Kick Back And Wait For The Weeds

A collective sigh emanates from all the gardeners this time of year as the garden gets planted.

Rows of planted vegetables in the garden.I have put in potatoes and tomatoes in the rows of tires. Seeds of carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, peas, beans, beets, onions, spinach, lettuce (many varieties) in the rows marked with stakes, and a row of cruciferous plants in the form of cabbage, broccoli and kale. I even put in a couple of mounds of cantaloupe with the hope of getting a fresh melon or two. I’m still on the lookout for some plants of lemon cucumbers, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts since the time for germinating seeds has passed.

Now the gardeners that have gotten their beds planted can kick back and enjoy a break before the real work of keeping the weeds at bay until crops can be harvested.


Living Out Of The Garden

I’m spending more and more time in the garden these days. Most of that time is spent eating.

Lettuce, beans peas carrots zuchini tomatoes and carrots.I go from row to row gathering ingredients for a salad or stir fry while happily munching my way along. (Someone is got to be in charge of quality control, right?)

This mixture is headed for a fried rice dish with chicken and will be enough for several meals.

Meanwhile the beans and tomatoes are rapidly over producing and I will be calling in neighbors to help pick the current crop so that the plants will produce another batch.

Garden Bounty

Holy cow! The garden has been growing by leaps and bounds over the last two weeks while I had been stuck in the hay fields.

Broccoli, beans, onions, beans, summer squash, lettuce, cabbage, peas, chives, raspberries and apples have all been coming on strong. The spinach, radish and swiss chard  all bolted and I had to pull those plants completely.

The cows are very happy with the loads coming out of the garden. They are getting a wheelbarrow load a day of fruit and veggies. I am spoiling the babies and giving them a bucketful of sliced apples. They love the apples and are bold when pushing the others around just to get into the manger to get some of the good stuff.


Crockpot Vegetables

I had a request to post the recipe for my layered crockpot vegetables.

I like to start the crockpot full of veggies on low in the evening just before going to bed. By lunchtime, the vegetables are cooked tender and flavorful.

WARNING! my recipes are only loose guidelines. I seriously change this one every time I make this delicious dish.

The whole recipe is layers of all fresh, uncooked vegetables straight into the crockpot.

Potatoes usually take the longest to cook so I start with those on the bottom. This time I put the beans in next, and carrots. No I did not measure any of them.

I added a couple cloves of garlic, and sliced some summer squash. I added an ear of corn that I had cut off the cob and put cherry tomatoes over the top with a sprinkle of dried onions.

With a fork, I mixed flour, butter and chicken stock to make the gravy. I did not cook the gravy first, it does it all by itself in the crockpot.

I poured the gravy mixture over the whole pot, checked to make sure it was turned on and plugged in and put the lid on the top.

I gave the pot a quick stir in the morning just to check if it needs more moisture or more gravy.

This dish was loaded up and hauled to Lincoln City for a potluck meal. It had good reviews!

Samson’s First Year

This is the second in a series of articles about Samson

After the rocky start, we realized that Samson was a fighter with a strong will to survive. Within a couple of weeks, Samson was thriving on all the attention he was getting. Friends, relatives and visitors were dropping by to spend time with the little calf.

Before long, Samson was nibbling on hay and found that fresh mowed grass was a special treat. He graduated from a cup of milk a feeding every two hours, to a quart at a time four times a day. He was the slowest eater that we have ever worked with. He had good technique and he really wanted to eat, he was just s-l-o-w. Each feeding took at least an hour.

Samson noticed that there would be special treats hiding in the hay manger. Fresh fruits, vegetables and grass clippings were possible during feeding time. By keeping the yard and garden chemical free, the extras can be fed to the herd, and we incorporated them as often as we could. Samson liked grass clippings, and he complained if we forgot to cut an apple or pear to go with his meals, not loudly of course, he would sniff the hay then look at us with those big eyes and wait patiently for something good. But his favorite treat, was and still is, banana peels! He gets one a day at breakfast since it is a requirement to consume a banana a day at the house.

We took Samson with us when we went to Washington County Fair and the Clark County Fair, mostly because he still was using the milk bottle between feedings of hay. We wanted to make sure that he stayed on his schedule. By this time he had picked up the speed of eating and could down a two-quart bottle within a couple of minutes. We had to take a bucked of wind fall apples with us every day so fair goers could give Samson a nibble throughout the day. That little calf loved all the attention he was getting.

With the amount of hands-on attention this little guy had from the first day, he was very easy to train to wear a halter. He was the calming force in the barn as we got other animals used to halters, walking with handlers and riding in the stock trailer. During the Clark County Fair the temperature turned hot and Samson was uncomfortable. The Fair had put a misting structure on the lawn outside the livestock barn. Once an hour, we would take Samson out for a stroll and would walk right through the mister. The coating of water helped keep him cool and it was a great photo opportunity for many visitors who played in the water with Samson.

At seven months of age and weighing about 600 lbs., Samson graduated from the barnyard with the weaning calves and show cows. He was moved to the bull pen with the other yearlings. He had a whole new set of friends and new areas to investigate. Here, he had more freedom to lounge about under tall fir trees while he continued to grow. We set up a special pen for him to eat away from the other yearlings. His slow tendencies still linger, by giving him a little privacy he eats all his feed, while still eating the fruit and vegetables first. He is the only critter I have seen that prefers zucchini slices over most fruits.

A New Twist for the Garden

I peek at other gardeners occasionally to see what they are up to these days. I came across an interesting idea for a block of garden that claimed to take all the work out of weeding! This seemed too good to be true, so I investigated the rumor.

The gardener re-used a pallet to make the garden space. It was a simple idea of filling the pallet with soil and planting vegetables between the slats (strips of wood on the top of the pallet). The slats divided the pallet into rows, creating a barrier for weed germination and growth. With less of the soil in direct contact with the air, less water would be needed to keep soil moist.

The only tools I used on this project were a pair of scissors, a small shovel, and a staple gun.

Two weeks ago, I found a pallet with fairly uniform slats that had about two inches of gap between each slat. I used landscaping fabric that can be found anywhere plants are sold. I laid the pallet on top of the fabric to determine the cutting lines. While the pallet was laying on the fabric, I cut around the edges adding two to three inches on all sides. This left enough fabric to fold up the sides before stapling. For those without a staple gun, thumbtacks would also work for this project.

I stapled the fabric all the way around the pallet. Since my cutting was not measured, it was not exact. No problem, I just folded the fabric in along the pallet in those spots where it was too long and stapled it anyway. It made the edge nice and straight. On the two open edges of the pallet, I had enough fabric to not only pull over the open edge of the pallet, but covered the first slat, just for the heck of it.

I filled the pallet with soil and watered it with a couple gallons of rain water that I collected during the week.Five packets of seeds.

Next, I planted a mixture of greens, one variety in each row and labeled the rows. A tarp was put over the pallet to incubate the seeds while they germinated. Deciding what to plant was the hardest part of the whole project. Any root crop was out because there would not be enough soil for root to grow effectively. Like wise with any larger, busy fruit, this is a small space garden. I decided to use this area for salad greens. The pallet is set up near the house so that harvesting will only be a few steps from the kitchen.

Today I took off the tarp and my greens are just starting to emerge.

seedlings emerging

Just for decoration I set my two planters on the larger end slats (they also held the tarp in place during germination). These planters have been producing lettuce since January and look puny right now because I had just harvested them for the third time last week.

I will update this post as my new twist on gardening develops.