Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Worst Farmer Ever

When I was a kid, I dreamt of becoming a veterinarian. I found an injured bunny when I was 10 and tried my very hardest to nurse it back to health. I put the little guy in a crate and watched it slowly die. I was devastated. That was my first experience death.

Since we began our journey through the country life, I have had a significant increase of these experiences. The first chicken we lost was a barred rock named Dolly. She was attacked by a dog and we had to put her down. Others followed suit through tragic or unexpected events and I felt myself handling death better.. When rhonda (our very first chicken) died last summer in my arms, I felt myself taking a step back in my progress.

Again, I healed and again, we lost another pet. Sophie the goose was one of a kind. This time I was vengeful and just wanted to kill the coyotes that took her. Then just as I begin to heal from her, I lose my first puddy tat.

He was so beautiful. He had the markings of a tiger and a coat so soft.

From the moment he arrived, he took a liking to me. He would 'knead' me and cuddle into my neck. I welcomed his affection, even though he would cause my skin to break out in hives.

He was so curious.

And he was always seeking contact with his humans.

Just a few days ago I was playing with him in the field. Today, I am without him. My heart physically hurts. We buried him yesterday. He didn't even look like himself. He didn't even feel like him. Is that strange?

Why do we allow ourselves to love someone so freely, when the pain of losing them is difficult? I think it's because the time we have with them is so worth the pain we feel when they are no longer with us.

So, here is to my boy Henry. I love you and I miss you. I may be the worst farmer ever, but I dont think I would want it any other way.

Tomatoes Are Now Planted!

It is time for tomatoes. We planted the outdoor tomatoes this past Sunday.
Aren't they tall?
This is probably the best thing I have loaded into the wheelbarrow this season. Some of these tomato plants are nearly 3feet tall. These are the most impressive tomatoes we have ever grown.
This one is loaded with blossoms.
We planted 12 in total. 9 outside and 3 in the greenhouse. 6 different varieties. 
Unfortunately, the weather decided to get a little wet and cold on us and we had to cover the tomatoes up.
There is a lot of potential food being protected here.
All tucked in for the night.

How are your tomatoes doing?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Cats In Awe and a RIP

Why are these cats on the table? We don't eat cats so there must be a reason for this behavior.
It must be something good if I am able to photograph up close, these two typically photo shy boys.
Is it a beautiful young female cat?
Or a nice ball of yarn?
Perhaps a bunch of squeaky little mice!
Nope. Just a bug in the light fixture making all sorts of noise.

Silly cats!

This evening we found Henry laying in some grass next to our dirt road. He had been hit by a car. He died there. We buried him amongst the tall field grasses that he loved to hide in so much. He will be missed. He was The Halpern Homestead's first cat, and a great one he was. He caught mice, he chased chickens and squirrels and other birds, and he really loved his momma!

Potted Pepper Method

The traditional last frost date for the Spokane area is said to be May 15th. So, you should be able to plant tomatoes and peppers on the 15th according to that recommendation. We have found that in our area, this date is not accurate. We have lost warm weather plants to frost as late as June 10th. Because of this, when we do plant our tomatoes and peppers we use great caution. We check and double check the forecast for the week. Then we go for it if all is 'clear'.
Yesterday 5/29/11 was that day. It was beautiful and sunny all afternoon. We are trying a method for our peppers this year that we had some success with last season.
We are planting all of our peppers and eggplant in pots, in the ground. The reason behind this is so that once the flowers are pollenated and we are near the end of the season. We can move the plants inside to the greenhouse. We can extend the growing season by a good month within the greenhouse. We tried this method with a few plants last year and had some success. 
This year we went all out. All 10 of our pepper plants and all 4 eggplants are in pots, in the ground.

To underscore the unpredictability of Spokane's weather.
Shortly after I finished planting, a wind and rain storm came to our area. Strong winds and tropical down pour. Somethings you just can't predict. I guess we should leave the row cover on for a few days.

Least the pees don't mind a little rain.

How is your garden doing?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

For Dinner This Week: Bok Choy

We grew some delicious Bok Choy in the greenhouse this year!
Check out how big those leaves are!
Some of the leaves are even bigger than my head.

That being said. With a big harvest of Bok Choy in hand, it was time to make dinner. The bok choy went from the greenhouse to our mouths in less than an hour. Can't get much more fresh than that!

I choose this recipe from allrecipes.com. Delicious spicy bok choy in garlic sauce.  
The sauce is really the best part.
After sauteing the bok choy, you cover it with the sauce.
We served the recipe over brown rice. This is the best recipe for bok choy we have ever had. Spicy, sweet, and mouth watering. A complexity of flavors in each bite. I strongly recommend! 

What is your favorite bok choy recipe?

Thanks for reading

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Growing Vegetables in the Greenhouse

The great thing about having a greenhouse is that we can grow beautiful plants earlier than possible outside. 
Such as the case with this beautiful Tigerella Tomato. 

We planted a lot of rows of carrots in the tomato bed for companion planting. Buy the book Carrots Love Tomatoes to learn more about what plants grow well together and plants that actually help each other grow. Great resource. We plant by this book.
This is our broccoli bed. We have six huge plants growing in here. We are getting better at broccoli. Last years crop failed big time. But we are learning. If you look closely you can see a couple potato plants coming in between the two plants on the left. Oops.
The leaves are massive!
Hopefully the heads grow pretty quick before the plant decides to go to seed.
This is our cabbage bed, which is also doing quite well.
Minus the little nibble marks from the slug, these plants are doing very well.
They are even starting to form heads!
Bok choy is new to us this year. It is one of my favorite veggies, so we had to plant it. It is doing well.
The plants are huge, although the picture doesn't do a great job of capturing the size.
Unfortunately, the plant grew very tall and appears to be going to seed. The stalks don't seem thick enough yet to eat.
Do you grow bok choy? Any thoughts to share?
This is the massive bok choy leaf.
A bunch of sunflowers anxiously waiting to go out side!
Lettuce bed, We are almost out of lettuce already!

How is your garden and greenhouse doing?

Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Booby Trapped Greenhouse

This is Herman, Herman is a Venous Fly Trap and North American Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia) plant, planted together. He resides in the greenhouse during warmer months and inside the house during the winter. I bought this plant when I was in Portland a couple years ago. The venous fly trap hasn't really come back yet since over wintering the plant. The Sarracenia is growing strong though and has these long beautiful hollow tubes that attract the insects down. The insect is then trapped and dissolved by enzymes so that the plant may use that insect as food! Learn more about the process HERE
Looks like a great place to crawl into right?
Some days I like to inspect the plant and see if I can see any bugs trapped in those long tubes.
That's when I saw this bee. He had chewed a hole about half way down the tube. In this hole the bee was half in the tube and half way out.
If you click the picture you can see where the wasp has chewed a hole to get out. The bee is still alive in this photo. I tried to help him get out with a little stick. It wasn't helpful, the little bee tried grabbing the stick, but when I pulled the stick the bee was too weak to hold the stick. Since I am not a big fan of being stung by bees, I had to leave him there. Being digested by wonderful enzymes.

This is a wonderful plant for the greenhouse. It helps trap all sorts of little flying bugs that could be eating your plants instead. Very rarely does it catch a bee. I would recommend one to everyone. Beautiful, nice conversation piece, and easy to care for. 
I bought it when it was this size for around ten dollars at some sort of street fair in Portland. Here is the website http://cobraplant.com/. They have a schedule of events on the website. I really love this plant!

Do you plant any exotic plants? Any recommendations? I would love to expand to several more varieties of exotic plants.