G’day, Mates! Been such a busy month here at the homestead, I’ve barely had time to sit and ponder what to write for you folks. Unfortunately, the homestead has not seen the bulk of the work around here. I have two teens as you know, and one of them just started baseball season, along with having competitive shooting practice and he’s also a snare drummer with his high school marching band-along with being in concert band. The end of the year tends to be crazy busy for the students and parents alike, especially if you have a child in spring sports, or one that plays music. The end of the year concerts are always happening. My youngest is also a percussion player for his school band as well as belonging to the jazz band and we have many concerts coming up, along with my oldest marching in the Memorial Day parade today for the town he attends school in. That coupled with finals coming up, and field trips for the youngest (he had THREE last week), has our heads spinning. Yep, busy time on the homestead.
My youngest is graduating from middle school in a couple of weeks and I will soon be the mother of two high school students. That is just completely surreal for me as it seems like just yesterday that they were squalling, screaming little newborns…my boys were both born ill and that was their first 6 months, in pain and crying most of their waking hours. Another story, but that is a whole lifetime ago that I don’t want to go into much. When my nephews’ clothes that they had outgrown were passed along to my guys for “someday” when they grew into them, I would look at them and think they would never be big enough to fit into them. Those were when they were little. Now, my oldest is officially an inch taller than me (and I’m not a short woman at 5’9″) and catching up to his dad very quickly. I’m not eye to eye with my youngest yet, but he’s not far behind his brother now. They are predicted to be 6 feet by their pediatrician before they are done growing. Ah, man-sized help on the homestead is a beautiful thing!
Flowers have been arriving all around us. This is the time of year that I treasure for new life and beautiful flowers. Since cutting back the wild roses, we have seen some of the actual planted flowers around the homestead having room to rejuvenate and bloom. New to us this year that were uncovered were these two beautiful varieties of irises. Above, a wonderful delicate little yellow one…
…and these stunning purple ones! Since those purple are my mother’s favorite flower, I have been thinking of her every time I see them when I walk the dog by them…many times a day!
I have planted some in pots as I love the pop of color in unexpected places. Some of them are super fun, like these carnival petunias. I just loved the color pop of the yellow and red together, so cute!
Then, what spring is complete without the adorable, quaint little pansies. I love purple and yellow together! Once the weather turns warmer, they get crusty, brown and will grow leggy, so they are definitely most happy in the cool spring temperatures.
The potato boxes are working out great so far! I don’t have any idea if they are actually producing any potatoes in there, but they are super easy to deal with, water and add to. As you can see, the green has grown quickly and my biggest challenge with them so far is having enough soil ready to fill the box more and cover the new growth. I may try doing this with a combination of straw and soil next year if we actually get growth all the way up the box as this design is supposed to produce. I planted potatoes in a straw mound one year and the yield was pretty good and it was so much easier to deal with than the soil was. If I was direct planting in the ground, it wouldn’t be a problem, and I have done this in the past as well. I am having fun trying new ideas to see what works out the best, hopefully it will be worth the cost and trouble for the boxes, it remains to be seen. This is also a tough sell when we can buy organically grown potatoes for $.50/lb right here in town, but I just really like growing my own. This year, I did try to concentrate on some items in the garden that I can’t readily get from farmer’s markets close by as we have very limited space to plant this year. Hopefully next year we double the space, but we may have to spread it about the property. We have a strange lot which is more than 50% wooded, and overgrown with lots of wild roses, poison ivy and bittersweet vines. We may have to have some help from some machinery to get it all back under some semblance of usability.
Garden beds have had some complications. We have decided to till what we have for soil to see what we are dealing with, but when my husband went to put the tiller to soil, the gas tank proceeded to leak gas all over…grrr…it’s always something getting in the way of progress it seems. We were originally going to do raised beds, but with having to order soil, compost and the wood to make the beds, it was stretching the budget very tight to get that done, so we thought we’d try to just till and do the wood chip mulch “back to eden” method. Since we really need to do that in the fall to start with, our timing isn’t ideal, but this coming fall we will be making that happen on any spaces we plan on planting next spring.
My wonderful friend raises more plants then she can possibly use every spring in her green house, and she so kindly passes some along to me. So, I have lots of plants to get in the soil, ready to go, I just need somewhere to put them…easier said then done.
We continue to be a work in progress around here and things are always in some stage toward completion. Coming this month we are getting an energy audit done by the power company as we have qualified for some assistance to improve the energy efficiency of our drafty old house. This is a program being offered by most power companies, so if you, like us have a house that is completely inefficient, you can obtain some assistance in upgrading things like insulation in your home to make it more livable in the frigid winters. Since we spent almost $3,500 to heat our home last winter, we certainly qualified! Our tiny little home that is only just over 1,300 feet, that we kept the heat at 57 in the main part of the house, leaving our bedroom in the mid 40’s most of the winter (and we had to spend considerable money to keep it from being freezing in there!), and with its frozen pipes to boot. Yes, very anxiously awaiting the energy audit happening this month and getting the appointments set up for them to actually come work on the house. We’re going to focus on improving the insulation and sealing the basement up so that our floors aren’t completely freezing and keep the pipes from freezing. Ah, plans! If we can afford it and assuming the program is still available, we will work on upgrading the wall and roof insulation next year.
Okay, that’s news from the homestead. I hope you are all knee-deep in planting and taking the time to enjoy your spring blossoms. Until next time, be well, be kind to each other and blessings to you all.