Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Plants Ate My Blog Post (and Other Excuses)

purple irises
Early blooming purple irises
Hello – J.D., Annake’s Garden Gnome here. Annake is taking a short break from blogging, but didn’t want to lose the momentum we’ve built these last few months; so, she’s asked me to jump in and explain what is presently occupying so much of our time and attention.

First, an apology to readers using our archived posts. Due to Google’s decommissioning of Picasa (in favor of their new Google Photo application), we temporarily lost connections to all the photographs for our older posts. It took some time and a great deal of work to restore those posts, but I believe we have pretty much fixed the problems. To be fair, it took longer than it might have because I took the opportunity to address some other issues that arose from changes made over the last three years by both Google (to the Blogger software) and in the way we use the platform.

Our archives are extremely important to us: unlike many (perhaps most) of the blogs on the Web, the majority of our content is never supposed to become obsolete. We always intended that our archives be a continuing resource for readers, old and new. We do not shut off comments for those archived posts, either; so if you encounter a problem or if you find our content useful – we want to hear about it!

On to other matters: as Annake mentioned in our 3rd anniversary post (February 29, 2016), we are now heavily involved in area farmer’s markets. The original plan (a year ago) was just to add another venue for selling our crafts; as things worked out, we discovered a market for surplus from the kitchen and herb gardens, as well as excess from the flower gardens which Annake has struggled to give away for years. So, in an effort to make the Garden more self-supporting (a notion expressed way back in our very first blog post!), we are expanding our horticultural efforts with commerce in mind. The pictures below show some of what we are doing.

Straw bale planting - growing crops in straw bales - is an idea that seems to have taken off in the last couple of years. Since we had a good local source for the bales (a fellow Farmer’s Market vendor), we thought we’d give it a serious try. In addition to the additional crops, we've thought of other benefits this method might provide for us, such as -

Planting deer-repelling fragrant herbs among the rose bushes: even the heavy wire cages you can see around the roses don’t keep the really determined beasts out, so we’ll take any help we can – even if it’s just depriving them of places to graze from;

A “deer maze”, to discourage pregnant does from birthing more fawns in the space behind the storage sheds;

A way to contain and rehabilitate last year’s compost pile: beans, squash, and chard have already sprouted in that rich compost, and we’re planning on planting things the deer won’t like in the straw bales that surround it.

And the straw bales are not our only additions. Here’s a picture of the beginning of a new perennial herb bed we’re putting in. Up to now, our herbs have mostly been planted among other flowers and shrubs in the decorative garden areas; our aging bodies and local demand convinced us that we needed something more, dedicated to herb cultivation.

We also erected a  temporary greenhouse so that we have someplace protected to store plants we winter over in our permanent greenhouse, some of which have gotten completely out of hand despite the short days and cold weather...such as “Big Red,” the geranium shown in our last anniversary blog post or these potted herbs below.

potted herbs
Rosemary (left) and pineapple sage overflowing their pots; lawn sprinklers show scale

House plant starts
House plant "starts"
The space we’ve cleared in the permanent greenhouse is quickly disappearing under new houseplant pottings, the result of other greenhouse occupants’ insistence on  propagating themselves right out of living space. These offspring are headed for the Farmer’s Market, as well.

So, that’s a partial list of just the agricultural pursuits that are keeping Annake away from the blog at the moment. 

Additionally, we are creating more craft stock, items that are variations on things Annake has discussed in previous posts over the years that weren’t different enough to write a new tutorial on;

And, Annake is planning several new series of tutorials that haven’t gotten to the project stage yet;

Oh, and we're planning to publish several short e-books - starting this summer - based on compilations of some of the blog post series Annake has already written, complete with NEW additional content, patterns, and projects that won’t be available anywhere else (oooh, I just LOVE dropping bombshells like that in passing comments!).

As you can see, we are kind of busy around here; which is why we don’t have a craft tutorial post for you this time. But next time, we will - so keep watching!

jinx irises
 Small "Jinx" irises blooming away in the Garden
 Creative Commons LicenseThis post by Annake's Garden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.