July is officially half over. I feel like this summer is flying by. Lazy days of summer? Not this year, not for me. Between ramping the garden back up (aka digging out of the weed hole) and ramping the blog back up it’s been a full summer so far.
But please don’t take that as a complaint! I’m writing this to you in bed, on my laptop, with a cup of coffee next to me on the side table. That’s a pretty sweet working environment. The last four days have been a whirlwind of garden activity and it’s rewarding, despite a few challenges. I can see progress so I’m really happy to be spending my time as I am.
Okay, onward! Here’s this week’s list of accomplishments, recorded in the hopes that this practice will help keep me motivated and accountable. Please join in, and list your own weekly achievements in the comments, or if you have a blog and want to do your own post and link it up, that’s great too.
Planted & Maintained
- Did a big tomato triage thing, including taking a tomato plant to the WSU Extension Plant Clinic in Puyallup.
- Weeded a substantial chunk of the food forest.
- Moved a bunch of straw mulch.
- Side-dressed much of the vegetable garden with a complete organic fertilizer.
- Set up the soaker hose to deeply irrigate food forest
- Set up the sump pump to irrigate orchard with duck tub water
- Replaced greenhouse window lift
- Bought and planted additional tomato and pepper starts
- Summer pruned and trained orchard trees, kiwi vines, etc.
- Massive weed whacking of the upper yard area that had just gotten insane.
- Peeled back some of the black plastic mulch in the vegetable garden and replaced it with compost.
- Fiddled with soaker hoses in the vegetable garden to better optimize irrigation.
- White Currants
- Summer squash
- Plums (underripe but still!)
- Not a thing. In the cycle of these things I was outside, not inside, this week.
Cooked + Eat Down The Larder
- My go to meal right now is sauteed zucchini with cumin, and then I dump a few eggs into the skillet with the zucchini and top everything with some sort of hot sauce. I’ve made variations on this three days this week for a late, quick dinner. (Related: Skillet Seared Summer Squash with Cumin – Patreon)
- We have been pretty good about not buying groceries except dairy. But I’m not making a lot of “eat down” progress because there’s a bunch of fresh stuff to eat right now. So instead of a dinner that uses up lentils, it’s a dinner that uses cabbage from the garden or eggs. Eat Down The Larder works better in February. Lesson learned.
- My son helped me use up half a bag of frozen strawberries by making strawberry ice cream.
- A jar of ancient pickle relish was used up in tuna salad.
- Made soup with canned chicken and….whatever. Some beans, some veg. That kind of thing.
- Served some of the meatloaf I batch cooked and froze several weeks ago with some instant mashed potatoes from our camping/prep food that needed using up. (Potato Pearls…the Mormons in the audience know what I’m talking about.)
- Made cast iron skillet pizza with flatbread dough we made last week. (Related: Cast Iron Skillet Pizza – Patreon)
- Basic daily maintenance.
- Snuggled with my favorite chicken. She is bullied by the other hens and hides in a nesting box all day.
Household and Projects
- Not much. General cleanup. I was mostly outside.
Business, Finances and Frugality
- Just clicked over $445 per month of direct funding on my Patreon page!
- Scheduled Patreon Livechat Q&A and Video Hangout Sessions for July.
- Budget has been terrible this week. Just not a good week for spending, despite hardly buying food.
Energy Use & Solar Panel Production
- Total electricity used: 179 kWh
- Total solar energy produced: 223 kWh (= $119.82 in production incentive)
- Energy “sold back”: 44 (= $4.62 in net production)
- Total earned through our solar panels this week: $124.44
Homeschooling & Family
- We put the kids to work! Both the kids were a big help this week with various weeding and gardening chores. I’m telling you, it gets easier.
- Bella’s working on a research paper about ancient Greek colonies, Oliver continues to improve the mini house/shop he’s built out of pallets and found lumber.
- If you missed it, here is why we homeschool.
Planning and Research
I’m desperate for woodchips. I had an arborist who I used to regularly get chips from, but I called him a couple days ago and he’s no longer in the business.
I’ve made a few calls and one was so promising – the nice woman on the phones said, “oh we are in your area today!” and I thought, “could I be so lucky?!?” …. but no dice. And more importantly, no wood chips. I’m going to call around to a few more places. Hopefully I can get a load of chips delivered in the next couple weeks.
• • •
Kristina M says
So close to the first cherry tomatoes!
Cherry wine into secondary
Started my first lactoferment of the summer: turnip and beet slices
Steamed and froze several batches of cooking greens: collards, spinach, beet, and kohlrabi greens.
After an insane work week, I got back into the meal planning and cooking rhythm with some amazing veggie flatbreads.
Yum! Flatbreads are the best. Exciting times with the cherry wine, too!
planted and maintained:
-had someone trim the grapes back, do some of the weeding, as we just weren’t getting to it
-pulled the last of the spring greens out except for the one swiss chard and four cauliflower that are still doing okay
-planted the onion sprouting on the kitchen counter
-some of the weeding
-admired the first tomatoes, squash, sunflower, peppers in the garden
-blueberries, for ourselves and for friends
-herbs, as we use them in the kitchen, plus giving bunches away
-garlic, put it in the basement for curing
-giving myself two weeks off, due to crazy
-pot of pinto beans in the pressure cooker – make bean & cheese burritos to freeze for future work lunches
-small pot of wild rice in the pressure cooker – made ham and rice for work lunches
-last month’s sauerkraut is going to be, at least in part, coleslaw for a party tonight
-basic maintenance of cats
-found new-to-use cat toy at thrift store that all four cats love – $5 well spent
-making sure the bug & bird baths around the garden are always full – tons of bees in the herb, flower, and vegetable gardens right now!
-keeping the bird & squirrel feeders full
-planted another pot of wheatgrass, basic maintenance on previous pots of wheatgrass, for rotating in and out of the catio
-worked a full week at my day job
planning and research:
-sorting out what greens we’ll grow this fall, what seeds we have and which we’ll need
-planning what needs to come out of the canning cupboard, will offer it at the Food Swap we’re hosting next weekend
-meal planning for this next week while I’m working, starting to plan the shopping for the following weekend when I go back to Canning All the Things
-realized one of the dwarf thornless raspberry plants is dead, deciding when and how to deal with it
-still coveting… I mean planning for how to have a dwarf thornless blackberry in the garden (and budget)
“Giving myself two weeks off, due to crazy” I love this so much. Good call, your list is already enormo! 😀
Harvested: eggs, zucchini, a few blackberries and cherry tomatoes, plus seeds from cordiander, dill, chives, and freesia corms
Outdoor maintenance: cleaned up spent annuals, trimmed bushes and roses, pulled weeds
Animals: got a wee more chicken feed. Going to out the birds into the freezer next week, so don’t need to overstock on feed.
Cooked/Larder Challenge: used frozen blueberries, frozen veggies, meat from the fridge and freezer, and used up two jars of jam. Stocked up on good ol’ breakfast carbs in the freezer for easy breakfast for my son (very early job).
Preserved: strawberry and blueberry leather, canned bread and butter pickles–too many!
Household/Projects: have contractors working on a remodel, DIY-ing a bathroom facelift, finished refacing a brick fireplace with stacked stone. Repaired a loose step, added a handrail.
Frugality: nothing special. We have solar panels working hard. Otherwise we just eat at home and get projects done in order to sell the house in September.
Business/Finance: met with financial planner to ensure we meet short/long term savings goals and short term spending goals (pay tuition for son’s and MY college as we go).
Family: a little quality time but need more
Planning/Reasearch: just got a truckload of woodchips! Don’t be envious–we literally waited about 4 hundred days to get ’em. And it’s about 90°-100°F this week. Planning includes landscape spruce up before moving to Oregon next month, the powder room facelift, the weekly update of the task list Gantt chart, putting the six chickens in the freezer next week (frugality?!) for quick taco meat, or whatever, this next month, and fantasizing about the myriad berries I’ll grow and garden beds I’ll have at the new house…after we replace the breaker box and entire sewer pipe! ??
Awesome stuff and good luck preparing to move – that’s always a stressful thing. But your new space sounds like….after a few repairs, it’s going to be wonderful!
Hey Erica! I was wondering if you’ve tried ChipDrop? They are awesome – I’ve gotten loads delivered just a few days after signing up. My husband complains because they are the size of his car.
I have TRIED to try ChipDrop but apparently I have an account I started to set up years ago, and they won’t let me reset my password to finish setting up the account or set up a new account! I’ve reached out via their customer service email for help, but no response yet.
Just an idea for woodchips…have you tried your electric company? I’m guessing you have, but if not they LOVE having places to dump woodchips out here. As in they dump a load for me and before I’ve had a chance to touch it they come knock on my door and ask if they can dump another one! Good luck! And love seeing your reports as it helps keep me motivated 🙂
GENIUS! I’ll call my electric company tomorrow! I hadn’t thought of that!
I cleaned out my pantry and converted a bunch of ingredients into meals for the freezer. Navy bean soup. Black bean, brown rice, cheese, and salsa burritos. Red lentil dal. Three different types of muffins. And the pantry is now usable again and I actually know what is in it. Like many, many packets of yeast. And soba noodles. Many, many soba noodles.
Summertime is sobatime! I ate this almost every afternoon the summer I was in Japan.
Sue Selis says
Craigslist has been a resource for us for wood chips.
Thanks for the tip!
Using a sump pump to water your orchard using the duck tub? That is genius! 😀
I hope you find wood chips soon!
My productive home… kind of isn’t at the moment. A bunch of stuff went wrong. :-
Oh, potato pearls! ? On the list of what makes our church great, potato pearls are definitely up there! I giggled at that shout-out 😉
For instant potatoes….those Potato Pearls are really quite tasty. I think everyone – regardless of faith or lack thereof – who is interested in deep food storage needs to check out their local Bishop’s Storehouse. The LDS teachings on family preparedness – both in food but also family finance and debt – are something I think have very broad applicability.
Matt L says
Did you try signing up for chipdrop. We get them in the Portland area through this service and if I kick in $20 for gas/etc… I can usually get them in a day or two.
Valerie Stein says
Oof, we’ve been vagabonds. But we made flatbread, wholemeal crackers and bagels this week, and ate down fridge veggies from the farm box, plus microgreens and some lettuce. I haven’t bought bread in at least a couple of months. Yay, us! Oh, and harvested my first green bean (shhh – I did not share). I had zero success last year. Harvested lovely garlic! Around 24 heads, I didn’t count yet to see. Deep watering is working in all the different areas of the garden, I seem to be keeping everything alive this year (well, black flies in the sunroom plants and I have to get the fly tape and a pan to sanitize the soil in the grill- that is the plan). The grow lights, though adding to our energy consumption, are making it possible for me to take even fewer grocery store trips. That is the tradeoff we decided on at this time – living in cedar woods means we did not get to put solar panels on out property, so we’ve had to decide how far we could go. Reached our medium, now, I think. Eating down pickled beets and kimchi – I am the only beet eater and we get lots in the farm box. Favorite is lactofermented with Fresh and Fermented recipes, but do share if anyone has favorite recipes! Enjoying gin and non alcoholic beverages with my rhubarb simple syrup cubes. The local beef I stewed this week was seasoned solely with my own home grown or preserved herbs and seasonings, except the chipotle. Letting chives and some lettuce go to seed, and will see if I can successfully save lettuce seed. I am over the moon that my tomatillos started from seed are thriving and full of blossoms, and setting fruit!
On the frugality measure, I’ve started purging my studio and bedroom closets to make best use of what I want to own – trash, recycle, a homeless shower ministry a friend runs, and then the thrift store. My house is a disaster as I stack things to get rid of, and it feels FANTASTIC.