Black Gold

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This is my black gold (compost) from last year. It was a little wet, so I opened up the lids to my compost bins. Then the compost got a little too dry…LOL. Gardening is never boring.

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I used some of the compost to plant this years seeds the other night. It’s hard to find more nutritious soil. Looking forward to see them sprout in a few days. I really enjoy growing my own (and other peoples) food.

Do you have a garden? How is your spring gardening coming along? What are you planting this year?

Yours,

Maria

Planning 2017’s Garden

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I absolutely love this time of the year! The time to plan, and soon plant, a garden. It’s exciting times!

 

The photo above is of my daughter, super proud over her zucchini’s, that she grew all by herself. We are mostly into growing food, a lot of food. This morning I wrote a list of the container garden we have now, and the annual garden I want to plant this year. It’s all based on what we enjoy eating. We are not vegetarians, but we eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, because we like it! This is the list I came up with.

 

 

Container garden:

6 Olive Trees

4 Fig trees (2 one year old + 2 three year olds.)

1 Nectarine Tree (1 year old.)

1 White Peach Tree (2-3 year old.)

4 Elberta Peach Trees (1 year old.)

1 Pomegranate tree (2-3 year old? Maybe get a couple more for better pollination?)

1 Sweet Cherry Tree (2-3 year old. Maybe get one other variety? Usually a good idea for better fruiting.)

1 Wild Plum Tree (BIG, and very beautiful.)

A bunch of 1-2 year old apple and pear trees of unknown variety.

 

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Annual Vegetable Garden:

Heirloom Tomatoes

Cherry Tomatoes (LOTS, my daughter’s favorite vegetable..)

Corn (my daughter’s second favorite.)

Pumpkins

Watermelons

Zucchini

Sweet Bell Peppers

Jalapeno Hot Peppers

Baby Spinach

Strawberries

Blueberries

Basil

Cilantro

Should I ad something to my annual garden? What did I forget? (We live in hardiness zone 9, with long hot summers.) I always love new ideas!!

I am going to make a garden at a new location. So I have to figure out what kind of garden beds I want to have. Something I’m planning on dedicating this weekend to. I’d love ideas about that as well. Last year I made garden beds out of old tires. It worked, but I might try something different this year. I want a bigger garden! I do like the ideas of garden beds, I feel that it makes me more in control. Bring it on! I want to hear all about your successful garden tips!

Yours,

Maria

Busy Season in My Garden

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Pumpkins

The past few weeks have been very busy. The temperatures are in the three digits almost every day. In this valley the nights doesn’t get cold, they get a little cooler, but it’s very warm all the time.

The garden in doing wonderful, and takes a lot of my time. (I love it!) I have planted, harvested, and planted some new crops, several times this year. My watermelons, and pumpkins, still have some time left before it’s time to harvest. The watermelon should be ready by the end of July/August. The pumpkins right before Halloween. I found a really cool, short time lapse video that shows growing pumpkins from seeds, which is what we are doing. It’s three minutes long, you can watch it here. (It leads me to believe that we should of planted ours earlier..I was told to plant them in April here in California. We’ll see. Learning by doing, right?)

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Watermelon plants, with mint underneath/next to the garden beds. A natural protection against ants, and bugs.

In the meanwhile we eat strawberries every day. I recently planted some broccoli, and squash. Some of the peach/nectarine/apricot tree seedlings I planted died from the stress of being replanted, and some are thriving in our back yard.

Yesterday my daughter and I picked organic apples, in a neighboring town. It was hot! I stood high up on a ladder, and my daughter stood underneath catching the apples I throw her way, putting them in bags. We had a high of 107 Fahrenheit. My favorite temperature is between 75-90, but I discovered that I actually can handle the high temperatures pretty well. (I wear sunscreen, a hat, and drink plenty of water.)

We gave some of the apples away. When we got home I worked for many hours sorting our apples, and preparing them. I made some apple pies for the freezer. I prepared another 10 lbs of apples for future pies/canning/jam etc. I still have around 50 lbs of apples to take care of today. I enjoy filling up with good things for my family. It’s a satisfying job.

One of my long term goals is to learn as much as I can about organic gardening. It’s a little more challenging when you’re fighting bugs/weed without pesticides. Eventually I would like to grow the majority of our food myself. Here in Northern California that is doable, and not at all unrealistic. I’m making an effort to learn as much as possible from our local farmers; what crops do well here, and how to care for them. It’s  rewarding process in many ways. I try to involve my daughter as much as possible.

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Broccoli sprouts, 2 days old.

Since the days are so hot, especially in the middle of the day, there’s a lot of things that has to be done early. (Yesterday the hot temperatures lingered on until after 8pm. It was 100 degrees at 8pm when I walked the dog.) I usually start my day 3.30am during summer. After doing some chores inside, I work  little in my garden before my daughter wakes up. We have breakfast, walk the dog, train our new horse (she’s awesome,) work some more in the garden, and have lunch. After lunch we either run errands, read books (learning to read is one of my daughter’s goals for the summer,) draw/paint, or something else educational inside. This is the hottest time of the day, and it’s perfect to dedicate that to the theoretical part of my daughter’s education. Some days we work less in the garden, and go for an adventure. You have to mix it up a little bit 😉 With a garden, and animals there’s automatically some structure to the days. I don’t mind that at all. We always eat an early dinner at 5pm. After that there’s plenty of fun time. We might go to the pool, a beach, a playground, or just relax at home. Life is good!

 

Happy Summer!

/Maria

PS. The photos from the garden is a few days old. Things are happening so fast!

The Organic Garden Project – Update

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We’re by the end of May, and it’s definitely time for a garden update! It’s about six weeks ago since my daughter and I built the garden beds, and planted our seeds. You can read about how we did it here.

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The love of gardening is a seed once sown that never dies. – Gertrude Jekyll

 
For us there was no other choice than doing everything Organic. That means a little more work, but it’s definitely worth it. So far our only challenges have been; a baby rabbit eating our strawberries, and some kind of leaf bug on our radishes. The signs of a bug visiting the plant, is only on the green part of the radishes, and not on the actual radish. They have to be very small, because there’s nothing I can see by just looking at them. The radishes are among the vegetables that we are harvesting every day, they are big, and taste great. To get rid of whatever bug eating the leaves we are spraying them with a mixture of equal amounts of apple cider vinegar, and water. It seem to help.

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You have to get up and plant the seed and see if it grows, but you can’t just wait around, you have to water it and take care of it. – Bootsy Collins

 
We also put dried coffee grounds around the garden beds, and sprinkled on the top soil. Our garden is shaped like an “L”, we have radishes on both ends of the “L”, they both have the same problem, not other garden bed are bothered by bugs. Since we started the apple cider vinegar, and coffee ground treatment, it’s getting much better. The radishes are flourishing, so I’m not overly worried about the bugs.

No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden. – Thomas Jefferson

 
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We’ve been blessed with a couple good rains since we planted our garden six weeks ago, something that have been very beneficial.

We’ve harvested a lot of cilantro, and I mean A LOT. The basil, thyme, and oregano are also doing fine. The day before I decided to take the pictures, I harvested what was left, and used it for a big stew I was making, so no photos of the herbs for the moment. I’ve harvested them on a daily basis for a couple weeks, and decided to completely cut them down, and let them grow back. Herbs taste so good when they are young, and fresh.

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I’m thinking of re-planting a couple of the garden beds. Dig them out, and plant celery, maybe some artichokes as well. I didn’t plant celery, and artichokes. In fact I’ve never had, but after visiting one of my friends gardens this weekend, I’m tempted to give it a try. The temperature is going to be in the three digits for the rest of the week, so I might wait until the worst heat wave is over, before doing that.

Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace. – May Sarton

This garden project that I am doing with my daughter, is a lot of fun. It inspire us to learn more about gardening together, and gives some continuity to our days. We have to take care of the garden every day. It actually made me start thinking about how it would be to homeschool her. We both love projects, I have the teaching background. I know we could do it. Still thinking about if it’s the right thing for us, while looking into different ways of doing it. If anyone of you have experience of homeschooling, I would love to hear about it! From the research I’ve done, I see that there’s a lot of different ways to do it.

Before it gets to hot, it’s going to be over 100 in a few hours, we’re going to our next project. Ariel have very fast become the highlight of our day.

 

Enjoy this beautiful day!

Love & Light, Always

Maria

How to create a vision for success

What can I do right now that takes me closer to my dreams?

This blog post came to me this morning, after being asked for the millioned time about my participation in a longterm project, that I’ve been hesitant to commit to. I am not afraid of commitment at all. Decision making is usually easy for me. I like the security of longterm projects. I like to say yes, I try to say yes as often as I possibly can. Commitment mean something to me, and if I say that I am going to do something, I will do it. I like to have the facts first, so that I can keep my promise.

In this particular case I’ve been collecting information. For several months actually. In the beginning, the first time I was asked, I thought this project might be something that I could do. Not knowing exactly what it would take to do a good job, I decided to learn more, before starting something I could not finish. I soon realized that the time commitment would be much larger than I was lead to believe. I would have to work with numbers/math several hours/day (it’s not among my favorite things to do,) I would have to stay within cellphone reception (strongly dislike that commitment,) I would have to stay inside several hours/day (hhhhuuuiee, me?) I would be forced to ignore spontaneous photo opportunities, to be available for the project 6 days/week. During the learning period, which could be extensive (months,) I would have to spend those hours in a house where a smoker smokes cigarettes inside every day, with my daughter. Watching the other people involved in the project, I notice that they are constantly stressed out, frustrated, agitated, angry, resentful, and in bad health. If I choose to join the project there would be economical benefits for my family. (As an artist, I never know how big my paycheck is going to be from month to month.)

So, what should I do? Could I do this, and keep my sanity? Could I do this and still actively, be a positive force in my daughter’s life? Could I do this, and claim that I am still working towards my dream (being the best mother I can be/living a healthy life/making a living out of my photography/growing most of my food) ?  We all know that kids doesn’t do what we tell them to, but imitate what we actually do. I want my daughter to commit to her dreams, more than anything else. Find out what they are, commit to them, and hold on to them. What does my example tell her?

I want to be a responsible mother, making the decisions that will benefit my daughter the most. It’s my responsibility to make sure she has a warm place to live, clothes on her body, food, and a positive/healthy environment, where she can grow into her full potential. My daughter’s wellbeing in all these areas will always be my highest priority.

Like I mentioned in a recent post, I was a Preschool/Kindergarten Teacher, before I had my little girl. I decided to quit my job, and look for other ways to support us when I found out that I was pregnant. To be able to spend as much time as possible with my child. Since then I’ve worked with several different projects (horses, photography, ranching, gardening, and some teaching,) that allowed me to bring my daughter with me. I’m genuinely interested in a sustainable lifestyle, and I’m dreaming about having a few acres of my own one day. I’m not in a position to buy us a piece of land today, but it’s an active dream that I work towards every day. I want to grow the majority of our food myself, and I am learning as much as I can about organic gardening.

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Nature – Our Favorite Classroom/Office/Playground

 

Creations starts with a vision, then it takes place in the physical universe. Bend the universe to your will. Not my words, even though I wish they were. Randy Gage, said that in one of his books. Its a phrase that’s been stuck in my head since I first heard it.

It’s physics, really. You get excited, you see it, taste it, feel it – you’re motivated! You enlist the excitement of the people around you. People like being around positive people. When you really have a vision, people wants to be a part of it. A healthy lifestyle is something I am passionate about. So is my photography. My life have never been about mediocrity. It’s had UPS, and DOWNS. I’m striving towards getting more balance, in all areas.

Joy is my ultimate measure of success. Seeing happy people, that loves what they do makes me wanna know more. The opposite drives me away.

My first blog Working On My Dream (I do not own that domain anymore,) pretty much defined what my adult life have been about. What I want it to be about. Killing the inner voice accusing me for being selfish. Because I realize that to be generous, with myself, my time, my affection, my love, all that I am, I need to love myself. I need to love what I am doing. I am not a good actor. I can not, and need not have a job, (or a relationship) that I am not 100% happy with. That is something I believe.

I believe I deserve happiness. I believe that you deserve happiness. I also believe that it is an active choice that we all have to take. It doesn’t come by luck. We have to choose it. We have to work for it. We have to hold on to it. We have to flow with it. Sometimes we have to defend it. Even when it’s scary to do so.  

Kill the distractions, don’t focus on the things you can’t control. Turn things around. What do I control? What can I do right now that takes me closer to my dreams? Right now, in April 2016 I’m in California. I’m in Northern California to be more specific. Northern California is amazing this time of the year.

What I can do;  get up early every morning. I get up 4-4.30am seven days/week, to get as much work done on my computer, that I possibly can, before my daughter wakes up. Editing photos, replying to emails, marketing my work, networking, making sure my photo orders are properly taken cared of, that my clients are happy, writing blog posts like this one, and planning photo session takes time.

When my daughter wakes up I want to give her my attention. After breakfast I take my daughter, dog, and camera with me outside and learn everything I can about California’s beauty. I can put my teaching credentials, and passion for the great outdoors to use, and implant a love, and care for the environment in my young daughters heart. I can teach her Swedish (my native language,) while doing this. Maybe most important, I have time to really listen to her, to get under her skin, while we’re exploring nature together. We have quality time to talk to each other, without distractions (like TV, or even phones, since we often take photos where there’s little, or no cellphone reception..)

Time is my most treasured asset. This time, when my daughter is growing up, will never come back. It’s exclusive. It’s now. 

I can keep my family healthy by making sure they get enough exercise, drink enough water, and eat healthy food. I can share my photos with people that might not get the chance to experience the incredible nature that I am blessed to be surrounded by. While interacting with my online community, and the people I meet while taking photos, I can improve my English. California is a great place to improve my gardening skills as well, taking me one step closer to live a more self sustainable life. There’s so much I can do!

I can choose to see all these things that I can do, and focus on them. I firmly believe that we get more of what we choose to focus our mind on. (Focus on your challenges, and guess what? You’ll get more challenges coming your way.) What can you do? If you actively choose to focus only on what’s available to you, not on the obstacles. What can you do right now, to get closer to the life of your dreams? Tell me in a comment, and HOLD THAT VISION. Keep your vision in focus, take it with you. Write it down, talk about it, turn your vision into reality.

Thoughts for your Thursday morning 😉 Enjoy this amazing day!

Love & Light, Always

Maria

PS. I’m holding on to my vision 😉

PS 2. Your comments, and ideas are always encouraged. You can leave a comment in the comment box below, or if you’d rather send me a private email, feel free to do so mariajanssonphotography@gmail.com.