For Dragonflies And Me

  (Snover, Michigan)
Enjoy the everyday life I love to live!
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Spring Jobs 'To Do List', Planning A Plant Exchange, Successful Plant Division and Yummy Chicken Paprika!

For me and I believe many others, Spring holds a promise for newness of life! It's when I look out and dream of new flower beds, anticipate the coming springs first crops of asparagus and rhubarb...savoring the memory of their here today, gone tomorrow presence. I scan the yard and think of all the jobs that I will have to get done as soon as nicer weather affords me time in my personal Eden. I anxiously await the first buds to pop on the lilacs... those small, brave tulips and daffodils, reaching up out of a cold, hard ground to the warming sunshine ready to burst forth into simple beauty! I love that first trip out to my potting shed after the winter... the smell and then the challenge of tidying up and reorganizing.  An early morning stroll through The Potager scanning for baby lettuces sprouting from scattered seeds... imagining the bounty and longing for my quiet time that I am able only to have in my gardens. If you are an avid gardener or if this is your first season in the dirt, lets look to those promises and plan on a great new gardening year!  Enjoy friends!
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Be Green Ideas, Nifty Bug Trap, Mailbox in the Garden and Yummy Spring Spinach Topped Tomatoes

Be Green Ideas, Nifty Bug Trap, Mailbox in the Garden and Yummy Spring Spinach Topped Tomatoes

Welcome me back!  Well I do apologize for being gone for awhile here at For Dragonflies... my computer was giving me some issues for a bit over a week and then we have been busy here planting all the good stuff that fills our farms CSA share boxes each week and provides the lovely spread at our market tables.  But this is one of my happy places and I am glad to return!  Right now at The Garden Gate we are very busy... raising piggies and chickens and getting the raised beds and field planted.  I love the busyness of this time of year... it is exhilarating for me... I feel refreshed and alive and cherish every moment I can be outdoors.  We just planted the raised beds outside the hoop house with chard & beets today... the cherry tomatoes, lettuces and basil are growing beautifully in the hoop house beds, the sausage garden raised beds are full and growing beautifully!  Green is good in more ways than one.  I will give you some fun ideas on how to be green that won't tax your time or wallet! 
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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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Window box Gardening, Easy Jewelry Magnets, Make Pillows with Old Shirts, Honey, Almond & Oats Granola and Yummy Spring Potato Salad!

Spring is such an exciting time of year... I love all the flowering trees and shrubs... in my opinion if it doesn't bloom at some point, why bother having it! Although I do admit the beautiful colors of Autumn in the fall with all the maples and other trees bursting forth in spectacular hues of orange, red, yellow and bronze is stunning as well... I welcome spring with open arms, dream for summer and long for fall...  
         
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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
 
 
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