Thursday, July 10, 2008

Independence Challenge - Week 11

Planted: Acorn squash that might be might be too late, but the seeds were only 10 cents. There is a half-price sale at our favorite nursery on Friday, so I am waiting for that to fill in the other empty spaces for veggies and herbs.

I'm out of compost, so I tried fish emulsion fertilizer for the first time today. Wow, does that stink! And it made ME stink. I hope it works. My yard smells like a fish shop dumpster.

Last week's manual zucchini pollinating seems to have worked, and I will have new zukes soon. But it worries me that the bees were not numerous enough to pollinate. I am checking the other cucurbits to see if they need help. I see baby eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes. The Bee Balm out front is buzzing - I need to plant that closer to the veggie patch.

Harvested: The first cherry tomatoes! All of the yellow onions, which were smaller than I expected. DD11 pulled more of her carrots (above). Picked cherries, at Ontelaunee Orchards this time, 4 lbs of sour cherries and 10 lbs of sweet. Picked a lot of basil for pesto. Cut yarrow.

Preserved: Froze pesto cubes. Started yarrow in olive oil to make salve. Pitted and froze sour cherries to make jelly later.

Cooked: DH made Sausage Pie (like quiche with a butch name) for dinner, and a ham quiche. Leftovers were great the next morning. Made Cherry Custard Pie, which we have eaten before, but not made for ourselves. I like it better than the usual two-crust pie. We seem to be in a Pie Phase.

Managed: Stocked canning jars, cinnamon, pinto beans, cooking oil, salt, Q-tips, shampoo, borax. An iced tea spill in the kitchen led me to move and reorganize my temporary reserve pile, when I saw how easily it could have been ruined. DH sounded interested in putting together a bucket system. The geekiness of color-coded gamma lids and oxygen absorbers appealed to him. For now, everything is in plastic tubs under the table.

Made a food storage goal list for 3 months, adapted from Sharon's list. I want to have a year eventually, but it is more manageable to start with 3 months and be eating out of it. I was able to check off some items right away, which felt good. Had everyone specify three personal treats to include, which ranged from licorice to cigarettes. Included a few luxury items with long shelf life, like coffee, cigars, and liquor, as a possible future trade reserve.

Reduced, Reused, Recycled:
My mother gave me a water bath canner from her cellar. Yay! That saved me buying one. I am watching for a pressure canner at yard sales and auctions. Mom also trash-picked some large planters for me.

Got a $95 water bill shock this month. Watering the garden, I assume, since the laundering, showering, and dish-washing were at the normal level. Our house rent was raised a bit. Only 5%, but the "rising prices" excuse seems hollow, since we pay all the utilities. I SO wish we were permitted to divert the downspouts to catch rain. The front one goes right under the pavement into the storm sewer. The back one is pop-riveted to straps right down to the sidewalk, where it drains out to the alley on the pavement. What a waste. I am starting to eyeball the neighbors' guttering...

Local: The containers I planted with the girl up the street look good - baby tomatoes are showing (above). I talked to her mother, who wants to plant more next year, and asked me if I know how to can. I am going to find out if we can organize a canning class with the help of our Cooperative Extension agent.

Learned: About the medicinal uses of yarrow from herbalist Lisa Zahn, and am collecting the materials to make tinctures and salves. I need to get some grain alcohol from the liquor store.

Signed up for an internet-based course about 'Adapting in Place' in August. I am thinking of my mother's and brother's houses. Both have suburban land, but Mom is too frail to garden seriously, and Bro is terribly anti-garden about his half-acre of riding-mower grass. If things get ugly fast, farming his sunny lot would be easier than anyone else's, and at least I can have a plan for that. I don't know where we will be living in a year, but I will be better prepared to choose an adaptable residence.

Library: Naught. Still saving my pennies for the upcoming AAUW book sale.


Verde said...

Very cool update. It's really getting fun to see everyone's projects.

Can you go into more detail about the process of starting the yarrow? It grows prolifically around here and I'd like to begin learning how to make tintures.

Do you just put the leaves in a bottle of oil? Flowers?

Hausfrau said...

Hi, thanks for visiting my site! Too bad about the no rain barrel policy - have you looked into swales? They are less conspicuous than big plastic tanks (like I have), so they might fly under the radar. I don't know if they would work for you but their creation and use is detailed in Gaia's Garden.

I had to self pollinate my pumpkins too - maybe I will try the zuchinni as well. I am only getting 2 zukes a week, 2 cukes a week off of 2 plants of each of them.

MeadowLark said...

Pollinate? Me? Cripes... I thought the zucchini just magically grew. So does that mean I won't have any where the yellow flowers are?

Matriarchy said...

Verde, I am preparing a separate blog post on the yarrow process. I need to take some photos, but it should be up in a day or two, if you want to check back in.

Hausfrau, my city yard is too small for swale. I am thinking I might have to replace the lower part of the downspout, though, if it were accidentally crushed. :-)

Meadowlark, in the past, my zukes have just appeared like magic, in abundance, but not this year. I had to learn to pollinate. There are two kinds of flowers on the plant, a male and a female. The female has a baby zuke under it - a little 3" long zucchini that will only get bigger if it is pollinated, otherwise it shrivels and drops off. Mine were dropping. The male flower is on a straight, plain stem with no zuke under it. The trick: they don't always bloom at the same time, so you have to watch for them. I am not sure if I don't have enough bees, of if my plants has bad timing with its flowering. If you look inside the male flower, you will see that it has an "outie" thing in the middle, with yellow pollen on it. If you look inside the female flower, it has a cluster of thingies in the middle that form an "innie." I take a Q-tip and swab some pollen from the male flower, then I swab the pollen around inside the female flower parts. We call it Squash Sex.

MARIE said...

Beautiful! And pretty carrots, too.

LisaZ said...

Cute pic of your dd with the carrots!

I will look forward to your yarrow post. I'm thinking I may do some education posts on my herbalist blog about making tinctures, oils, salves, etc. A lot of people are wondering how to do this lately! Which is great news...

About swales, we know a couple in Minneapolis on a small city lot with a little swale through their corn bed. It's right on the side of the house so they've directed their downspout into it. The blog is I have the link to them on my blog, too.

Good work!

Lisa in MN

p.s. I made a comment on your July 3 entry, too. Maude Grieve's book is great!