Independence Days Update: Holding Back…With Difficulty

Sharon April 13th, 2010

I’m restraining myself with great difficulty from planting too much out.  I know what April in upstate New York is usually like, and I’ve learned over the years that things planted too early often do no better than the things planted a bit later, but it is hard.  Once all the onions, peas and greens are in, I wanna plant, dammit!

It is very hard to get to the computer these days - first there was spring break for Eli last week, which meant more activities planned than usual, now it is catch up time, and the garden calls to us each morning.  

It feels like not much has happened lately - little increments of barn cleaning and bed building, transplanting and seed starting, pruning and seeing what survived (worst tree girdling winter I’ve ever seen!).  Good stuff, but I’m longing for a day when I go out into the garden after breakfast and don’t come back in until dark.

We lost the baby rabbits, all three of them - Rosemary just wasn’t much of a Mom.  I’ve been told to let her have one more chance, and if not, she’ll be culled.  We’ll re-breed in a week or so.

Eric is bringing the eggs to SUNY to sell now and a good thing too, since we’re getting 3+ dozen a day!

Ok, reporting in:

Plant something: Peas, sweet peas, carrots, onions, potatoes, chives, garlic chives, hollyhocks, johnny jump ups, pansies, bok choy, kailaan, raab, lettuce, kale, mache.

Harvest something: Eggs, milk, sorrel, good king henry, nettle shoots, dandelion, chives

Preserve something: Nothing

Waste Not: Building raised beds out of barn cleanings, gave blown duck eggs to a neighbor to paint the shells, mulched ground with a winter’s worth of paper feed sacks.

Want Not: Added some bread flour and lentils to my storage.  Got new glasses, badly needed.

Eat the Food: Lots of stir frying of greens and making them into salads.  Have had chives in everything.  Not sure why we don’t eat chives more.

Build Community Food Systems: Various interviews, helped out with a local school garden project.

How about you?


22 Responses to “Independence Days Update: Holding Back…With Difficulty”

  1. Lise says:

    My update is here:

  2. ctdaffodil says:

    kids are on spring break and baseball season has started….not a lot to report.

    Plant something - nothing yet - the water from the CT floods has finally started to sink into the ground and evaporate enough to have the garden tilled - just in time for me to seriously consider raised beds

    Harvest - nothing since nothing is planted -

    Preserve - Same as harvest

    Waste Not - Will use the leaf mulch that didn’t decomp completely as a base for my raised beds, picking up the composted manure is next on my list. Converted the kids old sandbox (10×10 and wood) into the first bed - for pole beans and bush squashes)
    Will use the pine needles from all the white pines as inbetween bed path mulch this year - FREE!!
    Continued the clothing sort through/pass along from the kids closets

    Want Not - Did not buy anything this week aside from eggs from the neighbor $3/dz, milk, greek yogurt and almonds

    Eat the food - still working on eating down the freezer and eating down the pantry

    Community Food Systems - Helped to prep the elem school’s vegetable garden. Will sign up for a week of watering, weeding, harvesting for the summer - most of that harvested I’ll drop off at the soup kitchen because I’m planting a lot of the same things and will have my hands full with processing my own garden harvest

  3. Lynne says:

    Spring returned yesterday. Yay! Had lows of -5C (23F) recently! But all survived with panic coverings. I heart Environment Canada Weather and their forecasts. And I understand the temptation to plant out too much too soon.

    Plant: replanted one third of the peas as I thought they were not germinating…and then they did. Whoops. Transplanted out some lettuce, bietina; potted up sweet potato starts; early potatoes are in; rudbeckia from seed collected from our plant in the garden; potting up tomatoes again;7 more blueberry bushes; moved perennial herbs and grasses to new herb bed

    Harvest: kale, lettuce, spinach, eggs

    Waste not: nothing unusual. Doing spring cleaning which can be a challenge when you don’t want to garbage anything - finding good homes for things at thrift stores

    Want not: Scored some great jeans, a cookie sheet and a full set of glasses at same thrift stores

    Community: involving our families in gardening - helped my sister pot up her strawberry planters; got our nephews to help with the chickens - they love it and are great at it

    Eat: rumtop (oh. my. on tres leche cake); breads, muffins, chapatis with homeground, local flour; salads; soups; pizza, huevos rancheros all with as many home grown ingredients as we can stuff into them

  4. Leigh says:

    Here’s mine -

    I’m impatient to plant too. Fortunately , our last usually expected frost date is next week, which means I can get at planting in earnest!

  5. Miranda says:

    Just wanted to say that our Angora bunny’s mom ate her first babies and went on to be a wonderful mother. She was breed right away, too. Good luck!

  6. KC says:

    Living in central Virginia, I decided to allow myself to take a risk and plant some things early (beans and yellow squash). So far so good. I will cover or replant) if necessary. The heat wave had me scrambling to mulch the garden to try to keep it cool. I also used shade cloth! I’ve been weeding (chickweed) and putting into a bucket, covering with water, add a little manure, and ferment for a couple days to use as foliar spray or fertigation. I heard this is a good way to get minerals back into the soil - and also a good way to deal with weeds that are starting to go to seed - 2+ days under water and the seeds become less viable.

    Plant something: I planted some beans as a cover crop - in one of the beds that will be for fall crops. After the week of 90 degree days, it got cooler … so i planted both favas (in half the bed) and moth beans (in the other half). If it stays cool, the favas might survive. If it gets hot and dry , the moth beans might thrive. This is an experiment. I also mulched the favas to try to keep the soil cool. (They haven’t come up , yet). I sprinkled seeds of various cover crops around the garden - clovers, agricultural mustard, etc.). I transplanted some flowers (cosmos, calendula, and zinnia). I also transplanted kolrabi, kale, vitamin green and sprouting broccoli. We built a stone circle over a tree stump and filled with soil and planted wildflowers in it.

    Harvest something: morrel mushrooms - hooray! kale, collard, chickweed, arugula, endive, parsley, flowering tops of brassicas, beets, radishes (all from last fall)
    I still have a lot of the rape that I planted as a cover crop last spring - (the occasional plant here and there throughout the garden). What a great plant. It grew like a weed - tasted good, overwintered fine, has lots of greens and multiple flowering shoots to eat like broccoli. It may not be as “fine” as many of the specialty kales that are offered, but it is effortless, vigorous, and tasty. I hope to plant more this year. Also, daffodils, pansies, and I put a big stalk of flowering radish in a vase!

    Preserve something: I’ve been cutting greens and drying in the dehydrator and I now have several jars of them - kale, collard, chickweed and more.

    Waste Not: Mulching with brewery wasted (dried barley). I put a little goat manure on top to help with the breakdown and a little straw. I am planning to spray with compost accelerator (microorganisms) to help with breakdown. (I don’t like seeing bare soil, so I am always trying to cover it with something until the plant cover takes over.) We have been building terraced beds with logs and with old recycled barn boards.

    Want Not: The food stores need to be inventoried, organized and restocked. I bought a kefir culture and am enjoying daily fermenting of kefir.

    Eat the Food: I went on a root rampage … clearing the root cellar of roots and roasting as many as I can (onion, potato, beet, and sweet potato). I still have about a dozen beets left (in great shape) , a bushel and a half of potatoes (all sprouting), a bushel of sweet potatoes (in good shape, but need to be eaten, soon), and several winter squash (1 very large hubbard and 7 delicata). I see now - this is the challenge - eating what has been stored before it changes state. I had a bag of onions that were sprouting pretty badly so I made a big pot of onion soup that later turned into chicken soup. I’ve been eating the last of the seeds from godiva pumpkins (1 left). I wish I had kept better records about quantities from last year to know how much to put aside this year.

    Build Community Food Systems: Garden discussions with friends.

  7. Ann says:

    Northern York County, Maine

    Plant - started tomatos, peppers, eggplant
    Harvest - duck eggs, chicories, early flowers
    Preserve - dried lots of roots & squash
    Waste not - cooked potato culls and pumpkin for ducks, compost to composter, wood ash to garden
    Want not - finally got to the chiropractor about the shoulder I wrecked last summer. With care I should be able to do the garden.
    Eat food - potato/onion/egg/cheese casserole, feijoada [Brazilian beans and mixed weird pork parts like feet & ear & heart & tongue & fat back & ham scraps], chicory stuffato [braised in olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes], radicchio salad, fresh fried duck eggs.

    BTW, it seems that potatos have an amino acid ratio comparable to wheat. I guess that’s why the French eat so many bean and potato dishes. Works for someone like me with grain intolerance. And I can grow both beans and potatos. But I have to wean my Italian husband from pasta toward potatos. LOL!

  8. NM says:

    Plant something: no. My seedlings are mostly looking great, which is very exciting. Poor germination so far, for the eggplants and peppers, and none of the marigolds came up. Don’t know why. Lack of bottom heat? Guess I’ll have to replant. Need to get the peas started, too. It’s been pouring rain for a few weeks, so I haven’t been doing much, by which I mean anything, outside.
    Harvest something: herbs from the garden, csa vegetables, local eggs, a few farmers market vegetables, lilacs.
    Preserve something: No. I did freeze an extra Easter panettone and surplus cookies.
    Want not: Continuing to work on business planning for farm. Contacted a realtor who is a friend about finding land; haven’t yet heard back.
    Waste not: Just composting, recycling. I’ve started saving tea bags, tangerine peels, from work lunch and beverages and bringing them home to compost. Hmm. I should put out a bowl to collect the coffee grounds; we go through a lot and they end up in the trash.
    Community food systems. Meeting with Slow Food group; very productive. Some good programs coming up. Shared recipes with a kale-weary friend. Cooked meals for husband to take when he works in the field, instead of having to eat out; a weekend routine here.
    Eat the food: Spinach quiche, kale chapathis, asparagus and mushroom omelet, asparagus potato patties, chocolate filbert meringue cookies to use up an excess of egg whites, lots of potatoes with onions or leeks and cabbage or kale, with eggs, rhubarb galette … mmmm….

  9. Claire says:

    A gorgeous week in St. Louis, redbuds and dogwoods in bloom. I don’t plant till about now because we can still get lows in the mid 20F range as late as April 24. But I suspect we’ve already had our last frost for this year.

    Plant: onion and leek seedlings, potatoes (left over from last year’s crop). I weeded the flat of native plant seedlings and found a gratifying number of various echinacea seedlings, a personal favorite genus.

    Harvest: mostly asparagus, as I was so busy with the planting that I kind of neglected harvesting (will do better this week!). The DH harvested some shiitakes, but since it quit raining and got warmer, fewer of them.

    Preserve: nothing yet, trying to get past the spring planting crunch.

    Waste not: nothing beyond the ongoing composting and reusing efforts.

    Want not: nothing comes to mind (really singularly focused on getting the potato beds dug and planted!).

    Build community food systems: offered my remaining stock of seed potatoes to friends via a Facebook post. We’ll see if anyone wants them.

    Eat the food: used the remaining pumpkin pulp to make one last pumpkin bread. Ate homegrown raw asparagus at most lunches and dinners - the DH doesn’t care for it, so all the more for me!! The DH made an excellent squash soup out of the last butternut squash from last year’s crop, and put some of his shiitakes in it. More shiitakes got added to the morning’s egg dish. He went on a mushroom foray, found some dryad saddles, cut them up and included them in a stir fry; turned out very nice.

  10. Marie says:

    my update is here:

  11. Lynne says:

    I like reading these comments when I can - very inspiring. Way to go KC on your risk-taking!

    I now live in quite a nice climate, but grew up not too far from the NWT border, where the pioneering folks grew gorgeous gardens in Zone 1 (where winters always get to -45C for at least a day or two). Anyway, up there, you either take a risk or you don’t have a garden, so that’s the way I garden. Leads to lots of stress and angsting and panic covering, but most years the risks pay off :)

    On the plus side, not many disease problems in Zone 1 gardens….

  12. AnneT says:

    Back from a month on mid_Atlantic coast and bam! right into it!.

    Planting: outside: garlic chives, lettuce, swiss chard, spinach, radishes; inside: tomatoes, soaking sugar pea seeds.

    Harvest: a bounty of chives from my window plant!

    Waste not: picked up large glass jars from recycling to reuse as cloches/storage, found a couple of trays to hold newspaper seedling cups.

    Want not: picked up my order of organic, locally grown, locally milled whole wheat flour; ordered free-range chickens for the future.

    Community: helped pot up and bag up trees for the plant sale supported the local Ecology Park (and which thereby spreads green in the community!)

    Eat the food: chili with my canned chili meat, tomatoes, salsa verde, and stored dried beans; other canned meals: stew, spaghetti with meat sauce, green chili stew. We’re living off our freezer and preserving shelves for the next month or two to save cash for renovation work.

  13. Ms Betterhome says:

    Plant something: started broccoli sprouts

    Harvest something: lettuce (radiccio, cos, mizuna), spinach, parsley, basil, chillis, cucumber, spring onions, nasturtium leaves.

    Preserved something: not this week

    Waste not: usual composting, worm-farming & recycling. Retrieved a carton of long-life juice & some tofu that was at the use-by date, & made sure they went onto the menu.

    Want not: took advantage of the free seed offer from the Diggers Club, and ordered the ‘Kitchen Garden’ mix.

    Build Community Food Systems: no…

    Eat the food: Pantry delights: millet ‘breakfast cake’ (made with millet cooked in juice) & tofu ‘cream cheese’. Home-baked bread, home-grown salads.

  14. Gina says:

    Great Lakes Region, USA

    AnneT, I also just returned home from a 6 week mid-Atlantic stay and feel the same way!!

    Planted: Finally dug into the better dirt of the garden this week. I planted many sweet onions (red and yellow); broccoli (plants); collard greens (plants); cut up potatoes to prepare for planting (kennebec); basil (seeds, indoors); radish (seed, outdoors); turnips (seed, outdoors)

    And so starts a very busy season of planting…

    Harvested: Just eggs (duck, chicken and turkey)

    Preserved: Froze some tenderloin from a hog smoker cooked by my FIL for a wedding reception (extra)-he does this as a side hobby-business.

    Want not: I placed some eggs into the incubator that a broody hen has been sitting on. She had way more than she could handle so I moved some of them indoors. The TSC clearance chicks are getting bigger and will soon be moved to the barn brooder. The quail eggs in the incubator are on Day 9 (half way to hatch date). I have finalized my hatchery order (I have a credit to use up), but have still not called it in (this week hopefully). I did no shopping this week, thrift or otherwise, so I have nothing for storage (I am going to make this its own category again like Y1 and 2). I did clean up the yard (still need to walk the woods) and the house received a bit of a starter spring cleaning (it was trashed by boys and husband while I was away). OH, I am in a dress I thrifted years ago!!! Still a little tight in the breast area, but it should fit by summer!

    On another less happy note, but needed all the same, I delivered default notice to non-paying folks in our one house. They will be evicted after April 27. I saw their dog had puppies and the 10+ (I lost count) little things were running wild all over the place. So cute…too bad they are where they are.

    Waste Not: Moved metal crib parts (from discarded crib) to garden area to use as a trellis. With the unseasonably warm weather we are having, I am not sure peas are going to get planted, so I will probably use it for cucumbers or beans. I took three metal coffee cans from my mom’s recycleables. I love these for storing things!

    Community: Can’t think of anything…

    Eat the Food: Lots of frittatas. I made an asparagus one, a Mexican one (chorizo, spinach, and salsa), and a cheese one. I am making split pea soup for the week from some left over ham from Easter (another in-law handout). We also made venison chili using our own canned tomatoes.

  15. Gabrielle says:

    We had a record high temperature in our area this week. Then, after a rain, the weather cooled to what folks call in this area a “Dogwood Winter”. People shifted from short sleeves and bare legs to sweaters in a matter of a couple of days.

    Every year we get a taste of warm weather, and you’ll see garden centers hopping and people returning to their gardens and lawns. It is infectious. To say that I’m tempted to plant my summer vegetables and other annuals is putting it lightly, but every year I remind myself of the last frost date. I try to stick with planting after April 15th for my summer crops (tomatoes, beans, cucumbers and other members of the squash family). When the frost hits, like it did here a few days ago, I’m always happy that I waited.

    Plant—I finally ordered my potatoes. I kept putting it off and debating about what varieties to choose. They should be arriving within the next week, and Hubby is putting together the potato boxes for me. We think we’ll add another few boxes this season for more crops.

    I picked up 12 large daylilies at our church Spring Fling and Plant Sale. This sweet older lady of the church divides her perennials starting in the fall and ending the week of our sale. This year she brought in over 100 and sells them for only $1 each! I also picked up some chives that another church lady had brought from her garden for $1. I added those plants to the garden over the weekend. I dug 6 pots of bearded iris to donate to the sale, but the rain caught me before I could separate more.

    Since the spinach was kind of spotty in its sprouting where I had planted it a few weeks ago, I added another packet of spinach seeds to the veggie garden in hopes of having more of a crop this year.

    Harvest—Asparagus, lovely delicious asparagus. There is really nothing like it fresh from the garden and eaten within an hour of its harvest. I also picked some pea sprouts, spring onions, and oregano. Daughter picked lots and lots of daffodils for Momma. I have plans to plant another 100 or so bulbs this fall to better meet her need for flower picking. ;)

    Preserve—I froze some of the spring onions I chopped. Leftover pinto beans were frozen for a future meal.

    Waste Not/Reduce Waste—I used the ham bone from Easter dinner in the pinto beans that I cooked for the children’s program on Wednesday night at church. The rain barrel was hooked back up—we disconnect it in the winter months. I do not think that we took the trash out this week, which means that we are now down to less than a half of a bag of trash a week. I’m considering either purchasing another compost bin or adding some of the composting bacteria (can’t think of the name of that right off hand) to speed up the process.

    Want Not/Prep/Storage—Hubby is making progress on a playhouse for our daughter. The playhouse was put on hold last year with the long illness and passing of my grandmother. We have used wood from a tree that we had to cut down in our front yard last year. We had the wood milled for use on this project. Hubby has been planing the wood and trimming the ends. The sawdust and wood trimmings have been used on the ground under the swings and play area as a mulching material.

    Building Community Food Systems—I was a speaker at a local moms group about gardening with children this week.

    I bought 2 jars of jam from a lady at church so that I wouldn’t run out. I timed our jam usage so that we would run out about the time to pick and preserve strawberries, but there is a potential problem with that plan this year. I spoke with the farmer we normally pick with, but he is not going to have a strawberry crop this year due to current state legislation limiting farmers usage of water from ponds for irrigation. I talked with the ladies at church to secure a few other options of pick-your-own farms, and I have plans to go to one in Maryville and another in Grainger County, TN. I can’t imagine a year without homemade strawberry jam!

    I talked with a lady at church about helping me to preserve some of the crops from the church garden for use in the children’s program this year. She was more than happy to help with this project. The garden has already been planted with potatoes, onions, and a few other things at church. They expanded the garden to accommodate a greater variety of crops, which is quite exciting.

    I split a case of organic butter with a friend. While not local butter, the purchase does support the local food co-op.

    Quite a few church meals this week: I helped with the older adult meeting at church this Tuesday. We enjoyed a yummy potluck luncheon after the speaker. I helped to make the men’s monthly breakfast, helped with the church bake sale (made whole wheat banana bread, whole wheat pumpkin bread, and some chocolate chunk cookies), and made the supper for the children on Wednesday night. I worked in the food pantry and made up some boxes for easy distribution.

    Eat the Food—The most exciting of this week’s meals was the garden pasta that I made. It wasn’t anything at all fancy. I boiled whole wheat pasta. I reserved some of the starchy cooking water. I sautéed pea sprouts, spring onions, asparagus, oregano, garlic from last year’s CSA, zucchini I found in the back of the freezer from last year’s home garden, a chopped up organic carrot, and a few leftover sprigs of parsley in olive oil. I tossed the pasta into the veg and added a little of the cooking water, a squeeze of lemon, and salt and pepper. I brought the leftovers to work, and I was thrilled to share the first of this year’s garden with friends.

  16. Michelle says:

    Sharon, you can breed Rosemary back immediately. Her hormones will still be high, and you’ll have a good chance of a solid litter. I’m surprised that there were only three kits, though - how many times did the buck service her? I would watch and count at least three fallings-off. Does in my barn get three strikes before they’re culled - first-timers often go stupid, unfortunately :( I had an American Blue doe drop 8 gorgeous kits on the wire earlier this month. Good luck, keep me posted, and yell if you need anything!

  17. Jennie says:

    Here’s mine!
    Potatoes are in the ground! Seedlings are leafing out nicely.

  18. dogear6 says:

    Harvest something: Froze some thyme already – I cannot believe how fast it is growing!

    Preserve something: Sundaes in a jar using frozen strawberries that were way too sweet; scooped and froze grapefruit that was on sale.

    Waste Not: Made chicken broth with leftover bones, used up more evaporated milk that’s past its expiration, started using up powdered milk that needs to be rotated. Continuing to thaw and use the oldest food in the freezer (berries, meat, herbs).

    Want Not: Bought canned tomatoes on sale, repackaged dehydrated vegetables for long-term storage, froze chicken that was on sale. Yams are also on sale right now – am going to try roasting and then dehydrating. I bought some dog treats that seemed to be made like this and the dogs loved them! I intend these for the hubby and I to consume, but if it isn’t palatable, we’ll feed to the dogs. Potatoes are on sale too, so we’ve been eating a lot more of them.

    Eat the Food: Thawed frozen strawberries for smoothies & yogurt, been cooking up garbanzos and lentils for all kinds of things. Opened up homemade applesauce, blueberry jam, and pickled carrots / zucchini.

    Building Community Food Systems – I’m not sure this counts, but our local grocery chain was recently bought out. I was one of many to fill out a survey of what we liked / didn’t like. The new owners have announced that they will continue the practice of selling in-season locally grown fruit & vegetables. This is great for me because I get to buy inexpensively things that I do not grow myself (peaches, strawberries, apples, etc.). It also helps the farmers who have sold to the old owners for all these years. The quality is very good also - better than some of the u-picks in the area.

  19. Erika says:

    This weeks’ pitiful update is on my blog:


  20. Shelley says:

    Planted some arugula, claytonia, and mache. Not much, but better than last year when I waited until May to get anything into the ground. The nice weather (even in Maine) inspired me to begin early. I saw a few dandelion out there tempting me to dig them up and stir-fry. Good idea to use the chives with them. They are definitely early this year.

  21. Sharon says:

    Thanks Michelle - I’ll try to make sure there’s three this time - she had two last time, and that’s what Carla Emery’s book said. She dropped them on the wire and then ate them when we put them back in.

    BTW, after you move them if they are born on wire, do you do that thing with the Vicks Vaporub on the nose so they won’t mind the smell? I did it, but I wonder if that’s what stressed her into eating the babies, or if she just sucked as a mother ;-) .


  22. Susan in Virginia says:

    I would like to join your challenge. Maybe it will help me stay somewhat focused.
    So far since February:
    1. Plant Something: started tomatoes, peppers, French marigolds, dill, basil, & maybe some other seeds inside. The tomatoes are looking ready to go out.
    2. Harvest Something: old carrots & turnips left over from last year’s garden
    3. Preserve Something: nothing yet
    4. Waste Not: shredded the carrots & turnips and gave to the chickens, they loved them. Brought home shredded paper from work, weekly. I use it in the chicken house, but it also makes great mulch in the vegetable garden. My sister also brings it to me from her work place.
    5. Want Not: been stocking up on canned goods - there is a large grocery store here that is changing ownership and almost every week they have some great specials.
    6. Community Food Systems: well, not food exactly, but I did donate some French marigold seeds that my granddaughter and I harvested last fall to her school.
    7. Eat the food: still working my way through stuff in the freezer.

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