...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.


Saving Resources

This time of year I save more greywater from cooking and preservation.  I mostly use it to compliment our rain barrels in watering the garden.  When I use the hot water bath canner, I let the water cool down post-processing then pour it onto the garden (except the one year I pret'near killed a hydrangea and successfully knocked out my blueberry bush by watering them with some too-hot canner water into which some vinegar had seeped from a batch of pickles.   I thought the acid would be good for both of those plants since they thrive at a low pH, but the heat was too much.  Do not do this at home!)  I also save water from hard-boiled eggs--a practice that one of Ben's aunts who's an avid vegetable grower told me adds nutrients to the soil--and today I saved the water from rehydrating some dried shiitakes.  Some say these mushrooms have special powers for longevity so I thought I'd try watering my plants with their "tea."  One can save greywater by showering with a 5-gallon pail and using it to bucket-flush the toilet or for watering outside.  I've also saved water from our basement de-humidifier and used it to wash clothes, a practice we can only take advantage of in the summer, of course, when the air down there is moist.  They predict that water will be the next natural resource over which we'll see global struggles if we aren't already.  Think critically about this precious resource and consider reusing your greywater.  If nothing else, maybe you'll see your water bill go down.

So speaking of water, I've actually been enjoying the rain over the last couple of days.  Not only is it bringing life to the garden, but it's giving a certain glow and brightness to the whole landscape.  I've never been much for dreary days, but I'm appreciating them more this season as I've savored the spring more altogether.  I feel particularly in touch this year and have enjoyed the gradual growth and development of all the spring ephemerals.  What a difference a year makes in the clouded head of a still-new mother.  Last year seemed like a blur.

With this spring growth, we're seeing fruit forming for the first time on our Black Tartarian cherry tree.  When we planted the tree, a wonderful house-warming gift from my parents, in 2006 we didn't know that it required a pollinator.  After some research I made this discovery and also learned that our friends parents, who live across the alley, had a tart cherry tree in their yard.  The question was, was it within pollinating distance?  We knew it could take 4-5 years to set fruit in the first place and wondered if it would take that long to find out if it was even getting pollinated.  Looks like its worked.  Now comes the job of keeping the birds (and apparently other animals, so I've heard) away from the fruit.  I'm planning to make some "ornaments" out of the shiny used dome lids from my canning cabinet to scare them away.  Stay tuned to find out if that works.

Yesterday I planted patio pots with annuals.  I didn't buy any last year, and really missed having them.  Maybe it's just the trip to the greenhouse to pick out flowers that I missed because it reminds me of going with my dad to do this every spring.  I have to attribute any knowledge I may have of flowers to what he shared with me on those trips.  I hope he thinks of me too when he purchases his plants each spring.  I went with a metal theme this year for the pots--perhaps in an attempt to add some feng shui to the backyard.  I had some old metal sap buckets my parents dug up at an antique store, but complimented them with some faux-buckets made by putting salvaged ductwork around terra cotta pots.  Once the plants fill out no one will ever know they're not actual pots.  So I decided to put these pots together while Vera was down for her afternoon nap.  Some of the pots were quite large and I didn't want to fill them completely with soil because they'd be too heavy.  I knew I had a huge bag of styrofoam peanuts up in the garage "attic," a spacious storage area in the rafters that only Ben had visited before.  I'd left all of that climbing and hefting to him.  This time I had to retrieve the supplies myself.  I got the ladder and climbed up.  Long story short I was nearly stuck up there.  I crawled all the way up into the rafters then couldn't figure out how to get down.  I had thoughts of the worst--hearing Vera on the garage monitor wake up crying of hunger or wetness and not being able to respond because I was stuck in the rafters.  I persevered and somehow got down, but not without some minor heart palpatations.  Note to self: carry my cell phone when I make future risky attempts like this.

This week I've also spent time crafting.  I FINALLY finished a pair of green knit socks I'd been working on for at least two years.  Like my first sock knitting instructor said, "the hardest part of knitting socks is completely the second one."  No kidding.  They are very plain so I think I tired of the project and put it aside.  Next time I'll incorporate a pattern or a cable to better hold my interest.  They're wool so now I'll have to wait till winter to wear them anyhow.

I also did some mending today.  Occasionally my fix-it pile gets backed up and I just have to focus one morning on chipping away at it.  Ben had a couple pairs of holey jeans on the pile so I went at them figuring he'd need them for the long-awaited dudes camping trip this weekend (this is the trip where they sample the homebrew that by this time has already been tasted.)  My grandma once gave me a quick and dirty hand-darning lesson to use on socks, but since then I've found the darning setting on my sewing machine comes in very handy.  It's actually quite fun and much neater than hand darning in the case of jeans.  And I'm glad to breathe just a little more life into some clothes, even if they're just for use in the yard and woods.

We enjoyed our first French breakfast radishes tonight on a salad.  These were small because I'm still thinning them, but a delicious and bright addition to our nightly salad.

1 comment:

  1. MMMMM. They were delicious!! I ma so glad I got to eat those!!