With 2011 right around the corner, We have spent some time reflecting upon the events of 2010. This always leads us to making some resolutions for the new year to come. As yardsteaders, we tend to mark time by seasons and we began thinking of resolutions to match the seasons. We didn't want to just go with the typical resolution of "plant more next year". All the vegetables we plant each year such as zuchinni, heirloom tomatoes, squash, pumpkins, onions, garlic and so on were all popular in my kitchen this year, and we intend to devote more space to these crops next spring. But to be honest, we haven't planned well in years past and we don't have something planted in our garden through each season. I think in Florida with our climate and mild winters, this is probably almost gardening criminal. So our New Year's gardening resolution? Plan, Plan, Plan a four-season garden and make more space in the garden to grow more unusual varieties of heirloom vegetables and fruit!
The Yardstead wishes you much Happiness, Health, and Prosperity in the New Year. As always Happy Yardsteading to you and your family in 2011!
Jason and I lived in South Korea and in Japan when we were first married. One of our favorite small dishes that was placed at our table in some restaurants was a pickled fiddlehead fern or steamed fiddlhead ferns in a garlic sauce. I've thought about these dishes for years and have wondered which ferns were harvested. Imagine my delight to find an article on a new online journal that I joined recently about fiddleheads! http://www.thegardenerseden.com is a delightful online journal about gardening. I follow them on facebook.
I did some quick research at google.com and found the ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) seems to be the most popular fern listed for harvest in the U.S. The gardeners eden also mentions the Cinnamon fern, (Osmunda cinnamomea). Stay tuned for more information on this subject. I will be looking for some Ostrich ferns to add to the yardstead's growing edible gardens. Go check out the article at the Gardener's Eden website (beautiful pictures and a recipe)!
Persimmons remind me of my childhood. It is commonly eaten in homes of asian families. As my mom is from Taiwan, it was a common fruit that we ate in the fall when it was available. I was extremely happy to find that it can be grown in our area of the southeast. According to wikipedia, the persimmon is the edible fruit of a number of species of trees in the genus Diospyros in the ebony wood family (Ebenaceae). I purchased a non-astrigent cultivar called Fuyu. I will be planting it shortly (when I find a suitable spot) in our backyard. This persimmon will add to the growing edible landscaping here at the yardstead.
On March 12-13th, the UF Honey Bee Research and Extension lab will be offering the 3rd annual Bee College at UF Whitney Marine labs in St. Augustine, FL. The Bee College is Florida’s largest educational honey bee event, and is open to all ages and all experience levels. There will be beginner and advanced tracks, as well as classes for those who don’t even keep bees (gardening for bees, bumble bee biology, native pollinators of Fl, etc!).
There will be over 20 speakers from around the country, several hands-on workshops, and of course our annual honey show. A complete schedule, speaker bios, general info, and honey show rules can be found at www.UFhoneybee.com (click Bee College on the left). There is a discount for County Agents, Master Gardeners, Master Beekeeper program participants, Students, Kids, and Master Naturalists.
In addition, UF will be offering a restricted use pesticide certification class, African bee training for First Responders and Pest Control Operators, and USDA-ID/FABIS African bee identification training, with anticipated CEU credits offered.
For a complete brochure, please see www.UFhoneybee.com!
This time of year I always get so excited here at the Yardstead! It is almost spring planting time. Although we plant a garden through all four seasons, there is nothing like the excitement of Spring for us! We had 14 consecutive days of freezing weather in January. That is not normal in our area of the southeast. We have lost some of our citrus and many plants such as our bamboo were burnt back to the ground. We really hope these plants will begin growing again when the weather warms up.
Amazingly enough, turnips, onions and garlic came through the winter garden for us just fine. It is normal for us to plant potatoes in February around the 14th. So next weekend we will be putting potatoes in the ground along with some cabbage and broccoli. I plan to wait at least an additional two weeks to plant snow peas. Also, the potatoes we want to try in 5 gallon buckets this year will be planted in a couple more weeks. In early March all of the seeds for vegetable transplants into the garden in early April will be planted.
Our native pinneapple guava had no problem with the freezing this year. We plan to plant some native paw paws this year. We hope more natives mean less loss in any future freezing winters.
I hope everyone is thinking of their spring gardens. Just going through the seed catalogs gives us spring fever. Please check out Baker Creek heirloom seeds! They have some amazing variety and if you want, you can collect your own seed in the following seasons.
It has been an odd winter here at the yardstead. We had 14 consecutive nights of freezing weather. This is really unheard of in our area. We will not be completely sure how much we lost until spring. Our turnips, garlic, and onions did survive in the garden. We were very happy to see that. Currently we have four chickens in the coop. I'm really trying to decide if we should get more or stay with 4 this year. Four hens will produce enough eggs for our family through the spring and summer. We are so use to having more and having enough eggs to share with our neighbors. Raising chicks in the spare room is not something I am looking forward to this spring. Although I've been thinking that I should visit Lowe's and try to get a washer/dryer or refrigerator box. Then I could raise 4 or 5 chicks without much worry of them getting big enough to fly before the weather turns warm. We will just have to wait until March to decide! McMurray Hatchery is now allowing customers to order less than 12 ducks per order. There is an extra fee but we are happy to pay it in order to get the number of ducks we want. I have really missed having ducks since ours died unexpectedly this fall.
As spring approaches, I am trying to curb my spring/garden fever. Each year I always get too excited and start too early plants from seed. This year we will put potatoes in buckets at the end of February and I will wait till the first of March to start any seedlings. We plan to grow most of our potatoes in buckets this year. We will put about 5 inches of dirt in the bottom of a bucket and lay a potato eye on top. We will cover it slightly and as the potato plant grows, we will add more and more dirt till the plant rises above the top of the bucket. We hope to have an easier time harvesting potatos (dumping out buckets) than when they must be dug. I will post pictures of this new project and update our bucket gardening article as the plants grow. Wish us luck and happy gardening to you this Spring!
"Frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language, and yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying. The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things." ~Elise Boulding
This week at the yardstead we have been discussing simplicity and frugality. We moved into our yardstead 8 years ago. I'm sure we are not alone but over these past years we seem to have filled up our house and our lives with so much stuff. I'm willing to bet that 50% of it, if not more, is really unneccesary stuff. Over the next few months we plan to donate, reduce, recycle and re`use until we have less clutter. My goal is to then, NOT to fill the yardstead back up with more stuff.
If you have not seen The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard. Here is the link. I highly recommend it. www.storyofstuff.com
Vermicomposting is composting using worms. There are a variety of species of worms. The most common used earthworm are Red Wigglers or Night Crawlers (think fish bait). These can easily be looked up online for more information as well as to purchase online.
We have become interested in raising worms after watching a video produced by Olomana gardens in Haiwaii. In this video worms were raised very easily in a stacked composting bin. These bins can also be found online and seem relatively inexpensive. At Olomana gardens the worms were being raised under permaculture principles. Garden and food waste are fed to the worms. The worms produce castings (vermicompost) or are fed to chickens. Then the compost or chicken poo is used to fertilize the gardens. So a cycle is created that is relatively self-sustaining. Each system depends on the other to produce well.
Of course, I went immediately to the internet and to youtube to find information on raising worms. There are a variety of ways to do this. Stack bins seem to be.......
Hunger in America is a growing issue. Lost jobs due to the current economic situation have resulted in a greater need for food provided to the needy at food banks and local chairities. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, approximately 33 million people, including 13 million children, have substandard diets or must resort to seeking emergency food because they cannot afford the food they need. Research shows that hundreds of hungry children and adults are turned away from food banks each year because of lack of resources.
Launched in 1995, Plant A Row is a public service program of the Garden Writers Association and the GWA Foundation. Plant a row for the hungry campaign is a program for gardeners to give back to your local community. Gardeners plant one extra row in their garden each year. All vegetables or crops in that row are harvested and given to a local family, food bank, or soup kitchen.
This program doesn't require much money to get started. Only one pound of garden vegetables is needed to feed four people. Please consider planting a row in your garden for your local community. Please click http://www.gardenwriters.org/gwa.php?p=par/index.html to find out more about Plant a Row and to read about the success and history of this program.