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

First Green Babies Hit the Ground!

The rain gave us a break this week which meant some of my green babies got in the ground!

This batch had been hardening off and I imagine they were excited to get in the back of Ms. Tupelo to ride back to their garden home.


These were truly the strongest bunch of plants I have ever had. They all looked awesome as they went in.

IMG_20160525_115211025 (1)

I plant so many varieties of tomatoes that I decided to color code them with tie wraps this year. Early in year I can recall my layout. Later in the year when it is a tomato jungle out there, it becomes more difficult to distinguish. The difference between a Green Zebra and Purple Cherokee is obvious but 5 different Romas can become challenging as they all start to intertwine with one another.


I also am planting eggplant this year. I hope they do well. I am looking forward to Eggplant Parmesan from these and my tomatoes.


Bottom line is that these first green babies are happy to be in and this farmgirl was even happier to get some soil under the nails and sunshine!


Happy Unleashing!


Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop #223

FGF LogoV2Welcome to the Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop!

We are heading to Georgia to visit our daughter #2 and her family, do some dog sitting and more visiting with daughter #1. D#3 couldn’t make it on this trip, so next time for her.


DSCN2982We are building a raised bed for D2 and her family. I cannot wait to get my little grandson in the dirt with me! The raised bed is part of their Christmas present. They all LOVE veggies (including little Arlo) and we thought teaching them all how to grow some of their own would be fun. We got them hand tools and gloves and stuff for Christmas. This weekend we will build the bed. I have a few green babies that I am taking and we will be planting some seeds.

DSCN2979We will do the square foot gardening method which is easy and what got me hooked on gardening a few years ago. Low on weeds and high on success. These 2 pictures are from my first try a few years ago (2012).  It got me obsessed with gardening and I am hoping to bring them the same thrill. Wish us all fun in the sun and soil!

I love looking through all the entries on our hop. Recipes, animals, animal babies, health tips, pretty pictures and more! How about you? Did you get a chance to look through the link ups from last week? How about this adorable basket from scraps?

This is so beautiful and looks like fun! What a great way to use up some of those many, many bins of scraps I continue to save. Thank you Farmgirl Freckles for sharing!

Let’s get hopping! Brag on what you are up to this week. Here are some guidelines if you are new here.

Welcome to all and thank you for joining!

It would not be a hop if you did not join in. 🙂

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

Cold Frame Fun!

IMG_20160219_134124772_HDRIn fall 2014 we built our cold frames and had minimum success. I planted too late and it was too wet. There are no failures, simply lessons right? Some tweaks (and education) were needed!

I learned that I need 10 hours of daylight for germination and first growth. I learned that soil temps can’t barely be 40 and while damp is good, sopping soil is not. 🙂

IMG_20151026_172215996In Fall 2015 we adjusted the dates and did not plant in soil that was too cold and too wet! Those little adjustments have meant great success this year and we have had much fun eating fresh greens in Indiana throughout the winter!

Beautiful kale, spinach, chard, mizuna, beets, radishes and lettuce have been bountiful and we have benefited immensely on the dinner plate because of it!



A couple of our boxes had such overwhelming growth that we added a second layer. Then they were still too short! Our spinach hit the glass and on some very, very cold days got frost bit under the glass and died. Honestly though, I cannot even see that as a failure— I mean having the spinach so out of control that it was bigger than a 12 inch high cold frame seems pretty awesome actually!

IMG_20160219_134117464_HDRToday was 60 degrees. We went out and gathered some kale and lettuce for dinner. What fun to do in February! While I was out there however in the warm temperatures I had an impulse… yep I had to plant some seeds! And I just happened to have some spinach seeds on me (don’t we all carry seeds in our pockets?)

So down I went and I pulled out of the soil the frost bitten spinach. The soil thermometer told me the soil was 45 degrees. I opened three of my spinach packs, drug my finger along to make a little trench and well… my first planting of the season!



Well can you blame me? The previous spinach can decompose in the box and I am hoping I will be seeing some new growth here in the future!

Does the gardening bug have you?

Happy gardening!


Patience is a Virtue (but a Challenge!)


I finally was able to pick a BUNCH of veggies today. 15 pounds of summer squash, 5 pounds of green beans, alot of beets and greens, beautiful lettuce and a couple pounds of basil!

My hubby accused me of being an “impatient” gardener a couple of weeks ago. Honestly that is so true! And I am working on it… but fine tuning virtuous characteristics takes some time (there’s my impatience again!).

We planted late due to the rainy spring, one large garden was drown and killed and well… I still want to be harvesting like I did last year and on the same time frame.

So just like watching a pot of water and waiting for it to boil, I am watching and trying to hurry things along.

Today, I saw tomatoes turning red. The plants are gorgeous and have tons of tomatoes, green ones that is. But in the last couple of days red is appearing!


My zucchini that was a goner (or so I thought) has made an amazing come back and is giving me lots of beautiful zucchini as a bumper crop!


The squash that I planted very late in July, is thriving and has more yellow squash than I can eat! So freezing was the game today.



Our garden that drown earlier in the year was the one with our beans. I had several varieties and none of them made it. I planted some bush beans in early August and I picked 5 pounds of them today!



Lettuce and beets also filled my basket


and we will be indulging in those tonight along with the pesto pizza which is courtesy of our basil that is happy and growing into bushes. I did have to fight our bees to get some today!


I am so happy to be picking and eating from our gardens. It has been a wait this year! I am trying to be more patient and to be aware when my words and actions aren’t in line with that. The seasons have their own time frame. I need to enjoy and appreciate it.

I planted a cover crop on the washed out garden. It looks beautiful and is starting to come up.


I think however that a winter cover crop is the ultimate in teaching me some patience as I won’t see the results of this until after the fall, after snow and after blooms in the spring begin. It will be some of our bee’s first food. We will all just wait until it is ready….

Happy Unleashing!


Action! Weed Control!

Weeds, weeds and weeds. AND lots of grass. With all this rain the grass and weeds are taking over. I really am not looking for pristine, but the grass and weeds are taller than my veggies and they are smothering them. Hoeing and handpicking is not keeping up. We clean up and area, it rains and BOOM! They are back bigger and badder than before. We have a lot of garden space and I was getting discouraged. We do not use synthetic chemicals so that was not an option.

Hubby decided that getting me back to my happy place in the garden was important. Also growing our own food is important and an investment. He went and bought gardening cloth to put down and has been helping me go through the gardens with it. It is a beautiful thing!

We did our first run with this in a garden that was about to be planted. I had planted transplants in one row and they were being overtaken. Tomatoes and pepper transplants were ready to go so we decided here was the best place to start. The fabric is 4 ft wide which is perfect for our spacing here because our rows are 50″ apart.


We laid it out, dug holes, added compost and epsom and our transplants. Then hubby laid some straw around each plant and set our cages.


The rows look neat and the plants have a fighting chance now. It is a thing of beauty!



Next will be Garden 3 which has our beans and cucs fighting for space. They are getting buried by grass. We will mow really short and add the cloth. Pics to come on that clean up!


How do you keep the “unwanteds” away from your veggies and flowers?

Happy Unleashing in the Garden!




White in the Yard; Green on the Brain

Like many of you we have white surrounding us.


But I am deep into garden planning and my plan tells me that I am about to start seedlings!

garden plan

This weekend looks like I will be in the pole barn starting peppers, onions and eggplant. Starting plants is one of my very favorite activities. I blast music, get stuff under my nails and set my babies up for success!

Now for the line item that says to start prepping our gardens, hummm….well…. I don’t think so. Covered in new snow as of this morning, with ice underneath. It is going to be a bit before I am prepping outside. But I can start plants inside and I am so excited to do so.

The first line on my spreadsheet has the stuff I need to keep in mind in my planning. Most are self explanatory. If you aren’t familiar with the term “persephone” that is when daylight hours dip below 10 hours a day. That is really important for many plants and determines when you start things; especially if you fall and winter garden.


My garden plan is in excel (like I have shared before I am a geek) and my garden plan workbook has multiple tabs.

garden tabs

In plant varieties, I have specific varieties for each type of plant I would like to grow. Those that are not in green are seeds I already have. Those that are green, started as yellow– meaning that I had to get those. Since I have ordered and received my seeds they are now in green.

varieties in garden plan

Inside the companion tab I have plants that are great partners and those marked that should not be together. Yellow indicates same family of plants.


In the rotation tab I will indicate which garden each variety gets planted into for the next four years so that they are rotated. Rotation is great for the soil and great for your plants if you are able to do that.

Cost is simple– I track each expense so I can see how much I spend.

Some resources I have used are the “Week-by-Week Vegetables Gardener’s Handbook”, “Carrots Love Tomatoes”, “The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible”, anything Eliot Coleman and my school resources (of which are many!)

I have not been this formalized in my first two seasons and while I have had many successes, I have also had learnings. Most of those lessons entail just doing something at the wrong time, so I was committed over the winter to get this together. My plan includes reminders on thinning, weeding, hilling tomatoes and sharpening hoes as well.

Do you have a formalized plan of some type? Could be post-its, could be on a calendar itself, maybe it is in a notebook because you prefer to write out your plan, maybe you use another tool like Evernote. Whatever you do I think that it is just the planning that is important.

Are you in planning mode or planting mode?

Happy dreaming of green!




Cold Frames

IMG_20141116_130552859_HDRWe have lots of stuff her to recycle and reuse since we have been remodeling. Storm doors and lots of left over wood.  Sounds perfect to build some simple cold frames, right?

In school I have been reading about cold frames, low and high tunnels, and greenhouses. I have visions of picking lettuce from cold frames in the winter. Last year we successfully planted spinach, arugula and kale; we kept them under frost clothes and even under the weight of the snow they kept producing. I am assuming that a cold frame will be even better.

If you don’t know what a cold frame is, basically it is a box with a window on the top. You can build the frame with bales of straw even; they don’t have to be fancy. Just be sure you don’t use treated wood or railroad ties. Your soil can leach the chemicals from these. Also, old windows can be an issue if they have lead paint. Make sure your materials are “clean” and the building is simple.

Measure the window and start cutting your wood. Ours are flat boxes. Some make them slanted, which is really nice; I was in a better done than perfect mood, so I took the simple route.


After your pieces are cut, start laying them out and screw the piece together in the corners. Screws are better for this than nails for holding power. I used deck screws because they are made for exterior, and we had bunches of those left over too!



We then lined the boxes with black plastic. This will warm the soil up a bit over the next 7 days. We had worked the soil the day before so it is ready for planting after the plastic comes up.


I cleaned up the windows a bit. They had old sawdust, drywall dust, critters and who knows what else on them!


We simply laid the windows on the top. We did not hinge them although that would be nice and something we will probably do at a later date. It was 30 degrees and mist was coming down before the change over to the snow, so we were playing “beat the elements!” The ability to open these up is necessary because on sunny days, the boxes need to vent; otherwise you might cook your vegetables. For now I will lift the windows and put blocks of wood in each corner or simple slide off.

Jasmine joined us in our building adventure. I think she wondered if we were building lots of doggie houses out there.


I really love our low tunnels (which are full of veggies right now!) and our cold frames.  These will get used early in the spring as well. I will share some planting pics next week.IMG_20141116_151104940

Do you use any of these things (or others) to extend your season?

Happy Unleashing!


Musings: Identifying Passions


Many of us “love” many things. We love this, we love that–sometimes we overuse that “L” word don’t you think?  I really like a lot of things, but LOVE is strong.  It is the for better for worse stuff right? It is loving this thing when all is well  but also loving it when it is not.

I spent the day in my veggie gardens on Friday.  I had taken a day off of the “day job” and asked myself what do I really want to do… my answer was quickly “play in the yard.” As I was out there for 7 hours all by myself (with an occasional visit from hubby and Jasmine) it gave lots of time for thinking and pondering and yes, musing.

I am in school studying Organic Agriculture. I have many ideas from supplying a CSA, to renting garden plots for community folks, to teaching organic gardening, to teaching growing your own food to lower income, single moms, to hosting farm to table dinners and on and on and on.

As I was outside on Friday, I wondered to myself if I could spend all day, everyday outside, growing things, helping others grow things, being dependent upon the weather, sweating, getting totally dirty, and yes, being by myself for much of my day.

I think that answering that when you are picking the red ripe tomato, cutting bloomed flowers, smelling strawberries as you put them in your basket is pretty easy.  Yes, I could do that everyday. I also feel like the days that I am planting is an easy yes. I love a freshly planted garden and the following days that you are waiting for the little guys to start popping through the soil. When the work is “glamorous” it is easy to say “yes” isn’t it?

But Friday was a great day for me to pose this question to myself.  Friday, for 7 hours, I weeded a 43 ft x 33 ft garden, raked mowed grass into a wheelbarrow (a bunch of times) and then filled the 80+ tomato cages with the grass to mulch the tomatoes. There was no planting, no picking.  It was what I would call “grunt” work.

Midday when I pondered over my question of if I could do this everyday, it was a resounding yes! I don’t need glamour to love my gardens. All my green babies don’t have to be magazine perfect (they are not). I love the grunt work of gardening as much as the glamour. That tells me, with a resounding “yes” that my gardens are a passion. I love them in glamour and grunt. I love them in seeing the fruits of my labor and the days that I really don’t see it immediately.

How about you? How do you know what your passion is? What do you love the GRUNT work in? Identify that and you will be on the road to knowing what your passion is.

Happy Unleashing your Passion!



Green Babies Thriving in my Absence!

Sometimes life happens and the best laid plans…. well you know!  We farmgirls (even us newbies!) are busy, busy, busy. We plan, we act, and we hop off the trail when other duties call. My new role of Mimi has pulled me away from Big Sky Acres lately. It is well WORTH it!  Spending these couple weeks here, cuddling with Arlo and seeing my daughter become a mommy– well as VISA says it is “priceless.”

As you might remember I have some green babies! I started my tomatoes and peppers from seed this year (I am still a novice at this veggie growing thing) and they have been my pride and joy. I have 100+ green babies and some are quite tall right now and getting blooms on them.

However, my plans of a weed free, beautifully planted area for these little babies has gotten sidetracked more than once this season. Rain, back issues, cold weather and all kinds of things have side stepped my plans. My traveling has not helped either.  Some tomatoes are in the garden–it is not weed free or pristine, but you know what??  They don’t seem to mind. They are thriving and hubby sends me pictures of them growing. These green babies are doing just fine in the sunshine and soil. I can’t wait to see them next week!

tomato and weeds

I still have many to plant. Next week, when I get home I will do that, but for now they are still in pots on my deck. I gave them a good spray of fish emulsion before I left and they don’t look too bad.  They are patiently waiting for me and growing while doing so.

tomatoes on deck


peppers on deck

So, I am late, late with the garden chores. But as a year around gardener (in the making) that is OK! I am reading in my Indiana gardening book that I can still plant beans, peas, squash and all kinds of things in July.  Yippee!! When my CSA is finishing up on their cycle, mine will follow. My other bed is full of lettuce, radishes, chard and peas. Those morsels will be awaiting me next week to hop on a dinner plate.

Best laid plans… we don’t make them! I love my “distraction” of baby Arlo and my green babies are thriving in my absence and will continue to do so when I return. Have I “got my garden in?” Well some it, not all of it, but if I embrace the idea of growing in a constant state, year around there is no “get my garden in” date. It is only about what’s up today. For me, Arlo is my focus today, the plants are focusing on sunshine and all is right in both worlds.

Happy Unleashing!