Thursday, June 28, 2012

Garbage is a real problem, especially in an emergency - Manchester simple living | Examiner.com

Garbage is a real problem, especially in an emergency - Manchester simple living | Examiner.com:

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Have you considered what you intend to do with your garbage if the sh*t does hit the fan? Remember that cities like London were infested and plague ridden over the past several centuries because they didn't pay enough attention to their garbage problems. Whether it's just regular house refuse or the leftovers from an animal slaughter day or (gods' forbid!) bodies... you have to be prepared to get rid of the garbage.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Dehydrating vegetables is a great way to preserve your harvest - Manchester simple living | Examiner.com

Dehydrating vegetables is a great way to preserve your harvest - Manchester simple living | Examiner.com: "It's easy to freeze berries and most fresh vegetables and instructions are easy to come by. Even in our hectic, modern age, many families still make home-made jams and jellies or put together a quick canned salsa. That isn't the only way to preserve your harvest, though. Dehydrating is becoming increasingly popular because its finished product keeps well without refrigeration and because it is light and easy to store."

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning

Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning:

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Don't bother reading the comments on this one  unless you WANT your blood pressure to go up. However, the article is a good one. Having seen people drowning in the past, I can say that it is true - they do not look like they do on television. If you plan on being near the water this summer, please read this carefully - it might save someone's life.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Homestead Barn Hop

The Prairie Homestead is a great blog with lots of tips and tricks and great posts. I read her all the time! She hosts something called the "Homestead Barn Hop" which is a list of interesting posts from a wide variety of related blogs, each Monday. I hope you'll go check it out - it's worth a peek!

Click here for homesteading fun!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Finally, some sun!


Finally, some summer sun! The grandparents got the kids this Slip'n'Slide a month ago, and they've used it all of once because it's been raining so much. Today, with the warm sun and the bright blue sky, was the right time to unpack it. They're hooking it up as I write this, screeching in delight and skipping around the yard.

Beans and peas
Our beans are growing great guns. I'm amazed at how healthy and strong they look! It's funny, I bought bush beans because I didn't want to deal with the hassle of a trellis and all that. Well, there is apparently one single pole bean in there, and it's growing upward at a startling rate. I'll have to lean it over onto the pea fencing when it gets tall enough. I have runner beans to put up later, but I have been so busy and there's been so much rain, I just haven't made it a priority. I'm pleased with the progress in this bed, though. The only thing that isn't doing as well as I'd hoped is the cabbage. Then again, it is a slow crop to grow.

Tomatoes in buckets
My bucket tomatoes seem to be doing quite well. I'm pleased with their progress. I put more compost on top today, burying their stems a bit deeper (and burying a couple of little shoots). We've already got one baby tomato forming! I'm so excited I could burst. There are many flowers on these four plants, and I have a feeling they're going to be great performers. My home-sprouted tomatoes are still tiny and rather depressing looking. I guess right now my major hope is that they'll spring up in size and start producing when these ones are all done for the season.

Cukes and spinach
These (this?) are my new "raised bed(s)" which just got filled and planted today. I took all the broken and cracked boxes, drilled drainage holes in the bottoms and lower sides, then filled them with lovely dark composted dirt. There are two rows of cucumbers down the six buckets, for a total of about 12 feet on each side, or a full 24 feet of cukes. Along the sunny side (the side that won't get shaded) I planted more spinach. It turns out that our girl child likes spinach so long as it's fresh from the garden. My spinach plants look like a slug attacked them, except I know one hasn't - it's the child! And what am I supposed to say? "Don't eat that good stuff!" LOL... Not likely. So instead I've planted more.

The shaded side of the buckets will have lettuce planted along them, as soon as I get more seed. Lettuce will do fine in the shade, and will hopefully keep us in greens for most of the summer. There's nothing I like more than some salad with fresh cukes and tomatoes!

Veggie bed
The tractor tire bed with the broccoli and spinach and carrots and beets and such is doing pretty well. I've been picking spinach for a full week now, and it's still coming up in patches. The carrots are coming up well, too, although it'll be another month before they begin to show signs of being anything other than just wispy greens. The radishes are almost ready to be picked, and the beets just look incredible. I'm rather proud of this bed, as it's growing nicely.

The herb bed
If that first bed looks good, then this second one looks incredible! My herb bed makes my heart jump for joy. The dill we planted is almost big enough to stand a bit of use, and the store bought ones are ready to be picked at a bit. Food from this point out will have fresh herbs in it for both flavor and vitamins. Both the dill and cilantro have such amazing flavor it's unbearable. I can't help but pick at it just a bit when I'm out there. I just want to bury my nose in the oregano, too, because it smells so wonderful.

While it's certainly not the acre of crops we had in the past, I feel like my little garden is doing pretty well. We've got next to no weeds, and the few that have managed to come up take only a few moments to pluck up. The mulch seems to be working very well at both weed control and moisture retention. Everything looks great and is very healthy. I can always expand next year. It was important to have a successful garden trial this year, even if it was pretty small.

How's your garden growing? What's your favorite plant or veg? Do you grow big or small?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Summer (home) schooling can stave off regression - Manchester simple living | Examiner.com

Summer (home) schooling can stave off regression - Manchester simple living | Examiner.com: "There are a lot of negative connotations in regards to homeschooling your children. People seem to think of homeschool children as being the offspring of religious fanatics or doomsday preppers or hopeless new age hippies. While there are probably some homeschooling parents who are in the above categories, the majority are just people wanting to give their children the best education possible."

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Gardening and stuff

The new front garden / strawberry bed.
There's a lot growing at the Freehold this week! Our beans are huge, and I believe we're starting to get flowers. The peas are attacking their fencing with gusto. The first of the spring spinach has been harvested and eaten. The radishes are looking tempting, although aren't yet ready to come up. There's so much green around, and it's difficult to just... wait. One of my favorite new additions is the strawberry bed, pictured above. The edge is full of strawberry plants, and the center has two amaryllis flowers, two dahlias, and many marigolds (not yet mature enough to be seen). Next year, the bulbs will come out and more strawberries will go in (we have wild ones that are sweet as anything that are being transplanted here), but we only had time for the 40 strawberry plants we put in.

Split wood for winter.
We've started on the harvesting of our 2012-13 wood supply already. The electric company people have been taking down a lot of local trees, and since everyone around here knows that we heat mainly with wood, they've been offering us their downed logs. So far, I'd say we've managed to collect at least a cord worth of decent hardwood, for free. Gray has already begun splitting it, although a friend has threatened to bring his gas-powered splitter over, which would be a marvelous thing. Still, I'm not complaining. The more wood we get split before the fall, the better our fires will be this coming winter. We're not likely to get another warm winter like this past year, so we need to really be prepared.

Beans and peas.
Our beans and peas have really taken off. I'm using shaved wood as mulch right now, which seems to be doing well enough. Gray had to plane several pieces of wood, which generated an awful lot of very clean pine shavings, and you can see that there's no weed matter coming through at all. Around the edges is a different matter, of course, and I do need to get out and weed around the raised beds. Still, the beds themselves have had only minimal weeds at this point, tiny wee ones that have taken less than five minutes a day to take care of. I'm very pleased with the raised bed system, even if it doesn't look quite the way I intended when I started on this endeavor.

Tomatoes in buckets
I had planned on having a couple more of the raised beds ready for cucumbers and tomatoes, but that didn't turn out quite as well as planned. Instead, the few tomato plants I have are going two to a bucket. Each of these plastic buckets has failed us in some way, either collapsing and spilling out their contents, or cracking in some way. They all have holes, which makes them a great way to grow plants. They are, for all intents and purposes, instant raised beds. I filled them with compost and dirt, and in went the tomatoes. These ones (four of them) were courtesy of sis's mom, who visited a week ago. They're already flowering, and I'm very excited. They're the type that bear all summer, so I do hope that means we'll get a good crop of tomatoes out of them. I'll still need to buy some for canning, but at least our summer eating will be well taken care of. The baby tomato plants I started indoors ages ago never really took off. I've planted them, but honestly, I'm not expecting much from them.

Spuds in sacks!
The potatoes appear to be doing alright, although I suppose I won't know for a couple more weeks. I got them in very late, and the only seed potatoes I could find were quite withered and had long LONG eyes. Still, I am hoping that just means they're ready to explode with great growth and produce wonderful tons of spuds for me and my family now that they're in good quality compost. I decided to try my hand at the potato towers everyone was going on about, and so I have two of these filled with reds. The very top of each tower has five Yukon gold seed potatoes, which I'm hoping may also take. At this point, it's just more of that horrid waiting game.

The herb bed
My herbs are doing very well. Sis's mother got us some Greek oregano, some tarragon, and some thyme, all of which are in the bed now. My parsley is coming along nicely, and the cilantro I planted directly in the bed is doing marvelously. The sage is coming along, though slowly, and the basil never came up at all this year. I'm rather bummed about that, as I am a fan of fresh pesto, but again, I'm sure I'll find things at local markets this summer. And... it's still early.

Pretties.
We have a lot of flowers planted already this year. Some came with the house: day lilies, irises, and some interesting 'fuzzy' type greenery that is supposed to sport tiny yellow flowers eventually. Others we planted ourselves. I'm going to be taking some wildflower seeds I have, and tossing them out back along the stone wall at the edge of our property. They might grow and they might not (they're a bit out of date) but any that do sprout will be so beautiful. At the very least, the local critters will have a feast. We have several flowering bushes around the house, too, most of which I have no name for. The ones pictured here are the most delicate little pink flowers, and I've fallen totally in love with them.

Wild rose canes
These wild roses are going to be planted along our front property line. When the electric guys came, they took down all our privacy trees, leaving us largely exposed to the road. It isn't a big deal, but we really enjoyed that privacy, and the feeling of solitude it gave us. So, instead of whining about it, we're planting natural barbed wire to keep the nosy ones out. Wild roses have wicked thorns, and we received dozens of canes which will get planted as soon as the ground stops being so wet. This should be enough to create a full barrier between us and the road. Hopefully they'll grow up the trees a bit, and really block things off.

We hope to plant thorned blackberries on our side of that rose barrier, both as a secondary fence and as a method of providing our children with the fruit they seem to inhale. It's disturbing to see your twin six year olds freebasing strawberries...