Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Small But Productive

Here it is the end of June and I haven't posted in some time. Things here are busy as usual as we continue to work on our little house and garden. I have been down for some time with of all things allergies. According to my doctor the pollen counts this year in this area have been record breaking. I am surrounded by four towering hickory trees around my house that have all been blooming. It has truly been a miserable couple weeks. I am hoping that as I live here longer that my body will adjust to the new surroundings but we shall see. I have never suffered from allergies in the past so this is a new one for me. 

Our little garden has done wonderfully. This area sits right on top of the Cumberland Plateau and is notorious for shallow and infertile soil. Our solution was raised beds for the time being while we contemplate this whole lack of soil situation. Our raised beds thrown together of native lumber has exceeded our expectations.

Remember our old stand by the Jade variety green bean that we grew every year in the past. Those saved seeds came up beautifully and are loaded with blooms and beans. Seems they like Tennessee too!

Our Purple Hull field peas above are huge and healthy and we hope they will bloom soon. An old southern staple found throughout this area. In Missouri I was the only one around that grew them.  A heavy producer two beds should provide is with enough to can some for the winter.

One bed of yellow summer squash and we already have squash coming out our ears. I have already started blanching it for the freezer.

O Wise One built a frame above the cucumber bed out of native lumber again for the plants to run on. We strung it with nylon string and trained the runners upward.

Shouldn't be long now!

Nothing like cool sliced cucumbers on a hot summer day.

Is there anywhere zucchini doesn't grow?

Here and there we tuck in sweet peppers 

And Basil for my pesto

And no southern garden is complete without okra.

While in the process of planting our garden O Wise One did a good deed for an elderly  neighbor lady and pulled her lawnmower out of a ditch. In appreciation her nephew showed up the next day with a mason jar full of water and some tomato plants stuck in it.  In appreciation for our assistance to his elderly aunt he wanted to return the good deed. He called these tomatoes Arkansas Red and Arkansas Yellow tomatoes. I am unsure if they are the heirloom variety called "Arkansas Traveler" that I have read about. But so far they have done well and we will see if they are keepers.

They are the larger tomato plants in the pictures. The smaller plants are Amish Paste type tomatoes saved from crops in Missouri. All of the tomatoes in the beds are simply staked with scraps of native lumber that the guy at the sawmill gave my husband for free. Said that is what he uses for his tomatoes. 

We are well on or way to a tomato crop.

With the extra paste tomato plants we planted a dozen plants down the back fence. This is some of the richest dirt we have found on the property thus far.

Just stuck in the ground with no tilling or soil preparation and mulched with some chopped leaves. They are already blooming and we shall see how these produce in native soil. 

Thus far we have not had to use any sprays for pests although we have noticed some minor insect damage from Japanese beetles that we pick daily and drown in soapy water. We've been blessed with good weather and ample rainfall so far.

How is everyone else doing out there garden wise? Anyone else picking yet?

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter

Friday, May 8, 2015

Azalea Time

The Azalea show has been really spectacular this week with no rain or storms to knock the blooms off.  Soon they will fade and then I will start to shape and prune them. They look as if they have been neglected for quite some time and I hope to fertilize them after blooming and a good layer of mulch will help also.

And  the iris have been a nice surprise. Big blue and white ones.

I only have two clumps of iris and one is in too much shade to bloom and will have to be moved to a sunnier location and separated. Two peonies that are also in too much shade and look terrible and will have to be moved in the fall. I also have one  forsythia that is really alright where it is and two Rose of Sharon trees that are in pretty bad shape. I am hoping a little TLC and some shuffling of the existing plants to sunnier locations will improve the yard tremendously. My neighbor on one side has offered me some of her different kinds of hosta already and cuttings of any of her flowers. I have my rose bushes from the old farm in buckets and when they are established will find a good sunny spot for them. I would like to also try my hand at rooting some of the existing shrubs including forsythia, holly and Rose of Sharon that already bloom on the property. 

So that is the game plan for now to simply transplant to more appropriate areas what is already here. Then propagate  from the trimmings some shrubs to use for privacy screening from the existing shrubs on the property. Rooting shrubs most times is fairly easy. Most of these shrubs are very traditional landscaping shrubs and should be acclimated to this soil and climate to have lasted this long being neglected as they have. 

Mostly what is needed is some care, lots of pruning and lots of fertilizer and the yard should be able to be landscaped nicely for very little expense. I don't want to get too carried away with flowers because I want the lawn to remain somewhat low maintenance. There will be some work involved in these first few years to get it in shape though.

Hoping everyone has a safe and blessed weekend and a beautiful Mother's Day to all you Mothers out there.

Blessings form The Holler

The Canned Quilter

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Busy Hands

With less house to clean and mowing and gardening to do I have begun to do more and more needlework.  I am trying to rebuild a stockpile of gifts. A handmade scarf makes a great birthday or Christmas present. Maybe a matching hat to go with it or mittens.

The scarf above is my first completed knitting project. I have been learning off of you tube videos and a book I purchased.

I love this one made with super soft yarn with just a modified Half double crochet stitch.

And a couple extra pot holders and I want to crochet some scrubbies and dishcloths to match and maybe sew a couple dish towels in a coordinating color. Wouldn't that make a great housewarming or bridal shower gift.

And for those baby showers and great nephews and nieces coming along a couple of these stashed away wouldn't hurt.

I also want to start crocheting some baby hats, socks, booties and blankets for a local charity organization called Newborns In Need. They make baby items and donate to the needy, shelters and hospital neonatal wards. It is so hard to buy items for those tiny preemies that fit and they also provide burial clothes for God's littlest angels. Those tiny babies that are still born or miscarried. 

As I restock my homemade gift stash I'll use those extra bits and pieces to make those tiny baby hats and booties with the leftover yarn and hoping to run across some sales on baby yarn to stock up a stash for this my newest endeavor. I also have a couple baby quilts to quilt too.

But those busy hands projects keep me out of trouble and off the streets and goodness knows I need it.

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Dirt Work

O Wise One has begun hauling loads of topsoil to the property. The topsoil is being mixed with purchased mushroom compost and used to make beds and finish filling garden boxes and to patch holes and bare spots in the lawn.

The hosta are being split one by one and found a new home under the trees where they should enjoy all that shade.

We are hoping they will fill out over time as they did at the old house.  We are trying to disturb the tree roots as little as possible and only added a couple inches of dirt and planted small pieces of hosta that didn't require lots of soil. It would have been better to do this earlier but we are hoping that with plenty of water they will do fine.We still have to haul mulch to go around them. 

Leftover topsoil is being used to fill in holes (ruts) in the yard and being over seeded with grass seed I found with the garden seed in the freezer. Not sure how old it is but worth a shot and it needed to be used  out of the freezer anyway. A little layer of straw on top and now we just need to remember to water it regularly.

The ten garden beds are all full now and we want to wait a few days and let it settle before attempting to plant any vegetable seeds in it. And life goes on as we settle in. Nothing like digging in the dirt to put your mark on a new piece of property. 

I am off to find some tomato and pepper plants. It has been years since I purchased vegetable plants but it was just too hectic to raise my own this year.

It has rained constantly since we moved here but that was before my garden, watch it quit raining now because that is the way my luck rolls. I think maybe we need to look into some rain barrels just in case.

Wishing everyone out there sunshine, blue skies and lots of dirt to dig in.

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

O Wise One's Lair

Remember the big concrete slab in my new back yard. O Wise One found a use for it. O Wise One moved in a 12 X 24 Amish made building on there. He has been busy running electric and finishing walls. The electric passed inspection last week and he is now hanging plywood on the walls and insulating. The back wall will be a 8 x 12 foot pantry room with space for a freezer and shelves for my pressure cooker and both empty and full jars and canning equipment. Some of my empty jars I passed on to my daughter before I left. This takes the pressure off of my small kitchen in the house and allows me space for all my canning jars. He will install a small wall air condition unit and a small heater. The remainder of the building will be his workshop and tool storage. With lots of slab left over he is already talking adding a leanto addition to the side of the building and maybe something on front. 

In addition we have a small concrete block shed right out the back door where we store our lawn mower, weed eater and lawn tools. Work continues here in Hickery Holler rain or shine.

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter

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