Tag Archives: Garden

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–Oct. 17, 2022

On Saturday, we took Malcolm up the Columbia River Gorge. First we stopped at Lewis and Clark park and let him run around and crunch leaves for quite some time.

We went further to the Bonneville Dam Fish Hatchery. This is the sturgeon viewing center. A gentleman told him to flap his arms and say “sturgie, sturgie, sturgie,” and the fish would come over. He did, and they did. He scrambled down from that little ledge as fast as he could. That fish was MUCH bigger than he expected. After that, though, he watched for a long, long time. It was fun.

There were small fish in there, too, and he liked the itty, bitty, baby fish, as well.

He fed the large trout in that pool. We only had 3 quarters on us, so could only get 3 small handfuls of food, but he seemed to enjoy it while it lasted.

He even saw Bigfoot!

The picnic was fun. We took bubbles and spent quite a bit of time running around trees and blowing bubbles.

There’s a lot of wind in that area, so they flew quite a ways. When we realized they were blowing right onto another family’s picnic, we stopped. Oops!

We toured Bonneville Dam as well. As you can see, he was getting pretty tired by this time, but he liked the firetruck outside as much as anything there.

And, why, may you ask, did we take a toddler on such a long car trip? It was because his auntie had a hair appointment in NE Portland and we agreed to be her transportation. That is quite a distance from where we live, so we decided to just stay up in the area, and have a good time with Mac. We dropped her off at 9:30 a.m. She was finally finished at 6 p.m. Her hair is now beautifully braided with extensions, as she likes to wear it. And to think she will get to do it all over again in 6-8 weeks. What a patient young lady!

Although we do not usually take her for these hair adventures, it turned out to be a really fun day and Malcolm did great! He’s still talking about those fish! For such a little child, he tolerated the long car ride very well.

Even with all those activities, we had a lot of time to kill, and spent a bunch of it in a traffic jam around Multnomah Falls. We had decided to take the scenic highway and clearly there were more people who wanted to visit the falls than there were parking spaces, so we all sat there for a long, long time. We didn’t actually decide to stop there, as it was so busy, but enjoyed a quick peek out the window. We’ve seen it many times and will have more chances some other time. We drove up to Crown Point, and looked down on the Columbia River. It was extremely windy up there.

I did a little more canning. These jars have layers of carrots, celery, onion, potatoes and hamburger. Then I pressure canned them using the longest processing time, which was for the hamburger. They will be quick dinners and used up some of those potatoes Rob got inexpensively.

I spent several short sessions picking all the tomatoes, green and red. I’ve pulled up almost all the vines and removed the cages from the garden. I also pulled most of the pepper plants. Several other veggies are gone now, too. Because my garden is so large, I cannot seem to find the time to do it all in one day, so I’ve been chipping away at it when I can. I also worked on a couple of raised beds and one flowerbed a time or two. They say the fall rains will begin this weekend, and our beautiful weather is going to be over, so I’ve been trying to get as much done as I can.

The week was full of lots of visitors, which translated into lots of cooking. On Monday, our son Anthony came over with Allison. Patsy, who has decided to move out and is living with friends, decided to come over for the afternoon. She did this twice this week. My mom and I spent a relaxing day on Friday.

I also cooked for the college-age group at church on Tuesday.

I cooked chili mac, a huge pot of chili for the kids, cornbread, brownies, turkey soup, turkey gravy over mashed potatoes, potato soup, enchilada casserole for myself and a friend with a death in the family, and more. I decided not to go shopping, but instead to use my pantry and freezers, and had plenty. I really utilized the turkey bits I had frozen a couple of weeks ago when I roasted one from last Thanksgiving time. The main substitution I had to make was to use powdered milk a couple of times instead of regular, as I ran low on that, but it all worked out. I had Rob pick up a gallon today, so that’s good now.

I wanted to clean out the fridge a little, and it’s finally looking a little more empty. It was just too crammed. I worry I will end up wasting food if I can’t find something, so periodically I refuse to shop until it clears out a bit.

I made a large batch of cupcakes and sent some over to a young family friend who had a birthday today. The rest I froze for future busy weeks.

We also enjoyed a bonfire hot dog roast with our Sunday School class on Friday night. Although we’ve only been working with these kids for a few months, this is a tradition they have done for quite a few years before Covid happened, so the children’s pastor wants to get it going again. A family puts it on at their farm. Other than Rob giving a short devotion and helping out a little here and there, we got to just enjoy ourselves and the kids. It was a beautiful evening and the kids all loved it.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–Oct. 9, 2022

This week, we finished drying the onions. We got over 100 pounds of them from the garden. Not only have we been eating them since they were big enough to get even a small bulb from, we’ve shared many with family and friends and still have several mesh bags dried for winter.

My sister shared apples from her trees. They are super good and crunchy.

I canned some cinnamon red hot apple wedges, apple slices and also a few jars of apples studded with raisins and dried cranberries, a new recipe from my canning book. I only made 5 pints, but I think I will do a few more because it tastes so good.

Almost every tomato is now picked, even the green ones. I’ve pulled many of the bushes and only left a few that still have a few sad and sorry looking tomatoes on them. There are a few on the porch in a box to eat fresh and I’m hoping the few green ones will ripen over time so we can enjoy them at least for a couple more weeks.

I got my salsa verde canned with green tomatoes.

I tripled the batch because we didn’t have enough last year and got 20 jars, a mixture of sizes ranging from a pint and smaller.

I made one last batch of pasta sauce with the entire box of tiny little red tomatoes I picked on Friday. Surprise! I thought I was done with tomato products, but……now I am. I got 3 quarts and 5 pints.

I’ve picked both broccoli and cabbage from my fall planting. There are a few cucumbers and zucchini left, but not many. Those bushes are looking pretty sad from powdery mildew, a problem we get around here.

I canned some diced potatoes from bags Rob got for a good price. I also have lots of potatoes left to eat fresh, so I made a potato salad one night when we were having company.

I cooked a turkey that I got last year around Thanksgiving. I made broth and canned 7 quarts. I have enough bits and broth to make a batch of soup, as well. I froze some packages of turkey for future use and we ate some.

I had lots of help with my cooking. Here, we are making biscuits. They came out good.

This was a week where I was very busy with the garden, canning, and seeing friends and family. We had company one night. A good friend dropped by for lunch one day. She lives out of town and was passing through, and we enjoyed every minute we had before she needed to be on her way.

The wedding last week was fun, but it feels good to put that project to rest and focus on my home life once again.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–Sept. 27, 2022

Our fall crop of veggies is producing. We’ve been eating the new crop of broccoli, cabbage, the new cucumbers, the mixed summer squash (all sorts in the same packet from Pinetree), along with the tail end of cucumbers, tomatoes, green and purple beans, peppers, etc. Our squash and cucumbers from spring planting is succumbing to powdery mildew, as normal, so I usually plant a small bit of those for fall eating.

I was able to freeze a few more packets of broccoli, which was one of my goals for this fall crop. Now I have enough for the winter.

I pulled all of the beets that were still in the garden. Both Mom and I kept what we wanted to eat and I pickled 9 more pints.

I have started to pull onions, and clear away other plants in the garden that are finished. I’m hoping to get that done so it can be tilled before the fall rains begin. It’s a big job, so I will try to work at it a little most days.

On the same day Rob picked up my Azure Standard order and did a very small Costco run, the girls decided to buy a LOT of groceries. I believe it was around 10 bags full or more. Then, a few days later, Lovana shopped for her party food, which was many more bags full. I picked up the specials at Safeway last Friday, as there were a few things I needed. Then you add in the wedding food as Rob is doing all the meat for 175 people. It’s not a small amount. Our fridges are bursting. We’ve used coolers with lots and lots of ice for overflow. We have the kitchen one, one small one in the camper and one ancient, rickety college dorm-sized one on the porch. That’s it. I have declared this to be NO MORE SHOPPING FOR FOOD week. But, then I ran out of something. And we need 20 bunches of green onions and 12 cucumbers for the wedding that we can get at our local Safeway for a great price. What can I say? I’m sending Rob and Michaela out on Thursday. Everybody better eat fast between now and Thursday.

We were invited to Allison’s birthday at the group home she and Anthony live in. It’s the first time we’ve visited their new home and it is super nice! I’m happy for them.

We took Malcolm. Boy did he have fun. We had not realized we WERE the party, other then the residents, so we were super glad we took him along. Everyone enjoyed him so much and he was the center of attention as he pushed and rolled his cars along the floor and enjoyed his cake!

Lovana cooked and baked for a costume party for her friend’s birthday. It was a Marie Antionette-themed party and she made 2 cakes, decorated beautifully, brownies, cookies (more than one kind), and cupcakes. There may have been more items, but I can’t quite keep track of that girl when she bakes. She really has a knack for it.

She also arranged many, many flower bouquets for the decor. She said the party turned out really nice, but she couldn’t get any pictures in time:(. Now I’m enjoying this gorgeous bouquet every day.

This upcoming weekend is the big wedding for my niece. We are going to be working very hard to prepare all the food. Much has been done ahead of time, but there are many things that have to be done the day before or even the day of the wedding, such as cutting fruit for salad. There are several people coming to help. My sister and I will spend quite a bit of time Friday evening putting together “kits” with instructions so people can be handed a box with apples, for example, with instructions to cut them into bite-sized pieces and add to the fruit salad. Hopefully, that will get all the jobs done and leave no one standing around wanting to know what to do.

I picked up this picnic basket at a yard sale. Rob oiled it with a little wood oil after this picture was taken, so it looks even prettier now. The bride has asked for some of the wedding food to take with them on their honeymoon, as she feels she won’t get to eat much. We will pack the food in here with ice packs. She also wants an assortment of cookies from her cookie bar, so we will add those, too.

I’m bringing containers, plastic wrap, dishcloths, soap, knives, cutting boards, scissors, etc., etc., etc., as the venue provides nothing but appliances. I’ve got a huge pile already and it’s only Tuesday!!! You should see my sister’s living room. She has decor for the food tables and will have all the food. Yikes! Rob has the van completely full of his projects shown in the last post. Let’s hope that set up crew is on time and very, very strong.

Garden Update-August 22, 2022

The garden continues to grow like crazy, although some things are running later than usual, due to the wet, late spring. These are both picking cucumbers and slicing cucumbers and they are over-running the onions, basic, trying to climb the dahlias and are climbing the bean poles! I’ve made sweet pickles, and sliced some for meals, but that’s all so far.

Just in the last week or so, the cherry tomatoes are ripening in abundance, instead of one here and one there. The Sungold were first, and the Chocolate Cherry have just started.

The large red, tomatoes are just starting to ripen, with one here and a couple there. I have Beefsteak, Roma Cordova, Fantastic, Carmello and Oregon Star.

The Glacier tomatoes (extra early) are not as early as normal and are just getting going good. They are always on the small side, but this year are even smaller than ever before, some only reaching the size of a large cherry tomato. They sure taste good, though.

I’ve pulled all the spent green and yellow beans. I canned what I needed and now we will use the purple and green pole beans for eating fresh and freezing if there are extras. This dirt area will not be replanted this summer.

You can see the lemon cucumber bushes at the base of the trellis and the huge Tromboncini Zucchini plants on the far side of the trellis. There must be 10 huge squash on there already! I can’t keep up with it:)

There are peppers ripening everywhere. These are Hungarian Wax peppers and are spicy. Just ask Jake. And Malcolm. They each though they’d take a bite. Jake even got me to take one. They have an after burn! Just WOW! I plan to chop them small and freeze for using judiciously.

We’ve used a couple of green peppers that fell off by accident. More are coming along. The Carmen peppers, which are long and red when ripe, are long and green now, so it won’t be long. I’ve picked a few Jalepenos, left the Serranos alone until I make salsa, and used an Ancho or two. I also have Lola, a long, light-green/yellowish sweet pepper, and I have used a few of those already.

I’m becoming hopeful that we will get ripe cantaloupe. I haven’t tried growing it for many years, so didn’t know what to expect.

There are even a few tiny watermelon. These are supposed to be a personal-sized melon that grows under cooler conditions. To even reach “personal” size, this one has a long ways to go, but I’m hopeful!

Most of my snow peas are dead now. I do have one tiny section that gives me 3-4 peas every few days. They don’t like the hot weather we’ve been having. But, there are a few snap peas hanging on and giving me a handful every few days. The next crop of snow peas should bloom any day (you can see them below), and the next planting after that has just broken through the ground, so we will be back in business soon.

Lettuce is somewhat of the same story. This planting is almost big enough to pick some from, and there’s one more place that has semi-good lettuce. Otherwise, I just pulled the rest up today. It’s so bitter. There is a small bit in the fridge, but instead of daily salads, we’ve only had one this week. That’s fine. When we take a little break from a certain vegetable, I find we enjoy it more when we get it again.

There is basil everywhere. Some was planted, some just came up volunteer. That’s good because I want to make pesto to freeze. We love it in vegetable soup. It gives it a special flavor.

The raised bed in the front of the picture has tiny lettuce seedlings that came up nicely. There are only a few spinach, but the snow peas came up well and the Boc Choi is up, also. The kale is growing just fine, despite the heat. I pulled up old plants in the far bed today and will replant with green onions, and possible cilantro or more snow peas.

The new planting of broccoli and cabbage is growing fine. So are the weeds! As you can see, I liberated a few of them today, but there are quite a few more to weed out. Most of the old cabbage has either been used or has burst and needs to be pulled, although there are a couple good ones left. I got a good red one today. It will be good to have another crop.

One of the spring-planted broccoli plants escaped being pulled up with the other ones because it was so much later and looked good for whatever reason. It’s decided to give me more broccoli. I’m glad I left it! I plant the Hybrid Broccoli Blend from Territorial and they do come on at different times, as it is a mix of varieties.

The everbearing strawberries are ripening a few each week, just enough for one person to have a small dish. The blueberries are all but done, so I have just been getting a couple of handfuls every few days. The Marion (black) berries are completely finished, as are the raspberries.

We have so many dahlias. This is the section with smaller blooms. You can also see a volunteer sunflower on the right, and another planting of later pole beans on the left. Rob grew most of this section from seeds he bought off the internet. He started the tubers in pots in the greenhouse for the rest with birthday gifts or paper bags full of tubers that people gave him when they heard he wanted to grow dahlias this year. It kind of became a joke, we were given so many. I cannot tell you how much I’m enjoying them. We’ve picked so many bouquets already.

He has been experimenting with seed-saving the past few years, and all the pole beans, both purple and green, are from his saved seeds this year. Many cucumbers are, too, but not all. He’s got lettuce, dill, carrots and even a couple of beets that are setting seeds for him to save this year, and will save seeds again from whatever he can that is not a hybrid variety.

Dahlias are along the shop, across the back of the garden, in the front of the house in the flowerbed, and in pots.

We feel very blessed to have such a prolific garden. I enjoy working in it, and am reaping the benefits of all this produce and exercise. I have to accept that I simply cannot pull ALL the weeds, so I try to get some each day. On the days I am harvesting and processing food, though, it’s a challenge to find time to weed as well.

I am happy to report that my neighbor is still my friend, despite all the zucchini I’ve handed over the fence:). That reminds me….maybe she could use more tomorrow…….It’s worth a try:)

Thriving In My Thrifty Week-Aug.22, 2022

My sister has a peach orchard. Their crop was terrible this year. They did not have enough to open the orchard for u-pick at all. Walking through the orchard, except for the one section, the other trees are completely bare. I feel so bad for them. There were enough of one kind to offer to family and friends, and we picked some on Saturday.

I froze some. I ended up with 3 trays, which is about 9-10 quart baggies full.

I dried some. I did not can any. Thankfully, there are still 50 quarts left over, since last year was such a good peach year and I did extra. That will be enough. This is one reason I always try to preserve extra of everything when I can get it.

I had a jam-making day. I did one batch of peach jam from the fresh peaches. I pulled frozen peaches and frozen raspberries and made a double batch of peach/raspberry. We did not freeze any raspberries this year, our crop was so poor we easily ate them all, and I was glad I had extra peaches and berries from last year. While I was at it, I pulled the California strawberries I had purchased one carton at a time on super, super sales and froze and made a batch and a half of strawberry jam while I was at it.

There is a fruit stand where our family buys pears and apples if we need them. Rob will call again tomorrow and see how those things are ripening up, but the owner indicated to him a few weeks ago that those things would be readily available–no shortage was expected.

50 quarts gives one jar per week, most weeks. I expect there may be some weeks where people eat more pears and applesauce then they have in the past, so I will do a little more of those 2 items, especially since there are only 13 jars of pears left on the shelf! After years of no one eating many pears, they have suddenly become the favorite. Who knew? That’s how it goes around here. It keeps me on my toes.

Although some crops aren’t doing well this year, the zucchini is taking over! This is a tromboncini zucchini. There are so, so many, along with the yellow and green traditional ones. And, oh yes, the scallopini ones. Hmmmm. What was I thinking when I planted so many?

We are really starting to work on the logistics for the reception for my niece’s wedding. My sister and I have a good plan, we have Rob building a few things, and we were able to tour the venue last Friday. The mother of the bride took us all out to lunch so we could all keep making plans, and we had a really nice time. The dahlias and white zinnias are growing nicely in the garden, and I keep dead-heading the spent blossoms. Hopefully, we can keep them blooming until the wedding, because we plan to use a lot of them at the reception.

Thriving in My Thrifty Week–July 31, 2022

This has been 2 weeks of ups and downs! I guess that’s how life tends to be.

Rob went out with Malcolm to turn on the barbecue and shut the shop door. Instead of the relaxing evening we had planned, or the meat and grill basket of veggies we were going to eat, he accidentally tripped and got jabbed badly on his leg in 2 places by a stick of wood, and we ended up at the urgent care. The huge blessing, especially since we were towing both Jake and Malcolm at the time, is that the second place we drove to was willing and able to see him right away. Within an hour, we were picking up his antibiotics. Amazing! He is healing now, thank goodness, but has a ways to go. Poor Rob!

A real highlight of the week was an event at the church called Family Fun Night. We took Malcolm and there were all kinds of water activities set up. It was blazing hot and all the kids enjoyed themselves so much.

This past week, we have had to contend with temperatures near or above 100 degrees F. every day. It has been a challenge to keep the garden from dying. I’ve been watering almost every day and running an extra setting on the garden during the hottest part of the day, most days. The beans are blooming and will drop their blossoms and not set fruit if they get too hot, so I try to cool them down a bit. I was able to can 7 quarts and 10 pints on the hottest day of all. I have a knack for growing things that ripen during the hottest days of the year, I’ve been told:).

Despite the heat, my latest crop of lettuce is not bitter yet, so I have been picking lots of it early in the mornings. I’ve been sharing it with anyone who wants any because it will bolt and become bitter quickly in this weather. I was able to weed a few times early in the morning and my newly planted lettuce, snow peas, cucumbers, cilantro, spinach, summer squash and cabbage and broccoli transplants are growing well. Zucchini is ripening daily and I’ve grated some for winter, stir-fried it, and given it away. The current batch of snow peas was finished up and there will be a gap until the next planting gets ready. I pulled some exceedingly large and ugly carrots, which I will can when the weather cools a bit. I’m getting just a very few tomatoes, both cherry and large, but there are many green ones coming on. I even got a few small cucumbers.

The heat caused the blueberries to ripen quickly. I used some left over from last year to make a few pints of blueberry pie filling. I picked several times and froze fresh ones for the upcoming year. We’ve eaten a few strawberries, blueberries, a few remaining raspberries and some Marion (black) berries.

The dahlias are in full bloom now. There are so many kinds and colors. Behind the beans, where you can’t see them, are about 30-50 plants of the kind with small blooms. There are more plants with large blooms out in front of our house, including a pale yellow one with a bloom the size of a dinner plate! I have picked bouquet after bouquet already!

Yesterday, we had both babies for 10 hours.

We’ve been keeping busy around here. Through it all, we’ve been able to stay quite frugal, although the heat kills my joy for cooking and I didn’t alway feel like doing that job!

I cooked several times exceedingly early in the morning. One day, at about 4 am, I made gf bread from a mix I had been given and also some flatbread. I made 2 different noodle casseroles to microwave in the evenings. Rob picked up some lunchmeat and we’ve had sandwiches and salads several times. He asked that I NOT make soup this week:).

A very good friend’s family has contacted Covid. Rob left food for them. I sent noodle casserole, scones and cornbread from mixes, and salad. Rob stopped at Costco and got us and them each a cooked chicken. $5 can’t be beat! I made the food I cooked early in the morning. This was an excellent way to use a cornbread mix I had been given, but could not eat, as it contained wheat flour. The ones who can eat wheat around here had some and we shared the rest.

Our heat pump, which runs the air conditioner, broke yesterday (Saturday). (Did I mention we had both babies for 10 hours?). What a day for it to break! Rob called a friend who is in that business, but lives over an hour away from us, to ask if he knew of anyone reputable in our area, and he came and fixed it! He “happened” to have another call in our area. That, my friends, was God looking out for us, for sure. We had feared we would have to just live with it until Monday. We might have had to move into church all day Sunday:). But our house is cool and comfortable today. What a blessing!

I have been stacking wood. We have been given many loads of wood and it is so nice to see our woodshed and wood stack slowly grow week by week.

The schools near us are handing out free lunches for children again. We were able to find time to get them 3 times, and they contained apples. Jake has been in an apple-eating mood and has been enjoying them very much. I don’t have an apple left in the house, including the ones we bought. He has cleaned me out! I’m going to send Rob over there to get them those lunches again tomorrow if he has time. Let’s hope for more apples! I just didn’t have time or energy in the heat to shop this past Friday and we are happily making out with what we have on hand and garden produce. Except Jake, who wants more apples:). I will just make a list of what I run out of and buy extra next week, if needed.

It is supposed to cool slightly this week. I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to canning more beans tomorrow and having more opportunity to get outside with the cooler temperatures.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–Gardening, Gardening, Gardening!–July 18, 2022

We started last week off with 90 degree temperatures, but it quickly cooled off. I seized the opportunity to do some extra yard and garden work.

I picked all the remaining peas over a 2-day period. My mom came over and helped shell out the first batch. The second batch felt like it took all day, but it really didn’t. We ate some and froze some.

After dealing with the last of the peas, I pulled all the vines up and put them in the compost heap. Compost was spread on the area from a finished bin and tilled in. The small cabbage and broccoli plants Rob grew were planted in that spot. More lettuce (Buttercrunch, a mixture, and Drunken Frizzy-Headed Woman) was planted in several places, along with spinach and snow peas. At this point, despite the few hot days we’ve had, we have had enough lettuce to eat and give away all anyone wants.

Although good help is hard to find, I found some. He will work for berries and peas.

And rides in the wheelbarrow!

Despite all my help (of course I mean “since I had so much help”), I was able to take out all of the broccoli that was finished, leaving 2 plants that looked like they had some shoots still coming. I cut and used several cabbages or gave them away, and lots of lettuce was harvested. I cleaned out patches of lettuce, as some was starting to bolt. It was still good, though, so I gave some away and ate some.

Both the yellow and green zucchini are ready to start harvesting and we’ve had a few small ones with many more to come.

Some onions are sizing up enough to use. I just used the last one from last summer’s garden so will pick a few of the new ones, use them, then pick some more, as they will only gain in size until it’s time to harvest them for winter.

I picked and froze the Marion blackberries. I got more than I thought I would. I picked and we ate the raspberries. It is a very small crop this year, so we are just eating them fresh. I have leftover frozen ones from last year, thank goodness.

I pulled weeds in the garden and the flowerbeds. There are enough left to keep me busy another day. And another. And another.

Rob’s dahlias are starting to bloom. Whenever I get stressed, I just go take a little walk down the rows and it calms me right down. They are so lovely. They seem to be every shape and size and color you can imagine. I’ll be taking more pictures, as you can imagine.

I also have a large cleaning/rearranging project going on. My sister and aunt came and helped me one day. I’ve gone through and sorted or filled so many bins, boxes, etc. Our garbage can is stuffed for the second week in a row. I’ve carried many, many bins upstairs into the shop attic. I have a growing pile up there that will be for a yard sale in the future. I have many items packed away that I don’t use often. My house is getting less cluttered all the time.

We have a house with 1,100 square feet. 3 small bedrooms and one bathroom, a modest living area, a dining room so small the table barely fits, an adequate kitchen and tiny laundry room. We use the garage for extra living space, but mostly put junk out there, and some of my food storage. We have many, many people and babies that go through this space, and a dog.

One adult daughter will be staying here for a short time in-between rentals. It was time to clear the clutter and move some things around. Although there is always work to be done and things to sort, this one part of the project is done. She has a place to stay, I have the things I want accessible to me, and the rest is stored. I’ll bet when I put it all back before long, I’ll get rid of more. In the process, several areas got deep cleaned and one room is almost entirely empty. It is so clean right now. I love it!! (Except for all the toys spread across the living room floor……always more to be done!)

Through all these projects and gardening, we did our best to stay frugal. We took our nephew and grandson to the park and on walks.

I made several batches of popsicles and also fed them ice cream purchased on sale because the weather turned hot again.

The little pool on the deck continues to be a blessing during these hot days.

Vegetable Garden Update-June 11, 2022

We did quite a bit of work in the garden this past week. Despite the seemingly constant rain, we are finding some times when it is dry enough to work in there without ruining it by compressing it too badly. I weeded several times.

The blackberries and raspberries almost died during our record-breaking hot summer last year. There are not very many fruit-bearing vines this summer as a result. However, the bushes are sending out numerous new vines that will fruit next year. I have paid special attention to those berries this spring. I have weeded beneath them, added compost and fertilized them.

You may notice baby corn next to the fence. We found some old (like 2018) seeds in the bottom of our seed box. Rob planted them in the greenhouse, just to see what will happen. It was amazing how many sprouted. This is just part of them. I normally plant corn in blocks, so they can be pollinated well. I have no room to do that, so I planted 2 rows next to the garden fence, and will see what happens.

On the right you can see red, white and yellow onion plants, English peas, lettuce, more onions, cabbage and broccoli. On the left, the tomato plants that are starting to look better and better. They started out pretty sad, as we couldn’t get them in the ground due to rain.

I decided to try the potato box again. Rob made it a couple of years ago and potatoes didn’t grow well in it. I think it was a location problem, so I got sprouts from the compost heap that grew from potato peelings and am trying again. The idea is to add dirt and more surrounding boards as the bushes grow so they grow more potatoes.

Peppers are scattered throughout the garden. They are in groups, by variety. They would love some warmer weather, but are struggling along.

I didn’t grow very many bush green and yellow beans this year, as I have quite a few jars left. You can see that they came up well and I will can this section. It takes about 8 weeks to get a crop, and they produce in a concentrated harvest.

I do have some green Blue Lake pole beans, and some Purple Podded pole beans in other places for fresh eating and freezing. They take longer to grow, but will produce until frost.

There are 2 raised beds by my deck. This kale and cilantro overwintered and are about ready to pull out. The snow peas have just started to make peas, so will be done before long. I have tiny lettuce, cilantro, a few flowers, and some basil planted to take their places. I added a bucket of compost wherever I removed plants and put in new seeds or seedlings to keep the nutrition of the soil up. The other raised bed by the deck is full of English peas that are making pods, but not at all ready to pick and shell. It will be a few more weeks.

I have a long, double-length raised bed on the side of the house. It gets warm there. I planted some BlackTail watermelon. It’s an experiment. They are supposed to grow with nighttime temperatures in the 40’s…we shall see. As you can see, I have some strawberries in there. They aren’t doing super well, but were only put in there last fall. I have more runners to add this year from the plants that are in my flowerbed out front. Next year may be their year to shine. You can see more snow peas, as I succession plant those and have new batches going all over the place. In the back are sugar snap peas to grow up the fence. The part you can’t see has some left-over peppers–a mixture of kinds, and some overbearing strawberries that are going to be removed. They are so sour. I’m not loving them.

Some work has been done on the compost heaps in this area. They are both ready to empty when I get some time. The worm box on the left has been renewed with red worms, and fresh compost, and scraps for them to feed on. The worms that were in there before were released (sounds good, doesn’t it–actually a lot of them escaped–oops!). Our garden is becoming a fertile area where you can find those red worms when you dig around. When we first moved here, we found very few worms of any kind. We constantly take gardeners’ coffee grounds from the Starbucks at Safeway when we shop. The worms seem to like some of those, as well as the scraps.

We have eaten artichokes a time or two, and more are on the way.

Cucumbers, dill and basil are starting to grow. (And more snow peas, of course!)

The cabbage and broccoli are doing fine in this cool, wet weather, as is the lettuce. (And the new batch of snow peas). We are getting so much lettuce we are eating salads almost every day. I have seeds, small plants, red, green, multicolored, romaine and head lettuce here and there, in all stages of maturity. I planted the latest batch on Friday. I’ve now harvested all the spinach and boc choi I planted, and filled those spots with other things.

I’m happy with the way things are growing, despite the struggles we have had with the rain. The things that love cool weather are super happy, and I haven’t had to water very often, which has been nice.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–May 24, 2022

I spent hours and hours weeding and clipping in this flowerbed. I filled the entire yard debris bin. Then, Rob drove me to a business that leaves its excess sawdust in a pile for people to take, free of charge. Patsy helped me shovel it and we got 4 huge trash cans full–enough to spread over the entire bed. Now the weeds will have a harder time re-growing. It also helps that this bed is not irrigated. The bulbs are not harmed by drying up in the summer and it keeps the weeds down. Let’s hope it doesn’t keep raining so much that I have to weed it all again!

We met some of our friends at a park for a fun picnic. My sister, Jake, and Michaela were there and my daughter and both grandsons. Our mutual friend brought several children of her own, plus some daycare kids. Rob made a fire in the BBQ box and the kids roasted hot dogs and made s’mores. I made potato salad and coleslaw and brought some graham crackers. Others brought chips, buns, drinks, etc. We all had fun.

Yum!

This guy was happy to cling to Grandpa for most of the picnic. Grandpa was not sad about that!

Of course, if Auntie Patsy will take me swinging, I might just let go of Grandpa for a while:). And, yes, those are chips all over my face. With so many kids to hand me one whenever I squawked…..what can I say, but yes, please!!!

Jars came in full and went out empty, as always. I’ve had to buy very few groceries the past couple of weeks. I did grab milk, a little produce and some cheese slices that were only 84c/package. Since we are having a big party next Saturday to celebrate Patsy’s graduation from homeschool high school, I am working on emptying the fridge to hold the party food. Over the past few weeks, I’ve bought most of what I need for the party, but will go out Friday and get perishable items, such as strawberries to dip in chocolate and other yummy items.

I used some of my home-canned tomatoes and salsa to make taco soup. I pulled frozen pork bits and frozen black beans in, as well. My cilantro is going to seed in the overwintered raised bed, so I put a lot of that in there, as well. I baked a pan of cornbread to go with the soup.

Other meals were cooked. Rob BBQ’d chicken legs, and made chicken-fried steak. I baked several potatoes and they were eaten for dinner or diced and fried for breakfasts along with our usual eggs. Some rice was cooked. We used various veggies and fruits from our food preservation, as well. We make large batches of food and eat the same foods for several days–mix and match style. It’s not fancy, but it tastes good and is especially handy when I’m out in the yard so much at this time of year.

I’m enjoying the flowers that are starting to bloom in the flowerbeds. Even more, I’m enjoying the fact that there are many, many more to come. Rob grew or overwintered so many flowers. I have planted almost everything from the greenhouse now, but I had him start some little head lettuce and kale for me and I will have him do a succession planting of broccoli and cabbage for a fall crop.

The extra plants have either been tucked away in corners here and there, or given away. Rob has a dahlia on every corner, so to speak, with a few more to plant or find a home for. I have to say that if even half of his flowers bloom, it will be a real showplace around here.

My aunt gave us tiny little Delphinium/Larkspur seedlings from her friend and we are trying to grow them to a bigger size in the greenhouse. I’m expecting them to be large enough to plant out later in the spring or early summer.

My sister attended a charity auction and bought us 2 beautiful flower baskets. They are full of shade-loving plants so I’ve put them in places they will hopefully like.

The wild daisies are beautiful down at our local park. We visit there frequently. Yesterday, Ja’Ana and Patsy and I wheeled the boys down there for a nice, long play time. Zai loves the swing and Malcolm loves the play equipment, the flowers and throwing sticks into a little stream that is there at the park.

The weather has finally warmed up a bit and most of the garden veggies that were already established have literally doubled in the past week. The poor, spindly tomatoes are starting to sprout new growth at every joint, which is hopeful. The newly planted peppers are looking good, too, but I still am waiting for seeds to come up. Patience, patience, patience:). My earliest planting of English peas (Maestro) have burst into bloom, so it won’t be long until we have those. In the meanwhile, we are eating garden lettuce, chives, cilantro, and I even snipped off a piece of an onion here and there when I was in a pinch for green onions one day.

Quite a bit of hoeing and weeding was accomplished. If you look carefully, you can see volunteer dill plants on the top right hand corner of the picture. I weeded around all those so I can start snipping bits to use in cooking without waiting for my row to sprout.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–May 17, 2022

We pulled the camper down to the Oregon Coast for a few days. The wild rhododendrons were in full bloom and we marveled at their beauty during one of our walks.

Jake really, really, really wanted to go camping, so we did. We had 2 gorgeous days and a couple that were very rainy and wet.

We were delighted to find that the Mark Hatfield Marine Science Center has re-opened after a very long Covid closure. I made reservations and bought tickets on-line and we went on one of the very rainy days. Our other special activity was visiting a candy store. We took several walks, visited the campground play ground and did school in the camper.

The price of gas is high, so we decided not to do any extra drives on this trip. We also saved gas by choosing a campground that was closer to us, vs. one we like that takes 3-1/2 hours to get to, or another one we like that takes even longer to travel to. We went to South Beach State Park, in Newport, and it took about 2 hours to get there, including a stop.

I didn’t have much time to pack, due to helping Lovana with that marvelous party I mentioned last week. So, I just grabbed a lot of food from my freezer and crammed it into the camper freezer. I had put some celery and carrots in the fridge, some potatoes and onions in the cupboard The camper has lots of pantry items that stay in there all the time. I was pleased to find that I had stuffed so much in that we didn’t need to eat out at all, and only had to get $9 worth of groceries during the week. We did not suffer at all. Rob even made steak over the fire.

Once we got home, we had a couple more rainy days, and then got to work on the garden. Over the past 2 days, I have been out there for many hours. I transplanted jalapeƱo, ancho, mixed bell, Hungarian Wax, Anaheim, and Serrano peppers from the greenhouse. I planted seeds for pole beans, bush beans, more lettuce, slicing cucumbers, lemon cucumbers, pickling cucumbers, dill, basil, more snow peas, and what seemed like endless little onion plants. I planted hills of Tromboncini zucchini, yellow zucchini, green zucchini and scallopini zucchini. I even dug up some potato plants that had come up volunteer in my compost bins and transplanted them into the garden. We have a potato tower Rob made a year or so ago, and is didn’t work because there was not enough sun where it was. I thought I’d try again in a sunnier spot, with absolutely free potato starts, so I’m not out anything if it fails again.

I also worked on the flowerbeds a little and filled the yard debris bin 1/2 way up with mostly clipped ivy. I got the lawn mowed, but it was so tall, I’ll need to do it again pretty soon as I had to set the mower up pretty high.

I picked and froze all the rest of the overwintered spinach. I’ve been picking off leaves and using them, but it was time to pull the plants.

I picked Boc Choi for the first time this season. So far, I’ve made chicken stir-fry with it and added some to the chicken and dumplings I made yesterday. There was also some lettuce to pick.

The irises are starting to bloom. I divided quite a few of these last fall and I’m enjoying the extra blooms now.

I plan to crawl into bed early tonight. I’m quite stiff and sore after so much yard work. The reason there was so much pressure to get a lot done is because our spring has been very, very wet. I prefer to spread my yard work and garden work out over many evenings, not do marathons. But, this year, it has been too wet and muddy to work out there very often. Rain is predicted again tomorrow. I took my window of opportunity and am very happy that I got one! There are many weeds to pull and a few more things to plant, but I made huge progress and I’m pleased.