Can you feel the spring?

The end of February is probably the time when everything around here is the freshest and greenest. After a week of rain, I went out to see my little garden completely covered with unruly weeds – but all my plants looking healthy and invigorated all the same.

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The tomatoes are actually starting to grow tiny fruit! I’ve tied the vines to the fence to keep them from sprawling over the ground.

DSC_1098My little papaya is really beginning to shoot up

The mint and hyssop are looking nice and fresh. So do our potted celery and beet greens.

I hope that even those of you who are still snowed in will get to feel the breath of spring soon. As for the folks at the southern hemisphere, who are gearing up for autumn, I’m wishing you a cozy, snug winter with many cups of tea, good books, and crafts.

Busy as bees

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Lately, I challenged myself: instead of fiddling with my phone whenever I have a spare moment, what if I whip out the crochet hook and work on some little project? The result: surprisingly quickly, I completed this adorable (if I do say so myself) tiny dress for Hadassah. It’s made of yak wool blend similar to this one and is very soft to the touch, cozy and warm.

I didn’t follow an exact pattern, but I can say that I started working from the waist up on the front half, then went back to work from the waist down on the skirt, and in the end stitched front and back halves together on the sides.

Also take a look at this latest little video on my YouTube channel: honeybees busy at work on the mustard flowers in our garden. With a nice sunny spell, we’ve finally been able to do some weeding (not enough) and planting (somewhat haphazardly).

 

Bright and cheery

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I just love how bright and cheery the garden looks after some heavy rains and with a nice bit of sunshine and warmth. Yes, the tomatoes are actually blooming! It feels like spring.

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The garlic is growing at amazing speed too. The fresh green leaves are delicious in salads.

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Almond tree in full bloom – quite seasonable for the month of Shvat in Israel.

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This gorgeous little fellow was darting to and fro among the flowers, and I managed to capture it during a moment of rest.

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Beautiful winter roses. What can be prettier?

Listen to the rain

Time for another garden update! I’m really behind on weeding, because we’ve had so much rain and the outdoors are so chilly and unwelcoming, but at least things are growing.

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Tomatoes – one of the varieties we’ve planted.

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My husband’s container potatoes. It’s his special pet project.

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White beans… I did do some weeding here since this photo was snapped.

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Garlic shoots are just poking out of the earth.

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A row of mustard – we enjoy the tender young leaves in a variety of soups, stews and salads.

What about you? Growing anything? Or are you waiting for the thaw?

Making the land come alive

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When we first arrived at this new home of ours, I looked around and said in despair, “there was beautiful, living land all around. Why would the owner choose to kill it by smothering it in concrete?”

I mean, I know some people aren’t really into growing stuff. All they want is a hassle-free, low-maintenance yard with no mud, weeds or critters. I get it, I really do. But there are options that are less damaging, less ugly, and less permanent than concrete. Breaking concrete apart can be difficult and costly for those who aren’t used to this kind of work and don’t have the right equipment.

We didn’t give up, of course. We’re too stubborn for that.

Read more in my recent Mother Earth News post:

“There‚Äôs nothing like having the freedom to grow and raise whatever you want on your own piece of rural land, but town living has its potential for homesteading and sustainability. Our gas costs have dropped dramatically since we no longer need to drive for every little errand. Also, in a larger local network of people, there is bigger potential for swapping, trading and giving things away.”

A winter garden

Our new little garden-in-progress is starting to reward us with its first seedlings just poking out of the earth:

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Tomatoes.

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Beans.

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Squash.

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Mustard greens – the latter actually sprouted from seeds I pulled off the spice shelf and stuck in as an experiment!

So far we’ve had pleasant mild weather with rain from time to time, and there are usually no frosts around these parts, so hopefully we’ll be able to grow some food this winter.

Progress!

Remember this?

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Last week, we rented a tractor, carried away a ton of debris such as old moldy mattresses, concrete rubble and rusty poles, plowed under the weed jungle, handpicked another mound of smaller scale litter (old plastic bottles, beer cans, ancient shoes), and started preparing the space for our future garden.

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The place now looks like this. There is still a slab of concrete in the middle that was too difficult to remove, but we figure we can use it as a foundation for a chicken coop or a greenhouse.

I’ve already marked some beds and planted beans, squash, and peppers. I know it’s unorthodox to plant at the end of October, but I figure there are plenty of places where the summer is about as warm as our winter, and people still report being able to grow tomatoes and peppers there, so what have we got to lose? One thing is certain – outdoor work is a lot pleasanter in winter around these parts.

Stay tuned for more news about us and our work to make the most of this little urban homestead-in-progress.