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This time of year brings so much joy to my days…. just knowing that the temperatures are increasing daily along side the daylight hours makes the anticipation of the vegetable growing season so much closer to us.  I can honestly say it was never an unacclaimed dream of mine to be someone who grows their own fruit and vegetables yearly but happily so that is what i have become.

Gardening is a very therapeutic activity (and slightly back braking too) and for me, it fulfills my spring and summer days with sheer enjoyment. Simply watching the very seeds you sow over time grow miraculously into seedlings and plants and then fruit and vegetables is a wonderous marvel i will never take for granted. It feeds my soul to be apart of Mother Nature in this manner.

I didn’t have vegetable growing parents although they both made sure we were always surrounded by nature in our homes and activités with them during my childhood. However, my Granddad from  my mother’s side (who died when i was wee las) had his own allotment and grew the majority of the families food supplies… i believe it was during the times of “victory Gardens” after the World War II. He is the only ‘Green Fingers’ connection i have in my family roots to my knowledge.

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Although i take great pleasure in creating our yearly vegetable gardens, i am without a doubt still very much so a Novice in this gardening melarky. I learn from mistakes and each year brings new methods/ideas/tips and experiences all of which  are in abundance on line and from books and magazines so i feel i progress slightly with each season.

Having said that, i wanted to share with you a little ‘ bio-degradable’ seeding hack i have used which works pretty well. Seeing that we eat our Fresh Chicken and Duck eggs daily, i simply keep some of the shells for potting as you can see above. I also keep the rest of the egg shells and dry them, then crush them and half are fed back to the Hens and Ducks for protein and calcium and the other half i mix in with our used coffee grains which provides a superb soil fertiliser.

This coffee and eggshell mix is wonderful for deterring blossom end rot and diseases on tomatoes…These issues arise due to the soil lacking in calcium and can’t absorb water as well. I tried this mix out las year and had 100 % success rate with all of my 125 tomato plants in comparison to the disasterous Year before when i didn’t know about this handy tip. P.S. banana rinds are great for this too.

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I have already decided what i want to sow and plant this season and set out the packets ready for  sowing…. I never expect all the seeds to germinate and grow so i am always over zealous with planting seeds at this stage…. we’ll soon see what survives won’t we…. part of the fun in my books.

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Whilst i was at it, i also planted out some herbs into my little ‘Herb Corner’ just outside the green house/seating area…. i love using fresh herbs daily in my cooking and even during the winter i keep an ‘indoor’ herb garden going for this very purpose…. i plan on having a fair few ‘herb corners’ in the garden this summer and this was the first to be planted so far….

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Herbs are an easy way to start off home veg gardens and can be adaptable to city gardens or even window seal gardens…. If you are into cooking then I’m sure you have already ventured into home grown herbs already….but if you haven’t, i highly recommend starting….it is so rewarding and fulfilling to incorporate your very own freshly grown herbs into your food regime. Have fun with it.!!!

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It is quite hard to believe we are in March already as it seems January and February simply flew by. Having said that though, i can honestly say i am enormously delighted to see that Spring is appearing in parts of the garden and, fear of sounding a little out there….. i even ‘Feel’spring is in the air.

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Blossoms are determinedly growing on the fruit trees and despite the harsh gale force winds we are having at the moment… they are strong and persistantly ‘hanging on in there’ so to speak.

Flowers are popping up scattering the odd snippet of beauty and splendour around the dull, muddy , lacklustre garden. It all brings a smile to my face as i walk the dogs (and Chloe the kitten of whom follows us everywhere too) around our land.

My father always told me ‘February will always be the hardest month of the year…. no matter what your occupation or lifestyle…. you will always experience a level of February Blues’. How right he was – I miss him dearly and i still can’t believe that it is already 5 years since his passing – he was a very wise man and he ignited my love of nature from a very young age. I know in my heart of hearts that he would’ve simply adored our Homestead and equally so our lifestyle…. it is such a shame he never saw any of it.

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With the (slightly) longer days and milder mornings and evenings…. it is wonderful to see Mother Nature waking everything up, slowly but surely …. Bulbs are producing vibrant and fragrant blooms for our pleasure and each day we are witnessing more and more insects coming out of hibernation and waking up for the season of growth and beauty.  I have even had the pleasure (and honor) to witness 3 differing flocks of birds flying in a V over head coming home from their migration destinations over winter…. Something wonderous that even Hypso sat next to me and stared up with intrigue at the huge long V  formation flying up high above us….

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The arrival of any new season always portrays a level of hope, change and promise for the up and coming months …. but for me the most precious and inspiring change of seasons is this of winter into spring. It feels like the New Year in the world of nature. Our New Year is January….. Natures’s New Year is Spring.

 

img_3578 During the winter months, the vegetable gardens can sometimes look a little sad and down beaten, but nonetheless miraculously Mother Nature is a wonderous force and from time to time, we get to harvest a few veggie goodies for our dinner….

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Even Chloe was intrigued by the latest pickings it seemed as you can see above. It may seem like slim pickings, but seeing as it’s just the two of us, this will do nicely…. Also, each year when i plant my wintering vegetables, i Never presume that they will actually survive the winter months let alone grow enough to be harvested and enjoyed, so this bundle of goodness warms my heart no end.  Forever grateful.

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Winter also brings in time for reflection and analysis for myself and our systems of progress and advancement here on our homestead….. it also helps to have morning sunrise views like thus above…. I see the sunrise every morning during the winter whilst letting the ducks and chickens out for them to start their day…. this is the real deal, no filter needed… i quietly reflect, give thanks and salute the sun rising so eloquently then i too go about starting my day.

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For those of you that may not know…. I am a planner and i journal daily. I am an avid believer that by doing so my efficiency on the homestead is increased ten fold….not forgetting the therapeutic affects as well (there’s just something so so satisfying when you get to tick off the tasks on your ‘to do ‘ list at the end of the day.)

The winter months allow more time for us to plan out and set our yearly progress goals for the homestead… to take time out occasionally (and be in the warmth of the indoors) always fills me with contentment and knowing i have focus on ideas and inspirations for the future months and seasons gives me a peace of mind too.

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….. See…even the Chickidees take time out to reflect when the weather is blurghh.

 

 

Micro Greens

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During the winter months it can be more difficult to obtain the necessary nutrients, vitamins and minerals in our foods than in the summer months where vibrant nutrient dense fruits and vegetables can be abundant to us. This of course is in occurance to eating seasonally.

However, we have been indulging,like many others, in this wonderful nutrient full food staple of Micro Greens. They are so simple to create ….lets face it…Mother Nature does all the hard work here….and can enhance any savoury meal time during the cold harsh winter months (and equally the warmer months too of course) and supply us with an abundant amount of minerals and vitamins all within these tiny little sprouts.

We tend to sprinkle a small handful over our meals, be it over our morning breakfast freshly laid eggs or over our lunch main meal hot or cold or even over our evening soup or salad and lighter meals.

Like i said, they really are very simple to produce…. and germination seeds themselves only cost a few Euros a packet at your local organic shop.  In the picture above you can see Alfalfa greens and sunflower greens starting to sprout. This picture made me chuckle due to the alfalfa greens being so forceful (and ready to be eaten) that they are pushing up the lid.

I recommend investing in one of these germer tray tubs (which only cost about 15 euros or so) as they make for growing micro greens extremely simple…. all you have to do is place your seeds in each layer tray, rinse with water daily and they do the rest…. obviously the more sunlight and warm environment they get the quicker they will produce. Now that the sunshine is making appearances more often, i tend to place the tray out in the sunlight during the daytime to help them along and that most definitely speeds the process up no end.

The moment we harvest these trays worth of micro greens and store in the refrigerator we start a fresh batch …. allowing us to have a continual supply for all our mealtimes.

Go ahead, give it a go… you’ll be pleasantly surprised and if you have children this is a great nature  activity you can do with them that show them all about nature and food growth etc.