Independence Days Update: Look Over There!

Sharon May 15th, 2008

This is definitely my week to direct people to other cool things folks are doing to achieve food independence.  I should claim this is from pure altruism, but it isn’t - it is because I’ve pretty much done jack this week. 

Check these out:

First, I must express my profound cow envy of Edson.  I’m sitting here thinking “we could get a cow.”  And, of course, trying to come up with explanations for why we will need a cow, when we are getting goats.  But six gallons of milk a day?  Come on, how cool is that?  And we’ll need the goats too, because after all, even with 6 gallons of dairy a freakin’ day, who could live without chevre?

I’m not quite as crazed with envy over Greenpa’s geese.  I mean I do want geese again - I like geese quite a lot.  But he’s bringing up bad old memories of our own wild escape geese.  Now it was pretty cool to be able to say to guests “You asked what there is to do out here in the middle of freakin’ nowhere.  Well, we can go out and try catch the geese.” Still…I think if I’m getting geese I need babies, who will get accustomed to the locality.  And I think my husband thinks that 50 Delawares (for meat sales), 10 cochins (for hatching out next year’s chickens), and 10 broad breasted white turkeys and 5 blue slates are enough poultry for this year.

Then there’s the garden.  I am presently spending 10 hours a day+ in front of the God. Damned. Computer.  I HATE IT!!!!  By the end of the day my butt hurts, my back hurts, and I’m tired in the way you get tired from the voluntary parapalegia of computer work.  I go garden afterwards, but on the scale we do it, I need to be spending many hours a day outside, and I can’t.  I feel like an animal in a trap, and I’m almost ready to chew my own leg off - but the reality is that freedom comes from sucking it up and finishing the bloody manuscript. (Thank you all for tolerating my whining here.  I know I am tremendously lucky and I will now just shut up, at least on that subject! ;-))

 Now the good news is that  June 3 is not a terribly late date in my climate and I think I will mostly be able to catch up.  The bad news is that my main garden is a mass of thistles and dandelions.  But since you actually can’t see that, I’m sure you’ll believe me when I say that my garden looks just like Jedimomma’s, only prettier and bigger and much, much more perfect.  I’d be in agony of shame and jealousy at that wonderful garden, except that mine is even better.  Really.

Ok, on to my real accomplishments:

Planted an apple tree, blueberries, dwarf peaches, purslane, lettuces, alpine strawberries, peas, parsnips,  sea holly, breadseed poppies, kale, onions, beets, carrots, and a few tomatoes, peppers and eggplant in containers.  Also started cabbage, broccoli and brussels sprouts for fall.  This sounds impressive, but it is a. a tiny percentage of what I’m supposed to have done now, and b. really represents a lot of slave labor by the kids and Eric.

Harvested - nettles, asparagus, rhubarb, good king henry, raspberry leaves, dandelions, the first lettuce thinnings, sorrel.

Preserved -  Dried dandelions and nettles. Froze some eggs for winter, and preserved a few others with fat (this may be the only good use for shortening I’ve ever encountered - you coat the eggs with shortening and it blocks out air and they keep a *long* time in a cool place).

Stored: Big sale at the grocery store just at the moment we actually happened to be there, so we now have quite a lot of organic canned beans.  I should can my own, because it is really nice to have some beans available for a quick meal, and I have and will, but right now, not.

Prepped: Nope.   Although I plan to add some plants to my life on Saturday at the local arboretum’s annual plant sale.  Because, of course, I don’t have any ;-).

Managed - I dug out the worm bins and did the great worm sort out.  In theory, our worms are supposed to seamlessly move from one bin to another when there are castings, leaving a layer of castings available for easy harvest.  In fact, the worms don’t do this, and a certain number of them have to be picked out of the castings by hand and tossed into the next bin.  I am clearly a failure at worm training.  This is not unpleasant, but it is boring, and does involve a certain amount of fending off chickens, who would like very much to participate in the worm-sorting process.  Done, and the castings spread on the garden beds.

 We also got our visiting sheep, and our guard donkeys last night.  But that I can’t take any credit at all for that - my friend Elaine and her husband and father did all the work of fencing, setting it up and bringing them over, while I worked.  The sheepies will keep our pastures down and give us a season of sheep practice before we decide if we want sheep ourselves.  In return Elaine gets free pasture and sheep sitting.  It is definitely a win-win thing.  So now there are 5 ewes and 9 lambs up on the field bouncing around.

 Oh, and I plucked one of the angoras again.

Cooked something new: Sort of.  We ate our traditional “Potatoes with greens and chipotle cheese sauce” with Good King Henry.  But otherwise, we’re really pulling out the staples, since Eric is doing virtually all the cooking, cleaning and childcare, plus his grading and end of the semester stuff. 

Worked on Local Food Systems: Nada - I haven’t left my house in days.  My local has gotten teenie weenie. 

Reduced waste: Used a bunch of old feed bags to create a new garden bed.

Learned a Skill: I learned, theoretically how to set up electric fencing for sheep.  Note, I did none of this myself, but at least it sort of makes sense now.

 Ok, what about the rest of you?


45 Responses to “Independence Days Update: Look Over There!”

  1. anna bananaon 15 May 2023 at 9:12 am

    i feel like i didn’t do a lot this week, but then i think about how every little bit counts and it’s not ABOUT doing a lot…

    1. planted: i planted out two tomatoes into the swc we built. only one of the seeds we’d planted had sprouted, so i had erin pick me up an heirloom seedling at the market. she brought me a black brandywine :D awesome.

    2. harvested: not so much. the lettuces and arugula are doing well, the spinaches are up but tiny, one of my pea babies died, but several more are coming up. two of the basil plants bit it :(

    3. preserved: also not so much.

    4. stored: i scored 2 glass gallon-sized empty wine jugs that someone was throwing away, so they’re now filled with water :D

    5. prepped: laid out a frame for the beans trellis, just need to screw/nail it together and attach the strings. anyone know if garbanzo beans climb?

    6. managed: not so much here.

    7. cook something new: made a killer cream of asparagus soup on saturday. also cauliflower cheese pie, which wasn’t as great.

    8. work on local food systems: not so much.

    9. reduce waste: used a potting soil bag as the mulch cover on my swc that holds the tomatoes… and the repurposed wine jugs that would’ve gone to the recycling plant without me.

    10. learned a skill: yeah, again, not so much.

    five out of ten this week.

  2. Robyn M.on 15 May 2023 at 9:16 am

    *snort* Thanks for the gardening kudos. =)

    You know, in a recent sermon at my church I proposed gardening as the ultimate suburban pastime. It gets people outside doing something, actually getting to know one’s neighbors, while simultaneously satisfying the American genetic need to “keep up with the Joneses”. At least that way, we can go back to competing against our neighbors (which is at least vaguely fair), rather than holding ourselves to the American Lifestyle standards we see on TV, which isn’t even remotely fair (I know no one with a complete Ethan Allen living room suite).

  3. Jillon 15 May 2023 at 9:29 am

    Sharon, I can’t help with the writing, except to say I think you’re right, you just have to keep your butt in the chair and it will get done. That’s true for all the writing I’ve done….

    But I can help you feel better about your neglected garden. (I’ve had lots of practice in this one). (1) All weeds now growing in the garden are green manures. The deep-rooting stuff like thistle is mining all of those rock minerals for you. (2) Your late planting dates are experiments-figuring out how late can you plant things and see virtually no changes in yields. All of the crop farmers around here (same latitude as you are) talk about how putting stuff in early doesn’t really help that much-it just sits there until the weather warms up and the days lengthen anyway. I actually think they’re right. (3) It never hurts to sprout as many existing weed seeds as possible before you get your plants in the ground-the more time you give all those little late May/early June broadleafs to get germinating, the closer you are to the apparently nearly unattainable goal of cleaning all of the weed seeds out of your garden beds. I know Eliot Coleman has done it, but I mean any of us mere mortals…


  4. Besson 15 May 2023 at 10:27 am

    Planted: 6 broccoli, 4 eggplant, 9 asparagus, started moving the tomato seedlings outside to get them ready for planting

    Harvested/weeded — the mint and lemon balm that had wandered into the vegetable beds

    Preserved — made sekanjabin syrup from the mint and lemon balm. It’s a good batch.

    Prepped — made plans for turning our existing shed into a chicken coop — the peeps arrive next week. We’ll be starting actual construction work this weekend. We also acquired a crank powered lamp/radio/nightlight/charger. It’s really neat. Did a lot of websurfing on care of chickens and making a chicken brooder, as well as a little preliminary research on top bar beehives — a friend just made one and got her bees yesterday.

    Stored: nada, but we made a bulk order a few weeks ago — should arrive sometime mid summer.

    not much else, other than birthday parties and getting a nasty cold that has kept me out of the garden the past two days and today as well.

  5. risa bearon 15 May 2023 at 10:45 am

    I have to spend practically all my time at work, then, ‘cuz I’m 59, too tired to do Independence Days when I get home… (whine, whine!)

    But all three successions of snap peas are up in the spring beds, along with the radishes, spinach, and beets, and the onion sets all took well.

    I took down the deer fence to move it in past the elephant garlic border, and let it do double duty to trellis beans and cukes, but since there’s no sign of the doe that was troubling us last year, I’m being pretty slow about it… But we have stored up quite a lot of our runner beans to plant, and they will have to go somewhere.

    We are getting in quite a lot of rhubarb.

    Spinning the compost bin every morning.

    Drive to a park-and-ride now which saves more than 1/2 the gas, but only when I don’t have meetings in the evenings. It’s frustrating trying to get people interested in phone conferences and working from home.

    The chickens are broody and production is down.

    I’m hoping to get one of the tractor-owning neighbors to bust up half an acre for me, to put in buckwheat and rehab the ground (it was once a commercial firewood landing, and is heavily compacted, and we could use the fodder). And our old lawn tractor is gone now; it wasn’t big enough to farm with anyway, couldn’t afford the upkeep, and we’re good with a scythe, which we now have gain after many years… (where did the Seventies go?)

    Whenever I can afford to I stop for some insulation and stick it in the crawl space; and sometime when I’m not so arthritic I plan to go under there and increase our r-value throughout.

    risa b
    Stony Run Farm

  6. Rioon 15 May 2023 at 10:58 am

    Sorry to be offtopic, but I’m curious about your reaction to this article:,25197,23583376-7583,00.html

  7. Leila in PAon 15 May 2023 at 11:00 am

    Sharon, maybe you can just throw the worms into the garden along with the castings, thereby culling them. That would genetically engineer the next generation to stay out of the castings bin. This is assuming you have more worms in a different bin.

    What are alpine strawberries like? I’m curious about them.

  8. KimKon 15 May 2023 at 11:32 am

    Transplanted some tomatoes and herbs to large planters, pumpkin and onions to garden. Started leeks, summer squash, cucumber, and zucchini.

    no harvest yet and nothing preserved

    I tried new veggie burgers from Costco. Broke one up to add to a cheese quesadilla. It was pretty tasty.

    Going to work on my garage this morning. I need to get my “grab and go” stuff away from my pantry and creat a bit more pantry space for the canning I plan to do this summer.
    I read up on building a cold frame. Read the Seattle Tilth garden guide.

  9. Carlaon 15 May 2023 at 11:47 am

    Well, I just finished my Independence Days report on my blog, so it’s up-to-date. It’s a little long since I missed last week (took 3 days off for my BD).
    Risa - I turned 61 on Friday and, like you, still work full time. I can relate to the worn-out-when-you-get-home syndrome. Feel free to whine in my direction whenever you’d like - but beware, you make the the same amount back attcha (smile)
    TGIF tomorrow - for today (from my brother) S.H.I.T. = Sure Happy It’s Thursday!

  10. homebrewlibrarianon 15 May 2023 at 12:25 pm

    I’m just going to report what I’ve done since the last report which was over a week ago.

    Planted: A whole bunch of stuff got transplanted up, mostly keeping me up very late at night for two days as I was about to head out of town for nearly two weeks. This meant my compatriot in all things future had to make a trip to purchase inexpensive 4″ pots while I was at work. Except I undercounted the number I needed so didn’t get everything transplanted. 16 more seedlings will get the transplant action from him very soon. Transplanted cabbage, brussels sprouts, Healthy peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collards and borage. Also potted eight bareroot grafted apples and two plums that had been sitting in my beer fridge for several weeks. If any of them survive, it will be a miracle. And I started seed for pumpkin and two squashes plus bronze fennel.

    Harvested: Six leaves that got damaged from the various kale and collard transplants. Ate them while in transit to Wisconsin - yummy!

    Preserved: Seeds from two danish squash I bought for use in the raw cat food I make for my diabetic cat. The seeds were brined for a couple days and then dehydrated.

    Stored: Nothing since I was going to be out of town.

    Prepped: My compatriot Michael constructed a cage of welded 1″ x 1/2″ mesh to go around the seed starting shelves. Some people have to deal with marauding deer or mice. That’s nothing, I say. That’s nothing compared to having two chlorophyl loving cats. Between the two of us, we managed to enclose three sides and be able to open it from the front to get in for plant management. The gaps between the shelves and the wall have been barricaded and so far, no breaches of security have occurred. Some top soil and compost were purchased to build the narrow beds along the south wall but that won’t take place until I return.

    Managed: Well, in preparation for being out of town, there was a lot of effort made to eat up what was in the fridge and make use of some of the stored foods. Also, I inventoried my water storage capacity and discovered that I can store 35 gallons of water in five 5 gallon soda kegs and two 5 gallon plastic storage bottles. I’ve also got an additional 22 gallon capacity in four glass carboys. I always knew my beer brewing hobby would be useful in other ways!

    Cooked something new: This morning I cooked a practically all Wisconsin local foods breakfast - morels and asparagus harvested from my friend’s land sauted in pasture butter (something from Organic Valley made from milk from cows pastured on new grass) with locally grown ramps as the filling for an omelet made from eggs of pastured chickens raised 8 miles away topped with garlic cheddar cheese made 30 miles away and chopped ramp greens. We did eat bacon from unknown sources but it was something I dug out of the freezer. And best yet, there are more morels, asparagus and ramps yet to eat!

    Worked on local foods systems: My friend Lori who now lives about 60 miles away called to talk about legume inoculant which neither of us had used before. Since we both are planting beans and peas, we had purchased inoculant and were trying to figure out how much to use seeing as how the packages were good for 5-8 lbs of seed. Between us, we might plant 4 to 5 oz of seed so it took some conversation to come to a consensus. Also I made contact with Food Routes, a non profit organization that developed the Buy Fresh Buy Local program. There are 35 Buy Fresh Buy Local chapters across the US but none up in the Alaska. I’m going to be speaking with one of the organizers about setting up a chapter in Anchorage shortly after I get back from this trip. The program not only encourages people to buy locally grown and produced foods but it also works with getting local foods into restaurants, stores and institutions like schools and hospitals.

    Reduced waste: Haven’t really done of anything that produced much waste but the little bits of fruit and vegie peels and trims went into a compost bucket, egg shells went into the freezer for later baking (I’ll give them back to my chicken wrangler to crush up and feed back to her chickens) and packaging from the set of fluorescent bulbs for the seed starting shelves got recycled.

    Learned a skill: Hm. Can’t really think of anything but I’m going to be learning how to plant all the new trees and shrubs that have come in (on the day I left town - of course!) and dividing up an already growing rhubarb.

    Kerri in AK

  11. Bornfamous » Blog Archive » I’m a busy little beeon 15 May 2023 at 12:26 pm

    […] like I took Sharon’s Independence Days Challenge to heart. I’d post garden pics, but I can’t get the newly reformatted computer to […]

  12. NMon 15 May 2023 at 12:31 pm

    THAT is your idea of getting nothing done?! Geez, woman, if I hadn’t composted those rotten pears overwintering in the garage, I’d throw one at you. But I do sympathize with the frantic feeling of frustration in not being able to get out in the garden and get everything on the list done.
    I planted a blueberry bush. Then I started to dig a hole to plant the gooseberry. Unfortunately, the plum tree nearby had stuck its roots where I was digging my hole. The roots vigorously resisted my attempt to dig through them, causing my shovel handle to vigorously rebound in my hand, causing me to slug myself hard in the side of the head. My temple still hurts two days later. Then, feeling extremely stupid, I decided maybe the #E$#% gooseberry could wait until DH got back in town to dig the hole competently, and wandered off to cut back more of the evil blackberry vines eating the back yard.
    However, I did locate the poor, smothered gooseberry planted about 14 years ago that I thought was long dead, and I’m pretty sure the mysterious shrubs that have sprung up in the yard are its offspring. So I have extras!
    Oh, we did get most of the new raised bed put into place, and discovered that I way over-estimated the amount of topsoil needed, so I have plenty of extra of that, too. Plan to put it in the old raised bed, which could use some refreshing.
    And bought some herbs to plant in the holes of the cinderblocks forming the bed (pineapple sage, more thyme, catnip, lemon verbena, and something else I can’t think of right now).
    Cook something new; saffron risotto. Yum. Served with garlic rosemary pizza, which I think I could live on. And invented a recipe for saffron rose muffins, thereby using up most of the really old rosepetal jam that has been taking up space in the refrigerator.
    Oh, and went to another meeting of our local slow food group, and talked with a facilitator about getting the meetings more organized. He told me to stop apologizing for wanting the meetings to have structure.
    And That is the sum total of my Independence Day accomplishments this week. Maybe next week I’ll actually get something done. Besides slugging myself in the head …
    Don’t chew your leg off, please, Sharon; we need you to keep giving us those cheerful Weekly Scenarios of Doom. ; } .

  13. Michelle In Gaon 15 May 2023 at 12:37 pm

    Well now, I’ve been a little lazy
    and getting kind of broke. I’ve
    got plenty of food stores.

    I have a ram pen to build and a garden
    to expand. We have clay here so I can’t
    garden when it’s wet.

    I also got some wicked cute baby lambs.

    Meet Claire (the mostly white one) and
    Beatriss. They’re named after oil fields
    in the north sea.

  14. Karinon 15 May 2023 at 12:37 pm

    Feeling like a worker bee this week.

    Planted: More turnip greens, acorn squash in the hugelkultur, Sunflowers, pansies, transplanted eucalyptus into a larger pot. I have a big planting weekend ahead of me. Prepared plot for more potatoes and soybeans.

    harvested: more parsnip,chives, and many dandelions.

    Preserved: dried dandelion leaves, made 4 pints of dandelion syrup with another four ready to go tomorrow. Dandelion wine.

    Local foods: Went to farmers market and my favorite farmer will be bringing me some comfrey to plant in a couple of weeks when I can get there again. A friend that my husband works with gave us some Hops to plant. Shared Sorrel plants with a neighbor. I am helping a friend get her first garden put in. Husband picks up two lambs to add to our flock today. Leroy Brown, the goat, is growing. We will be glad when he no longer needs the bottle.

    Reduce waste/ compost something: Well, we have a little guy who is potty learning so we are saving his pee for the compost bin. I liberated some cinder blocks, bricks and asphalt shingles from a friends back yard. We will use the cinder blocks as the hearth of our summer kitchen’s stove. WE are building a lot of animal housing this summer and can use the shingles for their roofing. My friend also has a lovely picket fence that we will take off her hands and spruce up for our yard. Took a big bag to the charity thrift store.

    cook something new; I plan on making a bean pie tonight from stored food. I made dandelion syrup.

    prepped: I connected with this old guy who has a thrift store out of his garage. He will be keeping is eyes out for canning jars for me. I got a big box of the old canning jars with the metal clasps. Some were rusty and I plan to make candles out of those. The others I will use to store herbal vinegars and dried herbs. I walked into town twice this past week; 4 miles round trip.

    managed something: I organized my work corner and for 15 minutes my whole house was clean. Then my toddler woke up and my teenager tracked mud. :(
    My special goal; made something, finished the socks I was working on. I am working on a hat for my girlfriend’s daughter’s birthday.

  15. Nettleon 15 May 2023 at 12:43 pm

    Planted: a thornless blackberry, a strawberry, a variety of squashes, carrots, radishes, more peppers, cabbage, eggplant, kohlrabi (in a container - we’ll see how that works out), more onions, spinach, brussels sprouts.
    Harvested: beet thinnings - yum. Mint, lemon balm, comfrey leaves, dandelion leaves.
    Stored: dried the mint, lemon balm and comfrey
    Prepped: Finished the third raised bed, promptly planted it with squash and some quickie radishes
    Managed: “Hilled” the potatoes for the first time (hilled is in scare quotes because there is no actual hill - this is my first experiment with barrel-grown potatoes. So far so good.) Put out some slug traps for whoever is nibbling on my pea shoots. Need to figure out what is eating my baby jalapeno plants - anyone know what would go for a li’l pepper and totally ignore the chard and French sorrel growing nearby? It’s something big enough to disturb the dirt, so not a bug. Or, if it is a bug, it’s something I would rather not encounter.)
    I also made and put about a month’s worth of cat food in the freezer.
    Cooked something new: All my cooking is improvised, so for me to really consider it something new it would have to be really different from my usual style. Nothing like that this week. It’s a low budget week, so lots of beans-and-rice type dishes. I am infinitely creative with beans and rice, but it’s all still just beans and rice and so not really new.
    Working on local food systems: Not much. We shop at the farmer’s market and get veggies and meat from our CSA farmer all the time, so maybe this counts, but it’s all pretty ordinarry.
    Reduced waste: We live near a major university, and when it’s time to move out of the dorms, our neighborhood has some of the finest trash-picking around. Some of my neighbors refer to it as “Penn Christmas.” This week is move-out week, and we scored a very nice faux-wicker cat bed that is the new Favorite Cat Thing in the house. I was glad to rescue it from the trash but concerned for the fate of the cat - I hope the owners did not also consider their cat disposable. We also got three nearly-new metal and plastic folding chairs that will be perfect for the backyard.
    Learned a skill: We had a leaky spot in the roof. My husband usually handles this sort of thing, but I want to be able to do it myself, so we went up on the roof together and I now know how to patch a rubber roof with tar.

  16. Shiraon 15 May 2023 at 12:46 pm

    Ah, the garden and the engineering jobs always hit at the same time. At least, that’s my excuse. Recent rains have transformed my Bellingham, Washington pocket garden into Biomass Gone Wild, between the vegetables in bloom and the dandelions.

    Harvested chard, green onions, leeks, kale, ate some and dehydrated some. Bought a sack of organic onions on sale and dehydrated onions to refill the jar for winter soups. Got sweetie a metal lunch box to cut down on bags. Picked up my repaired boots from the guy downtown with an actual old fashioned hole in the wall shoe repair place. Got a first aid book from the library to brush up, but I haven’t read it yet. Transplanted two lavender plants that have been languishing in pots since the move two years ago. My neighbor fixed my bike and I have bread rising for him.

    It’s a start.

  17. Meganon 15 May 2023 at 12:58 pm

    Planted: More cilantro, more lettuce, more bok choy, chrysanthemums, fennel, arugula. Coming up in the garden: Potatoes finally coming up, beets, green onions, carrots, and my onion sets are doing REALLY well and are already sending up new green bits. Sprouted inside: hot peppers, ground cherries, basil. Just today all of the babies have moved outside and will spend tonight in my wee greenhouse (shelf). My first seeds! Things that are ongoing/ongrowing: peas, rhubarb and raspberry outside, and tomatoes, squash, pumpkin and chamomile in greenshelf as of today.

    Harvested: I nibbled on some chickweed that’s coming up in my window boxes, does that count? I vote yes. Otherwise, nothing yet. I could probably get some rhubarb, but it’s been traumatized by moving, flooding, and snowing and looks pretty pathetic, I think I’ll let it just grow this year. I’m going to bust out the sprout jars this week again though.

    Preserved - nada

    Stored: I froze some little gobs of yogurt with cilantro in it. I have a recipe that I make often and I don’t eat yogurt at all except for this that calls for a tablespoon. So I made little yog-cilantro gobs and now have the final ingredients to make this dish three more times from the pantry now. Not sure if it will work, but I don’t see why not.

    Prepped: Stared at my outbuilding that I need to clean out.

    Managed – Stared at it some more.

    Cooked something new: Nothing, but used dried jalapenos instead of fresh in my recipe and completely fried my sinuses when I gave the box of dried jalapenos a big sniff check. Doh! Thumbs up on those. I soaked them in the olive oil all day that I later used to fry them, the onions and garlic. Worked out well! Just keep your nose out of the box. It’s temptimg. Don’t do it. (Found them at Costco, by the way.)

    Worked on Local Food Systems: Nada. I wonder if my next door neighbor L reads this blog. Hi L! Hi to the Hamsters also. I never heard back on that Peak Oil gardening group on CL. I’ll go post a shoutout at the Food Storage group instead of putting my e-mail on here. But I’d love to correspond with you guys more directly.

    Reduced waste: Ongoing, not doing as well on the plastic as I wanted to but much better than I had been doing before. All foodwaste to compost or yardwaste bin, and recycling all else other than plastic wrappy things.

    Learned a Skill: I’m in the middle of reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle right now and am amazed at all of the things I don’t know how to do. *laugh* Love this book. Completed a first aid course last week through work.

  18. catskillmamalaon 15 May 2023 at 1:21 pm

    Ok, ok, I’ve been reading but not joining in. All the doing that others have done has inspired me, to do and write so here goes:

    1. planted: potatoes, basil, tomatoes, yarrow, nasturtium, other kid flowers (marigolds, cosmos, sunflowers, pansies), broccoli. put sticks in to train the peas the sprouted too far from the trellis.

    2. harvested: radishes, lettuce, sneaking snippets off the herb plants, sheep sorrel (yum), wild onions for chives.

    3. preserved: not a thing (does mending old clothes count?).

    4. stored: pasta, peanut butter (both from amazon grocery which can be cheaper than our united foods coop-uuuggghhh). Took out some canned peaches from prior years that look yucky to reuse jars.

    5. prepped: figured out that the eggs in the incubator could go under the broody hen who refuses to share her nesting box. Set up another bed in the garden. started reading on growing grains. if we really want to be self-sufficient, we need to feed our animals

    6. managed: trying to organize the barn. thought I had the goat pasture goat-proof-haha. mended jeans for eldest teen-aged dd and mended lamby vest for middle dd.

    7. cook something new: london broil from the grass-fed local beef my friends and I chipped in to buy.

    8. work on local food systems: set up my friend with long awaited chickens! We moved 6 laying hens to her rehabilitated chicken palace (I mean coop).

    9. reduce waste: mulching with cardboard like crazy. made bread crumbs from old bread. gave my mom tons of old potting soil and seedling pots/trays. used trash lumber to build a protective space for my broody hen. took spools and scrap large wooden crates from local chain manufacturer. the crate will be lined w/ wire to make a compost heap.

    10. learned a skill: switched to wire cutters for trimming goat hoofs. sounds easier than it is, still learning.

  19. Robbieon 15 May 2023 at 2:12 pm

    Nothing exciting to report, but…

    I need that recipe for rosemary garlic pizza. Sounds fabulous! :-)

    I can just see the faces of my neighbors if we had a chicken coop going on. Our HOA specifically states “no farm animals” which got a big chuckle out of us a couple of year’s back when we bought the house. If you saw the size of our lot, you’d know nothing would fit.

    OK back to work. I’m with you on needing a break from the darn machine!

  20. Robbieon 15 May 2023 at 2:12 pm

    Sorry - one other stupid question. how do you mulch with cardboard???

  21. Hummingbirdon 15 May 2023 at 2:21 pm

    Planted: Still raining-too wet to plant the okra.

    Preserve: Nothing

    Harvested : lettuce

    Store: Split and stacked firewood. ( I have an electric splitter, so it’s not as bad as it sounds.)

    Prepare: Stocked up on otc meds from the drug store.

    Avoid waste:
    Helped put up a fence for the chicken yard.
    Used a roll of fencing that had been hanging around.

    Also brought home food from an anniversary meal at a restaurant and ate it for lunch the next day.

    Learn a skill: Ordered two more edible plant books. I am determined to find stuff around here we can eat. Have found chickweed, dandelions, plantain and wood sorrel. I am sure there must be nettle around here somewhere, but I have looked in the yard, the woods, by the creek and pond. I find stuff that looks like nettle, but when I touch it, it never stings me. I am waiting for it to flower and hope I can find some then.

    Gave up the chipmunk trapping. After I caught one, the others avoided it like the plague. The pea sprouts are too old to be tasty. When they start on the pea pods I will try the trap again.

  22. Kimon 15 May 2023 at 2:34 pm

    1. Planted: black seeded simpson lettuce, oak leaf lettuce, lolla rossa lettuce, rainbow chard, kale, cantaloupe, luffa gourd, English sorrel, maple tree, sweet purple pepper, neopolitan pepper, poblano pepper, jalapeno pepper, pimiento peppter, eggplant, celeraic

    2. Harvested: arugula

    3. Preserved: strawberry yogurt bites, more dehydrated onions, 7 pints salsa (from a bulk purchase), 4 pints pinto beans

    4. Stored: white flour, sugar for canning, pectin for jams

    5. Prepped: cleaned out more buckets

    6. Managed: worked on bunny barn, top fencing on Balfour yard, picked strawberry flowers (again), more bedding from barn to compost heap, May coop order sent in.

    7. Local: Helped 3 more people get started on a garden and/or food storage


  23. Susan in NJon 15 May 2023 at 2:59 pm

    Sunday, first I catastrophically broke my primary glasses, and then a couple hours later sliced open my finger — these two events have dominated my week and lead to an unusual amount of local car travel.
    Planted: Nope, but my partner was seduced by some eggplant and cantelope starts so now I need to find more garden area — anyone here grow cantelope vertically? Also got parsley starts because I’m behind the curve. I am hardening off alot of plants. Also got a bunch of (non-food mostly) plants very cheap post-Mother’s Day from the itinerant plant seller across from my office.
    Harvested — some tarragon and rosemary and some lettuce and some compost.
    Preserve — does my finger count?
    Store — bought some pasta and canned goods on sale
    Prepped — bought some more storage jars at Goodwill and also acquired containers for the rest of my planned container gardening. Got the sawhorse plant table set up.
    Managed — Got a tetanus shot and a new eyeglass perscription (and new glasses). Discovered how woefully inadequate our first aid kits really are and contemplated what we need to do to improve them. Learned exactly which local CVS’s have open minute clinics, what their hours are, what insurance they don’t take, what they won’t do and learned which emergency room in the area is best. Am trying to train myself not to leave new glasses in places where someone might put something heavy or sit (and I’ve only been wearing glasses 48 years or so).
    Cook something new — not really, my partner made nice use of the tarragon and rosemary in an asparagus soup.
    Waste not — hah! Medical emergencies however minor seem to be a model for waste, and the glasses thing wasn’t exactly model behavior either (but I did need new glasses). Got the second compost heap fenced and underway. Also learned that sometimes throwing away the mango seed may be less wasteful than trying to pry it open to do something with the pit.
    Work on local food systems — talked gardening with my assistant, shopped at the local farmer’s market (just opened) and talked to some farmers there, went through pantry and donated food to the postal food drive
    Learn a new skill — see managed above. Also, after I got new glasses, started reading Collapse which seems relevant.

  24. NMon 15 May 2023 at 3:01 pm

    I got the rosemary garlic pizza recipe from “The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook,” by Jack Bishop.
    Mince 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary.
    Mince or crush 2 (I think; don’t have the recipe with me) cloves garlic.
    Mix both into 3 tablespoons olive oil and brush over whole wheat pizza dough. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake about 8-10 minutes at 500 degrees.
    Eat lots of it. :} Makes a great dinner bread or snack — lovely stuff.

  25. wasteweardailyon 15 May 2023 at 3:13 pm

    I never signed up for this challenge, but I won’t let that stop me.
    PLANT- I’m not planting anything else until it rains. It hasn’t rained for almost five weeks here.
    HARVEST- Harvested 4 vegetable marrow, yellow squash, couple small tomatoes, 3# potatoes and a hand full of green beans.
    PRESERVE- Took class in vegetable fermentation. Made 1 pint zucchini pickles and 1 quart vegetable kvass. Froze head of broccoli and head of cauliflower.
    PREPPED-DH worked on getting sweet potato bed ready for planting.
    MANAGED-watered and mulched the garden
    COOKED something new- cornbread without wheat flour from Little House cook book. Everyone loved it! Used finely ground white cornmeal.
    LOCAL FOOD- Neighbor aked if I would sell her any extra cherry tomatoes.
    REDUCE WASTE-Keeping a five gallon bucket by kitchen sink and saving almost all water used.
    LEARN A SKILL- learned vegetable lacto- fermentation at a local class.

    Cindy in FL

  26. Rosaon 15 May 2023 at 4:09 pm

    I have made negative progress on the garden this week.

    Last night my son was petting the indoor arugula I was so proud of, and just as I said “Be gentle! If you tip that over it will-” down went the self watering containers. Into the radiator.

    And then he cried for half an hour because the little plants were broken. (He’s not quite 3). So we went outside to plant peas & corn, and while I was getting the shovel out of the garage he pulled up all three zucchini sprouts. Those we stuck back in the ground and I think they will survive.

    We did plant peas (I know, I know. Late late late). And my tomato seedlings (started despite having no idea where I will put them) and tomatillos and leeks are looking good.

    Pat posted pictures of her tomatillos that make me think i should replace a chunk of the flower bed with tomatillos. Except I already planted corn and scarlet runner beans. But if i put the tomatillos in the flower bed I can put tomatos in the teepee…

  27. Independence Days Challenge « Coffee & Cornbreadon 15 May 2023 at 6:54 pm

    […] Independence Days Challenge Jump to Comments Sharon’s Independence Days Challenge update can be found here. Link […]

  28. Lisa Zon 15 May 2023 at 7:52 pm

    1. Planted: 154 onion sets; 1 full head garlic bulbs (about ten bulbs to try-should plant in fall in MN); 1 square foot of mesclun mix lettuce; 1 sq. ft. red oak lettuce; 8 sq. ft. carrots; 8 sq. ft. beets. Much of this is late, but hey it’s planted now! Also started parsley seedlings (late) and thinned the tomato seedlings.

    2. Harvested: chives, sorrel, not much else.

    3. Preserved: nothing but keep buying supplies for it (lids, sugar, more jars at a garage sale, etc.); made small batch of sauerkraut

    4. Stored: 3 quarts of grapeseed oil; cat food; frozen GF bread and pizza crusts

    5. Prepped: got truck-load of compost from city site and put it on garden beds; added coffee grounds and peat moss to compost in garden beds; picked many many rocks and plastic bits from city compost; added chicken wire and grids to raised square foot beds-chicken wire is to keep my cat from using the beds as a litter box but hard to plant around;

    6. Managed: caring for seedlings daily; daily weeding garden and flower beds; had a “self serve” plant sale on the boulevard and made about $3 because most plants I gave to my neighbors

    7. Cooked: tried a new Curry Split Pea Soup recipe because green split peas are local-would taste better with yellow split peas though

    8. Local food: work on this regularly at my job, a food co-op; have been encouraging customers to buy local as much as possible

    9. Reduce waste: keep adding to compost pile; used city compost so I didn’t have to buy it in plastic bags; picked up coffee grounds at Starbucks

    10. Learn a skill: um, cooking Curry Split Pea Soup?; cutting chicken wire for garden (ha ha-too easy to count, isn’t it?);

  29. catskillmamalaon 15 May 2023 at 7:59 pm


    Mulching with cardboard is just putting cardboard where you want nothing to grow.

    I pick up appliance boxes from the appliance store. I only use brown cardboard with minimum or no ink. I peel off the tape, open the box up flat and lay in in my paths or on new beds that I want to keep growth-free. I find if I use smaller pieces and there is any crack between pieces of cardboard, weeds will find a way.

    Paper degrading can lead to slightly acid conditions so you may want to use a bit of lime.

    I have insane weeds and if I don’t mulch heavily I can’t stand to even be in that jungle. We let a patch of thisle “go” in the pasture last year and now we have them everywhere.

  30. Hamsteron 16 May 2023 at 3:15 am

    Planted: the rest of my potatoes, and earthed up the first lot; tomatilloes.

    Worked on local food systems: foolishly ‘volunteered’ (as well as becoming finance coordinator) to compile a directory of local food suppliers for my local environmental group.

  31. Hamsteron 16 May 2023 at 5:43 am

    Incidentally, can anyone help me get the little picture/link thing on my blog? I can’t get it to work….

  32. Kimon 16 May 2023 at 6:22 am

    Here is my week 3 update:

    1. Planted: black seeded simpson lettuce, oak leaf lettuce, lolla rossa lettuce, rainbow chard, kale, cantaloupe, luffa gourd, English sorrel, maple tree, sweet purple pepper, neopolitan pepper, poblano pepper, jalapeno pepper, pimiento peppter, eggplant, celeraic

    2. Harvested: arugula

    3. Preserved: strawberry yogurt bites, more dehydrated onions, 7 pints salsa (from a bulk purchase), 4 pints pinto beans

    4. Stored: white flour, sugar for canning, pectin for jams

    5. Prepped: cleaned out more buckets

    6. Managed: worked on bunny barn, top fencing on Balfour yard, picked strawberry flowers (again), more bedding from barn to compost heap, May coop order sent in.

    7. Local: Helped 3 more people get started on a garden and/or food storage

  33. Chileon 16 May 2023 at 8:54 am

    Plant: My sweetie planted more corn and squash in a new sheet-mulched bed. (Photo on my blog.) Some seedlings have already popped up.

    Harvest: I cleaned off the pink grapefruit tree yesterday. Nothing else is ready to harvest in our garden.

    Preserve: Plan to juice some of the grapefruits and freeze it today. I’d make marmalade, but quite honestly, we don’t need anymore!

    Store: Traded my CSA farmer some preserves for beans. Working on price comparison between local and mail-order food sources.

    Prep: Picked up additional badly needed jeans from thrift stores. Created a storage system aka platform bed – a nice change from sleeping on the floor for years!

    Manage: Checked food stores for mealy worms (been a problem for a couple weeks now) and froze some possible problem rice.

    Cook new: Mixed quinoa flakes in with oatmeal. Taste was fine but had severe intestinal cramps later. Sweetie did not, which leads me to think I have a sensitivity to quinoa.

    Local food system: Will be sharing some of my grapefruit at the CSA this afternoon.

    Reduce waste: Held a successful yard sale over the weekend. Resisted hanging on to leftovers and donated them promptly to charity. Swept up all the desert tree blossoms from the patio for the compost. Will be picking up additional chicken manure for compost this weekend.

    Learn new skill: My sweetie learned how to do the sheet-mulching. I just finished reading the Humanure book, which I’ll be reviewing soon.

  34. Carlaon 16 May 2023 at 11:07 am

    Hamster - I’m so happy to hear I’m not the only one who’s having that problem. For the l ife of me, I cannot get it to come up on my blog! I just tried again on Wednesday & it still doesn’t work. I thought it was me (& maybe it is) but I was able to get two others up…

  35. Carlaon 16 May 2023 at 11:10 am

    Robbie - I’ve got some photos of using cardboard for mulch to start new beds on my blog here:
    The longer it’s on, the better - I put some down last fall & can dig those areas fairly easily this spring. I was able to take some large pieces of cardboard from work (new filing cabinets) & am using that for my new potato bed - but I want to start that this year (soon!), so I think the digging will be a little harder…

  36. Ginaon 16 May 2023 at 12:16 pm

    Wow, it’s been three weeks already since I joined the IDC and I am still behind!

    Here is my week’s meager list:

    Planted: A third of the tomato seedlings, eggplant seedlings, Heirloom turkey beans, yellow summer squash, zucchini, more potatoes, seeded basil, dill, oregano and nasturtuim, transplanted mint and lemon balm from other house. Yikes, I am really behind.

    Harvested: More eggs, mint, garlic mustard, wild garlic, nettles, raspberry leaves

    Preserved: Put the mint jelly back in a water bath hoping it would jell, but it is officially mint sauce (will try to use it under “cook something new” one of these days), dried some mint, raspberry leaves and nettles for tea

    Stored: Water in unused carboys (hadn’t thought of doing this until I read it on someone else’s IDC list!)

    Prepped: Bought a few boxes of canning lids and jars. Wrote out a pocket “wishlist” to carry with me and refer to if I happen to be at the thrift stores or yard sales (e.g. canning jars, kid’s clothing/shoe sizes, books, etc.) This way I will be less tempted to pick up “coololdstuffthathasnopurpose” (which I am purging). Oh, and I also started cataloging the wood’s edible/medicinal plants (like cattails, wild onions, mullien, hawthorn, nettles, etc.).

    Managed: Checked on the bees which are following all of their bee society rules (e.g. bringing out the dead, guarding the palace, etc.) I still need to try out the smoker and make sure we have wee bee babies growing in there. Priced stuff I am putting in my sister’s rummage sale.

    Cooked Something New: Not this week

    Work on Local Food System: Bought local asparagus and arranged a purchase of three milking goats (deposit sent today!)I’ll be picking them up in a few weeks after they have had a visit with the billy. Picked up 30 white rock chicks from local harvest lady (On Mother’s Day). Found local Amish family that processes a small amount of chickens or ducks at very reasonable prices ($3/bird which is a bargain compared to the amount of time I don’t have to invest right now). Now if only the local coyotes had left my chickens alone (bad week for the bird part of my independence…)

    Reduced Waste: Composted veggie and coffee/tea scraps to pigs, chickens and garden. Hardly bought anything this week, so little garbage or recycling for that matter.

    Learned a New Skill: This is bad-I did not learn any new skills this week.

  37. Jen in SFon 16 May 2023 at 3:38 pm

    Managed to find a place where I could get my hands in some dirt in the middle of the city:

    Had a great time last weekend at this farm, weeding strawberries, laying drip irrigation in the raspberries, and building a retaining wall. How nice to be out in the sun. At the end of the day, I got to pick chard, kale, and strawberries. Seems like a great way to start learning about gardening. I’ll definitely go back.

    Now looking for a nearby place to U-pick cherries. We eat dried cherries year round, and I’d love to be able to make my own.

  38. Heather Grayon 16 May 2023 at 3:42 pm

    Posted a description of sorts of the Independence Days challenge, plus my week at my blog:

  39. Deb Gon 16 May 2023 at 9:17 pm

    Didn’t get much done this week on a daily basis.

    Harvested: rhubarb
    Preserved: rhubarb sauce
    Cooked something new: rhubarb/walnut bread. It called for sour milk, so I used slightly sour milk. My mom said she usually adds lemon juice to milk to make “sour milk.” Haven’t gotten sick yet :) Tasted yummy. I suppose that also qualifies as managing reserves.
    Managed reserves: putting extra yogurt in freezer.
    Planted: Sweet potatoes.
    Reduced waste: I’m experimenting with hand washing clothing with a plunger. I’m hoping to reduce water/electricity. I’m also using the rinse water for watering ornamental plants in my garden.
    Work on Local Food system: Going to look for Megan’s post on the food storage group!

  40. bernieon 17 May 2023 at 9:05 am

    Still unpacking boxes but managed to plant another tomato plant, a puny row of potatoes and (?) did we already count the rhubarb pla t - it is now a thriving transplant.
    stocked up with 55 lbs of flour -it’s in the freezer.
    Arranged for a solar assessment - hoping to do solar hot water heater.
    Shared info on CSA’s and local farmers market with a friend.
    DH wants to count cutting the grass with the “push mower” every time he does it - sounds fair to me. We both agree there’s way too much grass for now but it will probably take us a bit of time to tackle all the things that we want to change in this house. At least we aren’t fertilizing/pesticiding/watering the lawn. We actually scared off a lawn service salesman yesterday - but not before he suggested we might want to put a little “Roundup” on that clover growing in the grass.

  41. Sue in the Western Great Basinon 17 May 2023 at 5:53 pm

    As posted on my blog:

    This past week, I:

    Planted: in containers: Beets, more Ground Cherry (the others never sprouted), more Brussels Sprouts (request to grow them from a friend), Cilantro (second batch, aiming for continual harvest), Marvel Stripe tomato, onion (seeds), catnip.

    Planted: outdoors: Catnip, strawberries, stinging nettle, valerian. Discovered that my oak barrel blueberries (which are still at R’s house) are alive! I didn’t think they’d survive the winter. I know that’s not a new planting, but it means I don’t need to buy and plant more blueberries! And it also means they can survive the local winters.

    Transplanted, pot to bigger pot: Dipper Gourd, Honeydew Melon.

    Harvested: Nothing this week.

    Preserved: Set some onions out to dehydrate — just did this Friday morning, so they’re still out there. Not sure how to know when they’re dry enough!

    Prepped: Set up the dehydrator, washed off two of the screen trays, testing it out now with one tray of onions. Ordered a Lehman’s Best Grain Mill, plus a small black speckleware pot that looks to be a good size for the solar oven or [future potential] haybox cooker. Dug more garden beds, pounded a few more fenceposts for the garden fence.

    Managed: Made a big pot of Jerusalem artichoke soup when I realized I still had a whole bucket of them from the root cellar at R’s. Followed the recipe properly this time. :) On the downside, I only had two meals from it before it spoiled (I left it out on the counter, thinking I’d reheat it every day, but the weather got hot FAST and soup didn’t sound appealing and I didn’t remember about it in time to put it in the fridge…)

    Advocated for Local Food Economy: shared my organic onions and oranges with my herbalist friend/employer. She brought me nettles, catnip, and valerian from her garden, and shared some of her organic kiwi from the store. Agreed to grow Brussels Sprouts for a friend. (I asked if he wanted me to grow him some starts, and he said no, he just wanted to buy the finished product at the farmer’s market!) Started collecting ”disposable” food containers — a yogurt cup, a takeout soup container, a tofu tray, a cherry tomato ‘basket’, a tin can, etc — to put extra seedling starts in, for giving to friends or for selling at the farmer’s market.

    Other Local Economy Happenings: Okay, this is neither about food nor is it about me, but I just have to share — we now have on the air a ‘community radio’ station! It just started this week, and it’s run by the husband of the woman who owns the wi-fi cafe, the same woman who is starting a commercial kitchen (the kitchen is her new project — the wi-fi cafe is transferring ownership to the manager, who is the one adding the new farmer’s market on the cafe’s front porch on Saturday mornings — are you keeping this all straight? :) Right now the station is just music, but he plans to add local shows — perhaps a someone doing a cooking or gardening show, perhaps someone else doing an astronomy show talking about what the night sky is doing each month, etc. It’s a great new piece of local infrastructure for this very remote, rural community, that could be used in so many wonderful ways in the future! The music is “western”, I guess you’d call it — certainly not top 40 country, but definitely cowboy-y. But also funny! Hard to describe. And I simply love their call letters for this “wild west” flavored community — they are KDUP — pronounced K-D-up — say it out loud — get it? Giddyup! :))

    Cooked Something New: Millet. Soaked it overnight and cooked it like rice for breakfast, with soymilk and salt. I oversalted it, but even accounting for that, I thought it was only so-so. The taste was bland but not unpleasant, but the texture was unfamiliar. I think it’s likely that I undercooked it without realizing it. What I’m learning is that my food tastes are very much about habit — I come to crave certain tastes, textures, and temperatures in my food, and something that doesn’t meet those cravings is hard to find satisfying. This is all the more reason, as far as I can tell, to keep trying new things and building up a tolerance for them, against the time when it’s essential to eat whatever’s available.

    Reduced Waste: I began collecting those ‘throwaway’ containers to use for giving away starts. On the other hand, I cooked lots of food that didn’t get eaten, and even though it gets composted, that still seems like waste.

    Learned A Skill: Nothing this week, although the whole process of starting seedlings indoors and then transplanting them is new to me, and garden bed digging and fence-building is not something I’d done much of, so I’m definitely adding to those skills.

  42. Danielleon 18 May 2023 at 9:15 am

    1) Plant:

    We’ve been so wet here that it’s been difficult to get more planting done, but I managed to squeeze some in this week, probably working the soil a bit too wet in the hoop house, so I hope it doesn’t come back to haunt me.

    This week I planted the gourdseed corn down in the grain test plot. I got some more lettuces planted in the hoop house: slo-bolt, red salad bowl, oakleaf, and salad bowl. And, the rain held off yesterday, so I finally got my basil in the market garden. I didn’t get my tomato and pepper seedlings in yet, but at least they’re growing, so there’s no big rush there. Next weekend looks to be nice, and everything should be dry enough, so that’s my big project on slate for then. That and the cotton—gotta get the cotton in. Oh, and the amaranth.

    2) Harvest:

    Harvested black seeded simpson lettuce, romaine, speckled romaine, red salad bowl and green salad bowl lettuces, green onions, chives, rosemary, thyme, oregano, dill, cilantro, turnips, radishes and chard.

    3) Preserve:

    Still working on clearing out old preserves: pesto, dried tomatoes, turkey. Jim vacuum sealed and froze remaining pork from last week’s butchering.

    4) Store:

    Put up 50 pounds of baking soda and one bulk pack of toilet paper. Not gonna go crazy on the t.p., but having one back up package in case of shortages seemed to make sense. Let’s face it, it’d be easy enough to switch to cloth, but it’s gonna take a mini-crisis to manifest that change. It’s the only paper product we still use on a regular basis, and the family has no desire to give up that little luxury.

    5) Prep:

    Jim finished with the shelving in my larder—yay! I’ll be spending this rainy Sunday organizing everything down there. The shelves in the background are the new ones, creating even more usable storage space. The shelves on the right were stored up in the barn loft when we moved into the house. Jim was able to reassemble and anchor them directly into the wall last year. These are bomb-proof and hold all my canning jars at the moment.

    6) Manage:

    I spent Thursday working in the kitchen garden—weeding the garlic bed and clearing out the hoop house. I pulled the turnips, which were too hard hit by the slugs to be worth keeping. I sorted through and kept those and fed the rest to the piggies. I also pulled the arugula, which I was hoping to let go to seed, but it was creating too much slug habitat to leave in place. I brought two hens in again to help clear the bugs before I planted.

    I also got the market garden weeded yesterday and put out the new agribon row cover I bought to help with the flea beetle damage on the brassicas.

    7) Cook:

    This week I made a lemon cake from scratch for my son’s birthday. Unfortunately, he wanted the mix that his gramma makes, so it wasn’t a huge hit.

    8) Add:

    CSA delivery to three families: eggs, red salad bowl lettuce, romaine, green salad bowl lettuce, swiss chard, oregano, dill, chives, cilantro, and radishes. Exchanged eggs with neighbor across the way who brought his tractor to help till a new bed Jim made for the kids in the front yard. He saw Jim using the hand tiller and the kids raking it out, so he drove over to help out. Gave 6 raspberry plants to neighbor next door.

    9) Reduce:

    Using packaging bags for trash can liners, since unrecyclable plastic is one of our few garbage items. This at least reuses them before throwing them away. I also purchased some reusable chico shopping bags to keep in my purse for stores other than the grocery. I’m good about grabbing my canvas bags for grocery shopping but often forget to grab them when shopping for other things, so this should further eliminate our plastic accumulation.

    10) Learn:

    Continued to learn about bees and installed my first nuc in their hive. Picked up second nuc yesterday evening and will install this week at first sunny weather. I learned about Housel positioning of the foundation after I installed the first nuc, so I’ll be using that with the second hive. The efficacy of Housel positioning is questionable, but it should make for an interesting variable between the two hives.

  43. Kation 18 May 2023 at 2:45 pm

    Posted my update and some pics of my new compost bin over at my place.

  44. Shaneon 18 May 2023 at 10:17 pm


    All that time spent picking out of worms? Surely you just need a reasonable number in the remaining worm farm sections to keep it chugging along. What is it with people and their worm worship? They waste hours picking them out of the way and carefully burying them. Worms are more a symptom of fertility than the cause of it. Don’t go out of your way to kill them, but for everyone you dig up and chop in two there are a hundred unseen underground, waiting to breed again and balance the numbers.

    If your garden is getting over grown with large weeds like thistles with concentrated flowering spikes the least you can do is run around with a good sharp knife or kama and cut off the flowering heads and leave the roots for later. If you get them early enough the seeds wont mature and they can be left to mulch down. Too late and you can collect the late flowers/seed heads to compost under water in a plastic bin (=weed tea fertiliser). Better yet use a hoe to do this job and save your back.

    I manage to go over my entire cleared ground (well over half an acre) in under two hours by walking around with a sharp hoe. It is a great way to have a look at everything in your garden too. The only reason I can weed like this is because I do this routine every two weeks or so, every week during peak growth periods, so nothing has a chance to get big.

    Every week you leave a sprouted weed seed to grow the effort to hoe it out doubles. Do it first before you do any other jobs- unwanted weeds are just too destructive, and letting them seed is making years worth of make-up work. But make sure you recognise the handful of well behaved weeds - for me it is a soft spineless thistle the chickens love, and a very low nonstrangling ground cover (probably a Dichondra).

    Lastly if your garden really is too big to make weed free, separate it out into sections for things that really hate competition (eg lettuces, carrots- tiny seedlings, low canopy profile) from things that are more tolerant (potatos or pumpkins, strong growth from day one, and robust canopy).

  45. Susanon 19 May 2023 at 6:28 pm

    I’m a little late chiming in, but only because I’ve been so busy:

    Planting: Tomatoes, corn, delicata squash, thyme, chives, habanero peppers, daisies, and basil. Also, more beets, green beans, and pumpkins. Lots more herbs to plant this week.

    Harvest/Preserve: I’m combining these as I harvested mint and preserved it in the form of mint jelly. Also picked up a bag of small cucumbers at the market and made my first ever batch of (sweet) pickles. Yum. And so easy. Who knew?

    Store: Realized I was out of sugar when I made the pickles, so used brown sugar instead. Worked fine. Went out and bought some more sugar. I hardly ever use sugar, I had no idea I had so little in the house.

    Prep: Bought more canning jars and lids. Most of my time was spent “prepping” the garden/urban farm, as I’m planting in containers and I had to go out and buy all the containers and soil, wrap slug deterrent copper tape around each, and drill holes in them all.

    Manage: Lots of weeding accomplished. Lots more to go.

    Cook: See pickles, under Preserve. Also mint jelly. Both completely new to me.

    Local Food: Volunteered to either pick or transport local backyard fruit harvest through Greenwood-Phinney Harvest 2008

    Reduce Waste: Made a lot more waste than I reduced this week, what with all the bags of soil and compost I had to purchase. However, have started composting to my compost bin instead of (or in addition to, but mostly instead of) the city collection bin.

    Learn: Learned about pickles. And How to use pectin. Also started reading “Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning”. Very interesting.

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