...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.


On Top of It

3 cubic yds. of mulch is always more than I think when
I order it.  But we were able to put a nice 2-3 inch layer
down to help retain moisture during another
potentially hot, dry summer.
By now I'm doing my best to look at the bright side of all this rain and gloominess over the last two weeks (with more to come next week, apparently.)  The upside is that I've been forced to wait to plant vegetable seeds.  The ground's been too wet and I don't particularly want to crawl around in the rain to do so.  We've taken this opportunity to work on the careful choreography that is preparing the garden for the season.  Normally, when we have the first rush of warmth in March and the ground thaws, I'm in a tizzy to get radishes, peas, arugula, and other leafy greens seeded.  That burst of excitement is always temporarily tabled as I realize I must first spread last year's compost onto the garden then scrub out the tumbler before filling it with the winter basement compost.  Then I must procure any additional organic topsoil I need to either top off the raised beds or cover up any spread compost that's not completely broken down.

The work is done for today.

We also took advantage of the one potentially sunny day last weekend to have our biennial 3 cubic yards of bulk mulch delivered (it wasn't as sunny as originally predicted and on April 12 I was pitching mulch in 3 layers of clothing with little snowflakes falling.)  But now s eeds are started indoors and Ben even rigged up the grow lights in the garage inside of the odd bay window with a blind that's there.  We still aren't quite sure why the original owner installed this window, but the bay between the awning and the window makes a perfect spot for seedlings.  With the light on a timer, it's a pretty low-maintenance set-up thus far.

The glow from the garage reminds me of early parts from the movie "E.T."
Ben's building a new passive solar upper awning for the front of our house and our replacement recycled soda bottle outdoor rug arrived this week (the last one had a good 7-year run although with the way it was disintegrating, B would have rather gotten rid of it at least 2-3 seasons ago.)  So we're pretty much ready to roll.

It feels good to have all of that base work under our belts.  I did plant some greens yesterday in the partially shaded end of our original raised bed.  As I defined the nine rows for green stuff I tried to strike a balance between the excitement I feel at this point in the season--really craving lots of greens--and the anticipated overwhelmed sensation we'll feel in a couple of months as we deal with a bottleneck of baby lettuce, frisee, mesclun mix, and Asian greens.  I would rather err on the side of bottleneck and just plan to do a helluva lot of green juicing this spring and summer and give the surplus to friends and neighbors.

Indoor projects include sewing, a new knitting project, spring cleaning, and making homemade gummy vitamins.  V has been religiously taking her "Yummi Bears" every morning, but I recently learned that I could make my own.  I found this goofy Jell-O bean mold at a thrift store last year and after making one batch of Jell-O beans for Easter I realized why someone had discarded it (Oh yearh, P.S. I, admittedly, forgot to lightly spray the mold as indicated.)  It makes the perfect portion size for gummy vitamins.  I added Vitamin C powder--which I buy in bulk at the natural foods co-op and sometimes use as an anti-browning agent (if not plain lemon juice) when preparing canned peaches in the summer and for keeping avocado mayo and herbal oils (like basil oil) from turning drab green.  I also added probiotics and local honey.  With an unsweetened, basic juice (or homemade juice if you can) these gummy vitamins might now only be just as tasty as the store-bought kind, but probably much cheaper.  I have yet to do the math.  V likes them so that's all that matters.

At least this goofy mold is good for something.

Homemade Gummy Vitamins--no packaging waste either
Kid-tested, Mother-approved.

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