For Dragonflies And Me

  (Snover, Michigan)
Enjoy the everyday life I love to live!
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Farmers Markets & Foodshed's, Succession Planting and Three Yummy Farmer's Market Recipes!

What's a Foodshed you ask?  Most people who call themselves Localvore's, Foodies or the like will probably be familiar with this term, but for those of you who are not, here is a brief description and how you can make or find one!  *Though it may be unfamiliar, the term "foodshed" was used almost 80 years ago in a book entitled How Great Cities Are Fed (Hedden, 1929) to describe the flow of food from producer to consumer. Seven decades later, the term was used to describe a food system that connected local producers with local consumers (Kloppenburg et al., 1996). In this project, the general definition of a foodshed is a geographic area that supplies a population center with food. However, the Mapping Local Food Systems Project focused specifically on potential local foodsheds, areas of nearby land that could theoretically provide part or all of a city's food needs (Peters, 2007).
*Used from Cornell University web site, 2012
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Herbs: Planting, Tips and Varieties and a few Herb Recipe's!

The end of the month... we are already through one third of this year... I certainly cannot believe how fast time keeps moving on.  Our farms winter market is over ~ 21 weeks have flown by and now the regular season farmers market which will consume the next 29 weeks our lives begins... Gardening and farming will soon take up much of each day.  I love this time of year and the feeling of exhilaration that comes along with it.  In the next few entries here at Dragonflies, I will be focusing on Herbs. We will be able to start putting out all those goodies in the gardens, decorating our porches and patios and adorning our flower beds with boundless blossoms... my favorite time of year!  [Read More]
 
 

More on Companion Planting & Beneficial Bugs, Crafty Spring Sachet, Yummy Spring Dishes Radish Chive Spread and Sorrel Soup!

Evan and I picked rhubarb and asparagus today... so fun! He enjoys being outside helping so much, it is such a blessing. The other day when we were in the front garden hoeing he and Ryan were picking up all the weeds putting them in buckets to dump... well Evan wanted to do more, so there he goes with my hoe diligently working away at some weeds 'mom missed'... Hard work is something that needs to be nurtured in them while young, and when we can make it fun they want to be with us!  I am working hard at teaching these children all about gardening and feeding themselves... companion planting is an important part of this process, especially for the Organic gardener.
     
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Houseplant Tips, Season Planting Guild, Name Bookmarks and Yummy Spinach Pie!

'Tis planting time! How joyous this time is for all us gardener's!  Gardening is a relief to my soul from the hum drum of life and all the expectations that surround me.  I love to care for all these little plants... nurture them... watch them grow and flourish... and then eventually harvest delicious food that feeds my family... use all the flavorful fresh herbs as well as dry some for winters use...  make lovely bouquets through the season that adorn our home!  Life is good, then you garden!  This month I am going to focus on giving some planting tips, harvesting advise, dividing and transplanting guild lines along with all the fun entertaining & gift ideas and of course lot's more yummy recipes! So sit back and enjoy from my home to yours!

I am probably not the most likely person to be giving Houseplant Tips, but I decided to give it a shot anyway.  Taylor likes them and I have had great success with my Jade Trees- they require very little care.  Recently Taylor & I were at a house warming party and I noticed the hostesses giant African Violets! I didn't even know they got that big!  Anyway, I asked if they were some new hybrid variety or something. No she said, they were not.  I marveled and said I have only ever killed them no matter what I tried- by the way, I have never read anything on them prior to this, so I probably didn't care that much anyway, but these enormous plants amazed & intrigued me.  This sparked a lively conversation on the plants & what tips several of the others had. So here are some Do's & Dont's to African Violet Care, I hope they help!
*Do:
~ water them from the bottom by using a deep set plant saucer, using hot water.                                        ~ crush washed eggs shells and put in a bowl with hot water and set the pot in it until all water is      absorbed- this gives them needed calcium.
~ Let them totally dry out and then water deeply.
~ Put them in a window where they will have indirect light.
*Don't:
~ever water the leaves.
~water with cold water- they are tropical plants.
~dead head- remove spent flowers.
These are just a few of the tips that I thought were most prosperous!

As I mentioned above I have had great success with Jade Trees.  They do not require a lot of care and grow to size according to the pot you put them in. My tree is about 3 feet tall and the trunk is about 6 inches in diameter.  It is quite beautiful and it gets a lot of ooooh's and ahhh's when friends come over. Although I will say, mine is small compared to some that I have seen.  Jade Trees are very easy to propagate- make new plants from. You can use one of three very easy methods, here they are-
1. Simply take a branch that is about 5-6 inches long and put it in a glass of warm water.  Give it clean water every 4-5 days and watch for little root hairs to start.  After it gets several root hairs plant in a pot with potting mix and watch it grow!
2. Take a branch as described above, but go ahead and bury about half of it directly in a pot with potting mix; Be sure to strip leaves off of the buried part; keep watered and moist to stimulate root growth.  Within about two to three weeks you will notice new leaves coming out of the stem.  In the meantime some of the original leaves may wither and fall off- don't give up it will live!
3. If you only have a small plant and want to grow more but there aren't any 'branches' to speak of, you can still propagate.  Take a leaf and lay on top of a pot of potting mix with the stem tip slightly in the dirt; keep moist, do not let it dry out- but don't soak; a slight misting regularly will be good in between watering's.  You will be amazed at fast it will take root and start growing.
      
It is time to start thinking about planting garden with all the early spring things that are readily available to you.  Here is a basic Planting Guild that will help you get the basics in your veggie garden through planting season.
Early Spring- that means now! Peas, onions, potatoes, lettuce, radish, spinach and chard.
Mid- Spring- around the end of April to mid May- Beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, fennel. You can also do a reseeding of lettuces and radishes to keep a steady supply.
Late Spring- after the last predicted frost- end of May, typically- Beans, corn, cucumbers, melons, squash, and pumpkins.  Some things you need to grow as plants at this time, not seeds- eggplant
, peppers, tomatoes and sweet potatoes. Plant your herb plants now too.

If a light frost does touch your late Spring crops you can save them by taking a watering can and sprinkle all the plants BEFORE the sun touches them.  Once the sun touches the plants they are burned and will more than likely die.  Certain things will only get tip burned- lettuce, chard, radishes, spinach and potatoes. These things will grow out of it if they had their true leaves.  Seedlings will need to be sprinkled.
Another easy way to prevent frost damage is to cover with light sheets, or if you want to be fancy, you can purchase 'fabric row cover' from green house supply companies.  Most seed catalogs even offer it now, but sheets work just fine for the small home gardener.  Do not cover with plastic though unless you have a way to prevent it from touching the plants.  The plastic on the plants will cause them to be tip burned as well.

A friend of mine makes these charming Bookmarks for all her family members and friends.  They are really special yet simple and easy to make.  She takes the persons name and puts a Bible verse next to each letter as it pertains to it.  I have attached a photo of it for you to get the idea. She laminates them so they will have a longer life and this adds a professional look to them. 

Yummy Spinach Pie
The spinach is in abundance right now and what else do you do with it except add into salads or steam you might be asking.  Well spinach is loaded with iron and is very tasty in many recipes including Italian Wedding Soup, quiches and lasagna.  Here's one more to add to your spinach recipe folder!

6 cups  baby spinach from The Garden Gate
, trimmed
1/4 cup sweet onion from Garden Gate, chopped
2 eggs from Garden Gate, beaten
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated Colby jack cheese
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp. salad dressing
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. celery salt

1.  Rinse spinach; chop and place in a large saucepan over medium- high heat; Cook covered for about 3-5 minutes, or until wilted; Drain, pressing out as much of the liquid as possible.
2.  Combine remaining ingredients; fold into spinach.
3. Spoon mixture in a well greased 9" pie plate; bake at 375 degrees for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Happy Day,
Jean

   



                                                         
 
 

Planting A Spring Garden, Checking your soil, Cold Frames, and yummy Cheddar & Onion Pie!

"In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous." Aristotle

It's still winter, can you believe it?  We were sitting on the front porch last evening watching the lightning and listening to the thunder claps & rain.  I had been working in my flower beds & cleaning up the yard running around all day bare foot! I can handle this kind of winter any day of the week.  I planted some Rhubarb Chard & Golden Chard today in the raised beds in the front garden.  They will be able to handle a frost and even a bit of snow~ although I will cover them if we get some of the white stuff. About 4 years ago we had a snow storm on Easter, after all we live in Michigan and anything can happen.  But today I was bare foot and that's all that I care about. 

But on to the topic at hand~ planting.  What can you get away with planting right now you ask. Well there are a few things that will tolerate light frosts and even a light snow. So if you want to live life with some adventure here are a few things you can go ahead and try if you have a garden site that the soil is 'fit' to plant in. By fit I mean that it is not too wet. To check your soil, take a hand full of soil and squeeze it into a ball. If it doesn't hold it's shape then it is dry enough, if it stays in a wad then it is too wet, wait a bit longer.  
Here are some things you can plant right now:
*Spinach, Chard, Scallions, Peas, Radishes, Lettuces such as May Queen, Butter Crunch, Merriville de'Four Seasons, Green or Red Deer Tongue, Lolla Rosa to give you a few ideas.  
As I mentioned above, if we do happen to get some serious snow, than you might want to cover your seedlings.  Most of these things will tolerate and even taste better with a bit of snow & frost, the worst that will happen is the tips will get burned looking and a bit ugly. That is easy enough to snip off before you cook it though.  Also, please remember I live in the Thumb of Michigan, so these are tips for folks who live in similar climates.

If you are serious about wanting to have early spring garden stuff or even would like to experiment with the cold winter months, than look into building a Cold Frame.  The best book out there for this type of info is Eliot Coleman's "Four-Season Harvest". There are many styles to choose from starting with a simple straw bale structure to an elaborate glass pained wooden structure with hinges. The following information is adapted from Four Season Harvest.
*There are two parts to a cold frame- the sides & top.  "The sides can be made of almost any material- boards, concrete blocks, bales of hay, logs...." according to Coleman. He recommends boards, but they all work.
*The tops need to be for the light! You can use old storm windows, wooden frames with plastic sheeting adhered to it or anything that will cover the top and be translucent enough to let the light shine in.
*"Traditional home garden cold frames measure 4 to 6 feet front to back and are 8 to 12 feet long.  They are laid out with the long dimension running east to west. the frame should be just tall enough to clear the crops you plan to grow.  In the standard design, the back walls 12 inches height and the front wall 8 inches high, so that there is a slight slope to the south," according to Coleman.
*The tops can be hinged or just set on. But either way I would personally recommend putting weights on each of the four corners to prevent them from flying off in high winds. 
These are just a few basic steps in building your own cold frame. Again to get greater detail & design drawings refer to Coleman's book or Google it!

Who says onions are just for salad & burgers?  Try this delicious savory onion & cheddar pie!
Cheddar & Onion Pie

2 Cups crackers crushed, Club crackers are very good
1/2 cup butter, melted
2  each red & yellow onions from Garden Gate, sliced thin
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp. Creole Seasoning mix
2 eggs from Garden Gate, beaten
1 cup Cheddar Cheese , shredded

1.  Combine cracker crumbs with butter; set aside one cup.  Press remaining crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9" deep dish pie plate.
2. Saute onions in oil until transparent and tender, about 10 minutes.
3. Spread drained onions over crust.
4. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine milk and seasoning; without bringing to a boil, cook until heated through.  Turn off heat; stir in eggs and cheese.  Continue to stir until cheese melts.  Spoon over onions; top with reserved crumb mixture.
5. Bake at 325 degrees for about 40-45 minutes- until eggs are set. 

Happy Day,
Jean
 
 

Raised Bed Gardening, Plant Container Ideas, Yummy Savory Garden Cornmeal Pancakes and more...

"We do not see nature with our eyes, but with our understandings and our hearts."  William Hazlitt

Has Spring sprung?  it surely does feel like it.  I was talking to a friend this morning about the Robin spotting (other day's blog)  and she said her Snow Drops were blooming.  Come Spring come!  This year I am putting in a new raised bed garden over by our barn hill that will be specifically for Neil's sausages!  I am so excited about growing and drying all the herbs. Raised beds are such an easy way to go for anyone, especially if you don't have a large area.   If you want to have a no fuss, no muss garden try raised beds, they require very little maintenance and can grow almost everything! 

Raised Bed tips on how to make & grow!
*The lumber you use should be at least 10" high or higher if you want it. Although for proper root growth this is the minimum. 
*Do NOT use old rail road ties, no matter how many you get for free- they contain a poison called Creosote that will leach out into your soil, be taken up by the roots of your plants, nourish the plant and you get all the by-product in the fruit that it bears when YOU eat it! Yuck!  Stay away from treated lumber for the same reasons.  (this pertains only to those who want to grow organically!)
*Your raised beds can be as long as you want them to be, but the best width is 4' wide.  With this width you can easily 'reach' in from both sides.  You never want to 'step in' your RB, this compacts the soil, which makes proper root growth more difficult.  My farms RB's are either 4'x4' or 4'x8', these work best for me.
*Find a sunny location in your yard and decide how many you would like, or should I say how many would fit :-) !  I would not have a stitch of grass if I didn't have boys that need 'play space'!
*Fill your box with from the bottom up with a mixture of well rotted manure, compost, old grass clippings, hay or straw and top with a rich, loamy soil. 
*After you have your box filled with all the plants you want to grow, put a layer of newspaper (NOT colored print sections) about 3-4 sections thick between your plants, top with a layer of grass clippings or straw to act as a mulch. You will have virtually NO weeding!
*Water thoroughly and enjoy your hard work! 
For a very concise book on Raised Bed gardening I always recommend 'Lasagna Gardening' by Patricia Lanza.  I also recommend companion planting with all your growing ventures. I use Louise Riotte's, 'Carrots Love Tomatoes'.  Both these books will give you a great start to your gardening ventures.

Other nifty ideas for plant containers:
1.  Old galvanized chicken feeder or waterers, tin buckets, watering cans, old metal double burner caners (see picture) enamel ware anything... be sure to put drainage holes on the bottom- unless there it is well rusted and has time worn ones, even better!
2.  Wheel barrow's or old wagons can be found at any flea market or garage sale.  You can either put the plant pots directly in the containers or fill em' with dirt and direct plant.  Either way, totally adorable!
3.  Barrels or metal wash tubs are great as well.  I have a old half barrel at my back door with a bleeding heart in it.  When it is in full bloom it is simply stunning. 
4. Old drawers, crates or even an old wooden trough (yes I have had one).  These work great in your garden's to add depth and interest.  You can plant anything in them. 
The idea's are endless, if it has a hole to put dirt in you can plant it, just depends on your taste!  The key to successful container gardening is proper drainage.
*One more tip- to save on dirt when filling very large containers, recycle packing peanuts, old broken Terra cotta pots, small plastic pots, etc.  Put these in the bottom of your container until about half filled, then pour on the dirt!  They will also be much lighter if you need to move them!

Here's a yummy recipe using Taylor's Cornmeal Pancake Mix!
Taylor's Savory Garden Cornmeal Pancakes
1 Pkg. Taylor's Bake Shoppe Cornmeal Pancake Mix - follow instructions and add to batter:
1 cup niblet corn, drained                                                  

1/4 cup diced bell pepper (any color
1/2 cup diced red onion, from Garden Gate                        

  1 small carrot, peeled & sliced

1/2 tsp Taco Seasoning    

1/4 oil

1. Stir together all ingredients except oil. 
2. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.  Drop batter by 1/3 cupfuls into hot oil.  Cook 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown.
Garnish with fresh chopped Cilantro, sour cream and Salsa !
Happy Day,
Jean

 
 
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