Independence Day Update: Spotlight: Minimizing Waste

Sharon June 22nd, 2008

Rather than just listing off what I’ve done, (which I’ll also do in a minute), I thought it would be worth meditating a little bit on one of the nine categories of activity each week.  And the obvious starting place for me is the “minimize waste” one, because I think of it as the forgotten middle child, the one that is so easy for everyone (me too!) to just say “oh, I composted” or “nothing new” on – well, the whole point of this is for me to try and do new things regularly.  So I thought I’d talk a little about minimizing waste – ways I have tried and those I should, and about some ideas for incorporating regular waste minimizing strategies into my life.

Now I’m assuming nearly everyone who doesn’t live in an apartment composts, and some of those who do probably find ways to do it – worms, bokashi, etc….  I see a lot of the updates mention composting.  And that’s good – but what else?

 Well, in our house there really is no food waste in one sense – between the chickens, the dogs, the worms and the compost pile, nearly everything gets eaten.  On the other hand, it does behoove me to ask myself “is there a less expensive way to feed chickens than on potato-leek soup and asparagus that I really meant to eat before it got icky?”  Or, “Is it possible that I could reduce the sheer quantity of fuzzy things that are not peaches in the back of my (non-electric) fridge?”  Sure, composting is great, but wouldn’t it be better if we did a little less composting?

I’ve been letting this category go, and I need to watch that.  So this coming week I’m going to make a serious effort at the minimize waste project.  Some of my plans:

1. Eli has a tendency to put down his apples (of which he eats 3-4 a day) in random places, where they are then not found until they are scary and horrible.  I will not give Eli another apple until I have located the remains of the previous one, and confirmed that it was entirely eaten.

2. I will work much harder at reminding the boys not to put plates into the sink with food on them.

 3. Little bits of leftovers often are put in the fridge, but because they are not enough for an actual meal for six people, they get left there when meals are planned and eventually move past the eating stage.  I will remind myself that it is not mandatory that all of us eat exactly the same meal, and that a little of this and a little of that is no bad thing.

4. The dogs have a tendency to pop their food out of their dishes and chase it around the room.  I will put my toddler to finding the bits they’ve chased into corners that they can’t get at, and putting them back in the bowl.  Since my toddler will really, really enjoy this game, this is a win-win situation. 

5. I will clean out my fridge more often, both to minimize waste and so that I actually can tell whether we’ve got an open jar of pickles before I go ahead and open another jar of pickles.

Ok, on to the update:

Planted: Raspberries, tomatoes, more lettuce, more arugula, winter squash, more cucumbers, brussels sprouts, cabbages, peas, more basil, blueberries, cranberries, a fig.

Harvested: Many, many strawberries (from the pick your own nearby – the sheep ate mine), arugula, lettuce, bok choy, peas (snap and shelling), broccoli, nasturtium seeds, beet greens, baby beets.

Preserved: Much strawberry jam (28 pints) and rhubarb compote (16 pints).  Froze some strawberries. 

Prepped: Scored a pair of free wall-sconces for non-electric lighting. Pretty, too.  Stacked a lot of wood, bought a pair of high quality Goodwill flannel sheets. 

Managed reserves: Finally figured out how much rice we actually have.  A lot.  Otherwise, no.

Cooked something new: I tried a new shortcake biscuit recipe for Eric’s birthday strawberry shortcake.  Twas good – and they were great for breakfast with butter the next day.

Reduced Waste: Finally have all four kids trained to shut off the water while soaping hands.  For now. I expect regression any day now. 

Learned a new skill: Not a one.

 How about y’all?


48 Responses to “Independence Day Update: Spotlight: Minimizing Waste”

  1. [...] can find this weeks update here along with other updates in the comment [...]

  2. Robj98168 says:

    Your post reminded me that my grandmother used to make soup when she cleaned out her fridge- it didn’t matter what was in the fridge- pickles, gravy you name it – went in her soup. We used to call her soup Refigerator soup.

    Preserved:Dehydrated walla walla sweet onions, dehydrated summer squashfor soups. Made beef Jerky!

    Storing: Stored the onions and squash for later. Ate most of the beefjerky!

    Prepped:Dehydrated walla walla sweet onions, dehydrated summer squashfor soups. Learned that the dehydrater wants thinly slicedveggies, so got out the mandolin slicer. Worked like a charm!

    Harvested something:Harvested some pansy petals to put in a salad! Ijust figured out that edibleflowers should count too

    Managed:Cleaned out pantry

    Cook Something New:Cooked for the first time, morning star farms soybacon-found out that if you cook it on a plate in the microwafe, use some wax or parchment paper underneath it as it sticks to the plate- of course works out if you want crumbly bacon bits to put on a salad!

    Work on Local Food Systems: Found a local bakery

    Compost something: did the chickster’s pee party and pissed on mycompost pile, put some old bread in my worm bin- nothing is too good for my babies!

    Learned a skill: Learned how to Dehydrate veggies and fruits! Learnedhow to make Beef Jerky! Oboy oberto! or rather Oh Boy Roberto-98168!

  3. Lance says:

    Well, it was a disappointing day yesterday. My first garden in probably 15 years, all heritage varieties. I live in an apartment so I don’t have a yard, but I planted it in my parents’ backyard.

    I was really looking forward to seeing things grow. Just a small, 5 x 15 feet, double-dug plot. Was about 1 inch of sand over hardpan clay this spring. I found an old lawn-clippings deposit along the fence, so I took some of that and worked it in. Biointensive style. I also started a compost pile for later on. We got snow here in Montana until June this year. In half the plot, I planted Amish snap peas, radishes, bunch onions, beets, some this and thats to see what might work in this first year’s challenging soil. The snap peas and radishes were pretty happy, though only the radishes have produced anything so far; no-shows on the rest. I used some cut up dried elm from last year’s rubbish to let the peas do their climbing. My goal wasn’t so much to grow stuff to eat this year, just see what would happen, get the soil going (thus the legumes and heavy planting, no rows), and if lucky, learn some seed-saving skills.

    In the other half, I made some hills, Indian-style (I am from the Ioway tribe) some acorn squash and crookneck squash, intersome Hidatsa beans and Mandan field corn. Again, mainly to see what would happen, and if lucky, save some seeds for next year’s enlarged garden (I want to double the size next year). The soil here is real poor as I said. And we are Zone 1 with a real short growing season, high altitude, dry climate.

    Things were going pretty well– things were growing, if slowly. Well, long story short, as I said it wasn’t my yard, I live across town, and a big dog got in and demolished 90% of the corn, beans and squash. It broke my heart, but it was done already. It’s too late to plant anything here and have it grow to seed before first frost…even back in the 80s when I planted tomato plants in May, they never got to the ripe stage and I had way too many green tomatoes when the first frost hit.

    Well, you know that’s life (like your sheep situation, Sharon) but on reflection points out something to me. I think it is important to not rely too much on the way things were 100 or even 20 years ago; with climate change, no one knows really what is going to thrive. Your best change is to plant as many different kinds of heritage varieties, in as great amount as possible. I wish I had a bigger plot, in a place I can be watchful over, but it didn’t happen that way.

    Natural selection is something we need to work with right now, given the oddities in weather and growing conditions we all will be facing. We don’t know what will work in the conditions of the future…not only do we all need to be seedsavers of heritage varieties, we have to work alongside Mother Earth and the Plant sisters themselves to meet the challenge of the future.

  4. Adam Ek says:

    Alton Brown has had a few recipes on his show that he has referred to as Fridge Velcro (here’s the base recipe, you could use this, this, or this from your fridge leftovers…). One of his fans has a page with a few fridge velcro guidelines.

  5. RC says:

    I think the main reason to have the chickens {or the pigs} is to not have guilt about the food waste since it isn’t wasted. Then again, having the critters means that you do have to make sure there is something left over for them or that they are free ranging enough or that you are throwing them some
    corn {g-d forbid these days!}.
    Perhaps this is leading to that ancient question of which came first: the chickens or the scraps.

  6. Karin says:

    Thanks for the reduce waste reminder. I think my goal this week is to make sure that I take canvas bags with me every time I go to town. Somehow, some plastic bags make it in the house.
    I used to work in a nursing home. One of the common observations of the residents was the way they would reuse tea bags, save napkins, salt packets and half used sugar packets. These folks lived through the depression and were thrifty.

    Planted: red cherokee lettuce seedlings, more soybeans. I had ordered 3-4 lbs from Fedco this spring with the hope of providing some of the fodder for next winter.

    Harvested: lettuce, swiss chard, green onions, mint raspberry leaves, wild strawberry, kale,basil, oregano,spinach.

    Preserved: Dried raspberry leaves, calendula leaves, thyme,mint,oregano,spinach. Froze some spinach.

    Managed reserves: Hubby is home on summer vacation. We weeded and mulched potato patch. Built trellis for grapes. Staked pole beans. cleaned up spare room off of garage. moved old cook stove out of garage to where we want to build sumer kitchen. Took a day of rest on Sunday. Took well aged chicken coop remains and side dressed corn.

    prepped: went to Kiwanis auction and found another hot water canner, galvanized chicken waterer( the base of the plastic one cracks every winter, so we reduce waste as well) and a big bag of cotton pot holder loops. A neighbor gave us a box spring and mattress so we moved our futon in the spare room off the garage. bought 10 pounds of sugar, couscous.

    Cooked something new: well, not really new but with the rising cost of store bought yogurt I’ve gone back to making yogurt at home again. I can get 2 quarts for the price of one quart at the store. Most of our meals are now from the garden and made from almost ,mostly local ingredients.

    reduced waste: took a load of stuff to the thrift store, made a recycling run to the depot, gave pig spinach stems from spinach preservation job.

    local foods: bought milk from local farmer to make yogurt and soft cheese.

  7. Paula Hewitt says:

    we have the exact same issue with apples. I now cut them into quarters and serve in a bowl – seems to get eaten that way, without half the apple left on core. as for other scraps – any food not eaten at one meal is put in fridge and eaten as snacks by non-finisher until next meal is served. amazing how brussel sprouts are eaten hot at dinner, rather than cold 3 hours later after a few weeks of this. (any leftovers of this variety still hanging around at start of next meal are fed to chooks). otherwise our leftovers are ‘planned’ ie cook enough soup for two meals, or are frozen and taken to work as lunches. very little ‘good’ edibles now being fed to chooks, Im pleased to say. we also have the occasional ‘clean out the fridge’ meal – Ive found that cheese sauce can hide a lot of things – i make macaroni cheese and add lots of different cooked veggies – cauliflower, broccoli, corn, carrots, green beans etc what ever is starting to look a bit ho-hum.

  8. Carol says:

    Banner week, this one – for good and not as good. Spent a lot of time today in tears, feeling overwhelmed (thanks Sharon for addressing that a couple of days ago), not up to the task, then wondering if I was just trying to prove something with all this, wondering if I was making my kids be the ones “with the weird parents” but happy ending at the end of the post. Truth be told, this is not easy. Sharon, you’ve been doing this a long while and thinking about this even longer. I honestly think there’s a grieving process for the “life you thought you’d have”, or the American Dream, or whatever you want to call it. It’s killing our planet (and people), but it’s the fiction we all grew up with and I’m finding there’s a kind of grieving and letting go that I am going through that’s surprisingly emotional. Does this make sense to anyone else?

    In the midst of all that, it’s really helpful to have positive community to share tangible progress and set challenges – it keeps me moving forward rather than looking back over my shoulder (kinda like Lot’s wife) So here goes:

    Planted: garlic, bush beans, onions

    harvested: the first zucchini, someone else’s potatoes, lodi apples (the ones that come in in June, sour, for applesauce), swiss chard, broccoli, herbs, and everything at the farmer’s market

    preserved: bought a water bath canner and 8 cases of jars, also a pressure canner (not here yet), and proceeded to ruin our entire 3-cup haul of black rasperries by proceeding past the “sheeting” stage into “hard crack” candy. Rats. Otherwise canned 2 pints applesauce with those lodi apples. Started first batch of sauerkraut. Also brining first batch of pickling cucumbers for canning on Tuesday.

    Prepped: bought canning stuff, found a local mennonite grocery where they carry local, lo-cost bulk and natural stuff in very little or no packaging. Bought lots, very happy about the amount of packaging we’ve eliminated.

    Managed reserves – husband and I spent hours and hours cleaning out (or, starting to clean out) the basement in order to transform it into a long-term food pantry. Great excuse to get rid of hundreds of pounds of stuff we don’t need. basements are just staging areas for things you are going to get rid of anyway. Working on a family canning estimate for the year.

    cooked something new: cooked local andouille sausage with our red limas (grown last year from “mystery” heritage plants a friend gave us) , also made first batch of homemade yogurt, cooked 12-bean chicken and noodle soup. Burned the black raspberries, made peppermint tea in the sun

    reduced waste. See above re: mennonite grocery. Also cleaned out youngest’ closet, basement (in progress), linen closet, two kitchen cabinets.

    learned a new skill. yogurt-making, pickling cucumbers, sauerkraut

    local food: purchased all produce locally at the farmer’s market on Saturday morning, all meat locally, most dry goods local and all in no-packaging. Hosted a dinner for eight last week as a fundraiser for my Unitarian church – served seven courses of all local foods, raised $480 dollars. Sermon in two weeks on sustainability. Framing it as an opportunity to choose to be positive creator of a life that sustains AND is sustainable. still working on that one myself, obviously.

    Oh yes, that happy ending- youngest son has traditional-American-family friend over for a playdate. I served them that homemade 12-bean and local chicken and noodle soup and both drained the bowls and asked for more. I’ll take that as success today.

  9. Sueinithaca says:

    Let’s see…

    Planted: 35 cucumber plants! Pickles here we come. My friend the veggie farmer still has some abandoned tomatoes in the corner of her greenhouse, so I think I’ll mooch them this week. Bring my tomato count up over 50 (I think I’m at 45 now)

    Harvested: strawberries. yum. Looking forward to my blackcurrants, which look like they might be ready within a week or so. And my zucchini has male flowers. Any day now for the females..

    Reduced waste: composted, made cheese from milk that would have otherwise gone to waste (overage from a dairy farmer I know). Have started saving pee to fertilize the plants. Now I’m not wasting the pee or the water to occasionally flush it.

    Local food systems: began my fruit CSA this week. We have 25 members, and are offering a sampler of local fruit from several area farms. This was the first week, and we had rhubarb and strawberries. It’s kind of a lot to organize, but worth it. Also, really enjoyed the produce from the veggie CSA I belong to.
    Joined a bread share program. Started duties as membership coordinator for the herdshare we belong to.

    Preserved: 16 half-pints of rhubarb jam. 5 half-pints of garlic scape pesto. That will be GOOD in January. Bought too many limes for the rhubarb jam, and will be making and freezing lime curd. yum!

  10. Kati says:

    Planted: nothing planted persay. Some trasnplanting, though.

    Harvested: Only the rosepetals for my sun tea. (STILL need to get out and cut some rhubarb and freeze until I’ve got enough to preserve.)

    Tended: Yep. Lots and lots of thinning, weeding and watering going on!

    Preserved: Nope.

    Make Preparations: Bought a couple more boxes of canning lids. I know we’ll need them, and if we don’t use them this year, they’ll last another year or two in the cabinet.

    Cooked Something: Potato Latkes and Tomato-Cucumber Salad yesterday.

    Managed Reserves: Stocked back up on the canned goods in my pantry, as I was unable to do last week due to the lack of money in the checking account. Not much, just some canned fruits & veggies, and some canned soups.

    Work on/Toward local food systems: Visited the farmer’s market yesterday. Bought 2 cream rolls (DANG! *drool*) and a small piece of lemon-filled cake from Honey Bakery. Also bought Tay and I each a locally made “hotdog” from “locally” raised buffalo. (I say “locally” in quotation marks because these buffalo weren’t raised in Fairbanks, but in Delta Junction. That’s still local in that it IS from in-state, but it’s NOT local in that it’s about a hundred miles away.) Anyway, the dogs were raised by Delta game-farmers and processed by Delta Meat & Sausage. I’m sure the rolls were bought at Sam’s club, though, as were the condiments and toppings used. *sigh* It’s impossible to win completely in a situation like this. I considered buying some bread, but there wasn’t anything that looked like something I couldn’t bake myself. And I was really wanting a good rustic Italian loaf, and NOBODY had anything like that, for all the 4 or 5 different “bakeries” selling their goods at the farmer’s market. I darned near bought garlic rolls from Honey Bakery, though. But I remember that last time I bought them, they smelled better than they actually tasted. So I didn’t bother.

    Reduced Waste/Composted: Yeah, added more shredded newspaper to the compost bin (see details above) and turned over the bin really well. Reduced waste in that I’m reusing portions of milk-jugs as “greenhouse” covers on a couple of my plants. I’ve actually got another milk jug I need to cut and put on one of the tomatoes out in my big black barrel planter. And I kept the bag, and the newspapers from this past week, to shred into more paper-strips for another load of “browns” for the compost bin in a couple more weeks when it needs to be turned again. Doubtless by then it will have enough “fresh greens” added that it will need to be mixed up again.

    Learned a New Skill: Nope. But I have been using an “old” skill to work on making use of my yarn stash. I’ve been working on a shawl that I started quite a while ago. I’m now on the last skein of yarn for this shawl, and wondering who I know that would like these particular colors and is smaller than I am. (It’s not going to be a BIG shawl, it’s going to need to go to somebody with a fairly narrow shoulder-span.) I may just box it up for the next box of goods I send to the women’s shelter or the homeless shelter.

    Details of sun-tea and pictures of my gardening efforts and my house, and the greenhouse and garden at the inlaw’s house are over at my blog.

  11. Verde says:

    I know I posted week #7 last week, but it was really week #6 so now I am caught up with the proper week.

    Currently this morning in our house, Mr. Greenjeans started the smoker going for this week’s fish catch (the fish soaked in marinade/brine for 3 days). Ni-Chan is grinding wheat into flour for me to make bread – her headphones are plugged into her computer listening to a podcast of a lecture for on-line college classes, and next to her Chibi is grating Fels-Naphtha soap bars to make laundry soap. I’ve just come in from hanging clothes on the line and watering the garden.

    Plant Something: I’ve planted some flowers in pots for our back porch. Picked up a few more plants: 2 eggplant so I put some in the garden, strawberries in the yard

    Harvest Something: Our big harvest this week was 20 or 30 lbs of mountain caught fish: Kokanee Salmon and Trout – the biggest fish we’ve ever caught in our lives.

    Nothing out of the garden yet – the peas have a few little pea pods going and the corn has sprouted.

    Preserve Something: Today we preserved fish by smoking. They will actually go into the freezer smoked otherwise they wouldn’t last more than a week or so.

    Prep something/ manage reserves I had to spend 2 days in the city at work and went to Costco while there. I have mixed feelings about Costco, a good sale price at the grocery store often nets better prices but there is something handy for food storage about the bulk. To put away: tuna fish, bread yeast, canned peaches and pears, soy sauce, mayonnaise, pecans, coffee, green tea, powdered milk, rechargeable lantern,

    Purchased to eat now (including treats to the family) odwalla juice, sandwich bread, artichoke spinach dip, strawberries, dog food, cat food

    Cook Something (new) We’d never used the smoker before so that was a new cooking adventure for us.

    Work on local food systems Put a lot of time into the 1/2 acre neighborhood garden we started last week.

    Learn something new
    I learned from Lisa’s Zahn Zoneto use the whole wheat flour in the sponge where the yeast is proofed to help break down or soften the whole wheat bran.

    I learned that the bread flour we hand grind really needs to go through twice – it just makes for a nicer flour.

    Learned to use irrigation water to water a large garden instead of just sprinkling.

    Learned from Becca’s blog, The Potager Garden that one can plant the ends of the long green onions (the root ends that normally go in the compost bin) from the grocery store and they will grow more long green onions!

    Note to self: don’t wash whites to go on the line at the same time the fish have just started smoking.

  12. Becky says:

    Planted: Still trying to get summer squash and cukes going?!?

    Harvested: Garlic tops.

    Preserved: Brined garlic tops. Trying to stay away from the jar. Got dental appt. tomorrow.
    Canned 14 jars of pork tenderloin. I don’t care much for pork, except for my home canned.
    Also made beef jerky.

    Prepped: Still doing without my dishwasher. Never worked that well anyway. Not missing it. Next, my coffee maker quit on me. Not so easy to do without. Chewed lots of coffee grounds first couple of days. I am getting better at improvising.
    Gosh, we had a day of sunshine! Hung a load of socks outside to dry as an experiment. My son’s comment: Brillo socks! I think, I’ll hold on to the dryer a while longer.
    The weather also allowed me to cut a 4×8 sheet of plywood outside to finish my pantry shelving.
    Got a few more cases of canning jars.

    Managed reserves: Organized most of storage pantry. Can’t believe it, still cold enough for the olive oil to get solids at the bottom of the bottles. Will be eating lots of polenta, no problem. Better start eating lots of buckwheat groats.

    Cooked something new: Pizza without tomato sauce! Was tasty.

    Learned a new skill: Not yet. May try my hands at using a scythe in the near future.

  13. April says:

    wow, you accomplish a lot!

  14. Wendy says:

    It’s official! Summer is here, because we just went strawberry picking ;) .

    We picked 30 quarts.

    Guess what I preserved?

    The rest of my Independence Day Update is on my blog.

    Have a great week, everyone ;) .

  15. Deb G says:

    Still getting back up to speed after a couple very stressful weeks. Here’s what I did get done:

    Planted: Corn. I’m going through seeds tonight to decide what more to plant. Probably more broccoli, swiss chard, lettuce, cucumbers, beets and carrots.

    Harvested: pod peas, lettuce and rose petals.

    Cooking something new: Rose Cream Custard, an experiment to use roses as flavoring (inspired by one of Sharon’s earlier posts about eating local) and to use up some of Mom and Dad’s eggs.

    Storage: infusing white wine with roses. Another experiment in using local flavoring. I’m going to try substituting the wine for vanilla in recipes. Vodka probably would work better for this, but I didn’t have any. I’ve also been making my own vanilla extract with a vanilla bean and vodka. Froze pod peas.

    Prepped: ordered new folding drying rack. I’ve been talking to relatives and found out that they are planning on putting back in a wood stove. They have propane right now. The idea is to use the wood when they are home and reduce propane usage. They have enough acreage to supply their own wood. I need to start looking again at setting up an outdoor oven.

    Managed reserves: eating up the last of last year’s frozen berries in smoothies.

  16. Megan says:

    Planted: Just transplanted tiny winter stuff from the trays into little pots that can grow a bit more into before they find room in the garden. When I pull up something, a little something goes in the spot.

    Harvested: Bok Choy! Green onions, lettuce, beet greens.

    Preserved: I’ve been drying local strawberries in the dehydrator, they are YUMMY. Will also make jam soon. Just made a huge batch of potstickers for the freezer using my overabundant bok choy. Will also can bing cherries tomorrrow!

    Storage/planning: Nothing much new here, need to clean out the shed!

    What else did I do? Mounded up my potatoes with straw, they outgrew the dirt available to pile up around them. For someone like me, buying a bale of straw and taking it home was a new thing for sure. *laugh*

    I made a stop to the local asian market to get a few things today, and there was a mountain of bulk rice in bags there. Didn’t check price, but I haven’t seen big bags of rice for a while anywhere. Good to know!

  17. Shira says:

    Hi, everybody has been so busy! Wow! Lance, I’m so sorry about the dog getting in to your garden.

    It’s late here to put in the summer veggies, but nothing to do but try it. We had a cold May and a freak cold storm here (north of Seattle), in early June. I am within sight of the bay and the nights are still right nippy.

    Looks like the sweet peppers are history, so I’ll be buying those this year. I replanted the storm losses of two squashes, three tomatoes and five hot peppers this week. In fact, all I did this week was work my day job and plant: green beans, herb starts in my spiffy new herb bed, cucumbers, tea seed in pots (hopefully for a cash crop of tea shrub starts), nasturtiums, and a flat of broccoli, cabbages, cauliflower and brussels sprouts for transplanting in August. I did do a whole mess of weeding, though.

    The pocket garden is pumping out more joy choi, lettuce and snow peas than we can eat, so I have been spreading local green crunchy joy.

    Best to all. At least I can read and be inspired.
    Shira in Bellingham

  18. Cam Larios says:

    My own personal Independence Days goal lately has been to kick my caffeine addiction. (I’ve got a job coming up that’s not going to mix well with drinking a diuretic.) I’m down now to one cup of half-caf in the morning, 25% of my former dose, and I can’t say I’m all that happy about it. I’ll be glad when it’s all over.

    planted: nothin’. I did, however, go out and stare in horror at the lousy soil we’ve got going in the new beds. The municipal compost I added last year was far too heavy in the wood-chip department.

    harvested: some peas, lettuce, chard, kale, and (hooray!) garlic. And exactly one strawberry.

    preserved: dried some peppermint. I see a lot of peppermint tea in my future.

    reduced waste:
    * Here’s where I scored this week. I’m reducing somebody else’s waste: I’ve got a deal with a local coffeeshop now for their espresso grounds. Hooray! I could use the compost and then some.

    * Also, I’m getting the hang of beating the shower timer.

    cooked something new:
    * I finally got my mother’s meatloaf recipe and made several batches of it. (Some went in the freezer. Is that preserving? eh.) It’s a joy to have meatloaf that is proper meatloaf. Cheapskate meatloaf. Not like all these fancy meatloaf recipes with too much meat and not enough of that good bread filler.

    * I also made a fairly decent homemade rendition of the baked tofu I used to love to buy. Just frozen tofu, thawed and pressed, then marinated and baked. Why wasn’t I doing this years ago?

    * I found a little metal fab shop within walking distance; they were able to sell me a small steel cylinder that should be perfect for making my own cheese press. (I’m so not paying Lehman’s an arm and a leg for a cheese press.)
    * Also picked up a can of pine tar so we can try a pine tar variant on the soap we make.
    * On ebay I scored a used Soyajoy; if I make my own tofu, I think I can get that to pay for itself pretty soon.
    * Finally figured out how to clean the ancient corn-stick cast-iron pans I was given by an elderly neighbor.
    * Met with a handyman to discuss putting in a set of pull-down stairs and a wider hatch so we can use the attic for storage.

    work on local food systems
    Took my usual weekly trip to the farmers’ market.

    learned a new skill:
    * well, I netted the strawberries for the first time; we’ll see how that plan works out.
    * I’m raising my first batch of chickens; this week I’m working on teaching them to get used to the dark.
    * I gently broke some difficult news to someone. (My people skills are not the finest, so for me, I think this counts.)
    * I attempted to learn to throw a boomerang today, but I just don’t have the biomechanics. My husband’s brilliant at it, though.

  19. Heather Gray says:

    Mine’s here:

    Lance, sorry to hear the dogs got your garden :( Only thing I can suggest at this point is to turn the destroyed plants into the soil, to at least do a bit of green manure improvement. And maybe some peas or lettuce might still be possibilities? They’re reasonably short-seasoned I think…

    Heather G

  20. I wanted to address Carol and the crying. Someone very wise once said.

    Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. – Jesus Christ

    I consider it very good advice because I often find that thinking too far in advance causes me to be unproductive.

    Things rarely turn out as I might have imagined.

  21. Week 6

    Plant something: Bok choi, lettuce, leeks, more corn, purple podded beans. And lupine and zinnias for eye candy.

    Harvest something: Radishes. Lettuce. Broccoli. Spinach. Onions. Our first peas this year. More “hay.”

    Preserve something: our sanity. Fenced the entire spring/fall garden area when the deer climbed onto the porch to get at the potted tomatoes there.

    Store something: Plastic-lined feed sacks to be cut open and flattened for tacking up underneath the insulation we’ll be putting between the floor joists (there is some there but it’s getting tattered). And insulation. And pipe wrap.

    Manage Reserves: Began shredding Japanese knotweed leaves for mulch and drying the stems for beanpoles and kindling. There’s enough of this stuff to keep me doing this for 150 years. It was here when we got here and is not going away, so it might as well make itself useful.

    Prepped: Chicken manure spread over the fall/winter bed. Black plastic over the former vinca bed; will be the other fall-winter bed in a year, we hope.

    Worked on Local Food Systems: Baked wheat/oats/buckwheat/rye bread and had a lot of spring salads and duck eggs, with solar mint tea.

    Reduced Waste: took home all the leftovers from the church refrigerator. Re-used old fencing around the heirloom squash bed (which is 150′ from the summer garden.

    Cooked Something New: learning to use more buckwheat around the kitchen. Tried out the pickled radishes — good!

    Learned a Skill: pounding in eight-foot fence posts with a steel-tube post driver.

  22. Christina says:

    Minimizing waste is sometimes a problem at our house – packaging seems to big the biggest one. Lots of paper, plastic, boxes… I know I should buy things in bulk, but I can’t find good quality flour, pasta, organic sugar, cereal etc. in bulk, only in 2-4 lb packages. Need to work on that – less store-bought cereal and pasta, maybe get a flour mill and buy wheat and rye in bulk.

    Planted: Potatoes

    Harvested: Potatoes, dill, strawberries, wild strawberries, rhubarb, onions, lettuce, lots of herbs

    Preserved: dried rhubarb and strawberries; would like to dry herbs, but it’s been raining a lot and I don’t want to pick them when they are wet. This year’s project is to experiment with dehydrating things!

    Prepped: not really

    Managed reserves: Found out that several sheets and duvet covers are worn-out and need to be replaced. Must find some new or slightly used good-quality ones and think of something creative to do with the old ones (they are worn-out beyond repair).
    Made new garden beds for warm weather crops like beans and cucumbers.

    Cooked something new: Rhubarb sorbet/sherbet (sp?). Really good!

    Reduced Waste: Bought a new compost container (old ones not working very well but we’ll find new uses for them), using grey water in garden, using cardboard boxes and newspaper for mulch

    Learned a new skill: no


  23. Kim says:

    Week 8 was a very quiet week. We were still recovering from HM’s graduation (pictures coming as soon as someone sends them to me). The garden is really looking good. Major harvesting should begin within a month.
    1. Planted: radishes (succession planting), more sweet potatoes, winter squash (various types)

    2. Harvested: lettuce (4 types), spinach, chard, arugula, mint, radish, basil, 3 gallons of sour cherries

    3. Preserved: dried basil, milk as yogurt, canned cherries

    4. Stored:almonds, dates, raisins, yeast, peanut butter, hay for the year,

    5. Prepped: extra 5 gallon food grade buckets, working on emergency checklists

    6. Managed: Bunny barn cleaned, chicken coop cleaned, barn cleaned. Weeded all gardens and orchards. Overwintered carrots are flowering — seed saving soon!

    7. Local: another milk pick-up, talked with orchard owner about bulk blueberry purchases for the year, called blackberry man to arrange yearly pick-up. Picked a ram for this year’s breeding. He’s gray toned; that should make for some lovely fleeces next year.


  24. Danielle says:

    My update is posted at my blog.

    Always seems to long when I paste it here.

  25. kory says:

    1.) Bush Beans, getting ready to pull out the cabbage, lettuce, and a few other bits for the next succession. Transplanted cherry tomatoes and hot peppers into hanging baskets (first time container gardening)

    2.) harvested, peas and lettuce

    3.) preserved: froze peas (they taste terrible canned), dried chamomile flowers

    4.) prepared: entered into initial negotiations with wife for outdoor shower, started planning solar water heating and greywater filtration as components

    5.) managed : tried to tighten up spots in the fence too keep the cats away, while I haven’t caught them in the act, I’m pretty sure now they are the ones beheading the amaranth and trampling and gnawing on pea vines.

  26. Jana says:

    I plan on one ‘Must Go’ night each week. We pull out anything that must go and start the buffet line. The kids usually like being able to chose what they eat.

  27. kristine says:

    re: #3, i put those in a quart jar in the freezer. when it’s full, i make a pot pie with that and any meat in the fridge that is leftover and needs to be used up (or cook up some chicken real quick). that way, there’s no waste and we get a full meal out of it!

    i’ve been doing the id updates on fridays at my blog…

    sometimes, i feel like i’m just squeaking by. every little thing is done in spurts between chasing down toddlers and filling demanding preschooler requests. forget about spending any meaningful times with the older two…

    this week found me planting much less, weeding and mulching more and harvesting a tiny bit more. today is started watering, a irst this year other than potted plants.

    1. plant something:
    ^zinnias, radishes, cukes (round 2, only 7 came up in round 1), okra (round 3-nothing came up either time before
    ^transplanted joe pye weed, spilanthes, red rubin basil, lyre leaf sage, white sage

    2. harvest something:
    ^radishes, turnips, flowers, lemon balm, mint, lamb’s quarters
    ^cherries – 2 gallons
    ^milk! from my new goat! (~1/2 gallon per day – not too shabby for a first time freshener who’s never been milked and was being dried off when i got her!)

    3. preserve something:
    ^more st. john’s wort in alcohol
    ^cherries – 12 – 1/2 pints of cherry jam

    4. prep something:
    ^cleaned out the garage that is to be converted into a wwoofer/guest cabin
    ^built 9 supers and 90 frames for the supers and painted the supers
    ^found s/s stock pot w/lid($3), more cloth napkins (.50 – .79 each), sheet set (for wwoof futon)($2), flannel sheet for one of the kids ($1), 2 wool twin sized/throw blankets ($4 for both), misc kitchen gadgets for guest cabin (.50 – .69 each), set of melamine plates, bowls, cups, saucers (19 pieces for $8), brita water filter ($1.29),3 ice cube trays (.69), 3 chairs ($18 total) for the table we already have (again for guest/wwoof cabin) at thrift store
    ^started a preserving recipe section in my household binder to keep track of all my favorite recipes…no more ‘hmmm? where was that recipe from????’ as i search frantically for my tried and true recipes!
    ^items purchased off craigslist for wwoof cabin: ceiling fan $20, door $20
    ^brought home 4 turkey poults and 3 does
    ^reviewd my options for a ram, narrowed it down to 3 (we’re getting 1)
    ^made soap

    5. cook something:
    ^salads from the garden using lots of flowers – pansies, dianthus, borage, nasturtium and herbs – lemon balm, peppermint, oregano, lamb’s quarters and kohlrabi and lettuce/spinach from market
    ^kohlrabi was a new veggie for me to try this week (yum!)

    6. manage your reserves:
    ^used old applesauce to make apple bread
    ^confirmed the purchase of 4 more n-c ewes (that makes 6 plus we will be purchasing a ram too)
    ^weeded garden like crazy and mulched as much as possible

    7. work on local food systems:
    ^sold eggs and jellies at local farmer’s market
    ^bought some locally raised pork and beef from vendor at the market
    ^shared my cherries with a friend who helped pick and several herb plants
    ^picked up our 4 turkey poults! and 3 new goats
    ^taught a friend how to make soap

    8. reduce waste:
    ^use canvas bags at grocery store
    ^re-use egg cartons for our nest run eggs
    ^bought used bicycle from thrift store for sage ($8)

    9. Learned a skill
    ^talked to a friend who is giving us 2 pyrenees puppies about raw food diet for them
    ^discussed feeding turkey poults raw chicken livers to keep healthy (anyone heard about this?)
    ^learning more about navajo-churros

  28. Nettle says:

    So sorry about the dogs in your garden, Lance! I would have cried.
    Planted: Sage plant (bought at the farmer’s market in a pot – I just missed having sage around.) Another succession of green beans.

    Harvested: Basil, cilantro, radish greens, beet greens, French sorrel

    Preserved: Dried basil, froze a bunch of cilantro ice cubes. Froze garlic scape pesto (scapes from the farmer’s market.)

    Cooked something new: Finally made a really excellent gluten-free strawberry-rhubarb crisp. Garlic scape pesto, which my husband says I should sell as a drug. It’s that intense.

    Learned a new skill: How not to grow carrots.

  29. MissyM says:

    While I’m not really doing the challenge per se, (I’m pretty hit and miss) I had to add a new category.

    8. TALKED – Explained to friends with new boat (yikes!) about fuel prices and the importance of planning ahead and how NOW is the time to scale back, do more with less and put aside. It’s funny… as we were wake surfing and having fun, I saw a lot of young couples with pretty decent boats. And then I saw “us” with the high speed, low drag, expensive wake boarding / surfing boat with the killer sound system. At that moment I saw what I had been missing… 3 of the people aboard were talking about how they had already “done their time” with doing without, and that NOW in our life it is our turn to “HAVE”. I was never able to really picture the need before… and while I still don’t feel that way, for just a moment it gave me insight into how I will have to approach what’s ahead, if I am going to make any difference in my friends’ lives.

  30. Kim H. says:

    Copied from my blog


    Plant: Nothing new. We did plant beets last week. I forgot to mention that.

    Harvest: Onions!

    Preserve: My sanity. Visited a friend for an hour or so on Wednesday.

    Store: Nope.

    Prep: Nope.

    Manage: I am in the middle of cleaning our my kitchen cabinets after finding a dead mouse in the sink of rinse water this morning. Things got ripped out, scrubbed, sorted, lots of stuff thrown away, other stuff organized, and still more to do today. I have taken the rock salt for ice-cream making and put it in peanut butter jars. The brown rice is in other jars. The walnuts are in another jar. The spaghetti is going into another container. I am mouse-proofing these cabinets. I don’t care if they are displaced due to flooding. So are the coyotes, but they are not welcome here either.

    Cook: Nothing new. Mixed together a few jars of soup and added a jar of pumpkin. It’s really good. The children had multiple bowls. I liked it. George didn’t.

    Local Food: CSA and extra on Saturday morning. On top of the salad mix from the CSA (2 bags), the salad mix (3 bags) from Saturday morning, D gave me another 2 bags Sunday at the pick-up in exchange for homemade cheese. 7 pounds of salad and it was gone by Wednesday. This family loves salad. We had a Terre Foods meeting and covered a bit. There is going to be a fundraiser meeting and some other meetings that I need to figure out.

    Reduce Waste: This is on an increase due to me cleaning out my cabinets.

    Learn New Skill: Not me, but Hubby is building a website for us. When it is ready, I will do an unveil. We are going to have a page dedicated to TerreFoods. It will be more of an overview with a paypal link for donations directly to TerreFoods and a link to their site.

  31. Carla says:

    My most recent update is on my blog:
    Also, I forgot to list last week’s, so that one can be found by scrolling down. I also posted a few more photos – scroll up for those.

  32. Gina says:

    Time just keeps on marching on into the future…Hard to believe we are at the 8th week.

    Plant Something: Sage, oregano seeds, St. John’s Wort, clematis (not an edible, but I was gifted one by my in-laws for my clothes line poles which FIL built), thyme, Russian tarragon, last tomato plants, and a pear tree.

    Harvest Something: Eggs, lamb’s quarters, poor man’s pepper (peppergrass), pineapple weed, mint, radishes, lettuce, strawberries, mulberries, lemon balm, garlic, onions, basil (on accident by weeding and forgetting where I had it planted until I smelled it, so I picked through the weeds and saved what I could find. I now need to replant it).

    Preserve Something: 7 half-pints of rhubarb-strawberry jam; dried pineapple weed and mint for winter teas; froze mulberries until I have time to make jam with them.

    Store Something: Bleach, a few cans of evaporated milk, bandaids, blankets bought from thrift store, some cotton prairie skirts for me (thrift store find)-when TEOTWAWKI comes (love that, but I can’t help but think of REM video) I’ll live in these comfortable skirts, cloth (thrift store, knitting needles (thrift store), wooden matches, I think that’s it. Oh, one new reference book: _Home Food Systems_ (bought used on Amazon).

    Prep Something: I’ve been walking around outside barefooted; as a child I could walk over rocks and not even blink an eye, but as an adult I spend so much of my days in shoes that I seem to be more sensitive where my feet are concern. I also want to strengthen my ankle (the sprained/broken one) and not rely on artificial devices (although, twice in the past couple of weeks I have had to put the brace on, but that was due to being on my feet at work for many hours). It’s one thing to put away shoes (and I have boots and such that will last me for years), but in the end moving away from shoes in general, when practical, will seem like a good idea. Remember the old stories: I walked to school uphill with bare feet…I also am trying to get my kids out more in their bare feet. My in-laws who are my caretakers are strong shoe proponents and my kids spend most days in shoes and socks throughout the day. If Sr hunts a deer this fall, I want to try and save the hide. If I can follow tanning directions, I hope to be able to make a simple pair of moccasins. If not, I’ll pick up a pair at the late summer/early fall Pow Wows I attend for work (worth going to if you haven’t ever attended one).

    I also found some half-gallon canning jars (seem to be in short supply at most stores) and stored my beans and such in these.

    I seasoned all of our cast iron because I noticed more food sticking when I cooked which made me think I need to store away at least one canister of Crisco type product for this reason (we don’t cook with it).

    Managed Something: Eating a lot of eggs because they are plentiful and take up a lot of room in the refrigerator. I also have been putting lamb’s quarter into dishes for extra vitamins (the other day, husband says, “What is this? It tastes like broccoli.” It was lamb’s quarter which is in the same family. I may try blanching and freezing some for a broccoli {one veggie everyone loves} substitute). Husband and I are drinking the kombucha tea, the rash he gets on his arm in summer is clearing up, I haven’t noticed a change yet from drinking it (still tired beyond belief). Been washing and storing canning jars from garage to basement pantry (and inventorying them as well). Making lists: what needs to be done to get other homes on market, ordering debt payoffs, freezer/pantry inventory. Took vehicles in for tune-ups to hopefully increase gas mileage. Oh, I also was able to find a baby bike seat off of Freecycle for Lyndon (still need to get helmet because I don’t trust my rusty bike riding skills!)

    Cook Something: Aforementioned lamb’s quarter and cheese casserole (pasta, cheese, lamb’s quarter and a tiny amount of left over frozen chicken. Very Good!)

    Reduce Waste: compost, feed livestock and recycle as always. Next month will be the last month for garbage service (we only have a very small amount of garbage and I plan to stick it in in-laws garbage container). Would like to reduce it even more.

    Learned New Skill: Need to step this one up. Too tired lately to read (a passion I’ve been trading in for fretting in the darkness instead of sleeping).

    I’m probably forgetting some stuff-I have not keep good records this week.

  33. bernie says:

    We froze pea pods and strawberries. Arranged for dead wood to be trimmed from trees to high to tackle by DH. Have begun pricing fireplace inserts to make more efficient use of the fireplace – and that dead wood. Continue to compost and to track our use of our CSA weekly box. We are lucky to have lots of local resources and this week we found a new one for soap at the Farmers’ Market this weekend.

  34. Gail says:

    Hello from Colorado

    Plant: replanted native corn in front yard that didn’t come up. Too shady? too dry? Too many sunflowers? Obtained a few more large planters at garage sales this weekend and moved more tomatoes into them.

    Harvest: eggs, dill weed chard, lettuce, spinach, beet greens, a few small peas

    Stored: many pounds of spelt berries

    Prepped: Asked DP if he would like to live in basement apartment

    Managed reserves: Like Carol I was hit this last week with sadness. Hard to stay optimistic. So, I started to look around for things to cheer me up. Gold stars to the three hundred pound man riding a bicycle! Three cheers for the young lady downtown on bicycle towing a trailer with buckets, work gloves and a reel mower! Home green business! Deli has beautiful flowerbox filled with kale, lettuce and dill. Walking trails are full. Sunday morn saw several 60+ couples riding on way to services on bicycles!

    Cooking: Spelt as grain with some organic butter.

    Local food: Helped out with food club. Noticing what I am still buying at grocery and what is not local. List is getting shorter. My son told me the “banana free” days at his college cafe generated lots of negative comments to eco-club. Stood in front of coffee bins pondering geography. Miles in the cup? Mexico vs Kona? I am a little fuzzy on South and Central America, but Sumatra, that’s in Africa. Had to come home and look at a map. Looks like Mexico is best bet. Now I’m wondering does it come by ship or rail? Also is there any particular virtue in this line of thinking? as I am still going to buy the stuff.
    Skills: Looked up hand dipping candles

  35. Dody says:

    The apple thing oh my. My 5 do the same thing, isn’t that funny?

    Done. Made 5 dresses for four daughters. Tore up two 30 gallon bags of old clothes into squares. Baked a ton of biscuits. Harvested lettuce. Dehydrated dill. Weeded the garden. Rid the house of vermin, mostly. That’s the past 2 days.

  36. Susan says:

    My husband doesn’t discard anything anymore. He recycles plastic, glass, metal, paper, and cardboard. He’ll even drop a few items in the compost container by our kitchen sink. Anything he can’t decide what to do with he’ll just leave on the counter for me. :)

  37. Susan says:

    Planted: More cilantro, huckleberries, groundcover w/edible berries

    Harvested: Lettuce, cilantro, tiny radishes. My friend brought me eggs fresh laid from her hens that morning. They were gorgeous and fabulous! Must get busy with the chicken planning one of these days.

    Stored: Nothing that I can think of. Ordered local meat and butter to be stored in the freezer when it arrives.

    Prepped: took out three 15-20 ft tall bushes (camelia and lilacs) to clear out some of the oppressive growth in my back yard, which made room and partial shade for the huckleberries (which eventually may feel just as oppressive as the camelia and lilacs). Took them down myself, by hand, with clippers, loppers, and a little hand saw. Cut them into tiny pieces so I could dispose of the vegetation in the yard waste bins. Saved the bigger branches and trunks for fireplace wood. Haven’t cut them up yet. Was terribly afraid when I was done with all this that I had disabled myself, as my right hand was swollen and terribly sore from overuse of the clippers. My work is completely dependent upon my being able to use a computer, so this was a serious worry. Lots of ibuprofen and some rest later, still painful but no longer swollen and very usable. Phew.

    Managed reserves: Bought more black beans, because I ran out last week when I cooked all I had for a party. Would have still had some “reserves” if I hadn’t cooked the first batch of beans in *iffy* chicken stock. As soon as the stock started to seriously heat up it filled the house with a terrible stench. Wow, who knew that would happen? Glad it did though, so that I didn’t poison my guests. Had to start over with more beans and water and ending up using all my reserves.

    Cook something new: not so much

    Local food: Nothing particularly special happened in this category, except that I agreed to work on our street’s traffic circle with a neighbor next weekend. It is seriously overgrown again, so we need to weed and see what has survived. Underneath the weeds should be some herbs, because when I originally planted it a couple of years ago I had the brilliant idea that if I planted herbs there then neighbors could pick some on their way home from the bus stop. Still like this idea and am thinking about adding more perennial herbs, like oregano.

    Preserved: Nothing

    Learned a Skill: Am coming back to the idea that this whole city-plot garden is a means of learning a new skill. Have been seriously thinking that I’d killed much of my seedlings (or nearly killed) but I was at the nursery this weekend and found their starts, which have been coddled and kept warm, are not much bigger or better looking than the seedlings in limbo in my garden. Maybe I’m not doing so badly after all.

    Reduce waste: have not been good at this this week. Serious waste from last week’s party, first of all, and managed to put a bit of a dent in my budget with a few inexpensive frivolities for the house and garden this week. Need to be getting rid of stuff, rather than adding to it, but so it goes.

  38. I decided to follow Sharon’s lead and switch the end of the challenge week to Sunday. So reporting will be either Sunday evening or shortly thereafter. So, this week I get to count two weekends! Hehehe…

    Planted: seed into garden: 5 color silverbeet chard, texas grano onions. Transplanted seedlings into the garden: buttercup squash, 5-color silverbeet chard, texas grano onions, sprouts from neighbor’s spring onions, Ping Pong tomato (tomato exchange with friend), principe borghese tomatoes, butternut squash, delicata squash, jalapeno (trade from friend), thai green lettuce, cilantro, cayenne pepper, detroit dark red beets, cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower.

    Harvested: Nothing.

    Preserved: Nothing.

    Stored: Dog food.

    Managed: Tried to order more buckets and gamma seal lids from the co-op, but my order got lost until after the deadline – will try again next month.

    Prepped: Got major tuneup/brake job on truck. Since I’m in the process of buying a Geo Metro, the truck is becoming more of a tool for the future than for daily transport. Bought a half cord (split with ex-boyfriend) of firewood, from friends who are trying to clear for fire safety around their newly built house. Cut/loaded another half cord (again, split with ex) of dead lodgepole and white fir from nearby Forest lands.

    Cooked Something New: Made rhubarb sauce using local rhubarb bought at the farmer’s market. Brought the sauce to a potluck where it was poured over hand-cranked vanilla ice cream. I had two tastes of it, but that’s all, because the potluck host asked to keep the remainder of the jar when I left! (it was good)

    Foster Local Food Economy: Participated as a seller in a new farmer’s market for my community. I sold squash starts that I had bought from Azure Standard (bought them in 6-pack each, decided 4 of each was enough for me, sold 2 of each). Also sold bell pepper and cayenne pepper starts I’d grown from seed, plus also a few aloe vera babies sprouted from my houseplant. It will be a month or more before there is much in the way of produce coming from local gardens (so far, lettuce, spinach, rhubarb is about it) so I offered the seedling starts just to help the market get going.

    Reduced Waste: In addition to kitchen composting and using urine for garden fertilizer as well as deer repellent, I took what I thought was a dead laptop in to local repair guy, who is reviving it. I will either keep it and use it, or sell it or give it to someone, which will not only postpone it going to the landfill, but will hopefully avoid someone (me or someone else) buying another computer as soon as they would have otherwise. Used leftover catalogue CDs from library as deer/bird repellent by suspending them above garden fence (as promised several times already, photos coming soon). Attempting to feed elderly, tooth-challenged cat moistened dry food (which we have lots of) instead of canned moist food (which has lots of packaging and also spoils easily in the heat). This is only partially successful, since the cat changes his mind daily about what he will eat… I arranged my one day per week in the County Seat for the Forest Service project to be the same day that material needs to be shuttled between the main library and the branch library where I (also) work — now I shuttle the deliveries each way, since I’m driving that route anyway. This is a win-win: no one has to make a special trip over the hill and back, as they were before, plus I get my mileage paid for even though I need to go anyway for the other job!

    Learned a New Skill: Nothing I can think of. Oh wait, I did learn how to start a balky lawnmower by removing the air filter, squirting in gasoline or starter fluid, balancing a flat rock over the air filter opening, holding down the safety handle, pull-starting the machine, then while still holding the safety handle, removing the rock and replacing the air filter, using a screwdriver one-handed to tighten it… Think it’s time for a scythe, eh?

  39. homebrewlibrarian says:

    This was a big week for me. Lots of planting of starts from seeds I started in early and mid April. Also this week I went set netting for salmon. More on that later.

    Plant something – Holy smokes. Transplanted tomatoes into 5 gallon pots (then fertilized them with some liquid gold ;-) ). Transplanted three kinds of squash starts into tire planters. In one of the big raised beds transplanted lacinato kale, kohlrabi, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, two types of broccoli, and cabbage. Transplanted four borage plants in with the beans and corn. In the second large raised bed transplanted three types of cabbage, brussels sprouts, collards, two types of kale and two types of broccoli. Hopefully I’ll get the root crops planted this week. Happened to notice a lot of bug eggs on the lower sides of some of the tranplants and have now done the egg check and squish twice. I think they are root maggot fly eggs since everything in the beds right now is from the brassica family.

    Harvest something – nothing, not even wild stuff although the chickweed is starting to be enough to gather up and try making pesto.

    Preserve something – froze filets of 18 red salmon.

    Prep something – built a second large raised bed from concrete blocks and filled with purchased top soil and compost with help from Richard who lives upstairs. Next year we hope to augment the beds with compost made right here. Fertilized with liquid gold everything we’ve planted so far except for beans and peas. The improvements are noticeable!

    Cook something – With too much vegetable matter in the fridge from previous CSA boxes, I made stir fry from pak choi, baby onions, young garlic, zucchini and baby white turnips. Threw in some garlic chili paste and traditionally fermented soy sauce. Yum!

    Manage your reserves – Trying to figure out what to do with all the CSA vegies I’m starting to get. I’m on the verge of buying a pressure canner and looking at renting sausage making equipment. For the fishing trip, I took some apple and pear slices I dried from last year. My monthly bulk organic food order arrived but I haven’t picked it up yet.

    Work on local food systems – I’m not sure this counts but I discovered the local butcher supply store and now I’m in love. Every kind of knife you might want, pressure canners, smokers, grinders, my oh my. I’ll be back soon!

    Learn a new skill – The big event of this past week was set netting for red salmon. I met up with a friend with a friend to help out with fishing. First I learned about which permit to get plus getting a fishing license. Turns out the set netting season for red salmon is not quite two weeks. You can also fly fish and dip net for salmon as well at different times and places. The place for the best set netting is along coastal areas where the salmon migrate to get back to their spawning streams and rivers. Lots of folks were out all along several miles of beach. We had one net but some folks had up to three. My friend had his set up to a winch on his truck so he could get the winch to move the net in and out of the water. Once the net comes in, the fun begins. Getting salmon out of the nets can be challenging. Some thrash around so much you’re not sure which side of the net they started on. Once you get them out, you have to bleed them (squeamish alert!) which requires pulling out one of the gills. The bled fish get put in a big bucket of water during the cleaning part. I learned something really valuable – wearing a rubberized rain suit or foul weather gear is essential if you don’t want your clothing or any part of you other than your hands to smell strongly of fish. Cleaning is another bunch of fun (squeamish alert!) and involves heading and gutting. And wrapping my head around killing the fish by severing the spinal column still makes me feel really sad. Once headed and gutted, the fish are put in a bucket of cleaner water where they are washed off, then the tail tips are chopped off (this is a requirement from the permit – this prevents restaurants or stores from buying subsistence caught fish) and the fish are packed spine downward, in rows with their abdomen cavities filled with ice. Shaved ice is supposedly the best but I wasn’t able to find any so crushed ice had to work for me. I also learned that since these salmon were caught in salt water, they’ll actually last longer in ice than ones caught in fresh water. It was two days before I learned how to fillet them and they were just as fresh as when they were caught. Today was lessons in filleting and while I was getting the hang of it sort of by the time we ran out of fish, my friend Michael was having a harder time of it. Course he didn’t come along for the fishing part so only got to deal with partially processed fish. The friend I went fishing with has been doing this for many years so I learned bunches of stuff from him. Next up is learning to smoke the fish and then can it. Now I know what to expect for next year!

    Kerri in AK

  40. Traci says:

    Planted: nothing- i need to plant this week though!

    Harvest: eggs, lettuce, red clover, lemon balm

    Preserved: I bought 2 flats of strawberries from my farmer friend 1/2 mile away and made 10 pints of jam. Dried 5 trays of strawberries which turned into 1 quart.
    Lemon balm tincture, lemon balm oil (mosquito repellent), a quart of red clover cough syrup.

    Stored: I got my bulk Azure order this week, pantry is filling up!
    20 heirloom seed packets, 25# oatmeal, 25# pinto beans, 25# whole spelt flour, 25# white spelt, 1 gallon of olive oil, 25# real salt, 2# baking yeast, 20# brown rice pasta,
    1 case of 24 cans wild salmon, 1# cinnamon, 5# arrowroot, shortwave wind-up radio, 2 gallons of food grade hydrogen peroxide, 1 gallon of local honey, 5# local beeswax,
    12 boxes of 12 canning jar lids, 300# of barley for chickens, 50# of organic chick starter, 50# of animal feed kelp.

    Local food systems: weekly local gallon of raw milk from my farmer neighbor, 2 flats of strawberries from another farmer neighbor, bought a gallon of honey and 5# of beeswax from beekeeper about 5 miles away. I made arrangements with her to get 20 more pounds when the harvest comes in.

    Learn new skill: none

    Cook: I sprouted wheat berries and added them to my bread recipe, good!


  41. Anonymous says:

    What a great challenge!

    harvested: romaine and red lettuce, radishes, small salad turnips, eggs, cabbage, chard, lots of strawberries

    preserved: not yet, but plan on going back to get lots more strawberries for freezing and jam

    prepped/stored: amassing lots of soda bottles for storing water

    cooked: our first entirely local meal: eggs, homefries with onions, radishes, salad greens

    managed: used old bananas for banana bread

    worked on local food systems: sought out local strawberry and blueberry farm with good ecological practices; bought some pork from a local farmer to freeze

  42. Ruby Red says:

    First time commenting, this is my update from our blog;

    IDC – Week 7


    Lots; seedlings of fordhook silverbeet, mixed generic lettuce, cucumbers (green gem and lemon – heirloom varieties) and some white snapdragons for bed edgings. Noice.

    Transplanted two eggplants from #1 bed into pots and the parsley plant transfered into another bed. With a bit of help from the chooks poo and a lot of digging, #1 bed should be ready for a mass planting – well by mass I mean 24, it’s a question of scale really – of strawberries. We live in one of Australia’s biggest strawberry producing areas, so might as well take advantage of it.


    Sugar Snap Peas, directly off the plant, that’s about as long as they last with the little Miss eating them as fast as they grow, and we’re growing lots. Not much other then that, the usual suspects of course – herbs for the kitchen and silverbeet for the chooks.


    Nothing this week. But I must get too and freeze our glut of passionfruit from Mr. Mac.


    Nothing this week.


    I built my chookies a feeder out of a recycled (jumbo sized) dishwashing bottle. Why, because I am awesome. Also, more then a little pissed off at their ability to dump their previous feed dish all over the ground and waste food. Now I just have to figure out a way to make it mice/rat proof (ah yes, those snake attracting furry demons).

    Got my pen and paper out, gathered figures and calculated the costs of raising and feeding chickens at chick, pullet and laying hen stages. They’ll cost us $26.60 each to raise to laying stage!!! Yikes! But worth it to have happy, healthy, ethically raise chooks I think – even if I could buy point of lay pullets for $15.95 – I wouldn’t want commerically farmed, cage raise, debeaked birds, thank-you very much.

    Once they start to lay they should cost us just $4.30 a week and lay on average 34 eggs. I’m hoping to sell off a dozen free-range, ethical eggs for $3 each week, freeze some for the moult period and still be rolling in them for eating (with 2 mouths to feed). By my calculations the most efficient use of the chooks would be to bring new babies on and dispatch the old girls to my soup pot at 18 months. Yum!

    Cooked Something New;

    I have mastered custard creams which are indeed delicious, but since they are hardly made from anything in our garden, I don’t think they count.

    So no, no I haven’t.

    Worked on Local Food Systems;

    I bought local strawberries from the market garden 2km up the road. Hardly a hardship, but supporting my local networks, non?

    This is probably the one I struggle with the most, as I’m not a community building, working with others, localised type. I like to be a bit hermit-y and self sufficient as much as possible so this is difficult for me to think up ways to create positive change in this area.

    I do continue to buy local (even over organic) whenever circumstances and budget permit.

    Mr. Mac left some more passionfruit hanging in a bag on the fence (reverse local food systems at work again) – tah!

    Reduce Waste;

    Finally completed my compost bin and placed it in the ‘Greenhouse’. I watched a segment on composting on Gardening Australia on Saturday night and was reinspired to give it another go. I’ve used a plastic garbage bin with a lid, and I’ve cut the bottom out of it so it sits directly on the earth and drilled holes around the side for aeration. I think the mistake we’ve made previously is having the compost almost entirely made out of wet materials such as food scraps, with little dry materials to counter-balance it. So we’ve ended up with a soggy anerobic mess. From Gardening Australia factsheet on Clever Composting;

    The proportions aren’t crucial, but generally for each bucket of wet material, it’s important to add a bucket and a half of dry material – it’s that simple.

    So I’ve started collecting out-of-date newspapers from the shop next store and shredding them to put in the chooks night house. In the morning I clean it out and dump them in the compost bin as my dry waste component, layered with the wet waste in the form of vegetable peelings, kitchen scraps, etc… Hopefully it should work much better.

    Composting, a brave new frontier indeed.

    Learn a New Skill;


    Also, did alot of research and reading on natural alternatives for chook health care and about to embark on natural worming and prevention using garlic and apple cider vinegar. Now I just wait for the right moon phase to begin.


    Yes, I am a little skeptical of the effectiveness. But will give it a go.

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