Finding Zen

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The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul. 

– Alfred Austin

When I first become a single mom I realized that I had to become more creative if I wanted to live a healthy life, while still spending the majority of my time with my then unborn daughter.

I am very stubborn, and I knew deep inside of me that there must be some way to not have to work 50 hours/week for someone else, like I did at the moment. One of the changes I implemented in my life was to learn how to grow my own food. What I didn’t know was that I was going to love it so much. Gardening quickly become part of a more zen inspired lifestyle.

 

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I have always believed that you are what you eat; mind, body and soul. My ultimate dream is to have a small homestead, and be as self sufficient as possible, producing the majority of my family’s food myself. I’m working my way towards that goal, by growing as much organic produce as I can, and by continuing my learning process about how to do it (by reading, doing my own garden, and helping out at farms in my area.)

Right now I’m learning more about propagating trees. I’m homeschooling my daughter, and one of our current projects is different ways of growing a new tree from cuttings. We’re currently trying three methods, similar, with slight differences.  The purpose with this project is to see which method, of these three, that produces the strongest roots, and healthiest plant, in the shortest amount of time. You can read more about the background to the project, and the different methods here.

We worked with the most experimental method yesterday. The only one that I had never tried before. I found a video about this method of fig propagation in a plastic bottle on Youtube. I just had to try! Follow the link and watch the video. It’s a couple minutes, and pretty awesome. Basically you take a big plastic bottle, cut it open, put it around a tree branch, close it with some kind of strong tape, pour some soil in, and keep it moist.

We started the bottle a month ago. I’ve been poring some water into it every morning. I haven’t done anything else, since I started it. Yesterday I cut off the branch that the bottle was attached to, and opened it.

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I could see some roots inside of it before cutting the branch, but it was difficult to see clearly what was going on in there until I opened the bottle. I clipped the tape with some scissors. This is what I saw.

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I have never seen this much roots after only a month, with any other method.

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I planted my new tree in a pot, that I had prepared with organic potting soil. I am expecting the tree to be in shock for quiet a while, since it’s basically a branch that I cut off. With all those roots, I feel that there is a big chance that it will handle that shock. What the video didn’t tell me was, wether I should of taken the leaves off, or just kept them. I was unsure of what to do. There is obviously more work for the tree to keep the leaves. I will leave them for now, but I might carefully rip them off later, if the shock for the tree is severe. What would you have done? Leave the leaves on? Or gently take the leaves off?

The surrounding mini fig trees was cuttings, planted directly in small pots, the same day as I started the bottle fig tree. If you visited the initial post about fig tree propagation, it’s the red pots in that post. I recently repotted them in bigger pots.

It’s 6am, and I better go outside, before my horse Ghost wakes all the neighbors. He always starts calling for me at exactly 6am. It’s time to enjoy my favorite time of the day.

This is part of a Garden Galore link-up party. Feel free to join in, and get inspired! Happy Gardening !

 

Love,

Ms Zen

Weekend Coffee Share

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Imagine. You’re sipping coffee under the big fig tree, in the center of my back yard. The birds are singing away. The last of the roses in the rose garden are still smelling as lovely as ever. The horses are neighing their welcome, as they see you walk in. My dog gets up from her regular place next to me, to give you a greeting suitable for a most important celebrity. Why don’t you come on in? Take a 15 min break out of you busy day, and have that amazing dark liquid rejuvenate your soul. I have all sorts of tea as well, if that’s sound more appealing. Sitting down for a while sounds pretty good, don’t it? You know you’re dying to tell me about your week. 

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Pomegranate trees in my container garden.

How is you week? Spring is in full bloom? My favorite time of the year. I think I might say that about every season, depending on where I am, but it is true every time I say it. I usually feel like it is the best day ever (one of my daughter’s favorite phrases right now,) every day when I wake up. The weather is perfect right now, around 85 degrees. We’re having a high of 103 later today. yeah..it’s here, the heat. We had the first three digit day earlier this week. I’ve been spending  a lot of time organizing in my vegetable garden since that first really hot day. My garden has two fenced in areas/rooms. I prepared the container part of the garden with extra mulching, so that my plans and trees will be able to handle the heat better. They all got a layer of used tree shavings, from the barn. The container garden area, is closest to the house ( and closest in the photo.)

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The area furthest away, has plants planted directly in the ground. With one small exception, of kitchen herbs in containers. This is what the garden looked like 6 weeks ago, when I moved in to this place. I’ve done all the work by myself, by hand, with help of my 5 year old daughter.

My garden is organized by the amount of sun hours that each plant needs, and by age. Have you tried succession planting your garden? In my area, the gardening season is long, and I hugely benefit from succession planting. It helps keeping my garden in harvest, and producing all through the growing seasons. I’m sure there’s as many ways of doing this as there are gardeners. I practice three varieties of succession planting;

1. Crops that only harvest one time, gets completely cleaned out after harvest, and replaced with a new type of plant. The space will not remain empty.

2. Some crops like different types of salad greens, I plant a few seeds every two weeks. In that way I have fresh greens longer. (Until it gets too hot to grow them here.)

3. The third method is similar to the second method, but more extended. I use it for plants like tomatoes. I start all my tomato seed indoor in March/April. (I only grow my vegetables from seeds. I never buy seedlings to plant.) During April-June I plant the seedlings I raised outside, with a few weeks intervals. My upper garden contains the tomatoes that I transplanted first. They are planted directly in the ground, and will produce the first harvest. This is the biggest harvest, of around 30 tomato plants. Planted within three weeks of each other. In my lower garden, I have big containers with tomatoes (among other vegetables.) The containers are just planted this week, and are tiny at the moment. When my harvest in the upper garden is finished, they will start producing. I mainly apply the third method to tomatoes, and squash.

If you have a garden, do you have a method to maximize your harvest? As silly as it may sound, the harvest is not my only priority. I know that there’s things that I could do to work less, like install a drip system for watering my garden. I have done that in some gardens I’ve built. However, when I don’t hand water every day, I miss so much of what’s going on. I enjoy the process, even if it’s not the most efficient. Our weather is extreme and changes fast. I’m more in control when I water my garden every day. I notice the little sign of distress, or need of one thing, or another. I don’t use any chemicals, or pesticides, which forces me to be on top of the game with pests. I need to notice all the little bugs before they get to established. What’s your thoughts? Do you enjoy the convenience of having your garden irrigated? Or do you prefer watering by hand? I definitely see pro’s and con’s with both methods. 

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Mini corn field, with tomato plants in the background.

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The fig tree cuttings I planted  almost a month ago, got repotted in bigger pots earlier this week. 

There’s a wonderful peace settling in between my horses, Fancy, and Ghost. From time to time Ghost is a little rascal, and chases Fancy around, but for the most part it’s very peaceful. I couldn’t be happier. They both have glossy summer coats. I’d like Fancy to gain a little more weight, and muscle up, but that’s going to take time. Her hooves can only take light work at the moment. Slowly she’s tapping in to her potential. Fancy is showing more and more of her personality. She is a highly intelligent horse. More so than I thought in the beginning. I’m starting to see a more powerful horse. A horse that still chooses to be gentle with my daughter. This new discovery only makes her more valuable in my eyes.

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This is a close-up photo of Fancy’s face. Fancy has two swirls/whorls/cowlicks close together, placed high up in her face, far above her eyes.

Many knowledgeable horsemen, along with several recent studies, show a connection between a horse’s personality and the pattern/number/placement of the swirls in their face. I do believe there’s something to it, and have compared all the horses I’ve been in contact with for the past 7 years, after I first heard of this. I’ve also studies photos of my favorite horses prior to the date I read about this, for the first time. All my favorite horses throughout the years (30+,) all had two swirls a little above their eyes. Interesting, don’t you think? One swirl in the middle between the eyes is much more common, and indicates a stabile, kind, predictable horse. Swirls that are higher up in the face usually belongs to high energy horses. Up until now Fancy have been the fist exception to the rule, or rather, I have not seen her personality in full light until now. Which makes perfect sense, since she wasn’t herself when I first got her, due to prior neglect/abuse/starvation.

Many Grand Prix horses in both dressage and jumping, and successful eventers have very high, side-by-side double swirls. This type of double swirl seems to give the ability to hyper focus. These horses are challenging and gritty, like most double swirl horses, but the ability to hyper focus and not back down from a challenge can be an asset in professional hands. The side-by-side swirls do give the horse access to both sides of its brain in a flash, ‘wickedly fast thinker’ is a description often given to them.

– Charlotte Cannon, multi-World Champion trainer, who learned the study of Swirlology from NSBA Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Stanford.

Fancy has that kind of hyper focus, is a fast thinker, and is gritty.  I see more and more of this every day, as she is gaining strength, and health. If you’d like to read Charlotte Cannon’s study, I recommend this link. It’s a very interesting read.

Ghost and I take it slow, but we’re going forward. He seeks my company more and more, and I have been successful in letting go of my expectations. He is growing a lot. Arabians, and mustangs mature later, and it’s not unusual that they keep growing until they are 8 years old. He’s a cross of those breeds. I’m thinking that with the quality feed he gets now, he might make up for some growth he missed earlier in his life. Most of all, it is a pleasure to enter the pasture every time. I was going to finish this post with a flying photo I took this morning. That is rather spectacular, if I may say so. However, a bird sang in my ear that tomorrow’s Sunday Stillsis going to be Fur and Feathers, so you’ll have to check in tomorrow to see it 😉 LOL. Or (hint..) you might be able to catch a sneak peak on Instagram.  

Any fun plans for the weekend? I’d love to hear about them! Would you like another cup of coffee?

Love,

Ms Zen

Easter

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I hope you Easter weekend was filled with peace, love, joy, and gratitude. Hopefully you got to spend it with the special people that means the most in your life.

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I decided to have our Easter Egg Hunt indoors this year, and then spend the afternoon hiking. My daughter is not spoiled with material things. We live a rather minimalistic lifestyle. It was pure joy to hear her laughter, and see her surprised face, when she opened some eggs that had little toys in them, instead of candy. She did not expect that.

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She just couldn’t believe her eyes. She believes that the Easter Bunny is the one who brings the eggs. Naturally we had to write him thank you notes. We wrote them on balloons.

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She decided to bring two of her new toy animals on the hike later. She danced her way all the way up to Whiskeytown Falls. The trail is about 3miles out, and back. The way up to the falls is pretty steep on some places. The difficulty of the hike is rated as a moderate. We’ve done the hike many times before, it is a very beautiful hike.  This is just one of the four waterfalls in Whiskeytown National Recreational Area. Crystal Creek Falls, that I visited last in February this year, is close by.

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Picnic next to the falls. I usually try to time this hike when I know there won’t be so many other people on the trail. Yesterday there was a lot of people. Still beautiful though.

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My German Shepherd Gretchen was a little frustrated that she didn’t get to have any off leash time. I did walk next to the water, so that she could get in, she is crazy about swimming. She wasn’t quiet content with that. Dogs are allowed on this trail, but only on leash. Along with all the people we met, there was lots of dogs on the trail.

The hike back is mostly downhill, and it feels like a breeze after hiking up to the falls. My daughter initiated counting different things. Things we saw in nature, like lizards, and plants, and also things she were grateful for. Laughters and smiles dominated the weekend, something I am very grateful for.

Have a wonderful new week!

 

Love,

Ms Zen