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Sunday, March 23, 2014

From Lawn to Garden (Post 8)

We were blessed with yet another gorgeous day while my husband had off-- Praise the Lord! Sadly my little buddy has a fever so we are home for church and all just hanging out and quietly occupying ourselves today which does mean I can catch up on the progress we've made.
Inside the house we have put out our Easter decorations (please excuse some of the bunnies missing ears) which makes me very happy as its such a wonderful day to celebrate that Christ rose again and He is alive! Our inside seedlings are also doing quite well. We transplanted our cabbage plants into their own containers and they survived the transplants and continue to flourish. I have to be honest, I've never particularly cared for cabbage before but after all this nurturing and care I am actually looking forward to eating some. I think my kids are in the same boat-- they've always loved their veggies but this year they are anticipating them like never before. because they are theirs and they have helped out with growing and tending them. Its pretty cool.
We have had to move some plants to the basement to get them to sprout quickly and this has encouraged even our most stubborn plants to get moving. If you do this just check on them frequently because once they do sprout they will grow very long stems in search of the light and this could weaken your plants.
Now going outside, we have planted some peas in the ground and we will just watch them very closely as this week our area may get snow. I didn't start all our peas and later this week when it warms up a teeny bit again hope to get the rest in the ground as more trellises are almost completed.
We have been practicing Dave Ramsey's envelope system for saving up for things that we know we would need adhering to his mantra of it will be a blessing not a burden when you make the purchase and we frugally saved up and sold things on ebay for our picnic table. This one actually was lower than what we budgeted, so we got some outdoor rugs as well:
While I scurried around and took these pictures heres where our little guy was hanging out as daddy was trimming back my rose bush. The rose bush needs to go as each year it just grows and grows and bottom line, its taking up valuable space where we can grow food so it's slowly meeting it's demise. On a different note, can you believe this little cutie pie is almost 11 months? He is so busy and has loved being outside-- he is normally right besides me playing in the dirt or with his own shovel-- love it! "Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it." Proverbs 22:6
In addition to all of the yard work and beds that need prepared for vegetables and fruit, we also have a great deal of painting to tackle after a long winter and the kitchen remodel last fall.
Thankfully the porch has a new coat of paint on it (do you like the shade of green-- my four year old helped me pick it out) but the rear of the house needs doors, wall exterior, and trim all done. Little by little and by God's grace we will get it done. After a long day of working together and tackling projects, we were blessed by some family visitors and even got to celebrate my brother's 25th birthday with him!
Grandma was also up and snuggled our little man who wasn't feeling well and for a brief moment a very busy baby.
Very thankful to see our garden progress and for the added blessing of time with loved ones! Hope you all had a great time enjoying the recent beautiful weather!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Golden Years

Tonight as I was making dinner I glanced into the dining room and saw two of my children happily playing Bingo together while my youngest chewed on some toys nearby and my oldest was singing in the shower. My house seemed so ful of love and joy and family and togetherness. Right then I took a mental picture since I never want to forget the moment. The moment when our home is overflowing with noises, giggles, chatter, songs, thumping, and just overall filled with the melody of life with four kids under one small little roof. I felt so blessed. My heart was just overflowing. Don't get me wrong, we have our days and I mean days where things are crazy but I do stop myself and remember soon our house will be quiet. Our children will grow. We won't have sticky handprints to clean, mountains of laundry to fold, shoes to tie, teeth to brush, diapers to change.... It'll one day be behind my husband and I. Can I be honest? I feel like these are my golden years. These years when my husband and I have a full, loud, chaotic, and joyful home... These are the days I will treasure in my heart. I have to be honest it's not always easy to stop and enjoy the moments and sounds and accidents and drama... But when I do, I feel immeasurably blessed by God. He has given us so much and I am so thankful that we can stop and enjoy and savor our golden years of a full nest. " Slow down, we've got time left to be lazy - All the kids have bloomed from babies into flowers in our eyes - We've got fifty good years left to spend out in the garden - I don't care to beg your pardon, we should live until we die" fun. The gambler

Saturday, March 15, 2014

From Lawn to Garden (Part 7)

If you are new to this series, you might want to begin with our first part here.
I am very excited to share our garden map-- this is what works best for us (or what we have planned will work best for us) and obviously your plan would be tailored to your families yard layout and your vegetable preference. I highly recommend taking an evening to sit down with your seeds and just draw out a map as this is great for referencing when more than one person is working at a time and that way when you are planting you won't need to stop and see what is a good companion or bad companion pairing.
Also, we had the sweet pleasure of swapping some seeds with some fellow gardeners and we are excited to add arugula, a vine spinach (sounds very intriguing and is supposed to be extremely productive), and a bean bush plant. They also suggested we begin keeping our seeds stored in the fridge to ensure viability for years to come. And now, I am pleased to show you how well our cabbage is doing:
They are doing so well and its hard to believe that just last month they were little teenier sproutlets!
Our spinach is also flourishing. I will say again, DO NOT start your plants in egg cartons-- the cartons suck up all the water and we have to water these plants the most frequently. The recycled plastic containers that you see all of the other plants growing in have all been performing ten times better!
Thankfully the sun showed up today for these pictures and for us to get a lot of much needed work done! In the back left of the picture you'll see our artichokes which are very thick sprouts. We are skeptically optimistic about growing these as they can be a bit tricky, but they are a perennial. To the right of those are some tall thin sprouts which are our broccoli. I only have two of these going as they will be a much better fall crop so we will probably plant the bulk of our broccoli in early summer to reap the harvest in fall. The other teeny sprouts are our winter thyme. I just love saying their name-- it always makes me smile!
Don't you love that little meatball who snuck in the pictures? Our countertop corner is being overcome by seedlings and we are actually loving it. The kids love turning them and checking their leaf and root progress. Since we are studying botany this year its been a great hands on learning time.
Because a lot of our peppers will be in containers, we just brought the containers in and have started them inside in their pots. This is making me a little nervous as the kids can get to the pots and knock them over-- also it seems like such a big space for such tiny seeds, but we have a few sprouts and I have a few seeds started in containers still just in case. And now, FINALLY.. we go outside!!!!!
The older kids helped dad with a foundation for our pole bean trellis. They loved using the saw and doing the math to see where the middle of the beam was. Our ten month old was just happy to be outside-- I hear ya buddy!
After we sawed the beam, we needed our galoshes or rubbers or rain boots or gardening boots-- however you say it our yard has a ton of mud and so we considered it a worthwhile investment to head to Wal-Mart the other day and pick a pair up for everyone. We got standard black so we can just pass them on from kid to kid as they grow. I love seeing all our boots all lined up and muddy and together and just representation of us all doing this together! What a blessing that our kids are loving this just as much as we are!
Okay the next project kind of evolved as the day went on. We have 2x1 beams which I will get back to, but under the wood beams along the left of the walkway you'll notice its lined with bricks. We decided to pull the bricks out so as to increase our growing area along the path as we plan to grow our peas there. Once we saw how many bricks came out of the ground (seriously it did not seem like that much when they were all lined up but when we piled them up- phew! quite a bunch) we thought they might make a nice raised bed. So a fast trip the hardware store for some mortar and we were ready to make our little raised bed for just the price of the mortar bag which was 6 dollars! My older children and I decided we had read three little pigs enough and my husband graciously gave the three of us the green light to try our hand while he completed the pea trellises. So, I wouldn't say its the most aesthetic job around, but Im pretty sure it will hold and best part, the kids did it with me. I did the mortar and they laid the bricks. They loved it! I mean seriously, they loved it so much and we still have more bricks left that they asked if we could do another one! I think next time I'll even let them have a go at the mortar (and yes don't worry, we had gloves, safety equipment, etc.). Now, back to my husband's pea trellis...
We still need to add the twine between the two beams, but if you look closely you can see screws lined up where we will tie lines so we can grow our peas. The funny thing is that our neighbor on that side of the fence hates just grass so much she filled her yard with stones. A complete yard of stones next to a yard that will be producing food for a big family-- I hate to say it but I see one of these yards as a big waste of space and resources. Okay, off my soapbox and moving on just a few more shots from our productive and bountiful day...
We have still been collecting and saving our egg shells. Our bounty is growing that's for sure! We also picked up this nice mid size wheel barrel and it came in handy almost immediately! One day during school our Bible lesson included a passage from Psalm 65 and it has become our prayer for our garden: 8 The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy. 9 You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it.[d] 10 You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops. 11 You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance. Have a wonderful week and we'd love to hear how you are getting ready for this years garden, what you're growing, or if you have any questions, please ask :)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

From Lawn to Garden Post 5 and Popsicles

This past week right before our family got hit with the flu big time we were able to start some pepper seeds.
My daughter, the baby, and I planted them in pots that we swiped from the backyard as the plan right now is to grow our peppers all in containers. Typically our plants don't grow so big that this option wouldn't work for us; however, my parents pepper plants always seem to dominate their garden in which case this would not be a good option. These larger pots are in a sunny spot in our bathroom where the only problem has been a four year old forgetting they are not step stools. If you look in the top right of the photo you can see our spinach sprouts doing their thing and growing at last. I know I said this before but the egg cartons were a big mistake as they dry much faster and absorb so much water-- hence why we haven't gone this route for any other seedlings.
It is a bit disappointing that we still have so much snow on the ground when we are so eager to get outside and begin preparing the yard. Sigh. We have all been watching lots of online videos on gardening and learning as much as we can. Just today my four year old said to me, "Mom, the plant picture you gave me to color was missing the root hairs so I added some." Ah my little budding botanist!
I am very thankful for this lovely little lady. She bravely volunteered to share her special afternoon snack with her 10 month old baby brother.
Suffice it to say it was love at first bite.
He looks like a little baby vampire here-- cracks me up! Gosh he just looks so big here! My husband keeps reminding me he will be one next month and I'm doing the mature thing and plugging my ears and pretending I cant hear him because that's a reality this momma isn't ready for just yet!
Can you believe this was a year ago?!! I was thinking how last march we were anxiously awaiting our little mister mister and this year we are waiting to begin the garden BUT we already have our cute little baby and I am so happy we are where we are now. Even if he might turn one next month...