Sunday, June 28, 2009

Raised bed update

Update on the 3 foot deep raised bed that was layered with soil, bunny poop, ground egg shells, phosphorus, wood ash, and green matter. San Marzano Tomato plants have really taken off growing to 16". In light of this I replaced the stakes with an over head trellis system that DH built out of scraps. Not pictured is a white plastic corrugated panel placed behind the bed to reflect light. So far no issues with insects of mildew.
Funny I didn't notice my tighty whities or DH work socks hanging on the line when I snapped the pic.

So far so good on this raised bed which was layered like the previous one picture but has had a year to compost (huge worm population). Along the white PVC trellis is San Marzano Tomatoes which also have shot up to 14", curious that it wasn't more since the growing medium should be more advanced in nutrients. In the middle is Brussels Sprouts almost 20" tall. Foreground is Celery almost a foot tall and as you can see bushy. Hard to see the Marigolds among everything. No problems with weeds since this bed is soo densely planted. No problems with insects or mildew.

Check out the plastic birdbath I scored curb shopping ... can you see the cracks ? Gotta love clear packing tape.

It haven't canned up a thing not even Strawberries. We have only been harvesting a small amount from under the Apple trees and one of the Peach trees but not enough to preserve. After almost 8 years my primary bed has called it quits. Can't really complain as the average life of a strawberry bed is 5 years. Differently got my money's worth from the original 4 plants I bought. After the Peach harvest I'll prep for a future Strawberry bed under the Peach tree closest to the greenhouse. In the mean time I have been transplanting new Strawberries seedlings as I find them to a bed out in the front yard. We still have about a dozen pints of Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam that I can up last year to help tide us over until next June.

Can't say the same about the stewed whole tomatoes that I canned last year (16 qts.) and the year before that. All total we ate 28 quarts. Having these on the pantry shelf is allot like having fresh eggs in the ice box. With both you can conjure up a good meal.

Haven't had a chance to take inventory of either the home canned goods or our commercial stock, but per my DS who was home from Houston we had only one can of purred pumpkin left after I made him two pies. DD #3 also mentioned that we were out of Green Tomato Mincemeat pie filling, her favorite. She left me a note on the school calendar to remind me to spare green toms and barter for raisins so we could can up a few quarts.

Update on UPC: Since the garden has been producing green salad fixings and we aren't as home bound now (cabin fever makes you eat!) we have been staying closer to my goal of $100 a month on groceries. It will become more diffacult as our stash of commerical goods dindle since the majority of that food was purcased in 2006 or before our current economic recession.

Why oh why didn't I buy 3 cases of pumpkin pie filling instead of 2?

~~ pelenaka ~~

Monday, June 8, 2009


Last Sunday DH & I were alone as our daughters attended a church sponsored youth event at the Islamic Center in Rochester. So after having coffee & dessert in the fellowship hall (OMG do Presbyterian love to eat) we went browsing at a flea market in search of weather tight salt & pepper shakers for the patio/outdoor kitchen. Then we hit a yard sale on the way home where we were introduced to an alternative (read foolish) way of thinking.
There was a couple out on their front lawn having a hugely discounted sale . Items like televisions, a stereo, & two rifles which got DH's attention. Long story short the guy was talking about how he wasn't gonna part with the rifles in light of our country's past economic climate (raise eyebrow/rub chin/ponder thoughtfully, did I miss the newsflash?) but then reconsidered since things had picked up in the last 3 months. Then he muttered a punchline about not needing to protect his can goods which only he thought was very funny.
I asked him if he had ever been laid off.
No, he was in public service.
I kid you not those were the words that he used.
I glanced over at DH who was at the same time glancing back at me. Not really sure what I answered back to this. I mean this guy really gave me pause. I was busy thinking to myself of all the occupations that aren't prone to cutbacks. Brain surgeon most nursing positions. Still it happens except maybe to this guy (per him).
Then I remembered when I was 19 & got laid off. How it took me 5 weeks of job hunting before I finally got a job in one of the lowest paying nursing homes in Rochester. Then another 6 weeks of living on various friend's couch/living room floors with my DD#1 who was 18 mos. old until I could scrap together rent & deposit for a studio apartment.
So besides sparking a trip down memory lane this guy's remark got me to thinking about how hard it is to recover from a period of unemployment. Back in '82 I would have to say that it took me about six or eight mos. to recover. Back then I didn't own a car just a bus pass. Rent was $200 in the Maplewood section. My sitter cost me $30 & an apartment cleaning every week.
Now? I shutter to think about it. Yet doesn't this fear guides my thinking in everything I do?

Count the tomato stakes.
One. Two. Three. Four ... twelve total. Ya, I know don't plant your seedlings that close (6")together. Well if i was gonna follow that rule then I'd also have t follow the rule about having @ least 6 hours of direct sunlight which is physically impossible due to a neighbors 100 y.o. Maple tree shading my backyard. So I settle for 3 hours & an almost 3' deep raised bed that has been layered with bunny poop, green matter, ground egg shells, wood ash, & top soil.
San Marzano seedlings were planted deep with only the top 2" showing on 6/1.
It's now the 8th & there almost 6 inches tall & very healthy.
If I had to rebuilt my raised beds again I would make them all 3 feet tall. Easy to weed.

I have extremely (unrealistically) high hopes for this bed. We built this bed last Summer along with a cold frame to the left and layered both in the same manner as the other one. This bed has had a full Autumn & Winter to breakdown into compost with the help of like a million worms. So far the 4 San Marzano tomato seedlings have grown 5", the 6 Brussels Sprouts (center) have shot up 4" & doubled in size, and the 12 celery seedlings (foreground) has also doubled in size to 8" tall. Other than sprinkling a pinch of phosphorus in each planting whole all I have done water (rain) on an almost daily basis. I need to plant in more marigolds before the bugs arrive.

If I selectively harvest the celery stalk by stalk will it continue to grow thereby giving me twice the harvest? Need to grow enough to dehydrate for Winter soup & provide for Summer eating.

~~ pelenaka ~~

Friday, June 5, 2009

piece a meal

This is my outdoor coffee table made by my DD#2 using a metal frame bought @ an antique shop in Leroy, New York (Orginal home of Jell-O) for 50¢, some lathe taken off the kitchen ceiling 9 years ago, screws from DH hell box, and black paint.

Viola, who needs a fancy store bought table to be urban chic? Thank you my daughter. Now to recover those cushions bought curb shopping ...

~~ pelenaka ~~

P.S. this patio set has been a few years in the making as the glider was an end of season clearence purchase, the chairs from a tag sale, & as a wrote the cushions bouhgt curb shopping. In the evening when DH comes home we take a few minutes to sit out under the peach trees & reconnect. The table also serves as a place to sort & fold clothes that have just come off the line.