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{The Homestead Garden} Asparagus Planting – It’s a Jungle Out There

I hope all you mamas out there had exactly the weekend you wanted! Happy Mother’s Day! 

It’s Monday and I feel like I’ve been hit by a train. Apparently weeding a garden that has been left to Mother Nature for almost 10 years is no small feat. But, we’re making some serious progress and I’m not regretting undertaking the crazy project. Well, I’m not, but my back (and legs, and arms, and abs) might be. If you missed the first post in this series, click here to start a the beginning of The Homestead Garden.

Before we dive into this, here’s your daily reminder to vote for our photo in the Steamboat Then and Now contest. VOTE HERE: http://bit.ly/1W2WBPt

CQrSnTAccording to my handy dandy weekly to-do list I created based on what my Garden Planner told me, this week was for prepping and planting the asparagus beds and clearing the beds for peas, onions, and fennel.

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I’m just seeing the note about clearing the pea bed today, so … clearly that didn’t happen. But aside from that, we made some great progress! Over the course of the last week, I bought asparagus and onions to plant, cleared and planted the asparagus beds, cleared the onion, beet/fennel, and kale beds, and started building beds. Oh, and I completely redesigned the garden for the third time. Apparently I am really bad at using my steps to measure anything, so when I finally got out there with a measuring tape, my garden got even smaller. Here are the new plans – sketched out and then updated on my Garden Planner.

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Tip: I covered my garden map in a plastic sleeve to keep it from getting ruined in the garden. And, I used a dry erase marker to remind me of the planting specs for that day’s crop.

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Planting Asparagus

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Getting the asparagus in the ground was our priority because it’s supposed to be planted in early spring (May counts right??) and it takes two years to mature, so we didn’t want to wait whole year to start the process. I triangulated the tips from my Garden Planning Tool, my garden book, and the asparagus package and came up with a plan.

Plans

1. Pull all the weeds (that wasn’t in the book, I came up with that on my own #genuis #iknow).
2. Dig two rows of 5″-6″ deep trenches that were 15″ long which would accommodate ~25-30 crowns.
3. Test the soil – asparagus wants a high pH – between 7-7.5. 
4. Amend the soil if needed.
5. Put a layer of compost/manure at the bottom of the trench.
6. Place the crown roots down/crown up (you buy 1 year old asparagus called crowns) and spread out the roots. Plant them 18″ apart in rows that are at least 18″ apart.
7. Cover the asparagus with 2″ of soil.
8. Water.
9. As the asparagus grows, cover with 2″ more of soil until you’ve used up all your soil.

And, here’s how the plan actually went down.

As I was weeding (and by weeding I mean forcefully hacking at the weeds with a hoe), I heard these squeals and was freaked out about what might be on the end of my hoe. Nothing was impaled, but this tiny little rabbit came stumbling out of the ground. There ended up being a nest of teeny tiny baby bunnies in my planned asparagus bed. TimTheFarmer advised me not to touch them because our scent could scare off the mama. We guided it back into the nest with some sticks, covered them all back up, and hoped the mama would come back and move them. I weeded around them last weekend and when I came back Saturday to start digging, the nest was still there and all the bunnies were dead. 🙁 Despite knowing these bunnies would eventually come back and terrorize my garden, it was still super sad. I loaded them up on the shovel and took them into the woods. #keepingitrealfolks 

AsparagusThe bunny is still alive here…be glad I didn’t show you the shovel pic.

To add to the feeling of being in wilds of the jungle, I was seriously pulling out 8′ long vines from under the entire garden. Between the vines I fought with and the manually dug trenches, it’s no wonder I feel like I did after that one time I tried surfing (except for the full body chafing from the surfboard … so there’s that #brightside). And, because I was deep in the wild jungle, I was startled by this little guy when I went to pull the tarp off the fence to load up more weeds. I’m confident my next sighting with be a cheetah. 

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I was able to get the kiddo off his phone for 30 minutes by enticing him with doing our soil testing. A chance to dig in the mud, but not actually have to weed? For sure! It turned out our pH is perfect for all the other veggies we’re going to plant, but not alkaline enough for asparagus. So we picked up some lime and as I dug the trenches, I mixed it in to both the bottom of the trench and the dirt I was piling up. I used a regular shovel to dig the trenches and at first I was wishing we had a pick axe because the width of my trenches seemed overkill, but once the asparagus was in there with it’s roots spread out, they were perfect. Oh, it was raining while I dug the trenches … that asparagus was getting planted come hell or high water. 

Asparagus4Note: I was NOT intoxicated while digging these trenches. It’s hard to dig a straight line! (I should have put the twine up first)

TimTheFarmer brought me pig manure home from the farm (that might have been my Mother’s Day present??) #thankshoney and I laid it down in the trench. I went light with it  and mixed it in because it had some shavings in it. For the record, I have no idea if that matters … don’t forget that I’m making this whole thing up as I go. I then got to work spreading out the crowns.

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I planted them ~18″ apart, covered them with 2″ of dirt, and watered them in. Fingers crossed I didn’t completely blow it at some point of this because that was a TON of work for a crop we’ll harvest in two years! Now, on to the rest of the garden we’ll actually get to enjoy this year.

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Here are the question marks at the end of the process, which we’ll answer as the asparagus starts to grow:
– How quickly can you change soil pH? Will the lime be enough for the asparagus to thrive?
– Is old pig manure mixed with wood shavings an adequate compost/manure?
– Did I plant the asparagus too late in the spring?



{Thrifted Finds} Estate Sale Reality

I’ve never been to an estate sale. They always sound too fancy. Guest what? They are. Well, mostly. 

I was lured in this weekend thanks to a local Facebook yard sale group. They posted the estate sale and there were some cool (read: funky, old. rusty, shabby, unique) pieces I was interested in.

First up, this patio set. We need a table and chairs for our deck and I loved how funky and old this was. I was totally picking out the color I would spray paint it on my way to the sale. Who else would want this rusty, weird table??

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Second, this old armchair. I loved the upholstery color and am looking for our living room/entry that continues to prove challenging to design.

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Third, these rugs. I need some rugs that aren’t the obviously-Target geometric ones I currently have i.e. grown-up rugs.

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I got up super early on Saturday to ensure I was there when the ropes dropped so I could definitely scoop up the table and maybe grab the chair – I guessed the chair might be a little pricey. I got there promptly at 8am per the advertised Facebook start-time, and NO ONE was around. Umm…I looked at all the signs and they said 9am. I rechecked the Facebook group which I’d checked before I left at 7 and it now said 9am…she changed it last minute….what the heck?!? So, I drove to Home Depot to peruse the electric lawn mowers and pick out the spray paint I was going to paint my new table.

I returned at 8:50am and people were already milling around. Oh no! My table would be gone! I made a bee-line for the patio, passing the rugs on my way. I did a quick price check – they were all at least $150. Ouch! And, noooo way!

I made it to the patio and the table was even cooler (funkier, rustier) in real life. I located the price tag. Guess how much it was? As a reminder, this is what we’re looking at:

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$500?

Not even close! $1000?

Nope. 

$1525. Yes. You read that right. $1525 for an old, rusty table with a FAKE slate top. Apparently it’s a collectable, vintage set according to eBay. #thanksebay

The lurker guy sensed my disappointment, told me that the seller would be open for negotiation, and asked what I’d been hoping to spend. I told him my max was $200. He said, “Well, it never hurts to ask.” Which is usually my motto (at work), but I highly doubted she’d drop the price by $1300. I was beginning to worry my 45 minute BCOD drive was going to be a waste of time, sleep, and gas.

Ok. The chair. Maybe I’d have a chance there. I finally found it (after passing a few more too-expensive rugs) and …. $300. #notgonnahappen Ugh. 

I decided to do a more thorough tour of the house and see if I could redeem this trip. I noticed some AMAZING vintage orange duck-patterned curtains. I can’t even describe them (in my excitement—and confidence she’d sell them to me—I forgot to take a picture). They were so tacky they were awesome. Do you know what I mean? I have no idea where I’d put them, but I needed them. I ran back upstairs to ask the price on them and she wanted $100. Seriously!?! I can’t believe anyone would pay that much for old, tacky curtains. At that point, I made her my offer on the table and she told me I could leave my name and number and she’d call if either item was still left at the end of the weekend. #shesnotcalling

books

I did one more pass through and spent some time at the bookshelf. I discovered a stack of skiing books from the 30’s. They all have personal notes in them from the authors to the homeowner, calling him a champ. They are SO.FREAKING.COOL.  As a former ski instructor, it’s amazing to see ski technique from 85 years ago. It turns out the owner was a Cornell and Dartmouth grad, was on their ski teams and avid skier, and also a doctor. He just passed away, but was a skiing champ in the 30s…he must have been close to 100 years old. I keep wondering what his story was?? 


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There were also some American Heritage cookbooks from the 1960s, which I couldn’t wait to look through. I stacked the 8 books up and knowing she wanted $5/per book, planned to negotiate. 

I peeked in a back room and saw an armchair in the perfect 60’s-era mustard yellow-green color I love. I expected to have my heart broken by the price tag, but it was only $50! I sat in it, it was comfortable. Ok! This day wasn’t going to be a bust.

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I put on my American Pickers bundling hat and went out to negotiate. Her offer was $40 for the chair and $40 for all the books. I pulled a Frank, summarizing what I was buying and offered her $60 for all of it. And I got it! 

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Moral of the Story #1: Unlike yard sales, Estate Sales have fancy stuff that will be priced appropriately. Otherwise they’d call it a yard sale.

Moral of the Story #2: Taz approves of the chair choice.

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Moral of the Story #3: The goal should always be to match your library to your decor. đŸ˜‰

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{Friday Favorites} Girl Power Edition

Women rocked it this week. This week’s Friday Favorites are all about strong women and beautiful things. 

Nashville Floor

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As I recapped last week, I LOVED visiting Nashville. Great food, great music, great history. It’s also seen a boom in recent times and as you walk down Lower Broadway there’s an interesting mix of old honkey tonks, new honkey tonks trying to look like old honkey tonks, and restaurants with some amazing interior design. I mentioned we visited Acme Feed and Seed, a newer restaurant/bar which really nailed the vintage warehouse look. Merchants, however, was my favorite for interior design and is in a notable hotel that which apparently put up many music legends over the years. I think I’d call their look ‘vintage glam Southern diner’ — that makes sense right? How amazing are those floors?!

Kelly Rippa

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I don’t watch morning TV, but I have always thought Kelly Rippa of Live! was a tiny little powerhouse. She got a lot of flack last week for taking a day off to process the news that her long-term employer kept her—the headliner of the show—in the dark about Michael Strayhan’s move to Good Morning America. Everyone was waiting to see how she handled her return….and I thought she nailed it. She took ABC to the woodshed as much as she could and I hope that she inspired other women in the workplace to stand their ground, demand a seat at the table, and expect respect. Huge props to Kelly #strongwomen. You can watch it here.

Etsy Goes Solar—On a HUGE Scale

A former student of mine who used her capstone project to propose an innovative strategy to take Etsy towards 100% renewable energy—including it’s shipping AND makers—announced last week that Etsy is moving forward on adopting this strategy with a goal of being 100% renewable by 2020. Guys, this is a HUGE initiative because many companies in e-commerce don’t look past their own facilities when considering clean energy when shipping and production are often their biggest issue, but Etsy is taking responsible for its entire carbon footprint and will work with it’s makers around the world to install solar systems on individual homes to work towards carbon neutrality. Congrats to Chelsea and Etsy!! 

After the Rain

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I stopped by Rose Hill Farm to see TimTheFarmer and as we were chatting on the amazing wrap-around porch, we got pinned there by an absolute downpour. It’s the kind of porch where you can sit there through a wild storm and stay completely dry – I loved sitting there! Then, as the storm cleared out, the light became absolutely amazing, looking out over the apple orchard and blueberry patch. Otis was clearly less impressed.

Lemonade

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I know everyone else is talking about this this week, but BeyoncĂ© dropped a bomb of a record this week. I’m so out of the loop that I had no idea a big album was coming out, but by Monday, after hearing all the hype, I was intrigued. I downloaded it and was blown away. If you take it at face value (and not a marketing ploy as some are claiming) which I’m choosing to do, it’s an amazing tour of her personal journey through infidelity and the experience of black women, “the most disrespected person in America”, to quote BeyoncĂ© quoting Malcolm X. The video that accompanies it is incredibly deep and thoughtful and emotional and beautiful (even at it’s darkest). Every track is something you’ve never heard before and explores all sorts of musical styles. It’s rock and soul and pop and hip hop and brass band. You’ve never seen this BeyoncĂ© before. She’s all grown up. And an aside, it doesn’t matter who ‘Becky with the good hair’ is … why don’t we look squarely at the man at fault here?

Ok friends, I’m looking forward to a weekend of gardening and tag sales. And you can bet BeyoncĂ© will be the soundtrack to my weekend :). Have a great weekend!