Out of the dark & into the Garden
The weather here as of late has been less than my favorite. Wintry, cold, grey…occasionally a 70degree day tossed in just to remind us how much we love to be outside and having the windows open.

the oppressive grey.

Blah. And, even though it is so cold and icy and miserable we must plan for the spring, which is due to arrive at some point–this is North Carolina after all! Blue skies are destined to break through and sunshine will inevitably wake us out of hibernation. And, when it comes our garden beds and seedlings have to be ready.

So, it’s that time of year. Plant your gardens! Drew built us a larger greenhouse structure on the South Side of the house. It’s attached and should help warm the crawl space as well. That couldn’t hurt our power bill, which has been shockingly high for a 1200sqft house these past few months. One day we’ll have a more efficient wood-burning system, but in the mean time we are using a lot of blankets and layers…

looking for a GREAT Southern Gardening book? This is IT! I adore this book. I saw the author speak on growing garlic at the Carolina Sustainable Agriculture conference & picked it up then–you should order!
The greenhouse has 3 small trays of tomatoes in it. Turns out it’s WAY bigger than the last portable greenhouse and we are still working on ideas to make it an efficient place to grow out seedlings, keep some tropicals, maybe a rocket stove and grow in every season. Oh the vision of all-season-productivity we have!

While the ground is wet (and in between frozen) we managed to till up and terrace our south hill, where we cut down all those trees last year. We’ve run the goats, chickens and pigs through that area a few times to help root up the brambles, kill back some poison ivy and fertilize so we might be able to convert the whole hill to garden as time goes on. The terracing is swales on contour and represents permaculture at its best. The water that could potentially wash all the topsoil and nutrient down into the pond is now caught by our garden beds, sunk and used to improve our garden soil quality. It’s such a relieving feeling to know something is working to improve our garden without us lifting a finger! Granted, we still have a lot of work to do when talking about water catching–such is the story for folks living on a hill. But, it’s a vast improvement, and we have a much better idea of where the water is coming from and what we need to do to be more efficient. The end goal is to not need to water, and at the most have a few small ponds up hill to use so no one has to lug water up the hill or pump it.

these are not ducks; they are girls in the pond. they call this an ‘island’. whatever–i like girls who play in the mud.

We’ve planted some in the garden beds that are ready, but, only after we put a rabbit proof fence around it all. Though we’ve seen a few rabbits, our ducks are the detriment of anything we plant. If they don’t find a seed as soon as hits the ground, they gobble up any green thing that pokes its head through the dirt. It’s been a struggle to plant cover crops and even some plants we’ve put in the ground were ripped to shreds. Who knew? Somebody…

The fence is working, and the garden seems to be in the perfect spot–just beneath the house where harvesting and admiring will be easy. Give it a few years and I can certainly envision a more idyllic and less barren place. Rosemary, lavender (that’s right, I won’t quit trying), lemon balm, chives, chamomile…I can’t wait to get these perennials established. Feverfew, valerian, comfreys, some hedges and wildflowers…I need this vision today!

We planted veggies in the beds like peas, kale, carrots, swiss chard, broccoli, cauliflower, artichokes, spinach and more. So anxious to see some sprouting. I keep writing because in doing so I am feeling a little transported…

sometimes the sun shines from below…

Life on Schoolhouse Farm is busy and slow all at the same time. The house is under renovation which makes escaping outdoors even more desirable. While we convert the garage into living space we’re all feeling even more pent up and claustrophobic. The dust and debris is making us all sick, plus there are mounds of clutter and boxes and furniture all waiting to settle in its rightful place in this new space. It’ll be a homeschool room, laundry room, pantry…above all else it’s the ‘window room’. We installed 2 windows we scored at Habitat for Humanity and they are dreamy. I cannot wait to take a nap in a room filled with spring time. I cannot wait to feel the sun through the glass. I cannot wait to sit in a breeze filled room with the girls all working on their separate projects. This house needs that light, and so do I.

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