Thriving In My Thrifty Week–April 26, 2020

I’m not sure if you can see the little hummingbird in the middle of the blueberry bush. He was flying around, sipping nectar, and was kind enough to sit down long enough for me to take a picture. Look at all those blueberry blooms. I didn’t have much of a crop last year. I have high hopes for this year’s crop!

This week was very quiet. We worked with Jake Wednesday-Thursday, and after picking him up Wednesday, I’ve been home every since. I used the time to read, relax, do house chores, lots of homeschool with Patsy, cut out a dress for Patsy, and worked in the garden and yard for hours.

I finished hoeing out the weeds from the blackberry (Marion berry) row. I put steer manure/compost on it. I’m almost done with the raspberries. I finished the strawberries as well.

I planted many, many itty-bitty onion plants. Rob grew more than I usually do, so we shared some, and I planted the rest. I grow varieties that are long-keepers and still have a handful in a bucket from last summer’s garden. We will eat the short-keepers first, and save the others and use them all winter. We also use them for canning–salsa, relish, and a few other recipes. Two years ago, we purchased 2-25 pound bags and used them in addition to what we grew, so I’m delighted to have the promise of so many from the garden.

Rob’s been busy building with reclaimed wood. The trellis that looks like a ladder is in its place and will hold Tromboncini Zucchini. Right next to it is a hearty cluster of volunteer lemon cucumber plants that have popped up in the last couple of days. I’m leaving them where they are. They must want to grow there!

The large framework against the shop will be moved into the garden, and placed for pole Blue Lake green beans. Most of us in my family have used up lots and lots of jars of beans during this past winter. So, I will grow bush Blue Lake, as always, but also the pole ones so that I can grow them upwards, and thus take less garden space, and have beans until frost. The bush ones come on all at once in the space of 2-3 weeks. The pole ones will give lesser quantities at a time, but will keep growing all summer. If I have any purple pole beans left from previous years, I will grow a few of those as well, since we love them sauted with butter and garlic. They are great fresh, nice and tender, but don’t can up well.

Rob’s plants are out on a table now, hardening off. There are still a few things in the greenhouse that he planted later. I will not be planting all of this. He’s already started delivering a plant here, and a plant there. I will plant a lot of them, and one of my sisters will plant many of them in her large garden. He plans to deliver hers this week. Heads up, sis!

I harvested the first snow peas.

Lovana wanted raised beds for her birthday, so Rob built them for her. Today, they took the pieces over to her little rental house and put them together, and she filled them with dirt and peat moss. Rob will get her another load of soil/compost for the second box this week. She has seeds she ordered and planted some of them in our greenhouse and Rob’s been watching over them for her. She’s been over here at least a couple of days each weekend during this pandemic, as we are determined to keep her in our “little circle.” She also helped me out quite a bit when my wrist was so bad a few weeks back, and usually cooks something totally NOT on our diets each weekend.

Like homemade donuts!

Way too yummy. I think we need to get these veggies growing, so she can cook them! That purple plant is purple cabbage. She ordered all colorful seeds–purple plants, rainbow “sunset” cherry tomatoes, etc. It should be interesting to see what she ends up with.

Lovana also had a box of “Imperfect Produce” delivered here with some items she wanted, and the rest for us to cook with. We’ve been eating those veggies and have been able to stay out of the stores. On Tuesday, we will reach the 2-week mark, and I may send Rob for a few things like milk and tomatoes.

Patsy made a recipe from a magazine. It was refried bean dip. It was good, but had way too much cumin in it, and raw garlic, grated. We both decided next time we should cut the cumin, add some spice, and use garlic powder. It was extremely strong. We should stay healthy and Patsy said there would be no vampires around here:)

We have decided to eat a few more meatless meals during this pandemic. We have plenty of frozen meat and chicken, but are trying to use some of the dry pantry staples such as beans and lentils, and conserve the meat, just in case there is a meat shortage. If there isn’t, we will likely save money and be more healthy. Win-win! We had the bean dip, potato soup, and I just made a batch of lentil taco filling, which Rob loves so much he ate it for both lunch and dinner, as a salad topper.

Patsy made a stuffed owl. It came out so cute! It’s a baby gift for one of her youth leaders.

Patsy picked flowers from the yard and Rob took her to drop them on the doorstep of the youth leader, along with the owl, and on one of her girlfriend’s doorsteps. Both were very pleased, and it brightened Patsy’s day to get to do that and read the texts from each of them.

We were supposed to collect pond water for Biology, culture it with egg, rice, hay, and dirt and let it grow under the sink for a few days. We couldn’t travel to a pond, so Patsy collected water from my sister’s old hot tub that they actually have filled with goldfish, and a friendly frog. It’s been that way for years, so we thought we could collect and culture some water. We were right! The first experiment worked just fine. The second one will be done tomorrow, and we can throw away that stinky water! We’ve worked through almost 2 chapters now, and are going very slow. I’m encouraging her to spend hours looking through that microscope if she wants to–she likely will never have a chance again to spend all the time she wants on one subject with no one to say, “hurry up” or “time to go.”

How are you keeping busy during these strange times?

22 thoughts on “Thriving In My Thrifty Week–April 26, 2020”

    1. Thank you! The lady who received it thought it was so cute, too. Patsy decided to make another one since she was on a roll. When I asked her who it was for, she told me she didn’t know–she was just having fun making it. I’m all for it! She will find a purpose for the new one, too.

  1. That big ladder trellis is great! We have our seeds in our containers so now we wait and hope everything comes up. We found plenty of seed in stock at Walmart yesterday which surprised me. That allowed me to fll in what I was short on and I picked up extras. I have a few herbs to plant and then I will be done. Our grocery spending is way down since we have been averaging two and a half weeks between grocery trips. That will leave us money in the budget to restock as things become available again.

    1. Lana,
      I’m so glad you were able to get seeds! My daughter tried to order some yesterday, and found that the seed companies she tried were either out of at least 1/2 the seeds or would not even be able to ship for quite some time, they were so backed up.

      I’m sure you will get to restock soon. I know our stores are supposed to be getting better stocked than they were, according to one niece–we haven’t been grocery shopping for almost 2 weeks at this point. We will venture out before long, though, for milk and produce, at least.

  2. Look at all those potential berries — I mean flowers on the blueberry bushes. Oh my. Your efforts in the garden are going to pay off big time, I’m hoping so any way. And to think that this is your ‘small’ garden just puts a smile on my face.

    I follow Territorial Seed Company on FB and they posted this week that they are back to taking orders. Just in case you need some more seeds. And don’t forget the Dollar Stores for seeds. I’ve found that their seed packets have just the right amount of seed for my small community garden plots.

    I’m spending tons more on groceries since I’m not going to the store and have been using a delivery service. Or my neighbor has been going for me. So no buying the loss leaders and no price matching. I can really see the difference in how much I’m spending. But with my health issues, I’m happy with the choices I’m making.

    1. Groceries are costing us way more right now, too. We are pretty well loaded up with basics right now, though, such as beans, lentils, rice, cans of mandarin oranges, sugar, gluten-free flour, etc. So, if we wait a few weeks, the garden will kick in and we will be in a very good place.

      I don’t blame you for staying home. It’s necessary right now.

      Territorial is my favorite seed company. It’s about 2 hours from my house. In the past, we’ve actually visited there and purchased seeds, and even visited their trial gardens. We haven’t had time for that the past few years, so we’ve just ordered. It’s still nice to see where things come from.

      I also ordered from Pinetree Garden seeds this year.

      The Dollar Store seeds are really good for certain things. I use them for some herbs, Danvers Half-Long Carrots, pickling cucumbers and slicing cucumbers, and sometimes things that just look interesting. Also, zinnias, a few other flowers, and green onions if I didn’t save seeds for those. The packets are small, but hey–25c? Totally worth buying several. If I want a certain variety, disease resistance, or a specific short-season variety, I order. Some crops are very important to me, like green beans. We can so many jars each year, I want high-yielding, short season beans. It’s great to have options.

  3. How great you’re going to grow tromboncino squash. We love them. I think it’s awesome you’re getting Lovana set up with her first little garden. The owl is wonderful.

    1. We’ve had them in the past, but I like to trellis them and didn’t have a trellis the last couple of years. I love how firm they are and how long the necks grow–as if I had a zucchini shortage:).

      I think it’s wonderful Lovana wants to garden, as well. When she was a girl, when she was naughty, I would sometimes have her fill a bucket with weeds. It put her in her happy place, and she wasn’t feeling naughty any more. She grew her own raised bed as a girl, and participated in 4H horticulture for years.

  4. Oh, I wish I could learn more gardening tips from you! Looks like you are a garden expert! I have never grown onions, except for sticking the cut off ends from grocery store green onions into the ground.
    I have to say I totally understand your laughing at my efforts to save the blackberry baby! When we lived in Northern California, blackberries there grew like weeds! They would totally take over your yard if you didn’t keep hacking them back! Never in a million years would a person have been able to convince me that SOMEDAY I would actually plant blackberries on PURPOSE! ? But things sure change when you move to a new part of the country!
    Thanks for stopping by my blog! Your blog looks lovely! I look forward to exploring more of it!

    1. I have learned to garden over many, many years of trial and error. I used to grow rocks the best, in our first garden. Rocks, interspersed with weeds. But, I read many, many books, tried things, asked for advice, and just kept trying, and now my garden grows well. And, sometimes, crops still fail. Slugs eat baby plants, hail comes, seeds don’t sprout, right now birds are pecking my little lettuce leaves off (I guess I’m growing pinking-sheared edged lettuce, a new kind-ha!), and so forth, but through it all, lots and lots of veggies do grow. So, my best advice to you is to keep trying!

      I saw your raised beds on your blog. They look like you have a great start. Your garden area is super cute! Just keep good dirt in there, enrich it when it has been used after growing anything, and water them–I’ll bet you get a lot of produce.

    2. Susan, we lived in Santa Rosa , CA before moving to the Denver area. We had to hack blackberries out of our yard all the time! But I loved picking berries along roadsides; there’s nothing quite as good as vine-ripened blackberries!

  5. Your daughters are so lovely and helpful! Love that Luanna did the “color” or “colour” seed choices. Definitely something I would do. I once bought a pack of multi color carrots at Trader Joe’s – interesting that they really didn’t taste different but did look great on salads.

    Patsy has become quite an accomplished seamstress! I am planning on going through fabrics in the coming month (part of the BIG cleanout) – what are her color, style, etc. preferences? It is highly unlikely that I will be up to sewing major projects due to osteoarthritis so would be happy to send on fabric, etc.

    We are doing a garden this year – a bit of a late start for our seeds but it has been an on and off again project. Now that we are definitely staying put here on the farm decided to put in tomatoes and cucumbers, oh, and herbs. Lots of seeds for other veggies but not sure how much we’ll plant.

    I bought a $50.00 share in a start up co-op and picked it up 10 days ago. I am STILL dealing with it. Quite the mixed grouping – how about 24 quarts of 1/2 and 1/2! I am dehydrating, pickling and sharing with friends and neighbors. Really too much for just two people but I wanted to support them. It is a pick-up of near expired foods – Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Safeway, Walmart and restaurants. Want to put up as much as possible.

    1. Thank you for thinking of Patsy. She mostly likes to sew with cotton at this point, but I know she might start with knits if she keeps progressing. Right now, she’s busy making owls:) and pencil pouches. She uses zippers for the pencil pouches and cotton fabric in coordinating prints and for the owls, she’s just choosing whatever we have on hand that goes together, in cotton. I don’t know what she will do next. She does have a pair of flannel pajama pants cut out–maybe that! I’m just glad she’s sewing.

      I have no idea what I would do with all that 1/2 and 1/2. I hope it can be frozen, and I hope you have a BIG freezer! And then…..hmmmm….cream of potatoe, cream of celery, cream of chicken, and clam chowder soups? Decadent sauces? Berries with cream? All of it sounds yummy!

      I hope your garden grows. It’s really my happy place right now.

  6. Becky, I’m so envious of all those lush vegetable plants you have growing! But, I know how much work and effort you’ve put into them. I have some volunteer seedlings that have sprouted from seeds I just tossed in the garden, and I am now trying to give them enough water to encourage them to grow! In previous years, almost everything I tried to grow would scorch and wither in the heat over the summer. I have some really old vegetable seeds – I am going to see if I can get them to sprout for me, although it is already too late to try to grow them in my area!

    1. I hope your seeds grow! It sounds like you don’t have anything to lose by trying to grow old seeds. Who knows? Maybe they will.

  7. Becky, I read your blog all the time and enjoy it so much. Thank you. I have never commented before but I am struggling with a question. I had a garden once twenty years ago and haven’t had anther one till now. We are in central Texas and I planted mostly plants not seeds but I am unsure how often to be watering right now. Temperatures are mid 80s to 90 probably for another month. We set up soaker hoses around the plants and I am going to do an hour twice a week. When we stay in the 90s I thought I would go to three times a week. We mulched around all the plants in the ground. We planted cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, watermelon, cantaloupe and okra that is not doing well. All suggestions would be very welcome.
    Thank you.

    1. Terri,
      Nice to hear from you from Texas! The climate there is so much different than our climate here. Ours is much more temperate. We only get your kind of temperatures during the hottest part of the summer, and it doesn’t last very long. So, I’m not an expert in warm weather gardening.

      I love the idea of drip irrigation. Can you dig down into the dirt and see how long it stays wet about an inch down after a day or so? Just to make sure the roots are getting the water they need on a consistent basis? I’ve heard of other bloggers that have a very hard time getting things to grow in hot temperatures, so they grow a lot in the spring and fall, and have not much luck at all in the hottest part of the year. I’m sure if I lived where you do, it would take me quite a while to get the hang of your climate.

      I would look on-line for your county Extension Office. They should have Master Gardeners you may be able to call and lots of information about gardening in your specific climate. Ours is through Oregon State University, and they have such a lot of good information I’ve used many, many times. It can be accessed on-line. You could even look at the 4H information for horticulture. I’d send you to the Oregon State website, but I don’t think that’s what you need. Try Googling things like “Master Gardeners” or “4H Horticulture” or “Extension office in ___(your area) of Texas.”

  8. Lovana is a woman after my own heart. Trying wild, unusual vegetables is what I love to do. Keep taking pictures of her garden so I can watch it too. She might try something I have not tried yet. If there is a new vegetable, I might have to try it too….next year of course. This year is going to be safe, not sorry.
    Rob has once again impressed me with his building skills. I thought it was a real ladder and was wondering what crazy person would climb up there? It will be perfect for a Tromboncini squash. I grew one last year and it only had male flowers so no fruit. Obviously, I didn’t save any seeds. I will try again this year.
    It is great that you are letting Patsy look through the microscope all she wants. That is what is best about homeschooling, learning becomes normal and you never stop.

    1. Yes, I did point out to trellis-man that if things really grew that tall, I would need a ladder to pick them!!! You should have seen how tall and big the bean trellis looked before he finished it. I’m kind of short…just saying! But, I didn’t need to worry at all, now that it’s finished, it’s just right for me, and I think those Tromboncinis will hang down, or if the do grow way up there, I’ll let Rob pick them. He’s so tall–I’m loving how the garden looks with all these structures in it!

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