Ellaberry Gardens
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May 2013

Ellaberry Gardens' May 2013 Newsletter
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"Baptism is bowing before the Father and letting him do his work."~~~Max Lucado

I'm having a tough time with inspiration for this newsletter.  I'll just be honest.  I've had a rough couple of weeks and that sometimes makes it hard for me to want to "talk" to folks or share anything at all. Shutting down when I'm sad or stressed is something I presume I will always be working on. So early today I spent a good amount of time rereading every newsletter I've ever written.  That's three years of newsletters this month. I thought maybe I'd find my inspiration in those words somewhere. Didn't happen. But I did make myself chuckle when I realized I was looking at my own stuff for inspiration and only frustrating myself with mistakes I had made in grammar or typos and wishing I had said certain things in a different way.  (You can see them all under the "Ellaberry Writes" tab.) That's some sort of viscious cycle.  And it's not very inspiring. So what to do with a self-imposed newsletter due date already five days past and no inspiration?  Get.up.and.go.outside.

Once again, I have been reminded why I do what I do.  That garden out there? It just plum rejuvinates and regenerates me.  I walk out the door with a creased forehead and tense shoulders and walk in with a smile and a renewed sense of myself.  Over and over again.  My garden is sort of my own private baptismal pool.  Go in dirty, come out clean.  Might sound counterintuitive since I am literally dirty when I leave it.  But I'm so much cleaner on the inside.  I wish for you all a personal baptismal pool of some kind. Maybe you find it in your books, at your sewing machine, in your kitchen, in your wood shop, your dark room, your machine shop or your art studio.  Whatever it is that you can step into, remember who you are, touch base with your spirit and come out better for it, may you have it. And may you remember how important it is to make use of it.  Often. Bless all our hearts.  Amen.

Thoughts on Why I Keep Animals

When I was a little girl, I'd sometimes draw pictures of what my dream room or my dream house would look like when I was grown.  There were always animal enclosures and cages everywhere in those pictures. I laugh about that now because we live with three dogs, five zebra finches, one blue betta fish, four goldfish in a pond on the back porch, six laying hens, eight young pullets, almost thirty quail, a breeding trio of adult rabbits and always a varying number of bunnies. And over the years we've had other dogs, parakeets, turtles (box turtles and sliders), guinea pigs, hamsters, a water dragon, huge aquariums of various fish, snails and aquatic frogs and hermit crabs.  Oh, and during what my husband refers to as my "homesteading moment" we had a dairy cow named Georgia, aka Moodini (she could get out of ANY amount of fence), her sweet little calf named Winnie the Moo, about two and a half dozen chickens and three ducks. But why?  My husband has asked me many times over the years, "Why?  What is it with the animals?" I've never been able to answer him.

I was thinking on this the other day while I was feeding and watering all the backyard critters and I think I may have finally found the answer.  As a stay at home mom and an urban homesteader, rarely is anything just "done."  I can cross watering, weeding, harvesting, laundry, cooking and cleaning off my list but they just reappear again the next day or the next week.  But right after they are done, even if it's temporary, it's sort of a nice peaceful high for me.  It's much like those years when my kiddos were babies and they were all bathed, read to and tucked in at night.  And for just a little while, things felt "done" and right with the world.  Just thinking on how peaceful and sweet those years were brings tears to my eyes.

Having a bevy of backyard critters gives me that feeling over and over again.  Every evening, when they're all fed, watered, and cleaned up after, I'm done.  It's temporary.  But for a little while, every evening, it's just done.  And they're happy. And somehow that makes the world make more sense to me.  I can't solve world hunger or make big business take care of its responsibilities.  I can't give a home to all the babies who don't have one.  I can't take in all the homeless and the displaced. I can't hug away all the tears of the sad. I can't heal my dear family members' pain. And it breaks my heart.  Way too hard and way too often. But I can meet the needs of my critters and not feel so overwhelmed and lost in this world.  Somehow, that few hours of being "done" with something every day, brings me peace.  And that brings me joy. Oh, the joy of happy sleepy babies.  I so miss those days.  And somehow all the critter babies remind me how lucky I was and how lucky I am to be somebody's caretaker.  I can make things right for somebody, be it a bunny, a chicken or my kids, for just a little while every day.  It's very grounding.  Plus, as I've been known to say, you just cannot take yourself too seriously when you are changing diapers or pickin' up chicken poo on a daily basis.  So there. That's why all the animals, dear husband.  Now you know.  Can I have a goat?  Well, really I need two.  They're happier in pairs.  Thanks.


Right Now in the Garden

This May of 2013 is different than the ones from recent years.  It has been such a cold, wet spring that the tasks from April may still need to be undertaken!  I have put out about ten tomato plants but have another few to put out. And the thirty peppers I started from seed are still waiting to be put in their garden spots.  It's just been so cool!  But just in case you're all caught up on April, here's a typical list of May chores for the garden:
  • Fertilize plants that have come up (perennials and those you have seeded) and have at least one set of true leaves (if needed.)
  • Fertilize blueberries (I do this once per month from May-October.)
  • Start deadheading flowers that have begun blooming (and fading!)
  • Check fruit trees for borers and treat as needed.
  • Keep checking brassicas for cabbage worms/eggs and treat as needed.
  • Keep an eye out for aphids!  Check new, tender growth and just spray off with the 'jet' setting on hose---carefully though because new leaves are tender.
  • Try to keep up with cool weather crop harvests.
  • Check canning jar stash and buy rings/lids if needed (canning season begins here in earnest in June with the bush cherries and peaches.)
  • Make sure to have seed for fall sowing before the seed displays disappear from local stores.
  • Clean up nursery pots from transplants to use for fall seed starting.
  • Weed at "volunteers" show up in the garden and compost pile.
  • Refer to April's to do list and make sure it got done.  If not, do it now!

May planting:

5/1 outdoors planting---

  • Seeds
    • beans, bush and pole
    • corn
    • cucumbers
    • melons, watermelons and cantaloupes
    • okra
    • peanuts
    • squash, summer and winter
    • sunflowers
  • Transplants
    • eggplants
    • peppers
    • tomatoes

5/15 outdoors planting---

  • Seeds
    • beans, bush and pole
    • corn
    • cucumbers
    • melons, watermelons and cantaloupes
    • peanuts
    • southern peas (aka cowpeas, black-eyed peas)
    • squash, summer and winter
    • sunflowers
  • Transplants
    • peppers
    • sweet potatoes
    • tomatoes
Don't forget that my planting guides easily have a 7-10 day 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!
               
Recipe
               
The spinach I've grown all winter is still growing like crazy out there.  So I'm provding you a link to a recipe that I intend to try this week.  I heard this on NPR and just cannot quit thinking about it.  Have to try it!  And have to remember how to make that gluten free pie crust!  I will report how it goes on my Facebook page!  Hope you'll try it too!  If you don't have enough spinach, it's still available at the farmer's markets. 

http://www.npr.org/2013/03/28/175478107/tuscan-pie-a-sweet-springtime-take-on-spinach

Here's another favorite way we use up our spinach.

Simple Spinach Salad
  • 2-3 cups of fresh spinach per person
  • thinly sliced red onion
  • walnuts
  • dried cranberries
  • thinly slices smoked gouda
  • Creamy poppyseed dressing (we make the one here)

Tear and arrange spinach leaves on dinner plate.  Sprinkle with desired amounts of walnuts, cranberries and gouda.  Toss with dressing.  You can add a bit of canned salmon or cooked chicken for your hungrier or meat-eating family members!  This looks really simply but it is an amazing combination of flavors.  Enjoy!  
               
Ellaberry and the Community

              
Folks sometimes ask me to speak for their garden clubs or garden related events. I've presented for the Tulsa County Master Gardeners, The Tulsa Herb Society, the Jenks Garden Club, at Grogg's Green Barn, at TCC's EcoFest, at the Tulsa City-County Library and more. I can present on many things urban farming related. I'm very low tech and don't typically offer any sort of power point or other media based presentation. But I do so enjoy speaking with folks in the community. 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.  If you are outside of the Tulsa city limits, there will be a small mileage fee no matter what.  Don't mind not making money but I'm not in the position to be losing it.

Don't wait until the last minute! Spring/early summer 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

Until after the Edible Garden Tour, 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 June 10th!


May Class

Our class in May is all about growing medicinal herbs at your home.  Adding herbs for culinary use is something most gardeners have done or considered.  I urge you to explore the medicinal uses of herbs for common ailments.  And you might be surprised to learn the medicinal uses of some of the most common culinary herbs!
 

Here's the class description: "What if you could walk out your back door and pick your "medicines" from plants you have grown to aid your and your family's health, healing and general well-being? You can!!! Learn to grow common herbs and flowers and how to prepare tinctures, teas and salves. Plan to leave with a delightful concoction!"

Class is May 16th 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. Please don't knock on the door or ring the doorbell.  Riles up the dogs and the kiddos. Just wander about outside.  You'll find me. 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 cans!

I have now received a few queries about bringing groups to the Open Garden.  This is absolutely ok with me.  It's open.  To any and everybody.  But because it is open to any and everybody, there's no telling who and how many will be here when you arrive.  So, if your group is all children, please know that you (and not me) are responsible for keeping them out of the garden beds and from harming the plants or animals in any way.  If you do not, you will be asked to escort them away.  Hope you understand. I love kiddos.  And love to share the joy of what I do with them.  They are always welcome.  But they will be expected to understand what is valuable (plants and animals) and to behave accordingly.  You might want to remind them on the way so we can all enjoy being together.

This month's date is May 12th. Yes, this is Mother's Day.  So bring Mom!  Show her around! If you can make it and you are somebody's mom, let me know.  I'll have a little something for the first 25 of ya! 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! You can also post any questions or comments you have right on the page and I'll do my best to answer them.  I've found that if I don't know the answer, someone else that follows the page does.  It's a lovely community!

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

Well, crunch time for the tour is here!  Help me make it the best one yet!  I need one more garden and one more vendor and more volunteers. We're gonna get it done!  But I'm gonna need your help!

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. You can find them on Facebook and follow what they have going on!

Our 2013 Gardens:

Janice Goetzinger's garden, with a brand new permaculture based plantings by Green Country Peramculture, LLC

The Ferrys, showcasing the food and medicinal gardens of a local herbalist

The Sawyers, come see beautiful raised beds, lovely chickens and two blackberry plants that produced over 16 quarts of berries last year

Crossroads Clubhouse, featuring a beautiful fountain, a straw bale gardening experiment, fruit trees, and multiple approaches to composting

??? (open garden spot)

Our 2013 Vendors:

Duck Creek Farms, all kinds of edible plants and some just because they're lovely

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 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

Doe from litter born 3/26/13 (taken at about two weeks old)

 

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