Wednesday, April 8, 2009

IDC Update #2

1) Plant Something
I planted the broccoli and cabbage out in the new raised beds. There were 24 plants each that I had started from seed. 2 days after planting, we had a hard freeze. They were heavily mulched, but time will tell if they survived. I also planted 180 onion bulbs and hundreds of potatoes (we quit counting after 160). Peas are up and have survived 2 snow days plus a couple of freezes. Lettuce, carrots and spinach are planted but have yet to appear. I did start several new flats of seeds and I'm most excited about the tomato seeds Judy sent me. Thanks Judy!!

2) Harvest Something
We ate the last of the indoor grown lettuce. This was the 5th cutting on it and what's left got sent out to the chickens. We picked and ate the first onions and garlic from the garden. I've got to be patient and let it continue to grow - but boy, is that hard.

3) Preserve Something
I made grape jelly from frozen concentrate. It was so easy! I'm looking forward to having our own grape juice from the bartered vines this summer. Here's a link to the grape jelly recipe I used. I did go ahead and can the jelly. We got 6 jelly jars. Next time, I'll skip the cutie pie jars and just use the pint or even quart. The kids eat jelly and peanut butter like crazy. I also made up the last batch of peanut butter. Find that recipe here. Good neighbor gave us dozens of loaves of bread, some of it ended up as bread crumbs and others as dried bread for stuffing.

4) Prep Something
More work on the canning shelves and the jars themselves. Since I'd bought so many off Craigslist last summer, I didn't get around to washing them all up. I'd rather do a batch a day now then when canning is in high gear. I think I've got about 400 more jars to go. Also, we re-worked the shed so one side is for potting. I re-potted 200+ tomato plants as well as basil.

5) Cook Something
I've been cooking dinner every night. Jerry and I can't remember the last time we ate out! I did find a recipe for Papa Murphy's Garlic Chicken Pizza that we'll try this week. I love cooking and eating at home but every now and then, I miss certain dishes.

6) Manage Your Reserves
Our canned reserves are nearly gone. Last count we had 4 quarts of pears left and 6 pints of apple butter. I have put together a list of what I'd like to can this year including meats and it's pretty extensive. I better get the core workouts in now for those long days of standing on my feet. LOL If anyone knows where to buy canning lids in bulk, I'd love to have that as a resource. The first batch of meat birds have been ordered and will be here in May. Jerry found out that a neighbor's uncle has a plucker that we can barter for. Yes! Plucking seems to be the hardest part of butchering.

7) Work on Local Food Systems
I attended the Delano Neighborhood meeting last week where they discussed their plans for the community garden behind the Senior Center in conjunction with IGO. I was there to get more info about being a vendor for their Farm & Art Market. It seems they have a lot of good structure in place and I hope they go ahead with the Market. We are now yard sharing nearly 4 acres of garden spaces across the city. Susan with IGO said they have a few spots we could adopt too which I'm very grateful for. I drive around town and see all the spaces and think "Boy could I grow a lot there!". I had contacted The Lord's Diner to see if they had a community garden where I could volunteer, but was told that they were unable to have one or even accept locally grown produce as their status didn't allow for that. I've sent an email to a few places that have food pantries (churches) to see if they'd like a community garden started or if they have one, we could volunteer once a week. No word back yet.

8) Barter
I have discovered how much I enjoy bartering! There are many things I'd like to have, but I just don't want to spend money on them when I've got stuff I could swap. For example, we swap eggs for milk, sourdough bread and cookies. I swapped Irises for some garden pots. I've got a gal who'll buy me canning lids in exchange for the abundance of rings I have. I participated in the seed swaps and I'll be swapping tomato plants for some pepper plants.

9) Misc
When we got the current month's electric bill, I looked at the usage comparison for last year to this year. We are down nearly 100 kwh!!!! This is HUGE! It's amazing that we did that as I now work from home (with a computer on all day long plus printer) which I thought would use more electricity plus we've been running a heat lamp for the chickens most of the winter. We did switch out most of the light bulbs and we quit using the dishwasher in January. We also sealed up the exterior door in kitchen to stop the air loss and installed the new dryer vent. I have hung laundry out several times this winter, but often it was too cold or humid so we opted to use the dryer. I guess all the little changes added up. I wish I could say the same for the gas bill. It was down (thanks in part to the Freeze Yer Buns Challenge) but not as much as the electricity.
However, I'm still annoyed that the water company charges us a minimum use instead of actual use. We could save $ there for sure. Every little bit counts when you've declared war on debt!


Patrice Farmer said... have done quite a lot!!! With planting and cooking from scratch...I like the ideal of using the concentrate to make jelly too. I want to get involved in a community garden so badly but its not that easy in this area...Detroit has them but you have to live in Detroit. The burbs are less likely to have them around here. And good job on your bill!!!

Jena said...

I saw wow too! I really thought I was doing good here, now I feel like I have a long way to go to catch up to you! Keep up the good work. Bravo on your determination to get out of debt. I am becoming more and more doubtful that we will ever become debt free, conventional farming just sucks the life right out of any reasonable financial goals, IMO. I'm sure you've already posted this but what kind of resources are you using to reach your goal?

fullfreezer said...

Great job! You've been busy. I'm glad you're excited about the seeds. I got mine transplanted last weekend. You've got 200 tomatoes?! I thought I had a lot at 54. Hopefully your broccoli will be ok. I haven't put mine out yet. We've still got at least a few more nights forcast at 28 so I'm kind of nervous to put it out.
Keep up the good work.

Christy said...

I'm impressed! You've done a ton. I should do an update soon. I've got some stuff planted, but not nearly as much as you.

Tina. said...

Great job already! I haven't even purchased my seeds yet!

Parisienne Farmgirl said...

Oh, this is such a good post- I love it!
Have a blessed weekend!
It's Friday but Sunday's comin'!

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