Category Archives: Gardening

Earth Day Thoughts

I have been thinking a lot about the Earth. It isn’t hard to see how, for many generations and many cultures, we have often thought of the Earth as our Mother. She literally feeds us. Try to think of something you eat that didn’t come from the living soil, directly or indirectly. The minerals from the rocks of the Earth’s surface, via plants and animals, make up our bones and are vital to the workings of our bodies.

fox behind compostI find it very sad that the profit-making form of agriculture so common on this planet now is destroying the very soil needed to feed us. I have read about how with industrial farming that for every ton of food produced we lose 6 tons of topsoil while filling what is left with toxic chemicals.

Did you know that healthy soil should have 600 million bacteria in a teaspoon? There should also be tens of thousands of protozoa and miles of fungal hyphae. If all these little friends were in our soil, the plants which feed us wouldn’t need fungicides or bactericides.

It is because of this that I’m a compost fanatic. We compost all the vegetable trimmings from the kitchen, all the weeds and spent plants from the garden, and most everything else that will decompose, in a huge compost pile. The compost process requires and encourages the very life needed for healthy soil. The finished compost added back on your vegetable and fruit beds is like a shot in the arm for your garden. Growing cover crops and digging them into the soil is another wonderful way to recharge the life-filled soil.

Happy Earth Day. Give our Mother a shout out when you eat or drink or breathe today!

Synchronicities in the round

I can sense when I’m in a groove sometimes, because the universe starts feeding me synchronicities and coincidences. I’m reading a book about a theory that is able to mathematically account for the cosmic or metaphysically components of the universe. Thankfully it is written in laywoman’s terms. I’ve begun to have supplementary information popping up in other areas of my life. I was noticing a circulation of coincidental happenings when this quote came up in my reading and really pulled the phenomenon together for me:

You see, where you put your energy, where you put your mind, is vitally central to your experience. If you begin with an act of faith and say, “I think life is this way and I’m going to live as if it were this way,” then you cast yourself into the midair of faith having no proof of anything but the simple feeling, the knowing, that all truly is well and that the universe does make sense. …You simply need to let go of any preconceived notions as to how that works and simply engage in life to the best of your ability… The universe will begin to perceive you as joining the dance. You will begin to get synchronicities…The universe will begin to help you. You will feel that feedback. And the more you lean into that, the more you will receive it. *

Since I find that this groovy thing rarely happens when I’m stressed or over scheduled, I have been trying to keep my calendar more clear. This folds in well with the fact that I’m trying not to drive as much with the gas prices as high as they are.

Even so, I do need to go to town now and again. Yesterday I went to a meeting of local artists, a group called Gathering Artists, where we have been planning a collaborative exhibit for October. I have been working to finish a hand woven Wall Hanging of a sunrise I saw when I was in Nag’s Head, North Carolina, and I brought it for “Show and Tell” at the meeting, despite the fact it wasn’t quite done. I will finish embellishing with hand dyed silk and mount it in the next few days so I can put it in the fiber art exhibit of my work that is currently on display at the Boyle County Public Library. It is in the Mahan House Gallery if you’ll be at the library and would like to stop in and see it. It will be there until May 6th.

When I was in town, I also needed to pick up some potting soil so I can pot up a bunch of bedding plants I have growing in the greenhouse. This has been the strangest spring and it is really hard to know when to start things both in the garden and inside, and when to put the plants from the greenhouse out in the garden. We have had downright hot temperatures, interpersed this past week with a number of frosty nights. We are waiting to see if the cold temperatures have damaged the blueberries, apples, pears and peaches. It did some damage to the strawberries, but they will bounce back, I feel certain. I had them covered in a hoop house, which added several degrees of protection. All my early greens and the broccoli and cauliflower are in hoop houses still, though on warm days I pull off the row covers.

As you can see, even with trying to keep the calendar clear, this is a busy time around here. Wish me luck with going round and round in the groove!

*http://www.llresearch.org/transcripts/issues/2010/2010_1113.aspx

Trilateral Blogging

After reading my recent blogs, my husband, Steve, asked me what exactly a blog is. I assume many of you already know, but I had my own opinion, which I offered. It seems to me to be a rather open-ended form of communication on the Internet, and, for me, it is much like a letter written in installments to a bunch of friends and family, as well as to people you don’t know. My Webster’s dictionary had no definition, but Wikipedia says it is a blend of the term web log with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. It is quite a phenomenon these days and I see it as a way to bring the humans on this planet closer together, which seems to be a good thing.

I shared in an earlier blog that I had been encouraged by my Kentucky Arts Council Peer Advisor, Kathleen O’Brien, to blog (yes, it can also be a verb) to help me integrate my weaving, gardening and spiritual aspects of my life. I have found that I am happy to share what I’m up to with my weaving. For instance, I finished weaving another of my handbags with the new design today and always feel a relief when I weave again after a period away from my loom. It is like scratching an itch. I am also looking forward to making some Christmas gifts so I can do some sewing. But I am especially eager, with a side of nervousness, to try some new techniques and create some things I’ve had incubating in my mind for some time. I got a book on dyeing at the library and hope to create some handdyed fabrics soon. Having a wonderful workspace and having regular blocks of time to devote to my fiber art is such a luxury. My art is feeling like a bud finally beginning to open as I approach the late afternoon of my life.

Sharing what happens in my garden is also a treat for me. I believe growing our own food and helping others do the same is an important way to be in sync with the Earth. If you would like some material about Fall and Winter Gardening and/or an article on building a hoop house (also called Low Tunnels or Quick Hoops) , contact us.

While I have much to say about my weaving and gardening, I’ll admit that writing about my spirituality is troublesome for me. I believe some of the difficulty lies in trying to use words to express something that exists in a realm where concepts and feelings are the norm and where words fall short. I am also a little self conscious about having such non-traditional, eclectic beliefs and wonder how many of those who might read my blog are even interested. Even so, I will continue to throw in some of my spiritual thoughts. Feel free to skim or skip if it isn’t your cup of tea.

Well, Steve is downstairs whipping up a batch of chili rellenos from our Anaheim peppers which we grew this summer and then roasted, peeled and froze. My mouth is watering. I ‘m off to pick some cilantro under the hoop house before it gets too dark.

 

Integration

Earlier I mentioned the request from a friend to write about my spirituality and I’ve given that a lot of thought. One of the reasons I am writing this blog is to integrate my weaving, gardening and spirituality. When it comes down to it, though, I’d have to say my spirituality has become quite integrated into all aspects of my life. That is not something I could have said even a year ago, but my day starts with reading, yoga and meditation, and though I can’t say I am constantly aware of my spiritual path, it is something I am aware of on and off each day, all day. I hope that doesn’t sound arrogant. I guess it might. I don’t mean to sound like I have everything figured out. I know when my life gets rocky or when days are crazy busy this integration fades to the background, but I feel so fortunate to be in a time of my life when, for the most part, I feel pretty grounded and connected.

I’ll have to admit that the long gaps between my blog postings, though, have something to do with my desire to stay in a spiritual mindset. I have worked hard to avoid those mental conversations with myself or those practice conversations with others. You know, when you are preparing for some potential future encounter that may or may not even happen. You know what I’m talking about, right? I stop them by shouting at myself in my head, “Who exactly are you talking to?” If you are familiar with the concept of “being in the now”, I think those conversations keep you from experiencing life right now and I stay on guard for them throughout each day.

As I have been doing more writing, though, I find myself composing a blog entry, or some other piece I am working on, in my mind as I am doing something else. I recently saw a Masterpiece Contemporary program where a character spent the whole time composing a poem describing his experience in his head while having lunch with an old girlfriend. It was exactly what I have been trying to avoid. I’m playing with some solutions, one being to sit down and write a little every day and then try to block the mental composing when it arises. Any suggestions from those of you who have overcome this problem? Please comment below.

As I mentioned before, it has been a long time since I’ve written, but I haven’t forgotten I would share why I think we had a good sweet potato harvest. If you have a soft heart for field mice, avert your eyes! I have this amazing mousetrap which I placed among the sweet potato vines a few weeks before harvest. I trapped numerous little rodents who in previous years would burrow down to my sweet potatoes and gnaw huge holes in them. I hate to have to do it, but I lost only a couple of potatoes to such damage this year. If you’d like plans for the trap, go to contact us. I can’t post the plans right now though, because I promised myself I’d finish tying on the warp on my loom. I have a couple of handbag orders so I’d better get at it. By the way, I’ll put photos of my hoop house, and how to construct one on my website, too.

As a post script to the earlier entry, I would add that it hasn’t rained yet today so I was able to get the rest of my garlic in for a total row length of over 40 yards. I’ve decided not to plant potatoes or onions next season after poor crops the last couple of years. I think the recent excessively wet springs are to blame, but no matter the reason I have room for more garlic.

 

 

 

Studio Open House and Garden Sale was lovely

I started this yesterday but didn’t get it posted. My Studio Open House and Garden Sale weekend was lovely. It was great to see so many people and one couldn’t have asked for more beautiful weather. If you weren’t able to come, give me a call. I can open my studio by appointment, and the hoop houses in the garden are doing very well right now so if the weather allows I’d be glad to show them to you. My contact info is on my studio website: http://lacetree.com/.

It has been a long time since I last posted because I thought things would settle down after the Open House, but I have continued to be quite busy. Thanks to those of you who have sent me comments. One friend asked that I write more about my spirituality, which I will be doing in my next posting. Another friend sent me a great blog from which to get ideas and suggested I include photos. I hope to try that out soon, too.

I am going to send another e-mail to let you know I’m posting this, but please sign up as a member (it is on the upper right of the blog) so you’ll get a link to any future postings.

Here is what I wrote yesterday, Saturday, December 3rd:

Great day! My dear husband came running in this morning yelling, “Cranes!” That’s always a good way to start the day. We love seeing the Sandhill cranes on their migration south, which passes right over our farm. This is the latest in the season we have seen them, though, according to my records. It was a small flock so hopefully we will see more in the coming days. We have seen hundreds at a time before, sounding their distinctive call. It will give you goose bumps (or should I say “Sandhill crane bumps”?)

The warm, sunny weather gave me a chance to work in the garden. I harvested and weeded and cleaned up plants under the hoop houses. Three big heads of Chinese cabbage, a gallon bag each of broccoli, mixed lettuces and Vitamin Greens (a leafy version of a bok choi green), found their way to the kitchen as well as a small pot of mixed greens from the plants needing pruning. Not bad for December 3rd. I recently added a layer of plastic to the long hoop house right on top of the row cover to give more protection and I can already see the benefits of larger harvests.

Though the biodynamic signs weren’t the best I couldn’t wait any longer to get more garlic in the ground since there is more rain in the forecast. I got 4 short double rows planted and hope to get the rest in before it rains tomorrow.

A busy autumn and a recipe to share

I have found myself thinking about writing a blog while working in the garden or weaving or cooking, wishing I had time to share this something or that something. I have done pretty well at writing myself notes with subjects to blog about. The Baked Fries recipe (see below) I am sharing a little later is one of those ideas. I hope there will be more spare time soon, now that the summer garden is close to being put to bed for the winter and the winter garden is on autopilot for the most part. But more on the garden in a minute. 

I have recently been working most days in my studio, weaving the new handbag design I’ve created, and which I’m really excited about. I hope to have 5 finished for my Studio Open House on November 5th and 6th. For more information on my Studio Open House and Garden Sale go to www.lacetree.com and click on News and Events. My new studio is finished and I’d love for you to come and see it. I’ll have my weavings available as well as other gifts and Young Living Essential Oils.

I will also have some things from the garden available out in the greenhouse. You’ll find such things as seeds and gourds, herb plants and cut herbs, as well as free information on the hoop houses I’ve been using for my winter gardens. Visit the hoop houses in the garden if the weather will allow, and please feel free to wander around our farm if you are inclined in that direction.  

As I said earlier, the summer garden is winding down, although there are still pepper, eggplant and zucchini plants out there. The zucchini, which I planted later in the summer, are under a row cover and have been producing pretty squash quite regularly despite the cooler temperatures.

The broccoli which my daughter, May, bought for me at Wal-mart in September, rewarded us with a couple of 8″ heads a few days ago, a record for my gardens. There are 3 more out there nearly ready to be picked. The cabbage caterpillers have found the older broccoli plants, one of which I planted in the spring of 2010 and wintered over last year and which is still pumping out good size sprouts. But so far they haven’t found the new plants.

One thing that didn’t go well for us this year was the Yukon Gold potatoes, which are usually reliable for us. They didn’t come up well in our very wet spring. We usually have some late blight, but this year I didn’t get them dug as soon as I should have, so we have a small yield and some bad spots on them.

Anyway, we have had to eat them quickly and they won’t last until spring like they usually do. Bummer. One of our favorite ways to eat them is Baked Fries. This recipe works well with sweet potatoes, too, which, by the way, did well for us this year and are actually better for you, I have heard.

Baked Fries

Nonstick spray

2 large potatoes (~1 lb.)

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp. paprika

1/4 tsp. pepper

Lightly spray a cookie sheet or large stoneware bar pan with Nonstick spray. Cut potatoes into thin “fries”. A layer at a time, put the fries into a bowl and lightly spray with Nonstick spray (olive oil or butter spray both work well, but any will do) and toss after each layer to get the potatoes evenly coated. Mix the rest of the ingredients, adding cayenne or red pepper flakes or any other seasonings you prefer. Add the cheese mixture a little at a time and toss the potatoes until lightly coated. (I save what I don’t use in the refrigerator  for the next batch rather than putting on too much. You can even make a double batch of the cheese mixture so you have some on hand for a quick batch on another day.)

Arrange potatoes in a single layer on the pan and bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until golden and tender, turning once. Season with salt.

Next time I’ll tell you why we think we got such a good crop of sweet potatoes, and, by the way, it isn’t too late to plant some spinach and lettuce. I’ll post some photos of my hoop houses and give a link to information on how to make one.

Roller Coaster

It has been over a month since my first and only blog entry and I have been on a roller coaster since then. The spiritual retreat I was leaving to attend was one of the most amazing and uplifting weekends I can remember. It had quite an impact on me!

Soon after it became apparent I would need to travel again to my parents home in Iowa, and in a whirlwind trip I flew out, packed up all the belongings my mom and dad wanted us to keep in our Kentucky family homes before they sold the rest, and then drove over 16 hours straight in a rental truck with a 15 foot bed. Whew!

Getting back to some semblance of normal has been my goal since my return. I woke this morning with a new handbag design buzzing around my mind so I’m glad I’ve relaxed enough to get the creative juices flowing again.

I have spent the last several days doing my homework for my next Peer Advisory session with Kathleen O’Brien next week. I’ve done a lot of planning and organization to get my weaving business on the road again with style.

You might be interesting in seeing the work I’ve done on my Lacetree Weaving web site, which you can see at http://lacetree.com/ , which, though not complete, has several events you might be interested in attending. I have a piece in a Gathering Artists collaborative exhibit, called the Red Thread Project, at the Community Arts Center in Danville, KY in October through mid November. And you can come see my new studio and our farm during the Lacetree Weaving Studio Open House and Garden Sale on November 5th and 6th. I hope to have several of the new style handbag available by then. Please check out the News and Events page on my web site for more information.

The summer garden is winding down and I’ve cleared some of it for winter. Soon the summer garden will be put to bed with either mulch or cover crops. I will write a blog soon on fall and winter gardening and hoop houses, two subjects dear to my heart. It isn’t too late to look into planting for fall and winter crops.

Until then, love and light, Fox

Thoughts on weaving, gardening and being Fox

In an effort to bring various aspects of my life together in a more integrated fashion, I am beginning this blog today on my dear husband’s birthday.

My weaving studio, Lacetree Weaving, is installed in the new addition to our house and things are moving along nicely. I soon will be finishing up my piece for the Red Thread Project, a Gathering Artists exhibit at the Community Arts Center in Danville in October and November.This blog is part of the homework I’ve been working on from my session with Kathleen O’Brien, a Peer Advisor with the Kentucky Arts Council. She is helping me put a new face on my company and pointing me in a positive and energetic direction.

The garden is producing well and yesterday netted salsa nicely lined up in pint jars, okra flash frozen in bags and marinated roasted Carmen Italian peppers flash frozen in cupcake shapes to grace our winter dishes. Seedlings in the fall and winter garden are doing well, but take daily care. They are covered with row cover cloth to keep the insect and mammal pests out.

I’ll need help from the birthday boy to keep things watered for the next few days as I am attending a spiritual retreat. “Being Fox” or more accurately “being my Self” is my daily goal and this retreat is a break from the day-to-day distractions to help me find out how to better be me.