Friday, September 28, 2007

Garden journal - Part 2

I've got more brocolli growing now but something is eating the leaves. I don't see anything on them so I guess it is a fly-by eating. I'm seeing a few of those white butterflies (cabbage white?) flying around.

I also have spinach going right now that is about ready to start eating. For some reason cutting the leaves off makes me nervous. They do grow back right?

8-Carrots – these grew really well and I was happy with the outcome. I’ve got more going now

10-Onions – also a success although they didn’t get very big. It was probably the container again

2-Royalty Purple Pod beans – Grew well and made good tasting beans. To get enough for a actual dish I’ll need to plant a lot more plants. I only had 2 to begin with and could get 10 or so beans by the end of the week. I planted more plants but I think I planted them too late because I still haven’t gotten any beans off of them

2-Tom Thumb peas – these grew and made peas but they were so small it wasn’t even worth picking them

2-Strawberries – no problems there. I’m still getting strawberries off the plant and it has made them all summer. Again the type of thing where I would need a lot more plants to get a substantial harvest

1-Blackberrries – growing well and made berries this year (it is it’s second year) but it didn’t make many and we ate them all right off the plant. I need to trellis it up because the berries that were touching the ground rotted

3-Blueberries – I have 3 bushes that are in their second year and should have made berries this year but they all flowered at different times and so no berries. I’m not sure what to do about these.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Book recommendations

I'm working on a list of reference books I may want to get. I'm looking for books on subjects that would apply to having a mostly self-sufficient homestead. I've got a good gardening book and a good book on herbal remedies. But I'm looking for recommendations for other good books. Here are some subjects I think I'd need books about, but other subjects that I missed would be great to know about.

Animal care
Home repair
Food preservation
Animal processing
Alternative energy
Cooking on a woodstove/open fire
Emergency medical care
Seed saving

I'm sure there are other subjects that would be good to have reference books about but my mind isn't working right now.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Garden Journal - Part 1

I can't believe it has been a week since I posted. It was a busy week, my wallet was stolen, Mark was out of town, Logan was sick, and I've been preserving what I can (that will be another post).

I decided to do a garden journal of what I grew and how it did mostly for my information so that when I plan next years garden I remember what happened this year. I'll post it in 2 parts so it doesn't get to be too much. If anyone has any advice on any of the things I planted that didn't do that well, I'd love to hear it. I planted everything in containers so I think it explains some of my failures.

2-Cherokee purple tomato – I wasn’t thrilled with these, they all split before they got ripe and were too liquidy to make a good sauce

Purple russian tomato – these never germinated

3-Amish paste tomato – These are pretty good but I need to plant a lot more because they are small and don’t go very far in making sauce, I only had 3 plants I would need at least 3 times that many

1-Pickling cucumber – worked out well and I’ll grow again, just remember to check them closely, those stealth cucumbers are tricky!

2-Jack Little Pumpkin – the vines grew really well and I got a ton of flowers but only 2 pumpkins grew to full size and ripened. They are cute little guys though.

1-Thai hot peppers – This grew really well and got absolutely covered in little peppers that all ripened. The peppers are really small though and you need about 5 to equal 1 normal size pepper. But you get so many, they do go a long way. 3 plants would probably be a good amount.

3-Thai basil – a success, it really has that Thai flavor

2-Basil – always a winner, the only problem I had was keeping up with it, it kept trying to go to seed on me, but I have lots of pesto put away for the winter

1-Marjoram – grew well but we didn’t find as many uses for it as I thought we would and then it died one day out of nowhere

1-Rosemary – also grew well but after using it a few times in cooking I had to stop since everything I used it in tasted like Thanksgiving to Mark and that wasn’t a good thing. Hopefully the plant will last until Thanksgiving.

2-Cilantro – I’ve never had any luck growing this. It grows a little but never gets to a decent size and then goes to seed. Any cilantro advice?

10-Blue potato – grew well even in a container, they didn’t get really big but I didn’t expect them to in a container

1-Sweet potato – out of all the slips I started only 1 grew into a full size plant, but grow it did! I’ve never seen a plant grow so quicky and it had really pretty flowers. I haven’t harvested any of it yet so I have no idea what my sweet potato yield will be

1-Brocolli – this grew really well and was making a good size head and then the caterpillars (worms?) got it. I’ve got more going now and we’ll see how they go

Friday, September 14, 2007


I have a question for those of you who grew tomatoes this year and used them to make sauce. What type of tomato did you use? I grew a few types this year and wasn't happy with any of them as far as making sauce goes.

And possibly a stupid pea question. If I want peas that are those little round ones, those are shelling peas right? What are snap peas? Are they ones where you eat the whole pod?

Thursday, September 13, 2007


My hybiscus seems to be enjoying the cooler weather we've been having. I almost killed it this spring by putting it out too early but it has recovered nicely. I'll bring it in for the winter probably in November and it will continue to bloom inside for most of the winter.

I'm glad it is enjoying the cooler weather. I personally am not ready for summer to be over! I still feel like there is a lot for me to do before summer ends. It seems like it flew by this year and I didn't really get a chance to enjoy it. And I HATE winter and it is hard not to feel it coming with this cooler weather. I feel like it is barreling down on me and there is nothing I can do to get out of the way. I want it to be spring again!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Aurora Milk lawsuit

I received the following email and bought O Organics and Woodstock Farms milk for over a year before switching to local milk. I will be contacting CFS about getting involved in the lawsuit.

"Help CFS Enforce the Integrity of Organic Milk Labels! One of the Center for Food Safety’s main goals is to protect the integrity of organic food so that consumers have a dependable, safe, and environmentally sustainable alternative to food produced through industrial agriculture.

Unfortunately, the ongoing actions of one dairy company have violated the trust consumers place in the organic label. On August 29th the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that from 2003 through 2006 Aurora Organic Dairy willfully violated the federal requirements for organic milk production by illegally failing to provide pasture, and by selling milk from cows that were not fully under organic management. The end result is that you - the organic consumer - may have paid a premium to purchase “organic” milk that was not truly organic! You can help ensure that the organic label really means organic. Companies like Aurora hurt the integrity of the organic label, and threaten the future of organic agriculture. While the USDA has partially addressed Aurora’s flagrant disregard for the organic standards, Aurora been allowed to continue to operate and many consumers are left feeling duped. CFS expects that there will be legal action taken against Aurora on behalf of consumers, and we want to make sure that YOUR rights are protected.

Aurora sells some of its milk under its own label: High Meadows. It also packages the majority of all private label organic milk and butter in the country for supermarkets such as Safeway, Costco, WalMart, Target and Wild Oats. If you purchased store brand organic milk or butter from any of these stores, or High Meadows, or Woodstock Farms brand, from 2003 through September 7, 2007, and are willing to speak with us about legal efforts against Aurora, please write back to us immediately!

If you can, please let us know:
- the name brand of your organic milk purchases
- the name of the store where you purchased the milk
- the amount of milk you purchased per week (1/2 gal., etc)
- the price you paid for the milk
- the period of time over which you purchased the milk

Don’t let one bad actor ruin your support for organic agriculture! By holding Aurora accountable for its terrible behavior, we put other companies on notice that we will not accept any violations of the organic standards. Together we can support the hard working farmers who are dedicated to the integrity of the organic label.

You can respond by emailing with “Aurora” in the subject line."

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Food Battle

The Farm Bill will be coming up in the Senate soon and it is time to take action. Here is a cute video about the farm bill with a link to send a letter to your senators on the side. I've spent this afternoon printing up letters to send to my senators.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


On Monday Logan and I went to visit my aunt and uncle who keep bees. They've been keeping bees for many years and also happen to be some of our favorite people. I plan to keep bees when we move so a first hand look at it all was incredible.

Here are Logan and I in our beekeeping outfits. Aren't we cute?

Here are the hives with my uncle Jeff, my grandfather and Logan all suited up and opening the newest hive.
There were a lot of bees in this hive. He had just installed it about a week ago and this was his first time opening it and checking on it. The queen is alive and very active. There were tons of egg cells in the hive.
Here is some honey that is being made in an older, larger hive.

This was really an amazing experience! Having the bees flying all around you but not being agitated was really cool. At one point my camera turned itself off and made a whirring noise. I jumped pretty high so I guess I was a little nervous during it all. Logan wasn't nervous at all and was right up against the hives looking in. I can see that beekeeping would take some getting used to, but it was also fascinating and really fun. I look forward to one day having hives of my own.