Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Return and Re-publish

News Update: The GetawayGarden has retured to the place of its origin.....right here on blogspot!
Although I had high hopes of what could be with our own ".com", I recently allowed sensibility to win over the daydreams. Letting the domain name/hosting expire, I've come back to where I first enjoyed writing and sharing--what I love and learn--things I make and grow--from my garden and from my heart. Any former GetawayGarden followers will notice I have already republished previous posts, and added a couple written while we were missing. I'm excited for the good things to come. As always your comments and suggestions are welcome. Thanks for waiting, and see ya again soon.

Blessings Abound: Quick Thankful Jar Project

blessing jar pic 3Maybe you can tell by my presence here, or lack thereof, for pretty much the whole summer that our garden production has been…let’s just say not abundant. Ok, in fact it is the worst garden I have ever grown. But rather than get stuck in the rut of grumbling about it, I’d rather think of our non-garden related blessings which have been in great supply!
To help us keep our focus in the right direction my husband suggested we start a “Blessing Box” or “Thankful Jar” type of thing. If you can’t guess what that would be then here is our take on it: Everyday we will take a small strip of paper and write down something we recognize as a blessing, or something we are thankful for, etc. and put it in the receptacle to be accumulated until Thanksgiving at which time they will read and we will start all over again. And they don’t all have to great big items either…IN EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS!  There are so many little blessings to be noticed each day!
Reasons for writing down your blessings:
  •  It helps keep your “wanter” from being out of wack when you make a conscious effort to notice everything you already have be given, above and beyond your basic needs. (The Bible tells us in 1Timothy 6:8  “Having food and raiment let us therewith be content”
  • It is a reminder that You are blessed so that you may be a blessing to others.
  • You cannot be grumbling or angry and thankful at the same time, and writing down your blessings forces you search harder for more and more things to write…and it just happens to change your outlook and thinking about alot more things as well.
Now for some people it might work just to have an envelop taped to the refrigerator door, or a small box or basket placed on a table near the door of your home, or some other place where you can jot down a few words and drop the paper in  as you begin each day.  However, as you may have guessed, I get a crafty idea once in a while.  I decided I just had to make something special for us to use. And here is what I did:
blessing jar pic 2I took a canning jar out of the cupboard (remember, not many veggies this year so I can count that as a blessing to be able to have an empty jar for the project!) and took the flat lid off the top but put the ring back on for a little decorative touch. Then I printed a little sign the says “Count Your Blessings-Name Them One By One”. I printed it on plain paper and simply glued it onto the front of the jar! Super easy with a glue stick or with kids school glue (I added a few drops of water to school glue to help it spread smoothly on the thinpaper).  Next I dug around in the scraps of supplies in the Craft 
blessing jar pic
Cabinet and found a piece of burlap ribbon, some red berries, and a few strands of raffia which I fashioned around the top ring just to dress it up. I made a small pocket of fabric to hold the blank strips of paper and a pen and attached it with part of the raffia.
The finished product is sitting on a shelf near our kitchen table. I guess all that’s left to do now is to start counting and filling up that jar! 

Picking up where we left off....

Sweet Pea, Pumpkin, Sprout, Cabbage, Bunny, Little Birdie, Baby Bean, —(Let me see, any other garden references?) It doesn’t matter what you call him, he is finally here and just in time for growing season!
I took a break from writing posts and (ashamedly I admit) from pretty much everything else garden related, as we were doing a little growing of a different sort!  Yes, we have added our long awaited firstborn to our nest. We’re now in a fairly good routine, and Mommy’s eager to get out side and play in the dirt again! (I am thankful the desire to garden, and the taste for eating more veggies again has returned. Unlike my LOVE for chocolate…which I suppose is not really a tragedy after all.)
With the demands of a newborn to consider, I have scaled back the crops to fit in only our original section or “Veggie Garden 1”.   I am quite sure I can handle the upkeep on this smaller version just for this season, especially with the help of my youngest brother as a guest gardener/weed puller! The basics (tomatoes, peppers, green and yellow beans, cucs, zucchini, eggplant) were all started in the greenhouse, but kinda late since I should have had them started just about the time we were getting ready to go in for delivery.  Since the peppers never sprouted, I resorted to store bought plants: 2 each of jalepeno, big berthas, and sweet banana. I also picked up a few “early” cabbage plants though I couldn’t find the 45 day cabbage like we had last year. Oh, and I added a few new purchased plants to the herb garden (rosemary, parsley, dill, basil) since my seedlings for those are struggling too.  Everything has been planted out while the weather has been rather cool and rainy.
I think that is just about where we left off last summer as far as the garden goes. There are also a few projects that we worked on over the course of this sabbatical so I will probably write up some posts about those things while we wait for the weather to warm up and the gardens to get growing! Check back soon…

Friday, April 6, 2012

Can Preparedness/Self-Reliance Still Be God-Reliance?

If you could time warp back about 25 years, you would find me as a little girl sitting on the floor of the closet in my bedroom with several Cabbage Patch Dolls (and my brother when I could convince him to participate) playing "emergency." The dolls would be bunkered down in their "safe area" where they had stored all the toy kitchen food, jump ropes and a flashlight.

Take a few years leap forward and you would see a teenage big sister, whose parents happened to be gone from home leaving the others in her care, when a power storm raged, a tree branch caught a wire, and the electricity was surging. In my mind, our old house would surely catch fire and I needed to devise a plan for waking my five young siblings and removing them all safely from the house.

Other various snapshots throughout my growing up years would show (particularly when the t.v. was beeping those severe storm warnings across the screen!) a small duffel bag packed with my Bible, an envelop of family pictures, money, a blanket, a flashlight, (and my favorite stuffed animal of course!) Or the "medical" bag I used to keep filled with things like bandaides, tape, scissors....

I don’t know where, as a child, this sense of needing Emergency Preparedness came from. I didn’t even know the term back then. It was just something I did. So, as an adult with a husband and home of our own, it just seemed to carry over—it was the natural thing to do—to have a plan, grow a garden, keep a food and storage pantry. And it evolved to include lowering our debt/dependence, gaining some tools and learning useful skills. But as a God-fearing Christian, I wrestled with the idea that our planning and storage was a mere measure of my lack of faith. Especially with today’s increasing use of the buzz words self-reliant, prepper,& doomsday setting people on edge, in conjunction with the economy and turmoil around the world—I needed to solidify my own explanation for when people ask questions.

Attempting to live each day of my life in line with God’s will and with the direction of His Word, I turned to the Bible for the support and clarity I needed to decide what measures to take as well as how to address the subject with other people. My findings give a confirmation and comfort that our “self-reliance” as it may be called is still “God-reliant.” 

Firstly, let me not be mistaken—Spiritual Preparedness is the number one priority. Knowing Jesus as your personal Savior is the only true Salvation. Next, what I am referring to in this article, is Physical Preparedness…
~Being prepared is an act of faith and is good stewardship of the opportunities and blessings God has given us.
~His promise is to provide for all of our needs—Don’t you think that His abundant blessing now could indeed be that provision for later on? 
~We are to minister to others in love—Now this is different of course than redistribution/forced charitable giving we do under the control of someone else….(but I’d better save my thoughts on that for another article.)

~Noah—upon God’s instruction and warning of things yet unseen, Noah took action and built the Ark whereby saving his family. (Genesis 6-9, Hebrews 11:7)
~Joseph—took food into storage during the 7 years of plenty, and was therefore prepared for the 7 years of famine which followed, even to the extent of being able to help his family when they arrived in need. (Genesis 41-42)
~the ant—small, and not strong, but prepares food in the summer; and the badger makes its house in the rocks.  (Proverbs 30:24-26)
~Parable of the 10 Women—5 were unprepared by not taking oil along for their lamps, while the other 5 planned ahead, taking enough oil to keep their lamps burning through the delay and still be able to join in the marriage banquet.  (Matthew 25)
~Warnings—In the world there will be great tribulation (John 16:33) There will be wars, earthquakes, famines, pestilence (Luke 21:9-11)

Now, I don’t pretend to know exactly what our future holds, but I do know I will do my best to honor God and care for my family as I continue in Godly-self-reliance and preparedness. I ask you to assess your own situation and choose just a few things to start with even as simple as buying extra canned goods to have on hand, or learning a useful skill, or growing and preserving some of your own veggies this summer. I invite you to join me as we learn and grow—subscribe to my blog here at, where you can follow along to get updates and tips from my gardening, preserving, crafting, (and more!) adventures toward independence and salvation.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Spring Training 2012

Ok everyone! It has been officially spring for about a week now, and we have had unusually warm weather anyways... so, I hope you all are getting ready for full swing gardening!!  Yep, time to get our chubby-wubby, frumpy-dumpy bodies off the couch and get busy!

What I did first of all was make a list, (ok, ok, several lists..its what I do!)

1-an all encompassing spring clean up/outdoor project list including things like fix the lawn sweeper trailer, pull weeds, clean out deck boxes where I store pots and tools, things that need trimming, garden ornament lanterns to be painted, check hoses for leaks, etc--everything.

2- a list of all the veggies, fruits and herbs I plan to grow this year with source of seed/plant and date to sow listed, as well as which ones we still need to buy when they are available such as sweet potato plants.  I am sure you have seen the wall o' seed packets at your local store's always very exciting. So many to choose from!

3-a "garden map" or visual layout of the gardens and what is going to go in where, taking into consideration rotating crops from where they were last year.

Now, since we've been sittin' around all winter (not even much snow to shovel this year to keep us in shape) it's going to be rough getting started out there!  But you don't really have to pull any break-your-back all day events, not yet anyways.  For the past couple weeks, I have been trying to work in the garden for at least an hour every evening, and I have so many things marked off the list already.   Here are a few things you can work on this weekend to stay on track with me and the GetawayGarden...

-Onions, the starter sets should now be available in your local garden center. I picked up a bag full of regular yellow onions and a bunch of sweet onion sets and got those in the ground a few days ago.  For onions the earlier the better as far as planting goes.

-Peas and Greens actually do best in cooler weather so they can be start now too.  Day before yesterday I sowed seed for spinach, shelling peas and snow peas.

-Experimental Radishes and Beets--I have not grown either before, but the seed packets say to sow as soon as the garden soil can be worked in the spring...they're in the ground now so we'll see what happens.

-Seed starting pots--peat pots are readily available, or review my post from last year about making your own out of newspaper.

-Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant, Herbs--all of these seed packets suggest  starting the seed indoors (or in the greenhouse) about 8 weeks prior to last frost date. For our area that is right now!  And that is just what I did today.

-Fruit trees--Last year we started our "orchard"  of 9 fruit trees (3 apple, 3 pear, and 3 peach). I was a little late in reading up on the fruit tree care and missed the first time they should have been sprayed already this spring, but I did spray them with appropriate fruit insect spray this evening hoping it isn't too late. I will read a little more about them and try to stay better on schedule with that.

That should be enough to keep you busy this weekend.  I will be "supervising" the men & boys outdoor work party day tomorrow so you have plenty of time to catch up!  Have a great weekend.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Plant Profile: Snowdrops

One of my favorite signs of spring is the lovely white snowdrop, a member of the Amaryllis family. I have them planted near the main entrance door of our house so I will be sure to see the leaves start to peak up through as the snow thaws. With a few warm days scattered in here and there the delicate flowers begin to bloom, usually lasting a couple of weeks.

I have heard of several varieties, however I believe mine is the most commonly found "Garden Snowdrop." The thin stems grow about 4 inches high, and 2 or 3 narrow leaves emerge with the stem, from the base of the plant. A slightly sweet, almost honey-like fragrance adds to the beauty of the flower which consists of 3 pure white lobes and shorter inner parts with distinct bright green spots.  The plant readily multiplies by offsets (small bulbs form along side the primary bulb) meaning a clump of Snowdrops will become quite dense within only a few years of planting.   Also, they seem to be pest-free as none of the deer, rabbits, or chipmunks who frequent our gardens have ever bothered with them at all.  This honey bee however is a welcome visitor!

Do any of you have these early bloomers in your yard?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Wildlife Feature: Praying Mantis (part one) "Oooo! It's an Ootheca?"

What in the world is an "ootheca" you ask? In a literary context, it is a combination of Greek word oo or oon meaning egg, and theca or theke meaning container.

I did a little research this week after I found a strange looking growth attached to one of the Burning Bushes in our yard. My first thought was "Oh great, what kind of gross or destructive creatures are going to come out of this thing." I needed to find out so I would know if I should leave it alone or smash it now before it could develop or hatch into a zillion nasties to infiltrate the garden!

My research revealed it is an ootheca or egg case of the Praying Mantis, and is therefore a good thing to find in the yard after all. Knowing it was a unique find, I scoured the bushes to see if there were any more and sure enough I counted 11 attached to Burning Bushes that line the edge of the driveway, and found none anywhere else in the entire property. At this point my interest was certainly peaked, and I wanted to know more about the responsible insect.

You can see in the photos I took that the egg cases are about an inch and a half in height and about as big around as a half dollar, though these were the best specimen and some of the others were smaller.  They are a tan color (remind me of the size and color of a perfectly toasted marshmallow) and they resemble Styrofoam.

I learned that the female, after mating in the autumn,  lays between 100 and 400 eggs deposited in a frothy substance.  Each egg is in a separate compartment with a sort of one-way valve opening to the outside, and these compartments are in in layers. (I pulled apart one egg case which seemed to already be damaged so we could see what the layers looked like--see photo below)   Sometimes the female will create 3 or so of these structures before the onset of winter. The foamy secretion then hardens to form a tough, protective encasement, to keep the eggs safe from winter weather and predators.  Depending on the species of  Mantid, the ootheca may be on constructed on a leaf or fence post, deposited on the gound, or wrapped around a twig such as those I found.
Ootheca split into layers showing separate egg compartments

According to information I read, the eggs will hatch after several weeks of warm weather in the late spring or early summer. Nymphs (which resemble the adults) will emerge from the tiny flaps/spaces in the ootheca and hang on silk-like threads a few inches below the case, until they dry out. The process occurs within a small window of time, only around 2 hours, so it is hard to observe.  At that time they will disperse into the plants and begin eating and growing, and will molt their exoskeletons as many as 10 times during the summer until they reach their full size.

Praying Mantises are meat eaters...that is why they are beneficial to the home gardener! They do not eat vegetation, but have insatiable appetites for almost every kind of insect. For this reason, live adults and/or ootheca egg cases such as I have, are sold to organic farmers and others to replenish this natural form of insect control. Grossly enough, the larger Mantises can even overcome and devour larger things such as hummingbirds, frogs, lizards, and mice!  The adult insects hold their front legs together in the well known "prayer" position, and will wait for long periods of time for their prey to come just close enough, then strike with an incredibly fast grasping motion.

The Praying Mantis is easily recognizable due to the following features:
-3 body sections (head, thorax, abdomen) with part of the thorax extended in a distinct "neck"
-2 large compound eyes
-Very freely rotating head
-Large front legs (famous "praying hands"), extremely strong with spikes to seize and hold prey.
-Color--many shades of camouflage, varies with type, however in our area most notably a shade of green

I located the picture below on Wikipedia.  If all goes well, we should be seeing these later on in the summer.  Actually, now that I think about it, since we have 10 more egg cases which could each have several hundred nymphs break forth...oh unusual infestation?  Of course the praying mantises are cannibals and eat each other, and are subject to predators like large birds, bats, and the giant insect eating hornets, so that will lower the numbers too.  It will be interesting to keep an eye on the cases as the temperatures warm up this spring, and I am excited to have these bug eating helpers in the garden this year!  I will write a follow up post later in the season and let you know what happens!
Praying Mantis photo taken from