Baby Bunny

Baby Bunny
bunnies in the garden mean trouble for plants!

This ‘cute’ little rabbit is one of many that eat our gardens every year. When my flowers and hosta leaves start showing up on the ground because these evil little creatures found their stems ‘tasty’, well, let’s just say that having hawks, weasels, bobcats and coyotes around doesn’t seem so bad. ūüėČ


A Small Garden with a Big Harvest – Shade Vegetables – part 1 – Kales

One more step on the Journey Toward Increased Self Sufficiency.

¬†We decided to make the kitchen garden¬†a ‘manageable’ size.¬† The¬†part of the garden that is the focus of this post is a small area.¬†¬† For us manageable is defined as: easy for two people to maintain easily, close to the house, easily available water,¬†adequately sized to grow¬†a variety of¬†foods for us with some to share, with little to¬†nothing going to waste.

More about how the planning process in my post:

Question:¬† What to plant in this small¬†( 30″ x 48″),¬†shady area¬†along the north side of the chicken coop wall, the darkest area of the kitchen garden.

Answer:  Kale, or other brassicas.  I  planted 4 types of kale.

Most people can find an area this size in their yard, whether in the ground or a raised bed.  I think it would also do well in pots.  So far it is the fastest growing vegetable in the garden. 

It¬†seemed¬†like a small area when I planted it.¬†¬† Kale¬†has never been a regular part of our diet,¬† (until now of course).¬† We are ‘growing our own’ to increase our self reliance¬†as well as to eat more healthy organic food, while avoiding GMOs (genetically modified foods).¬† Now that the plants are ready for harvest, it is plenty, more than 2 people can eat as just greens for salad, so I’ll be exploring ways of preserving it.¬†

Kale belongs to the Brassica family, which includes cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, collards, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.    It is a leafy green, available in many varieties.

I am growing the curly, two ornamental and one ‚Äėdinosaur‚Äô variety.¬†¬†¬† I’ll soon by planting more.

Kale is said to be one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet.¬†¬† ¬†It is nicknamed the “queen of greens,” . ¬†¬†Kale is being recognized for its exceptional nutrient richness, health benefits, and delicious flavor.

Why grow and eat kale:  Kale may provide significant health benefits, including cancer protection and lowered cholesterol.

One cup of kale

  • contains 36 calories
  • 5 grams of fiber
  • 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6¬†(pyridoxine),
  • 40% of magnesium,
  • 180% of vitamin A
  • 200% of vitamin C
  • 1,020% of vitamin K.
  • is also a rich source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus.
  • has antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K
  • has sulphur-containing phytonutrients.
  • contains carotenoids and flavonoids
  • has lutein and zeaxanthin compounds.

These are some of the reasons I am going to learn to cook, preserve and love kale.   Hopefully this will inspire you to try growing and eating kale yourself.  If you are already a kale eater, maybe you will share how you use it in your diet with me.


Thanks to Culinary Conscience blog for these great kale ideas.

Check it out.



Outstanding Shade Garden Perennial – # 2

Hosta 'Striptease'
Hosta ‘Striptease’

HOSTAS – Easy to Grow, Lots of Variety!


They come in an amazing array of colors, patterns & sizes.

I’ve been growing them for about 20 years. When we moved out to our home in the woods, where there are huge shady areas, we have really increased the number of varieties as well as the number of plants.

What they need:

Partial (early morning or very late afternoon sun) to bright shade. Hint: keep the blue varieties out of the sun, it causes the waxy coating that is the blue color to melt away. Ours are in moist soil most of the time, not soggy, but moist. They are very cold hardy.

Use them in pots or in the ground. They are impressive in large clumps, borders or alone.

Pests; these can be a favorite of slugs in very damp weather, I have also had problems with deer, I will throw a light net over the top from time to time to discourage them.

Add some hosta’s to your garden, Have some fun!

Candelabra Primroses

candelabra primrose – pink

Primroses are most often thought as spring bloomers,   but there are some that bloom from late spring well into to mid-summer.   I have several later blooming primulas in my garden, including several colors   of these candelabra types.  I have them in pink shades,   dark & light as well as some orange and yellows.  The dark pinks have been in the garden in several spots for several years and have naturalized beautifully.  The light pinks, yellow and oranges are new in the garden, so I don’t know how they will grow over time.

pink candelabra primrose

How they grow:  in our yard they grow in areas that have partial sun and very moist soil, almost all year long.  I have read that they are often thought of as bog garden plants.   We get down to single digits in the winter.  They have proven to be very hardy.  Like most primroses they can be divided, these are prolifically re-seeding.

Garden Art, Garden Jewelry

 Have fun and use your imagination when adding art to your garden.

This a fun little piece of jewelry.  I used a pin like this, right out of my jewelry box when we were tiling our shower 10 years ago.   I have always liked it and found this frog pin online a few months ago.

I bought it specifically to set into the concrete garden beds we were building.

There are so many ways you could use things like this.¬†¬† What’s in your jewelry box?¬† Take a look and Have fun!

the Ultimate Organic Free Range Sustainable Weed & Feed

At our home in the woods, weed and feed is a process, not a product. In addition to the 100% soy free, natural, sustainably and regionally grown, non-GMO, whole grain, feed that is packaged in compostable paper bags made from sustainable tree farms , that are printed with plant-based, biodegradable ink, (whew… that was a mouthful), we supplement our chickens diet with WEEDS. Our weeds are also 100% soy free, natural, sustainably and regionally grown, non-GMO, and un-fortunately for us, they are in constant and endless supply year round, and BONUS… they often have bugs or worms on them! ūüėČ (I think they eat healthier than we do)

Our chickens are only allowed supervised ‘free range‘ for their own protection. (see photo below.. ‘bob’cat tore the top open and ate 11 chickens last spring)

That’s why they are now living in the (almost finished) ‘chicken compound.’

So they are not out all the time. Supplementing with weeds not only makes them very happy, but reduces the amount of the very expensive 100% soy free, natural, sustainable…. feed that we buy for them. How about that? Now instead of an unattractive reminder that we haven’t (and never will) finish the yardwork, I’m trying to trick myself into believing that all those pesky weeds I see all around are a valuable resource. Those 6 feathered composters will turn those weeds into manure for the compost and provide us with healthy beautiful eggs.

It’s perfect! I WEED, THEY FEED! Win – Win!

Just one more reason for having chickens!

Concrete Garden Art – Stepping Stones

This is the pathway through the shade garden

A few years ago a friend and I took a class on making concrete leaf castings.  It turned out to be fun and easy.  Another friend showed me a wonderful path he had made with concrete stepping-stones with leaf imprints.  It was so wonderful that I have brought that idea to our yard (on steroids!)  in several variations.  This area has stones imprinted with hostas, ligularias and podophyllums.  It is so wonderful to have what used to be a muddy path transformed into an attractive path where we enjoy walking all year and our shoes stay clean.  We liked how this path turned out so well that now I am making about 30 more for another section of path we are developing.   Now I am teaching others how to make them.   Check out the link to the molded stepping stone.  It turned out very well and I will be making many more.