Independence Days Update

Sharon May 9th, 2008

So not my best week, folks.  And I’m betting that next week and the one after will be worse.  Until the book is done, I’m probably going to look kinda pathetic. 

 Still, I did get some stuff done.  I planted 150 new strawberry plants, johnny jump ups,  calendula, borage, and container planted tomatoes, eggplant, onions, mint, begonias (yeah, I know it isn’t food, but we eat the petals in flower salads, so we count them), bok choy, lettuce and kale.  Still there are broccoli, onion and lettuce starts just staring at me and making me feel guilty. 

We had a hard frost early in the week, so harvesting was more limited as things were set back. I harvested spinach, rhubarb, dandelions, raspberry leaves and some pea shoots for stir fry, and that was about it.  Oh, and Poppino mushrooms from our mushroom project.  They were a little past their prime - they are in a corner and we kind of forgot about them, but they were still very good.

Preserved: Dehydrated raspberry leaves for tea, froze some of our insane quantity of extra eggs for baking and winter scrambled, made rhubarb sauce for canning, but never got to it and we all ate it instead.  I suspect that last one doesn’t really count ;-).

Stored: Put away the canning sugars and salt in containers (need more buckets), bought extra dog and cat food.  A kind friend gave me her son’s outgrown stuff - most of it will go to Isaiah and Asher, but despite the fact that her six year old and mine are the same age, hers has much bigger feet, so Simon collected two pairs of sandals - yay!  The stuff for the little guys is also valuable - by the time my clothes have been through 4 kids, they don’t always look that good.

Prepped: Last Saturday’s yard saling yielded 4 boxes of canning jars, a big pile of history books, multiplication flash cards,  a huge cracked bong (yes, you read that correctly) that I plan to make into a planter and a cast iron dutch oven.  It was a good run - and tons of fun!  I also took advantage of sales at various mail order nurseries to order more strawberries (I’ve decided to convert all six of the back beds to strawberries, since we couldn’t possibly have enough), more raspberries and 4 beach plums (Raintree has some amazing deals on bulk trees, and Stark and Miller both have good sales).

Managed: Still haven’t cleaned out freezer or pantry, and it isn’t going to happen until book is done.  Must take inventory.  I did get rid of the last of the rotten apples - the chickens loved them.

Cook Something New: Nope.  Same ole, same ole stuff.  Too tired. 

 Work on Local Food Systems: Not unless you count the book.  I am a worm.

I’m changing “compost something” to “reduce waste” since that seems more on-topic, given that recent study that suggests that Brits throw away billions of food - more than anyone thought.  How much you want to bet that that also applies to Americans?

Reduced Waste: We don’t have food waste per se - everything goes to some animal or the compost.  But it would be nice if the chickens were being fed less on South Indian style curried vegetables that decomposed in the back of our fridge.  Unfortunately, I haven’t done anything about this.  We’re pretty good about minimizing waste, but not perfect.

Learned a skill - No.  I think I may actually have gone backwards here, as I’m spending 10 hours a day in front of the computer, and I can actually feel my synapses unwinding.  Soon, I’ll be able to do nothing but press keys and stare ;-).

How about you?


55 Responses to “Independence Days Update”

  1. Greenpaon 09 May 2008 at 8:16 am

    Oh, Sharon. tsk tsk. Begonias don’t count? Not food?

    They ARE food- food for the soul. :-)

    This was actually a bone of contention between me and Spouse- she couldn’t see the point to the marigolds and zinnias, and refused to plant or weed them.

    Food for the soul. We need that too.

  2. Chileon 09 May 2008 at 9:03 am

    I guess I’m gonna have to officially sign up for this. I haven’t conciously been trying to hit all the points, but I seem to hit most of them anyway. Once this darn yard sale is over, I can get back to concentrating more on this stuff.

    Planted: the handfuls of pumpkin seeds I buried here and there when I cooked the last pumpkin have sprouted! My sweetie’s corn is enjoying frequent applications of “natural” nitrogen. ;-)

    Preserved: Froze the aforementioned cooked pumpkin and roasted the seeds. Besides snacking, the seeds can be ground up and added to baked goods for a nutrition punch.

    Stored: Closets and storage areas are getting more organized as a result of the decluttering I did over the past month.

    Prepped: most “prepping” focus right now is on the yard sale this weekend! Unloaded a few more items on craigslist. This makes cash available for buying more seeds. My sweetie seasoned the cast iron Dutch oven purchased on craigslist. I’ll be switching to cooking with it and an old cast iron skillet, and selling a non-stick skillet at the yard sale.

    Managed: currently tracking sugar use to determine appropriate amount to store. We use waaay too much! Stored food has been inventoried. Still need to do pantry and update freezer inventory.

    Cook something new: Just finished a bowl of oatmeal made partially with quinoa flakes. Without our own roller, we won’t be able to make these ourselves, but I want to use up the flakes I bought. Then we’ll switch to steel-cut oats made from running our CSA’s whole oats through the little hand grinder.

    Work on local food systems: met a 4H gal yesterday who’s overrun with organic eggs. Trying to hook her up with our CSA which frequently runs out of local organic eggs. (Yes, even a vegan is willing to do this kind of work. hehe)

    Reduced waste: picked up big load of chicken and sheep manure from the 4H gal to improve my compost. Will be layering it this weekend with the enormous quantity of pine needles and oak leaves I got last week. Gotta love freebies from craigslist!

    Learned a skill: currently reading Jenkins’ book on Humanure and learning how to improve my compost. (Can’t start that now, though, due to plans to move from this rental.)

  3. Kimon 09 May 2008 at 9:31 am

    Copied from my blog post this morning:

    We’ve had more rain this week which is good. I got a lot of indoor work done during the rainy times. That was time well spent!

    1. Planted: Rio Zappe beans, green bush beans, more leeks, more lettuce, more broccoli, more tomato, and canteloupe.

    2. Harvested:arugula

    3. Preserved: dehydrated some onions (My dehydrator came late yesterday afternoon. We wore the old one out.)

    4. Stored: I added a little rice and canned fruit to my pantry.

    5. Prepped:
    * Water storage is up to 5 days (plus the water in the Berkey).
    * I bought 1 case of canning jars.
    * Purchased a dutch oven cook book.

    6. Managed:
    *More hay from the barn to the compost heap.
    *Cleaned chicken coop and added that to the compost heap.
    *Picked flowers off the strawberries.
    *Built and filled another 100 square foot bed.
    *Kept all gardens weeded.
    *Wormed sheep and goats.
    *Inventoried seed collection.

    7. Other:
    * Helped 2 friends start gardens by discussing. Shared heirloom seeds with 3 people. Bought one friend _How to Grow More Vegetables_.

  4. Susan in NJon 09 May 2008 at 9:38 am

    Sharon’s “slow” would be ultimate speedster mode for me, and it’s been a slow rainy week here. I have to agree with Greenpa on the food for the soul, that’s why I grow tulips.

    Planted: Mesculun mix and evergreen bunching onions.

    Harvested: some ruby leaf lettuce and some finished compost

    Preserved: nothing this week

    Stored: stocked up on some Cinqo de Mayo sales and bought more rice (”sushi” rice is not in short supply and we use a lot)

    Prepped: picked up some more oldstyle jars at Goodwill, the useful 2L-3L size, and washed them out; cleaned out another bed for planting before the rain intervened

    Managed: nothing except for planning what ended up being an exhaustive shopping run last Sat which I hope will lead to a conversion to shopping every other week or less.

    Cook something new: not really, I did buy some millet to try but haven’t gotten to it.

    Reduce waste: nothing new here, especially since I had to add some spoiled food that should never have spoiled to the compost pile this morning.

    Local food systems: not really

    New skill: nope but did some reading on “famine” foods

  5. Karinon 09 May 2008 at 9:47 am

    This past week has been a busy one..let’s see..

    Planted:I planted broccoli, turnip,leeks,more onions. I transplanted a bunch of perennials from a raised bed that the previous owners had created that was all weedy and root bound. They went into the keyhole bed I started last year. Finished building the hugelkultur and planted potatoes in 3 of the 4. I plan to plant squash in the fourth. Planted Artemesia, anise hyssop, purple cone flower. Planted 6 fruit trees: 2 cider trees, one early apple, one late apple and 2 plums.
    Prepped: picked up 10 lbs of sugar that was one sale. Thrift store find: one canning jar and a funnel. Purchased a new toilet which hubby installed Our last one was a mustard yellow water hog. Acquired a month old Nubian mix goat that we will be training to haul, hay and wood.
    Managed: Tidied up garden tool shed. Put half the chickens in the chicken tractor to prep the bed where we plan to plant corn.
    Composted something/ reduced waste: I built two large compost piles from winter sheep shed remains, garden leaves and collected food scraps. Will turn in 3 weeks and see a chiropractor.
    harvested: parsnips, dandelion greens,eggs, chives, lettuce.
    preserved: nothing yet but I am keeping my eye out for the guy who sells fiddleheads and am exploring recipes for pickling them.
    cooked something: Not much new but I was able to make a meal with most of the ingredients from our own garden. Quiche with chives, mashed parsnips and salad of lettuce, dandelion greens, and dried blueberries from last year. Pickeled beets. I am also trying out a different dinner plan where I prep all the ingredients in the morning so that dinner prep time is just putting stuff on the grill and putting salads on the table at dinner time. My husband is a teacher and we try to get most of the work around here done while he is home in the summer. I think with this plan it will make that time of the day easier when everyone is tired.
    Worked on local food systems: met with a cohort of the forest garden I volunteer for. Went to fedco tree sale and purchased trees and seedlings for the garden. Bought Leroy the goat from a local farmer.
    I added my own category Made something: almost done with the second sock. It is some nice local sock yarn and I will put them away and give them to my aunt for christmas.

  6. cbon 09 May 2008 at 10:08 am

    I’m old enough to remember the inflation of the 80’s, interest rates at 21%, and truckers strikes because fuel was so expensive. We could buy gas on alternate days dependant on whether your car license number was even or odd. Our town didn’t have a train siding (those were the days of trains) and we were almost 100% dependant on trucking. Panic buying wiped out the store shelves in no time. I remember my mother sending me rice and beans through the mail. Anyway, it didn’t last long, except….except contractors couldn’t buy insulation or drywall all summer and gardeners couldn’t find canning lids.

    I’ve planted hops (just as salt frees up protein and calcium in krauted vegetables, sugar frees up proteins and B vitamins.) Mead, ale, lager, ciders, wine, used to be the purvue of women in the middle ages. The alcoholic content was medicinal (3-4%?) but another way to provide nourishment. A wonderful book: Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers by Stephen Harrod Buhner.

    Don’t forget matches, razor blades, thermometers, (check out the healing properties of charcoal and colloidal silvers).

    I am also saving containers (rather than recycling them all) for sharing with neighbors.

    Best wishes to you all!

  7. anna bananaon 09 May 2008 at 10:11 am

    it’s been a pretty good week for me :)

    1. planted: more sugar snap peas because only two of the (20) seeds i put in before came up… and one of those sprouts has now kicked the bucket. ah well.

    2. harvested: leeks at the csa farm last sunday! and stuff is sprouting in my garden! lettuce and arugula look good, more lettuce is coming up that i planted last week or the week before, onions are up, i have what looks like a spinach sprout, and some mystery sprouts (i moved the pots around and forgot what exactly was where…)

    3. preserved: nothing *sigh*

    4. stored: 2 quarts of water in mason jars that i had found in the closet

    5. prepped: i’m cleaning out the various other glass jars we have left over from grocery store foods to be used as water storage containers.

    6. managed: inventoried the shelves in the kitchen

    7. cook something new: this week we made gingery marinated chickpeas, felafel from scratch, and tahini-lemon sauce (which we used on sandwiches and also as a pasta sauce), all of which came out of the “new moosewood cookbook”. molly katzen is my new best friend.

    8. local food systems: we carpooled out to our csa farm on sunday for a walking tour and a talk with farmer james. it was very enlightening, not to mention gorgeous! the weather really cooperated. the csa is on track for the first week of june’s delivery. they provide 1200 shares to a bunch of different csa’s all along long island and into queens. we also got to know some of our fellow shareholders a little better.

    9. reduced waste: last night i used the pasta water to blanch the broccoli. we’re considering finding a way to use the shower-warmup-water to wash the dishes, but we’re still in the pre-brainstorming phase on that one.

    10. learn a skill: i worked on patching a pair of pants that had worn through. my hand-sewing skills need work.

  8. Nettleon 09 May 2008 at 10:13 am

    Planted: Planted tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, bell peppers, bunching onions, scarlet runner beans, beets, parsley, cilantro, (more) basil.
    Harvested: lots of wild violet leaves, nettles, garlic mustard
    Preserved: dried violet leaves for tea.
    Prepped: built two more raised beds, filled two more containers to get ready for whatever I bring home from the garden store this weekend (we’re borrowing a car on Sunday, so I get to buy heavy things!)
    Managed: Looked at all the stuff that needs rearranging . Sighed heavily. Started a garden notebook - this year I am going to record everything - planting dates, notes on growing, yields, all that.
    Cook something new: I found a new nettle soup recipe - I know a hojillion ways to cook nettles, but this latest involves egg and tasted nutritious enough that I felt like I grew an inch just from eating it. I also used garlic mustard leaves in mashed potatoes - don’t know why I never thought of that before. I will never make mashed potatoes in garlic mustard season without them ever again. Yum.
    Worked on local food systems: Helped my neighbors clear some space for their own garden - we managed to inspire them.
    Reduce waste: We are renovating an apartment in our building and put a bunch of the stuff we had to get rid of on Craig’s List in the “free” section and managed to give it away rather than throwing it away.
    Learned a skill: I now know how to build sturdy and attractive 4×4 raised beds for vegetables. It’s not all that hard, but I’m not all that much of a carpenter, so it’s a victory that they came out looking as good as they do. I also finally figured out the instructions for knitting two socks at the same time. It involves some sort of weird folding of time and space, but I managed it.

  9. Nettleon 09 May 2008 at 10:18 am

    Ooh - almost forgot: this goes under both “reducing waste” and “prepping” - one of my neighbors put a big box of clean empty storage jars on the curb for the trash. I promptly took it out of the trash and now have seven more jars.

  10. plantainpatchon 09 May 2008 at 10:18 am

    Copied and pasted from my blog. Not a good week.

    Rough week with us being sick.

    Planted- Green Beans, cucumbers, squash, flowers for the beneficials.

    Harvested- See side bar :)

    Preserved- Drying: oregano, dandelion blossom oil, making hot sauce from dried cayenne we grew

    Stored- Picked up some 1/2 gallon jars and canning lids

    Prepped- nada

    Managed- A lot of naps ;)

    Cook Something New- Not this week

    Local Food Systems- Going over local nursery’s website and making a list. Debating growing kiwi.

    Reduce Waste: Using a lot of hankies to cut down on tissue use some.

    New Skill- Trying to learn about making a root cellar? Not sure yet.

  11. risa bearon 09 May 2008 at 10:20 am

    Hey! — a worm can be a very good thing to be when working on local food systems! And we need the book …

    I work full time and have committee meetings in the evenings, so it’s been tough. Plus we’re STILL having frosts, courtesy of la Nina.

    But I’ve expanded the beds a bit and gotten in a few seeds: peas, radishes, beets, spinach, potatoes. The grapes, which I had pruned back severely, are sprouting. I’ve done 50 beanpoles in one bed and cut 10 so far for the next one. Collecting compost. And at least one “100-foot diet” meal/day: dinner last night was radishes and chard stems, diced, in the wok until softened, then radish greens, maple bracts, dandelions, onion and garlic greens, and a bit of parsley, with a diced hard-boiled duck egg, just after turning off the heat, under cover.

    So, could be worse.

    risa b

  12. KimKon 09 May 2008 at 11:00 am

    I just followed Crunchy’s link to this idea this week. I’ve been doing many of these things already, but it’s nice to get the prodding for all parts.

    Plant- transplanted some tomatos and herbs
    Harvest- nope
    Preserve- not this week
    Prep- bought sugar for canning, and some hydrocortisone cream
    cook- potatoe leek soup
    manage- cleaned out a medicine cabinet, yard saled some items
    local food system- bought at a farmers market and exchanged some veggie starts

  13. Shiraon 09 May 2008 at 11:30 am

    Thanks to everybody, this is great! I like Deb G’s system of trying to do something every day.

    I did mange to:
    1. get the herbs out of the starter trays and into four inch pots
    2. wilt some lemon balm and put the leaves to soak in oil for medicinal oil base
    3. sort a box which has been sitting in a corner for two years since we moved and found some ancient toothpaste and a two year supply of dental floss (always useful in an emergency, eh?)
    4. bought some more canning jars, sadly at full supermarket price
    5. harvested and ate the swiss chard because it was about to bolt and mess up the genetics of my Bull’s Blood beet seed
    5. compare pressure canner models and decide which one to look for
    6. share sourdough starter and a lesson in baking with a friend, who gave me epazote and cauliflower starts

    I show up here in my seed saving, sourdough baking, herb gardening persona as a practitioner of the vernacular arts, but back in the formal economy my engineering business is picking up smartly.

    Folks, I’m just here to tell you that the news from the formal economy is disquieting. This year, it’s all about power: power reliability, power quality, backup power. Last year, my bread and butter was small office buildings and subdivisions.

    Grid power is not just about the lights and the computer. Grid power pumps water; grinds sewage; moves oil, water and gas through pipelines; and runs the sensitive and very expensive equipment that monitors water and wastewater processing.

    The beating that the grid is likely to take this summer is very hard on equipment. Sure, there is backup power, but it is necessarily in the form of big fat expensive diesel generators that take a while to get up to synchronous speed. Brownouts and rolling blackouts stress the generators.

  14. Heather Grayon 09 May 2008 at 11:34 am

    Hey Greenpa, marigolds are important in veggie gardens — they help protect some plants like tomatoes! And some types of flowers are serious bee-attractors, important for any fruits or veggies that require pollination. But I agree with the sentiment of food for the soul too :)

    Not much here…

    1. Planted: Still mostly working on clearing clods of grass and prepping. Still a little cold at night here. Seedlings indoors are doing pretty well though. Have been meaning to put out the potatoes and onion starts but I’m kind of tired this week and my shoulder’s been bothering me… probably the hoeing/raking has been getting to it.

    2. Harvested: Fiddleheads and dandelion greens

    3. Preserved: Nada

    4. Stored: Nothing

    5. Prepped: Nothing personally. Does advising someone else on prep count? A friend of mine is going to buy local greens and dehydrate them but didn’t know how to do that or how to store them.

    6. Managed: Moved some shelving around (put different sizes/types in more appropriate places) — needed to create better places to put herbals and the pasta maker. Removing some shelving and stuff from the “back attic” (off the kitchen) so the recycling bins can go in there. We’re working on getting a low-emission wood stove this month, so I need the space in the kitchen to put it. Argh. Just remembered (again) that I also need a space for a small stack of wood too.

    7. Cook Something New: fiddleheads and dandelion greens with a bit of butter and garlic.

    8. Local Food Systems: Walked over to Sidehill Farm and picked up a gallon of milk and 2 quarts of plain yogurt. Ran into one of the owners while there, which was good because we need the forms for the town’s farmers market. Odd thing but there are 18 other vendors for the market and we only have around 2,000 residents. So, a very successful market it seems!

    9. Reduced Waste: Not that I can think of. Just the usual stuff. Oh, wait — not from this week, but a couple of weeks ago we switched to baking soda for shampoo and that’s been working out pretty well, so less packaging! We tried shampoo bars and might again, but those come in paper or no packaging, so that’s okay.

    10. Learn a Skill: Nope. Maybe next week…

  15. Heather Grayon 09 May 2008 at 11:42 am

    Shira, thanks for the note on the power grid. Although ISO New England does a great job in our area (we didn’t get caught in the cascade from the Midwest a few years back because of them), there’s a few of us keeping an eye out on what’s likely to happen here in a heat wave. My husband Lye used to work in power management and it’s been great having him explain to folks how the system works, what co-generation plants are, base generation vs. peak generation and things like that.

    Oh, and I forgot to list that we got in a Big Berkey filter system from Haven’t had time to assemble it yet, but it’s nice to have this extra bit of security. Really appreciated having a human being to talk to about it too!

    Have no idea what category that would come under…

  16. Christinaon 09 May 2008 at 11:54 am

    Checking in from a unusually warm Sweden - should be spring here still, but we’re having summer temperatures.

    Planted: strawberries, kale, beets, will plant pickling cucumbers and maybe beans this weekend. I seldom plant beans before June 1st, but it’s really warm!

    Harvested: salad greens, rhubarb, lemon balm, mint, blackcurrant leaves (for tea), perennial onions, chives, herbs

    Preserved: nope

    Stored: nope. Not enough rhubarb for canning yet. But we´re making pie :-). Should have been dehydrating various leaves for tea, but did not.

    Prepped: no

    Managed: Checked pantry, restocked a few things.

    Cook Something New: A wonderful onion-and-nettle quiche. Made hoummus from local peas (chickpeas don’t grow here)

    Work on Local Food Systems: Not

    Reduced Waste: Used old newspapers for sheet mulching

    Learned a skill - Not really. Practised my spinning a little.

  17. Taraon 09 May 2008 at 12:17 pm

    Planted: Green onions, lettuce, radishes

    Harvested: dandelion and mulberry leaves for the bunnies, mulberries for us!

    Preserved: Hmmm…nothing this week, I’m afraid.

    Stored: added heavily to the food stores this week. Also bought giant packs of batteries. Bought extra dog food and a steel feed barrel to keep it in.

    Prepped: Dug a new garden bed, hit garage sales and bought planting containers, storage jars, fireplace tools and a paper shredder (to make compost and mulch from our waste paper). Ordered a sprouter.

    Managed reserves: Not much here this week - just labeled some jars and used up some greens that were looking tired.

    Cooked: We’ve been making bannock for breakfast this week, in all sorts of variations. We’ve made it before, but only once or twice. We’ve put it back into rotation as a quick, easy, and infinitely variable staple. This week we made it plain, with cornmeal and cheese, and with mulberries and blueberries. I’m considering making a big jar of bannock “mix”, so we can just scoop out a cup or so at the drop of a hat. I also used beet greens in my dal this week instead of spinach, which was new for me. Yummy!

    Local food systems: Ugh, nothing this week.

    Reduced waste: See paper shredder (above). Trying to find a use for the (partial) bamboo rug that the dog has kindly chewed to bits.

    New skill: still honing the gardening skills. Reading “Gardening When it Counts” - learning lots about root systems.

    No report from me next week, since I’ll be out of town.

  18. kathirynneon 09 May 2008 at 12:31 pm

    My most recent accomplishments in the challenge are posted on my blog.

    Thanks, Sharon, for the inspiration and motivation!

  19. kristineon 09 May 2008 at 12:39 pm

    posted at my place earlier:

    1. plant something:
    sat: too cold to have the little one outside (ok, so really, i’m the wuss when it comes to cold. i was productive inside)
    sun: weeded and mulched garlic and horseradish, weeded asparagus, planted 5 summer squash (a pattypan i think)
    mon: planted 17 tomato plants, 1 row of carrots, 3/4 row of beets
    tue: planted 34 more tomato plants
    wed: planted last 4 tomatoes, planted last 20# potatoes, mulched potatoes
    thur: extremely rainy day, no outdoor activities - got over 3″ rain
    fri: more rain. sorted seeds to be started in the greenhouse and directed sown outside, hopefully tomorrow!

    2. harvest something:
    ^harvested more asparagus
    ^harvested some mint

    3. preserve something:
    ^made lilac jelly
    ^made dandelion jelly
    ^made mint jelly

    4. prep something:
    ^started list of items needed to further our cause (more supers and a spare hive or two, electranet fencing, etc)
    ^figuring how many chickens we need to separate to harvest eggs for hatching
    ^following up on milk goat leads
    ^bought 10 cases of jelly jars
    ^still searching for berkey water filter (lost an auction this week by $2.50 grumble)
    ^ordering more chimneys and mantles for my aladdin lamp once money is back into account

    5. cook something:
    ^made goat stew. it was good but chewy. need to slow cook it more
    ^made goat chops, baked. still a bit tough

    6. manage your reserves:
    ^placed coop #2 order
    ^ordered 4 turkey babies (don’t know what they are called)
    ^picked up #1 coop order
    ^emailed 2 navajo-churro breeders about availability

    7. work on local food systems:
    ^fed and watered broiler chicks several times a day (they go through food like crazy).
    ^emailed slow food st. louis to be added to their database
    ^emailed local harvest grocer to feel out interest in selling our products (and got a response…now i need to send them a price list)
    ^discussed possibility of selling our eggs at local nutrition store

    8. Compost something:
    ^every day, all our foods go into the compost bucket and get fed to the chickens who turn it into manure for the garden.
    ^i hold back apple cores, carrot ends and peels and a few other veggies scraps for goat treats
    ^the dog and cats eat most the meat/bone scraps (i feed fish scraps to the chickens for extra protein)

    9. Learned a skill:
    ^working on perfecting butter making and pasta making
    ^made mozzarella balls with citric acid instead of cultured method. yum!

  20. Karinon 09 May 2008 at 12:41 pm

    Tara, you could use that chewed up rug as mulch in the garden if you have weedy path between your veggies, put newspaper underneath and then put the rug on top.

  21. Meganon 09 May 2008 at 1:06 pm

    Planted: Hutterite bush beans, Cannelini semi-runner beans, transplanted bok choy and chard. My doomed chamomile has sprouted en masse, what delicate little buggers! I’ll be afraid to thin them when the time comes. Tomato, hot pepper, new zealand spinach, sunflower, basil and cilantro seedlings are growing nicely in the windowsills, and my one test quinoa I planted has sprouted. I planted three little mini pots with ground cherries. We’ll see how those turn out.

    Harvested: chives, slivers, bruises

    Preserved: nothing yet.

    Stored: Here is my category of the week! I got out the handy food saver and divvied up a 12lb bag of Lundberg organic short grain rice I got at Costco a few months ago. Anyway, I got into smaller portions, sucked the air out, and now have a dozen or so bricks o rice. Also did quinoa, Emmer left over from the unfortunate Essene bread attempts, and other little odds and ends. Filled two 5 gallon buckets with vacuum sealed bags of stuff. Very pleased! Also shopped extra and added to the pantry.

    Prepped: began planning the front yard in earnest. Will be adding an edible hedge along the front, most likely including nanking cherry, rosa rugosa, elderberries, and black currants. Will also be adding a patch of huckleberries and a patch of Stella D’Oro daylilies. Also, my wonderful neighbor finished fencing in my back yard, much more secure now.

    Managed reserves: During the storage-fest, I did do a lot of inventory and organizing.

    Cooked: Haven’t really cooked anything new lately. Same old.

    Local food systems: Admired my neighbors gardens and talked about what we’re growing and want to grow, answered a Craigslist ad for a peak oil/gardening discussion group (Was that one of you guys, Hamsters? I haven’t heard back yet on that, but I think it might be interesting!)

    Reduced waste: I’m doing Crunchy’s extreme eco throwdown, so my garbage is vastly reduced lately.

    New skill: Ummm. This is ALL new skills for me. :) I did read about pruning tomatoes online.

  22. NMon 09 May 2008 at 1:37 pm

    Stored: Picked up another two or three pounds of split peas at the grocery store to add to my stores on hand (working on this one slowly).
    Planted: apple tree, blueberry bush and black currant.
    Prepped/Managed: Re-cut the blackberry vines trying to eat the raspberries and adjacent side yard.
    Began going through my grains and legumes and trying to better organize them.
    Ordered soil to be delivered today to expand the vegetable garden with another four by 18-foot bed (second of 2; also have an in-ground bed of about 8 by 20 feet).
    Talked DH into buying wood stove this spring/summer (though we’ll see if he stays talked into it…)
    Local food systems: Wrote a newspaper article about the city’s community garden.
    Cook something new — well, not exactly new, but I baked bread for the first time in a year. I developed carpal tunnel a year ago, and it still really limits use (or abuse) of my hands. Now I have to use a standing mixer to knead, which is frustrating, given the use-less-electricity goal, but have resigned myself, and hoping maybe someday will be able to resume kneading.
    Didn’t learn any new skills, but did educate myself by reading “In Defense of Food,” by Michael Pollan.

  23. Sarahon 09 May 2008 at 1:43 pm

    Planted: Nothing. Though the beans where the garden used to be are now coming up (Muahaha — I feel smug), so I’ll transplant them vaguely useful places this weekend.

    Preserved: Dried some wild onions.

    Stored: 50 pounds of wheat, 25 each of spelt and rye, four cans of coconut milk, and four pounds of Asian wheat noodles.

    Managed: I’m transferring the “tactical” supply of grains in the pantry to uniformly sized jars so that it will be easier to measure how fast we go through them, and Ben constructed a platform for the grain mill.

    Cook something new: I made delicious leeks with anchovies (using up the random can of anchovies in the cupboard), tangerine jelly, pumpkin bread (with the on-sale canned pumpkin I picked up back after Thanksgiving and freshly ground kamut flour), and watched the preparation of Korean mollusk-tofu soup and spicy barbecue noodles. This apartment has featured much deliciousness.

    Work on local food systems: Not much, though Ben did meet the local carpenter who helped with the grain mill platform, which is at least local something systems.

    Reduced waste: I didn’t produce much if any food waste this week, but didn’t come up with any new and exciting ways to reduce it, either.

    Learned a skill: I ground flour! You put the grain in the mill and turn it and flour comes out! Kamut is such a beautiful golden color. And it’s an excellent upper-body workout. I also learned to make jelly (this does not count as preservation, because we just made one tiny little jar and didn’t seal it; it was primarily for confectionery purposes).

  24. Lisa Zon 09 May 2008 at 1:56 pm

    Planted: nothing yet, waiting another week here in Minnesota for most things; will plant peas this afternoon though. I promise! :~/ I did divide my one rhubarb plant into three plus a lot of little “bits” (see local food systems section…)

    Harvested: things are just coming up; have been “snacking” while weeding, on the sorrel, daylily shoots, chives, and whatever else. My kids love to do this too!

    Preserved: nothing yet but bought a pack of canning lids and a magnetic lid lifter in preparation; also bought a mandoline to use for cutting cabbage and other veggies thin for sauerkraut and other preserving recipes; did make a huge pot of chicken broth which for now we’re freezing but hope to get a pressure canner to can this stuff eventually

    Stored: bought a second case of refried beans before they went off sale after cinco de mayo; ordered a Lehman’s Best Grain Mill with tax rebate money so I can store wheat berries, oat groats, corn, etc.

    Prepped: finished leveling off a former raised rock garden bed that is now part of my greatly expanded veggie garden; cut out middles of old tires for potato growing; rinsed out the 55 gal. barrels I got from the hospital laundry to make into rain barrels;

    Managed reserves: not much here

    Cooked: a huge pot of chicken broth from a $4.50 farmer’s market-bought stewing chicken.

    Local food systems: gave extra rhubarb “bits” to some neighbors after dividing my one rhubarb into three

    Reduced waste: moved my black plastic compost bin over a few feet to make room for a second compost pile so we can have two piles going at once. One with mostly food scraps and another with more “brush-y” items and weeds, which will compost more slowly

    New skill: shoveling loads of dirt off the raised “berm” to level it for a veggie bed was definitely something I’m not used to doing. I’m a wimp! And need to do this kind of thing more to build up some muscle and endurance…

  25. Verdeon 09 May 2008 at 2:40 pm

    This is my first weekly synopsis of the independence days challenge.

    1. Plant something everyday - I’ve been a little weak on this front. I have seedlings in peat pots, and I bought 4 half wine barrels and planted potatoes. I’ve purchased soaker hoses to begin getting water efficiently to the plants, and put up two rain barrels (though after the first rain realized some adjustment is necessary). Since we just moved into this house, the vegie garden space is limited until I bust some sod. Mr. Greanjeans works tremendous hours every week and at least once a week, often twice, he works around the clock.

    2. As it’s spring, the harvest is a little low. I have found locally produced honey, however and of course the milk cow (see previous post), and I’ve ordered 25 light Brahma chicks. They are a straight run and so we will be harvesting roosters this fall.

    3. For preserving, I found that the walmart in my area still has buckets and gamma lids and so I bought 4 of those (cost just under $40).
    Walmart also still had the 50gal blue drinking water storage barrels and hand pumps. I’d like to get another of these blue barrels. Yea, food and water storage at Walmart is a Utah thing. These will go in the garage, which we learned last winter resists freezing to about -15 f outside temps. Oh and I also bought a 32 Qt. pressure canner. I have quite a few jars, enough to fill a free standing shelf unit when they are empty, but from experience of using them, I know I’ll need more for what I’m trying to do.

    4. Prep Something. I had organized and cleaned the pantry the week before. I’ll be going to the grocery store a little more often, for peanut butter and such based on what I read in this article in the Wall Street Journal about rood prices rising much faster than the returns you are likely to get from keeping your money in a bank or money-market fund. Probably what I wrote in #3 should go here. However I also purchased 4books,

    Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times
    Storey’s Basic Country Skills: A Practical Guide to Self-Reliance
    Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long
    , and
    Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables

    5. Manage reserves. In this category I am actually using things out of the freezer. Again I have years of experience putting food by and one of my common mistakes is not using the food in a timely manner and having it go bad. One has to live in this system of food storage or else is is just hoarding. You have to consume on one end while stocking on the other end. If you eat too much out of the grocery store, you don’t have a taste for preserved food and you aren’t eating in good rotation. So, we are having lots of frozen strawberries in anticipation of the new strawberry crop and also because they don’t last forever. I also know that I tend to put up too much jam. I’ll get going on a jam craze when the fruit is in and it will take us years to eat it all, by which time some will begin to get too old.

    It is this category alone that got us through a really bad year last year and the one before. We got into a hole, and we give thanks every day for our being able to climb out of it - but the only way out was to accept an offered hand to do it.

    6. Cook Something. I’ve really been conscientious about cooking and blogging the Monday Menu blog keeps me on top of it. Making a menu and laying out the ingredients keeps waste down and production up. I’ve stopped buying packaged cereal which requires me to get up earlier and actually make breakfast for everyone. The trouble is the increased dishes produced and the need to prod teenagers (one of whom is taking AP tests and final exams) to help more.

    7. Work on Local Food Systems. In having conversation with the people at the greenhouse, I learned that a local farmer’s market is beginning for the first time this year. I made contact with them and have agreed to attend their meeting later on this month and lend a hand. They also referred me to the local conservation group. I attended their noon meeting a short walk from my office and met 5 people who have worked for years to bring recycling to town and are just this week seeing the first fruits of that. With out this challenge, I don’t know that I would have shared my time.

    8. Learn something new. I’ve been learning from the posts on Sharon’s food storage groups and I learned about pasteurization in the home dairy.

  26. Maryon 09 May 2008 at 2:55 pm

    Planted: transplanted tomatoes outside.

    Preserved: no

    Harvested: asparagus, wood sorrel for salad

    Prepare (or maybe learn a skill): studied edible plants

    Store: split and stacked firewood

    Manage stores? Set trap for chipmunk eating pea plants.

  27. Alexon 09 May 2008 at 3:45 pm

    My progress this week has been dismal so I’m going to save myself the embarrassment of reporting :S

    I just wanted to share my method for reducing the amount of food that rots in the fridge: I keep an erasable whiteboard on the front and write down everything that goes in. Then, when trying to decide what to eat, I first look at the list and decide what needs to be finished up.

    As a bonus, I waste less power because I’m not standing there with the fridge door open!

  28. Green Eyeson 09 May 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Planted: Nothing. I’m hardening off more tomato plants but they’re not quite ready. Maybe tomorrow. ;)

    Harvested: See “preserved.”

    Preserved: Dried some lyre-leaved sage, aka cancerweed. Also dried a small amount of clover blossoms and wood sorrel.

    Stored: We added 5lb sugar and 10lb flour to storage, along with a couple of bottles of clearanced holiday spices: cloves, nutmeg, etc.

    Prepped: I printed a bit from my computer, articles I’ve saved that I know I’d miss if the grid went down. I also did a bit of mental, hypothetical planning for how we would divy up the rooms at the house my family will all be living in if things really get that bad.

    Managed: Ok… I cleaned out the fridge. That is all.

    This week was pitiful, I’d say. Next week is going to be a big one, though… putting in the tomato plants, starting more beans, harvesting and preserving dewberries, etc.

  29. Kim Hon 09 May 2008 at 7:24 pm

    C&P from blog:

    1. Plant Something. We got winter savory, mint, and something else in the ground this week.

    2. Harvest Something. Do milk and eggs count? Or the asparagus from the Amish farmer?

    3. Preserve Something. Nothing to preserve yet. We’ve been eating the asparagus and I’ve been making tons of cheese.

    4. Stored Something. Picked up a 50# bag of oatmeal and stored it in buckets. We also got lots of raw honey.

    5. Cook Something New. Reference my “Thicken” post.

    6. Manage Your Reserves. Do this every time I menu plan. I have left-overs as part of the menu.

    7. Work On A Local Food System. I’m still with Terre Foods even though I missed the last meeting and am not at the decompression meeting tonight.

    8. Reduce Waste. I could definitely be doing better.

    9. Learn A New Skill. Nope. Although one could argue that being the mother of three small children is a daily learning adventure.

  30. Ginaon 09 May 2008 at 7:37 pm

    1. Plant something: broccoli, tomato plants, strawberry starts, hazelnuts, kohlrabi and beets, parsnips and more radishes (to mark carrot and parsnip rows), mint (dug up from old property and moved to new), late season cabbage, basil and a bunch more for tomorrow (I’ll put on next week’s round up).

    2. Harvest Something: mint, asparagus (two stalks-woo hoo!), chickweed, lilacs (I am going to try Tansy’s jelly-I hope it tastes a bit like they smell).

    3. Preserve something: Water-bathing Mint Jelly as we speak. I am hoping to use it as past of my Mother’s Day gifts to my own mother and MIL. Also, drying some mint for tea.

    4. Prep something: Started “wish list” of things we need for Independence; put ad on local Craig’s List for rain barrels (and received two responses from people ALSO wanting some); decluttered and took stuff to sister’s for her yard sale; priced canning jars and lids (some online);

    5. Cook something: Asparagus (local) and omelets a lot this week. I did make that yummy African inspired dish with home-canned tomatoes & green beans, spices, left-over turkey breast and one chicken breast (I buy local Amish chicken). Everyone loved it.

    6. Manage your reserves: organized basement pantry. Now I just need to write out an inventory. Used up left overs regularly. Researching the purchase of a mini-jersey bull (from a breeder in Illinois).

    7. Work on local food systems: Bought two piglets from Amish farmer in same county as me. I hope to have more for this section soon.

    8. Compost something: We throw all non-meat food scraps to the chickens or to the compost pile for the garden. Some also now go to the piglets. (i just noticed this is now “reduced waste”-I’ll address that next week…)

    9. Learn a new skill: I almost put ‘nothing’ here, but then remembered the bees!! I learned to start bees in a hive and did so without gloves and with only one accidental sting!! this weekend I shall be trying out the smoker (although I have already taken the cover off to have ‘a peek’ and i could see them moving about).

    10. Stored Something: I must have missed this one last week. I need to think about it a bit as I am actually in the process of getting rid of anything that is not related in some way to my homesteading life style (used to be an avid thrift store shopper=junk collector)-I did see three glass lanterns over at my sister’s that her MIL is selling. i may buy them for the “just-in-case” need (she only wants a dollar for them and I see them at the thrifts marked $10+). I also put all the fabrics I have been hoarding for quilting (future skill) in the tubs that used to house stuff I am putting in the yard sale.

  31. Tinaon 09 May 2008 at 7:39 pm

    Harvested: Nothing :( However, I have been reading two books on wild edibles. I just haven’t been brave enough to harvest. I am going to look for someone local to train me. We will be putting in a few square foot garden sections next week with seedlings from one of our CSAs.

    Preserved: Nothing… I will be buying crocks next week to start making sauerkraut and other fermented veggies. Just used the last jar of spaghetti sauce from last year…

    Stored: Nothing yet.

    Prepped: Cleaned out garage last week. Sent a lot to recycling. We can now get some of our wood projects done. My husband and son started to build our new snake cage and will be working on making more shelving next week.

    Managed: Not sure if this counts…but, we are working on teaching our kids to eat what is in front of them. I know we all grew up with that concept. I had allowed my kids to graze on fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the day (regardless of the cost or season). We are now eating seasonally and watching our budget. I want to prepare them to eat what is available when it is available. Therefore, we have a menu that we are sticking to.

    Cook Something New: I tried two more potato dishes this week. The mashed potato casserole seems to be the most successful so far.

    Work on Local Food Systems: A fellow homeschooler just started a new local frugal yahoo group. I introduced the other members to the two CSAs to which I belong. I also posted links to the local farmers markets on the group homepage.

    Reduced Waste: I am eliminating ziplock style bags this week. We will be using all glass for storing foods in the fridge (haven’t gotten rid of the fridge yet…). I need to look for paper for the freezer… Any suggestions?

    Learned a skill: This is going to sound silly. I took the bus for the first time in 20 years today (haven’t done so since college). It was fantastic! I have been biking 30 miles round trip to and from work for much of the past year. Rainy and snowy days though, I drove. Now I will be taking the bus on bad days. It requires a transfer as I am commuting across several towns.
    However, it was so liberating.

  32. Paula Hewitton 09 May 2008 at 8:06 pm

    I was wondering what do you need to do to freeze eggs? Im interested in preserving our excess….. thanks

  33. Jen H. in western Mass.on 09 May 2008 at 9:19 pm

    Okay, I thought I had done essentially zero, but then thought it over and realized I HAD done some things.

    Planted: garlic chives, anise hyssop, ramps, peppermint, spearmint, sunchokes, lemon balm, ostrich fern.

    Harvested: chives, wintergreen, violets.

    Preserved: Cooked, mashed and froze food for the baby: sweet potato, peas, apple/prune mix.

    Stored: another 50 lbs of wheat, 1 lb paprika, 25 lbs quinoa. Got a bunch more hand-me-downs from neighbors for the baby.

    Prepped: Staked off area that I just planted so neighborhood boys wielding toy guns won’t trample everything (cohousing, all common land). Researched prices of items I want to purchase, including a grain mill, gooseberry bushes, currant bushes, groundnut, ground cherries. Massive cleaning of shared mudroom, to make room for useful stuff rather than junk and dirt.

    Managed: Cooked and ate some stuff that had been in the freezer a long time. Partial inventory of pantry.

    Cooked something new: fiddleheads.

    Worked on local food systems: patronized local nursery, where the aforementioned plantings were purchased (Tripple Brook Farm). Patronized brand-new co-op (River Valley Market). Got excited thinking about upcoming CSA share at Food Bank Farm. Formed chicken club with cohousing neighbors; none of us have raised chickens before. Six chicks arriving on Monday. Looked into what it would take to build a chicken coop; called Re-Store in Springfield about surplus and used building materials. Did research on potentially suitable edible groundcovers for neighbor. Continued managing permaculture guild listserv.

    Reduced waste: Tried to educate neighbors about how to manage our shared compost tumbler. Trying to find a way to not throw out electric immersible blender that died; looking for ways to recycle or give to tinkerer.

    Learned new skill: Still perfecting the art of carrying the baby on my back in her soft-structured carrier. Working hard on the skill of asking for help despite feelings of shame.

  34. Sue in the Western Great Basinon 09 May 2008 at 9:30 pm

    Just posted this on my own blog:

    I’m liking how the psychology of the Independence Days Challenge is working — I notice myself thinking “hmm, will I have enough to report?” and looking around for things to do. I even postponed writing (or at least finishing) this post until I went and did certain things, so that I could report them. This is the kind of motivation that works well for me.

    This past week, I:

    Planted: Peas and onion sets in pots inside; peas outside.

    Harvested: Dandelion leaves and flowers. Ate them in tonight’s salad. I was more creeped out by this than I expected to be. First I rethought the calendar for this house, to reassure myself that they couldn’t have been sprayed by the previous tenants. Then I harvested them from outside the fenced yard, to minimize the possibility of them having been peed on by the dog. Then I rinsed them well before putting in the salad. The leaves didn’t creep me out, it was the flowers with all the hidden nook and crannies where mystery bugs might hide. This is all rather amusing to me, since I’m not normally creeped out by bugs. But perhaps it’s the difference between seeing them and eating them that got to me. Anyway, I ate them all. I even ate one or two flowers without a mouthful of rest-of-salad, just to see what it was like. I didn’t notice a distinctive taste to the flowers, but somehow they tasted good anyway. The leaves were a bit bitter, but no moreso than some other greens.

    Preserved: Nothing.

    Stored: Put the black beans bought recently into a mouseproof bucket. Am I the only idiot who can’t figure out the “so-easy-a-kid-can-do-it” gamma seal lids? I have a standard 4 gallon bucket, and a lid that clearly says “fits nearly all 3.5-7.0 gallon buckets.” But the ring is way too big to go over the rim of my bucket! The rim is nearly big enough to go around the OUTSIDE of the bucket, which doesn’t make sense (since the rubber seal is up inside the upside-down-U of the ring) but I tried it that way anyway and for a while thought it was how it was supposed to go. Argh — I gave up and just snapped the regular bucket lid on. That’s sufficient for mouseproofing, and I probably have more perishable items to gamma seal than black beans, but darn, I wanted to at least figure out how it worked! Anyone have a clue what I was doing wrong?

    Prepped: Dug about 100 square feet of new garden bed. Started to accumulate materials for garden fence and plan the location, but haven’t actually put any posts in the ground yet. Set up a two-section compost bin made of old pallets. Set up and began using a urine bucket in the bathroom, to which 10x water will be added and the result poured either on the garden directly or into the compost. Pruned more fruit trees: I’m on tree #5 out of 14, and I started with the small ones, so I might not be able to do all 14 if my ladder doesn’t prove tall/stable enough for the high branches. Ordered a Diva Cup per Crunchy’s challenge.

    Managed: Cooked some REALLY old red beans (as in, more than a decade old!) and some only moderately old brown rice (almost 2 years old) and ate it for 3-4 meals throughout the week. Also, some of the seeds I planted (the peas this week, some cilantro and lettuce planted earlier) were from OLD seeds. Thirteen-year-old peas have already sprouted, as have eight-year-old cilantro seeds! No sign of the 13-year-old lettuce, though.

    Cooked something new: Tried making Naan as per badhuman’s recipe mentioned in earlier post. Did something wrong, only marginally edible result, need to try again, but it was a good learning experience. Similarly, experimented with the remnants of the red beans and rice as soup, which got overspiced and underspiced at the same time (don’t ask, I’m really good at things like that) and only a small bit was eaten, the rest composted.

    Worked Toward Local Food System: Talked to several friends/community members, some of whom are gangbuster gardeners, and informed them about the new farmer’s market starting up next month, and encouraged them to sell seed starts there, and to be a customer there as well. Made tentative plans to sell some of my own starts, whatever I have that is excess to my needs for my own garden or what I plan to trade directly with friends. But didn’t take any action on that (other than continuing to water the extra sprouts) so that doesn’t really count. I did buy some organic produce I wouldn’t normally buy from my local grocery (a sack of oranges, a sack of yellow onions) to show my support that they have started carrying organic produce. I know organic is a far cry from local, but as compared to what they carried before, it seemed like a step in the right direction to me.

    Reduced Waste: Composting food waste is the norm for me, nothing new. The urine bucket in the bathroom should count as reducing waste, though — fewer flushes!

    Learned A New Skill: Well, both tree-pruning and bucket-peeing are mostly unfamiliar activities that are becoming more familiar, but I think it’s pushing it to call those new skills. Naan-baking doesn’t count until I get it right. I didn’t even practice knitting this past week. So I guess I don’t have anything in this category this time.

  35. Deb Gon 09 May 2008 at 9:50 pm

    What I did this week:

    Saturday: Supported local Masters Gardeners by buying herbs at their sale (local food systems).
    Sunday: Used frozen grapes that I grew last year for a Clafoutis. Turned out great with the frozen grapes. Also a great way to use up milk before it went sour (managing reserves). Planted winter squash (one set each variety) and marigolds, prepped bean bed. My bean bed is where I created a hugelkultur (a composting technique) last year. I didn’t feel like it was the most productive way to grow potatoes and wasn’t sure I was going to do it again. It did create awesome soil! Creating another hugelkultur is on the to do list for Sunday.
    Monday: Bought extra bulk grains and nuts (stored).
    Tuesday: Helped plant a garden at the childcare center I work at (local food systems).
    Wednesday: Planted beans, carrots, beets, and swiss chard.
    Thursday: Learned how to drain pipes if the heat was off and the weather was below freezing (new skill).
    Friday: Bought extra canning jar lids, a few more strawberries to add to the garden, and a plunger for washing clothes by hand (stored). Also did research on freezing eggs and milk (managing reserves).

    Not sure where else to pass this on so - Shira, thanks for the offer for veggies. I’m set with those too! Megan, hadn’t heard about the peak oil/garden discussion group. Might have to check that out. : )

  36. Sue in the Western Great Basinon 09 May 2008 at 10:10 pm

    Oh, and plantainpatch — would love to see your recipe for making hot sauce from home grown cayenne, if you’d like to share it! Thanks!

  37. Nellieon 10 May 2008 at 1:17 am

    This week has been difficult for me. I have been caring for a sick dog, but let’s see what I was able to accomplish.
    Planted: thyme, hyssop, blueberries, kale, red cabbage, swiss chard, onions, lettuce, with others waiting to be planted.
    Harvested: Just kitchen herbs for fresh cooking: sage, rosemary, chives, thyme, parsley, coriander.
    Prepped: Cleaned out old greenhouse growing moss and garden shed; Gathered new and used lumber to make raised beds (not yet built); .
    Managed: Started 2 new compost bins and have one finished compost pile, full of worms and rich dark humus, kind of like magic since I have been a lazy composter
    Cooked something new: 17 bean soup, whole spelt pasta with shrimp and kale raab.
    Work on Local Food Systems: Prepared a bag of dried and canned goods to give to local food drive.
    Reduce Waste: Gave away several bags of clothing and stuff to local charity.
    Learned a Skill: Read alot about gardening, which is all new to me. Installed accessories on bicycle and purchased a bike maintenance and repair book.

  38. Shiraon 10 May 2008 at 5:23 am

    Deb G and Megan and other Bellingham ‘hamsters out there, super that you are set on the veggies. I actually have an ulterior motive in offering heirloom tomato and pepper starts. I’m trying to entice you into seed saving and getting the some of genetics of my collection out into the commons. For years, I’ve been collecting backyard varieties of tomatoes and peppers from the old Iron Curtain countries, because they have been hand selected for flavor, vigor and tolerance to organic gardening and they do well in our climate.

    So, if you care to adopt a tomato, just stroll north from the Fairhaven library a bit and look for the mustard in exuberant bloom. Tomatoes are easy seeds to save; Sharon has excellent directions in a previous post.

    I’m still an official nutcase. My elderly neighbor banged on my door and told me so in no uncertain terms. Her knickers were in a twist because of the blooming Spanish black radish in my flower border next to the sidewalk. The radish is the size of a softball. It shot up three feet into a shaggy bush and is now blooming violet, way cool. “What’s THAT?”, she asked. I planted it in the flower border to provide habitat for the predators of the carrot rust fly. Steve Soloman hypothesized that the reason we have such carrot rust fly problems in Cascadia is that we have eradicated Queen Anne’s lace (wild carrot) and wild radish and hence the habitat for the predators. So I have a blooming radish in the hopes of getting some carrots this year that aren’t shredded.
    My neighbor’s response to this was, “So you PLANTED A GARDEN FOR THE BUGS?!!!”

  39. cbon 10 May 2008 at 7:01 am

    Sue, Ain’t it the truth? I bought buckets with ordinary lids last year. Then I bought five gamma lids and I couldn’t get them on for anything. So I thought, okay, I should buy buckets from the same place I get the lids. Did it, still no luck. I bought a rubber mallet and whack those things on, on foot on lid, but they certainly aren’t straight and don’t seem to be sealed. I need help too!!

  40. Sharonon 10 May 2008 at 8:00 am

    I’m so bad at visualizing, it is hard for me to figure out what’s going on with the gamma seals. What I do is this. I take the spinny part in the middle out of the ring, and then rest the outer part on the rim of the bucket (if the seal is much bigger than the bucket, you probably need a different bucket). I then take a rubber mallet and bang the lids into place. They really need to be whacked down - but at some point they’ll just click. And then you can put the spin rings back in to seal the bucket. Does that make any sense?

    I do know how frustrating it is - I have four square buckets that I can’t get the lids all the way on to save my life. I remember calling the company and saying “If it is an IQ test, I definitely failed!”


  41. Lisa Zon 10 May 2008 at 9:33 am

    I posted this on Sue’s blog but I’ll repeat it here: I got one bucket from a bakery that has a slightly smaller mouth than most of the 3-7 gallon buckets. The Gamma Seal wouldn’t fit so we used the lid it came with, and just put the Swheatscoop cat litter we buy in bulk in it insead of foodstuffs. All of the other buckets I’ve gotten have worked with the Gamma Seals so far. We did find that the Gammas need to be in a warm room (to make the plastic a bit more flexible), and they need to be pounded on well. DH did that part!

    Lisa in MN

  42. bernieon 10 May 2008 at 10:03 am

    Does cutting the grass at our new home with a new push-it-yourself lawn mower - count as a new skill?
    We planted our cherry tomatoes and herbs in big pots. For now, we can’t actually plant in the ground until we figure out a squirrel/rabbit fencing program. And a way to accommodate the sloping yard - terracing or raised beds or a combo of both.
    Unpacking boxes will be a full time job for a while.
    Bernie and Doug

  43. Maeveon 10 May 2008 at 10:07 am

    I’ll have to come back and browse the comments some more later on when I have time. I just wanted to say “ooo, that sounds yummy!” in response to the lilac jelly! The lilacs here are leafing out and haven’t flowered yet. I’m going to try to remember to pick flowers and make a couple pints of jelly :)

  44. Sylviaon 10 May 2008 at 12:57 pm

    Well, being an urbanite in a small apartment with a husband who is not entirely enthusiastic about all my end-of-the-world projects, I can’t say I’ve made tremendous progress on all of those fronts on a weekly basis.

    But. I have made some. This week I transplanted a few tomato seedlings (started them myself under fluorescent lights on our bookshelf, a first for me!), and planted some seeds for beans and spinach and live herbs (bought at our local farmer’s market) in containers in our little back yard.

    I stocked up on some bulk kids vitamins from the internet (much cheaper than impulse buying them at the drugstore, and my son is such a picky eater, it helps us cover his nutritional bases), used some of my worm compost on my container plants out back, weeded the community garden plot we have 2 blocks away, (but can’t start planting yet cause we’re waiting for a shipment of compost for the raised beds, since the original soil is a little too heavy in lead to grow edibles in), got a cast iron dutch oven and saucepan free (yay for freecycle!) and re-seasoned them.

    I’m planning on canning a bunch of applesauce this afternoon, about 20 lbs of apples from the farmer’s market (I know they’re technically not in season, but it’s one of the things my son DOES eat).

    We also bought 25 pounds of oatmeal (another thing my son eats) and stored it in five-gallon plastic buckets in the closet.

    I still need to rotate out our stored water (the 2003 blackout taught us a thing or two about relying on municipal water supplies when there’s a blackout), so I’m thinking of using it (or at least some of it, we have 10 gallons stored) for the applesauce canning pot, that thing is huge and it’ll be faster to heat up room-temperature water than cold water from the faucet.

    Anyways, I’m obviously nowhere near some of the rest of y’all in terms of preparation/frugality, but I figure posting my baby steps here might at least encourage some other poor apartment-dwelling souls… :)

  45. Sue in the Western Great Basinon 10 May 2008 at 8:31 pm

    Okay, I figured out about the gamma seal lids. I set my brand new couldn’t-make-the-lid-fit bucket right next to a beat up old bucket I had around from some other source. The diameters were definitely different! My new 4-gal bucket only has an 11″ diameter, not 12″ as is standard!

    Well, no WONDER the lid wouldn’t fit! I don’t feel quite as much an idiot about this now. I don’t know how I managed to buy non-standard buckets when they were bought from a place that expects their customers to use them for food storage, but we bought them 2-3 years ago so I don’t recall the details.

    Anyway, the next co-op order is in another week, and I’ll be ordering some more buckets, of the right size this time!

    Thanks for the comments everyone.

  46. Susanon 11 May 2008 at 12:38 am

    I had a very stressful week waiting on word about, and then negotiating a contract for a new job, so I got things done in fits and starts. (Still not finalized on the new job and hoping I don’t jinx it by mentioning it…)

    I didn’t plant anything. Usually I plant tomatoes on Mother’s Day (but only if I have wall o’ waters to put around them) but it still seems too cold here (Seattle) so I’m going to wait another week — or more.

    Bought more glass storage jars for bulk goods, but only after pointing out the apparent signage error in Fred Meyer and insisting they abide by the law — if the sign says it’s on sale, it’s on sale. I can’t figure out if their staff is completely incompetent or if they hope I’ll back down and pay full price whenever this happens. And it happens a lot.

    Purchased lots of pinto beans, more rice, more canned goods, dried split peas, butter (which I froze), bottled water towards emergency water, and a bunch of lemons that I hoped to zest and then juice last weekend. Still hoping to get it done this weekend.

  47. Hummingbirdon 11 May 2008 at 5:09 am

    Changing my name to Hummingbird which is the one I use on the Oil Drum

  48. Hummingbirdon 11 May 2008 at 5:11 am

    I was calling myself “Mary” but I might as well be consistent.

  49. Danielleon 11 May 2008 at 7:07 am

    1) Plant Something:
    Direct sowed:

    * bush beans: royal burgandy, provider, rocdor, and Isar French fillet bean
    * hearts of gold cantaloupe and moon & stars watermelon
    * artichokes
    * horseradish
    * summer squash: black beauty zucchini, costata zucchini, golden bush scallop, early prolific straightneck
    * double standard old fashioned sweet corn
    * red velvet okra

    Seed Flats:

    * medicinal: motherwort, saltwort, woad, horehound, wormwood, chamomile, mullein, blue cohosh, bergamot, pennyroyal, peppermint, lemon balm, hyssop, flax, sage, bee balm, white sage, joe pye, feverfew, soapwort, valerian, blue vervain, salad burnet, yarrow, skullcap, arnica, evening primrose, marshmallow, hens & chicks, aloe, lovage
    * spice: Mexican tarragon, Thai chili, paprika
    * rhubarb

    2) Harvest Something:

    * spinach
    * swiss chard
    * chives
    * spring garlic
    * winter density romaine
    * red salad bowl lettuce
    * black seeded simpson lettuce
    * speckled bibb lettuce
    * green salad bowl lettuce
    * thyme
    * citrus thyme
    * oregano
    * green onions
    * cilantro
    * hakurei turnips

    3) Preserve Something:

    Still working to use up last year’s preserves—used frozen cherry tomatoes, dried grape tomatoes, jam, meats.

    Also vacuum sealed and froze left over spring seeds that won’t be needed again until next year. Keeping out those seeds that will go into the fall garden.

    4) Store Something:

    Several items were on sale at the grocery this week, so I stocked up on dried pasta, toothpaste, and Breyer’s ice cream (the kids’ favorite).

    5) Prep Something:

    Set up the beehives in the upper pasture and began work on front medicinal garden with seed flats. Cleaned and organized mud room/ laundry room area to be used for cleaning and storing milk machine; also dug out my dehydrator which lives on my unused clothes dryer. Trying to figure out a way to use the clothes dryer for storage—perhaps for the milk bucket, but don’t know yet. I’m open to ideas.

    Set up incubator with 25 ameraucana eggs for layer hen replacement since hens failed to brood for us *sigh*.

    6) Manage Something:

    Laid polymulch in the strawberries. Weeded market garden. Pulled bolting veggies in the kitchen garden. Pulled 2 year old frozen veggies to give to pigs.

    7) Cook Something New:

    We butchered one of our piglets this weekend and cooked it on the grill rotisserie.

    8) Add to local food system:

    CSA delivery to 3 families. Gave away 35 strawberry plants to a member of my local simplicity circle. Joined the One Local Summer blog challenge.

    9) Reduce Waste:

    Continued to recycle what we couldn’t reuse. All food waste goes to animals or compost. Used repurposed sheer curtains for row-covers in garden to protect brassicas.

    10) Learn Something:

    Spent this week learning more about bees and cows, soil health, and fruit tree management. Unfortunately for me, I also learned quite a bit about recent scientific efforts to culture meat in a laboratory—yuck.

  50. Linnon 11 May 2008 at 7:45 am

    Testing with this post.

    I love your blog! I’m in Downeast Maine, and live in the woods in a tiny house by a salt water marsh, quite alone. Carving out a small garden (my third year) in my little clearing. I am in good physical condition, but at 69 have not much hope to survive another 20 years, so am basically watching the show on the internet–no TV– as down we go.

    Sad about what’s happening to weather, peak oil, etc., but I do see tadpoles this year in the vernal pools, and a doe and fawn came by yesterday, and raccoon family lived until yesterday under my shed! I think they grew old enough to venture forth into the world at last. Mother had her babies there last year, too…despite my whimpy dog and curious cat roaming about.

    Growing season short and sweet–peas sprouting, planted lettuce, radish and snap peas and quite enjoying the tulips! Today I will stack wood and plant beets and beans and maybe the parsnips. I figure the root veggies will be OK now. But it is cool here by the water, so many plants will not do well I am learning.

    Canning is probably out…I eat so little it’s not worth it. Thinking of a dehydrator purchase this year.

    I suppose I should learn how to start my generator and the chain saw. Partner departed last year, so there they are for me to deal with.

  51. Kation 11 May 2008 at 6:28 pm

    Posted much more about the things going on with our gardening attempts at my blog, but here’s the basic run-down.

    Plant Something: Flower seeds. Nothing major. Waiting for the temps to even out enough for veggie seeds.

    Harvest Something: Nothing to be harvested yet. Even the dandilions greens are so small as to be barely visible. The Fireweed shoots should be popping up En Mass any day now, though.

    Tend Something: My house plants. Nothing exciting here. Though I did also pull a couple of weeds out of my flower bed along the front of the house.

    Preserve Something: Nada

    Make Preparations: bought more fabric & wool ease yarn. Some of the fabric was from the store’s clearance bin. Ok, so I should have been scouting the garage sales, but I haven’t seen much in the way of sale adds in the weekend papers yet this year.

    Cook Something: We grilled ShishKebabs tonight for us and the inlaws. Does that count??? I made that Lithuanian Chop Suey (mentioned on previous blog-post) and it turned out pretty good. (And yeah, that was from scratch even if the beef wasn’t organic or locally raised.)

    Manage your Reserves: Not much to manage, at this point. Rotating my canned goods is kinda the norm when I buy more.

    Work on/toward local Food Systems: nothing doing, yet, if you don’t count the measly attempts at gardening with the FIL. This is the first weekend that the local Farmer’s Market was opened. I didn’t drive into town for it, though.

    Compost Something: Yep. Almost every day.

    Learn a New Skill: Nope. Unless you count constantly reminding myself that those bits of strawberry or that bunch of dead flowers can go in the compost bin as “learning” a new skill.

    *sigh* And other folks go on about how THEY feel inadequate. Maybe this next week will be better??? I can only hope.

    Today, I’m planting a small pot each two different types tomatoes and two different types cucumbers to try sprouting in my kitchen window since the starts at the inlaw’s house have not come up. *sigh* And actually making my compost bins, instead of just using the bucket I’ve had on my back deck all winter. But, these activities will both count for next week’s “confessional”.

  52. MEAon 12 May 2008 at 9:32 am


    Yet more spuds (120 lbs is a lot)
    Harvest ruharb.
    Preserved rhubarb with frozen stawrberries from last summer.
    Storage: nil
    Prep: nil
    Managed: washed, line dried and mended all the winter blankets less 2 (one still needs mending; one quilt need to be recovered)
    managed to avoid return of unwanted toddler bed by hooking up friend who is becoming a foster family for a mentally impared adult and need to a 2nd bed so her children can share (the new housemate is getting the childs bed) a small room with the friend who no longer needs the bed. That’s one less thing I’m storing and one more thing that is in use.
    Cook something new. nil
    compost: nothing new
    New skill nil
    Out reach: got permission to put in veg. garden at church and dug 50 sq. foot bed. But in only spuds as not deer proof yet.

    let’s see: progress in 5 cats.

  53. Robbieon 12 May 2008 at 8:39 pm

    At first I wasn’t going to sign up for this challenge, as life was too crazy - work, 2 kids under 3, facing major family swarm over Memorial Day weekend…you get the point.
    Then my husband lost his job.
    So, here’s where I stand:
    Planted: We actually bought and planted 100 strawberry plants ($20) on an area that won’t grow grass in our backyard last weekend before “the change.”
    Preserved: Have been actively storing and repurposing leftovers. Rotisserie chicken? Shredded and freezing. Leftover steamed brocoli? Served with cheese for my lunch.
    Storage: Ditto.
    Prep/Managed/Cook something new: Being vigilant on my menu planning. Though waiting desperately for the CSA to kick in. Too bad it got pushed back two weeks..
    compost: can’t in our neighborhood

  54. mashed potatoes for babieson 13 Jul 2008 at 12:08 pm

    mashed potatoes for babies

    How do you come up with so much material to blog with?

  55. softball gloveson 30 Jul 2008 at 4:02 pm

    softball gloves

    The term is used colloquially for any kind of Linkback. Some weblog software programs, such as Wordpress, Movable Type and Community

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