Monday, April 26, 2021

A Pink Moon & Garden Happenings

Hello, friends.  Last week, I harvested asparagus most days.  Though I recently started some culinary herbs, I decided to pick up some basil, parsley, and cilantro plants at Lowe's, to get a bit of a head start.  I looked at several containers, to get the most and nicest plants.  Wednesday evening, I covered all the peppers, squash, cucumbers and tomatoes (well, I somehow left out one poor tomato), in anticipation of a frost.  We did get a frost, and another Thursday night.  Our potatoes got "bit", but with over 200 plants up, we knew no way to cover them.  Hopefully, they'll recover, or send up new growth.  It appears that will be the last cold snap.  We should be done with frost at this point, but who knows.  Three books were picked up at the library.  

I took advantage of cold weather, and boiled small sweet potatoes for the pups, processed several winter squash (cubed & froze), after putting some aside for a butternut crumble, simmered broth on the woodstove and froze it.  Though I have plenty of broth canned on the shelf, I need some that's unsalted, plus it helped clear a little more room in the freezer.   I used the self-clean cycle on the oven the same day, adding warmth to the house.  My husband prepared areas for sweet potatoes and winter squash, and planted the sweet potatoes.  Right now, I'm juicing every day, and also having a smoothie, so every day or two, the compost is emptied into the bin.  Our paper shredder bit the dust, and I went through Swagbucks to order a new one, for 2% back, and used a $20 reward towards it.  

When we recently spoke to one of the technicians at the phone company, due to having an issue after a power outage, he mentioned that we had a very old modem, and  a new, much faster one would add $4.99 to our bill.  We called and asked questions this week, and found with bundling our services, it instead only raised it a couple of dollars, but we got several more perks, including unlimited long distance in the US, which should cancel out the higher cost.  A neighbor gave J just under 3# of raisins, and also a white peach tree of substantial size.  This is the third thing he's gifted him recently, and I'm wondering if it's because J told him he was going to help him get his firewood cut up for next winter.  He's an older man, and not terribly healthy.   

Parsley and thyme were harvested for a recipe, and onions several days.  Dandelion greens were gathered most days, to chop for the pups dinners.  Wild greens were gathered for the chickens.  I earned $5 towards my next shop day at Food Lion.  The peas are flowering.  Plantain and violet leaves were gathered, and dried calendula was used to make a soothing poultice for eczema, from a recipe I saw online.  Unfortunately, too much clay was added to cut down on the moisture, and it was too drying.  The next day, I gathered more plantain and violet leaves, and added them to the mixture, so there was a higher ratio of plant matter.  Even so, I wouldn't say it was soothing, but it was worth a try.  I'm looking forward to seeing the Full Pink Supermoon tonight.  Wishing you a wonderful week.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Pretty Petals & Blessings

Hello, friends.  Last week, a number of things were planted.  First were butterfly weed seeds planted in the ground, as only three of the wintersown ones germinated.   Dill, parsley and basil seeds were started, and swiss chard seeds were planted in the garden.  Zinnia seeds were planted in a container.  The strawberries and asparagus were fertilized.  Hummus was made for lunches.  Home canned tomatoes and squash, and homegrown rosemary, onion, garlic and basil were used in pasta sauce.  While sweet potatoes were baking for a dinner, I also baked one of our winter squash, which I used the next day in a new to us recipe of Pumpkin and Tomato Bisque.  I had my doubts, but the description convinced us to give it a try, and it was actually quite good.  Lucky for me, the tomato flavor was most pronounced.  We wouldn't have guessed that there was any squash in it.  I'm happy to have another keeper recipe, as both J and I are making some (different) dietary changes which will require new recipes.

The dogwoods are so lovely blooming around the homestead, along with many flowers.  I've been harvesting onions and parsley throughout the week.  Many of the tromboncino squash are up, as are radishes, and one cucumber.  While emptying the compost crock into the outdoor bin, I was surprised to find a snake when opening the lid.  When I described it to J, he said it was a rat snake, which makes sense, as I have seen mice in there in the past.  I suppose I'm happy for the help.  A neighbor came by, and offered J the use of his dump truck and steer skidder, if he wanted to come and get some wood that had already been cut down.  You can bet he jumped on that, and brought home 5 dump truck loads of trees, which he says is two years worth of wood for us.  He has a whole lot of chain sawing and splitting to do, but what a wonderful blessing.  Another neighbor came by, and gave J a small bag of apples. Honestly, they aren't as nice as the organic ones I've been getting, but I used two in a waldorf salad, and chopped one up for the pups so far.  They won't go to waste.

I learned last month that a Harris Teeter I stop at has senior day on Thursdays, which happens to be the day I'm usually nearby once a month.  I stopped again this month, and received 5% off my order, which saved $6.54.  With grocery prices as they are, I'm thankful for this small blessing.  I also picked up a book for .25 at a thrift store that outing.  It's historical fiction, The Orphan Train.  A dinner of our roasted asparagus, a broccoli dish with broccoli that needed using, and leftover sweet potatoes was enjoyed.  On Saturday, another flower bed was weeded after painting orders.  Little by little, I'm getting there, despite still having sleep and health challenges.  J set up two flower beds around the workshop, which required placing wood backs to keep the soil in the bed instead of moving under the shop, chopping some tree roots, and moving soil to place the edging blocks.  I'm hoping to get soil this week, and start planting, after we make it through a couple of nights in the 30's this week.  It's possible we may get one more frost.  Ah, fickle spring.  I can't complain, knowing some folks had snow this past week. 

Monday, April 12, 2021

Spring Blooms & The Garden

Hello, friends.  Monday evening, J & I picked up our taxes.  We're thankfully getting a refund, and are discussing the best use of it.  I went through Swagbucks for a purchase needed for the soap shop, and got 1% back.  Another deal I got through Swagbucks was .05 back each for purchasing apples and lemons.  Little bits, but it all adds up.  I finished two free ebooks, and started another on nights I was awake.  The days and nights warmed on Monday, so we were able to do without heat all week, and have been closing up the house as the day warms up, so no A/C was needed.  The Lowe's cc bill was paid off immediately, so no charges were accrued.  For a dinner, our butter beans and lamb's quarter were pulled from the freezer.  Our last tiny stored onions were used in the beans, and our garlic was used in the greens.  Celery was harvested for a waldorf salad.  

An onion was pulled from the garden for a meal of Mexican quinoa and bean burritos.  Laundry was hung on the line.  A dear niece visited, and brought a yummy pasta dish for lunch.  We wandered the gardens, and talked about gardening and plant dyeing.  She'll soon be graduating with a Masters degree, and will be off on a new teaching adventure.  I ran to the library in town, shopped a few sales in Walgreens, and got $5 in rewards.  A small pot of petunias, mixed portulaca and dusty miller were purchased for the window basket for the workshop.  I found a pot that had two of the dusty millers in it, so got a bonus plant.  The first of our asparagus is being harvested.  It will be a few days until there is enough for a meal, so I purchased some at Aldi's for $1.99/#.  I got one of the free coffee bean bags that J was given while at a job for a coffee roaster a few years ago, cut it to fit the window basket, filled it with potting mix, and planted it.  I dug three clumps of creeping jenny to start with, then added the store bought plants.  We'll hang it after the gas company sets up my little workshop heater next week, as that's the area they'll be working in.  I'll share a pic once it's hung. 

I learned from Rhonda's blog that Lowe's is giving away weekly freebies in April, and signed up for this week's.  I've been having some challenges lately, which have really slowed me down in the garden.  Sleep has been a challenge many nights, which has me feeling rather zombie-ish some days.  I've cut back on the supplements I'm taking, in case they're a problem.  I've also had an awful case of eczema on my hands and lower arms for many weeks.  I've finally found something that seems to be helping, which I may share in an upcoming post.  I'm trying to do a bit of yard and garden work here and there, but end up damaging the fragile skin each time.  Perhaps I haven't learn enough patience during the pandemic?  I was pretty sure I'd heard hummingbirds earlier, and spotted the first one on Friday.  The feeders had been up a couple of weeks, in anticipation of them.  

The past few weeks, I'd been noticing the rooster's dish up on it's side some mornings, and some scratching nearby.  I thought it might be a raccoon or a possum, and sure enough, M placed his game cam on the spot, and caught a raccoon the first night.  Now, we're trying to figure out who is breaking eggs.  That's going to be a little tougher to figure out, as it happens in different nest boxes, and when the hens are in the boxes, you can't see what they're doing when their back is to you.  The peas and spinach were fed with this.  I'm trying a few new things this year, to see if they will help create healthy plants and soil.  I've enjoyed using the LeafSnap app this year.  Most recently, it identified a cluster of flowering saplings J & I came across as black haw viburnum, which is both edible and medicinal.  I snipped some lilac to enjoy in the house.  There was one right outside my window in my childhood home, so they've always been special to me.  

A batch of yogurt was made.  A few small garden beds were weeded.  Our chard was sauteed with bought spinach.  There were so many potatoes, when J cut eyes for planting, he boiled and froze several bags.  I got one of them, steamed it after defrosting for a bit, and used it for potato salad.  Almost 100 potatoes are up in the garden.  J set up the garden trellis on Saturday, and I planted the tromboncino squash.  He also made the cucumber bed, and planted those.  I transplanted the rest of the wintersown lettuce, and the wintersown Hopi Dye sunflowers.  On Sunday, J made a bed for yellow squash, and I planted those.  I also planted nasturtium seeds in both of the squash beds, and planted radish seeds in the cucumber, broccoli and cabbage beds.  Both of these are said to repel pests for these plants.  Several volunteer sedums were transplanted in better spots.  We cleaned up our strawberries, and placed cardboard around them for weed control.  They're covered with blooms.  We haven't gotten any berries to pick in years, and not many then, so we're hoping this will be a bountiful year.  Many wishes you have a most bountiful week.

Monday, April 5, 2021

What I'm Reading, Canning, & Gardening

Hello, friends.  Last week, I thinned the carrots, and weeded and harvested wild onions.   The carrot tops and onions went in the broth bag.  I harvested parsley for potato salad, and enjoyed home canned pickled beets in a salad.  Three loads of laundry were hung on the line.  I took all the bags of veggie scraps out of the freezer, and placed them in pots on the woodstove Tuesday night, to defrost and simmer.  They simmered a bit more Weds. morning, then were strained, and the broth was canned, adding 16 pints to the pantry.  J's birthday was Thursday.  He requested German chocolate brownies, which were made from pantry ingredients.  I walked with the dogs every day.  We continue to heat with wood, but it doesn't look like we'll need it too much longer.  

Soup was made, using up several leftovers, along with homegrown tomatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.  With the forecast for two nights in the 20's, I harvested kale, lettuce and swiss chard.  I covered a few plants, but hubby covered several large figs, the gardenias, peas, onions and olives.  They seem to have done well, though I believe we've lost all of the tiny figs.  There's a good chance we lost all our peaches and nectarines too, which is pretty sad.  The first of the asparagus are coming up, which is good, because other than once a few weeks ago, I haven't seen any good prices in the stores.  I purchased some garden amendments using a 15% off code.  J sewed a button on one of his shirts.  Youtube and amazon videos were enjoyed.  We now have three varieties of tomatoes coming up in our cold frame box, and some eggplant.  I've been drinking celery juice most mornings, and some of the celery gifted by a friend last year was harvested.  

After taking M to an out of town appointment, I stopped at Trader Joe's and a natural food co-op.  I brought my Kindle to read in the car while waiting for him to finish his appointment.  There weren't any great sales on the things on my list, but I did get some Alphonso mangoes for .79 ea.  Parsley and sage were harvested to make my grandmother's dressing, veggie version.  I'm using up the last of last year's onions.  Not too bad to get to April with them, and there are lots outside I can harvest when I need to.  I've been using using our frozen blueberries and peaches together in oatmeal, which is yummy.  I've been enjoying a free Kindle book.  I had started another one, but wasn't enjoying it, so will delete that one.  

There are a few authors I learned of while listening to the On Being podcast, and I've been enjoying a couple of their books.  The Cozy book is one I read of a while back as being a good one to read during the pandemic.  I continue weeding and cleaning up beds.  Dandelion greens were harvested for the pups most days.  I learned that they supply them with good pre-biotics, so try to incorporate them with most dinners.  Wild wood sorrel was harvested one evening, to add to salad.  It has a lovely sour taste.   With J finishing up, and me painting 8 orders on Easter, it wasn't much of a holiday for us.  I did pick up some organic cinnamon rolls on sale at the co-op, and made them for breakfast.  Pesto was pulled from the freezer for an easy dinner.  If you celebrate, I hope your Easter was a lovely one.