Independence Day Update: Drip. Drip. Drip.

Sharon March 23rd, 2010

The most important thing that has happened this week at our place is melting.  First we had record high temperatures, then we swung back to cooler weather, but with rain.  The four feet of snow that we started March with are now patchy bits, a lake in my backyard (happens every year during meltoff) and my creek rushing like a white water river. 

Otherwise, a combination of recovering from illness and exhaustion meant that mostly we kept things pretty quiet.  We’re doing spring cleaning to get ready for Passover and that’s taking up a good bit of time too.  Everyone came out and enjoyed the sunshine and the spring like weather.  Each day we walk to see if the peepers are peeping (not yet) and look at the daffodils and crocuses.  Not much is in bloom yet, but the pussy willows in the marsh are going, and that alone gives hope.  The redwings and spring birds are back, the wild ducks are in the marsh marigolds, and there’s hope.

You need hope, since the northeast has a season between winter and spring – mud.  For the better part of a month in March and early April, the world is grey and beige and wet and mucky.  Keeping floors clean is hopeless, at least if you’ve got kids and dogs.  Life is a swamp, and you just kind of go with it, knowing that in a few weeks, all will be green again.

We usually try and clean out the barn by mid-March, but things have been so wet that navigating into the garden is nigh-impossible, but the bunnies are clean at least.  The two does that were bred at the beginning of the month will kindle in a week or so, giving us our first litters of rabbits, if all goes well.

The plans for new raised beds and farmer’s markets are burgeoning, and the seed flats are filling up.  There’s excitement here every morning when we check to see what’s come up and what’s ready to transplant.

Ok, that’s probably about it.  On to the other stuff:

Planted: Tomatoes, ground cherries, catnip, pennyroyal, parsley, peppers, eggplant, snapdragons, broccoli, cabbage, kale, chard, bok choy, tree collards (from cuttings), Good King Henry, Malva, Verbena, Sweet Peas

Harvested: A few sorrel leaves, milk, eggs, prunings for the goats and rabbits

Preserved: Nothing

Waste Not: Usual composting, recycling, minimizing packaging, feeding things to other things.  Boxed up a lot of toddler things from Asher to go to various places for those in need.   

Want Not: Bought a couple of boxes of generic cheerios (my children’s crack-like addiction ;-) ).  Ordered more wheat and lentils.

Build Community Food Systems: Nothing, but planning something cool.

Eat the Food: Made baked stuffed potatoes with local mushrooms, my garlic and homemade goat cheese.  Really good. 

How about you?


21 Responses to “Independence Day Update: Drip. Drip. Drip.”

  1. Gabrielle says:

    Plant—I blew my chance at planting the garden on Saturday. I had other commitments that I needed to prioritize, and I was so tired after 3 days of not sleeping well that I just didn’t make it to the garden. Unfortunately it rained on Sunday, and I never made it out to plant over the weekend. I’ll hope to get the rest of the spring garden planted in the next couple of days.

    Harvest—Our daughter and I picked a sweet bouquet with the first of the spring flowers, namely Lenten Roses and daffodils. So precious!

    Preserve—I added 6 quarts of organic chili to the freezer (leftover from my batch that I made for the tamale and chili dinner at church). I froze 2+ cups of chopped onions. I reserved the tomato juice from the home canned tomatoes that I drained for the chili. I froze it to add to my next batch of soup so that it didn’t waste.

    Waste Not/Reduce Waste— This week we estimate that our trash was reduced to about a half of a can. I can’t be certain because I failed to tell Hubby that I was keeping track of the amount until about an hour ago. My father brought me a china cabinet that was my grandmother’s from Memphis. I’ll work on moving the china over to the “new” cabinet this week. I add this to the reduce waste category, as this is a family heirloom that will be used instead of buying a new piece of furniture. A church member suggested that we have a small bin at the front door to the church to collect church bulletins and papers for recycling. We do recycle paper at the church, but it isn’t in an obvious spot. This increased visibility will make the congregation much more likely to recycle.

    Want Not/Prep/Storage—We worked on getting the house back in order after a crazy last few weeks. I added a few more boxes of pasta and canned goods to the pantry and a few soaps to the toiletry cabinet.

    Building Community Food Systems—The tamale and chili supper at church went off without a hitch. When I explained that I had used organic ingredients in my chili, it was interesting how many people asked me what I meant by that. I worked in the food pantry this week making some boxes for distribution. Hubby and I were downtown on Saturday morning, and I longed to walk around the corner to the farmers market for some fresh foods. How excited will I be when opening day of the market arrives!

    Eat the Food— I was fighting a stomach bug late last week, and therefore I didn’t really enjoy most of the meals that I prepared. Hubby and I went out for a special supper to celebrate our anniversary and that was delicious. I had a lobster bisque that night that was some of the smoothest I’ve ever enjoyed—just don’t tell my father, as he brags about making the best seafood bisque!

  2. KC says:

    Planted: tomatoes, peppers, parsley, calendula, marigold, cosmos, clrome, morning glory, hyssop, nettle, lettuce, kale, collard, leek, wormwood, beneficial insect mix, chamomile. Today is a big planting day (I hope to plant onions, lettuce, kale, collard, chard, beet, carrot, turnips, etc. outside). I think I have missed my opportunity for asian greens – it has the potential to get warm (or cold) very soon.

    Harvested: collards, kale, rutabaga, turnip greens, arugula, chickweed, asian greens, mustard, – all from fall garden plantings. Many are starting to bud … I wonder should I eat the flower buds (like little broccolinis )- or let them flower to attract beneficial insects? .. maybe both.

    Preserved: Nothing, although a friend has already started to dry greens. It has me thinking …

    Waste Not: sorted through old seeds and am planning to make seed balls (using clay from outside) to plant some of the seed from 8 years ago. Also, someone gave me some fresh turnips (that were going to be plowed under).

    Want Not: I am beginning to place almost half of the seed I ordered into moisture proof vials and jars for long-term storage in the freezer. (I usually don’t plant all of the seed that comes in each packet). This year I want to be proactive and store it before it attracts moisture or gets warm. I am using silica gel to make sure it is dry (and then removing silica gel). i will freeze some seed and others I will place in the cool, dry place under the stairs. (Bean seed must be very dry before freezing or it can be structurally damaged by freezing). I need to do some research to see if there are other seeds that should not be frozen. If it is kept dry and cool from the start, I am hoping that it will maintain vitality and vigor for several years. I noticed that some of the seed companies are beginning to ship in moisture proof packets that may lengthen seed life.

    Build Community Food Systems: I am planning another seed exchange for the farmers market (at the community center) – first weekend in April. The response has been good so far. I would like to help people begin to think about saving seed as they are planting their gardens – (put in extra plants for seed saving purposes only – or remembering to plant large enough populations to maintain vigor, or thinking about saving seed from some of the first fruits instead of as an afterthought.)

    Eat the Food: steamed greens from the garden are so delicious this time of year. I’ve been making chicken soup (local chicken) with dumplings. Comfort food. I am using some of the fermenting flour goop on the counter and adding some baking powder or soda to make the dumplings – this might not sound appetizing , but its delicious. Still finding ways to eat winter squash, potatoes, beets, onions. I have a lot of onions right now, so I start by making an onion soup base – which is simple and delicious – and then it can be transformed into anything else after that ( chicken, mushrooms, lentils, carrots …)

  3. Not much to report as we were away last week for spring intersession, but my update such as it is can be found here:

  4. Anna says:

    Tree collards? I went and looked them up online and they sound amazing! But, only hardy to zone 7? Will yours survive the winter up there (because, if so, I’m putting them in my zone 6 garden ASAP. :-) )

  5. Sonrisa says:

    It’s a normal spring here. Sixty and sunny one day, a blizzard the next.

    Plant- Tomatoes, cabbage, chamomile, epazote, parsley.

    Harvest- Turnips, lettuce, green onions, eggs, milk, quail. We also hiked to the top of one of our local hills for the equinox and found a nice patch of Mormon Tea (Ephedra). I also got a little cashmere from the girls.

    Preserved- Just drying the Mormon tea.

    Waste not- Usual stuff. Also when we butcher any poultry I dry pluck and save the feathers. Last fall I had enough to make a couple of feather filled window shades. They made a huge difference. I hope to have enough this year to make some for the rest of our windows. I added to the feather stash this week.

    Want not- My husband bought himself a safety razor with a hundred blades (which should last several years). I made a years worth of soap with our tallow.

    Community food system- no.

    Eat the food- We had quail salad sandwiches with the lettuce, quail, bread, and eggs (for the mayo) all homegrown. Then I cooked down the bones for broth and made (quail)egg drop soup with turnip greens and green onions.

  6. Plant something: tuscan kale seedlings (couldn’t get my seeds to germinate!)

    Harvest something: lettuce, parsley, oregano, lemon thyme, basil, chillis, last green beans

    Preserved something: not this week.

    Waste not: usual composting, worm-farming & recycling.

    Want not: ordered some fair trade espresso from East Timor, will buy in bulk if it passes the taste test.

    Build Community Food Systems: not this week

    Eat the food: More pancakes with home-made cherry jam & home-made soy yogurt; muffins made with the same mix; some great workday lunches of chickpea cutlets with garden greens & home-pickled beetroot.

  7. Evey says:

    Plant something: At WV farm- 3 kinds of peas, three beds (4′x16′) of potatoes for summer eating, onions, spinach, cutting mix
    NC seed starts- 3 kinds of peppers, potted-up celery

    Harvest something- over wintered parsnips(hope they are still good), chives, micro mix

    perserved something- not yet though I might freeze parsnip mash if it is sweet.

    eat the food- great grass fed beef(see below) and venison sausage

    want not- took cuttings of favorite plants in NC yard to move with us- 8 service/June berry & 8 native hearts a’bustin

    community food system- finished trade of hay bales for grass fed beef from nearest neighbor on the road. Also contacted them and another road family about starting sweet potaote slips for them this year. We plan to lots of seedling swapping this year.

  8. Megan says:

    Planted: Gave my seeds away to the community garden, not planning much hands on gardening this summer.

    Harvested: Sorrel, Rosemary, almost asparagus

    Preserved: Four quarts of carrot pickles from give away carrots, several quarts of soup in the freezer for post baby

    Waste Not: Collecting and finding the next home for my collection of maternity clothes, using things up for Pesach, giving away boxes as we clean for Pesach. Finding hand me down cloth diapers.

    Want Not: Working toward a one month supply of food to start with. Cut grocery trips to once per week (two different stores on alternating weeks). Arranged to trade music for a farm share (again!)

    Build Community Food Systems: Continued managing community garden and online group, registered our garden for giveaways, made a list of things to do for gardeners.

    Eat the Food: Using up the fruit from the freezer, lots of smoothies. Using up tomato sauce which we haven’t used as quickly, all my curries smell a little bit Italian.

  9. Lynne says:

    Ok, I’ve learned that even in the warmest winter in Canada on record, I still can’t really plant brassicas on Feb 14th and expect much. Ah well, no guts, no glory.

    Claire – I am really curious as to how your flat-started parsnips turn out this year as I might try them next year. The 1/2 size flats do seem just right – the full sized ones must be incredibly heavy!

    KC – I think you may have excellent luck freezing your seeds. Friends who freeze seeds have carrot seeds that last >10 years, and other seeds they run out of before their % germination drops much.

    More onions – I have really uneven germination; brassicas transplanted outside; peas; new raspberry canes; transplanted celery and celeriac

    Harvest: Lettuce, spinach, eggs; chickens managing to avoid nest box now at all costs :(

    Preserve: Nope

    Waste not: the usual

    Want not: stocked up on some pasta at a beautiful price

    Build community: Not really, this is a weakness – just gave away some eggs; held an equinox brunch with family featuring local and garden produce

    Eat: potato salad – potatoes still pretty good from last year!; regular salad; canned peaches; more berry crisp; eggs+++; local apples; frittata with some home veggies

  10. Lynne says:

    Oops, I forgot – planted lots and lots of green manures – clovers and field peas in some beds that are for later stuff like squashes

  11. aimee says:

    planted: peas, potatoes, radishes, spinach, mesclun, beets, carrots, raspberry canes

    harvested: a few radish thinnings, a pinch of rosemary and thyme, and a little mint

    preserve: last week I made kim chee! Green cabbage was on sale so cheap I bought two heads and a big old daikon and went to town. First time with lacto-fermentation and it went well. Oh and eggs.

    waste not: all kitchen scraps go to the pig. Poop in the manure pile. Also, got a trade going with an organic hydroponic gardener – I give him a dozen eggs a week and I get all his lettuce butts for my animals. Four big totes full!

  12. Sharon says:

    Anna, they are aren’t hardy here, but they root well from cuttings, so what I’ve been told (first year trying it) is that you can take cuttings in late fall and overwinter them, start them inside and replant in spring and get very good production. It is an experiment, but as Lynne says, no guts, no glory ;-) .


  13. ctdaffodil says:

    I must admit – I’m not doing as well as I thought this early in the year. I need the weather to cooperate a bit more.

    Plant something – seed samples with youngest for a germination experiment for school.

    Harvest – nothing growing so nothing harvested….

    Preserved – see harvest

    Eat the food – we are eating down the freezer as hubbys suggestion. actually doing quite well. A bit ticked off though since at the bottom was a 5# beef roast that was 13 months old! That had to get tossed….decided that I will put a clipboard set next to the freezer so things can be added and crossed off as used.

    Want not – went throught the kids closets and donated a ton of out grown stuff. Poor younger child only gets new socks and shoes but thats the way it goes. Rec’d a big bag of hand me downs and sorted those too. Also went through all the baseball clothing – donated 3 sets of cleats and baseball pants.

    Comm. Food System – sadly haven’t done as much for our town pantry as I would have liked lately…haven’t really needed to go to the store for much so haven’t picked up any extras for others. Planning on it soon though…

  14. Liz says:

    I am a bit unorganized this week but:

    Planted: artichokes (transplants), seeds: artichokes(yes, again), black cumin, and an experiment: giant pumpkins, cotton, and peanuts (all in greenhouse); mostly weeded, and fertilized what was already planted.

    Harvested: fava beans, spinach, flat leaf parsley, chives, sage

    Prep and Storage: researched and bought a pasta machine; bought locally caught squid and froze them, bought locally grown artichokes and prepped them for freezer.

    Considered starting my summer crops (does that count?) and continued to pull dig out whats left of my lawn to make more room for the summer crops (tomatoes, eggplant and peppers).

    Eat the Food: I am having a love affair with fava beans…:)

  15. Claire says:

    It’s full-on spring in St. Louis; I saw forsythia in bloom and the early full-size daffodils are blooming in my yard. High was 74F today but will only be about 50F tomorrow – the usual Midwestern seesawing spring weather.

    Plant: a pawpaw seed I found when mixing soil mix for cell packs. I am pricking-out lettuce and cabbage-family seedlings from flats into separate cell-packs for further growing out (I don’t plant outside till around April 10, spring weather is very changeable here). Lynne, I’ll report on the parsnip seedling experiment as you requested. I’ve had good luck with planting seedling carrots in the past.

    Harvest: sorrel from the open garden, arugula and green onions from the cold frame, the first shiitake mushroom of the year from the shiitake logs.

    Preserve: nothing this week.

    Waste not: set aside paper and cardboard from shipped goods for use as mulch liner in new beds. DH brought home more hand tools from his father’s collection. Relocated wood from the two year old pile of pruned branches that is in the way of the planned new veggie beds (DH can burn it later). Dug out euonymous shrub that was also in the way of the veggie garden expansion, along with vining honeysuckle, shrub honeysuckle, and goldenrod that were growing under the pile of pruned branches. DH pulled apart scavenged pallets for the wood.

    Want not: found a hand-cranked oil press (to press oil out of oilseeds) on Lehman’s website and purchased it, in case my attempts to grow enough of various types of oilseeds to make home-pressed oil comes to fruition. So far the squirrels are winning the oilseed game, however. DH got books on hand tools and handplanes and is working on various woodworking projects for home use. Purchased several months’ worth of soy sauce.

    Build community food systems: nothing this week, other community service projects took precedence. Thinking over next steps in this direction.

    Eat the food: the DH’s kimchee, very tasty. Ate one of the couple of remaining butternut squashes from last fall’s harvest, still good. Made a salad of the sorrel, arugula, and green onions, excellent!

  16. Mark N. says:

    Planted: nothing lately, but have all the usual stuff growing, with some in cold frames already: leeks, parsley, celery, snaps, Rudbeckia, Alyssum. Waiting for shitake sawdust spawn to arrive in the mail, so I can inoculated a pile of red oak logs.

    Build community: cleaned out bird bath and filled with water. Cleaned leaves out of ground level bird bath/frog pond and filled with water. Left piece of beef, chicken innards and fat out on stump for local gray fox. Wild critters need to eat and drink too.

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