Thursday, May 30, 2013


Affectionately called 20' by the locals, this small gorge ten minutes down the road is our favorite spot to cool down after working in the yard all day. Riley and Fern were brave pups today and waded in the freezing cold water with us. There are few things better than a really good swimming hole on a hot summer night.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Weekly Etsy Wish List: The Garden

We've been pretty focused on the new garden this week, so I thought it appropriate to round up a few garden related items for today's Etsy Wish List. I'm especially loving the simple garden arbor covered with honeysuckle, and the bench handmade from wine barrel wood.

Garden Fence Photo $20 10 Slate Garden Markers $14.50 20 Heirloom Seed Packets $45
. . .

Organic Gardening Book $19.95 Wine Barrel Garden Bench $375 Organic Seed Tape $24
. . .

Copper Watering Can $27 Gardening Tools $18 Arbor Photograph $15

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Reading Greenhouse

With only about 600 people in our little Vermont town, the center of town is pretty small. We have a town hall with a post office inside, a general store, a small but beautiful library, an elementary school, and a greenhouse/farm market. That's it people. There used to be a hardware store, but the owner decided one day he was done, so he locked up and never came back to clean it out. The store still sits there, packed with inventory as if the doors might open back up for business tomorrow, and it has been that way for almost ten years. Behind the hardware store is a huge space stacked up to the windows with all manner of old stuff (and to me old stuff = treasure). I crane my neck to see if I can make out what goodies might be stacked close enough to the windows for me to get a good look every time we pass by.

But all of this is besides the point. The point is that I was completely blown away by our little greenhouse/farm market today when we stopped by today to pick up a few veggies to plant in our new garden. I have never seen the Reading Greenhouse at this time of year, and I am so glad I had my camera with me because this beautiful spot is definitely worth sharing. The store is made up of a number of greenhouses that you can wander through, and the soft white light inside the tents mixed with the aroma of flowers is just magic.

As if that weren't enough, the greenhouse also carries a great selection of wines, local cheeses, fruit and veggies. If you ever find yourself in Reading, VT during the spring or summer, do yourself a favor and check out the Reading Greenhouse at 786 VT Rt. 106, Felchville, VT.

*Note: This is not a sponsored post. I just really like the Reading Greenhouse :)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Building a Garden Fence, Part 1

If you told me a few years ago I'd be building rustic fencing and growing tomatoes I'd call you loco, but here we are. Last week we planted a small raised bed veggie garden, and our pup Fern promptly dug up the lettuce bed and ate a brussel sprout plant. We knew we needed to get a fence up ASAP, so on Friday we picked up 35 cedar posts from a guy on Craigslist, loaded them in the car, and hauled them home (please excuse my fuzzy iPhone photos).

Next we selected and cut a few small trees from our back woods to use for the fence rails.

And then we set to work measuring our plot and digging holes for the posts with a hole digger.

We used a sledgehammer to pound the cedar posts into the ground, and before long our fence was starting to take shape.

On Sunday the rails went up. We pre drilled the posts and beams, then used 5/16 x 5 construction lag screws that have a bronze ceramic coat to screw our rails into the cedar posts. Not everything is centered perfectly or exactly level, but we are telling ourselves that's fine because this is a "rustic" fence.

Here's where we're at right now.

In time the bark will peel off and the whole thing will turn grey as old wood does. It's not a professional  fence, but it looks right at home next to our barn. I was surprised to find that it already looks like it has been there forever.

This week we will attach rabbit wire to the back of the fence frame to keep the critters out. Once that's up we plan to add a gate and a small entryway arc. Eventually we will add more branches between the rails for reinforcement. Josh will also add two more raised beds to the left of the existing three for a total of five.

Our garden doesn't look like much now as our plants are still young and small, but I hope one day it will resemble the garden below. Isn't this the most beautiful spot?

That's all for now. Hopefully I'll be sharing photos of a finished fence and flourishing plants very soon :)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Scouting Looms

The loom I have been using is one that returns to a school at the end of each May for summer classes, so if I want to continue weaving it's time to buy a loom or find another loaner. Because I ultimately want to make larger pieces (rugs and blankets) the type of loom I need is large and expensive. A new loom can run $3-$4k, an amount that unfortunately I am not ready to spend at this juncture. And so I begin my search for used looms. Apparently there are a decent number of used looms around, but the problem is finding one in good working order. Many old looms have rusty parts that rub against the yarn, splitting it as you weave.

My weaving teacher has found a woman with a standing Navajo loom that is no longer in use. This may be a possibility, though the Navajo loom is much more labor intensive to weave on. Standing Navajo looms like the one below do not have foot pedals to raise and lower various combinations of warp threads, a feature that allows for faster, more efficient weaving.

The more efficient floor loom with pedals looks like this, and costs quite a bit more:

My homework for the next month is to track down as many used loom leads as possible and work on building a warping board in the meantime. A warping board is used to measure lengths of yarn, and basically consist of a rectangular frame with evenly spaces pegs. A 14 yard warping board like the one I will need looks like this:

At $119, these are not prohibitively expensive, so I may just buy one, but I've found a few plans for DIY warp boards that I want to check out first. The design is simple enough, but the trick is getting the correct spacing for the pegs to ensure proper measuring, and making sure those pegs are sturdy enough to withstand the tension of the yarn. The wood must also be extremely dry to reduce expansion and contraction with temperature and humidity.

At this point I've probably gone on long enough about looms and warp boards, but my point in sharing all of this is to explain why I may not have any pretty pictures of woven textiles to share for the next month. Until I find a loom, no weaving for me. Can you all do me a favor and keep your fingers crossed that I find a nice loom at a decent price sometime soon? Thank you and happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Planting a Garden

Having the space and time to grow food was one of our reasons for moving to the country. Josh has expressed on numerous occasions that if he could do anything in the world he'd be a farmer, so having land to cultivate is the ultimate dream for him. The raised beds by the barn were here when we bought the property, and because we are still working on the rock retaining wall for the originally planned garden space, we decided to use the raised beds to get a few things going in the meantime.

I enjoy watching the process, and seeing how passionate Josh gets about seeds that have popped or planning garden fencing, but truth be told I know nothing about gardening or farming. For the past 10 years I've lived in city apartments with no yards, and while I often wished I had a little yard for my dog and some space to work on projects, I actually never dreamed about living in the country, gardening, or working the land. Josh has been dreaming about this for years, though, and while it's all new to me, I am really starting to get on board with the idea of eating food that is free of pesticides, did not burn gallons of fuel traveling cross country to arrive on my plate, costs a fraction of the price we pay at the store, and tastes delicious. Growing food is hard work, but if you enjoy gardening and have the time, it seems like a win-win to me.

Most of the veggies we planted were grown from seeds in our basement over the winter. Josh devised a clever little self watering seed starter program, comprised of a grow light on a timer, a water pump to circulate water through grow trays, and some other specifics I won't bore you with now (you can read all about it here and here). The experiment worked pretty well, and before we moved the trays outside to plant, here's what it looked like down in the basement:

A few seedlings are still too small and delicate to bring outside, but we were able to plant black krim and cherry tomatoes, green kale, a variety of squashes, cucumber, and swiss chard. We supplemented our seedlings with a few plants from the local greenhouse, and in the end here's what we've planted:

12 swiss chard
6 hills pickling cucumbers
14 black krim tomatoes
4 cherry tomatoes
12 pole beans
12 green kale
4 purple kale
4 green lettuce
4 red lettuce
6 brussel sprouts
9 sweet corn
1 acorn squash
2 summer squash
2 butternut squash
8 marigolds to attract beneficial insects to the garden

The next order of business is building a fence around the beds. That naughty Fern lady has already started digging around the lettuce beds, so we need to get something up ASAP. We try to be stern with her, but of course we can't stay mad long when she gives us the puppy dog eyes. We are complete suckers for that little pup. Do any of you keep a vegetable garden? Any tips or tricks you'd be willing to pass on would be very much appreciated!