Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Photos of Mr. Carsons Farm at Callaway Garden

This past weekend my wife, cheeba our dog and I went to Mr Carsons organic vegetable garden it was a great trip and very inspirational
Tractor used to turn the winter wheat back into the soil

Small shop with vegetable garden

Winter Wheat waiting to be turned into the ground

Fruit tree. Maybe a peach?

Spanish Lavendar

Mr Carsons farm
More of the Orchard with Bee Hives in the background
Garlic Chives

Bees that produce honey for the farm and pollinate all the plants
The closest I will ever get to bee again, before I start my own hive

Muscadine vines new foliage


Small Herb garden
Tulips and flowers

Our dog Cheeba looking out the window on the way to Mr Carsons Garden:)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Early morning Relief

I woke up this morning to find that my veggies were relieved the rain had stopped. The sky literally fell on us for the past three days and still there is rain in our forecast. But this morning was a bit special. When I took a look at the garden I noticed that all of the leaves on every vegetable were perked up to touch catch the glimmer of sun rays that were shooting from the east. It was as if they were all clapping and giving each other encouragement and a pat on the back for weathering the storm. It was almost as if there was a sense of relief to raise their leaves skyward after being beaten down for more than 48 hrs. They all survived and I'm wiping my brow in relief to.

Growing Tomatoes

Our Raised beds are really working out for all of our vegetables especially the tomatoes. I bought three transplants and they almost doubled in size. The tomatoes we grew from seeds have taken off and all of them have really strong stalks. This is going to be the year of truth, although I grew a really strong tomato bush last year I was unable to produce any fresh tomatoes. I was told that if you shake the tomatoes they will pollinate. Well I will be shaking, praying, rain dancing and whatever else it takes to have one tomato grow.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Food Blog

My wife and I have been following food blogs for a long time and with the great feedback we have recieved, we have decided to post our personal food ventures on our very first food blog : http://urbanhomesteadcooking.blogspot.com/

We will post all of our homesteading ventures on this blog and link all the recipes to the food blog. All of our recipe posts will be orginal pictures and dishes that we have either created ourselves or followed from a known recipe. The main Idea behind the food blog is to be able to use fresh homegrown ingredients or food that has been grown locally.

Georgia Muscadine

I have long been awaiting my muscadine vine to finally sprout and finally after a few days of rain she begun to bud. This grape vine has a long history with my family of "kickaboo" juice makers, shakers and drinkers. I grew up listening to all my dads stories of growing up hunting with with his father and brothers and tending the farm and whenever they spoke of the muscadine it was always about how drunk granddad would get after a full days work drinking down a batch of his homemade kickaboo juice. Seeing these little buds, really gives me a sense of joy knowing that they served as an integral part of my families history; the drunk part anyway.

Dwarf Cherry and Peach trees doing well

My dwarf cherry and Peach tree have started to sprout out. I must admit I was a bit worried when I received my dwarf fruit trees because they were just sticks. I was expecting a small tree already equipped with the basics. But nope instead I came home to find a rolled up piece of cardboard with wet material wrapped around the roots. I felt a bit disappointed. But I figure I give the anorexic sticks a chance and add some organic compost to humus, water
them and watch. Amazingly those sticks were alive and everyday their shoots are spreading out a little more. The cherry and peach are self pollinating and eventually I will add more dwarfs to my little orchard. But so far so good. I hope they keep on trucking along and eventually produce wonderful fruit.

Zone 8; Geeked out Garden Plans

My wife often refers to me as a cool nerd. I decided to geek out my garden plans this year by doing extensive research on what I should plant when and for how long. It serves as a guide for me to look at the month and it will tell me what I should plant in that month. This guide I made up is for zone 8 and in my absence my wife will know what seeds to start sowing in the sunroom before she can place them in the garden. I really like the versality of zone 8 because alot of the vegetables we grow in the spring can be grown at the end of summer into the fall. It really doesn't get cold around here until the middle of Dec and even then there were 70 degree days this past Jan. This zone 8 seasonal garden plan is pretty much dummy proof. The blue represents the winter, the green represents the spring, the red respresents summer and the orange represents the fall months. Every vegetable/fruit has a specific month they should be planted in zone 8 and they should not be planted in any month that is not specified for the particular vegetable/fruit. I hope this can be helpul for those who live and want to garden in zone 8.

Flooding at the Homestead

It has been raining for the last 3 days. The streets have been flooded, huge trees have fell across the road throughout the town and tornado warnings are in affect. Last year I was told there was no rain and this year it seems like it will never end I so wish I had my rain barrel collection system in place around our home.

My garden is in jeopardy of flooding. The backyard is taking a real beating from the rain. It's like a swamp back there. I let the dog out to use the bathroom and she was like "Uh-Uh", "the hell with that" she ran back in. Eventually, I got her to slosh around in the rain until she eventually did her business and came screaming back in and relieved to jump back into her king sized doggy bed.

With all this rain coming down I am so happy I started raised beds. They provide great drainage. If you can see in the last photo, the raised bed all the way to the far right has not been prepped, I just threw wild flower seeds in there and said, "Grow". In contrast to the other 7 raised beds that were prepped properly they are draining very well. I guess with all the layered organic material that I have placed under the vegetable beds the worms have done a great job turning the soil so the beds are able to drain all the way down. I hope the beds don't reach there tipping point. Only time will tell.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Making Flan

Well the veggies are growing and the Chickens are popping out eggs everyday; and my wife has decided that no egg will go to waste and last night she told me she would make flan. I personally never heard of it before, but there is nothing I wont I try. To my surprise the flan was delicious. The caramel sauce was a bit strong but the custard neutralized it and it was really refreshing and light. Best of all I the main ingredient eggs came from my backyard.
Ingredients: Egg, milk sugar, and vanilla extract

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

First Spring Harvest

The mesculine lettuce have survived and provided a bountiful crop. They had their challenges from being over crowded and chomped down by tiny green leafed hungry monsters. As soon as we controlled the pests and thinned the lettuce out by only keeping the strong, they regained their strength and produced brilliant full green leaves. We decided to have our first spring salad by ading a few cherry tomatoes which were extremely sweet, almonds and steamed shrimp, drizzled with rasberry vinagerette. Im looking forward to our next salad. Recipe found posted at http://urbanhomesteadcooking.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Egg Salad; Japanese or Georgian?

Tonight my wife and I had Pho' we love vietnamese food. But while were sitting there sucking down beef soup, I asked her if she can fix up some of that mighty fine Egg Salad she always make. She said, "Oh you mean the Japanese Egg Salad?" Nowwwww, if we weren't producing our own eggs in the backyard I would have let that slide, but since we do have our own eggs and they are Georgia grown, I decided to buck up and say, "Well, what makes the egg salad Japanese?" She said, snickering "The Japanese Mayo." I said, well what about by my eggs that were grown in the great state of Georgia?" She said, well since you want My egg Salad and Im Japanese, And you want to use my Mayo which is also from Japan, you are going to get Japanese Egg salad." I said, "Ok." She does have a point. Japanese Egg Salad it is. That Mayo is to die for.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Growing Garlic

We decided that we would grow garlic in buckets this year. From what we gathered bucket gardening is beneficial because there is alot that we can control which is in direct contrast to growing things directly in the ground. The only issues we have had thus far is the occassional weed that has been lying dormant in our compost or fresh unearthened dirt. Nevertheless the benefits of container or bucket gardening is being able to micro-manage every stage of the vegetables growth. Im not a botanist by any means but I can tell what is a weed and what is not when I grow things in my containers and for that matter my raised beds. So if the garlic do well this year I am going to be the biggest advertiser of growing garlis in containers. Im using a one gallon plant container maybe larger to grow the garlic. I set the garlic in a few weeks back and watered and now they are starting to sprout. I bought garlic specifically meant to plant instead of using our own. Hopefully it works. I love garlic.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Pak Choy Saved

I absolutely love Pak Choy. The tender leaves are great for stir fry and they soak up flavor great. The nasty little monsters were chewing up these things left and right and threatened my whole garden. But once I got rid of those nasty bugs, My green leafed vegetables took off.
Pak choy doesn't grow really big they tend to take on the characteristics of a cabbage, spinach and lettuce all in one. It wont be long until I start sauteing this guys up with some freshly chopped garlic and Olive oil.


One day I was having a conversation with a buddy who has seen his fare share of doom and destruction and we were talking about what would be valuable in a hypothetical post-apocolyptic world. Without breaking a beat he blurted out 'CHICKENS AND EGGS!" I looked at him a little weird at first and thought, Hmmmm, I see where your going with this, Because hypothetically speaking if we happen to be living in a post apocolyptic world money would have no value. However, Goods and Services would be sought after and Chickens and eggs would be more valuable than gold. Something to think about, but I would have to put my stock in guns and ammo before the chickens and eggs.

Growing Potatoes in a bucket

My potatoe seeds are doing pretty good in the bucket. They have grown out of the box from just two or three days ago. So today I decided that I would experiment by adding another bucket on top of the bucket that has the seed potatoes planted in them. There are still green growth that are covered in this bucket. But I can't waste time waiting for them to reach the height of these guys, so some sacrifices need to be made.
I figure if I cut the bottom of another bucket, place it on top of the plants and add dirt I should be able to extend the growth of the potatoes and therefore have them produce more potatoes in the bucket. I admit it's abit exciting to see how far I can get them to grow. But I am promising myself that I will stop with this bucket. Because if I don't I will have buckets ten feet high and with no clue on how to gather my potatoes.

So once the bottom of the bucket is cut I place the bucket on top of the plants and fill it with dirt right up to the leaves. They are growing at a very fast rate and I want to give them the very best oppurtunity to produce.

Spring Planting

Raised Beds

Wild Flowers to attract bees, butterflies and Humming birds
Sugar Snap Peas
Swiss Chard
Oriental Spinach
Pak Choy
Collard Greens
Edamame Soy Beans
String beans Runners
Sakata Melons
Tiger Melons (Heirloom)
Asian Cucumber
Mesculin Lettuce
Sunflowers (Mammoth)
Tomatoes (Grape)
Tomatoes (Big Boys)
Japanese Eggplants

Planter Boxes and Buckets(Patio)

Thai Chilli Pepper
Golden Hot Chilli Peppers
Sweet Bell Peppers
Dwarf Cherry tree
Dwarf Peach tree
Oriental Basil

Positioned around the Garden

Muscadine Grape
Scupernog Grape
White Grape
Blackberry thornless
Blackberry thorned

Friday, March 20, 2009

What affect will a White House vegetable Garden have on our country?

I knew for some time that the President and and the first lady were consulting with grassroot groups from around the US about establishing an edible lawn for their kitchen and today it's official. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/20/dining/20garden.html

I personally think it's a great idea to plant vegetables on the White House lawn. The impact that is going to send across the country is going to be amazing. This single act may have just very well propelled our generation into a different direction, where citizens strive to maintain healthy lives and march on the path towards self-sustainability. According to the report they will grow 55 different vegetables and fruits except beets because the President hates beets. He should read my blog on trying it twice.

The Back Yard farmer (A great Read!)

Here is a book on the net that has tons of information and was written back in 1914. These guys had it right. http://books.google.com/books?id=tLIaAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=subject:%22poultry%22&lr=lang_en&as_brr=1&as_pt=ALLTYPES#PPP1,M1

What is the term for Men who Garden?

I know this will raise allot of eyebrows, but if we take a closer look there may be some benefit into defining the term for men who garden. I ask this question because there are allot of men who love the idea of "gardening" but they don't fully engulf themselves into it because there is that astigmatism that "gardening" is for women.

We all know it is not, because most of all our produce comes from farms who are owned and operated by men. But maybe that's it, if you have allot of land and you grow things you are considered a farmer, but if you have small plot with little space you are considered a gardener. I can almost bet that if you ask most people if they associate a man or women with farming, they will probably, overwhelmingly pick the guy with the straw hat and overalls instead of the girl with the sundress and straw basket. But nonetheless, gardening and farming are still one in the same, especially if you are growing vegetables. It doesn't matter if you are doing it commerically or personally, they both require the same basic fundamentals.

The term that comes to my mind and that is unisex is "homesteader." To me it seems that under this "homesteader" umbrella you pretty much do it all and gardening, farming, recycling, preserving and being self-sufficient becomes more of a lifestyle instead of a job or a hobby. So if I had a "Man term" for Gardening it would be called Homesteading, because you just don't stop at gardening. I personally don't mind being called a gardener, but I must admit I do get some weird looks from the guys when I talk about gardening instead of Homesteading.

With some thought and a little more attention to this, maybe some women who want there partners to join them out in the field can label their activities under a different title. I will almost guarantee that the increase of homophobic men who hate anything associated with girls will, without a doubt, get their hands dirty in the garden; If they are considered homesteaders or something else other than gardeners.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

My Dwarf Peach and Cherry Trees have arrived

I have always wanted to plant fruit trees and have a mini orchard. My only issue was the fact that, 1 many fruit trees grow way to big and 2 allot of the varieties don't self pollinate and being new at this I don't want to make the mistake of buying two trees that are not compatible. So with a little of research I found some companies that offer dwarf fruit trees and more importantly these companies have a large variety that self pollinate. Maybe self-pollination is not the way to go, I don't know but for now it's going to be easy to for me to grow self-pollinators than trying to position two trees that need each other. Last year the bees were nowhere to be found so I have become quite apprehensive about getting anything that needs bees. But to the contrary, this year is abounding with all types of honey bees in this early spring. Besides my having a severe phobia of bees, I am looking forward to seeing more honey bees in my garden this year.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Best Beer Food Ever!!!!

Our Edamame have sprouted and they have pushed through the soil with such fiercness. They do not grow on a vine and grow low to the ground in a bush. But ironically something seems to be wrong; it seems as though that there have been way to many edamame that have been planted. My wife is the stingiest seed sower ever. Im the one that grows and overcrowds everything. But she is sure that she didn't plant that many. It seems that the edamame have multiplied in our raised bed. I have to do more research on how they grow. But as for now they booming. If the economy can grow as well as these edamame are we all will be great.

Potatoes in a bucket

My seed potatoes have grown so well in the bucket. They have reached to the top of the bucket and now theoretically they should shoot vines out within the bucket to make potatoes. I hope it works, but so far so good. Looking back what I should have done is add soil to the the vines as they grew each step of the way. for some reason Only one vine grew this tall and the others are slowly coming up. I had to bury the other ones so that I can save this one. Hopefully her buddies can catch up and shoot out the top of the bucket. If I can produce potatoes this year I'm going to be ecstatic.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I've Got the Homestead Bug

I was talking to my wife today and we realized without knowing it how much more meaningful our relationship has become since we have started gardening together. She mentioned to me that it's a healthy and cheap way to have fun. Well I don't know so much about cheap but it's definately healthy and it's definately addictive. It's to the point where we text each other about the garden. "Did you water?" "How did the plants look?" "OMG the basil is growing!!" I find myself looking at my yard and trying to figure out how I can plant more vegetables and fruit trees in the small spaceand have them be productive. My wife even mentioned that if we lossed our crop to bugs or something else we would have to get counseling. I must say it's very exciting and the learning process is steady. I also need to calm down on looking in the chicken coop to see if there is another egg. The facts that these chickens are producing eggs every 24hrs is in itself simply amazing. My wife is already attached to them and has said the dinner plate will never be an option. So I guess Ezelle and Ester are here to stay even if they wont be able to produce any eggs in there old age;)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Grape Vine

I planted my first ever grape vine. The plan is to have the vine twine around the makeshift arbor that introduces the garden. This is how I want it to work. But I have a feeling Mr. Grape has a mind of it's own. The new shoots are growing everyday. Lately has been raining everyday and I guess that's good for the grapes but it sucks in the yard. I am waiting for more grapes to arrive so that I can plant them around the twig fence. I am looking forward to making my own wine and jam this year and hopefully I don't go blind;)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Welcome Home Ezelle and Ester

Today I Picked up the two sistas, Ezelle and Ester. They are going to make a great addition to our family. We ironically found these two gals from a couple who also share the ideas as we do with regards to sustainable living in a small environment.

On the way home one of these guys laid a brown egg in my transport box. My wife thought it was so cool. When I got home I got the pen together installed some nest boxes and a place to roost, threw some feed out, added fresh water and watched Ezelle and Ester scratch and forage. They were eating bugs and weeds and clucking at each other. I hope I don't offend anybody by there names but they remind of two black sisters raising a fuss. They are going to be great and I can't wait to make my first omelet.

Friday, March 13, 2009

(Warrior Garden) For Soldiers with PTSD

For sometime I have been thinking about ways Soldiers and other Serviceman and woman can live with and function with PTSD. I personally think instead of planting victory gardens, these soldiers should start a Warrior Garden.

My reasons for this is based on Samurai warriors and how they tended their gardens. Samurais were warriors who lived and bled the art of war. They had to be ruthless, but at the same time they found a sense of peace and balance within their lives by fully saturating themselves into the beauty of flowers and creating a space outside the warrior realm that encapsulated the essence of harmony and peace. Each samurais garden was a reflection of his inner being that represented something beautiful and that enabled him to engage in war with a clear mind and more importantly with a clear conscious.

This leads me to think about the warriors of today. They are asked to do things that many cannot and will not even dream of doing. They are asked to destroy things with there hands and minds for the betterment of our humanity and many of them have suffered with unforgivable regret for the things they have done. How much better would it be for these warriors to grow and tend to delicate plants that produce a bountiful harvest with the same hands that they have used to destroy their enemies.

If I can I would like to devote some more time and attention to helping warriors start their own Warrior Gardens. I wonder if any thought has been given to this to see if this may be a useful tool to helping returning Servicemen and women Combat the battle fatigue and those who are suffering from Post Traumatic stress Disorder.

We found the Monster!!!

Last Night I went out with a flash light and I was shocked to find several of these nasty little bugs chewing my plants. They are some sort of beetle, Im thinking something similar to a japanese flea beetle and they were literally having an orgy, I mean literally they were eating and mating at the same time. I was so upset. But than again I can't blame them, we have a really nice setup that is producing some really nice vegetables. So to these guys it's all you can eat at my house every night. I honestly think that the damage is so bad that we may not even produce any green leaved veggies except the spinach and Swiss chard. These A-holes don't like spinach but everything else was fair game. So now it's war and I we will win. Well hopefully.

We have to try Corn this year

All the research points to the fact that corn is not a cash crop and we understand that. Many say that corn is a waste of time because the yield and amount of space required outweighs the benefits. Yeah we get that too, but nonetheless, it's corn and it has been the main stay of families and cultures for centuries. As part of our plan to maximize what we grow on our small plot of land we want to utilize our land in the most efficient way possible. Will we get somethings wrong, yeah probably. But with anything we have to venture into the unknown so that we can understand both its rewards and punishments

Carrots have started

The carrot tops have sprouted up and it will be interesting to see if they grow proper. I have seen some funky looking carrots. It almost looks like they have been hit with a high dose of radiation. My wife did some research and found out that as the carrot grows you have to continue to pack soil around them as they get taller because that's how the carrot grows its cylinder shape. Soooooo it's our quest to grow cosmetically pleasing carrots. We will get wrong. But it's worth a try.