Independence Days Update – Focus on Planting

Sharon June 29th, 2008

Hi All – It has been a busy week, some of which I talked about in my latest garden post. I know that “plant something” is kind of obvious, but my own observation is that July is when things like succession planting and getting ready for fall tends to peter out – you’ve been planting all summer, and now there’s tons of weeding and harvesting to be done, and it is easy, easy, easy to just put off that next row of lettuce or bush beans. So my exhortation to everyone here this week is – don’t.

If you live in a place where it is too hot now to plant, but you’ll be able to do it in a month or so, it can be good to get a few weeks jump on the season, and to start things inside, in your (hopefully) comparatively cooler house. If you live where it is generally cool, like me, the next few weeks are key to getting a good harvest of vegetables continuing to come in through late fall and early winter.

Ok, on to my update.

Planted: Onions, bush beans, mustard greens, potatoes, beets, chard, brussels sprouts, cabbage, borage, basil, cucumbers, watermelon, carrots, winter squash, saskatoons, comfrey.

Harvested: Strawberries, more strawberries, more strawberries (from the pick your own – mine got toasted), bok choy, arugula, lettuce, mint, the very first baby summer squash, peas, onions, garlic scapes, chard

Preserved: Strawberry jam, dried strawberries, strawberry sauce, triple lemon vinegar (lemon peel, lemon verbena, lemon balm), willow bark tincture

Stored: Sprouting seeds, whole wheat linguine, peanut butter, chana dal

Prepped: Bought two used sets of sheets for guest sheets (and kicked myself for not noticing the brand new down comforter for $10 that was snagged by a friend), bought some bigger shirts for Eli at Goodwill.

Cooked something new: Elderflower fritters with honey, Robyn M’s garlic scape pesto recipe – very good!

Managed: We have rats in the barn, and they are killing our baby chicks. Eric and I constructed an elaborate cage of chicken wire and pvc, which took them a whole two nights to break into – the dogs kill them, Zucchini the not-quite-barn cat kills them, but not enough. We cleaned out the whole barn, but still have not gotten rid of them. We are thinking short term of using poison, very, very carefully out of desperation (and with very careful awareness of
other things with barn access, careful restriction of dogs and cats away from barn etc…) since we are desperate (these are birds for sale, and they need to live), and while we are gone, the chicks are moving into my bathroom ;-P. Dealing with the rat problem has taken much of our time and energy this week. As a longer term solution, we’re thinking of getting a terrier breed dog with ratting skills – anyone have any recommendations?

Worked on Community Food Systems: Put in an herb garden for a friend, had dinner with a friend from Albany who knows everything about local food projects.

Reduced Waste: Same as last week.

Ok, how about y’all?


44 Responses to “Independence Days Update – Focus on Planting”

  1. Kim says:

    Oh Sharon, sorry to hear about the rat problem. Rat terriers would be my only recommendation, but that is purely based upon their name!

    Our list this week seems much smaller, but canning all those cherries and blueberries took 3 days. They look very pretty sitting on their sturdy metal shelves (we learned from your disaster last year).

    1. Planted: table queen squash, radishes, pumpkin, sunflowers

    2. Harvested: arugula, lettuce, spinach, chard, basil, blueberries, cherries

    3. Preserved: canned cherries, canned blueberries, dehydrated blueberries, banana chips

    4. Stored: first aid supplies, alfalfa pellets,

    5. Prepped: first aid kit

    6. Managed: Cleaned out project room to make room for home canned veggies. Cleaned bunny barn and chicken coop. All gardens and orchard weeded.

    7. Local: milk pick up

  2. Rats/mice are a major issue here right now. I tried all the ‘environment modification’ things I could think of 2 years ago when the first infestation occurred, and then resorted to poison (Racumin, does not give a secondary kill). It works. Sometimes you have to compromise.

    I don’t know why I’m posting here, we are so far behind you guys, we’ll never catch up. We are just ‘wannabes’.

    Um, the cage for the veggie patch should be finished this week. The hens are laying again. And I keep toying with the idea of a milk goat. Other than that, nothing to report, boss.

  3. Gail says:

    Hello from Colorado

    Plant: lettuce in a flower box, moved some tomatoes into pots I got for free at a garage sale.

    Harvest: peas, lettuce, spinach, chard, beet greens, eggs and did lots of watering

    Preserved/stored: nada

    Prepped:Made a canopy net for the cherry tree but it looks so stupid and was not big enough that I put it back in the sewing room. Not enough cherries even for a pie anyway. Enjoyed watching the robins eat them. Wonderful garage sale had a free pile with canning jars, tomato pots and 6 hour sterno cans for cheap. I also tried a new bus route to the natural food grocery and walked home after a thunderstorm. I made some alterations to my walking backpack so I can have more necessary items (an umbrella!) close at hand. Bought new serviceable shoes and a windbreaker, also for walking.

    Managed resources: Went back to dial-up and it’s not that slow. Scaled back on phone services to basic service and gave up caller ID. I’m saving close to 40 dollars a month.

    Cook something new: Well, not really but little miss kitty has taken a dislike to her kibbles and so we have been trying other dietary options that aren’t processed foods. Eggs… sort of, meatballs, yes.

    Local food: Have been sewing like mad for the market’s start in July. I think it’s gonna be big. I tried to talk my Dad into some more fruit trees for Father’s Day out on their place. He didn’t say no. Did some investigation about sugar beets. They are still grown here but not on the scale that they used to be. Big, old sugar factories sit vacant while we eat cane sugar from somewhere else. Where, I wonder? Also, beets are GMO. Hmm…..

    Reduce Waste: Lowest electrical bill ever!

    Learned a skill: not this week

  4. AnnaMarie says:

    I always feel like such a pretender for Independence week with all the things I want to do but I know that someday, hopefully soon, I will actually be able to do it for real. I figure that keeping up with the premise, even if it’s not to the letter of the idea, is better than nothing at all.

    Also… it gives me blog fodder for one day a week *g*

  5. Wendy says:

    I totally hear you about strawberries (and more strawberries and …). It’s that time of year, and the season is just too short. I need to get MORE strawberries. I just hope my husband is willing to accompany me to the fields a couple more times (and willing to rub my back when it starts spasming from standing at the kitchen counter for four hours cutting, and cooking, and canning ;) .

    By the way, thank you for doing this challenge. It’s really made me concentrate on what I’m doing, and what my goals are, with my garden – which was the point, right? :) .

    As always, my update is on my blog (so that I have a record for the future).

  6. Sarah says:

    Planted: Nothing, but the cucumbers and pattypan squash have sprouted instead of being washed away by the monsoons, so I don’t need to plant anything else right now.

    Harvested: a few sugar snaps from the garden, plus bunches of stuff from the CSA farm, including an absurd quantity of free lamb’s quarters. Also found several ripe blackberries on the bushes behind the library. There is one beautiful blossom on the nasturtiums in the yard that will be harvested soonish.

    Preserved: Froze about a gallon of lamb’s quarters and a couple pints of snow peas, and I have about three pints of strawberry jam in the canner and at least that much more strawberries to turn into more jam after work. This batch was with pectin, and I’m going to try a no-pectin jam for the second batch. I also found out why my dandelion jelly didn’t set (I added the pectin and sugar at the same time).

    Stored: 10 pounds of local honey.

    Managed: Marveled at the fact that those two butternut squash from December are still good; discovered that the dried wild onions are definitely not still good. Threw out old freezerburned veggies from last year to make room for new, more carefully frozen veggies.

    Cooked: Put garlic scapes in everything, and roasted beautiful summer squash.

    Learned: How to wash raw wool. Our apartment now smells faintly of wet sheep, but I have a fleece! It is spotted and cards up beautifully!

    Local Food Systems: Went to the Waltham farmer’s market for the first time and got 4 quarts of very ripe strawberries for $10 as a discount for jam. There are fewer people selling actual vegetables than there were last year, but some farms may just not have hit peak harvest season yet and haven’t shown up. There were quite a lot of beautiful plants for sale, including peach trees, apple trees, blackberries, raspberries, cranberries!, and grapes. I did not buy any of them. “No capital investments on Shabbat”, says Ben, “and the landlord would object.” Boo.

  7. Jenn says:

    I’m working on my own independence days post now (and possibly a new blog to go along with it, good grief) but, in the meantime, you might want to check out wheaten terriers. Although they’ve been somewhat of a hot pet for the last few years, they were originally bred in Ireland to be ratters, and still hold onto a lot of the instincts for ratting that could be useful.

  8. Shira says:

    Deep breathe, relax, it’s all going to be OK. If you find yourself worrying about your preparations, you begin to review your skills and you find that you are quite pleased with how much you remember from reading and listening and doing. You realize that you are building on what you already know. Every time you plant something, harvest something, preserve something or learn a new skill, you feel a sense of accomplishment. Observing what works and what needs improvement adds to your self confidence. Every time you complete the cycle, from a pile of raw vegetables from the farmer’s market to finished soup, from tomato seed to plant to ketchup on the table, from herbs in a pot on a balcony to salad dressing, you feel pleased with yourself and more able to cope.

    It was a good week. Harvested upwards of six pounds of snow peas from my pocket garden, more joy choy, more lettuce than we could eat. Went on a strawberry U-pick expedition with fellow ‘hamster Megan, how cool is that, when folks on line turn into real people? Many strawberries later, the big kettle is full and today’s mission is to simmer the fragrant mass down into jam.

    I learned that juicing strawberries is not for the faint of heart. My new press (looks like a little tabletop wine press) smashed the strawberries without juicing much. The best technique was the old jelly making system. The squashed mass sat in a strainer propped above a stock pot all night and the juice dripped out. I got two quart jars of strawberry juice and may can one, just to get it out of the fridge. The strawberry juice is thick and sweet and more suited to use as ingredient in strawberry lemonade than drinking straight.

    Shira in Bellingham

  9. Susan in NJ says:

    Planted: the last 6 brandywine tomato starts

    Harvested: thyme, lemon and english; thai basil; tarragon; parsley; lettuce, red leaf and mesculun mix; rosemary; some compost

    Preserved: no

    Stored: not really

    Prepped: finished digging, enriching bed for tomatoes; mulched two planted beds

    Cooked something new: roasted beets in the peel on the charcoal grill (good but still needed to peel with a knife before eating); cooked and ate fresh fava beans for the first time, a big hit — leading to an almost vegan (I put a little chicken broth in with the beans) and an almost local (rice, oil, salt, pepper, broth not local) meal of fava beans and roast beet salad

    Managed: thought about using dollar store materials to build a solar dehydrator or oven (but didn’t implement); thought about winter succession planting; researched hand pollination of pumpkins

    Reduce Waste: mulched planted beds which I hope will conserve moisture

    New skill: how to double shuck fava beans; what kitchen implements that I own do not work for safe and quick blanching with someone else in the kitchen

    Local food systems: shopped the farmer’s market

  10. Sarah says:

    Addendum: I have discovered a mulberry tree near the back stairs to campus, so my second (or third) batch of jam is going to be strawberry-mulberry. Or possibly just mulberry, but mulberries are actually kind of boring on their own.

  11. Megan says:

    Strawberries, babies! Yeah!

    I now have 21 half pints of gorgeous jam, and two dehydrators full of strawberries drying, and a fierce sunburn. As a general beginner canner, this is the most I’ve ever done at once. I’m absolutely in awe of Shira’s quantity. We had a lot of fun, we also hit a local goat dairy and bought some stuff. Thanks Shira!! Also canned 7 pints of bing cherries.

    Also harvested peas, lettuce, beet greens, spinach, and bok choy and green onions.

    Started cleaning out my studio building for better storage.


  12. Karin says:

    This week brought lots of hard physical work. I feel sore today, but rewarded by the effort.

    planted: brussel sprouts and catnip that a neighbor gave me. Last of the soybeans, finally.

    harvested: rhubarb, calendula, rosa rugosa petals, lettuce, green onions, strawberries…hmmm catching a theme here.

    preserved: dried strawberries, strawberry wine, calendula oil, rose oil.

    managed reserves: mulched potatoes, more paths, side dressed corn, tidied and inventoried pantry.

    prepped: scored a vermicomposting system on freecycle, stocked chili powder, cumin, ginger powder from asian market. We had a powerdown day at home this week. pretty loose standards to start off with. We had running water and the fridge. But no computers, lights, tv or radio. It was a very quiet day with out a any outside noise. I missed listening to NPR while making dinner. But the great thing was, after dark my teenage son came out to sit around the oil lamps and …talked to us. We go on vacation next week to visit family in the 1000 islands ,maybe for the last time. it is a long 9-12 our car ride from central Maine. But the week after we are going to powerdown without running water.

    Reduce waste: Remembered the canvas bags for every trip to the store. We had car repairs last week so took our bikes to do grocery shopping. It was great. Worked hard at turning compost piles. Gave strawberry ends to pig and got some slop from local restaurant for pig.

    Local food: road bikes to farmstand, went to u-pick strawberry farm. Farmers market on Tuesday.

    Learned something new: Learned about worm composting, learned I am in better shape than I thought.

    Hi to Wendy, I love your blog.

  13. Karin says:

    Oh I forgot to add…Reduce waste: the wee one has learned how to use the more washing diapers..woohoo !!!

  14. What a great challenge! I love it – you guys are inspiring

    Sadly I have almost nothing of value to share! I live in a townhouse in the city, and my backyard is about 15′ x 20′

    Planted: Rosemary and a cherry tomato plant in containers.

    Harvested: Strawberries (3 of them. Not 3 baskets – 3 berries. But DAMN were they good!), spinach

    Preserved: nada

    Stored: nada

    Prepped: Hung chicken wire for the pole beans to climb up. Looked into micro-solar power

    Cooked something new: no :(

    Managed: Weeds

  15. Gina says:

    I cannot believe I have stuck with this challenge and actually been rather timely with my posts! This is the first time in four years of trying “blog challenges” that I have been on track!

    That being said, this was probably my least productive week (very busy at work and I lose track of time when work overwhelms my tasks).


    Plant Something: I was gifted an interesting oregano-type plant called “Dittany of Crete”. I gave a talk at a local Botanical Gardens and they told me it would plant as oregano plants (i.e. perennial). It has furry leaves like mullein and smells very strongly of oregano. I have it in the herb garden off the sun room. I also planted more basil seeds after last week’s accidental “weeding”.

    Harvest Something: lamb’s quarter, curly dock, mulberries, strawberries, garlic, onions, radishes, lettuce, hot peppers (amazing-I think off of a plant that is stressing a bit and setting fruit early), eggs, maple leaves (for goats), red clover blossoms, beets.

    Preserve Something: Froze a few containers of strawberries (I actually thought I was done with strawberries, but I noticed yesterday at the old house the wild strawberries are plentiful. I plan to pick/preserve some of those this weekend), dried strawberries (first successful attempt, but I don’t like the smell/taste of dried strawberries. My sons love them), blanched and froze lamb’s quarter to add to winter dishes/soups, dried red clover blossoms for winter tea, froze some beef bones from meat cooked this week for future stock.

    Stored Something: Rain water (I need to get the other barrels up), honey (bought), tea bags (for the kombucha), drinking water, Northern white and cranberry beans, yeast (until dried starter sourdough is ready-this brick should last me for a very long time), cornmeal

    Prep Something: Bought an extra pair of hiking shoes for husband (he broke both feet several years ago at a job and he is quite hard on shoes. These were on clearance, last pair and exactly his size). Found a very nice sleeping bag, , two blue glass canning jars, a campfire enamel ware pan and glass lantern at thrift (total $7). Still walking around barefooted. Made note of future food sources when I found a couple of huge crawdads (crayfish) swimming in the creek that bisects our property. I’m not much of a shellfish fan, but if we were desperate, they would probably be tasty. Began reading the “Foxfire” books I’ve had for years (vol. 1, 2 & 4), but never read through. They remind me of my dad’s family in SW Virginia. I want to try “leather britches” this season (dried green beans). The first Foxfire book has an introduction by the editor and he says wouldn’t it be great to expand on this concept in other areas like Native American culture, immigrants, other old traditions. I don’t think the idea was ever expanded though beyond Appalachia, but I am not sure. We could learn so much from the early generations, particularly those that lived through similarly (but not identical) hard times.

    Managing: Using stocks on hand, saving bones for stock, making lists of needed (wanted) items. Didn’t so as much in this area this week. And this is not exactly a “good” management technique, but I hope it helps. I took a combination of three debts we had and combined them onto a much lower interest rate card that offered 0% until October of next year. I am hoping to pay off all of this *one* debt by that time. i am working on a budget plan so we don’t fall short. I don’t recommend this to anyone else as there are transfer fees, but the lower (zero) interest rate will make debt lower overall. Better to just stay out of debt. We were out and then had to go back “in” in order to accomplish the move from old house to new (fencing for livestock, misc. things to fix up old house for sale). Like I said, not exactly good, but not horrible. Also, I had husband put a length of gutter on the cow’s shed. Hopefully next week we will get the rain barrel hooked up as an extra source of livestock water should we need it.

    Cook Something New: Not this week-same old stuff. However, I do need to correct my blunder from last week (if anyone noticed!!); lamb’s quarters is NOT a brassica. It is in the family Chenopodiaceae which also includes swiss chard, beets and such as members. Have no idea what I was thinking (and I’m a biologist!!!)

    Reduce Waste: of course the usual: fed livestock, composted and Reduced/reused and recycled. I also gave a bunch of baby jars I have saved since Shawnee was a babe to a guy a few offices over. He does some sort of meditation workshop at a church camp and plans to make some sort of sand art for his kids to focus energy on when they are stress (I think). He in turn gave me some beets!! Buying stores from bulk store and I reuse the bags for misc. things and covering no-knead bread while rising. I also found a taped together stack of cardboard on side of road and had hubby stop so I could pick it up. I am going to use it to make new garden beds.

    Local Food Systems: Located several U-Pick cherry farms in nearby Michigan (#1 state for sour cherries and #2 for the rest). This is a bit out of a 100 mile radius, but well within 250. I plan to pick enough to warrent the expense of driving up there and we are planning a mini-vacation at one of the close MI state parks. I am asking family and friends if they want cherries too and asking them to share a bit in the cost (the cost per pound will be significantly less than buying them after they are trucked here and it is hard to get large quantities of either type of cherry. In the future we will plant our own trees). I also made arrangements with a farmer in my immediate area to cut our hay field. This will be a huge relief and save us money in the end. We hope to get at least two cuttings from the field. Unfortunately, it has been non-stop rainy lately and the farmer wants to wait (hopefully not too long!)

    Learn New Skill: Reading and learning about old traditions and medicinal/edible wild plants.

  16. Becky from Island County WA says:

    This is my second week:

    Planted: More squashes and cucumber seeds. Sure looked like none would ever come up. Well, as far as tiny plantlings go, I do have an embarrassing amount now.

    Harvested: More garlic tops and several very crowded volunteer bulbs. First strawberries are ripening! Picked camelia tips for tea.

    Preserved: No canning last week. Fermenting garlic. Drying tea leaves.

    Stored: Seed order for late fall/winter/early spring came in. Got plenty, just in case. Did not go to town this week. So no shopping in person.

    Prepped: I ordered a sun oven. Nearly blinded myself, sort of, constantly messing with my homemade trial oven.

    Cooked something new: Tea from my own bushes. Tasted wonderful to me!

    Managed: We finally got sunshine! Making use of the hot garden hose water and doing laundry in a bucket. I do use the machine’s spin cycle though.
    No good news from the experts on how to get water without electricity or generator back-up. In his words “all but impossible”. Yes, people lived here prior to electricity. Just a lot fewer people sharing much, much higher ground water tables. We do have a decent size roof, but do I really want to drink water that run across asphalt shakes? Will have to do more research on that. I still may get my long hoped for farm pond.

    Worked on the Community Food System: Talked to one neighbor who really excels in tinkering with hydroponics. Checked progress with another neighbor who is also growing some potatoes in whiskey barrels with lots of straw mulch for the first time this year. (We had it way too wet to put anything in the ground – hence the whiskey barrel idea)

    Reduced waste: Well, definitely no wasted driving here. List is getting longer for next week’s trip to town.

  17. Sarah says:

    Ugh, rats!

    When I was growing up we had a Kerry Blue Terrier. They’re from Ireland and bred as rat catchers. They’re very nice dogs where people are concerned but a little nuts about other animals. She’d go after everything including gas station guard dogs (we learned to roll our car windows up), the wrong end of wood chucks (she got some pretty bad bites that time), and skunks (smart dogs are supposed to learn about skunks but smart as she was she didn’t. She was sprayed 7 times one summer until we learned to keep her in at dawn and dusk). All that said, I think she’d have been great at catching rats if we’d had them. She was great with kids and loved the woods we lived in.

    Good luck!

  18. A friend has a wheaten terrier mix. I’d been in my house a month and strongly suspected I had rats only because every time that dog came over he sat in front of a heater vent watching and listening and cocking his head from side to side. Sure enough, rats.

    I now have a mixed terrier of my own, part westie and part who-knows-what, and he’s no use with critters at all. Which makes me think westies are not the part of the terrier family that goes after rats.

    This week has been a slow one in the challenge. I’m feeling better about all past efforts, as the sad, sorry little seedlings made an enormous recovery when the sun finally came out. Most everything has grown a couple of inches this week.

    I’m not going to go through the categories because I have nothing to report, but I will say this about local food systems — the farmer’s market finally had local strawberries and cherries today! Well, they’ve had cherries for a few weeks, but this is the first week they’ve been sweet.

    It’s 90 degrees outside (in Seattle!) and I’m inside making quiche with farmer’s market eggs, cheese, and garlic scapes, because if I don’t get it done today I know I’m not going to get it done during the week.

  19. Jill says:

    My dad grew up with rat terriers on a dairy/orchard farm (most famous one named Winchester because he came in the mail, on the train, in a Winchester Bullet Box). There are lots of family stories about Winnie killing many, many of the rats that lived under the corn crib. Apparently he’d lie in wait right outside their holes. Channeled that famous terrier fanaticism into tenacity, and did it for hours every day. He and (the other rat terriers) lived in harmony with other dogs, barn cats and lots of children. Rats were not a problem with the chicks on the farm–the raccoons and weasels were….


  20. Shira says:

    Ah, Megan, that’s sweet of you. I just live with people who consider strawberry jam a food group.

    20 pints jam, five quarts pie filling, 2 jars sweet sludge “juice”, frozen berries, a big smile from sweetie, who had fresh strawberries with vanilla ice cream for dinner last night and a really big mess in the kitchen.

    Shira in Bellingham, WA

  21. Kati says:

    Here’s my run-down, but I’ve got pictures as well at my blog.

    Ok, just a really quick run-down of our (my family’s) Food Independence Challenge update:

    Planted: The hubby and FIL planted more radish yesterday. We’ll be planting more Chard and Spinach hopefully tonight.

    Harvested: Radishes (the FIL), lettuce, and a bit of baby spinach. Will be picking more spinach here soon. Also, accidentally, harvested a couple of stalks of rhubarb as I was pulling a flower out of my rhubarb plot the other day. And that LambsQuarter.

    Tend: weeding, watering, and thinning of all the veggies previously mentioned in this post and others.

    Preserved: drying the Lambsquarter, and a bit of chamomile that I also picked at the same time today.

    Make Preps: Not really, except the drying of the lambsquarter.

    Cooked Something: Made homemade trail mix from dried fruit and other goodies (chocolate chips, almonds, marshmallows and coconut) bought at the grocery store. Also made some sweet crackers. These are part of the food I’ll be taking with me on the plane when Tay and I head out on Wednesday.

    Managed Reserves: Only as usual.

    Work on/Toward local food systems: just the gardening and the picking of lambsquarters.

    Composted Something/Reduce Waste: Lambsquarters did not all go to waste, composted, and using the clothes-line.

    New Skill Learned: does it count that I’m learning how to juggle a couple of clothes pins and a piece of wet laundry all at the same time??? *grin* (New clothesline put up just today, for folks who don’t want to come look at my blog:


  22. Ruby Red says:

    Don’t get a Schnauzer. The littlies are bred as ratters but the ones I’ve had the (not) pleasure of knowing are beyond useless at it. Then again, I’m not a dog person. *shrugs* Poisoning is effective, if you can access the dead bodies afterwards, but if they’re living in walls, etc…they’ll decompose in their and it can get pretty stinky.

    Did they eat through the PVC part? We’ve had rats eat through plastic garbage bins, etc. (we need to store everything vaguely tasty to rats in metal oil drums) so I reckon they’d get through the PVC if they got it into their minds to do so.

    Hate rats. Hate the snakes they bring in even more.

  23. robj98168 says:

    Planted: Planted basil, planted herbs and catnip, transplanted pepper plants, transplanted pumpkin plant, my cukes got fried waiting for me to get my ass in gear and make new box for them
    Prepped: Prepped the soil in my boxes/planters for tomatoes and peppers, made beef jerky from two of three roasts obtained from the Costco, cut a bunch of steaks out of the third and froze them! Put up some dehydrated strawberries.
    HARVESTED: strawberries growing in my basket; dandelion greens for a salad
    Managed: Got my gardening tools in good working order, found, sorted and cleaned them. repaired door on tool shed (had blown off in wind storm) Better late than never!
    Cooked something new: I Made a pea pod salad with peas bought at farmers market.
    Work on Local Food Systems: Went to farmers market, bought peas and bread , bought ½ flat of strawberries to dehydrate
    Compost something- got some free coffee grounds from the starbucks to mix in my soil, made some new bedding for worm bin
    Learned a skill- didn’t learn a new skill, started doing an old one again-started up macramé again, to repair old hanging pots for hanging garden and to repair bags etc.
    Stick with barn cats or get a mixed breed former feral dog. i am afraid while the tenacity is there in small terriers, the rat killing instinct has left them at least my toothless yorkie won’t do anything about them. What i did during a recent rat problemd was take small roughneck containers drill a 1′ hole on each end and put a sticky trap in them- in two I put standard rat traps in em. the idea is then put the container next to the wall in their path and they cant leave a hole alone – especially if there is peanut butter and raisins in the trap for bait!got rid of the little guests in the garage, that and bribing the neighbors feral cat to change her patrol route!

  24. Independence Days: Week 6

    (transplanted from blog)

    Plant something: More potatoes, lupine, zinnias, rhubarb. Moved the last summer things from the greenhouse.

    Harvest Something: Peas! Lettuce, broccoli, spinach, garlic, beet greens, bok choi, mustard, onion greens, dandelions, cat’s ear, plantain, pie cherries, Japanese knotweed (for stock feed, bean poles, mulch, and compost), algae (from the creek’s annual drying up, for compost).

    Preserve something: Drying mint, froze spinach.

    Store something: Spinach, using the Ice Cube Tray system.

    Manage Reserves: Moved firewood and straw bales, made kindling ahead. Firewood began arriving, four cords.

    Prepped: Mapped next year’s garden, to double again over this year as this year’s over last year, Heaven-Willing-And-The-Crick-Don’t-Rise. This will involve retiring the Circle Garden, so we mowed the elephant garlic border in preparation for lifting all the bulbs, then will hopefully lay out six 100 foot beds right through the orchard and move the deer fence, next winter. We could not easily mulch that much ground but this will give us a chance to put fava beans and buckwheat into the rotation.

    Cooked Something New: Made four loaves of bread instead of the usual one or two, as inspired by Sharon. Managed time poorly, let the bread fall, but it’s good even so.

    Worked on Local Food Systems: 2 out of 3 meals home grown (vegs, eggs, solar mint tea).

    Reduced Waste: kept all the week’s pasta water to use in bread; built an attic fan using found parts, turned off electric water heater, used solar only, during heat wave (97F). Grey water to older fruit trees (younger ones don’t seem to like it).

    Learned a skill: composting with Japanese knotweed (CAREFULLY!!!!)

  25. Danielle says:

    As usual, the update’s at my blog along with photos: here.

    Things are slowing down a bit… well, not really slowing down, but I felt like I could relax this week without losing the gardens in a sea of weeds thanks to all the help I received last week. We’ve gotten some good rain this week, though, so there will be a whole new crop of weeds waiting for me in the coming days.


    Got all my winter squash and dry beans in this week: Cinderella pumpkins, acorn squash, butternut squash, Seminole pumpkins, sweet meat squash, winter luxury pie pumpkins, marina di chioggia pumpkins; sulfur baking bean, Taylor’s dwarf horticultural bean, black valentine bean, and flagrano bean. Planted calendula, and replanted the gourdseed corn, which didn’t germinate worth a darn. Hopefully all the rain we’ve gotten this week will give them a good start. The gourdseed corn and dry beans are already popping.


    Lettuce, kale, chard, onions, kohlrabi, hakurei turnips, carrots, broccoli, citrus thyme, dill, oregano, rosemary, basil, raspberries, eggs, milk.


    Almost 5 lbs butter, froze 24 oz blueberries.


    Olive oil, snack crackers, pine nuts, 5 gallons drinking water.


    Saved seed from chives and green onions. Put up our pool, which also doubles as a 4,000 gallon cistern. The plan is to leave it up, covered, year round.


    Organized larder and pantry again, as I have a tendency to just dump bags and boxes in the room when they come in if I don’t have time to unload and put away. I still need to get some kind of storage system going for the grains.

    Weeded in the market garden: found the peppers again; tomatoes are an ongoing battle. Tied tomatoes into trellises. Pulled the remainder of the turnips to get ready for more mini onions, and pulled the peas where pole beans are already popping.

    Checked on bees again. Hive #1 is so strong—plenty of honey, still mostly uncapped, both capped and uncapped brood, eggs. Hive #2 is still struggling to draw out the frames I moved into the center last week. Some eggs, some uncapped brood in center frame, but not much. I pulled one of the still mostly undrawn frames and switched it for a frame of brood in Hive #1. Hopefully that will give Hive #2 a bit of a boost.


    Nothing new this week.


    CSA delivery to 10 families: lettuces, kale, chard, mini onions, kohlrabi, hakurei turnips, citrus thyme, rosemary, oregano, dill, raspberries.


    I’ve used up all my yogurt containers for seedlings (they’ve now all been bleached and put away for use again for next year) and have just used up all my sour cream/ ricotta type containers for storing butter. So, I’m now soliciting containers from CSA members, family and friends, helping to keep their plastic out of the waste stream as well. Most of these containers are not recyclable where we live, so keeping them out of the trash is important.


    Still learning about grains in my test plot. The naked oats are doing well, but now I’m trying to figure out how the heck to harvest them, so if anyone has any experience with that, please share. In the plot here from left to right are naked oats, quinoa, gourdseed corn, burgandy amaranth, popcorn, huazontle, dry beans and winter squash.

  26. rdheather says:

    About the rats….. It’s all about working terriers-there should be some good advice there.

  27. KimK says:

    For dogs- We had 2 Westies (Westhighland white terriers) growing up. Yes, they are bred for mice/rats AND the white coloring. Ours would go after any rodent that made it into the yard. They are great with kids, but the ones bred more for show have grass allergies.

    For the challenge:
    Harvested: Broccoli, rosemary, mint, lettuce, onions
    Planted: last of tomatoes, squash, and pumpkins
    Stored: olive oil
    Learned: practiced plant id and read about making some of my own health/skin products
    Cooked: scones over a fire and corn bread in a dutch oven- method of cooking was new on both

  28. NM says:

    Planted leeks, celery, lettuce, broccoli. Pulled half the weeds out of the garden bed that should have been planted two months ago.
    Stayed up most of the night canning strawberry jam and baking a strawberry-rhubarb pie, after my sweet DH brought me half a flat of strawberries for a surprise Friday night … with the next day forecast to be in the mid-90s… :} (It really was a lovely surprise).
    Froze strawberry sorbet and a few strawberry rhubarb turnovers. Harvested and dried more rose petals, and honeysuckle blooms, for tea; harvested the first few raspberries. Gave away extra lettuce starts to friends. Went to our Slow Food group’s first public presentation; a talk by local CSA farmers on how to grow fall and winter gardens (in the Pacific NW, you can garden year-round, although few people do). It was a wonderful, informative talk, and we had more than 50 people show up! Very exciting.

  29. Ani says:

    Jack Russell terriers seem to be good at “ratting”- have not owned one but several friends do and I’ve seen them in action and they are good …… a bit too hyper for my taste- but they live to track down rats and mice- amazing to watch them at it…….

  30. Lynda says:

    Planted: made a new bed for 2 volunteer hollyhocks, which I then transplanted. Transplanted to larger pots: stevia, echinacea, chamomile, bergamot. Discovered a volunteer in with the tomatoes—some kind of squash.

    Harvested: lots of mint, for 2 batches of iced mint tea; mesclun mix, the end of the strawberries, the start of the blueberries and black raspberries.

    Preserved: no—unless you count making ice cream with the strawberries, and with last winter’s maple syrup

    Stored: no

    Prepped: new bed for the hollyhocks

    Cooked something new: not this week

    Managed: Realized that if I really want spinach and peas to store over the winter, we’re not growing enough. Researched possibilities for starting a third garden bed next year; researched possibilities for crop rotation; added straw mulch to the potato bed (trying a new technique this year, with heavy layer of mulch); mulched remaining tomatoes with grass clippings; made sure grapes were training properly on the wire trellis.

    Reduce Waste: no big progress here

    New skill: not this week, but up next: read up on making horseradish.

    Local food systems: nothing new this week, other than what we used from the garden.

  31. homebrewlibrarian says:

    Slowing down on the planting but not from lack of things to plant! I’m not helping myself by picking up a bunch of end-of-season edible/medicinal perennials either! So they’re sitting under a tree in the yard waiting patiently. Sigh.

    Planted: Two types of radishes (purposefully willy-nilly around the larger brassicas), cylindra beets, amarillo yellow carrots and snowball turnips. More root vegetables to be planted this week. I hope.

    Harvested: A few bites of chickweed and lamb’s quarter. Although there are TWO small cherry tomatoes that are coming along and two of the broccolis have wee-tiny little heads forming.

    Preserved: Five pounds of brined and dried walnuts I got in my last bulk order. Also, hung dried four sprigs of basil that came in last week’s CSA box.

    Stored: The last bulk order included 25 lbs of small garbanzo beans, a gallon of raw apple cider vinegar, a gallon of 35% food grade hydrogen peroxide, a quart of vegetable glycerin, 5 lbs of baking soda, 6 lbs of Organic Valley pasture butter, 6 lbs of sprouted grain pastas and 5 lbs of raw walnuts. Also picked up a couple flats of 1/2 pint jars and two boxes of widemouth lids and rings.

    Prepped: Pruned the dead branches off blueberry plants that were transplanted a couple weeks ago and then rigged up a simple visual barrier so the upstairs dog doesn’t break any more branches off one of the plants (grrr) as she trots around the yard. Also pruned dead canes from raspberries. Continued to do the bug egg check and squish and leaf roller check and squish (and at some point it will become the caterpillar/beetle/slug check and squish). Ongoing applications of liquid gold fertilizer to some garden plants and all fruiting shrubs and trees. Purchased a new 21 quart pressure canner for less money than I’d seen them in online catalogs and didn’t have to wait for it to be shipped! Found a homebuilt smoker on craigslist for next to nothing and a recommended book for learning how to smoke fish at the local used/new bookstore. Smoking fish is in my near future (tangent: Here in Anchorage, there’s an anti-smoking campaign that uses posters that show a Native Alaskan woman hanging fish in a traditional smokehouse that say “Smoke fish, not cigarettes”). Purchased Food not Lawns and will be reading that soon.

    Managed: Using up some of the (very sprouted) potatoes and dried apples and pears from last year. Brewed up another batch of beer so that the young budding beer geek upstairs doesn’t get discouraged after the first not-so-good attempt a couple weeks ago (a tactical error on my part wherein we used a brand new hose to put water in a carboy. The beer has an obvious hose flavor that we figured out by trial and error that citric acid would cover up. Now I just have to go get more citric acid. The half teaspoon I have won’t help 5 gallons of beer).

    Reduced: I generate very small amounts of waste and only if I purchase something in plastic packaging that can’t be recycled. Since I very infrequently buy new stuff, I don’t have much to throw out. Um, everything was recycled this past week.

    Cooked: Using the shreds of salmon from cleaning up after the filleting instruction from last week, I made a salmon chowder using raw milk, organic frozen corn, a leek, a bulb of young garlic and part of an onion from a previous CSA box, an organic zucchini, and organic peppered bacon. The fish was so fresh, the chowder only faintly smelled like fish and tasted mildly of salmon (and I put at least a pound of shreds in the chowder!). Even my landlord/friend Michael who is reluctant to eat salmon liked it. Yum!

    New skill: Can’t think of one.

    Local food system: Visited with folks who have a goat dairy. I was only along for the ride since I don’t own goats but I did drop off a down payment for a half side of cow that I’ll get from them in the fall. Had a lovely chat with the woman who coordinates the organic bulk buying club about all sorts of things including encouraging her to visit the Dervaes Path to Freedom web page.

    Kerri in AK

  32. Doug says:

    Rat Terriers are certainly the best, having been specifically bred to kill rats in barns. Back in 19th century England they would bet on how many could be killed how quickly. A Rat Terrier holds the world record – something like 100 rats in less than 6 minutes!

    They do require training, though. Mine was brought up in NYC and actually has zero interest in rats or squirrels, because the ones he saw there were so skanky. But now that we live in the country, I’ve managed to get him obsessed with chasing bunnies and deer – also good habbits.

    And little training was required to get him protective of the chickens – they are very attentive watch dogs. Nothing makes him happier than alerting me to trouble!

  33. kris says:

    Minpins (Miniature Pinschers) are great ratters and great dogs – intelligent, loyal, brave, affectionate. They have no idea they are small dogs. They were bred as rat terriers in Germany sometime in the 1700′s, and are very energetic and persevering when after prey. Our miniature pinscher, Mouse, is in charge of all our other animals, even our 90 lb. Ridgeback. Here is the wikipedia page on them:


  34. Anonymous says:

    Here’s our small contribution:

    Planted: tomatoes and cukes in folks’ garden

    Harvested: beets, garlic scapes, mesclun, zucchini, cabbage

    Stored: extra pasta, rice, sugar, peanut butter; shampoo, bleach

    Worked on the Community Food System: talked gently to siblings about composting; bought strawberries, rhubarb, radishes, potatoes at farmers’ market

    Reduced waste: took down the AC; using ceiling fans; evangelized about wonders of said fans

  35. It’s hard for me to keep planting more – the landlord already thinks I took up too much of the back yard when I expanded my garden! I put in another row of arugula with some of the seeds I harvested from what bolted a month or so ago. I also planted some lettuce and a zucchini plant next to the fence. I need to find space to plant some cilantro and more basil, and figure out where to put the garlic.

    I picked 20 gallons of plums and put up plum habanero jelly and plum lavender jelly (and still have a gallon of plum juice for more jelly once I am sure the other stuff has set – or not).

    Still trying to decide where I could put a compost pile in the yard without offending the landlord…

    Have been eating a lot of broccoli rab greens – they are blossoming like crazy right now but the greens are very good. Am tucking into some pesto my sweetie made with some of his basil — he even did it with a mortar and pestle!

  36. test comment — my IDC report comment hasn’t posted after three tries — this is a test try of a shorter message.

  37. Ah, figured it out — I had a link in my post. Think I disguised it well enough. Anyway, here’s my report as of Sunday:

    Another week of progress in some areas, but still too many areas neglected. Time management is a perennial struggle for me, and when I add in the emotional post-relationship stresses I’m feeling, plus the full-plates-at-work stress (which I don’t necessarily hate, it just leaves me feeling exhausted at the end of the day and un-inclined to focus on other projects), well, it can just get out of control. Extreme weather can also augment my lack of productivity, as I tend to just “ride out” really hot or really cold weather without doing much productive other than fending off weather-related crises.

    All that said, this week wasn’t too bad! Here’s my report:

    Plant something: Transplanted into garden: dipper gourd starts, and one special bell pepper plant whose variety is apparently is acclimated to Klamath Falls, Oregon, which is not far from here. Hopefully this means it grows in a shorter season, as we often don’t have enough time to grow bell peppers in this area.

    Harvest something: First, R brought me five tiny strawberries from his garden (that was my garden last year, strawberries I planted). That was the entire harvest and it was very nice of him to bring them to me. Also I ate the mesclun mix I was growing in a pot — it didn’t get nearly as big as I expected, but perhaps that’s how mesclun mix is. And with the heat it was getting leggy and planning to bolt sometime next week. It wasn’t enough for a salad, but I added it to an existing salad and it was very tasty! Harvested some comfrey leaves to dry.

    Preserve something: Those comfrey leaves are drying in the dehydrator.

    Store something: Rainbow rotelli pasta.

    Managed reserves: Nothing this week.

    Prepped: Finally, after months of waiting — I bought a Geo Metro! We finally got an appointment for a smog test. It had some valve or vent that was clogged that took an extra $200 to fix, but then it passed the smog test. This car will double (or perhaps even triple) the mileage I’m getting, though I’m afraid to tally up the insurance, registration, etc, to see what my REAL savings is (’cause I’m not getting rid of the truck just because I’ve added the Geo). I consider it an important part of “walking the talk” and demonstrating to my community as well as my literal gas savings, so that would have to add in to the equation as well. I’ve only had it for 2 days, so no mileage results yet, but I plan to top off the tank tomorrow so that I can start my tracking. Also under prep: bought a Grundig crank AM/FM/SW radio for $7 at a yard sale.

    Cooked Something New: Not really, but since I’m not aware of having eaten mesclun mix before (I probably have in restaurant or potluck salads, but I wasn’t aware of it), I’ll count that. Especially since I’ve been disappointed several times in the taste of lettuce varieties I’ve grown, and this stuff I really liked!

    Advocated for local food economy: Well, I did set up a table at this Saturday’s farmer’s market, but I was selling books and movies that the library is trying to get rid of, so that doesn’t count except socially! However, I did learn that our one local certified organic grower has you-pick options! And he’s only about 25 miles away! He’s named his endeavor “Locavore Farms” which is also highly encouraging. Here’s his website just because I gotta say how pleased I am to learn what he’s doing: (add the triple w in front of this)

    I plan to go up and see his place, maybe volunteer a little, get to know them, and DEFINITELY go get some you-pick stuff as it’s ready! And speaking of volunteering, the other local food economy thing I did this week was my monthly volunteering to sort co-op orders. This month’s effort is particularly notable since, due primarily to my submitting my order at the last possible moment and putting it in a mail slot that the co-op guy forgot to check before calling his orders in, I personally received *nothing* from the order this month! Oh well, as long as the economy doesn’t collapse before next month… :o

    Reduce waste: I’ve been snipping scotch thistle which are exploding on the property I rent. I told the landlady that I did NOT want the county spraying to kill them, so that obligated me to deal with them somehow. I’ve been snipping them down with long-handled loppers, though I suspect that I really need to dig them to keep them from resprouting. But no time for that now, they’re putting out seedheads, so lopping is faster. The waste reduction part is that today I loaded the back of the pickup full of thistles and took them to Kate’s house. Kate has goats, who love to eat thistle! I suppose I could have just left the thistles to dry and decompose in situ, especially since they are scattered out in several fields, but I think the seeds can germinate even when the plant is snipped before the flowers have opened, so it would be better if I burned or discarded the plants. Eaten by goats is the best deal, as it not only reduces the waste I have to discard, it also reduces the amount of feed Kate has to provide them.

    New skill learned: Well, I’m getting the hang of cutting down thistles without getting poked — er, make that without getting poked AS MUCH. Nothing I can think of beyond that this week.

  38. [...] June 25, 2008 Sharon’s update with other updates in the comment section can be found here [...]

  39. Deb in WI says:

    Rat terriers are the way to get rid of rats. Rat terriers are less hyper than Jack Russell terriers and unlike the Jack Russell, I have never heard of any Rat Terriers being destructive in a house due to boredom.

    The Amish in our area always have a couple on their farms for vermin and for their kids. We have 1 full Rat Terrier and 2 RT mixes and they have taken “care” of mice, moles, snakes and a bat.

    Rat terriers really love their people and if raised with kids they do very well with them. (You do need to see that kids play nicely with small pups since their bones break easily). Amish rat terriers generally live outside in the barns and outbuildings, but our rat terriers live in the house with us. They like sleeping under the covers which means we can turn the heat down more when we go to bed.

    When talking to breeders about pups, ask them about the parents ability/desire to hunt vermin.
    Our 100% rat terrier’s mom killed 5 ground hogs (wood chucks) the summer before she had her pups. Our rat terrier mixes came from shelters, but they still have the drive to hunt vermin.

    Some folks breed tiny rat terriers for “pocket pets” and those dogs don’t have any drive. They are just lap dogs.


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