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Fall planting

Thankfully there is still plenty of time to get some fall plantings in!

Youngest and I just planted more spinach (giant noble) and carrots (Dante’s).

This is the first time we’ve ever planted for fall… hopefully it’ll pan out.

Have any of you ever done fall plantings?

Did you like your rate of return?

So far we do have green beans gearing up to grow… I can’t wait!!

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Don’t sit down…

Tonight after working at my full time job, I came home to pick jalapeños and poblanos, tomatoes and herbs. Vacuum packed the peppers, put the herbs in the dehydrator, and made 36 breakfast sammiches.

How did I manage this? I didn’t sit down.

Off of work, hauling kids to the orthodontist, picking the other up from day care, running to the post office, and picking up prescriptions from CVS… still came home to do do all the usual chores.

Don’t sit down. Once your ass hits that comfy couch it’s over.

No motivational speech or inspiration will motivate you once you sit down. Keep moving.

And live simple life

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In God We Trust… All Others Pay Cash

A delightful theory for your local garage sales, flea markets, and life in general. There was a day not so long ago when cash was King. Now we lug around these plastic devices of debt wherever we go. Visa, MasterCard, Discover, Chase the list goes on and on…

Looking back I don’t ever recall my grandfather having a credit or debit card. With the long ago theory of “if I don’t have the cash for it, I simply don’t need it.”

By God we need everything now. That new air fryer, new flooring, that racy new car, shoes, clothes, bags, jewelry. It’s like Willy Wonka’s factory of greed.

Truth be told it’s because we are all misfit brats. We see it, we want it, and we want it NOW!

Do we not remember having a sense of pride from saving our quarters, an odd birthday dollar to purchase that prized item? Those days are long forgotten because everything is so expensive we can’t save for it.. it’d take too long. AND WE NEED IT NOW! When in truth if we waited even a month without the item we may find that we really don’t need it, and realize it was only a want.

Whether that want was to compete with Jenny up the block, to keep your kids in the cool scene, or whatever; maybe we should all give this a go, and wait a month before the purchase. Let’s see what happens…

You want to reduce your debt, but don’t want to deny yourself, your kids, your spouse those things they want. Buckle up cupcake hard times are coming.

Back in the 1920s greed and over spending brought us to the Depression. History repeats itself and I think in our lifetime we will see something similar. Jobless, homeless, destitute and desperate business owners closing their shops…. oh wait. We’ve begun that slippery slope in 2020 with the pandemic. Oh what a web we weave!

In short. Treat life like a garage sale. Pay cash and accept cash. It’s how you keep your debt simple.

Live a simple life.

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A Simple Supper

Every weeks menu is carefully planned on Thursday. It’s the best day to evaluate what is still left as far as vegetables and other odds and ends in the kitchen.

We try very hard to not repeat meals from week to week, and try at least one new meal every few weeks. We try to use as much of the pork that we have from last falls hog, but also incorporate sustainably raised fish, and chicken. Soon it will be our own chicken we will be eating and it’s an exciting time.

The other night we made chicken Parmesan meatballs with homemade sauce made from last summer’s tomato haul. Pierogies and a simple salad from the garden.

Chicken meatballs cooked in cast iron at 400 degrees in the oven.
Homemade sauce made from Grandma Ottie’s recipe minus the cigarette ashes and red wine
A simple salad with lettuce from the garden, broccoli, cucumber, green onion, nastrium for visual effect and a nice peppery flavor.

It was an easy meal to whip up with youngest helping. He took care of the salad, and assisted with the meatball making. When my hands were a sticky mess from incorporating the egg, parsley and bread crumbs to the ground chicken he was able to add more bread crumbs when needed. He’s a big help in the kitchen and at nine is now capable of handling a knife.

The sauce is one jar of Roma tomatoes, two cans of tomato paste, fresh basil, dill, Italian seasoning, oregano, and a fistful of garlic cloves. Simmered on the stovetop, and blended with a handheld immersion blender I love this sauce! It brings back memories of Grandma Ottie’s cooking lessons when I was young. To my knowledge no one else was taught this recipe. This little Polish lady sure could make some sauce! It’s herby, and garlicky and tomatoey an explosion of flavor to say the least!

So, when the week stresses you out and you need to unwind keep it simple with a simple meal. There’s no shame in spaghetti dinner!

Breathe, and remember to live a simple life.

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The battle with tomatoes

The weather has not been forgiving lately… rain, rain, and more rain. Temps have fallen to the 70s, and although humid it’s not great tomato weather.

The other day I noticed the dreaded early blight or septoria leaf blighting the tomato plants. For those of you unfamiliar with this menace to the garden you’ll be able to identify it easily. You’ll notice yellowing leaves towards the bottom of the plant. The leaves themselves are dotted in a blackish gray.

The menace of the garden… early blight

Early blight happens when spores are thrown up by splashing rain. This is a fungal spore that is always present in soil. When it is wet and cool the spores thrive.

Starting at the bottom the early blight will move upwards damaging leaves and the tomatoes themselves.

To combat this menace I quickly got out my garden shears and began removing the lower non fruit bearing leaves and branches. By doing this you remove any leaves that could get splashed by rain, and give the plant a chance to dry up and fight this menace.

After using my garden shears on the removal of diseases leaves I wash them with rubbing alcohol. I believe that the cleaning will keep me from distributing the fungal spores to any other plant in the garden.

Hopefully my crop of tomatoes will survive and produce many jars of salsa and spaghetti sauce for the cold months ahead.

When Mother Nature gives you cool weather and rain, and produces early blight, and more work for you… remember to live a simple life.

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Typical Tuesday Night…

Came hone from work and checked in the animals. We now have three ducklings!! After chores of fresh water for everyone it was feeding time!

Once inside we made a batch of mayonnaise, and a small batch of strawberry freezer jam.

Now for supper and laundry!

No matter the number of chores and daily work… Remember to live a simple life!

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Storing Herbs

There are many different ways to store fresh herbs from your garden from drying to freezing. Using these various methods allows you to have fresh herbs the whole year through. It’s and easy task for any method I’ll show you how!!

DRYING…

Drying herbs has been my go to method for years. All you need is paper towel and an air tight container. Easy enough right? Some people probably have a dehydrator and that would speed up the process, but what’s the fun in that? I’ve heard of people using their air fryer, but the herbs get blown all over…

I had an ancient dehydrator that last year nearly burnt the joint down. Whenever I get around to replacing it I plan on getting the Cabella’s ten tray dehydrator. My folks have one and love it, and it’s under 200$ so that wouldn’t really break the bank after a month of saving….

For drying herbs I simply harvest from the garden, wash, and blot dry on paper towels. From there I get fresh dry paper towels and fold the herbs within and place in a safe place to dry. I use the top of my microwave for safe keeping,, but you’ll find your spot.

You can repeat blotting dry until the herbs aren’t dripping wet. You don’t want mold to develop. So repeat as necessary!

Check back on your safely stored herbs weekly to make sure mold hasn’t developed and that they are drying nicely.

How do you know they are dry? Herbs should have a definitive crunch to them. They should not be “chewy” or bendable. They should most definitely crunch between your fingers. If they’re not ready, or if you’re in doubt simply leave them another couple of days and check them again.

When dry and crunchy you are ready to store in an air tight container.

I prefer to use jelly sized mason jars for storage.

FREEZING

Freezing is definitely the closest to fresh from the garden in my opinion. I follow the same process as drying by washing the herbs of choice and blotting them on a paper towel.

I wash and throw the herbs on a sheet pan until I’m ready to blot dry…
Basil ready to freeze for fresh pesto this winter

When I’ve blotted the leaves a couple of times to ensure they are dry I place them in a ziplock bag. Make sure to get the most air out as possible as air leads to freezer burn, and you don’t want to ruin your precious herbs with that!

Once stuffed into the ziplock I make sure to label the bag. Usually with the name of the herb and the date I threw them in the freezer. The date helps me rotate through my stock pile to be sure to use the oldest first.

Future pesto

And there you have it folks! Two methods that I use to store fresh herbs from the garden. I usually analyze what herbs I need or want dried for different applications. Dried works in those lovely winter stews just as well and frozen. So it’s really up to you and whatever suits your needs.

Remember whichever method you use… live a simple life!

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To Mulch, or not to mulch… THAT is the question.

For the many, many years that I have been gardening I’ve tried many varieties of weed control. Finally this year I may have the answer to the age old question to mulch, or not to mulch. I say mulch! There are many reasons why; that we will explore in this blog post.

First off let me start off by telling you in my early gardening years I over gardened. By this I mean in all honesty I bit off more than I could chew, and there was NO way one person alone could have kept up with that garden. At least not while working a full time job! It was ridiculous! A never ending battle pulling weeds, and buying into a garden gimmick hand tiller that never worked well enough for me. Have I mentioned that I am a dreamer, and think that I am the original Superwoman? LOL

So a few years into gardening I heard about using newspaper to control the weed population. It may work for some people, but for me it was a complete mess. It must have been non-stop gale force winds all season it seemed. I’d come home after a twelve hour shift to find newspapers all over the yard, in the tree line, and anywhere you could think that a newspaper would like to travel to.

the new york times newspaper
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One year I used grass clippings as mulch. Dumbest idea ever when you realize a little too late that your yard is infested with dandelions which you have now introduced to your freshly tilled garden. As you can imagine I actually thought about trying to make dandelion wine, jam, and whatever else you could make with a full crop of these yellow bastards.

shallow focus of clear hourglass
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Fast forward almost twenty years…

Last year we salvaged the landscaping mulch when we switched over to rock. Taking that mulch into the garden worked well except it was a dark mulch, and tended to cook the younger plants in the beginning of the season, but if you water it enough when it’s cool in the mornings it seemed to help. As the plants grew this mulch worked surprisingly well. Sure there were weeds here and there where I didn’t put mulch thick enough, but for the most part I was super happy with the mulch. I was able to spend more time harvesting and preparing our veggies.

white rabbit in brown wooden box
Photo by Elijah O’Donnell on Pexels.com

This year is a new mulch and so far I am very happy with it. I purchased about 8 bales of pine shavings from the local co-op, and have been using that as mulch. Mulching with this material has shocked me in so many ways! First of all unlike it’s cousin the landscaping mulch, this is lighter in color and isn’t cooking the plants. Second it is maintaining moisture in the soil very well even in this sweltering heat we’ve been having. Third, if it’s thick enough it does cut back on weeds, and if there are any determined bogies I just plop more shavings on top of the problem area, and presto. Smothered weeds.

The garden this year is full with the companion planting, but it also looks nice and neat with the mulch that we used. While it’s not as cheap as recycled mulch the pine shavings are not too expensive. I think in total we probably have 50 dollars in pine shavings. The mulch from the store would have costed probably double in price. The saving grace of mulching your garden is time saved from back aching weeding and hoeing.

So, I say mulch! And keep living that simple life!!!

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News from the garden

Live a simple life

It’s so exciting to see the yellow flowers popping up on the tomatoes, the jalapeños and pablanos growing already. I could go on and on… so I will.

The corn is coming along nicely surrounded by cucumbers and marigolds.

The garlic is reaching for the sky and just barely starting to yellow at the tips. Their neighbors the carrots seem to be doing well. Root veggies are never my favorite to grow because you can’t see the fruits of your labor.

Cantaloupe is making its way to the fence slowly but surely. Lettuce is beginning to take shape of lettuce rather than mystery weeds.

The sunflowers, oh the sunflowers!! They are almost knee high already! Their companion the provider green beans didn’t survive the heavy rains we had the day after planting.

The luffa or louffa guard plants are getting bigger. As you know I was very impatient on their sprouting, and am happy to finally see some development.

The trash can method potatoes are doing well, and hopefully producing a ton of red and Yukon potatoes!!

The butterfly flower patch has expanded to include two rose bushes and two butterfly plants. They are surrounded with sprouts of sweet peas, and other wild flowers and zinnias. I’m excited for some lovely bouquets from them all!

All in all it’s been a good start to the season. We only lost the green beans, one tomato plant to a bunny, the cucumbers and watermelon that didn’t sprout after the heavy rains; pretty sure I can call it a win so far.

Onion sets and broccoli seeds have been purchased for fall planting. I plan on planting garlic harvested from this years crop in the fall. There is also a reserve of carrots and lettuce seeds for the coming fall months.

This year will be the first year that I really made an effort to grow heirloom varieties of everything as well as an attempt at fall planting. It’s also the first year for companion planting.

Oh! I forgot about the herbs!!! Basil is bushing out nicely after the first cutting. Cilantro is emerging thick in their pot. Mint is contained in containers so it doesn’t overrun the garden. All in all I’m very pleased with everything.

So that’s the news from the garden! Next blog will be about mulching your garden, and yes pictures will be included LOL

Enjoy the lovely weather we are having, and remember… live simple.

Enjoy the fruits of your labor