Monday, May 30, 2022

Memorial Day


Hello, friends.  Last week, I harvested mint to dry, which, along with mint I potted, will be given as a gift next month.  Also harvested were asparagus, peas, mulberries and lambs quarter.  Peas were blanched and frozen.  I baked sweet potatoes in the toaster oven, instead of the regular propane oven, so the energy was free, with our solar.  We've been enjoying lots of salads with our lettuce.  Sadly, the recently planted round of lettuce was coming up nicely, until the pill bugs ate them off.  I also found one chewing off a tromboncino seedling,  which had to be replanted.

I harvested rose petals, and started a glycerite.  I harvested purslane for pesto, and also to dry and add to the greens mix.  If you're not familiar with purslane, here's some info on the site I got the purslane pistachio pesto recipe from.  "Regardless of what one calls it, purslane contains more omega 3 fatty acids than any other plant source in the solar system, and an extraordinary amount for a plant, some 8.5 mg for every gram of weight. It has vitamin A, B, C and E — six times more E than spinach — beta carotene — seven times more of that than carrots — magnesium, calcium, potassium, folate, lithium — keep you sane — iron and is 2.5% protein.

Two pigments, one in the leaves and one in the yellow blossoms, have been proven anti-mutagenic in lab studies, meaning they help keep human cells from mutating, which is how cancer gets started. And you get all that for about 15 calories per 100 gram (three ounce) serving. As a mild diuretic, it might even lower your blood pressure as well."

A few carrots were harvested.  The smaller carrot tops and tiny carrots were dehydrated for a jar of mixed vegetables, along with some of the purslane.  I learned of that idea from a post by A Working Pantry, on Let Nothing Go To Waste.  Larger carrot top stems and carrots past their prime went into the broth bag.  The Omega juicer  MM recommends was on sale for 20% off.  I decided to look on Marketplace, and found a like new one locally for $200 (it was used twice), which retail for $360.  This one is a higher end model, and has pasta and breadstick attachments, and will make nut butters and nut milks.  The pulp it sends out is drier than the juicer I'd been using, which means it will produce more juice, stretch produce just a bit farther, and pay for itself over time.

Every year, mid-spring, when the oak tassels are falling, our rainwater tanks get stinky, and the water turns black, from all the tannins.  Though there is an initial flushing system, along with three filters before entering the house, the tassels break down into such tiny pieces that they end up in the tanks.  Even with then going through the filters, the damage has been done while sitting in the tanks.  Our drinking water is on an entirely different system, and thankfully doesn't do this, but all our bathing and washing is done with this water, which is pretty darn unpleasant.  We both researched it, and J thought about it, then came up with a system we installed this week.  It aerates the water in the tanks, and filters it as well.  We just finished it today, and haven't had a chance to see how well it's working yet, but I'll let you know next post.

J harvested the garlic on Sunday, all but a few heads that I harvested earlier in the week.  I enjoyed watching The Book Thief via Netflix.  I'd read the book previously, and thought they did a good job with the movie.  I also watched Dear Evan Hansen, which I loved.  I can imagine how wonderful it must be on stage.  I was in Lowes twice during the week, and found a few marked down plants.  Two geraniums ($4), a lantana, and an another unusual geranium  "Vancouver Centennial" with two-toned leaves, ($2 ea.) were purchased.  On Friday and Saturday, I worked in a pottery gallery.  I brought water and lunch, brought soap to wrap, and worked a bit on deleting emails (never enough time to work on my inbox!).  I read the juicer manual, finished one book, and began Cloud Cuckoo Land, which has been interesting so far.  We're planning on grilling for Memorial Day, and also bought 2 huge watermelons for $3.99 ea. and cherries for $2.99/lb at Food Lion.  May you enjoy your day, however you spend it.  

Monday, May 23, 2022

Gardening Days of May & Our First Kiwis

Hello, friends.  Last week, I gathered mint and oregano for the chickens, and put some in the chick area after cleaning it.  While pruning elderberry, which was growing into the path, I repotted a piece with nice roots on it, which I'll give to someone if it does well.  I finally got around to the seasonal chore of rearranging the closet, so I can more easily access the summer clothes.  I got all the house plants onto the porch, where they can transition to brighter light for the warm months. It looks like there's a good possibility of rain several days this week, so I plan to place them in the plant stand early in the week.  There are blooms on potatoes and tomatoes, two of the cucuzzi squash and some green beans are up.  Tomato cages are up, but still need stakes.

I harvested a mix of greens to dehydrate and use in various ways.   I harvested more to make a glycerite for a sort of "multivitamin", which was a new to me concept I found interesting, and learned about here.  The greens I used were plantain, dock, kale, dandelion, strawberry, grape and blackberry leaves, stinging nettles, and a small amount of chard and lambs quarter.  I looked out the kitchen window one day, to see a brown thrasher near the bird feeders, a pretty bird I rarely see.  Snakes have been active on the homestead; black, green and king snakes, as well as toads and anole lizards and skinks.

Brown thrasher- a bit blurry, but the wings are more visible

I'm doing garden work in the cooler mornings when possible.  One day, I weeded and mulched one of the raised beds, and added mulch to two more, now that the plants have grown.  Another day, I planted zinnias and black eyed susan vine seeds, and planted another round of lettuce, hoping to extend the season.   I've not been great with succession planting, but this seems a good year to improve.  It's a bit late for planting the flower seeds, but you do what you can.  Many things were watered with nettle tea.  A potter friend, whom I've not worked for before, asked me to shop sit a couple days this coming week.  She keeps bees, and we'll be bartering for honey for at least part of it.

While in town to get sunflower seeds for the birds, I dropped off donations, picked up two library books, dropped off three ink cartridges for credit at Staples, and got groceries, which I was able to use a $6 rewards toward.  Staples gave me a $10 off $20 coupon, so I'll have to ponder if I want to use it.  I went to see my GD in a choral concert one evening, which was a joy.  Afterwards, I stopped by Harris Teeter, got the 5% senior discount, and organic almond milk 2/$4.   I think the kiwis heard my threat of this being their last chance :o), as we have quite a few little kiwis, for the first time in 12+ years.  J prepped, then planted winter squash and crowder peas in the pond garden.

On a hot day, I washed the dogs in the outdoor shower, using my dog soap.  I worked on deep cleaning the studio, and have it finished, except for a few minor things.  There are still a few rather messy spots, mostly fabric and creative projects, but at least it's all clean.  While weeding around a patch of lemon balm, I accidentally pulled up a piece with roots, so I transplanted it in another area to start some.  It's such a wonderful, healing herb.  I gathered lemon balm, and began a quart jar of glycerite.  I recently bought a barrel pump, to access the glycerin bought in January, which J pumped for me, so I'm using the first of this very inexpensive glycerin.  J mentioned cooking with electric, to save on propane, now that we're on solar.  We got the toaster oven down from a high shelf and set it up on one of the plant tables.

J had started tomatoes in his old truck toolbox, and a number have germinated.  I repotted the larger ones from cells to pots.  Though we don't exactly need more plants, we can always find room for a few more tomatoes.  Peas, asparagus, kale and lettuce were harvested, along with the greens mentioned above.  The peas were shelled, blanched and frozen, and the pods were added to the broth bag.  An order of boxes promised to arrive Tuesday hadn't shown up by Saturday.  I have an order I'm waiting to ship with one, and an item I need to figure shipping costs on with one.  I contacted the company, and they reshipped the order, and sent me a $5 coupon.  It's been another good, busy week.  I hope yours has been fulfilling in whatever ways matter to you.

Monday, May 16, 2022

A Good Garden Week

Hello, friends.  Last week, I pulled homemade black bean burgers from the freezer, made fries with our potatoes, and used our lettuce in salads.  I had a ticket to go with friends to a concert in Charlotte on Tuesday, but came down with a cold on Sunday, and still wasn't up to it on Tuesday.  A friend and her new husband were having a gathering the same night, before they head to NY to live.  I was disappointed I didn't get to attend either event, but self-care took priority, and the fact I didn't want to pass on the cold.  Laundry was hung on the line.  The veggie broth begun on the woodstove was canned, adding a dozen pints to the pantry, and the excess frozen as cubes.  I went through Swagbucks for 2% back on a business purchase.  We had lots of dribs and drabs of leftovers on Wednesday, so I combined a couple of things, and we made a meal out of it, to not waste any food.  

Cilantro was harvested several times.  While organizing a top shelf in part of my pantry, I found a casserole dish I haven't used in years, which was added to the donate box.  A book I requested was picked up at the library.  Our asparagus and lambs quarter was used in breakfast scrambles.  My water bottle was taken on all trips away from home.  I placed an order at Vitacost, and received 15% off the total, in addition to 10% and 15% off some of the items, plus another 8% by going through Swagbucks. Counting on the forecasted rain, I planted many wintersown red veined sorrel in shady spots.  Two pieces were divided from a hosta, and planted in a bed in front of my workshop.  I also transplanted a volunteer dyer's coreopsis, and repotted the Northern Sea Oats into larger, individual pots. 

I was asked to show a pic of the garden, so this is the original, main garden, with mizuna in the foreground, lettuce beyond, and another row of lettuce to the left.  There's a bed of cilantro and parsley to my right.  In the distant right is the winter squash trellis, with a row of basil, eggplant, sweet peppers and tomatoes to the left of it.  Moving left, there's are rows of tomatoes, garlic, onions, potatoes, and beyond are two rows of sweet potatoes.  Close to where J is standing, there's a small trellis of cucumbers.  There are concord grapes (& weeds) on the fence to the right, and kiwis in the left corner.  As per usual, one kiwi is full of blossoms and pollinators, but the male is not blooming.  This is probably their last chance.  The raised beds are along the fence in the far right, and a good sized, unproductive strawberry patch is in that corner as well.  We intend to plant winter squash, melons, and possibly crowder peas in our other garden.  

kiwi blossoms

After an appointment, I went by Hallmark, and got a free card, plus two birthday cards.  I then headed to Harris Teeter to mostly stock up on foods for another round of cleansing, which I started Friday.  This cleanse was timed so that I could harvest lettuce, asparagus, cilantro and kale for it, saving on food costs.  I received 5% off my total for the senior discount at Harris Teeter.  Asparagus and peas were harvested, and eggs were gathered.  I went through the last of last year's garlic.  Much of it was too far gone, and was composted.  Of the remainder, I kept a little aside, and dehydrated a tray's worth.  It seems like it's lasted a good bit longer than most years, which is wonderful.  A few weeks back, I bought a NWT window planter at a thrift store.  I didn't realize it was missing a bracket, but J fabricated one, and hung it under my workshop window.  He then made an insert for it from some green flashing we had on hand.  Now, what to fill it with?  He'd recently seen a tiller attachment he felt would made his work easier, for $250, and instead fabricated one of them, which he's already used several times in the garden.  I sure love my handy husband.  

Last fall, I was given a small clump of sweet grass, which I promptly ignored.  I didn't care for the scent, wasn't sure where to plant it, and left it sitting in a little pot until now, when I finally got it in the ground.  The comfrey tea started a couple of weeks ago was ready to use.  In pouring some from a mason jar into my watering can, I pulled out a few stray bits of plant matter, and was reminded to always wear gloves when working with it.  It smells quite potent, and lingered on my hands after numerous washings.   I went around the edge of a flower bed near the road with a mattock, to delineate the edge and create a break, then mulched it.  There's a lot more weeding and work to do in various beds out there, but I'm glad to have that piece done.

As in many places, the weather has been unusual this spring, with hot and cold fluctuations, and storms.  Each time I think we've had our last fire, I've been surprised.  There's a day forecast to be 94 next week, which may mean the start of a/c season.  While it was raining Saturday morning, I caught up with the SoulSeeds paperwork.  Then I headed out, and harvested peas, asparagus, lambs quarter, kale and lettuce.  The peas were more than we'd gotten so far this year, but still not much, so I blanched and froze them, as well as the lamb's quarter.  While garden wandering with J, he spotted a nice patch of mock strawberries, so I picked some nice fat ones for the chickens.  They love them.    All the new plantings are looking happy, after the rain, except for a bed of parsley and cilantro, which is being munched by critters.  My guess is pill bugs. 


Recently, my sister had been telling me about the bargains she'd been getting from Belk.  Each time she'd redeem a $10 reward, spending just slightly above that, they'd send another.  She suggested I get their cc, to take advantage of these deals, so I did.  I was sent a $10 reward with the card, purchased a pair of Columbia socks and a T shirt on clearance for $3 oop (saving $34.68), picking it up at the store when in town to avoid shipping fees.  I'll pay off the cc each month I use it.  My sister adds a lot of her purchases to her gift closet, and I plan to do the same.  Only about half of the tromboncino and cucuzzi squash came up, so I replanted, and also planted some yellow and zucchini squash seeds.  J prepared spots, and planted butter beans and purple pole beans, and mulched the tomatoes, peppers and basil.  It was a good week in the garden.  

Monday, May 9, 2022

Brain Games & Colder Days

Hello, friends.  Last week, I redeemed Swagbucks points for $25 via Paypal.  Another round of alfalfa sprouts were started.  I harvested kale and parsley for pesto, cilantro for a smoothie, and mint for water.  The pesto was new to us, a MM recipe, which we both liked.  I served it with our favorite GF pasta, rather than veggies.  Two banana peels were chopped, and dug under a rose bush.  Of course, I did find McNibs pawing at it later that day, but after telling him to leave it alone, it appears he has, thank goodness.  The first peas were picked, but only two, three or four pods at a time.  Some were added to a salad, and others to veggie scrambles.  I noticed the deer had nibbled the tops off of several of the pea plants.  Oh, the challenges of gardening.  I'm enjoying The Forest of Vanishing Stars from the library.


Joseph and I, and friends who share the same anniversary, had a quick little getaway.   We went to Elkin to see a concert, had a nice dinner, and spent the night at a very reasonable and quite nice motel J found.  On the way home, we stopped by Ollie's.  We didn't find any food we wanted, but made a few small business purchases.  For a veggie scramble, I used our asparagus, opened a frozen bag of lamb's quarter, and finished a frozen bag of sweet peppers.  I've begun spring cleaning my studio.  Some things were set aside to give to our GD, and a box of things will be donated.  Winter and summer clothes were swapped out.  While the dresser drawers were empty, I was reminded of these vintage images on the drawer bottoms.  They remind me of the newspaper clippings shared by gDonna.  

I was happy to find out that the northern sea oats recently purchased are a host plant to several of the skipper butterflies.  They're the only plants from the plant sale that haven't been planted.  I'm leaning towards putting them on the slope in front of the solar panels, but that area is still being cleaned up.  As far as the other plantings last week, there was lettuce, parsley, cilantro, mullein, and black hollyhocks.  I also transplanted volunteer sunflowers.  I've been enjoying playing Wordle every morning, and a couple of weeks ago, I started playing the spelling bee that comes up with my Wordle score, and enjoy that even more. The goal is to make as many words as you can from 7 letters.  The only challenge is I'm playing the free version, and it cuts me off at random times, at which time I either have to subscribe or come back the next day.  It's still fun, though, and both are good brain games.   

wintersown red veined sorrel that needs planting

With temps in the low 40's on two nights, J lit a fire in the woodstove the morning after the second night.  I took advantage of it, and started a pot of broth with veggie scraps, as there were already 2 1/2 gallon bags of scraps since the last recent round of broth making.  We had two storms that came through last week, both with strong winds, and one with pea-sized hail.  Lots of limbs and sticks came down, and a few plants were blown over or broken, but the garden thankfully wasn't affected.  Sweet potatoes were baked on one of the cold nights, and on a warmer day, I made fried sweet potatoes.  I usually aim to have our sweet potatoes baked and eaten before hot weather, but the fried ones are so quick and easy to make, it will be a great way to use them up in the coming weeks.  I weeded the new asparagus bed, and harvested lettuce and nettles twice.  The first nettles picking was chopped, and a batch of glycerite started.  The next batch was dehydrated.  I cut the last of the butternut squash in storage, kept one bag out for a squash crumble, and froze the rest.  I hope you Mamas of children, animals, and any other type had a lovely Mother's Day.

Monday, May 2, 2022

Garden Days

Hello, friends.  Last week, our native Atamasco lilies and fringe trees began blooming.  I hand washed several wool items, hoping I won't need them again until Fall.  I contacted Swagbucks about points I didn't receive for a purchase, equivalent to $3.69, and they made it right.  I took photos and listed an item in my shop.  With several days in the 80's, I closed up the house in the morning until it began cooling off in the evenings, and haven't used any a/c yet.  We're supposed to hit 86 a couple of days next week, and I expect it will be turned on then.  I mulched four of the garden beds with hay.  J worked up the rows, and planted sweet potatoes.  I mended 3 wool sweaters.  I got my summer clothes boxes down from the attic, and wanted to be sure those sweaters were ready when I packed up the winter things.  For a business purchase on ebay, I went through Swagbucks for 1% back.  

The chicks were moved into the little broody area of the coop, where on warm days, they can get outside.  A hen or two showed a little interest in them, but didn't want to mama them, so we've pretty much given up on that hopeful idea.  For salads, I gathered lettuce, chickweed, catbrier tips, and dandelion greens, which I was recently reminded is possibly the best plant source of probiotics.  I went to a free Excel class offered at the library.  I knew some of the basic things, but wanted to expand my knowledge, which this did.  Thanks to a reminder from Patsi, comfrey was harvested, and a bucket of "tea" was started, to be used as fertilizer once it works a bit.  I melted soapmaking oils on the woodstove, saving propane, probably the last time of the season.  Our daughter sent a beautiful early Mother's Day bouquet.

Thirteen of the lettuce started from seed were planted in the garden, and wintersown poppies were planted around the new crabapple.  The two wintersown artichokes were planted, along with parsley and cilantro.  Before throwing away a well-used sponge, I wiped down baseboards and the trash can with it.  J tilled up another row for tomatoes, and planted them, including some I had started from seed.  I provided minimal help in moving our trellis to another spot in the garden, as the tromboncino didn't do well in the somewhat shady spot it was in last year.  I planted squash seeds, our own and store bought tromboncino seeds, and cucuzzi seeds, which is a Sicilian variety and one my Mom used to talk about.  The bed with dye plants was cleaned up.  Strawberries were weeded, and some runners were chopped from the mother plant.  Shortly after I was working in the strawberries, J saw a large king snake in them, which we both watched slither away.  

Doing my best to make sure we don't have food waste, we had a meal of leftovers on Saturday.  Wintersown cilantro, parsley and artichokes were planted in the garden, using some of our compost.  I enjoyed free music on Pandora, and listened to podcasts while working in my studio.  Laundry was dried on the line.  Paper and cardboard were shredded, and a pan of crushed egg shells were added to the compost bin.  Much of Sunday was spent gardening.  J planted cucumbers and hoed the sweet potato rows, and I planted many things in anticipation of rain. These included yarrow, spilanthes, blue sage, coleus, thyme, stevia, and maxima rudbeckia.  J grilled a yummy meal, the first of the year, using our potatoes and asparagus.  From our gardens to yours, happy May!