Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop #236

Welcome to the Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop!

If you are returning, welcome back. If you are new, I am so excited you have stopped by. I have been dreaming of spring and summer gardening all week. I LOVE all my seed catalogs. How about you?

I have also been doing some germination tests on my seeds to see what it is I REALLY need to order. I have very little seed control over myself so I am TRYING. If you have never done a seed germination test, it is easy- here’s a “how to.”

Last week on the hop there was the most beautiful piano table! Did you see it? If not you must check this out from Repurposed For Life. Isn’t it gorgeous?

What have you been up to this week. Please share a blog or two!!!

Let’s blog hop!

Here’s some simple guidelines:

  1. Write a post about your farmgirl lifestyle and brag a little about your farmgirl talents while your at it! Share what being a farmgirl means to you. Include lots of photos of your farm, crafts, animals,  quilts, home decor projects and thrifty make overs, your backyard garden, chicken coop, recipes, studio or workshop. You get the idea!
  2. Leave your entry in the Linky tools space to your  Farmgirl Friday post.
  3. Please include the Farmgirl Friday button ( or link back here ) in your post and remember to share this hop with all of your blogging friends!
  4. Enter up to three entries per hop

I am happy to journey with you again this year; so glad you are here.

Farmgirl is a Condition of the Heart – MaryJaneButters

Are My Seeds Still Good?

If you are like me, there is so much joy experienced in planning your spring garden in January and February when it is cold outside.

I love to bring in my seed carton (yes it is a bit on the large side) and I start the inventory of my seeds.

I really get excited to see them all again and I get really excited about browsing through my seed catalogs and wondering what to order for the coming season.

I am a bit of a “seedaholic” and can find myself ordering (and spending) more than needed on seeds each season. I have been attempting to save seeds and use previous year’s seeds.

When I see the dates on seed packs and I wonder how accurate it is. I debate if I can use something past that expiration date. For example, last year I planted pepper seeds from the previous year and they did not germinate. BUT on the opposite end of the spectrum I have a huge bag of pension green beans and have been planting from that bag for four years and I always have more beans than I even hope for.

Or maybe you have started saving seeds like me. I don’t have confidence in this area yet so I wonder if they are really good or not after I save them.

An easy way to test your seeds is to conduct a little germination test. It sounds complex but is so simple. So, if you are like me and looking at all those seeds from previous years wondering if you can plant them try this:

Pick some seeds out you would like to test. I chose a favorite tomato seed and some pepper seeds I saved myself. Like I said, I had trouble germinating peppers last year from older seeds plus I saved these myself, so I needed a little confidence builder on these before I plant them.

Dampen a paper towel and then lay out some seeds. I use 10 seeds per paper towel. That way the math is easy for me– if 2 fail I have an 80% germination rate. You can use more seeds (I just find the math more complex then) but use at least 10.

Fold the towel and pop it in a ziploc bag. Be sure to attach the seed packet somehow so you know what is what in there.

Place the bags in a warm place. I chose our sunroom on a chair that is near our heater in there. The heater doesn’t really get hot it just warms the room at a constant temperature. Then you wait about a week (7 – 10 days is good).

After 6 days my tomato seeds look like this:

My pepper seeds are not germinated yet.

BUT peppers can take 2 – 3 weeks so I am not concerned about these at this point. I will keep an eye on them.

Do you check your seeds for viability? Do you buy new each year? Do you save your own seeds from year to year?

Hope this was helpful if you didn’t know how to check your seeds.

Happy Unleashing today!









Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop #226

Welcome to the Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop!

FGF LogoV2

Today this is short but ever so sweet. We are heading on a little bit of a drive to go pick up our bee nucs. We have three coming and are very excited. We did get honey last year but sadly our 2 queens were weak and the hives did not survive the winter. We again have positive expectations and are starting over. The hives are set up in the back, sugar water is in jars and waiting and now we need to head to the car for our journey north about 2 1/2 hours to get them.

I love spring and gardening. Kathy from Oak Hill Homestead shared on her blog about her garden expansion and beds. Love the pictures and her budget conscience, beautiful build out.

Raised garden beds

I am going to hit the road and ya’ll can get hopping. I will check in later! Happy Friday.

Here’s some simple guidelines!

  1. Write a post about your farmgirl lifestyle and brag a little about your farmgirl talents while your at it! Share what being a farmgirl means to you. Include lots of photos of your farm, crafts, animals,  quilts, home decor projects and thrifty make overs, your backyard garden, chicken coop, recipes, studio or workshop. You get the idea!
  2. Leave your entry in the  Linky tools space to your  Farmgirl Friday post.
  3. Please include the Farmgirl Friday button ( or link back here ) in your post and remember to share this hop with all of your blogging friends!
  4. Enter up to three entries per hop

Thank you for joining and sharing and visiting each other!

Farmgirl is a Condition of the Heart – MaryJaneButters


Yesterday, after work, I took advantage of the gorgeous weather and cleaned up a couple of rows in my garden and planted! Yipee!

Here is my first row of brassicas- these are three types of broccoli. They are so cute.IMG_20160420_184354751 I also left a couple of clumps of clover in the row. AND there were so many worms! They made me so happy as I have never seen so many in my soil. Good sign that our soil is getting better and better!

OK CONFESSION— it is not my first row of brassicas. It is my 2nd first row. 🙂 My “real” first planting of brassicas were totally eaten while we were on vacation. I am not talking a cabbage worm here– there was NO evidence at all when we got back that I had planted anything. The ground was bare. There is a fat little bunny running around nearby….

These little green babies are inside a fenced garden now, so perhaps they will have a chance at growing. Next up are the cabbage green babies.

What are you growing???

Happy Unleashing in the Garden!



Canning While Remodeling

Our kitchen is in major disarray. No cabinets remain except the one that is holding up the sink. No cabinets mean no counters. The stove gets moved around on a daily basis, so it could be anywhere at any given time.

With the garden slow to produce this summer I have not had to figure out how to preserve and can food. That was a little blessing in disguise, but as I shared recently, we did all that we could to extend our season and the fruits of our bounty are now here and awaiting attention.

With the assistance of a couple carts on wheels from the basement I put together a nice area to can in.




The long cart is actually longer than my previous counter so I had an added luxury here of space. After I set up everything, I was on a roll.

First came the whole tomatoes. This is just the first round of many to come and it felt so good to be canning after a long summer’s wait. I love the clickity clack of the canner as it comes and stays on a boil.



I am not sure if it is the late harvest or what the cause, but the tomatoes peeled beautifully this year. Better than years past. Blanching and ice water is my typical process (sometimes I roast them), but the skins literally slid off for me making the process fast. Before I knew it I was done smashing whole tomatoes into jars and they were hanging out in the canner.


Seven pints came out looking good.


With that under my belt and my rolling carts working so well, I decided to tackle the tomatillos. We have already had several harvests of these. For those of you that grow these you know that quantity is never an issue! They are pretty prolific. Previously I roasted them with jalapenos and garlic, pureed with some cilantro and we ate it right away and then froze a bunch too. With the canner hot and ready I decided to can this round of them. I still roasted the jalapenos, but not the tomatillos.



I simmered onions, jalenpenos, tomatillos, red peppers and lots of seasonings. And I mean lots– I thought the cumin said TBL when it actually said tsp in the recipe. Good thing we like it!


It turned out beautifully- I got 8 1/2 pints and 1 full pint. It smelled so fantastic. I can’t wait to dump some on top of a burrito or quesadilla or eggs.


I still had a little time left and the canner was still hot and available. I made some terrific chunky Italian tomato sauce and threw it in as well. That produced 7 jars as well I still have a ways to go on the preserving, but I made a good dent! I froze some peppers and put the basil in the dehydrator. All in all and great day! Since my pantry is a bit cluttered right now, I cooled my jars on my currently empty shelves in the dining room area.


The day gave me hope that even with a kitchen torn up I could figure out how to do this. When our contractor came last night he asked me if it was ok to work. He said his mom did not like movement in the house on canning days. 🙂

Do you like canning? Freezing? Just eating it fresh?

Happy Unleashing!

Garden Optimism

I shared with you how we were converting one of our gardens to using ag cloth as a weed barrier. We got stopped in the middle of our process because of travel and rain-lots of rain. We hit our field again over the last 10 days to rescue what we could, say goodbye to what we couldn’t and plant for the future. A gardener is always optimistic right? You lose a garden, you plant another and with that comes hope again.

When we stepped back after the rains stopped this is what we had–

Grass was up to my knees in the garden.

IMG_20150723_084838240Yep, there’s a sweet potato in there somewhere!

IMG_20150723_092730488I can see the corn but not much else.


It had me feeling pretty hopeless on what we had.

However, the bed where we laid the cloth looked pretty good so we concentrated efforts there first. We still had 5 rows to plant and there was crabgrass in the empty rows but we took care of that and finished off the planting.

Hubby is great at pulling that crabgrass!


I got to planting the rest of our tomatoes. Yes, tomatoes! I know it is July, but when you have almost 100 starters you have been babying inside during the rainy stuff, you put them in the ground! We are Zone 6 and they need about 80 – 90 days in the ground until harvest. We will have a late harvest, but when everyone else is picking pumpkins, I will be eating tomato sandwiches and canning for the winter. (see where the optimist comes in?)


DSC_1620So with that garden done and planted we felt very satisfied.

DSC_1619I moved onto sweet potatoes and digging the grass out from around them. And they were thriving down in there!IMG_20150723_092720762

IMG_20150723_092724122Hubby cleaned out the rest of the grass later and they are loving life again.

Jasmine just enjoyed the view.


And frankly our view while working wasn’t so bad either!


Meanwhile hubby went after Garden 1 (which was planted in the spring). It was overgrown to say the least.11253945_10205894129850894_8299575913151603575_n

We grabbed the last of the lettuce, beets, collards and purple kale and cut it down and started again on it for a late summer/early fall garden.


Mowed it really close.IMG_20150724_182822069

Added compost and ran the tiller through one time. It is ready!


We decided all gardens would get the ag cloth treatment! We invested in the good stuff and it is being used!DSC_1608


With this being ready for planting, I got to go play in my seeds and get a selection out. Zone 6 tells me 1st frost is around 10/15 so I have a bit of time still. I grabbed my seeds that are 55 – 75 days to harvest and got planting. What did I plant? Beets, beans, squash, radishes, spinach, lettuce, endive and some flowers. By the end of the weekend we had two, very good looking spaces.

DSC_1626And this morning there are signs of life in both.






Next up are the hoops and cold frames. But for this moment, optimism!


Happy Unleashing your optimism!



Garlic Scape Pesto


We are successfully growing garlic this year after a couple tries that have failed. One of the first benefits (luxuries) of growing garlic is the scapes that appear in the late spring/early summer.


You can see the buds of the flowers on the stems. Scapes are cut from the garlic before the buds open. The scapes are delicious and cutting them allows the plant to put its energy into developing the garlic heads and bulbs.

We cut about a pound of garlic scapes. We washed them off in the sink and set out to make pesto.


Aren’t they cute looking? They look like tall necked swans to me.



Chop up your scapes into 1 inch pieces and toss in your food processor. Just like all pestos, you can be a bit creative here. I added about 1 cup of parmesan cheese that was freshly grated and about 1/2 cup of pine nuts (you can also use pistachios). As I add things I toggle between pulsing the food processor and just letting its motor go for a bit. The idea is to get a creamy paste like substance. Add some lemon juice (from 1 lemon). Stream 1 cup of olive oil into the pesto and food processor for the last ingredient. You will have a smooth, green paste. AND it will smell like garlic in your entire house!


Oh my goodness it is so good!

We tossed some on a few veggies and tossed those on the grill. We topped some pasta with the veggies and a bit more of the garlic scape pesto. It was delicious.

I froze the rests in ice cube trays so I can have this lovely garlic pesto whenever the urge hits!

Happy Unleashing!


Laying Out a Garden

IMG_20150609_091003001This is our 3rd year now in the gardening game and I am attempting to be a little more methodical about it. School has helped me understand the importance of planning in my garden. I shared my planning method with you several weeks ago. For some this wouldn’t work but for me it does (and is necessary). I am in excel during the day so it makes sense I would use it to plan my garden.

Jasmine of course joins us on all our garden activities.

The other thing we have done to make things easier in laying out the gardens and in the rotation of them is to standardized the size of them. Not 100%– the spring garden is still smaller as it really can’t be expanded where it is. “Potato Hill” as we call it is set in its size as well.  It too is planted in rows but you can’t really tell now!


But the others (there are 3 of them now) have all been sized to 45ft x 35ft. Where did that number come from? Only from the fact that Garden #3 was that size last year and it laid out really nicely. So we thought if we are bring rotation into the mix they should all be this size. Then it is easy from year to year to swap tomatoes to squash to beans, etc.

I like to plant in rows. I know it can be prettier to not use rows and aesthetically can be so nice to have “areas” of things. I also know that the plants can benefit from that in many cases. BUT that randomness doesn’t work for me- I have tried it with a big fail. And once things start growing and sprawling you really can’t tell that I am anal in my row planting anyway. 🙂

Hubby and I have come up with a method that works for us to lay these out. It is a two person job for us and that is good. It is fun to do and once it is laid out the seeds go in.

Here we go:

First we prep the garden. Our gardens are still either fairly new or brand new. This one, which is Garden #4 is a new one this year. It was in our field so we tilled it and added compost. Eventually I want to get away from the tilling of them, but for now that is what we do. Once this is done we have a clean slate to work with.


Next cut pvc into 3 foot lengths. We have tried this with 1/2″, but it does not work as well. Use 3/4″- it pounds in well and you will use them over and over. Cutting at a 45 degree angle allows it to go in the ground better.


Our rows are 50″ apart. We have 10 rows per garden. Layout 10 per side and start measuring.


First row starts a couple feet in.



Then the string comes. We use bright pink just because I like it. 🙂



We continue on; hubby places the pvc and I tie string.



After the 10 rows are in, we run one string across the other way so we can easily visualize the 1/2 way point in the garden. Many rows are planted in 1/2 so this helps section things off. IMG_20150609_092458396(1)

Ready for planting! The shovel is a garden marker. The girls made us garden markers last year out of different things; each have a number on them-this is #4. Really cool!


Pull out my plan & get those seeds in. You can see two colors here. Green are planting #1; yellow is planting #2 which will occur in 2 weeks. The blanks are simply that–empty. Nothing will plant there. This is the squash bed and with the way pumpkins and squash spread, they need some space so I skip rows. You can also see how each row is planting in 1/2 (hence the string across mid garden.)


Hope this helps if you have been challenged with garden layout. I know there’s lots of ways to do this. How do you do yours?

Happy Unleashing!



Spring Gardening

Things are still soggy and cool here but the calendar tells me that it is time to get moving on gardening tasks (and fun!). Gardening is my most favorite thing. I have so much to learn and every season I learn a little more and tweak my methods and my schedule. This month we are planting a spring garden and are laying cover crops in the summer gardens. These are new tasks. Some things are the same– I am starting my seedlings, but now on a great gardening table thanks to hubby.


Here are some highlights of our week so far…

I cleaned out the raised beds that house the strawberries right before Easter. This week they are producing blossoms. We are hoping for a LOT of strawberries this year. The birdies and bunnies like them also so they remain caged all season!



It would be hard for me to say what my favorite thing to grow is, but I am pretty obsessed with tomatoes. I started 1/2 of them this week (48) and the other 48 will be started in about 10 – 14 days. Some seeds were repeats like the Grandero tomatoes from Johnny’s and some are new tries from Seeds of Italy. My mouth just waters thinking about July and August! I have not bought any tomatoes throughout the winter. We have used our preserved ones from last summer (which are yummy) but nothing will beat the taste of our first picked fresh tomato weeks down the road.


I mixed my own seed starter mix this year. Excited about this new activity!



I also transplanted some seedlings that will be going outside soon. And I planted seconds of some peppers and eggplant. Things are growing!




Last but not least we got our potatoes out this week. Hubby is an immense help in this. “Potato Hill” as we affectionately call Garden 6 used to be a junk pile when we moved in. We are still finding shoes, glass and all kinds of odd things there, but hubby worked hard to till this nicely and dig trenches for our potatoes. We planted Kennebec, Purple Majesty and Sangre Red. Last year we totally messed up the potato thing and still got some simply by grace. We are hoping that planting them correctly this year will reap some tasty goods!




Next on the schedule is planting Garden 1 which will have the cool weather crops. Some are started and some will simply be sown. This should be completed by Sunday. I have not done a spring garden yet and I am really excited.

Last night we ate some lettuce that had over wintered in a cold frame and used a couple of spring garlic. It was a perfect finish to a day playing in the dirt!


What were you up to this week? Are you just beginning your gardening like me or already way past the starting gate?

Happy Unleashing in your garden!







My Green Babies are BURSTING with Color!

It is so good to be “back.” I have been away from my personal computer and away from my garden 🙁 for a couple of weeks.  Travels to see the grandbaby were SO fun, but my garden was ignored during that time. When we returned our life was full of hustle and bustle since we are in the midst of a remodel. By 7 a.m. the crew is at the house, banging away and looking for direction from us so that keeps me up at the house rather than back in the gardens. AND rain has stopped me in my tracks when I have been able to carve a bit of time out.

Confession— I had not done anything in my gardens since 8/17.  Confession— I was in a panic over that! I KNEW that everything would be eaten (remember those army worms I discovered on my last outing?). If not eaten then strangled from the crab grass! If not eaten or strangled then slumped over from too much rain or not enough. My mind was a terrible place to visit. I was sad about my neglect, worried about what I would find and pretty much paralyzed to hop in Ms. Tupelo and have a discovery run up there.

BUT as I loaded up Ms. Tupelo yesterday morning I felt my spirit lifting.  AND yes the grass was out of control and super long. But as we made it up our hill to the gardens, a wonderful sight was before me. The gardens were BURSTING!



There were beets, green beans, squash, tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, cucumbers, peas, chard and basil. I could not believe it! WOW! They did just fine without me (lesson learned).


The beans had broken the trellis from their weight. The squash had grown over my rope so I had to reset it.



There were so many tomatoes, that even after I filled a homer bucket with 30 pounds of them it appeared that I had not picked anything!



After I picked the goodness, I sat in the back of Ms. Tupelo and wrote my thoughts for a bit. One thought is that no matter how long it has been since I have been outside gardening, the joy of being out there and seeing the goodness that is happening, far outweighs the stuff that is negative. And yes, along with all the goodness, I discovered that my cucumbers have mosaic virus. I filled a homer bucket with that also!



The grass may be long, but that is a sign of good things–we are still getting rain, the ground is fertile and I found myself thinking of all the nitrogen my plants must be getting with all that green between rows. I want to add an under cover crop in my gardens next spring, but nature has just done it for me this year. The beets, soybeans and green beans do not seem to mind at all to share their turf.


So, what did I harvest yesterday you may ask? (Even if you are not asking, I am DYING to show you!)







Isn’t that the best ever?????? All this I grew from seed.  Sorry to be busting with pride but this is my first time starting stuff from seed and not buying starter plants.  I am such the proud mama here! Look at the smile and blue skies…


And my little flower bed gave me some love yesterday also.



IMG_20140903_113502280When I came in, I made me a great big tomato and basil sandwich! Oh my goodness, can you just taste this? It was so good, I even skipped the cheese!


Today, I am heading over to visit my mom and dad.  I will be sharing the goodness with them in the form of bags of produce and a crock pot of fresh tomato sauce that cooked overnight in the crock pot.


 So my garden is bursting and so am I! I hope you simply burst with delight over something today too!

Happy Unleashing (and bursting!)