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

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Winter Reading in Anticipation of Spring Gardening

Is anyone else getting anxious for spring, to get outside and play in the dirt again?  Even though this seems to be the "winter that wasn't" for our area, I have reached the point where I am definitely ready to get out of the house.
Our yard is a disastrous sight!  Sticks and branches of all sizes are strewn everywhere, and leaves that the neighbors didn't clean up from their yards during the fall have come to settle in the edges of my flower beds and collect at the base of the garden fence.  There is driveway gravel tossed into the lawn from the little snow shoveling we have had to do.  The end of a small stack of firewood has tumbled down, probably from the raccoon that likes to climb the nearby pine tree.  Because of the strangely non-winter-like weather we have had, lots of weeds have already grown in the bare veggie gardens.

If you consider dealing with those sorts of things, then I suppose the coming of spring doesn't seem all that appealing does it?  But then of course there are the little snow drops up about 2 inches already, the first flowers in my yard to bring a glimpse of the joy and hope of spring.  And too, the greenhouse has weathered the season exceptionally well; with only minor attention to adjust the door slide and a few panel clips, it will be ready for seed starting trays--lots of them!   In addition to these, I have my bookshelf of winter reading to get me geared up for gardening.

There are so many places to turn for info these days, but I am "old school" enough that I like to have my resources in hands-on format.  Sure, I look up lots of things on the internet, I would be foolish not to take advantage of it, but like to have a books of my own. Books that I can skim, re-read, highlight, write side notes in, crease and wrinkle, and go back to time and again.

One book that I picked up a few years ago is The Vegetable Gardener's BIBLE, by Edward C Smith.
The Vegetable Gardener's Bible
It includes so much practical information that can be adapted to any home garden, and includes a plant directory (index of vegetables and herbs) with individual plant needs, crop rotation considerations, choosing the best site, sowing and growing, harvesting and storage of every kind of food plant we would ever want to grow in our back yard.  This is one of the books as I described before--highlighted, page corners folded over, and referred to often!

Next you see the cover for a book we bought last year. I have read bits and pieces of it so far, and have found it very interesting and well written.  As you can tell by the few and far between posts this winter, I have yet to become the Four-Season Harvest-er. The author Eliot Coleman, gives lots of helpful information about extending your home gardening season by the use of cold frames, greenhouses, row covers, varieties of crops and other things that I aspire to do one day...and reviewing the book while wrapped in a blanket on a cold day now is a sure way to start to get that "gardeny" feeling.

Gardening Magic
Strange facts, odd solutions and tips for using household products in the garden can all be found in Joey Green's Gardening Magic.  Things like poison ivy remedies, "recipes" to deter various pests, coffee and tea fertilizers, and easy hand cleaners can be really useful, even if I can't see myself taking some of his other suggestions such as using mouthwash to clean pruning tools or the legs cut off of a pair of pantyhose stuffed with rags tied around my knees for kneeling pads. (That one is kinda different?!?!)  If for no other reason, this book was a fun gift from my hubby because it makes an interesting "coffee table" book or conversation starter!

(Note:As of the time of this post, all of the books pictured can be found at Clicking on the link below each book's picture will direct you there!)

Do any of you have favorite resources for your gardening information? I would love to hear from you and check out your book suggestions too!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Winter Non-Garden Projects: Cat Scratching Post

 From time to time, especially during the winter when there is little to do outdoors,  I "get crafty" and have to urge to make something. Sometimes that involves sewing, sometimes its scissors and glue, other times its my toolbox.  YES, I have my own tool box, and it stays in the house right where I can find most things I might need.  It is really multipurposed in its existence, but one reason I have it is so I don't have to go searching in the garage for hubby's tools! (I will save the other reasons why I have my own toolbox for another post.)

This project is actually the result of my saving a small scrap of carpet left over from a whirlwind weekend apartment makeover we did for a family member last summer.  The piece of carpet was pretty small and very stiff, and retained the shape from being rolled up on a tube--as new carpeting usually is. Well as it was laying there on the floor, I (in my sleep deprived state) thought I could use it for some project or another and tossed it in the trunk of my car....and there it stayed...and was used for various things alright, like a mat under a hot baking dish when I took a meal to a family at church.  Then I got the brilliant idea--as our cat scratched the end of our couch with her claws...and scratched at the carpet on our stairs...and scratched at the cushion on the chair--to make a scratching post! AH HA that carpet would be useful right?!  hmmmm...

Shortly after I thought of my "great project idea,"  my dad was checking out some thing under the hood of my car and needed something out of the trunk as well.  He asked "why do you have this scrap of carpet?"  So I began to tell him of my magnificent plan!  He disappeared into the garage and quickly returned with a heavy cardboard tube that I could use for the project....but what was I going to use for a base to keep the thing upright? Then the task got really interesting as although he would deny it, dad likes a good crafty project as much as I do! And besides it was for his grandkitties as he affectionately refers to our 2 cats and reminds me that neither my sister in law nor myself have given him any REAL grand children yet so he has to spoil the cats. Anyways, back to the project--We rummaged around in the garage and found a piece of 3/4 inch plywood which dad then cut into an 18 inch square, (yah I have a tool box but no power tools so I needed help with this part, hee hee).  He then meticulously measured the ends of the tube and cut a circle of the plywood to fit snuggly inside each end, and secured them with a bit of construction adhesive. After finding the center of the plywood base, he drilled 4 holes and added 4 wood screws to hold the post (tube) onto the base (square plywood).

You can see the 2 parts pictured here.

I took the bare construction home with me and set out to cover the tube with my salvaged carpet scrap--which turned out to be way to short for that, and way to stiff to fold over and cover the baseboard.  So after all that time saving it... it ended up in the garbage anyways!
NOW WHAT, UGH!  I had to rethink my plan.
Later I found a thin rubber backed rug on clearance at the store for only $4, and snagged that to perfectly cover the base. My trusty staple gun came in handy for fastening it tightly and smoothly over the edges of the board.  Then a quick trip to the hardware and $7, resulted in a 100 foot roll of 1/4 inch twisted sisal roping to wrap the vertical part of the project.   The pictures below show how I just tied a slip knot,  tightened the loop at the base of the tube,  then tightly wrapped the rope around and around til I reached the top of the 19 inch post, where I finished with a knot and a dab of glue to keep the end from fraying.
You can also see one little furry friend was interested in her present before it was even finished!

To make the fixture more interesting to the cats, I attached a toy to it.  The small fishy is on the end of an elastic cord making it fun to bat at and bite and pull on!  A simple screw in the center of the wooden disc on the top of the tube holds the other end of the elastic string in place.

And here you see the finished product with a kitty cat trying it out.

Oh, I almost forgot to write a few extra notes on the subject:

Why do cats scratch on things?--to keep their claws clean and sharp.

How tall should a scratching post be?--at least as tall as the cat is long when standing, or taller so she can stand on her back legs and stretch up with her front paws.

Make sure the post is sturdy--so it doesn't tip over when that cat first tries to use it, and startle her into not wanting to use again.

Multi surfaces--such as wood, twine, cardboard or carpeting, provide variety for the cats to work their claws on but protects your furniture, curtains, rugs and clothes.

See ya again soon with another winter project post!

Monday, February 13, 2012

"To Blog or Not To Blog?" That is the question!

"To Blog or Not To Blog?"
Hello readers. Did you miss me?  Did you often check to see if there were any new posts only to be disappointed? Have you wondered and worried what has become of the getaway gardener during the winter?

No, not really?!  I didn't think so. 

Not much has been going on in the gardening department here, nor the green house (as winter gardening in there is still in the experimental stages for me).   I worked on a few non-gardening related projects during the winter, and I may get around to posting about those, but does anyone really want to read about the projects I am doing?  or about my upcoming gardening plans? or creepy little buggies that crawl around in the garden later in the season? or my burnt tomato sauce and other such preserving mishaps?    

Recently, I was asked if I was going to continue with the blog this year ... and I didn't really know how I wanted to answer, so I have spent a little time thinking on the question. Here are the things I have been mulling over:

SUBJECT MATTER:  I have some ideas, which seem interesting to me... but then when I think about sharing them, ugh. I think well "now they will all know I am a weirdo for sure!"    Of course, "I am what I am and that's all that I am, I'm Popeye the sailor m.. ", oh oopsie that can't be the song I was goin for....where was I?  Right, being weird!    I guess it's probably a good idea to share the trials and triumphs that we are experiencing as we do our best to be good stewards of the opportunities and resources we are given, and in this day and age, blogging is probably the most widespread and easy venue for doing so.  Also, do I limit this to garden-oriented stuff, because it has been named "getawaygarden" specifically, or is it acceptable to expand to other projects, info and skills I learn, try, conquer (or fail)?

TIME MANAGEMENT:  Is posting really the best use of my time? or is it something I can "allow" as my "rest time" activity?

AUDIENCE:  I only have 9 official blog followers! and the hit or miss few that happen across the occasional link from facebook...

AM I ANY GOOD AT THIS:  Well let me just say here that I used to be smart, quite smart in fact  (insert wide cheesy smile)  but eh, the brain is getting a little out of practice in the finer things as I have spent so much time in the last few years almost completely engaged in child care, elder patient care, diapers (yes from both of the former categories thank you), reading books which have less than 20 pages and include lots of pictures, medicine regulation and administration, well you get the point... very often now I feel like the ol' brain is just about mush!  SO, am I kidding myself in thinking I can still intelligibly translate my thoughts into articles that a-people want to read, and b-convey information that is somewhat useful or at least mildly entertaining. And is   keeping up with writing to y'all, researching topics that come up about gardening, and etc possibly GOOD for my noggin! 


CONSPIRACY WARNINGS:  Ok, so seriously these are the real concerns in today's world...The things I feel are important enough to blog about/share info on/whatever... are also the topics that cause a lot of people to be on high alert.  Can I deliver vague enough postings so as not to be considered a target (in any of several aspects) and still clearly transmit useful information, experience, and values to my readers?  The things I hold most dear are Faith, Family, Freedom and the Preservation of all three--It goes without saying that each of these are under attack and so are the people that promote them.

Here's where you come in!  Tell me you want me to stay.  Join this site as an official follower if you haven't yet, then share me with your friends! Get me some more followers! Leave me comments, questions, and topic suggestions...

I will be waiting to hear from you...