Independence Day Update – And Sunday Seems to be My New Normal

Sharon June 15th, 2008

I think I’m shifting my Independence Day updates to Sunday.  Why?  Because I’m actually getting them written on Sundays, and so it seems wise for me to give you the impression that this is by actual intention and wise and careful planning.  You are buying it, right?

 Ok a fair bit to report:

Planted something: Raspberries, Strawberries (to replace the one the sheep ate during their tenure in my front yard), tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, watermelon, squash, pumpkins, zucchini, borage, lettuce, kale, parsley, okra, tomatillos, saskatoon, carrots, turnips, beets, arugula, marshmallow, corn, beans, limas.  Garden is still not finished or anything, but getting slowly in that direction.  I hope to finish spring planting before it stops being spring – so soon.

Harvested something: Alpine strawberries (the only ones we’re getting since abovementioned sheep at all the rest), rhubarb, lettuce, arugula, bok choy, chinese cabbage, parsley, peas, peonies, chives, lemon verbena, radishes, baby beets.

Preserved something – Froze and canned rhubarb.  Kim chi’d Chinese Cabbage.  Made calendula flower oil.   Dehydrated strawberries.  Lemon verbena jelly.

Cooked something new: Lemony Carrot Soup – really good. 

Managed reserves: Sorta cleaned out the freezer, enough to get our share of the cow (32lbs – will last us a long time at the rate we eat meat) we split with my friend Joy, my Mom, my aunt and my sister.  Beef is raised about 5 miles from me, on grass only, and was butchered locally.  Tried to figure out what the heck these packages of beef are for (We tend to buy ummm…cheap cuts, but when you buy the whole cow, you get a good mix of stuff – a much more exciting mix than I normally have anything to do with). 

Prepped something: Bought some more sprouting seeds, priced propane grills on Craigslist and new.  I want one with a side burner, for pressure canning, which I suspect means I’m going to have to buy new, but checking the local options.  Right now, besides our solar ovens, summer cooking is with electric, so the grill should save energy.  Plus, grilled eggplant is an inspiration in and of itself.

Minimized waste: Got our first load of free kitchen scraps from our friend’s deli/bulk store, fed them to the chickens – yay! 

Learned A New Skill: I tried (from a book, with advice from a friend) to graft my first fruit tree ever.  Time will yet tell whether I have actually learned this skill.

 Ok, how about y’all?


41 Responses to “Independence Day Update – And Sunday Seems to be My New Normal”

  1. Kim says:

    What a week! We spent a lot of time getting ready for HM’s graduation. We still managed to get our usual chores done and even did a bit of experimenting.

    1. Planted: radishes, tomato seedlings

    2. Harvested: lettuce (4 types), spinach, chard, arugula, mint, radish, eggs

    3. Preserved: strawberry infused vodka, lavender infused vodka, chamomile infused vodka, mint infused vodka

    4. Stored: chocolate, nuts

    5. Prepped: Worm bin materials collected, articles consulted, and ready for construction next week.

    6. Managed: Bunny barn cleaned, 3 new rabbit does brought onto homestead, cleaned chicken coop. Weeded all gardens and orchards. Barn ready for hay delivery on Sunday.

    7. Local: Passed 2 rabbit does and a buck along to a friend to get started, bought local milk and tried to make mozzarella (failed, but will try again), made yogurt. Set up hay delivery for this year. Shared home brew with “Hay Bob” which resulted in an invitation to come pick as many cherries off their trees as I want.

  2. Kim H. says:

    C&P from my blog:


    Plant: Still having lots of rain and flooding which has hindered planting. Although I am getting sick of the constant rain.

    Harvest: Onions are ready for harvesting. Well, some of the onions.

    Preserve: Nope. But, I have my wood stove set up. Pictures coming soon. Summer outdoor canning! Boo-yah!

    Store: Nope.

    Prep: Cleaning out the garage to make room for a soap-making area. Took two loads of stuff to Bethany House to help flood victims. Also re-examining the storm shelter for needed supplies.

    Manage: Went through the canned items stored in the garage and brought a case of canned water and a case of food down to the storm shelter.

    Cook: Cheese crepes. Not bad.

    Local Food: Our local CSA provider has lost a majority of his crop due to the flooding. It is the same story for many other local farmers too.

    Reduce Waste: Still at the same level of waste.

    Learn New Skill: How to work my cell phone. Did you know it had a lock feature? Neither did I until Hannah locked it on me. Then it took me an hour to figure out the unlock code.

  3. I adapted the challenge slightly for our site, which is mostly cooking-related and has fewer post-peak-oil people involved. I still hit the high spots, I think.

    This week’s report (I post on Saturdays) is way too long to c&p here, so here’s the link.

    Thanks so much for starting this!

  4. Danielle says:

    Sunday mornings offer me time to sit and reflect in peace, so that’s been my day of choice as well.

    From my blog:

    With the crazy heat last week, it was hard to get much of anything done. We lost three broilers to the heat, but everyone else seemed to fare okay. Lots of water all around. Latte still hasn’t had her baby.


    Several lettuce varieties, carrots, bunching onions, chard, beets, watermelon, muskmelon, corn, amaranth, popcorn.

    I practice succession planting, which means that I plant smaller amounts in staggered plantings so that we’ll continue to have fresh plants coming into harvest. I also try to sneak lettuces in where ever I can get them, so last week’s lettuce planting went alongside the tomatoes that are still growing. This week’s went into the high tunnel where I pulled all the old head lettuces. Eventually, the tomatoes will provide some shade to the greens, and the greens will help prevent soil splash on the tomatoes.


    milk, eggs, strawberries, mixed lettuces, spinach, kale, radishes, turnips, beets, green onions, thyme, citrus thyme, cilantro, dill, rosemary.


    10 half pints strawberry jam, 3.5 lbs butter, 1/2 gallon milk into queso blanco.


    6 gallons maple syrup


    Jim and Jules continue to work on the bunny hutch, which is very nearly done now. Ordered irrigation materials. Jim got a new rifle for father’s day.


    Took up the soaker hoses that I laid down last week—yup, I have a tendency to do stuff like that. After some hemming and hawing over the price tag, I sucked it up this week and ordered the drip tape set up that I’ve been wanting for the market garden. After last year’s drought and drastic loss of potato crop, not to mention the low yields on other crops as well, I really wanted to get some drip tape in place for emergency irrigation. We’re also working on a large gravity fed rainwater irrigation system that will operate without power, but for efficiency, it’s hard to beat drip tape. I went with a small company in the next state over, so somewhat local. Joe, the owner, was very patient and kind on the phone as he helped me navigate the different options and choose one that would work for our needs.

    I also weeded the market garden, laid polymulch between the tomatoes and peppers, Jim and I got about half of the trellises up, and I cleaned out the older lettuces in the high tunnel and brought some hens in to help with critter control before replanting.


    I made queso blanco for the first time, and it came out pretty well, though I think I hung it for too long, as it was a bit dry. The cool thing about queso blanco is that it won’t melt, so you can even deep fry it, which I did. Its properties are very similar to tofu, so it will work well in any recipe that calls for tofu in addition to Mexican cuisine. We had ours on homemade flour tortillas that I deep fried as well and made beef quesadillas. Not the healthiest of meals, but tasty and local.


    CSA harvest for 10 families. Had my first work share person offer hours yesterday, so I put him to work in the new berry bed for about 2.5 hours, trying to find the berries.


    Continued with all of our composting, reusable bags, etc. But something I thought of that I haven’t talked about was my shift away from using the vacuum cleaner whenever possible. I do a lot more sweeping than I used to, and we’re moving away from carpeted surfaces in the house that can’t be swept or taken outside to clean. I don’t know how much this saves electricity-wise, but considering that with 3 kids and 2 dogs in the house I’d reach for the vacuum at least 2-3 times a week, it must save a considerable bit. Now, I use a broom every day—well, erm… almost every day—and vacuum once every couple of weeks for a deep clean. Moving the dogs outside into the barn really helped to cut down on dust and dirt as well. Man, farm dogs are just plain filthy!


    I continue learning about cheesemaking, and yes folks, I’ll post those recipes soon. But in the meantime, let me declare that I’m working exclusively out of Ricki Carroll’s book Home Cheese Making for those interested in purchasing it. It’s a really great resource with loads of info and tips. I also buy my cultures through Ricki’s business The New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. Just a fabulous resource for the beginning cheesemaker.

    Also this week, I’ve been delving back into seed saving info, trying to cement in my sieve of a brain which things cross pollinate with which. I ended up yanking the michihli that I’d been saving because both the tatsoi and the turnips in the high tunnel bolted quickly, and I wasn’t able to stay on top of those flower heads. So, my michihli was likely compromised. My radishes, spinach and lettuces should be good though, so I left some of those in place. I’m hopeful for my sorrel as well.

  5. Sharon says:

    Nice adaptations, although, Kate, the original *was* “cook something new” ;-) .


  6. Verde says:

    I post on Fridays – so this is a little stale:

    How a week changes things! 5 days ago I was introduced to our new garden plot. By the way, I was wrong about the size. Mr. Greenjeans (who works crazy hours) came over and measured it for me: 107′ x 107′. That is slightly larger than 1/2 acre but there is a corner missing so I feel OK about rounding it to about 1/2 acre, maybe slightly smaller (by a few feet).

    This is absolutely the largest space I’ve gardened, but I’m not doing it alone. We are 3 families consistinig of 2 teenager girls, Mrs. neighbor, who is pregnant, and her 2 year old, and the land owners who are too elderly to garden at all but provide all the equipment, water, land, fertilizer, some seeds and plants, and instruction. Actually Mr. Garden walks behind the plow using it as a walker. My husband and neighbor husband are great guys who work physical jobs at long hours so they are around on days off to help with what we can’t do on our own.

    When you read what we’ve planted, remember that a committee planned and came up with what was planted based on what we all wanted. I think the assumption is that we share in the work as able, and will share in the crop equally. I can see maybe all cannning together at the end of the summer. We’ll see how the weather goes. It was down to 38 f one night this week.

    1. Planted: From bedding plants: 60 tomatoes of different varieties, 40 chili’s of different varieties, 14 watermelons, 6 broccoli (never tried before), 4 Brussels sprouts (never tried), 4 celery, 2 pumpkin, 10 pickling cukes, 10 salad cukes.

    From seed: 40 onions, 18 rows @ 107′ a row of sweet corn (Mr. garden owner request), 3 rows @ 107′ of green bush beans, different varieties.

    If I finish planting today, I’ll edit my post to reflect the updated amounts for the whole garden. Added today: 1 row (107′) of beats, one row of carrots, one of spagetti squash, one row of winter squash, and a 3′ section of bird house goards (for Chibi). There is still some space left – even skipping a row to let the squash spread out.

    2. Harvested: Rhubarb, salad greens, mint, milk

    3. Preserved: Walmart finally got in a giant order of wheat so I picked up another 4 bags (24 lbs ea) of Montana golden wheat ($11/ bag). Now I need more buckets and lids.

    4. Prepped/ Managed Something (categories now combined): Tilled and furrowed and planted. Looked for COE fertilizer (from gardening in hard times) to no avail.

    Came across a farm store in Colorado that was going out of business as farm land went under to tract homes. Picked up a rabbit hutch, galvanized poultry water and feeders all at half off.

    Brought home some antiques I had stored at my parents: a daisy butter churn and an 8.5 qt. milk can.

    Found a pair of good shoes at -50% off and a dress shirt for Mr. Greenjeans (OK, that’s more like truth telling than prepping). Mr. Greenjeans teased about all the sales there will be when TEOWAWKI comes.

    The house is a wreck and my office work is slightly neglected as I took a day of vacation to plant and have been spending every spare moment in the garden.

    4. Cook something (new): Hey, I haven’t even been cooking for the family this week! If the teenagers will cook it, we eat it (except for home made bread).

    I tried to make cream cheese and it was a dismal failure that got poured down the sink (milk @$8.00/gal and hand milked). My rhubarb pie was slightly undercooked – somethign I didn’t notice as I came in tired from the garden one night… that is until it *struck* in the middle of the night. I put it back in the oven the next day and cooked it silly and it was OK.

    5. Work on Local food systems: Well we’ve got this neighborhood garden going.

    6. Learn something new: worked a big rototiller, a hand plow, well water, planted the largest garden of my life, watched the land owner make the city dig up the new sidewalk they just put in because they messed up the slope of the irrigation water to come, saw family I haven’t seen in years… I feel as if I’m learning everyday.

  7. Karin says:

    Gotta start writing some of this stuff down as the week progresses. This time of year is so busy.

    Planted: Hubbard squash, pickling cucumbers, butternut squash, cantalope,, buttercup squash, amaranth, salsify, more soybeans, more tomatoes, brussel sprouts, more basil, parsley, tobacco.

    preserved: dried oregano, dried bug nibbled kale leaves, more rhubarb chutney, chive blossom vinegar, 2 cases of brown ale.

    prepped: a neighbor was cleaning out after yard sale, so I scored another pile of kids clothes and children’s books. I was at a yard sale for a local bog walk and asked about canning jars. They didn’t have any but another woman overheard, took my number and will; hopefully, pass them on. Bought some more vinegar, baking soda, split peas.

    managed reserves: because of the influx of kids clothing lately, I sorted and boxed clothes according to size. I weeded out such things as too many pjs in size 2. Tackled a ferocious cucumber beetle party in the zucchini patch and put floating row cover over new cucurbit patch.
    Mulched rows of garden with scythed lawn material. WE are trying to go petrol free yard this summer. It takes a different mindset. The lawn does not have to be perfectly manicured.

    local food: Went to farmers market. Found some citronella plant and the seed that forms from garlic scapes. Iam going to plant garlic grass and see if I can get garlic bulbs the following year. Another neighbor let me raid his rhubarb patch.

    reduced waste: still composting, will take sorted kids clothes to the thrift store. Rescued cardboard boxes from work to use when mulching garden. We are getting potato peelings from a local restaurant for our pig and hubby is bringing home slop from school lunch cafeteria.

    learned something new: learned about cucumber beetles, my husband learned how to cook bean and cheese pie (I’m trying to expand his cooking vocabulary)

    My personal goal: finished one sock for hubby’s father’s day present. Almost done knitting sister-in-law’s bridal shower gift. hand towels and dish cloths.

  8. AnnaMarie says:

    I really enjoy doing a Sunday round up for this. It keeps me on track to see what I’ve done during the week and it also gives me goals to get things done for the following week. I also love knowing that at least one day out of six a week I have fabulous blog fodder! I’ve blogged my week now and that’s one more thing done today. Yay me!

  9. Rosa says:

    Planted: got the tomatillos in the ground, most of them.

    Harvest: lots and lots and lots of dandelions and lambsquarters. We scorch-earthed the front flowerbed, except for a few little islands of flowers that I didn’t even think had survived the winter. Mulch this week sometime, to keep it that way.

    Manage: we continue to discover things in the pantry and eat them, including a bag of chocolate chips that got stored with the dried fruit (?) and tasted like raisins, so went into raisin cookies.

    local food system: There were greens at the farmer’s market! So with the stuff I harvested, we’re eating cooked greens at every meal this week.

    Reduced waste: Bought parts to fix up the dumpstered toddler bike for my son for his birthday next week. He & his dad are fixing it right now (I was doing it but I wasn’t doing it well enough so his dad took over.)

    Skill: I transplanted a bunch of flowers from where they didn’t belong to where they do. We’ll see if they survive.

  10. Sueinithaca says:

    Let’s see -

    Planted: they aren’t in the ground yet, but I rescued 45 cucumber vines ffrom a friend’s greenhouse (she had already planted all of the ones she needed). Set up the bed for them. Will plant tomorrow – hopefuly it will rain tonight and wet everything down nicely so I don’t have to use the hose too much.

    Harvested: Japanese knotweed. I’m about to go on a canning bender, and most of my jam recipes want lemon juice. Alas, lemons are not local, and also about $1 each. So I’m juicing the knotweed with my mehu-maija, and using it as a substitute.

    Preserved: our raw milk LLC had extra milk this week, so I made 2 wheels of cheese, butter, and a mess of creme fraiche (ok, I cultured the cream so I could leave it out before buttering it and then waited too long. Still, yummy on strawberries)

    Maintained: weeded the tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squash, carrots, and the rest.

    Local: Our CSA began, so pretty much everything is local at this point. wahoo!

  11. karen says:

    I don’t usually respond to your Independence Day Challenge so this is my first.

    Planted: More of everything… summer squash, winter squash, peppers, beans, melons, transplanted tomatoes, leeks, pumpkins.

    Harvested: only herbs yet… rosemary, tarragon, chives.

    preserved: bought a food drier at the thrift shop and dried: tomatoes, strawberries, onions, peppers, apricots, apples, cherries, oranges, lemon rinds.

    stored:ordered 8 prepacked buckets of grains from emergency essentials.

    prepped: made mozerella from 2 gallons of raw milk from an Amish farm

    managed: started order for farm raised grass fed chickens, beef, eggs, milk, butter. Bought membership to Weston A. Price foundation.

    Local:buying from local farmers market everyweek: strawberries, lettuce, onions, blueberries

    Feels good to be reporting to everyone! I would really like to go to NY for JUly 2nd to hear Sharon with Kunster but not sure if can make it work.

  12. Carol says:

    I am feeling a complete underachiever on this blog – in my defense have been in Phoenix on business for a week and must limit most activities to weekend…BUT

    Harvested and canned 2 gallons of sour cherries (10 12 oz and the rest pints) in light syrup, also make two cherry pies – one for husband one for dad for fathers day

    made cannelini beans and swiss chard from garden (chard) for dinner

    researched pressure canner for purchase

    laundry air-dried in sun

    planted red and yellow onions

    Cleared out son’s room of all unwanted and outdated things – a three hour process even in my simplified house – and will post on Freecycle.

    checked on “keeper” garden of canning tomatoes, red dry lima beans, potatoes and butternut squash (all doing fine)

    where is everyone living that you are all still planting ? I am in Virginia and it’s in the 90s and I’ve been looking up what I can plant at this point but essentially “nothing” seems the answer.

    watched “What would Jesus Buy” with my 14-year-old

  13. Cynthia says:

    SCORED! 12 boxes of canning jars for $1 a box at the church rummage sale!!
    Challenge… to fill them all! (Oh dear, I’m going to be busy ;) Peace, Cyn

  14. Planted: Nope, only transplanted, for the farmer’s market — bell peppers, cayenne peppers, aloe vera houseplant babies.

    Harvest something: Nope again.

    Preserve something: Triple nope!

    Store Something: Sheesh, didn’t I do *anything* last week? It felt like an incredibly busy week, but I guess not in the categories of the challenge. Didn’t store anything new.

    Manage Reserves: Erm… Gah.

    Prepped: Major fence progress! It’s close enough to done that tonight I planted some stuff (that will count on next week’s report).

    Worked on Local Food Systems: Prepared seedling starts to take to first farmer’s market saturday (I’m writing this saturday evening, it went great, but again, that’s for THIS week… :) I also brought some cayenne starts to my herbalist friend. I also participated in a symposium held last weekend that, while it didn’t focus on local food, it did focus on local community sustainability in a sense, and given that gas has hit $5 in the valley here, the conversations drifted toward local food on various occasions.

    Reduced Waste: Continued transforming urine into deer repellent. Have been using fruit tree prunings as vertical extensions to the fence (photos soon, I promise!)

    Cooked something new: The garlic bread I mentioned last week was actually made on Saturday so it should have been counted as this week, but I forgot. Nothing new this week — due to the conference and some other activities I ate out a lot this week, and just made “same ol’ same ol’” beans and rice or salad when I was at home.

    Learned a new skill: Made newspaper peat pots in which to sell seedlings. Followed the basic steps determined from googling a couple of sites. Went pretty well!

  15. homebrewlibrarian says:

    I feel like such a slacker with this group. Even with help from the other folks who live in the same building, everyone waits for me to decide what we’re going to do. Which means if I’m just whupped from work or have other commitments, not much happens around here.

    Planted – Transplanted three rather small zaatar plants into a gallon sized pot. Finally got the horseradish and angelica transplanted after how many weeks of waiting. The six blueberry plants that arrived on May 13 got transplanted on June 11. And they aren’t dead! All but one have put out at least a couple flowers (they’re all less than a foot tall) but I wondering if that’s because they were stressed so badly.

    Harvested – Nothing this past week but I did harvest some rhubarb and made a peach and rhubarb crisp from peaches I got in a CSA box.

    Preserved – Brined and dehydrated a couple of cups of walnuts.

    Prepped – Scored a small roll of 1 1/2 by 4 inch welded mesh that is 5 ft wide while helping prepare for my church’s garage sale. We have so many plants in the yard that moose eat, the welded mesh is to protect them from becoming a moose salad bar this winter. With the help of some of one of the young men who live in the building plus his friend, built a 4 ft by 8 ft raised bed from two rows of cinder blocks. Marked 1 ft grids with string in anticipation of planting. Something. Anything. Soon. Really. Prepped three more tires for squash plantings. Moved the squash starts outside to harden them off. Mulched the prinsepia shrubs and blueberries and added more mulch to the currant plants. Acquired six honeyberry plants that Michael, my friend and owner of the building, ordered sometime back in the winter. Finally, finally, FINALLY started a hot pile from all the kitchen scraps I’ve been saving SINCE LAST NOVEMBER plus what dried leaves we could find in the yard that weren’t contaminated by dog poop. And in anticipation of Crunchy Chicken’s Golden Showers Party, I’ve begun to fertilize some of the plants in the yard with 10:1 diluted urine. Excess and old urine has been going in the composter or a small spruce tree in the front yard.

    Managed reserves – Nothing this week but early last week went through all the sprouted potatoes, sorted them out by type, selected the best ones for planting and pulled an armload of foot long sprouts off most of the rest of them. Sprouts went into the composter and the rejects for sprouting got cooked up.

    Cooked – A tasty mixed potato gratin using local raw milk, some goat cheddar I got during my trip to Wisconsin and a bunch of Organic Valley butter. Also brewed up a 5 gallon batch of pale ale beer. One of the young men upstairs works for a liquor store and is becoming a beer geek. He wants to learn to brew beer so we made an extract beer which is actually rather new to me since I’ve been using grains for brewing for the last few years. It’s fermenting happily.

    Local food systems – Not much except that I visited two of the farmers markets in Anchorage this past Saturday. The weather was poor and it’s early in the season so there were very few vendors. Bought some spring greens, a bunch of radishes and a loaf of sourdough raised bread. My local CSA starts up next week! Looking forward to piles of salad vegies! Got five dozen eggs from my friend the chicken wrangler and spent most of an hour getting the run down on all her livestock issues. Boy, do I learn a lot about poultry visiting with her! Picked up some more oat straw from an herbalist up the road from me and returned some zip lock bags to her.

    Still got loads of starts to plant plus root vegie seeds. Hopefully this week!

    Kerri in AK

  16. Sharon says:

    Ok, I’m seeing way too much guilt about what you haven’t accomplished. The neat thing is that when you write the list out, it all sounds impressive. So don’t complain about it, enjoy it!!!


  17. Deb G says:

    I’m in the “didn’t get much accomplished group” due to a family crisis. What it has made me think about is the balancing act that would have to happen if we had to meet all of our survival needs and deal with an emotional crisis at the same time. And the type of crisis I mean is something that you don’t see coming rather than something like peak oil.

  18. [...] You can view Sharon’s update and many others in the comment section here. [...]

  19. margaret says:

    Planted something: Cucumbers, scarlet runner beans, peppers, thyme, fig tree into a container (it will winter on my enclosed front porch).

    Harvested something: mint, radish greens, a handful of mulberries off our just beginning to ripen tree.

    Preserved something – still stirring the tamari, drying the mint.

    Cooked something new: dal (my boyfriend usually cooks this, but I did this time, so I’m counting it)

    Managed reserves: bought dried cherries and peanut butter in bulk.

    Prepped something: finished put up our rain barrels.

    Minimized waste:composting.

    Learned A New Skill: no.

  20. Gina says:

    First, I have no idea if this is helpful or not, but my in-laws and I can using a turkey fryer bottom (instead of a side burner grill). We plug it into a propane tank and, thus, can outside during the hot late summer. We have had no issues with temp control (just turn it down or up as needed. Plus, you can sit in a chair and be eye level with the guage). Maybe you could find one on Freecycle (common gift for men that goes unused type thing :-)

    Motivation has been affected somewhat by the state of doom we seem to be facing. I plug along all the same (and this challenge is a great way to focus on the *now* of things, rather then the hell-in-a-hand-basket aspect of our times); I need to find the mind-set and time to refocus my energies back to what is important to my family, my earth and myself.

    This week (7):

    Planted: More tomatoes (placed some lingering seedlings in the flower beds), yarrow, rue, sage, basil, marjoram, mint, oregano, nasturtium, cilantro, winter savory, foxglove (really just ornamental, but it was instrumental in the production of heart drugs), squash (unknown variety-I took a few seeds from a seed swap package and just put them into some containers, I know they are some sort of heirloom, but I neglected to write down the name), cucumbers.

    Harvested: More eggs; mint; radish, beet seedlings, lamb’s quarter & field mustard, plantain, strawberries, green onions, goat’s milk, lettuce (variety), nasturtium leaves & flowers, violet leaves.

    Preserved: 7 pints of strawberry syrup, dried more mint for winter tea, split up my mother and baby SCOBY and started new jars. Need to find someone to take a SCOBY.

    Stored: Various dried beans, Epsom salt, sea salt, sugar (for canning season), vinegar, wild rice, oatmeal

    Prepped: Bought more canning lids from outlet store (I now have several dozen which should last me for some time), started budget to see where we can adjust our “unknown” expenditures, found a camp stove and food mill at a yard sale, left a Wanted: canning jar type message on local freecycle, finished new kitchen garden bed (planted the herbs and a few left-over tomato seedlings there), contacted realtor to talk about putting our two “extra” houses on market (one rented, one recently vacated by us), picked up my 6 new rain barrels (still need to outfit them with screening and spigots before employing their use-I saw out in Internet-ville a method of connecting several rain barrels with piping so they flow towards the main use one and I would like to develop a system like this), continue to search for edibles/medicinals on the property (I may create another category and include my findings more specifically in this area), bought some wire baskets for pantry area from animal swap.

    Managed: Weeding times 100, managing budgets to ultimately reduce debt, switched our mortgage to bi-weekly to shave time and interest off of debt, cooked lightly (i.e. proportional to our eating habits which reduces both waste and overeating), sheared the last of the sheep just in time for 96 F temps (in Northern Indiana in June!!!), took vintage bike I got at an auction several years ago into local Amish family that fixes bikes; I can’t wait to ride it! Rereading _Nourishing Traditions_ (ultimately, our health is our main survival mechanism) and the adults in the family are drinking the Kombucha Tea (my culture was successful!)

    Cooked Something New: I didn’t cook anything new-I made a delicious chicken salad with leftover BBQ chicken we made which included strawberries and wild greens, but I am fairly certain this is not a new dish.

    Work on Local Food System: Gave my rain barrel guy some more encouragement. He is selling them, but at a slow pace. He says most people he encounters do not know what one is and I had some friends tell me they didn’t want one because they didn’t want more mosquitoes. I educated my friends to their benefits and he is planning to put photos up of a finished product. It’s been rainy lately (not as much as some areas of Indiana and the midwest though), but come dry July and August, I really think the rain barrels are going to reduce our well-water usage. If I was still urban homesteading, I would definitely want one. I pay the water on our city rental house and I have noticed a steady increase of about $5 a bill every quarter. I am thinking about installing a rain barrel for my tenants to use on the yard. I may gift my mom one too. I also gave away my extra seedlings to friends for their very first garden. Last, I bought my strawberries (I have new plants that have only minimally produced on the ones I forgot to take off) from a local family that lives a few miles from the farm (I usually go pick, but I let the family pick for me this time and paid a little more).

    Reduced Waste: I ‘ll mention the rain barrels again because they are used barrels from the food industry (used to hold vanilla extracts and such). Composted as usual. Cooked smaller portions. Gave away extra patio table and chairs on freecycle.

    Learned a New Skill: I have been kind of mopey this week and need to concentrate on new skills (and take a news fast as well to keep myself from getting too pessimistic). I obtained a drop spindle to experiment with the sheeps’ wool, but haven’t tried it yet. I found this helpful site, but haven’t had time to play around yet. I have some sewing projects in mind for the future as well and believe me, being a non-crafty person, sewing anything is always a “new skill”.

  21. Gail says:

    Greetings from Colorado

    Potted up all the peppers but left them in the cold frame as nights are still so chilly

    Harvest: greens, eggs

    Stored: cycled all the grains from last month’s big purchase in and out of the freezer

    Prepped: scored a stack of cloth diapers for grandbaby $! for all, food coop is ordering canning lids so I stocked up, drooled over fun stuff in Lehman’s new catalogue

    Managed: What can you do but pray for the world? Breathe in and out for all the families who are suffering and dying from the weather?

    Cook something new: Peanut butter whole wheat bread in my new dutch oven in the solar cooker…. but the clouds came up. Left in in another hour. Little gooey for me , but chickens are happy with it.

    Local: Selling eggs! to yoga classmembers.

    Waste: Picked up sticks and branches in backyard from days of high winds. Sorted and stacked for kindling and mulch. Picked up a couple of buckets of mulch from city recycling center to freshen up chicken coop.

    Skill: TV converter box project not going well. Son out of town so asked DP to come over… but not his cup of tea any more than mine. Did get the DVD back to working, but will have to forgo the news for awhile until computer geek nephew arrives in July. So I haven’t really learned anything except that I don’t want to learn this, which I already knew.

  22. Susan in NJ says:

    My update from last Fri:
    Very hot here in south Jersey most of the week and a lot of office work
    in my 90 plus degree office, it’s cooler now, but I’m pretty wiped
    out. So not much happening in the garden — unless you count plants
    really taking off, jumping their corals and striving for world
    dominance, all without human intervention –
    (1) planted — ruby okra seeds and some slips trimmed off my Early Girl
    tomato plants
    (2) harvested — some lettuce
    (3) preserved — froze about 3 1/4 quarts of strawberries
    (4) stored — double re-stocked some pantry items of the oil/fatty
    (5) prepped — got contract information from my local grocery store
    about buying bulk sizes through their organic bulk department, this is
    looking like a good option on some products for right now. I figure
    the trucks are gioing there anyway.
    (6) managed — still just coping but managed to keep most of the more
    tender garden appropriately shaded/watered through the sudden heatwave.
    I’m sure our electric use had a big not so managed spike –Two window
    A.C. units went in to our bedroom and my partner’s office to keep
    things at 80 during the heat wave; the basement dehumidifier is now on;
    the kitchen was unbearable because no air yet on that side, the
    refrigerator is doing its heater imitation — thought about this but
    have no remedies or plans yet except to get another patio umbrella as a
    temporary solution to shade the southern exposure. My partner is older
    and works at home while I work in a partially airconditioned office so
    I try to be understanding of his A.C. wants.
    (7) cooked something new — not new in my life but the first shelled
    peas of the year and the first time I’ve shelled peas in about twenty
    years; my partner smoked salmon and whole chicken on the grill, we need
    to perfect the chicken part . . . and move away from non-reuseable
    aluminum foil use; the home smoked salmon was better than what we’ve
    been buying. Also I tried a thoroughly dried out and sun roasted maple
    seed, fairly yummy. I might be shelling a big pile of these to use in
    baked goods . . . or not
    (8) local food systems — shopped the farmer’s market, talked gardening
    with friends at a dinner party and elsewhere, met grocery store staff,
    scoped out some more grass clipping sources
    (9) waste management — scavenged some plant pots and trays out of
    neighbors’ trash (possibly the only advantage to walking to work so
    early even early a.m. trash pick up hasn’t happened); otherwise not
    much new, more driving, eating out and air conditioning then I would
    prefer this week.
    (10) new skill — can’t remember anything particular
    Susan in NJ

  23. Amy says:


    Regarding the side burner on the grill: Most have a weight limit that is not conducive to canning.

    To solve this problem I got a turkey fryer (at a garage sale). I want to can outdoors, no point in steaming up the house.

    I bet a turkey fryer could be had on Freecycle.

    Amy in Westerlo

  24. Harvested 5 tiny strawberries from our garden – the first fruits of the season. Planted several herb plants.
    Got my latest CSA share and am determined to find SOMETHING to do with mustard greens.
    Attempting to make a small compost bin out of a coffee tin – any ideas on that?

  25. Christina says:

    Finally some rain! Now it’s wet and cold instead of hot and dry. A usual Swedish summer…

    Planted something: Carrots, beets

    Harvested something: Strawberries and wild strawberries, rhubarb, lettuce, parsley, chives, lots of herbs.

    Preserved something: dried rhubarb

    Cooked something new: no, same old things

    Managed reserves: Pantry is rather empty; started shopping list to restock pantry. Sorted through several fleeces of wool that I’ll card and spin. Spun some of it – will have lots of yarn to knit warm things when winter arrives :-)

    Prepped something: no – unless spinning counts

    Minimized waste: composting as usual; mulching with newspaper

    Learned A New Skill: I’m trying to make a pattern for a linen dress I want to make. I have a pattern, but it needs adjusting.


  26. Chile says:

    Planted something: Thai red peppers. May not come up as the summer heat has descended upon us.

    Harvested something: Everything has stopped blooming because of the heat. (Don’t believe me? Go check the forecast posted on my blog…) A few things have set (tomatoes, beans, watermelon) but we’ll now be waiting until the rains start in July for more blooms, and some things won’t bloom again until early fall.

    Preserved something: Too blasted hot to preserve. I’d planned to make a peach BBQ sauce but now will use the peaches for sorbet and ice cream instead. :)

    Cooked something new: Made 3 new chutneys this week. All were wonderful. Planned to try sourdough English muffins but couldn’t bear to have the skillet on the hot stove that long. May try sourdough bread in the solar oven tomorrow.

    Managed reserves: Sick hubby cleaned out the frozen OJ supply, which helps towards the goal of emptying on freezer for the summer.

    Prepped something: Decluttered a bit more. Spent a lot of time on the phone with roofer and insurance to get MIL’s roof repaired after windstorm damage. Hopefully we’ll recoop the cost by selling the house! (Anybody want to move here?)

    Minimized waste: Compost keeps eating up the waste. Cleaned and inventoried refrigerator to prioritize condiment use. Did some research on how long condiments will keep. (Any additional advice welcome on my recent post about that!)

    Learned A New Skill: Tried fusing plastic bags to use as sewable Tyvek-like material. Decided it was a real waste of energy to run the iron. Eliminating plastic bags would be far better approach!

  27. Chile says:

    Oops, forgot to mention also that I tried to make soy yogurt this weekend. It didn’t work, so I’ll be reviewing the instructions and trying again. If it fails again, I guess I need to pick up a different kind of yogurt for a better culture.

  28. Kati says:

    Posted mine on my blog this morning, along with lots of pics, not that there’s any new planting or harvesting to share about.

  29. Anonymous says:

    apartment dweller here.

    Harvested: (CSA:) lettuces, garlic skapes, kale

    Stored: organic canned pumpkin, squash, and tomatoes (right before running across an article about bisphenol-A in canned food!); sleeping gear for an extra person

    Cooked: kale, white beans, and pasta w/ romano cheese; garlic scapes sauteed w/ butter; mint tea; homemade pizza; salad w/ lettuce, goat cheese, nuts, and a drizzle of honey

  30. catskillmamala says:

    OK, major preface: I am really down and out with lyme disease and babeosis. My doc just switched me from oral antibiotics to IV-yuck.

    Yes, I’ve tried alternatives, herbs, tinctures, massage, diet, prayer, meditation, ignoring it, etc.

    Much of my peak oil prep is overshadowed by this and I seem to alternate between freaking out about lyme and tick borne diseases to freaking out about peak oil. Some lovely things can help both, like setting up for guinea hens.

    Planted: More tomatoes, more watermelons, rosemary for drying, cosmos, yarrow (transplanted). My mother actually did tons of gardening and weeding for me this week. Thank you, mom.

    Harvested: endive, lettuce, broccoli (yay!) swiss chard, snap peas, eggs

    Preserved: not much here.

    Cooked something new: not much here.

    Managed reserves: dove into a 50 lb bucket of flour (rotation), cleaning and prepping canning jars, moved chicken pen, used up last year’s pesto.

    Prepped something: ordered 30 tick eating guinea hens, bartered for a wormwood plant.

    Minimized waste: composting, started new goat bedding compost heap, reused various jars, containers and bags

    Learned A New Skill: how to administer IV antibiotics.

    I want to make pemmican. Does anyone have a favorite recipe?

  31. Kate says:

    Hello all. I’m a little late this week, and I didn’t get a around to posting last week, so I am going to cover 2 weeks work in one post, if you don’t mind.

    Planted: 14 tomato plants, and some radish seeds between them. If the weather stays cool, I will get to make my famous fermented radish pickles.

    Harvested: Lemon balm and oregano. And eggs.

    Preserved: Dried the herbs and some lemon peel from my mom’s lemon tree.

    Cooked something new: Potato and cabbage hash. Simple, easy and good.

    Managed: Removed the fruit from my young apple trees to keep them from getting stunted by fruiting to early. Maybe next year I will let them fruit. My arborist friend suggested this.

    Prepped: I bought a soaker hose, but it hasn’t been dry enough to use it yet. Did some research and calculations about food storage.

    Reduced Waste: 2 of 4 compost bins are finished!! Brought home more reuseable garbage from work.

    Local Food: Went farmers market and bought honey from the local producer.

    New Skill: Nothing.

    I want to send encouragement to all those who are feeling inadequate. I empathize, but I also want to say, Celebrate your accomplishments! The fact that you are acting at all is brave and notable.

  32. Week 5

    Plant something: I have been out of the loop and went away over the weekend and came down with something while away; writing this from bed (with SOOO much to do … but Beloved put in a full day in the garden Saturday, and the heirloom squashes are in. And most the transplants, of all kinds, got over their shock before the hot weather commenced.

    Harvest something: Radishes. Lettuce. Broccoli. Spinach. Onions. Dandelions. Plantains. Rhubarb. “Hay” (grass clippings by the wheelbarrow load).

    Preserve something: Made pickled radishes, with shallot and garlic shoots

    Store something: As above. Straw bales. Kindling. And moved a load from the compost barrel to the heap.

    Manage Reserves: Painted house (not all of it, one wall), tumbled the compost.

    Prepped: Cut down all the vinca (invasive species) and will be covering the plot with cardboard to smother it, start a new winter bed next year.

    Worked on Local Food Systems: brought enough of my own home-grown or home-baked food for a trip away, didn’t need to go to restaurants.

    Reduced Waste: Gathered yet more egg cartons for the egg business, and wrpte “return me please” on each one.

    Learned a skill: how to make a garden bed without digging.

  33. Susan says:

    Here’s what I did this week: Nothing.

    Okay, I take that back. I harvested at least 6 tortillas worth of cilantro and I started a new job, which, thank the gods and goddesses, has me making substantially more money than my last, so I can stock up and prep more than ever. I just haven’t had the time when I’ve had the motivation, nor have I had the motivation when I had the time. But I’ll get there. I know I will.

    As for the rest of it? It’s *still* in the 40s and 50s here and raining. Most of the planted are about to expire — some of them already have. I have no desire to be outside at all, and the dog is damn lucky I’ve set a schedule of walks or he’d get none. Funny thing about this weather is that if it were in fact February, I’d be rejoicing that it was not *36* degrees and raining, but the fact that it is *June* and 45 degrees has me grumpy and slow and angry.

    And yes, I fully understand that 45 degrees and raining is many, many leagues better than earthquakes and famine and floods and tornadoes and 104 degrees with 99% humidity. I know that. Really, I do. At least my house is still firmly settled on its sort-of foundation and my pantry items are still dry and where I left them and I’m not missing anyone I know to the whims of nature.

    So it’s a really, really, minor thing that the few dollars I spent in seed is rotting, and there may simply be no harvest this year. Though if I really needed that food, if I were living in one of the many places in the world with severe food shortages and famine, this weather would be a disaster. Heresy to say this these days, but maybe this is the year to be grateful for the fact that not all of our food is locally grown…that we have refrigerated trucks to carry corn and green beans and eggplant from warmer, sunnier parts of the country to our local markets. We might not all survive weather like this very well otherwise.

  34. Shira says:

    Bellingham, Washington was cold and rainy at the start of last week. I was very proud of myself for finally getting my tomatoes in the ground. An hour later it blew, the skies opened and the temperature dropped and just getting the plastic on was a struggle. Then I went out of town and while I was gone it got warm and sunny and the tomatoes collapsed under the plastic. I’m back and I hope that something survived.

  35. Robj98168 says:

    here is how I did this week-
    PLANTING- planted the huckleberries I bought at the famers market
    Preserving: Got out the dehydrator I got as a gift years ago, cleaned it up
    Storing:See preserving
    Learn a new skill: Am going to learn to dehydrate fruits and veggies
    Cook comething new: Cooked Game hens following the directions. These would be good to buy and freeze. Can get them relatively cheaply at grocery outlet.
    Compost something- added stuff to both my worm bin and my compost bin
    Work on local food system- Unavailable at this time
    I am surprised how much I did this week!

  36. Hummingbird says:

    I’m probably going to drop out of the Independence Day updates after this posting–I’m not in the same league as the astonishing people who are participating here–my hat’s off to you!

    I’m 70. living in a rural area with my partner (who does most of the work I’ve described here. We’re retired, trying to prepare for harder times, but don’t expect to be able to be self-sufficient if the worst happens.

    Building community seems to have gone as far as it will, neighboring clans being suspicious of the newcomers even after 18 years. I hope more cooperation may emerge if times get tough–they are not unfriendly.

    Our life here includes time to enjoy the birds, woods, wildflowers and the few years we probably have left. I admire the efforts here and will continue to read the postings. It has been helpful for me to focus on these areas wekly to see where I can improve.

    So: Planted: replanted beans in open spots.

    Harvested: peas, lettuce, raspberries.

    Stored: froze peas, split and stacked wood.

    Local Food: Cut out and posted times and places for local farmers’ markets. Will try to synchronize weekly trips to town with these where possible.

  37. Sharon says:

    Hummingbird, this isn’t a competition – I do hope you’ll stay and keep posting. Not everyone has to meet the same standards, and there’s no intention to ever make anyone feel bad.

    It sounds to me like you’ve got your priorities in order.


  38. Hummingbird says:

    Thanks, Sharon. I will certainly continue to read posts and maybe contribute when I have something new. It just seems that I have been harvesting lettuce and peas and splitting wood every week!

    I forgot to mention that I have been trying to live trap the chipmunk who keeps eating my peas and leaving a pile of pods neatly stacked on the side. So far he goes in far enough to eat the bait peas near the entrance but not far enough to trip the trap.

    The other event this week was having a healthy tomato plant sicken and die within a day. After much perplexity we decided on a nearby black walnut tree as the culprit. It has grown and extended roots as far as the garden. So we transplanted the remaining tomato plant to another bed. It is still struggling as is the tomato that is farther from the walnut but near enough to be affected. Unfortunately the tree will have to come down this winter as we have to have a garden and are too old to start digging new beds.

    Thanks for the kind words.

  39. Traci says:

    I know this is late but I have been feeling so inspired by all of you that I decided to join in. It has been so chilly and rainy in the NW, I hope my garden takes off soon. The sun is out today, finally!

    Planted: broccoli, carrots & beets

    Harvested: lemon balm, red clover, lettuce and eggs

    Preserved: red clover syrup, echinacea tincture, vanilla in vodka

    Stored: 2 wool blankets from garage sales. Several books including a midwifery text from Goodwill. 36 bars of ivory soap, 2 gallons of bleach, band-aids, 2 reams of paper(if you read *Into The Forest*, you’ll know you can’t store too much paper :) 1lb of dried mushrooms, 10lbs of chocolate chips, 30lbs of organic sugar, 2 gal maple syrup, 2lbs of peanut butter.

    Managed: ordered 13 Bard Rock hens (1 rooster) will arrive the 24th.
    Spoke to a woman about buying many, many boxes of canning jars in 2 weeks.
    Arranged to buy wood and put our name on a list for downed wood we can cut.
    (this is the first time we have ever had to resort to buying wood, we still have plenty for next year, just thinking ahead)

    Reduced waste: I always use my own bags, strange story: I went to a mall the other day, to save my son a trip to buy something for his girlfriend. While we were there my youngest son (who was with me) wanted a cinnamon roll. I wanted to take it to go but I told the woman behind the counter that I didn’t need a bag. She said, “It is our store policy that you must take a bag” I said, “It is my policy not to use bags except for the ones I bring” We stood there for a minute and she said, “you will get stopped on the way out because they will think you stole it.” I said, I will take my chances and I have the receipt. She stormed off… Sheesh!!!

    I started using baking soda & horsetail vinegar to wash my hair- getting used to it!
    I have used honey to wash and calendula oil to moisturize my face for about a year, so I feel good about stepping out of the beauty industry loop. (although I still use eyeliner, mascara & lip gloss fairly regularly)

    I got a bunch of food grade buckets from my husband’s restaurant.

    Local: I bought 10 broilers & 10lbs of chicken feet (for stock) from my farmer friends down the road. Talked to a neighbor about freecycle.
    My husband worked on the neighbor’s pasture removing blackberries so we can use it for cows we are getting soon. (we will be sharing the bounty with her)

    Cooked: sprouting wheat for chickens- man do they love it!

    Learned: finally getting around to learning to knit, took me long enough!

    Thanks to everyone for the inspiration!
    ~Traci in Washington

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