The vivid beauty of this spring season is present at Boone Hollow Farm near Defiance, Missouri. In our attempt to get away from the urban or should I say “world” troubles, this farm became our mid-week oasis. It is almost magical at the farm where Dean and I’s greenhouse seats. The lowering sun illuminated the purples and greens in the fields and groves of trees, the grass plush. Birds singing their evening tunes, frogs peeping in unison, sheep in the neighbor farmyard baaing. A serene symphony of countryside calm. My country garden is a dwelling place for me, a bed to lay my cares aside. Our sowed seedlings in the screenhouse side of the greenhouse are coming up well. We are hopeful the leafy greens will be ready to provide the base for our salads by the end of April or early May. In the mist of viral chaos there is a dwelling place for each of us, even if it is just in the mind.
“Talking, talking, pancakes” is what Dean describes our first morning together. We loves our pancakes! This Saturday morning is no exception. This improvising personal chef had one over-ripe banana in the fruit bowl and one bottle of Wells Banana Bread beer left in the refrigerator from the holidays. This combination created some delicious pancakes. Is it Hermann’s German culture or my German heritage from my deceased grandmothers influencing the weekend menu in this home? Probably a little bit of each. Here it is folks … Banana Beer Pancakes with Caramelized Banana Beer Sauce.
This morning Dean and I talk weekend topics over our pancake breakfast. Errands to run … purchase and install new window blinds in our rejuvenated home, and a tile floor selection for the bathroom. Then dog food and possible organic vegetable and herb seeds to purchase at the local farmers’ co-op with an afternoon run out to our 7-month greenhouse at Boone Hollow Farm in Defiance, Missouri. I will get the organic soil turned up today while Dean looks over the structure for winter wear. February brings us closer to spring. Besides the Groundhog tells us it will be an early spring this year. Spring-like today, but winter returns with frigid cold weather after the weekend. Deanna Greens And Garden Art will start our 4th growing season. In another 4 or 5 weeks, seeds will be planted in our beds for an early crop of lettuces, spinach, and peas. The garage is too crowded with our extra storage during the house renovations to get the gourd and herb seedlings started on the heating pads. All direct sowing this year. Flexibility and improvisations once again. Life requires it.
“Look around for a place to sow a few seeds.” Henry Van Dyke
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.
Our three bromeliads made it through the long winter in the comforts of our back bedroom, the “plant room”. At different times this room has been a bedroom for all three of my kids as well as grandkids and their parents while in transition. The room has a wonderfully big picture window with a window seat. Many plants were perched on the window seat and shelving for sunlight and shelter from winter’s cold air. The bromeliad, a tropical plant hates cold air as much as I do. We have had humid, summer-like air the past couple of weeks so outdoors our tropical plants went. The tropical have brighten up vivid green. One bromeliad is a showcase with bright fuchsia in the center “cup” or “tank”. It now sets atop a huge upside down terra cotta pot displayed underneath our white dogwood tree. “Whirly birds” I call them or silver maple seed pods have fallen like rain this spring, and the bromeliads have caught a few. I swept up a bucketful of whirly birds yesterday from the front walkway and back patio, enough to start a maple tree farm! We do not want to sprout maple seedlings inside the bromeliads. The bromeliad does not like to be sopping wet, but that “cup” needs to hold water at all times to keep the plant healthy and attractive. Our other two bromeliads are not quite as brightly colored, and even seem a bit neglected with lack of water and humidity over the winter. They must have needed more water than the other as each have a couple of babies growing from it. We will carefully remove the babies later this summer and plant them in their own pots after their mothers have some time in our Missouri humidity. They are already looking refreshed with the rains. I can see why the agriculture world refers to a plant farm as a nursery. The constant care of some plants is like caring for babies. Isn’t she beautiful?!
Deanna Greens And Garden Art has gourds growing, gourds galore! We started from seed, planted our seedlings in our freshly made rich organic soil from our kitchen and plant scraps and recycled organic soil. Birdhouse, long dipper, tri-color, and hard-shell bowl varieties were planted. But some seedlings did not live more than a week after the transplant in the summer heat, while others have thrived. Survival of the fittest. Growing gourds is new for us, so not sure if the hard-shell variety survived yet. The others are huge, and seem to grow 1 – 2 inches a day along with their broad leaves and vines. These are growing on a teepee shaped trellis behind the greenhouse. The delicate white blossoms of the birdhouse variety attract the bees. An autumn harvest is not too far away. Next year, we are considering this inside
our greenhouse. Colors and textures in contrasting green vines. See the photo below.
Fresh sprouts forthcoming ~
gardener learns life lessons
patience, faith, hope, love.
I was inspired yesterday morning to jot down these words, another word garden. Haiku poems flow for me as I experience nature, life, and love. A few days ago I planted more seeds, gourd seeds. Seems late once again, but I am a part-time farmer with a full-time heart. Once these seedlings grow their second set of leaves we will plant into the ground along side the teepee poles Dean and I bent from repurposed steel poles. This summer and autumn we hope some children come visit our greenhouse at Boone Hollow Farm, and play under the gourd vine teepees. With patience, faith, hope, and love some crafty garden art will be created from the long-neck, birdhouse, and bowl gourds, the fruit of these vines. Next week more seeds to sprout for microgreens to create yummy crunchy summer veggie wraps in the not too far future, another type of garden art.
This coming Saturday Deanna Greens And Garden Art will be at the Lake Saint Louis Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market for the first time this market season. We hope the weather holds out. Another cold front arrived yesterday with wet snowflakes overnight, and yet more storms on Friday evening into Saturday. 14″ coco-lined baskets of various ferns, swedish ivy, moses-in-the-cradle, and variegated airplane plants will be featured, if the weather stays above 45 degrees. A few small pots of the same will be available. I would like to showcase our cactus displaying her red blossoms. Fair warning: our inventory is 1/3 the amount we had last year. This is intentional. With a long winter and no electric, we have managed to keep most of the inventory alive in semi-heated garages. Miracles happen every spring. One of our tropicals, a bird-of-paradise is blooming beautifully and an elephant ear has sprouted, surrounded with lush green swedish ivy. In case this is your first visit to this blog, my husband Dean and I bought a greenhouse full of houseplants and perennials in November 2011, more than we can handle while working full-time jobs. The type of plants we will grow is changing. We want more annuals and herbs. In autumn I hope to harvest bird house and long-handled dipper gourds for the market, which will be grown near the greenhouse at Boone Hollow Farm on teepee trellises. They take a long time to grow, and even longer to dry for multi-purpose use.
The past 2 months we have propagated more geraniums, swedish ivy, moses-in-the-cradle, bridal veil, and wandering jews to make some beautiful terra-cotta planters and moss baskets. Our ferns and succulents have been transplanted into natural pots as well. The coco-lined hanging baskets offer a natural alternative to the plastic pots, what Deanna Greens And Garden Art strives for. Dean will be at the market all morning this Saturday, and I for the set-up and a prayer for cooperative weather and sales. Our annuals such as zinnias, marigolds, nasturtium, and various herbs have just been sown this week, so it will be a few weekends before bringing them to the market. No tomato or pepper seedlings this year. Not enough warmth in the garages. I shared our heating pads with my chef son-in-law, Mick. He will have a CSA that includes heirloom tomatoes. Some tomatoes may make their way to the farmers’ markets as well. Check in with chef and farmer Mick at TheBentPig@gmail.com. One of the other features this year will be “hanging herb and greens gardens”. More on this later.
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.”