Sunday, March 29, 2009


Someone once said, " Even the most divine planning must eventually degenerate into work."

And as it goes, it was yet another laborious day in the garden for us, followed by yet another day of snow. Go figure. But as much as I complain about Spring hitting the snooze button a few too many times, I think the Lord must be looking out for us, because he's been giving us t-shirt weather to dig & plant in, then moisture the following day so we don't have to water!

Mike toiled with the digging of 2 new beds, (the completed one in the back of the picture as well as the one to the left of it), while I planted the asparagus and strawberries in the first bed from last week. Mike is now left with the expected aching back, while my hamstrings are pretty well shot from crouching to plant. (My back would have been aching too, had I just bent over to plant, but my protruding belly keeps me from breathing when I do that, which I've found is quite a necessary function to have, so crouching was the next best thing.) But can I just say that planting was like sweeping a knife through room-temperature BUTTER! I'm already LOVING the double-dig Mike's working so hard on, and I can only imagine what it will be like to pull weeds from these pillow soft beds!

While these may look a bit like crop circles, these holes are where the asparagus was planted in the north half of the bed. (32 roots in all) As I studied more about planting them, I learned that the roots have to be placed about 8 inches into the ground, but only covered by about 2 inches of dirt at a time. The tender spears aren't strong enough to push through that much dirt, so as they emerge, you cover them with an additional couple of inches, repeating the process until the hole is fully covered. I'm pretty bummed that we can't harvest any this year, since the roots need time to establish themselves, but I'm sure next year we'll have an abundant crop! It's funny, because I remember walking down the roads in Oakley, ID with my Grandma Martindale, stopping along the burrow pits to cut asparagus. I thought she was a crazy old lady then, and I never once ate her asparagus, but now that I've actually tried it and LOVE it, I think of her whenever I think of this unusal vegetable that grows in ditches along the side of the road...

The other half of the bed was reserved for these tiny little strawberry roots, some of which had started to grow already. We planted both June bearing and everbearing so that we could benefit from the big plump berries of the one-time Junies and the continual harvest of the everbearing. Again, I'm bummed that we won't be harvesting any this season, but I'm assured that by plucking off the blossoms to prevent them from producing this year, we'll guarantee an abundant crop next year!

We also had a big surprise to see our broccoli and cauliflower already germinate in the flats I just planted 5 DAYS AGO!!! I can't tell you how rewarding it is to see the fruits of our labor beginning to take shape. All this planning and preparing is starting to pay off with VISIBLE results, even though it's definitely degenerated into work...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Maggie the Librarian

Maggie has been learning all about the life of a librarian for the last couple of months, doing research on the internet, typing up reports, creating an artistic representation of her career, and presenting her findings to her class and all the parents, along with a little Q & A. All this in 2nd grade!

First of all, I've been so impressed with her school, North Davis Preparatory Academy, and her teacher, Mrs. Coleman, because of the way they approach every subject in an all-encompassing way. This whole project is actually for a GEOGRAPHY unit, and yet it included language arts, art, math (graphing), public speaking, & research methods. It seems as though the kids learn so much better with this sort of three-dimensional way of teaching.

Second of all, I've been MORE than impressed with my girl, Maggie. She worked so hard on this project and did so well with her presentation! It wasn't until I became an adult that I got really comfortable with public speaking, but Maggie just loves being the center of attention, and has even spoken in Sacrament Meeting already at the tender age of 7. (After which she asked, "Can I do that again next week?")

She's growing up so fast, and is not only meeting, but surpassing all our expectations and hopes for her. While I'm thrilled that school is going so well for her--she's already passed all her 2nd grade benchmarks--I'm even more thrilled that she's becoming a kind and compassionate friend, who is always looking to befriend an outsider. She's a big help to me at home, with my lack of energy due to this pregnancy, and has taken over the vacuuming and has taught herself to do laundry. Of course, I still get to fold it and put it away, but the good news is that I'm slowly learning to relinquish control over SOME things.

Maggie, you are such an amazing girl & I'm so glad you and your happy smile were sent to our family! I love you, Maggers!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

One Down, Eight to Go!

"Population will increase rapidly, more rapidly than in former times,
and 'ere long the most valuable of all arts
will be the art of deriving a comfortable subsistence from the smallest area of soil."
--Abraham Lincoln

So this is the beast we've been trying to tame for the last few months. I wish I'd taken pictures before it got cleared out so that I (and you) could see the progress we've made, but this gives an idea of the workload we have ahead of us! There are a total of 9--100 sq. ft. beds that we're getting ready to plant for the spring & summer. Our plan is to harvest enough food to feed our family for an entire year, but truthfully, if we get 6 months' worth, I'll be terribly happy! Mike and I have grown a garden for several years now, but this is our first attempt at something on this grand of a scale. Frankly, I don't doubt that we'll get a great harvest, but what I do worry about is the work it will take to preserve it all...and where in the world we'll store it! We've actually talked about digging a hole under the deck, and putting in an old chest freezer to use as a root cellar for the winter. Since our house is so small and practically every square inch is already occupied, we figured this may be a good solution.

Brooke (6) standing in the middle of what I hope will be lush green very soon, with Mike and the rest of the girls in the background working on the first of 9 beds. This is where we'll be planting our asparagus and strawberries as soon as the snow is gone next week--yes, I said snow.
Maggie (almost 8) helped by raking in compost as Mike loosened the soil. I'm truly surprised that she worked the entire bed, but we're so glad the girls have developed such an interest in gardening already. Whenever we're we're out there, they come along with their little trowels asking if they can dig out the rocks and play with the worms! (Mike is completely thrilled by the prospect of having girls that like worms...can you say "fishing buddy"?)

And here's the man himself, after unloading a truckful of compost. We figured one load would be enough...dun dun dun...yeah, enough for only 3 of the beds. Poor guy. Good thing he's not too out of shape...

One down, 8 to go! This one little bed took us about 6 hours to prepare completely on Saturday. That's double digging (A method used to aerate the soil a full 2 feet down for better root penetration & therefore happier, more productive plants!), composting, fertilizing as well as weeding and removing rocks. What a lot of work! Now that we've figured out what exactly needs to be done and how to do it most efficiently, we think we can cut at least an hour's time off each of the rest of them...that means only 40 hours of work left to get the garden prepared! I hope our backs can take it. Isn't it pretty, though?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Is It, or Isn't It Spring?

I'm still here, and my life still revolves around carpooling, cleaning and gardening. If it wasn't for the darn snow we got yesterday, I may have been able to do some soil testing, but at least I got one of my seed shelves up in the "multi-purpose room." I still have to buy the lights & rig it all up, but it looks as if I may have overestimated the number of flats I would need--YAY! Because of the different planting & transplanting times, I may be able to get away with just one shelf--two at the most! I'm very excited to start planting my seeds in 2 weeks because then I'll feel like I've actually started, even though I've been working for weeks already.

Okay, no more garden talk....umm...Brooke has her school play on Thursday this week. She gets to be a cowboy and do both a square dance and a line dance. She's so excited that she wears her boots everywhere and is always dancing and singing her Spanish songs. It will be fun to watch these Kindergarteners speak Spanglish!

Maggie has her Job Fair this week. Her career is Librarian, and she's having a blast with it. Mike went to her oral presentation in class today, and said she did a great job, though you could tell she was nervous. They use this one as a practice, and next week the parents are all invited to watch the presentations. Mike helped her build a bookshelf for her art project, then I held the stencils while she painted. She did do a little free-hand, which I had to just let go of and be okay with--not my strongest character trait...

As for me, I've hit that "not sleeping at all" point in my pregnancy, so I'm exhausted daily. It's such a pain when there's so much to do and I have to keep taking a break to rest. I started cleaning the living room at about 3 hours ago and though I've made a small dent, there's stll much to be done. Normally, I'd bust through it in about 45 minutes. Can't wait for my mother-in-law to come when I have this baby so she can hold him while I clean! I know, seems like it should be me holding the little guy, but I LOVE the energy I reclaim after giving birth, and I can finally feel accomplished again! Three more months--I might be able to wait...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


This morning, I bought all my flats from the nursery so I can start getting seeds ready. I was going to build my own, but it was cheaper to buy the black plastic ones at the store. Following the Biointensive method (one of the books my Dad provided us with) for a 4-person garden (enough food to feed us all for 1 full year), I figure we'll have about 2500 seedlings started at one point in time. the question is raised--where do we put all the planted flats???? I'm think I'm going to start out by borrowing the toy shelf from downstairs, which should hold about 15 or so of the flats. I'll have to rig a light to the underside of each shelf, but I think it will work. Problem is, I have at least 50 flats to plant, so I need a few more shelves, and a few more lights! I'm planning on bringing them into the computer room/nursery upstairs, since that's really the only place they will be out of the way of little hands and kitty cats. I wasn't expecting it to be that kind of nursery, but whatever works, right? We'll just start calling it the "multi-purpose room."

Mike and I and the girls have been out in the garden for the last few days (since the weather has been gorgeous in the 50's & 60's) cleaning out all the debris that we didn't get around to last fall. I'm hoping Mike will get around to pruning the trees by the weekend, so we can torch our pile on Saturday night. Anyone for a bonfire? We were going to compost it all, but there's way too much & I don't want to sort through it to see what's useable & what's not. (I'm afraid of diseased leaves and grass clippings, as well as weeds--goatheads, or puncture weeds--that may regrow.) Maybe we'll rent a shredder for the prunings & just keep that separate...hmmm...just thinking out loud here. It's amazing how much more room we have with everything cleared out, though! I figure we'll be able to fit 10-100 sq. ft. beds out there, which I never would've attempted before, but it's perfect for our plan. I wish we could plant fruit trees too, but I think we'll have to forego them until we move into our own home. I just don't want to invest $40-$50/tree, only to leave them here for someone else to enjoy & benefit from. We still have the apricot tree at the Mortuary that we harvest every year, so we won't be completely without. It sure made some great apricot jam last year! I do want to plant some concords along the back fence, though, so we'll see what I can find. If not grapes, maybe raspberries...

As excited as I am to get going in the garden, I know how much work it will be, and I hope I can keep up with it all! I've read up on Toxoplasmosis, and as long as I wear gloves & wash well after digging, I shouldn't have to worry about contracting it, so that's a relief that Mike won't be left to do it all on his own. The weather is expected to turn towards the end of the week, and snow is even in the forecast again (welcome to Utah!), so we'll hold off on tilling the garden and doing our soil testing until after that's cleared up. Then we can get the soil fed and start getting the beds ready. I seriously can't wait for that part! I'm a little nervous that my expectations are higher than my skills will prove to be, but I'm looking forward to it, nonetheless. What I'm not looking forward to is all the hours I'll be spending in the kitchen after the harvest is over...Anyone up for a "Canning Vacation?" A little service project, perhaps?

Well, I've finished my novel, so I have to fold clothes now...or I could put it off some more and write about something else...