First Day of Spring…

…my dead can.

You may have noticed that it’s cold. Like freeze your nose hair off cold. I worked in the field on Monday and part of Tuesday, and that wind went through me like buzz saw.

Last year this time, the daffodils were blooming and my cherry tree was in full bloom. Today? Snow flurries. The ground is so hard that cleaning out beds is a major chore; the dead leaves are frozen solid.

I just can’t get motivated to get out into my own garden to knock down the last of the rye or turn the compost,and the soil’s too cold for spring planting. Instead, I am mostly spending my free time making garden lists, cruising Pinterest, and following the example of my cats:

When the cats aren't even bothering to make a break for the door, you know it's chilly.

When the cats aren’t even bothering to make a break for the door, you know it’s chilly.

 

Categories: Animals, foreign and domestic, The garden year | Leave a comment

Peas and Potatoes by St. Patrick’s Day…

Last year, we had a series of 80 degree days in March. This year, we’ve had snow, sleet, freezing rain, regular rain, and mud. It’s freaking cold, and it’s also depressingly grey.

St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone, and I did not get the peas or potatoes in. Why? Three reasons:

1. I spent most of the weekend talking about gardening at the Indiana Flower and Patio Show and the Indy Winter Farmers Market.

2. I just took down my rye cover crop last week. Rye can inhibit germination of newly planted seeds, so I’m giving it another week before I plant in beds that had the rye.

3. The soil’s still a bit too cold. For peas and potatoes, the soil temperature should be at least 40 degrees; 45 degrees is better. Mine’s still just a bit colder than that.

What do you mean, how do I know? I stuck a meat thermometer in the dirt. Don’t judge me; I washed it off after.

I’ll get these Irish-y crops in the ground next weekend, provided we don’t have yet another March snowstorm.

In the meantime, enjoy this completely unrelated picture of pansies filling the back of the truck last year:

Picking up pansies at the nursery last spring.

Picking up pansies at the nursery last spring.

Categories: In the garden, The garden year | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

The Fraudulent Farmgirl Hits the Road

…but not too far, because I’ve got a lot of plants to get in the ground once the soil dries.

Still, it’s shaping up to be a very busy garden speaking season! I’m especially excited about being part of the Urban Homestead exhibit at the Indiana Flower and Patio Show.

I was invited to speak by the awesome Maggie Goeglein of Fall Creek Gardens: Urban Grower’s Resource. In addition to my own presentations, you can learn about keeping bees, rain barrels, chickens, composting, raised beds—you name it. The Urban Homestead exhibit itself has windmills, a biomass heater, a rain garden, a chicken coop, an eco-cottage, and more.

On the days I’m speaking, I’ll also be hanging out at the Urban Homestead exhibit, chatting up people and answering questions. Come see me!

Come see me!

Come see me!

So here’s what’s coming up for the Fraudulent Farmgirl:

Indiana Flower and Patio Show
Saturday, March 9
Food Gardening for Beginners, 12:30 p.m.

Zionsville Public Library
Tuesday, March 12
Food Gardening for Beginners, 7:00 p.m.

Glen Oaks Garden Club
Thursday, March 14
Edible Landscapes, 7:00 p.m.

Indiana Flower and Patio Show
Friday, March 15
Organic Weed and Pest Control, 1:00 p.m.
Edible Landscapes, 6:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 16
I’m not presenting, but I’ll be there from about 9:00 to 1:00 to answer questions
Sunday, March 17
Food Gardening for Beginners, 10:15 a.m.

Zionsville Public Library
Tuesday, March 19
Gardening with Bulbs, 7:00 p.m.

Zionsville Public Library
Tuesday, April 9
Tomatoes 101, 7:00 p.m.

Orchard in Bloom
I’ll be hanging out at Orchard in Bloom to talk gardens all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, as well as presenting.
Friday, May 3
Vegetable Gardens for Beginners, 2:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 4
Small Space Gardening, 11:00 a.m.

Irvington Garden Club
Monday, May 20
Urban Homesteading, 7:00 p.m.

Categories: Garden books and resources, Randomness | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Last (I hope) Winter Blast

So I’ve sown leeks, eggplants, and peppers inside. I’ve pruned the fruit trees and raspberry canes. I’ve got a planting plan and I’m not afraid to use it. I am ready for spring.

Then this happened.

The Fraudulent Farmstead on March 6, 2013. Note the recently pruned dwarf apple trees in front.

The Fraudulent Farmstead on March 6, 2013. Note the recently pruned dwarf apple trees in front.

A thick, fluffy, wet layer of snow, with a soupçon of ice underneath. Fortunately, I was able to shovel the walk pretty quickly and then take my trusty phone out for a few snaps.

Pa Ingalls taught me that a late snow is poor man’s fertilizer. It brings nitrogen down from the atmosphere to the ground, and nitrogen is the element that has the most impact on vegetative growth.

Of course, Pa plowed that snow into his fields. I am without a plow and team of oxen. So I’m just going to hope that the snow does my plants some good.

A late snow also makes the sugar sap run longer, which would be awesome if I had sugar maple trees. And a giant cauldron to sugar off the sap. And a huge amount of time. I learned that from Pa Ingalls too.

Pa Ingalls taught me a lot. I’m just grateful I didn’t have to follow him all over hell’s half-acre in a wagon to learn it.

Anyway, the late snow inspired me to start chronicling the seasons here at the Fraudulent Farmstead. To wit:

My dwarf cherry tree in front of the Farmstead, taken May 4, 2012

My dwarf cherry tree in front of the Farmstead, taken May 4, 2012

Same tree, taken March 6, 2013. On the upside, you can see the germander I planted to edge the vegetable bed.

Same tree, taken March 6, 2013. On the upside, you can see the germander I planted to edge the vegetable bed.

Categories: The garden year | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Color Commentary

I’m feeling the itch to redecorate again. This is a sure sign I’m  going through some sort of transition. Maybe it’s the fact that I turned 40 this year? I don’t know. But I’ve repainted the rooms of this house so often that they’re probably a quarter-inch thicker than they were when I moved in.

Sipping brights palette from Design Seeds. These are the greens of my kitchen; I'm going to add that cherry red as an accent. Click for original Design Seeds link.

Sipping brights palette from Design Seeds. These are the greens of my kitchen; I’m going to add that cherry red as an accent. Click for original Design Seeds link.

My first go-round in this house involved color. A LOT of color. My entry had a strawberry-red wall (it took five coats of paint). The soft grey living room walls harmonized with with navy and deep purple upholstery. After repainting the red brick fireplace cream, I painted the wall surrounding it a deep bittersweet orange. Then I thought, what the hell, and painted the opposite wall orange too.

The dining room was a brilliant yellow, the kitchen apple green. My first attempt at a deep pink in the project room (office/junk room) left it looking, in the words of my mother, “like a Chinese bordello.” I repainted it Tiffany-box blue. My own bedroom was a deep, nearly cobalt blue.

It was a bit like living in a box of crayons, but all that color satisfied something deep in my soul in my late twenties and early thirties.

After the end of a relationship in my mid-thirties, the first thing I did was repaint my bedroom a soft aqua. This was the beginning of my Tuscan farmhouse era. The walls of the living and dining rooms are a mid-toned apricot. The project room is sea-glass green. The kitchen is still apple green, although a lighter tone than the original. Despite a lack of lace or frills (I’m not a fan of either) there was no doubt that a woman was running this home.

Macro bloom color palette from Design Seeds. (http://design-seeds.com/index.php/home/entry/macro-bloom2)

Macro bloom color palette from Design Seeds. My bedroom uses those two bottom aquas and the second (really bright) pink. Click on the photo to see the original at the Design Seeds site.

Now I’m finding that I need more contrast, a little more edge. I’ve introduced black into the rooms (frames and art) to ground them a bit more. I’ve added patterns for the first time, having in the past been firmly a solids kind of girl.

As I look through the palettes on the Design Seeds, I’m finding that monochrome palettes make my lower back itch. (I have VERY visceral reactions to color.) I need some contrast. The apricot on my living room walls, warm as it is, isn’t quite cutting it any more. I’m drawn now to darker oranges, spots of raspberry, and hits of intense aqua.

I find this is true in the garden, too, where my early affinity for English-style pastels has been replaced by a love of orange and pink zinnias and dark purple salvias and lavender.

So it’s back to the paint-strip aisle I go. I love my bedroom; I just need a few hits of raspberry in there. The kitchen and project room just need a bit of tweaking. But the living and dining rooms need some thought. It may take a full year to get around to redoing them. In the meantime, I continue to cut up magazines for my inspiration files and curate images on Pinterest.

 

Categories: In the house | Tags: | Leave a comment

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