WELL HELLOOOO, SUMMER!

As many of you know, I am an old lady that bought her small (832 sq. ft.) home May, 2021. This is the first home I have owned in a long time. Last fall I paid someone to till up a garden space from part of my lawn. This spring when I should have been planting seeds and setting out plants, we had an overabundance of rain so that my garden was very late getting planted. Then I battled grass that wanted to grow back in the space, so I put down cardboard between rows and have been covering that with grass clippings from my lawn mower. I am happy to report that I am finally getting some produce from my garden!

I have had several green salads from the lettuce. I have green onions large enough to eat. The tomatoes are blooming and have some little green tomatoes on the plants. The green beans have little beans on their plants. Beet plants have grown large enough that the birds are not covering them with the grass mulch when they scratch around looking for bugs. Sweet potato plants are growing well and the corn is starting to tassel. There’s hope for a good harvest after all.

It’s hard to imagine that after all that rain I am starting to have to water the garden now. But, never fear!! The rain barrels I put up to catch rainwater from the roof are full and I use a hose from the barrels to the garden and, with gravity flow, I am watering the garden without having to pay for city water!!

Blackberries are almost ready to pick and the gooseberry and rhubarb plants are growing nicely. I probably won’t get food from them until 2024, but ya can’t rush mother nature!

My point in saying all this is not to brag (although I feel like I am) but to actually say: If a 79 year old woman can do all this, you can, too! With food prices the way they are, every meal I can harvest from the garden is money saved. Don’t be afraid to try. Seed is not terribly expensive. If you don’t have space for a garden, grow food in containers on the patio or in front of a sunny window! Whatever we can do to help ourselves is a win in this economy. Additionally, what you grow tastes so much better and is more healthy that what you get in the store. Be adventurous! Try it. You might discover you like producing some of your own food!

Until next time, enjoy the time we have on Earth while it’s still inhabitable. Do what you can to buy as little as possible and take care of yourselves. Blessings!

Harvesting Food

I have gone from wishing the rain would leave for awhile to now having more to do in one day than I can get done. It’s a wonderful feeling!!

I am getting to harvest some food from my garden!! And it feels great! My raised bed of strawberries are producing big, fat, juicy, sweet berries! I am harvesting about a half gallon of the delicious, healthful berries per day. Of course I am eating as much as I can hold. The rest are being saved for next winter. I feel I am a little like a squirrel saving food for winter. I have also gone five miles out of town and bought 2 1/2 gallons of strawberries from an Amish lady. Most of the strawberries have been stored by freezing them, but I have also made freezer jam (which preserves the natural flavor of the berries better than regular jam) and strawberry leather by dehydrating a mixture of strawberry pulp and honey. I am always experimenting in some way, so I am going to try freezing some of the leather. Regular dry storage of leathers in a jar is supposed to keep for 2 months, so I am going to freeze some of the leathers to see if it will keep into winter. (I don’t see any reason that won’t work.)

I am also picking some snow peas as well. I am eating some of them in stir-fry and other recipes and some I am freezing.

The rest of my garden is starting to look like it may produce some food. We are still getting too much rain, and while my cardboard and grass clippings are building the soil, I am having problems with the birds scratching through the clippings and covering the new seedlings. I don’t know if the new beet plants will survive or not. As soon as the garden dries a little, I carefully uncover the little plants but I don’t know if that will be enough to save them.

I have two rows of corn that look like they have adjusted to all the rain. The kale never came up. I have the beets that are up and carrots and lettuce as well. The birds have snipped off some of the green beans and some of the tomatoes. I have placed some recycled cardboard cartons around the tomatoes and it looks like most of them are going to survive.

The row of green onions (that I had to replant) are looking promising and the brassicas that I covered with a hoop tunnel made from a sheer curtain are looking very healthy. A friend gave me a rhubarb plant from her garden today, so I will see if it will survive the moisture in my garden.

All in all, it is beginning to look like I will not be totally at the mercy of the grocery stores and trucking shortages next winter. I like feeling like I can take care of myself and I love knowing the food I produce will not have been sprayed with pesticides and will be at the peak of goodness when I consume it.

My rain barrels are nearly filled to the top so when the dry weather hits, I will be ready to water my plants without using city water.

As you can probably tell, my garden is my happy place. When I am working there, the troubles of the world just slip away! It’s a peaceful feeling and one that I wish everyone of you could experience! It rained again last night, so I will look for indoor projects this morning.

Until next time, peace and good gardening to you!

Lessons to Apply to Current Affairs

If there ever was a time to be as self-sufficient as possible, that time is now. With extreme shortages of baby formula, grocery store shelves often bare and inflation steadily climbing we need to do for ourselves as much as possible. My mother and grandmother made it through the Great Depression by buying locally and doing for themselves. Somewhere along the time from the Depression to now, easy convenience took over and most of those self-sufficiency skills have been lost or forgotten. Now is the time to relearn and reactivate those skills.

Being self-sufficient means using our own energy to replace the easy convenience we all have come to rely on. I am blessed at the age of 79 to have the good health and energy to do many things for myself. My garden in my backyard is finally growing well in spite of all the rain we have had this spring. Will I still have to buy some groceries? Yes. I can’t raise meat in town, but I am growing beans for plant protein, so I won’t need to buy as much meat and when I do buy meat it will be locally grown. Most of the foods that I don’t yet have the ability to grow, I will buy from a nearby Amish settlement to preserve for winter.

My “wise” advice is:

  1. Drive as little as possible to save money on gas. Combine all those errands into one trip. Plan out the errand trip so that you don’t go back and forth over the same areas more than once.
  2. Grow as much of your food as possible. If you don’t have a yard in which to plant a garden, grow food plants in containers.
  3. Visit Farmer’s Markets to get food. The produce you buy at Farmer’s Markets is fresher than what you get at the grocery store and it hasn’t taken a long fuel trip to get to you. And the money you spend is helping someone locally, perhaps your neighbor.
  4. Learn to buy necessities at second-hand shops. The set of dishes you buy second-hand has already been loved by someone else. Wash them, use them, love them again in your home. That saves the earth’s elements and energies from being used to recreate an item that has already been produced. The energy that was used once to create an item of clothing does not need to be used again for the same thing. Buy it second-hand. Give it another useful life.

The predictions are that inflation will continue, shortages of products will continue, and gas prices will continue to rise. All of us need to be as prepared as possible. Start looking at the ways people survived during the Great Depression. Many of the skills used during that time are applicable for use today.

As an aside, if you have 34 minutes to spare, watch “The Great Simplification” on YouTube. I found it very interesting. At the very least, it is thought provoking.

Have a pleasant Memorial Day. Love each other. Blessings to you all!

MOST WONDERFUL TIME

For someone (me) that loves the simple life, this is easily the most wonderful time of the year! Finally, we have had a week of warm weather (broke heat records) without rain. My strawberries are in full bloom. If I get as many strawberries as I have blooms, I will have a bumper crop of berries! The blackberries are starting to bloom!

This week of nice weather allowed me to get so much done in the yard and garden. I weeded the iris bed in front of the house. I planted the iris last fall and some of them have buds and are ready to bloom. On the other side of the front deck from the iris, I mulched an area and planted dianthus, marigolds, and petunias. For a real playful eye appeal, I placed little plaster gnomes and mushrooms. (The gnomes and mushrooms came with the bricks I bought at the auction the week before. Frugal use of materials that came with the bricks I wanted. Better than going to the landfill!)

The garden area dried enough for me to set out my grown-from-seed tomato plants. I also planted green beans, beets, lettuce, kale and corn between the aisles of cardboard and grass clippings. If everything grows, I will have wonderful fresh veggies for a very inexpensive price.

The onion sets I planted earlier died in all the rain we had, so I need to get more sets and replant. I also need to replant the corn for the same reason. My bell peppers will soon be large enough to set out and the peas and brussels sprouts are growing well.

I saw some finches in my backyard this morning. They were perched on a low crosswire of my dog run, eating dandelion seeds. That makes me happy! I still have to put together the timbers for the small raised bed in which I will plant flowers for the butterflies and bees. All of my projects take time and energy but very little money. My goal is to grow food for me and the wildlife, and, by doing so, also contribute to caring for the planet. This, to me, is what living the simple life is all about.

My wish for you is that you find the simple things in life to make you happy and that also contribute to a better planet. God Bless! See you next week…

LIVING THE SIMPLE LIFE

Just to let you know, it’s raining again today!

However, between rains, my rain barrels have been installed. I now have the capacity to store 100 gallons of water which I hope to use next summer to water my garden (if I ever get much planted). The peas I planted between rains in a raised garden are growing and looking good. My strawberries in another raised bed are blooming, but I spied a wild rabbit eating a snack of strawberry plant in the rain this morning so I will probably have to fence that now too.

Last week in the rain, I bought several useful items in a local on-line auction. For a total of $25 I bought: an electric skill saw, an electric sander, an electric drill, two big boxes of sheets, blankets, and afghans (I’ll use these for quilts for the homeless next winter), 25 construction bricks, a card table and 4 nice folding chairs. Of course, there was a lot of junk that came with these good things, but for $25 it was worth it. Much of the “to me” junk, I have found other owners for, so stuff was saved from the landfill. I love finding items I need for such a bargain!

My auction purchases, the rain barrels, and my wet garden set me to thinking about how happy I am with such simple pleasures. I really enjoy living my simple life, which led me to spending time on the internet looking for simple life blogs, which led me to discover the Farm Wife Blog and Podcast. I really enjoyed reading her posts and listening to her podcast. I get nothing for advertising her locations. I just thought you might enjoy her input as much as I did.

In a crazy, mixed-up, busy world, I find the action of living a simple life is calming and nurturing to my mind, body, and soul. Simple-life living has allowed me to find a level of peace and contentment that I didn’t have before. I don’t want to keep up with the Joneses and don’t care what they think. I work physically harder sometimes but the work is something I want to do and will benefit me. I am far from being monetarily wealthy, but, as Dolly Parton sang, “I feel rich as I can be”. As I have written in earlier posts, most of my possessions are good, used items. Living a simple, frugal life has enabled me to buy and furnish my home. I have fun, caring, positive friends. I enjoy interacting with my church family. Honestly, I can’t think of anything that I need or want that would make my life any happier. I think that says a lot for living a simple life!

I wish you a Happy Mother’s Day and a blessed week! Until next time, may you enjoy a happy, simple life!

RAIN, RAIN, AND MORE RAIN!

First, I want to apologize to all of my readers for not posting last week. If you have been following my posts, you know we have had rain, rain, and more rain in Central Missouri! Last week we actually had four days in a row without any rain so I worked outside as hard as a 78-year-old lady can work! I mow my own yard with an electric, self-propelled, walk-behind mower and I finally was able to mow the low places in my yard for the first time this year without mowing water! It takes me longer this year to mow because I am collecting my grass clippings for compost in my garden. The garden is new this year, tilled from part of my lawn. Consequently, I am having to battle grass and weeds! I have devised a system of laying down strips of cardboard between the garden rows and putting grass mulch on top of that to smother the grass that tries to grow back. I will eventually put some sand on top of the clippings to help amend the soil when my compost strips decompose.

After I mowed the grass, which takes me two whole days, I began really working in my garden. I used hoops and an old sheer curtain and clothespins to cover the brussels sprouts. This is an experiment to see if I can keep the white moths from laying eggs which hatch into voracious little green worms that devour brassicas. (I’m always trying an experiment to frugally solve a problem.)

Next, I “mudded in” a row of potatoes, a row of onion sets, and a row of corn. I meant to plant two rows of sweet corn, but I got too tired. I also planted three rhubarb roots in the mud. It will be interesting to see if any of it grows.

I had planted edible pod peas earlier in one of my raised beds and they are all up. I will need to create some type of trellis for them to climb on in a few days (when it stops raining again!).

My strawberries that I planted last summer are blooming, so that’s exciting news to me! The blackberry stalks are all leafed out and look good. Maybe I will get some berries this summer! The gooseberry bush that I set out in the rain a few weeks ago has not done anything yet–I hope it lives. I have an elderberry bush to plant whenever it stops raining again.

Most exciting of all for me — the man who is going to set and hook up my rainbarrels to water the garden this summer (hard to believe as wet as it is now) came this morning in the light rain to look over where I wanted the barrels. He took the barrels and all the connectors home with him to start working on them in his dry garage! It is supposed to not rain tomorrow, so maybe I will have a garden watering system installed by tomorrow night.

In between all the yard and garden work I did this week, I also helped my quilt ladies set up and then helped run a Quilt Bingo. The money we made will go to help various charities to which we contribute.

AND I bid and bought some useful items from a local on-line auction, but that’s a story for another time!

I wish you all a happy and blessed week. Until next time —

MISSOURI WEATHER!

As I write this I woke up to snow on all elevated surfaces this morning. Just a few days ago it was 70+ degrees. Missouri has always had temperature swings in all seasons. Because I am so intuned to climate change that I weigh almost everything I do by how it affects the climate, I wonder if this drastic temperature shift is just Missouri weather doing its thing or if this is due to climate change. On the chance that it is climate change in action, I will continue to do everything I can to leave a smaller carbon footprint. The weather is reinforcing my determination. I hope you are being conscious of your carbon footprint as well.

Since the temperature was forecasted to be cold last night, I used the hoops I bought to deter the cabbage worms, covered them with plastic, and protected my newly transplanted brassicas from frost. It is still cold today. The forecast is for another freeze tonight, so I will leave the brassicas covered until this cold snap is passed.

The brassicas made it through that frost. I have uncovered the plants and the brussels sprouts look great. I am not sure the cabbage plants are going to make it–not because of the frost but because of so much rain. The soil in my garden area needs amending with compost, I have decided. It may take several years to get the soil to have a better friable quality, so I need to get started working on it. If the rains would just slow down so I can get a load of compost into it! Old timers in this area tell me that the lot on which my house was built was a buffalo wallow back in the day. I think the condition of the soil here supports that information.

I just heard the weather forecast is for rain on Easter Sunday. My Dad used to say, “If it rains on Easter Sunday, it will rain on the following 7 Sundays.” I hope this does not hold true!

I wish a happy and blessed Easter to each of you!

See ya next week.

PLANTS IN THE GROUND!!

Whoot! Whoot! I have my brassicas in the ground! The ground is still too wet for ideal planting, but the plants were ready to be set out, I was itching to get my hands in the dirt, and the weather was warm. I could resist planting no longer. I also planted my edible pod peas as well. Their location was a little less wet, so they should be in fine shape.

I still have to place the hoops over the brassicas, but it is forecasted to rain again for several days, so that is out for now. I have plastic to go over the tunnels, but my plans are to buy some sheer curtains at a thrift store, sew them together and use them to cover the hoops over the brassicas to keep little white butterflies from laying eggs which become little green worms which voraciously consume the brassicas. It’s still too cool for butterflies, so I have time to wait before setting that up.

As I look out my window toward my garden I can see a rabbit eating grass in my yard between the house and the garden, so my “old lady” fence of chicken wire, electric fence posts and t-posts is keeping the brassicas safe! That makes my heart happy!

I will be planting my garden rows about 2 1/2 feet apart. My plan is to cut 2 foot strips of cardboard boxes to cover the ground to keep weeds from growing. On top of the cardboard, I will put the lawn clippings. I think the clippings will weigh the cardboard down on the ground and as the two decompose they will enrich the garden soil. Each time I have to go to the grocery store, I become more determined to grow and store more food from the garden!

The second rain barrel arrived over the weekend. It’s brown while the first is tan, but they look okay together. Now I just need to buy concrete blocks for the base to raise the barrels higher and a diverter for the downspout and then put it all together. I am feeling more like a city homesteader day by day!

I am feeling more like a city homesteader with every passing accomplishment!

I wish all of you a blessed week! The homestead saga will continue next week.

SPRING UPS AND DOWNS!

Life is full of ups and downs and that certainly was my life this last week. In the first place it rained a good portion of the week. I know rain is good for the earth, but we have had more than enough in this area for now. Next July and August these rains will be very welcome.

Then one of the two rain barrels I had ordered got lost in shipping and the supplier doesn’t know when they will be getting more product in. At least they refunded my money on that barrel, but now I hope I can find another barrel that will be compatible with the barrel that I already have. I plan to use rainwater from the roof to be stored and used to water my garden this summer by gravity flow. One barrel will not hold enough water to irrigate what I need it to do. I know I can use city water to irrigate, but plain rainwater is better for the plants and will be much less expensive considering the rain barrels are an investment to be used over several years. Guess I will have to wait and see what happens.

My church had an all church garage sale this week, which took much of my time helping set up the All Purpose Building for that sale. Walking on that concrete floor made this old lady really tired each day, but at the sale I scored a roomba and an airfryer and several pint and half-pint canning jars. The church made a nice amount of money to be used for good purposes. Job well done.

I also have to tell you that I now have a working clothes line (my Quickcrete was successful!). I washed three loads of laundry last week and used solar and wind power to dry them! Woot! Woot! I am looking forward to getting my next electric bill so I can see the amount of money I am saving.

I am hoping that we have a small dry spell of weather in the coming weeks so that I can spread some mulch on my garden and get some early garden plants in the ground. My brassicas are ready to be set out. It’s about time to plant my sugar peas and potatoes. I received a gooseberry plant, some rhubarb roots and an elderberry bush from a nursery that need to go into the ground very soon. I think the next reasonably warm day I will fence the garden plot to keep the rabbits out of MY food and I need to find time to harvest the red wiggler worm castings so I will be able to fertilize my garden as I plant the area.

I love spring. I love being frugal. I love being as self-sufficient as possible.

I wish all of you a frugal spring week! To those of you who have commented, I am happy you are enjoying my posts!

SPRING LESSONS

Gardening brings me closer to nature in many ways. The last few days have been sunny and pleasant to work outside, in spite of the wet land conditions. I finished reclaiming wood from the neighbor’s raised flower beds and then hauled the rotten wood to the city compost site.

The next project to be tackled was to build a fence around my garden plot to deter the plethora of wild rabbits from enjoying my food crops. I purchased 4 steel posts 5 feet long for the corners of the plot and I will use 6 metal electric fence posts to hold the fence in place between the corners. I think I have enough chicken wire to fence the perimeter so I don’t need to buy any of that. I justify these expenses knowing I need the fence to deter the rabbits in order to be able to harvest food for myself. Any extra food I grow will be given to neighbors and the local food bank. The fencing materials will last several years, thus making the cost a long-term investment.

I then tackled the next item on my to-do list — setting up my umbrella type clothesline. This was definitely a learning process for me. I watched a video on YouTube which told me what size the hole needed to be dug, so I dug the hole where I wanted my clothesline to be located. Then off I went to the hardware store to buy the QuickCrete to use to make the concrete to anchor the clothesline post. As an old lady, I find it really sad that I can’t just do all the things I used to do. So, after locating the QuickCrete (and finding it weighed 60 pounds), I located a salesperson to lift the sack and load it into my truck for me. Now, I didn’t know there are different kinds of QuickCrete, did you? I thought QuickCrete was QuickCrete. After driving home, I called my younger sister to come help me get the sack to the hole I had dug. While I waited for her, I filled a bucket of water to have on hand to stir into the QuickCrete in the hole.

When my sister arrived, we two old ladies pushed, pulled, and tugged the sack onto a borrowed dolly and rolled it to the hole. Then my sister tells me I had bought the wrong kind of QuickCrete. The kind I bought was for mortar and I needed concrete. After all the work of getting the bag to the hole, I decided to just use it and see what happened. We poured it into the hole, added water and placed the pipe in the center for the pole. Then I just needed to wait until the mix dried to see if worked. Now today it is raining, so I don’t know if the stuff cured as it was supposed to, or if mortar won’t work for my purpose, or if the rain came before it dried and prevented it from curing. Live and learn! At least if I have to redo the project, I will know to look for the “right kind” of product!

My point in telling you this tale is: Don’t be afraid to tackle projects even if you aren’t sure what you are doing. The sack of QuickCrete may have been $7 wasted, but I learned a valuable lesson, and if I have to do it over, I bet I get the concrete kind next time! I was still outside enjoying the fresh air, sunshine, and birds singing. Yes, I was tired at the end of the day, but it was a good tired. I accomplished starting my garden fence and a real-life lesson about installing a clothesline!

Have a Blessed weekend! We will see what I get into next week.