Thursday, May 3, 2012

Green Thumb Fever

This unpredictable Ohio weather sure plays with the mind. Just this past Saturday it only reached temperatures in the low 40's.  Today, it's 84 degrees out.  As most Ohioans know, this is to be expected.  We're technically past our frost free date (mid April for northeastern Ohio), but just as soon as we vegetable gardeners drop plants into the dirt we'll have to turn around and cover them up for those last few frosty nights.

The anticipation of biting into a juicy, ripe, warm tomato right from the garden gives me a serious case of green thumb fever.  Most of my vegetable gardening experience takes place at my mom's.  Last summer we cleaned out a friend's horse barn and got all that lovely horse manure dumped right into the garden soil.  It has since been tilled, rocks have been picked, and will most certainly be tilled again before it's time to plant. 

Somehow, when my stepdad tills the garden, my mom and I swear that he keeps making it bigger.  I guess it's not that difficult to do when you have a tiller attachment for the back of a tractor, but he's in complete denial that he even does it.  It's just one of those things where my mom and I look at each other and shrug.

This is the beginning of what will be a plentiful summer.  Our garden is most certainly not the smallest around, but I've seen a number of gardens that are much larger. More important;  it's a place that will produce results from the hard work that has been put into it.  It's also a place where we can enjoy each other's company and teach the kids about gardening.  And that's only about half of it.  Next comes the canning and preserving.  While lately it seems to be a new fad,  it has been an integral part of my family's heritage.  Today canning food appears to be more or less a hobby instead of the necessity it once was.  However, that's an entirely different series of upcoming posts in this blog (and believe me, we do a TON of canning)!

The 2012 vegetable line up:  sweet corn, Indian corn, green beans, tomatoes and peppers (various kinds which we haven't decided on yet), beets, leaf lettuce, carrots, cabbage, zucchini, summer squash, cucumbers, butternut and acorn squash, gourds, and pumpkins.

Now that may not seem like a such a long list for the size of our garden in the picture above, but we like to leave room.  A garden shouldn't be (at least not to us) stressful.  We don't like to plant rows close together for a number of reasons:  you can't get a small tiller between rows, it's difficult to hoe around the plants, and it's a super pain to pull weeds (and with kids, it's easier for them to identify what's a weed vs. what's a plant).  We like to keep our garden weeded over time.  Now that's not to say we don't get caught up in every day life and next thing you know there's weeds EVERYWHERE.  It's fixable though, we just round up the troops (okay, my mom and I and occasionally a kid, and my stepdad with the tiller) and have ourselves a weeding party.

We generally like to get the seeds and plants in around Memorial Day.  With this green thumb fever, the garden has been on my mind lately, and is something I'm quite excited about. 

In a broad sense, gardening is a type of crafting (just in case you were wondering how this fits into my "Country Crafters" blog).  Most of all, it feels good to be able to share the goods with the entire family, saves money, deliciously divine eats during the winter months, and it's always a learning experience every single year (by the way, this can take place in any size garden).

Until then, it looks like I'll have to work in the flower beds.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Weekend Destination: Foxburg, Pennsylvania

What an inspiring small town Foxburg, PA is.  It's a tiny town, but what a gem it is.  My fiancĂ© planned a weekend getaway for my birthday (what a sweet guy!) and I have to admit if you're the type that likes to take weekend trips like we do, you won't be disappointed if you visit this place.  It's nestled away in the hills of Pennsylvania and sits right on the Allegheny River.  When we arrived this past Saturday they were having a Maple Syrup Festival.  There were a bunch of various musicians, chainsaw carving, free samples of maple syrups, food vendors, and of course, there's the Foxburg Wine Cellar.  We were just kind of wingin' it.  We hadn't made reservations for a hotel nor did we have any set agenda (okay, I take it back because wine cellar was our whole point of going to Foxburg!), so after walking around the festival for a while, we checked out the Foxburg Inn to see if they had any available rooms.

Luckily, there was a room available.  I was pleased with how clean and charming our hotel room was, so we unpacked our bags and headed back out to the wine cellar.  Oh yes, and like I said, this town is small, and everything is within walking distance, so upon making our way around the inn, I realized just how much work they put into the area.  Here's a few pictures of just the landscaping around the hotel. 

We wandered over to the wine cellar, and talk about a massive wine list!.  I prefer the sweeter type of wines, but when you walk up to the bar you can sample as many types as you want.  After spending an hour and half browsing around, enjoying the guitarist inside the wine cellar and tasting an undisclosed number of wines, we walked out of there with a case of wine. (Raspberry Blush, Concord, Cran Grape, Plum Crazy, and Riverstone Red were a few of my favorites). 

It was a cold, chilly Saturday.  I was somewhat worn out (okay, maybe a little tipsy), and we had a couple of choices for dinner.  We could have either went to the Allegheny Grille, or grab a pizza for at the Foxburg Pizza and Country Store.  After walking around in unpredictable 40 degree weather, I was ready to relax, so the restaurant was out and pizza we ordered in.  I have to tell you I was surprised yet again.  It was some of the best pizza I've ever had.

With a fun filled afternoon and evening, we spent the remainder of the day on the deck with a great view of the river and later in our cozy room.

The next morning we indulged in walking around town one more time before we checked out and headed back home.  For a relaxing getaway with beautiful scenery, Foxburg, Pennsylvania is definitely at the top of our list to visit once more. 

Oh yeah, and to buy more of their wine!