Winter Garlic Update

 

winter-garlic-update-2The first seeds we planted at our soon to be vegetable farm were garlic. It was a beautiful Fall day (Oct 26th) when we planted about 500 garlic cloves in two beds.

 

winter-garlic-update-8If you never tried to grow garlic, I highly recommend you try. It’s a very simple crop to grow, and who doesn’t use garlic? Besides its culinary uses, garlic is also extremely healthy and can help prevent a nasty cold or the flu.

You are going to have to choose between a softneck and a hardneck garlic verity. Basically, if you live where Winter is harsh, choose hardneck, If you live in an area with a mild Winter, choose softneck verity. Here in central NC, we grow softneck garlic. This article can give you more info.

Once you have your garlic heads, break them into cloves. Stick the cloves an inch into the soil, 6 inches apart. Cover them lightly, and that’s about it.

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From the Farm Blog Hop – Dec. 12th 2014

Thank you for joining us to another From the Farm Blog Hop linky party! I can’t wait to see what you have to share this week.

 

from-the-farm-hopI’ve been in full research and planning mode this past week. I am setting up all the beds in the farm, making final decisions regarding trellising in the field, I received my soil test report and ordered soil supplements, my seed order is almost done, I found a farmer who sold me vegetable crates for a couple of dollars each for harvesting and transporting the crops to the market, and I’ve been learning all that I can about soil blocks and how I can start seeds early without a greenhouse. Whoa! There is so much to do if I want to get to the market half prepared.

But I am not complaining! I really enjoy every moment.

 

Eco-friendly-childrenMy favorite post from last week is 7 Things You Can Do to Raise Eco-Friendly Children from Urban Natural. This post hit close to home for me because I intend for the environment and agriculture to be a large part of my kid’s education. It’s hard for me to imagine a child sitting at a classroom 8 hours a day with 30 min to play in a man-made plastic playground. I am not sure if it is because I grew up in a small agricultural community in Israel, where we often ran between watermelons in PE class, or if it is because I know there is no way a 6 years old boy can sit down 45 min straight. I simply can’t imagine my childhood without hay bales, horses, crop fields, and guinea pigs.

Please note, I don’t have any problem with the idea of a school. I know many amazing teachers that I consider any child who gets to spend time with them extremely lucky. I just think, that yet again, politics got in the way. This time, in the way of childhood and learning.

Even if your child spends 8 hours a day in a traditional school, there is still a lot you can do to make sure they get enough of nature, that they know where the food in the grocery store comes from, and what is the reason for growing red worms. The 7 ways Deborah lists in this post are a great start.

Now, let’s get on with the party, shall we??? This week’s favorites:

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Choosing Organic Soil Supplements

In the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to read everything I can about soil health. In preparation for the first season of the farm (Spring 2015), I want to make sure I have the best soil I can possibly have. We all know that a healthy soil grows healthy plants. If you take the time to make sure your soil has enough minerals, nutrients and organic matter in it, your vegetables will be tastier and healthier, and your plants will be less prone to disease and pests. Elliot Coleman said, “you feed your soil, and your soil feeds your plants.” I totally agree.

 

organic-supplements-03The world of organic soil supplements can be a little intimidating. In the beginning, I was completely overwhelmed with all the options and a bit lost as to what to choose. I also had a budget I had to follow (those large bags ain’t cheap!) so I had to choose carefully, and I knew I wanted to find organic soil supplements, not synthetic ones.

Why should you add organic supplements to your soil? 

My first question was why. Why should I bother with soil supplements? Why should I spend all this money? Is it really necessary?

I found this wonderful video which explains it in a simple and clear way…

 

So now we know that the three most important nutrients we have to pay attention to are…

  1. Nitrogen (N) – For plant growth.
  2. Phosphorus (P) – For root development and flowering.
  3. Potassium (K) – To make plants hardier and disease resistant.

I will add two more important things you should pay attention to…

  1. Soil pH – Different plants require different levels of pH.
  2. Organic matter – This will be taken care of by adding good old compost. The more the merrier.

 

What’s your soil missing?

Obviously, you can’t just look at your soil and see that there is not enough phosphorus there. You’ll need the help of a lab.

Thankfully, you can collect soil samples and send them to the lab through your county’s cooperative extension.

  •  It is free most of the time. Our county started charging $4 per sample if you send them out in the months between November and April.
  • Make sure to take different samples for different areas in the garden and label them. Blueberries need acidic soil for good growth while vegetables need somewhat neutral pH for better growth. You should take one soil sample for the blueberry patch and another for the vegetable patch since you will probably need to amend them differently.
  • It takes two to three weeks until you get a report from the lab. Make sure to send it early to give yourself enough time to prepare your garden for planting. It is better to add the supplements before planting than after.
  • Follow your county’s extension as to how to collect a sample and submit it.

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From the Farm Blog Hop – Dec. 5th, 2014

Thank you for joining us to another From the Farm Blog Hop linky party! I can’t wait to see what you have to share this week.

 

from-the-farm-hop

Those past couple of weeks have been very busy for us. We’ve been staying at the farm every weekend in the RV. The old thing is far from finished, but we fixed the roof so it is not leaking anymore so at least we can stay in it now. We started plowing some land and tilling. I’ve been marking the beds, and teaching the kids where they are allowed to walk and where they are not.

With all the work we are doing, we realized that we will have to give up on our dream of building our own straw bale home. It’s just too much. It will take a long time and we want to be able to move there asap and concentrate on the farm and the vegetables. I was very disappointed at first, but then got kind of excited about the possibility of actually living on the farm by Spring. It will be so much easier to take care of the plants this way.

 

micro-greens at homeMy favorite post from the hop two weeks ago is 7 Foods You Can Easily Grow Indoors This Winter  by Runamuk Acres. This is such a great post that lists 7 food plants you can grow indoors all winter long. Just because Summer is over doesn’t mean you need to stop growing your food. I do a lot of the sprouting in my house, it’s fun and easy and sprouts are supper healthy and tasty. This post made me want to try to grow mushrooms indoors too.

Now, let’s get on with the party, shall we??? This week’s favorites:

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Saving a Frozen Worm Composting Bin and Everything You Need to Know About Worm Composting

One of the great things about my husband being a locksmith is that he gets to drive around, see places and meet different people. He is friendly and curious enough to let nothing get away from him. And this man notices everything. He finds all kinds of things at abundant homes he is going to rekey. Most of the times, the owner of the home is happy to give it to him since it means less cleaning for them. Like this truck box we now use as a garden shed, cleaning products, furnitures, kids toys, and many other things.

A few weeks ago, he found an old worm composting bin behind a house he was working on, and the owner was more than happy for him to take it.

 

worm-composting-09I’ve wanted worms for a while now. Their castings are such a great addition to garden soil, and if you keep the bin indoors where it’s warm, they will keep making compost (aka poop) for you during the Winter. If you follow my blog, you know that we are working on starting a small organic farm so I can use all the compost I can get. Worm poop, chicken poop, horse poop, thank God animals don’t ever stop pooping ;-)

Let’s back up here for a second in case you are not sure what the hell am I talking about and thinking last week she was excited about using an outhouse and this week she is messing with worm poop, what in the world is wrong with this lady!

You can make amazing compost at home by using worms, red wigglers, they are called, and you can find them here. Those worms can eat their their body weight in food scraps daily, and, like all of us, when we eat a lot we poop a lot. This worm poop is called “worm casting” and it is glorious. I mean glorious! It is rich and full of nutrients, an all natural plant fertilizer. After you harvest the castings from the bin, you can mix them with your garden soil or make worm casting tea and water your plants with it. It will make your plants extremely happy.

Note: if you don’t want to grow the worms but would like to use worm castings, you can purchase castings here, or purchase tea here.

 

worm-composting-25Anyway, this is what was in the bin when my husband brought it home. Red worms used to live here but were now dead, probably because they were left outside in freezing temperatures. Red worms don’t like it too cold or too hot. The ideal temperature is between 55-77 degrees, so you can leave the bin outdoors in the shade in the summer, but you should bring it indoors in the winter.

 

worm-composting-26However, in between the dry castings, there was this piece of a paper bag full of worm eggs, and I was wondering what if… What if I could help them hatch, and keep them warm, and feed them, and sing to them, and pat them, and have conversations with them… And we will have a worm nursery, full of babies (I love babies)… And they will eat and poop, and I will clean their poop (I already clean so much poop anyway, what’s a bit more). Then I’ll spread it in my farm and my vegetables will be so beautiful and tasty and full of nutrients, and we (including the worms) will eat them, and feed others and be healthy and live happily ever after! Ahh, what if…

 

worm-composting-24So I added some wet newspaper to the bin, making sure to wet the paper with the eggs (worms like moisture, but it shouldn’t be too wet inside there),closed it and placed it indoors. I didn’t remove the old castings because I didn’t know if there were eggs anywhere else, and if there were I didn’t want to ruin them. You can buy a fancy worm bin online, but you can see that it’s not necessary. You can make one from a $5 dark bin (worms are sensitive to light) by drilling tiny holes along the top edge, the lid, and the bottom. Then place another lid on the surface to catch any liquid that might drip from the worm bin, and elevate the worm bin on top of it by using bricks or some sort of container.

Then I waited. Two weeks I waited…

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Setting Up the Outhouse and a Dilemma…

Last week I wrote about our visit to Judy’s old homestead and how we moved her outhouse to our farm. This past weekend, we got busy setting up the outhouse.

 

setting-up-the-outhouse-27It wasn’t too hard, about half a day worth of work, but this is because we have a tractor with a backhoe attachment so the hardest part of digging the hole was done by the machine.

 

setting-up-the-outhouse-25-1We chose a spot about 100 feet from everything else, measured the dimensions, and started digging. In the beginning, it was very easy, but once we got about 4 feet deep, we hit rock and because the hole was small, it was hard for the backhoe to dig any deeper.

Everywhere I read, said you should have your hole dug 4 to 6 feet deep. We tried to use a shovel to deepen it a bit, but it was really hard. So finally we decided to add a bit of soil on the bottom of the hole so it’s not an exposed rock down there, and set the outhouse on it.

 

setting-up-the-outhouse-03Next we worked on positioning the concrete frame and level it. We used bricks and treated wood to raise the pieces and bring then together.

 

setting-up-the-outhouse-04Nothing fancy really.

 

setting-up-the-outhouse-05Once the frame was leveled, we used the tractor to carry the concrete slab…

 

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From the Farm Blog Hop – Nov. 21st 2014

I am so excited to be joining the amazing ladies hosting the From The Farm Blog Hop. From now on, I will host the link here on Lady Lee’s Home every Friday morning at 7am. I hope you’ll come by to link some of your fabulous posts.

fromthefarmhopEach week, I will share with you my favorite post from the week before. This is going to be extremely hard since there are too many awsome posts to choose from.

 

AftertheFrostThis week I chose After the Frost from Oak Hill Homestead. I know most of you already had their first frost weeks ago, but here in NC the temperatures are only now starting to really cool down. We woke up this week to a few mornings of ice and frozen dew everywhere. I can’t imagine how it feels like to wake up to 5 feet of snow! And then go outside to do the farm chores… Pahhh! How are the Winters where you live? Is your area covered in snow yet? Or are you a Floridian enjoying the 70F days and a good laugh at the rest of America?

Now, let’s get on with the party, shall we??? This week’s favorites: 

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Moving an Outhouse and a Visit to an Old Homestead

I couldn’t contain my excitement when we moved the privy to the farm a couple of weeks ago. I sent my family a text message with a picture saying my dream is coming true, we are moving an outhouse to the farm. My mom wrote back saying she doesn’t know why she deserves all this crazy. You see, my mother wears six pounds of jewelry at all times, she never leaves the house without makeup, and her nails are always meticulously done. My father, on the other hand, owns rabbits, birds, guinea pigs, a dog and a few chinchillas, he collects house plants and pretty much everything else. My brother prefers sleeping in the desert, where he spends his time with his altered Jeep meant for off-road driving only and his dirt bike. On the same day we moved the outhouse he got a new ATV.  He keeps her on an almost-heart-attack state constantly while her daughter is moving an outhouse, planning to run a vegetable farm with three little kids while at the same time building a house of mud.

I texted her back saying she is our mother; she should know where this crazy comes from. Of course, she blamed my dad without hesitation ;-)

Such is my lovely family.

 

moving-an-outhouse-03It all started from a Craigslist ad. My husband found a tiny house for sale, and we contacted the lady asking to come see it.

David ended up going to check it by himself a couple mornings later. He called me after his visit, and I could hear the excitement in his voice. My husband does not get excited easily so I figured this must be good.

He liked the tiny house very much and wanted to move it to the farm. Even though we have some experience with moving things by ourselves, we know this time we will have to call the professionals because it was too tall and heavy. It will take some time to find someone to move it for us.

“Meanwhile,” he said, “we can take the outhouse.”

“The outhouse!” I exclaimed, jumping with joy, “there is an outhouse?”

“Yes, and she is giving it to us for free!”

I’ve been talking my husband’s ears off about my outhouse obsession for months by then, and I am sure, most of all he was just happy there was a chance I will finally shut up and leave him alone.

On Saturday, we loaded up the kids and drove to Judy’s old homestead to pick up the outhouse.

 

moving-an-outhouse-19And what do you know… We stepped back in time. Only 25 minutes from our home, practically inside the city limits, between beautiful pastures, we found this handmade, rustic, homestead. I kinda forgot about the outhouse; I had to hear the stories first.

Judy explained that the 92 acres the homestead is on, are owned by an older couple. This whole place is now pastures and forest, but back then, in the seventies, it used to be a hippie commune. Judy’s house and another we passed on our way are the only two left. The couple let Judy stay on the land as long as she wants with the condition that she keeps it rustic. Her house used to be very small, but with the help of friends and family she kept adding to it over the years. She raised three boys here, all grown now.

 

moving-an-outhouse-23The first thing to catch my eye was the plumbing system. Water flows from the metal roof down the gutter into 6 inch pipes…

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Non-Alcoholic Echinacea Tincture

A few weeks ago I wrote about 6 Natural Remedies to Prevent Flu and Cold. Number 3 on my list was echinacea tincture. Yesterday I made a batch of the good stuff, and I would like to share this simple tincture with you.

 

nonalcoholic-echinacea-tinctur-12Most tinctures are made with alcohol. If you use alcohol to make a tincture, you need to make sure you use something that has 80% to 100% alcohol in it. Do you know what happens to me of I smell something with 80% alcohol in it? Yes, I just need to smell it and I am drunk. Staying healthy this Winter sounds great, healthy and drunk? Mmmm…. Not so much. This is the reason I make my tincture with apple cider vinegar.

 

prevent-cold-and-flu-naturaly-5Echinacea is a group of nine species that are part of the daisy family. This perennial is as useful as it is beautiful. The roots and the rest of the plant are used in herbal medicine to boost the immune system and prevent cold and flu. Here is a great post about how to grow echinacea from Ever Growing Farm.

Non-Alcoholic Echinacea Tincture:

 

nonalcoholic-echinacea-tinctur-07I don’t have echinacea in my garden at the moment, so I bought echinacea root from Mountain Rose Herbs (in the picture is a 4oz bag). To make a tincture, you will also need a jar and some good apple cider vinegar. I used Bargg’s.

 

nonalcoholic-echinacea-tinctur-08Fill the jar with as much echinacea root as you want…

 

nonalcoholic-echinacea-tinctur-09I used the whole 4oz bag.

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First Planting at Kismet Farm

We worked so hard to get to this moment. Many times, it felt like there was no way we could make the next step happen. Sometimes it felt like there was no way we are going to be able to pull  together the resources we needed to make this dream a reality. If it was the bank’s agreement to financing the land, or the tools we needed to make the land ready for planting. Sometimes we felt that maybe we were biting more than we could chew. But since the moment we stepped foot on those 20 acres of farm land, everything just happened as if it was directed from above. As if it was our fate, our destiny. This is why we named our farm Kismet Farm. And on Sunday, October  26th, with the help of our dear friends, we planted the first seeds at Kismet farm.

 

First seeds on Kismet FarmWe were looking for land for two years. I became addicted to the real estate web sites. I knew every parcel of land in a 30 mile radius of our home. Where was it, its price, how long it was for sale, when it was sold, how much it was sold for. I say 30 miles because we didn’t want my husband to have to drive more than that to get to our locksmith store in town, so when I saw this piece of land, I ignored it. It was 45 miles away. Simply too far.

But it stayed in my mind, and I wasn’t sure why I kept thinking about it from time to time. At fist, I thought that it will sale in a week since the price was low. I mean, three times lower per acre compared to another  farm land in the area. It also had two creeks on it, and it was cleared. Some of it was in production of soybeans in the past.

But it didn’t sale. It was sitting there looking back at me every time I went looking for land online. Seven months after I first found it, I asked my husband to go see the land. I told him it was too far anyway and I just needed to see it so I can put it aside and forget about it. He agreed, thinking it will be a nice Sunday drive in the country.

I don’t know how to explain what happened next… We parked, got off the car and met an old redneck who spoke in a way we could not understand a word he said. There was no way to even walk the land since it was overgrown, so we kind of walked along one side of it. We saw nothing but brush, understood nothing, but knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is the land we want.

Now, both you and I know that what you want is not always what you can get. You see… We had a major problem here, four months earlier we happen to come across a great commercial space for our business. The business paid the down payment and all the other expenses of the purchase, and the business is paying the mortgage, but because our business is young, the bank insisted the space will be listed under our name rather than the business name. This simply means additional debt on our name. We set in the car on our way home after seeing the land, and we both were thinking the same thing…. There was no way we can find a bank to finance this farm land because our debt to income ratio is just too high. Couple that with the fact that it is extremely hard to find someone to finance bare land far from the city those days, and our chances to get what we wanted were almost non-existent.

I was in deep though. You see, I had this farm planned in my head since the first grade, and now that we found it I wasn’t going to give up so easily.

So the next day, when the kids hit their beds for naptime I hit the phone. I called and got turned down. I called another bank and got turned down again. Then again, and again. They wouldn’t even take an application because there was nothing on the land. I was about to give up when I found someone who will at least let me fill the application. “I’ll see what I can do,” he said, and it did not sound promising at all. I filled my husband in when he came home, and we just figure we will have to wait until we save more money or consider selling our house.

What do you know… Two days later the guy from the bank called and said he got the loan approved. I was so shocked I couldn’t talk. How did that happen I had no idea, but I wasn’t going to ask him anything besides where he wants me to sign.

A year and a couple of months later and here we are. This past year, we bought and fixed an old RV so we have a place to stay when we go to work. We purchased a Suburban to tow a trailer to haul our new (to us) tractor with its gazillion attachments. We purchased a mower, a tiller, a seeder.  We installed a driveway, we got a farm number, we got an address, and we were ready to start planting. But since we have zero experience with farming it wasn’t that easy. We got to the farm a few times and instead of doing what we planned on doing we found ourselves messing with the tractor the whole day. We broke some bolts, couldn’t get the tiller to attach properly to the tractor, then we couldn’t get it off the tractor, then realized we can’t just use the tiller, we really needed a plow… and so on and so on. Frustrating. We wished we had an old farmer friend that we could call and ask a question, but there is no such contact. So we came back home, researched, watched some You-Tube videos and went back to the land again. All this work was done on the weekends only, and it took forever.

But last Sunday, we finally put some seeds in the soil.

 

First Planting at Kismet Farm-07To prepare the soil, we started by plowing…

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