Ah, yes…Spring

Yep, Spring has finally hit the South Central Pennsylvania!  YEA!  It could go to winter again next week, who knows, but for now, it’s spring!

I’m experimenting with starting a few (maybe several) seedlings inside this year.  I don’t have a greenhouse, so I set up a growing room in my spare bedroom.  This is what I have going on as of mid April!  Zinnias planted in 72 cell trays.  I started the seeds March 19th.

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I’m also experimenting with soil blocking.  This is a European method of seeding that uses very little space.  Lisa Mason Zeigler of The Gardner’s Workshop has the low down on all things soil blocking.  She literally starts thousand of plants inside a 10×10 room with shop lights every year.  Its a very different process and I’m trying to figure things out, but so far, my snaps are doing great.  We learn from our mistakes, right……

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The seeds are planted into each 3/4″ block of soil.  They should be ready to plant out much earlier than if I would have started them in the plastic seed starting trays.  Much better for the environment, too.  I started soil blocking March 30th.

This is the equipment needed for soil blocking…

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I purchased the soil blocking mix, (the mix needs to be a special blend because you want the soil to stick together more than regular seed starting soil) seeds and tray from The Garnener’s Workshop.  The soil blocker I purchased from Johnny’s Seeds.  As you can see, I can get 40 seedlings on one 5×10 tray.

Lisa Mason Zeigler has great tutorials on her website and has written some very informative books on growing flowers. They are all listed on her website.

For the regular 72 cell seed starting kit, I filled the cells with wet (not dripping) seed starting soil, then seeded the tray.  I purchased my seed starting kits at Dollar General.

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I put the seed tray on a heat mat, purchased on Amazon, put the dome on that came with the 72 cell seed starter kit,  and within two days, yes, two days, 50% of the seeds germinated.  I then took the seeds off the heat mat and put it under regular shop lights.  The shop lights should be about 3″ above the seedlings.  Not all seeds will germinate that quickly. 

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Why a heat mat?  The room temperature in the spare bedroom that I’m growing my plants in (I don’t have a greenhouse) is about 68 degrees.  The soil temp in the seed tray is about 15 degrees cooler, so the heat mat brings the soil temperature up to about 70 degrees which is perfect.  Not all seeds want heat, so you need to read the back of the seed packets and research, research, research.

Why shop lights?  The seedlings need about 16 hours of light a day that way they won’t become too leggy.

I’ll fill you later with what made it and what didn’t…..

Talk to you soon!

Karen

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What’s Your Vision?

Well, Happy New Year Friends!  The Christmas tree has been taken down – I’m still un-decorating the house.  It always seems like I think I finished putting Christmas away, then I find something right out in the open that was missed a day or two later.  How about you?

We had a wonderful Christmas season with our family – love them soooo very much.  Now, it’s time to move on to a fresh start with the new year.  It’s time to reflect.  What worked, what didn’t.  We have some time to go through photos taken during our busy seasons, and start to plan for 2019.  It’s exciting and ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­daunting at the same time to start the year over again.

I’m not a written goal setter.  Are you?  It’s not that I don’t believe goals are not important, because they are.  Setting goals, writing them down, works for many, but has never really worked for me.  I’m very visual, you see.  There needs to be something creative to make me sit for a period of time to focus and be intentional.

Vision board, you say?  Yes!  If you want to try a new way to goal set, try putting together a vision board for yourself.  Below, is my vision board from 2018.  It was full of flowers which, coincidentally or not, was on my mind (and what was in my large magazine stash) wink, wink.  I wanted to grow more beautiful flowers than ever for my customers to pick here on our farm.  It would be my fifth season of PYO Flowers and I really wanted to step up my game.

img_1075.jpg Grab a piece or two of plain poster board.  Gather as many magazines as you can get your hands on – the more the merrier!  Don’t go out and buy new magazines, just use what you have stashed around (I’m a stasher, so this was no problem – insert eye rolling emoji), or ask friends and relatives for their magazine stashes.  Glue stick, scissors and a place where you can make a mess and leave it until you are finished is everything else that you need.

Go through the magazines, one page at a time.  When you see words or images that move you, tear that whole page out.  Lay it aside.  Keep flipping, tearing – don’t overthink!  Just go with what moves you.

After you have gone through all the magazines, organize your pages into images and words.  Then start cutting the images that move you out of the magazine pages and place them in one pile then cut the words out of the other and keep in another pile.  You may not use them all, again, don’t overthink this.

Grab your glue stick and start with the larger pieces and place them on the poster board.  You will pick up some images and/or words and think “what was I thinking”. Set it aside, or throw it away!  I glued all my picture on my board first, then glued the words on.  It was very therapeutic as I could see my vision come to life in front of me in a colorful collage.

When you are finished, keep your vision board in a prominent place in your home where you can see it every day.  I stood in front of mine every morning for a few months while I was sipping on my coffee just for a few minutes.  By the time summer came along, we were too busy and my vision board was ignored.

I grew, what I think, was an amazing flower garden despite having one of the most challenging summers weather wise ever here in South Central PA.  I met new friends and felt so much joy in their happiness cutting flowers.

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Flowers have a way of not only saying, I love you, or this bouquet is just because I was thinking of you, or I picked this beautiful bouquet of flowers just for myself, because I am worth it!  Flowers heal the soul.  They rise from the dirt and take our breath away with their beauty!

I’ve had some time to go through some professional photo’s we had taken in our You Pick Flower Garden by Loving Memories Photography & Design.  It was a hot steamy summer’s evening, after a few days of rain, of course.  I found this photo.  Insert holy cow emoji – is there one?  There should be!

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I had a strange urge while we were in the garden having photos taken to use a colorful chair.  Trust me, I had not looked at my vision board for months.  I can remember cutting out the colorful sofa that’s on my vision board above.  The sofa was definitely not in a home but in an outdoor setting, and I just had to place it on my vision board.  Who knew, months later, that photo would inspire me and I would use that vision in our flower garden for photos.  I’m just realizing this as I am writing this blog post and looking at the photos.  Wow, the power of the brain and what visualization can do!  Life becomes what you think about the most…..

Try a vision board, it’s not difficult, don’t make it be difficult.  Have fun with it.  Look at it every day and see what happens! I’m a believer and am running to the store for poster board this weekend.  I can’t wait to see what my vision will be for 2019.

I’ll share more photos of our lovely garden photo shoot that Loving Memories Photography and Design  took on that hot summer’s evening in 2018 as the 2019 season progresses.  I can’t say enough about Krista, her professionalism and ability to take such amazing photos in the heat while thwarting off mosquitoes that seemed to be attracted to only her!  I can’t wait to work with Loving Memories again on more photo shoots here at Family Tree Farm.

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Happy New Year friends!  Show me your vision boards!!

See you soon,

Karen

It’s Cold Outside, Eat Bread!

I’m a big fan of podcasts and like to listen to them while I’m working on the farm.  This spring, while planting, planting, and re-planting everything that rotted in the ground, I found a podcast that I fell in love with.  Living Homegrown’s “Live Farm Fresh Without the Farm” podcast really speaks to me and I enjoy listening.  Theresa Loe,  discusses the art of canning, growing vegetables in very small spaces, fermentation, making cheese (next on my bucket list), organization and she interviews the most amazing cookbook authors and experts of the food world.

I can remember the day I was listening to Living Homegrown’s podcast #139 “The Magic of No Knead Bread” where Theresa interviewed Alexandra Stafford.  Alexandra has a blog, “Alexandra’s Kitchen”.  She is also the author of “Bread Toast Crumbs“.  The book was one of the top five cookbooks of 2017.  I thought to myself – that bread recipe sounds darn easy and delicious.  I’m gonna try it as soon as I have a little time.  Who doesn’t love bread.  I know, I know, we are all (LOL) trying to keep carbs to a minimum, but bread, especially fresh baked…..  Who can resist the freshly baked rolls that are plopped onto our dinner table when we have an evening out?  YIKES – I forgot (wink, wink) to tell the waiter not to bring bread to the table!

Fast forward four, yes, four months later.  Fall has finally arrived here in South Central, PA – well it went from 85 to 55 quicker than seeing a state trooper on the interstate.  LOL – full disclosure – saw that post on Facebook.  First cool day, and I’m thinking BREAD!  What your subconscious doesn’t do, right?

I re-listened to the podcast and pulled the recipe off the show notes.   Five ingredients.  I like it simple in the kitchen!  Flour, Yeast, Water, Sugar, Salt…that’s it!  I felt nervous, but confident that I could do this.  I don’t have a bread machine and I believe the last time I made any type of bread it was Zucchini or Cranberry bread during Christmas a very long time ago!

After gathering my supplies, I started the process.  The smell of the yeast brought me back to the farmhouse I grew up in.  My grandmother baked every Saturday.  Sunday was visiting day and she always had plenty of goodies to nibble on for those who came to see her.  My mother didn’t have the chance to bake too much – she and my dad were dairy farmers, so there wasn’t a whole lot of time for baking, except for Christmas cookies.  Ahhhhh…..

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This bread is sooo easy to make.  The instructions were easy to follow.  Didn’t take a lot of time at all.  The only wait was a one hour rise, then a quick 20 min. rise.  I was so nervous!  What if my bread didn’t rise!  It did – I uncovered it after the first rise, and there it was.  Beautiful!  I was so excited, that I went onto the next step without taking a picture of my perfectly risen bread.  I snapped a quick one before I punched the bread down too much, but it had already deflated quite a bit…

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After punching the dough down, I used two forks (as recommended) to turn the bread onto itself and divide it.  Again, I was nervous about doing this step; however, it was remarkably easy.  I used a 1 quart pyrex bowl and I had a mini 4 loaf bread pan in my baking stash collecting dust (probably from the Cranberry bread I made as Christmas gifts ages ago).  I wasn’t sure how the mini bread pan would work, so I only used 2 of the 4 pans.  The next time I make this bread, I will skip the pyrex bowl and just use the mini bread pans.  They worked perfectly.

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The bread rose again in less than 20 minutes!  I plopped it into the oven and in no time at all, the smell was incredible!

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My hubs made a killer chicken corn soup with some left-over fried chicken and our very own frozen (thanks to good friends) sweet corn.  What a feast!

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I will make this bread again!  Super easy, my family loved it and btw, I’m muching on it with a slab of irish butter while I’m writing this blog.  Heaven! I would encourage you to listen to Living Homegrown Podcast #139 “The Magic of No Knead Bread“!  The story of the bread recipe is quite cute and Alexandra gives great tips for perfect bread.   Alexandra Stafford’s recipe is HERE.

If you would like to make sure you never miss out on the latest happenings at Family Tree Farm, be sure to subscribe HERE and receive updates, recipes, tips and tutorials delivered to your inbox about once a month.  Just to say “Thank You”, for signing up, you will receive my latest “On The Farm, Farm Fresh Fall Recipes” printable.

Talk to you soon!

Karen

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How does the color, ultra violet (purple) make you feel?  Every year, mid-December, I get a phone call from my daughter, Sarah. “Hey mom, did you hear what the Pantone Color-Of-The-Year is”?  Typically, she has to tell me.  Sarah is artistic and is fascinated with color.  I love to hear her talk about it.  We discuss the colors and how much we love them or hate them or how we may see or use them in the future.

I didn’t really think about this until I started to write this blog post, but Sarah’s choice of floral colors for her 2016 wedding were inspired by the 2016 Colors-Of-The-Year!  In 2016 the colors were Rose Quarts (pink) and Serenity (blue). I see purple and green in her bouquet too.  A beautiful summer palette!

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Marcy, of Foster’s Flowers on Beaver St. in York, created the most gorgeous flower arrangements for Sarah and Garrett’s wedding. Wouldn’t you agree?

Do you eat purple food?  I, personally, love to eat anything purple. It’s one of my favorite colors!  According to some, the darker the skin of a fruit or veggie, the higher the nutrient value.  Check out this article from the Telegraph:   https://www.telegraph.co.uk/food-and-drink/news/start-eating-purple-good-health-science-behind-2017s-new-food/

Last year, 2017, the Pantone Color-Of-The-Year was Greenery (green).  Think about it.  Have you been seeing a lot more green in packaging, paints, furniture, wallpaper, clothing, floral design,  etc.  Green plants are making a big come-back in our homes.  I love it!!!  Pantone sees color trends, selects the color of the year and the trend setters go from there.

Just because purple was chosen for 2018 doesn’t mean green is so yesterday…not at all.  The trends continue on for several years.   Think about green and purple together.  YEESSS!

The following is from Pantone’s website and announcement of the Color Of-The-Year for 2018:

Inventive and imaginative, Ultra Violet lights the way to what is yet to come.

A dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade, PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us toward the future.

Complex and contemplative, Ultra Violet suggests the mysteries of the cosmos, the intrigue of what lies ahead, and the discoveries beyond where we are now. The vast and limitless night sky is symbolic of what is possible and continues to inspire the desire to pursue a world beyond our own.

Enigmatic purples have also long been symbolic of counterculture, unconventionality, and artistic brilliance. Musical icons Prince, David Bowie, and Jimi Hendrix brought shades of Ultra Violet to the forefront of western pop culture as personal expressions of individuality. Nuanced and full of emotion, the depth of PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet symbolizes experimentation and non-conformity, spurring individuals to imagine their unique mark on the world, and push boundaries through creative outlets.

Historically, there has been a mystical or spiritual quality attached to Ultra Violet. The color is often associated with mindfulness practices, which offer a higher ground to those seeking refuge from today’s over-stimulated world. The use of purple-toned lighting in meditation spaces and other gathering places energizes the communities that gather there and inspire connection.

What is purple?  It’s blue and red mixed together.  Complete opposites on the color wheel.  The last paragraph of Pantone’s announcement really hit home with me.  What do you think?

Want to guess what the Color-Of-The-Year will be for 2019?

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Hope to see you soon!

Karen Doyle

 

Let It Bee….

Did you know honey bees are not native to North America?  I had no idea!    I first learned of this in a book by Lisa Mason Ziegler, “Vegetables Love Flowers.  Great read! I highly recommend it if you love to garden.

Lisa does a great job educating us about companion planting, what the beneficials are in the garden (even spiders and snakes….oh my), succession planting and the photography in her book is just beautiful. She even has an on line book discussion.  Loved it!

There are apparently 4000 different types of native bees to North America, and they are in danger too – it seem the honey bees get all the press.  We need bees to pollinate our fruits and vegetables.  Believe it or not, native bees can be better pollinators than honey bees. I am in no way dissing honey bees – I love their local honey!!!!

Honey bees came to North American from Europe with the colonists and have been managed as an agricultural resource ever since.  When a farmer needs bees, honey bees are the easiest to bring in and go away when finished.

Honey bees cannot pollinate tomato plants – wow – who knew!!  The humble bumble bee can! Some plants have their pollen on the outside (like a lilly’s anther, you can see the pollen).  The tomato plant’s pollen is inside the flower – the bumble gets in there and shakes the pollen out!

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I’m an avid podcast listener, are you?  One of my favorite podcasts is “Living Homegrown” by Theresa Loe.  I recently listened to podcast # 141 (www.livinghomegrown.com/141 ) where Theresa interviews Lisa Mason Ziegler and podcast # 147 (www.livinghomegrown.com/147 ) where author Paige Embry is interviewed by Theresa regarding our native bees.

Both podcasts are full of educational facts about our native bee problems.  Paige Embry has written “Our Native Bees: North America’s Endangered Pollinators and the Fight to Save Them”. This book looks fabulous and is on my Amazon wish list!

Please know that I, in no way, make any $ off of any of the books or podcasts I recommend.  I find the books and podcasts highly interesting, and want to pass on what I have learned to you.  If we work together, we can all make the world a better place! Yes?

If you would like to receive more info about our farm, what I’m learning (you’re never too old to learn, right???), tutorials, etc., please hit the yes, please button on our contact page.  For subscribing, you will receive my little recipe “TASTY” pdf of Family Tree Farm’s Favorite Summertime Recipes

Happy Summer!

Karen Doyle

 

 

Wabi-Sabi

Have you heard about Wabi-Sabi?  What is it you ask?  A new dance move, or is it a song?  Nope, Wabi-Sabi is an ancient Japanese practice that appreciates imperfections in life and the ability to age gracefully.  I am fully on board with this – how about you?

So, how does Wabi-Sabi relate to gardening?  As per “Garden Media Group”, Wabi-Sabi gardens imitate nature in a way that allows you to relax and appreciate their humble and imperfect forms – yes, even the weeds.  I am so into this!  I’m not sure about the weeds, but then again, I use Goldenrod and Queen Ann’s Lace in my flower bouquets.

Then there are dandelions!  I have a recipe for dandelion wine that my dear Uncle John passed on to me years ago.  I’m gonna have to dig that out!

As a flower farmer, I am always experimenting with new flowers.  I plant a lot by seed.  Check out my lovely stand of pigweed I grew last year!

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My only guess is, I thinned out the real flower and left the weeds.  They grew so nicely in a row!  The hubs kept telling me it was a weed.  I, of course, didn’t believe him – BAHHAAAA!  I’m sure it will happen again, but this time I will embrace the practice of Wabi-Sabi!  Maybe I can use the weeds in bouquets!

I love to pick flowers.   Many times, the flowers that I pick are not always perfect.  I love them anyhow.  I will pick them and use them even if they do lean a little this way or a little that way.  I love using the center disk of a flower in an arrangement after all the petals fall off.  There is something in their imperfection that I love and is unique.

 

 

I have watched others while they are cutting flowers and they do the same.  Just because the flower is a little wonky, doesn’t mean it won’t fit in.  That imperfect flower always fills a spot where something is missing.  Wabi-Sabi was meant for me, how about you??

I love this quote:

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“The garden is a natural place to embrace Wabi-Sabi – the art of imperfect beauty, and practice the delicate balance between nature and nurture.”

     Ilana Goldowitz Jimenez, PhD.

Do you want to be part of Family Tree Farm’s community?  Click HERE to receive the latest farm updates, recipes, tips, tutorials and more delivered right to your in-box one to two times a month.  This month I’ve created  “TASTY” Farm Fresh Summer Recipes.