Each week in April brought about warm days then yielding to colder, rainy days. This week, nothing but rain. Deanna Greens and Garden Art greenhouse/screenhouse protects a prolific bed of greens and herbs from severe weather and wildlife. We gather water from our rain barrel or the creek at Boone Hollow Farms before the water line is turned back on from the winter shut-off. Our garden greens continue to flourish this spring. The arugula actually bolted this week, causing me to pluck those flowering buds by lantern light between the rains this week. It is too early for these delicious organic greens to go to seed!
Lent season and Easter came and went too quickly. Beautiful flower planters and spring baskets of goodies reminded me of the fresh life Easter brings. Prayer at church during my lunch hour does the same. Dean and I were able to have some family over for our first dinner party in the new room addition, a family/dining area and extra bedroom added to our modest 3-bedroom home. The new fireplace mantle brought fresh color to the kitchen.
Dean and I’s two youngest grandchildren have April birthdays. Being a part of our children’s and grandchildren’s lives is important to us. 7-year old Eli had a sick sibling the weekend of his party, so the celebrating takes place early May. And baby Elise turned 1-year old this week! How can that be? Her family from the Netherlands came for the party, and brought her first pair of wooden Dutch shoes. I love Spring, and all the new life it births!
My not-too-old Rival crock pot has been put to use the past 3 weekends. I love this kitchen accessory. In the morning, I put in a roast or roaster with some herbs and beer or wine. This time of year dinner slow cooks all day while I work in the yard or garden beds. And the leftovers are awesome. I can usually get 3 or 4 meals for Dean and I from a 5 – 6 lb chicken roaster or turkey breast. Homemade chicken soup, chunky chicken salad, creamy chicken enchiladas. Beef and pork roasts are so tender slow cooked in the crock … Some meals are simple salads or wraps with goodies such as pecans, walnuts, cranberries, or roasted beets along with leftover slow-cooked meats.
I have my first tender leaves of arugula ready to be picked this week! This early crop was sown on February 20. So after about 50 days we will partake in this fresh peppery salad green for dinner, and probably an omelet for breakfast this Sunday morning. Spring is the time of year where my back, legs, arms, and hands ache from the amount of time in the garden and yard. Methodical movements are made the hours I work/play in the dirt. “Gardening has to be as much about contemplation as it is about tilling and toiling. Mental toiling, perhaps … turning things over, quietly thinking, in a place that gives you a peaceful corner for just a moment or two.” ~ Dominique Browning. The birds and fresh air call me to sit on the porch early morning, but pure exhaustion hits the pillow by 9 even on the weekends.
The “F” bomb will be coming to our neck of the woods soon enough. I am starting to think about improvisations to ensure a daily diet of greens. My palette has grown accustom to fresh organic arugula and lettuce since May. I think a fresh pot of microgreens seeded every 3 or 4 weeks throughout the colder months will do it. I have the ceramic tile floor in the kitchen to put my pot(s) with the patio door to provide light. My herbs feed me nutrients also. Smaller terracotta pots of herbs will be seated in the kitchen window. The 480 square-foot room addition extending the kitchen into a family room and a small guest bedroom will give a new place for my green friends. There is always a place for green life in my home. How about yours? Where do your green friends stay in your home?
Green swatches with flecks of purple and pink will completely cover this bed. Just need a few more sunny days and rain or well water. Our raised bed is a patchwork garden. One month ago seeds of the early spring greens, chives, and sugar snap and large pod peas went into the cold organic soil situated in this raised bed on the screenhouse side of our greenhouse. The lettuce and spinach are sparse. Either bad seeds, but most likely not enough watering and near freezing mornings a few days in April. We will reseed this week. One end are the early spring lettuces, spinach, and chives sowed in patches rather than rows. Then the 2 rows of peas in the middle. On Sunday I sowed a row of bush beans near the pea patch. At the other end of the raised bed are patches of herbs sowed into the soil; cilantro, a blend of basils, thyme, and marjoram. We selected Olds Seed Company organic vegetable and herb seeds bought at the local country store late winter.
The little pea patch is coming along just fine. This weekend we strung twine along the rows for the pea plants to climb. We have about another month until the date of maturity for both varieties. The delicate blossoms should be appearing soon. This legume can be grown just for the bouquet of flowers and fragance. Nutrients are provided for the soil as well. I cherish the fresh, delicious peas with a pinch of kosher salt and dabble of sweet butter. About as many varieties of peas there are, is about how many sweet sayings, poems, and songs referring to the pea. Babies, children and lovers have been called “sweet pea” for centuries. “Two peas in a pod” is a phrase I say when two people act alike. Mostly, sweet pea is a term of endearment such as from Amos Lee’s song…
Sweet pea, apple of my eye
Don’t know when and I don’t know why
You’re the only reason I keep on coming home.
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.
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.
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!
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.
What I desire for my lunch is my Minnesota friend, Tamie’s herb and greens salad.