Welcome to Bepa's Garden!
This blog is about organic gardening, healthy eating and healthy living.
Each month I will be posting Garden To-Do Lists, Tips & Techniques, Garden Project Plans, Photos from the Garden, Recipes and Book Reviews.
I hope you enjoy reading and I hope I can inspire others to start a backyard garden!
Happy Gardening!
~Rob~

Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!



2012 was a crazy year and I am a little happy to see it pass. There were some really great things that happened, and a few that I would much rather just move past and put behind me. It has been a year of change and self reflection leaving me excited for the possibilities of what 2013 may hold! I am looking forward to more big changes and adventures while I journey down this path.

For me the winter solstice signified a time for new beginning. The days between the solstice and January 1st are a time to reflect, dream and plan with New Year's Day being the starting point to take action.

With that being said, here are some of my goals for 2013:
  • Build a 2nd larger greenhouse
  • Expand the gardens to be able to grow more of our own food
  • Fence in the gardens
  • Put up a 12' x 20' high tunnel for winter growing
  • Build a garden shed
  • Install rain barrels
  • Set up a drip irrigation system
  • Attempt to get into the local farmers markets to sell seedlings, flowers and herbs
  • Get the school garden started
  • Put in blueberries, raspberries and grapes
  • Grow more varieties to preserve for our winter food supply
  • Plant mostly heirloom varieties and save seeds for following years garden
  • Work towards becoming more self-sufficient, growing even more of our food
  • Read more organic gardening, farming and homesteading books
  • Develop more of my own products
  • Redesign website to include information on organic growing
  • Organize blog posts to provide information from starting seeds to harvesting crops
  • Take more steps to keep me moving towards my dream
  • Work less, play more
  • Try to live more in the moment! 
What are some of your goals or resolutions for 2013?

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!!

~Rob~

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Tilly's Nest

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Our First Snow of the Season!



We finally had our first real snow of the season!


The cold frame is covered, adding extra warmth to the plants inside.


The ducks seem to be enjoying the snow for the first time.
I brought them out of the garage and the first thing they did was lay down in it!


And as always, Buster enjoyed running around in the fresh snow!


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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Taking some time off to enjoy my family ...



With the holidays drawing near, I find myself extremely busy preparing for Christmas, filling and shipping the last of the orders, and traveling to look at new jobs for my business.

Instead of stressing myself out trying to do everything that I think I need to do,  I am going to slow down so I can spend more time enjoying my wife and my children. 

I have some big changes planned for the new year and I hope you will all continue to follow me along my journey! I have made many new friends and really appreciate all the inspirational and supportive comments. I have enjoyed reading everyone's posts and stories and look forward to seeing what the New Year has in store!

I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday season and I will be back in January!

~Rob~



Friday, December 7, 2012

Book Review - Seed by Seed


Seed by Seed, The Legend and Legacy of John "Appleseed" Chapman
Normally I would review a farming or gardening book, but seeing that my wife is an elementary school  librarian and we are trying to get a school community garden started at the elementary school where she works,  I though it was appropriate to review a children's book.

Seed by Seed is about the legend and legacy of Johnny Appleseed. 
 They say the stories of Johnny Appleseed are part legend and part fact, but he was real. His real name was John Chapman and he was born September 26, 1774 in Massachusetts. He was a farmer who grew apples and offered them to pioneers heading west. He planted apple seeds every day and changed the landscape of our nation. He traveled by foot or canoe and planted apple trees in over a hundred thousand square miles across the Ohio Valley.

John Chapman was a simple man who lived by example. 
The examples he "planted" are:

Use what you have,
Share what you have,
Respect nature,
Try to make peace where there is war,
 and You can reach your destination by taking small steps.

This book gives details about how he lived each of these examples everyday until his death in 1845.

This is a great book to have in your personal library, especially if you have younger children. It would also make a nice Christmas gift and is a fantastic way to teach children about the important lessons he lived by, and possibly get them interested in gardening!

John "Appleseed" Chapman grew so many apples that chances are any apple you eat today is from a descendant of a tree planted by him!


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Vegan Chocolate Chip Scones




We have been making these for quite some time. I can't remember where this recipe originally came from but I think we started with a basic scone recipe and veganized it. These scones are so fluffy and delicious, you can't tell that they are made without dairy or eggs. You can also substitute blueberries for the chocolate chips for equally delicious scones!


Ingredients:

2 cups white, or whole wheat pastry flour
5 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons vegan margarine (Earth Balance)
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
1/3 cup vanilla soy milk (or rice milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 teaspoons EnerG egg replacer mixed with 4 tablespoons warm water

Directions:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400° and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine egg replacer and water, wisk and set aside.
  3. In a food processor, combine flour, 4 tablespoons sugar, baking powder and salt.
  4. Add the vegan margarine and pulse until it resembles a coarse meal.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine egg replacer mixture, soy milk and vanilla.
  6. Add chocolate chips (or blueberries) and wet mixture to dry ingredients, stir until a dough forms.
  7. Place dough on a floured surface and knead a few times. then flatten into a circle about 2 inches thick.
  8. Transfer to a cookie sheet and flatten into a circle about 2 inches thick.
  9.  Slice like a pie into 8 triangles and sprinkle with remaining sugar.
  10. Bake 20 - 25 minutes until golden.
Enjoy!

~Rob

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Making the Holidays Handmade


Fretwork angel ornament.
Each year we pledge to make most of the holiday gifts we give away to family and friends, but we usually end up way too busy to get everything done. We do however always find time to make new ornaments for our tree, sometimes creating keepsakes from items saved from our vacations.

Sea shell angel ornament - shells from out Cape Cod vacation.
If you don't have the means or time to make gifts yourself, there are several online shops that have many talented artist who sell their handmade items.

Some of my favorite places to shop for unique gifts are:

and 

Carved snowman ornament
We also prefer to buy at local shops rather than at the big box stores or malls. We have several shopping villages close by like Old Mystic Village and often take day trips to Quechee Gorge Village in VT.
One of our favorite places to shop for food gift items is The Woodstock Farmers Market in Woodstock, VT. They also have an on-line store which makes it easy to send gift baskets to out of state family, friends or my business clients.

Carolina snowflake ornament.
We are looking forward to the day when we finally have our farm and can give more gifts like canned tomato sauce made from our heirloom tomatoes, or dried herbs, herb infused oils, and other items grown or raised on our farm!

Dried hot peppers from our garden.
Do you prefer handmade gifts for the holidays?

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The Backyard Farming Connection
The Chicken Chick 
Deborah Jean's Dandelion House

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Following my path ...


 "If you are facing in the right direction, 
all you need to do is keep on walking" 
- Buddhist saying

It's getting close to that time when I like to reflect back on these past 12 months and look ahead to what I would like to accomplish in the upcoming year. It seems a little early to start thinking about this, but for some reason it has been on my mind a lot lately. I think it's because over these past few months I have been participating in several blog hops and have "met" some really inspiring people. It has really made me take a good look at where I am in my life and see just how happy I am doing what I am presently doing.

I am a self-employed architectural designer. I design high-end complex stair systems and cabinetry for multi-million dollar homes. I have worked with a client developing and designing a telescoping temporary stair system. I have created a successful business and have built a good reputation for myself. I absolutely love being self-employed and can't ever imagine working for someone else again. It is very enjoyable work, most days, but it doesn’t satisfy my soul. I do love to design, and I will probably always do it to some degree, but I yearn to be out in nature doing something more fulfilling with a greater purpose.

I love gardening and have a passion for growing healthy food. Being a part of this movement to take back control of our food supply is exciting and very important to me. I have been attempting to grow organically on my 1/4 acre suburban lot for some time now, each year learning and expanding my crops, but this isn't satisfying or who I really am. I see myself on a 5+ acre farm, living in an old farmhouse with a barn, a greenhouse and an orchard. I envision a  pond with ducks and chickens roaming the yard, an antique farmall tractor, and a roadside stand where we sell our organically grown produce and fresh baked pies. I have dreamed about buying another piece of property to start a small organic farm for some time now, but that dream always seems to get lost in the day to day bustle of my life.

There have been several events these past few months, some good and some bad, that seem to have sparked a new fire inside, motivating me to start taking steps to get my life where I want it to be. New opportunities seem to be popping up and I have opened my eyes wide enough to realize that I need to follow this path that is rising up in front of me.


I have a couple big projects that I am going to start working on immediately. The first is to attempt to sustainably and organically grow as much of our own food as possible on our 1/4 acre lot for our family of four. I will be blogging about this from planning to harvest and keeping a "journal" of the progress. The next big project is to redesign my website to include as much information as I can about growing, in a seed to seed layout (from planting seeds to saving seeds and everything in between) with an emphasis on heirloom varieties. I will be going through all my blog posts and garden journals to organizing the information into an easy to use online format so others can benefit and hopefully be inspired. I don't consider myself and expert on growing, but I have been keeping garden journals for some time, experimenting with several different techniques and I would be happy to pass along the information of what worked, or didn't work for me.

There are some other things I will be working on as well, like improving my photography skills, especially with nature and plants, to hopefully be able to someday make something of it, expanding my greenhouse so I can start selling seedlings and flowers in the spring, attending more NOFA workshops to better educate myself, creating a better blog format to include more gardening tips, healthy recipes, garden project plans, book reviews and resources, and become more involved in writing about organic gardening. 

"Happiness is not a goal ... it's a by-product of a life well lived."
- Eleanor Roosevelt

I am going to start taking these quantum steps to get to where I see myself in life and work towards living a more sustainable, earth friendly and fulfilling life.

I am not sure where this path will lead, but I hope you will follow me along this journey and I hope I inspire you to also follow your dreams!

~Rob~

"The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the upmost, 
to reach out eagerly and without fear of newer and richer experience."
- Eleanor Roosevelt

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gardener's Giveaway!


Looking for a unique gift for a fellow gardener or yourself?


Deborah Jean's Dandelion House is having a Gardener's Giveaway!

She has been kind enough to feature my blog, Hand-Carved Garden Dibbles, and FarmMade Shop on her blog.

For a chance to win a Hand-Carved Garden Dibble pop on over to her blog, say hello and enter the contest!
A lucky winner will be announced next Tuesday 12/4/12!


**For those that may not win the contest but would still like to purchase a dibble, I am offering
a 20% discount at my ETSY store from Dec.1st thru Dec.7th! 
Enter code DEC20 at checkout to receive the discount!!

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Lazy Sunday Photos ...

It's a blustery day here in New England, overcast and in the upper 30's, but the ducks don't seem to mind the weather too much!



We finally named them, meet Bert and Ernie.
This is what happens when they realize I am picking kale...
then the other one comes running over...

and this is what happens after they eat all the kale!

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Sunday Morning Sunrise...



When you arise in the morning, 
think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.
Marcus Aurelius
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!


Wishing Everyone a Happy and Safe

Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Reflection ...

Today I have a guest post from Amanda (who just happens to be my daughter!). She wants to be a writer and has recently started her own blog "Words on a Journey".


Reflection
by
Amanda

Every year the leaves turn golden
right before they fall,
a blanket of color covers the ground.
I’m grateful for the serenity of the woods,
the beauty of the trees against the autumn sky.
 Maybe it’s the chill in the air
that reminds me of Thanksgiving approaching,
or the way the leaves are scattered about the surface of the pond,
how they spin in slow circlesto create tiny ripples
that supply me with a sense of comfort.
In admiration of the pond, I reflect on other things
I am appreciative of.
My family who is always there for me
with a welcoming hug or words of advice,
my friends who can instantly turn a terrible day around,
warm hugs that make me forget any worries I’ve ever had,
how fortunate I am to have a roof over my head,
privileged enough to attend school.
Once again a mirror image of the sky above
replaces my thoughts as I glance into the water.
The image gives me warmth on the November day.
The only addition to the reflection now
is my smile.

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The Chicken Chick

Sunday, November 18, 2012

What are you thankful for ...

I am thankful for:

A beautiful, loving and supportive wife, 
 two beautiful and intelligent daughters,
having a loving family and caring friends,
my health, and the health of my family,
being able to do what I love, and earn a living at it,
being able to share my life with my two dogs, four cats, two ducks and a rabbit,
(even though some days I feel like taking them to the pound!)
living in an area where I can experience the spectacular colors and wonders of nature,
and being able to appreciate it,
 having had a grandfather that instilled in me the love of gardening,
a grandmother that taught me how to cook,
and having had the opportunity to spend part of my life with them both,
  being on the path that I am on in life,
 and having the means and support of my wife to be able to keep following it!

What are you thankful for?
 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Building a Backyard Habitat: Birdhouse Plans



The days are turning colder and the yard work has pretty much come to an end. It will soon be time to start thinking about what to plant in the spring and begin planning for next years gardens. While you are doing your planning, why not think about building a backyard habitat and consider adding some birdhouses to attract more birds!


Birds will help keep a balance of nature in your yard. Adding some birdhouses for them will help attract even more which can be very beneficial to you garden. The birds will eat insects that may damage or destroy your plants and also help clean old seeds off the withered plants in the fall.  Just remember to use netting or row covers in the spring when you plant so the birds don't eat your seed!



I have added some birdhouse plans to the Garden Project Plans page on my website.
Feel free to download them and build some for yourself!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Growing Sprouts



The gardens are done providing fresh lettuce and vegetables (unless you grow a winter garden), but do you still crave those nutritious greens? You can easily grow them, regardless of how cold it is outside, by growing sprouts!

Sprouts are healthy. They are natural sources of energy, amino acids, minerals, vitamins and nutrition and consuming sprouts provides wholesome nutrition to the body. Sprouts also contain vitamin C which increases the body’s immunity and also prevents the risk of cancer.


There are several different ways to grow sprouts and several different devices to use. 


Sprouts can be grown in mason jars with mesh on top for draining or you can buy an inexpensive commercial sprouter. I started off using the Easy Sprout (shown on the right). It is basically a plastic container with an inside vestibule that you can remove to rinse and drain the sprouts. These types of sprouters work well, but because they have a narrow bottom the seeds don't all sprout and it seemed a bit wasteful. I ended up switching to a Bioset Kitchen sprouter from Johnny's Select Seeds.


There are several different places to get sprouting seeds. You can grow several different varieties of sprouts including broccoli, alfalfa, mung bean, onion, buck wheat, diakon radish, mustard, fenugreek and others. You can order then from online places such as Johnny's or Sprout People, or you can get them from your local Whole Foods or Health Food Store. Wherever you get them from be sure they are specifically for sprouting to ensure they have been tested for E.Coli and Salmonella.

Sprout People have tons of information on their website where you can find everything you need to know about growing sprouts.


Sprouting seeds in the Bioset Sprouter is easy. Just fill each tray evenly with about a tablespoon of seeds then stack the trays and fill the top one with warm water. The water will fill each tray below, soaking the seeds and then will drain into the tray on the bottom. Once it is done draining empty the bottom tray. Fill the top tray with water twice a day - the moisture and humidity are controlled through the bioset. Keep the sprouter out of direct sunlight and at room temperature. Once the sprouts grow and have their leaves you can provide a little sunlight so they can green up a bit!


Once the sprouts are ready, usually in 3 to 5 days depending on the type of seeds you used, rinse them under running water and eat! You can also store them in the refrigerator in plastic bags. If you do, just be sure to thoroughly dry them otherwise they will spoil faster. I use a salad spinner to remove all the moisture.


Growing sprouts is easy and fun way to get those healthy vitamins and nutrients during the winter!

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