Tag Archives: Gardening

Now that my garden is put to bed I can concentrate on other ‘gardening’ activities inside. Forcing bulbs inside is a good way to have blooming flowers mid winter. They also make a great present, who wouldn’t appreciate a gift of bulbs when the world is white outside! Tulips, narcissus, hyacinths, crocus and lily of the valley can be forced into flower in late winter or early spring.  A pot of tulips on your windowsill in February can brighten your spirits!

It is a good idea to keep the same variety in one pot as the blooming times often vary. Bulbs are also planted much closer together than you plant them outside. With the exception of narcissus bulbs, bulbs must be given a cold temperature of 35-48 degrees F for a minimum of 12-14 weeks. You can either keep them in a cold frame, an unheated attic or cellar or even a refrigerator!  In the refrigerator the pots should be covered with plastic bags that have a few holes punched in them.

Since I didn’t want to have to put my bulbs in a cold spot for weeks, I am gong to force paper white narcissus bulbs. I found some very healthy looking bulbs at the local nursery.

First I rinsed the gravel to get rid of the dust. I filled each of my bowls with gravel about 2/3rds full. I then nestled the bulbs in the gravel ½ to 1 inch apart, placing the pointed side up.  Then fill in gravel around the bulbs, leaving the top halves exposed. Place them in good light and add water up to the base of the bulbs. Keep the water level at this height.  I then placed the pots in a cool area. Within a few days roots will appear. When green shoots appear, move the pot to a cool, sunny spot. Sit back and watch them grow and bloom. It’s nice to enjoy a little bit of spring color for your home when everything outside is covered with snow!

 

fall, garden

Fall garden all cut back.

“Fall is not the end of the gardening year; it is the start of next year’s growing season.”
Thalassa Cruso

Some years I never get around to doing a full fall clean up of the gardens. This year almost everything is cleaned up. I really have to thank my mom for giving me a weekend of help! She came for a visit several weeks ago and we spent a good portion of the weekend cutting back the flower beds. I have one small flower bed to still cut back but the rest is cut back and cleaned up! What a wonderful feeling.

All the decaying plant material has been moved to our compost heap, which will help to keep the garden free of insects and diseases. I have weeded the strawberry beds and covered them with straw to protect them over the long cold winter. I have also added some composted manure to the rhubarb bed and covered it with straw. As I mentioned in a previous blog my garlic is planted and mulched. I even dug up my two rosemary plants and brought them inside for the winter. Nothing like a little fresh rosemary in the middle of winter!!

strawberry bed, fall garden, weeding

Fall strawberry bed.

strawberry bed, mulch, fall garden

Strawberry bed all mulched.

The last thing we did was to empty our compost bin that is close to our kitchen, into the garden. It was amazing to see the beautiful black compost! Once all these chores were complete we let the chickens have free range of the vegetable garden! They love it and in just a few weeks will have scratched every bit of garden soil. The surface of the garden will look like we’ve had a miniature rototiller busy at work! They eat up any weeds that have sprouted and pick up any lose bits of plant material. Plus it’s just fun to watch them busy at work.

compost, fall garden, chickens

Chickens enjoying the compost pile!

compost, fall garden,

Compost pile a day later.

 

Now the snows can come, my garden is wonderfully cleaned up and ready to face the winter. Before I know it those seed catalogs will begin arriving in the mail. I can sit by our woodstove and plan next years garden!

winter, garden, snow

The winter garden.

I haven’t grown garlic in years but this year I got my act together and managed to get some planted in the garden before the real snow! I purchased some locally grown garlic so it should do very well in my garden. There are two main types of garlic. Stiffneck and soft neck.  Stiffneck garlic plants send up a false flower stalk in the spring called a scape. Stiffneck garlic bulbs usually contain 5-7 large cloves. Softneck garlic plants do not produce a scape, and generally contain a dozen or more relatively small cloves. I planted the stiff neck variety. Garlic is multiplied by vegetative reproductions rather than by seeds. Individual garlic cloves are planted and they each produce a bulb. The nice thing about planting garlic is that it is planted in the fall, it’s out of sync with other crops. Garlic requires a cold treatment for about two months to induce bulbing. You want to give the garlic enough time to form roots but not enough time to form leaves! Our fairly mild fall gave me the opportunity to plant my garlic.

I pulled all the weeds from one of my raised beds and removed the various little stones that seem to pop up every year. First thing I did was to break each garlic set into its cloves, just like you do when you are going to cook them. Then I planted each clove, root side down every 5-6 inches apart. Each clove was pushed into the ground about 4 inches and then covered with dirt. I didn’t want the frost to pop them out of the ground. Once the garlic was all planted I mulched the bed with a nice layer of straw. Hopefully each of those cloves will grow into a nice, plumb garlic bulb! Now to be patient.

In the late spring the scapes should develop. These should be removed to retain the plant’s resources for bulb formation. The scapes are edible! Something new to try! I won’t be able to harvest my garlic until the lower leaves begin yellowing from the tips on down, usually in July. Ideally you want the bulbs to have attained their maximum size but the cloves have not started to separate, this way they will store better. I will let the bulbs air dry where they are protected from the sun. Then they will be ready to store.

 

 

Well my intention today was to get outside and finish putting the gardens to bed. Snow is in the forecast and I really like to have everything cut back and cleaned up before the first snowfall. I worked outside yesterday in my flower beds and just about finished my work but today was going to be spent in the vegetable garden. I need to take down the blueberry net, move the garden stakes to the barn, cut back the remaining perennials and do a general clean up. However it’s raining and yes did I mention snow is in the forecast! Not exactly the type of day I want to spend outdoors, I’d much rather sit with the dogs and enjoy the warmth of the woodstove!

Instead I will soak some dried beans in preparation for canning them tomorrow. I have several jars of dried beans on hand and I want to can them so they will be ready for a quick meal. I’ve not done this before so we will be experimenting together! I will have to use the pressure canner but the process sounds simple.

For my faithful readers that would like to read about gardening today check out Prudent Living Magazine, I have written an article for this winter issue! Just click on the link on the PrudentLivingMagazine.com menu tab on the left. Hope you enjoy it. I’ll be back tomorrow with a lesson on canning dried beans.

 

 

Once you know your prices by keeping track of them in your price book you can begin to buy in bulk and work toward having a well-stocked pantry. When you have a well-stocked pantry you never need to worry about making those unexpected trips to the grocery store. Once you have a well-stocked pantry you will only need to stop at the store for produce, milk and the unbeatable sale that you can’t pass up. Stocking up saves money.

When planning to buy in bulk you must know the options for food buying in your area. Aside from the local grocery store there may be food co-ops, warehouse stores such as BJ’s or Sam’s or even local farmers. Be aware of the loss leader sale items, which appear on the front and back of sale flyers. These are meant to get you into the store and will usually beat any price in a wholesale store. Again, it is important to know your food prices so you can find the deals.

Bulk buying isn’t just for large families either; you just want to buy enough to get you to the next sale. Each family will buy according to their need. Be aware of expiration dates as well, no point in having a pantry stocked with items that are no longer good to eat! Buying in bulk will give you a well stocked pantry. There are many reasons to have a well stocked pantry. This past year we learned first hand the importance of having a well stocked pantry.

In December my husband was laid off. After the security of a steady income we faced the uncertainly of unemployment. It was a good feeling to know that we could eat from our pantry and spend a minimum amount on groceries during that time of unemployment. Thankfully after six months of unemployment my husband found a new job. In late August we experienced another interesting situation. Irene hit our area in Vermont hard. Not only were we without power for six days but also the roads were destroyed and travel was severely limited. To top it off we had a houseful of company that week, all four of our children as well as two spouses and our grand-daughter were visiting! Again we were blessed to have a well-stocked pantry. We ate well that week without having to worry about getting to the store.

 

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