Friday, March 28, 2014

Lilacs are Blooming; Fun Laundry Soap Making Class and Look Who's Coming To Tour The Farm

Finally, rain, rain and some more rain.  Can't complain although there is so much to be done in the gardens. But ohhh, the lilacs are blooming, so is the lavender and purple iris.  I see the snowball bushes are starting to turn yellow so soon those big white snow balls will be showing off in the yard.  Spring is such a magical time.
We had our Bring In the Spring-Learn To Make Your Own Laundry Soap Class and; Make a Gardener's Hand Scrub and Scented Hand Soap using all natural products-Oh and save money too!!!  It was a great class, I know I had lots of fun.  My friend Jackie makes her own Laundry Soap using dry ingredients, I make my soap using a liquid laundry soap.  So we demonstrated both ways to the class, gave them the recipes and they all got to take home some of the finished products to try out themselves.
The Gardener's Hand Scrub is great to make, works wonderful and it makes up nicely in pretty jars and a ribbon as gifts.  Check out the Internet, Pinterest for recipes or if interested, contact me and I will be glad to email you my recipes.  I don't know if anyone in the class noticed, but I put a red checked tablecloth over my big kitchen island and used a laundry basket to hold supplies AND had a jar of clothespins to create the theme of the class. Nothing like having a theme!
The farm will be having visitors to tour it on April 3rd.  A wonderful Northern California Airstream Travel Trailer group will be staying at our local Gridley Fairgrounds and asked to see a small local farm.  We were contacted and asked if interested.  As the date gets closer I am getting a little nervous to have around 40 people come as really not the best time of year to see our vegetable gardens.  But at least I can explain to them what it is like running a Community Supportive Agriculture farm; using careful and sustainable practices; show them our hedgerow in the back which allows natural habitat for wildlife; show them our owl and bird boxes that encourages rodent and insect control; show them our chickens and new chicks.  We are having our neighbor bring over their goats to eat down some of the front ivy and weeds so maybe they will find that interesting.  Our neighbors have a very creative son named Jessie, who has been interested in blacksmithing and forging for years.  He and Frank have spent many hours working on building a forge and Frank gives him scraps of iron from around our place.  Jessie in turn brings to us a completed iron items every now and again, he has made out of the scraps.  Jessie is going to set up his forge and demonstrate it and I am hoping some men will find that an interesting long, lost skill. 

I will show some photos and let you know how it all goes after next week.  Bye the way, our local fairgrounds have a beautiful area in the back part of it that has full trailer hookups.  It is located under very large trees, all grass and clean area a great spot to come visit and stay.  Close to restaurants and downtown Gridley, yet a bit out in the country and a very reasonable price.
Here at Windmill Farm hope your yards are bursting with spring flowers.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Gladiolas Planted-Check; Potatoes Planted-Check; Dahalias Planted-Check; Sweet Peas Planted, Up and Staked-Check

Busy last few days here on the farm.  With the weather being perfect, too many things need to be done, NOW!!  Frank has been busy too.  He finished painting and general once a year maintenance on his John Deere and is starting to build me a new tool shed in the back vegetable gardening area.  He poured the concrete floor and is building the walls in his shop.  I am such a lucky gal!!!
I have been busy too, I planted 50 dahlia bulbs and over 200 glad bulbs.  Technically, they aren't bulbs, they are called "corms".  I find they are the best priced flower to add to any garden.  Particularly if you like a layered flower bed, with short flowers in the front border and the graduated height of others until you have these tall great glad flowers in the back.  I had planted about 60 glad bulbs about a month or more ago, those are up about a foot now and will be blooming probably sometime in June, where the bulbs (corms) I planted a few days ago, will bloom about 6 weeks after that.  Interesting about glad bulbs.  When you plant them, they do what they need to do and bloom within about 90 days after planting.  Many gardeners plant a group of them every 2-3 weeks to insure glads all summer long.  But as usual with nature, we try and control them but, next year, the glads will all bloom at the very same time if they are left in the ground over winter. Only way to get around that is to dig them up in the fall and start planting again next year at different times.
Last year's glads
I had started my special sweet peas in the greenhouse and planted them about 5 days ago.  Yesterday, Frank helped me and hammered in T-posts and I strung the special climbing netting up about 5' horizontally.  I still have a few flats of them in the green house and plan on planting those in the boxes around the perimeter of the greenhouse, also using the netting to aid them in their vertical growth.  This is the most sweet peas I have ever grown, I have just been dreaming and dreaming of having bouquets of sweet peas-maybe even to start up my new venture-CSA flower membership by making them the first bouquet available of the spring season.

Last Years Sweet Peas
Of course, I can't just keep dreaming about flowers, I need to start thinking about vegetables too.  I planted 25 lbs of red and yellow potatoes a few days ago.  I wish all plantings were this easy.  Each potato has several "eyes" which you cut up one potato so that each piece as at least one eye.  I normally get from 3-4 pieces out of every potato.  I had read someplace that you need to cut the pieces and let them stand a day before planting.  It is what I do, don't know exactly why, may be the sealing of the open wound to insure the roots will start.  The greenhouse is full of flats of other vegetables ready to come out and play in the real world-just need me to make it happen!!

Knowing when and what to plant in a farm business is one of the major tasks.  If all you grow are tomatoes, no problem you plant them all at the same time.  But to insure that my members have a full basket of many varieties of vegetables starting in May clear through September, constant care is needed to keep plants growing; when finished, replant more or plant every so many weeks to insure there is a constant supply-as an example beans.  I plant rows of beans every two weeks.  One plant will have many batches as long as you keep picking them, but after 2-3 pickings, the plants start to die.  Beans are such a great vegetable to eat AND to can or freeze to store for winter, we grow many rows planted throughout spring and early summer.
A follow-up on the un-expected chicks, only 3 have survived but those little guys are doing well.  There is pure ahh and wonder when it comes to farm animals, but there is heartache too.  You have to just accept what happens, do your best and love what God has given you to care for in the end.  Someday these little girls (and hopefully ONLY girls) will grow up and provide us with wonderful eggs to eat.
Looking forward to our March 20th Bring In Spring-Make Your Own Laundry Soap class.  Will show you pictures on the next blog, we have some fun hands on projects planned for our class participants.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

New Addition To the Farm

A couple days ago, I found one of my Marin hens on a nest inside my front hedge.  I had no idea how many days she was out here.  But after seeing the condition of the eggs, quite a number of days.
Last night I brought her into hen house with the eggs.  At 11:00 p.m. #1 chick hatched.
She kept peeping and peeping, so I put one of Collin and Carli's stuffed toys in the box and she fell right to sleep.
  This morning 3 more have hatched with 8 eggs left to go.  To watch them being born, is a joy and wonder to behold.

Total of 3 of the black colored chicks like their Marin mother. 1 yellow/white one like the White Rock Rooster.Will keep you posted as to the final count. Spring has arrived at Windmill Farm.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Trees Budding; Flower News; Rain, Rain, Glorious Rain

I am saying it along with everyone else in California, Thank God It is Raining!!!  Lots of glorious rain.  We had a lighting storm last night with lots of thunder.  Poor Bella, she gets so frightened when there is thunder, she comes up to you and wants to get into your lap and be cuddled.  But of course, she weighs 90+ lbs, kind of hard to have her in your lap to give her comfort.
I took the dogs for a ride in the Gator around the property to see what was happening with the fruit trees.  Most of the peaches, nectarines, apricots have bloomed so not sure how much fruit we will get as they bloomed during the last few weeks with the wind and rain storms.  The biggest surprise was seeing the pomegranate trees budding out.
The rain is a great time for us to fertilize our roses, hydrangeas, shrubs and fruit trees.  Luckily, I did it on Tuesday before the storm hit and then the rain helped dissipate it into the roots.  I use the systemic fertilizers for my roses which seems to me, the best to keep the roses healthy; no rust or aphids as long as I do it a couple times a spring/summer.  If I remember, I try and do it every 30 days.  The Cecile Brunner is starting to show signs of budding out, what a fabulous climber rose.  It is so huge, I really need to cut it back some it is taking over our garbage can area. Here is what it looked like last spring.
As I mentioned previously in my blog, our farm is being highlighted in the Edible Shasta-Tehama-Butte magazine.  The 3rd article should be out in a couple of weeks.
Also some good news.  The Farmgirl Flowers in San Francisco has asked us to write a quarterly blog about growing flowers on our farm.  They are a fabulous flower shop that promotes buying LOCAL flowers and they even deliver flowers by using bicycles.  Their arrangements are so beautiful and natural looking.  It is exciting to be asked and I can't wait to read the other bloggers that will be writing along with our Windmill Farm.  If you are a flower lover like I am, you just can't get enough information about growing them and the best source of information are to me, other growers.  Here is the link to the Facebook page of The Farmgirl Flowers.
If you want to read a terrific blog about a flower farm, check out The Floret Flower Farm.  They are featuring specific flowers lately and are showing how they grow them and their favorite seeds.  I look forward to their blogs very much and wish I lived closer to their Washington State Farm, I would be there every week.  They are scheduling a flower retreat, such a great idea where people stay at the farm for several days and learn about the growing of flowers and have flower arranging classes.  Maybe someday here at Windmill Farm!!!
Always dreaming about fruit, flowers, vegetables and getting my hands back into the soil.