Monday, May 25, 2009

Independence Day Challenge 2009: Week 4

I can't believe how fast my garden is growing. Everything I've planted so far is already coming up. The strawberries are full of flowers, the peas are starting to flower, the raspberries are flowering. It's incredible! Given that I've always been told to wait until this weekend to start planting, it just seems amazing that so much of my garden is so close to harvesting.

All of the perennials are up, though not flowering, but the herbs are crazy!

It's just been a crazy warm season ... with not a lot of rain, which kind of worries me, but ... well, it's too early to say if it will be a problem. Still, every day we get rain warnings (cloud cover with cool, humid days), but no rain, I get a little concerned.

Of course, it may not be concern, as much as it is laziness ;). If it doesn't rain, I have to water, and since I hand water all of the garden beds using water from the rain barrels, it takes a long time. It's better when my garden is watered by mother nature.

Plant something:

I direct sowed tomatoes and planted my edible flower garden this weekend.

My mother-in-law gifted me with a St. John's Wort plant, which I planted, and an edible valerian variety (not medicinal, though), which I've staked a place for, but haven't planted, yet.

Harvest something:

Lettuce, beet greens, and dandelion greens, which all went into a nice salad.

Preserve something:

Nothing, yet, but I've been gifted a big bunch of rhubarb that needs to become bread or something.

Reduce Waste:

I actually had a lot of fun with this one this week. Once, many years ago, we purchased a part of an old church pew. It didn't have any legs, and we figured we could do something to make it a nice bench. We used some MDF board to make some boxes (for storage) under the seat. It lasted a couple of years, and then, we replaced it with some chairs.

I tried to freecycle it, but all of the people who expressed an interest in it no-showed, and so, like a lot of other assorted debris, it sat in the yard for a few years ... and fell apart. What we ended up with were a bunch of different lengths of 1"x 1" hard wood boards ...

... which I used to make a trellis for my tomatoes, a trellis for the grapevine, and a sort of decorative fence around one of my garden beds to keep the dog out of the cabbage.

I'll also add the debris burning to this category, because the alternative would have been to take it all to the transfer station/landfill in town. While burning old construction debris may not have been the most eco-friendly option, we did use the fire for cooking potatoes, and so it wasn't a total waste of energy ;).

Build Community Food Systems:

Two words: Farmer's Market!

I was thrilled to learn that it was open, and I took Precious with me on Saturday. We visited all of our "regular" stalls, and they all remembered us. It was awesome. It's one of my favorite parts about the summer.

There's a farmer who was new there last year. He still doesn't have all of the fancy set-up, yet. It's just his truck and a table with no fancy signage or a tent, but he always has something no one else has. Last year it was plums ... grown right here in southern Maine. Quite a treat! Saturday it was asparagus, and I have to say that the fresh asparagus I got from this farmer is NOTHING like the "fresh" grocery store asparagus I've had in the past. His was tender with a flavor that just exploded in my mouth - even the big, fat pieces were bite tender, and crisp. The stuff from the grocery store is always a little stringy and tough.

He remembered me from last year, because I bought a bunch of his "field tomatoes", which he had decided not to sell, because they were ... well, they weren't perfect. I bought them to can them. I didn't care what they looked like.

So, we got to talking about rhubarb, and - long story short, he's going to bring me a recipe to make a sort of cement using the rhubarb leaves. I've been wanting to make some garden stones for a garden path and/or a patio. If it's totally cool, I'll definitely share it here ;).

The girls have resumed their "egg business", but because our flock is getting a little "long in the tooth" and several aren't laying reliably anymore, the girls are only hand-delivering about two dozen eggs per month to the neighbor. She still appreciates it and loves having my girls deliver the eggs.

I've ordered two new hens for July's delivery - after we've finished brooding all of the broilers we plan to do for the year - and we'll also be brooding two more hens for our friend, whose first six laying hens we brooded last year.

And I placed our last broiler chick order for a June delivery. We'll have raised a total of thirty meat chickens, four of which are for family members.

Eat the Food:

We did much better this week with eating and not wasting. I've been making bread each morning. One loaf of bread that is served with lunch and/or dinner. If there's any left over, the next day it becomes bread pudding. So, we've been eating all of the bread I can cook. No waste!

And, the other day, Deus Ex Machina cooked dinner, which is usually a euphemism for we ordered Chinese take-out, but this night, he actually cooked. We had some leftover pasta in the fridge to which he added ground beef and some tomato sauce and over which we grated mozzarella cheese. It was delicious!

Preparation and Storage:

In trying to reduce our monthly grocery store expenditures, I've been trying to skip going as often as we can, which means I'm not doing as much with regard to storage food items.

I hadn't planned to go to the grocery store this week, but our puppies needed food, and so we went. I didn't want to do a full-on shopping trip, but as long as we were there, I thought we should probably pick-up some children's acetaminophen, since we were out, and while I was at it, I picked up a little more than "just enough." According to the list that's one of the things one should try to always have on hand, because it will be hard to find. I'm trying to learn as much as I can about "natural" remedies, but until I find an alternative fever reducer and headache remedy, I'll try to keep the commercial stuff on hand. We don't use it much, but when we need it, it's good to have.

Deus Ex Machina was able to fix one of the two "good" adult bicycles we have, and it's rideable. It's a nice bike, too, and rides really well. The best part is that after all of the repairs to both bikes, we ended up spending a total of $160 for two, nice quality, mountain bikes. Now, if I can just convince him to consider the bike-share option I discussed with him today, we could both enjoy the bike and get some exercise :).

It was a really good week, and the long weekend was just what we needed to get pretty well caught up on things that had been neglected - like the yard ... and cleaning out the chicken coop ... and getting the tomato trellis built.

And we even had enough time to go out to the movies - which is a very rare treat ;).

1 comment:

  1. I think that it has been a very dry spring too; which makes keeping the rainbarrels full a challenge. As a result; however, it seems that the slug population is not rampant as last year. So good and bad;)