Monthly Archives: January 2014

Tahitian Melon Squash and Barbie

Tahitian Melon Winter Squash-What a HarvestI have my Tahitian Melon Squash and Barbie all in the basement.  From this picture you can see my great harvest of squash.  I just made a Curry Squash soup last night and it is delicious.

Tahitian Melon Squash and Barbie–Part of Make Believe

Tahitian Melon Squash and BarbieOnce in a while I notice the squash are moved around by my grandchildren.  They create houses and furniture for their Barbie games.  The playroom is right next to the room where these squash are stored.  Yesterday I noticed this beautiful lounging chair created for Barbie.  I just had to share it with you.  I love when children use their creativity to use mundane things in their environment for their games!  So another plus for the Tahitian Melon Squash as children create Barbie furniture using their unique crooked neck!

Folks This Ain’t Normal by Joel Salatin

Joel Salatin has written many books including Folks This Ain’t Normal. I learned about Joel Salatin and his farm, Polyface, from my brother-in-law.  After he toured the farm he told me all about it and Joel Salatin. So I looked him up on YouTube and saw how he deals with his chickens, moving them each day to a new bit of pasture and their new “salad bar”.  I became intrigued and read Folks, This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, in fact I had a hard time putting it down.  Joel Salatin has a wealth of information on farming and creating a healthier world in which to live.  Each chapter is a different subject with a list at the end of what we can do to make our lives and our world better.

He tells so many interesting anecdotes along with valuable farming and gardening information interspersed with history.  While reading about the history of farming here in the US we can understand how we got to the mess we are in today.

His book is filled with valuable gems of information.  Did you know that the Model T Ford could run off of gasoline or ethanol?  There was a switch on the dashboard!

Green Bean Leaves After Compost and Manure in My GardenJoel Salatin has created a healthy way of farming that has rebuilt his soil.  He uses cow, pig and chicken manure and moves the animals each day to a different space on the pasture.  After mowing his hay an old time farmer had this to say, “I ain’t never seen nothin’ like this.  I done mowed hay all over this county but I sure didn’t know you could grow hay with mulch(meaning compost).  The old farmer went on to say it was the thickest, nicest, most weed-free hay he had seen.

Joel Salatin proposes that everyone should have a few chickens in their backyard to eat the kitchen scraps.  He tells some facts from Pat Foreman’s book City Chicks:  “A town in Belgium offered 3 chickens to any household that wanted them.  Two thousand families signed up for the chickens.  Those 6,000 hens, in the first month of the program, dropped compostable biomass to the landfill by 100 tons.”  Salatin calls this the ultimate recycling program and you get fresh eggs!

Folks This Ain’t Normal is full of knowledge like this.  I feel like I want to read it again so I remember all the stories and great gardening info.  I highly recommend reading, Folks, This Ain’t Normal! You will learn a lot and be entertained. You can order this book from Amazon by clicking on the picture below.


Straw Bale Cold Frame

I have built a straw bale cold frameStraw Bale Cold Frame before but we never had such cold weather as this year. We just experienced a “polar vertex” and had one night and one day where the temperature stayed at 0 degrees for long periods of time. With the wind chill factor it was actually much colder than 0 degrees.

The Straw Bale Cold Frame Didn’t Work So Well

Today we are at more normal temperatures for this time of year around 32 degrees.  You can see from the picture above that my arugula looks like it survived the polar vertex quite nicely but after a few days I saw that only a few plants survived.  It took a while for them to die.  I think it is possible that if I would have covered it with a quilt or piece of carpet the arugula might have survived better.  There were some small openings and if the cold frame was covered with an additional cover it would have fared better. Next time I have the opportunity I will test this out.

In my last straw bale cold frame I didn’t have such a good cover.  I used to use a screen door frame covered with a light row cover. Now I have plexiglass that is very sturdy and holds the snow off the plants.  Plexiglass is very expensive so if you can get some used it is cheaper.  I got mine used.

Arugula is Considered a “Bitter”

Arugula is quite bitter with a peppery mustard taste.  I like to eat it because it is considered a “bitter”  and can stimulate the digestive system.  See this article Bitter Herbs Sweeten Digestion.  If you are thinking about what to plant this spring Arugula is a great plant to start early. Last year it did great when the temperature was in the teens.  And it is nice to have such fresh greens as early as possible!

The Lettuce Didn’t Do So Well

Frozen LettuceMy lettuce didn’t fare so well.  It is in a pot on the front porch.  It has survived three snowstorms but it doesn’t look like it survived the 0 degrees.  Of course, it was not protected by anything. After a few days it looked much worse than in this picture.  Completely black and dead without much hope for any revival.  This picture could have fooled me.  It took a few days for it to actually show the damage.

Daffodil EmergingThe last thing I learned from this polar vertex is that Daffodils are very hardy.  I already have a few poking up above the soil.  To me this seems extremely early because I first saw them in December.  I wondered how they would do with the extreme cold temperatures. To my great delight they look great.  Here is a picture of one of them.  As you can see from the picture it did not have much protection like autumn leaves covering it up.

A straw bale cold frame is easy to create.  At the end of the winter you can use the straw to create a compost pile or use it for mulching around your plants.  And then the next winter you can make another one!