right now

right now

May 18, 2015

Slow Growth and Bug Guts

Things are moving very slowly in the garden.  Or it seems like it when compared to my garden plot neighbors.  Everyone else out there buys their plants whereas I plant seeds.  I'm not talking about tomatoes and peppers, but these people are buying beans and lettuce and cucumber plants!  They sprout in like 2 days, they can't wait 2 days?  And lettuce!  Lettuce sprouts in like 2 hours!  For my money and budget, I'll stick with seeds, even if it takes longer.

   Tick, tock...


At least starting from seed means the plants are used to this poor soil and actively chose to sprout and grow there.  No transplant shock here in the dried out riverbed!  Seriously though… bean starter plants?

Speaking of beans, this year considering the wildlife circumstances, I started my bean seeds under these hoops.  I'm hoping to get them past that sprout stage when the birds swoop in and take them all out in one shot.  Once they have a few leaves on them I plan on moving the hoops over the lettuces to give them some shade and help thwart bunny attacks!


My tomato & pepper bed is coming along.  All survived the transplant well and although small, they are putting out nice new foliage at a rapid rate.


My Tokyo White Cross turnips are up!  Along with a lone ladybug doing her job.  She needs to recruit all her beneficial buddies to get here asap because…




… because of these little b@$t@rds!  Yep, you will hear a lot of that language in the Flightline Garden!  It's okay, it's a Navy base, so cussing like a sailor is expected and encouraged.  :)



Colorado Potato Beetles!  My plants aren't even 8 inches tall!

Funny story though…  so I'm on my little toy wagon/scooter thing I stole  liberated from my neighbors in Virginia (anyone remember the Mt. Everest of crap on the curb when my neighbors were evicted?) - and I'm scooting down the row of potatoes handpicking and squishing these little buggers when one of my plot neighbors comes over for advice.  This nice gal and new gardener wanted to ask about her plants and seeds and plot in general.  I feel the need to show her the infidels currently infiltrating the plots since they were probably headed her way at the other end of the garden.  I show her the beetle, show her the eggs, then tell her that most sprays don't work on them, tell her about handpicking them into a bucket of soapy water,  then fill her in on the Dr. Bronner's soap spray, blah blah….  yeah, then proceed to tell her that it's awesome to just squeeze them with your bare hands and wait for the crunch.  As if that wasn't enough I pick one up and say "like this!"  - and squeeze a beetle that was absolutely packed with eggs that squirted everywhere.  Seriously - I think I had orange beetle eggs on my face.  What has become of me?  Doesn't matter if I love the insect or hate it, I have to touch them all, and I have forgotten that most people aren't that into it.  Being a gardener sure puts you at one with all the living things around you, and not just plants!  I hope I didn't freak her out, but I'm pretty sure she now refers to me as "The Crazy Chick at Plot 59".  


In the kitchen, I've managed to add another dish to the crock pot/freezer repertoire… 

Chicken Tikka Masala!




The kids even liked curry!  Paired with rice in the rice cooker and it's an easy dinner.  I dumbed down the curry for the kids but since they liked it I will keep raising the curry/spice level until I hit their ceiling of what they will tolerate.  Yep, that's the kind of mom I am - we'll stop just short of fire.

My new "Maryland" wild yeast starter was looking great after just 3 weeks, all bubbly and puffy n'stuff… honestly better than my years-old Virginia starter ever looked, so I decided to try baking the first loaf of sourdough this morning...


Yeah, this just happened.  Unbelievable.  

Best loaf of sourdough I've ever made!



Maryland wild yeast strains are a hit here :)

May 8, 2015

Friday Randomness

There is really no interesting news on the garden front this week.  Everything is still barely coming up, and the ground looks like a dried up river bed.

First up award goes to the garlic!


I did this in the garden - sprained my ankle something awful!  Fell in a groundhog hole on my way to the water spigot.  Thought I was falling into a well for a minute!  Got ice on it right away and it's slowly getting better, but I can't drive my stick now :(

Wildlife: 1  Gardener: 0


All I've got is some random observations this week:

Really?  8 bucks a jar for "heirloom" tomato sauce?  Apparently the rest of us growers and canners need a class in marketing.  ASAP.


The aftermath of cherry blossom festival time and crabapple season mania…. cherry tree vomit all over town.  Stuck to every car and plastered all over the siding on homes, and dogs tracking in petals all over the floor.


And yes...

Monster Old Bay:  because, Maryland.   We bathe in it and fill up our fuel tanks with it here.


I'll be back at it tomorrow, I'm going to have a talk with that groundhog.  Have a great weekend y'all!







May 1, 2015

That's the PLAN, anyway…

First, a refresher of what the plot looks like:


The big reveal of "the Plan"…


…and the expected outcome


My new garden adventure might just end here.

No, I'm too stubborn, I will adapt and overcome and outwit.

My underground plot dweller says:


***

This week just brought more work and prepping in the garden.  Many of you know that I have always grown all my seedlings under lights and heat mats and all that good stuff, but I actually had to buy my tomatoes and peppers this year, the horror!  I wasn't sure if we would get a plot back in late winter so I wasn't about to go crazy messing up the house with all that stuff, but next year I surely will :)

For those that have never seen mail order seedlings, here you go.  I ordered a few heirloom peppers and tomatoes from Burpee, they arrived in beautiful condition and are hardening off in the backyard right now.  The rest of my tomatoes and peppers were purchased locally from a small business.


Hubby has been working hard to build whatever my heart desires, as long as its bamboo and he gets to use his new machete and his Japanese saw.


My new bamboo gate… it even has rope hinges!


This is the bamboo thicket that is next to the community garden, as much as we want and it's free.


He has really streamlined the process of hauling it out.


Just one of the interesting things found in the garden… a sign of the trouble we are going to have this summer!


Meanwhile, indoors at the military homestead, I am starting a new "starter".  My last sourdough starter that I had for several years did not PCS with us.  PCS is a common military acronym that stands for Permanent Change of Station, aka moving.  As in, "the last PCS all my stuff got broken"… that's the most common usage you will hear, followed by "PCS'ing soon, they won't tell us where…"  LOL

So anyway, having to make a new starter capturing all new Maryland wild yeast.  Interested to see what the new yeast strain bread will taste like, maybe crab?  Or high taxes?

Starter Day 1


Day 2


Day 4 and the first feeding.  Things are moving a little slow due to our lower temperatures this week, but we definitely have action.  It will be chilling under a tea towel this week and be fed daily.


I will leave you with a photo I took yesterday of one of our local U.S. Post Offices.  It's open like 2 hours a day, and check out the chickens behind it.  I love this place!


Postal Chickens, nice.

Apr 27, 2015

Weekend Work

Definitely nothing pretty going on in the garden, but lots of work accomplished this weekend.  Let's start by horrifying Grandma… yes, mom - that's a machete Finn is working with!  With supervision, of course!  The man has been wanting a machete for quite some time and now that we are gardening on the edge of a bamboo forest, this seemed like the right time to make the purchase.  He is wasting no time in making me everything from fences and gates to trellises and stakes, and even teaching Finn - but just to cut twine.


Finn planted my turnips and rutabagas.



Some of the bamboo the man and Thing 2 hauled out.  What a great resource, and free too!


Fingerling Potatoes were planted, along with garlic and onions surrounding them, in hopes of deterring wildlife.  (yeah, right!)  There are groundhog holes in everyone's garden plots here and there was a gopher watching us from the far corner, plotting no doubt.


Just a few tomatoes and peppers went in, the rest will go in about a week since I'm not totally believing that our cold temps are gone for good.  A much bigger staking system will go in later, these little poles are just so anyone that tries to step on my seedlings will be impaled warned!


I scored 72 marigolds for $5 at the local big box store.  I do this every year, nothing wrong with them of course other than they need to be deadheaded and planted asap.  I take all the ugly for cheap… most people just don't realize how plants work and I will gladly reap the benefits!  Of course, I will need all 72 plants, you know, to "repel" that gopher that watched me plant them.  Ha!


When Thing 2 isn't in his garden clothes, he often looks like this.  He has turned into quite the Style King.  He claims he is "Punk Rock".  I'm an 80's girl so I won't complain as long as the straight A's keep coming!  


In contrast to the brown of the garden, the trees in my neighborhood are beautiful.  Cherry trees just finished, but the Redbuds, Dogwoods and Crabapple trees are peaking right now. 




Any type of fun projects at home are taking a back burner right now to the garden work that needs to be done.  I had forgotten how much work it can be getting a garden started from nothing!  So many challenges to this particular garden.  We can't use "sharp" objects so things like metal fencing and stakes are supposed to be out, and I'm following the rules, but everyone around me is putting up chicken wire like crazy.  Funny thing is that they are putting up 3-4 ft fences and for the cost I don't see the point - anything less than 8 feet isn't keeping deer out and we have tons of groundhogs here and they are just going under!  I cheaped out with deer netting and just am trying to put enough poles and structure inside the fence that it will be difficult for deer to judge if there is room for them to land.  The netting was $15 for 200 ft so I don't' feel bad if it doesn't work.  We also have to be out of the garden every year by Nov 1st, so that precludes me having a nice working, aging compost pile.  The base lets pasture grow over it all every year so I can't get in there to keep things cultivated or mulched, etc.  That also precludes me growing my cold weather peas, spinach, kale, etc.  I'm still very grateful however for even having a plot, it's virtually unheard of on a military base!

The biggest challenge, by far… is the WIND!  It howls at about 35-45 mph all day, every day.  I will leave you for this windy video to laugh at - you can't hear a thing I'm saying in it but I'm basically telling you about the challenges I outlined above.  

Grab your popcorn and prepare to laugh at my predicament!


I should take bets on the sidebar on whether the groundhogs, gophers, deer or wind will let me harvest anything this year, and what it might be!





Apr 24, 2015

What it's like here…

This is it!


It's difficult to know where to start with updating you on the events of the past year, but I think starting out by giving you some photos of where we live is a good place to begin.  Although we still live in the Mid-Atlantic and we are only 90 minutes from Washington D.C., the difference couldn't be any more stark from the D.C. and Virginia Beach areas.  

I am absolutely in love with this area!  It has all of the water we enjoyed in Virginia Beach, but none of the development.  You can actually get to the water here, pretty much wherever you want.  We lived close to the oceanfront in Virginia yet couldn't get near it due to development and parking restrictions and crowds.  Here, you can pretty much pull your car over anywhere and launch a kayak or throw a line in and nobody thinks anything of it.

The Navy is the largest employer here due to the test base (all the newest technology is tested here), but historically this area is rural, with most making a living off the water or farming.  This is about ground zero for watermen and their legendary Chesapeake Blue Crab harvesting.  The result of this is that this place is heaven for seafood.  Everyone knows of my love of crab cakes so it's about perfect here.  All of Southern Maryland is a peninsula bordered on 3 sides by the Potomac River, Patuxent River and Chesapeake Bay, which effectively isolates us from the craziness that is the Northern Virginia/D.C. metro area.

This is part of "our backyard" - the pier where we fish on base, I was able to get up early and catch sunrise!  I refer to everything on the base as our backyard since we live right on base!


Another shot of the pier at sunrise.


This is the woods and trail that is behind our house.  


 We finally live among hardwoods and forest!  Our area is usually forested right up to the water line here, unlike the open areas and scrub of Virginia.

Many roads here look like this:


The result are these awesome secluded beaches all over that the trails just end at.


Water EVERYWHERE.


It's actually quite common here to keep kayaks at the ready and we don't look out of place!  In the spring through fall many people that work at the base just keep their kayak on the roof and actually manage to kayak or fish on their lunch hour.  This place is very outdoor oriented.  If you like the city you would probably not like it here!



Lots of fishing and hunting right on base.


This is one of our fishing spots, hubby and the kids always pack trash bags to pick up litter while they are there.


Marley & Sprocket love it here too!  You would never guess Marley is turning 14 years old this summer!


Hopefully you can imagine a little better the area we live in now.  We only have ONE road here that has all the stores, etc on it.  Just one.  It's awesome!

When you envision this area, it really is water and forest everywhere.  We have left the power boats behind in the south and here sailboats and crab fishing boats are king.  If you think of the old Chesapeake Bay photographs you have may have seen in books of watermen and their boats, it's pretty much still that way here. 


Crab pots everywhere here, on docks, boats and stacked behind barns!


For the uninitiated, this is the beautiful Chesapeake Blue Crab, it's Latin name Callinectes sapidus  translates to "Beautiful Swimmer".   Indeed.


It's also a hot bed of Revolutionary War history here, which is way more than I can blog about, but it's cool stuff.
*****
I'm off to the garden plot in 40 mph winds to plant.  It's always 40 mph winds, sigh…..  Challenging, but it should give you something to laugh at when you see me trying to grow things there!  Should have a garden plot update on the next post, it's all been fence building so far this week.

Apr 21, 2015

Back in the Game...

There is no graceful way to make a comeback, but here I am!

A lot has happened...



Our new home has about 300 sq feet in the backyard - no joke.  It felt a little ridiculous to blog about everything except a garden on a garden blog!

That has changed.

Meet my new garden…


Yes, it is a plot right on the flight line!  We are very fortunate that our base has a community garden, and you better believe I jumped at the chance!  I thought I might go crazy this summer with one tomato plant in a bucket in my little backyard but I am not only gardening, I am getting to garden like I never have before!

Yes, I am so excited to be doing a lot of hard work!  My Virginia garden was work in the beginning, but I always had raised beds and they are soooooo much easier than in-ground gardening.  As you can see in the above photo, I am truly starting from nothing!  Well, the good fortune of living on a military base that will give you a little plot of land is certainly not nothing, we are very blessed.



Below you can see my car next to my plot, and this is the water spigot, so I will be doing a lot of hiking with a mile of hose. Beyond my car is the flight line.  Yes, the runway for fighter jets and all manner of other really cool test aircraft on our base.  Hearing protection is a must in my garden!  The JSF F-35 takes off here and if you know anything about that, you know how loud they are.



Yes, you will find things like this in my garden.  One of those things that is fun and cool yet makes you wonder who said "Yes, I think we will just leave this here."


We got our plot finally marked off and water turned on just this week.  The plot is 30' x 75'.  HUGE  compared to what I had previously.  Scary, considering I was harvesting 500+ lbs of produce from a garden half this size !  First order of business was to lay down some pathways so I could envision the plot and actually reduce the amount of space to plant.   Child labor laws were then thrown out the window and we began tilling and erecting fences.


A friend of mine that moved here from Virginia Beach also has the plot right next to ours so I'm sure it will be a fun summer - plus that's even more kids to put to work!!

Below is a shot of the entire plot.


Now, the return of the famous SEED BINDER, and fun with garden design.


Last but not least, a few photos of our new home… more to come later on that.

Cherry Trees entering my neighborhood.  We actually live on base, inside the gates.



This is our home.  1941 former officer barracks.  The conversion was done so that each home consists of two row houses, and they are on the historic register of MD so limited changes could be made. The result is a pretty "interesting" floor plan.  We have the original wood floors though and loads of character.  We have 7 windows in the dining room alone, this house is ALL WINDOWS!  Pretty, but FRIGID in the winter!  Colder than I ever remember being inside a house, and I'm from Minnesota so you know that's cold.  I think I took this on 9/11/14 since I see my flag is at half staff.



Our back yard is tiny.  We have a "reel" mower!


Big enough for a fire pit though!


Who needs a yard though?  We have 3 campgrounds on base, fishing pier, we can launch our kayaks or fish from over 40 little coves and beaches.  This is on base right down the street…


Just to show we are indeed alive… and hubby is not deployed!


And because no post about Maryland is complete without a Blue Crab, I will just set this right here...



I have missed blogging so much, there was never a time where I was glad to not be blogging.  I think I just needed time to regroup and had a lot of changes going on, which I will periodically regurgitate as blog posts to bring you up to speed!  I still can't believe I am going to have a real deal, old skool in-ground garden this year!!!