Category Archives: Garden

Garden Update–May 23, 2023

With some nice, warm weather, the garden is really starting to take off. So are the weeds:). I’ve been spending hours in the garden, trying to keep it under control. I’m still planting a few things and I’m weeding as often as I can. We do a mixture of raised beds and a large in-ground patch of garden.

I’ve been thinning the carrots and beets. It’s not my favorite job, so I’m just doing a little bit each time. On the right are the tomatoes. We have Glacier (extra early), Oregon Spring, Oregon Star, Carmello, Fantastic, Roma, Roma Cordova, Sart Roboise, Queen of the Night, Sungold, Sweet Million Cherry, Yellow Pear, Long Keeper and a few more.

Some melons have actually come up. I’m amazed. They often don’t. I’m trying a kind called Ng Ogen and Oregon Delicious Canteloupe.

The cabbages and broccoli are getting larger.

We have several different kinds of cabbage. We have Quick Start, Copenhagen, and a mixture with all colors and sizes. I’ve planted a cabbage in all the blank spots where things didn’t sprout all over the garden. We will have a ton once they head up.

We have Romanesco broccoli and a Hybrid Broccoli blend growing.

I have a few peppers blooming.

There are Jalafuego Jalapeño, La Bomba Jalapeno, Ancho, Lola (a long green kind), Blot (a striped sweet), Yellow and Green Bell, Carmen (long red), Anaheim, Jimmy Nardello, Yellow Hot Hungarian Wax and Serrano. There may be more, but that’s what I can remember. I use them for salsa, cooking and I freeze lots of little diced pieces to use in the winter. I have canned some pickled ones in the past, as well.I add a jalapeño to my dill pickles sometimes. They are in wire cages because I find it helps them to not topple over once they are loaded with fruit.

In the background, you can see the pathetic patch of Blue Lake Bush green and Carson yellow bush beans. We have filled in the gaps with new seeds and I noticed just this morning that some of those are coming up already. Rob put some netting over them to keep the crows out!

There are some pole beans coming up. I planted mostly Blue Lake Pole and a few Purple-Podded Pole. Some are on a wire panel, and the rest are against the fence at the back of the garden. The ones that were planted a little later are still in the ground, but the first ones are growing rapidly.

I also got a small patch of corn planted. I’m excited to see if it works. I bought an short-season variety.

I’ve been cutting lettuce for a couple of weeks now. You may notice a few peppers in the midst of the lettuce. They will grow once I remove those heads. I do a lot of succession planting in all of my garden areas.

The Maestro shelling peas are in full bloom now. I look forward to picking and processing them before the full garden comes on. The last couple of years, I have been replacing the pea patch with a fall crop of cabbage and broccoli and plan to do the same this year. We will start those baby plants a little later.

I have lemon cucumbers up. There are a few Muncher slicing cucumbers up, but not many. I did add a few more seeds a couple of nights ago. The pickling cucumbers are not up, so I re-seeded them. Except, of course, the volunteer pickling cucumbers that have burst up where they were last year–right in the middle of some zinnias and dill seedlings….:).

Last evening, I finally got to cleaning out and planting my 2 raised beds on the side of my house. That place gets very hot, due to it’s location and the concrete driveway it’s by. I planted Dragon’s Egg cucumber, Lemon Drop and Sugar Baby watermelon (got to keep trying even though watermelon is sketchy here), Purple tendril sugar snap peas, a yellow climbing snow pea, some Honey Drop Peppers, Jenny cantaloupe, the Long Keeper tomatoes, and some extra basil plants I had. I added some Drunken Frizzy Headed lettuce and called it good for now. There are strawberry plants in parts of those raised beds and I left those, of course. You may notice all the unusual varieties—our daughter Lovana bought most of these seeds and I planted them. How exciting to try some new, different varieties. We will see what we like!

Veggies are not the only thing I grow in my garden! My helper is looking a little sheepish because he just pulled up (and is possible eating) the 2 onions we were saving right where he is standing…they clearly aren’t there any more. Some broccoli is no longer where it once was, either. And, just wait until the cherry tomatoes get ripe–he loved them last summer. There is no worm or bug that is left alone. He also keeps taking his shoes and boots off and sinking into the soil like any good thing that wants to grow. Water is liberally sprayed around with the hose, and we have had to rescue little onions from being washed away. Another favorite activity is dumping weeds into the compost. He fills his little bucket and begs to dump it in the heap. I just have to watch that the lettuce isn’t an easy bucket-filler:). Life is not boring around here and I have to stay on my toes at all times! I love that he has this opportunity to play in the dirt along with me.

I’m so grateful for the opportunity to garden. Rob’s first job on returning from Bangladesh was to set up the sprinklers in the garden. I was watering with watering cans and a hose while he was gone. Once he popped that water on and the garden was soaked several times, it grew even more quickly. Some things seemed to double in a matter of a couple of days.

I spent quite a bit of time, while doing that watering, thinking about ladies all over the world, specifically some I recently heard about in Kenya, who walk for 2 miles to bring water to their vegetable patches. I felt such an appreciation for how easy I have it here and the abundance of water here in the Pacific Northwest that allows me to grow such a large, prolific garden. I spent a lot of time feeling grateful and blessed and praying for those who have it harder than I do in so many ways.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-May 8, 2023

While Rob’s away, the troops will play…..

Rob went off on his big adventure last Friday. Lovana and I are holding down the fort here. We decided to let the babies play on Saturday for hours. When they were getting too interested in the garden, i.e. stomping on my plants, I bribed them out with ice cream. Works every time:) I used cones we’ve had on hand for at least a year, and some sale vanilla ice cream and they felt like they had a really big treat, for just a few cents.

The little white dot in the corner of the raised bed is a butterfly. Zai was so happy and excited to see it flying around and spent quite a bit of time chasing it, but never caught it.

Most of the last couple of weeks have been used to frantically get Rob ready and get things in ship shape order here, as much as possible.

I made 2 kinds of soup and have been eating them for breakfast, lunch and dinner to make life easy. Tonight, I made hamburgers for dinner, and chili for tomorrow night, and split a pound of hamburger for that. I stopped by the store for a few items, but did not do any large grocery shopping trips at all before he left. I will cook a little more in a few days, but also plan to use may home-canned soups, frozen items, etc. to make life easier. We aren’t going to need to buy much this week, either. I’ll do a bigger shop again when he gets back.

He made sure the tiny tiller worked in case I want to use it while he’s gone. He made sure there was gas in the lawn mower. I’m spoiled. He always gets those kind of things going for me, and then I do my thing–like mow. I hope to do that in the next couple of days. He downloaded the Sunday school power point for me for both Sundays…things like that. I just appreciate him all the more while he’s gone as I do all the dishes myself…..

He did not get all the laundry caught up, and I assured him that even though he does most of it all the time, I did still know how…..I’m actually fully caught up with it as of this minute..

I’m filling my time up with all those chores and hours and hours of garden work, along with working several days this week. I like to be busy, because I miss him and the time passes quickly when I keep myself occupied.

I have heard from him several times. He made it there safely, after a 30-hour journey. He travelled through several airports, time zones, and a few countries. All the luggage made it, too. Whew! This is some kind of fried banana, he said. I wondered when I saw this picture if he was eating fried socks or something–ha, ha! We’ve had very brief communications–enough to know he’s safe, sound and happy. I’m excited to hear all about it when he gets back. In the meanwhile, I will keep praying for him and the team he’s with and keep holding down the fort here, with help from my family, who are taking turns coming here to help me several mornings:). This is a busy place!

Garden Update: May 8, 2023

The garden is starting to grow at last! I got some radishes, which seems like a small thing until you realize I plant them often and rarely get anything to harvest. This time I thinned them much better than usual and it paid off. It was also rainy and cool, and they love that so aren’t very spicy.

There have been many changes in the garden over the past few weeks. Lettuce is growing. In fact, this lettuce has almost doubled since I took this picture last week. Tonight, I picked 3 leaves from a green plant to use on my burger. It starts….

All of these Japanese Irises have been dug up and removed. Compost was added and squash and pumpkins will be planted there with the intention that they will grow into the flowerbed and back behind where all I have is grass and mint. I would like to dig out more of that grass one of these days. I’ve been doing a lot more shovel work this year than normal, and it’s paying off.

On the left, you can see my little celery plants. You can also see a partial tray of onions. They are all planted now–some there and some in other areas. The tomatoes are in as well, to the left of that area.

Last year, I had a goal to make some areas easier to keep clean, so I laid down some bark dust, weeded diligently, etc. Those areas are better and were much easier to clean out this spring. Hopefully, I will get a few more places conquered each year. Although these irises were very pretty, and a lovely yellow color, they were almost impossible to weed and were becoming over-run with those weeds.

Of course, the dandelions are having no trouble spreading all over, especially when two super cute little boys blow the seed heads all over whenever they play together:). So, I’ve been digging those plants out with a shovel whenever I have a few minutes.

I’ve filled in the rest of this raised bed with leeks. I’ve also tucked in some pepper plants, and those are Valentine grape tomatoes you see on the left.

The area on the right is planted with green and yellow beans to can. They have not come up yet, as it’s been a cool, wet week again. I dug down and they are sprouted, so they will pop out with the upcoming warmer weather, I hope. There has been a crow trying to eat them, so we shall see what’s left.

I get a little more done each day, so I will hopefully have more to report about the garden very soon.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–The Weather Has Finally Cheered Up! April 26, 2023

The weather has turned! It’s finally sunny and warm this week. I have really been wanting to till the garden. I had some help getting the tiller started and a refresher on how to manage it and did quite a bit today. This is our mid-sized tiller and I seem to be able to manage it just fine.

I won’t be able to plant until it is worked up again in a couple of days, so I’m glad the weather is supposed to stay nice for a while.

I also got some weeding and clipping done in the flowerbeds. There is SO much more to do, but at least I got a start. I was able to get quite a bit into the yard debris bin and hope to fill it up this week. Since they take a bin full each week, included in our garbage service, it’s always a goal to use that part of the service whenever I can. It’s also a nice way to challenge myself to keep on working away, bit by bit.

Rob found an amazing deal on bags of bark dust, garden soil and got some steer manure/compost while he was at it. We’ve been spreading that around here and there as we get a spot ready, and used some of the compost to enrich the garden. I have 2 sections of my home-made compost ready to spread once it dries out a bit. It’s too heavy now for me to handle.

Normal cooking continued: Sausage Spaghetti Pie (green peppers, onion and sausage sautéed and put on top of spaghetti/cottage cheese base with mozzarella on top) for us and young adult group, salad, peanut butter/chocolate chip cookies for the freezer, lots of leftovers, home-baked chicken nuggets, chicken and pepper filling for burritos, gf wraps from a Bob’s Red Mill mix, and jars and freezer containers of fruit, veg, etc. I’ve been working on emptying the fridge of leftovers and produce and am continuing to work through the pantry and freezers. It’s just not that long until the garden will start producing and I need room to put the freshly preserved produce!

Our microwave broke and Rob found another one quickly at a hardware store we’ve used and loved for years. We got a medium-priced one, and it’s amazing that it does 4 things–air fries, convection cooking, toasting or broiling(not sure), and of course, microwaves. I’m excited to see what I can do with that. If I only use the microwave feature, that’s just fine, as well–after all, I was trying to buy a microwave:)

We took Malcolm for a drive Sunday afternoon. We ended up at the beach late afternoon, so stopped in at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, used our membership, and he enjoyed himself for the 45 minutes we had before it closed. He just needed to get out of the house, as he’s had a cold, and well…Rob likes to drive:). What can I say? It was a great afternoon.

I anticipate that I will be outside as much as I can find the time for as long as the weather stays nice because I’m so eager to get some work done out there. Meals will probably be quite simple, and I’m not sure if I will bother shopping or not. It will be fun to see how the week shapes up!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-April 18, 2023

We had 2 nice days last week. By late afternoon on Friday, I was able to get into the small part of the garden that I planted a few weeks ago. Those have been the only two dry periods this spring and it’s been raining ever since. I knew I needed to work out there as much as I could. I did what I could Friday evening and then started in at 7:15 Saturday. I finally stopped around 5:30, with a couple of breaks in-between. I will admit I was tired and sore, but felt wonderful to finally be able to get outside.

Rob had a lot of other things to do that day, so gave me moral support and a little help in the morning and throughout the day as he breezed in and out, everyone else had other plans as well, so it was just me and Malcolm digging in the dirt all day. It was a dream day for both of us.

Mac loves to dig in the dirt so much that he spent quite a bit of time moving dirt from one flowerpot to the raised bed. He used a little shovel and bucket and dug out so much dirt and surviving flowers from last fall. They aren’t looking so good anymore. They survived winter, but not Mac. He took so much dirt from the pot that I finally got him a bag of steer manure compost and let him spread it on a raised bed, one little shovelful at a time. So then, the pot didn’t have much dirt left and he started in on other pots. Rob got a bag of cheap soil at the store and we poured it into the pot when he wasn’t looking and he started on that again, hopefully saving our overwintered geraniums:). My little pot of lettuce wasn’t so lucky. I’m so glad he likes it outside and I want to cultivate that in him, so all this is worth it to me.

The blackberries (Marion berries) needed attention. I dug out copious amounts of quack grass from underneath. It was a terrible mess, to be truthful. We untangled the new canes and cut out the old ones. We tied up the new canes. Some organic fertilizer was applied later and Rob picked up a van load of steer manure compost, soil and mulch at Home Depot. Some of that will go on those berries, but I figured I could do that when it was raining, so I focused on the things I needed to do while it was not pouring rain.

During the previous dry few days a month or so ago, I worked on the raspberries and got those all tied up. Friday evening, I did start to weed out underneath them again–of course the weeds are having no trouble growing. I will put down the amendments and mulch once I finish.

Between the two days, I was able to hoe, hand weed and thin all of the area I had planted. I’m so happy that the crows did not decimate my peas–there’s a great stand there in the middle–5 rows. The seeds Rob saved for carrots and beets came up so thickly that I went ahead and started some rough thinning. I may need to thin more later, but baby plants can still get eaten by slugs, bugs, or birds, so I left a good amount until I see what happens.

I planted cabbage–both Copenhagen and Pinetree Mix, Romensco broccoli and Hybrid Broccoli Blend from our greenhouse. In this picture, I had only started planting onions, but I did finish that row. It’s half White Sweet Spanish and half Red Bull onions. I have many more to plant, especially my Patterson storage, but I ran out of tilled earth.

I planted some lettuce starts–Romaine, Drunken Frizzy Headed Woman lettuce and a few seeds of a mixture. In one of my raised beds (not shown), I planted another small area of snow peas, lettuce, marigolds, a few more radishes, and a few extra leftover plants of broccoli and cabbage. I did put in a few kale plants, as well.

We did get a few more things done this week. Rob found these jars at a thrift store. He ordered new seals from Amazon for the ones that needed them and replaced the old ones on all but one. I have some bulk foods in them now and they seal up very well when I close them.

The boys made snickerdoodles on the day after Easter. I guess more sugar was needed:)

They had fun.

Later in the week, I made pumpkin cookies with cinnamon frosting. Most of these cookies were frozen and I sent some along to the young adult group I cook for on Tuesdays.

I sent Mustard Barbecued Chicken Drumsticks, Cranberry-Walnut Coleslaw, green salad and cookies to the group today. Guess what our meal was today. Hmmm–chicken, coleslaw, salad and cookies? Yes! You got it on the first try. That and chicken soup.

I also made lasagna, pork roast, chicken-rice soup, Peanut Chicken with Rice Noodles, a large pot of brown rice which was eaten with a sweet and sour chicken Rob made and by Malcolm, who loves it with milk and cinnamon sugar. We finished up the soups from last week, and the chili.

I had so much food left over from Easter that I skipped a week of shopping. I did go last evening and got a few items at Safeway and a few more at Grocery Outlet and we are all set again.

Although I’m longing for nice weather so I can get outside again, I see lots and lots of rain predicted when I look at my weather app. Still, there’s plenty to do inside and I may need to drum up a couple more “inside” projects if the rain keeps on.

Rob continues to prepare for his upcoming trip to Bangladesh. One thing they are doing at church to help out is to collect school supplies to take there in his extra suitcase. The children at church have a campaign going to “fill Mr. Rob’s suitcase” and they have his extra one down there, filling it up. There have been lots of supplies gathered and he’s excited to take them. In fact, he’s getting so excited about the whole trip. It’s good to see him so excited.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–March 20, 2023

The most exciting thing I did all week was plant part of my garden. We had a few really nice, warm days and I thought it would be worth a try to see if I could get in there. I could, in only one section, but it was enough! In fact, even the area closest to the camera was still too wet on that day.

I planted 5 rows of Maestro shelling peas for freezing and a small section of Oregon Sugar Pod II snow peas. I plant succession plantings of those every few weeks and we usually have them from spring until fall each year to eat fresh.

I planted a row of Early Wonder Tall Top beets and a row of beet seeds Rob saved last summer. They are likely the same kind, but I’m not exactly sure since I did have another kind in the garden last summer, as well. I do know they are viable, because we tested them by wetting a paper towel and sprouting a few on the windowsill.

There is an entire row of Danvers carrots, with a tiny section of a random variety and another whole row of Rob’s saved carrot seeds. Last summer, I was able to can quite a few carrots from our garden, and I planted extra this year in hopes of doing the same.

A mixed row contains Wild Garden Mix lettuce and Butter crunch lettuce along with a few French Breakfast radishes and cilantro.

One more row holds Lakeside and Bloomsdale Long-Standing spinach. I hope to freeze some of that.

Of course, I had lots of help. All-in-all, between the adults who took him out, he was out for at least 6 hours on that day. He loves it out there.

The part of the garden you see Malcolm in, as well as another strip on the other side of the planted strip are too wet to plant yet. Since it started raining and hasn’t stopped yet, it will likely be quite some time before those slices are ready, but it’s still way too early for the main crops anyway. It’s just so wonderful to have some early crops in so the constant drizzle can water them and they can grow this spring.

My little lettuce and green onion starts did survive the snow. I’ve added in some Baby Boc Choi, Lyon chard, Rainbow chard and more lettuce to that raised bed.

I also got some work done in flowerbeds. I worked especially on the one that contains my herbs and around the blueberry bushes. There is SO much left to do, but I’m so glad I was able to make a good start.

Work continues in the greenhouse and soon there will be tons of fresh veggies growing to make soups like this one. This is a vegetable soup I made from preserved veggies and we’ve been enjoying it all week.

I hit the jackpot at Safeway this week while shopping. Pork chops were 77c/lb. I got 2 huge packs.The meat man put out some pork roasts he wanted to unload right as we walked past, also for 77c/lb. I got one of those. Shrimp was about $4/lb. I got 2 lbs. Containers of peanuts were 67c each. Rob found a coupon for $1 off 2 containers. We got 4 containers for 17c/each. I got some breakfast sausage, lemons, oranges, bananas, 1/2 and 1/2 and 16 ounce shredded Tillamook cheese (2), a box of ramen for my nephew, plus a few other items. I used Bottle Drop money, downloaded coupons and only had to pay $18 out of pocket.

Later, I went to Fred Meyers (Kroger), and got cheese for $1.29/6-8 oz., Easter candy for 33% off, cottage cheese for $1.50/16-oz, sour cream $1.50/16 oz., sherbet, and a few other things.

Most of the food items were frozen or put on the pantry shelves to be used later, but we did use one of the packs of pork chops and ate some peanuts.

I’ve got most of what I need for Easter, now, so I will just add a few more items and be set when that comes along.

I’ve cooked soup, Asian meatballs, rice, pork chops (Rob BBqd), home-baked fish sticks, tomato soup from a box and toasted cheese sandwiches and salads. We’ve eaten lots of leftovers, as well. When I made manacotti for the college group last Tuesday, I made lots for us, as well, so we just finished that up. I make oatmeal constantly for my grandson–he will eat it any time of the day. So easy!

Since it’s been raining constantly since I did that garden/yard work, I haven’t been able to get out there in the past couple of days. I’m super glad I got out there when I did. I may not get another chance in the garden for a while, but am hoping for windows of opportunity where I can at least do some clipping and trimming on bushes that need it or edging with my shovel in a few places.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week———–March 15, 2023

I was able to check out the library pass to Gilbert House Children’s Museum this past week. We were able to take both grandsons there on Saturday. They both had a lot of fun. Zai’s dad came, too, and we had a great time with him. We were able to get all 5 of us in for free with that pass! It’s not available very often, but this is the 2nd time I’ve been able to borrow it. What a nice thing for them to have!

I continued to cook at home, from scratch. In January and February I focused on the pantry–using up many, many items that had been there for quite some time.

In March, I’m putting my energy onto the freezers. I would like to make a frozen angel food cake with sherbet filling for Easter. Right now, there’s no room for that in any freezer, so that’s my new goal–make room for that cake because it needs to be made ahead of time.

I pulled frozen chicken and broth out and made chicken tortilla soup. This recipe also used a can of corn I’d had for ages. I found 6 chicken drumsticks from who knows when and Rob coated them with crumbs and baked them. I used more broth in potato soup. I got out a whole chicken I had purchased on sale last summer and baked it. Then I boiled the bones and…..put more broth into the freezer…..ummmm:).

We ate frozen garden broccoli and beans, and thawed some cooked squash. I made apple-blueberry crisp for the college group I cook for each Tuesday from home-canned apples and frozen blueberries. They also got manicotti this week using home-canned pasta sauce and some buttered carrots. Most weeks, I only take 5-6 gluten-free portions so it’s not hard.

I’ve been writing out menu plans so that I can remember to use up a mix of frozen items. I rarely do written plans these days, but it’s helped me use some forgotten items lately. Of course, I’m still using lots of items from our canning shelves and pantry shelves as well. We’ve especially been burning through home-canned green beans lately. They are so good!

I spent quite a bit of time working with Rob in the greenhouse. We up-potted the tomatoes and peppers into 3-inch pots. I put celery into 6-packs. Things are slower this year, due to the cold weather we’ve been having, but we do see some growth already on the little plants we’ve moved into those larger pots.

I put more lettuce, some boc choi and some chard into the raised bed. Even with snow and cold temperatures, my seedlings are alive and I know they will grow rapidly once the weather cheers up.

The most exciting news we have, though, is that Rob is preparing to go on a mission trip to Bangladesh. He will be going with Mercy, Inc., and working with children in 2 children’s homes, that we know of. We are in a state of anticipation as he prepares and has numerous meetings with the team he will travel with. They say that his agenda will likely change and there will be more encounters besides the children’s homes, but they will know more later. He’s got a while until the trip, but we are already so excited around here!

Garden Update–March 8, 2023

I found some time to clean out one of the raised beds this past week. I added a couple of bags of steer manure compost to raise the fertility and planted some tiny green onions and lettuces Rob grew in the greenhouse. They had been hardening off in our covered porch for a few days, so I had high hopes.

This morning, we woke up to this! It’s so late in the season for snow around here. I still have high hopes for these lettuces, but time will tell if they are realized. These are from a winter mix. I can’t remember which one exactly, but they were all supposed to be hardier than other kinds.

In the meanwhile, work continues in the greenhouse. This tray of geraniums rooted nicely. Rob cut them from plants he overwintered in the greenhouse. We still have lots of large ones, but he thought he’d try to get some new ones, and it worked!

Many tomatoes and peppers are up. More trays were planted a few days ago and some of them are coming up as well. They include many flowers and veggies. The tray you can see in the picture is full of little tomatoes and the varieties are on the tags, if that interests you.

We filled a couple of trays of 3 inch pots and transplanted peppers.

Our weather has been much cooler this spring than last year and peppers are growing much more slowly. We don’t choose to heat the greenhouse up to a point that they would be growing quickly. Instead, we rely on natural sunlight, with heat mats under new seeds and a small space heater for freezing nights. They should start growing rapidly if the weather warms up. It gets very warm in the greenhouse with even a small bit of sun, and this has worked for us for many years.

We have many more baby seedlings to transplant, but they weren’t large enough on that day. I’m especially excited to see that several Anaheim peppers are growing. I need quite a few of those each summer for my salsa and didn’t get that many last year.

These are baby parsley plants. Last summer, I didn’t have enough parsley planted and I’ve used most of my home-dried parsley. This ought to take care of the problem:).I do have a couple of partial store-bought small jars, so I’m using them up. We also have a few other herbs planted: cilantro, basil, sage and thyme are up so far.

Every day, Rob or I check the greenhouse to see how things are doing and water, if needed. We have more seeds to plant as warm weather gets closer, and much transplanting to do. Our daughter, Lovana, planted quite a few seeds as well, and concentrated on flowers, so things should be lovely around here if they all grow.

Rob found this really ugly red cabbage in the garden.

With a little help from Rob wielding his pocket knife, a surprising amount of it was still good under that yucky exterior!

There were also a few boc choi plants that overwintered, so we harvested them, as well.

Although spring seems to be taking its time coming this year, we do have a good start on the garden. There’s much more to do, as always, but I enjoy this time of year. I love to get outside, and I will have many opportunities for that before long. In the meanwhile, I found some gorgeous heads of red leafy lettuce at the Natural Grocers store for only $1.39/huge bunch and we are enjoying that for now.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–Feb. 28, 2022

We’ve had snow 2 times in the past week. Last Thursday, we had 4 inches at our house when we woke up, so we went out and made a snowman. We also took a big walk and had Malcolm walk at least a 1/2 mile. It was safe because there were so few cars out on the road. He’s still quite unpredictable and we usually leave him in the stroller until we reach the park, or wherever, so he was thrilled.

Today’s snow was much wetter and sloppier. We used the stroller to get him down to a nearby church, and enjoyed their parking lot as a safe place for him to run around. He happily made tracks all over.

Hopefully, the mason bees will have enough sense to stay tucked in for a little while longer! Rob has enjoyed building houses for these super-pollinators the past few years and our colony is growing each year. Every one of the plugged straws will be a mason bee. They will come out, pollinate like crazy and fill straws with next year’s family. With our big garden, we are happy to have these guys working with us to get so many veggies and flowers.

Work in the greenhouse continues. We’ve had to put a space heater on during these extra-cold days, but hopefully, that will be a short time only, as we would rather keep the cost down by not heating the greenhouse at all, but let the sun and warm air do the job. There are heat mats under the newly starting seeds and those usually are enough. Our starts grow more slowly than ones in a heated greenhouse, but they do get large enough and don’t need as much hardening off, as they are pretty tough by the time they get planted. I plan to do a post on our starts in a few days, if we do get transplanting done and photographed.

I continue to clean out little areas and bits and cans of food that need it in the pantry. I also continue to work on my freezers and canning cupboards.

This week I used:

Some gluten-free French bread I made long ago. It was in the freezer. I used the last little bit of pepperoni that had been lingering, a few bits of ham, some home-canned pizza/pasta sauce and the last bit of the fresh mozzarella I got very inexpensively a few weeks ago and made French bread pizza.

I used up the last of a bag of boneless-skinless chicken breast and some gf fettuccine and a scrap of parmesan cheese to make Chicken Alfredo. I just thickened it with cornstarch instead of flour to make it gf, and it was great. Needs change as people come and go, to and from our little house. Patsy, our daughter, used to eat fettuccine often. When she moved out, I was left with several boxes on the shelf I need to target, as no one else gravitates toward it as much as she did.

I cut all the little not-so-nice ends off the last of a bag of grapes, cut them in half, and our troops finished all of the grapes before they rotted. The ones in the bottom of the bag seem to go bad once they fall off the stems.

I continue to cook oatmeal with raisins and rice continuously, as they are current favorites around here. Isn’t that nice? The 10-lbs of raisins I bought filled 2 gallon jars and one of them is already not full anymore:). I actually spring for the organic gluten-free oats and organic raisins, as our grandson eats so much of them, but still, it’s reasonably priced food, even with those choices.

We finished all the fresh-cooked soup I had made lately and opened a jar of home-canned vegetable soup one day when I was in a hurry.

We made stir-fry a couple of times with bits of chicken and all the veggies like carrots, celery, onion and frozen snow peas we could find in the fridge or freezer. I use a lot of carrots and celery this time of year. We still have at least 25 lbs of onions from our garden and I’m trying hard to use those snow peas, as I had forgotten about them. We don’t like them as well as fresh, but they aren’t awful if you add the frozen ones to the stir fry at the last minute and just barely let them thaw before you serve the stir fry.

We used the last of several bottles and cans up. Many of these I will not be replacing, as they were for special recipes, open duplicates or given to us and I had no idea how to use them at first. I found good ways, but think I can use ingredients I already have to make something I like as well or a substitute for that sauce. I’m especially thinking of the bottle of sweetened lime juice that I’ve been using in marinades. I have lime juice and sugar….I want to simplify my fridge. On the other hand, I love it when people think of me and give me food items–it opens my mind to new possibilities.

Another example is that somehow, we ended up with multiple open mustards last summer. I think it’s because we had parties, etc. I’m finally on the last super big mustard! Hurray! My fridges are already thanking me. I used the last of the previous large squeeze bottle in a marinade for pork chops, and for honey-mustard sauce for home-baked chicken nuggets.

We were given 3 dozen eggs again, this time from 2 different sources. We have plenty of eggs now, since Rob found a good deal a couple of weeks ago and bought plenty and we’ve been given a total of 5 dozen since. I’ve made deviled eggs and potato salad, and we eat eggs for breakfast often. I had been choosing other options as the prices rose, but now have enough to make those things again, and the price of eggs seem to be holding steady or dropping, it seems. I still don’t mind eating leftovers or soup for breakfast at times, in fact, I prefer it now and then, so it’s all working out.

Rob Cleaned and Repaired the Greenhouse and Started Seeds-Jan. 2023

It’s hard to see in this picture, but one of our planting shelves/benches in the greenhouse was super warped and was not working any more to keep trays flat. Rob said that it was made from plywood and warped from water over the years.

He discovered this after he spent several hours over a couple of days cleaning out all the things he stores in there during the fall and early winter. There were lots of empty pots, boxes of kindling and more he needed to deal with to make room to plant.

He used scavenged wood he had on hand to rebuild the planting bench.

It came out beautifully.

He put one of the heating mats on it. The greenhouse is very cool most of the time and heating mats are how we get seeds to germinate. The other bench is still fine, but the mat is being fussy….. It’s very old, and this one is newer. Things wear out. We are waiting a little bit tp see if mat #2 is worn out or if it will revive.

He trimmed and cleaned up the overwintered geraniums.

He decided to use the cuttings and try to root some new plants. It will be amazing if it works!

He planted peppers. They take a long time to grow in our cool greenhouse. There are Anaheim 64, Ancho, Jalafuego Jalapeño, another kind of Jalepeno, Green Bell pepper, Mixed Bell pepper, Lola (a light green long sweet pepper that really produces a lot), Hungarian Wax Pepper (zippy), and Carmen. We have been growing Carmen peppers for years. They are long, sweet peppers and ripen in our climate every year. You get a lot of peppers from each plant and they are large. We are trying a couple of new ones–Jimmy Nardello is one. I hope to pickle that one, as it is slim, long and sweet, they say. Our daughter, Lovana, brought some seeds here that she hadn’t planted last year, and there are a couple of peppers in there, as well, including a striped one I’m excited to try. I need 2-4 Serrano peppers each summer for my salsa. (Peppers, not plants–it’s a very small amount). We use Dollar Store seeds for that, and I told Rob I only want 2 plants, total, just in case one fails.

Many of my peppers are used in salsa. We can use 75-100 jars of assorted sized jars in a year, most years. It’s not unusual for me to be unable to grow enough peppers for salsa, relish and other items and have to buy some anyway, despite my best efforts. We try to grow as many as we can, though. I freeze the sweet ones in baggies and we eat them all year in breakfast scrambles, chili, sweet and sour pork or chicken, pizza, and more.

On another day, I planted some parsley. Last year, we did not get enough to dehydrate. When I was cleaning my food pantry, I noticed I’ve used all I dried a couple of years ago except one small jar. I do have some I bought from the store, but I want to dry my own again this summer. It’s easy and another thing I can grow in my yard.

He even planted the ends of the romaine lettuce we recently bought. Some people have great success getting a crop from them. We will see if we are one of those people. It never hurts to try! I know garden lettuce will regrow if we cut it, so if it’s not too cold, it should work.

The onions are planted, too. We’ve planted Red Bull, Red Wing, Patterson, a white one and Guardsman green onions. I used to have overwintered green onions in my garden, but the seeds I planted in the late summer look terrible this year, and I want to get some new ones going as soon as possible, as I do not have much hope that those at the edge of the garden will do much of anything. The storage onions will be planted out as small plants and we hope to eat the green onions straight from the tray and plant more in the garden. We shall see if it works.

We planted a lettuce called “All Winter Long” in the greenhouse. It’s a hardy mix from Pinetree. We also planted Romaine. If we get little plants and it’s not too wet, we will plant them in the raised bed for a super early crop. Otherwise, we’d be happy to cut the little plants off and eat the baby lettuce plants straight out of the greenhouse.

Hopefully, in a few days, we will start to see little green shoots peeking up from those trays of dirt. It’s so encouraging during this time of year to know that spring is on its way, despite the promise of cold, cold nights coming up this next week. I’ve dug out a small space heater, and we may need to put it on in there for a couple of nights, just to keep it from freezing–it’s supposed to get COLD!