Tag 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.

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!

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.

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!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–July 20, 2020

Every day, Rob has been walking and doing his physical therapy exercises. He is getting a little bored of walking around and around the block near our house, so we’ve been venturing out to other areas. One day, we drove over to the coast and walked on a concrete trail at South Beach State Park. We started at the South Jetty, walked over to the campground and scenic boardwalk viewpoint, and back to the jetty. We are still looking for places that are relatively flat, and smooth, as he is still in the middle of the 6-week “be careful” phase after his surgery. He is easily walking around 2 miles at a time now.

Lovana had the day off, so we picked her up and took her along. It was nice to spend some time with her. Her job is just as busy as it was pre-Covid, in the little coffee/crepe shop. They had a time period, at first, where business was very slow, but now, it’s picked back up, due to the added orders coming in from Uber Eats and Grubhub, coupled with the fact that people can come in and eat at tables that are distanced from each other.

I got my first canner-load of beans this morning, and every one sealed! That makes it a very good morning for me:). I also got my first dill pickles canned–just 4 pints, but it’s a great start. Rob eats a lot of pickles, so I’m hoping to get lots more.

I keep doing yard and garden work at every opportunity. The weeks keep growing, produce needs harvesting, and we did some tilling and transplanting where crops were finished.

I’ve been picking berries and freezing them and now have many, many baggies in the freezers. I was able to freeze 3 baggies of green beans this morning, as well, from what wouldn’t fit into the canner load. We’ve been eating lettuce daily, as well, and the zucchini is trying to take over my fridge! I’ve been sharing, both with the relatives, and also with my neighbor over the fence…I wonder if she would notice if there were zucchini scattered over her yard one morning–maybe the boys would think they grew there……..or not. Actually, I think I’ll shred some up and freeze the baggies.

It’s been pretty hot, for our area–upper 80’s and low 90’s. I dug out some squirt guns and water balloons, and the kids, small and large, had a nice afternoon getting wet.

Those kiddie pools have come in handy since last summer when we bought them! They ended up using buckets, milk jugs, bowls that had berries in them for a snack, and a plastic water pitcher when they felt the squirt guns weren’t enough! Lots of fun for everyone:)

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!

Thriving In My thrifty Week–Garden Update–May 24, 2020

Most of this week was rainy and wet. On the day we homeschooled Jake, one thing we did was venture out with umbrellas for a nice walk–he’s required to exercise daily for P.E.

Rob took Michaela train spotting.

They saw one this time!

Jake spent the night, as he’s been doing every Wednesday. His Mom works Wednesdays and Thursdays, from home, and needs complete peace and quiet to do so. This is a great schedule for us, as well, and he loves it, school and all.

One day we had a pretty bad hail storm. It was brief, but violent, and beat down some lettuce, put holes into cabbage leaves, crushed some spinach, and laid low some other delicate garden plants. Thankfully, most things survived, or will outgrow the damage with no problem, but a few had a setback, to say the least.

I went ahead and picked the outside leaves and the damaged ones off the spinach and Rob ate them in salads this week. I froze 2 very small portions for later, using the torn up leaves that way. The inner leaves have already grown since then, in the few days since I did it.

We picked most of the artichokes on the bushes. I froze 2 packages of artichoke hearts from the small ones, shared some and have some to eat.

We put strings up on the pole bean trellis so they can climb up as they grow.

The box on the right is a potato box Rob built after seeing it on U-Tube. The bottom box has some old potatoes in it, covered with dirt. (As in, we did not buy them, they are left over ones that are trying to grow anyway and some his mom couldn’t eat in time, I guess–). The idea is that as the potato bushes grow, they are covered with dirt and another board layer is added, making it taller and taller. Supposedly, the potatoes will continue to make bushes and then more and more potatoes as you stack it higher and higher throughout the season. He thought it would be fun to try. He used reclaimed wood and junk potatoes…..so it’s a fun experiment for no out-of-pocket for him.

Every time I think the garden is full, I find another place to tuck a few more plants…. Like celery under the sprinkler tripod. They say it likes it really wet. Rob planted some really old seeds that have been around for several years, and got them to grow. There are more, but no more space right now.

Tiny head lettuce plants around the rock that holds the sprinkler head and hose down….

More head lettuce by the dahlias….

…And leaf lettuce under the Tronboncini trellis. Rob can eat a head a day, if it’s small, or close to a gallon ziplock full of leaf lettuce, when he’s in a salad mood, which is almost always. He’s been eating lettuce at least twice a day, stir-fried snow peas, zucchini and mushrooms with onions and peppers for breakfast with his eggs….you get the idea of how much produce we are going through right now! I’m going to keep planting lettuce everywhere I can, all summer long, and fill in every area with other succession plantings as space fills up. He’s got another batch of lettuce growing in the greenhouse, so I can plant it out when space frees up. It’s all worth it to me!

I picked all the rhubarb. I froze some and shared some.

We did get into the garden to weed and hoe, but not until the end of the week. There is plenty left to do in the upcoming week, and the weather promises to be very nice. I’m glad, because some things really need some sunshine to explode with growth. They are just sitting there, waiting for the opportunity.

I made banana bread again, using up the rest of the bananas Rob found in the chest freezer.

He stumbled upon 10 pound bags of chicken for $2.90–29c/lb. He bought 6. He was at the store getting prescriptions and a little produce. Go, Rob!

This was the week we usually would not shop, since we’ve been going every-other-week, so it was a real blessing that he had to go in there for another reason, and found the chicken.

Our county is opening up a little. For us, since we have so many underlying health conditions in those we have around us, it won’t make much of a change for a while. Speaking only about ourselves, my diabetes and asthma keep me at home. Rob absolutely cannot risk getting sick before his surgery. As it is, he’s got a couple of owies on his legs that are being well cared for so they will hopefully be healed in time. But, it’s still encouraging to see that things are moving forward. Let’s hope this pandemic continues in the right direction! In the meanwhile, I can be found at home, pulling weeds:).

Thriving In My thrifty Week–May 10, 2020

Happy Mother’s Day! I had a nice, relaxing day. I hope you all had the same. We watched church on the live-stream, Rob drove me through McDonald’s for a Diet Coke (doesn’t seem glamorous, but I’ve literally not been leaving the house so it was an outing for me), and I talked and/or texted with many loved ones.

My sidewalk chalk artist daughter spent some time decorating the sidewalks in front of our house. I’m glad she enjoys doing that. I found another box of sidewalk chalk tucked away in the back room for her to add to her bucket of bits of chalk.

We found quite a few packages of beef bones in the freezer. They are from our 1/4 beef the last couple of years. I have made dealing with those bones one of my quarantine projects. I don’t use them in the form they are in, so I am turning them into something I will eagerly grab–ready-to-use broth. One day I boiled 3 packages of bones and canned 7 quarts. I also got a large bowl of broth and quite a bit of meat from those bones. I made soup with that.

I filled up my spice bottles in the kitchen from my bulk spice packages I keep in the garage. I wiped them off and wiped out one of the baskets I keep some of them in. I also filled up salt and pepper, and cornstarch. I save a lot of money by purchasing things in bulk, especially spices.

I used some millet flour to make a pizza crust. I also used some rice flour and cornstarch in some brownies. I went through my gluten-free flour supply and will continue to target the odds and ends that have been in the bin for a long time. To that end, I’ve been using my favorite 1-1 flour, but also looking for recipes that use some of the other flours in them.

I used the last 2 brown bananas in banana bread. I also put in some walnuts that I had in the freezer. I was going to share them with a friend, but I confess…..we ate them all! I shared some other food with our friends.

We’ve been eating a little fresh fruit Lovana left here last weekend when she was over, but mostly opening jars of peaches, applesauce and pears for fruit. We used many small packages of frozen bits and dabs from the freezer over the fridge in the kitchen.

I baked blueberry-cream cheese coffee cake with cream cheese I got free from the Safeway Monopoly game and some blueberries my mom sent our way. I found the recipe on the internet.

Pear-raspberry popsicles were made 2 times, and devoured. It’s an easy, practically free way to keep Patsy happy during warm days.

The garden continues to grow. I spent time weeding and hoeing. I also planted more Blue Lake Green Beans, Rob’s okra (I’ve never even tasted okra, but you can’t blame someone for experimenting!), dill, cucumbers, all the pepper plants, the remaining tomato and basil plants, and any and all odd plants that were left laying around. I even planted the “mystery-label fell off” tomatoes in a flowerbed and threw lettuce seeds under the Tromboncini trellis! Lots of seeds have sprouted, including those old Alderman Pole Peas that I wasn’t sure were good.

I’ve picked 2 large bowls of lettuce. I thinned out the lettuce and we’ve been eating the small leaves. Rob’s back to eating copious amounts of salad daily. He’s several pounds down again, and wants to stay ready for his surgery, which is still scheduled for June 29.

This was not our grocery week, so we didn’t do a big shop. Rob just picked up a very few items (mostly tomatoes) when he got the prescriptions. A list is being generated on the whiteboard, and next week we will gather those items. I’d like to wait until the end of the week, stretching it to 2-1/2 weeks, but we will see.

Rob’s had Patsy and Jake out building in the shop.

I also spent a couple of mornings cleaning and bleaching the doorknobs, bathroom and so forth.

What we are filling our stay-at-home time with right now isn’t glamorous. It isn’t very exciting, and there are times when it isn’t fun at all (I’m not super fond of wiping down the bathroom, if you know what I mean). Still, we have a deep sense of satisfaction with every single project we cross off our list, and I think we are getting a lot of home-made entertainment out of the deal. We have lots of projects left on our list, lots of food left in our cupboard and freezer, and more on the way from a garden that’s growing like crazy. The house is cleaner than normal, and we haven’t caught any sicknesses. We’re making out fine, and feel thankful for all the blessings the Lord has poured on us during this difficult, crazy time, and we thank the Him for each and every one of them.

What have you been doing with your time at home?

Garden Update–May 2, 2020

I’ve spent many hours this week working in the garden. We have had an unusually early spring. I’ve never had this many things planted at the beginning of May, as long as I can remember.

Rob grew such large, healthy tomatoes. We dug every cage we could find out from behind the shed, and planted them. I’m trying something different–I made quite a wide space between the rows, but planted the tomatoes close together. I’m hoping I can still get in there to pick them, but wanted to plant as many as I could. I put a little organic fertilizer under each plant as I planted to give them a boost.

Rob finished his bean trellis. I planted the pole bean starts on the end, Blue Lake seeds in the middle and a small handful of Violet-Podded Pole Beans down on the very end. The damp patch in front of the trellis is planted in Blue Lake Bush Beans and Carson (yellow) Bush Beans. In the background, you can see artichokes, snow peas, cabbage, carrots, and lettuce. The raspberries in the back are about to bloom, so I know those will be giving me a crop in the next few weeks.

The broccoli is growing nicely, as well.

The Trombonconi Zucchini is planted at the base if its trellis. There are lemon cucumbers near there, as well. The onions are very faint and hard to see, but are starting to grow. To the left are rows of beets, carrots, a few more snow peas, dill, basil, cilantro, a few more snow peas, and peppers and slicing cucumbers to the far left.

These are Sungold, Chocolate Cherry and Yellow Pear tomatoes. The peppers are Anaheim, Italian Pepperoncini, Carmen, and a Hot Pepper Blend from Territorial. I have Serranos, Bell Peppers, Hungarian Wax Peppers and Lola Peppers elsewhere.

These are a mixture of the above-mentioned peppers in the flowerbed under my bedroom window. The trellises are there because I planted some very old Alderman Pole Pea seeds at the base of them. If they grow, they will give us a few peas, if not, they won’t take up space in my seed bucket anymore.

In front of the blueberries, but hopefully not too close that I can’t get in there to pick the berries, is 1 tomato plant and some little Bisquino (Little Beak) Peppers. They make tiny peppers and should be decorative. I’ve had them pickled before, and thought I’d try to grow them this year. The plants themselves are quite small, and the peppers are tiny. It’s always fun to experiment.

I will continue to plant more seeds in every extra space in the garden throughout the next few weeks–and then later in the summer and fall, my time will be focused on harvesting and canning. I like to succession plant Oregon Pod II Snow Peas, head lettuce, Buttercrunch Lettuce, mixed lettuce blend, green onions, and whatever else I can fit in so we can eat a continuous supply of fresh vegetables. I only planted part of the beans I need. I have space for a few more rows. We need to can quite a few. I have Sugar Pie Pumpkins and Butternut Squash plants to put out, and Rob grew some Okra. I worked as long and hard as I could, but didn’t finish before the much-needed rain came. I really pushed myself to get as much done as I could, because the rain will water everything in and the cooler weather will give the plants a chance to settle in a little. I’m happy to stay inside today and do other things. It’s supposed to be gorgeous next week, and I can get out there again. The plants should grow nicely, but then, so will the weeds, so I won’t lack in garden work to do!