Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Straw Bale Gardening

This year I am so excited to work on our place.  We bought a few acres in a beautiful part of the world called Chester, Idaho.  I love the Tetons and have to be able to see them everyday.  They ground me and remind me that I can reach my potentional and I live right by the river which reminds me to let things go.  Take what you need, let it change what needs changing and wash off what has served you.  Since I was tiny, I have always wanted a root to the center of the earth, to know I'm connected, deep rooted and have a place to be.  This little bit of earth is part of the lava flows.  At least half of it is planted in alfalfa hay which we feed, horses, cows, sheep and even the chickens love it.  Alfalfa is also great in smoothies:). A lot of our land has large rocks on it so I thought I'd garden on top of it.

This book became my textbook.  I read what I could online and got started but then realized that i hang completely understood and had to redo some things.  Joel explains the difference between hay and straw, important to know, but he also explains why you need to run your bales north and south instead of east west and that the strings on the bales must not be on top but run around the sides of the bales.  As they absorb water they expand and the strings are kept in place to keep your bales compact.

Pieces of straw are gathered into a bale and compressed with the flat sides of the straw showing on the surface and also the cut ends of the straw on the surface.  Turn the bales and examine them.

These are the cut ends.

On this bale you can see the cut ends on the top and the strings running across the side, around the bale, where the straw is flat.   This is the best was to have bales.  Cut ends on top, strings on the sides.

In some situations, it doesn't work out that way.  The strings have to run around the bale and so the flat straws end are on top.  Don't worry, use the bales this way.  It is more important that the strings be on the sides.  Please do not use hay, only straw bales.  This is non negotiable.  Hay will not work.

It is easier to use a sprayer to water your bales, the pressure of the spray dissolves the nitrogen and forces in down into the bales.

The reason I am SBG this year is because it is neat, raised beds, smart application of water, densely nutritious, extends the growing season because as the bales decompose, they emit heat, lots of new compost for the rest of the gardens when these bales are done, keeps roots warm and I could go on and on.

So how do we get started you can place your bales anywhere, even on your balcony, adapt it to square foot gardening, if you do that.  I decided on rows.  I haven't staked my bales yet but on the either end of our bale rows, you will want a vertical support, I'm using tposts.  Then a horizontal support that keeps the posts from bending inwards when you wire them.  I will explain this better in another post but you could probably find plenty of photos at that show you what I mean.

It's important to place your bales where you want them before you water them, because they get heavy once you saturated them.  You can install drip hoses with a timer or hand soak like I do, although I will be installing a drip hose system soon.

Then start your conditioning process.  I buy nitrogen from the fertilizer plant.

Bales in place?
Treat your bales with high-nitrogen fertilizer to accelerate the decomposition that is happening deep inside.
Watering for 12 to 18 days.
Cover the top of your bales with potting soil and plant your seeds.  The heat generated by your decomposing bales allow you to plant 2 to 4 weeks ahead of schedule.

You will need about a pound of fertilizer per bale.  It must not be slow release fertilizer and at least 20% nitrogen.  Fertilizer has three numbers on the bag and the first one tells us the percentage of nitrogen in the mix.  Do not use anything with a herbicide, weed killer or crabgrass preventer.  Use will use this on days 1 through 9 of prepping your bales.  On day 10 you will need a small bag of garden fertilizer 10-10-10.

Don't expect to see a pile of compost in 10 days.  The magic is happening deep inside.
DAY 1:  1/2  cup, 4 ounces, of fertilizer should be spread evenly over each bale and water it in.
DAY 2:   Water
DAY 3:   1/2 cup feltilizer watered in.
DAY4:     Water
DAY5:    1/2 cup fertilizer watered in.
DAY 6:    Water
DAY 7, 8 and 9: 1/4 cup fertilizer, evenly distributed and watered in.
DAY 10:  apply 1 cup per bale of the 10-10-10 and water in.

Buy your plants and seeds and plant on day 12:)

Soon we will have lots of veges and flowers and remember to plant in the sides of your bales too.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Knitting Alpaca

I've been knitting a lot.  I love homemade Christmas gifts and homemade birthday gifts.  I try to keep things simple and meaningful.

My youngest daughter Miriam turned 19 yesterday and so I made her fingerless mitts and a cowl.

The mitts were knitted with drop spindle, hand spun alpaca.  It was spun in Peru and it was like knitting with butter, so soft.  I love this pattern.  It is simple and fairly quick.

Thank you Staci for a simple tutorial too!  And for the original designer, Courtney, at

Now if I can track down some fibre from these😍

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Lovely Bees

I can watch the bees and chickens all day.  They are fascinating and so busy.  Today I closed entrances and narrowed the existing ones, one per hive, to protect them against robber bees.  I learned the hard way last year.

I gave them sugar syrup, now that the nectar flows are over, and then I smashed Yellow jackets.  I don't like Yellow jackets, they eat baby bees, chomping them in half.  I'm not harvesting honey this year, I'd rather they keep it and come through the winter strong.  Maybe we will have honey next year:)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A little hike

Today I escaped into the wilds!  I needed to be energized and refilled.  Sometimes I start to feel empty and there is nothing like going to untouched places to be rebooted.  

I picked around a gallon of Rose Hips and enjoyed the company of a couple of young Robins playing in the bushes.  Did you know that Rose Hips have 50 % more vit C than citrus fruits?

Then I noticed the Hawthorn trees loaded with berries.  They are so good for the heart.  I'll go back and pick those later this week.

Such a beautiful color!

Almost in the middle of the second photo is a good shot of a thorn.  Make sure when you are identifying the Hawthorn that it has these thorns, and serrated leaves!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A New direction

This poor blog has sat dormant for awhile!  I've travelled quite the journey and have decided to write the truth about my life.  Not just the perfect stuff, with pretty pictures, and not a bunch of victim-type whining either, just truth.  The truth of living with depression and anxiety and confronting the days I'd rather not be out of my room, never mind the house, or our little farm, Heaven forbid!

I'm hoping that someone will understand someone else, because of what I write.  But mostly I'm doing it for myself.  I want to record for my children and grandchildren my life.  The comings and goings of a middle aged woman, a witch and crone, who loves being a wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister and child of Heaven and Earth.  For the most part I love living and finding ways to show respect and gratitude but there are days that are a struggle.  There are dark days when I wonder if the Creator, truly sees my panic and fear but I have learned so much about surviving the dark moments.  I want to share those too.

I am grateful for today.  That asparagus grows along the roads and is free for eating, that Clarabell, my sweet, rescued Jersey heifer, is happy with the red ball from the thrift store and that the swelling is down in my lip from my latest bee stings.  I feel today, feel joy, and I'm grateful for that:)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Asparagus season

I love asparagus, especially with my husbands homemade Hollandaise.  He is a wonderful cook and we have learned a few things about Asparagus.  Pick it and place the ends in water, standing up like roses, as soon as possible.  

Before you cook them, trim off the ends and add those to the compost.

Add to boiling water for 5 minutes and then strain.  Pour all that cooled, strained, green water, into the vegetable garden.  The plants love the vitamins and minerals in the water.

Remember that Asparagus is one of those plants that is very healthy eaten raw.  In fact, when you cook Asparagus, you destroy alot of the Folate, which combined with B12, helps to keep your brain healthy. 

Hunting for Asparagus, in the spring, is so much fun to do as a family.  We took two of our grandsons,a week ago, and they lay in the dirt in the neighboring potato field.  It is so rewarding to contribute free food to the dinner table and really lifts my spirits.  

Not only does it get me out of the house, really focused on the present but everytime I find an Asparagus spear, I get so excited, a great endorphin rush.  I smell the fields, notice the clouds, anything else growing, wonder how much more is edible!  It makes for a lovely outing.   

By the way, if you run into a Stinging Nettle patch, while hunting, and get stung, the juice from freshly picked asparagus, nips the stinging in the bud.    Or pick a Stinging Nettle leaf, roll it up carefully, spines to the inside of the roll and chew it thoroughly.  Spit the chewed Nettle into the stung area and it will stop stinging.

Gary's Blender Hollandaise

3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons of lemon juice or flavored vinegar, like Taragon
Salt and pepper to taste

Blend for 30 seconds in an upright blender

Bring to boil, one stick of butter, a half cup.  Dribble the butter into the blender, while it is running.  If you want pour the thoroughly whipped Hollandaise into a bowl, and using a whisk, add another stick of boiling, melted butter.  This makes a really thick Hollandaise. 

 I promise you that this recipe is to die for:). It is also wonderful on Eggs Benedict.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Jacob's Valentine's letter

Dearest Gente,
Wow, this week was a little crazy. We worked super hard, but the hardest thing this week, was finding new investigators to teach. We had a total of ZERO this week. So please pray that we will find the people the lord has prepared for us.
Well not much happened this week. We Taught a english class on Wednesday. The members were super excited! But it was difficult. I realized my English isn`t what it used to be. I am typing super slow!
This week we have been expiriencing Carnaval. Here Carnaval is a weekend that they have just to have a reason to drink and do "dances" in the street. Fortunately, we don`t have to see the dances in our part of Hernandarias. The paraguayans have a tradition of throwing water balloons at whatever person happens to be in throwing distance, luckily they don`t do it so much around here. I think people see us and think we are gonna pull a gun on them or something. I was actually looking forward to getting wet. ¡De Mesiado calor Hace!
On saturday we went to help the Sanchez/Gomez Family clean the church. I told them that if they got my companion wet I would bake them a cake. Within 10 minutes we were all wet. So, I started a war, and this morning I cooked baie lekker pudding. :) They are in love. I didn`t get to try it :P
Sunday we had half of the Torres Family come to church, so they wont be getting baptized this week, but next week hopefully we will be able to have a baptism!
This week will be me and Elder Palmas Last Week together. We have changes the 22 de Febrero.
Sorry there are no photos this week. I am having problems finding batteries that my camera doesn`t absort after 2 pictures. :)
I Love you All!! Be good! Remember who you are!
-Elder Jacob Sevy