Friday, March 30, 2012

Life on Triple Creek Farm, The Sweet Potato

I awoke this morning and I knew today was the day for the sweet potatoes to be planted.  The sets were in a bucket waiting for me and the pot was ready.  I took my bucket and went to the creek to get the sand.  If you do not have a creek you may purchase builder's or sharp sand.

March 28, 2012

The first thing I need to do is cut the long shoots off the sweet potatoes.  The potatoes are 2 years old,  they were my crop from 2010.  Using a standard nursery pot I filled it about half full with sand.  I then placed the potatoes in the pot.  Covered them with sand.  The pot was placed in the cold frame.  If we have a cold night, I can close the cold frame and they will be protected from freezing.  The pot needs to be kept moist.  Do not let it dry out.

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Keep the pot moist.

Protect from frost and freezing.

I check my pot everyday to see if a plant is showing thru the sand.

Patience, they will come.

April 19, 2012    I see signs of growth.

May 4, 2012   I will start slipping next week.  I will only plant one bed of sweet potatoes so I will only need about 12 plants.  Last year we had a serious mole problem, I will pot a few extra for the moles.

May 10, 2012  The plants have grown large enough to slip. The slips were pulled from the sweet potato, if you need more slips just replant the potato and more will grow.  I will plant in pots so the slips  can establish roots.  This is not necessary,  I just prefer to do this.  You can plant directly in the garden and keep them watered until they start growing.  I have a problem with moles or voles eating my plants.  They will pull the whole plant underground and it is gone.  I have tried planting garlic with things they enjoy eating and it is helping some.  I will intermix some garlic with my sweet potato sets.

May, 24, 2012 There are good roots on the plants I potted and I am going to plant them in the garden.

I will be putting in all of my plants today and tomorrow.  The mother plant is busy making little ones and I will take the mother out of the soil.  Weeding and feeding the plant is what I will be doing now until fall when it is time to dig the sweet potatoes.  You do need to dig before the frost.  Allow them to lay on the ground to cure.  I will post in the fall so you can see if this was a good year or I need to do something different.

You may also read my blog Sweet Potato Sets, check the side bar for location.  Thank you for reading and sharing with me.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sweet Potato Sets

I can hear Daddy now.  "Bootsie, bring down the basket of sweet potatoes when you come."  We stored the sweet potatoes in the attic beside the chimney and the entry door was in my bedroom.  Quite often I was awoke by Momma trying to sneak into the attic to get sweet potatoes.  The door had a creep to it and it always woke me up.  This morning I jumped out of bed and got dressed.  Opened the attic door and picked up the basket of sweet potatoes with sprouts just beginning to show.

Breakfast was ready when I arrived in the kitchen.  Bowls of Momma's oatmeal with a plate of sausage biscuits were steaming on the table.  Daddy had sausage drippings on his plate,  he added molasses  dipped his biscuit into the mixture and ate.  Daddy enjoyed molasses and pork drippings.  We finished eating.   Momma said,  "Go on, I know you want to get going."

Yes, we did.  Daddy had already hooked the wagon to the tractor.  I climbed on the tractor seat and started it.  Daddy got into the wagon and off we went.  Over to the woods and down to the creek where we would get sand.  Daddy had several buckets in the wagon and the shovel, he filled the buckets and I was picking the running cedar.  After the buckets were filled and loaded into the wagon, we went on a walk. In these woods we spent a lot of time and anything that changed we noticed.  New bird's nest, spring leaves coming out on the trees,  deer tracks and tiny deer tracks.  Maybe we would see a fawn.  There was a red headed woodpecker working on a dead tree.  The woods were busy with action.

We returned home and Momma had lunch ready, after eating Daddy announced there was work to do.  I went with him and we planted the sweet potatoes to make sets.  In the plant bed Daddy had put a big pot which we started filling with sand.  About 3/4's full he put in the whole sweet potatoes and we filled the pot with sand covering the sweet potatoes completely.  Watered the pot and now it is time to wait.  I checked the pot everyday until I could see the little leaves coming.  Slips were on the way.  Daddy let the slips grow until they were well rooted, slipped them off the mother potato and planted them in the garden.  We planted 2 rows of sweet potatoes.  They were given one can of water everyday until they perked up. Now they would grow into lush plants.

Yes, I start my own sweet potatoes, I am amazed at the price the seed companies get for slips.  If you have ever had a sweet potato growing in a glass of water you can slip and plant it.  The only thing I do different is, I plant my slips into 4 inch flower pots and when the roots come out of the bottom of the pots into the garden the plant goes.  This makes the plant stronger and it is off and growing.

One morning this week, I will have breakfast and head out on Mrs. Jones to the creek.  There I will fill my bucket with sand and I will walk thru the woods to see what is going on.  I will be planting my sweet potatoes in the cold frame.  My pot is ready and the sweet potatoes have sprouted.

                 Daddy, I think I can do this by myself.
                                   Plant the sweet potatoes and water.
                                              Did Daddy say?  "Now, Bootsie, we just have to wait.
                                                                                          Patience little girl, they will come."

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Triple Creek Farm, March 24, 2012

This week has been warmer than normal.  I am not getting the amount of work completed I need to because I get so warm.  Being a lazy gardener I come into the house where it is cooler.  Return to finish chores later in the afternoon.

The problem with the early heat; there is no shade as the leaves have not come out on our trees.  There is no escape from the heat.  In the summer my garden gets the morning shade and I can work in the garden until about 1:00 in the afternoon.  I am waiting for the leaves.


I worked with the sourdough bread again this week and I am so pleased.  I have always wanted to make sub rolls and burger buns.  These are nice and soft.  I do hope they taste as good as they look.

The meal of the day during the summer is salads.  Veggies from the garden, fresh eggs,  and homemade dressings.  I just finished making raspberry vinegar.  My oil and vinegar dressing this week was the oil from marinaded artichokes and raspberry vinegar.


Trees are coming down.  Four were felled this week.  One is ready to be split and made into fire wood.  Two will be used for the borders on my raised beds.


The girls are feeling the heat.  They are holding up the wings and panting.  I will be giving them more water with ice, treats from the fridge and putting water in plant saucers on the ground so they can keep cool.  One night when I was putting them to bed, they were panting just like a puppy dog.  You feel so sorry for them.  I had better watch Mr. Bootsie as he will bring them into out house to keep them cool.  We are lucky, the chicken coop is up off the ground and they stay under there during the day.  The temperature is much cooler under the coop.  They are waiting for the leaves on the trees, also.  There will be shade for them and it will make such a difference.

The girls provided us with 47 eggs this week.  They are holding their own, the average is better then 6 eggs a day.


I have stolen Mr. Bootsie and  he has been tilling for me in the afternoons when he comes in from his day job.  Things are starting to come up in the garden.  Potatoes were planted this week.

The raspberries and blackberries are putting out leaves.  Remember, blackberry winter comes in May.  That is when the blackberry buds and the temperature goes down for the blooms to set.

The fall planted kale and lettuces are blotting.  I see the bloom heads forming.  A mole decided the fall planted spinach was theirs, those little demons were pulling the whole plant into the ground.  When I realized I had a problem, I planted garlic around the few I have left.  I will be harvesting enough for a few salads.

The bedding plants are doing good.  I am thinking I will be moving some tomatoes and peppers into the greenhouse next week.  The heat burned some of the leaves on the cabbage and broccoli plants with floating row covers over them.


Another good week,  Retired Chick came to the country for a day of refreshing country air.   Her trunk full of plants.  Somethings I needed for runoff control and they are in the ground.  She left with a few plants I needed a home for.  It is always so much fun sharing plants.

Maybe this year I will learn to pace myself and use my time more productively.  I am enjoying the time I spend with you.  Time for me to sweep the front porch and dust the rocking chairs.  There is a pot of tea steeping.   Yes, I will sit for a spell and have a sip of tea with you.  Come again real soon.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Momma's Rolls

All children have memories of their mother's cooking.  I always say I would like nothing better than to return to Momma's kitchen and have one more meal.  That is impossible, but I have fond memories.  Momma made the best batch of rolls in the world.  After breakfast in the morning she would get the yeast cake from the fridge and heat some water on the wood stove and start her process.  In a small bowl she mashed the yeast cake and if you were lucky a little crumb would be handed to you.  The heated water and sugar were added to the yeast cake.  She let it sit until the bubbles were almost to the top of the bowl. Now she added the flour, a small amount maybe a cup or a cup and a half.   Mixed the flour with the yeast and let it start to proof.   When this came to the top of the bowl she would cover and put in the fridge.  In the winter it would be put on the back porch.

The recipe was in Momma's head.  She had made so much bread she could do it in her sleep.  The rolls always tasted the same, the yeast never failed and our home smelled so good when the rolls were baking.  I never felt the need to learn to make her bread because she did such a good job.  It is one of those things I am going to take a day, have Momma make her bread and write it down.  Well, you know the rest of the story.  I waited too long.  My desire to make Momma's rolls went to the grave with her.

Every family get together someone brings up the conversation.  Remember Grandma's rolls?  I do not think the whole family has been together when the rolls were not there.  If Momma left a legacy it was her rolls.  I made the decision I would learn to bake bread.  I found a recipe and I could make good bread but not Momma's bread.  I started remembering how she did things.  I had always thought she did the sponge method.  Started searching for  recipes and now I know what she did.  Momma made a quick sour dough bread.  She never kept any of the starter, it was used in each batch of bread.  It has taken me until now to understand how she made the wonderful memories for our family.

If I should ever be able to make rolls to taste like Momma's I will be pleased.  Somewhere in the far back of my mind I see Momma making her bread.  I am going to try and see the whole picture  With her help maybe I can have one more pipping hot roll with butter just like Momma made.

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Triple Creek Farm, March 17, 2012

Spring Fever, yes, I have spring fever.  There is so much which needs to be done and I am floating around from task to task.  Hung clothes on the line this week.  They smell so good.  The buds are swelling on the redbud tree and I know it will be in bloom soon.  The summer magnolia is blooming,  this plant has a history of being in full bloom and we have a killing frost  which burns the blooms.  I spent more time just walking and looking, I should be working.  But it is Springtime in Virginia.


With DST starting this past Sunday, I am trying to adjust to a new schedule.  Prepare dinner, put the girls to bed and come in to eat our evening meal.  Work in the garden and help Mr. Bootsie if he needs a second set of hands.  Needless to say I have just been putting something on the table.

I found the most wonderful recipe on a blog.  I was looking for something different to do with the sourdough starter.  I found a recipe which called for sourdough starter and kefir milk.  The first time ever I had a recipe suggest to use kefir milk.  I was so excited.  Two of my passions in one dish.  These English muffins are wonderful,  I am so glad I took the time to make them.  


Work continues on clearing the way for the fence.  More trees to be felled and cut into fire wood.  Tractor shed has its sides on now.  This will work until we have a building.


Cutting the girls back on the scratch for the warm weather.  They do not need the corn to produce heat during the summer.  I started them on sunflower seeds for the evening treat.  They could not be more pleased.  They enjoyed a big bowl of popcorn and munching on chickweed plants as I pull them from the garden.

Egg count this week was an amazing 48 eggs.  WOW, 4 dozen eggs from 10 little girls.

Idgie  is another of the "Fried Green Tomatoes" girls.  I find it very interesting how the girls can be like their namesake.  This little girl can get something going on and have everyone running around and clucking at nothing.  I do not see how she can cause so much trouble.  Idgie had her own way of keeping things interesting.  We have 3 gray cochins and Idgie is the lightest gray with a pea comb.  I am not sure she will be on the board because she is just a busy body.


I planted seeds, onion sets, transplanted broccoli and cabbage plants.  Comfrey plants arrived and they were planted close to the coop and run.  Comfrey is liked by the girls and a wonderful addition to the compost pile.  It grows at a good pace and needs to be cut.  It will break down quickly in the compost pile.  Things are starting to come up.  If you are interested in the garden, a daily account is posted on the Face Book page Happy Hallow.


This has been a busy week even with my having Spring Fever.  I did not plant my potatoes on the 17th because I was spending most of the day with my little folk.  We went into Charlottesville to see the "Wizard of OZ" at the "Play On Theatre".  Lunch and pictures with the cast.  They had a raffle and I could not believe Mr. Bootsie won the Emerald City.  The little folk would have been a lot more excited if he had won the ruby red shoes.  I can plant potatoes another day.  We made memories, what a special day.

                        Thank you for allowing me to be Gramma!!

                                               We all have to brag about the little folk!!

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Planting Stick

A walk in the woods with daddy was more than just looking for lady slippers blooming or holly trees with berries.  He was looking for just the right stick, out came the pocket knife and  he would cut the limb.  He would walk and whittle.  When as a child, I could not see why he kept fooling with the stick, suddenly he would put it in his mouth and blow through the wood.  What a sound it made.  "Daddy, let me try it."  Oh,  it was  the finest whistle you could find anywhere.  The sad thing was when the wood dried out they split and did not whistle anymore.  Now,  the sling shots he made on our walks were great.  They would last for a while.

Today, when we talk of repurposing I think of Daddy and how he would have enjoyed doing some of the projects.  Just this week I asked Mr. Bootsie to repurpose something for me.  We have some broken tool handles which we use for walking sticks in the winter when we have bad weather.  I was using one this week and thought about something on my bucket list.

I have always wanted a maker about 4 feet long with every 4 and 6 inches marked.  I could lay it on the ground by my row and if the seed are spaced 4 inches apart plant one at every mark.  If one would be good,  two would be better.  I now have 2 rake handles one marked every 4 inches and another every 6 inches.  The best part about this is, I still have my walking sticks in bad weather.

I have realized this can easily be done with a hoe or rake that is your trusty friend and stays in the garden with you.  The only supplies used were a ruler and a paint maker.  If you have only one handle I would suggest 2 different color paint markers.  Use 1 color for 4 inches and another for 6 inches.   And by the way the rake handles came out of someone else's trash.

                         Did I do good?
                                         This is a great tool.
                                                                   I am enjoying my planting stick!

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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Triple Creek Farm, March 10, 2012

Winter by the calendar is still here.  We have experienced a mild winter and I am so spoiled.  I did not want to see more snow on Monday.  It did not last long as the temperature was in the high 30's when the snow stopped.  We did receive 5 inches of snow and this was a very wet snow.  Now I will have to wait for the land to dry out.


I decided to make sourdough waffles.  I made my own recipe as I went along.  Used raw sugar, whole wheat  and all-purpose flours,  sourdough starter,  kefir milk and 3 beautiful eggs from the girls.  Raspberry syrup from our berries was the topping.


My tractor,  Mrs. Jones, had a nice tractor shed, we put in the first year we came here.  The winter of 2010-2011 a tree came down and took out the shed.  She has been covered with a tarp until this week.

Mr. Bootsie put up one of the shelters so I can just go out and she is ready to go.  I know she will be used a lot more.


Wednesday, 10 chickens laid 9 eggs the girls are working overtime.  The total egg count for this week was 44 eggs.  The girls are averaging 6 eggs a day.  I could not be more pleased.


Because of the snow on Monday the garden was white.  I fall plant the onions and garlic in October.  They are fed in January and again in March.    Tuesday morning I decided to feed the onions and garlic the March feeding.  I went down the row with my hoe and made a small furrow put in the plant food and covered.  Now the melting snow is taking the plant food down to the roots.

The raspberries are beginning to show new growth.  Planted a row of English peas and one of beets.  The first green onions were pulled on Thursday, these were not fed as I knew I would be pulling them and I did not fed the garlic I will be harvesting to use as green garlic.


I have been busy dusting off the welcome mat, please know you may stop by any time.  I am so glad you are setting on the front porch and listening to my stories.  New friends joined us in the last few weeks. Come again and bring your friends.  There is always room for more.  Come over to Face Book to see how progress is going during the week.

Spring time is coming.  Flowers are blooming, the first chicken swap was on Saturday, baby chicks are in the farm stores.  This week we will be planting the onion sets and getting the potatoes cut to plant.  Some of the bedding plants are ready to go into the garden.  This time of year is so exciting.  The garden is awakening from a long sleep.  I hope I am up to the challenge.

                               I will be adjusting my schedule this week as we begin
                                                               Daylight Saving Time.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Irish Potato patch

March 17th is the day.  We plant potatoes if the day is beautiful or if we are having  rain, snow, sleet or hail.   The land has been plowed, limed and the rows are hilled.  The soil, we had, was wonderful.  There were no rocks  and it floated through your fingers.  Daddy would use lime to sweeten the soil.  He would hoe the row into a long hill, with a valley between the rows.

My sister and I were to get the potato sets ready.  We had a potato bin in the basement where the potatoes were stored for the winter.  Daddy would mix lime with the potatoes and pack them into the wooden bin. Momma would fix potatoes almost every day for us to eat and there were potatoes left to plant.    We would bring the potatoes from the basement and cut the sets.  This was started about a week before time to set the potatoes.  Daddy wanted to have 3 eyes on the set.   You had to be able to count to 3 to cut sets.  My sister was 11 years older and counting to 3 was easy for her.  So guess what, she cut the potatoes.  I had to cut the long stringy shoots off.  Am I ever going to be able to do the grown up work?

The potato sets are laid out to cure, if they cure before you plant the sets it cuts down on rot.  Now we are not talking about a few potatoes, Daddy wanted a bushel basket of potato sets.  He wanted a mix of the different potatoes he planted saving us from having our own personal potato famine.

When it was time to plant the potatoes Daddy went in front with a pointed stick and made a hole in the top of the hill, my sister followed dropping the potato in the hole, and along I came to cover the potato and bring the hill up.  Momma follow all of us with a hoe flattening the top of the hill.  One row finished, I looked in the bushel basket and there were so many potatoes left in it.  On to the second row, third and fourth.  How many rows?  Daddy planted twelve rows of potatoes.

The sun was coming overhead and Momma said, " Time for lunch."  Off to the house we went, she had a pot of white beans cooking on the wood stove.  They were hot and we were hungary.  Momma fixed a plate of white beans for each of us.  Beet pickle, yes, she put a jar of beet pickle on the table.  We could have some with our beans.  The onions were cut and what a meal.  Momma always used great northern beans for white beans with lots of ham to season them.

After everyone finished their plate of beans, we headed back to the potato patch.  By late afternoon, Daddy was standing at the end of the last row.  Next was my bent over sister who would never stand  up straight again and me kicking the good earth over the last potato hills.   Momma put the hoe on the ground, smoothed the last several hills.  Daddy looked over the potato patch and started smiling.   Momma said she needed to get to the chicken house and gather the eggs.  Did the work ever stop?  I need to go and ride my tricycle. I think I can hear it calling me.

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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Triple Creek Farm, March 3, 2012

When it is about time for the girls to be put to bed for the night the sky gets active.  Thousands of birds fly over almost every night.  You hear them coming from the noise they make.  The Canadian geese fly in and land at the pond.  The sound I love to hear is the tree frogs singing.  They started their song this week.  I start thinking spring when all of these things happen.

The lovely lenten rose is blooming.  This plant was quite large when I moved it here.  I planted it on the side of the creek away from everything.  When the drain field was installed they dropped a tree and guess where it fell.  The lenten rose was destroyed.  I thought never again would I see this one.  To my surprise the roots brought forth a new plant, three years later it is blooming as if nothing had happened.


I made peach bread this week.  This is my recipe, adjusted the sugar and this bread was very yummy and not super sweet.  Spices used were cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.  I made the crumb topping for the bread.


Most of this week has been wet and not a lot was accomplished working on the fence row.  More trees to come out and undergrowth to remove.

A friend told me about a goat from Mexico which has a good taste to it.  If any of you know anything about this breed of goats please leave a comment,  I would like to learn about this one.


I think the earthquakes or the weather has affected the girls.  Or they may have just gone broody.  The egg count this week is 36.

Meet Smokey Lonesome, this little girl is a cochin complete with her own set of house slippers.  "Fried Green Tomatoes" is one of the many movies we enjoy.  This little grey chick who stayed by herself quite a lot of time just became Smokey Lonesome.  No longer, she is the social butterfly of the coop.  They were having an election for Vice President of Social Events and can you believe she was elected by her piers.  I received an order for Popcorn without salt  for at least one time a week.  She is such a party animal.


i have been working outside in the garden.  Getting the land ready to plant potatoes and beets.  I planted Chinese cabbage ( which I use for cole slaw) and pac choi.  Put in a row of green peas.  Learned the chickens like lemon balm and I planted some by the run.  I moved my cabbage and broccoli plants to the outside greenhouse.  Raspberry vines needed a good bit of attention.  I have retied them to hold the weight and may need to do it again.


This was posted on our Face Book Page on Saturday morning:

This morning if you have what was yours yesterday, be Thankful, my heartfelt prayers go out to the many Americans who have loss so much.

Many of you have family and friends, who have suffered the lost of everything.  The ones who lost loved ones,  I am so sorry.

My prayer for today, if we must continue to have this damaging weather may the storms be gentle and not destory everything in it's way.  For those working in the aftermath of the storms searching, repairing utilities, bringing food, medical and every service needed please be careful, stay safe.  Thank you for being there where so much is needed by our people.

May all of you be blessed,

Later in the day, other areas have been hit by tornados.  We can read these words and they will apply again, two days in a row.  We have so much to be Thankful for here at Triple Creek Farm.

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