Is it hot enough for ya?

104° today, welcome to a Redding summer! The mild beginning with its thunderclouds and cool weather has certainly changed to the blistering heat we all know so well.

Watch those potted plants, it doesn’t take long for them to dry out.  As root temperatures get to be around 90°, they start to die, so any added stress from lack of water will only make damage worse. I usually do not use straight potting soil for my outdoor pots. I mix my own soil out of 50% loam and 50% potting soil for added water retention and insulating abilities.

My compost experiment is doing well. I have a blanket of compost/mulch from two to four inches deep composed of lawn clippings, garden waste, leaves, barn cleanings and anything else of plant origin.

Underneath the soil is still moist, and that is from the last rain we had! The bottom layer is starting to darken and decompose.compostjune gardenYou can see one of the compost beds, with bonus volunteer pumpkin plants, with the other one hidden behind the cauliflower. The walkways are covered with pine shavings that my neighbor brought over from next door. You can see his pile just peeking over the fence in the background. I’ve grown better overall gardens, but what I am growing is doing better than it ever has before, thanks to deep soil preparation and utilizing organic fertilizer and soil from the barn floors that has been drenched in animal droppings.

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footies on apples

I am trying something new this year. Rather than spraying my apples with pesticides to control codling moth, I bought a bag of ‘footies’ just for fruit. These are little nylon socks that fit over the developing fruit to prevent apple maggots and codling moth infestations. They were something of a pain to put on (nearly 300 of them!) but it will be interesting to see how the fruits come out–bug free!

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dry beans

Another non-pesticide method of insect control I am utilizing this year is Tangle-Trap spray on yellow surfaces. I have been using these yellow Solo plastic cups, but they are impossible to find in town, now. I did order some on the internet, however. Yellow is the color that attracts many insects, and after it has been sprayed and set out in the garden you will see it fill up with bugs, fast. I am also experimenting with yellow paper plates. Above are some of my dry beans with a sticky cup. Below is a close up of a buggy cup tucked under the squash.tangle trap

 

bugs on sticky cup

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These photos are for someone we know who loves bees! They make tricky subjects but I have so many at least some of the shots come out. First a honey bee on sedum:

bee on sedum

This one is on allium:

bee on allium

And this one is a carpenter bee, often mistaken for bumble bees. This lazy bee pierces tubular flowers (shown here on a wild pea) at the neck to extract nectar without having to climb into the flower! I worry about the injury and disease propagation that this sort of circumvention causes.carpenter beeBees must have been special, indeed. With no sugar available, honey must have been a prize to have back ‘in the day’.bee

 

If you are using the Ro-tape drip system, make sure you go out and drench your rows with a spray head on occasion, especially in this heat. The water will tend to drop down and not move to the sides, and by rewetting your row tops, capillary action will tend to draw the moisture out more than just down!

 

Yirmeyahu 9:23-24

23 ‘Thus says YHWH, “Let not the wise boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty boast in his might, nor let the rich boast in his riches,  24 but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am YHWH, doing kindness, right-ruling, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” declares YHWH.’

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It must be spring fever.

angelofrnt1heiferOh, my, look what followed me home! Honest!

It must be all the green grass that is coming up all over, it’s given me spring fever–I bought two calves.

I don’t know what possessed me to do it, nor am I quite sure why I invested in a heifer and a bull! They have a much longer investment return time frame than steers would be.

The price was good enough, and if the bull calf grows into his good looks, I will have made a good investment. They are both tame and I can scratch them behind their ears already.

I am hoping that my niece, Stephanie will be interested in helping raise these two cuties.

He is pure Beefmaster, look at that stretch! and she looks like Hereford/Beefmaster cross.

angelo

I have been agonizing over the water situation, and I have decided to grow a bare minimum garden this summer, and will heavily mulch the rest of the garden to condition the soil. This fall, I will see about planting a modest winter garden. I have so many things that pull at my attention right now, so perhaps a minimal of vegetable gardening will be best. I really want to try to preserve my ornamentals as much as possible.

tomatoes

I have put in my four tomato varieties, since I have already started them, here they are going in to the garden. Last fall this bed was dug down about 18 inches and backfilled with a mix of compost, limestone sand, charcoal from our burn pile, fertilmulch and organic fertilizer. Lets see if that helps the cracking and blossom end rot.

cauliflowrThe cauliflower seedlings are doing much better after their little styrofoam cup protectors went on, as you can see.

potatoesMy potatoes are coming up through their thick compost layer. They’ve been frost bit a few times, even just a couple of nights ago, but they’ll be back. I am going to grow them under cloth insect barrier this summer as an experiment.

Keep an eye on your tender plants, we could still have a frost that will damage them.

 ————WASPS ARE YOUR FRIENDS! (honest, they are!)———————waspprey

The wasps are starting to come out as the air warms. Unless they are right by your door or areas that you frequent, leave as many of the nests as you can. They eat a great amount of softbodied insects that damage your garden plants. This one has a chewed up caterpillar in her mandibles.

Did you know that almost all the wasps, bees, ants and hornets you see are female? There are few males and they usually die after mating with a queen. (sorry fellas!)

waspsnectaring

They will also help pollinate some of your plants, although they are not as likely to visit all blossoms like honey bees.

Enjoy spring while its here. The heady fragrance of lilacs and pinks fills the garden, and all green sprouts poke their sleepy heads out of the ground.

frontyard

Psalms 28:&7   “Blessed is YHWH, Because He has heard the voice of my prayers! YHWH is my strength, and my shield; My heart has trusted in Him, and I have been helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I thank Him.

holy-spirit-flame

Decisions, decisions…

tulip

The first tulip of the year heralds the coming season, spring seems about a month ahead of time, this year. With all the turmoil and change we know is coming down the road, it makes it even more important to stop and just enjoy the beauty popping up all around us. Water shortages, and the economy on a precarious edge make for some tough decisions.

Now that I am faced with the prospect of no water for my property, (other than bare minimum for ‘hygiene’ and cooking-as they say) I sit between spending some hard to come by cash for a well, or trying to wait it out and watch most of my place die. Had I been quicker on the ball I could have had a water collecting set up and taken advantage of all that free irrigation the thunderstorms left for me. I had water as much as five feet deep in spots–even that might have been able to be cached away

It’s made it difficult to get enthusiastic enough to keep up with the vegetable garden, and it has made me rethink how extensive it will be this year. I figure I can leave the tomatoes out, maybe some of the winter squash, I have enough herbs for a couple of years. I may only put in the bare minimum, like the carrots and summer squash, things I know everyone likes and I really enjoy having the carrots all winter. 

I am trying to patiently wait on Yah’s direction for these things. Seed can store for another time, and food is still plentiful in the stores. I even mulled over whether or not this was meant to be a shmittah year–what I have put in already is not thriving.  These concepts are all so new, it is difficult to embrace it all–it is like taking a crash course in a new culture, with lots of obstacles–in the way of ‘commandments of men’–ready to trip us up.

cupsBut, for now, I am trying to get some cauliflower going out in the garden. I put the tiny plants in very early, discouraged at the news of no water, and thinking perhaps they can mature before the hot, dry weather sets in.  Then, freezing temperatures and pounding rain took its toll, although they’ve been under row covers and the little plants are stressed and haggard, so today, I took the covers off and put the styrofoam cups around them. cauliflower

I pray for a sense of timeline, knowing what is a good investment of time, money and muscle, for we know what is ahead, we just don’t know how close it is.

Still, the countryside is coming alive, the bees are working hard on my old broccoli plants, I hope to get seed from them before too long. The birds are returning to my big oaks and the hawks soar overhead surveying their territory. The evenings are getting warmer and the air sweeter. Spring is sweet, indeed.

I can at least enjoy the gentle change of seasons.bee-on-broccoli

Psalms 107:33-38 He makes the rivers become a wilderness,  And the fountains of water become a dry ground; A land of fruit becomes a salty desert, For the evil of those who dwell in it.

He makes  a wilderness become a pool of water, And dry land become fountains of waters. And He causes the hungry to dwell there, And they build a city to settle in, And they sow fields and plant vineyards, And they make fruits of increase.

And He blesses them,  And they increase greatly. 

flowers_030

Your right to garden, to raise your own food, is threatened.

creeping

The clouds of darkness creep ever closer.

I have never been a particularly political person, indeed I have ignored the world at large, living in my own little world, quite content and satisfied.  The painful awakening to the perilous times we live in has made me aware of more than I ever wanted to know about the human spirit and its ability for greed, avarice and control. What faces us in the days ahead is frightening, indeed.

The thought that we could just sit at home and grow a bit of veggies to wait out the storm as it passes over us may be a pollyanna attitude at its most naive.

Not only has the state of California been hamstrung by the new draconian water rationing program implemented recently, but there is legislation to ban all small scale foodstuff production, including meat production, painting such a broad and undefined stroke as to potentially make even backyard gardens illegal. All in the name of keeping you safe. Slavery is freedom! (For the record, which the Record Searchlight is incorrect–Bella Vista Water District is allotting NO WATER FOR IRRIGATION. PERIOD. Add the 50% cut in household use puts us at a tiny fraction of available water to us. All fruit trees, lawns, gardens, pastures, animal troughs are not going to get WATER–now you will understand my grief!)

http://www.campaignforliberty.com/blog.php?view=12671

Please give some time to read this blog by Campaign for Liberty.  Pray about what you read. Pray for a clear direction to go, because we are going to be facing the spectre of our nightmares, soon.

Of course, this is the time to be on our knees, making the connection between YHWH and us strong and secure, through Y’shua.

ISAIAH 26:3-4–“The one steadfast of mind You have in perfect peace, for he trusts in You. Trust in YHWH forever, for in Yah, YHWH, is a rock of ages. For He shall bring down those who dwell on high. He lays the exalted city low,  He lays it low to the earth, He brings it down to the dust.”

storm 

 

planning, protecting and planting

While I tend to shy away from the overt worship and display of crosses,  I couldn’t pass up this image of a tiny alyssum plant growing in the grout of a brick walkway. This little bloomer was no more than 1/2″ tall.

livingastcrossroads

Isn’t it amazing how we can go from one weather extreme to the next, here in Redding. Up until a week ago, we were in the depths of drought, now we are awash in wonderful rain, and the mountains are covered with snow! I pray that Yah will continue to bless us with precipitation, no matter its form until we are caught up in our yearly level.

seedlings

Now, I might have jumped ahead a bit, but I already have some seeds started. I have broccoli, tomatoes, basil, castor bean and five o’clock flowers started in this flat.

You can purchase this growing set up at Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s or at many nurseries. This was a three flat kit that came with three waterproof trays, three seedling inserts of 72 holes each, and three clear tops to maintain humidity for about $9. I always punch holes along all sides of the clear dome with a hole punch to increase airflow.

I would suggest getting the best potting soil you can afford, but do not get soil that has fertilizer incorporated in it, like Miracle Gro. I use FoxFarms soils, which I get at Creekside Gardens on Twin View Blvd.plantstake If you have a screen handy to screen out chunks and lumps to make germination more even, you might want to do so.

Make sure you label your seedlings, putting a date on the stake will help keep track of the time until seeds germinate. You can make lots of inexpensive labels out of a broken vinyl window blind. The slats cut easily with a pair of scissors and they are easy to write on with a pencil.

I use these labels all over the garden, they will get brittle over time, but they don’t rot in a season like wood. If you have a heavy infestation of snails, the pesky gastropods can eat off the graphite, but you will want to keep up on control of these slimy pests in your precious vegetable garden before they have a chance.

rowcoverIf you want to get ahead of your cold spring season,  you might want to invest in row covers until the nights are safe from killing frost.

While you can order hoops from many nursery supply catalogs, I make mine from the stiff wire that is used in chain link fences, it comes in a roll that, when cut in half circles with bolt-cutters, is the perfect size and shape for your rows.

The cloth cover is cheapest ordered from places like Johnny’s Seed http://www.johnnyseeds.com/catalog/subcategory.aspx?category=292&subcategory=334   or Territorial Seed Company http://www.territorialseed.com/prod_detail_list/171 . But you’ll be buying in bulk, so for just a few feet of cover you may need to look around town.

I purchased mine from the now defunct Bracken Gardens, but call around, some of the nurseries might carry it. I have found this product helpful to maintain moisture levels in newly seeded rows, to protect against frost and even to provide some shade during extremely hot spells.

I do not use the metal pins to fasten the fabric to the soil as it damages the fabric, and I like to make this stuff last as long as I can. I use wood clothes pins to hold it to the wire hoops.

I’ve kept this material, using it over and over for nearly five years by careful care and storage. If it gets soiled, it can be washed in the washing machine on delicate setting, but don’t put it in the dryer.

In the image there are also two spots where I experimented with silver plastic mulch, touted to keep insects at bay from your  plants. I was unimpressed with this product and it was pricey. I don’t recommend it.

styrofoam-cupsAnother handy trick for protecting some of your larger seedlings is by taking small styrofoam cups, cutting out the bottoms and placing them large end down around your plant. Hill up the soil around the outside to hold them fast and the cups will protect your tender seedling from rain, insect and wind damage. Just pull off the cup after the plants have established themselves.

These seedlings are baby potato plants I grew from seed that set on my potatoes a couple of years ago. I ended up with white/yellow potatoes, like their Yukon Gold parents. Growing potatoes from seed is fun!

Let’s make sure we give thanks that our precipitation has been restored to us! I pray that the lakes will fill to the brim so we can water our gardens to nourish our bodies this year!sweet-peas

See you next Sabbath!

prep, prep, prep that soil!

Greetings in Y’shua’s Name, everyone!!

With this spring-like weather, there is no excuse for not being out there getting your garden ready! I know EVERYONE loves to dig in the dirt to exhaustion like me, dont’cha?  There is just nothing like sore legs, aching back and roughened hands that say you’ve ‘Carpe Diem’, Seize the Day!

Look at these miniature daffodils, already blooming! I think this is a record for them, the first of February.  All of my early daffs are starting to bud, the smaller narcissus having been in bloom for a couple of months, by now. Such beauty in such a small package.

dwarf-daffs

Last April, I planted a new variety of storage carrot called Rumba. Below is one of them, nearly a year later, still quite edible, although better when cooked (absolutely fabulous in pot roast!) I plant wide rows, instead of single rows, usually to the width of a garden rake, and mass broadcast the seed rather than putting down single rows. It takes a bit more seed, but with a few early thinnings with the garden rake, and some growth put out, the weeds are crowded out. Since you will be harvesting from this patch for almost a year, you can remove what you need as you go and still have carrots left over for later.

carrotI was disappointed though in that many of this patch ended up as little ‘thumb’ size carrots, perhaps from not thinning enough. It may be the variety, too, because the other main season carrot, Bolero, did not do this. To make sure the carrots have optimum room to put down their 8 to 9″ roots this year, I am going overboard with the soil preparation. You will not need this sort of dedication to soil prep for your other vegetables!

I don’t expect you to go to these extremes, but since I consider carrots to be one of the year-’round keepers that constitute the backbone of any survival garden, I’ve decided to go all out and dig down nearly 12″ (as shown below) to incorporate compost and organic fertilizer and to break up the rich, but sometimes very hard soil.

dig-carrot

I will be planting Rumba, Bolero and Merida carrots, plus an experimental patch of carrot seed I harvested last summer.  The Danvers type of carrots, like you will find at the seed racks work great, too. You can plant the bulk of your crop around April, as I did, or better–plant both in April and again in the middle of August.  The point is, to have something growing all year around so you have something to eat.

fertimulchHere is a yard of the Ferti-mulch I spoke about. It is available at Gold Leaf Nursery at 6186 Churn Creek Road, close to Anderson, by Tucker Oaks. Their number is 365-5383, but all you will get is a recording.  I paid about $26 for the yard. This is a super soil amendment I recommend, highly.   It lasts years in the soil and will break up heavy soil very well! Personally, I don’t think you can add too much organic matter to your soil, load it on!  

Irrigation. We spoke a bit about watering your garden. I have said it before, ‘irrigation is an art, in Redding ’.   Since we will be still in a severe drought situation this next summer, unless we are blessed by abundant rainfall by then, by the providence of Yah, we will have to use water very wisely.

Overhead sprinklers are the easiest and cheapest  to use, but are the biggest water wasters and will cause every weed seed you have to sprout–continually–all season.

Drip systems offer a more concise and water-conserving system, but by the time you buy the pressure reducers, the 5/8″ supply tube, the 1/4″ emitter line, the rain-bugs or other drip fittings, risers, the Els, Ts, Xs, connector and end hose fittings, and the pesky little hole puncher thingy that always gets lost ( a 14d nail works in a pinch), you’ve spent a bundle, and while it is indispensible in my perennial beds, I find it too cumbersome and pricy for the season to season, ever-changing layout of my vegetable garden.

Drip-Tape.  I started using this product last summer. I took a chance, went all out, and purchased a 500′ roll for about $95. While a pressure reducer is still a good idea ( you can work without it, just turn on the faucet a tiny bit.)  I found that I needed a minimum of fittings.  You don’t need the Ls, the end-hose fittings, the little tubes and gadgets that are necessary with the conventional drip system. 

You will need a fitting to attach it to a garden hose, and straight connectors and Ts which, unfortunately, drip annoyingly. You run a line a hundred feet and not have the water fail before the end.  You will need some 5/8″ supply tubing if your garden is large enough.

You can get fancy with your rows and set up a turn off valve to each row to fine tune your watering schedule, if you wish, but that will run up your costs. I utilize this method. I’ll show a picture of this later to assist you.

You can find all of this at J. W. Wood, 3676 Old Alturas Dr. in Redding, 222-0423 or Aamigo Irrigation Supply, 8693 Airport Rd., 222-8850.  Please note that these are not really retail stores, they are contractor’s supply houses. Their people are knowledgeable and courteous, but they are NOT Home Depot or Lowes, they are going to expect you to know what you need. They will be LESS EXPENSIVE than HT or Lowes for the 5/8″ fittings!!

Ask for the RO-DRIP by Roberts,  straight and T connector fittings and a ‘female hose end’ attachment’.  Tie off the ends with string or wire. 

During the hottest part of the summer, I had the water on two days, off one day, with subsequently longer off days with cooler weather.

Here is a 30′ (60′ overall) double row, watered with Ro-Drip tape:

drip-tape0

 

Flood irrigation. This perhaps my favorite, but unless you have ACID irrigation and you don’t mind all the weeding you will be doing with this method, I’d pass.  It is the cheapest, fairly easiest way, but most time consuming way to water without the access to canal water, but you could try making your rows lower than your walkways and building little berms around them, then using a aluminum soaker head, filling up the wells up until it is all soaked. Don’t use a bare hose end or it will wash away the soil and tear up your plants.

 

Careful monitoring of your soil moisture will be important, and if you can afford it, a nice 2″ or 3″+ covering of mulch would help a lot. I plant in such a way that the bare ground is covered quickly with leaves and green growth which helps keep weeds down and lessens the evaporation of soil moisture.  

  

columbine0

Well, that’ll about be it for now. Get those seed packets ready, dig in some compost and a good dose of organic fertilizer, rake it smooth…I’ll be back later.

Please remember, if you have a question don’t hesitate to leave a comment, you’ll find the link at the bottom, it will not show up right away (at first) but as soon as I see it I will approve it.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS OR LEAVE A COMMENT OR SUGGESTION! 🙂

why gardening is important right now

For such a time as this:

This blog is devoted to the preparation of believer’s hearts and minds for these difficult and exciting times-with the main focus on creating and maintaining self-sufficient gardens.

I have chosen the name ‘Gardening in Babylon’, because we live here as strangers in this world, waiting for the greater exodus to be called back once again, this time to be in the Creator’s presence forever.

May YHWH’s Name be blessed and Y’shua be esteemed through everything that is shared here, amongst brethren and friends, and may Their names be restored and found on the lips of all children of spiritual Israel.

~mitsy

swllwtl

 

As I tried to explain at our sabbath meeting on the 31st, I feel that it is imperative that anyone who has a patch of land should consider growing food, starting right now. If the current trend in our economy and society continues to erode, and if, indeed, we are in those final days before that great day of YHWH, then some incredibly difficult times may be in store for us all.

I want to repeat and expand on what I brought to you: ladybug

1. Soil. All soil benefits from organic matter. Even good, rich, bottomland needs organic matter incorporated into it, but especially our poor, exhausted, lateritic, red, heavy soil. (side note–laterite soils often occur in areas of exceedingly high rainfall, such as jungle and rainforest type climates, suggesting that the Redding area was once probably more like Washington’s lush rainforest!) 

I advise long acting composts like composted sawdust (Fertimulch–found at Gold Leaf Nursery),  Kellogg’s brands of compost, composted rice hulls, and for really heavy clay soil-gypsum, if you can find it. It is not organic material, but it will loosen up tightly fitting clay particles and make your soil more friable. Till or dig in about two to four inches of compost to at least six to eight inches of soil, the deeper, the better!

Steer, chicken and horse manure works well, and has the benefit of adding fertilizer nutrients, but will only be effective for about a year, in your soil. All manures MUST be well composted, or it will have the tendency to burn your plants and will cause scabbing on potatoes.

2. Exposure. Your garden needs as much full sun as possible, but afternoon shade from about 5:00pm on may be of benefit for the truly hot days. The less sun, the less the plants may produce. Lots of morning shade may be detrimental to your plants, as the sun will be already scorching when they pass from the protection of the shade. Still, you can work with what you have, whatever the exposure.

3. What to grow?  I strongly suggest that you be thinking of growing produce that grows or stores well in the winter. Carrots, parsnips, rutabagas, broccoli, beets, swiss chard, kohlrabi, cauliflower, winter squashes, pumpkins, onions, etc. can be stored either in a root cellar or in the ground. Some will need to be planted this spring, some will be planted in late summer.  Hybrid seeds will only come true the first generation, only open-pollinated and heirloom seeds will come true year to year, BUT, seed saved from hybrids may produce good food nonetheless, if you have them, save them! Also many seeds will keep, so if you buy a packet of seeds and only use a few each year, you may be able to have that particular hybrid plant, and enjoy all the vigor that hybridization can bring, for years. Keep your seeds COOL, DARK  AND DRY! Zip-Lock bags work well.

4. What can we plant, now? Peas (by seed), broccoli, cauliflower and kohlrabi (by plants) and  potatoes. The soil is still too cool for much else, and we can expect killing frosts for at least three more months. Tomatoes can be started indoors in February. While I said that curcubits (melons, pumpkins, squash, etc.) could be started early, too, I would wait another month or two, they grow fast and you don’t want to stunt them by lounging around in pots before it gets warm enough.

 

Here is my broccoli patch, taken in December. The variety on the left is De Cicco, an open pollinated variety that did just great this winter! The netting is to keep deer out.

broccoli

 

I will continue to build up the information on this blog, like seed suppliers, handy tips and suggestions. And, please, if you have a question or suggestion, by all means leave a comment! We will all be learning and be blessed from each other’s experiences!