Category Archives: solar

Seasonal Home

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The threat of frost for two nights this weekend kept Dean and I busy moving plants into their seasonal home Friday evening. Deanna Greens And Garden Art geraniums, perennials, succulents, and tomato plants were placed into their cold season home, our semi-heated garage with plant lights on a timer.  Our countryside greenhouse situated on Boone Hollow Farm near Defiance still does not have electricity running to it; therefore, no heat or fans blowing.  Greenhouses are naturally designed for solar source, although not adequate enough for heat in 1300 sq foot during Missouri’s winter.  We still want to invest in solar panels for added heat and run fans.  The prices for solar keeps declining, so maybe in the next year or so we can justify the expense.

Seasonal Home

On Saturday I dug up our herbs in the greenhouse bed.  Terra cotta pots of chives, parsley, sage, and cilantro set in my kitchen for culinary use. We had two volunteer grape tomato plants thrive in our compost bin late this summer into the autumn. They are loaded with fruit. The bin is huge and sets just outside the screenhouse side of our structure.  Overnight Friday the frost nipped the upper branches.  While at our greenhouse on Saturday, we dragged the bin into the all plastic side, protected from the crispy cold frost.  It is to warm up again this week, so not quite ready to hide under our make-shift tall tent of clear poly.  With our gardening experiment, we hope to eat homegrown grape tomatoes all winter.  See what happens.  If it works, maybe next summer we can build those cold frames in the greenhouse with more homegrown organic veggies to eat throughout the winter.  Seasonal homes come in many forms.  In a few short days I will share about a seasonal home for Dean and I and our guests … Exciting stuff!

Between Raindrops

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Raindrop Rain water, the necessity of plant and animal life hydrated the Missouri earth on several occasions this past 3-day weekend. Some rains were more like 15-minute storms, others were a steady soaking for an hour or so. “Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head” plays in my head, the beginning lyrics from an contemporary song written by Burt Bacharach in 1969 and played in the movie “Butch Cassidy And Sundance Kid”. It was the number one hit in 1970 with BJ Thomas singing it, and the song recently made Grammy Hall Of Fame status. I continued my gardening and farming chores in the rain, until the lightning brighten the cloudy sky and the thunder clapped with warning. Just 30 minutes ago it was blazing hot with the sunrays and humidity while planting my gourd seedlings. Before the lightning Dean managed to get another trellis tepee designed of repurposed metal poles, and placed in the ground for our gourds. We have luffa gourds on the outside, and bi-color pear gourds on the inside of one trellis tepees. On the other trellis teepee built last year, birdhouse gourds are on the outside with the hand dipper kind on the inside. Jude twine is weaved in between the poles for the runners to grab a hold of while the gourd plants grow. Monday afternoon’s storm came with much wind and heavy rain. Hopefully, the freshly planted gourd seedlings made it okay. We go back out to the Defiance farm on Thursday to observe and water the indoor plants. Fifteen miles from our residence, it is hard to say what it did at Boone Hollow Farm.
I repotted several fern planters into moss baskets while at home Monday afternoon. They now rest in the branches of our shade trees in our yard. Baby marigolds were planted to ward off insects. Now nestled inside a huge moss basket with the solar patio lanterns Dean has made near the backyard patio. More marigolds and zinnias await planting at the church rectory. Hail is forecasted with this evening’s storms, so we will continue to let these seedlings get stronger while in shelter on our front porch in their trays. Maybe this line of storms will move away by Thursday evening when time allows for more transplanted flowering plants in their “new home”. There is nothing like a refreshing rain.

Repurpose

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Writes author Doris Janzen Longacre,“Retrofitting is only a new angle on the old virtue: making do.” Same with the words “recycling”, “updo”, “repurpose”, “refurbish”, etc. My current read is Ms. Longacre’s book, Living More With Less written in 1979-1980. This Mennonite could have written this book today, and it’s practical advices still apply even much more so. I recommend this book. It is rethinking purchases, lifestyles, and purpose.
This book follows with Dean and I’s house and greenhouse story. We take something built years ago and make do. The modest house we live in is where I raised my three children most of their childhood. Grandchildren have lived in this house too. I have lived there for 28 years, and it will be paid off in a couple more years. The rooms are filled with memories, good as well as unpleasant. Post-divorce living and marriage to a wonderful man are always steps in the right direction. Dean and I hope to move to a house we can call our own. In the meantime colors and renovations change our current home, and more recently the living room and kitchen painted. A bungalow built in the 1930’s or 40’s is what we hope to find for our future home. There are many styles of bungalows, though the art & craft era are most appealing. Houses were built solid back then. Practical comfort and character the themes.
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“Adapting to nature is the oldest human art,” Doris Janzen Longacre writes. This would apply to my health dealing with the severe cold winter as well as our greenhouse, the green project we took on 2-1/2 years ago. “Green” efforts are ours on many accounts. Still no electricity to the structure, though we “make do”. We adapted our farming journey to more annual plants. Our garage houses heating pads and plant lights for our perennials during the colder months. Solar is becoming more affordable. If we wait long enough, we may even use our greenhouse year-round. The current 1,300 square-foot structure provides 7 months of growing space. We hope to have some raised beds with root cellar capabilities that allow veggies to endure an extra 2 or 3 months of Missouri’s colder weather like this most recent winter. Am I safe to say that yet? Are we done with winter?!

Autumn’s Alter-Ego

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A hard freeze tonight is in the weather forecast. Up until this week, we wondered when autumn was here to stay. Each night it gets colder. Farmer Dave from the 550 AM radio show says the growing season is offically over in Missouri. We have moved 95% our plants to the shelter of our home and garage in the past 2 weeks. The gourd vines are almost all dried up, so the big gourds will come off their shriveled, withered vines. They will sit in the screenhouse to collect mold on their skin to complete their curing process for future crafting projects during this winter. The little gourds will go to the farmers’ markets this weekend. Great autumn decorations for your harvest table. Our roma tomato plants will die off after tonight’s freeze. We have three huge tomato plants in portable planters, so they now grow under the plant lights of the garage. I wonder how long we will have our organic tomatoes this autumn and winter?! I forgot about my terra cotta planter sitting at the corner of our 1/4-acre plot at Boone Hollow Farm, greets us when we come up the hill to the greenhouse. It houses a solar light post and plants. The geranium, swedish ivy, and vinca may live their last day today. We will not make it the greenhouse tonight with our work schedules, watering, and securing light source for the other plants. But then maybe the solar light will provide a bit of heat to keep temperatures above freezing near the terra cotta plants? Dean and I learn more about caring for plants during the experience rather than just reading about it. Hands on learners. Our plants are science experiments. This blog is our gardening journal. With the crisp nights and early mornings come the glowing autumn foliage. This weekend is to be the peak color weekend. Autumn has an alter-ego I can live with.
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Succulents And Lanterns

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This Sunday I rest in the comforts of my own home. Feeling a bit under the weather, either late summer allergies or a summer cold. Hot coconut mango tea sweetened with agave nectar and lots water to drink. I decide to do some online research and networking. Planning for the Labor Day weekend, Deanna Greens And Garden Art returns to the Lake Saint Louis Farmers’ Market and Chandler Hill Vineyards Farmers’ Market after a 2-month sabbatical. We have enjoyed some weekends off during July and August, time with family and friends.


Established succulents such as the color-changing ghost plant and solar Mason jar lanterns will be featured. Here is some information on one of our succulents called the mother-of-pearl ghost plant: “Graptopetalum paraguayense Walther 1938 (Ghost Plant) – This species has rosettes of thickened, ovate purplish-grey leaves on thick, sprawling stems. Leaves fall off readily and may be used to propagate new plants. Small clusters of white flowers, with tiny red spots, are produced in the Spring. Known from a single locality up to 2500ft in the Mexican mountains and moderately hardy. The leaves are edible and used in Taiwan traditional medicine to regulate blood pressure.” This information is referenced from http://www.succulent-plant.com. Deanna Greens And Garden Art has pots and more terra pots of these. We also have a variety of Kalanchoe that has grown long and lanky, needs to be pruned. We will take those trimmings and propogate into more plants for next year. Our Christmas cacti have bloomed several times this year, and hope they will bloom during the holiday season this year. We were given a monster size aloe vera plant. This same above-mentioned website expands: “Aloe vera Burman fil. 1768 Syn. A. barbadensis, A. officinalis (Medicinal Aloe) – This species has been so widely naturalised and grown as a medicinal plant that its exact region of origin is a mystery. However, it’s origin was probably within the Arabian peninsula. Aloe vera is probably the best known Aloe and is of considerable economic importance. Extracts of the gel from the center of the leaves are included in all manner of pharmaceutical preparations for the skin, treatment of burns and for ingestion. However, some people have allergic reactions to substances in the yellow sap under the epidermis. The large (2 ft) blue-green, tapered, fleshy leaves forming a loose stemless rosette, have prominently toothed margins. The leaves of some clones are marked with white spots but this is a variable feature. The 2 – 3 ft inflorescence is a spike of golden-yellow tubular flowers. Some clones have orange flowers. Roots are fibrous and form a symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizal fungi.” Deanna Greens And Garden Art does not guarantee the medicinal claims of the above-mentioned website. We have a couple more jade plants as well. Our Mason jar lanterns are in design and hope to have a few finished for sale at the markets next weekend. Decorative art and alternative, a functional light source for your patio, yard, or garden. Come visit the Lake Saint Louis and Chandler Hill Vineyard Farmers’ Markets next weekend. Our Farmers’ Market page has the times and locations listed: https://deannagreensandgardenart.wordpress.com/farmers-markets/.

A Redo and Rendezvous Weekend

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Festival of the Little Hills
If you are new to this blog, welcome! So followers, how do you like the redo of the Deanna Greens And Garden Art blog? I love the color changes and artsy design of this theme with WordPress. The floral-paisley swirls, warm hues, ruffled and rough edges represent well the greenhouse, Dean, and Anna. I have found on my journaling journey how important art is to me. Colors, designs, ambiance, and emotion play important roles in this greenhouse adventure my husband, Dean and I embarked on 21 months ago. Yes, plants and art go together in my world. Yes, a love affair of sorts. Hence, the name of our business and this blog. Oh yes, sound structure and organic science are the foundations. But the unique pots & troughs, antique wooden crates & dressers, solar lights aglow, and this literary expression about the green life evolve into garden art.
So off to the Olde Town Spice Shoppe in 2 short hours. I will rendezvous with 300,000+ locals and visitors in historic St. Charles, Missouri for the Festival of the Little Hills this gorgoeus summer day today and Sunday. Herbs, spices, local honey, and specialty food items such as “Beef Dirt” and “Goose Poop” are some of the items to be sold while at work. Check out their website: http://www.oldtownspices.com. A fun store to visit, and great mail order service as well. The Festival of the Little Hills or as the French say Fête des Petites Côtes has been a St. Charles tradition for many years, drawing crafters in from afar as well as local. The rich culture of the French lives today. For more information take a gander at this link http://www.festivalofthelittlehills.com. I promise to write more about my adventures of the celebration this weekend.
What remodel, redo, repurpose, recycle project are you involved with and/or where will you rendezvous this weekend?

Remnants Of The North

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We had crisp mornings and evenings during our Minnesota vacation, as usual for the end of July into August. It is like Missouri’s September into October season. Apparently, Missouri has experienced the change in the air while we traveled back from the north country last weekend. The signs of autumn are in the air. Others feel it too. Talk of the “f” word, “frost” was on the 550 AM Farmer Dave’s radio show this week, talking like it may come earlier this year. At the spice shoppe visitors are buying apple butter, mulling spices, teas, chili powder, and soup mixes like autumn is here. I am enjoying a cup of hot tea every morning, my newest sensation is Stash brand chai white tea. I think remnants of the north followed us home.
Our vacation antique finds include a couple boxes full of Mason jars to make non-electric lanterns. $5 for the whole load of them. Love those bargains at the annual Crazy Days Sale in Park Rapids, Minnesota. Dean will repurpose the jars and design into lanterns to use alternative energy, solar and/or battery-operated lights. We will market at the Lake Saint Louis and Chandler Hill Vineyard’s Farmers’ Markets starting in September along with some beautiful perennials baskets. I cannot wait to use these lanterns on our patio and at the greenhouse. I also found a set of four tea cups with tea snack platters in my favorite farm color, leaf green. Included in the price of the Mason jars! These will go to the greenhouse for my tea time while working at Boone Hollow Farm. Just the simple things in life to make my day artsy and colorful.
Our plants are loving the milder temperature, greening up nicely before going dormant in a few short weeks. We just put all the greenhouse plants in the screenhouse a month ago. And I have another crop of herbs to sow before harvest. Our gourd plants need some warmth and sunshine to produce their fruit. I hope they get big enough before frost blankets the Missouri earth. Local weathermen talk like St. Louis may not hit 100 degrees this summer. It would be the first time in many years. Plenty of rain now, with more coming everyday this week. If you remember my blog posts from last year at this time, it was so blazin’ hot and Missouri was in a severe drought. What a difference a year makes! But is summer over?

My Friday Family Adventures

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Tornado
So this Friday is like so many of my days, filled with family adventures. Early morning we are greeted by my son-in-law asking to use our van to help a mutual friend move his bee hives. Big bee hives, and the trunk of a car would not suffice for the task. Of course, use the van, put gas in it, though do not leave any bees in it. Remember we will be loading the huge van with plants later tonight.
The morning goes along with a telephone call from my younger brother while at work, asking if we had found out if we can sell Grandpa’s snake-skin belts and jewelry at the farmers’ markets. A few days ago I told Dean about this request, but I had not heard whether we gained permission to include my grandfather’s handmade snake-skin crafts at our tent. But I will follow-up with this. The next question my brother ask, “Would you like to donate your body to St. Louis University when you die?” He asked this with no hesitation, like he was asking if Dean and I can come over for dinner tomorrow night. Now, I have to take a few seconds to think why he is asking this. With my pause in reply, he interjects that this is what our 97-year old grandfather is doing, and what him and Uncle Earl have discussed doing as well. “Would it be neat for the university to do genetic studies on the Bates Family?” Steve says. “I am going to ask Rick and Marge (my other siblings), too. And maybe Rachel and Elisabeth (my daughters) will consider doing the same?” So it takes what seems like 5 minutes to respond, probably more like a minute. “It’s a good idea, and I am open to it. I always thought to donate an organ to science after I pass, but I need to consider what Dean wants when I pass. I will ask him.” Dean and I discuss briefly on the commute home from our jobs, “no immediate answer, we have time for this decision,” I add.
Then Mom calls late this afternoon asking about the weather-stripping for the front door. It appears what we installed this winter caused a suction when it rained earlier this week, that she could not get the door open. Great, she is trying to sell the house. We will be up there to take care of this weekend or on Wednesday when we assist her with her move to the villa 1-1/2 miles from our house rather than the hour’s drive we currently have. Mixed feelings altogether there.
We get home to eat a quick dinner my chef son-in-law prepared, fried fish, mashed potatoes, and a tomato-mozzerolla salad. Dean and I needed to get to the greenhouse as soon as possible as a large cell of violent storms was on the way. Dean checked http://www.wunderground.com, and it was in Warren County, one county west of us. Onward to the greenhouse to pick up a few plants for the Saturday morning farmers’ market. The radio said a tornado had been sighted in Franklin County, one county southwest of St. Charles County. Probably 30 minutes from us. The earlier rains had the ground soaked already, so we parked the van just past the barn. Dean and I quickly walked up the hill, gathered armfuls of plants, each making 3 trips back and forth. By my last trip back to the van, the sky was an eerie green with a black cell right in the middle. Lightning flashes bolts bright, and the heavy rain starts. Our Charlie Brown spruce tree was in full glow with the solar lights like it was nighttime already. It was only 7:15pm. The van radio told me a tornado warning was issued for St. Charles County, and a tornado was sighted in Defiance. Wonderful, we are in Defiance! I guarantee that black cell I saw had a tornado in it! Dean arrived with his last armful of plants, promptly loaded them in the van, and backed the van up in a hurry. We slide off the gravel road right into the slippery clay mud. That van kept sliding towards the rushing creek! Inches from it! Dean tried pulling forward, and we were stuck. Dean and I tried gravel, wood planks, and prayer. We were not going anywhere, especially when Dean accidentally locked the keys in the van. Thank God the engine was turned off! Flash flood warnings came over the weather band radio in the barn. I asked my husband to call our landlord, to see if we could start the tractor to pull the van out. No keys were available, with the landlord in another county over. We asked for the farm neighbor’s telephone number. We called my son-in-law and this farm neighbor. My son-in-law got to us with our spare van key and a smile in his voice within 30 minutes. Our rescuer! The farm neighbor was not home, 30 minutes away but would try to get to us. Dean rocked the van back and forth shifting in reverse and back forward. Mick and I pushed with all our might. A wood plank shot back and hit my ankle. Bruised, swollen, and sore but no cut. Thank Jesus. Rocking back and forth for 10 minutes, the van was out of the muddy mess onto the gravel road. Shovels put away, barn light turned out, and we all managed to cross the creek to the safety of a paved county highway. A call to the farm neighbor to say we were out of our predicament. Reports of a huge tornado touching down in the local towns of Weldon Springs and Harvester, Missouri wiping out multiple houses came over the radio. Cannot help to think we were stuck in the mud for a reason, to avoid being in the path of that nasty tornado. A muddy mess and sore, we all three were, but safe in our house now tonight. Yes, my family adventures never end. Sometimes like the whirlwinds I experienced tonight. Peace I sense. Gratitude, I have family to help when we need it, and to be with on this stormy night. St. Louis University is not ready for me yet. Stay tuned, another chapter of our family life on this blog, maybe with Dean’s family.

Dependents

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Spiral Herb GardenThe tax year of 2012 Dean and I both did not claim one of our six children as a tax dependent. It has been years for either of us since this has occurred. They are all grown up! According to our accountant, our tax deductions came from our greenhouse business this year, not our children. We took a loss this tax year, as last year. Greenhouse rebuilds are costly and timely. An expensive hobby rather than a business, maybe? I’d rather be playing in the dirt and planting green things for my eye palette or taste palette than gambling at the casino, perusing the neighborhood bars, or loafing on the couch. We have a hefty tax return coming which will in turn be reinvested into Deanna Greens And Garden Art. Electric for our structure is around the corner, with propane and solar heat as the next big investments.
I never viewed our Deanna Greens And Garden Art plants as dependents, but that is what they are. And they depend on us to thrive in this world. Water, food, and light on a regular basis, and Mother Nature does her part. I am so anxious for the weather to warm up enough to get our plants under the shelter of our unheated greenhouse. The plant lights in the garages have done good, but the natural sunlight is what the plants need to get greener, fuller, and growing with such vigor. Rain water (or snow in our case!) catching in the rain barrels will provide more minerals for our plants. After a few weeks in the greenhouse, the plants will be moved to the screenhouse to avoid scorching this summer. That scenario seems so far away. We are still under normal temperatures for March. Come on Spring, we need you!
Planning out the growing and market season, Dean and I will have some annual flowers such as marigolds, zinnias, and wildflower mixes. Marigolds are a great natural insect repellant for your vegetable garden and patio area. Zinnias and wildflowers make beautiful summer bouquets. Organic herbs such as basil, thyme, sage, chives, and nastrium will be sold live in pots of various sizes. We will make some potted herb gardens. Garden spoon signs and homemade lavendar soap will be brought to the farmers’ markets. I will design some relic stepping stones and have them ready for market on Mother’s Day weekend. And then there are houseplants, with succulents as our specialty plant. Currently, we are in search for unique pots to divide and transplant our huge succulents into. We hope to plant some vegetables for our consumption. Any leftovers will be frozen or stored for next winter’s pastas, stews, and soups. The circle of life … Parents provide and care for, grown children provide and care for …
Tune in for local farmers’ market information in my next post or two.

White Lace and Orange Zest

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OrangeZest
This weekend hibernation has been good for my tummy and soul. Comfort foods made at a slow pace, slow food is the best. Homemade smoky potato soup last night. White lace (sugar) and orange zest dusted over orangy-oat french toast this morning. (We have to do something with all the milk, bread, and eggs we bought with the earlier weather forecast grocery store stops!) Toasted marshmallows and hot chocolate while warming next to the kitchen fire. My soul has been fed sitting at the windows and watching the birds. My vitamin D quotas should be met with the sunrays and my daily glass of milk.
My eyeballs have been on Deanna Greens And Garden Art paperwork each morning of this 3-day weekend. I compiled receipts and sales sheets, and entered onto spreadsheets for our tax preparer. No financial profit in 2012 year, as we anticipated with the greenhouse move, redesign, and reconstruction. The 2013 budget includes the electric installation. Yes, we will finally have electric in the greenhouse. We found a licensed electrician who will install at 1/5 the price the local electric company quoted us. Electric will be used for lighting and circulation fans. Heating may come, depends on the sales this year. If not this year, maybe in 2014. We will incorporate solar and propane to heat the greenhouse. Did I tell you that we have redesigned our structure to be 650 square-foot of greenhouse and other 650 square-foot to be a screenhouse? The greenhouse side will be used to start seedlings, propagate, and grow our perennials. The screenhouse side will be our vegetables and herbs for personal and market purposes.
Body and soul profit is another thing. Hands in the dirt, heart growing along with the green plants. Character and friendships blooming during this journey.
My body and soul has called me to a walk today. I will exercise my leg and arm muscles while walking Midnight, our dog. It will be a brisk walk, as the snow remains with the cold air. This winter hibernation may be ending this afternoon, only for another impending snow storm tomorrow night.

Velvet Shoes by Elinor Wylie
“Let us walk in the white snow
In a soundless space;
With footsteps quiet and slow,
At a tranquil pace,
Under veils of white lace …
We shall walk in velvet shoes.
Wherever we go
Silence will fall like dews
On white silence below.
We shall walk in the snow.”