Roda’s Critter Connection

I have been on a very serious hunt for Spring!  It is April, right?  Yet, we had an ice storm this weekend and the kids have a snow day today!  A snow day…in April!  Are you kidding me?!  I did notice this adorable lady bird, crawling around on my rosemary plants.  At least the critters are waking up and finding their way inside!  (Insert eye roll!)

img_1912

Grab your camera and share your favorite critter!

Happy Spring…I think!

Love Yourself…Embrace Yourself…Just Be You…

♥Roda

 

Feed the Bees

Spring is right around the corner!  This means it is seed starting time!  I have to admit, I not only have an addiction to chocolate, critters and hats, but to seeds!  I love harvesting seeds, buying seeds and of course, planting seeds.  We are fortunate enough to have a heated undergarage, with added grow lights for seed starting.  In February and March, we will also begin seeds in the hoop houses and greenhouse.

This year, we have an extra special seed focus – BEES!  With 20,000 Italian honey bees arriving in May, we are expanding our cottage garden and filling the Apiary with lots of bee-loving plants.

Granted, we have many food choices for our little friends, with the gardens and fruit trees, but in my opinion, there is never enough food for the bees!  You might not have a passion for becoming a bee keeper, but that does not mean you can’t help the natural bees in your area.  This Spring, when you are looking to add plants to your yard, garden or deck, here are some special requests from the bees!  (Zone 5)

Herbs: lavender, sage, catmint, cilantro, thyme, borage, fennel, bee balm, dill

Perennials:  hollyhocks, clematis, foxglove, poppy, cone flower, black-eyed susan,

Annuals: sunflowers, zinnia, clover, marigolds, geranium,

Shrubs: butterfly bushes, honeysuckle, roses, clematis, forsythia, witch hazel, weigela

Fruits & Veggies: blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, fruit trees, cantaloupe, gourds, pumpkins, cucumbers, squash, watermelon, tomatoes

Remember, if the bees die, they are taking us with them!  Pollination is NOT something that can be outsourced!

sunflowers 8-26-17 022

Bee Kind…Bee Helpful…Bee YOU!

♥Roda

img_6641

 

If You Build It They Will Come: Part VII

It was Spring 2015 and time to plant the potager for the first time!  We were so excited to watch our young, organic garden grow!  It was difficult to believe that in just a few months we would have our first harvest at Indigo Acres!

img_2546.jpg
Creating the planting beds and grass paths…
img_2550-e1504580818184.jpg
It was time to move the seedlings out of the greenhouse for planting!
img_2549.jpg
Our little grape vines looked healthy and strong!
img_2562
Within no time, the grass paths were thickening and the baby plants were taking off!
img_2534.jpg
We tried the straw and cage method for growing potatoes!  Looks like our 8 towers made for a successful harvest!

As the garden plants grew throughout the season, so did the animals!  The baby ducks grew up into big ducks, in no time!  They began laying eggs at about 24 weeks of age.  Once you have tasted a duck egg, you will never go back!

img_2578
The ducks love lettuce and kale from the garden!
img_2560.jpg
The tomatoes, onions and pepper plants were making nice progress!  Our first tomato harvest was a success… We canned almost 100 jars of salsa and sauce!

We did find that Mother Nature has her very own sense of humor!  There are magical tomato unicorns and scary tomato vampires!

These beautiful tomatillos would soon make the most wonderful salsa verde!

img_2576
I love the fact that they appear to be mini hot air balloons!  When their paper casing turns light brown and splits, it is time to harvest.

We also enjoyed making strawberry and raspberry jam!  It was such a treat to not have to purchase berries from the local farmers’ market!

I love using red and black beans in soups and salsa.  We had never grown shell beans before, so we thought we would take a risk!

img_2609

img_2612.jpg
We could not believe how easy it was to grow red and black beans!  Once the shells were dry, we pulled the plants and picked off the pods.

The big question…who was going to shell all of those beans!?  My oldest son entered the conversation and seemed to think it would be a quick and easy chore.  He offered to take on the task for $5, thinking it would take him less than an hour!  I smiled at Wifey, with a wink and a devilish grin and told him that he was hired, handing him the very large black trash bag, filled with dried shell beans!  5 hours later, he finished!!  That was the best $5 ever spent!  Granted, none of the kids have offered to shell beans again!

img_2890
I store the dried beans in mason jars.

The herb garden was prolific!  Nasturtium and basil are two of my favorite herbs to use when making pesto.

Check out this link for my nasturtium/basil pesto recipe! It is quick and easy to make and freezes beautifully!

https://growingself.blog/2017/04/28/basil-nasturtium-pesto/

img_2575-1

The baking pumpkins lined the upper deck.  I used some for decorating, but baked most of them.  The pumpkin puree was frozen in freezer containers to use throughout the season.  Check out this link for one of our favorite pumpkin cookie recipes!

https://growingself.blog/2017/08/25/pumpkin-everything/

Pickles!! I can’t think of a better way to use dill and cucumbers!  Shadow was so tired from all of the canning, that he found the closest bed to take a nap!  I tried, but I could not fit in the box!  If you missed yesterday’s post, all about growing and harvesting dill, check it out!

https://growingself.blog/2017/09/05/harvesting-dill/

Peas are not a favorite in our family, unless they are in chicken fried rice!  But, the kids do enjoy snap pea pods!  These little ones are super easy to grow!  Our season, in Michigan, is long enough that we are able to replant pea pods at least three times.  These tender pods are not a fan of too much heat, so early Spring and Fall planting are the most successful.

I saved the best for last!  Brussels Sprouts!  These amazing balls of goodness do not get nearly enough credit!  If you asked me 5 years ago, I would have told you they were disgusting! My only prior knowledge of Brussels Sprouts was from eating the canned mushy ones, as a child.  No one likes mushy vegetables!  Then, I had a moment of awakening…  I had the opportunity to try them prepared properly and they were OUTSTANDING!  Balsamic-honey-bacon…what is not to love!?  I was determined to not only recreate the recipe, but grow them!  This is a recipe you will want to try!  Take a risk, you wont regret it!

https://growingself.blog/2017/04/21/for-the-love-of-brussels-sprouts/

Overall, it had been a successful first harvest!  We learned so much and would carry that knowledge into our next growing season…

Do what you love…Love what you do!

Love Yourself…Embrace Yourself…Just Be You…

Roda

img_2605
Carrot People!

A few more links to past posts…

https://growingself.blog/2017/04/17/the-exquisite-eggshell/

https://growingself.blog/2017/03/28/hard-boiling-farm-fresh-eggs/