Thursday, June 26, 2008

Independence Challenge - Week 9

It's been a very busy and frustrating week that took me away from home a lot, but we still got a lot done.

Planted: More cabbage and broccoli transplants.

Harvested: From our yard: Beets, carrots, green onions, zucchini, herbs. Black raspberries (5 lb.) that were free for the picking from a Freecycle posting. Cherries from Weaver's U-pick orchard: 5lb. of Ranier fabulous yellow cherries) and 8lb. of dark sweet cherries (all $2.75/lb). We just got back from picking this afternoon, so I see some jelly and pie filling in my immediate future! Some members of the picking expedition ate more than they put in the pail. If you think her teeth are raspberry-colored, you should see her hands:

Preserved: Dried beautiful sage and tarragon from the farmer's market. Dill, parsley, spearmint, chocolate mint, and lemon thyme of my own.

Cooked: Continuing to make my own yogurt and experiment with flavors everyone will eat. DD15 now brews her own sun tea in mason jars. (The rest of us still make ours with hot water). DH is experimenting with sweet potato pie to take to a picnic. He used coconut milk instead of dairy milk, and it was fabulous. I am bringing Pickled Red Beet Eggs, made with my own beets. I am betting I will also be bringing cherry cobbler!

Prepped/Managed: Stocked a year-plus of corn starch, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt. Rumford Corn Starch now boldy reads "Non-Genetically Modified Corn." I bought extra raisins and prunes, but not sure how much we need for a year.

Bought 8' bamboo poles from the herb lady that sells them at the farmer's market; only $1 for four. Good for stakes, bean poles, trellis-making, and for framing tarps and other temporary construction. Will get more a few more sets this summer. When I live somewhere else I can let a bamboo patch spread.

Reduced/Reused/Recycled: I had found 10 berry boxes at a sale earlier this year, and intended to use them as give-away planters. I didn't get around to that, but we did just use them as... berry boxes! I am saving the for u-picking from now on. I also got a nice 5-drawer lingerie chest from the Freecycle list - perfect for a narrow space in DD11's room. Put all our phone and battery chargers on a surge protector with a switch. Cut more grass and mulched with it, hopefully leading to less watering. Wish we could have a water barrel, but we rent and cannot cut the downspout.

Systems Building: An economic justice group at our church is talking about projects, and I've urged something to do with food security. We have a long-standing food pantry that now serves more than 350 people at each monthly distribution. We are an urban church, and I am passionate about increasing food quality and choice for urban residents, which is, after all, the largest concentration of eaters in our county. I believe we will start with a tour of the city's community garden projects with a professional community garden organizer.

Planning to invite some other people to go u-picking with us next week - we can share the gas expense and stop at some nurseries and farm stands I saw today (but was out of cash). Maybe the start of a car-pool for local farm food shopping.

The little girl up the street rushed up to me the other day to tell me that something was wrong with the tomato we planted at her house. Turns out "these yellow things" were her plant blooming. She's never seen a tomato plant in action before. I took her to my yard and showed her the different flowers and explained what the bees do for them. Got her to stand still while solitary bees flew near her in the plants.

Learned: That my beet harvest could have been better with earlier thinning and more nitrogen from coffee grounds. That two young girls and I can pick $40 worth of cherries in about 10 minutes - even tho' we were slowed by stuffing sun-warm cherries into our faces at the same time.

Library: Saving my book budget for the mid-July AAUW library sale here. I am selling a bunch of homeschooling books to raise money for that.

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