffee and a trowel planting. The first thing I learned is read the packs of seeds. My gardening book said to soak the seeds 2-4 hours the packet said overnight. I have decided to wait and soak overnight. Considering my hour of planting turned into 5 it is just as well. The almanac said the 30th is the most fruitful day to plant. I did not sow seeds just transplants I wonder what the difference is. Luckily tomorrow is okay to plant but then there are 5 barren days. Most of my time was running the string to mark the square feet. My youngest son was helping I was going to get to write things done for a "science journal". I also thought the measuring was a good exercise as well. We also measured the ph of the soil with a meter I bought. Not sure if working as all my soils register the same thing. He quit after getting the strings done saying it was hurting his back. He had no problems later on the slip and slide. I let him measure the squares for some reason they are not square or even. Luckily, I do not get to hung up on these things.

The other time consuming thing is trying to decide what to get in first since we are having to wait to build more beds as time allows. We are getting free dirt that has been drudged from a lake bottom and free mulch from another source. It just takes time going and loading it up. So I spent the time planting the larger plants that were purchased. Which reminds me I have a bag of Lima beans somewhere to plant. I did dig up a broccoli plant to put in pepper plant. We have different beds with different dirt mixtures from our free sources so I want to see what does well where. I will make notes of what worked best later.

My tomatoes- I found a site that had this procedure for planting tomatoes. It involved fish heads, aspirin, bone meal, and more. The only thing I had on hand was aspirin. I will add lime with water like the square foot gardening book recommends hopefully that will prevent fruit rot on the tomatoes. I planted tomatoes in the back beds, the front bed, the ground where my husband had dug holes and filled with the dirt we got, and in containers. I planted bush and vines. I have 18 plants planted so far. Hubby started some from seed I did not transplant. I do not know if they are vine or bush.

Two of beds are mystery beds. Hubby was tired and trying to hurry to plant the root vegetables by the moon chart and planted all the root veggies. However they are not marked. One bed is sprouting like crazy. He and I did not communicate on the square foot method the seeds were broadcast. Confession we have fought more over gardening than money. We both have our own ideas over where and how to plant.

I have about 16 strawberry plants. Four were purchased as larger plants in peat containers this year one plant has produced 3 berries. 3 plants can back from some I ordered online 25 plants in bag for 20.00 it was not worth it. The plants did not grow at all. I purchased a bag at Kmart with 10 plants for 3.99 they are producing leaves. This my way of learning how to grow strawberries. As usual I have big plans to have starter plants from these as well. Waiting is the hard part. I also moved all the plants down to full sun out of the driveway where they were in the way.

I also found out that the square foot gardener says to put one eggplant per one square foot. The package says to give the plant 3 feet. Confusion city--so I put some in the foot, one in a bed that only has 4 plants and one in the ground. The bell pepper plants Hubby bought 9. I could not bring myself to not plant them. Again I did in different beds to see what works and some in containers.

I am enjoying taking picture of what is going on around here. I was very happy with what all I saw this morning. The hives were all busy or so it seemed.

Hubby thinks one the hives swarmed it is very disheartening. It was our strongest hive last year. He has someone who has offered to mentor him in beekeeping we can't wait. There is a saying I have been reading on bee sites. Its says, "Ask ten beekeepers a question and you will get ten different answers." Like gardening it is a learning process that takes time and trial and error. I have a hard time with this. I like to how something should be done and then do it and have it work the first time.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

It's a Beginning!

The main purpose of the is blog is to record our efforts at gardening, beekeeping, and raising chickens. Our dream is to one day be able to live off our land wherever that may be. Our hope is learn from small scale and be able to go "large scale." This will be my diary of what works and what does not work.

We started keeping chickens because our family reacts to store eggs. I am not sure if it is what the chickens have been fed or injected or if it is the processing of the store eggs that make us sick. However, we love eggs so to be able to eat them we are raising them. I could purchase them from others who raise in backyard or farms but we were offered free Bantam chickens. So why not try it. Here is some of our flock. We only have one of them named she is Alice. I think the rooster is gorgeous.

We also keep bees. This is our second year. It is amazing how the bees operate. I love looking at the comb they produce. Believe it or not I am allergic to wasps and other stinging insects. I have not been stung by a honey bee yet so I do not know if I will react or not. Yet I love to go watch them take off and land. I do not open the hives that is the work of my husband and kids.

Here they are busy at the front of the hive.

Our wild strawberries are benefiting from the bees this year. We have a cherry tree that for the first time in five years seems to be producing something. We have raspberry plants, grapes and blueberries from last year that are doing better this year.

We are trying a garden using the square foot garden method. I will be recording what works what does not. We will be growing tomatoes, eggplants, broccoli, lettuce, strawberries, beans, carrots, potatoes, artichokes, cucumbers, spinach, and whatever else we might come across. The almanac says this will be a wet year in GA. I am gardening on it! Here are the beds in the back. I will use posts later to record how things are growing.
Well my children are needing my attention.


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