Saturday, May 29, 2010

Our Garden

We started our garden and its growing strong. But its not your typical garden, not because it does not have the normal vegetables such as tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, etc. But its not your typical garden because its a hay bale garden.

Last year we had a very difficult time with our garden, we did not plant it in the sunniest part of our yard, since not much of our yard is that sunny. Then it rained most of the spring and early summer so the vegetables got eaten by slugs. The ground around them was to wet and they could not grow. This year my brother-in-law saw a hay bale garden in a magazine and suggested it to us. We thought it was a good idea because it was like raised beds so better drainage and it was not permanent so we could move its location from year to year.
The first step was to buy four bales of hay for each garden. Dan was able to get these from a farm down the road and made two trips with his VW wagon to get them home. We put them together on the side of our house (the sunniest part of our yard). Making two square beds right along the driveway. Once the beds were set up we had to cover them with organic fertilizer and then cover that with rich dirt and fill the middle hole so we could later plant root vegetables. Once they were covered the magazine stated that they should be keep well wet for two weeks to help them break down and then once that started you could plant right in the hay and root vegetables could be planted in the center. I suggest using a soaker hose daily to keep it well moist during this time because we found it was the most effective way to keep the garden wet and provide enough water directly to the hay bales. You only need to run it a short time each day but it needs to be daily and for a short time not just getting the tops wet but really running through the hay bales.

After the two week period we went to the garden shop and bought our small vegetable plants. You can not plant seeds in these beds but your could start from seeds in small pots and then transplant into the beds when they were ready. We were very excited to start planting we came right home and started. The middle was very easy to plant in and we planted our carrots and beets there right away. Then when I started to plant the tomatoes in the hay part of the garden I realized some of it was not soft enough. This could have been avoided if we had used a soaker hose in the beginning to keep things wet but we did not so they had not broken down enough. So we went and bought a soaker hose and ran it for a few days and then we were able to plant the whole garden. The garden has been planted for almost two weeks and we run the soaker hose almost daily for a about ten to fifteen minutes. Everything is growing beautifully and looks like it is doing well. We are very excited and hope the progress continues.




We also have planted a few things in the old garden area towards the end that is the sunniest and to keep the slugs away we have small dishes on the ground filled with beers. We have caught a few slugs already so it works. But even still those vegetables are not doing as well as the new hay bale gardens, so it may just be a drainage or sun problem but looking forward to these gardens continued success.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rainbow stew Update

I have finally update my blog on Rainbow stew to include the pictures of the finished product. This was a great activity for the preschool students and reinforced the ideas of color mixing. It is also a great stress relief for all ages when you squish the mixture around in the bag. Make sure the bag is taped well and if a student is starting to turn it to brown give them a new bag to start mixing again. Enjoy and have fun.
Check out the full blog below for more information and how to make Rainbow stew.


http://chrisgaspar.blogspot.com/2010_03_01_archive.html



Sunday, May 9, 2010

Azelea Garden




Dan and I went down to RI to visit his brother two weeks ago and he showed us a hidden treasure behind his house. If you go through the woods from his apartment which is located in Kingston RI you come out in an Azelea Garden. This garden is open to the public and covers about six acres of land. There are also Rhododendrons in the garden. We went during the end of April so most of the flowers were just buds but because of the warm weather some had started to open. the whole garden was very beautiful.


There are over 500 different varieties if Azelea's and Rhododendrons found in the garden. There are also some beautiful bridges over small brooks. Some interesting fun trees and a rock moon gate. This moon gate was very unique and beautiful as well. If some parts of the garden you can see the new plants just starting to grow.



We had a very fun day and it was so beautiful. If you are ever in that area check it out. Its open year round to the public thou the best time I am sure is when the flowers are all in bloom. Check out their website for more information.

http://www.kinneyazaleagardens.com/

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Fruit trees are back

Two years ago when we first moved into our house we planted four fruit trees. Two Apples, one peach and one Cherry. We planted them late in the fall so we were very surprised when they flowered the following spring. We were even more surprised that fall when all but one of them produced.









That fall a year after planting we had the pleasure of eating two cherries, four apples and three peaches from our own trees that were just one year old.

This spring we were once again happy to see all four trees budding and we were hoping we would be lucky enough to have them all produce this year. I have been watching the trees closely this spring and am disappointed to say only three of them have leaves. The cherry tree still has small buds on it but they have been there for a couple of weeks now and no leaves have bloomed out.
I wish I could say it will bloom soon but the other three trees got their leaves a couple of weeks ago so I am starting to think the winter has damaged our young fruit tree.

The other tree that is disappointing right now is the apple tree that did not produce last fall. It got many leaves and then flower buds but the flowers bloomed one day and were gone the next. I do not think they had time to be germinated by the bees.
The leaves look great but there are no flowers like the other two. I hope it will surprise me and that the cherry will as well but for now I look forward to the apples and peaches from the other two trees. They look healthy and happy.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

bridal shower towel cake

Last weekend Dan and I attend a Jack and Jill Cocktail party wedding shower for some friends of ours. On the invitation they stated that they wanted to think green and we should not wrap any of the gifts. I thought this was a great idea but I wanted to make our gift beautiful and unique while not wrapping it.
With all of these thoughts in mine I decided to make a towel cake. I had done this for other bridal showers and can be very simple. This is also nice because you can get the towels from the registry to use in making the cake and some of the kitchen gagets as well.
The time before that I did this the bride had registered for pink towels so I put it together with those and a tub of kitchen utensils.


The cake came out good but this time I was much more creative.

This time I bought more towels, I did not use a tub of utensils but just some of the kitchen gagets they registered for to decorate and hold the cake together and also made and got some other decorations.
This bride and groom had registered for white towel so the finished producted came out looking even more likea wedding cake. I rolled the the largest towels one inside the next to make the bottom of the cake and then inserted a mixing spoon inbetween the rolles half way in. I made the second layer with the medium size towels and then connected them using the mixing spoon to hold the layers together. I did the same thing witht he small towels and used a spatual between the rolls of the two layers to connect the middle to the top. I wraped each layer with a ribbon and put a bow in back. I cut shapes out with my circut machine and used these with other utensils and fake flowers to decorate. The cake topper was made out of a biscut cutter and fake flowers. I love how this one came out and will continue to use these ideas to build future towel cakes.

Friday, April 2, 2010

In the woods


So while I was in the woods taking pictures of the cave we found Macguyver in I also discovered a wonderful site. There is a small stream that runs along our property and through the back woods near our house. But because of all the water this stream is growing and bubbling like crazy.
The water has created numerous water falls along the path and it twists and turns in many different directions. I was like a kid going along the stream taking pictures and seeing where the water would go. I sat out there for a while just listening to it bubbling over branches, splashing down the rocks into small water falls, and spreading through the woods making new paths.
I enjoyed myself so much when Dan got home that day I took him out to explore it with me.
When Dan and I went out there we took more pictures and explored even further into the woods then I had prior. Besides the stream with the waterfalls, and hidden paths we also saw some wonderful rock walls, a fallen down tree covered in mushrooms and many shades of rocks.
It was a wonderful adventure and a great time in the woods.

My lost Kitten

I went out into the woods near my house today to take some pictures where we found our cat earlier this week. About two Saturday's ago Macguyver was out playing in the yard with Hobbes. Macguyver is not even a year old yet but had been going out for short periods of time and stayed close to the house most times. This day I was out working in the yard and so was Dan most of the day but we did not see either cat, so figured they were out on an adventure together. Later that night Hobbes came to the door to come in but Macguyver was no where to be found.
Every day we looked for Macguyver, we walked the roads near the house we went into the woods and we even walked down the farm near our house (where he was born). We did not find him. :(
We missed our little kitten so we decided to make some fliers. He had a collar with my address and phone number and a micro chip in is back that could be scanned to locate us. But nothing came in from either of those. We figured he lost the collar and was either lost in the woods, someone had taken him in or worse yet the coyotes had gotten him.
Wednesday night we put 50 fliers in our neighbors mailboxes. When we got home I saw a white spot in the woods and like we have done for a while we went out to investigate hoping it was him but thinking it would just be another white bag. But it started to run and Dan followed it. It was him and he was hiding in the back of a small rock cave. When we were really quiet he slowly came out to us. we took him home and now he is save with us.
He was very hungry and scared for a while of any noise, but he was not injured and now he is almost back to his playful self. We are glad he is home and so his is big brother Hobbes.
We will be doing some more training with him before he goes out again and hope he will stay closer to home.