Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What Are You Doing Hal?

Computer crash has got me posting from random other computers right now. So I haven't gotten my description or photos up from last weeks' dark days challenge. Wish me luck with new hard drive installation and maybe I'll get this week's stuff up! We did eat a great local meal last week though. If I had the time, I'd try to do an all-local Thanksgiving, but falling in the middle of our Robotics team end-of-season madness, I don't think I can pull that one off. Still, the cranberries for sure are coming from Oregon, and my green beans will be from my garden.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Farmwife Days

It's no wonder that throughout history, cultures have had enormous celebrations when the fall is winding to a close. There is so much to do in this season of harvest, it can seem overwhelming. Couple that with the fact that our family's schedule is always a little nutty this time of year (due to being involved in the FLL robotics, which schedules its tournaments in December, and with some sort of holiday performance - this year Asa is in a production of Scrooge) and it can be crazy-making. So when I'm not trying to get the kids to various activities, and help them with all of their interests, I'm trying to play farmwife. Clean the chicken coop, bring in the last of the tomatoes before it frosts, make applesauce from all of the windfall apples, try to find screen doors to dry walnuts on, and get the garden beds ready for winter.

I've got lots of thoughts I'd love to give voice to here, about the recent elections, economic woes, the fact that canning is gaining huge popularity again suddenly, victory gardens, and bicycle advocacy, but very little time to type them out. I guess that will have to wait for the dark days of winter.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Definitely Try This At Home

This sounds like a great idea. At the Urban Hennery, they've issued a "Dark Days Challenge" to eat locally. From November 15 to March 15:

The “Rules”:

Cook one meal a week featuring at least 90% local ingredients
You define local - the standard definitions range from 100, to 150 to 200 miles
Ingredients can be things you grew and preserved yourself, sourced from local farms and markets, or purchased at the store
Write about the meals you cook, your challenges finding ingredients, why you’re eating local or whatever else strikes your fancy for each recap. Photos are optional.
Include friends and family in your sourcing and eating as possible

More info and sign up at the Urban Hennery

Monday, November 03, 2008

Truly Spooky


Our Very Own Pumpkin Patch

This year for the first time, we got our halloween pumkins from our very own pumpkin patch! In past years, we tried to grow them in the front yard (the deer ate every blossom before it ever fruited) and the back yard (on the North side of the house, not enough sun to ripen once the sun starts dipping to the South). But this year with our new fenced garden to the Southeast of the house, it was just perfect. For more about our adventures picking and carving them, you can see my Blue Skies Blog. But here I just want to exult a little bit in our new garden addition and how well it worked out this year.

If you've been reading here for awhile, you might remember that two years ago we got ten dumptruck loads of leaves dumped on that spot from our city's leaf collection program, and I spent half the winter raking them out over the garden area. Over the course of a year, they composted down until there was no longer a pile, just some very fertile earth. Then this spring we fenced off the area and it looked like this:

Then it ended up looking like this, the green beans got so overgrown I had a hard time even taking a photo, and they actually trellised themselves all the way up into the tree that was overhanging the fence, so we had green beans growing 15 feet up the tree. But the bottom line is that this new garden spot ended up being very productive - we harvested about 150 pounds of produce (I did include the pumpkins in that amount) from that front garden area.

We got tons of green beans, which did really well. The peppers flopped there, but did well in our raised beds in the back so that didn't matter too much, and we got a nice amount of tomatoes (but plan on trellising them next year for a better harvest). We also got fresh corn on the cob, lettuce, carrots, and potatoes, cucumbers, and now broccoli, chard, beets, cabbage, and kale. I was picking a bucket like this every couple of days throughout the harvesting season and its still doing well.

Next year's plan is to expand that area to an even bigger size, grow enough tomatoes to can tomatoe sauce, and have a salsa garden, as well as adding some strawberry beds and maybe raspberries. Garden dreams have a way of keeping me going through the winter season, and with this year's success, I'm even more energized for next year.