The Humble Beginnings of Nelson Acres

My lifelong dream has been to be a farmer. I have been researching and reviewing organic and sustainable methods for a couple of years now, and am now trying to put some of this into practice on my 1/2 acre preparation of the day when I can make that dream come true. This blog is going to be my place to document, share, and follow my successful and unsuccessful attempts as Nelson Acres moves closer to reality.

17 June 2011

 This is just my favorite little garden, with rosemary in the back, oregano in the  middle, and my beloved lantana to lure the butterflies my way.  That figure is from my grandmother's garden, and the well is something Autumn had been begging for the last two years.
 This is not the best part of the garden to be honest.  My little blueberry plant is struggling, so I'll find better places for those next year.  Then I have kale, basil, and broccoli.  The broccoli did not do well again this year, I think my timing is bad in planting it.  I will keep trying though!
 This is the butterfly/hummingbird garden (the previous picture is the right side of this, in front of the brick wall).  This is to attract all my pollinators, then I stuck some veggies in for fun.  This garden was all ugly ivy last year. I had it dug up, then had fresh dirt delivered and put in the retaining wall.  Autumn planted all the butterfly weed, cosmos, and bachelor buttons that are in the lower part.  They are all flowering at this point!
 These are some tomato and pepper plants.  This is my 'fancy garden', shaped like a sunburst...yes a splurge...
 More tomatoes and peppers....they are bigger now (these pictures taken two weeks ago), and some are already beginning to have little fruits on them.
 This is the nasurtium.  The leaves are edible, and currently it has pretty orange flowers on it.  The second row is carrots and radishes, then above it is rainbow chard and some insectory mix.
 The large purple/green bush in the middle back is the Love Lies Bleeding Amaranth...again..very excited for this harvest!
 This is my corn plot, also containing squash, zucchini, watermelon, cucumbers, peas, and room for weeds!  These are now also much bigger, the corn is at least my height.  And I saw some changes in it...will hopefully get a new picture soon...
 My zucchini...can't wait to try it!

This is my greens garden.  They have all now gone bitter, so I need to turn them into compost and plant some more veggies in there...just need the energy to do so!
 Marigolds are supposed to keep away nasty bugs, so I have them planted throughout the garden...they also happen to one of Autumn's favorites!
 Some more nasurtium...and another addition from my grandmother's garden behind them.
 I think these are the cosmos...they are beautiful colors now!
This is the side yard where the raised garden beds you can see...plenty of more room for next year!

Amaranth...a lucky guess on my part! ex-husband (of all people) was dropping my daughter off and as is his habit now that we are civil, he takes the opportunity to appraise my gardens.  Generally, he is very approving, and I have to admit I find this all mildly amusing.  But as he was studying my one garden, he asked me about a particular plant.  It is Love Lies Bleeding Amaranth...I told him I bought it to attract wildlife.  It was kind of a splurge at the time.  But his question did pique my interest about it, since I have looked up so many other things, but I let this just be a pretty addition.
Well, thank goodness he asked about it...amaranth is an amazing plant, and not just for its gorgeous look (hey that describes me, ha ha ha ha)!  The seeds can be used a grain, but without the allergies and intolerance of  other true grains and corn.  It can be cooked, ground into flour, popped like popcorn.  And that's just the seeds.  The leaves can be eaten as well.  The young leaves can be used like spinach, and when they age a bit they taste better cooked.  Amazing!  It is very high in protein and hordes of other vitamins. 
I am now looking at this addition to my garden with new found respect!  I'm also even more eager for it blossom and ultimately give me some of the those seeds to try. Let me attach the pictures I've been promising and see if it is in there...I hadn't been looking for it specifically...but here are the gardens!

07 June 2011

Catching Up's been almost a month.  That's mainly because I'm still sick.  They say I'll be better by September, so I will miss this whole growing season to an extent.  But that means I can get my rows ready for next year :)  This year was mostly about providing for the family and learning, so as you see my pictures, it's more of an edible landscaping adventure this year.  I have not been able to get mulch down or some more compost, but I did feed the herbs, tomatoes, and peppers this weekend.  Need to get to the corn, watermelon, and squash in the other garden.  I tasted my greens today, and they have gone bitter.  So I think I will turn them over where they are and figure out what else to put there.  Maybe potatoes?  I'll have to check what will be a good second crop in that garden.  We had quite the yummy salad though from that batch when my family came down a couple of weeks ago. 
Most everything else is doing really well. I learned I should have planted some things earlier, like the greens and sweat peas (my daughter LOVES these, so I need to plant more next year, too!).  I've also learned that no one in my family likes probably not too many of them next year.  I thinned the corn and spread it out as I mentioned in my last post...go figure, all the transplants are doing well!  So I have an 8' x 8' plot full of corn growing.  Can NOT wait for those to ripen!
The small strawberry plant we had died with all the rain we had, as the big pot I had them in didn't have drain holes.  I'll find a better spot for them next year.  My daughter did get to eat one and loved it. 
Anyway...I will now try and post some pictures I've taken...we'll see how that works.  But it's good to know, even with little help from me, Nelson Acres is still moving along :)

13 May 2011


For some reason, my last post didn't take.  I'll sum up: I'm still sick with this fatigue thing so that is making my plans drag out.  I just got done thinning my corn, which may kill some of it as it was probably too big to do.  I tried to keep the ones I pulled out and made more rows...probably a bad idea but that's what the first year is for, right?  Seeing if bad ideas work?  So we'll see.  My camera's battery has died, or I'd take some pictures to post.  With the exception of the arugula which I promptly killed, everything else is doing splendidly.  I just put some plant food down for everyone, but it was veggie plant food so I hope that my tomatoes don't have issue with it.'s a learning year.  I joined something called SPIN farming, for sub-acre farming.  I plan on putting in a package for a variance to allow urban farming on my plot this year so I can get started next.  Hopefully that works.  I plan on the veggies, fruits, and some chickens and honey bees.  Should be an interesting year! 
But I think my next step will be to get some organic compost to put down to feed all these guys with.  They are moving along, but I have to admit I can't wait to see some real growth.  I need to research the onions and radishes though.  The radishes especially are popping out of the ground...does that mean harvest or add more dirt?  I don't even like radishes, but I'm sure I'll love them from my own garden/farm :)  Anyway, after two hours of light gardening, it's time for a break and to rest.  I can not wait until my energy returns!

11 May 2011

Long Time...

It's been a little while.  Unfortunately, I am still sick.  It is making it very hard to get Nelson Acres really taking off...yet ironically I am home all the time so the plants are in some ways getting better care than if I'd been at work . Strange Catch 22 I've found myself in.  At any rate, my camera needs a new battery, so no pictures to share.  But with the exception of some of the herbs, everything has come up.  The corn looks fantastic, and I really need to thin it as soon as I can get some extra energy.  I bought some veggie food, but alas today was a rough day so that didn't happen.  Even so, things are growing.  I did kill my arugula, but replanted and plan on moving that indoors when it really gets warm.  Hopefully the a/c inside will keep it cool enough for me to have my greens. 
I have been using this down time to research a lot.  I joined a google group called SPIN and have read their manual.  Good stuff.  I'm very excited.  I called the county about urban farming, and the nice woman I talked to (Cathy) advised me to put in a package.  I got some advice from my SPIN group so that should be started soon.  I've made some friends in the SPIN group, too, so I think the moral support for this odd undertaking will help.  The plan will now include bees and chickens.  Still thinking about the rabbit next door, but I haven't seen my neighbor.  I've been spending a lot of days in bed, so I haven't been outside to run into her.  Strange...I could just go and knock on her door :)  But I'm still not sure the rabbit is such a good idea...I already have Autumn, the dogs, and the house, yard, and gardens to care for!
I am currently reading a book called Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer, by Novella Carpenter.  Very interesting read.  It's giving me some good ideas of the ups and downs of this venture, as well as getting me to think hard about whether I can actually produce meat on my seems much  more likely that I will have tons of pets after their usefulness wanes.  But we'll see.  Ms. Carpenter gets through it, perhaps I will, too. 
Anyway...that is all for now.  Hope to get some pictures up soon.  I also got a pond for my wildlife certification, hoping to attract wildlife to be a part of my garden.  Moving right along...if slowly!

19 April 2011

Moving Right Along

19 Apr 11

Still home sick, but it is allowing me to water the plants and keep a good eye on them.  Sunday my very good friend Meri and her brother finished my beds for me and moved 3+ yards of topsoil/compost into them.  I planted the cold weather plants, mostly my greens.  Of course it's been cold and rainy since, but they are all looking okay.  I'll post pictures when I can.  Nothing is really taking off yet, but I feel pretty confident as soon as we get some real sun, they will.  I also gave plant food to all my established plants this morning and the little Japanese Maple in the front yard.  I'm hoping these will all create a synergistic affect as the wildlife does their part in pollinating and such.  Of course, the squirrels are a concern, so I'll be keeping an eye on those little buggers.
And I have a big temptation offered to neighbor is looking for a home for a pet rabbit her son found.  I don't need another pet between everything else I have going on, but I am such a crazy animal lover.  And I just looked up that rabbit droppings are good compost for the garden.  Hmmmm....I may casually ask her to meet the little guy.
I'm also looking into an off-shoot of Nelson Acres, specifically utilizing the herbs that I'll be growing.  I have been looking up making my own organic hair products and soaps.  I got some supplies yesterday and will give it a try.  Unfortunately, I've been overdoing it so I need some rest.  Gardening is not for the weary...but who can resist when so much is to be gained!  Still doing a lot of research.  I need to see which veggies I should give the plant food to, and see if they take off.  Pictures soon....

15 April 2011

In the beginning....

15 Apr 11, Location: home sick.
This is an interesting time for me.  I had big plans for this spring, but here I am too sick to do all those things, so I am instead going to start this blog.  I do think this will be a great way to capture my initial attempts at organic gardening, so it is probably best that I can not continue to put together my raised beds.  But let's catch up to today...
About 25 Mar, I had my Miracle Gro Organic potting soil, two trays of fifty peat pots, and had gotten my packets of organic seeds.  I began filling each peat pot with the potting soil, and then set them up in the little greenhouse cases I had gotten from Home Depot.  Shortly, they began growing.  The majority of the seeds were from Southern Exposure, but I did have one package of Martha Stewart Organic Sunflowers.  Ultimately, I ended up with four trays of fifty, with multiple veggies, herbs, and flowers for the Butterfly/Hummingbird garden I built last year.  Some of these are of course Autumn's, and she is very excited about her contribution. Most started growing in very short time, some even outgrew their peat pots. Luckily my mom brought me some of my grandmother's pots to use, and the plants have pretty much soared in those.  I just started hardening them to the outside climate a few days ago, and they are doing fantastic.  It helps that I'm home because I can pay them so much attention.
I also had decided against tilling, and am instead utilizing the Lasagna Gardening strategy.  This is in part due to the heavy clay soil I have in my yard. I ordered three raised beds (also from Home Depot), one a 4'x4', another 8'x8' (driven by my desire to do corn), and the third a ridiculously expensive but very pretty ornate one that resembles a flower when looked at from above.   The topsoil mixed with compost arrived today.  I have been trying to get the gardens put together, but alas, this illness didn't let me get as far as I'd like, so I am now resting from that.  But once they are together, I'll put cardboard and newspaper down on the bottom of each garden bed.  This is supposed to reduce the ability of weeds to pop up.  I had hoped to add straw as well, but in my current state something had to give.  So friends are coming to help me this Sunday to move the topsoil/compost mixture into each garden, as tomorrow it is supposed to rain heavily. 
I have such a variety and so many are really doing well, so at this point I'll point out the ones not doing well, mostly herbs: thyme, oregano, feverfew, chamomile, peppermint, and a few of the others.  Borage and Chevril are the only ones really showing up right now.  I have put in some more seeds as of yesterday and we'll see if the next batch will appear. 
I am zone 7a, so planting time is somewhere between now and next month...most seem to recommend planting next month (after mother's day), but I may go a little early as the plants seem ready.  We'll see how that goes. 
Well if nothing else, I need to get a tarp over the topsoil so it won't all drain away tomorrow.  I'll add more in the next few days as to how the making of the gardens go.