Category Archives: Veggie Garden

Foxes, Chickens, Dogs and Veggies

Blue Ridge Cabin in Springtime Fog

It can be hard to find time for all the springtime chores and harder yet to write about it, especially when the weather and my thoughts turn foggy and gray for days on end. I am much more productive when the sun is shining.

Wild Critters v Chickens

Our resident Mama Fox has six babies this spring, and they are more than the usual degree of hungry. She usually only takes about three chickens each spring before the babies learn how to hunt on their own, but we have lost seven hens, a duck and my rooster, who I have had for many years. He was such a good boy. The hens don’t seem to miss him but I do.

Baby Foxes
Baby Fox

The electric fence around the chicken pasture works great as long as there is no long grass zapping it’s energy away. It also helps to remember to plug it back in after clearing the grass off the bottom. The fox was able to dig under the fence because it was not plugged in. My fault. I feel so guilty when I fail to protect my flock.

Electric Fence for Hens

Meanwhile, I am feeding the fox kits cat food over by their den in an attempt to stave off their hunger and hopefully prevent more chicken losses. The babies roll around and tussle with each other just like puppies and are fun to watch. I just hope they learn how to eat rabbits and mice soon.

Baby Fox
Who Me? Eat Chickens?

Yesterday I was finally getting around to cutting down the last dried Miscanthus grass and discovered a bird nest with five eggs in it. I had to prop the cut grass back up to protect it. The eggs were blue with brown speckles. I walked close later when I did chores and the mama was back on the nest but I did not get a good view and am not sure what kind of bird it is yet. I was glad she came back though.

Divided Hostas and Miscanthus

I managed to divide two of my Big Blue Hostas and the other giant Miscanthus grass recently and potted them up with compost from last years barn cleaning. Two Hostas yielded 12 extra plants which I can trade.

The Veggie Garden

The week of April 15, it was still getting down in the 30’s (F) and 40’s at night, but getting up in the 70’s and 80’s during the day. Frost was still possible, so tender plants needed the protection of the hoop house .

Little Hoophouse

 

I worked some compost into the beds and sowed tomatoes, basil, cauliflower,  lettuce, and peppers for transplanting out later. After covering them with a protective layer of cloth (a recycled wedding runner) I watered them in. The hoop house is open on both ends but I attached some cloth near the bottom to keep a little wind out.

My grandson got the tiller working again (rusty magneto) so I finally planted potatoes April 17th. I usually try to plant them around St Patricks Day in March but we had snow that week. I planted 6 short rows of Yukon Golds and Norland Reds leftover from last years bumper crop where I had buckwheat last year. This plot is outside the garden fence but deer don’t like potatoes, so it should be OK.  They are up as of April 26th.

A few days later,I planted two rows of pole beans along the insides, figuring on removing the plastic after frost danger, allowing the vines to climb all over the frame. The tomatoes and cauliflower are all up as of April 26th.

Remay Over Corn

The ground was a still little  cool for planting corn April 18th, so I covered the whole area with Remay cloth to help warm it and also to keep the crows from eating the sprouting seeds.

We are eating a little asparagus from the bed I planted last year along the fence and we are still eating the Kale that overwintered really well. The garlic that was planted last fall is also doing well.

Wintered Over Garlic and Kale

If the blossoms on the blueberries and strawberries all turn into fruit we will have a great crop. Last year frost damaged the blooms and we did not get as much as usual. I actually had to buy 🙁 some frozen strawberries this winter for Jeff’s morning protein shakes.

 New Dog Fence

After finally cleaning out the front barn, I set up a new solar powered, electric, woven fence for visiting dogs to play in. I ordered the 160 feet of poultry netting, the 10 watt solar panel, a 12 volt, 18 amp hour battery and the Hotshock charger ( uses either 110V or 12 volts) from Premier 1Supplies. I recommend this company. They answer all kinds of questions via chat so you can figure out your best plan, such as,  how big of a solar panel and what kind of battery are needed for your job.

Solar Fence Charger

I am using a ladder as the people access until I make a real gate. I take care of other peoples critters  and bringing the dogs home with me can make it easier to give them outside time. They are safely away from the chickens and have shady trees, grass,  sun and barn space.

Ladder as People Door

Spring is one of my favorite times of the year but there is so much to do before the hot weather sets in. In the meantime, it is gorgeous just walking around the yard and enjoying the flowers.

Phlox divaricata
Tree Peony

On the long rainy days, I must remember the lush green growth and flowers that will emerge because of the dreary days.

Fog on the Blue Ridge

 

 

Wendy lee Maddox, writing at Edgewise woods, Gardens and Critters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frozen Basil Cookies

Growing Basil

Basil is a frost tender annual herb which is easy to grow from seed. It can be  sowed directly into the garden after the ground warms up and there is no chance of frost. The seedlings will emerge in about a week and if grown in a solid row, will need to be thinned to about six to eighteen inches apart. You can replant the thinnings wherever you have space in the garden. I find that six to ten well spaced  plants  supply us with plenty of leaves to eat fresh, dry and freeze for the year.

I use some form of Basil in a lot of what I cook and I put it up in different ways, according to how it will be used. Fresh, it is really good with sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese and is great mixed with spinach as greens on sandwiches or salads.

Dried Basil

Once your Basil plants are about eighteen inches tall, you can start cutting them. Take a heavy pair of kitchen scissors and a basket out to the garden and cut each branch of Basil back to a nice pair of leaves so it can keep on growing. It is better to cut about six inches each week or two than it is to cut it back too far all at once. Fill the basket, and using cotton twine, gather about five cuttings in a bunch and tie them along the length of string. Tie a loop in one end that will fit over your peg or drying arms and let them hang until dry and starting to crumble. 20160926_105218

Do not hang them in the sun, but indoors in the shade. If the weather is too damp for it to dry properly, you can lay it on a cookie sheet in a warm 200 degree F oven with the door open a crack to crisp it up.

Once it is dry, strip the leaves off the stems over a cookie sheet and then rub through a big sieve. Fill small half pint jars and save some of them for presents to give to family and friends.

I use dried basil in omelets and scrambled eggs and add it to sauces and soups.

Frozen Pesto Cookies

For a fresher flavor, especially in Lasagna or sauces, I really like to use frozen Basil cookies.

These savory cookies are made by picking the leaves into the food processor, adding a little olive oil and periodically giving it a whir. Add more leaves, whir again. Keep adding leaves until you run out or it gets too full. The oil helps it to mix and holds it together so you can spoon cookie sized rounds out onto cookie sheets. Place the sheet in the freezer overnight and in the morning, remove them with a spatula and load into quart sized freezer bags.

Processing Basil Cookies
Processing Basil Cookies

Drop a couple of these cookies into a pot of simmering tomato sauce, steam with spinach and stuff into a pork roast,  or add to the cheese filling of spinach lasagna, drop into stews. Add pine nuts and cheese fora fresh tasting winter Pesto over rice or spaghetti squash. It is very easy to use a cookie or two at a time.

-Wendy lee, writing at Edgewisewoods, Gardens and Critters

 

How to Freeze Spaghetti Squash

I have volunteer squash all over the yard in odd places from tossing out bad ones last year. The vine out in the raspberry/ buckwheat patch has turned out to be a Calabash, or Vegetable Spaghetti squash.

Squash Hiding in the Buckwheat Patch
Squash Hiding in the Buckwheat Patch

Quite a few of them rotted before I realized they were ripe but I still have a good pile of them to deal with. These particular ones won’t keep because a rabbit injured them in small spots so I need to cook and save them for later. Since I wasn’t sure how best to freeze them I Googled “How to Freeze Spaghetti Squash” and got this great link to the site Pioneer Thinking which has some good recipes. 

So, I will cut them in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and bake them at 375 F for 30 minutes. Then fork out the strands, let them cool, pack into quart size freezer bags, label and freeze. I save some of the seeds to plant again and if you like you can roast them in the oven to eat. You can even eat the blossoms if you want. Tempura is a good way and Alexandra’s Kitchen has a good stuffed Tempured Blossom recipe.

Squash Blossom
Squash Blossom

I love Spaghetti squash and use it like pasta or rice for our standard “Stuff on Rice” dishes, which varies according to what is available in the garden and the fridge. I usually saute onions and garlic, add sliced mushrooms, then whatever veggies I have- like broccoli or tomatoes-add some broth, thicken it up with a little cornstarch/ cold water paste and spoon it on top of the hot spaghetti squash.

I also have a volunteer Patty Pan squash vine by the garage door, which is producing well, and found some recipes for it here at Delishably 

volunteer summer squash
Crookneck Squash in the Tomatoes

Yellow Crookneck squash volunteered in the middle of the tomato patch in the veggie garden and also mini gourds along the fence. I was hoping for some Blue Hubbard or Butternut but will have to plant them instead- right away, as soon as I dig the potatoes out to make room.

Most summer squash can be used interchangeably in recipes. One of my favorite ways is to slice them and cook them on the grill with a spritz of olive oil and herbs.

Happy gardening and eating

– Wendy lee at Edgewise woods, gardens and critters

Planting Potatoes in a New Way -March 22, 2015

I have decided to try, once again, to make gardening a little easier on us this year.

Wheelbarrow and Bins
Wheelbarrow and Bins

I hope it works. I have given over more space to the blueberry/strawberry patch the last couple of years and space is getting tight in the garden, which is already plenty big enough, in terms of taking care of it. We always try to grow enough potatoes for the entire year and they take up a lot of room grown in the 10-12 single rows.  It is also a lot of hard work to keep them weeded and hilled up and then digging them up

Last Years Potato Patch
Last Years Potato Patch

at the end of the season. I have been using cardboard between the rows as mulch and covering that with barn cleanings and we had a great crop in 2014.
I have been reading about growing various vegetables vertically instead, which seems like a great idea because it will make them easier to dig and also less prone to being smothered with weeds, besides taking up less space in the garden. So today, I hauled out some old pallets from the front barn and tied them together with bailing twine to form two bins out in the garden. I loaded each bin with a wheelbarrow load of composted barn cleanings and dropped hay and set the already sprouted taters on top, rather thickly.

Sprouted Taters Laid Out
Sprouted Taters Laid Out

Then I covered them with another load of fairly dry chicken bedding. The plan is to keep adding soil, compost to cover the potatoes as they grow, so that they grow a very long stem with space for the tubers all along it. We should be able to harvest a lot of potatoes in a much smaller space by going up instead of each plant only making a few in the shallow space of the rows.

We always plant Yukon Golds, they are the best tasting potato I have found and we had enough left from last year so we don’t have to buy any. However, from what I have been reading it looks like Yukons are not the best choice for growing vertically, as they are “determinate” and won’t produce spuds the entire length of the buried plant

Potato Bins Ready
Potato Bins Ready

stem as I had hoped. So, it looks like I will have to buy some seed potatoes of another variety after all and plant a third bin, just in case. They will

still take up far less room than usual and we will just have to see how it goes.

-Wendy lee,  writing at:     http://www.edgewisewoods.com

Some useful links:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yukon_Gold_potato
www.motherearthnews.com/diy/no-space-potato-barrel-