Super Mom – No Cape!

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Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

Home Grown and Home Baked

Posted by supermom on July 2, 2011

This year, in addition to growing herbs, strawberries and tomatoes in our three little square foot gardens, I’ve been experimenting with some container gardening.

I have two large planters that sit on either side of our garage door.  I usually fill those with some kind of tall grass in the middle surrounded by flowering annuals.   This year the tall grass didn’t over winter as it has in years past and so I was left with two empty containers.

Then back in May, I had two little volunteer tomato plants come up in the square foot gardens after we added our compost.  They were quite a bit smaller than the tomato transplants I’d purchased so I dug up the little volunteers and transplanted them into those large planters out front.  I had a partial package of mixed lettuce seeds left from last year, so I scattered those around the tomato plants.

A few weeks later and this is what they look like.

If you look closely, there's a small bunch of baby tomatoes growing behind the trellis.

The one pictured is some variety of slicing tomato.  The one on the opposite side of the garage is definitely a Roma of some kind.  I think they’re every bit as pretty and certainly more interesting and practical than the grass and flowers of previous years.

And this is lunch today; mixed leaf lettuce between two slices of homemade oatmeal bread.

Now I can’t wait until the tomatoes have grown big and ripe so I can make toasted tomato sandwiches.

There’s nothing better than home grown and home baked.

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How We Over-Winter Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Onions and Squash

Posted by supermom on May 9, 2011

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How We Over-Winter Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Onions and Squash

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First Strawberries of 2011

Posted by supermom on May 1, 2011

This morning, from this little strawberry patch…

Our raised bed strawberry patch is approximately 4 ft by 4 ft.

I picked our first strawberries of the season.

Strawberries and cream for dessert tonight!

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A Beautiful Spring Day

Posted by supermom on April 2, 2011

The sun is shining.   The sheets are on the line drying.

The mint is growing.

Strawberries are blooming.

Just one of several strawberry plants that are blooming

And my herb garden survived the unusually cold north Georgia winter.

Red yarrow (bottom left), Parsley (top left), Rosemary (center), Sage (peeking out from behind Rosemary), Oregano (right) and Thyme (very bottom right)

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Gardening Success – Our First Strawberries

Posted by supermom on May 6, 2010

Last year for Mother’s Day, Dave and our son gave me four strawberry plants which I transplanted into one of our square foot gardens in the backyard.  Now according to Mel Bartholomew’s book, All New Square Foot Gardening, you shouldn’t allow the shoots to take root because they sap the energy from the mother plant.  So throughout the spring, summer and fall, every time I noticed a new shoot I would trim it off and plant it in small pot.  When each had taken root and gotten well established, I transplanted them into the garden beside the others.

From four small plants, we now have this…

The area covered with black garden fabric is waiting for any new baby plants I get from them this summer.  Though if they produce as many shoots as last year, we may well have to build another square foot garden and even then, we’ll still probably have lots to give away or trade.

This morning when I glanced out our bedroom window, I noticed that some of the berries looked ready to pick so out I went with bowl in hand.  I can’t tell you how delighted I was to find that there weren’t just a few ready but several.  I came into the house with almost a full bowl of plump, ripe strawberries.

The plants are simply loaded with green ones.  Between what we’ll get through our CSA share and that little garden, I may not have to buy any extra organic strawberries this year to make jam.

Just for fun, I decided to weigh this morning’s harvest.

Almost 1 ½ lbs.   And that’s just the first picking.  To say I’m pleased is an understatement.

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Independence Days Challenge – March 15th – 22nd

Posted by supermom on March 23, 2010

We were away last week for spring intersession so there isn’t a lot to report today.   Be sure to check out Sharon’s update for the Independence Days Challenge.  And don’t forget to read through the comments to see how everyone else is doing.

1.  Plant something:  Nothing, but I checked the garden and the peas are just coming up.

2.  Harvest something:  Nothing.  The collards that I moved before we left are doing well and I’ll be harvesting some leaves this week.  The brussels sprouts have buds that should be ready to harvest in the next couple of weeks.   This is our first time growing collards and brussels sprouts, so I’m pleased that we’ll get a harvest from them.

3.  Preserve something:  Nothing

4.  Waste not:   Brought home all bottles used on vacation to be recycled.

5.  Want not:  Made a trip to Costco before coming home to stock up on cheese and butter.  Also purchased a mattress pad with the hopes that it will extend the life of our bed.  (If last night is any indication and it wasn’t just exhaustion from driving for 11 hours, the mattress pad made a major difference.)

6.  Build Community Food Systems:  Nothing

7.  Eat the food:   I took homemade bread and rolls with us on holiday and cooked most of our meals in the hotel room.   I will admit to enjoying the meals that we did eat out as it was nice to have someone else do the cooking and cleaning up, but it’s not something I could ever get used to doing on a regular basis.

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Independence Days Challenge

Posted by supermom on March 9, 2010

Once again this year I’m taking part in the Independence Days Challenge being hosted by Sharon Astyk on her old blog that’s been newly named The Chatelaine’s Keys.  You can read more about the Challenge in her post here, but the gist of it is to list each week the things you’ve accomplished in each of the following categories:  plant something, harvest something, preserve something, waste not, want not, build community food systems and finally, eat the food.

Here’s my list for the past week (including today):

1.  Plant something:  Planted the first two rows of peas today in one of our square foot gardens.

2.  Harvest something:  Two very small broccoli heads from the broccoli that I planted late last fall.  With the unusually cold weather we’ve had this winter I was surprised that the plants even survived let alone produced.

3.  Preserve something:  Nothing last week.

4.  Waste not:  The usual; conserving water, keeping the thermostat set as low as we can comfortably handle (which to be honest is lower on some days than on others).  We had stopped composting once both of our barrels were completely full and we had nowhere else to put it  but today I emptied the finished compost into one of the gardens, so we’ll be starting back up again.

5.  Want not:  Stocked up on all purpose and white wheat flour while it was on sale last week.  I was also able to get some more icing buckets from the local grocery store.   I just need a couple more and then I can place a good sized order for some organic hard white wheat through our local health food store.  I’ve been reading about how much more nutrition there is in freshly ground flour as compared to the stuff you buy in the stores and so have been working towards getting ready to do that.

6.  Build Community Food Systems:  Purchased milk, eggs and grass-fed beef from a local farmer.  It was the first time we’d tried grass-fed beef and after trying the hamburger and then a sirloin steak… we will definitely be making the switch after we use up what is currently in our freezer.  To compensate for the higher price we’ll be paying, I’ve been trying to cook at least one meatless meal per week.

7.  Eat the food:  With all the freezing and preserving we did last summer and fall, our trips to the grocery store have been quite a bit fewer and the bills quite a bit smaller.

In the past three months, we’ve only purchased two loaves of bread as I’ve been baking all our bread.

And I’ve been slowly trying to eliminate as many processed foods from our diet as I can.  I can’t believe the number of products that have MSG added to them, not to mention the endless list of additives.  Some things, I’ll be giving up completely.  Others I’ll be substituting with homemade versions.  At least then, I’ll know what’s in the foods that I’m feeding my family.

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Sweet Potatoes Will Indeed Grow in Containers

Posted by supermom on December 8, 2009

It’s been months since I posted an Independence Days update.  And this would be a very long post if I tried to detail everything that we’ve accomplished in that time.  Instead I’m going to tell you about how our sweet potato experiment turned out.

Back in June, when I bought home my four little sweet potatoes slips I wasn’t at all sure if we’d have any success growing them in containers.  We did lose two of the plants for reasons unknown but the two survivors grew well.  They didn’t flower much… not like regular potatoes.  We knew that we had at least one sweet potato because we could see it peeking up out of the soil, so we left them in the containers as long as possible.

Then on the last Sunday in October, the weather service broadcast a frost warning.  It was time to empty the containers and see what we had.  One of the great things about growing sweet potatoes in containers is that to harvest, all you do is dump the container upside down onto a tarp like this:

That smaller container only had one fair size potato and a couple of small ones.  We were, however,  pleasantly surprized when we turned over the second, larger container and lifted it off.

And here they are all laid out to dry in the sun for a bit.

Not a huge harvest.  Still there was more than enough for a side dish for Thanksgiving and some left for Christmas as well.

We are counting this experiment as a success and will definitely be planting sweet potatoes in containers again next year.

Note:  For Sharon Astyk’s latest Independence Days post: Independence Days… As the Snow Falls.  Make sure to check the comments section for even more updates.

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Independence Days Challenge – Aug 10th to Aug 16th

Posted by supermom on August 17, 2009

For Sharon Astyk’s latest post… Independence Days Update: Summertime and the Living is… Sweaty.  Make sure to check the comments section for even more updates.

1.  Plant something: I haven’t been able to decide exactly where would be the best place to build my herb garden, so the herbs I bought a couple of weekends ago got transplanted into hanging planters and once they’ve had a chance to adjust for a few days, I’ll hang them from the old gazebo frame we’ve converted to a clothesline.

Over the past week, something got to eating the pac choi and it was looking pretty awful, so we pulled that out, added some compost to the bed and planted beets and collards.  We’re still having trouble with one of the neighbour’s cats using our gardens as a litter box, so we recovered the bed with garden cloth and we’ll cut slits in the cloth once the beets and collards are up.  There’s enough room in that bed to add swiss chard, which I’m going to experiment with starting inside this coming week.

Bought petunias that had been discounted and repotted them into hanging planters.  They look a little scraggly right now, but in a few days they should perk up and look nice.  And while they’re not food… they do attract pollinators.

I also divided one of the houseplants that had outgrown its pot.  That gave me one plant to bring back into the house and three to trade or sell.

2.  Harvest something: Tomatoes from the Lincoln tomatoes.  I’m really impressed with the Lincolns and hope to be able to save seed from them for next year.  We just have to figure out some kind of temporary covering to keep the birds out.  And then over the winter, maybe we can work out a better solution.

Picked up the veggies from our CSA.

3.  Preserve something: No

We have discovered that none of us really care for eggplant, so this past Thursday, I traded eggplants for tomatoes from the swap box when we picked up our CSA veggies.   With a few of the tomatoes from our square foot garden that the birds haven’t gotten, I may have just enough tomatoes now to make a small batch of salsa.

4.  Reduce waste: Dave made our regular trip to drop off the recycling.   Conserved water by catching water in pails while waiting for the hot water to arrive.  Used reusable bags when shopping.

All veggie matter got composted.

5.  Preparation and Storage: Our local fabric store had 50% off on all notions, so I stocked up on cheese cloth, sewing machine needles and thread.

Bought several lbs of various types of dried beans.  Wheat and oat bran.   And my order of clearjel arrived.  I should now have lots enough to making pie fillings and pressure can soups this fall.

Bought four cases of jars; on sale combined with coupons they were a pretty good price.   Also bought some replacement lids since those were on sale too.

With the three storms brewing in the Atlantic and Gulf, Dave decided it was time to refresh my memory and teach our son how to start the camp stove.  We’re not so far inland that a big storm couldn’t knock out power, so this was a good time to do this.

6.  Build Community Food Systems: I mentioned in a previous update that I had volunteered to teach a new friend to can and we’re getting together this week to can some pears she picked from her father’s trees.

Bought eggs from our egg lady and raw milk from a local farm.

7.  Eat the Food: I cook most of our meals from scratch, so the food definitely gets eaten.   This week we ate a lot of stir fry type dishes in an effort to use up all the little bits of leftover veggies from the CSA.

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Independence Days Update – Jul 20th to Aug 2nd

Posted by supermom on August 3, 2009

It seems like the only thing I have the time or inclination to post lately are these Independence Days updates.   And even then, this update is for the past two weeks, since I didn’t get around to posting last week.

For Sharon Astyk’s latest post… Independence Days Update: A Day On, A Day Off.  Make sure to check the comments section for even more updates.

1.  Plant something: Potted up seven more strawberry shoots.

Purchased some small herb plants at the farmers’ market and will get those into larger pots this week.

2.  Harvest something: Nothing from the garden.

Picked up the fruit and veggies from our CSA.  Bought Georgia peaches from farmers’ market

3.  Preserve something: Corn relish, canned chicken breasts, canned peaches

4.  Reduce waste: Dave made our regular trip to drop off the recycling.

I’ve forgotten to mention this in previous posts, but we continue to use reusable bags for any shopping we do whether its at the grocery store or the farmers’ market.

Used water from canning to water plants.   We also save the water when we’re waiting for the hot water to come when we shower or fill the sink for dishes and use that to water plants as well.

All veggie matter got composted.

We purchased a new set of sheets for our bed, since the fitted sheet had worn so thin it kept tearing and repairing the tears was no longer lasting more than a day.  So I’m cutting the good parts of the old fitted sheet into several 17″ squares and after hemming, they’ll make really nice, soft hankies.   The top sheet and pillowcases are now stored with the rest of the extra linens.

5.  Preparation and Storage: Purchased good quality spade.

Found two old matching oil lamps at a farmers’ market/flea market… for lighting should power go out.  They need a good cleaning, but they are good sturdy glass.

Bought more canning jars and extra lids.

Stopped off a Costco on way back from a farmers’ market on Saturday and picked up sugar, olive oil, coffee and dried cranberries.

6.  Build Community Food Systems: Supported local farmers’ markets.

I put up an ad on Freecycle asking for canning jars and the lady who responded offered to drop off some jars she’d been given.  We got to talking and she mentioned that she’d like to learn to can, so I offered to teach her.  We’re going to be getting together the next time I get enough from the farmers’ market to can something.  And then again in the fall, once it cools off, we’ll get together again so I can show her how to use the pressure canner for canning soups and stews, etc.

7.  Eat the Food: I cook most of our meals from scratch, so the food definitely gets eaten.  This is some of what I made over the last two weeks:

Potato puffs from lefover mashed potatoes and fried chicken tenders (I cut these off of the chicken breasts before I canned them.)

Pasta with Pesto.  I’d never made pesto before, but we’ve got a basil plant that was getting tall and starting to flower and needed to be cut back more than just the little handfuls that I have been taking, so I decided to give it a try.  And the pesto tasted great, what I didn’t like was the after taste that last all evening long.  Oh well, not all culinary experiments work out.

I had a bit of corn relish left after filling jars.  That got put in a bowl in the fridge and I’ve been using it in toasted cheddar cheese sandwiches.

Yellow beans from our CSA as a side dish one night.

For snacks, we ate the melons from our CSA.  They were so sweet and clean tasting.  Melons bought at the grocery store simply can’t compare.

Used the sauerkraut that didn’t get canned to top off hot dogs and hamburgers.

Fried up zucchini with onions (both from CSA) as a side dish.

Made Peach Kuchen with the peaches that were too bruised to can and the cream I skimmed from our raw milk.

There was more, of course, that I’m not remembering right now.  I guess that’s what happens when you wait two weeks to do an update.

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