Friday, February 27, 2015

Wheel-Barrel Full of Ideas For This Year's Garden

Wheel-Barrel Full of Ideas For This Year's Garden

This might turn into an extremely long post, but I've been looking forward to it for a long while now, and I don't want to leave out a single detail!

Join me for a peak into my plan's for this year's garden! 

Now, keep in mind this is a rough draft of my actual plans, due to them changing every 12.03 hours, but these drawings will give you an idea as to my garden lay-out. Whether or not the plants scribbled in each bed will actual be planted there or not, has yet to be determined.

Raised beds in the backyard garden:

More raised beds in backyard:

The large blank square (which should actually be a rectangle shape) is another long raised bed.

Front yard raised bed herb/salad green garden:

 Let's start with the front yard...

The front yard gets lots of shade, so perfect for some shade-loving herbs, and salad greens (spinach, lettuce, chard, etc). Plus they are handy to grab whenever you need them.

Our raised beds consist of up-cycled shipping crates, and two several wooden frames, who are also up-cycled! Total cost - $0.00

We should have lots of space for all our greens, and some herbs. Then along the perimeter of the yard, we hope to transplant mint, in hopes it will take over and provide some green foliage, and insect repellant.

Backyard side garden - 

Full view of the side garden. 

We have eight beds to work with here, so beets, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatillo, tomatoes, okra, and maybe some peppers will go here. Just depending on what doesn't get planted elsewhere.

I've gathered up a whole passel of buckets (used to hold minerals for the cattle), so I might try growing some of my beans/peas in them, and allow the plants to crawl up the backyard fence. They would also be good for potatoes.

 Radishes or carrots might go here.

My future compost worm container:

I am SO excited about growing worms this year! They will help in breaking down compost material, eating many of the scraps that the chickens won't touch (coffee grounds, egg shells, tea bags, etc), and they will provide the chickens with an occasional high-protein treat. Their uses are endless!

Potato bin:

 Potatoes are one of the root vegetables that I would like to store a whole bunch of, so I have a feeling I'll have potato plants stashed everywhere! ;)

A cold frame I threw together one afternoon. I've attempted to grow some spinach, but the cold weather keeps interfering with their growth.

Once spring arrives, I can take the plastic covering off and use it as another raised bed. I've also heard you can plant seeds in the hay-bales themselves. We might give that a try... 

Amongst my various cleaning projects, I came across these three metal-knitted frames. I was pondering what they could be used for, and then it came to me...they would be perfect for trellises! 

 After cleaning out the greenhouse the other day, I found four more small shipping crates. Not sure where they will end up. I had planned on building my rabbit and quail hutches along the fence-line where they currently are.

 Bad picture, but can you see the two small treelings? Good. Those are a couple of our almond trees! Although, I think it'll be awhile before they produce nuts.

 Our apricot trees are blooming!

 I've found myself without any fresh compost, so I've been actively cleaning out all the feathered dinosaur (a.k.a poultry) pens, trying to build up my compost pile.

This plot here is what will be the corn/squash/pumpkin patch. I just finished tearing down the old compost fence, and cleaning it up. Then dad cleared some bothersome mesquite trees, that long since needed to go. Then he broke up the ground using the bobcat, to make the tilling job easier for the tiller.

So the next step is to build a bigger and better fence around the plot, and till'er up.

These are our last three beds in the backyard, they border the back porch. 

Here, are two rose bushes are planted, and our mint patch. The original plan was to plant Echinacea here, but my brother's fiancee asked me to grow bluebonnets for their wedding in May, so I may have to use all this space for those, OR plot out and fence in another area just for a flower patch. 

I'm still figuring out where all the different plants will grow best, and how much to grow of each plant, but this post will give you a glimpse into my gardening master plan. 

And last, but certainly not least, is our project "Fortify The Backyard". I happen to own a handful of critters who would love to get their hands (or beaks...) on my garden produce (insert turkeys, ducks, chickens, geese, and peafowl...), so we are going to extra efforts this year to keep them out, and keep our garden harvest safe from said critters. This lovely new fence that dad built will certainly help in that department, but we still have several gates and holes to fix before it's critter proof. 
 I've given you a small peak into my garden plans, so now let's hear yours!

I've just about garden-talked my family to death, so I am in desperate need to talk garden with somebody! That's where you come in..leave me a comment and tell me your garden plans for this year.

Blessings - 

~ Aspen

In case you missed my last post on what all I will be planting in the garden this year: 2015 Seed List

See also my Gardening Board on Pinterest.

Friday, February 20, 2015

2015 Seed List

2015 Seed List

In January, Mom handed me a stack of seed catalogs and put me in charge of ordering this years' seeds.

I've dabbled in gardening in the past, but mostly left it up to somebody else. That is, until this year.

I am literally turning every available space into a garden patch, raised bed, or something that will benefit the garden in some way. 

I have large..huge..No..COLOSSAL plans for this years' garden! I have high hopes to harvest enough store-able vegetables to last us through this coming winter. Another words, I don't want us to buy any onions, potatoes, squash/pumpkins, garlic, etc. Anything that cannot be stored in the cellar, can be frozen and used as needed.

But, I'll reveal my colossal plans for the garden in another post. This post is dedicated to the (large amount) of seeds I've ordered thus far. And by that, I mean I may not be done ordering! Truthfully, all I have to do is just see a garden catalog and it's enough to spur another seed order! Me, have a problem? Yes, I do. It's called SGS (Severe Gardening Syndrome). It effects your brain, causing you to become an obsessive gardener.

Now then! Without any further ado, my seed list for this year:


French Dandelion
Lemon Balm
Marsh Mallow
Wild Thyme
Blue Hyssop
Lemon Bee Balm
Dark Purple Opal Basil


Tennesseensis Echinacea
Purpurea Echinacea
Showy Evening Primrose
Blue Bonnets


Lutz Salad Leaf Beet
Wethersfield Red Onion
Purple of Sicily Cauliflower
Calabrese Green Sprouting Broccoli
San Juanito Tomatillo
Duplex Russian Giant Scorzorera
Siamese Dragon Stir Fry Salad Blend
Red Orach 
Atilla Strawberries
Rosa Bianca Eggplant


Burgundy Okra
Burmese Okra


(Kulli) Black Incan Corn
Strawberry Popcorn
Mixed Rainbow Colored Corn

Miniature Chocolate Bell Peppers
Oda Peppers
Friariello Di Napoli Peppers

Pipian From Tuxpan Squash    
Patisson Panache Jaune Et Vert Scallop Squash
Blue Hubbard Squash
Queensland Blue Squash
Long Pie Pumpkin
Marina Di Chioggia Pumpkin
Butternut-Waltham Squash
Kamo Kamo Squash
Ambar Squash
Rouge Vif D' Etampes Pumpkin
Mini Red Turban Squash
Zucchini Lungo Bianco Squash

Garnet Rice Beans
Sugar Snap Peas
Cherokee Trail of Tears Pole Beans   
Purple Podded Pole Beans
Good Mother Stallard Beans


Chinese Green Luobo Radish
Purple Plum Radish
Chinese Red Meat Radish  


Dragon's Egg Cucumber
Boston Pickling Cucumber


Sunset Lettuce
Red Wing Lettuce Mix Salad Blend
Outredgeous Lettuce


Atomic Red Carrot
Amarillo Carrot

Magic Molly Sweet Potatoes
Blue Potatoes 


Red Malabar Spinach
Amsterdam Prickly Seeded Spinach
Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach
New Zealand Spinach (and if you assumed I ordered New Zealand spinach..just because of the name...well, you'd be right!)


Five Color Silverbeet Swiss Chard
Blue Curled Scotch Kale
Scarlet Kale
If you made it to the end of the list, you should be congratulated!!  

Are there any among my readers who also have SGS? If so, leave me a comment and tell me what all you will be planting this year!

Blessings - 

~ Aspen

DIY: Wagon Hoop House

DIY: Wagon Hoop House

I'm all about re-purposing, and take great pride in refashioning broken down, and seemingly worthless objects. But, with a little time and TLC they can be transformed into something beautiful, and useful!

I present to you my latest DIY refashion project: 

As my family will tell you, I've spent the last several weeks going crazy with spring-cleaning, organzing...everything I can get my hands on, and of course lots of DIY projects using supplies discarded from previous projects, and re-purposing where I can. That's why you've seen so many DIY projects on the blog lately, because..well, that's what I've been doing!

I'd seen several cute ideas via Pinterest (I know, I know, you're shocked right?) of old wagons turned into cute flower beds. We just so happened to have an old (used-to-be) covered wagon that we played in as small children. The only logical solution to the dilemma was to turn it into something pretty and useful! Correct? Of course correct! 

The first order of business was to drag it to the backyard, and by drag, I mean that quite literally, the tires being flat and all, I had quite the time getting it where I wanted it!

 After placing it in the desired spot, I hauled some good 'ole dirt to it.

Then I had a two week delay...

After getting thus far, I found I had no greenhouse material to wrap it in. Humph. Off I went to Amazon and ordered a 20 ft. roll of the materiel, and yes it took it's sweet time in getting to me, but get here it finally did!

With the help of Little 'Sis, we cut a piece of fabric large enough to cover the wagon, with some extra fabric hanging over the sides.

Next, I cut two slits on either side of the metal hoops, in the fabric, threaded wire through the holes and tied them up. I used several small logs to hold down the extra flaps on the end, so I could easily access the bed.

All that remained was to plant something in it's barren-bed. I scattered a few spinach and chard seeds hither and there, and voila! Another finished project!

Blessings - 

~ Aspen

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Guardian of The Yard

Guardian of The Yard

You may remember the wee little chick that I raised from a chickling, fondly nick-named the Chicken Chick. She is grown now, and resides in the front yard, where she instills terror into the hearts of those she crosses paths least that is, if you are a dove or sparrow. She has taken it upon herself to guard the yard from pesky invaders, who steal her precious bird seed and walk on her grass. She will not have it. No sir! She keeps watch from the porch, or the corner of the yard, there she watches and waits for her enemies to land. Once they do, she lowers her head, and rushes forth in a wild frenzy, chasing them out of the yard. Then, puffing out her chest, she triumphantly marches back to the porch to boast of her gallant deeds to her other faithful watch/guard companion, Rusty. Together, they nap on the porch, resting from the long night of keeping monsters away from the house.
She lays her pearl-white eggs on one of the two wooden thrones that reside on her porch, they are cushioned of course. We can hear her excitedly cackle her egg-song from within the house.
She spends her day standing guard, keeping my raised beds tilled for me, basking in the sun, napping with her best friend, eating food intended for the dog, keeping the wee little dogs in-check, pecking them on the tail when they misbehave, exchanging chitter-chatter with the neighboring birds next door, and following Food Lady (i.e - me) around the yard helping out with all the chores.

 She also enjoys taking naps with said person.
Overall...she is seriously spoiled! And she knows it too! We pamper her and let her have her way, even when she gets into trouble. If I was a bachelor-ette, I would have her inside the house with me, indeed I would!

Do you have a special animal/chicken? What funny things do they do?

Blessings - 

~ Aspen

Monday, February 16, 2015

Ricotta Gnocchi - Recipe Revised

Ricotta Gnocchi - Recipe Revised

 Ricotta Gnocchi - Recipe Revised

Recipe credit:

16 oz. ricotta cheese (drain excess liquid) <(I used cottage cheese)
2 farm fresh eggs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour, more as needed
Sauce of your choice


Assemble your ingredients - in separate bowls mix together your wet and dry ingredients, then pour together and knead until you have a sticky/firm dough. Divide dough into four pieces.
Flour your surface very well (this dough is very sticky!), using a rolling pin, roll to aprox. 1/2" thickness. I then cut my dough into strips, like you would if you're making a pie or cobbler, then I cut them into bite-sized square pieces. 
 Meanwhile, have your pot of boiling water handy, drop your dough in, and once they rise to the top, they are done. Drain and serve with your sauce of choice (both red-sauce and alfredo are delicious with this dish) and additional parmesan cheese. 


This dish was well received by the family, and the general consensus was two thumbs up. I'm sure I'll make making this again soon, and hope you will give it a try!

Several weeks ago I discovered a potato gnocchi recipe in one of my issues of Mary Jane's Farm magazine, and thought it very interesting, but the thought of potato based pasta..just didn't sound to appetizing to me! Several days later, one of the (many) blogs I follow posted a quick, simple recipe for a ricotta gnocchi recipe. Fate, it would seem, wanted me to make this dish...who am I to say nay? I gathered up the ingredients (minus the ricotta cheese, apparently small-town grocery stores do not carry it. ;) and gave it a try and was well pleased with the results!

Blessings - 

~ Aspen

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Springs' In The Air!

Springs' In The Air!

Is winter really almost over? My, my how time flies! But, I must confess, even I; the winter lovin' gal, is aching for a steady stream of warm days without the constant threat of yet another cold spell blowing in. My green thumb is itching to move my tender sproutlings from the greenhouse and transplant them into their respective beds. Yes sir, I'm ready to break out that caner and put away all the yummy (yet-to-be-produced) harvest. But alas, I must remind myself that winter is still lingering, and to be patient (<something I have trouble with...)...warm days will come soon enough..I hope! 

On the bright side of things, I can already taste spring in the air! Why, just the other day I was outside, doing whatever I do, and I heard a low hum of buzzing high above me. I thought perhaps it was a wild swarm of wandering bees, and quickly ran inside to fetch Mom. It was bees, but they were not wandering! They were our very own backyard bees that reside in a hive right outside the back fence. They were swarming around some fresh buds that one of our trees put out. I suppose, it was some of the first fresh flowers of the season! While listening to them buzz-hum above me, I was reminded of one (of the many) songs from a dearly beloved movie, "Seven Brides For Seven Brothers". You can watch/listen to it below:

Your welcome for getting it stuck in your head! ;)

And oh yes! I most certainly did start singing this song when the bees reminded me of it. 

Ahh! Spring! When will you be here? 

I suppose I will content myself with admiring my tiny sproutlings in the greenhouse, pouring over seed catalogs (that keep streaming in the mail..), and impatiently awaiting spring to arrive.

What, my dear readers, are you doing to endure the wee bit of winter we have left? Have you already begun to plan and order your seed inventory for the season? (Welcome to the bandwagon!! ;) Do tell!

Blessings - 

~ Aspen

Friday, February 6, 2015

DIY: Compost Bin

While planning for my spring garden, I found (much to my horror!) that I was without a compost bin!
Last year, we had a large fenced in area in which we dumped all our compost materials. Then we raised meat chickens in the compost pen, and they added to it and kept it turned, thus helping it compost faster. Basically, what I'm trying to say is, the soil in there is fantastic! In view of that fact, I'm growing corn in the lovely soil-rich compost pen this year, thus leaving me without a place to compost. So, I figured it was time to build a (new) compost bin. Here's how:

You will need:

  • 4 pallets minimum (the more the merrier!!)
  • Wire
  • Pliers
  • T-Posts and/or cinder blocks
Start off by placing your pallets around the appointed area, then one by one, wire them securely together. If after, you've wire them together and find they still need a wee bit of support, simply drive a T-post or two into the ground and wire the pallets to them, and/or add a couple cinder blocks to the inside of your pallet fence, to help brace them. 

Once you've done that, your finished. Time to load'er up with compost!

FYI: My pallets were very weather worn and warped, so forgive their atrocious appearance! Hopefully, you can find some free, new pallets to build yours with!

I am loving my new compost bin thus far. It's just the right size (for the amount of compost I have right now), but I can easily add on later if I need to. And, it's near to all my various garden projects, so it's easily accessible, which I like.

 I hope you enjoyed this simple, easy garden project!

Blessings - 

~ Aspen

Monday, February 2, 2015

DIY: Grazing Frame

It's the dead of winter, your chickens haven't had fresh greens in weeks! How do you supplement fresh greens during the winter months, when all other vegetation is dormant? Easy! Build a grazing frame and grow your own wheat grass (or foliage of your choosing) all winter long (unless of course you live in Alaska or something..then never mind.) and keep your chickens occupied at the same time! Here's how...

You will need:

  •  Wire cutters
  • Pliers
  • A roll of welded wire
  • 6 pieces of re-purposed wood
  • Nails

First off, figure out what shape your frame is going to be. Mine was a square, so start screwing them together. 

Rabbit Trail: Never again will I try and use a cheapy drill that is a piece of junk. Oh yes, I drilled them all together, because I wouldn't let it lick me, but boy howdy! I think I'll just be old-fashioned and stick with hammer'n nails! End of rabbit trail.

Once your frame is nailed together (or you could knock yourself out and screw them*ahem* I did), lay your last two boards on top of your frame and nail them down on either side.

Begin cutting your wire to fit your frame, leaving a few inches extra on each side that you can nail down later for extra secure-ness.

Then overlap your wire on top of your frame. 

Now, go about nailing down all 'round the perimeter of your frame, securing the wire. Don't forget to nail the wire to your two supporting boards to keep your wire from bulging up.

If your fortunate enough to have a new roll of wire to use, then you can skip this step.
Once I was ready to attach my wire I found the piece I had selected was two feet lacking being long enough. So I scrounged up another piece and cut it to fit the gap. Then I wired the two pieces together. So, mine isn't as 'flat' on top as I would have liked, but oh well.

Done securing the wire to the top of the frame? Great!

Now, fold down the extra inches of wire, and nail it down. We don't want to be jabbed by wire, now do we! Of course not! ;)

And bingo! Your finished. Wasn't that easy (minus the back-pain, raw fingers and bloodied fingers)!

This project has been officially Izzie approved.


I should get the "Most Talented Photography Award". This (below) is what I had to deal with while attempting to snap shots. And yes, I took this picture upside down while Rusty was trying to knock me over and lick my face. *ahem*

And do try not to put a hole through your finger, neither nails or screws. It hurts...muchly!

I hope you enjoyed this simple Do It Yourself project, as much as I did!

Blessings - 

~ Aspen