Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sad Goodbyes

Well, the Lucky Us Ranch is about to be disbanded. It will have to be someone else's dream now. Perfect for a young couple who wants to simplify, about an acre of land, amazing garden spots, potential for a very lovely orchard, if someone were so inclined to put one in.

Right now, it has rain barrels hooked up, a spiral herb garden with perennials coming up. There are enchanting cone flowers by the back window, and a whole bioswale* filled with garden flowers. (Really, it's the ditch in front that carries the storm water down the street, but we wanted to slow it down some, and also, to not have to mow that sucker.)

There were so many things we did right, and so much that still needed to be done. The garage, I am pretty sure, once had a door for chickens to come in and out of. Maybe it will again. I would have liked that.

It really was a nice dream while it lasted. But it wasn't for us. Maybe it will be for you. If you are interested, let me know.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

So much going on!

Hello garden people and not gardening people. We've been so busy juggling so many Ranch projects that we've had little or no time to take pictures or do any updates. A quick run down of things to come: strawberry bed (forever), garden hoopa, bamboo fence part deux, growth, growth, growth, bioswale and the vandalism of bioswale, additional rain barrels, still yet even more growth, Greasel, the refinishing of the deck, a new tomato bed and so much more.

We'll start posting items as we get the the time and friendly photo evidence.

But a quick note; the salad greens have been coming up fat and steady and Marina has once again demonstrated why she is the dressing maven. She made a ginger dressing the other night that was outstanding. She just pulls them out of an invisible hat. Another reason why this is indeed, The Lucky Us Ranch.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

So much to tell!

The little sproutlins are popping up all over the house. We're a museum of Styrofoam and plastic. Not the best things to have around but when you're using them for seedlings over and over again, then I guess it's alright.

The nasturtiums came up inside but outside they seem to be hiding along with the breadseed poppies. The cold crops having survived three freeze scares after a whole lot of straw, leaves, sheets, and whatever else we could find were put on top and around all the wee plants. The tulips are looking good, transplanted bulbs are doing well.

Marina has built a bamboo gate, a waddle fence, and a rain chain for the rain barrel, which is full after a huge storm.

I think that some pictures are in order. Farm cat Topher thinks so too.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Here are the toilet paper roll seedlings in their egg carton tray. Broccoli babies, aren't they cute? (Night-blooming jasmine in foreground)

If I'd thought about it before this picture was taken, I would have pulled off the t.p. first. It's like the kid in school with the yearbook picture that's wrong, somehow... maybe he has some ketchup on his face, and you just know his mama was mortified when she saw the wallet-sized photos she was going to have to send to family.

Ah, well. Actually, this picture was taken a week or so ago, and the weather was sooo nice today, and is supposed to stay nice for the coming week or so, that I thought it was time to plant.

The way this is supposed to work is, to minimize the disturbance to the roots, you just plant the whole thing in the ground after opening up the bottom a bit. And that's just what I did on the ones that were singles. But see, since some of these had two baby plants come up, I gently shook the soil and separated those. I know I am supposed to just plant the whole thing, after all, that was the point. But when it comes to thinning them, I just can't bring myself to do it. It's like that scene in "Sophie's Choice", when Meryl Streep has to decide which kid to keep... it's very traumatic for me.

So instead I try to plant them both, disturbing the roots horribly. Probably won't matter anyway, it really is too early to plant, I think. Not just broccoli, either. We planted all kinds of things today.

So good night broccoli, brussel sprouts, peas, lettuce and onions. Sleep well in your new beds.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Fence, New Beds

On one hand, there is something funny and quirky about having a border of thick, lush, poison ivy growing beside our driveway. It reminds me of the mixed message I used to get at the end of the “Beverly Hillbillies”. I could have sworn there was a long list of “make-yourself-at-home” type phrases as they were smiling and waving from their front porch, only to finish with “Don't come back now, ya hear?” (Turns out it's actually “Y'all come back now,” but that isn't how I heard it.)
Ultimately, though, we decided the poison ivy had to go, so we've been working hard digging up roots and trying to smother what's there with layers of cardboard, paper, leaves, compost. At first, we were just going for the worst spot, but in an unusual burst of enthusiasm, brought on, no doubt, by the spring-like spell we are having, we extended the initial poison-ivy smothering bed all the way down the drive. If we are successful, we will no longer have to run out to meet our visitors with “get out on the right side of the car!” greeting.

Famous friend Steve brought us a load of cane last year, and we have found so many uses for this sturdy stuff. We built tomato tee-pees that worked beautifully. But still there was so much left, and I felt guilty every time I looked at the stack. At the same time, I was annoyed by the neighbors straight behind us. Their landlord decided to trim back all of the overhanging trees (grr! not like he was planning a garden in back, or that they were in danger of possibly breaking off onto the house, 300 feet away! He just doesn't like trees, obvious when you look into that barren back lot.) So now my flat-back, sheared trees cannot block the ugly that is the back of the the two houses on the other street. Poor trees.

But back to the cane... here is the last of it, serving to obscure the view through to the other side and to serve as a backdrop for what is sure to be a stunning naturalized understory garden. I am hoping to get some more cane from Steve so I can finish this thing. Eventually.

Making a fence by hand from cane gives me new appreciation for the workers in some distant land churning out those 6 foot panels. This is hard work.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Another Farmer's Almanac Challenge

From the Farmer's Almanac:

Remember on St. Vincent’s Day,
If that the Sun his beams display,
Be su
re to mark the transient beam—
through the casement sheds a gleam;
For ’tis a token bright and clear
Of prosperous weather all the year.

St. Vincent’s Day (today, Jan. 22) is heralded for its weather lore. A sunny day signifies “more wine than water” and means that the sap might begin to rise. Frost on that day presages a delayed crop.

So, looks like we're in for a good harvest, because the sun is full-on today. Oh, I hope it's right. I'd hate to be tricked by a poem.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

What to use to start seedlings

This is the “Cheap Tip” of the day from our other blog, but it is a great garden tip, so I am reposting it here. Turn your used toilet paper rolls into starters for your seedlings. When they get large enough, you can put the whole thing in the ground, no need to shock your little babies as they make the transition. They stay put in the cardboard, which decomposes in the ground.

Last year, we did not start collecting these soon enough, so we had a shortage. We made some from newspaper, making tubes (slightly wider than the toilet paper tubes) and folding the bottoms in. Mostly they stayed together, but I should have bunched them together in a container of some kind, like this guy on the ever-helpful Baker Creek forum... Here's a picture from his post:

I like peat starts, but at this quantity, they are kind of pricey. And I like the small, plastic planters, but I never have enough and I wouldn't think of buying them new. I like reusing plastic containers with holes punched in the bottoms, but since I am limiting my plastics now, I don't have enough to use.

So, it looks like paper planters are going to be all up in my garden this year. I think it's a good thing.