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March 2015 Sustainable Seed Company Code

Here it is!

Sustainable Seed Company’s discount code exclusively for Meduseld blog readers!

Use Meduseld0315 at checkout to get TEN percent off your order, not including shipping.  Cannot be combined with any other coupons.  Good until March 12, 2015.  Go to http://www.sustainableseedco.com/

For those of you who do larger scale gardening and farming, Sustainable Seed also has the ability to handle bulk orders.  Here’s the link for that: http://sustainableseedco.com/bulk-heirloom-seed/

Please visit their site and see the incredible variety of seeds that they have!

 

Vegetables Grown at Meduseld

Vegetables Grown at Meduseld

New Sustainable Seed Coupon Code Coming Soon!

Peppers hidden in the foliage.

Peppers hidden in the foliage.

Exciting News!  Meduseld and Sustainable Seed Company are once again coordinating in order to provide YOU with another discount code for orders placed on their website!  This code will be announced in the next few days, so be sure to check back often!

From their website….

Welcome to Sustainable Seed Co. – Your Source for Certified Organic Heirloom Seeds

Since 2008, offering heirloom seeds, garden seeds, and organic heirloom seeds – non-hybrid vegetable, flower, and herb seeds.. America’s best source for for heirloom vegetable seeds, heirloom grain seeds and heirloom herb seeds.

From the beginning, we wanted to only offer heirloom seeds for one reason: they’re not only our history but our security. You can save the organic seed from the open-pollinated seeds we offer, and with the proper methods, reliably get the same plants for generations to come. We’re also a CERTIFIED ORGANIC seed farm – setting us apart from many others who only resell seed. With over 1,800 varieties for you to choose from (over 700 of them bulk seed and 600 of them organic seeds), we’re also the web’s premiere source for backyard gardeners and farmers alike.

http://sustainableseedco.com/

It won’t be winter forever!

 

July Farm Life

A large pot of pasta sauce is simmering on the stove to be canned later.  Rows of jars of beans and other vegetables already line up on cellar shelves to be consumed during the winter months.   Two of the children have poison ivy – all signs of summer.

It’s only July – the middle of the summer, and we are already thinking about the cold months.  It seems strange to not stop and just enjoy the moment, but taking time to pause would be a luxury when there is so much work to do as the harvest starts pouring in!

 

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All the ingredients in the pasts sauce are from our garden – even the oregano, parsley and basil.  We use the book Putting Food By (PFB) as our reference for safe canning, but I confess I really call it the Paranoid Food Book, since its author wrote the entire book about canning while constantly talking about how dangerous it is.  Her favorite bit of advice seems to be to can a food exactly to her specifications and then throw it away…. :)

 

Indigo Cherry Tomoatoes beginning to ripen

Indigo Cherry Tomatoes beginning to ripen

As we harvest areas we replant for fall crops.   Hopefully, we will harvest beans from these plants until the weather cools.   Speaking of cooling weather, today will only be 73 degrees thanks to the second July polar vortex that is dropping cool Canadian air into our area.

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Our onion harvest has met challenges.  We laid them out on a table to dry and form their outer skin that protects them for storage.   Who knew that sheep love onions?  I didn’t, at least until I found them devouring the onions as if at a banquet.   We saved just enough for the next few batches of pasta sauce.

The garden expansion project continues.  We pulled a permit last week for the small tool shed I had proposed.  My husband has held contractor licenses in several states and has done projects in some of the most rigorous jurisdictions, including Alexandria, VA.  But, up until now he has never had to pull a permit for a tiny tool shed/agricultural building.  It is sad that Hampshire County has such excessive reach into the life of its residents.  He started the shed yesterday using a window and materials recycled from past jobs, and I look forward to sharing a picture of it when it is done.

I’m off to the kitchen.

 

How to Lay Pavers for a Patio

As part of our 2014 garden expansion, we added a pond with waterfall.  In order to enjoy the beautiful, serene koi and goldfish, we planned a small patio made with pavers so that we can sit and enjoy the surroundings.

Pond with assorted Koi and Goldfish

Pond with assorted Koi and Goldfish

We cleared an area at the lower end of the pond and have placed rocks at the edges to contain the dirt and “blue stone,” a type of crushed stone dust available at hardward stores.  Blue stone, or stone dust, can be leveled and compacted and makes a durable under-surface for pavers and stones.

Stones show future edges.  Also note tool called a tamper.

Stones show future edges. Also note tool called a tamper.

Start backfilling some dirt into the area that will be raised for the patio surface.  If you are making your patio  flush with the ground, omit this step.  If making it flush, you will have to dig down and make a level area.  Plan on about two inches of stone dust and add the thickness of your pavers or stones, and this will give the the depth to dig.  In our example above, we are building up the level to accommodate the natural slope in the garden.

Whether you have dug down or added, it is important to make sure that your surface is level.

Checking with a level.

Checking with a level.

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Now it’s time to add the blue stone or stone dust.  A small two by four can help spread the stone.

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Check again with a level.  A surface that appears level can still be off.

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Tamp your surface again firmly.

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We have now prepared a good surface to bedding the pavers.  The pavers are going to be set at a random pattern to imitate cobble stone streets in Europe.  Even the pavers are in assorted colors in order to give a more historic feel.

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If necessary, you can cut pavers with this tool, available to rent at many tool rental places.

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Once you have laid the final pavers, pour a bag of stone dust onto the surface of your pavers.  Take a stiff broom and push as much stone dust between the stones as possible.  This significantly firms up the surface and will stabilize your patio, in addition to giving it a finished look.  We do not recommend sand for this step as it will eventually wash out between the stone when it rains.

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Here is the finished patio.  Small, so that it does not take up valuable garden space, and perfect for intimate dinners and conversation over a glass of wine.

If you ‘d prefer to have one of these installed, please click on the Culver Design Build, Inc. link for more information!

Edible Weeds

I have been fortunate to meet special people, such as Eva Taylor of Ironwood farm who introduced me to permaculture.  Recently, I have gotten to know another amazing person, who has expanded my appreciation of nature and the garden, Leenie Hobbie.

Leenie and I share several mutual friends and I have often heard the statement, “you’ve got to meet Leenie Hobbie!”  She is a frequent guide for “Weed Walks” in our area, teaching people about the local flora and showing people how to identify edible plants. 

Fortunately, Leenie and I finally connected and we spent some time in my garden, which I admit is not entirely weed free.  Perhaps my German heritage makes me more fastidious about it than I need to be, but there were definitely  more than enough weed samples to be found.  I’ve always felt that their existence in my garden was a source of irritation, taking up precious space for my darling cultivated plants.  Until Leenie’s visit.

She quickly identified several edible varieties and even knew their nutrients and historic medicinal use.  She described how they could be used in cooking, and those loathsome plants suddenly turned into recipe potential!  Lambs quarters in quiche?  Sounds delicious!

Invader or Ingredient?

Invader or Ingredient?

Since her visit, we’ve gathered various types and even made “weed chips”  Collecting the leaves of a thorny vine called Greenbriar that Leenie showed me, we fried them in olive oil, producing a delightful crispy treat.  And I am willing to tolerate more weeds in my garden, and am even finding some favorite tasting ones, such as Purslane.

Leenie has a delightful and informational  blog, 3 Herb Mamas, that I encourage you to follow, and I am placing it on my list of favorite blog links.  She is also creating an Etsy store for her herb-based creams and salves, so stay posted for when that is launched!

Spring Harvest

I had a wonderful day yesterday, planting and foraging in the garden, and enjoying the first substantial harvests for the year.  Yes, we’ve picked things here and there, some salads and herbs, but we are finally seeing the fruits of all our March, April and May labors, providing a June feast! 

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You may remember our post about growing potatoes in stackable boxes…yesterday I pulled the forms and found early spring potatoes.  They are crunchier when harvested freshly and become softer and creamier when cooked.    Here they are lightly boiled and then fried in Spectrum Organics Palm Oil Shortening.

 

Red Norland Spring Potatoes

Red Norland Spring Potatoes

The children enjoyed juice from the first batch of Nanking Bush Cherries.  Since the berries are difficult to pit, we boil them in water to release their juices, add a little organic sugar and the children pour this over ice cubes for a refreshing drink.  The additional benefit of Nanking Bush Cherries is that they make a wonderful edible shrub or privacy hedge :)

Picking Nanking Bush Cherries

Picking Nanking Bush Cherries

While we’ve already been enjoying the butter head lettuce Four Seasons, yesterday I harvested our first white Radicchio and they two combined made a delightful and completely non-bitter salad.  Four Seasons is showing off with its brilliant  red accents.

White Radicchio and Lettuce of Four Seasons

White Radicchio and Lettuce of Four Seasons

The Chicken is a broiler raised here on our farm.  It spent over six hours on the smoker yesterday with fresh herbs – thyme, sage and oregano – placed under its skin and in the cavity.   It makes a tender supper and amazing chicken salad. 

Smoked Chicken with Herbs

Smoked Chicken with Herbs

I hope these will encourage those who haven’t yet given gardening at try! 

 

 

Sustainable Seed Company Code!

june row garden

 

Go to this post for the newest code!  2015 Code!

Spring arrived late for most of us on the Eastern sideboard of the U.S., and our gardens have not progressed very far yet. So it may come as a surprise that it’s almost time for fall planting!

In Eliot Coleman’s excellent book Four Season Harvest (in our amazon store), he provides extensive charts for varieties of vegetables that are winter hardy and ideal for extending your growing and harvesting season. Additional charts show planting times for each vegetable – and guess what? We are only two weeks away from the first planting times for our zone! Uh oh!

First, take a look at the handy map on page 208 which shows the last frost date for your area, give or take a few days. For us, it shows October 10, but being on a southern exposure we tend to be a bit warmer. Going to Table 16 Planting Dates for an Extended Harvest on page 206 we scan across to the October 10 column and find that beans, beets, cabbage, and all sort of other plants should be planted in June for an extended harvest. Referring to the tables on page 94 shows that planting cold frame crops for fall and winter consumption starts in June as well.

Fortunately, the nice people over at Sustainable Seed Company can help. Once again, they are providing a discount code for Meduseld readers. You can get your root parsley, lettuce and swiss chard, radicchio, mache’ and cabbages from a trusted organic source.  Use the discount code Meduseld0614 (no spaces) for a ten percent discount off any order over $20.00!  Code is good until June 14, 2014.

And according to Theo Bill at Sustainable Seed Co… “Do you have any followers who are bigger growers?  I.e., might order a 1/4 lb. or more of things?  If so, perhaps you might  include a link to our bulk page?  We have over 750 varieties available in larger sizes for the larger gardens.  Don’t know, but if that’s the case, the bulk page is here:  http://sustainableseedco.com/bulk-heirloom-seed/  Otherwise, just the homepage (http://sustainableseedco.com) is good for a link.”

 

Pond Question

I received a question about what we use in our pond to solve fish illnesses such as Ick and fungi.   Since the honey bees drink freely from this pond it is important to use products that are compatible with their health as well, and antibiotic-based “cures” don’t seem compatible.  Fortunately, I have found these all natural products for fish, and am putting them in our amazon store.  They are made with herbal extracts such as tea tree oil. 

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Look closely, and you can see the honey bees drinking from the new pond, using the plants as little islands or “flotation devices.”

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How to Create a Pond with Waterfall

Last week I shared my plans for adding to our permaculture garden, including installing a pond.  This weekend we got our project underway.  I am going to set out the steps for placing your own pond.  This will be a picture-intensive article, so it may take longer to load up.

Prepare your site by clearing it, and assess the area for soil conditions and how level or unlevel the ground is.  Our location is not level at all, and we are going to take advantage of this height change by creating a small waterfall effect at the upper end.  The upper layer of soil is not rocky, but below I quickly hit shale.  This is going to have to be removed with a pick and shovel.

Here I have started digging out the area in the approximate shape of the pond. 

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Sloan is placing the pond form in the hole to mark areas that need to be dug.  Marking paint, available at hardware stores, is a very handy tool for this. 

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This project became a family affair, with everyone clamoring to help dig.  If you look on the ground, you can make out the marking paint showing the areas that need to be dug deeper.

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It is very important to keep returning the pond form to the hole and check it for accuracy of shape and being level.  Using a large level check how the pond lays in both directions.  A pond that is out of level will not hold as much water, and looks wrong.   If your level is not large enough to span the pond, you can use a 2×4 like this in order to verify the height on all sides of the pond.

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It is a constant process of digging and checking.  Please don’t skip this step!

Dig a few inches deeper than you need in order to accommodate the pond.  This is so that you can place sand in the bottom of the hole.  You can also use “stone dust,” a fine crushed stone that is very stable.  Once again verify that your surface is level.

 

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Now it’s time to permanently place the pond.  It is necessary to start filling it gradually before you backfill around the pond, otherwise the pond will rise out of the ground slightly as you fill dirt around it.  Here we have started filling with water, and Sloan is making final adjustments with the level before the pond becomes too heavy with water to shift anymore.

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Now the entire pond edges have been back-filled and we can start placing the two cascade/waterfall “ponds.”  These will be set in concrete so that they do not shift.

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We’d like to have a small cascade so that the water is aerated as it falls into the pond.  Using a Quickcrete mix, we begin to set the cascades.  Mix the concrete mix with water to the consistency of toothpaste and set the first cascade.  Make sure you check the level, and weight it with some stones or block so that it does not “heave” as the concrete sets.

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Place some decorative stones around your base now.  Here we have placed the second level.

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Now it is time to test the water pump.   I chose a pump from Lowes that is capable of pumping almost eight feet up.  While our cascade is not that tall, I did not want to use a smaller pump since I know this will be running 24/7. We’re testing to make sure the cascade is the way we want it, before the concrete dries!

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Finally, the fun part – making the pond look like an element in nature by surrounding it with stones and plants.  You can place rocks around the edges, but we wanted to disguise the plastic edges of the pond somewhat and give the fish areas with cover.  You can see that the stones overlap the edges, making the pond blend in better and giving it a more authentic feel.  Here is the pond on the same day, now filled with water, plants even some goldfish!

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If you’d like to have a pond like this installed, don’t hesitate to conttact our other compnay, Culver Design Build, Inc.  We’d be glad to help creat a bit of paradise in your yard.