This is my first Independence Days Update in a few months. For those of you who don’t know, these posts are inspired by the work of Sharon Astyk. They have become a sort of garden/sustainability/living simply journal for our family.
Since I last wrote in October, the weather made a few shifts back and forth to winter weather. Today, I was walking around without a jacket and comfortable, and earlier in the week I was shivering even when bundled up—as is late autumn and early winter weather in East TN.
The garden looks pitiful. I still haven’t taken the time to do my end of the year cleanup. My dad had some health problems for much of November, and I spent most of my time caring for him. Last week I managed to get his garden tidied, and I hope that this weekend, I’ll have time to work on ours. For most plants, I cut them off at the ground, rather than ripping them up. This allows the roots to decay, leaving the micro-system of fungi and bacteria in place to help next year’s crops. I pull out any tomatoes vines and put them into the passive compost pile. I make a habit of never using composted tomatoes for fear of any possible blight left on the plants infecting next year’s beauties. After all the rest is neat, I add a thick layer of leaf mold and decayed straw, being careful to pull the mulch away from where I have garlic planted.
The notes below are based on the last few months--
What did I plant?—I planted another wave of bulbs with Hubby and daughter’s help. I’m adding a garden to the front of the yard where we’ll plant figs in the spring. I’ve heard too many people to count talk to me about the risk of planting figs in the ground in our zone in an unprotected environment, but I’m risking it. Figs are just about my favorite fruit, and I love the thought of perhaps one day having enough to make preserved figs. Only time will tell. To prepare this bed, we have removed the grass and now have about 100 daffodils planted in each quadrant. This will add some spring beauty to the bed as it becomes established.
What did I harvest?— Daughter surprised me by harvesting some jalapenos that were still alive, and we had a quick lesson about the oils on peppers and how they can burn her skin and eyes. I was pleased to see so much dill had volunteered and made some yummy red potatoes with dill the other night. The kale was hit hard by bugs earlier in the year, and when I ripped it up, a few plants remained. They have thrived in the cooler weather, and I used them for garlicky kale and kale and potato soup. I’ve saved some more of the Christmas Lima Bean seeds and made a few flower arrangements out of the last of the cutting bed. I yanked the last of the carrots, and we roasted them for a supper with my dad. I’ve used some rosemary, green onions, and chives here and there in other recipes. I cut the last of the butternut squash and have it saved in the cooler part of the house for the winter.
What did I preserve?—I made pomegranate jelly a few weeks ago, and I’m so pleased with how it turned out.
How did I work to reduce waste and live more simply?— Friends have passed a few bags of clothes to our daughter, and my aunt passed a few sweaters to me. In early November, the church had their fall bazaar, and I made a major score when I found some audio tapes for children. I bought the entire box, and we have shared some with her school and plan to share others with a friend later this week.
I’ve not been composting as consistently as I should, and I need to get back in the habit of doing that. Recycling has been much, much easier now that our city has a single stream recycling program. Gone are the days of Hubby having to haul everything in the truck each month. The bonus is that we’ve scored some fantastic Kashi coupons as part of the Recycle Bank program. I found Kashi cereal marked down to $2.54 a box the other day, and I used $2 coupons to get them at a great price!
How did I work at building and strengthening community food systems?— I used some money that I made at a coupon workshop to buy some organizers from Shelf Reliance for our church food pantry. They should arrive this week, and I’ll spend a few hours with a friend getting the pantry in shape. I continue to help with the men’s breakfast and children’s suppers at church.
Did I try any new recipes or were there any special meals at our table?— Daughter and I will start holiday baking sometime this week. I look forward to cutting gingerbread men and decorating cookies with her. I can’t think of any new recipes I’ve tried lately other than the pomegranate jelly.