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Hi, I’m Mrs. Frisbie.  I love that name.  It makes me feel like I should be baking cookies or canning soup, or maybe relaying my tale of adventures with the rats of Nimh.  I’m a stay at home mom to two beautiful girls.  I love being a wife and a mom.  I love being at home.  Currently, I’m working like crazy around my house, developing ideas for my garden and dreaming up ways to save energy, live naturally, and enjoy all of the gifts I find in nature.  Then it occurred to me…. maybe I have something to offer.  Perhaps I can show you something, anything, that could help you take one step closer to nature’s everyday abundance.  So, here I go…

I am constantly searching the web for free printable learning materials to share with Pookah and Tootsie. Check out this amazing pack I found on Living Montessori Now from RoyalBaloo and Logi Bear Too!

Earth Day Free Printable Packs

It includes TONS of great Earth Day activities for kids from toddler to 2nd grade.

Earth Day is Monday, April 22nd. Have you thought about celebrating bit of environmentalism?

Plant a flower. Hug a tree!

tree hug blog

Was that the SUN?

Did anyone else feel like THIS last weekend?

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Yeah… us, too!

We spent all of Saturday playing outside. We finally got into the garden, too. Tootsie and Pookah raked leaves, Silverback mulched them and helped move our composter, and I dug, pulled, cut, and shovelled ’til I couldn’t move my aching bones.

It was awesome!!!

I love the first day of culling out the flower beds and turning over the new, dark, earth. I have big plans for this area this year.

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Pretty icky, now, huh? The picker bushes LOVE this area. I pulled them all out and Silverback helped me lay down some black plastic to solar kill the weeds. The garage wall will make a nice back drop for a flower garden on top of this stone wall. You can’t see it, but it’s there under the weeds.

I can’t wait to post pics of it when it’s done.

And we FINALLY got our peas into the ground. Along with some lettuce and spinach. Carrots are next!!!

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I hope you had the chance to get some fresh air and play in the sunshine.

“Look between your ears!”

A quote from the television show Cheers that tickled my whole family the night we watched it together. I can still make my brother laugh if I lob the declaration at him.

But it is true. I have a quote on my Pinterest page that says “The mountains are calling and I must go” and that’s exactly what I was thinking about this morning. When the snow fell, it was beautiful to me. I longed for a moment by the fire, looking out upon wide open spaces blanketed in white. It would be more comforting than watching my neighbor pause his shoveling activity to dig around the depths of his snowpants to scratch his rear.

There is a small patch of woods – half a lot – that I can see from my window if I arrange myself on the sofa just right. I find peace with a bit of tunnel vision. While I love my neighbors, I do believe I’m a country girl at heart.

View from the sofa

View from the sofa

Another snowy day, not very long ago, as Silverback and I drove through the country around sunset, we saw snowmobiles zipping around an open field and a family huddled around an open fire. It was a moment that still hangs between us, the envy nearly tangible, spoken words not necessary to express the way we both felt. We longed to be that family, to play in the snow with our girls, take turns zipping around the drifts, and warm ourselves by the fire. Simple enough, right? Peace, quiet, a great view, and hot chocolate with marshmallows roasted over a fire.

(I think I need a vacation)

Until then, I hope everyone in the northeast stays safe and warm and enjoys a little family time during the school delay.

I See Green

Signs of germination

Signs of germination

If you were betting on Kohlrabi to be the first to germinate (admit it, some of you will bet on anything), you won! This morning, I saw several tiny green specks emerging from the soil. It’s important to note how TINY they are, because this is the point which the sprouts need air and light.

Holding in the moisture at this point will kill the sprouts. As it was, I removed 2 furry little sprouts that were too small to see last night. We planted these guys Monday night and they germinated in less than 5 days. Pretty quick, I think!

We will move them to the light table, give them 16 hours per day of light, and keep them watered until they are ready for transplant.

Now we’ll keep a close eye on the other members of the cabbage family, our Brussels sprouts and cauliflower. They are likely to be next.

MARCH IS STARTING OUT VERY GREEN. DOES THAT MEAN IT WILL BE A LUCKY SEASON?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe were planning to start our seeds the other day and I was about to go dumpster diving for containers when I got “Monday-ed.”  By that I mean that somehow dinner got ruined (don’t buy discount tortellini, okay?) and we had to order delivery. (Note to self: be more prepared for last-minute menu changes) As a bonus, Pizza Hut puts their wings in these nifty metal trays perfect for lots of things! Yes. I save them. Don’t judge.

So here we are creating masterpieces with dirt. I sprung for the Jiffy Mix because we had so much luck with it in the past. The girls had marigold seeds they collected last year and a gift of Lilly seeds from Pookah’s friend (thanks!). While they were busy planting those, I worked on Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kohlrabi. It’s easy. Just put water and seeds in the starter mix. Detailed instructions here.

Pookah & Tootsie starting flower seeds

Pookah & Tootsie starting flower seeds

We put a single seed type into each container and then wrap with a plastic bag to keep the moisture in. Pookah wants to remind you how important it is to label each container. Then place them in a warm spot where you will remember to check them daily. Guess where we keep ours.

Always place them where you will remember to check daily for signs of germination

Always place them where you will remember to check daily for signs of germination

You can see the condensation beginning already. That moisture is not going anywhere. And now we wait…

Actually, we have some cleaning up to do. We made a fabulous mess.

Last year, life was a little crazy. We spent more time at the farmer’s market then in our own garden. We managed to produce a few tomatoes and green beans, and put up some jam, but mostly we picked from the local crops and daydreamed about the future.

How great is it that we get a do-over each year? So, here we are again! My brother and niece have already started their flower crop, maybe they’ll give us a tour! (hint hint) It’s very inspiring when people begin to talk about seed starting in the middle of winter. It’s so horribly drab and bitter cold here in the north. It’s the time of year when people start to mumble that they’ve had enough. A little sprout of green is a cheerful reminder that Spring is on its way. Thoughts of sun-warmed earth fill my head as the seed catalogs arrive in the mail.

Today, Tootsie grabbed a catalog and begged to help me garden. She is now running around the house in Dora garden gloves shouting: “Mommy! Get me a plant!”

Tootsie is ready for spring.

Tootsie is ready for spring.

It will take a little more effort and organizing to get back into the swing of things, but now that we have our team together it’s time to start some seeds!

Are you planning? Are you sprouting? Are you ready for a new season?

I’ve been told that people see dirty pictures of me on the internet all the time.  No, not the X-rated kind.  I mean literally… covered in dirt.  It’s just something I do.  Don’t judge, okay?

But not all dirt is the same.  You should know what you are growing your food in, both for the quality of your plants and the safety of your family.  You can start by having your soil tested.  Talk to your local garden center about this.  In Pennsylvania, you can purchase a kit from the Penn State Extension office in your county.  Find it here.  A small fee applies.  When you receive your results, take them to your garden center for advice on amending your soil to maximize production.      

Many home gardeners will tell you that the best soil comes from composted horse and cow manure.  So, we set off on an adventure to find some and our friend offered as much as we wanted for free.  I think you’ll find that most equestrians and farmers are happy to give it away.  So, we enjoyed a beautiful sunny day with an old friend and her horse, Man.  The girls got to ride him, pet him, and feed him, and I got my bucket of poop “to go.”  Score. 

Meet Man. Isn't he handsome? He and his friends are fertilizing my garden this year.

If the thought of this makes you cringe, relax.  We scooped from the compost pile, where micro-organisms have broken down the animal waste into dirt… black gold, actually.  It has none of the aromatic qualities of fresh manure, but all of the nutrients to grow healthy plants.  In fact, I rode many miles with the stuff strapped into the passenger seat next to me and I can tell you there was nothing offensive about it.  

Happy greenhouse strawberry plants, side-dressed with compost

Another method of natural fertilizing for the home gardener is composting.  Compost is simply decaying organic matter.  You can transform vegetable peels and weeds into nutritive soil by giving it the right conditions to break down.  Not only does home composting save money by providing good quality soil for free, it is a great way to recycle items that would have ended up in your trash.  There are a multitude of ways to set up your compost system – bins, piles, worm farms, leaf mulch, and more, but for the sake of brevity, I’m going to introduce you to what we do here.  

A home compost bin is easy to make and maintain if you know just a few simple “rules.” 

  • For best results, it should be covered for warmth, moisture retention, and for protection from pests. 
  • It must be moistened regularly. 
  • And it must be turned occasionally to aerate. 

Dos and Don’ts for the home composter

  • Use fruits and vegetable remnants from your kitchen and yard waste. 
  • Never place animal products or fats (like cooking oil) into your compost.  It will introduce unwelcome contaminants as well as attract pests. 
  • Never use yard waste that has been treated with chemicals, including store-bought mulch.  
  • Try to use a balance of green ingredients (such as fresh vegetation & kitchen scraps) and brown ingredients (such as dry leaves and thin twigs).
  • Whenever you add fresh ingredients to your compost, use a pitchfork or compost turning tool to mix it in.
  • Add moisture.  Your mixture should be light and fluffy, but moist and not muddy.

When treated properly, it will not produce an odor like garbage. It will smell like dirt. 

Establish an area for composting that is convenient for you.  If you know you won’t walk your kitchen scraps to the back acre, then choose a spot near your house and within convenient reach of a water source.  My first mistake was placing our compost bin too far from the house, making it difficult to water.  It helps to have a covered container in the fridge to collect your scraps, or purchase a countertop compost container.

To make your compost area, you can use something like this Earth Machine.  It is pinned to the ground with plastic screws.  (if you buy a compost bin that does not secure to the ground, it will blow away, I promise)  I’m sure an inventive person can create a homespun version from an old trash can.  Frankly, I’m surprised we didn’t!  We acquired this one as part of an educational course.  I simply open the top, mix in fresh scraps, add water, and voila!!  Out comes pretty dirt from the bottom drawer.  Easy.

My Earth Machine

To use your home-made, nutrient-rich soil, scoop from the bottom.  Sifting with a screen makes it more beautiful and allows you to return unprocessed material to the bin, but it’s not a necessity.  Spread a layer over your garden in the early Spring to prepare for the planting season.  Mix it in when transplanting anything.  Side-dress plants, shrubs, and trees anytime.

If composting with worms is something you are interested in doing, find a great article on building a worm farm here.  We are big fans of worms around here and their castings make a wonderful natural fertilizer.  Some of us think they are fun to play with, too. 

Composting is fun, economical, environmentally friendly, and a great science lesson for kids.  I do hope you try it if you haven’t already.  Some municipalities even have community composting programs, where non-gardeners can participate.

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