Category Archives: Garden

The Side yard Garden Project Completed-January, 2021

We finished the side yard project this week. This used to be a real mess, with waist-high weeds along the fence in spring and mud in the winter. We wanted it to be more usable, and for there to be a cleaner surface to walk on as we went back and forth into the camper. When we camp, we have to load in our fresh foods and our clothes for the week. We also use the camper fridge as our extra fridge when we buy a large quantity of something that was on sale. We also use the camper for a guest house on the rare occasions that someone visits us over night. Where the raised beds are now, there was a grassy area that was an inconvenience to mow and a wasted area to water, but it’s hooked into the sprinkler system. I wanted to grow more food there instead.

We started last fall. Patsy worked on it for a while, and was paid for her efforts, and then decided it wasn’t her favorite thing, so Rob and I took it on. There were concrete stones, weeds, roots, rocks and dirt to move.

As the fall and winter progressed, we worked at it when we could. There are pebbles where the camper steps stop and red bark for the rest of the area.

Rob built the first raised bed from reclaimed lumber. He had to buy part of the lumber for the second one, but using the scavenged lumber helped bring the cost way down. We saved all the dirt we dug up from the area by the camper to help fill the new beds. The bags are some dirt that was dug up before Rob got the beds built. We saved all the concrete edging stones for another future project. Rob has a plan to put in drip irrigation connected to the in-ground sprinkler system that is already there, and make it as easy to water as the rest of the yard and garden.

We covered the grass under the beds with old cardboard from boxes to discourage weeds, then shoveled in dirt.

A few weeks ago, I put some purchased, enriched soil and some bone meal in the first bed and stirred it up. Then, I planted baby strawberry plants in half of it. This weekend, Rob finished filling the second bed with dirt and more enriched soil. I spread out the rest of the red bark chips and he trimmed off the neighbor’s bushes that had been growing through our fence. The branches were starting to lean out toward the camper, and were a real trial to brush up against after a rain…..quite startling I’ll say when the water went down my neck!

I plan to plant some peas in the empty bed before too many weeks pass. The other half of the strawberry bed will be filled with early spring veggies such as boc choi, spinach and cabbage or more peas. I bought a big package of those. It’s just easier around here to get into a raised bed in early spring since they dry out sooner. The main garden is way too wet. There is good sun here, so I’m excited about what might grow.

The arborvitae look dismal now, but they will leaf out all too soon. I don’t want them anyway–they are the neighbors. He does know we trimmed them off on our side. Rob thought it was just common courtesy to ask permission even though they were growing through onto our side of the fence, and of course he was fine with it.

Since the camper is not at home now, we decided to hustle up and finish the job while it was easier to work in that area. How Rob does it, I’ll never know, but he will back it in there and the steps will open up right where the gravel is, every single time. The door will just barely open, but the slide-out will also open exactly enough to not hit the gutters on the house (about 3 or 4 inches) and there will be enough clearance to get in and out the door. It amazes me every time. Now that the project is done, we won’t track as much mud inside, and I’ll have 2 more beds to grow food in. I should not get water down my neck any more, and Patsy won’t have to man-handle the mower into that inconvenient place anymore. It’s nice to have it done.

2021 gardening Plans

If I want produce like this again, I need to plan now. Rob and I have done quite a bit of garden planning this winter and I’ve already ordered and received my seeds. Here’s what we’ve got planned.

Over the past few months, we have been improving our side yard. There was a strip of grass that became a place to pile things, caused lots of moans and groans every time Patsy had to man-handle the lawn mower over there to mow the tiny strip of grass and was wasting water to irrigate something we did not like. Rob built raised beds. Cardboard was put in the bottoms and dirt is being moved from beside the camper to fill them in. Last week I mixed in 1/2 bag of purchased growing mix and some bone meal and planted 1/2 of one bed with strawberry runners that had grown from my existing strawberry plants. If we want strawberries, the beds need renewing frequently or they don’t produce well. I was happy to get this many new baby plants for free.

We have raspberry and blackberry (Marion) bushes growing as well. This fall, we cut down an old peach tree that shaded those berries and the back of the garden. I’m excited to see how much better things should grow with the additional water and sunlight they will get.

The bags on the left are full of leaves. Rob picked them up downtown where someone had raked them up and left them out for the taking. Patsy has since dragged them into the garden. They are still in the bags. When the sun shines on the bags as spring comes on, they will decompose more quickly then if we poured them out. At least they did the last time we did this and hopefully it will work again. In the late spring, they will be spread out and tilled in, as long as they are pretty broken down. Otherwise, we will have to wait as they will rob the soil of nitrogen while they break down if they are too intact. Part of our planning is a constant search to improve our soil. We expect a lot from our garden, so we amend the soil every chance we get.

Rob will clean the greenhouse soon. He has some winter lettuce growing now, and will start some of the baby plants soon. Right now, it’s not heated at all, but he will put a heat mat under the new seeds when he plants them. It’s been a very mild winter. We have a space heater we can plug in if we absolutely have to, but we’d rather not.

Here are some of the seeds we are using this year. We also have a bag full from of partial packets from previous years, and quite a few seeds Rob saved this past summer. Since it’s the first time he’s done so much seed saving, we are being a little cautious. We will use his and the purchased ones until our confidence has grown and we make sure it’s been done correctly. Still, we ordered about 1/2 of what we do sometimes. You cannot save seeds from hybrids–they won’t grow true to kind. Still, I grow some of those because I want the product they produce. The flowers were a Christmas gift. I love zinnias, so I know I will grow those!

It looks like a lot of seeds, and it is. I grow a huge garden, and we start our seedlings of things like tomatoes and peppers. We also give away some starts to my sister and others. I can and freeze large quantities of vegetables and fruits–I’m talking hundreds of packages and jars, so I need a lot of produce!

I ordered from Territorial Seeds and Pinetree Garden Seeds this year. I like to order from Johnny’s sometimes, but like to limit myself so I don’t have to pay as much shipping. We have several great garden centers around here and I can pick up more things if I need them. I like to order, though, because I like to choose the varieties I want with the disease resistance and productivity I want.

Here are some of the kinds I like to grow. Remember, some of these have been saved, or I already have a partial packet of them so you may not see them in the picture.

Lettuce: The photo is Yukon Winter Mix from Territorial. It’s from the greenhouse. It is the first time I’ve grown it. I had good success in the garden, have some in the raised bed under plastic and in the greenhouse. I ordered more, plus a winter mix from Pinetree. I always grow Buttercrunch. It’s my favorite. I like lettuce mixes and always grow them, plus Drunken Woman Frizzy Headed Lettuce from Territorial. I like the Flashy Troutback lettuce from Territorial, also. We have Gondor head lettuce from Territorial and have used Summertime in the past.

Onions: I have green onion seeds we saved. I get packets from the Dollar Store sometimes if I need them. I grew Patterson F1 onions for storage and Red Bull F1 as well, from Territorial, and will do so again. You cannot save these seeds, as they are hybrids. They store well. We still have tons left and usually they last until spring if they are not all eaten. I grew white onions last summer. They are all gone because they do not store well.

Cabbage: Last fall, we planted Quick Start cabbage from Territorial because is was the only kind Rob could find seeds for. They were in short supply around here last summer. It grew quickly, made a great fall crop, and I still have one out in the garden that looks good. The rest have been picked and eaten. We ordered another packet of it. It is a smallish head, grows quickly and tasted great. I’ve grown the Cabbage Mix from Pinetree for years. It is all kinds of cabbage mixed up–red ones, big ones, small…all mixed up. I only got 1 red one last year, and will have Rob make sure to not thin out all of those this year, as we enjoying the cabbage/apple relish (?) mix I canned. Even with only one, I got 6 or 7 small jars.

Carrots: I’m not picky on those. I ordered Eskimo F1 from Territorial, just for fun, but am happy with Danvers Half Long from the Dollar Store or anywhere else.

Spinach and Greens: Joi Choi Pac Choi from Territorial is our favorite Boc Choi for early spring and fall planting. Rob’s just getting into kale in the past few years, and finds he likes the Tuscan kind. We ordered Dazzling Blue Kale from Pinetree to try it, and have been enjoying several kinds of kale my friend Jeannie sent me seeds for. We are newbies to growing celery, and have lots of skinny, leafy celery with hollow stems growing right now. We will try Tango from Pinetree this summer and see how it does. We’ve grown Bloomsdale Spinach from various sources, ordered Palco from Pintree for early spring and Reflect from Pinetree for summer planting.

Beans: Blue Lake Bush beans are our favorite. I got 2-1/2 pounds from Territorial this year, as we grow a tremendous amount. I can many quarts each summer. Carson is a good yellow bush bean. I grow a few rows of those and usually mix them into some of the green ones when I can, if I’ve got any ripe ones, for color variance. I also like growing some pole beans for a continuous crop until fall so we can eat fresh ones as long as possible. The bush ones give a large crop all at once for preserving. Rob saved a bunch of Blue Lake Pole Bean seeds. I bought Violet Podded Stringless Pole Beans to grow. They were a bust last summer, but I’ll try again with more sunlight to help them along this year.

Tomatoes: Glacier (Territorial) for small, extremely early tomatoes. Black or Chocolate Cherry, Sungold and Yellow Pear for small tomatoes to snack on. We got Fantastic F1 from Territorial for canning, Cordova F1 as a sauce/paste tomato and are trying CarmelloF1 for the first time for slicing. We grew BuffalosteakF1 last year and will use the rest of the packet this year. We could not get WillametteF1 this year from Territorial, so Rob ordered some from the internet. We’ll see what they turn out to be:). We got some Longkeeper seeds. I grew them years ago and want to try again. The green tomatoes Rob picked and ripened lasted until Thanksgiving. Maybe these can do better.

Broccoli: Hybrid Broccoli Blend from Territorial. It gives broccoli at different times, as it is a mix of different varieties, which is nice.

Herbs: Dill, basil, cilantro, parsley. I’m not picky. I order some, get some from the Dollar store, and save seeds. My parsley self-seeds, as does the cilantro and sometimes dill.

Peppers: Carmen (Pinetree or Johnny’s)–it’s a long sweet pepper that ripens early, a must for my climate. I’ve grown it for years. I’m growing Jalafuigo Jalepeno from Pinetree this year as it promises to be larger and spicier than others. Anaheim can be purchased many places. Serranos from the Dollar Store work fine, as I only need a few. Lola F1 from Territorial is a recent favorite. It’s a long, light green sweet pepper and bears heavily. Rob started Hungarian Wax Peppers from the Dollar Store last year, not knowing what they would be exactly. They were great and we still have a package…We also have some bell pepper seeds from there.

Peas: I grew some Tall Telephone Pole peas last year and got a few. This year, I will go back to an old favorite, Maestro, a bush pea from Territorial. I don’t grow them every year, but I plan to put some into one of the new raised beds for an early spring crop.

We use multiple succession plantings of Oregon Sugar Pod II peas. Tons! We eat them as fast as we grow them and I plant a new, tiny row every 2 weeks all summer long.

Beets: Early Wonder Tall Top is our favorite. I’ve also used Detroit. Pinetree Beet Mix is good, too. Rob got a whole handful of Early Wonder Beets on clearance at a local farm store, so that’s what I’ve got this year, plus a bunch of the mix left over. Even with all I grew last year, we had to buy a bunch to pickle–beets are a favorite around here!

Pumpkins and Winter Squash: I struggle with those in this garden. I’ve tried Butternut and Delicata with poor results. I will try again, but was super grateful for the Sweetmeat and Butternut Rob’s cousin gave us, and the ones we were able to purchase at a local farm stand.

Summer Squash: Raven F1 Zucchini from Territorial is great, as is Easypick Gold F1. From Pinetree, I like Tromboncini and Summer Squash Mix. I use a lot of those and make relish and pickles with this as well as eat it fresh.

Cucumbers: Lemon cucumbers grow great and self-seed often in my garden. Rob saved some seeds of those this past summer. Pickling cucumber seeds are fine from the Dollar Store, but, again, Rob saved some. The slicers–same story. I also have some from last year in case his don’t grow, but I think they will. I use a great deal of pickling cucumbers–I canned about 50 pints last summer–so I need a lot.

Flowers: I always grow zinnias and they self-seed in my garden. I like nasturtiums as well, plus Rob grew great pansies last year. He also grew snapdragons from the Dollar Store seeds and they are still alive. He likes to experiment, and so I will have whatever flowers he decides to grow at the time. Last year he saved over the geraniums again, so I will have those. He started a bunch of those from seed last year, and then some cuttings from ours and my aunt’s plants.

Even with growing all of this, sometimes crops fail, or I can’t grow enough, so my sister is gracious enough to let me pick from her garden. We also buy things from farm stands, such as cauliflower, which we do not grow, or peppers if I need to make relish before ours are ripe. It’s always a changing process, but keeps my mind busy and my body active. I love gardening!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–And a Quick Sewing Project for Patsy–November 15, 2020

I was able to complete a quick sewing project this week. I took the scraps from Patsy’s cape and made her a hat. Sadly, I lost my old hat pattern somewhere in the sewing room. Rob found me another one for free on the internet, and this is how it came out.

We had a very old peach tree at the back of our garden. We’ve been talking for quite some time about taking it down. After all, my sister owns a peach farm and we get all we want from her. Besides, we were very nervous about smashing the neighbor’s fence since so much of it was actually leaning over the fence….you know how these kinds of projects are. They get bigger the more you think about them. So we put if off. This summer, it began to lean alarmingly towards the beautiful fence our neighbor recently erected, so we became more committed to removing it before it fell. In reality, this picture doesn’t even really show how far it was leaning. The angle is wrong. Today was the day to get it down at last!

We were jump-started into action when we were visited by our neighbor on the west side of our house. We followed him into his yard to gape in horror at another neighbor’s yard utterly filled with a part of a huge cedar tree that broke in the last day or two and smashed a shed and filled that person’s entire back yard. He felt he should show us because the rest of the tree was starting to lean alarmingly toward our shop! After some consultation with a couple of neighbors, we found that a tree service was going to be called tomorrow. But, we knew we couldn’t delay any longer in removing our problem tree. That new fence the neighbor put up is too nice to smash.

Thankfully, we had live-streamed church this morning, and God provided a window of opportunity with no rain this afternoon. The minute we were done, the skies opened up and it poured. So, it just became a nice Sunday afternoon project that didn’t ruin our Sunday plans, and took much less time than we had feared.

I climbed a very short ladder and snipped off lower branches with hand loppers and then moved to the clean-up crew. Rob used his chain saw with the long handle to cut off branches, bit by bit, from the top down. We were very careful and pulled the branches toward our side of the fence and threw the branches into the empty garden. Some raspberries and artichokes were actually smashed a bit in the process, but we uncovered them ASAP. There were a few branches that fell over the fence. Thankfully, our neighbor had removed the fancy lights, per Rob’s request a few days ago, and we were able to pull the branches up and over using a garden rake without damaging anything. He came out as we were finishing and assured us that his side of the fence was just fine, we had not smashed, ruined, or destroyed anything in our efforts.

We used pruners to cut the branches into small pieces and filled the yard debris bin. Rob cut the larger pieces into firewood with his chain saw. We left the rest of the branches in the garden and will fill the bin again several times as the weeks pass by. The apple tree will come down this winter, too, hopefully. We get no good apples from it. It’s not ready to fall on anything, so it can wait.

Now my garden will get even more sun and grow even more veggies! The raspberries should be sweeter and grow better. The roots of the tree have been taking too much water from the back of the garden, and I’m hoping this helps. Doing this job ourselves saved us several hundred dollars, maybe more if it had fallen and smashed that lovely fence.

I had planned on shopping last Tuesday, and got the things on my list. I used my $10 off $50 coupon at Safeway and actually spent about $45. I stopped off at Winco and got a 68c/lb turkey and a couple of things they sell for less there. In the meanwhile, Rob and Patsy stopped off at a different Winco and grabbed 2 more turkeys. I’m delighted to have three turkeys now. The whole thing was complicated by the fact that Rob, Michaela and Patsy were on their way home from picking up our 1/4 beef when they stopped for those turkeys! It was a larger quarter than last year. So, we played “arrange the freezer” for quite a while, and it all fit, thank goodness.

While out with her, he found ham for $1.29 at Grocery Outlet, and bought 2 small ones. One hour later, when other family members went to get some, they were all gone. They simply haven’t been on sale anywhere this fall. Since he was going out again, I had him pick up a few more groceries, including a couple more gallons of milk with long pull dates, and we should be set for the next couple of weeks. I have reserved some of my monthly budget for an Azure Standard order later in the month, if I decide to do so.

Rob chopped wood 2 more times this past week.

So, we are loaded up with groceries and wood, so plan to spend this next week cozy and busy!

Thriving In My thrifty Week–October 6, 2020

This is my miracle. Rob picked up some wood from my brother-in-law, came home, split and stacked it.

He is still limping, and has a few other muscles that aren’t working quite right, so he was improved for another round of physical therapy. He started that today.

When Patsy was helping Rob pick up wood, she found a praying mantis. We also found caterpillars in the garden and brought them in with the hope of her being to observe them turning into butterflies. So far, no luck, but it’s good to try.

Our onions are dried nicely now. Rob built some wooden boxes to store them in. We have many, many more than this:). He’s sorting them, a little each day since the white ones will go bad first, then the red and yellow because of the varieties and storage capabilities they have.

He worked with Patsy in the shop while he was building them, and taught her how to safely use a tool she had not used before.

Every time Rob goes up to my sister’s farm, she send home garden goodies. We have been enjoying corn. We have dried the last of her tomatoes, as she has what she wants, and worked with apples, apples and more apples. We also dried zucchini, made Giadiniera, and apple pie filling and bread and butter pickles. I thought I was done with pickles, but found more cucumbers. Those were the absolute last, though, and I pulled the bushes up. My canning shelves are over-full, so Rob build me some wooden boxes to store empty jars in as we empty them to free up a little space on the shelves so I can safely move things around without danger of breakage and more easily see what I have as things in front are used up.

She sent kiwi and kiwi berries for us to snack on.

I spent 4-5 hours tying up my blackberries this week. The new vines grew extra long and were very tangled up with each other, grown into the garden and covered with weeds and otherwise entangled. It was not fun, but it’s done.

This was the week for people to give us food, multiple people for several reasons. What a blessing they all were! I was given a bag of popcorn, many fruits and vegetables, and a box of assorted cans of foods that Rob’s mom was given, but could not use. In that box were canned beans, a can of baby corn, some clams and oysters, and some sauces, plus more. I sorted them. The ones that were slightly over-date were set out for immediate use, the rest put on the shelves for later. I made a baked bean medley from some of them, plan to give away the oysters as we don’t eat them, have a stir-fry planned for the baby corn and will make clam chowder soon. I ate the can of very strange soup, but….hey, we don’t all have the same tastes and it’s gone now:).

I picked some lettuce, the first I’ve had for a while. Summer heat and smoke were not kind to the garden and there wasn’t any for a while. I also picked peppers, green beans, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, zucchini and beets from the garden.

I went grocery shopping last week. I used the $10/off $50 coupon at Safeway and also clipped several store coupons to my phone account. I will need very little at the store this week, between what I bought, the end of the garden, and what I was given. I like to stretch out my shopping trips if I can, to save time and to stay home, and as always, save money!

A Fall Frenzy of Food Preservation–October, 2020

My sister’s apple trees have yielded a bumper crop this year. She has kindly shared a LOT of apples with us over the last couple of weeks.

This week, I have made apple pie filling, dried apples, and we have eaten SO many apples!

As you can see, the garden tomatoes are coming to the end of their days. But, despite a few spots, Rob brought home this box from my sister’s. We also picked some equally spotted ones from our garden.

We dried them. I did this a few years ago. You can use them in any recipe calling for sun-dried tomatoes that are not packed in oil.

In the cabbage mixture I grew, there was one head of red cabbage. We ate a little off the side of it, then it sat in the fridge. I found a recipe for a German cabbage with apples in it and used the rest of the head to make it. It’s a sweet and sour, pickled mixture and I’m getting excited to try it. I’m just waiting to let the flavors meld together before I do.

Rob wanted to make Giadiniera. He found huge heads of cauliflower at a farm stand. They were only $3/each. We froze some and used the rest for this pickled vegetable mixture. There were many, many recipes on the internet, and they all seemed to be different. I did a little research to make sure the brine was safe, and then just picked one.

The zucchini, Tromboncini and summer squash bushes all ripened more fruit. We dried them. I did this a few years back and used them primarily in soup. I added them at the end of the cooking process and they rehydrated nicely and did not turn to mush. I have another idea or two that I plan to try with these.

When I went out to dump one of my many bowls of apple peelings into the compost heap, I felt a “crunch” under my feet. Much to my surprise, there was a cucumber under my feet in the bushes I thought were finished. I started searching and found enough misshapen cucumbers to make 8 little jars of bread-and-butter pickles. That was a very nice surprise since I had not made any this year and a great way to use these ugly cucumbers in a tasty way.

We have spent considerable time this past week preserving food. This task is winding down, though, as we have also spent a great deal of time putting the garden to bed for the winter. We are not done, but are making great progress. The last few fruits are being picked, bushes are being pulled, vines are being tied up, compost is being spread from the one bin that is finished, and Rob is planning to till soon. I have hoed around my fall plants that will not be tilled up, as they are not finished. I hope to finish that job in the next couple of days, before the rain that’s supposed to arrive this weekend. It’s been a wonderful gardening year, and I’m grateful for all that we have been able to harvest.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–September 20, 2020

The wildfire smoke finally cleared enough for me to get outside. It took 2 sessions, but I got the weeds pulled around the raised beds, old plants pulled and trimmed and new compost spread in the back one, a few more fall veggies planted, and bark dust spread around the paths. I had 2 bags of the darker brown bark dust left from last spring, so used them. The rest of the paths I spread with some shavings Rob’s been saving in an old garbage can from his woodworking in the shop. I’m hoping the paths will remain walk-able for me this winter as I hopefully harvest lettuce, kale, green onions, spinach, snow peas and boc choi. It’s a little later than I wanted to plant, but if things don’t fruit before the winter, sometimes they will over-winter and give me some goodies very early in the spring. Last year, that’s what my over-wintered snow peas did.

The garden’s getting pretty messy, but there are some plants in there that I still have hope for.

My winter lettuce is very tiny. The Chinese cabbage is growing, and I can see that the cabbage is growing nicely. The spinach didn’t come up. Such is life:).

A little dose of reality? Yup. That’s really what my zucchini patch looks like. But, I still keep getting a zucchini or two every couple of days….

And, a few tomatoes. You can also see the gluten-free flour mix I stirred up. I want to make bread in the next day or two. I don’t eat a lot of bread, but I do eat it now and then.

I made some chocolate cupcakes and used 1/2 the batter to make a loaf cake to slice, freeze and keep on hand. I also froze some turkey meatballs and 1/2 of the pork Rob marinated and barbecued. It’s so handy to have things to grab from the freezer and eat when I’m in a hurry.

My canning and preserving project is slowing way, way down, as the garden is also slowing down. However, I did get enough tomatoes to can 9-1/2 pints of diced tomatoes this week. I am thinking of things to do with all these, as it’s a little too much to eat, but not quite enough to can. Pico de Gallo comes to mind, as does sharing with my extremely good-natured neighbor. She has graciously accepted all extra veggies, including some of the less “popular” ones that others might turn down.

My sister gave me 5 tiny squash. I peeled, chopped, and roasted the bits and we gobbled them down.

Once the hot weather was over, the pole beans bloomed and started producing beans again. I’ve had several bowls in the past couple of weeks. I’m hoping that we will get quite a few more dinners from them before it frosts.

I can’t say things look great out there, but I’m still very satisfied with all of the food we just keep getting. Now that the light can shine on the garden since the smoke is gone, and we’ve had a little rain, I think I may be surprised at what may grow. Here’s hoping anyway……..

The rest of the week was filled with spending time with Jake and Michaela, doing school with Patsy, and a little cleaning. We started exercising again yesterday. We just couldn’t go outside to walk until then, the smoke was that bad.

thriving In My Thrifty Week–August 18, 2020

A trip to the docks in Newport, Oregon, led to this….

A trip to the farm and garden led to this…..

So, pretty much all I’ve been doing this past week is this….

Rob’s cousin gave us 2 huge boxes of food she did not need from a gleaner’s group she belongs to. In it were 2 huge bags of broccoli, which I froze, some chicken, which I canned and lots of other yummy food, which we ate.

The peaches are from my sister’s farm. Rob helped up there several days this past couple of weeks and hauled home peaches and wild black berries more than once. My sister was given pears, and she shared with me. I have spent countless hours canning, freezing and drying produce. I’m delighted, but a bit tired, I will admit. There’s lots more to do, but I am trying to do it in small batches when ever possible. My freezers are getting stuffed, so I’ve actually turned down a couple of items lately, like blueberries and more green beans, and I canned the chicken we were given for that reason. My shelves are filling nicely out in the shop.

I’ve done a couple of batches of salsa, several small batches of pickles, lots of jam, wild blackberry and strawberry syrup, and I’m working on fruit cocktail today.

A few of the fall/winter gardening seeds have come up and some of the cabbage starts that looked so awful when I planted them look much better now. In between preserving, I’ve been trying to clean up the yard and garden a bit….it’s getting pretty weedy. But, the weeds will still be there when I’m done canning, I’m pretty sure. So, I’m not getting too worried about them:)

So, why do I do all of this? Several reasons: For one, I actually enjoy it. But, even if I didn’t, I still would preserve food. There is so much food in our area. Farmers have a bounty of crops that are available for little money. My garden is bountiful. But, during the winter, little grows, and it is so nice to be able to go out to the shop and grab what I want or need. It saves me both time and money during the winter, and I can cook so many delicious meals with the food I preserve.

During this past spring, it become apparent that things had changed in our area. The stores were having shortages, as they did everywhere else. We have chosen to not shop as often, due to Covid, and sometimes, things on my list were not there when we were. This summer, I’m preserving extra, because we ate extra last spring and I ran out of some items. I know I will enjoy the convenience of having the food right at my fingertips. Right now, in our area, farmers are selling their wares at fruit stands and farms for the same prices they did in the past, or with a slight, normal increase. With other food prices going up in the stores, that’s attractive to me.

Are you preserving anything extra this summer?

Thriving In My thrifty Week–August 10, 2020

The canning is stacking up around here! This week, one of the things I did was pull the carrots. Some we ate and some were canned. Frankly, my carrot crop was small, and not impressive, but I dealt with what there was. I grew multi-colored colored carrots, for part of what I grew, and I like how they look in the jars. During a normal winter, I use between 5 and 10 pints of canned carrots, that is all. I use them for one purpose–making chicken-rice soup when I’m in a big hurry. Therefore, I don’t can them every year, but this year, I’m down to one jar left, so it’s time.

Pickles are made every few days and the tomatoes are just barely starting.

We have a peach tree in the back yard. It’s somewhat pathetic and the peaches that grow are usually eaten off by squirrels before they even ripen. The peaches are often covered with scabs. But, this year, some survived–probably 20-25 pounds and they are quite nice. I was expecting very little-none as usual, so this gave me extra peaches. I have been freezing them in slices for smoothies, gave some of the frozen ones to my sister, froze a few for a friend, and made another double batch of peach jam.

We are eating so well from the garden now.

My lettuce is really good right now, but some of it wants to bolt soon. I will be hauling some out to family members on Wednesday so it gets eaten.

Rob has been saving seeds from some of our open-pollinated flowers and vegetables to use next year. It’s his first try, but he’s become very infested in the process–so I’m on board. I’ve got a small patch of the lettuce in the center of the picture saved and will let it go to seed for him. I’ve got a huge cucumber yellowing on the vine for the same purpose, and one freaky carrot that bloomed so is being left alone to see what happens.

I’ve been working hard in the garden to pull up old bean bushes, pull the onions so they can dry, and otherwise clean up out there. One day, Rob tilled this section and I planted cabbage, some sad broccoli plants and a few seeds. The plants are not amused at the 90+ degree day we had today. I’ve ran the sprinkler daily and hauled a few watering cans full of water out to them, so they will likely survive if I keep doing it. I have plans to plant a few more fall/winter crops when I get the section where the onions were prepared.

I went to the dentist today and got a filling replaced. It had a small crack in it. They felt I could wait until after Rob recovered from surgery, but not 6 months…..I really don’t like dental work, but was glad to get it fixed before it caused problems down the road. I was able to use my insurance, so that helped ease the pain.

Rob has been helping my sister/brother-in-law on their peach farm a little over the past couple of weeks. They are in a busy time, and he’s available. While he was there today, he picked wild blackberries and we made jam this afternoon.

My aunt and sisters picked and snapped more green beans for me while I was at the dentist. Rob and I canned them this afternoon. I got 7 more quarts and 18 pints, plus 4 baggies to freeze. Thanks, guys!

Rob gathered free wood from the side of the road and made me screens to dry my onions on.

One day, while we were watching Michaela, we packed a picnic and took her up to Silver Creek Falls State Park to dip her toes in the creek, and enjoy her picnic. We are all trying to find things for the kids to do while still staying safe–so although the park was somewhat crowded, we just stayed away from people as much as we could, so we were able to find a way to social distance. We did take a walk, but it was around the parking lot and a field–we never got anywhere near the falls this time around. It was still extremely fun!

What did you do this week to save money or have an awesome week?

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Garden Update–July 23, 2020

The garden is growing by leaps and bounds. We are harvesting daily, and replanting each area as it becomes available. This lettuce and kale was planted a while back and is looking great. The little lettuce in the background needs help! A couple of days after we planted the little starts, the weather became very hot, so it’s unhappy. With the cooler weather yesterday and today, and all the water we’ve been giving it, it should revive.

The old Alderman Tall Telephone Pole pea seeds have produces enough for a couple of dinners. I really didn’t know if they were too old to sprout, but obviously, they sprouted!

We are getting so many Tromboncini zucchini, and yellow and green zucchinis that we needed to take drastic measures. After giving them away to anyone who would take them and eating them like crazy, we did this….

We love zucchini relish, and now have a large supply for eating and gift giving.

I think this should hold us over:). Even though I picked the big ones, small ones, and everything in-between, there are small ones out there again this morning! We ground the zucchini in an antique meat grinder by turning the crank as we fed the squash into the top. We did a x13 batch–and used 26 cups of ground zucchini–then added the peppers and onions called for! I had to send Rob to the restaurant supply store for peppers and took all the onions my sister had at her house. I have never made so much at once before. We got 32 jars, many of which were pints and the rest 1/2 pints. They all sealed except one. I can’t ask for a more satisfying outcome.

Beans are growing well, although I will say the bush beans don’t like their area very well this year. These are the pole beans and they are very happy. I think the bush beans are getting too much shade from the shop and apple tree. We’ve still canned 21 quarts so far, so it will all work out.

It’s really looking like a jungle in many places. I’ve been able to keep the worst of the weeds out, but it’s a challenge to have time to both weed and harvest.

I’m still getting a small, but steady, supply of strawberries. I have one blueberry bush that is almost finished, and another one that still has many, many berries on it. It takes me quite some time to pick them all. so I’ve just been picking one container in the evening, and freezing it, then waiting until the next day or two. That’s why I got a few unripe ones in the dish—it was getting dark. Mostly, they have much better flavor than last year, though, now that I’ve learned to wait a little longer to pick them. The raspberries and blackberries are almost done, but I’ve been getting a few of those each time I pick as well.

The Glacier tomatoes are continuing to ripen. I got a large bowl full of them yesterday. The Romas and Willamettes are starting to ripen, one here, and one there. The various cherry and pear tomatoes are, too.

I am very happy with my garden this year. We are supplied with so many wonderful veggies and berries, both for fresh eating and also preserving. I have plans for more succession planting as areas free up, and hope to have food growing far into the fall. Rob has baby broccoli and cabbage, plus more lettuce starts growing in the greenhouse, waiting for their turn. So far, I’ve planted more snow peas, beets, leaf lettuce, cucumber and zucchini seeds. I’ve also planted head lettuce, Buttercrunch and Frizzy-Headed Drunken Woman lettuce starts. It has been a good, constructive activity for me during this time where I’ve been home much more than usual. I enjoy it, and really love having all the produce!

Garden Update–June 20, 2020

The garden is growing like crazy! I’m excited, because all of our hard work is starting to yield a lot of vegetables and fruit, and there’s a lot more vegetables that are coming along nicely, although not ready yet.

The pole beans are happily climbing up their trellis. These will yield until fall, and give me fresh beans for a longer period of time. I will can as many as I am able to get from the bush beans, as I need quite a few this year, but having fresh ones longer enables me to save the canned ones for winter when nothing grows. There are Blue Lake Pole beans and Violet-Podded Pole beans on this trellis.

The main broccoli heads have been picked and frozen or eaten. Now, side shoots are forming. I put some fertilizer on them and will get lots more before these plants are finished. They look awful right now, but trust me, there will be more broccoli! Rob planted some new babies in the greenhouse, and I will put them out in mid-late summer for a fall crop.

This is the third planting of Oregon Sugar Pod II snow peas. The other 2 have been pulled up, and more have been planted wherever I can find a small space to do so. We have eaten them several times a week. Rob stir-fries them up for his morning scramble, and I’ve made several stir-fries for dinners. I don’t try to freeze any. They get too mushy for our taste.

We’ve eaten several cabbages. I have a cabbage blend, and some Golden Acre cabbage. Coleslaw has been a part of our meal plan often. We like it with raisins in it. It has also been added to soups and stir-fries. There are still several cabbages growing, and Rob has some baby ones in the greenhouse for a fall crop. They are called Quick Start cabbage, because that is the kind the store still had. We will see what they are like. I really can’t see how any cabbage would be a bad choice around here. It grows well here.

We have 2 raised beds near our deck. One is full of strawberries and the other is mixed vegetables and herbs. I just keep filling every crack and corner in with new little lettuce plants as I pick things. In that blank space on the right, I filled in a few snow pea seeds just yesterday.

We are having tremendous success with Rob’s plan of growing little seedlings in the greenhouse while waiting for space to free up in the big garden or raised bed. He has planted some unique varieties of seeds a friend sent us, and is excited for me to plant them out. He also keeps a steady supply of lettuces growing so I can fill in partial rows, or little spaces that free up.

The new spinach row is growing nicely, next to the sad and sorry okra that is not. It’s just not hot enough for it to be happy here, I think.

The Blue Lake and yellow Carson bush green beans are growing nicely, though. To the left of the broccoli, the empty space has been planted with more pickling cucumbers. There is another patch already growing elsewhere, but I want to do a lot of pickles. I have dill tucked here and there, and even planted some more in one of the front flowerbeds yesterday to get ready when this later patch of cucumbers does. We love pickles and they have been a great boost to Rob’s dieting, since they are very low-calorie. He’s almost wiped out my supply, so it’s time to do many more jars.

Once this yellow zucchini starts pollinating we are going to have a ton! There are some green zucchini bushes as well. You have to have a male blossom open to pollinate these females…a couple finally opened this week, so I know I now have hope for the zucchini to grow and produce as long as the insects did their job. Rob eats zucchini almost daily in his morning scramble, so I’m excited that I won’t have to buy them any more. It’s not that a zucchini is expensive, it’s that it’s going to be so handy to be able to pick them and get most of what we need from the back yard when Rob is laid up after surgery. I will have lots of choices to feed him without leaving home.

The tomatoes are growing well, and I’ve picked a small handful of the Glacier Ultra Early ones.

I have peppers in a couple of places. They are not setting fruit yet, and look a little sad. They want more heat. Next week, they should get some! The Alderman Telephone Peas in the back love this cool weather we’ve been having, but there are no blooms yet. Let’s hope the heat doesn’t fry them:)

There is a bumper crop of raspberries this year. These are the ever-bearing ones. They are smaller, and not so sweet as the June-bearing kind I have, but I get berries sooner in the season, and later into the fall from them. I’ve frozen several trays of them and we eat them fresh, or in a bowl with a little milk or 1/2 and 1/2 on them sprinkled with a little sugar. The June-bearing kind are just starting to ripen, one here, and one there, and I have a huge amount of green ones on the bushes.

I’m getting about a quart -1/2 gallon of strawberries every couple of days. We’ve had them on ice cream, in smoothies, and sliced in bowls. Jake loves them sliced with a little sugar on them. I’m delighted, since it’s difficult to get him to eat very many healthy foods. I’m freezing the rest.

The weeds are growing as well as the rest of the garden, probably even better. Instead of despairing, I just try to hoe or weed out a few each day. Yes, I will never finish, but, I’m also getting an awful lot of good food despite the weeds that keep cropping up every time I turn my back:)

Rob’s snapdragons and pansies look so pretty by the herbs. You can see that the rhubarb is already growing back from when I pulled each and every stalk a few weeks ago.

It’s really almost ridiculous, the amount of snapdragons that grew from those little Dollar Tree seed packets! We have them in lots of places, along with other flowers–some Rob grew, some we bought, and some were wintered over from last year. It’s looking pretty good around here, and I feel good about the garden’s progress.

I will not be suffering from lack of work once Rob is laid up next week after surgery, but I do feel like I have as good of a handle on it all as I possibly can. We have family members already lined up to come help me out, so I know I can go out and pick things, weed a little, etc. And, the best part is that he will be getting better each day instead of worsening as he is doing now. In a few months, who knows what he will be able to do? But, even when he is recovering, after the first couple of weeks, he should be able to transplant his little baby plants, and so forth. For now, I’m under strict instructions to water them each and every morning, without fail. I can handle that!