Ellaberry Gardens
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April 2013

Ellaberry Gardens' April 2013 Newsletter
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"Let the beauty you love be what you do.  There are a thousand ways to kiss the earth."~~~Rumi

April is the month that has been set aside to celebrate our planet, our Earth, our home.  No matter what you believe in or who you pray to (or don't), I can't find a valid argument on the side of not protecting this one and only planet that we have. We don't know how long this planet will be around no matter what any guru or scientist might lead us to believe. We don't know how long each of our own lives will last.  But while we're here, living and breathing and eating and dancing and singing, why not take care of our home? 

I'm not naive enough to believe that everyone is going to make some sort of radical shift towards a more "kiss the earth" lifestyle.  But what if you, just little old you, chose to just do one thing? Just one thing. And then what if just one of your friends or your cousins or your neighbors saw you doing your one little thing and asked you why you were doing it?  

I spent many afternoons many years ago, stuck under nursing babies/toddler every day, watching Dr. Phil and Oprah.  One time I heard Dr. Phil say something to the affect that every single thing you do either contributes to or contaminates your relationship.  This little gem really stuck with me.  I could even argue that it changed my life. I do so believe it to be true. I also believe this about my yard, my gardens, and my planet.  Everything you bring home to put in your garden either contributes to or contaminates the fertility in your soil.  Everything you put into or on your body contributes to or contaminates health.  Every time you find one of a" thousand ways to kiss the earth", wouldn't you rather it contribute? 

I have made choices in the past that did directly contaminate my relationships and my soil. I struggle often with choices that contaminate my health. And it takes years and years of work and commitment, in all instances, to repair the damage. These choices may have been easier in the moment but have cost me time, energy and money in the long run.  I learned some valuable lessons. And I am aware of my choices now in a way that I wasn't when I was younger. I just hope to keep finding ways to "kiss the earth."  And I hope some of you will join me.

Thoughts on Urban Farming as Part of Your Retirement Plan

One of my favorite things about what I do is the diversity in the folks I get to spend time with---old, young, renters, homeowners, self-employed folks, folks workin' for "the man", singles, large families, you name it.  In all these blessed encounters with all these fabulous people, I've noticed that a fair amount are retired and are now wanting to get started on their retirement dream (and sometimes need) of growing their own food, maybe having some chickens, and being more self-sufficient and less dependent on the grocery store. I absolutely have a soft spot for these folks.  And I want to do everything I can to help them out.  But I always find myself thinking what if they had started just two or three years before they retired?  What if they started 10 or 20 years before? 

I know, I know. When you're employed, either working for yourself or someone else, for the majority of your waking hours, establishing an urban (or rural) farm certainly seems daunting.  But there are many, many steps you can have knocked out before you retire.  Before.  So when you do retire, you're already in a position to begin feeding yourself!  Even at the not so old age of 41, I see what I'm doing here on our lot as part of our retirement plan. So what can you do to be more prepared?  Well, frankly, as much as you possibly can. 

If you don't already have your garden or food growing areas, planned out, do it now!  Plan them on paper. Plan them for your future not as flexible, not as strong self (think higher raised beds and easily maneuverable pathways.) And then as you have time, get outside and prepare them. And let them sit if you must--for a year or 20.  It doesn't matter. Just get them ready ahead of time so they'll be there waiting. If you mulch them well, you should only have to do a small amount of weeding to keep them ready and waiting.  In one weekend per month, you could have 12 beds prepared at the end of a year.  One weekend per month.  You may not have the time to be actively growing much food now.  But that's ok.  And who can argue with less grass to mow? Just get the beds in and let them wait on you. And if you end up with a bunch of beds ready, you might be surprised at the time you find to grow a crop or two. Garden beds? Check.

You might also consider getting some fruit trees planted.  Now.  Want some fresh fruit from your own backyard when you retire?  Get them in the ground.  Now.  Or soon.  But don't wait any longer than you have to.  The sooner they're established, the sooner they're fruiting.  Depending on the size of your lot, pick three or five fruit trees or so and get them planted on a nice fall day.  Pears are lovely and easy to maintain and very long-lived.  So at the very least, plant a pear tree or two. Soon.  This year.  Next year. Soon. Small home orchard? Check.

And what about herbs for culinary and medicinal use?  When our older years approach, not everyone has a well-funded 401K and it is very rare for anyone other than a city employee to have a pension, so income can be tight.  And little luxuries like fresh herbs might not be afforadable any longer.  But what if, two or five or ten years before you retired, you had gifted yourself a lovely sunny herb garden full of rosemary, sage, lavender, thyme and oregano.  What if you had tucked sorrel and lovage and salad burnett into a shady spot around your hostas? All of these herbs are perennial and will last for years with just a little attention.  And the medicinal benefits of many of these herbs should not be overlooked no matter your age. Do yourself a favor and get them well established now for bountiful harvests later.  Just do it.  Perennial herb garden for cooking and medicinal value?  Check.

Most of us save for retirement in some fashion.  We have 401k plans or IRAs or just a plain ole' savings account at our credit unions.  And these cash savings are a good idea.  But there is nothing, absolutely nothing, like the security of having some of your own food growing at your home.  And the health benefits for us at every age?  Well, I'd just be preaching to the choir if I spent much time talking on that! Just know that the more years you put into your gardens, the more fertile and easier to work they will become. So the sooner you start, the less time you'll spend waiting for bountiful harvests.  

You might be reading this and feeling like it doesn't apply to you because you don't own your home or you know that you will be moving when you retire.  Well, guess what?  I've got a plan for you too!  All the above herbs grow well in containers and you can take them with you!  Instead of a home orchard, put a couple of dwarf fruiting trees in large pots.  Take them with you!  And insteaad of planning out your vegetable beds, invest in a couple of Earth boxes or other large self-watering containers as part of your retirement plan.  And, of course, you can take them with you!

I highly recommend doing everything you can physically handle and financially afford to prepare for your sweet older self.  You're worth it.  And you won't regret it.  Taking care of yourself the best you possibly can?  Check.


Right Now in the Garden

Right now in the garden?  EVERYTHING!  April is busy, busy, busy.  The convergence of spring and summer planting is upon us!  Here's my typical to do list for April:
  • Reseed where needed and still weather appropriate (for instance, reseed spinach but not turnips...spinach will ripen before it gets too hot but turnips won't and they won't taste as good as winter turnips so I'll wait and grow more then.)
  • Daily checks for aphids and cabbage moth eggs.
  • Buy pepper, tomato and eggplant transplants if my own seedlings weren't successful.
  • Keep up with cool weather crop harvests.
  • Begin feeding blueberries.
  • Feed veggies that may be flowering or heading up (if needed.)
  • Some perennials that have already flowered may be deeply discounted at Lowe's.  Check clearance racks!
  • Indoor plants to be transplanted need to be hardened off beginning the 8th of the month.  This'll give them a week to adjust before planting on the 15th.
  • Check fruits trees for borers and treat as needed.
  • Clean up yard/porch to allow for daily high traffic in and out.

April planting:

4/1 outdoors planting---

  • Seeds
    • beets
    • lettuce
    • dill
    • mustard
    • spinach
    • early corn
  • Transplants
    • broccoli
    • cabbage
    • collards
    • onions

4/15 outdoors planting---

  • Seeds
    • beets
    • corn
    • lettuce
    • mustard
    • spinach
    • parsley
    • beans (bush/pole)
    • cucumbers
    • melons
    • squashes
    • okra
  • Transplants
    • broccoli (very, very last chance)
    • eggplant
    • onions
    • peppers

Don't forget that my planting guides easily have a 7-10 window on either side.  So don't fret if you've "missed" a date.  Just get out there when you can and if you miss it, next year will be here before you know it! 

 

Recipes

Fried Rabbit

1 young rabbit (I've been butchering between 11 and 13 weeks.)

milk

cooking oil of your choosing

cornmeal and gluten-free baking mix in equal parts (or flour of your choice if your family isn't gluten free)

salt/pepper to taste

Cut rabbit up.  Use 
this as a guide, or any other number of websites or youtube videos, if you haven't done this before.  Save rib cages and any other bits you don't want to fry for stock!  Put pieces in milk and let soak for an hour up to overnight.

Right before cooking, mix together cornmeal, baking mix and salt/pepper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat up cooking oil of your choice in a large, heavy skillet. Dredge pieces in flour mixture. As soon as water sizzles in oil, put rabbit pieces in skillet.  Cook each side until golden brown (about 7 minutes per side.)  Place pieces on cooling rack over a cookie sheet and bake in oven for about 15-20 minutes.  {This may not be necessary if your rabbit is very, very small.  Ours are big enough that if I were to leave them in the frying pan until they were cooked throughout, the outside would be waaay past crispy.}


The day old leftovers are even lovely!  If you like fried chicken, you're gonna be a happy camper with fried rabbit.  Yum!

Ellaberry and the Community

Folks sometimes ask me to speak for their garden clubs or garden related events. I can speak on many things urban farming related. If you're interested, I can send a list of topics that range from 20 minutes to well over an hour and a half in presentation time.

If you're a non-profit, I do my best to show up for free. If you're not, my typical fee is $50 for up to two hours which includes a talk (of your choosing from the list of topics), printed materials and a door prize.

Don't wait until the last minute! Spring is an exceptionally busy time of the year!

Contact me through the website, via email at
ellaberrygardens@yahoo.com, find me on Facebook or just plain ole call at 918-346-1760.

Services Offered by Ellaberry

For the months of April and May, I'm taking a hiatus from anything other than class, my own garden and the tour. If you had your heart set on a consultation, go ahead and email and I'll set you up with a great list of resources.  And then back with our full offering of services in June!

April Class

The April class is all about edible landscaping.  It's called "You Can Eat That?!"  We'll talk about why edible landscape plants are worth your time and money.  We'll discuss different growing requirements for some of them.  And we'll discuss ways to slowly transition existing landscaping plantings into edibles!

The class description is this: Oklahoma landscaping isn't limited to azaleas and Bradford pears. Us Okies are more resourceful, yes? Learn how to include edible flowers, herbs, vegetables and fruits in your existing landscape while beautifying your home and filling your belly. You might also be surprised to learn which plants you're already growing that could be enhancing your dinner table! Take home a wonderful example.

Class is April 18th at 7pm.  Class fee is $10 per person.  More info here and here.  Please, please, please RSVP just as soon as you know you're coming!


Open Garden

Open Garden Day is the 2nd Sunday of every month from 1-4pm. I'll be out in the garden, the gates will be open and I'll have a big ole pitcher of sweet tea to share. Come see what's growing on around here and ask alllll the questions you'd like to!

This is an Open Garden, not an open house event. I hope you understand. I've got kids and a husband who aren't necessarily involved in everything I do with Ellaberry Gardens. Please be respectful of this. No RSVP required. I just ask that you respect the 1-4pm time frame and the "no open house" rule. This is an ongoing free event but I will joyfully accept donations (gotta fund the sweet tea!) Look for the donation jar!


This month's date is April 14th. I'm planning to have a small number of plants for sale; orange day lillies (edible!), a beautiful redbud baby (3 years old and about 3' high), herb starts (at least Roman chamomile, white horehound, Greek oregano and garlic chives!) And my momma will be here with her cute handmade crocheted cup coozies. Hope to see lots of your smiling faces then!



Ellaberry on Facebook

I hate to presume that you want to see anymore of what's going on around here than you get in the newsletter, but just in case you do, come find Ellaberry Gardens on Facebook! I don't have a blog and I don't forsee one any time in the future---just can't sit still that long on a daily basis. But I have found that I can fit in an almost daily update on FB. I do my best to make it happen.  I post pictures, quips about "farm" life, videos, and links that might be helpful to you on your own urban farming journey. So come on over there and "like" the Ellaberry Gardens page and stay in closer touch!

Tulsa's 3rd Annual Edible Garden Tour, June 8-9, 2013

Here we go, folks!  It's getting close to crunch time on preparing for the tour!

Our benefactor this year is the Tulsa Community Gardening Association.  It is my sincere hope that everyone who wants to grow some food can find some room to do so.  Hopefully the funds raised by the tour will help TCGA help many, many others get a start growing some food.

Our 2013 Gardens:

The Ferry Family

The Sawyer Family

The Strain Family

Crossroads Clubhouse

??? (open garden spot)

Our 2013 Vendors:

Duck Creek Farms, all kinds of edible plants

Clear Creek Seeds, open pollinated, non-GMO seed from a NE OK family (Saturday only)

Garden Girl Studios, handmade, recycled/repurposed reusable bags of all kinds (Sunday only)

Crossroads, educating the public about what they do and possibly plants and garden items for sale

Education Fair, local organizations relative to a more sustainable and gardeny way of living.  Last year we had The M.E.T., Tulsa Master Recyclers, Tulsa Community Gardening Assocation, the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, and more. I'm just now putting this part of the tour together.  So if you a part of an organization that this applies to, please contact me for a spot!

??? (open vendor spot)

Hopefully you noticed that we have one spot left for a garden and one spot left for a vendor.  Still working on these and I have some good leads but please contact me if you would like to be considered!  I'd like to have this all firmed up in a couple of weeks! 

Volunteers:

If you would like to volunteer to work the tour, we need you!  Shifts are 9am-1pm on Saturday the 8th and 12pm-5pm on Sunday the 9th.  We need ticket takers (folks who receive payment and stamp tickets at each yard)and "yard watchers" (folks who help the homeowners manage the crowds---gardening experienced for this preferred so you can help answer our tour-goers questions! But, of course, absolutely not required.) 

Volunteers receive two one free tour ticket per shift worked and a sweet little goody bag from me.

Email me at ellaberrygardens@yahoo.com if you know you want to volunteer and have a preferred time slot!

It's coming together beautifully, folks!  Help me get the word out!


Happy growin'!

Jenny

Kits, born 3/26/13, 8 days old

 

 
Bonanza peach tree blossom, 4/3/13

 

 

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