Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Garden Plans...My Detailed Plans and Planting Schedule

This time of the year, you might find me at my desk or kitchen table at breakfast pouring over the latest seed catalog to arrive.
With names like "Flashy Trout's Back" lettuce, and "Pineapple" tomatoes, I can just imagine all of the goodness to come.
I can just taste that warm tomato straight from the vine with a little salt, just like my Dad used to eat them.
Or what about the view from my kitchen window of billowing flowers?
Don't those Vanilla Marigolds look sweet?
{All seeds mentioned from Territorial Seed Company.}

Before I order anything, I like to have a map of what I will be planting, names, and dates of succession.
It helps me to stay on track.
I actually list the planting dates on the calendar, so I don't forget.
Which I am very good at, thank you ;).
The only seeds I start indoors are tomatoes right now.

Everything else goes right into prepared soil when the time is right.
We live in central Washington which has a late frost date of about June 10th.
I usually plant most of the garden by Mother's Day, though, and really that has worked well. 
The pumpkins and squash go in May 1st with black weed screen covering everything.
The fabric heats the soil and I am able to get away with planting some of the 100 day varieties.

My row garden is quite massive at 40' or so by 100' long. 
Graph paper helps me to visualize what I am planting.
I space most everything about 2 - 2 1/2' apart so that my rototiller can get through easily.
This year I will be using as much weed screen as possible and hope to show you soon how I am making holes for the seeds.

{The girls watching me in the garden.}

My plan is rather detailed, and LARGE, so don't be overwhelmed.
I have been a gardener for a while now, although I still have much to learn!
Our garden has grown over the years. I still love my fenced area with four raised beds.
 That is where it all started. The first few years I was pregnant or had babies and those boxes were perfect enough to harvest fresh veggies for our meals.

Here are the paper plans....

In case you are looking for seeds, I like to use our local stores first, and then order from a catalog or online if I can't find something.
Two of my favorite sources are:

The numbers in parenthesis are the number of times I should be able to plant. 
I love my helps organize my thoughts...but the funny thing is that I know I will change it up!
At least I have a guide to go by :)

Happy planting friends!


Sunday, March 1, 2015

{Spring} Sunday Supper: Rosemary Pot Roast with Root Vegetables, Cranberry Coleslaw Salad, Almond Applesauce Quick Bread

Sunday Supper, a time to slow and enjoy those around you. A time to nourish souls and share food that fills up a tummy quite comfortably! Here is a seasonal meal that is not only healthy, but food fare you can most definitely make in a timely manner. So come, come to the table, and make a memory that your family will cherish...

This filling meal was a second course grab for the family.
Delicious, healthy, and fresh with flavor!

Rosemary Pot Roast with Root Vegetables
{Serves 6-8}

One 3-5 pound chuck roast
salt and pepper
2 tsp garlic powder or minced garlic
2 onions peeled and cut in half
8 whole carrots, washed, unpeeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
3 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2-3 fresh sprigs of rosemary or 1 tablespoon dried

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

Generously salt and pepper the chuck roast on all sides.

In a Dutch oven on medium heat, add the olive oil, then the onions. Brown the onions on both sides and then remove from the pot.
Next, add the carrots for about a minute until they are slightly browned.
Remove the carrots to the plate with the onions.

Add a little more olive oil to the pot and sear the roast on all sides until it is nice and brown.
Remove it to a plate and set aside.

With the burner on high, use about 1 cup of the beef broth to deglaze the pot, using a whisk to scrape the drippings off of the bottom.

Put the roast back in first and pour beef stock in until it covers the roast about half way up.
Add the carrots and onions, garlic, Worcestershire, pepper, and rosemary.

Cover with the lid and roast 3 hours for a 3 pound roast, 4 hours for a 4-5 pound roast.
It's ready to eat when it is tender.

Let beef rest at least 10 minutes, then slice against the grain.

To make a gravy....just use 2 cups of the liquid from the pot and put into a separate pot on medium heat. Add 1 TBS flour and whisk until smooth and at a consistency you like.
Pour over the sliced beef.

Cranberry Coleslaw Salad
{Serves 8}

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
 1 1/2 tablespoons mustard {plain yellow is fine or Dijon}
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup canola oil
2 {10 oz} packages of coleslaw mix
1 cup chopped almonds, toasted in a pan for about 2 minutes
3/4 cup sweetened, dried cranberries
6 green onions, sliced
2 celery ribs, chopped

Whisk together the first five ingredients until smooth.
Gradually add the oil in a steady stream, whisking until blended.
Next put together the last ingredients, add dressing and toss until well coated.


Almond Applesauce Quick Bread
{Serves 10 hearty slices}

2 eggs
1 cup applesauce
3/4 cup Truvia or 1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup melted coconut oil or the equivalent in canola or vegetable oil
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sour cream, or Greek yogurt
3 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp. maple extract
1 TBS. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp . baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup chopped almonds {opt.}

Preheat the oven to 350 F. and grease a 9x5 pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together first 9 ingredients.
Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder,almonds, and salt to the wet mixture and sit until combined. Don't over mix! There should be a few lumps :)

Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth the top with a off set spatula.

Bake for about 60 minutes, until top is brown and toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let cool for about 30 minutes.

Bread will keep for 5 days at room temperature and frozen for up to 6 months.

It is soooo good slathered with butter!


Friday, February 27, 2015

On the Farm this Week...

 It was a busy calving week for my son, Tim.
He has researched breed lines and genetics so closely, and it is always exciting to see his new crop of babies.

He checks on the mama cows through the night...and make sure there aren't any problems with birthing.
My other kids are his right hand men. They are always there to help out and love the work just as much as Tim.
{Mom and Dad are right there, too ;)}
Sometimes they are lucky enough to watch a new one come from a distance.
The wet, sappy, new baby with a warm mama's tongue lick, lick, licking him vigorously to ensure he get's up and at it.

Their little red coats glistening in the sun.

It's a lovely sight to behold.

They are all healthy little calves and scampering across the pasture together.
I never tire of watching them :).

Wishing you a great Friday!


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Weed Control in the Garden: Wood Chips and Gravel

I think that every gardener has the same experience in the spring...weeds!
You carefully cultivate the soil, plot neat rows, set each seed perfectly to sprout.
And before those seeds are even germinating, the weeds start to move in.
It is a daily chore to keep up until later in the summer when the weeds seem to give in.
My soil is not sterilized, and we use irrigation water, so weeds seem to find there way into my garden no matter what.

My garden spaces are divided into areas.
My large row garden is about 100' x 50'.

Just in front of the row garden, is my fenced garden with four raised beds.
When designing it, we decided to lay down weed fabric and cover the pathways with small crushed rock.
It has worked beautifully for the last 10 years.

The gravel was well worth the investment!

There are very few weeds that pop through, even after 10 years.

Behind the fenced garden lie my herb beds.
Again, I didn't want a lot of maintenance with the paths.
I could have just let grass grow, and mowed regularly, but we have a large yard.
So, instead we used wood chips.

We laid down the weed fabric first, making sure to get close to the sides of the beds,  and then covered in wood chips.
I get the wood chips free from local tree chippers.
Just watch for them in your area and don't be afraid to ask them if they need a convenient place to dump chips.
You do need to have easy access, so take that into consideration.

{Back side of the herb garden...entering through the holly hocks!}

I add more chips each year to freshen the paths.
Some weeds to come through, but very few, and the maintenance has been easy!
I really like the footing.
So do the chickens, and when they free range, I find lots of holes where they have laid.

Here is to getting ahead of those weeds this year!
March is at our door and with it the promise of rain, muddy boots, and fresh seed packets to plant.


Monday, February 23, 2015

New Life

You know, calves have that same kind of baby smell my newborns a slightly different way {wink}. 
If  you are lucky enough to get close to stroke their soft, new, red can smell the essence of new life.

Annie is the first little one to come this season.
There are 4 more with swollen bellies ready to "pop" anytime. 
Annie was a little lethargic and we had to put baby and Mama in a stall with a heat lamp the first night.
But she bounced back nicely, and is a healthy little Red Angus.

It is fascinating to me to watch new life.
Mama will "stash" her new born calf to protect her, and then watch carefully from a distance.
Sometimes it is really hard to find those babies!
But the Mama cow knows her calf is safely protected from harm.

One call, and baby is up and right by her side.
They instinctively know when they need to be near Mama cow.

All around us, new life is beginning.
This start of Spring is simply a renewal for the soul. 
Isn't it what God wants?
New life budding inside of us....calling us to come by His side and walk with Him?
It a decadently sweet gift to pause and see the beauty in new life and growth.

This life gives abundantly,, and it takes.
It requires huge amounts of grace, and prayer, and trying again and again.
It's about living well, forgiving well, and seeing the positive, even in the midst of mistakes.
Because there are mistakes.
Lots of mistakes.
But we have a God who picks us up, and calls us to Him, protects our hearts, and builds our spirit.
So we can spring forth renewed each day.

Wishing you a peaceful Monday. And a week of feeling renewed in spirit!


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