June 20, 2011

Independence Days Update with some tweaks, Week of 6/20

We participate in Sharon Astyk’s Independence Days Challenge.  I’m getting the idea that Sharon won’t be posting these updates anymore.  I’m changing the format slightly.  Since these were inspired by her work, I’m still going to call it my weekly “Independence Days Update”. 

 DSC_3821This year I have more tomatoes in the garden than I’ve had in a long time.  I had planned to scale back on tomatoes this year to make room for other foods, but that wasn’t what the garden had in mind.  I originally planted 7 tomatoes of different varieties.  Then a friend gave me a Peace Vine, and I had a couple of Amish paste that volunteered.  Another tomato is coming out of my compost bin (hasn’t fruited yet, so I’m guessing it is a Brandywine), and I can’t bring myself to yank it.  This week a neighbor gave me another 2 tomato plants, this time Sweet Million.  I think that means that my count is now up to 13 plants!  That’s more tomatoes than I think I’ve ever grown just for our family!!  I’m hoping and praying that we can avoid diseases, and if we do, we might have plenty to can. 

The eggplant haven’t done a thing this year.  I’m not really sure what I’m doing wrong, but they are barely growing at all.  Perhaps they are being shaded by other plants too much?  I will talk with some of our farmer friends this weekend to see what they recommend. 

The rain came and poured.  Now the ground is soaked and the grass looks as if it instantly needs to be mown.  The rain barrel is full, along with all of our other buckets, and that is a good feeling. 

What did I plant this week?—Our neighbors gave me a couple of Sweet Million tomatoes they had grown from seed. I pulled out some of the pea plants that had gone to seed and added the tomatoes in their stead.  I need to do another round of pole beans, and I’ll try and add them to the ground later today.

Planted to date in 2011--

Super Sugar Snap Peas, 7 tomatoes (brandywine, grape, Early Girl, Better Boy), Choko Baby bok choy, One Kilo Chinese cabbage, 4 eggplant, Blue Lake Pole Beans, Christmas Lima Beans, Kestral Baby Beets, Touchstone Gold Beets, Chioggia Beets, Bull’s Blood Beets, Waltham 29 Broccoli, Rouge d’Hiver Romaine Lettuce, Matina Sweet Butterhead Lettuce, Galia Melon, Gooligan White Baby Pumpkin, Gourmet Rainbow Radish Mix, Gigante Inverno Spinach, Cavili Zucchini Squash, Milano Black Zucchini Squash, Supersett Yellow Crookneck squash, Sweet Beauty Watermelon, Marketmore cucumber, Genovese Basil, dill, flat leaf parsley, Jenny Lind melons, Butternut Squash, Garlic (planted in the fall), yellow and red onions, 8 bell peppers, 6 jalapeno peppers, 4 cabbage plants, 4 broccoli plants, daylilies, surprise lilies, sedum, 4 o’clocks, hollyhocks, red cockscomb, moonflower, zinnias, sunflower mix, marigold, butterfly flower garden seed mix, thyme, chives, carrots, coriander, horseradish, garlic chives, Peace Vine tomato, another type of basil (friend gave it to me), Sweet Million Tomatoes.

What did I harvest this week?—the first of the tomatoes, Caveli squash (thus far my only squash to produce without the rabbits getting to them first), carrots, jalapenos, lettuces, dill, flowers for arranging, a few peas, green and a few bulb onions, the first of the beets, the first two blueberries from our bushes.

What did I preserve this week?—chopped green onions and froze them

How did I work to reduce waste and live more simply?— We don’t watch TV as often as most, but I’m finding myself a lot less likely to watch it these days.  Crossword puzzles, reading, thumbing through magazines, and talking together seem to fill our evenings more often.  The AC is set relatively high.  When we aren’t here it is set at 85.  When we are it is set at 80 and we adjust it down to 79 or 78 if needed.  When it is cloudy or rainy, we don’t tend to need it as much.

How did I work at building and strengthening community food systems?—We visited 2 farmers markets this week, and I loved having fresh black raspberries for snacks.  I worked in the food pantry this week.  I brought a friend whose parent was in the hospital a meal.  I spent some time this week researching and planning more of my talk at next month’s Weston A Price Foundation meeting.  I worked on a couponing class that I have planned for late July. 

This week I borrowed a cup of milk from my neighbor.  My next door neighbor whom I have done this with a couple of times was out of town, and I was making that meal I mentioned above for my friend.  I was planning on going to the farmers market later that day to get milk and completely forgot that I was out until I had the potatoes already boiling for mashed potatoes.  There was chicken in the oven, and so I couldn’t easily stop and go to the grocery.  I phoned, very apologetically, and asked if I could borrow some milk that I would return to her in a couple of hours.  She was very sweet about it and though I said that I would bring her milk back she said, “Please don’t worry about it.”  Then she confided that it made her feel good to have a neighbor she could do that with.  Another one of our neighbors, whom she had lived next to for more than 40 years had moved into an assisted living.  She said, “She and I would swap back and forth, a cup of this at a time and never kept count….It makes me feel so good to know that I have another neighbor like that.”  Her eyes swelled with tears, and it reinforced for me what a sweet set of neighbors we have. 

Today we live in an age when most people don’t know the people who live just a few feet away.  Getting to know your neighbors, helping them, sharing with them—those are the kind of activities that I think build community food systems more than anything. 

Did I try any new recipes or were there any special meals at our table?— Enjoying roasted beets in my salad with a bit of feta was probably the most pleasing meal I had all week.  I didn’t try any new recipes this week, but I have a few in mind to try soon.  I’ve been reading what I call “candy for the brain” lately and have enjoyed some of the mysteries from author J. Fluke.  She includes recipes in different chapters of the book, many of which sound very tasty!


  1. Oh, I love the borrowing milk story....so precious! I remember several years ago our next door neighbor borrowing something from me...can't even remember what it was...but it does make one feel good to know you can count on somebody else...and they can count on you! One of these days, I'm gonna attend one of your couponing classes...just so we can meet face to face!!! ;-)

  2. I'd love that, Deb! Hope to see you soon!!