Doody Calls

Sorry, couldn’t resist the pun.  Doody – or chicken manure is now in the raised beds.  The instructions said to just spread it on top of the soil and water well.  Yea!  No backbreaking work in that. 

I also got the watering system set up, but its not perfect.  Three sprinklers are hooked up with connecting hoses to one faucet.  The first one gets lots of pressure – too much water for the #1 bed when its just right for the other two further down the line.   Will try putting a splitter on the faucet and operating them separately.  Will still have to water other areas by hand, but this system will lighten the load during the extreme heat of the summer.  I wanted to get it set up before I planted so as not to injure young plants.  Trial and error time again.  The story of my life. 

Next step is to buy my onion and potato sets and get them planted along with lettuce seeds.  Its still a little cold but I’m going for it.  Okra will wait until the middle of April.   

Just an update for anyone interested in the process.  Urban agriculture!!!!

Keep it simple, ya’ll.

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Permaculture Dreams

We’ve had some lovely days here the past week or so, and some really cold, foggy ones, too.  But its obvious spring is fighting to make headway and I’m cheering her on.  I’m mentally more than ready to start planting in the raised beds.  I need to add some manure when the weather warms a bit more and really work it in good.  I’ve got my watering system all worked out – I think.  I won’t really know until I get it all in place.  It will mean having some hoses stretched out in the yard all the time, which will be an issue with the One Who Mows, but in my opinion, its worth having to go out and hold some things out of the way.  Actually, what I’d REALLY like to do is get the backyard full of raised beds so there is no need to mow because there is no grass!  I’d also like to take down the tree in the front – how many times have you read that here – and plant fruit trees. 

My problem is that I don’t want to put a huge amount of effort into this place when there is a very real possibility that we may be moving in a couple of years.  I really really really really really want a little land – a couple or three acres to go hog wild with the permaculture thing.  Graywater system, fruit trees, water catchment, worm composting – and so much more I don’t even have a clue about.   When the Kid graduates from college and is hopefully settled for a while, we can make the decision about whether to sell our suburban home and move out a ways or maybe even leave the state.  I’d so love to live someplace within driving distance of some actual scenery of the mountain variety.   But that means a totally different growing climate and pretty much reinventing ourselves – which I’m okay with.  

I found a couple of new websites I’d like to share and a couple of old ones to inspire you to do the small things every day to live more simply, eat better, do more for your neighbor and get in touch with nature.

urbanorganicgardener.com

naturalhomemagazine.com (evidently they’ve been around for years)

bulgarbugle.com (our local food cooperative founder/also a permaculture guy – need to talk to him…….)

southernplate.com – yummy deep south cooking!

thepioneerwoman.com – Oklahoma girl on the farm

and just to inspire you once again – urbanhomestead.org – the be all and end all for urban organic gardeners wanting to live real

another inspiration – dailyacts.org – the younger generation may be getting it right after all!

This one is really cool – hope to able to use their stuff one day soon!  oksolar.com –

Keep it simple, ya’ll

TEDx Manhattan Webinar – Changing the Way We Eat

I spent the whole day today – and I mean the WHOLE day – sitting in front of my computer watching a webinar all about sustainable food; the current food system in the US, the problems, the solutions, the people involved in small and not so small ways.  I was totally inspired.  One huge plus was the ongoing chat with over 100 people through Facebook.  There are a lot of people in this country striving every day to put locally grown, healthy REAL food back on our tables and in our kids’ school lunches. 

I must say I’m pretty brain dead from all the information, but I took some great notes and have lots of websites to visit.  I was proud to be able to tell my chat friends about the Oklahoma Food Cooperative.  Its been a model for other states in setting up distribution systems that connect farmers with consumers.  We have over 3000 members now and it continues to grow every month.  

From what I read, the whole conference should be available on the TED livestream site in about a month.  Write it on your calendars and take a look if you’re even remotely interested in local food production – I’m going to go plan my garden for this year!  There may still be snow on the ground, but I can almost taste that organically grown tomato from my backyard, the sweet cantalopes and the crunchy okra! 

Our Regional Food Bank has what is called Plant-a-Row, where individual gardeners can donate fresh produce to partner food pantries in their area.  I’ve signed up and can’t wait to help feed the hungry in my community with healthy veggies.   Go online and see if there is a program like this in your area.  We who are blessed with the space to grow food should pass that blessing along!

Have a great weekend everyone.

A Slow Food Kind Of Day

My favorite day of the month is the third Thursday.  That’s the day Oklahoma slow food,  locally grown food from all over the state magically and miraculously makes its way from farm to table all in one day.  Of course, there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to make this one day happen, sterilizing coolers, freezing bottles, buying lots and lots and lots of dry ice, renting trucks – all to make the third Thursday happen.

I’ve sung the praises of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, the brainchild of slow food and permaculture guru Bob Waldrop, lots of times here.  Today was such a beautiful day weather-wise, a real blessing after hail and tornados, that it made this particular delivery/pickup day special.  So, I wanted to share some pics of what goes on at our pickup site.  Enjoy!

This small garden greets the volunteers.

The truck is here! All these coolers and bins hold the locally grown food for two pickup sites in Edmond and we need a third!

 

Tables are set up and numbered to match our members' ID numbers. Bins are full of bags of dry goods that go on the tables.

Coolers, coolers and more coolers! Frozen food on one side of the room, refrigerated produce and cheeses on the other and eggs along the back wall. Can't beat a good farm fresh egg from free range chickens!

Our members start arriving to pick up their food. Each member is given an invoice listing the food they ordered and cooler numbers. Just go around the room and gather your food, pay on the way out and see you next month!

 I’m exhausted by the end of my shift, but its a good tired.  My three hours of volunteer work will earn me $21 off my next month’s order.  I worked enough last month to pay for half of my order this month.  Can’t beat that with a stick!  

To fill in the weeks I run out of something I can always hit my local farmers market on Saturday mornings.  

Local food is so much fun and you’re supporting your local community that will come in handy when the oil stops flowing one of these days – but don’t get me started on that!

 

 

The Good Stuff

I had a great time last night, even though ibuprofen was required.

It was a beautiful evening, light winds, spring temperatures and a husband who needed to be elsewhere until about 8:00.  The perfect opportunity to work in the garden.  I still had to work my way to the bottom of the compost pile to have stuff to work into last year’s beds.   I slowly sifted and refined the pile of leaves and decomposed matter.  I had just enough to make a 1-2″ layer on each bed.  Then, do my eyes deceive me?  What’s that dark brown stuff?  I don’t know why I was surprised, this is what’s supposed to happen.  At the bottom of the huge pile of mulched leaves and food scraps was a 6″ deep, luscious layer of new, sweet smelling earth with earth worms, rolly pollies and other bugs I couldn’t identify.  A whole ecosystem of goodness right there in front of me. 

I got the shovel and started digging.  It took about 3 loads with the wheelbarrow – keeping in mind I’m a woosy girl with no upper body strength – but I had enough of the good stuff to layer about 1″ deep on an old flower bed where I’m going to grow the squash this year.  I just put it down on top of the clay and went ahead and put in my seeds.  A beautiful sight to behold.  I might order some worm castings from the co-op and fertilize all the beds well once I get them planted. 

I got the leaf mixture spread on top of the other two beds, but ran out of steam, my back was killing me and the DH was due home and we were hungry!  So over to bed #1 to cut a little lettuce, spinach and cilantro for the first salad from our garden.

One more nice surprise was some small dill plants coming up volunteer from last year’s crop. 

I thought I had pulled it all up.  It was kinda overwhelming last year.  As with everything else, I planted way too much and had no clue what to do with it.  This year I’m going to pick it young and use it in salads, etc.   I had planted it to use in pickles, but since my cucumbers failed miserably, I was left with a lot of dill I didn’t know how to use.  But, from what is coming up on its own now, it should be just enough to use for the season.  God is in the details…..I love it.

Keep it simple. 

The Promise of Spring or Lessons Already Learned For Next Year

My third choice of a title was “How I Always Manage to Make Things Harder Then They Have to Be.” 

So, its a lovely day outside.  A nice quiet, actually NON-WINDY, Sunday afternoon.  I’m itching (not literally) to get my hands into that compost pile and get it worked into the future okra bed.

I’ve got my new and very expensive wheel barrow and my old, but loveable compost sifter ready to go.

Its nothing more than some pieces of old fencing with plastic chicken wire stapled to it.  Its kinda rickety, but works great. 

So now to the part about lessons already learned for next year.  Right off the bat I see my mistake.  In a fit of laziness and desire to just get last year’s dead garden cleaned up, I threw all the stalks and vines and stems from the okra and squash onto the compost pile.  Big mistake!  Now you veteran gardeners are rolling your eyes and laughing at me.  You know better.  Well some of us have to learn the hard way.  Just ask my mother.  Needless to say, the stalks and vines and stems did not decompose over the winter.  So now I have a tangled mass of – well, stalks and vines and stems –  mixed in with all the nice leaves and eggshells and decomposing veges.  My intentions to get out there and “get ‘er done” has instead left me hot and frustrated and taking a break at my computer.  I have completely filled one of our big green dumpster trash cans with – say it with me – stalks and vines and stems. 

 

But there is good news.  The lettuce and spinach is coming along nicely.  I even cancelled my lettuce order with the food co-op this month because mine is looking so good.  Even the cilantro is growing a little.  Only about 1/3 of it came up, but its very tasty.  So I planted onions in the left over spaces.

I was smart and utilized the lesson learned from LAST year.  I just planted two rows of lettuce, knowing that’s all we’ll eat.  I planted so much and had so much to give away last year that the neighbors and my coworkers turned around when they saw me with anything green in my hands :-).

Oh! And the strawberries are blooming!  Yee haa! 

So, things are looking good.  It will take me longer than planned to work my way to the bottom of the compost pile but the effort will be worth it.  Next year I will strip the leaves from the stalks before tossing into the pile.  More work this year but I will love myself for it next year.  That’s always a good thing. 

We bought the material and got a small start on the patio cover yesterday.  It will be so nice to sit outside and enjoy the backyard from the shade.  If I can talk Moe into it, I may even put some twinkle lights around the beams.  While we’re at it, how about an outdoor fan?  I am married to an electrician, after all :-).

Farmers Market opens next Saturday and the summer Saturday ritual begins again.  I love this time of year. 

Keep it simple.

 

A Week of Eating Local

Here is a great article by my friend and manager of our food co-op pickup site, Chelsey Simpson.  She is the managing editor of Oklahoma Living magazine and does a great job of including local food items in every issue with recipes by local chef and founder of OKC Slow Foods, Kamala Gamble.  So read and enjoy!

http://freshgreens.typepad.com/fresh_greens/2009/07/show-and-tell.html

Have a great day everyone and remember to keep it simple.