Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Purple Sweet Potatoes have arrived!

I've been waiting a week for these babies to arrive, somehow the roots were still damp.  All are planted and waiting to be taken to the garden at my mom's house.  They look sad now but once planted all should be fine.

Monday, June 01, 2020

The Library has re-opened for curb side pick up!

Last week I got a phone call asking if we still wanted the items we had on hold since the library closed suddenly in mid-March.  I may have gotten a little too excited and promptly took the first appointment available which was today at 10:45am.  Husband was at school working with students who haven't turned in their work and hadn't answered their emails in the last two months so I dragged all four kids out of the house - two were not even dressed yet - and off to the library we went!  We got there 10 minutes early and two people came up to give us various instructions like call this number and let them know inside that you are here.  While calling the number a third person came out and told me to back the vehicle up 4 spaces, then when I got out she said my name and told me to grab the bag on the table.  The kids didn't even get out of the vehicle!  The youngest was peeved because she can't read and didn't get anything.  The oldest was miffed because she had asked for new items three days ago when we got the call and they weren't pulled yet, so basically two out four were happy.  Then after we got home I showed the oldest how she could read one book she hadn't selected as it looks interesting and now she's happy.  Sorry 5 year old, I'm sure you will find something to do today.

Well I guess May is over

And I guess school is mostly over for the school year - the last day coded into my calendar at the beginning of the school year was May 25th, it came and went with no ceremony last week.  Usually husband plays that horrid song from Alice Cooper "School's Out" and there's a school picnic.  Instead we have a two week extension for those who need more time to complete their assignments.  I was a bit surprised when my two oldest hadn't finished their work last Thursday with both declaring they had a few things left to do and would do them on Monday.  I just thought you'd want to be done but that's my aptitude and I'm careful to let them manage their own schedules.  See I'm adapting to this home school thing just fine.

I've not minded having them all home since mid-March.  I was the organizer of schedules and lesson plans which came from teachers email, text message and posts on the school website - everyone has their own way of doing things.  If it's language related I'm your teacher, if it's math or science track down your dad for help.  Join me on the daily walk with the dog or not.  Occasionally we might take all to the empty parking lot for relay races at lunch time but don't expect it every day.  Help me with the gardening or not.  It's my hobby, not going to make it mandatory.  Help me with the baking or not, also my hobby.  Just don't fight about it and I'll make sure each gets a turn who wants one.  The only thing I've been super adamant about is daily chores.  You want screen time?  Get your school work done, or at least a couple of hours progress, finish your assigned chores and then you can have two hours or more if we lose track of blissful screen time.  

Things are slowly opening up.  It was announced last Friday that pools can open with 25% capacity, drive-in theaters, youth sports and day camps with 10 or less may operate.  Restaurants may open with outdoor dining.  We are now in part two of phase 1 in re-opening Maryland.

I've grown used to life of working from home and projects with no plans of needing to be anywhere.  We haven't gone to church since March 15th, or the YMCA, or art classes at the museum, and no work trips since January.  I'm afraid the children have grown feral, the girls hair is certainly tangled enough.  I honestly wonder how we will ever get back on schedule but I'm sure when the time is right we will persevere.  For now I'm enjoying an empty calendar.  

Monday, May 25, 2020

Memorial Day 2020

We didn't do our usual bar-b-que fest, it didn't seem right to celebrate with the subdued mood from corona virus casualties reaching 100K in this country and to be honest, it's really more about honoring fallen soldiers.  Still, it's a day off work, so we worked on the kids/guest bathroom and painted walls, grouted tiles, etc.  At the end of the day we sprung a blue jello with whipped cream and strawberries on the kids to be festive.  

At mom's house we weeded our primary garden and planted one butternut squash (bought at a local nursery) and one zucchini grown from seed.  I'm super nervous about these because last year my butternut got fried from the heat.  I've asked husband to set up a separate bucket with soaker hose just for this small plant bed. 

Friday, May 15, 2020

Happy Dinosaur and Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

We learned our lesson from the last announced theme holiday to be prepared with an idea before the day arrives.  Husband decided to create the La Brea tar pit with chocolate pudding and crushed cookies for topping.  It literally took less than 5 minutes.  We got so excited we forgot to make lunch, fortunately it was chicken nuggets and they only take 10 minutes.  We then covered the table in trees and boulders from the kids dino play sets.  Then, after lunch, I made chocolate chip cookies with Sam.  As he was the nominated baker, he was given a handful of chocolate chips to eat.  He counted them out and gave each sister 7.  Random acts of kindness make this mom's heart so proud.

May 15th is also the day Maryland reopened parks for kids to play on playground equipment!  It feels so good to be in phase 1 of recovery from the coronavirus lock down. 

Primary Garden is Planted

Update on the big freeze that came after our first attempt to plant - it killed our tomato plants, that we bought at the store, but strawberries and potatoes survived!

Today is May 14th and we are now quite sure the cold weather is over, the next 10 days are predicted to be 50 - 70's.  It feels a bit late to be planning as we usually plant after Easter, but it's been an unusually cool spring.

Here is a our landscape plan for the garden at mom's house 16 x 16':

Tomatoes are all grown from seed, strawberries are from my cousins garden that were overgrowing her neat rows, potatoes are from last year's crop that were too small to eat so we let them take root, pintos were grown from seed, and the purple sweet potatoes were ordered from Filaree Garlic Farm which should be shipped to us soon.  I'm really excited and super nervous about putting these babies into the ground but all we can do at this point is cross our fingers and hope for great weather conditions!!

As a side note, we are aware that strawberries and tomatoes are not traditional companion plants, but there is nothing saying they cause harm when planted next to each other so we elected to plant in this order although after further research, potatoes and tomatoes can grow side by side and strawberries and potatoes can grow together so maybe next year we move the strawberries to the front and grow in order of strawberries, potatoes, tomatoes, pintos.  I might even eliminate regular potatoes because they are cheap to buy and I don't do any canning or freezing with them.  I might switch to one row of purple sweet potatoes and two rows of strawberries.  

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Garden Update

Early April, when things were still tense with the Coronavirus lock down,  I ordered a bunch of seeds on Etsy.  This week I realized the strawberry seeds had not arrived so I went online and canceled the order on the basis that they sent me an email three weeks ago saying it had shipped.  I got back a rather rude email from the supplier saying they had written in big bold letters on the website that shipments would be delayed.  I get that, but if the system already says my order shipped, I'm never going to get it.  Regardless he returned my money so I'm satisfied.  

Last week my cousin gave me 10-12 strawberry plants so I'm good on that front! 

In recent weeks I've gotten everything I need from either Lowes or the local nursery who is very happy to have paying customers.

Update on my seedlings:
  • Roma Tomatoes - all 6 are 3-4" tall and doing extremely well
  • Beefsteak Tomatoes - 12+ are going strong
  • Pintos - 6-8 are doing well
  • Black Beans - all 6 are good
  • Zucchini - 1 is doing well, another just sprouted
  • Jalapenos - 6 out of 8 are about 1" tall
  • Red Bell Pepper - 6 out of 6 have been 1" for a long time so not sure if I should count these as a success yet.
Now for what is NOT working:
  • Tomatillos - nothing
  • Anaheim - 1 out of 6
  • Ruby Red Onions - 2 out of 8
  • Lettuce - nothing
  • Carrots - nothing
  • Basil - looks like red bell pepper, I'm confused on this
  • Poblano's - nothing
  • Chili Cubanelle's - nothing
  • Butternut Squash - nothing
I went to our local nursery on 5/1 and bought one butternut squash, two tomatillos, 2 roma's and 4 jalapeno's.  I really didn't need the jalapeno's but it was before mine had gotten to 1" so I thought those were not performing like the other peppers.

In summary, I'm very sad about the peppers.  I've put a heater in the room with the plants and plastic over the door entrance so the room is up to 75-80 all day.  It should be warm enough.  The next step is to get a heat warmer for plants but I still think I'll hold off on that for now.  It's time to get the successful plants into the ground and move forward!  

Check out my babies.  I've been putting them out for two weeks now, skipping the rain/freezing days and they are finally ready to be planted.  Some went into the ground yesterday.   Some went into the ground last weekend and had to be repotted when we got a two day freeze - in May!  Craziness.  

Saturday, May 09, 2020

Fixing up the Porch

To be honest, the entire porch needs to be rebuilt, but currently we are being careful with our money so this will need to wait a year or two.  For now I will have to be satisfied with re-painting and replacing the lattice work.

Before Photos

Snow - in May!?!

Okay it was just flurries, but still a concern since we've already planted strawberries, potatoes and 4-6 tomatoes at mom's house.  In our backyard garden we planted 2 tomatillos and 4 jalapenos.  I repotted our plants and brought them back inside.  We covered the ones at mom's house with plastic.

Saturday, May 02, 2020

Time to get our plants in the ground

The weather seems to be holding up to 50-60's so we're ready to get our first round of plants in the ground.  Potatoes, strawberries and 4-6 tomatoes.  Our seedlings are not big enough so I bought the tomatoes at a local farmers market.