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Howdy!

Welcome to the first edition of the PH Gazette. This has been a dream of mine for a long time.

This month we have Articles by Gina Kay on farming in Texas, Chigger on farming in Montana and HisEllieMae has supplied us with a fun quick craft!

Recent discussions on PH have been on things we have done to save during this month. Some are lucky enough to have decent gardens and are already able to begin canning! Ways we are making the dollars we are stretching are also always welcome!

Here in my part of Texas the drought is so bad they are severely limiting watering. I can barely keep my porch plants alive, a garden this year is hopeless. I am already planning ahead for mulches and things I can do for next year to be able to have a good garden.

Please join in and share your tips tricks and ideas. This being our first news letter it has not gotten off to the whizzbang start we had hoped for! We had software issues galore putting her together! Hopefully we will learn more as we go and be able to provide current events and fun activities!

Thanks for stopping by!

Mel

Gardening in Texas

Growing veggies in Texas can be complex. Soil types and amount of rainfall varies within the state. Where I am, more toward the southwest, the soil is sandy, heat is intense all summer, and very little rainfall the past few years. Due to the soil type we have the more watering has to be done and more fertilizing. With sandy soil it's best to water at night to allow the water to penetrate the soil deep enough before the heat and wind dries it up. From my experience the best veggies for this soil type and heat are:
watermelon
cantelope
peas (esp purple hulls)
peppers
radishes
corn
cucumbers
squash
zuccinni
Blackberries grow also very well. They do well in partial shade but require more water so a good place for them is along the garden fence where they can have some shade and the they can be watered when the garden is watered.
Tomatoes also do fairly well but require more watering and little more fertilizer.
I've always had a problem with squash bugs attacking the squash and cukes. This year I'm planting radish seeds alongside them. Plant the seeds about 1 1/2 mos after planting the cuke and squash seeds or, if planting seedlings then plant the radish seeds at the same time. Radishes are ready for pulling in less than 2 mos so I keep extra packs of seeds on hand to replant until the cukes and squash are done for the season. Dollar General has American Seeds 3 for a $1 and carry radishes (those are the one I use and are very good).
After gardening in the same spot for 5 years I'm finding myself needing to fertilize with commercial fertilizer in addition to manure. Moving the garden would involve taking down and putting back up a secure permanent fence. Too much to be able to do this year. At the end of the season, after I've picked the last purple ull pea, I let the livestock in to eat everything down and fertilize the soil. Around November I close it up to allow the manure to age.
Tip if you have livestock:
right inside the garden gate keep a large raised bed of common grass and weeds. Therefore if you forget to close gate, or it doesn't close completely, the livestock will have something to eat on for awhile to give you time to get out there. It may not prevent them from getting to the veggies but will slow them down. I learned that the hard way
.

Spring?

It's spring, or is it?  We have had as many days that we had to have the wood stove going as days that we didn't. 

But the big thing here with Spring is garden.  Yes we garden here in NW Montana.  But it is always a big challenge.  We have a small hoop house here in the house that we have grow lights in for starting our plants.  We have a big 20' hoop house up in the garden.  That one we plant right into the garden dirt.  But we use plants that we either start in the house first or buy. 

Last year we turned our whole back yard into 5 large raised beds.  One of them has June bearing strawberry plants in it.  And the others will be planted with veggies.  We made all 5 beds with hoops over them like a covered wagon.  In the early spring we use plastic over the hoops.  Plus older quilts, and blankets we have bought at the thrift store.  This helps keep any heat in.  We tried it without the quilts and lost the plants to cold.  Now the job is that every night those quilts must be put on the covered beds.  And every morning once it warms up they must be removed.  Plus with the plastic the temperatures must be watched so the plants do not cook.  We can open the hoops on the ends to still keep the plants warm but not cook if need be.  Or the plastic can be rolled up on 1X1 cedar boards the length of the beds.  Needless to say spring is a full time job around here.  For the most part the garden can be planted a couple of weeks earlier by using this method.  And in the fall can be kept alive a couple of weeks longer.  Now you might say what is a couple of weeks here or there?  Well in NW MT it is a lot.  It is the difference between having home grown tomatoes or those nasty cardboard store bought ones. 

We also raise Muscovy ducks here.  I started raising them over 8 years ago.  I really enjoy them plus they really eat a lot of bugs.  And living with a creek that can get pretty low in the summer we can get bugs.  The ducks do not go in the creek.  We have a wading pool for them to swim in.  They do walk over most of our place.  And once in a while when playing in a mud puddle in the driveway have then forgotten to not chase a grasshopper.  And have gone in the road.  So far we have not lost any that way.  Last year we had our first babies hatch.  We now have 9 of last years babies all grown up.  And 4 older ones which gives us 13 ducks.  3 of which are drakes and 10 hens.  We do not need any more ducks.  We will either sell or butcher any hatched this year. 

We have chickens as well.  We have a motley crew of hens.  Lots of different breeds.  Even have 3 silky chickens in the bunch.  And a very large nice rooster.  The chickens are for eggs as well as meat. 

And then we also have my rabbits.  And yes we do eat rabbit.  It is all white meat and we do enjoy it.  The biggest thing is to not make pets out of rabbits that you will later have to eat.  I do have one rabbit that is shall we say on the retirement plan.  We got her because she was abused.  I paid money to get her from the place she was living.  She has returned that love many times.  She is the only rabbit that doesn't have to earn there keep to stay here.  The rest of my rabbits are not pets.  They are like livestock for meat.  They are fed, watered, and have clean conditions for living.  But they are not pets.  I once had a neighbor telling me how horrible I was for butchering rabbits.  I kindly reminded her that her and her dh raised beef.  She said "so what?"  I told her that to me baby calves were also very cute.  She was eating a hamburger at the time.  She got up and left.  But it is the same thing. 

But I was raised to do the things I do.  I remember helping my parents butcher when I was 6 years old.  Now to some people that might seem horrible.  But I was taught what to do and how to do it.  By the time I turned 9 years old it was my job to not only raise the rabbits but to butcher as well.  So yes I learned at a very early age how to do a lot of the things I do.  I also learned how to cook.  After all it was part of the process. 

And this year we are starting something new to us.  And that is raising honeybees.  I will not be doing any of the outside beehive work.  And the reason is I am allergic to bees.  I am not allergic to honey and we do enjoy honey.  So my dh will be doing the outside beehive work.  And I will be the person running the honey extractor.  And cleaning that part of the equipment this year.  We bought the hives as kits that had to be put together.  And my dh put them together and I painted them.  We are kind of excited as this week we are  suppose to get the bees.  We have planted alfalfa and clover in the lower field for the bees.  And they have the creek for water.  We also have fruit trees and berry bushes for the bees to enjoy as well as for ourselves. 

So as you can see spring in Montana is a very busy time of the year.


Krafty Korner

Hello, Lovely Ladies!
 
Welcome to our Krafty Korner, where each month we will be featuring a specific craft project!  The objective is for those of us who choose to participate to complete the project as individuals, and then upload a photo of our finished product to a particular thread on the board so that we can share in the excitement of the fruits of our labors!  Each month, the 'pattern' will be the same for everyone; however, each finished product will turn out differently as we choose our own materials and supplies to individualize it and make it our own.  Here on Prairie Homemaker, we have seamstresses ranging from beginners to experts and everything in between ~ we will be doing projects easy enough that even us beginners can participate.  Won't it be fantastically fun to see what everyone else creates?!
 
So, to kick off, this month we are going to give our best shot at making a Zest Tote Bag, a free pattern from Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores.  I have not yet made this tote ~ I will be creating mine right along with you! ~ but, I have read through the instructions and believe that even I, the most novice sewer of all, stand a good chance at finishing something that will resemble a tote bag when I reach the last step.  Please join me!  You may wish to read the reviews, as some of them explain a challenge or two encountered along the way, as well as ideas for 'improvements'.  Remember, we will all be working from this pattern, but how we personalize our tote is up to each of us!
 
The deadline for completing your tote is Wednesday, July 6.  Please plan on having your photo ready to upload by then ~ if you are unable to upload a photo, you may, of course, still participate...you'll just have to 'paint a picture' in our minds with your words.  We will have a thread in the Sewing Circle available for posting questions and encouragement as we progress through our project, and then we'll have a thread for our photos.
 
I'm so excited ~ I hope you are, too!
 
Now, I'm off to find the 'perfect' fabric for my tote...
 
~ HisEllieMae
Most Novice Sewer of All





 


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