A Green Theme

On Wednesdays they have a green market set up in the parking lot at my work.  There are a couple of vendors there who are conventional farmers or produce distributors but there are always a couple who are part of a program called New Roots for Refugees.

I always try to spread my money among all the vendors (there are generally only five or so who show up; my work isn’t known for being interested in organic, locally grown food options) but I have to give the New Roots for Refugees farmers some business. These farmers have all come to the United States from other countries in order to start a new life for themselves and their families.  Many of them were farmers in the countries they left, but trying to start a farm, even a small one, in the US is expensive stuff.  Two organizations, Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas and Cultivate KC, have partnered to help these women by teaching them about crops that grow well in this climate, giving them access to a 1/4 acre of land on which to farm, and a marketplace in which to sell their produce.  I often find myself over-buying because I want to buy something from each of these vendors.  This year each farmer has a card with a brief bio and a map of the world with their home country printed in red.  I loved reading about the women who grew my kale and my cabbage.  As much as I want to supply my family with food from our own backyard, I think I’ll always try and support farmers like them.

Another awesome thing about this program: the land they use to farm is located within a housing project and they let the residents have access to a plot of land as well.  It’s such a win-win situation.  There aren’t a lot of forward thinkers in this community that I’m exposed to, but projects like this give me hope.

First visit to the Green Market this summer*!
*Not pictured: zucchini

Taking Inventory

This is the first year I was able to plant a garden in quite some time.  Last year we were working on getting this house ready to live in and living in the single-girl house.  The backyard of the single-girl house was super shady and in the drop zone of a black walnut tree, ensuring I would never be able to grow anything back there.  It was also the playground for three medium-sized dogs, Lucy-dog and our neighbors two dogs who we called the juvenile delinquents.

I grew the occasional tomato plant in the front yard of the single-girl house, along with some herbs and stuff, but it was never enough to tell someone, “I have a garden.”  It was more like, “I have a tomato plant.”

This year I’m back in the dirt and I couldn’t be happier.  So let me know take you on a virtual tour of my ad-hoc garden.  Next year I’m going to actually plan things out instead of randomly throwing things in the ground when I had time and room…  If I put it on the interwebz, it’ll happen, right?

Extremely Lazy Bed Potatoes

I had some organic potatoes that had sat in the pantry for, let’s just say awhile, and started to sprout.  I had just read about lazy bed potatoes so I decided to give it a try.  I’m still not really sure what I’m doing with them, and I’ve never grown potatoes before, so I’m willing to chalk this one up to experience and hopefully gain some knowledge for next year.

First Pea Flowers… Just in Time to Die Off in the Heat

Of course I couldn’t get a decent picture of the pea flowers with my phone (I have no idea where the SLR camera is) so just pretend I meant for the shot to be of the weedy patch behind the peas and for the flowers to be out of focus.  I tried and tried to get peas to grow this year.  In the end I had to pre-germinate them and then plant them outside.  I never got any of the directly seeded peas to sprout.  And I finally got my act together enough to get the sprouted peas into the ground and get them to take off just in time for a stretch of 80+ degree weather. (The rabbits which ate the earlier shoots down to the ground when the weather was cooler certainly didn’t help matters either. Hmph.)  I’ll be ecstatic if these two blooms give me pea pods.

Tomato With the Last of the Beets in the Background

I started my tomato seeds way too early this year.  I got excited by the mild winter we’d had and stuck those babies in the peat pots at the end of February.  You’re not supposed to plant tomatoes in this part of the country until Mother’s Day so my starts got leggier and leggier as I debated over whether or not to put them in the ground.  I started somewhere around 60 seeds and ended up with about 10 in the yard here.  I gave some away to friends but most of them got so leggy they tangled and twined with each other.  I also lost track of my labeling system so I don’t even know for sure which varieties I planted.  Oops.  I know I bought three kinds of seeds: Hillbilly/ Flame, Reisentraube, and Todones de Contores (I’m sure I butchered the spelling of the one that starts with “R” and just made up the name of the third variety I listed.  I could go run around the house and track down the seed packets or I could make up words while I sit down.  Guess which I picked!).  I figure I’ll be surprised once they start setting fruit; it will be like Christmas in July!  My hope is that I’ll have enough tomatoes at the end of the summer to have a real reason to learn to can.  And give to my friend MB in exchange for her homemade tomato sauce!

Hops in a Bucket

With all the beer brewing we do, we decided it was time to grow some hops of our own.  Knowing that hops can be invasive and not knowing where we ultimately want our hops to be permanently homed we used five gallon buckets.  Most of the articles I read about hops recommend growing them in halved whiskey barrels or wine casks, which are considerably larger than five gallons.  We’ll see what happens.  We started with three varieties: Cascade, Centennial, and Chinook.  The Cascade is the one shown above and it’s the tallest of the bunch.  Before they sprouted, the Centennial and the Chinook hops kept getting dug out of the buckets by some unknown garden pest.  The Centennial rhizome finally stayed planted and took off but the Chinook was a goner.  We said our farewells and then I stuck a tomato plant in its bucket.  The cycle of life.  I don’t know if it’s because the buckets are too small or what, but I’ve heard that hops take off and shoot up and once you get them trained they climb like nobody’s business.  Well this guy kept flopping over, trailing along the ground, flopping over, basically not following directions.  I think we finally have it trained now and we should be good to go.  We’ll see if we run into the same issues with the Centennial hops now that they’re big enough to start training.


This poor little zucchini plant got a late start, but I have high hopes (I accidentally typed hops, ha!) for it.  I actually got this from a big box store because I forgot that I wanted to grow zucchini until it was too late to order seeds online.  I figured almost everything else was started from seed here at the house so I could fudge with this one plant.  I just got Lil’ Z in a week ago and it’s already grown some new leaves!  I’ve also burned some leaves off from lack of water, but who’s keeping track?  Oh, yeah, I am.

My Favorite Thing I’ve Grown

And of course, a shot of my garden assistant who can’t believe that I would have my camera, er I mean my iPhone, out without needing to take some pictures of him.

As I said before, we’ll see how this all works out.  The soil here is pretty clay-ey and I didn’t have any compost or amendments on hand to really give the soil the boost it needed.  I don’t use any chemicals in the garden so we’ll see what kinds of pests (insects, animals, fungus, etc.) stop by to check it out.  Oh, and not pictured here are the blueberry bushes we planted in the front yard (two of them), the leaf lettuces which were already harvested or the ones that are burning in their containers as I type, and other herbs I’ve got going: lemon thyme, basil, parsley, and lavender.  I clipped all the flowering branches off the blueberry bushes to give the plant time to really get established without trying to put its energy into fruit production this year so we’re all anxiously awaiting next spring so we can get some blueberries!  Assuming the birds don’t get them first.

On our wish list for the future: a peach tree, strawberry plants (with a raised bed to try to contain them), a fig tree, to be able to get carrots to germinate without the birds getting to the seeds two seconds after I go inside, and I’m wishing/hoping I get my act together later this summer and get the fall crops in the ground.  I’ll be sure to update once I’m able to start harvesting and get the fall crops going.

One a Day

Yesterday was my 36th birthday.  I gave some thought to what I want out of this coming year and one thing I decided was that I wanted to document more of it.  I’ve had this blog for almost nine months now but haven’t really taken it seriously.  I think it’s time to take it seriously.

As I reader it never occurred to me how much time goes into writing a single blog post, especially for those that keep a DIY blog. As a blogger I know that I want my posts to be “perfect” (as a person I also want to be “perfect” but that’s another post for another day).  However I don’t always have the time/ energy/ wherewithal to craft a “perfect” post. But, I should be able to find the time to post something during the course of a day. So I decided to impose a self-initiated challenge of posting one thing once a day.  The one thing can be a picture or even just a word that sums up my experience that day.  On the days I have more time/ energy/ wherewithal I may put up something with actual paragraphs and sentence structure; we’ll see how this thing progresses.

So without further ado I present to you the One a Day for May 7th:

Second beet from the garden, picked a little prematurely. Fortunately I’m the only one in the family who likes beets so it wasn’t entirely too small for a single serving.

I would like to say, “Thank you” to both Jason Good and Jules at Pancakes and French Fries.  Jason Good did a 365 series last year where he blogged every day for a year and Jules did a Thirty-one Days of William Morris series last October.  Neither of them know me, but both have inspired me.