Straw Mulch

It was a slow week, as I has to work a lot.  It was frequently cold and rainy.  Today it is only in the 50s, with thunder storms.  Never the less, I was able to do the following:

Plant Something:  Planted more radishes.  I learned that the things leaving the little bites out of my radishes are a little lovely called a radish maggot.  Oh, hooray… so glad to have that problem…Not!  So, I meant to get some beneficial nematodes, but wasn’t able to hit the nursery that carries them.  Still, I transplanted my marigold,  pansy and shasta daisy starts.  Also, I direct seeded a LOT more marigolds around the edges of the gardens.  The Leeks are ready to harvest, but we are waiting until next weekend.  I got most of the wheat seedlings (from the straw mulch) out of the gardens.  Took most of a whole day.  My potoatoes are doing really well, I have them growing in “grow bags” from Gardener Supply Company.  I have completely filled one of the bags with straw and composted manure.  The other three bags are mostly full, but they are growing a little more slowly than the first bag.  But they should be more or less full by the end of next week, or maybe the week after that.

Harvest Something:  Radishes

Waste Not:  Lots of composting with kitchen and garden waste.

Prep/Want Not:  Ordered Mylar food storage bags and oxygen absorbers from USA Emergency Supply.  These will line some 6-gal buckets that I previously purchased.  We are shifting to buying some staples, like sugar, wheat, dent corn, beans and oats, in bulk.  It will save a lot of $$$.   I think I might have found a local farmer for the wheat, and maybe the corn.  I am going to experiment with growing a Mandan Indian dent corn this summer.  Also, I have a couple of heirloom beans that I am going to try out. 

Also, I am learning a new skill- baking bread with wild sourdough yeast.  It is a fair amount of work, as you have to maintain the culture, and baking a loaf of bread is usually a 2 or 3-day process (due to repeated ferments of the dough).  But it sure makes tasty bread. 

Build Community Food Systems:  Spent time in the garden with my 16-year old daughter, teaching her what was a weed and what was not, and discussing why we need to grow some of our own food, that we need to learn how to grow our own food now, what food availablility might be like in the commjing years, how much of our oil use goes into growing food and transporting it, and just having some nice mother-daughter time together.  It was a very nice Mother’s Day treat.  Plus, she was a really big help getting that wheat out of the gardens. 

I also discussed some of these issues with my husband.  Until lately, he has sort of been laughing under his breath and lovingly tolerating my need to do all of the Independence Days tasks.  But, he has begun to notice events in the news that foreshadow post Peak Oil trends and events; which is changing his thinking.  Also, he has begun to understand how buying in bulk and having a well stocked pantry can save money and is very convenient.

Eat the Food:  Of course, we ate the radishes.  In spite of the radish maggots, they were crisp and spicy.


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?