April 2010

It has been raining, and raining, and raining.  So, not much was accomplished this past week, except a little weeding, a little bread baking, a little house work, and relaxing.  Couldn’t go to the Farmer’s Market, due to the rain.  Just went to work and worked.  And, of course, now that it is sunny and lovely out side, I’m stuck inside, at work, working.


I turned 48 on Saturday.   Where has the time gone?!  And when am I going to start feeling like a grownup anyway? 

Rain on the Red Bud Tree


It was a very rainy day.  

Water Shooting Out of Neighbor's Gutter


It was a quiet day that I mostly spent reading a book and contemplating how I want the next part of my life to be, what kind of old lady I want to grow into.  In a way, it seems like the mother of all New Year’s resolutions.  I’d like to be an active and vibrant old lady who’s around for a good long while.  So, first things first…get active and fit again, at least reasonably so.  You can’t be the grand dame when you can’t get around and do anything you want to do.  It’s a great way to be prepared for what ever comes along over the coming years.  Second, keep my mind active.  That’s not too difficult since I read so much, and my work and hobbies demand mental gymnastics and creativity.  Third, make new friends.  I’m not so good at this, since I am a real home-body.  But, I’m going to figure out some ways to do this.  Maybe go back to church, join a garden club, or volunteer.  Since I read so darn much, joining a book club might be a good option.  I’m not sure yet.  It will take some effort.  But I know having friends as you get older, and making new ones as you go along, is really important.  

So, while I’m thinking about this, I’m going to get myself to the gym in the evenings.  I have been going (from time to time) and walking for 30 or 40 minutes.  I think it is time to step up the pace.  

Work in the garden and preserving the harvest are picking up.  

And this weekend, my family and I are going to take a short trip to see Laura Ingalls Wilder’s home in Springfield MO and to attend the first day of the Baker Creek Spring Planting Festival.

I got a lot done in the garden this past weekend.  And a little in the kitchen.  See below:

Plant Something:  Well, I actually planted my gardens back in late March, when we were having some great warm weather.  I had made home-made seed mats, à la Little House in the Suburbs. Unfortunately, only some of my seeds came up. I found that large seeds (e.g., radishes, beets, chard) worked well, but I must have used too much glue for really tinny seeds (e.g., carrots and lettuce).  So, I replanted the carrots and lettuce.  I also added the last of my chard seeds.  Unfortunately, before I did the replanting, I had some major weeding to do.  When I first planted, I mulched heavily with straw.  Straw is great, but it contains a lot of wheat seeds that germinate very quickly when wet.  Things seemed fine, at first, but then after a while, nothing but radishes seemed to be coming up.  So I removed the straw.  Lots of little wheat sprouts covered all of the soil, so I have spent the last several days carefully removing the straw.  I have some straw from last year, that is sort of rotted.  I might try mulching with that this summer, to help hold in moisture.

Harvest Something: nothing this week.

Waste Not: cleaned out some unused clothing for Good Will.  A lot of weeds and veggie scraps from the kitchen went into the composter.

Prep/Want Not: I pickled asparagus that I purchased at the farmer’s market.  I used the recipe in Well Preserved: Small Batch Preserving for the New Cook by Mary Anne Dragan.  It was very easy, and you use up most of the asparagus.  We are waiting a week for the flavors to meld, before we try it.  If we like it, I will make lots more while asparagus is in season.  It would make a neet Christmas gift.

Build Community Food Systems: Well, we went to opening day of the farmer’s market, and purchased all of what we needed for diner than night.  Also, I purchased the aforementioned asparagus.

Eat the Food:  Ate the locally grown asparagus from the farmer’s market for diner, and also pickled some of it as above.  The steak we bought at the farmer’s market was also locally grown.  Boy, was it tasty.  Unfortunately, it was more expensive than if we had purchased it at Whole Foods.  Maybe we can work out some bulk purchase deal?

Opening Day: Farmer's Market

 Today (Saturday) was the opening day at the Overland Park Farmer’s Market.   Husband and I were very happy to be there. “Where are all the vegetables?” he asked. “Growing,” I said. The only thing there were starts, a few herbs, a little lettuce, and asparagus.  We bought enough asparagus so that I can pickle it, and we can have some for diner tonight.   We also picked up a small steak, from a local grower.  That will make a tasty diner tonight.  

 I picked up three rosemary starts, sage, and lemon verbena from the this guy below.

What's for sale?

  All made it into the garden at lunch time.  The rosemary is in a big pot, with a self-watering jug.  The sage and lemon verbena are in the middle gargen box, with the chives. 

Rosemary Starts

I spent a good deal of time weeding the garden.  It seems that none of the carrots have come up, so I reseeded them.  I had made home-made seed mats with my seed this year.  They were easy to plant, but it seems that really tiny seeds didn’t work so well.  Larger seeds, especially radishes, sprouted easily.  So, I added some more radishes, reseeded the carrots (three types), dinosaur kale, and swiss chard, and gave everything a good sprinkle.  Radishes are interplanted with the fava beans and with the carrots.  

The fava beans are up and standing strong!


The first potato sprouts.

I’s been working on taxes.  In a few days, I will have an update with photos, a discussion of straw mulch (or not).  In the mean time, I have been watering, weeding, seeding a bald patch of what should be grass, etc., etc., etc.  How about you?

Sharon Astyk has been writing about Independence Days for a couple of years now. The basic idea is to get better at providing for yourself and your family, because hard times can happen to any one at any time, and also because we need to prepare for increasing prices and/or scarcity of commodities due to peak oil. There are 6 components (or activities) to the Independence Days challenge. Here they are, including what I did this past week.

1. Plant Something:  I planted Fava beans in self-watering containers (SWCs); watered the gardens that I planted a few weeks ago; looked out for emerging seedlings (so far, only radishes, some fava beans, and a couple of beets have come up); repotted some succulents I brought with us from San Diego; cleaned out the bed on the side of the garage; where we grew gourds last year, and reseeded with poppies; pruned roses; cleaned out around blueberry bushes; fertilized indoor seed starts.

Here is a photo of part of my garden. I have four garden boxes, each is 4×6 feet and 24″ tall.

Three Garden Boxes

You can see the composters in the back.  I also have 4 grow bags of potoatoes behind there.  The little pig is from Mexico.  He has mint growing in him.  The pile of dirt is going to be a new raised bed that I am going to build soon, using the lasagna technique.

2. Harvest Something:  I harvested 1 leek from last winter, and used it in tuna salad.

3. Waste Not:  All veggie scraps went into composter, cleaned out winter clothes and gave those I haven’t worn in 2-years to Good Will.

4. Prepare/Want Not:  Nothing this week.

5. Build Community Food Systems:  Nothing this week.

6. Eat the Food:  Ate the leek in tuna salad. Ate locally grown eggs. Ate marmalade that I made last winter.

Hi There!  This is my first post on my first blog.  I have always had a secret wish to be a farmer, homesteader, or some such.  Instead, I became a biochemist and patent agent.  Since I wasn’t able to fulfill my dream, I am doing it on a small-scale, in my backyard.  I plan to use this blog as a journal of my activities, including gardening, canning, baking, preparedness, and the like.  Let’s hope that it turns out well.