Sunday, March 21, 2010

Garden update and buttery goodness

We spent this beautiful day outside. I gave the compost bin a big turn, and then spread some of the good stuff from the bottom over the garden. When it's tilled, the compost will mix into the soil and make good things happen.The strawberry patch looks pretty good, and the plants are starting to produce new leaves. We should have fruit in 2 months -- if the creatures don't eat them first!
Dave had the brilliant idea of moving this portable greenhouse into our "screen room." It keeps the seedlings warm and collects lots of light. I was so happy to discover how warm this unheated screen room gets in the sun, it is the ideal place for growing seedlings and it has given me hope for starting my plants from seeds!
You can see some lettuce sprouts here. The basil is coming up, too.
This pine tree is huge and old but it's going to be leaving us. Goodbye, pine needles, hello sunshine!
On another topic, after a day of gardening I made butter out of some of the raw milk I brought back from Uppingil Farm. At least I think it's butter. It tastes like butter! It took a lot of shaking to get there!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Big Cheese

Today my friend Kim and I took a cheese making class from Cliff at Upinngil Farm in Gill, MA. Here is a view across the street from the milk house.
We learned about ripening, setting, curds, whey, acidity...lots of technical stuff about all the work that goes into yummy cheese.Here I am, checking out the double-jacketed kettle containing the curds and whey.
Kim salts the Camembert.Cliff apparently thinks that the aging blue cheese is very funny. I took a turn salting the cheese.
Vat o' yum.
Standing over the Camembert forms.
I don't think I'll be trying to make cultured cheeses at home any time soon, but I did bring some yummy raw milk back with me to either drink or make ricotta.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Nobody home

I don't see any residents in the bat house yet.
But we have our first crocuses! These are at the back of the house, they have been showing up there since we moved in 3 years ago.

Tomorrow I'm going to plant some more spinach and lettuce as well as peas!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Garlic Shoots!

I raked aside a little bit of the straw mulch covering the garlic plot this morning, just to see if anything was happening...and it is! The shoots are coming up! They're almost an inch high now. I loosened up the mulch a bit to make it easier for them to push up through it, but left them covered to keep them warm -- at the advice of my friend Kim, and expert garlic farmer.

Monday, March 08, 2010

To the Bat Cave!

Between the two of us, Dave and I managed (barely) to put our new bat house up on this pole in our back yard. Neither of us loved climbing the 6' step-ladder, but we did it. Hopefully there will be some mosquito-eaters moving in soon, although I've read that it might take at least a year to get residents. No comments on the not-so-completely pounded in nail heads sticking out of the top of the house, please...

Here is another pic of the garden where I planted some lettuce and spinach seeds. After softening up nicely for about a week, the ground all froze up again! And after some gorgeous spring-like days, too. What gives?

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Swear to be better

Let's see, it's been over a year and a half since my last post...I feel like I'm at confession. So much has happened since the July 2008 harvest that I just don't have to energy to go over it all, so I'm going to pretend I don't have a 36-month hole in my posts and start up again today.

This is turning into more of a gardening blog than the fiber one it used to be, largely because it is very difficult to knit or spin with a 2 year old and also because I have become addicted to gardening. It's also something that the whole family can participate in one way or another. So what follows is my gardening life...
I am dying for spring to come, and this warm sunny weather is a great sneak peak. Just yesterday I planted a few spinach and lettuce plants -- Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach andGotte Jaune D'or Lettuce from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and some Viroflay Spinach seeds I had left over from last year from Seeds of Change. Maybe it's a bit early to be planting outside, but I only planted a few to see if they would take. The soil was only workable for about 3", and then it's still frozen, but I think that's more than the seedlings need to start out.
I would have loved to start them indoors but our indoor sunshine spots are non-existent. That doesn't mean I'm not going to try with some other seeds that don't like the cold weather as much as spinach and lettuce. Jonah and I already started some tomato and eggplant seeds in soda bottle greenhouses that I've been moving around to various windows in the house as the sun makes its way through the sky, and we have some sprouts, which is very exciting for both of us. We planted Thai Long Green Eggplant and Dr. Wyche's Yellow Tomato, both from Baker Creek. I think the sprouts are the eggplant, but I'll have to wait to see their true leaves to know for sure.
I'm interested to see what happens in the strawberry patch I dug behind the house last year. I'm not sure if it gets enough sunlight or not, but the plants seemed to do pretty well their first year as far as growing and branching out. Hopefully we'll get some fruit this year.
And of course, the crocuses, tulips and daffodils are starting to peak up out of the ground. Yay!