Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Planning for Spring

Sounds like a crazy thing to do on a day when we are expecting 18" of snow, but sure enough we must plan for the garden.  It has been a cold winter with a little snow almost every day, but thankfully that insulated our little camper and even when the furnace was nonfunctional for about a month, we were not too cold with just a little electric space heater.  We picked up our furnace on Friday last week and Mr. D was able to get it in again on Saturday.  It is working great.

On Monday we came home to frozen water.  I was just wrapping my mind around the idea of not having running water for the rest of the winter, when we discovered the problem was in the well house where a heat lamp bulb was broken when Mr. D was leveling the washing machine on Saturday.  After a night of the heat lamp being back on we have water again.  Yea!

I had a miserable cold all week end starting Wednesday afternoon.  It has cleared up good now.  I'm feeling almost 100%.  A cold that only lasts one week is a good thing.

So now on to more important stuff... planning the garden.   We have our seed order ready to go.  Mr. D and I went through all the seeds we would like to order this year.  I'm not getting huge amounts because our garden is quite small and we do save seeds.  We did purchase some Lutz Winter Keeper beets from Pine Tree Seeds. Mr. D thinks these are the best. 

From Gurneys we ordered:
Miragreen - peas
Gotta Have - It corn
Ozark Beauty - strawberries
Gentry Hybrid - summer squash
French Breakfast - radishes
and a Macintosh apple tree,  we are planting one fruit tree each year.
I wanted to order some more raspberries, but decided against it since they will be in here with an excavator this summer to get the work done, Lord willing, and I have not planting spot yet.

From R.H. Shumway's catalog we are ordering:
Herbs ...
Jacob Cattle - beans
Romano - pole beans
Straight Eight - cucumbers
Burgess Buttercup - winter squash

My mouth is watering already!  We have lots of winter squash seeds, lettuce, carrot, pak choy seeds left

Last year we had Ruth Bible beans which I really liked, so I saved some of those for replanting too. 

I started working on a reorganized gardening journal.  We've been keeping information in a wire bound journal and the only organization was by year.  We've been keeping poultry and garden (veggie and ornamental), all in one book.  It's getting hard to find information so time to overhaul the system.  I looked up some free pages online and printed a sample of each type of page.  Now I need to go down and get some copies made of each one and save the master copies for future entries.  I have a good size 3-ring binder for this, so it should be good for quite a few years.  Information we like to keep are:
Seed type
# of days till fruit develop (first picking).
recipes (how to prepare and how to can)
how long seeds can be saved (always date seed packets when they come in)
if the plants were started early then information about when to sow inside, how many days till ready to plant, success rate of transplants, etc.
if they are saved seeds then keep a record of which came from what season and picture or description of the fruit they came from - squash especially tend to cross pollinate and change over time.

There is also a garden map.  #'s corresponding to the # on the seed page keeps the map from getting cluttered.

We also keep track of how many quarts we put up so we can easily see if we need to plant more or less in the next year taking into account the growing conditions.

I also have pages of information on ideas to try someday.  Greenhouse plans, cold frames, fencing and trellis ideas, raised beds, controlling garden pests.  I want to add those into this book too with an index so that I can find them when I am interested in trying one.

We add compost and manure to the garden every year.  We also plant the garden in one or two days.  Memorial Day is the chosen day for us so we are 99% sure there will be no more frost.  Last year we hadn't tilled the soil completely before memorial day so we spent most of the day removing rocks and tilling.  Our garden in on a hillside with a small flat area on top.  Rocks have mostly been removed, but somehow there is always one more here and there to pick out.  The frost must drive them to the surface.

This year we want to get the tilling done earlier if possible.  That will depend on how wet the soil is.  We have a lot of snow on the ground and it has been a very cold winter.  I imagine there will be a longer time for thawing and drying out than usual.  If we can't till early I will probably hand turn the soil around the peas and other cold tolerant crops to give them a little head start.

This year we get to dig up the parsnips.  Yum!  They have been growing for two years now and they say to dig them up in the spring... if the mice haven't gotten to them yet.  I'm also excited to see how many of my herbs overwinter well.  I left some to reseed too, so we'll see what happens.  I'm also interested to see how our first apple tree does this spring.  It is small but produce one good sized apple last year.  The girls gave me this for Mother's Day last year.  We are adding a Macintosh to the mix this year.

We may have a few blueberries this summer too.  It's been a couple of years now and the bushes are strong even though they are small.  I hope they will start to produce well within the next couple of year.

So that is the plan.  What actually takes place is entirely in God's hands.  We plant and tend the garden, but God is the one who 'causes growth.  It's the same in our spiritual lives.  We can read God's Word and pay close attention to our testimony and our response to life events and people around us, but it is God who causes the growth.  He promises growth and maturity as we deal Biblically to the temptations in the way.

It is so hard sometimes to think the right thing during times of trial.  I am asking God for His grace dealing with  all the changes that will be taking place in the next year in our lives.  We will be taking on more debt with the refinancing of the house and land.  We will be hiring a contractor to finish the work, then there is the moving in process and all the repair that needs to be done in the house.  I don't expect it will be all done before we move in either.  It is exciting but just thinking about all the work that needs to be done is exhausting.  This year I have 2 weeks of vacation.  That will help much.  I may take a good chunk of that when we actually move into the home, so it doesn't get too overwhelming.

If you think of it, please pray that the move takes place this summer.  I am so ready to have my home back in one piece.

view of the woodpile from the top of the hill
all the wood is covered with roofing and blue tarp
this is the mobile home as it is now.  the porches are in the foreground
the roof will be higher on this side, so it is not on completely
the back has a complete roof.
So this is our home in many pieces so you get a visual of what's happening.  I will try to update now and then so you can see the progress.  

We have much more snow than this now.  Maybe I can snap some picture tonight so you can see how much.


  1. So good to hear an update from you, Mrs. D!! :) Ahhh, planting - does that mean SPRING is right around the corner??! We got pounded w/ snow & ice as well so I'm not feeling it yet ...
    And you know what? I've never eaten a parsnip!! :)
    Can't wait to see more progress on your house - I'll be praying with you about all the progress on it. GOD BLESS!!!! Stay warm!

  2. I love reading about your plans for spring. My garden journal always starts off with a bang and fizzles by July. :-) It just gets too hectic to update it. It sure makes the dark and dreary months more bearable when we can focus on the hope of warmer days to come.

  3. I too really like your journal ideas! I seem to have great ideas like that right about now, when the snow is deep and the temps are cold, but then when things pick up, somehow its not on the top of my list! This year with all the things I'm planning, keeping things written down is the only way I'm going to keep on track. Really like your seed list too!