Monday, July 27, 2020

The Summer Garden & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  It's getting to be peak season in the garden.  I canned all the lima beans we picked last week.  Two jars didn't seal, so we had one that night, and I made succotash with the other.  I blanched and froze two bags of beans, with the excess that wouldn't fit in the canner.  I planted broccoli, cabbage, collard, and rutabaga seeds in the house, using lettuce containers as little greenhouses, and several of each have already germinated.  Raspberries, lettuce, the youngest blueberries, currants, parsley and house plants were fertilized.  Shredded paper was added to the compost bin.  I washed all the bedding, including pillow covers and mattress pad, and hung them on the line.  I noticed the first eggplant.  I'll pick it in the next few days, and now there are two more getting big.  Cucumbers, tromboncino and zucchini squash, red noodle beans and pole beans, kale, blueberries and tomatoes were harvested.  Some sprigs of lambs quarter were gathered, and some chanterelles.  Most are drying, but I enjoyed a couple in a breakfast scramble.  I pulled Spanish rice from the freezer to have with bean burritos one night.  Our tomatoes were chopped to use in these. 

One of the galleries that carries my soap reopened, and asked for more soap.  After delivering soap, I went to a favorite thrift shop, just up the road from them.  It's the first one I've been to in 2020.  I didn't find much, but got a padded hanger for .25, and a Christmas stocking for our GD for $1.  My last stop was Harris Teeter.  They had 4 packs of organic garbanzo beans on sale for $3.19 and their organic baked beans were being discontinued, so were B1G1, which ended up being .74 ea.  I stocked up on both of these, as well as organic raisins, which were on sale for $4.49/20 oz.  That's much higher than I usually pay, but we were running low, and I wanted to be sure to have some on the shelf for baking.  Other sale items were freezer bags, mozzarella, organic juice and organic bell pepper.  I thought I might get a jar of yeast, but they had none.  After I got back home, I harvested more elderberries, and added them to tincture jars.  I also harvested the older potatoes in containers, before the expected rain.  We did get rain, for which we were very thankful.

Some tomatoes were canned, as well as sweet pickle relish, which I use in making Thousand Island dressing.  I don't know about your household, but it seems all sorts of things have been breaking around ours.  I mentioned the a/c a few weeks back, which is still not fixed, despite resorting to a repair person.  Every time I can, it freezes up, and has to be turned off for a while.  J & I went under the house last week, and tried to find the leak with soapy water, but couldn't find a thing, inside or at the unit outside.  I also mentioned we replaced our refrigerator, which had broken and had no parts available.  It also sounded very much like a duck quacking.  They supposedly brought the ice maker for the new one, but it wasn't the right one, and will not be available until late August, right about the time things start cooling down. Thankfully, I have a couple of ice trays to use for the ice bath for canning tomatoes.  I just have to remember to make ice.  All the electronics on our stove, and the oven stopped working.  Thankfully, I still had the stove top working.  J decided after researching to get a USA made one with a convection oven, and it also has an air fryer feature.  I'm going to have to learn to use both.  The pump that brings our drinking (rain)water into the house quit working, and our powder coat oven was only heating to 250, though it needs to get to 500 to bake our orders correctly.  J worked on both, and we are hopefully at the end of all our malfunctioning stuff, other than the a/c.  J bought a gallon of skim milk by mistake.  I made yogurt with 1/2 skim and 1/2 whole milk. 

In reading the Forager Chef blog (in the side bar), I learned about sweet fern, which is not a true fern, but is edible and medicinal, as well as being aromatic.  It is native to NC, though it may be more suited to the mountains.  We're at the upper edge of its limits, but I'd like to try growing some.  I'll keep a look out, but I've not seen it among the ferns that grow here.  The chicken coop was cleaned on Sunday.  It was quick job this time, but we needed to head to some potter friends who had lost their kiln shed in a fire on Saturday.  I cut a bouquet for us and them, and garden veggies were shared with them and others.  I tried a recipe for cucumber soup.  J turned his nose up after tasting it.  I ate some with dinner, but wasn't a fan either, so I strained it and gave the solids to the chickens.  Several of our younger fig trees are loaded with fruit this year.  We love them fresh and in fig bread.  Shredded paper and cardboard were emptied into the compost bin.  The neighbor that I gave a massage to a few weeks ago came by again  He had injured himself moving many 50-60# bags of corn.  It's nice to still be doing occasional massage work.  Here's to a smoother week for us all.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Bountiful Beans & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I had to head to town to meet a tradesperson.  While there, I ran to the bank, picked up a part for J, and got groceries.  I'd been trying to find canned corn for a good price, to make frozen treats for the chickens.  My frugal nature makes it hard for me to spend a dollar and a half for a can of corn, non-organic at that.  Aldi's had canned corn for .38 ea, limit 4, so I got 4.  I also got cans of organic black and pinto beans for .89, their regular price, but it seems prudent to stock up when it's available, in these times.  I got more .65 avocados too.  Food Lion had cherries for $1.99/#, one of my favorite fruits.  I also found mozzarella on manager's special, and made the first caprese salad of the year with it.  Nectarines were on sale for $1.49/#, the pups dogfood was $3 off, and organic milk was .29 off, so some decent deals this week.  Basil was harvested, and pesto enjoyed with pasta one night.

I made yogurt and hummingbird food.  I'm enjoying breakfast scrambles a few days a week.  I've found more chanterelles to add, lambs quarter, our squash and cherry tomatoes, along with store bought pepper and olives.  The hens have slowed down their egg production with the heat, but we're getting enough to manage.  I can't remember if I mentioned that several weeks ago, we pretty much decided all three chicks that hatched this spring are roosters, not the hens we were hoping for.  They were slower than most to develop their combs, and one or more is crowing.  I've not yet caught them at it, just heard it in the distance.  It's possible one is not, but two definitely are roosters.  Darn.  I'm bringing them all dock greens and some kale leaves.  The lettuce has germinated sparsely, but I'll be happy to get any.  We've gotten some rain this week, much needed with the high temperatures.  I finished the last of the online classes needed for renewing my massage license next month.  It's nice to have that behind me.

A friend came and picked noodle beans.  I also sent her home with cucumbers.   I'd been wanting a jar to put my homemade toothpaste and little spoon in.  On a recent visit to this friend's, I found the perfect one, which now keeps company with another pot they made.  Cucumbers and beans were shared with J's business partner.  I made yellow squash with kalamata olives.  J harvested apples from several trees, and dug a few more potato plants.  We need to get them all dug, as some had started to rot.  We replanted so many times, we were trying to give them as much time as possible, but it's time, as soon as we can get to it.  Some years ago, I noticed a volunteer autumn clematis underneath one of our pear trees, and thought, "a pretty flower... I'll plant it somewhere".  Well, I'm now thinking that was a poor choice, as it's a monster, taking over everything else in the bed.  I whacked it back one evening, along with cutting back a mum in the bed that was falling over with new growth, and pulling up volunteer passionflower vines.  I canned zucchini and tromboncino squash.

Peaceful homesteading videos were enjoyed on youtube.  On a walk one day, I looked up and saw this sweet bird's nest.  I'm not sure which bird makes this type of nest, with an entry hole on the side, but it made me smile.  Some of the found twine was used to make three more red onion braids.  J dug the sweet onions, and M cut the roots off the garlic, which allowed me to store them.  Various garden beds were weeded, though there's plenty more to do.  The elderberries are beginning to ripen.  I began a jar of tincture with them, and strained a batch of lemon balm tincture.  The turmeric has sprouted up.  The first round of lima beans was picked, and we ended up with 34 lbs to shell, which kept us up late one night.  Several youtube videos kept me entertained while I shelled.  I usually freeze them in meal sized portions, but with so many, I plan to can the majority of them.  What's in store for your week?

Monday, July 13, 2020

Canning the Harvest & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I enjoyed a smoothie for one breakfast, and made vegi scrambles several other days.  Our squash was used in them, and peppers and green olives.  One day I added a few chanterelle mushrooms.  Another day I added a few sprigs of lambs quarter.  It's nice to be expanding my breakfast repertoire.  I harvested and canned cubed pickled beets.  Another day, I canned a mix of purple pole and red noodle beans. The purple beans turn green in boiling water, but the noodle beans hold their color, which is nice.  I originally bought cubed beets from Big Lots, and love them in salads, so thought I'd make my own.  I harvested lavender, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow and tromboncino squash, blueberries, purple pole beans and yard long beans.  The tomatoes are starting to ripen, cherry and the larger ones.  Oh my, you sure can't beat a home grown tomato.  I'm looking forward to having my first tomato sandwich this week.

I gathered eggs, and shredded paper and cardboard.  A pan of egg shells was crushed, and added to the compost bin.  I braided the majority of our red onions.  They're a little wonky, but they should work fine.  I mended 3 pairs of J's pants.  Yogurt was made.  I continue to walk with the pups for exercise.  One night, I made Italian squash with corn, focaccia with our red onion and rosemary, green beans, and cucumbers  in vinegar.  One cucumber got missed when I picked.  It was bigger than we like, so I cut it in half, and gave it to the chickens.  The pups are getting grated veggies every night, a mix which may include squash, cucumbers, apple, carrot and cabbage core. 

 Another hornworm and a few tomato worms were found in the garden, and given to the chickens, as well as lots of Japanese beetles.  Getting little in the way of greens right now, their yolks are paler, but they sure are getting plenty of protein.  I tried a new cabbage slaw.  Laundry was dried on the line.  I found a nickel.  Cucumbers, eggs and beans were shared with a friend.  Many orders were made and powder coated this weekend.  We had a really awful time with powder coating, for some reason.  Doing the same thing I usually do, most turned out splotchy, and had to be redone, one or two more than once.  J even redid some, and they were still splotchy.  We were beginning to think it was a bad batch of paint, but we used a different batch of paint, and still had issues.  We may just need to chalk it up to another 2020 challenge.  I'm seriously hoping we don't have a repeat of the issues the next time I paint.  It's enough work and time, without having to redo them. 

On the way to close up the chickens one evening, J saw a rainbow, and called me out to see.  I love the sense of hope in a rainbow.  This is the first year we've ever had to deal with deer in our garden.  We've been using a product called I Must Garden, recommended by someone who used to work in a garden store.  It seems to be helping.  I dug a few potato plants last week, and was pleased with the harvest.  We hope the remaining plants will match it.  A few of the lettuce have germinated.  We lost power during a storm one night, right at bedtime, so I began reading one of the books on my Kindle.  Wishing you a most lovely week.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Beans, Berries & Frugal Accomplishments

Hello, friends.  Last week, I saw the first ripening raspberry.  When I went to check and see if it had gotten ripe, it was gone.  Oh well, a bird probably has a happy tummy.  I did nab one another day.  I've frozen a few pans of blueberries and blackberries, whatever we weren't eating fresh, as I'm picking them most every day.  I listed two items on ebay, and sold one.  One of the containers of potatoes had mint growing in it, so I harvested it and made iced tea. Besides blueberries, I'm harvesting cucumbers, beets, lettuce, zucchini, tromboncino and yellow squash, purple pole beans and yard long beans.  Also, small amounts of lambs quarter when I see it.  I blanched and froze another meal's worth last week.

before scouring

after scouring... yuck!
I'm now a believer in scouring cloth I plan to dye.  I had read that some people don't think this step necessary, and I hadn't been doing it until now.  As you can tell from the before and after pics, the process is definitely removing something.  Cellulose fibers (such as cotton and linen) contain waxes and pectins.  If you don't remove them, you risk the dye bonding to the wax and pectin, instead of the fabric, which can make the dye less lasting or give uneven results.  I scoured a second time, which was also pretty brown.  It convinced me.  I transplanted all the remaining parsley seedlings into an assortment of pots, including two I made from large metal tins.  I could have used more soil, but I made do with mixing old and new.  Several of the parsley I had transplanted in the garden died, and I want to see if they'll be happier in dappled light on the porch.  A batch of yogurt was made, and more raisin zucchini bread.

A new pasta recipe was tried, with lemon, feta and basil.  Hummus was made.  Now that cucumbers have started coming in, I've made asian cucumbers three times.  It's definitely a favorite of ours. I pulled one of the purple cosmic carrots to try, and it was very good.  A neighbor came by, asking if I still did massage.  I ended up giving him a chair massage, the first one I've done since St. Patrick's Day.  In the shadiest portion of the garden, I prepared a bed for lettuce, adding in old chicken manure, then watched the sun to see which portion of the bed got the most shade.  It will get direct sun from about noon to 3, and dappled light at other times.  I'm hoping that will work to give me a nice crop of lettuce during the hottest part of summer.  It's been hot and dry.  I'm hoping one of the days forecast to have a good chance next week brings us some rain.

There are many lightning bugs this year, which brings me joy.  In past summers, there were many, but the last few years, there seemed less and less.  How wonderful they're returning.  I ended up having to compost the calendula I had harvested, as little caterpillars hatched out of it.  That was a first.  I read a tip to freeze the flower buds when you bring them in, to keep that from happening.  I picked a bouquet of soapwort, butterfly bush, pink and purple bee balm, and verbena for the house.  Not long ago, my husband expressed a wish for a home grown tomato on the 4th, which is early for our garden.  Well, his wish came true, and we shared our first cherry tomato of the year on the 4th.  Ha!  We also enjoyed our fresh picked corn and green beans, and made mint ice cream with our Kentucky Colonel mint.  I found sparklers I've had for some time, and we had fun with some of them at dark.

happy coreopsis in the dye bed
I've made some progress with the guitar, since a friend loaned me a left handed one.  I looked for one to buy, and found a good deal on fb marketplace.  The sound is not as nice as his, but it's a smaller guitar, and will be fine for now.  Our refrigerator has been limping along for a while.  Then, two or three months ago, one of the drawer supports broke into several pieces.   J said it was beyond fixing, and parts were no longer available.  I suggested he look for sales over the 4th holiday.  He found one with good reviews that was reduced $250, and he got an additional 10% off for being a veteran and for putting it on his card.  I was surprised to see dozens of kale volunteers, where one of the winter ones obviously seeded.  I haven't had much luck with lettuce this year, but at least I'll soon be able to have kale salads.  I did plant three varieties of heat-resistant lettuce on Sunday, with a prayer.

red noodle beans/yard long beans
The hay in the back field was baled a week ago.  I found lots of twine this time on the service road.  I believe once it's cut, it's no good to them, which is why they leave it laying.  There was quite a lot this time, in three long pieces, so I brought it home, and have been using some of it to tie tomatoes.  They also lost a hay bale on the road.  Sadly, we can't use it in the garden, as like most everyone around here, they spray the field with Grazon, which will kill garden plants in short order, and persists for a long time.  I considered using it in the chicken coop, but as I use the composted cleanings in the garden, I didn't want to risk trying to keep it separated.  It seems a shame to let so much hay lay there, but it's not worth the risk.  The wrens on the porch did hatch out a little one.  I found it in a precarious position, still featherless, and out of the nest.  I was afraid to move it, but J quickly got it back into the nest, and every day, I've seen the parents bringing food, which is a hopeful sign.  J looked in with his flashlight, and said there's only one in the nest, and it looks fine.

We had a fine crop of red onions this year, filling more than half a copper boiler.  We still have to harvest yellow onions and sweet onions, and have Egyptian walking onions as well.  The beans are becoming prolific.  Though I'd love to hold off a bit longer, it appears I'll need to can some this week.  I also plan to can pickled beets some time soon.  So far, I'm managing to somewhat keep up with cucumbers and squash, though I expect I'll be canning them before long too.  I was able to share some of both with a neighbor on Sunday.  We cut a watermelon for the 4th, and gave the chickens the rind and quite a bit of watermelon, as it was overripe.  Sad, as we had just bought it the day before.  Our melon plants are coming along, but it will be some time before we have melons to eat.  Last week, I finished reading Dreams From My Father, and began reading The Cooking Gene, both library books.  Have a good week, friends.