Welcome to the Woods. Stay A While!



If you'd like to know more about who we are, and what we do, visit our about page.

You can also get an idea of who I am, on a personal level, by viewing any post in my philosophy category.

Garden Update: 7-10-14

Posted By on July 10, 2014

It’s been a while since we’ve done a proper garden update. As you can imagine, all things green have boomed with early summer rains, weeds included! Lots of time has been spent pulling unwanted plants, putting in new crops as spots open up, adding new beds for flowers and veggies, and enjoying our hard work.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Above is our original veggie plot, but if you can see the back and side have been expanded and planted with tomatoes and corn! Here’s a look at some of the wonderful heirloom tomatoes we’re growing this year.

Rosso Sicilian Tomato

Rosso Sicilian Tomato

Rosso Sicilian Tomato Bunch

Rosso Sicilian Tomato Bunch

The Rosso Sicilian Tomatoes are a fabulous large, paste like tomato. Actually, it’s pretty good for stuffing, too! We currently have seed for it in store and will continue to have it for years to come along with all the tomato varieties we’re growing this year.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

These next two we’re not entirely certain what they are. Yes, we labeled where we planted each variety in general. No, we don’t know the exact spot for similar looking kinds. We’ll be able to tell more once the tomatoes ripen. These are either Gypsy or Wisconsin 55, leaning more to the prior.

Yellow Perfection Tomato

Yellow Perfection Tomato

Yellow Perfection is a beautiful yellow pear shaped tomato. It’s about the same size as Roma Paste, but with an obvious difference in color and taste.

Sweet Baby Tomato

Sweet Baby Tomato

Sweet Baby is a cherry type tomato. Very vigorous in fruiting and growth, but absolutely deliciously sweet as the name implies.

Marvel Striped Tomato

Marvel Striped Tomato

Marvel Striped is a funny one. It’s a large, orange/yellow tomato that has deep creases. Very funky and fun to grow in the garden. Plus, it reminds us a bit of our favorite comics with a name like ‘Marvel.’

Roma Paste Tomato

Roma Paste Tomato

Amish Paste Tomato

Amish Paste Tomato

We’re growing two varieties of paste tomatoes this year. We’re looking to do more sauces and ketchup with them. They’ll be good eating, too!

From tomatoes let’s skip to our corn. We’re growing a sweet corn called ‘Tri-color Sweet Corn.’ It’s an interesting variety, because it gets blue and yellow multi-colored kernels. We grew this kind our second year and decided to go back to this delicious heirloom. It was a great choice, too, since the crop is looking to be the best we’ve had yet! Below are pictures of the ears and silks. As you can see, they’re two different colors! The yellowish ones are the newly emerged silks. As the ear gets pollinated and begins to mature the silks turn a beautiful purple color.

Young silks

Young silks

Mature Silks

Mature Silks

Last year we grew cucurbit family plants but this year it’s our bean arbor! We have Scarlet Runner Beans growing up it.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

One of our prized plots is this onion plot. It holds 19 varieties of heirloom onions that we will be trying to get to seed in a couple years. The beautiful thing about it is that we’ve finally found out how to grow nice big onions. Lots of water, lots of sun, and a weeded plot are ideal for ultimate health of the plants.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

The rest of the post will be photos without our added banter. Enjoy the garden eye candy and get inspired!

Potatoes

Potatoes

Romanesco Broccoli

Romanesco Broccoli

Di Cicci Broccoli bolting

Di Cicci Broccoli bolting

One of the Pepper plots

One of the Pepper plots

Ripe Tequila Sunrise Pepper

Ripe Tequila Sunrise Pepper

Congo Trinidad Chile

Congo Trinidad Chile

Jalapeno

Jalapeno

California Wonder Bell Pepper

California Wonder Bell Pepper

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Nardello Sweet Pepper

Nardello Sweet Pepper

Cucumber Vines

Cucumber Vines

Fruiting Cucumbers

Fruiting Cucumbers

Golden Sweet Peas

Golden Sweet Peas

Fall Time Leeks

Fall Time Leeks

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

Utah Tall Celery

Utah Tall Celery

Dragon Carrots and Rutabagas

Dragon Carrots and Rutabagas

Dragon Carrot root

Dragon Carrot root

Rutabaga root

Rutabaga root

Eggplant Blooms

Eggplant Blooms

Salsify

Salsify

Siberian Kale

Siberian Kale

Ground Cherry

Ground Cherry

What’s growing in your garden?

Red Currant Galette

Posted By on July 8, 2014

10513467_299237866917404_7186273805735110875_nThis year is the first time we’ve had a substantial harvest of currants here at Sheltering Woods. We planted our Red Lake currant in 2011. The first season it hardly grew, the second it showed some hope, last year we got a few fruits, but this year we had masses of little red gems in long tendrils of clusters. the entire harvest was about a quart and a half. We ate some fresh and froze some as well. The frozen ones will allow us to enjoy their tart delight in the dark of winter.

The beautiful thing about currants, though is that they’re considered a ‘superfruit.’ They’re high in antioxidants and vitamin C. They also have a decent amount of calcium, iron, protein, and dietary fiber. They are wonderful when eaten fresh and raw, or cooked like in the recipe shared today!

This galette is delicious and simple to make. Beautiful with its rustic charm and a wonderful way to use up some of your currant harvest.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Pie Crust
1 cup White Flour
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/3 cup Shortening (I use soft coconut oil)
6 tablespoons Ice Water
1/4 cup Oatmeal

Filling
1 cup Red Currants
1/4 cup Sugar (I used Sucant, giving it a darker flavor)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Directions:
1. Mix Flour and Salt into large bowl then cut in shortening with fork or pastry blender until mixture looks like a coarse meal.
2. Add water in one tablespoon at at time until dough completely sticks together. Be sure not to add too much water or over mix. A little crumbly that can be pushed back together is fine.
3. Roll dough out into a 9 inch round. Transfer to a baking sheet.
4. Mix currants, sugar, and vanilla together. Pour into center of rolled out dough.
5. Gently fold up sides of dough over the currant mixture, so that you have a nice edging and currants still show through the middle.
6. Sprinkle oats onto edge of crust.
7. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until crust is lightly brown.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Getting More Out of Your Radishes

Posted By on June 29, 2014

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA Spring is officially over and summer is just starting to come into its own. That means a whole new season of foods are starting to ripen and our lovely spring crops are setting to seed fast. Summer’s hotter and longer days are causing our lettuce, spinach, arugula, and radishes to bolt here at Sheltering Woods. While this may be a melancholy event for some of you, it opens up the opportunity for new life and new food!

One food in particular that we would normally chuck in the compost bin or save a few for seed is the earthy radish. By now the roots are too woody for any delightful eating, but there is something else we enjoy!

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

As you can see in the photo above, our Purple Plum Radish are going to seed. The sight starts as long, spindly spires that open up to beautiful purple flowers and then into seed pods.

Radish Flowers

Radish Flowers

Radish Seed Pods -- Rat tails

Radish Seed Pods — Rat tails

Both the flowers and young seed pods are additional edible parts of the radish plant. The pods in particular are quite wonderful! In the culinary world they’re referred to as ‘Rat Tails.’ Sounds appetizing? Haha, not so much. Don’t let the common name for these delectable little treasures lead you astray, though. The taste is quite delightful. We consider the taste as a cross between an edible pod pea and radish. There’s a nice crunchy sweetness followed by a zing of spice that you usually get from the radish root.

So, next time you see your radishes go to bolt, don’t pull them up quite yet. Let them fruit and harvest the young seed pods for salad, snacking, or cooking in stir fry.

Saving Money on Plants: Hostas

Posted By on June 17, 2014

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAFor every gardener, saving money on what you buy is a real joy. Why? Because with that money saved we can buy more plants! At Sheltering Woods we love to get more for our money, so we’ll be sharing posts on how to get more out of what you buy. To start us off, let us introduce you to the lovely Hosta.

Hostas are shade loving, herbaceous perennials cultivated primarily for their foliage. However, they do shoot up lovely displays of elongated bell like flowers ranging from white to a deep lavender. Today’s cultivators’ color range from yellow to green. There can be strips of white rimming the leaf, set inside, or swirled around with the green or yellow. It seems the color combinations are endless. We recently bought a variety that you’ll see below with red stems. In addition to coloring, size and texture are a highlight of hostas. Leaves can be large rounds that are deeply veined or thin, smooth blades. Some hosta grow 3 to 4 feet tall and wide while others are just a few inches big. Whatever you may need in your shade boarder, hostas are sure to deliver!

If you’re buying hosta this year there are a few things you should consider:

1. Are they on sale? Not necessary, but if you want to save money keep an eye out for discounted prices as garden centers try to get rid of excess merchandise.

2. What space will the plant be filling? As mentioned before, hosta come in a variety of color, texture, and size. Look for plants that will fit your space properly and compliment any existing plants.

3. Is the plant healthy? With any plant you buy, you want one that’s healthy. You’ll want to see hearty stems with luscious leaf growth. You can nurse damaged plants back to health, but not everyone is up for the job!

4. What does the structure of the plant look like? Is there just one shoot in the pot or several bunched together? If you’re looking to get more for your money, look for pots that have more than one shoot in them.

Now that you’ve gone and purchased your plants, we’re going to show you how to stretch that dollar a little more!

This is done by splitting your hosta. Hosta reproduce themselves by cloning their root systems. Each year a clump will get bigger and bigger if not divided.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Above is a close up of a ‘Gemstone’ hosta we bought. Do you see how many shoots there are in the pot? That’s what we’re looking for. Those shoots tell us that there is an extensive root system that can be split fairly easily.

How to Split Hosta
1. Remove plant from pot.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

2. Gently remove all dirt from roots. You can do this with your hands or soak the roots in water to rinse off the dirt. We do it with our hands and shake the rest out which also loosens the roots.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

3. Split. Look for individual stalks that hold their own root system. Gently pry away a piece from the bunch. You must be careful and methodical while doing this otherwise you risk ripping off the shoot’s delicate root system.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

4. Plant your split hosta and admire your new plants!

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

Here’s a breakdown of what we saved:

All plants were bought on sale for 50% off. So, we started out right to begin with! From each pot we got 2-5 new plants.

‘Gemstone’ : $8 original price, 50% off, 5 split plants
(8-4)/5 = $0.80 per plant

‘Con Te Partirio’ : $14 original price, 50% off, 4 split plants
(14-7)/4 = $1.75 per plant

‘Fall Dazzler’ : $8 original price, 50% off, 3 split plants
(8-4)3 = $1.33 per plant

‘Cherry Flip; : $12 original price, 50% off, 2 split plants
(12-6)/2 = $3.00 per plant

Total Saved: $102.00

Out of the 5 hosta we bought a regular person would have put those original plants straight into the ground. We, on the other hand, split ours and ended up with 9 additional hosta plants and $102 saved! We saved money through a sale and splitting. As the years go by our plants will bulk up and we’ll have even more to split and place around different parts of the garden.

What’s Growing At Sheltering Woods – 5-29-14

Posted By on May 29, 2014

Things have really greened up and exploded here at Sheltering Woods during the month of May. We have been super busy planting and mulching and dealing with the everyday.

Our purple kohlrabi is really doing well this year! We leave the clover there since it fixes nitrogen into the soil. We didn’t get much last year so I’m looking forward to trying it for the first time.

Purple Kohlrabi

Purple Kohlrabi

Same with the spinach. Our spinach bolted right away last year, but this is heat tolerant variety. We have been enjoying it quite a bit.

Spinach

Spinach

Our Arugula patch is doing a lot better than last year as well! I’m not sure about the flavor, its very strong and almost has a hint of sesame in it. One or two leaves are great, but I certainly can’t eat all this!

Arugula

Arugula

We are growing Dragon Carrots this year and couldn’t be more excited for them! They are doing wonderfully, much better than other varieties we have tried. We have two patches going, planted about 2-3 weeks apart.

Dragon Carrots

Dragon Carrots

Our sweet pea flowers have been slowly coming up.

Sweet Peas

Sweet Peas

This is the first year we are planting White Icicle Radishes. I haven’t been doing well with radishes this year so we’ll see how these grow. So far I’ve only gotten one tiny Purple Plum Radish!

White Icicle Radish

White Icicle Radish

We planted Desiree potatoes from Seed Savers this year and they are doing very well. We have been seeing some potato beetles this past week, however, which is a first in the 3 years we have been growing here. I think they overwintered near our old patch, because we have some stray potatoes coming from last year and have been seeing many potato beetles on those plants and of the two new patches we planted this year, the one closer to the old patch has gotten a few bugs. The farther has not gotten one yet which is proof enough that rotation works. As a precaution we are pulling up all the stray potatoes from last year. Potato beetles overwinter in the ground, so its best to put down beneficial nematodes in the fall. All the beetles will be eaten by the nematodes over the winter. For now, though, hand picking each evening nabs us 3-4 beetles and a few patches of eggs. Nothing we can’t handle….yet.

Desiree Potatoes

Desiree Potatoes

Our scarlet pole beans are doing excellent, although they have been munched on by something (as usual). They almost always recover, however. The beans themselves have hints of scarlet on them, but the flowers are bright red which is what gives this bean its name.

Scarlet Pole Beans

Scarlet Pole Beans

We have a few eggplant scattered around our garden this year! We got a couple good ones last year and didn’t have many flea beetle issues like years past. I think it was the beneficial nematodes, so we’ll be putting them down soon this year.

Eggplant

Eggplant

Our volunteer lettuce has really gotten big! I can almost see some butterheads forming…

Volunteer Lettuce

Volunteer Lettuce

More of our radishes. We have Purple Plum and Black Spanish in this patch.

Radishes

Radishes

Our lettuce beds are finally up to picking! We have Red Oak and Little Gem in this bed.

Lettuce

Lettuce

Remember those Turnip Flowers we posted about? Well they’ve turned into seed pods now! Not quite done yet, but we’re going to be swimming in turnip seeds in a month or two.

Turnip Seed Pods

Turnip Seed Pods

One of our eggplant has decided its time to reproduce!

Eggplant Bloom

Eggplant Bloom

Our Golden Sweet Peas are doing great! Might be planting a second round pretty soon.

Golden Sweet Peas

Golden Sweet Peas

Our broccoli and cauliflower have really been exploding! They have doubled in size the past couple of weeks.

Broccoli

Broccoli

More of our broccoli and cauliflower… You may notice all the clover growing in there! We planted red clover and are letting it fix nitrogen for our brassicas. Might explain why they are doing so well.

Broccoli and Cauliflower

Broccoli and Cauliflower

Our peppers aren’t doing quite as well as the rest of our garden. Half of them (mostly the hot peppers) got zapped by a frost a week or two ago when the cover we put on them blew off. They lost all their leaves, however, we left the stem in the ground. Almost all of them have new leaves coming though, so we’ll see!

The rest have been a little too wet for their own good. I pulled back the mulch we had on them last night so they’ll dry out now.

Peppers

Peppers

Last but not least, our tomato crop is beginning its long growing season. 60-70 tomato plants this year (minus a few from frost and wind) so we will be needing to buy a LOT more canning jars and lids this year….

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

We have also been planting a lot more including more fruit trees which we’ll share later on. Only so much you can put in one post I think!

What’s Growing At Sheltering Woods – 5-7-14

Posted By on May 7, 2014

We are going to get into the habit of doing posts where we show progress on almost all the things we have planted for the season. We have quite a bit growing at the moment, however, the spring season seems to be off to a slow start. I am blaming the long winter, cool soil temps, and some old lettuce seed that we tried to grow but haven’t had much luck with. Despite the bad lettuce seed, we were fortunate enough to have some lettuce from last year come up! We always let our lettuce produce seed, and last year some spilled on the ground. It’s growing wonderfully – much better than the lettuce we planted ourselves.

Volunteer Lettuce

Volunteer Lettuce

Also, we planted our potatoes over Easter weekend, and they are now poking through the soil! We planted a variety from Seed Savers Exchange called Desiree.

Potatoes

Potatoes

Our celery transplants are doing well. We are growing Utah Tall Celery this summer and its the first time we have ever grown it. Excited!

Celery

Celery

We were also surprised to find a few forgotten turnips this spring. We planted these last year, and they didn’t do a lot, due to poor soil. They sprung to life this spring, however, and have produced flower buds! We’ll be collection seed this fall and selling it in our Etsy Shop.

Turnip Flower Buds

Turnip Flower Buds

We have many of our peppers planted out, with only a few left to go. We are growing Tequila Sunrise, Nardello and Martins Carrot peppers in this bed.

Sweet Pepper Transplants

Sweet Pepper Transplants

We also have all of our onions, shallots and leeks in the ground! I would list them off, but we have over 20 varieties of onion growing (we love onions) and are planning on collecting seed from each variety next year. Keep watching our shop for new additions.

Onion Transplants

Onion Transplants

Little Hagins, Amish Paste and Rosso Sicilian Tomatoes

Posted By on May 6, 2014

Amish Paste Tomato

Amish Paste Tomato


The past few days have been spent getting quite a few of our tomato transplants in the ground. I didn’t realize it at the time but I planted 72 tomato plants earlier this spring! That is the most we’ve ever had, topping the 50 or so from last year. Now we are trying to find room for all these new additions.

We planted our Amish Paste (26 plants) where our old chicken coop sat. We covered the bed with some of the free mulch we got a couple weeks ago. This will help regulate moisture and give us a healthier crop.

Amish Paste Bed

Amish Paste Bed

Last night, we spent the night digging grass on the north side of our garden and managed to get 17 tomato plants planted – 9 Rosso Sicilian and 8 Little Hagins tomatoes.

Before Planting

Before Planting

After Planting

After Planting

Tonight we will be digging up a good chunk of the rest of the grass on the north side of our garden, and planting at least another 15-20 plants. We are planting in mini-keyhole garden beds so we can maximize how many we fit in the area. In a three-plant by three-plant area, we can fit 7 tomatoes in, leaving 2 squares for a path. Putting in a traditional walking path would leave us with 6 tomatoes and 3 squares for walking.

May Flowers at Sheltering Woods

Posted By on May 5, 2014

Red Tulips

Red Tulips

Things have really begun greening up here at Sheltering Woods. From the tulips and daffodils, to the plum and cherry trees and the strawberries, winter has finally subsided for the year! Here are a few of the pictures we took from this past weekend.

Magnolia Blooms

Magnolia Blooms

Pink Bleeding Heart

Pink Bleeding Heart

Pink/White Tulips

Pink/White Tulips

Grape Hyacinth

Grape Hyacinth

Tulips and Daffodils

Tulips and Daffodils

Strawberry Blooms

Strawberry Blooms

Flag Iris

Flag Iris

Plum Tree Blooms

Plum Tree Blooms


How are things blooming where you are?

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. Thank you for supporting Sheltering Woods Homestead!

Garden Expansion – East Side

Posted By on May 1, 2014

Garden Expansion - East

Garden Expansion – East

Last night I worked outside after work for about 3 hours until dinner time expanding our main garden on the east side. Despite it being cold, wet and miserable the past week or so, once I got working I warmed right up! We’re planning to plant our sweet peas there (probably tonight) along the fence, and so need to get this done. Its a bit late for peas, but it’ll be fine, we’ll just eat later.

We are also planning to plant our onions in this area in front of the peas. We have planted nearly 2 dozen varieties of onions this year, most of which are being grown for seed in our Etsy shop.

Onion Transplants

Onion Transplants

Expanding the garden didn’t prove too difficult. I used our tiller to maul the grass, and then took about an hour to remove most of the grass by hand. This method proved to be less physically demanding than prying up slabs of sod with a pitch fork! It ends up being a little more messy, but I prefer not to break my back.

After that, I unhooked the fence at one end and wrapped it around the newly installed posts (installed with a post driver, highly recommended rather than doing by hand!) and used metal ties made from the fence wire to secure the fence to the post.

I’ll update tomorrow on the finished expansion (if it doesn’t rain tonight), with pics detailing everything.

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. Thank you for supporting Sheltering Woods Homestead!

Beginning Our Secret Garden

Posted By on April 30, 2014

Garden Fence

Garden Fence

We have begun constructing our own Secret Garden. There are many reasons why we are building a secret garden, certainly not least of which is the great novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett (highly recommended). It is going to afford us some privacy from our neighbors (our backyard is wide open). It will also block noise from the highway that is 1/4 of a mile away (sounds like an interstate). It will also keep the deer out of our gardens, because we are planning hedges along the north, east and south sides of the secret garden.

Most of all, however, it will provide great beauty once we have it established. We are going to paint the west fence (pictured) bright white and will have 3 different arbors with climbing flowers and fruit vines.

We also planted hollyhock and foxglove along the front along with lemondrop marigolds. In the metal bin we planted African daisies. Only a few months until this fence is draped in beauty!

Garden Fence

Garden Fence

On the back side of the fence we planted a seedless grape variety called Reliance.

Next to where our large arbor will be we planted a Hardy Kiwi, which will provide us with small, hairless kiwis in a couple of years!

Annas Hardy Kiwi

Annas Hardy Kiwi

All of the wood posts you see also came with our property so they were free! It wasn’t too hard to get the posts in the ground and to level them. I used a narrow shovel, but it would have been easier with a post hole digger of some sort. But I am cheap and enjoy manual labor!

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. Thank you for supporting Sheltering Woods Homestead!