Friday, February 20, 2015

Snow Harvest

Well, if we did harvest snow, we would have an abundance!  It will be awhile yet before we see the ground...  sigh.  Enjoy a few recent pics.

Bird's Eye Frozen Dinner

I (Shannon) spent a blizzardy afternoon spying on this skiddish downy woodpecker enjoying the frozen suet block. Despite the blustery afternoon lots of birds were out and about.  Among the tally were blue jays, cardinals, chickadees, crows, juncos, morning doves and a pileated woodpecker along with the above mentioned downy. A red squirrel uses the top of the chain link fence as his personal highway while the larger grey squirrels wade through the snow.

Oh where did my green garden go?

The snow isn't as deep as last year at this time... however, it seems plenty deep to our old dog Rooper. Yes, we are down to one dog now.  Ubu passed on last year.  We shovel paths for Rooper as he isn't agile enough to jump through the snow.  Sometimes we have to carry him... all 65 pounds of him on the stairs.  He is over 15 years old now.

Snow peak nearly reaching the deck.  Trails for the dog to use.

I bought this glass globe on clearance last fall and hadn't done anything with it.  I revisited it while cleaning this past week and removed the skinny silver thread that it hung by.  I didn't think it would support the additional weight of soil, water and a plant.  I created this "noose" as Timothy calls it from sisal that we use in the garden.  Now I had to find a plant that would not mind tight spaces, be small and grow slowly.  Also, because of where I wanted to hang it, this plant had to be ok with low light conditions. I will often by-pass a plant because I don't want to spend the money and can't justify the purchase to T.  After all, I have plenty of plants inside already right?  Well, not one that would be happy in this little globe. I found a 3" pot of Selaginella kraussinana 'Aurea' at the grocery store and thought it worth $2.99 and a try.

Shannon's latest plant creation.  Selaginella "Golden Moss"

Since the moss was too big, I ripped about a third of it off and planted it in a large glass cylindar that I purchased at a second hand store sometime ago.  I collect marbles and so raided my stash for pretties to add.  The blue glass insert has more clear glass marbles and a tea light in it.  It too is an acquisition from a second hand store.

New terrarium #2.

Finally, in my afternoon of playing in the soil, I planted these Lantana seeds that I saved from plants I had purchased in 2013.  Usually I just save cuttings from the plants but an early frost took them out this past year.  I soaked them for 24 hours and laid them on the top of the soil.  According to Google, they need light to germinate.  They also need warmth so they are currently living on top of my toilet tank as our bathroom is the warmest room in the house.  Germination time is 6 to 8 weeks so I will have to be patient.  The next seeds to start are a little more useful in the culinary realm, parsley get planted on Sunday.

Lantana seed starts.

Friday, February 6, 2015

2015 Season Begins

Well snow is still on the ground but we are starting the planning stages for the new year.  The first thing to do is go through our abundance of seeds and pick out what we want to grow.  We have lots of seeds to choose from and not enough space for it all. It is a blessing to have seeds that one day may be far more valuable then money which you can't eat. Well I suppose you could, but you wouldn't want to!

Our tubs of seed packets, currently stored in the cooler basement.

Next Shannon did her charting and planning.  She reviewed last year's garden bed maps and what was planted in each beds so we can determine this year's crop rotation.  Figuring out what goes in each bed and trying to space things appropriately takes some thought.  Here are some pics of her paper lists, charts and garden bed maps with color coding too!

Lists of plants and where they are to go

Color coded garden bed maps

Color code Keys and maps of the tall beds

Finally Shannon entered and updated all the info in the garden program Timothy made called "Garden Time". We have written about this program in past posts. If you have an Android device you can get it from Google Play. There is a free 30 day trial version.

Once everything is entered, GT gives us a nice schedule in our To Do List complete with dates so we know when to start our seeds, many of which we will be starting soon.  Since we have several feet of snow outdoors, these seeds will be started indoors and put under our light rack as usual.

Where there is no vision, the people perish...

This post isn't directly related to our gardening ventures, but gardening is definitely an aspect of our vision.

The post title comes from Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy is he.

The Hebrew word translated as vision is: chazown and the Strong's definition is:
"a sight (mentally), i.e. a dream, revelation, or oracle"

So how am I applying this verse in this post?  Basically, if we do not have goals or a vision for improvement, then we will stay in the ruts we have made for ourselves, making them deeper and deeper until we eventually get buried and perish.

My admonition to you, the reader, is to examine your life and continually reach for higher ground.  Get out of those ruts and with God's help, we will become lights on a hill.

Recently Shannon and I have examined our lives for places where we were stuck in ruts and in need of change.  What follows is the goals that we made for this year in our attempt to strive for higher ground.  We have the goals listed on our fridge as a daily visual reminder.

Vision Goals On Fridge, Beta copy

It has been brought to our attention that our view of ourselves and God has become twisted and off target.  To counter this, Shannon and I have a goal to read through the Bible from cover to cover together with a focus on:
  1.  How we view God, 
  2.  How God views us.  
We started with a written list of how we currently think and feel about these points.  As we go through our study, we are writing down truths we find from the Bible. Our vision for when we have surveyed all of scripture, will be to compare our initial list with the list we made while going through the Bible. Any thoughts that do not conform to the truths we have found in scripture, will be exposed and cast out as lies from the enemy. We want to uphold the truth of scripture in our understanding of who God really is and who we are to Him.  A good time to do this daily study together for us is during our "lunch" break.  We are currently in the book of Exodus.

1.  Learn to love mornings, look forward to getting up and be excited about the new day.
This is a work in progress as we both lack in motivation and energy in this area.  We are hoping as our health improves, this will get easier.

2.  Get and be healthy.
This includes being deliberate about what we eat and eating balanced and healthy meals.  We believe that eating nutrient dense produce from our garden will be a great benefit.  Another aspect is having a meal plan and striving to follow it. It can be too easy at times to just grab snack food and be too lazy to take the time needed to make a healthy meal.  To help with this, on the fridge we have created a magnetic meal plan for the week.  This gives a goal and a vision to follow, and planning the week can help with balance (not eating the same dish all the time) and stewardship (plan for what needs to be used up from the food we have in the house before it goes bad.)

Week's Meal Plan on Fridge

3.  Morning garden walk
Once it is warm outside again and there are plants in the beds, our hope is to get outside and take a look at what is happening before work each morning.  This will help us see what needs to be done that day in regards to harvesting, pest control, and general maintenance.  It will also give an opportunity to enjoy the gardens, both flower and food ones as they grow.

It is important to review how one is doing, either daily or weekly.  This gives us a benchmark of where we are at and how we are doing.  This is not to cause discouragement in times of failure, but to help us be encouraged and focus on areas needing more attention and improvement for the following week.  We also can celebrate our victories and achievements in the past week.

We hope this post has encouraged you to make a vision for your life.  Be sure to include prayer for guidance as God can show you what is most important to focus on.  If you find you are struggling with a particular problem, look for and pray about new ways to solve it.  It is helpful to get everyone in the family involved and work as a team if possible.  However, if you are the only one who is engaged, remember that as you bless yourself and your Heavenly Father with your efforts, the people around you will be blessed too.  When you succeed in one area, rejoice and keep up the good work. However, don't neglect to ask God to show you other places in your life in which you can reach for higher ground.  With each step up you will have a better vantage point from which you can get a broader vision!

Shannon Working on a Veggie Medley Casserole dish.