MY HAPPY SPACE

It’s a beautiful day. There’s a feeling of fall in the air in Mid-Missouri! I love fall: the beautiful foliage, the crispness of the air, the ending days of harvest. There’s only one thing wrong with fall — winter is not far behind! So I approach fall with very mixed emotions.

Before I write more, I must apologize to my followers for being away from blogging so long. My laptop died and it took a while to replace it, partly because I was so busy with harvesting food from my garden.

My little garden has really done its duty. My grocery bills have been much lower because I planned my meals around what I was harvesting. And I have been able to preserve the overabundance for future meals. All these foods are without pesticides and chemicals!

As you may know from previous posts, my garden and yard is my happy place. When I am working out there I feel like I am playing, plus it’s great exercise for an senior lady. From walking behind my self-propelled mower, to putting the lawn clippings down as mulch in my garden, to watering and pulling weeds, to checking ripeness and harvesting the produce, it’s all an interesting experiment. The experiment continues as I preserve the produce for winter food. I feel happy, content, and close to Mother Nature as the experience was meant to be. I have frozen, canned, and/or dehydrated strawberries, peaches, peas, corn, onions, green beans, tomatoes, and will be adding sweet potatoes, carrots, and brussels sprouts to the pantry before frost. Not bad for a 50 ft. x 100 ft., partially shaded garden space. Lest you think that’s all I do, I am also active in my church, in a quilting group and in a Helping Hands group for volunteer activity, plus I hang my laundry on a line to dry to be kind to the Earth. My garden is still my happy place!

It is my goal to stay active as long as I can. Age is just a number! I am slower than I used to be but I believe if I stop being active I will loose the ability to be so. I just work slower but smarter!

While I am enjoying visiting with you again, I have tomatoes and beans waiting in the kitchen for attention, so I must get busy on them.

Where ever you are, whatever your situation, I hope you have, or create, a happy place with a positive vibe for yourself. Until next time, blessings to you all!

DROUGHT AND CONSERVATION

I knew last spring when I was complaining about the incessant rain that by the middle of summer I would be wishing for rain. It’s not quite the middle of summer and this area is having a drought. We were fortunate to have had one inch of rain last weekend, but conditions are dry enough that I needed to water the garden two days later. The good news is the rain falling on the roof was enough to fill the rain barrels again, so I now have free water to use on the garden.

We humans cannot control the rain so I believe we should value water as much as we value the air we breathe. In this geographical area water comes from deep wells. Just as many rivers in the western part of the United States are becoming very low or running dry, the underground water streams that feed the deep wells will eventually run out of water as well if the climate continues as it is predicted and if we keep consuming water at the current rate. It is, therefore, prudent to conserve water in our everyday lives. If a person is on a public water system, conserving water also saves on the water bill.

My hot water heater is on one end of the house and my shower is on the other. When I want to take a shower, I used to let the hot water faucet run until the hot water reached the shower. All that cool water just ran down the drain until warm water came out of the spigot. Now, I catch that cool water in a bucket and use it to water my plants, both flower and garden. I do the same, only with smaller buckets, at all the other faucets in my house. I can see a monetary difference in my bill. Next winter I will use the captured water for houseplants and to flush my toilet.

I am too old to try living off the grid, but I enjoy using my personal energy to save Earth’s resources to perhaps help keep the climate live-able for my grandchildren and great-grands.

Most of the actions I take to conserve Earth’s resources also save me money: I dry the laundry on the clothesline, water my garden by gravity flow from rain barrels, only grocery shop once a month, grow my own food and shop locally. I am checking into having a weatherization audit done (for free) to see if I can conserve energy that way. I turn off the TV and other appliances that I am not using. I organize my shopping so that everything is done in one trip. I buy used items, borrow or barter, whenever possible.

Apparently governments around the world in general are more interested in profits than the well-being of our planet. Therefore, it is incumbent for all of us to use as little of the Earth’s resources as possible. The frugal actions I take make my life better, more enjoyable, more sustainable. We all need to eat, we all need to keep our homes warm or cool, we all need to be able to commute from one place to another, but we can all be more thoughtful, conservative, and frugal as we do that. I challenge each of you to find ways to conserve Earth’s bounty in your daily lives. If this planet overheats, we are all doomed. Do what you can to keep our climate survivable. Hopefully, world leaders will take action before climate doom happens. In the meantime, do as much as possible in your own little corner of the world.

GARDEN ECOLOGY

I have been so excited about my garden lately that I have failed to write much about being ecological and frugal. While my garden is both of those things, I think I need to put more of an emphasis on the how it is both, and also what other things I am doing that meet those two criteria.

First lets look at what I am doing and experimenting with from an ecological point of view. I carved my food garden out of a corner of my lawn. Only grass has grown in that spot for years. If I had been younger, I would have dug the area with a spade. That would have been more ecologically sound than hiring a person with a small tractor to till the area which is what I resorted to doing. That step used fuel in both getting here and running the tiller in the garden area which is not good for the earth. Since making that step, however, I have really worked at practicing more earth friendly habits. I had to fence the garden to keep the hungry wildlife (mostly rabbits) from eating my food plants.

When I purchased my little home, the former residents left behind a fence of steel posts and panels from around their above-ground swimming pool. Those panels and posts have been used in many ways: to make a lattice for my blackberries, to fence an area for my dog, and the posts at the corners of my garden fence. That saved me money and used something that had already been manufactured and used before (recycled). I put chicken wire around the garden posts (much of which I had purchased earlier for another project).

The area where I live was once a large buffalo wallow, which means the land is flat and doesn’t drain from rain. So my goal became to grow food and build up the soil both with nutrients and height. The garden was planted late because I had to wait for the soil to dry. By the time the soil dried enough to work, grass had started growing back in my garden area. I put down a layer of recycled cardboard between the rows and have been putting grass clippings over the cardboard every time I mow. The mulch has held in the moisture as our weather has become drier, as well as is adding volume physically to the soil.

I raise red wiggler worms, feeding them kitchen waste, and their castings get added to the mulch and soil to build fertility and volume in the garden. Additionally, I spread my crushed eggshells and used coffee grounds over the garden which add fertility to the soil and keeps them out of the landfill.

I also bought two 50 gallon barrels, installed them on concrete blocks, and attached them to the house downspout to catch the rainwater from the roof. This rainwater is gravity fed to water the garden when the soil needs watering. The water still goes to the soil but is going where it is needed rather than just on the ground from the downspout.

I can often be found in the heat of the day searching the internet for more ideas on ways to improve my footprint on the earth. If you have additional ecologically friendly ideas that I can frugally adopt, please send them to me. All of our brains together are better than one!

Until next time, may you be blessed with peace …

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.