St. Patrick’s Day Potatoes

We have one very small tradition for St. Patrick’s Day. It involves potatoes, dirt, and Guinness.

Prepping the beds.
Beautiful dirt.
Potatoes cut and ready to plant.
Ben planting.
Tim planting.


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Spring Bulbs

Crocuses are flowering.


Garlic is coming up.


We planted three kinds this year, some is further ahead than others.


We are still using last year’s garlic, and we haven’t even touched the softneck ones I braided yet. It’s not going to last ’til July, when we harvest this, though. Hopefully this year we’ve planted enough to last a full year.


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Fire and Painted Rocks

It’s January, yes. It’s winter, yes.

But it’s mild, and it feels like so much spring, and we all needed to spend some time outside. We worked hard this morning, gathering branches and transporting them (in the truck, the boys love that part!) to the other end of the yard. I even managed to resist the urge to weed the floor of the little forest (the creeping blackberries, they take over!).

After lunch, we burned.


And the boys painted rocks. It keeps them out of the fire, you know.


Luckily we have an almost endless supply of them, because they can both paint a lot.


Some of Timothy’s works of art:


And some of Ben’s:


The rocks will be strewn about the little forest, making paths or hiding in bushes. Maybe I will have to weed after all.


We even got a little garden prep done. Timothy helped me weed and turn over last year’s garlic bed in preparation for planting out the strawberry runners.


kids' art & craft

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It’s not spring quite yet, but we’ve started to be able to get outdoors again, and it feels good. This is the second Sunday in a row we’ve had a nice bonfire. Last week we even had our first outdoor meal of the year, by candle-, fire- and flashlight.


We’re getting some cleaning up done, some garden prep, and lots of fresh air. It’s good to be making progress already.


The boys always have fun wandering around out back, digging dirt or carrying stones around or riding tricycles. Or sometimes, just sitting watching the fire.


I enjoy sitting watching the fire too. (And watching Eric dig holes for our new fruit trees.) Although, I was also really thinking about spring, and working on garden plans and our big seed order. We’ll be starting to plant in just a few weeks!


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

On another note, I feel like I’ve been away from blogging for a long time. We’ve had a traumatic and eventful few months and it’s been hard to post about the little stuff.

At the end of September, my sister-in-law in Boston passed away unexpectedly. We spent a full four weeks travelling in October — first to Boston, then on a previously planned trip to N. Ireland and Spain, some of which was obviously painful, some was fun, but overall we were stressed and emotional. In December the 3 year old daughter of some of our closest friends was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She’s now halfway through radiation treatment and, aside from some temporary nerve damage from the surgery, she seems to be doing reasonably well.

And, finally, of course, there’s this:


Yes, we’re having another baby! We found out over Thanksgiving weekend. This photo is from a little over two weeks ago. I’m now 14 weeks, out of the first trimester, starting to mostly feel better. Baby is due in August.

I hope to be back here more often now, with more updates about the garden, the boys, the baby… and hopefully there’ll be more crafting to update about too. With the level of barely-functioning I’ve been at since mid-December, there’s been precious little to share in that area.


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More Harvesting

Various pictures of harvests from the last month. Some for a specific meal, some for freezing or keeping.

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Timothy points out the carrots.


Ben and Timothy both helped… sort of…. dig up the potatoes. Mostly, Timothy threw the ones I dug up, and Ben looked for worms. Still, we got them all up. Out of the last three beds we got 45lbs of Yellow Finns, 45lbs of some sort of rose fingerling, I forget exactly what they are, and 35lbs of russets. There were two other beds harvested as we wanted to eat them over the last two or three months.

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We’re at the point now where many of our meals are coming from the garden.


Two out of five potato beds are dug up, the last quarter of the second bed yielded over 10lbs of nice red potatoes. We’ve started eating carrots and parsnips, broccoli, green beans (but only the yellow bush beans are ready, so are they really still called green beans?), and zucchini (although I’m still waiting to feel overwhelmed and eager to give them away).


All five cauliflowers were ready in a space of two weeks, so three of them are in the freezer.


We’re still eating chard and salads regularly, and tonight we ate baby beet greens because the bed needed thinned. The herbs are all going crazy.


The first tomatoes are nearly ready. We have peppers and tomatilloes coming, pumpkins getting big and butternut squash starting to form. There are flowers in a couple of spots in the garden, just for a splash of color.


Oh, and the blackberries are ready! We’ve made one batch of jam so far, and I threw some in banana bread the other day. There’s a big bag in the freezer too. Lots and lots more coming.


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Umm, eight days since my last post. Yeah, the daily thing’s not going so well, I guess. But I’m still posting more often than I used to, and that was sort of the ultimate goal, so I’m not going to get too upset.


Dinner a few nights ago. Fresh fava beans from the garden, with some pasta, loads of fresh thyme and oregano (from the garden) and olive oil and feta. Simple, fresh, and so delicious.

Favas are really good when they’re in season, but it’s a short season, it takes a lot of pods (a couple pounds!) to get enough beans to make a meal, and they’re so much work to prepare. You have to shell them, boil them briefly, then skin each bean. You might start to wonder if it’s really worth the effort.

But then you eat them.

And it is.

And we’re figuring out how we can grow a larger crop next year, because really, we might only get that one meal plus a little more out of this year’s fava bed. And that is not enough.


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It’s a Girl!!

Well, actually, two girls. Two female kiwi vines.

We moved into this house last September, and the previous owner told us the two kiwi vines out back were supposed to be a male and a female, but since they’d never produced anything in the seven years they’d been there, she thought, perhaps, they were, in fact, both the same. Two males, or two females, she didn’t know.

(Quick kiwi lesson: The female bears fruit after about 5 – 9 years, but needs a male plant, of any age, for pollination. The only way to tell the sex of a kiwi vine is to look at the flowers when they bloom in late spring/early summer.)

We waited and waited and waited for flowers, hoping for at least one female so we might have a chance at fresh kiwi fruit this year or next. We even planted a male in the spring, just in case, but the slugs ate it.

A couple of days ago, the first flower opened on one of the vines. I looked up the pictures online and discovered, to our great delight, it is a female! And today, the second vine opened flowers and it’s also female!


Now all we need is a male to pollinate them. It can be done by hand — we just need to find someone with some flowering male kiwi vines who can donate a few flowers to kiss our flowers and hopefully we’ll have fruit!

And next year, we can try planting a male again and coddle it a bit more to ensure survival and a crop of garden fresh kiwi fruit!


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Some chard from the garden. This pile is about equivalent to 3 or 4 bunches from the store and we ate it all at once. So fresh, right from the garden.


So very very good.


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Empty Nest

We happened to be sitting outside a few days ago when there arose a great squawking and flapping and fluttering and lo, the babies left the nest. All at once, and amid great excitement. There were two adult robins zooming around making a lot of noise, and I’m not entirely sure if they were yelling at the babies to kick them out of the nest (sorry, encourage them to take flight), or if they were worried that they weren’t ready and were yelling at them to stay put.

Either way, the babies left the nest and we saw at least one of them actually flying away.


There’s just one lonely little egg left.

– – – – – –

So much for every day, huh. Oh well. I’ll keep trying.


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