I put on my rain boots anticipating a muddy walk to the greenhouse at Boone Hollow Farm. Sure enough the storms we received earlier in the week produced quite a bit of rain, and the creek beds were full. Dean and I parked near the barn, gathered our gardening gear, jumped across the rain-filled ditch, and walked up the hill to our 9-month greenhouse/screenhouse. We had not been there all winter season as it was too frigid cold for 3 solid months, a true Missouri winter like I remember years past. And unlike last year where it drug on for 5 months!
Spring has arrived in Missouri! The frogs croak and birds tweet in harmony making an evening song of peace! What a welcome greeting to Dean and I! I love gardening. Not the exact science-type gardening. Care-free and whimsical like. There is work involved, but less so with a bed of organic soil inside the screenhouse side of our structure. We pulled old tomato vines and prepped the soil. It turned up nicely, loose but a little dry. We had enough snow and winter rains to keep the soil moist even without being in direct exposure. We watered the soil with the rain/snow water from our barrel just outside the structure. And then the first sowing. We made 11 rows altogether. I sowed 8 rows of greens seeds. My favorite, arugula, and then various lettuces. We are trying a oriental variety this year. The other 3 rows are beets. My first stab at growing these, too. As an apprentice with EarthDance Farms, I learned to love this root vegetable, greens and all.
Next weekend the herbs will be sown as well as zinnias, forget-me-nots, black-eye susans, and wildflowers at the farm along with the cottage gardens. The evening drive back from the greenhouse was lovely, a longer drive to the cottage than our other house. We will make every trip to the countryside count. Savoring the frog and bird chorus, smelling the blossoms along the strolls at Boone Hollow Farm, and harvesting delicious organic vegetables, herbs, and flowers for our dinner table. And we trust our God and Mother Nature for plenty to share!
July brought about Dean and I’s 4th wedding anniversary, and then the first wedding of three family weddings planned for this year. Many family memory-making moments with more to come with the changing seasons. There is a change in the air every year in late July or early August, which tells me autumn is soon to come. Monday evening while watering at the greenhouse I felt that change. Silly to be writing about autumn in July, but growers always watch the weather and plan ahead. What’s the Farmers’ Almanac all about? This last day of July is another unusually mild day as St. Louis stayed below 90 and the humidity is low. And I am loving it! Walks during my office breaks bring refreshment to my soul and clearing of the brain from work stuff. Last year at this time we had the sizzling days of summer, up into triple digits several days in a row. You know, those kind of days where you can fry an egg on the sidewalk. Not this summer, thus far anyway.
But we need rain. My green friends love rain water versus faucet water. Thank God, we have access to faucet water at Boone Hollow Farm where our greenhouse plants live. Otherwise, Dean and I would be hauling it in. Our herb bed built this spring is situated on the screenhouse side of our outbuilding and has been a productive home. Plans to build another bed on the greenhouse side this autumn is underway. I want to make it a cold frame to see if we can grow some vegetables through the winter. The plants will have double protection from the cold weather with the plastic liner of the greenhouse and then a storm door atop their bed. I love green experiments. My biology experiments in high school and college were fun and scary at the same time. Now there are possible delicious, nutrient-dense dinners involved here. So what veggies winter well in Missouri? I am to find out. I remember garlic and spinach from my EarthDance Farms days as an apprentice 3 years ago. And turnips grew in the fields at the Bates Family Farm in Franklin County to attract the deer during many deer seasons. Wonder what the Farmers’ Almanac is saying for this upcoming winter? Planning ahead …
Earlier this year I accomplished a major feat, paying off my debts accumulated from years ago before my divorce. Now my household budget is blooming, looking brighter everyday. I am determined to stay in the black with my green habit. Red blooms only, no budget in the red! Did you follow all those colors and what I am saying? It means I am gardening on a budget, small budget at that. With three grown children getting married this year outside of our town, cuts are made before the flowers bloom. Dean and I need to budget our time and funds with our growing adventures. We chose to not go to the farmers’ markets. We can concentrate on the redesign of Deanna Greens And Garden Art rather than the market. We will continue to grow organically. Dean and I’s health matters too much, so no short-cuts there. The founder of Missouri’s organic Mueller Farm, where our friends at EarthDance are housed has a sign displayed which says, “Health begins in the soil.” BTW: EarthDance has a class they are offering at a nominal fee called “Health Begins In The Soil” for St. Louis locals in May. Checkout their web page: http://www.earthdancefarms.org. Dean and I may see you there as we could use a refresher course. More vegetables and herbs than perennials will grow in our newly constructed raised beds made with 1 part good quality compost, 1 part good quality organic soil, and 1 part sand for proper drainage. The rich soil and the non-treated lumber to make the raised beds are our most expensive investment in 2014. Our hardy red geraniums will continue to bloom in big pots this growing season as they have all winter under our plant lights in our semi-heated garage. Sunny zinnia and marigold blooms will welcome parishioners and guests at the church once again this spring and summer. In about 2 weeks our gourd seedlings will go into the ground underneath recycled metal arches situated near the greenhouse, trusting we will be frost-free by then. If we have a bumper crop of gourds, we may venture to a farmer’s market or two this autumn. Gardeners and weekend farmers, how do you cut cost with your green adventures?
The winter time blues will not beat me. I live and dream of my garden with tonight’s menu: Crunchy Kale Chips, Baked Sweet Potato, Crushed Peppercorn Medley-Crusted Beef, and a glass of Mencia Roble, a red wine made from the Mencia grape grown in Spain. A home-cooked dinner this blustery night. The kale recipe can be found on my What A Dish Recipe page. Kale is a vegetable I never tried until working with EarthDance Farms as an apprentice in 2011. Nothing beats the bursting flavors of organic kale, except maybe arugula. The power-packed veggies I ate this evening were grown by someone else, though organically. My readings this week include a blog written by a Kentucky woman who gardens year-round. Much of her garden survived the subzero temperatures earlier this month. She used a plastic liner and low tunnel fabric to protect her plants. Several varieties of kale, arugula, and mustard greens beautifully survived the arctic air. I am growing three heirloom tomato plants in my semi-heated garage this winter. They are still producing delicious fruit. This week’s Purple Cherokee tomato will be sliced for tomorrow’s lunch accommodating my beef patty sandwich. This is not quite like the gardener in Kentucky, though a start. Locally grown greens … I am so inspired to expand my growing season here in St. Charles County, Missouri. So what are you growing this winter? How do you beat the winter? Please share your story.
I blame EarthDance Farms for my plant habit, or at least unveiling it once again. It started as a child, but I did not know the habit had formed within my roots. I find ways to support my plant habit. Those greens and flowers are more than worth it! The greenhouse work, the planning, plucking, pruning, planting, sowing, soaking, and selling is therapy.
For this season in my life, I need to take on a part-time weekend job educating and selling spices, herbs, teas, and foodie accessories to patrons at the Olde Town Spice Shoppe on Main Street in historic St. Charles, Missouri. Tourists as well as locals are the client base. The owners at the spice shoppe are looking for a long-term relationship, and I think I am the one. Over the years I enjoyed being a patron at this niche store, but as an employee I get a dose of the foodie culture every weekend. I will write about my spicy adventures on this blog, as it is a part of my life now.
But back to the plant habit and farm culture. Dean & I do not want to get underwater with Deanna Greens And Garden Art. The first 3 years in any business are the most expensive and crucial. The plants and business grow together. I can still play with the plants a couple of evenings during the week, and on a Saturday or Sunday evening. Dean will be taking the plants to the farmers’ markets most weekends. I believe in knocking on the door of opportunity, as it leads to another opportunity down the road. My farming childhood, culinary background, home economics and human resources education with my wholeness and wellness passion are trails to more dreams. I cannot say for sure where, but I am on this path, enjoying the stops along the way. Not rest stops, but interactive interludes. My days of rest come few and far in between. No worries, I still make time for my hubby, family, friends, and church. Days away from work and chores are planned for this summer. Though my housekeeping has gone to pots, literally!
Changes! Isn’t that a song? It is as the saying goes “here to stay!” This week my friend Molly from EarthDance Farms shared a few words about change in her newsletter. Farming wallows in change. Our greenhouse plans definitely have! Here is a link to that EarthDance Farm publication: http://hosted.verticalresponse.com/463715/e828cdbee3/1696501412/351023b5d5/. We can chose to embrace change or fight against it, and I chose to embrace it. The autumn winds, modified greenhouse designs, the death of my father, and the holidays are followed with new housing arrangements for Dean & I. The desire for a different life brought my oldest daughter and her family to our household. We are sharing our modest 3-bedroom home with 2 more adults, 3 young children, and another black lab. My father’s lab “Midnight” who we adopted on Christmas Day loves all the companionship! An adjustment for my hubby and I, young children near our feet and squeals galore. It makes for creative date nights out for us previous “empty nesters”. Rachel and Mick have a plan, to save for their own 4-walls in the countryside where their chickens and lambs will meander nearby, and a garden big enough to feed themselves and Mick’s catering clients. Mick creates these fabulous meals which are on the healthy side now. I think his mother-in-law had some influence there! Shhh! Roasted two-beet salad with goat cheese crumbles … fresh, handmade pork tamales, and that leftover pork came from his New Year’s pig roast, all on our home kitchen’s menu! Yummy! Herbs used from Deanna Greens and Garden Art, and more to come this upcoming growing season. A new opportunity is just around the corner for my son-in-law chef. And faith plays a part in change. When we expect, it happens. God is not always in the door we open, but in the hallway as my artistic son, Ben mentioned on his FB page this week. And there is an opportunity waiting for my son as well. God embraces us wherever we are. What changes are you encountering right now? And what changes are you waiting for? Apply faith and good works. Remember the movie “Fields of Dreams”? Build it, and they will come!
I am thankful for my husband Dean, also known as Santa Claus. It is his 52nd birthday today! As energetic today as he was in his youth, I am sure! Photo taken at the 4th of July parade in Ferguson, MO in 2011 with the EarthDance Farm folks, Christmas in July theme.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to walk the streets of my town as my chauffeur hubby (our EarthDance Farm friends call him “Dean the Drivin Daffodil”) was out-of-town with the white whale van, and our jeep is still lame. Though I wanted to get to church for Saturday was the annual Remembrance Mass. My father had passed away 1 month ago, and we as a church community prayers said together for many other deceased families. Very moving ceremony, the grace of God was evident. The walk is about 2.5 miles, took 40 minutes and another 40 back home. Cool crisp frosty morning. It warmed up as the morning went along. I was fortunate to have sidewalks most of the route. Then Sunday, I walked the other direction about 1 mile to another church to assist with catering of donuts and coffee. Walked back home, though challenged with an area of no sidewalks, and no sign to indicate a warning of such. I had to cross a very busy road to find the sidewalk. Next week I will attend a lecture at Washington University in regards to street designs sponsored by TrailNet. Lector John Norquist, the president and CEO of the Congress for the New Urbanism will speak on some projects in the St. Louis area. Do you walk or ride a bike to church, work, or play? Please share your alternative transportation experiences.