Wednesday walk through the garden 8/19

Um, yeah, it’s technically Friday! Do I need to say that I’m a teacher and it’s my first week back to work and I’m exhausted! But, back to the garden… It’s doing amazing still. The zucchini plants have rebounded and we have more tomatoes to can!

Yippee! Some more zucchini!
Yippee! Some more zucchini!
Roma tomato
Roma tomato

I am so glad that we are finally getting some green peppers so that I can use them in my spaghetti sauce that I need to make and can!

Green peppers!
Green peppers!

Our egg production is slowing down, and it definitely doesn’t help that we have a hen that thinks she needs to hatch out some eggs! Ugh! And yes, that is shredded paper under my hen. I use that instead of hay and the ladies have no problem with it!

Ms. Broody pants
Ms. Broody pants

It was a pretty rainy day, but was able to clear up enough to let me get out in the garden for a bit! And this was the sight from the deck. It is pretty living up in the mountains!

Beautiful rainbow after the storm!
Beautiful rainbow after the storm!

Soap making!

Let me first say that soap making isn’t for everyone! I’ve read tons of tutorials, watched videos and used all precise calculations. The recipe that I used was from the crunchy urbanite and it seemed like a great place to start! Here is the recipe:

The recipe!
The recipe!

I mixed the lye into the water and wow did it heat up instantly! I made sure I had on long sleeves, goggles and was in a well ventilated area when making this!

I then heated the olive oil to 100 degrees. Once the lye and oil were the same temp I started mixing in a big bucket with a stick mixer. Once I got it to trace, more like a custard, I put them in a mold. (Learn from my mistake and don’t use anything metal. The lye eats away at it!) This was also the time that I added the essential oil. I used about 25 drops of orange oil in mine. Wrap the soap molds in a towel to insulate it and step away for 24 hours.

Next day, I cut the soap into the size that I wanted and put them on a rack where they can cure for 6 weeks! This recipe made me about 34 smaller bars of soap!

Remember, this can be dangerous and you must do your research first! Please, please, please be careful when making your own!

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Crazy yesterday!

This is my last week off before returning back to work. (Yes, I’m a teacher!) And, I’ve had a great summer! Yesterday though was one interesting day! I started off by looking at my massive amount of tomatoes and deciding that I need to make some pasta sauce!

Delicious spaghetti sauce!
Delicious spaghetti sauce!

And I even canned this yummy stuff! I’ll be thanking myself this winter when everything is white and I miss the taste of summer!

Before a nice visit with my Granny, I checked on my chickens and they were being so loud! Squawking and running and then I figured out why! I came within a few feet of a red tailed hawk! That bird was huge and I could see a free chicken dinner in his/her eyes! (But I must admit that it is a beautiful bird!)

Red tail hawk!
Red tail hawk!
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The hawk resting in a tree!

After the Mr made his way home from work, we made our way up to Garrett County for a “fun day!” It’s funny that we live only minutes away, but rarely go there! And, it has some of the most beautiful sites that are on this Earth!

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Fields of sunflowers!

After the quick drive, we visited the discovery center and learned about our local ecosystems and visited the aviary where we saw a bald eagle and golden eagle. (Both we beautiful!) and made our donation to the center and received some milkweed seeds in return! (There will be a butterfly/bee garden in the 2016 growing season!)

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#savethemonarchs

Afterwards, we actually ate out (@ uno’s) and visited an arcade. The boy claims that it was the best day ever!

We made our way home and I gardened and took one pup on a walk. It was a good day!

Wednesday walk through the garden 8/12

As the summer is flying by, the gardening is still going strong! My cucumbers were very slow going this year! I had already made pickles in July last year! But, at least I’m finally getting some cucumbers!

Finally! Some cucumbers!
Finally! Some cucumbers!

I have seen so many wonderful garden or gathering aprons online, and being the poor teacher that I am in the summer I couldn’t swing $30 for something I didn’t “need.”  So, I used a gift card for JoAnn’s and bought $5 in fabric and made myself one! It’s perfect for picking green beans, gathering eggs and holding clothespins!

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My garden apron!

I’ve been lucky enough to harvest around 30 pounds of tomatoes so far this year! This is a beautiful brandywine tomato

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Brandywine tomato!

Here is a picture of the biggest jerk that has made my green bean plants their home. It’s a bean beetle of some sort and it is down right evil! I have been picking them off daily, but they are driving me nuts!

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Bean beetle (aka horrible infestation!)

I have a couple pumpkins that are already turning orange! I almost wish it could stay this green/orange combo forever!

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Orange pumpkin!

Is anybody else harvesting some yummy stuff? Are you busy canning, or giving lots away?

Sad, sad food waste!

Alright, I know, everyone has wasted food! I get that! What I don’t get is how much people throw out! I really don’t get people that grow food that they have no plans on eating or giving away. They just throw it out! My neighbor, who is a wonderful neighbor, throws all of his extra garden goodies into the woods right by our property line. Here’s what I found lately:

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All this! Thrown out!

So, I did what anyone would do! I kept them. Not for myself, but for my chickens. And they loved every bite of them!

To cut food costs and waste here at the Llewellyn homestead, we only grow food we love and preserve what we can! If we don’t end up eating it or something gets a little too ripe, we give it to the chickens! (And yes, I always make sure that what I’m giving them is safe first!)

A couple of our ladies!
A couple of our ladies!

Anything that is just too gross or not ok for chickens goes into the compost pile. This pile can get so hot that I have seen it smoking before! This is added to the garden at the end of the season to make the soil even better!

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Our compost pile!

How do you reduce the amount of food that you put in the trash?

Wednesday walk through the garden 8/5

I am so happy to say that I am harvesting lots of amazing produce from the garden!

The green bean trellis is really taking off! It’s made of a cattle panel and has pole beans planted at the base.

Green bean trellis
Green bean trellis

We had an extra pumpkin plant that didn’t have a home, so I planted it down in the yard and it cracks me up how it is growing in a straight line!

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Pumpkin plant

Even though the sunflowers are much smaller than last year’s, they are equally as beautiful! And, the bees most definitely are loving them!

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Beautiful sunflowers!

Im happy to see that some of the larger tomatoes are finally ripening! This one is a brandywine tomato and weighs over a pound by itself! I had to pick it a little too soon because something wanted to eat it!

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Brandywine tomato!

This little beauty is my cockapoo Izzy! She is amazing at chasing rabbits away! Also, she’s amazing at looking stinking adorable in the garden!

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Izzy girl the rabbit chaser

This is the amazing harvest that I picked tonight! It is well over a pound of beans, plus eggs, a cucumber, bell pepper and a few zucchini!

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The garden is growing well and providing so much for our family! Hopefully it continues to grow well!!

Sweet potato

This year we decided to plant a new crop, sweet potatoes! We love them around here! And since we have a dog with a million allergies, we can turn them into sweet potato treats for him! We started by planting them in late May. They looked so sad and tiny then!

Sweet potato vines
Sweet potato vines

Once the weather started warming up, they really started to take off! They started to vine all over the place! I quickly knew that they were going to overtake their space!

Growing and growing!
Growing and growing!

When I returned from vacation, I could tell that they had really enjoyed the hot weather! Now they are everywhere!

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Looking amazing!

I really hope that we will get some sweet potatoes before Fall arrives!!

Wednesday walk through the garden 7/29

After coming home from vacation, we have a lot of catching up to do around here! The garden is growing fast and really starting to produce some delicious food!

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Technically our neighbor who watched the garden got the first tomato! Lucky girl! 😉 but looks like the second one is mine! The boys won’t touch them unless they are made into pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce!

My first red tomato!
My first red tomato!

I can’t wait until this beautiful muskmelon ripens! It looks delicious! I can’t believe that only a couple of weeks ago it was a teeny tiny fruit! The wood chips are working well at keeping the melon off of the dirt!

Our beautiful muskmelon
Our beautiful muskmelon

And below is a picture of some of the beautiful green peppers that are growing! They are a little behind because we start ours from seed, but they will still be giving me some yummy peppers soon!

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I am so excited about the beautiful sunflowers that are growing right outside the chicken coop and run! It gives the ladies some extra shade in the summer and are just beautiful! Plus the added bonus that they will produce seeds for our girls!

I love these sunflowers!
I love these sunflowers!

Vacation time!!

We have been blessed with being on vacation on the beautiful island of Ocracoke, located off the shore of North Carolina. It’s beautiful there, but takes a while to get there! We even have to take a ferry to get on the island! Here we are leaving the main island heading to Ocracoke! 

imageWe camped for the first night and then stayed in a house for the rest of the week. While we were unloading the truck, I heard a strange-familiar sound! It couldn’t be!?!? But it was! The neighbors had backyard chickens! It was like home away from home! And they had a pretty sweet coop!

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While walking around the island, I was shocked at how much the locals grow! I saw lots of cucumber vines, zucchini plants and many grape arbors! And sunflowers were everywhere!

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It was a beautiful week with my amazing family! Only on this sweet island can you check out thrift shops, visit the local library where they let you take books without a library card and walk everywhere! (And of course swim in the ocean!) It’s true… time flies when you’re having fun! Now to wait and see how my garden looks when I get home!

Experimental potatoes

About a month ago I had a lot of potatoes growing sprouts in the kitchen. The problem is that they are market potatoes. Why is that a problem?!?! Well, I don’t know anything about what kind of pesticides and soil they were grown in! I really don’t want to expose my garden soil to weird nematodes or any type of disease. So, instead of just throwing them in the compost, I put them in the second bin of the compost. (The one that doesn’t have anything in it as of now!) I added some aged compost and covered with wood chips. That’s it! So far, the experiment is going pretty well! Here they are about a month later:

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I will definitely be updating later in the season with how the experiment is going! Hopefully I will get at least a few potatoes!

Minimalist Monday 7/20

I finally got around to helping the boy clean that toy box! It was a mess! I’ve determined that my boy needs to stop collecting rocks!

So, here is the image of the mess that I looked at for too long!

The devastating before image!
The devastating before image

We spent 2 hours sorting, cleaning and getting way too excited about things that we thought were lost! I hate creating trash, so we recycled what we could and made a give away pile.

Under all that garbage is the beautiful toy box that my Dad and brother made for the boy when he was tiny! We were both delighted with the outcome!

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Tah-dah!!! Isn’t it beautiful! We think so to! And I’m proud to say that no tears were shed and I didn’t make him get rid of anything that he treasures! So, overall a success!!!!

Wednesday walk through the garden 7/15

This morning I unearthed some yummy potatoes, that’s the good news! The bad news is that I found some larvae in the roots of my zucchini! Those things get me every year! Yuck!

But looking at the rest of the garden lifted my spirits for a bit! I mean, it’s hard to not smile when you see that many beautiful blooms on one plant!

Beautiful zucchini blooms!
Beautiful zucchini blooms!

Below is the first muskmelon that is finally growing! I’m not sure if it will have enough time to mature, but I’m hoping it does!!

Tiny muskmelon!
Tiny muskmelon!

When I was putting the potatoes in the ground back in March, my boy decided he would plant 1 sunflower seed in the corner of the garden. And when I say seed, it was one seed from the birdseed that we had. I’m still shocked that it actually grew! That boy has a green thumb!

The sunflower that the boy plant!
The sunflower that the boy plant!

I don’t see a lot of honey bees in my garden, so when I do, it’s an exciting event! Beekeeping is on my agenda for Spring of 2016. I can only hope that I can make that happen!!

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And lastly is a view from the bottom of the garden. It’s not perfect, but I love it! So far I have only found one rabbit in it! But I have a momma deer with 2 babies that have been hanging out around it. It’s all part of living next to their habitat!

The garden backs right to the woods.
The garden backs right to the woods.