Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Now that the boys are out doing chores...let's talk about what new things I'm growing this year! What you are about to see, you will never repeat...understand?! Last thing I need in my life right now are a bunch of tattletales!

There is a list of all of the regular varieties of plants that we have tried and grown to love over the years in my Perpetual Gardening Calendar. For those of you who have my calendar and want to know what new things we are doing, this post should catch you up.

I have managed to control my addiction for seeds in regards to lettuce - I did not order any new seeds.  This had nothing to do with the disapproving looks from my 16 year old as he held up a full 12 inches of lettuce seed packets.  It.did.not!  Believe me....this is progress - it is the first time in 10 years that I did not order a new variety!

However, talking about tomatoes...well, a girl has to have a new tomato every year. It's a lot cheaper than a new car every year, or dress, or shoes (am I rationalizing?). That is just common sense....right???  I am always on the lookout for a very sweet heirloom cherry tomato. If you know of one, leave me a comment.  Currently we still love Super Sweet 100's but it is a hybrid so each year I try something new hoping to come close. Last year I ordered and grew Black Cherry which was supposed to taste like a Cherokee Purple - the best tomato every created!  It didn't taste exactly like a Cherokee Purple but it was pretty close - it's a keeper!

This year I ordered....Peacevine. Anyone ever grown it?  And then, because I'm all for equal rights for all tomatoes,  non-discriminatory, ahem....hopelessly addicted to tomatoes, I also ordered Chocolate Cherry (it's CHOCOLATE people!), Isis Candy (they have a cat's eye star burst at the blossom end!), Sugar Lump (a sweet heirloom from Germany!), Tommy Toe (only because people ask me for it at market...really...) and Yellow Cherry (they said it is preferred by taste testers as much as Super Sweet 100's!).

OK, perhaps I got a little carried away in the cherry tomato department. It's all the fault of Totally Tomatoes.  They not only have one of those deranged, evil, talented catalog writers, they have COLOR pictures.  COLOR people!!!  Foul play! Someone throw a flag for goodness sakes!

Moving on....let's talk about tomatoes...or let's not.  I had a little trouble controlling myself there.  Again, it is that pesky website Totally Tomatoes!  I had convinced myself that I would only allow two new tomatoes this year.  Foolish girl!  I ended up picking out just a tad bit more.  Anna Russian, Amish Salad (AMISH!), Caspian Pink (all girls love least this one does), Box Car Willy (really...could YOU resist that name?), and Hillbilly (better not be the same as Box Car Willy!).  All I can say is It's Not My Fault!!!  Well, yes it is.  I'm weak and undisciplined when it comes to tomatoes.  My dream would be to have a taste of every fresh heirloom tomato known to man, take notes, and put myself out of this misery.

On to peppers...I'm going to try Yummy Pepper...listen.... it was named by children, they called it Yum Yum in Czech.  I'm sure this same pesky website would NEVER lie to me!  I only ordered one new should be standing, applauding and yelling bravo into your computer screen at this point.  I'm just saying.

I think the worst has happened....I've possibly passed this condition on to Josiah who had a list of his own.  New varieties of squash, radishes, kale, okra,  zucchini, corn, peas, cantaloupe, mouth began to water, my palms got sweaty, visions began to dance in front of my eyes...tomatoes, squash, peppers, veggies of all colors and sizes....I felt faint...I counseled him to be reasonable, suggested he reduce the list, I failed miserably as a mother and allowed him to GET IT ALL!!!!

I'll have to hide the boxes of seeds when they come...I'll slip down to the greenhouse while the boys are involved in a game of Killer Bunnies...I'll throw some seeds in the dirt and label them mysteriously...they'll never know....(I'll never get away with this!).

I will hate myself in July when the weeds are thriving and it is 90 out.  I'll hate it when I have to can, dehydrate, freeze and cook all of this stuff.  But, I'll love myself again when the first snow falls and my pantry shelves and freezers are full!

Then...the worst of it mother (my mother!) sent over two lists of tomatoes that she tore out of a magazine....heirloom tomatoes....many I'd never heard of....WITH COLOR PICTURES! I'm pretty sure I threw those right out since we had already placed our seed orders.  Or...I might have tucked them away for next sure they went in the shredder. Yup...that's what happened.  I had great self-control...

So...commiserate with me, teach me, enlighten me...what are your favorite lettuces, tomatoes and peppers.  Don't worry, I won't take notes...

Evenings with Victoria Botkin!

Victoria Botkin, mother to 5 boys and 2 daughters will be hosting a series of  evenings online where she will discuss the following:

  • All about Eve

  • All about Sarah

  • The Proverbs 31 wife

  • About love

  • How to help your husband love you

  • How to become a wise woman

Here's a description from Western Conservatory:
How does a wife help her husband be the man Christ wants him to be? How can she inspire him to love her? How can she discover the forgotten joys of being the helper God designed her to be? Beginning March 1, Victoria, beloved wife to Geoffrey Botkin, will host weekly online mentoring sessions for women as a homemaker's resource to the worldwide Christian community. Mother to five boys and two girls, Victoria draws insight from 30 years of applying Scripture to marriage with one of America's most visionary men.

Join Victoria as she discusses subjects such as woman's great power, sinful tendencies, obedience vs. submission, independence vs. submission, freedom vs. submission, beauty, dress, makeup, respect, women's rights, hospitality, speaking words of life, managing with grace, pitfalls of perfectionism in homemaking, Hollywood expectations, trials, trust, and cultivating personality. Victoria will begin each session by responding to pressing, appropriate questions from participants.

Sessions will take place Monday evenings from 8 to 9 p.m., Central Time, March 1 through April 26, 2010. The cost for these nine sessions is $49 per woman, and daughters may listen in with their mothers. The sessions will also be recorded and MP3s made freely available to participants shortly after each session, so that any who cannot join all nine sessions live may still hear what was discussed. Interaction will take place via the GoToWebinar® interface, which works in-browser on almost any PC or Mac. Mrs. Botkin will have a live audio feed. A faster-than-dial-up Internet connection is best, but it is possible to connect to audio by long-distance telephone, provided simultaneous Internet access is also available. Complete information on how to access the sessions will be sent to registered attendees by email. Direct questions, including from husbands or pastors seeking theological clarification, to

This is done within the jurisdictional framework of Titus 2. Not only does Titus chapter 2 instruct experienced older women to teach younger women, it gives the syllabus—"to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands"—and the purpose: "that the word of God be not blasphemed." As a woman under authority, Victoria will not infringe on the authority of husbands and pastors, but serve as a careful, supportive resource on issues of home and family life.

Now, here's the best news - you can enter a drawing for a free registration!  Just go to one of these sites, Joyfully At Home, Life in a Shoe, Generation Cedar,  or Serving God and Family.

The drawings end this Friday so don't waste time!

I hope to be there too!


Monday, February 22, 2010

I Confess...

It is said that confession is good for the soul.  I want the best for my soul.  Which leads me to this...

I confess....I have an addiction.  You'd never know it by spending time with me.  You could walk through my home and you wouldn't know. You could probably live in my house and never know!   However, if you searched deep in the back of a closet...opened drawers....used a'd find my stash.

"Hello, my name is TNfarmgirl and I am a seed-aholic"!

Other women collect shoes, chocolate, clothes, animals, Fiestaware, artwork...I collect seeds.  I even specialize in certain areas - lettuces and tomatoes are my biggest downfall! Peppers aren't far behind. I listen to people say they store their seeds in a shoe box...seriously?  I have a three drawer chest...and a box...and a small tub.  Notice I said small tub.  I have 5 people to feed. I need all of these seeds. I tell myself this frequently.

This time of year feeds my addiction.  Are these people crazy sending me all of these catalogs?  I'm not unreasonable...I just want one of everything....everything heirloom that is - then I can feed my addiction in private - seed saving...aaahhhhh...can it get any better than this?

Keep your Godiva, your outlet malls, your Shoe Carnivals, your art galleries, your frou-frou puppies and kitties...give me seeds!  The hope, the flavor, the unending joy all packed into a tiny little seed!  I confess - I have a hard time throwing out old seeds.  In fact, ssshhhhhhh {I don't}.  I find a place on the farm, scratch a hole in the soil and scatter them in - perhaps something will pop up!  Often it does...sometimes I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT IT IS!

But if it is a flower, I cut it and bring it into the house.  If it is food, we taste it, and if it is an herb, we try's better than a Sherlock Holmes mystery...I actually say this out loud to my children who love Sherlock Holmes...picture them now...three sets of eyes gazing at me in horror..."what IS that thing?"!

The trouble with my addiction is that it is incurable!  Oh, perhaps a move to the big city might fix it - but I think I'd sneak pots onto every windowsill - the balcony, the back porch...I'd find someplace to plant a seed!

Each year the catalogs add NEW seeds...imagine!  Just when I think I've tried it all...when I might be able to conquer this addiction... they pop up with different things. And don't even get me started on the descriptions.  I firmly believe that the person who writes the Fedco seed catalog is seriously deranged, an evil genius, way to talented.  This person has the ability to describe each entry in such detail that my mouth waters, my palms get sweaty, visions of acres of veggies (no weeds or bugs of course!) dance in my head.  I wish the snow and cold away.  I want need dirt. WARNING: Do NOT order this catalog.  Do NOT visit their website. You WILL be sorry.  It is perhaps what started my addiction.  You'll thank me later.

However, there are evil schemes afoot....and I AM catching on all you despicable catalog writers.  There is a conspiracy going on and I can prove it!  I have grown a lettuce called Freckles for years.  I LOVE this lettuce (remember my lettuce weakness?).  A few years ago, while perusing an evil seed catalog, I saw an entry under lettuce called Forellenschluss - it had a charming little story about it - very romantic - named for someone they deeply loved (Ellen Schluss) was all a lie by the way but I didn't know that at the time. I had to have it!  I ordered it.  I planted it.  I grew it.  It looked remarkably like Freckles.  It tasted remarkably like Freckles. IT WAS FRECKLES!

It is also sold under the name Speckled Trout Back or even Trout Back.  Do you see what they are doing - they sell the same seeds over and over with different names! It is enough to drive a seed-alcoholic to distraction! I've found the same thing re-occurring in other plant kingdoms...brassicas, squash and even   ~gasp~   tomatoes! TOMATOES people! They are tampering with tomatoes! In fact, they are tampering with everything!

I'm putting you catalog writers on notice...I'm keeping notes people! I do not want to waste my time buying and growing something that turns out to be something I already buy and grow - I want new!  I want different! I want more!

I have done very well this year.  I am battling my addiction with courage.  I am in control.

My children have hidden my checkbook.

Oh!...I hear the mailman....come back tomorrow and I'll fill you in   *ssshhhhh*  my children are listening....

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Blessings to You!

On this special day may you be surrounded by His love and may you be blessed with love from family and friends!  I encourage you to take time today to let those you love know how special they are to you!  Special touches mean so much and speak love to loved ones!

Fill it with love!

My boys will be up early, doing chores in the dark so I choose to surprise them.  I will start by lighting love...

Love lights!

I have filled a love basket with favorite muffins for breakfast..

Love basket sits ready!

I pulled a few out to ice and decorate...

Special treats!

For later in the day, I created a yummy dessert!  Hope it tastes as good as it looks!

Dessert for later!

My boys take wonderful care of me and sacrifice much for each other and this life that we choose to lead.  It is important  to speak love to each other in actions and with words. Small touches mean a lot to my boys.  A pretty table, soft candlelight and favorite foods are small ways to tell them that I appreciate them and that I love them.

They were banished to the upstairs this evening so that I could prepare these surprises.  Elijah is about to burst with curiosity.  In the wee hours tomorrow, I will slip downstairs, light candles and kindle love.  I'll warm muffins and we'll enjoy a special breakfast before worshipping the Author of Love together.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.

May you know the Love only He can give....pure, overflowing, joy-producing, healing, eternal....

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Here we go again!


Sometime during the night, the sleet turned to snow...

A beautiful blanket

Although we've enjoyed watching it gently fall....

Softly raining down

I actually heard one of my boys say, "I'm tired of snow".  Granted it took him almost 20 years to get to that point but I never thought I'd hear that!  It probably had something to do with home group being canceled last night!  It is a very important evening for my boys and they hate to miss it.  Instead, we had a cozy dinner and played games together.

Tonight they have a "man class".  They will hate to miss it but I can only imagine what the roads are like.  We may need to do a test run to see if they are clear.  I need to take some of my calendars to the post office and that will "tell the tale" as Grandma used to say!

I think I'd like to join least for a week!

I'm ready for spring!


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Seeds! It's that time again!

My fingers are beginning to get that itch to play in the dirt.  We've had lots of gray, cold, snowy weather here and I am ready for spring breezes and sunshine. I say that knowing full well that snow is predicted for today.

However, I have an oasis!  My little greenhouse. Josiah has been getting it all cleaned up and ready to work in.  He has also been on a seek and destroy mission against the Black Widow spiders that like to share my little oasis.  I think they just look evil..{{shudder}}!

Josiah took inventory of our seeds (if you haven't done that yet, now is the time!) and we picked a few new things to grow this year. We placed our seed order and are happily anticipating a package in the mail.  Josiah will be mixing up some potting soil this week and we will be off and running.

According to my garden calendar, it is time to begin and I'm really glad.  For about two weeks it will look like our greenhouse is filled with flats of dirt - but the first day that we go down and see little green sprouts is always very exciting!

About the middle of March, when I open the door, a sea of green and healthy plants will greet me!  It looks like summer, it smells like summer and it feels like summer in my greenhouse - even if there is snow on the ground outside!  All I have to do is survive the cold walk from my house to my greenhouse!  My greenhouse is my happy place ;)

In my perpetual calendar, under February, I share our recipe for germinating mix. This is what we use to start all of our seeds.  I also give you a list of what to start this month. I love my calendar!  Remember, I first made it for me! I keep a copy in my greenhouse and follow it so that I don't forget something.

I can taste the broccoli, cabbage and lettuces that we will be planting next week.  I'll also be starting some perennial herbs for my herb garden and of course flowers!  I love flowers! They have so many uses, medicine, beauty, food....and more!

Josiah is already anticipating his trips to the Farmer's Market and the income he will have this spring.  Our farmer's market opens in April and he plans to be ready!

We choose to grow mainly heirloom seeds, and encourage you to do the same, so that we can save our seed from year to year.  Although we don't yet save all of our seed, we add a little more each year. Our goal is to be completely self-sufficient in this area.  Another reason we grow mainly heirlooms, is that they were bred, for the most part, for flavor.  Unlike today where plants are bred so that their fruit lasts long on grocery store shelves, can travel 3,000 miles across country etc.  Taste took a back seat in Big Ag's breeding know, I'm not even sure it got in the car. This explains why the tomatoes in the grocery store are beautiful but taste like cardboard.  Heirloom tomatoes - the taste will astonish me!

When we go over our seeds, we try to make sure that we have enough to plant for two years. With the crazy economic times and with Monsanto's goal of controlling all the seeds, we like to have a little cushion.  We encourage you to do the same.  We also like to try a few new things.  Normally I pour over the seed catalogs, but this year I was busy trying to finish my calendar so I passed that on to Josiah.  He came up with quite a few new things that he wanted to try.  I asked him to include one thing, Abraham Lincoln tomatoes.

I read an article on these tomatoes and I wanted to give them a whirl. Other than that, I am looking forward to all of our old standards.  I can't wait for fresh lettuce from the garden again!

If you are new to gardening, or feeling a bit overwhelmed trying to figure out what you need to do, you might want to read about my new calendar.  Consider it your gardening companion, there to hold your hand and direct you every step of the way!

Leave me a note and tell me what your favorite tried and true plants are and what new things ya'll will be trying this year!

Wishing you dirt under your fingernails!

Monday, February 1, 2010

My NEW Perpetual Garden Calendar!!

Yes! I said NEW!  (can you hear the "whoosh" as I unveil it?).

The all new "Gardening Through the Year with the TNfarmgirl - A Perpetual Calendar for the Garden!"


For those of you "not in the know", this is no ordinary calendar.  There are no blank squares under the name of the month so you can scribble notes and appointments down.

You also don't throw this one away at the end of the year!  This calendar gathers everything you need to know for gardening for each particular month, into one place! Tired of looking through lots of different gardening books only to be totally confused? This is the calendar for you!


I wrote this calendar 5 years ago for just that reason.  I wanted it all in one place.  I wanted something that I could take to the garden that would tell me what to do - I don't know Elliot Coleman personally or I would have asked him...or maybe someone at the Rodale Institute. I was tired of dragging multiple books to the wrote this calendar for me.  Then others got wind of it and wanted a copy for themselves and now I write for ya'll also!

This time, in addition to all of the gardening information in my last calendar, I've added more than 4 times the amount of tips!  Little tidbits we've learned over the years to make things quicker and easier with better results. I've made other changes throughout my calendar since we've added 5 more years of gardening experience and knowledge!

I'm also very excited about some of my new pages...I've added a chart that gives you the life expectancy of most common vegetable seeds.


This will help you determine if those seeds you found in the back of the desk drawer are still good.  If you aren't sure, I've included instructions on how to do a germination test to determine if you should plant those long forgotten seeds, and how thickly you might want to sow them!

There is a new page listing some of my favorite gardening books by category along with a long list of my favorite food preservation books!

Books galore!

And...what ya'll have requested most...a USDA Hardiness Zone Conversion Chart by Frost Dates!!!!!!

Zone conversion!

No matter what zone you live in, this chart will show you how to use my calendar! (Except those poor people who live in Zone 1 and have the possibility of a frost 365 days out of 365 days!  I was shocked to read you even garden?  heck, do you even own shorts?!)

Of course, I still include a copy of my planting chart.

Planting time is around the corner!

And all the wonderful information on how to, what to and when to plant in your garden!  There is an area under each month where you can keep your own garden notes too!

Last time I took my calendar to a printer. I got a wonderful deal because of price matching, So, of course, I went back to do it again.  Good deal?  Not so much. They are still probably looking for my teeth - I dropped them when I heard the price!  Wow have things gone up.  You couldn't have afforded this calendar - neither could I.  Ridiculous things - $2.00 to punch each calendar (this is to cover the very hard job of sliding the papers into a slot and letting the ELECTRIC machine do the job..about 2 seconds), then it was $2.00 to bind each calendar (again...done by machine and in just a matter of seconds!)...add the cost of the paper (cheaper, thinner paper that would not hold up year after year mind you!) then printing on the paper (don't even ask - it was ridiculous! I wanted to ask them if they paid someone to count the sheets, or open the box of paper....but I managed to hold my tongue...barely!).

I decided to do it myself.  I used a laser printer and printed onto 80 lb. card-stock so this calendar will last for years! Costs more upfront but cheaper in the end.  The best part?  I don't have to raise the price! Even though I've added more information and more sheets the price remains the same at $20.00!! This is about the average for those calendars you throw away at the end of the year...the ones with all the blank squares....

So, I'm printing and binding my little heart out...come and get'em!


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