Monday, June 1, 2009

Independence Day Challenge Week 5

Raspberries blooming.

1) Plant something:
Okay, I had to re-plant the yellow & butternut squash and the loofa. The ones I started indoors didn't survive the transplant, even though they were hardened off. The ones coming up from seed look 1000% stronger anyway! I also had to re-plant 2 tomatoes that didn't survive. I'm still not done planting tomatoes or peppers because this new garden spot is just not cooperating. Also, another row of radishes (what's the secret to getting them to form a bulb?), lettuce, spinach and my 3rd and final attempt at peas. Plus, sunflowers, watermelon and cantaloupe.

Someday, I'll have a camera that takes amazing shots. Until then, please admire this blurry jar of jam :D

2) Harvest something:
Just a few handfuls of lettuce and all the rhubarb (about 1.5 pounds). OH! And, the meat birds!! 55 pounds of chicken. Jerry, his dad and the boys processed the 10 birds in about 2 hours. Boys said it was gross, nasty and smelly. Jerry said it wasn't too bad. His dad didn't say much, other than my MIL said he better NOT bring home a chicken. Ok, more for us! I refrained from showing you a before and after. I LOVE before & after photos, but I know that not everyone is fond of home grown meat. Seriously though, it looks just like supermarket chicken.

3) Preserve Something
I went to the Farmer's Market in search of strawberries, and I found the last of the harvest. $4 a quart. I really wanted to make jam this year, so I forked over $8, happily. They were so good!! I stopped by Dillon's on the way home and found the above strawberries on clearance for $.79 a pound. I bought 14 pounds. They ended up in a strawberry rhubarb crumble, strawberry rhubarb pie and JAM, glorious, ruby red jam. My children have already tackled the first jar and declare it's the best jam ever. I know it wasn't local (strawberries were grown in the U.S.) but I saw the bargain and had to have it.

4) Prep Something
Remember that giant, 5' x 5' compost bin I had? In the middle of the garden? Well, I was soooo tired of looking at it smack in the middle of the garden. It was too big and hard to reach in and turn the compost. Jerry was convinced that it could be cut down and repurposed. He spent an afternoon chopping thru the free pallets and re-making them into this wonderful, 2 holer!! WHOOT!! I'm so excited!! I've now got hinged doors!! That makes it so easy to pop open, and flip the compost from one bin to another. We still have the old, black composter, sans lid to hold the excess. It's now hidden behind the shed. In it's old place, I planted watermelon. Hope it's not too fertile there. We shall see. :D

5) Cook Something:
Making jam was new to me. First year to harvest and cook the rhubarb. Surprisingly, it was so simple. Why was I worried? The jam set up nicely too! And the crumble? It didn't last long. It was SO GOOD! We are having the pie tonight. It may be all we eat, but that's how we roll. :D

6) Manage Reserves:
Still washing jars in anticipation of more canning sessions. Added more toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant & razors to the stockpile. Stockpiling is so new to me... it feels weird to have excess stuff. But, I'm learning that combining coupons with sales really DOES save a lot of money.

Knee-high by the 4th of July? Yep, I think it will be!

7) Work on Local Food Systems:
Planted extra Row for the Hungry. Donated some tomato plants to community garden.

Chooks in the garden, eating bugs, earning their keep. In a few weeks, I hope to have the garden fenced in so that the free rangers will stop eating the good stuff that I'm trying to grow. Seriously, we've gotten ONE strawberry ~ they've devoured the rest. They'll have 1/2 acre to roam and I do have 2 raised beds full of greens for them that they haven't discovered yet.


Jennifer said...

Love the new compost bin. Your garden looks great!

Bethany said...

Everything is looking great! My transplanted loofa's aren't doing so hot either. I'm planning to put in some seeds today and see if they might do better.

Melissa ~ Wife to 1, Mom to 5 said...

Jennifer ~ thanks. It's amazing how good it does look. :D I'm actually keeping up with the weeds for the first year ever! We bought several bales of straw to mulch with and hopefully that'll help too. I'm really excited about this year's harvest. I think it's the first time I've felt like a real gardener, not a hobbyist.

Bethany ~ I never tried to start vining plants indoors before, but I saw the stores had them so I thought, why not?! Out of 24 plants, only 1 survived. I'm doing seeds from now on. They were up in 2 days anyway. Soil temps are nice and warm! Good luck on yours. I think many of us are trying them for the first time.

Jena said...

Wow, things are really coming along!! I'm going to try to grow loofa this year too, we'll see. I can relate to the blurry photo problem too, I was thinking that in a year or two if I'm still blogging that I'd like a really nice camera as a gift. Very exciting about the chicken. Ours will be ready in about another month and I'm getting nervous. I'd like to sell some but would feel better if I knew how good it is going to be.

Good deal on strawberries - way to go! Ugg, stockpiling... be really careful stocking up on toothpaste and shampoo. It was on sale so much that most of mine has expired.

I'll have to check out that Row for the Hungry, sounds interesting.

David said...

Very well done!
I have a question about the chickens.

Someone told me that the city of Wichita allows you to have up to 6 chickens.

Is this true?

Melissa ~ Wife to 1, Mom to 5 said...

Jena ~ I was nervous about the chickens - especially since we had egg layers first - not too sure I'd want to also have meat birds. But, they were so (trying to word this nicely) gross, that we don't have any issues with eating the meat. We always called them meat birds. We didn't coddle them or try to make pets out of them. But, I really did NOT like that breed - they didn't act like chickens. Rarely did dust baths, didn't forge for bugs or greens etc. All they did was sit and eat. I realize that is what they are intended to do, but it seemed so wrong that they didn't act like chickens. Anyway, good luck. We may do it again, but will definitely choose a different breed ~ unless we taste the meat and decide we like it. LOL

Thanks for the stockpiliing tip. I had heard that before. I think I'm aiming to do the once a year shopping trip, so we should be okay. Anything extra goes into the care packages for our soldiers.

David ~ City of Wichita allows up to 12 chickens. See if you can get a copy of Saturday's newspaper or go to Front page coverage was all about having a backyard flock and where you go to get the required permit. We have 11 hens and I'd have a dozen more if I could, plus the meat birds, but rules are rules. :D Chickens are addictive!!

Sue said...

I always try to help the local guy first.....but we'd be CRAZY to pass up berries at that price! I would label that a SCORE!
Nice pics. Love your chickens!

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Gina said...

The jam and garden both look beautiful!

I would not have passed up that strawberry bargain either. If you have a chance try the strawberry-rhubarb jam (very good too!)

Together We Save said...

Wow - your plants look great but I would love a piece of pie.

Jamie said...

Hey Melissa! All okay with you and yours?? I have missed your posts recently!