Saturday, February 25, 2012

Planning, Dreaming and Learning From Eliot

A big part of the fun of growing one's own food is the planning. Gardeners love to studying seed catalogues, plan, modify and change their orders numerous times over the winter season. Then all of a sudden we realize it's almost time to start the seeds indoors and we feel the rush of hurry up and wait! I am not above this condition. In fact, last night at work, I realized my seed planning was far from complete. It hit me suddenly...How many pea plants will I need to fill 48 pint jars? How many tomato plants will we need to fill 64 pint jars? How many tomato plants will fit a 4'X4' bed? How about the peppers? I've had more success in the past  with square foot gardening than with rows, and it's proven you can increase your yields using square foot spacing. So, where I can, that's what I'll be using. I have to try and produce as much food as I can for 7 people, remember. Now, I know that every season my yields will increase as I invest more time, work and TLC into the soil. That first season, we'll be moving part way through the growing season, and thereby lose a big part of growing time. There's not much that can be done about that.

But I have an ever-growing list of projects to keep me busy, and there will be vegetables that will grow in under 60 days. Peas, lettuce, radishes, baby carrots, baby spinach, cucumbers, and beets. Thanks to Eliot Coleman, I've been learning a ton about  season extension. That will make a big difference. I will be planning and implementing a green manure rotation plan as well. There will be new beds to locate and develop, the garden shed to fix up and a spring on the property I'd like to develop as well. I'll need to find a water testing lab for that, as well as cast an eye at potential flow. I'm going to be building on the current water catchment system, and I'd like to improve the current composting system. There are a few basics in place, they really just need some attention to flourish.

But for right now, this is the season of research, education and planning. I've been learning about season extension, organic gardening, market gardens, food preservation and nitrogen. Let's not forget the many facets of companion gardening, crop rotation, organic pest control and increasing one's self sufficiency. I'd like to learn more about ram pumps, water storage and solar power on a small scale.

The hard part is taking it slow.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Accomplishments and Goals

This past weekend was a holiday for us here in Ontario (Canada), but there was no resting here! We had a bit of a crisis at the high school that needed to be dealt with right away, and then there's been work. In short, no de-cluttering was done, no advances made on the home-front. I wouldn't say I lazed around, but I'm not happy with what I did not accomplish. On the Independence Days front, there's not a lot to report.
In the "Plant Something" category: Nothing got planted this past week.
"Harvest Something": Nothing here either
"Preserve Something": Sigh. Nothing.
"Waste Not": I did divert another 2L pop bottle from the recycling bin. Washed it out, sanitized it and fill it with water after dating the bottle. For those new to the blog, I do this so that when the power goes out, or the city shuts off our water so they can flush the lines, we'll still have water with which to cook or drink.
"Eat the Food": We've been researching ways to utilize more dried and stored foods, as well as trying out a couple of new-to-us recipes. This isn't always easy with a picky eater in the house. We've found two this week that were a success.
"Skill Up": We've talked this week about what skills the wife and I would like to learn or build on. I added to my list, and re-visited the idea of growing wheat up north.

On a positive note, the pea shoots are still doing great. No sign of the damping off disease that's plagued us before. The plants range from 2" to 4". I'm also thrilled to report that our chives have come back!

Goals this week: For me, I need to get back into the bedrooms and get back to de-cluttering. This should be easier since I'll be on the closing shift at work. Much easier to de-clutter without kids underfoot. I also want to make bread every day this week and freeze what we don't eat right away. I'd love to share the bread with the Food Bank, but I need to take care of us first. I'm thinking about next week's menu with thoughts to making meals ahead and freezing them, but that's still under development. I have some more worn out clothes that need to be cut into cloth, to be added to the rag-rug bin.
Wife says she wants to attack the table again and regain control over the chaos there. To that end, she's hunting Rubbermaid bins to organize and store.

So that's it for us today. What goals have you set for yourselves this week?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Worst Job On The Honey-Do List

Ever seen the commercial for CLR where the poor guy has to stand with a bowl of the stuff under his shower head? I don't want to do that, but I like my water pressure, and I'm not a huge fan of CLR anyway. If you're like me, read on for a MUCH easier way of cleaning our shower heads!

Pour 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 cup vinegar into a strong, sandwich sized plastic bag and tie it onto and over your shower head. Let the bubbling brew hang there for over an hour. Remove the bag, and turn on the shower to rinse. Hard water build up will be gone and your shower head will sparkle again.

*From "Baking soda: Over 500 fabulous, fun and Frugal Uses You've Probably Never Thought Of" by Vicki Lansky