Super Mom – No Cape!

One mother sharing her knowledge with others

Posts Tagged ‘Gardening’

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.

Posted in Budget Savers, Gardening | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

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.

Posted in Budget Savers, Gardening | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

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 Challenge – Update Jul 13th to Jul 19th

Posted by supermom on July 20, 2009

For Sharon Astyk’s latest post… Independence Days Update: Taking Credit Where None is Due. Make sure to check the comments section for even more updates.

1.  Plant something: Potted up another little strawberry shoot.  I noticed there are a couple more almost big enough to cut and pot… probably this week sometime.  At this rate, I may just have a full 4′X4′ strawberry patch by fall.

2.  Harvest something: Basil

Picked up the fruit and veggies from our CSA.

3.  Preserve something: Last Monday, we canned whole kernel corn and froze corn on the cob.

Then on Sunday, we canned the sauerkraut that we started three weekends ago.  It turned out great, if I do say so myself.

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

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.

5.  Preparation and Storage: We collected some fire wood for using in our fire pit.  Last week, along different streets in town, people were putting out their downed tree branches for collection.  It was a great opportunity, so we drove along and collected the larger pieces (plus some smaller ones), brought them home and then Dave sawed and split them.  When our neighbour saw what he was doing, he offered to pick up some more firewood for us the next time he makes a trip out to his in-laws.  They had a bunch of firewood in their garage and decided they didn’t want it anymore, so they dumped it way in the back of their property and told our neighbour he could have whatever he wanted of it.

6.  Build Community Food Systems: Bought eggs from local farmer where we usually get our eggs.  They should have more produce ready for sale soon.

Since we were canning sauerkraut and collecting firewood this weekend, I didn’t get anything at the farmers’ market this week.

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 week:

We’re getting an abundance of onions from our CSA so I used several of those to make two large Zwiebel Kuchen.

Grilled pork chops and scalloped potatoes and corn of the cob (from CSA)

Last night we had sausages and sauerkraut (saved some out from the sauerkraut we canned), mashed potatoes and yellow beans (from CSA)

I’m adding one more subject this week…

8.  Learn something new:  Thanks to a post by Anais from Little Homestead in the City and her directing us to a post at Market Manila called Ubad/The Core of a Banana Stock, I now know that we can eat the core of the banana trees we planted in the back yard the first spring we lived here.

I missed having banana trees, so I took the chance and planted some outside our bedroom window that faces south. We use the leaves to wrap pork roasts to make kalua pork each fall.   They freeze off each winter, but new babies grow back each spring.

And then thanks to one of the comments in the comment thread, I now know that I might just be able to save at least a couple of the banana trees so that they will fruit for us.

Mark said:

” I’m in Dallas and I enjoy the tasty, free from pesticide fruit from my bananas. Before the first frost in late November or so, just cut the top of the stem off, leaving 5 or 6 feet of trunk on the banana. I then make an enclosure from plywood around the trunk and fill the enclosure with grass clippings. This protects the stem from freezing and next year you will have bananas.”

We’ll be giving that a try later this fall and wait impatiently for spring to see if they survive and set fruit.   It would be great to pick bananas right from the tree again.

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Independence Days Challenge – Update for Jun 30 to Jul 12th

Posted by supermom on July 15, 2009

I missed posting last week’s update so this will for the past two weeks.

For Sharon Astyk’s latest post… Independence Days Update: If Summer Never Comes. Make sure to check the comments section for even more updates.

1.  Plant something: Planted seven tomato plants that I bought at a local farmers’ market.

When we lived on our acreage in Alberta, I planted dozens of tomatoes and had great crops each year.  But here in Georiga I haven’t been so lucky.  Last year, I lost my tomatoes to worms and Mockingbirds, to blossom end rot and then to blight.   I wasn’t even going to plant tomatoes this year but the old couple selling the tomato plants was so sweet and encouraging that I decided to go ahead and try again.   I bought 4 Lincoln and 3 Gurny Girl.

To try to combat the blossom end rot, I’ve placed crushed egg shells around the base of each plant.  And I’ll have to be watching carefully for any worms and get them picked off each day, several times a day.  Then once they start to fruit we’ll have to  try to construct some sort of covering to keep the birds out.   As for the blight, I’ve changed to different planting spots and also changed my watering method.  I guess we’ll just have to wait and hope they don’t get it this year.

We’ve also had to cover the gardens with garden fabric (cutting out holes for the plants) in order to keep one of the local cats from using them as a litter box.  It only seems to be the one cat and I’ve tried spraying him with water and sprinkling cayenne pepper on the gardens but those only work for a short time before he’s back.  So far the fabric has kept him out, though I did have to go out and add some more to small patches that we’d left thinking they were too small for him to bother with.  Turns out we were wrong.

I also should note that I lost two of the sweet potato slips that I planted.  I’m not sure why they died.  The other two slips are growing well and climbing up their trellises in their containers.

And I potted up two little strawberry cuttings.   In the new edition of Square Foot Gardening, he doesn’t recommend letting the strawberry shoots take root because they draw too much energy from the parent plant, but I figured if I cut those off and root them in their own little pots and then transplant them once they get well rooted, I can still grow more strawberries plants without paying for new ones.

2.  Harvest something: Several basil branches to use in recipes.

On Thursdays we picked up the produce from our CSA.  Potatoes, squash, cucumbers, onions, garlic and then just last week corn was added.  I’ve been swapping the basil for more onions, since I have basil in our garden.

On Saturday, Jul 4th, I bought  4 more large heads of cabbage and 22 lbs of tomatoes from the farmers’ market.

Then on Saturday, July 11th, I got a really good price on tomatoes, so I came home with 75 lbs to can.

3.  Preserve something: Saturday, Jul 4th, we added more shredded cabbage to the crock of sauerkraut in an attempt to correct the batch we started the week before as was turning out way too salty.  It seems to have worked, but I think it’ll be at least two weeks, maybe three before it’s ready to be canned.  If the batches turns out as good as I think it now will, we’ll have plenty of sauerkraut for ourselves and some leftover to perhaps trade or give away.

Sunday, Jul 5th,  we canned 9 quarts of tomatoes.9 quarts diced tomatoes

Friday, Jul 10th blanched and froze the corn we didn’t eat from the CSA.

Then Jul 11th after we got cleaned up from the garage sale (see below), we started canning the 75 lbs of tomatoes.  We got 7 quarts of whole tomatoes and 7 quarts of diced tomatoes canned that evening.7 whole and 7 diced

On Sunday, we canned the rest of the tomatoes and ended up with 23 pints of diced tomatoes and 3 quarts of tomato juice.diced tomatoes and juice

The juice was an after thought.  I pack my jars as full as I can get them with tomatoes so the juice overflows the jars.    Dave suggested we save that juice.   I thought I might end up with a quart to put in the fridge but when it was more than that, I decided to can it.

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

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

All veggie matter got composted.

5.  Preparation and Storage: This past Saturday, we held a yard sale.  .  We didn’t make a whole lot of money but this cleared the boxes marked “for garage sale” out of the attic to give us more room to store non-perishable just as toilet paper, tissue, etc.

And in the process, we helped out a neighbour.  When they heard we were having a garage sale, they decided to have one too.  So I just included their address in our classified ad as well as on the signs we made up to direct people to the sale.  They managed to sell a few big items to help them with their debt reduction goals.

At our sale, I also sold house plants that I grew from slips.  I’ve had luck in the past selling houseplants, but this time I only sold 5.  I may see about renting a table at the farmers’ market later this summer and see if they sell better there.

6.  Build Community Food Systems: Supported local farmers through our CSA and by purchasing from the farmers’ market.

Had some fun talking with the nurses at the dermatology office about gardening.  It was great to hear that their families are all growing gardens.

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:

Red, White and Blue potatoes (from our CSA) for supper on Jul 5th.  I had cooked them for supper on the 4th but everyone filled up on hot dogs and roasted marshmallows, so I sliced and fried them with onions for supper the next day.

Fried up the yellow and green squash with onions as a side dish.

We’ve been using the cucumbers from our CSA in turkey wraps.  These are so yummy.  Simply mix ½ c miracle whip with ¾ tsp curry powder.  Use that as a spread on tortillas.  Then layer sliced turkey, thinly sliced cucumbers and lettuce.  Roll up and enjoy.

I added some of the squash to my recipe for Creamy Shrimp Pasta.

Ate corn on the cob from our CSA and it was so good that I arranged to buy another 6 dozen which we picked up Monday.   More on that in next week’s update.

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Independence Day Challenge – Joining In

Posted by supermom on June 22, 2009

Recently I came across an interesting blog called Casaubon’s Book by Sharon Astyk.  Reading back through the archives I see that she is doing a weekly post on Mondays in which she lists what she has done during the previous week to move her family closer to food self-sufficiency, hence the title: Independence Day Challenge.  She encourages readers to join her and even though I’m starting a month and a half late, here is a list of what I’ve accomplished in the past week:

1.  Plant something:  I planted four sweet potato slips.

Our CSA had been shipped more than they needed and were giving these away.  At first, I wasn’t going to take them because I know that sweet pototoes can take over a small garden, but when I learned that they can be grown in containers with a trellis, I decided to go ahead and give that a try.

2.  Harvest something:  2 zucchinis and a handful of basil from our containers and square foot garden.  We also picked 3 gallons of blueberries from a local u-pick farm.

3.  Preserve something:  Details of what we did with the blueberries can be found here.  Also later that same day, we made and canned mustard beans from the yellow beans we received from our CSA.

Then Saturday, I bought dill, pickling cukes and green beans, (as well as potatoes and sunshine squash) from our local farmer’s market.

We made four quarts of dill pickles and canned some more pints of french cut green beans.  We have a total of 11 pints of green beans now, but if there are beans available again this week, I’ll be buying more.

4.  Reduce waste:  Dave made his weekly trip to drop off the recycling we collect during the week.

Rather than buy new lumber for an additional square foot gardening box, we bought three pieces of used lumber of varying lengths from our local HomeMart (run by Habit for Humanity.)

I added another bucket of kitchen veggie and fruit scraps and trimmings to the compost bin.

And the water used for preserving from washing fruit and veggies to water-bath canning, pressure canning and blanching all got reused to water the plants (once it cools down, of course.)

5.  Preparation and Storage:  The Gamma Lids and mylar ziplock bags I ordered arrived so we transferred the rice I’ve been getting free after coupons into one of the food grade pails we picked up for $1 each.  (One of our local WalMarts sells the buckets that their icing comes in)

6.  Build Community Food Systems:  As you can see above, we are members of a CSA and I support our local farmer’s market.  I also buy eggs and honey from local farmers.

We have two 4 X 4 square foot gardens with another in the process of being built.  And I’m experimenting with growing zucchini, mint and now, sweet potatoes in containers.

7.  Eat the Food:  I cook most of our meals from scratch, so the food definitely gets eaten.

We’ve been eating blueberries with whipped cream.

The potatoes were boiled and used for two meals.

The sunshine squash were wrapped in tinfoil with onions (from our CSA), minced garlic and butter then cooked on the bbq.

We had toasted tomato sandwiches for lunch twice on the weekend.

With supper last night, we had corn on the cob (using up last year’s before the new corn is ready to be done) and we also had some of the mustard beans made on Friday and refrigerator pickles I made the week before last.

I’d love to hear how other’s gardening and preserving is coming along,  as well as, any preparedness projects you may be working on.  Please feel free to leave a comment.

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