Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Getting your Garden Planned in January

Did you get your 500 seed catalogs yet?  Did you know that the seed company sends these catalogs to your door at the weakest moment of your life? We are disadvantaged when we are winter weak and weary, surviving day to day. When those seed catalogs arrive, like silly fools, we are totally incompetent when we fill out an order; it ends up the size of the Gettysburg Address, because we are so wanting a garden.
When you fall for this deceptive advertising; like order enough seeds for the next century, you become a slave all summer long working in the hot sun, wasteful at the end of a gardening season, giving out all of your hard earned zucchinis.
So, to avoid disappointment, revise your order form several times until it is manageable. "What am I capable of producing" Garden Stud?

Narrow down your garden plan. Ask yourself,  "What do I want as an end result"  the harvest is the end result. If you plan on canning and freezing for an entire year, then you want a simple garden with tried and true varieties; such as: bush beans, squash, potatoes, and tomatoes. If you plan on eating fresh all summer and not preserving for the winter then maybe a smaller garden with more variety: lettuce varieties, tomatoes, herbs, beans, cucumbers, carrots, and squash. Which ever way you choose, think of the harvest first.

Starting from seed. If you order seeds to start them in a green house, kitchen or back porch, then you want to order them soon. And if you prefer this method, be ready to be a mommy for your seedlings; this can also entail extra cost and effort. Timing is everything when you start from seed; they can become rather spindly and weak living in those peat pots if they are have to wait for their summer home.

Planting directly in the ground. Then pick varieties that can make the time frame for your growing season. In the Adirondacks the growing season is barely enough for a blade of grass, but for lucky people south of Mason Dixon-100 day CORN! And take the soil temperature to make sure that they will be able to germinate. I buy extra seeds for this hypothetical outcome, in case you get snow in June, God just loves to watch us work, especially with gardening.

Garden slackers- read here  For the laziest of gardeners, buy from a green house. It takes perseverance to wait until that day, but you can stroll in like a big shot, and buy plants. Greenhouse plants have the advantage that someone has done the work for you, but you pay the price.

Scavengers-read here The next best thing to gardening is finding someone that works hard and displays a bounty, we are talking about the person that fell for all that advertising...Go to their vegetable stand and give them a donation-walk away with fresh produce.
Well I hope I didn't put too much of a damper on your exuberance. Right now we are all savoring the day we can smell the earth. It doesn't hurt to dream big, but think things out.
This year I have decided to plant heirloom varieties. I bought in on the Beekman 1802 Heirloom garden; it is a community project with support, and thought it would be fun to try-I might learn something.
And I also tried the Seed Savers organization http://www.seedsavers.org/ I ordered varieties that are staples for my garden for a very reasonable price, and helping their organization.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Collecting Paper from the Past

The most interesting thing you can collect is paper memorabilia, otherwise known as 'ephamera'.
Postcards, magazines, newspapers, books, stamps, even old letters are easy to find, easy to store, easy to send and receive in the mail. You can find most paper collectibles in: garage sales, antique shops or auctions. ebay is a great place to look for all kinds of historical paper items. Collecting paper is a part of history, as it is a record of our past, someone's past, civilizations past.
Postcards are lovely time telling pieces of art. Not only for the postcard, but for the message on the back, written by someone that actually roamed the planet; sometimes it is about the weather, or a short note; all in all, it is a record of time. Postcards can be stored in albums, and taken out to view anytime. They can be displayed on a holder or carefully matted and framed.
Magazines are so much fun to browse, because of the different clothing styles, recipes, cars they drove, and how they lived back then, but like everything in the media, it is what they would like you to think as well.
Newspapers are very delicate, and must be preserved carefully, but are the best time pieces of history.
Books are great, because if you find a first edition, signed or hard to find copy, it could be quite valuable.
Stamps are a part of history and are always limited, another great collectible that doesn't take up a lot of room.
And finally, letters are wonderful glimpses into the private lives of people. People wrote letters while at war, when in love, and or missing each other; and finding these, is just a treasure.
 All of these collectibles should be stored in archival books, folders, or boxes; check local stores for these special containment's; then keep in a dry, cool, dark place for further preserving.
I hope you check out collecting paper, and help be a time keeper for the next generation to enjoy this great hobby.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Felting a Bar of Soap

Why grab a bar of felted soap? Because a felted bar of soap is like having a wash cloth and bar of soap all in one, and not only that, it will exfoliate dead skin and make you silky smooth.
It really isn't that hard to do. Wool roving can be bought online in so many colors that you will be able to match your bathroom with no problem. Wool roving is very cheap; 1 oz of roving will run you about $3.25 not including shipping. I buy my roving from Mary, at http://www.wistyria.com/ She has so many colors and her wool is great felting wool.
Okay lets get started on felting soap: Have a bar of soap, any kind.
Take about a 5" piece of roving-this can be done by pulling the amount of wool right from the bat. With your fingers, separate the fibers just a little and wrap tightly around your bar of soap (width), take another piece of wool, same size and wrap around (length) so that the wool is cross wise to the first piece. Make sure that the wool is covering the entire bar. Grab the bar of soap with your hand and place it all the way down a nylon stocking (I use the knee highs) without disturbing the wool and hold in place with a rubber band, so you have a pouch.
Run warm water from the faucet, and saturate until wet, put a little liquid soap on the pouch, and gently rub at first. Rub all around and build up a lather; it is the same motion as washing your hands. After a minute or two, add very hot water, and the repeat the washing but this time with more vigor for about 5 minutes.
Now, squeeze out any water, remove rubber band and reach down into the stocking to get your felted soap bar!
The stocking might cling, just peel off. Remember now, whenever you use this soap to wash...it will continue to felt. And after using, just squeeze out the water and place so it can dry before using again.
When your soap has disappeared you can still use this for scrubbing.

If you are interested in learning how to felt wool, may I suggest the book, "Felt Frenzy" by Heather Brack and Shannon Okey.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sprouting Seeds in the Winter!

 This is a great time to sprout seeds in your kitchen. If you are hungering to grow something fresh, this is the next best thing. Add your sprouts to salads, sandwiches, or hot vegetables. You can buy seeds at your local health food store or online.
It only takes about a tablespoon of clover, alfalfa, or lentil seeds (or mix all) and 3 days to make enough for several servings.
Place 1 tbsp of the seeds in a clean quart jar,  fill jar half way with water and leave overnight, In the morning, cover top with a cheese cloth, and place a rubber band to hold it around the rim; then strain. Everyday fill with water and quickly strain...leave in a dark warm place. In a few days you will have sprouts to put on your salad.
Did you know that they are full of antioxidants, and sprouts have life saving attributes from the past; animals that were starving over the winter were re-vitalized by eating sprouts; it gave them vigor. So try it, and it may become your winter garden!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Hobby farming with Andre' Jones

I have lived in rural areas for 30 years, but I think it goes farther back, more like 50 years. I did live in NYC for 16 years but we always had a rural place.
The Seeber Farm is where we now live, just outside of Cherry Valley. We have sheep, that we raise for wool and meat. The sheep are grass fed and organic. We also raise chickens for meat in the summer time. I am an animal lover, don't get me wrong. Wrong is the inhumane way our nation raises meat today. Most poultry is raised in hot houses that are not clean and they are confined in small spaces. Most of your lamb is raised half way around the world, and is grain fed; most time it is mutton.
So let me share what I know....So that you might try some things of days gone by, but are really good things for your health and well being.
Spinning wool
felting wool
homesteading tips.