Independence Day Update – Late Again, but Much to Report

Sharon June 8th, 2008

Ok, finally, a good one.  Sorry I’m late again.  We’ve had a lot of heavy thunderstorms, and so some of the time I’ve been planning to devote to the computer I haven’t been able to – and I admit, I’ve been slacking off on screen time.

 But the good news is that things are coming together rapidly.  Here’s what I’ve done so far:

 Plant something – Oh yeah – Tomatoes, Peppers (sweet and hot), leeks, broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, beets, savory, rosemary, lavendar, carrots, bush beans, snapdragons, johnny jump ups, evening primrose, licorice, fennel, eggplant, squash, cucumbers, watermelon, dry beans, bacopa, stevia, lemon balm, gotu kola, rau om, cilantro, epazote, malvas, hollyhocks, marigolds,  mullein, lambs ears, rhubarb, petunias, flossflower, dill, borage, mother of thyme, lemon thyme, cabbage, echinops, caraway, cumin, garlic chives, artichokes, good king henry, blueberries, bush cherries, American persimmons, ginkos, blackberries, concord grapes, saskatoon, goumi, pawpaw, old roses.

Still tons more to go, but catching up!

 Harvest something: Rhubarb, asparagus, spinach, arugula, lettuce, chive blossoms, plantain, willow bark, a couple of wild strawberries.

Preserve something: willow bark tincture, rhubarb sauce, chive blossom vinegar, dog biscuits.

Store something: Bought 4 cases of canning jar lids, 5 lbs of cocoa (came in a slightly damaged package and the coop was selling it for $.50 lb, even though the seal was good), at a yard sale someone had a huge box of unopened packages of Goodnights (required at Eli’s school – he’s not allowed to wear cloth diapers) for $3 package – we bought ’em all – saved like $7 package, more canning jars from freecycle, 10lbs dried cranberries.  Bought a ton of children’s books for $5 at a school library sale, including some comic books that I’m saving for when Simon is older – he’d like them now, but they’d be trashed in a week, and he’ll appreciate them more in a couple of years (shhh…don’t tell him ;-) ).

Manage Reserves: Sorted through some of the older buckets and consolidated them, and cleaning the storage closet is on the agenda for today. I haven’t done it yet, though, so it probably doesn’t count.  Also, went around and made a new, current non computerized list in my plant notebook of what varieties of small fruit and trees we have, so that if the computer ever gets  fried, and I haven’t (as usual) printed the latest, I’ll remember which apple is where.  Stacked some of the remaining firewood we’ve got, and tried to realistically estimate how much of the standing dead stuff I’m likely to bring down this year (given that I didn’t do it when I should have in the winter because of the book) and also given that a. I won’t use a chainsaw and b. I won’t take down any tree that makes me remotely nervous, which lets out a bunch), and how much I can persuade my BIL (with chainsaw and more nerve than me) to take down for me on shares if I help buck it up.  Mulled over whether it was worth buying wood now when it is comparatively cheap and a neighbor is selling, or if I actually will have enough.  Did nothing about it.  Considered the merits of building a woodshed.  Did nothing about it ;-)

Prepped: I have a line on a free futon, which would mean that all the rooms that didn’t have one of us in (or a kitchen) in it had a good sized bed.  At the moment, including the bunk beds my kids never actually sleep in, besides the six of us, we could sleep eight additional people comfortably, although I’ve also got some carpet scraps that would make pallets.  Getting up to 10 wouldn’t be bad, given that I’ve got several weekends this year just for pleasure when our house is going to be at maximum bed capacity already.  I figure since I’ve had no luck getting anyone to come share the house with us so far, I might as well prepare to operate a hotel ;-) .  Scored a free truckload of composted horse manure, and happened to be at Agway when they were dumping some ripped bags of composted manure.  Started to build a chicken tractor.

Worked on Local Food Systems: Gave some herbs to a neighbor, agreed to share our hay barn with a neighbor who has horses, in exchange for splitting the haying on both of our properties.  Wrote a prospectus for a local soup kitchen to use getting a local office park to donate its land and some corporate charitable donations to a soup kitchen garden.  Began working on a menu for our synagogue’s local foods meals during our yearly Kallah.  Talked to my friend who owns the bulk store (which also as a deli attached) about collecting her food scraps for our chickens and worms.  Showed a neighbor how to build a self-watering container for her elderly mother to grow tomatoes in.

Reduced Waste: Made a policy that any food scrap, no matter how small, needs to go into the critter food bins *before* it ends up in the sink.  My children have been dumping plates unscraped into the sink.  Enforced.  Tried to figure out a way to ensure that no oatmeal ever gets to the gloopy stage at which no one but Eric will eat it – have not yet succeeded.  Am working on having Eric eat last ;-) .

Learned a skill: How to do whole knee replacements on jeans. 

 Ok, that’s more like it!  How about y’all?


41 Responses to “Independence Day Update – Late Again, but Much to Report”

  1. Danielle says:

    Just got my post done this morning:

    This week I was flirting with overwhelm. Not necessarily because I got so much done, but because it’s getting to the point in the season where it feels like there’s so much still to be done and not enough time in the day to do it! It’s been hard getting things in the ground because we’ve been pretty wet, and I have these panicky moments when I feel like the season’s already almost over and it’ll soon be time to get the winter stuff into the ground. Of course, it’s barely June, and there’s plenty of time for succession planting. But these 90° days we’re having don’t help the feeling that time just keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping….


    3.5 rows of lettuce, 50 lbs Yukon gold potatoes. I got the potatoes cut up this week, and Jim got them in the ground yesterday in the crazy heat we’re having.


    red salad bowl lettuce, romaine, d’avignon radishes, snap peas, swiss chard, spinach, cilantro, thyme, citrus thyme, oregano, tarragon, chives.


    Made and froze 3.5 lbs butter. Jim made ground pork from the piglet he butchered using his grandma’s Sunbeam with grinder attachments that we inherited.


    Purchased several dairy cultures that now reside in my freezer for use in preserving some of the milk we’re getting.


    Prepped a stall in the barn for our Nigerian Dwarf goat, Latte, who’s due to kid any day now. She’s the one with the brown markings; the white one is her little boy from last year, who will likely be in our freezer soon.

    Set up milking stand and area for her in the barn, so my daughter Julia can milk her, starting 2 weeks after kidding.

    Found a silver fox bunny doe for Julia’s rabbit breeding, and she and Jim began building the hutch. Jules is definitely the one most into the farm, and the one most likely to actually take care of said bunnies. She wants to be a vet when she grows up, so she’s very interested in learning all about animals. More power to her!


    Cleaned and organized the refrigerator to accommodate all of our new dairy products. Weeded the market garden and put up a row of agribon over the beans that were being crushed by bean beetles. Patrolled the potatoes for Colorado potato beetles, larva and eggs. Bees: installed foundation in 20 frames, 10 for each deep hive body, and added them to our two hives, which are filling out really nicely. Laid soaker hoses in the market garden. Sprayed Serenade to try to control botrytis in the strawberries, courtesy of the wet weather we’ve been having.


    Made neufchatel cream cheese for the first time, also chevre, which I’ve made before, and sour cream.


    Seasonal CSA started last week, so I harvested produce shares for 10 families.


    Compost, reusable bags, etc.


    I continue to learn all about cheese making.

  2. Kim says:

    Our list doesn’t look as big this week, but preparing and canning all those strawberries took a lot of time. The gardens are getting ready to “pop.” Soon we’ll be swimming in produce to eat, can, and dry.

    1. Planted: sunflowers, prairie sunflowers, watermelon, pumpkin, 6 blueberries, arugula, artichokes, 6 blueberries

    2. Harvested: lettuce (2 types), spinach, chard, mint, radish, eggs

    3. Preserved: more strawberry leather, more strawberry jam, more canned strawberries, mint jelly, pear/mint leather, dehydrated mint,

    4. Stored: cat food, dog food, rabbit food

    5. Prepped: None this week

    6. Managed: Bunny barn done, brought in a new rabbit doe (Maggie the Marshmellow) and a new rabbit buck (Eric). Cleaned bunny barn and chicken coop. Weeded all gardens and orchards.

    7. Local: None this week


  3. Susan says:

    Everybody in this challenge seems to be living in areas with much better weather than we’re having here in Seattle. Yesterday the local weather report noted that the temperatures we’re having were typical of *October*. And we had quite the downpour the other day, followed by days and days of our usual clouds and drizzle and showers. I was on vacation all week (I start a new job tomorrow) and hoping to get a lot done in the garden, but between the cold and the rain, I spent much of my week indoors reading, watching movies, and cooking.

    Planted: Nothing. Thought I was done with the planting part, but I’m not so sure now. The seeds planted several weeks ago have all come up, but seem to be in a state of suspended seedling animation. How long can they stay that way? Will they shoot up if the weather improves, or will they finally just give up and die?

    Harvest: Small radishes, cilantro, lettuce. Everything else is still at seedling stage.

    Preserve: Nothing this week. Sourdough starter that began so well last week seemed to die on me (is it too cold in my house?). Planning to start another one today, this time with white flour.

    Store: Purchased more pantry items…glass storage jars, shelf-stable soy milk and regular milk, curry pastes, tomato paste, and cereal. Developing quite the pantry, though maybe not enough to be called much *more* than a pantry. It is finally a large part of every shopping trip now to purchase what I can on sale or in bulk. I could certainly live for weeks with what I have stored now, though likely not months. And with the prices increasing every single week, I’m feeling some urgency to stock up before the prices go up.

    Prep: Not sure I did any prep this week.

    Manage: Not sure I did any of that either.

    Cook: Have been exploring vegetarian recipes and made a rice/orzo salad and a country potato chowder this week. Both will provided lunches at work this week.

    Local Systems: Didn’t *do* anything, but I’ve noticed, as I walk the dog around the neighborhood, a *huge* increase in vegetable gardens this year. Don’t know if people are reacting to the growing popularity of veggie gardening without any other real reason, or if they are actually doing it for reasons of financial and physical independence.

    Reduce: Usual composting. Sent some household stuff to my daughter that I no longer need but I know she does. That cleaned out a couple of basement spots.

    Learn: Borrowed “Storey’s Basic Country Skills” and “The Encyclopedia of Country Living” from the library. Clearly these are not frequently requested here in Seattle, as I was number one on the list when I put in my online request. Normally I have to wait weeks or even months for my place in line to come up for a popular title. There’s lots of good information in these books, but also a lot that would need to be scaled down dramatically to have any application in a 40′x100′ *city* plot.

  4. AnnaMarie says:

    Frankly, it looks like it was all hard work and I am jealous!!! Having your house for sale precludes many things I would rather be doing. I’m trying for Independence Day in my own way though and have started blogging about it on Sundays. Once the move to Vermont occurs I hope to work dang hard on keeping up with you *lolol*

  5. paul ring says:

    very nice, would love to see pics of some of the gardens/plots through out the year as things get planted/harvested.

  6. Susan in NJ says:

    What a week — torrential cold rain, followed by stunningly beautiful
    gardening weather and tons of office work, and Saturday started our
    first heat wave.

    Planted: Potted on (again) brandywine tomato starts, two types of
    basil starts; replanted snow peas, beans, bullseye beets, cilantro in
    gaps; planted more snow peas and mesculun mix; planted cantelope
    starts to beds dug last week, 3 sage starts to what seems to be
    becoming an herb garden, another oregano to a permanent container;
    not edible, but pretty, coleus plants to window boxes

    Harvested: some lettuce; parsley, rosemary, tarragon, thyme and thai
    basil snippets; a few wild Indian strawberries; some compost

    Preserved: about 2 1/2 quarts of strawberries frozen

    Stored: nothing that I remember

    Prepped: got some great metal cookie tin type containers at a church
    yard sale

    Managed: coped would be more like it, I’m in a real work crunch and
    have been in the office for three weekends in a row

    Cooked something new: fresh sliced strawberries with thai basil,
    it’s a yummy combo (not cooked,but prepared)

    Local food systems: shopped the farmer’s market, talked to neighbors
    about gardens and got grass clippings for compost from one of them
    (he calls my yard the farm, I love it even if it’s hype); was given a
    copy of the 1994 ed. of Country Living by a friend who had two
    copies; and got some parsley clippings from another friend; noticed
    the new banner for a food pantry 1/2 a block from my office and
    researched volunteering there (amazingly it fits my schedule)

    Reduce waste: mulched the pumpkin bed with cardboard sheets; have
    been working to set up a workable system for using bath water and
    vegetable water to water garden. We did eat out some and drive
    around a little disorganizedly because of my work schedule this week.

    New skill: Learned about the Colorado potato beetle life cycle.

    Susan in NJ

  7. Anonymous says:

    Apartment dweller here.

    Planted: more chives

    Harvested: (from CSA:) eggs, lettuces, dandelion leaves, mint

    Preserved: dried some mint

    Stored: bought a box of local beef for freezer storage. Should last us 4-5 months.

    Cooked something new: sauteed dandelions in garlic and butter and tossed in pasta. It was delicious! Made mint lemonade and mint tisane.

    Managed: used pantry staples for meals; no need for a trip to the supermarket this week (a first for us)

    Local food systems: shopped at farmers’ market

    Conservation/eco-friendliness: took advantage of free, outdoor entertainment (beach, walking, parks); picked up a lot of new, recycled notebooks at Goodwill; took out summer clothes and decided we don’t need anything new this season

    Learned: read some books about 3-4 season, European-style potager vegetable gardens. Dreamed about said garden.

  8. Planted this week: Pumpkin, carrots. (Still working on the deer fence, so I’m not planting my starts yet, but seeds are ok because the fence will be ready before the seeds sprout.)

    Transplanted this week: Peas — the peas I’d planted in a pot were 6-7″ tall and very healthy looking. I put them in the ground. Last I checked (yesterday) it was still unknown whether they would survive — they weren’t looking good, but were still alive 2-3 days after being transplanted. Maybe digging a pot-sized hole and plopping the whole soil mass into one spot might have worked better — instead, I planted each sprout in a row next to the others, which meant a bit more handling of each sprout than perhaps they liked. There really was no need to plant peas in a pot indoors, it was just an experiment to see how they did as compared to the ones outdoors.

    Harvested: Nothing

    Preserved: Two more onions in the outdoor dehydrator.

    Stored: Nope.

    Managed: Finally went to pull the last remaining root cellared carrots from the sand bucket, and it was too late. There were only two small ones and two others that were honestly hair-like in size, and the tiny ones had molded and the small ones were very close. I decided they were all post-consumer, so into the compost they went. The only root cellared produce left from last year now is jerusalem artichokes, and I haven’t dug through the bucket sand to check on them, because I don’t really like them that much, and I don’t plan to grow them here. Though, I just had an idea — maybe I’ll plant a row of them, about 5 feet outside the garden fence. If the deer and ground squirrels don’t eat them immediately, they’ll grow some nice tall stalks which can function like a second fence! Ah, well, can’t hurt, eh?

    Prepped: When I went to the “junkyard” shop in the County Seat to buy a used washing machine on Monday, I noticed some unopened boxes of canning jars, and a stack of several mini bread pans. I was in a hurry that day, but when I returned to town on Thursday, I went back to check. The boxes of jars were still there, and three of the bread pans. I bought them — one case of widemouth quart jars, one case of pint jars, one case of half-pint jars, one case of mini (4 ounce) jelly jars. All unused (though old and dusty). All with lids. All for $25. Including three mini bread pans. I didn’t know the going price in the stores for this stuff, and the junk place told me they try to sell them for half the new price. Even if I paid a little more than half, that’s okay. Even though this area is not full of peak-oil-aware people, lots of people here cherish their “old fashioned” skills like canning, so I reasoned to myself that it would be unlikely to find this stash at a yard sale (though I really don’t know, and will continue to keep my eyes open for more). I’m not a canner, and don’t have immediate plans to learn, but I recognize good tools and supplies for the future — whether because I will eventually want to learn the skill, or whether so I can barter with those who do can, doesn’t really matter. Now I have the beginnings of a canning stash!

    More prep: Nearly done with the garden fence!

    Advocated for local [food] economy: Nothing particular this week, though still had some conversations about the upcoming farmer’s market

    Cooked something new: I retried millet for breakfast, and it worked this time! I had definitely undercooked it the other time. I drizzled a little olive oil on it, as recommended by something I read, and had some for breakfast. It didn’t taste bad, but wasn’t very appealing to me. I made myself eat about half of a big portion, then put the rest in the fridge. An hour or so later I was hungry, so I tried again — put some soymilk on the rest of it, rather like one might for oatmeal. Somehow, that made all the difference to me (I’m very texture and temperature oriented when it comes to food) and I snarfed up the rest! The only downside is having to plan ahead to soak it overnight. I didn’t notice much of a milky or oily coating that came off during soaking, so someday I might try cooking it without soaking it, to see if it’s really as bitter as what I heard.

    More cooking something new: I made garlic bread for a potluck at the next door neighbors’ tonight. About the simplest thing in the world — butter, garlic, bread, oven — but I’d never made it before!

    Variation on cooking something new — EATING something new: I don’t believe I’ve ever had rhubarb before. So recently during lunch at the wi-fi cafe, I saw they had some rhubarb tart, and I had a piece. Yum! Now the next step will be to buy some stalks and cook something with them. I do have the sprouts growing, but they will not produce stalks this first year, I don’t think.

    Learn a new skill — Other than the new cooking, let’s see — I got pretty creative in my fence construction this week, and it seems to be working well (though no real test until there are garden yummies growing inside, and I see whether the deer get in or not). By the way, since I’m on the topic of keeping the deer out of the garden, it’s time to talk pee :) I’ve switched from using a large bucket to using a small coffee can, for collecting urine. Pretty much every day I take the can outside and empty it. I had been emptying it onto the compost, but I realized that I produce a lot more pee than I do the other components of compost, so I think I was overdoing it! Just when I was at a loss as to make good use of that resource, and was about to return to flushing it away most of the time, a friend mentioned that the scent of human urine was a moderately good way to repel deer. Not as good as the scent of mountain lion urine, but… :) Since this is good mountain lion habitat, I definitely don’t want to lure one unnecessarily by offering their own scent! But I have been using my own, poured on the ground around the outside perimeter of the garden fence. Again, no way to measure success until there is something inside to tempt the deer, so we’ll see.

    Update on last week’s skill: the beans I’m trying to sprout have one or two sprouts, but most beans aren’t sprouting. Remember these are really old beans. I’ll give it another several days to see what happens before abandoning them and restarting with fresh beans.

    Reduced waste: I’ve been remembering my cloth bags at the grocery store lately. Carried my water bottle to a BBQ Thursday night and again to a speech/dinner Friday night. I even remembered to decline the straw BEFORE I’d opened its little package, when I had iced tea in a restaurant in town Thursday.


  9. Shira says:

    Wow, Sharon, you really went to it with a will! Everybody is doing such great stuff.

    My big planting was getting the hot peppers into a spot in the herb bed under some plastic. I hope to have some more spots for them next year. So far it’s going at a pace of one raised bed every six months. I shared Susan’s Seattle storms, but the peppers seem to be OK.

    The larger economy is pushing back, as I am crunching to get the specifications finished for an upgrade to our local infrastructure and everything is taking longer and costing more, way more. The quote for copper cable was only for two weeks, at twice the previous price, and there is no way that the spec will be out on the street to bid inside of two weeks.

    I dropped the ball on a bunch of planting, preserving and cooking in the midst of this. It took over two days to get a batch of bread made and we ate leftover matzoh for a couple of days. It was a good week for eating the bits of frozen veggies in the bottoms of plastic bags from last summer: snap peas and baby corn in a stir-fry, summer squash slices in lasagne.

    My pocket garden is working. The point is to be able to walk out in my fuzzy bathrobe and collect up greens and herbs for a breakfast fritata or get a salad from the cut and come again lettuce patch, not to grow every calorie we eat. I went by the farmer’s market for mushrooms and asparagus and a rough comparison of the market value of a week’s worth of fresh herbs, kale, bok-choi, lettuce, scallions, radishes, a quart of organic heirloom pasta sauce and a pint of fancy organic pickles puts the cash value of the pocket garden at upwards of $40.

  10. Becky says:

    While I have been lurking for a while now, and really enjoy all the postings, I am not organized yet.

    I live north of Seattle on Whidbey island. You’d think we’d be used to rain and high temps in the upper 50s by now….
    My runner beans and potatoes still look fine, yeah!!! Peas went to the wild rabbits. Second batch of greenhouse tomato plants are hanging in there. First batch succumbed to the cold.

    Slugs and snails, huge crops available for the picking. Where did the crows go? I used to hear them drop the snails on the road to crack the shells open.

    Changing times for sure. How many squash plants does it take to feed 1 – 3 people? And are those slugs moving faster and faster? Hyper-slimeing, oh no!!!

    Time for the next round of slug patrol.

  11. Plant something: elderberries, groundnut, senna, bee balm, bearberry, strawberry, french sorrel, basil, parsley, sage, rosemary.

    Harvest something: basil, chives, dandelion roots

    Preserve something: roasted/dried dandelion roots. Cooked up a bunch of stuff from CSA and froze it.

    Store something: placed order with bulk-buying food coop, waiting for it to arrive.

    Manage Reserves: Transferred bulk lentils, split peas, and whole wheat flour into buckets. Gave white wheat flour to my mother. (No more white flour or refined sugar for me; just got diagnosed with pre-diabetes. Worried about all the other carbs I’ve stored, thinking about storing more beans.)

    Prepped: Installed rainbarrel under our one gutter downspout, and invited my cohousing neighbors to see how it’s done. Proved it was easy. Neighbors now inspired to install their own rainbarrels. Now I need to put the connector on the first barrel to hook up the second barrel for a 2-barrel system. Ordered a grain mill.

    Worked on Local Food Systems: Talked with neighbors about shared community garden. Chickens on cohousing meeting agenda; still not settled whether six chicks can stay, or if someone will object and insist they be sent away at the end of the summer. Need to get or build a chicken tractor.

    Reduced Waste: kept doing what I’ve been doing: trying not to buy useless things, things with too much packaging, etc., composting food scraps.

    Learned a skill: learned how to install a rainbarrel.

  12. Just had to add one more comment. Every time I see your list, Sharon, and everyone else’s for that matter, I feel horribly deficient and somewhat terrified that I am not doing nearly enough. But then the exercise of actually writing things down is amazingly helpful and makes me realize that I did what I could, and it’s something, not nothing. I try to remind myself that I’m also taking care of a baby, and working part-time, and trying to cheer up my glum, newly-unemployed husband, and putting in volunteer work hours for cohousing… still, I have huge demons having to do with not being good enough.

  13. Shamba says:

    I’m not a gardener at all and all the garden related activities to read about here are inspiring and intimidating!

    However, I had some small accomplishments this week:

    I remembered a couple of recipes and used them without looking at the recipe itself.

    I’m staying under budget at the grocerystore/market the past month even with adding some food to be stored. Extra food, which I never used to keep around, took some extra money for the past 6 months to accumulated the food.

    I looked up recipe for making my own vegetable broth as Swanson’s Vegetable Broth has gone up 40cents in the past 3-6 months! I love making my own soup, I’ve discovered.

    fixed–sewed–two things for my mother which are still in good condition but just needed some seams repaired. She can have her green nightgown back now.

    That’s all but I just try to keep doing something productive every week.


  14. Christina says:

    Hot and dry here! Not the perfect time to plant things… But it’s cooler now and it’s supposed to rain the coming week.

    1. Planted: angelica, more potatoes, spring onions, fennel, lovage

    2. Harvested: lettuce, spinach, fresh onions, various herbs, chili peppers (plants from last year)

    3. Preserved: rhubarb; dried herbs for tea

    4. Stored: dried nettles, dried herbs for tea

    5. Prepped: no

    6. Cook: nothing new this week, same things as usual, but almost all meals home-cooked.

    7. Managed: Weeding and mulching. Contemplated sorting all lids and jars before canning season begins – I’m sure I sorted everything a few months ago but it’s a mess all the same! Did nothing about it, though…

    8. Local: None

    9. Reduce waste: Composting as usual. Dumping grey water in garden.

    10. Learn something new: reading a lot about forest gardens, we’re planning one!


  15. Sharon says:

    Jen, look back at the last few weeks of updates, if you are feeling inadequate. Also remember that farming is part of my job – yes, I got a lot done this week, but in part by basically devoting every single second to it. Trust me, there are plenty who read this blog who know me and can confirm the truth – I’m a slob. The house is a mess, the garden is full of weeds – don’t convince yourself I’m perfect, because that’s the great nonsense of the decade. As you note, everything sounds better when written out on the internet ;-) .

    I’m sorry about the health stuff and the unemployment – that stinks.


  16. Independence Days: Week 4

    Plant something: More beans, some beets, transplanted peppers, tomatoes, onions, eggplants, chard. Will containerize some tomatoes this afternoon. The corn is up!

    Harvest something: Radishes. When I take one out, I put a purple-podded bean in its place.

    Preserve something: Does the freezer count? Froze some trout.

    Store something: As above.

    Manage Reserves: Sorted some stuff in the greenhouse, tumbled the compost.

    Prepped: Layered about 20 bags of grass clippings on transplanted beds and around seeded hills. Made a new bed 150 feet away from the summer garden for an heirloom winter squash variety. Oh, and runner beans are up!

    Worked on Local Food Systems: Sat down and ate some gigantic radishes, greens and all. Blogged about Bright Neighbor. Am now making my lunch at work using only things I bring from the garden.

    Reduced Waste: Pulled last year’s non-Egyptian onions and the ones we could use, we cleaned and refrigerated, and the ones we couldn’t we cut up for the compost barrel.

    Learned a skill: How to copy and paste the Independence Days code!

  17. Tamara says:

    A preface: I am struggling with a lot of kid and family issues this month and this is my first report, so bear with me as I report (very) small victories.

    Plant: I repotted a basil plant into half a milk carton. My first attempt at using milk cartons this way. Next plant I do I’ll put a few rocks or marbles in the bottom to improve drainage.

    Harvest: Lots of mulberries. The tree in the middle of the complex green space is full of them. They’re a pleasant treat, the kids like them…it seems to me they might make a better dye than a food, though.

    Preserve: ha ha ha nope. That will have to wait until I have a space with fewer roaches.
    Store: Ditto, except I’ve been picking up an extra can of pork and beans or tomato sauce when I go to the store.

    Manage Reserves: nothing to report today

    Cook: Not this month…I’m really treading water
    Prep: Applied to two jobs, one in Iowa, the other in South Dakota. A third in Kansas is in progress. Our main prep is our attempt to escape the East Coast this summer.
    Local: Not this week, unfortunately.
    Learn: I learned how to apply a Daytrana patch to my kid so it won’t fall off at school. I am learning better ways to manage his anger issues so that maybe next month I can do things other than deal with his anger issues. (Anyone else here heard of PANDES?)

  18. Wendy says:

    I liked it better when you were busy. It made my sad efforts seem very productive :) .

    Anyway, I posted my update on my blog … such as it is.

    Have a great week, everyone!

  19. Karin says:

    We’ve had more rain here this week and then on the nice day I had to go to town:( Anyhoo…

    Planted:Zucchini, tomatoes, carrots, more basil,butternut squash, buttercup squash, pie pumpkin, blue hubbard squash, more dill, cilantro.

    harvested:oregano, lettuce, spinach, green onions, chives,eggs, comfrey

    Preserved: Rhubarb wine, dried oregano, froze rhubarb.

    prepped: I found a pattern for making Pajammas because I am determined to learn how to sew. And the folks in my household need them. The pattern was on sale at Joannes for 2 dollars.woo hoo! I plan to hit the great salvage store for fabric .

    managed: mulched asparagus, rhubarb, and grapes with newspaper and sheep shed bounty. Weeded.

    reduced/composted: Turned compost bin number 2. We were given a large wheelbarrow, from someone who was having a yard sale, salvaged a nice industrial sink from a local restaurant to use in the summer kitchen we are building this summer, husband is bring slop home from school for the piggie. Your hard tax dollars at work:)

    Local food: A friend is starting her first garden.
    I helped her plant a few things. Shared the plant something every day idea. She felt relieved that she could slowly chip away at it;instead of tackling all the planting at once.
    Went to Maine Fiber Frolic and purchased local yarn for hubby’s father’s day gift.

    Stored something: Stocked up on dish soap.

    Cooked something: made homemade crackers for storage. Ground the wheat for them. Made Rhubarb wine.

    Learned something new: I think I did but I can’t remember..

  20. Gina says:

    Week SIX??? Actually, this is the first blog challenge I have kept up with the reporting!! I also often feel inadequate (and a bit panicky that I wil actually starve my family when it comes down to it), but the IDC has really made me stop and think about my accomplishments, even during the busy weeks (I am a farmer, work full-time, and mother of two under five).

    Plant Something: More beans where the ones I planted didn’t sprout (must have been bad seed-I got three plants out of at least 30 seeds planted). These are black valentine and are replacing the unknown heritage “Turkey beans” my brother gave me. I also made a new bed by garden room and plan to put medicinal/culinary herbs and edible flowers in it. I hope to grow natural pole bean shades to block some of the Western sun (once again, another idea I got from this challenge!!) I still have to find a home for my last bit of seedlings (started in March)-I can’t waste them!

    Harvested: More eggs; goat milk, radishes, lettuce, dandelion leaves, lemon balm, lamb’s quarter (put it in scrambled eggs, yum!), nasturtium leaves, onions, turnip greens, thinned beet seedlings. Also, Shawnee and I had the most delicious salad: baby lettuce, lemon balm, dandelion leaves, onions, radishes (French breakfast and German Giant)–best salad in the world is the first one from the garden!

    Preserved: Making mozzarella cheese from organic milk I bought on clearance at local big box grocery (The expiration date was 1 day away so I bought a gallon for $1.50 and am trying my hand at cheese making after years of talking about it/researching it). So far, so good…

    Stored: I found an incredible bargain on canning lids this week and bought 8 boxes (4standard/4 wide mouth). I also bought liquid pectin to get ready for jam/jelly season (soon-the raspberries have tiny berries and the plums are getting larger every week). I also bought a few containers to store things in and I am getting food grade rain barrels to store rain water. Also, bought book called _How Indians Use wild Plants for Food, Medicine & Crafts (Francis Densmore). I bought it from a local Native American store. I know the owner and she said her husband and she plan to try to live all summer from it.

    Prepped: Mentioned I found a source for cheap canning lids. Also, due to circumstances not as important as the event, I had a power outage this week. I used it as a practice run. We need to store more water and think about a water filter for the rain water. Also, bought a few (hopefully) critter safe food storage containers. Started creating medicinal/culinary herb garden off of the garden room.

    Managed: Using up older food items in freezer and pantry (worried we won’t be able to afford our annual quarter of grass-raised beef this year). Made another local connection. Worked on my medicinal/edible plant list based on property’s wild/feral plants. Started moving canning jars and equipment to new area built in basement.

    Cooked Something New: Mozzarella cheese (and I am making ricotta from the whey)

    Work on Local Food System: Encouraged the new friend who wants to sell rain barrels. His prices are extremely reasonable. he is also interested in finding/creating food coop with me. I bought six from him and plan to connect them behind the barn.

    Reduced Waste: Usual stuff.

    Learned a New Skill: Made cheese and learned some NA uses for plants indigenous to my location.

  21. margaret says:

    Plant something – peppers, sunflowers, epazote, more collards.

    Harvest something: radishes, lettuce, roses, grape leaves, baby chard, oregano.

    Preserve something: pickled grape leaves, dried mint, raspberry leaves and oregano, started tamari fermenting.

    Store something: bought a case of whole wheat pasta, ten pounds of wheat berries and 25 pound of soybeans.

    Manage Reserves: Cleaned out the fridge (o.k., the electricity went out in a storm, so I had to.)

    Cooked: Radish top soup

    Prepped: Acquired an extra mattress, 3 rain barrells, an awesome bike that hauls ass (and groceries), long johns for my daughter for the next three sizes.

    Worked on Local Food Systems: volunteered in community garden, shared a meal with friends.

    Reduced Waste: composting, practicing planning our meals around what’s ready from the garden.

    Learned a skill: pickling grape leaves.

  22. Rosa says:

    planted: garlic.
    harvested: lambs’ quarters! That’s the one benefit of being so behind, every container I plant, we cut all the lambsquarters out first.
    preserve: nothing, we’re eating down last year’s canned goods right now.
    store: ordered a 5# tub of peanut butter, but it hasn’t arrived yet.
    manage: continue to organize shelves/find things we ought to eat.
    local food systems: gave tomato seedlings to coworkers
    reduced waste: picked up 4 tires (sadly, from the driveway of a boarded-up house in our neighborhood) for potato planter stacks.
    skill: this is the last week of my managerial accounting course, that has to count for something.

  23. Ideasinca says:

    Can’t post a report, but wanted to quickly offer a how-to on steamed oatmeal, which NEVER gets gloppy.

    With steamer basket in pot, and water to about the top of the center post, boil water, then blanch the oatmeal for one minute. A raisin or two (or more if you like ‘em!) added will keep it from boiling over. Get it to a sink, pull up the basket and drain the water so the level is below the bottom of the steamer, so that now you are steaming instead of boiling. (Water is nutritious and can be saved for soups, animal feed, whatever.) Then steam the oatmeal, for anywhere from 6 to 10 minutes depending on how thickly cut it is. It’s delicious and has converted both my kids to oatmeal lovers. Congrats on the book! Good luck and thanks for all you do.

  24. Hummingbird says:

    Still plugging along–doing what I can. Thinking about the challenge helps me to focus more broadly.

    Planted: Replanted beans that didn’t come up.

    Harvested: lettuce and peas

    Recycled: fed cicadas to the chickens (when I could catch them)

    Planned: Where to move the chickens to when their small yard against the house gets too nasty. There don’t seem to be any places that don’t get several hours of full sun around midday and the temps have been in the id 90′s

    Preserve: froze peas.

    Stored: Going shopping today to stock up on staples like flour, sugar, salt, tea, dogfood, batteries.

    Prepare: continued splitting and stacking firewood.

  25. Chile says:

    Wow, Sharon, it sounds like you really made up for time spent chained to the computer! I was not nearly so productive this week. No planting as we still hope to be out of this rental before fall. Nothing to harvest yet. Nothing available in quantity to preserve and I’m trying to empty the small extra freezer and turn it off for the summer. (Puts too much extra heat into the house.)

    I set up a metal cart outside for outdoor cooking. We tried it out yesterday for lunch – great to keep the heat out of the house but a pain in the butt to keep coming back in for things: hot pads, utensils, plate, cooling rack, etc. I’ll have to ponder how to make it more convenient. Also realized that I must get back to planning meals in advance in order to take better advantage of the solar oven. Emptied out our potato bin and have plans to convert it into a hay box cooker (pics on blog) – another reason to preplan meals.

    Dumped the last of the free chicken poop in the compost bin yesterday. Spent a few hours out in the heat making bigger wells for a couple of plants in our front yard so they will catch more rain water (not until July, though). It’s easier now to dump recycled washing machine water there, too. Used the free straw and pine needles to mulch these heavily. I have a few more projects like this left to do so the plants can make it through the hottest months without turning up the drip irrigation system. (Our water use has already gone up from evaporative cooler use.) Oh, and my sweetie worked on the rain barrel set-up a bit more. (No hurry as the rains don’t start for another month.)

    Did the happy dance when it looked like one of our awful neighbors might be moving. The only community in our neighborhood is all the substance abusers that hang out next door, partying until 4 am. I’ve picked up broken bottles, kids’ toys (cheap plastic crap), and firecrackers out of our yard since they moved in. They aren’t gone yet so I hope the celebration was not premature.

  26. Carla says:

    I posted my report last Friday (or Thursday, 5th or 6th) for the previous week. Not much new since then because we’ve had a LOT of rain!
    I’m worried that my popcorn seeds are rotting. Still need to dig up more space for beans and potatoes… weather should get better by the end of the week.

  27. NM says:

    Did not get a tremendous amount done, but have decided to settle for what I can manage. We didn’t plant anything, but did get one of the raised beds fenced in, so the dogs can no longer stomp on, nap on or otherwise abuse the vegetables and strawberries.
    Cook something new; rhubarb conserve — and canned it, so preserved something, too. Also tried green garlic, and fava beans for the first time; lovely, cooked fresh —and a couple of new recipes. Harvested: lovage, roses, kale, spearmint, peppermint, cleavers and lemon balm, and dried all of the above except the kale, which went to a friend. And made rose vinegar and rose vodka (as an experiment; we’ll see how it turns out).
    Shopped at the farmers market; wrote about shopping at the farmers market, and cooking the bounty.
    While Sharon is wilting in the heat, we’re having one of the cool, wet summers we get in the Pacific Northwest from time to time — temperatures in the 50s and 60s, and rain most days. I love this weather, and would be perfectly happy if the weather never got above 80. It does, however, make it hard to mow the foot-high lawn, and easy not to notice how fast the days are slipping away, while the garden remains unplanted … and me with three night meetings in a row to attend this week. Ugh. But maybe I’ll manage to get something done anyway. I hope. Rose petal jam is on the list, and canned rhubarb (and learning how to get rhubarb pieces instead of soup), and gardening …

  28. [...] June 10, 2008 by coffeepot Here is my very late Independence Days Update from last week. You can find Sharons update here. [...]

  29. Gail says:

    Sounds like many of us are having trouble with the weather.. It’s both too hot and too cold here, alternate and unpredictable. Springtime in the Rockies multiplied somehow.

    Planted: tomatoes and peppers who don’t prosper in these temp extremes, zuchinni, pole beans in a windowsill planter ( will that work?)

    Harvest: greens of all kinds,rhubarb, peas are blooming!

    Prepped: bought a locking gas cap for the pickup which sits outside, garage sale and thrift store scores: a chafing dish ( a gaudy thing for 99 cents), some cans of sterno, an oil lamp, a beautiful wool coat and a nice hoodie that I have hardly taken off.
    Looked for shoes at the mall?!! Generation Z is out of school. Cell phones,sleepovers, gibberjabber, boys. Blondies. They were shopping for shoes too… Barbie doll shoes. Distracting, amusing and frightening all at the same time.

    Cooked something new: steamed greens with olive oil and a fresh fried egg. Yumm.

    Managed: water leak under kitchen floor required moving the fridge and crawling under the sink ( places that needed cleaning) and relocating that little water supply hose for an ice maker into a mason jar on the counter.

    Progress on my personal goals of health, finding a suitable life partner, sewing up products to sell at market.

  30. Here is my postccopied from my blog:

    Planted: Transplanted rosemary,bay tree, rose geranium, and oxalis to bigger pots. Got rest of the peppers in. Petunias, Marigolds, Skullcap, more Lemon Balm, St John’s Wort, Plantain, Wild Strawberries, Chicory.

    Harvested: see side bar

    Preserved: Dried strawberries, dried catnip, motherwort tincture, pine vinegar and oil, ground ivy oil(experiment)

    Stored: Honey, Rum and Everclear for herbal goodies

    Prepped: none

    Managed: The man has been working hard on running electric to the garage for his shop. His old shop area in the basement will become a root cellar. We hope.

    Cooked something new: Flax biscotti and strawberry sorbet

    Local Food Systems: Went to local honey farm bought honey, local beeswax for salves, local strawberries and asparagus.

    Reduce waste: Composting and reusable bags

    Learn something new: id’ing mystery plants in the yard

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  35. PH Paper : says:

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  37. Richard says:

    I am a tomato and cucumber guy. Spring is just a couple of months away!

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