Wednesday, January 9, 2013

In the Veggie Garden – Let the Planning Begin

It’s a new year and, for some reason, as soon as the holidays are past and the un-Christmafication process is complete, my thoughts turn to my veggie garden. I had some success last summer with my vegetables, even though the temperatures made it rather unbearable to spend as much time as I had hoped, but I was unable to make my little garden as beautiful as I wanted. This year I am planning to get an early start; planning always helps. 

 The list of vegetables that I will grow this year has been fine-tuned and a few new varieties have been added where others have been deleted. I had an overabundance of yellow squash last year and they crowded out my more preferred zucchini so I will only plant my favorite variety of zucchini. I have added two grains: Amaranth and Quinoa. The Quinoa I have chosen because I have become quite enamored with it and Amaranth because it is supposed to help draw certain detrimental bugs to it. 

I had the idea of putting herbs between our neighbor’s yard and our yard because deer are not too fond of strongly scented plants and I figured both our neighbors and we would be able to harvest it when we chose. I will start the seeds before the last frost and get those in place well before it gets unbearably hot this year.  Our herbs for 2013: Italian Parsley, Oregano, Mint, Basil, Thyme and Marjoram.

I have whittled my tomatoes list down from nine last year to five this year. I have chosen to keep my favorite types from last year (Genovese, Pink Brandywine, Lemon Oxheart, San Marzano Lungo No.2) and not bother with some of the others (Purple Russian, Riesentraube, Snowberry, Sungella and Pink Caspian). For some reason, these varieties struggled. Some had blossom end rot and, when I cured that, they were then attacked by tomato horned worms (I HATE those little critters!)  Some I just wasn’t impressed by their flavor. I added the Purple Cherokee tomato to the other four I retained.

In place of the deleted tomatoes, I have added two varieties of eggplant and peppers.  I never managed to get my peppers and eggplants planted last year, with the extra room this year I shouldn’t have the same problem. The varieties of eggplant we are trying this year: Ping Tung and Rotunda Bianca Sfumata Di Rosa. The peppers for 2013: Lipstick, Melrose, Sweet Yellow Stuffing and Red Marconi.

The Dragon’s Egg cucumbers were a huge hit with my little one, as were spinach and leaf lettuce, so those remain but the Swiss Chard was not well received so I will nix that or plant it sparingly. (We will be trying Kale in the fall) 

I will try to plant my onion seed on time (early) this year. Last year, I overlooked it. I have about three or four different varieties, some spring type onions and some bulb.  I hope to also plant a hedge of Lavender near their home since I read that it helps prevent some of the pests that attack young onions.

I also added to my selection of beans this year. Last year, I was late getting them into the ground and with the early arrival of hot temperatures, they did poorly. I also hope to create a bit of a garden arch to shade my pathways between raised beds.  There are also a variety of other veggies I’m trying this year (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and kohlrabi) I’m a bit nervous about these as some are suppose to be trickier to grow than my other veggies, but the family likes them or is open to try them so why not?

Over the next few weeks, I hope to make some headway in the aesthetic planning of the raised bed area. Above is the color palette I'm thinking of to add a pop of color to the cinder blocks and planters. The garden is fenced in with rather unattractive fencing but I am sure there is some way to make it look prettier than it does. 

The other problem I had in 2012 was weeds coming up through the gravel drive and around the fencing. Pavers around the perimeter seem to help keep them in check around the garden perimeter but the drive was out of control. I read that baking soda twice during the growing season helps to keep anything from growing so I will try that in the gravel areas and where we can’t easily weed. 

Here's hoping for a more temperate spring where I can make great progress beautifying my little corner of Heaven! I will try to document any progress in photos.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year, New Goals

 Happy New Year!

I have severely neglected my blog in 2012. Since it is a time for new beginnings, I have decided to refocus on keeping this blog more active than it has been in the past year. Actually, Busy Little Elf will take a few new directions this year as well. I am still in school and have one class left before I receive my entrepreneurship certificate. After I complete the certificate, I hope to take a brief break from school to focus on getting my business performing to where I want it to be and allow my husband to take some computer classes.

I guess it is always important to look at the outgoing year’s events when planning for the future. It has been an eventful year. My son turned five this summer and started kindergarten in August. All summer long he was enrolled in nature classes and swimming. He also started playing soccer. Keeping him active kept me very busy during a time when I have normally focused on creating for the Etsy shop. I still managed to get new pieces completed and finished some other pieces that had been sitting on my table for a long time. Unfortunately, not as many as I had hoped for and I still have more unfinished pieces that I hope to finish up before I start the new pieces for 2013. 

My garden got a little out of control this past year. Early hot, humid days kept me inside and prevented me from making as much progress as I would have liked. My vegetable garden did exceptionally well and I’ve already made adjustments to my grow list and have ordered any new seeds I will need for the next growing season. I will need to start some seeds soon. How quickly time passes! I can’t believe it’s time to start planning my garden. I do have some seeds I will not be using this year. If you’d be interested in any leave a comment with your email address (I will not post it for all to see) and I will email you with what I have. I would be more than willing to mail them to you if you could use them.

I started mentoring some of the kids at my son’s school. I meet with five fabulous boys and girls and read with them an hour each week. I really enjoy it and look forward to continuing to mentor in the New Year.

Our family has been attending more local community events and this year attended the Grinch reading Dr. Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” from the top of the Fairport Harbor lighthouse. I hope to send a proposal to the mayor and historic society that holds the annual event and try to get involved by creating Grinch inspired display windows in some of the vacant storefronts.

The biggest “event” for me in 2012 was that I got a new car. My old car had a leak somewhere in the frame and I had a veritable koi pond in my backseat so we had to replace it about 5 years sooner than we hoped. It’s not fancy (a KIA Soul) but it gets us around and keeps us warm and dry and immersed in music not water. It will also allow me to do more craft shows as it has fold down seats so I can fill it with lots of handmade goodies. (Of course, it also worked quite well for hauling soil, bagged manure and pavers for my garden!)

So for this New Year, Lucky 13 (my son was born on the 13th so I consider 13 a very auspicious number for us):

  •   Write, Write, Write: Continue blogging on a regular schedule (I used to be able to do that! I remember it fondly)
  • Write and submit a proposal to Fairport Harbor for their Grinch event
  •   Create, Create, Create: Create a number of sculptures based on literary characters, in particular, the Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, the Grinch as well as new ornaments
  •  Finish up any previously started projects especially those that were targeted as gifts. :o(
  • Promote, Promote, Promote: Which means studying up on the newest methods of self promotion and then doing it
  •  Get a better handle on my little flower garden. I really need to mulch it well this year, the weeds are winning!
  •  Continue learning how to manage a successful bountiful organic vegetable garden and to turn the space into an area where our family can sit and enjoy the outside space. I think I may finally have enough wooden discs from our Christmas trees to make a path between raised beds. Now I need to decide on a theme for pavers that I can place on the gravel between the house and the drive so I can create a seating area. I keep leaning towards Alice in Wonderland for some strange reason.
  • As always, get my studio organized and clean (I laugh hysterically as I type that, sounds so easy and yet, it is always the last thing to be attended)