Tag Archives: Garden

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–August 8, 2021–Food Preservation Edition

I have canned so much in the past 2 weeks, I haven’t had time to post. I’m feeling really good about how much Rob and I have accomplished.

Last night, I picked the green bowl and the yellow one full of strawberries. (This picture just shows the bowls, this time they were full). I’m getting so many berries. The problem is that they seem very sour this year. That’s kind of frustrating as it’s been one of the hottest summers I can ever remember. They should be sweet. I’ve frozen quite a few and today, I decided to make a batch of jam. I did that this afternoon. When I’ve been freezing them, I’ve started adding a little sugar. They will be great in smoothies this winter, regardless of their sour flavor, as we can add sugar when we blend the smoothie. Oddly enough, Jake likes them sour, so he’s been picking and eating them cut up with sugar sprinkled on top. I’m glad someone likes them this way.

My sister gave us so many peaches from her farm. These are New Havens. This picture only shows part of them. We canned 70 quarts. Some are for me, some my mother graciously agreed to take, even though she wanted to can another kind, when I realized how many I was going to end up with. They are really, really good, so I know she will enjoy them, and we will as well.

They came out beautifully.

We dried several gallons of peaches. I also dried zucchini for soups. I froze broccoli a couple of times. Then, I pulled the bushes. All they were producing anymore were side shoots that were getting smaller and smaller each time. The last picking was about 1/2 cup, so that was the end for me. In the place where the broccoli was, I planted lettuce, kale, snow peas and spinach for a fall crop. They have not come up yet.

While up at the farm, Rob picked a lot of wild blackberries. We made jam from those. I froze several baggies as well, with what was left over from the jam making.

We have canned green/yellow beans every-other-day and I’ve done many, many pickles. These bowls are the first step for sweet pickles. I finished them Thursday. They involve a process where you pour boiling water, then syrup/brine over them each morning and night for 4 days. I canned 18–1/2 pints when I was done following all the steps.

I’ve made many dill pickles which were a mixture of plain (with garlic) and zippy (with jalapeƱos) and a batch of Bread-and-Butter Pickles.

I pulled all the carrots in the garden and we canned 7 pints, plus put some in the fridge in bags. I could fit the jars of carrots, in the pressure canner with the pints of green beans, so I did. My big one holds a double layer of pints.

I was able to can a few pints of crushed tomatoes on a different day.

I froze quite a few peaches, strawberries, and blueberries as well as the broccoli I mentioned above.

When I wasn’t preserving food, I was working on the garden and yard or working with the kids. I’ve pulled several old bushes up and composted them in the garden.. I’ve weeded there and in a couple of flowerbeds. After picking beans today, I’m all geared up to pull the bean bushes in a couple of places. They seem to be finished. I have a few more bush beans that still have some life left in them and all of the pole beans. They haven’t got any large beans on them, but small ones are starting to form so we will eat those fresh until frost.

My garden is large, and is yielding well this year. I’m very thankful to have so much to work with, along with what we got from my sister’s farm. There are still a few items to can later in the summer/fall, but I made huge strides on the project this past couple of weeks. We are also eating daily from the fruits and veggies we are picking.

We ate so much garden produce and things from the pantry and freezers that I didn’t shop for most of 2 weeks. When I did, I used the $10 off $50 at Safeway. I bought some things to stock up the camper for our next excursion and some items I don’t normally buy, such as first aid items. I also got some things at Grocery Outlet. It felt good to be able to stock up on things with the extra money I had left over from last month’s grocery budget due to eating so much garden produce.

Rob and I inventoried our canning shelves. I like to keep a detailed record of my food preservation, recording what was left over of each item and what new jars have been added this year. Last year, I was out of so many items that I over-canned on purpose. I like to have a little carry-over in case of a poor crop, an item being hard to get for some reason, etc. There’s not as much left over as I thought there would be. So, I’m taking care of that!

Although canning has taken up a huge portion of my time this past 2 weeks, that’s not all. we did.

Jake and I made cinnamon sugar toast cut-outs one day. This is a birdhouse, in case you didn’t know. All we did is toast bread, spread with butter and cinnamon sugar and cut out shapes with cookie cutters, but he had a wonderful time doing it and eating his concoction.

Rob filled the kiddie pools for the kids one day and watched both the pressure canner and the kids at the same time, as we do all of our canning outside in an enclosed porch area.

I started science with Patsy this week and she and Jake did an experiment. We’ve been reading aloud for hours and I’ve received Jake’s science from his Mom so we will start that this week. I like to do some school in August, to ease into the process. We will go full-bore in September.

We had a family gathering potluck for Rob’s side of the family one evening and had a nice time. We had an aunt and uncle from Idaho visiting our aunt who lives here and spent some time over at her house visiting, which was also nice. Of course, the babies have been through the house a few times, and we have seen some other relatives from time to time. We aren’t bored, but will admit to being quite tired once night comes! It’s a busy time of year:)

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thriving In My thrifty Week–July 20, 2021

The weather has remained hot, but manageable. Rob has been making jar after jar of sun tea so he always has a cool drink.

The garden keeps pumping out the produce.

This morning, I got 2 small bowls of cucumbers, so I will make pickles later today. I noticed a few dill heads beginning to form, so they will be dill this time.

I picked all this broccoli this morning, as well, and it is soaking in salt water while I do some other things. That gets rid of any critters that might try to hide in the florets. Then, I will put it with what I got the other day and blanch and freeze it. Last time, we ate a bunch fresh, but I’m not sure we can eat all the veggies we are picking right now, so I’m happy to freeze some for later.

We froze several baggies of blueberries and ate raspberries and blueberries fresh. The June-bearing raspberries are winding down, but there are still a few every couple of days.

We are spending as much time as possible with the babies. So cute, and so much fun:). This one gained a pound in the last week. Go, baby!!

We took a drive on Saturday and hit a community garage sale. We found a man who was selling grocery bags of kids books for $2. We filled a bag. Since I’m going to be working with my nephew this fall, doing part of his schooling, I grabbed several educational books for the whopping price of 25c each. Even if I only use one idea from each, it’s worth it. We also scored a few fall flannel shirts and pants for $1 each for our older grandson. The baby has plenty for now and there’s a huge bag of the next couple of sizes up Rob got at a yard sale a while back, plus the outgrown clothes of his brother. So, right now, we look for the bigger sizes.

Yesterday, Rob cooked a small turkey we got last fall for a very low price. He put it on the BBQ, so it didn’t heat up the house, and we will use a lot and share some.

I’m off to Safeway to get a couple of things. 74c ice cream tops my list. I can have 2, so I will get them if there are any left. I don’t need much, actually, as we are eating mainly from the garden and freezers. It’s a good time of year for my grocery budget!

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–July 13, 2021

A few years ago, Rob picked up quart-sized ziplock bags full of home-saved zinnia seeds at a yard sale for 25c/bag. He got several. I planted some in the garden then, and then they started dropping seeds. This is one of many volunteers in my garden that I am enjoying immensely. I found one bag left in my seed stash and I planted in in a front flowerbed. Many of them came up and a bunch of them survived the slugs. They are blooming now, which makes me happy.

My newest planting of lettuce came up. I like to keep it going all summer so we can have salad all the time. I was doubtful that this planting would sprout because it’s been so hot, so I was delighted to see them pop up. A few snow peas sprouted, too, and so far I have one new summer squash sprout. Succession planting is one way to keep the veggies coming until frost.

I was down at the hospital all day yesterday. A family member broke their leg and needs surgery. We are taking turns going over there until they get fixed and released. While I was gone, Rob took leftover fruit and made a mixed cobbler. He used canned cherries, a handful of blueberries from our bush, leftover pie filling from the 4th of July and whatever else he could find that was getting old. The fruit was not wasted and tasted great.

He also made a sweet and sour chicken and rice. I’m still getting snow peas from the garden and he used chicken I got on sale for 97c/lb for boneless/skinless breast. Carrots and celery are almost always in my fridge. We are still working on the 50 lbs of Jasmine rice Rob got at the beginning of Covid for only $10. It was marked down because the store had gotten in the wrong item, so were selling it quickly.

I cooked a lot this week, and made chicken-rice soup, salmon, sandwiches with potato salad, and lots more.

We have had our older grandson quite a bit this past week. Our daughter also brought new baby over for us to hold several times. With both Rob and I on baby-holding duty and Patsy and Jake to amuse Malcolm at times, she can keep getting stronger and we can have fun:). I also went to several doctor appointments with them, driving, carrying kids and/or carseats and carriers from here to there, and so forth. A few food items were cooked and sent over to their house, and I helped facilitate grocery shopping.

I made 2 receiving blankets. I used flannel purchased on sale some time ago. My daughter wanted ones that were slightly larger than the 30″ x 30″ size they come in around here, I just cut the flannel and narrow-hemmed it. It wasn’t hard.

The flowers Rob grew or wintered over continue to amaze me with their beauty. I look at them every day.

Thriving In My Thrifty 2 WeekS–June 8, 2021

I picked berries from my yard. I also went U-Picking and got 20 more pounds. Some were for my sister, but lots were for us. As you can see, there are some that got bitten by critters, such as slugs and potato bugs, from our yard. I cut all of those places out when I got them ready for dinner.

Today, Rob set up my canning area on the outside porch. I used it immediately.

I made quite a bit of strawberry-rhubarb jam and a smaller amount of strawberry. My niece helped me. She measured out the sugar and watched breathlessly to see if the pot was at a full rolling boil or not, while staying way back so she wouldn’t get burned. We had fun. I have only 1 jar of the strawberry-rhubarb left but more of the plain strawberry. We’ve also been cutting them up and eating them for meals.

It was nice to have a frozen gluten-free pizza in the freezer to have for dinner tonight. Rob got a few for $4 each at Grocery Outlet a few weeks ago. That’s a great price, and they are easy when I’m tired.

I’ve been so busy that I’ve had the recipe and ingredients for these blueberry muffins out on the counter for days. It became a household joke, but I FINALLY made blueberry muffins this evening!

It’s birthday season at my house. 3 of my 8 children have birthdays within an 8-day time period. There was a party on Saturday for my oldest, and we went and had a great time. Sunday, after church, we took Patsy and Ja’Ana to the Oregon Coast Aquarium, then out to dinner in a restaurant, a big deal for us since we have been only out to eat a very, very few times in the last couple of years. We used the membership we purchased a few months ago for admission to the aquarium, so that helped make the day feel more affordable. Of course, baby came, too. Our daughter, Lovana, joined us as well, so we were able to get the maximum amount of people our pass covers in, utilizing it to the max!

If I look like I was drenched with a bucket of water, you are close. We were caught in a heavy rain shower while going to our car. Perfect timing, I thought, as the aquarium in part inside, and part outside.

He wasn’t sure what to think. He tried in vain to “get” those fish, but mostly just looked around with wide eyes the entire time.

The raised beds are looking good. I was able to get in there and weed and do some succession planting. The garden is all planted and things are coming up. We even got a bunch of trimming done and filled the yard debris bin each week. Quite a few weeds were removed from flowerbeds, as well. It all takes time, but things are looking much better around here. Except the cucumbers. Just as fast as the pickling cukes come up, some bird pecks them out and leaves them laying there to die. I. AM. NOT. HAPPY. with those birds. I replanted again, and Rob rigged netting over them. I have a few new ones, but now the birds are trying to take away the netting…….Hmmmmm. We will see who wins.

We are eating lettuce frequently, along with artichokes and the strawberries. The pea pods are very prolific, as well. In fact, there are so many ready that I’m going to have to freeze some. We like them fresh the best, but I can use a few frozen, as well.

Our flower pots are looking great. Rob grew these all from seeds or cuttings. We have several hanging ones, pots on steps and porches, and flower beds galore, all from his efforts.

I picked, blanched and froze the hearts from all those artichokes and the ones in another place that you can’t see. I got 3 tiny bags full. We simply couldn’t eat them all, and we can use these in salads or casseroles. It’s a lot of work for a small amount of gain, but since they grew so well, I didn’t want to just waste them.

Rob peeled and chopped up a large quantity of onions left from last year’s garden.

He froze them in bags, in one or two cup amounts. I will use them when I make salsa or relish at the end of the summer. We grew so many onions last summer, and they kept until June, but were starting to show some signs of starting to rot, so it was time to preserve them in a different way.

We exercised several ways. We went for walks, down to the Kroc center for swim classes or to walk in the lazy river, and took a big hike to Silver Creek Falls. Last time, we hiked the shorter, lower loop. This time, we hiked the longer, upper loop and went about 5-1/2 miles. It was so beautiful.

I didn’t grocery shop, except for one watermelon and one bunch of celery. The last time I did a major shop was before Memorial Day. We’ve got a lot of food, and I have been working on making room in the freezers. It really helps that the garden is starting to produce, and that I have a good stockpile. The need for milk will be the thing that forces me into the store, I think, and it will be soon.

There are so many things that are keeping us occupied these days. We are needing to take one day at a time, and hopefully get most of our list completed before we collapse on the couch, and are trying to stay frugal while we do so. Mostly, we are succeeding!

Thriving In My thrifty Week–May 24, 2021

Rob, with help from our nephew Jake, cleaned out the heat pump. He noticed there was so much ash and smoke from last summer’s wildfires he was scared to use it without giving it a good cleaning. He called at least one person to possible come do it for us, but they were unavailable, so he watched U-Tube videos and did it himself. Now when it gets hot, we will be ready. Doing basic cleaning and maintenance on our things saves us a ton of money, as they last longer. Doing it himself saves us even more, but it isn’t always possible, even for Rob. I’m glad it worked this time.

Rob took Michaela, our niece, to see horses twice this week. She loves going places and doing things and this is a totally free activity, other than a little gas, as both places were at friends.’ He’s always looking for fun things for them to do and is always excited when he finds good activities.

This past week, we mostly finished planting the garden. I worked a couple of long, hard days doing that. I didn’t take pictures because there’s nothing to show–the seeds aren’t up yet. So you get pictures of my other obsession–the baby:). There are a few small things to finish, but the bulk of it is done, and I’m not sorry it’s raining today. We need it badly.

I got into the flowerbeds a little bit, but there’s a lot left to do on those. The weeds will wait.

I cooked quite a bit as we had meals to deliver to a couple of places, plus our normal cooking. Patsy has been in a mood to cook, so baked brownies, lemon bars and lemon-poppyseed muffins, twice. Rob has been BBQ-ing everything in sight, so it was a group effort.

I spent quite a bit of time taking my rotation with a family member who is recovering from surgery, and we scheduled out the next bit of time as well on a Zoom call with the family. It’s one good thing that has come out of the pandemic–we just set the time up and all got on there and said which days worked for each one of us, then sent out the schedule via text. Now we know who goes over there and when, who cooks, who takes to appointments, etc. all without leaving home. This should eliminate people being scheduled on days that they are already busy and having to trade, but we can trade if we need to. It’s so nice to have several of us able and willing to take turns and to be able to choose convenient times to do so. And, it’s been great to have so much time to visit with that person more than I usually get to.

By Saturday, I was ready for time with the baby. So, I borrowed him for about 6 or 7 hours and Patsy and I just played with him. Rob was gone to a mens’ conference, but he got a turn once he got home. When his mama came and got him, she surprised me with pizza, which we gobbled right up:).

Rob really enjoyed his conference. It was the first thing like that he has been able to attend in a long, long time. It’s very encouraging to see things like that starting back up in our area. Our family is ready to get out there a little more, now that we’ve all had our vaccinations. Patsy got her second dose this week, so she needs to be patient a little longer, but things are definitely looking up.

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–May 10, 2021

Here is my lovely Mother’s Day basket Rob grew for me in the greenhouse. Each of our mothers got one as well. Grandpa helped our grandson a little with his present selection, by doing some shopping for a very small gift and a card. So did I. I put the one choice on the table and let him crawl toward what he wanted to give his Mama. Not surprisingly, he chose the present I put out, although for moment I thought an empty milk jug in the vicinity might actually win out:).

Much of the week centered around work and a small gathering we decided to have on Mother’s Day. Many significant people, including both of our mothers, had other important places to be, so the numbers were few. That turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as I severely pulled a muscle in my leg while working on the flowerbeds. Rob and Patsy did all the work to get the house ready and Rob did most of the cooking. I sat on the couch and read or watched t.v. while they did those chores. Hmmm…some people will do anything to get out of work….. I say in my defense that I did clean 1/2 the bathroom. Gladly, I’m much, much better now and Rob and I took 2 super short walks today to get that leg back in shape. Tomorrow’s going to be much better yet, I can already tell.

I saved a lot of money sitting on my couch. How, you ask? Well, we made up a menu entirely of food we had on hand, except for some sugar soda Rob picked up. All we use here is diet soda, but some like the regular kind. It was on a very good sale, so that didn’t cost much. Thankfully, I had shopped last weekend for 2 weeks, and my plan payed off. We still have lots of groceries. People also brought things, and that’s always a nice gift to the host! This time, we really appreciated it more than ever.

I did not buy paperwork at the Dollar Store or anywhere else. I used regular silverware, not plastic and my usual glass plates for dessert. I did use a few paper plates I had in the cupboard, but bought no special napkins or anything for the occasion. I put fabric placemats here and there on t.v. trays and on the table for people to use, so did not buy a paper or plastic tablecloth. I put basil plants Rob grew in the center of the table for a centerpiece with the intention of giving them away after the party, so did not buy flowers or any other decorations.

I did not go to JoAnn’s as planned to buy new patterns on the pattern sale. Because I was not there, I bought nothing else, either. Because I’ve not chosen to go often during the pandemic, I do buy things when I’m there and can find something I like. There will be other chances to go to JoAnn’s, and other pattern sales, even though my phone is constantly telling me “It’s you LAST chance to get a good deal at JoAnn’s!” I have so many projects to work on, I’m not worried.

We also spent extra money when I sat on the couch. For one meal, Rob ordered me some gluten-free pizza from Dominos. Yum, yum, yum. If it didn’t hurt so much, I would definitely think it was worth doing it again…..but….it did hurt, and I got very bored sitting down, so I’m not planning on it.

I sent artichokes home with my oldest daughter. I said anyone who wanted some could pick some, so she did. She picked some for us to eat as well.

I picked lettuce a couple of times already and have more getting ready. I was able to re-use the nets from last year to keep the birds off.

The Little White Snowpeas are blooming and the Maestro peas on the left are about to bloom. In the back the Sugar Snap Peas are climbing the fence, as they should. Since we can’t till properly, as the new tiller is still delayed, I’m so thankful for the new raised beds Rob built last fall.

My aunt kindly texted me that there were eggs for 98c/dozen at her local Waremart (like Winco). Rob needed to run over there anyway for another reason, and, since I didn’t have as many eggs as I thought I did, he stopped to get me some and SCORED!!!!! Around here, jar lids are still very scarce. But, now we have enough to add to what he’s purchased here and there to finish up what we need for this upcoming canning season and so do the rest of my sisters and my mom, as some of these are for them. He just couldn’t believe it when buying a whole case was an option. He couldn’t believe there were any at all, much less that many! He has checked over and over in basically every store he has entered for any reason, and also on line. (Yes, there are some there, but we refuse to pay outrageous prices like $9/box, or other equally ridiculous prices.)

Now, if that elusive jar lid super sales comes along, I may buy extra to have a backlog, but for now, I’m super happy with what we have. The people he’s talked to where we often buy lids told him they got some, quickly sold them, and have no idea when, or IF, they are ever getting more. And, there are limits on how many a person can buy posted on the shelves when they are found in this area. We are not jar lid hoarders, but it is a fact that I canned over 1,000 jars last summer and that’s a lot of boxes of lids. I’m also a jar lid snob and only want Ball or Kerr. I’ve had some bad experiences with other brands and it’s just too much work for me to risk repeating those experiences. This year, I probably don’t need to do quite so many as I tried to can a few extra of each item last year, but we hit some items pretty hard this past winter. Good thing I love canning and gardening.

The other thing Rob and I did last summer was dry more items. We plan to do even more of that this year, as we found uses for most of what we dried. There’s just no point in growing such a large garden to preserve if I can’t find supplies to do just that and a way to use what I preserve. If they don’t like it, they won’t eat it. Plain and simple, sad, but true, and any other cliche you have heard. They are all true around here:)

Are any of you having success finding lids where you live?

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–March 22, 2021

The most exciting thing we did this past week was taking a hike at Silver Creek State Park. We stuffed daypacks with food and water and took off on the first day we weren’t working. We used our park pass so we didn’t have to pay a parking fee, and took off down the trail. It was amazing! It has been years and years since Rob could hike on a “real” trail and he did great. He took his trekker poles to keep himself steady as there are very steep places on that trail. We didn’t rush, especially where the trail was rough. We went down into the canyon, saw several waterfalls, and hiked the rim trail back to the car, about 3-1/2 miles. We are already planning to take the longer loop later in the spring or summer, it was so fun!

It was wet and rough, and we still made it!

There were switchbacks, and we still made it. All of our daily walking is really starting to pay off for us! It’s our latest miracle. Seriously. One year ago, Rob could barely make it from the bedroom to the front room, and now look at him:). We feel so blessed!

We did some money-saving activities this week. I cooked and ground the last Sweetmeat squash. Rob’s cousin gave us this one and it’s held up well, but I wanted to get it cooked before it went bad. We ate some and I froze the rest.

The girls joined us for church again and then came over here for lunch afterwards and the baby happily ate squash. Rob and I took him out for a walk in the same stroller we used for Ja’Ana when she was little. It has been a good stroller for us. I’m glad we kept it.

We got to babysit one day, as his Mama got some extra hours at work.

We didn’t work with the kids very much this week, they had other things to so, so, instead, spent the week catching up on many appointments. We’ve worked so much with them lately that our hours will not be affected, so that’s good. We had eye appointments, several doctor appointments and even spent time with our other niece, Alissa. We are all getting new glasses. We were glad to get our tax refund, and used some of it to pay our co-pays for the glasses.

The garden dried out just enough that Rob could till a small section. First, he had to replace the carburetor in our very old small tiller. It cost him $20 to get a new one off of Amazon, instead of the couple hundred it would cost to get the tiller tuned up and the carburator replaced.

I then planted carrots, beets, lettuce, little cabbage plants Rob grew, spinach and snow peas. The next morning it started raining and hasn’t stopped since, so the garden is very soggy. We got our window of opportunity, and took it, and I’m glad!

The peas are finally coming up in the raised beds, so I will have English peas, snow peas, and climbing Sugar Snap peas. I also have lettuce and spinach up in the other covered bed, along with a few little cabbage plants. I was getting worried they weren’t going to come up, so I’m relieved they did. Some of the seeds were old, and some weren’t. I think it was just cold, so they came up slowly. There are no sweet pea flowers up yet, so those seeds were probably too old. But, who knows? Time will tell:)

The greenhouse is doing well, and there are hundreds of starts in there for us, and others. Rob got his automatic watering system going in there, and is satisfied with the settings, at last.

I went to Safeway and redeemed the coupons for the free items Patsy won in the Monopoly game a couple of weeks ago. We got French bread, ibuprophin, crackers, and 2 bottles of water for free. Then, for whatever reason, my Just for U offered olives and one other thing, so I got them, too, for free. We used the grocery rewards I’ve been saving and got 70 cents a gallon off, and filled the van. I got groceries for the rest of March, using sales and downloaded coupons. I just went a couple of times this month for main shopping and picked up a couple of other items on sale at other stores in between, and that worked well.

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.