Category Archives: Prayer Garrden

Time Flies

It is said that as you get older time seems to go faster. It is also said that time flies when you’re having fun. I’m not sure which it is, and I suspect it is a combination of the two, but time sure does seem to be going quickly. Here it is well into June already and it  seems I have missed a lot of the things I should have written about. I thought I’d make this a catch up post.

Planting and weeding were two of our priorities in the last week of May and first week of June. My husband and I worked mostly together to do a thorough weeding of the entire garlic field. We spread it out over 5 or 6 days working 2 to 4 hours each day and it looked really good when it was finished. We are now just pulling big weeds as needed in the garlic. I have also spent time pulling weeds in the Prayer Garden, and devoted almost a full day to weeding the strawberry patch and asparagus. We have pretty much waged war on weeds and for now we seem to be winning the battle.

My husband has also spent a lot of time getting the garden planted. He started with the fifty tomato plants that he has grown from heirloom seed, as well as some green peppers, cabbage, and cucumbers.  We had our annual date to the local green house. The green house is one of the few places I enjoy shopping and usually I spend way too much money buying plants. This year there were only a few thing that we needed because my husband had started much of what we needed from seed. He picked out a couple of egg plants and some leeks and I bought a couple of rosemary plants but they were all out of culinary sage that I wanted. I did get a couple of Russian sage plants. Although they are not edible they should look nice in the prayer garden and the blossoms are said to attract butterflies. Maybe the bees will like them as well.

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We had another swarm of bees. We watched the entire event. Above is the beginning when the group was starting to leave the hive.

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It’s hard to make out in the above photo but all the little yellow spots against the green areas and all of the black spots against the blue sky are bees. They settled in a picturesque location nearby.

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The flexibility of the  pine branches made it easy for my husband to slip a bucket up over the swarm. He then shook the branch while holding the bucket around the swarm. Nearly all of the bees fell into the bucket. He covered it with a lid and carried it to the empty hive.

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He dumped the bees into the hive and put the inner cover on. He placed a piece of wood over the hole in the top of the inner cover to keep the bees inside. He went back to the pine tree and repeated the process to collect the bees that were left behind.

We watched the hive and saw bees gathering at the small slot in the side of the inner cover. This was a good indication that the queen was inside and the workers were going in to be with the queen.

It’s now about a week later and this hive along with our other 5 are all doing well.

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The Irises are in full bloom in the Prayer Garden. When I was planting rosemary and sage the other day a lovely fragrance caught my attention. Since the Irises were the nearest blossoms I walked to them and took a sniff. Wow! Spicy-sweet. I then took a long deep breathe to fill myself with this wonderful scent. These have only been in place for a couple of years and have really just taken off this year. I always thought that Irises were planted for their showy flowers, and that is why I planted them. I never realized that they were aromatic as well.

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I guess this just goes to show that we should take time to stop and smell the Irises. I’ll consider this a lesson learned.

Harvesting and watering are now our primary activities. Our asparagus crop was significantly affected by the wet weather this year and we harvested less than 50% of what we had last year. The strawberries are ripening and I have picked about 7 quarts so far. I am freezing them for now and will make jam with many of them when I have more time. I have also picked and dried oregano, spearmint and chocolate mint.

We are now having to water daily as we have gone from overly wet weather to overly dry. I think our last good rain was before Memorial Day, and the lack of rain plus the summerlike temperatures, equals very thirsty plants. This post explains our watering system on the farm. Since the farm is off grid watering takes a little more time and effort than just turning on a faucet. https://donteatitsoap.com/2016/06/05/our-off-grid-irrigation-system/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true

While there are many other things going on here, there is much work to be done and precious little time to write about it, so until next time 🙂

 

 

Dressing Things Up

In 2013 when our prayer garden started to take shape it was only about 1/3 of it’s current size. To dress it up that spring I remember buying 8 bags of mulch. It was not enough. I ended up making a second trip for 4 more bags.

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The following year, after we had expanded the prayer garden to nearly it’s current size, buying bags of mulch was just not feasible. My husband took his pickup truck to the local landscape supply and brought me a truckload of mulch. When I had emptied the truck and spread all that mulch in the prayer garden, it wasn’t enough.  He made a second trip and brought back another truckload of mulch so I could finish the job right.

The next year the prayer garden had expanded slightly to it’s current size and since it is a main focal point on the farm dressing it up is important to us. It took three pickup loads of mulch that year to do the job. This was getting to be expensive.

Last year we decided to take a different approach. I had read that often times tree trimming companies will deliver free mulch if they are in the area and need a place to dump it. There is actually a website where you can sign up to have mulch delivered. https://freemulch.abouttrees.com/#!/home  Rather than take our chances with this website, hoping that maybe one of the companies in our area participate, we decided to take a more direct approach. Last May when I saw a crew trimming trees in our community I immediately told my husband. He found where they were working and stopped to talk to them. He asked what they do with the mulch. He was told they usually take it back to their facility and sell it. He told them if they wanted a location near buy to dump a load we would love to have some. He left them with the address to our farm and his phone number. We didn’t really hold much hope that we would be getting mulch from them, but later that day when we arrived at the farm we were pleasantly surprised.

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This mulch was a little crude. It had larger pieces and some whole sticks that apparently passed through the shredder unscathed, but the price was right. I was more than happy to pick out the pieces that didn’t belong as I spread the mulch over the prayer garden. Not only did we have enough to cover the entire prayer garden we were able to use it for some other projects as well.

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We used it to build up a couple of pathways through the woods, and we mulched around our currant and blueberry bushes.

This year we have a different priority. We had an extremely wet winter and that weather pattern has continued on in to spring. I am hesitant to curse the rain as for several weeks last summer it was so dry we were praying for rain. So since we can’t change the weather we have to find a way to deal with it. Our property is old farm land that has not been graded, groomed or manicured, as a result we have high areas and low areas. In wet seasons the some low areas do not drain and become either puddles of standing water or just a mucky mess. We decided we needed to work more on drainage by building up the low areas. We talked about using wood mulch, but since our supply from last year was nearly gone we thought saw dust might be a better option.

We are blessed to have a friend who owns a saw mill in the area and we thought we could get a couple truck loads of sawdust pretty inexpensively. When my husband went to get the first load he found that there was an abundance of saw dust and our friend refused to take any money for it. “Just get it out of here” he told my husband. So my husband shoveled the back of his truck full of sawdust and brought it to the farm.

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We started by dressing up the area around the chicken coop.

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The second truck load was spread in the apiary and a third load we used to build up another muddy area that we use often.

While sawdust might not be as effective as mulch for weed control, it will certainly help build up low areas, absorb water and eventually biodegrade.