The Dirt Witch Chronicles

Earth Based Forum for Personal Growth

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Changes to the page are coming!

It’s been quite a while since I last posted on this page.  The reason is because it takes me longer to update all the ads than it does to write a good article about a topic you might be interested in!

So!  I have made a decision to get rid of the ads!  They aren’t making me any money anyway so why not!?  My goal is to share my knowledge.  If I can make a living by sharing then great, but if not, then whatever!  That’s life!

I’m not sure exactly when these changes will take place.  But it will be soon and it will be in small steps.

I’m hoping to have new content by the Spring Equinox this year.

Thanks for your patience!

Dragon Hawk

Try Graze.com for a special treat!

Butterscotch, Popcorn, Flapjack snack bars

Butterscotch, Popcorn, Flapjack snack bars

I work in a really nice, quiet, engineering office and even though we are close to a convenience store, I just have a hard time finding healthy things to snack on.  That is until I found Graze.com!

Here’s what it is, you go to their website and sign up.  Yes you have to give them a credit card!  Then you go through their list of snacks and let them know which ones you absolutely don’t want so they won’t send them to you.  You choose your size box and how often you want them delivered and then they send them too you!

I got my first box last week and the snacks were really tasty!

Use this code DEED8D93P to claim your first free box!  If the code doesn’t work, here is the link:  http://www.graze.com/us/p/DEED8D93U

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First Official Day in the Gardens!

2014 Gardens - Mid-season

2014 Gardens – Mid-season

Last year, I had three raised beds that I did my best to completely fill!  The bed on the left is mainly corn, carrots, beets, and tomatoes.  I planted a cucumber in there too, but it never really took off.

SunflowersThe middle bed I reserved for sunflowers, herbs, peppers, kohlrabi, and beans.  The sunflowers were my best performers in this one!

They ended up over 10 feet tall!  And as you can see from the picture, the huge heads bent them over and they were still over 8 feet!

I’m growing them again this year too.  Only this time, I’m planting more of them and I’m putting them along the fence.  Who wants to see the inside of a privacy fence anyway?

South_bed

South bed – Late season

The bed on the right is actually my most southern positioned bed.  I planted melon, corn, pumpkin, potatoes, tomatoes, and even some wildflowers in this bed.  The corn was a lot shorter than the corn in the north bed.  The melon didn’t grow well at all and only flowered a couple times.  There was one fruit that set and when we ate it, it was really bitter!

The tomatoes struggled.  I was able to harvest several, but they were late in the season and not very big.

The biggest producer in this lot was the pumpkin!  It took over the bed and then started escaping across the yard!  From now on, melons and pumpkins get their own area where they can spread all they want!

My biggest pest problem of the season was squash bugs!  They were all over the pumpkin vines and I think that’s what slowed down the tomatoes too.

The lessons I learned?

  1. I prefer to spread out my gardens!  Square foot gardening might work for some, but I tend to over do it!  Too many varieties of plants in one spot and I get lost.  I found myself pulling plants that I thought were weeds when actually I had planted them there myself!
  2. So many plants so close together encourages pests.  Take the squash bugs as an example.  They were all over the pumpkin plant and some were on the tomato plants.  They really didn’t do that much damage, at least from what I could see.  Some of the pumpkins were a bit scarred and a few were lost because the vine collapsed.  But for the most part, they were just really gross bugs to look at and made me not want to reach my hand into the vine to pick the fruit!
  3. It’s hard to keep track of what is planted where and when to harvest.
  4. I still don’t have companion planting down.  While some of the plants in the beds were beneficial, others weren’t.  I tried to keep them separated by at least a couple of feet, but I don’t think that’s good enough.

The bottom line is this, I need more beds.  Or at least more areas to plant in.

So today, being the first full day of spring, I have decided to get out and play in the yard.  I sent Bill to the hardware store for many, many bags of garden soil to add to our existing beds.  By the way, if you notice in the pictures, the beds are taller this year and they have a seat!  Thank you Bill for building them up and adding that seat!  Of course, that means that they need lots and lots of dirt added.  Which is why Bill was sent to get it.

 

All_three_beds_2015-03-21

2015 – Updated beds!

After several hours and 30 forty-pound bags later, this is now my blank slate!  I still have more beds to create.  Somewhere.  But for now, my main three are ready to be planted!

The middle bed, since it’s going to be my perennial bed, already has some sage coming back!

March 21, 2015

March 21, 2015

As you can see, there is some new growth intermixed with the dry and dead stuff from last year.

We added two new additions to the yard last fall as well!  We planted two small peach trees at the south end of the beds.  I will post pictures of them once they get all leafed out so you can actually see them instead of the scenery behind them!  But, as a teaser, this is how they are starting out!

Peach_buds

I think this has been a VERY productive first full day of Spring!  I just hope I’m still able to move on Monday!

 

 

Imbolc – The Halfway Point

Blessed Imbolc candlesSome calendars, such as this one, Pagan Calendar/UK, show today, February 1st, 2015 as Imbolc.  (pronounced “IM-bulk” or “EM-bowlk”), also called Oimealg, (“IM-mol’g), by the Druids.  Others show the date as February 2nd.  The website, The Celtic Connection, has a really good description of the holiday and the symbols as well as the history.

Imbolc is supposed to mark the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.  By my rudimentary calculations, that date should actually be February 3rd or 4th.

For me, this is just a point in the year to recognize that Winter is on the downhill slide.  Which means that our wettest winter months are yet to occur.  Here in the middle of the country, from mid-February through March is when our biggest snow storms generally occur.  And today we were lucky enough to have a little one!  It was kind of cool to have great big snowflakes falling from the sky as I sat in my nice warm house sipping on hot coffee.  And to make the day even better, it was Super Bowl Sunday!  I like football too!

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Now, most people around here moan and grumble when we get snowy weather.  Not me!  I love the snow!  I hate having to drive in it, but I love watching it fall and the beautiful and serene landscapes it creates!  And the most important part is that it brings the much needed moisture the trees and shrubs need during this cold and dry part of the year.  They may seem to be dead, but their roots are still alive and still feeding the rest of the plant.  Even in it’s dormant state, the plants are still very much alive.

So, at this center point of the season, the best gardening activities to participate in are the dreaming and planning of the upcoming seasons gardens.  Pull out last year’s garden journal and take a look at your notes, what plants thrived in what areas?  What could you plant in areas that didn’t do so well?  Pull out the seed catalogs and start your seed list.  Are there new varieties to try?  Are you going to be canning, drying, or preserving your bounty?  Or are you planning to only eat what matures and not grow more than you need?  Now is the time to think about and answer those questions.

On the spiritual side of things, don’t forget to appreciate the weather the way it is.  The surprise warm days and the bitter cold days all have purpose.  And they all share their own individual beauty.  It’s up to us to see it. acknowledge it, and accept it.

Today’s beautiful snowfall is tomorrow’s moisture that will assist all the beautiful trees, shrubs, and bulbs to bloom when their time comes!

Have a wonderful Imbolc and may your weather bring you pleasure and joy!

Blessings!

Dragonhawk

Crocus flowers in snow

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Extra big harvest? Dry it with an Excalibur Food Dehydrator!

Excalibur Dehydrator

I just purchased an Excalibur food dehydrator!  I searched the internet looking for something that would dry a lot of items at once without taking up much space and this is what I found!  I can’t wait to use it!

You see, I am planning to expand my gardens this year.  Instead of just 3 jam packed 4 ft. by 8 ft. beds, I’m also going to have a strip along the fence on the north side of the yard.  It’s about 40 ft. long.  If I make the new garden 3 to 4 ft wide, I would end up with another 120 to 160 square feet!  That means I can plant more vegetables and hopefully get a great harvest!

The problem with all that food is storage.  How am I going to have time to harvest, prepare, and can all those veggies and still keep my job?  I’ll be able to do some canning.  As long as I don’t run out of jars!  And I can freeze a tiny bit because we only have the small freezer in our refrigerator.  That means we either eat a lot, or I give a lot away!  So the best solution I could think of was to buy a dehydrator!

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I had a Ronnoco dehydrator several years ago.  It was round and the trays stacked on top of each other.  I hated the thing!  The grids on the trays were fairly large and made of plastic.  The food would stick to the plastic as it dried making it difficult to remove them and almost impossible to clean!  And I couldn’t dry herbs because they would fall through and end up mixed in with whatever was on the trays below.

The Excalibur has square trays with a different type of plastic inserts that are supposed to be easier to clean and more non-stick.  You can also coat them with oil before loading to help the food not stick.

My next step is to go buy, (Yes I said “buy”!), some organic veggies and fruits to slice up and dry to start getting used to the new dryer!  I’m so excited!

When I’ve dried a few batches, I’ll post how it worked and any tips I come up with.  I might even have a few recipes to share!

Wish me luck!

P.S.  You can buy an Excalibur dehydrator at the Survivalist Store in Riverside, Missouri or you can order one directly from the manufacturer at: http://www.excaliburdehydrator.com/.  You can even find them by clicking on the Meat-Processing Products.com ad found anywhere on my site.  It never hurts to check out all the options before buying!

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