Saturday, January 15, 2011

Getting Ready

Preparing to plant.  Ahhhhhh.  It lifts my spirit to set my mind on what I will be growing in the garden.  The planning and preparations are part of the enjoyment for me.  

I'm expanding my container garden this year as part of my 2011 plan which is growing fewer kinds of veggies in my beds, but more of each kind.  The beds will supply our summer feasts as well as stocking the pantry.  The container garden will be more of a kitchen garden with a little of this and a little of that.  Mostly supplying fresh salads every day.

I've found a lovely (new to me) Asian bunching onion:
#W468 BUNCHING CRIMSON FOREST (heirloom) - $1.25

HEIRLOOM Another bunching onion but this one has green tops and a red bulb. Both flavorful and colorful. 400 seeds

None of the purple sprouting broccoli I've tred to grow in the previous years have given me good results.  This is yet another type and will be in my container garden:

#W247 EARLY PURPLE SPROUTING BROC (35 days) - $0.95

This purple version of Raab is popular in the North. An alternative way to grow it is to plant in mid-summer, over-winter it and then get two months of delicious cuttings the following spring. High in vitamins with a tangy flavor. 100 seeds

One of the problems I had with gardening on the deck was the lack of pollination.  Very important to attract the bees.  I'm going to see how the scarlett runner beans will do in containers.  They will not only attract bees, but humming birds and butterflies!

There are others, but I thought I would introduce you to these two that seem so unique and interesting.  I can't wait to grow them.  Tess has found some awesome veggies suited to container gardening that I have also ordered.  One of which is a salad greens mix that will do wonderfully in the bottom box of my window box unit.  I will continue to grow the French Breakfast radish that we love for it's beauty and mild flavor.  They make tasty little sandwiches (thinly sliced radish sauted in butter) and contribute nicely to a tossed salad. 

I'm going to add the parsley root and some carrots to the window boxes.  The bunching onions will also grow in this garden.  Now, I like to have the cherry or grape type tomatoes for the salads so we will have a pot of one tomato plant on the deck for the salads.

I've begun my medicinal garden.  White sage, horehound, chamomile.  I'm going to try and incorporate these into my old flower bed.  I've got garden sage in a large pot now.  Thyme, hyssop and lemon balm are already in the flower bed and catnip pops up throughout.

Eat the Weeds

I've found a very entertaining and informative youtube channel.  Husband and I have decided that we will be adding these to our salads this year.  I hope you enjoy.  Check out his website too.

Also, look up his purslane video.  He suggests transplanting them from the wayside to home.  Do not eat from plants taken from roadsides, until the next year in case of toxins.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Where It All Began

When we first began our journey, it was without most of the knowledge we have now, on the subject of self sufficiency, or getting off the grid.  We knew about the “New Shelter” magazine which was the forerunner to Mother Earth News.

We found ourselves, in the 80s,  being  homeowners  and on a tight budget.  No room for error here.  I became a stay at home Mom with the birth of our first son.  Now we were living on  a smaller income  and had another child to think of.  We decided that it would help to begin a garden. 
Our house had a small greenhouse attached to the east side of the house and it faced south.  I began to putter in there, starting seeds and reading up on some  Rodale  Organic Gardening books in the library.  I don’t know, something just clicked I suppose and I became a huge fan.  I don’t even remember which book impacted me so, but I guarantee that any book you can get your hands on from them will enlighten and enrich you.  And your dirt too ;)
There are many reasons why we should grow our own food, cut our monthly expenses, do more things for ourselves and get out of debt.  But you have to agree with me that the future of our economic situation has a BIG question mark beside it.  Why gamble with your future?  Do you have even a small piece of land?  Do you have a flower bed you can turn into an herb garden or a veggie bed?  It starts somewhere.  Creating a plan would be a good first step.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy 2011

I've been busy.  Busy with work, busy with home repairs, busy re-evaluating our plan of self sufficiency, and busy with learning.  I suppose the start of a new year is appropriate for this type of post.

I've chosen to delete my other blog.  Since we've made changes, I thought a fresh blog start was appropriate.

We had been looking for land where we could build a cabin and small homestead for our retirement years.  We don't have enough land where we live now to have goats.  This is a big issue for us.  We found that it is almost impossible to get a loan for land.  The banks all want collateral even though we have exellent credit.  So they want us to take a home equity loan.

The economy has taken such a hit that we are afraid now to put our home on the line.  Who knows what will happen and we could lose what we have.  So, we decided to pay off the car before we look at any more land to be completely out of debt.  We've also come to the conclusion that we will probably have to sell our house before we can buy  land anyhow.  It would have been nice to build the homestead slowly, also using it as a place to vacation until we are ready to make the actual move.  While we are here, we will continue to work towards self sufficiency in any way we are able.

Another change is in the area of home grown veggies and food storage.  With space at a minimum, we're looking at reducing the number of different veggies we will grow, allowing for quantity of a few kinds.  I began to follow a web site which teaches how to dehydrate, store and use your food pantry.  It has been a wonderful experience.  I've purchased one and began to dehydrate for food storage.  I'll do a detailed post soon on this.

We've been researching solar energy panels in our area and planning what sort of set up we will most efficiently be able to use for our location.  Here in Western Pennsylvania, we don't have a lot of hot sunny days.  We will use our system and still need to be on the grid as back up.  Not a problem, we will be happy doing what we're able to do.

We haven't come to a firm decision on where to put the sun room but waiting rather than putting it in just anywhere has been fortunate for us, as we have learned more about how to use it,  as well as how we want our house to look.  It will be in the front part of our home which is facing south.

Now, most recently on our list is the making of a medicinal herb garden.  I've always wanted to do this and people who really know me, are aware of my continued interest in herbs.  It is nothing new.

I've joined a website online which is an educational organization that demonstrates how to make folk style remedies for home use.  The depth of learning available is far beyond this, but this is where we are beginning this adventure.  Scoping out what we can harvest in the wild first, and planting what we need here in the garden.  This is another consideration as we plan our 2011 garden.  Space is always an issue.  What I have concluded though, is we can grow a number of herbs in containers and when we have the sun room built, many of them can live in there.

These are a few topics I will be posting about in the days to come.  I pray we'll all have a healthy, prosperous, and blessed 2011.