Greenhouse



Another haiku because I know you enjoy them immensely. Ahem…

We made lasagne

With our own tomato sauce

It just tastes better

Keith taped a New Hampshire Chronicle episode about hydroponics. (On a small side note, Keith met Fritz Wetherbee at a restaurant a few years ago. Woo. Brush with stardom! Someday we’ll tell you about meeting Flava Flav in the airport!) There’s a place down the road in Hampton Falls called Tomato Joe’s Garden Supply where Joe sells hydroponics supplies. Methinks this might be our answer to the fungus problems we’ve been having (on the plants, people, on the plants! Sheesh.)

In Are We High…Tunnel? I told the story about my parent’s nursery in Vermont. They used to lease one of the plastic greenhouses to a guy who grew lettuce hydroponically. (I never really remembered that until we watched this episode.  Look at me being being all sentimental.) It looked like a big production, but I remember him saying there were fewer bugs. Hm. Could this be our solution?

I plan to check this shop out immediately. While wearing a wig. And sunglasses. And paying with cash. And parking my car three stores down and walking over. Because it is a hydroponics store and it is being watched via satellite, I am sure of it. (You know. The MAN. Shhh.)


DaisyPatch Farm.

Thanks to Mrs. Cheever’s neighbors, there is now a law in North Hampton that, with less than 4 acres of property, we can have, “…no more than 12 poultry per lot and…husbandry of poultry that includes one or more roosters shall require a Conditional Use Permit as provided under subparagraph 4, below…

4.  The following process shall be used…

a. An application shall be submitted to the planning board…

b. Boring

c. The Planning Board shall conduct a public hearing for which proper notice has been given to abutters and the public. (Read…they notify our neighbors that we want a rooster so that our neighbors can come to the public hearing and dispute. Yes. THAT is what this says.)

d. The Planning Board shall have authority to impose reasonable conditions of approval that the board deems appropriate (huh?)

e. Boring, something about fees that didn’t make sense cuz no dollar figures were listed. Whatever.

f. Animal Density…something about best management practices for manure handling based upon the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture manual entited, “Best Management Practices for Handling of Compost, Fertilizer and Manure” (which shall, from here on in, be called the SHIT SHEET).

g. Burden of Proof. Blah blah blah stating you need to demonstrate and specify the manner in which the operation shall be conducted in compliance with THIS pamphlet and that rule and this law and that law AND to demonstrate that the Animal Husbandry operation shall not cause pollution, soil degradation, unreasonable odor, unreasonable noise and disturbance of the peace. (No mess, no smell, no noise, did you hear us? We said NO NOISE! Get it, stupid?)

ARE YOU F’ING KIDDING ME?

So, let’s say it all together, shall we? On three. One. Two. Three. “Thanks Mrs. Cheever’s neighbors.”

It makes one little homesteader-wanna-be consider just walking away from the idea of getting little cluckers altogether. (She folds her arms, sticks her lips out in a pout and stomps her foot. But I want an Ooompa Loompa NOW.)

Jaws set in determination, we figuratively stuck out our tongues, said, “Nana nana boo boo” and set out during the rainy (well, depressingly drizzly) Saturday of Memorial Weekend to look at chicken coops that were for sale in the area. (Craig’s List. It’s not just for massages and murders.) (Ok, that was wrong. Very wrong, but I am laughing so hard I had a coughing fit and so I think I’m keeping it.)

One was used and a decent price, but, well, a bit beat up (too hard). One was brand new, a guy custom built them, but seemed rickety (too soft). One was brand new, perfect size, shape and super sturdy. AND it was built by the Amish (juuuuust right). (I mean, thems good builders, right?) Alas, we have no truck. (Yes, we have no bananas.) So, it stayed at Agway and we went home. We weren’t ready anyway. Homework. I must do much homework.

This past Friday afternoon, I came home after work and sat at the breakfast bar. DaisyMae was quite happy I was home and would NOT leave me alone. So, without even taking my post-commute-pee (it’s a 50 minute drive I’ll have you know), I grabbed the orange soccer ball and tried to walk without tripping on the INSANE dog as we headed out to the back yard, asking Keith if he wanted to come play with us. You know, bulldog in the middle. It’s a great game. Also, Keith and I could walk the yard and plan on where the coop could go.

Several minutes of soccer passed (DaisyMae is a very good guard), and I noticed sticks and leaves all through the yard from the windstorm the night before. Why Keith was filming this little game of ball was beyond me, but I thought I’d share it. Click here.

I have the best hubby ever.


My February doldrums haiku…ahem…

Have the stomach flu

I’ve been knitting and **ting

For the last 2 days

Yup. I thought I’d bring you, my gentle readers, into my hell.  The 6 foot high snow bank (no lie) is a bit shorter and there are actually patches of ground for DaisyMae to use as her “spot.” The wind today is pretty gusty and although it looked a bit nice out earlier, I, alas, have been stuck inside. This stomach bug is just not fun. Rice, ginger ale, water and saltines have been my chosen menu for about 46 hours while I stayed home from work yesterday (sparing my co-workers in my day job from my condition) and alternated between sleeping (having snoozed only 2 hours the night before) and knitting a new hat for myself and, well, just plain bitching about how crappy I feel.

I looked outside at our garden, still buried under about 3 feet of snow and wondered how soon it will be before I’m digging again. We had our sundried tomatoes in a neat little vegetarian dish last week. What will we be eating at this time next year (can you tell I have food on the brain? The bland diet is just so, what’s the word? Boring?) We plan to have the greenhouse completed, so will I finally be able to trudge out and pick greens even though it’s Winter? Will we have canned or frozen enough veggies to eat throughout the year? Gosh, I hope so. I like that we still have some things left in the pantry and freezer: 1/2 bottle of maple syrup; herbs; ketchup; tomato sauce; sundried tomatoes; garlic; green beans; carrots; shallots. I was hoping we’d be able to use our veggies in at least every home-cooked meal throughout the non-growing season. We’re not quite there (sometimes, you just crave spaghetti with parm and butter and nothing else), but we’re pretty close. To take my mind off my misery, I thought I’d share…here’s that neat little vegetarian dish (a bit modified from the original which was something we ate once and tried our best to copy).

(Without measurements. Use the force, Luke.) (There! She did it again. She stuck in a Star Wars reference in her gardening blog. HOW DOES SHE DO IT?)

Pie Crust for 2 pies

About a cup of sundried tomatoes, boiled until soft, then drained and pureed.

1 can of artichoke hearts (unmarinated). Drain and chop.

Roasted red peppers, chopped

Shredded mozzarella

1 container ricotta

Grated Parmesan

2 eggs

Heat oven to 350

Put 1 crust in pie plate for pie bottom.

Spread sundried tomato paste on bottom of crust

Mix ricotta with 1 egg, some ground pepper and some grated parm (you know, like lasagne) (We are low sodium here in the DaisyPatch household, so feel free to add a pinch of salt if your taste desires, but try it without, there’s enough flavor in here, you migh be able to skip it.)

Spread ricotta mixture on top of tomato paste.

Sprinkle (ok, pour) shredded mozzarella over ricotta.

Layer on chopped artichokes.

Layer on chopped red peppers (scarce, or you’ll be dying of heartburn 2 hours later, TRUST ME!)

More mozzarella (can you ever have too much?)

Put the other pie crust on top and, using the other egg that you’ve beaten with a fork (and called a few names because it doesn’t know its place and didn’t listen to you like good eggs should), brush the egg over the crust.

Bake in the oven until top is golden brown.

Enjoy while I go make myself some rice. (OH! and Keith just poured himself some of our favorite wine! This is torture.)

~By the way, you can subscribe to this blog if you like. I won’t mind. This way, when I update, it will get emailed to you. I don’t sell the email addresses or anything.


My end of season haiku…ahem…

Yesterday was it

The gardens have been torn down

Choking a sniffle

I wonder why I’m so emotional about wrapping up the back gardens. Methinks several reasons. When the beds are so buried in snow that you would never have known they were even there, will I have a purpose? I mean, sure, my life has purpose, but I’ve had such focus for the last several months that it has become routine and, routine is well, comfortable. I actually liked coming in sore in the afternoons – that means I worked – toward something. Why is it so different than any other year? We’ve had gardens for years, what’s the difference? Well, they are bigger this year, that’s for sure. We also had a goal in mind with them – to produce as much food for the two of us for the present and to store for the Winter. Is that it? Now that we have done what we can to reach that goal and there’s nothing else we can do, I’m at a bit of a loss. I know I can plan for next year, we’re definitely going to make a lot of changes in what we plant, where and when.  I guess I just need to redirect my focus toward another goal. I’ll work on that.

 Meanwhile, technically, we didn’t tear down all the gardens, just the back gardens next to the greenhouse. We have a small surprise happening in the Kitchen Garden. You see, it’s all about zagging. Huh? Follow me on this…We had a small snafoo with the greenhouse. We ran out of greenhouse plastic when putting it on, so used cheap-ass plastic and it ended up getting sort of crispy in the sun this Summer. So, the good plastic goes over the top, we have fiberglass weatherproof board and a door on the back of the greenhouse and, well, nothing on the front. It was that cheap-ass plastic which has since ripped off/been torn down. Since we don’t have a truck to get more fiberglass, we’re waiting until BFF Roy can spare a day to come help (guy works a lot, bless him. If you need a Harley, we can put you in touch with him!) Meanwhile, it is mid-October and I should have the greenhouse plants planted by now. But, with no front to the greenhouse, that wasn’t going to happen. So, instead of zigging, we had to zag. (Did I mention learning lessons this Summer?)

I ordered some items from Gardener’s Supply (again, they’re not sponsoring me!) and have planned some low tunnels for the Kitchen Garden. The boxes arrived and sat in the kitchen for several days. Once Keith discovered my master plan, he took it upon himself and put it all together for me.

Mesclun mix (before)

Hoops are in.

With the frost cover

 

1 1 /2 beds done!

Hooray! So, since we weren’t able to plant Winter greens in the greenhouse, we’re going to try them like this. Technically, the Frost Blankets make it to 28 degrees, so I’m being realistic, but I bet we’ll b e able to extend the season a little bit anyway. But, we’ll mostly just be harvesting, there won’t be much weeding or planting. So, back to my purpose for the Winter…It needs to be something challenging, realistic and gives me the feeling of accomplishment. Maybe I’ll knit my first sweater.

We’ve had cold nights as of late, but our NH news station forecasts warm days up into the 70’s and nights not dipping below mid 50’s for the next week. When days were warm recently, Keith has had to come back mid-day and put the greenhouse sides up and open the doors so we don’t bake everything.

So, we are gearing up for a big day. We’ve decided to get everything out of the greenhouse and into the garden. That is over 200 plants!

Stay tuned for before and afters. I am bright and chipper now, energized by the smell of the banana-chocolate chip mini muffins I have in the oven right now, but I expect both of us to be a little beat up by supper.

Ok…Muffins? Done. Crocs? On. Hit it.


I am so full that I had to change into sweatpants. Tonight’s dinner: Burgers with beef from Normanton Farm. Each burger had a slice of Cabot cheese and bacon from Popper (if you haven’t checked out Popper’s Sausage Kitchen, you MUST!)  Topped with some of our Arugula and lettuce and Appledore Cove’s Chipotle Lime Ketchup. Num num. Local (well sort of, Vermont isn’t within 50 miles). Oh, and the bun was from Nissen bakeries – also New England. Hey, check us out, Barbara Kingsolver!

So what the hell? It is mid-May. I know, I know, my parents always told customers to not plant anything until Mother’s Day. Well, that was last weekend and we’ve had some 34 degree nights and lost a few seedlings in the Chef’s Garden to the frost. We’ve been shmucking (shlepping + mucking) the tender plants into the basement in the evening and out to the greenhouse in the morning in order to try to protect them (yes, before and after the DJ-Day Job).

As you can see, things are getting quite big.

I left control plants of peppers, basil and a husk cherry in the greenhouse to see how they fared each night. We did well – a few ruined leaves, but the flowers hung in there. Whew. So, it hit 34 degrees again last night and everything did fine. I buttoned the house up, putting blankets in the doors where there’s an air gap and we haven’t lost one thing. As a matter of fact, we have flowers.

See the little husk cherry already forming?

Buds on a tomato plant.

The lettuce and arugula are doing well in the Chef’s Garden. The bean sprouts are pretty dead, however, and the edamame was hit by frost so badly, it looks like it was regurgitated. The onion, planted a few weeks ago, seems to not have changed a bit. I know I’m impatient.

It’s just that I am anxious to get everything planted outside. It’s strange, actually, how often I think about our little Patch during the day. I ordered business cards with our logo (Daisy in the daisies) and somehow find a reason, just about daily, to force them on someone – usually some unsuspecting non-gardener who probably couldn’t give a crap but says, “Really?” and so, sounded interested. Poor soul. Here’s our card.

This is a good place to thank my wonderful non-gardening friends for their readership and support. I am sure that reading about slugs, worms, bat shit and tomato (ooh, just pulled a “Dan Quayle” by spelling that with an “e” at the end. At least I was smart enough to delete it. The snotty-spelling-bee-kid in me was just completely disgusted with myself for that) flowers must bore them to tears, but they (thankfully!) read my posts and comment with gusto.

The Gig Girl who quit her, “full-time-full-salaried-full-benefits-with-a-big-girl-office-and-even-a-window job” to be a stay-at-home Mom and is exploring home-based income opportunities in the process (with much humor and wit!) and Gillis Marketing who jumped with both feet and no swimmies into the world of SMM (no, silly, Social Media Marketing) where she tries to educate (dare I say, ‘enlighten”) others in the process. Here’s what she says, “Join me as I learn, communicate and educate my colleagues to use these tools. Join in the discussion… Consider this your therapy, your reality check, your informational portal. I feel pain – you may feel it, too.” Both very bright women who know their stuff.

Tonight’s lesson kids? Eat local, shop local and read local. You’ll feel better about your food and possibly support your sweatpant-wearing neighbors in the process.


It feels warm. It feels like SPRING. We are anxious to get the 250+ plants in the ground. Folks, these are not seedlings, these pots range in size from 4inches to 1 gallon and our tallest tomato plant is already 3.5 feet tall, tied to bamboo stakes.

We moved them all outside into the greenhouse. With typical New England Spring moodiness, Mother Nature has given us 73 and 48 degree days, back to back. So, greenhouse sides have been up and down more often than that guy and that dog on the YouTube video.

So, now we’re debating. Things look very GREEN outside, but we’re expecting 38 degree nights early next week. Do we plant or keep them in the greenhouse for another week? I think we’ll keep them in the house. The problem is, they’re tipping over and many of them need to be repotted. Grumble. I was hoping to avoid that.

 At least the big ole grow light in the basement is off. I mean, it was on a timer, but that baby had been going since February. I went outside and watched the electricity meter turn as flashes of that scene in Christmas Vacation went through my head. It was slow, but there it was – spinning up the bill. So much for going off the grid. Hopefully we’ll figure out this greenhouse thing and be able to start plants in there next winter. You know, use Mother Nature and all…

Dinner tonight…beef shanks, herbed wild rice with our garlic chives and parsley and a yummy little salad with feta cheese and lettuce/arugula seedlings I thinned from the Chef’s Garden. Yum.

Oh, by the way, this video (click here) just made me cry. I am such a sap.


I’ve been mucking in and out every morning and every night putting a blanket on our lettuce seedlings. They’ve been surviving pretty solid frosts. Upon waking up this AM, I was nervous, the outside temp said 33. Uh oh. Donned the mucks, took of the blanket and they are JUST FINE.  Huh! Look at that, they ARE cold weather crops. Whoda thunk it? I think with the greenhouse cover and maybe a little heat (the good neighbor gave us a used wood stove), we definitely can have lettuce all Winter if they can make it through a 33-degree night. Sweet.

So, the mushroom thingy decided to give us mushrooms. Well, one mushroom.

It looks pretty good, actually.

And it isn’t small. It is bigger than the palm of my hand.

I wish I had a better camera to be able to show the gills underneath. Oh, I looked it up, ‘gills’ is the right word. Who knew?

Okay, okay, a better question is…”Who cares?” Actually, as we plan(t) for our future, I realize that I do. I plan on spending some time researching vitamin and mineral content of our crops  (ooh, farmer word!) so that maybe we can get nutrition from the backyard, not a bottle of supplements.

Exciting update: 69 garlic bulbs are doing VERY well. When we harvest them in June or early July, I plan on reusing the garden bed for a quick crop (there it is again!) of something before planting garlic again in the Fall. I wonder what it’ll be!

Stay tuned, I’ll make my Thai Spring Rolls using that mushroom and put up the recipe.


Keith and Roy worked quite a bit on it the last few weekends and we are proud to say that Greenhouse #1 is up. No thanks to me. I’m still recuperating from gall bladder surgery and feeling the effects of the surprise kidney stone that decided to come for a visit a week after the surgery (insert low growl of frustration here).

First they put the plastic up and over.

The day was a bit breezy.

Then they had to tack it down.

You can see in this picture that Keith has been building more raised beds to go in the backyard…and yes, that fire pit still has to be moved.

While taking pictures, I came upon this little scene of PunkinHead (Keith calls him DumDum) and Betty. Note DumDum’s foot is OVER Betty’s neck. It was too cute NOT to include. Yes, Betty is still alive (she is 12.5 years old and technically, not even our cat).

Then this past weekend, Roy and Jen came over to do a bit more work. Well, Jen kept me company, Roy and Keith worked. Then, we took a break.

I’m happy to say that, despite the chilly day, with the sides rolled up, it was pretty nice inside. Below is a pic of the greenhouse all done. Note, the fire pit rocks have been moved.

It’s 7:30 at night as I write this post and didn’t realize until now that I hadn’t taken a picture of it, hence it is a little dark. But who cares? Really, the freeking thing is up and even has a few plants inside. It is supposed to get to 41 degrees tonight so we’re testing it out. The sides need a little bit of work. You can see they’re pinned down with a board. We plan on attaching the sides to steel pipes that can be rolled up and down kind of like a roller shade. This will help cool the house on warm days (65 degrees today and, with the sides up, it was pretty darn warm in there today) and ventilate.

Yes, it’ll get hot in the Summer. We don’t really want it for the Summer. We want it for the Winter – to have lettuce, spinach and other cool weather crops all Winter long. We want it to get a jump on Spring – we have over 200 plants in the basement right now and have had that grow lamp going constantly since January. I want to get off the grid, baby.

So, needless to say, we’re excited about it. Shall I admit now that I’m terrified? I just did. There are many reasons why. Is this an expensive experiment that’ll just turn into a storage shed in 3 years? Am I going to turn all the seedlings we’ve been nurturing (and eating, I used some Basil yesterday) into crispy sticks in our new backyard magnifying glass? Is it going to blow away in the next freakish windstorm? (If you aren’t from New Hampshire, let me just tell you that the last few windy storms have registered gusts up to 93 miles per hour 2 miles from here! I sat in the living room at midnight and just watched the balsam tree in our front yard, willing it to NOT fall into the house. It did not, thanks to my powers!)

I did mention early on that we were trying to start a backyard farm. Trying. Try. That means “attempt.” But you see, I don’t like to fail. I know, no one likes to fail, but I have this real weird fear of it. I know all the sayings, but it doesn’t change a thing. I don’t want this to NOT work.

Now, the DaisyPatch has seen some failures which I will admit here. The Verminator did not work out. For some odd reason that even makes me shake my head at myself, I was just fine with a bin full of worms in the basement. I was NOT fine (and neither was Keith, he did the dumping) with a bin full of worms AND spider eggs in the basement. FULL of spider eggs. (I just involuntarily scratched the back of my neck, may you feel the same creepy-crawly ickness that just took me over. OK, now I itch all over. Damn.) Shudder. Yeah, that bin got dumped in the Not-A-Compost-Pile.

The tray of Arugula microgreens did not work out. It didn’t have any drainage and we kept it too moist and it turned from a nice promising tray of seedlings to a strange, fuzzy tray of mold. Bye Bye. Into the Not-A-Compost-Pile.

More failures. The tobacco seeds didn’t grow. Now, we don’t smoke and we weren’t planning on smoking, but we thought it would be kind of funny to say we were growing tobacco. Nothing funny about them not starting.

The last failure that really pains me to admit – Some of the Guano burned the plants. WHAT! Your beloved bat shit BURNED the plants? Yes, you see, we got 2 different strengths of Guano and, well, more is better, right? AH, no. Some of the plants got greener and some of the plants got a bit crispy. They still have stems and like, maybe a leaf, but everything else on the plant (we’re beyond seedlings downstairs, some of these plants are in gallon pots, they’re so big) is a bit on the crusty side. Wish us luck as our shit-stricken plants get nursed back to health.

Somehow, these little failures don’t bother me. I mean, the fact that a bucket full of worms (and, bluh, spiders!) is no longer in my basement doesn’t make me lose sleep at night. The fact that some seeds didn’t make it, whatever. A few plants got too much shit…not a big deal. It’s the fear I can’t keep up with the whole program that gives me worry.

But, I have faith. Faith in Keith, faith in myself and faith in the greater being that is the two of us combined. We have a togethergoal. (That is now a word, I may use it again and you have my permission to use it as well.) This plan just evolved and, somehow, become OUR plan. The feeling that gives me squashes the fear, not all the way, but enough to have made me smile just a bit while I was typing.


I realized it has been over a week since I posted. I’m feeling a bit under the weather – literally. It has been dumping rain for several days now with hurricane force winds and I haven’t been feeling like doing much at all. Bleh. On a calm morning last week, Keith put landscape fabric down in the greenhouse and small stone on top of that, we fastened the rails and would like to get the plastic up. The only way that is even a possibility is if the Wizard of Oz winds calm down or else I can just envision our little friend Jen just flying away as we’re trying to lift the plastic over the frame.

Sad news – we had crop failure. I was looking forward to trying the Arugula microgreens, however, we had them too wet and they turned to snot in the growing tray. I plan on trying again. Soon.

Why haven’t I replanted them? or planted the Edamame? or worked on where we’re going to plant the 50+ Husk Cherries? Bleh. The first day of Spring is Saturday, but I don’t feel like I’ve seen the sun in weeks (I did, last Saturday but that was SO long ago).  Bright clothes for Spring are blinding me as I turn the pages of magazines. No interest.

My girlfriend made me promise that, before we buy one piece of lumber for the chicken coop, Keith and I book a vacation. We haven’t even gotten around to doing that. My sweet husband bought me a little pot of Gerber Daisies. The flowers died and so did the flower buds. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?!?

When I lived in Vermont, they called this, “Mud Season.” It is Bleh Season and I’m putting a stop to it. I’m taking back sunshine, taking back good mood. I’m leaving for the day job now and picking up some flowers on the way. Tomorrow, I wear pink…

and book a vacation.

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