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Wishin’ and Hopin’

This is our fourth year planting a garden and each year I’ve found it incredible that from these packets…

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….something like this happens…

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Today, we’re planting tomato and cucumber plants that we started in our basement from seeds.  Once the seeds start growing and begin to show leaves, we bring them to our porch for a few weeks where they harden off in preparation to go into the ground.

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And, even though our annual gardens have produced some wonderful vegetables and fruit, every year as we’re planting them into the soil I think – this could never result in an actual tomato, cucumber, corn stalk…So, I find myself wishin’ and a hopin’ this year that our luck will continue!

We’re already seeing signs that it might…

The mesclun mix and arugula show promise…

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We harvested our first strawberries of the year yesterday…

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And if you get out your magnifying glass… you’ll see that a tiny little sprig of parsley is emerging…

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In other news…

Mr. Fifty Shades is determined that we will be able to have a picnic whenever the mood strikes.  In the new fenced in area for Sage and Scout (we now call it “the playpen”), we have a new picnic table that he built in his spare time.  When we’re working in the garden this year, we’ll have a place to come in and take a break or have a pic-a-nic.  🙂

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Hope you’re having a happy spring!

 

Fifty Shades of Green Acres

 

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Winter, Gardening, Birthdays

We’re well into winter and that means we are starting to look forward to spring and working in our garden.  This will be our fourth year with a garden.  Although we’ve been happy with our garden, some of what we planted just didn’t turn out – as in, it didn’t come up out of the ground, or the particular vegetable didn’t mature, or, the expected amount of harvest just didn’t occur.  We know that part of the problem is our soil – which is actually clay – which is probably the worst growing medium for a garden.  We added lots of compost and we know that helped, but we wanted a little more science to support us.  So – we bought a handy dandy soil test kit…

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…and we discovered it was a miracle that we managed to grow anything these last three years.  We are low on nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and our soil is alkaline.  So – we’ll be amending the soil (clay) even more this year with compost and whatever else we read about that will help us get better results.

To prepare our strawberry plants for the winter, we learned that a blanket of straw would help to protect them.  So, yesterday afternoon we laid straw down over the plants.  Here is Mr. Fifty Shades breaking open the bag – you can hardly see him since he’s in camouflage…

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Here he is starting to spread the straw over the berries.

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All done.

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When the job was done, I showed up.

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And,…if today is your birthday, Scout and Sage celebrated by taking naps in your honor.2016-01-18 02.51.042016-01-18 02.51.44

Until next time,

Fifty Shades of Green Acres

The Anticlimactic Apple and Other Stories

After all our waiting and patience and hope for being able to pick our one beautiful apple off the tree, it fell.  It fell right off the doggone tree like the other one.  This particular kind of apple was described as late to ripen, so we thought it wouldn’t be ready to pick from the tree until October.  So, when we walked by the tree and did not see our coveted apple, we were sad.  We found it – a little banged up from the fall, and brought it in the house.  The apple was put in a place of honor, which was coincidentally high enough to avoid any unfortunate tasting events.  

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By the time we trimmed off the bad spots, we had five little slices.  They were really good little slices – sweet and crispy.  Maybe next year, we’ll double our crop and have four apples.

In other news, as promised, Mr. Fifty Shades began a new project.  Last year, he laid outdoor carpeting on our screened in porch.  It looked really great…for a few months – until the first rain and snow occurred and boots and doggie paws put a real hurt on that carpet.  Then, one day Sage heard some tweets coming from below the carpet.  The sound drove her into a tizzy and she began to dig with all her heart to get to the tweets (little birds building a nest).  So, in addition to dirty carpet, there was also a hole in the middle of it.  We decided to install vinyl plank flooring.  

It is so easy to do!  Really a cinch.

First, you tear out the old carpet.  Sorry – no pictures, but you are not missing much.

Then, you put down Hardieboard.  20150902_192240

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Next, you tape all the edges and make chalk lines so you know where to put the planks.

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You start installing the planks, but decide that you need to put down another type of backing to support the planks. So you remove all the planks you’ve placed and put down the orange backing.  Then, when things still aren’t working right, you figure out the installation instructions have it backwards, which is what is causing the problem.  

So – you tear it out again and start over. 

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See how easy?  

When you get done, sit back, admire, and have a coffee break with your best buddy.

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We have noticed that this flooring has a peculiar design flaw.  Within minutes of cleaning, doggie paw prints occur. Hmmm….

As you can see, from the picture above, we still have lots of tomatoes.  We’ve experimented with another way to preserve them – dehydrating.

Here are six trays of small paste tomatoes.

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Six hours later…

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The flavor is really intense.  We put them in the freezer and will pull them out for soups and stews throughout the year.

Next week, we are looking forward to fall weather – with low’s in the 40’s and 50’s.

Until next time,

Fifty Shades of Green Acres Team

 

 

The Apple was Delicious

A Few Sage Words

Hi,  Remember me?  

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Remember the apple that fell about a week ago?

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See this basket?

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Mr. & Mrs. Fifty Shades put the apple in this basket along with some tomatoes, yellow squash, and peppers.  They removed everything but the apple.  Mr. & Mrs. Fifty Shades said they were saving it.  The basket with the apple rested here on this chair for days on the porch.  This is one of the places where Scout and I love to play.  Yesterday, when Scout and I went out on the porch, this happened.

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And then…the apple rolled out.  And then…I thought this is the moment, this is it – all those days of saving and savoring the apple – this is it.  And so… I decided to carpe diem…

Yum…

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Double yum…

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Mr. & Mrs. Fifty Shades were able to make it out on time to see me working on that apple.  Mrs. Fifty Shades said, “Well, I hope you enjoyed it.”  She is so sweet.  And I sure did enjoy it.  

I guess she knew I loved apples because I chewed these designs in the towels they use to dry me and Scout in the mornings after we get back from our runs.  

I sure do ♥ apples, don’t you?  

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Until next time,

Sage & Company

 

Recently at Fifty Shades of Green Acres…

  1.  Hummingbird 911

Hummingbird for CD

A few days ago, Mr. Fifty Shades came in to let me know that a hummingbird flew into our garage and could not find its way out.   We both went out to take a look and see what we could do.  The little bird flitted from one side of the garage to the other, remaining within six inches of the ceiling and always looking up.  He did not understand that there was a big beautiful world out there, if only he’d fly out the garage door.  I tried a few things….I went outside the garage and called it, buzzed, clapped my hands.  Hmm…for some reason those ideas didn’t work.  Mr. Fifty Shades went back to working on the chicken coop and I decided to do a little research.  The wonderful internet (what did we ever do without it?) revealed a site that described exactly what to do.  It would be simple and quick.  I walked down to our garden shed to retrieve the necessary equipment…

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Then, I walked back up to retrieve Mr. Fifty Shades.  I considered just rescuing the hummingbird and telling him about it later, but, I knew Mr. Fifty Shades would want to be a part of lead the hummingbird emergency team. Sure enough, he did (are you shocked?).  I explained the steps to get the little bird out of the garage.  It would be quick.  The garden rake needed to be held within a few inches below the bird; once the bird lit onto the rake, the rake should be lowered slowly, very slowly so that the hummingbird could see the sky and then fly off to hummingbird happiness.  It is apparently quite common for the hummingbird, seeing the red handle hanging from the garage door  (required so that in the event the electric garage opener gets stuck, it can be opened manually) …

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…to mistake the handle for the little red flowers on the feeder, instead…

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The website indicated the confused bird would continue its pointless flight around the ceiling until it exhausted itself and died.  Yikes – not on our watch!  It also stated the need to be patient, as it could take a few seconds for the hummingbird to hop onto the rake.

Mr. Fifty Shades grabbed the rake and raised it toward the ceiling.  Soon, we thought, the hummingbird would be humming away in the great outdoors.  However, the little bird continued flying near the ceiling, all around the garage, all the while looking up, up, up.  After about 10 minutes with no luck, I thought I’d better check the directions again.  Maybe there was a step I left out.  I brought my computer to the garage and read from the website.  We were following the directions to the letter.  Mr. Fifty Shades continued the rescue.  It was about 90 degrees, even in the garage.  The hummingbird  seemed determined to continue flying around the ceiling.  After about 10 more minutes, I offered to give Mr. Fifty Shades a break.  He said okay, but, he soon thought we might have better luck if we both had rakes.  With two rakes, we alternated hummingbird coverage and commentary.  “He’s on your side now.  He’s getting close.  Oops, no, now he’s flying off.”  Every once in a while, he would light onto one of our rakes, but, as soon as we began to lower the rake, he would fly up to the ceiling again.  Going on 45 minutes now, our sweat was dripping onto the floor of the garage and our heads were about to fall off from craning our necks backward to see if the bird was on the rake.  Clearly, our little hummingbird had not bothered to read “How to Get A Hummingbird Out of the Garage!” My energy waning, I decided to take a break and Mr. Fifty Shades continued the rescue operation.  At about one hour in, the hummingbird gently lit onto the rake and let Mr. Fifty Shades lower it to reveal to him what lay just a few feet away.  Finally, the hummingbird followed instructions and flew out the door.  We gave each other a high five and quickly closed the garage door!  : )

2.  Chicken Coop

We know you want to see the coop.  Mr. Fifty Shades has been putting in some long days and there is a lot of progress.  Here he is laying out the metal roof.

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And, here he is putting the cap on the roof.

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Here is another view with the roof complete.

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In anticipation of the grand opening, we are interviewing chicks to conduct tours of the new facility.

3.  Tomatoes

Tomatoes surround us.  We’ve been picking several pounds every day for the past few weeks.    We are enjoying the taste of our homegrown tomatoes, plus, we’ll canning whole tomatoes, tomato soup, and marinara sauce until the end of summer!  20150811_195640

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Hope you’re having a great summer!!!

The Fifty Shades Team

 

 

Summer

Is it hot where you are?  It sure is here.  The last few summers for us have been a chance to try our luck in our vegetable garden.  We don’t know enough for it to be anything but luck.  We still can’t believe that what started out as this…

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…became this…

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and then, this…20150617_165503

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and this…

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We’ve made 36 pints of pickles this year.20150720_153918

One day, Mr. Fifty Shades picked 23 pounds of cucumbers.  We are eating cucumbers with every meal and I have made gazpacho and two different kinds of cucumber salad.  Cucumber, Cucumber, Cucumber.

Maybe we don’t need to grow so many cucumbers next year. : )

But wait, there’s more.  Here’s a look at our harvest over the last two days…

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But wait, there’s even more going on….

Mr. Fifty Shades has been busy working on the new deluxe chicken coop.

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This is what it looked like a few weeks ago…

 

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…and now

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It’s not quite ready for the chicks, but, before long, we’ll be introducing them to their new home – and five new companions.  Yes, five new egg laying chicks arrived July 1st (pictures soon).  They are too small and young to hang out with the older chicks for now, but in a few weeks, they’ll be moving to the fancy new coop as well.

 

 

 

 

 

That’s about it for now.

Until next time,

Fifty Shades of Green Acres

 

What in the….?

Last year, after the garden had been harvested, we used one particular spot as a place for compost.  In that area we threw in our daily fruit and vegetable trimmings plus some of the dead plants from the garden.  We moved that composted matter to a new location before we started our garden this year.   After we planted our garden, we noticed a spot where the compost had been that seemed to be growing way out in advance of the other vegetables we planted.  The leaves looked like zucchini or yellow squash, but bigger.  So – we started calling that area the volunteer plants and anxiously awaited the vegetables that would emerge.

And, so – now…we have the line up:

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On the left you see a yellow squash and a zucchini.  On the right you see the volunteer ….well, what are they?  We’ve learned that the two can cross pollinate and create a kind of hybrid creation….so what are they?

The real thing - genuine, true yellow squash and zucchini

The real thing – genuine, true yellow squash and zucchini

 

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The Hybrid Gang

And, inside they look like this…

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So  – do we have…

 

 

This entry was posted on June 28, 2014, in Gardening.