Christmas Countdown Clock

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Independence Day #8

I know I've missed a few of these but rather than try to work out which week this would be had I have posted every week ... it just seemed easier to carry on where I left off ... so this is #8.
1. Plant Something: DH was v. busy on sunday & planted: 2 rasperries, 1 blackberry, a damson tree, 25 strawberry plants, 3 Goji Berries, 3 Tayberries, 1 gooseberry bush.
2. Harvest Something: Fairly successful on this front ... we had a bunch of veg that needed to come out before the frosts get any worse.
3.75lbs Turnips (Value £2.85)
1.5lbs Radishes (Value £2.75)
2lbs Beetroot (Value £3.75)
Total value this week: £9.35
3. Preserve something: still nothing here ... next year, I promise it will be different!
4. Prep Something (clean, mend, declutter, organise, learn new skills - be ready for what might come): Ongoing decluttering still in progress. I've joined MISI (like Etsy but in the UK) & set up a store there selling the remaining craft supplies from my old craft store (now closed down) but planning to focus on selling handmade ... so I guess I'm gonna be learning a lot of new skills v. soon. I'm also returning to my roots in party plan - that is more a case of re-learning old skills tho'
5. Cook Something (experiment for variation!) tried a 3 bean cassoulet, partly to use up the vast amounts of turnips!
6. Manage Reserves (don't waste bounty). Not much going on here... maybe we just don't waste much in the first place. I've spent a few evenings at the hospital visiting my stepfather & tend to be sooooo hungry that I can't wait the 20 minutes to boil pasta or whatever. DH had prepared me a veggie sausage pasta sauce one night & I added that to some leftover rice to make a rather tasty 'cheat's risotto' - v. yummy!!
7. Work on local food systems (buy local, promote green, give away seeds or plants, start local initiatives): Nothing actually happening here but I have a few plans. Dad gave me a link to a UK forum, which I will register for soon. I also have just found out about the Dartford Freecycle group (I though it was only in the US) & still need to look into the goodies offered by the River Cottage website ... although that is mostly indirectly local, I also want to try & start a local composting initiative ... just with the neighbours. I need more veg waste for my compost (we couldn't possibly make enough by ourselves) & as I share veg etc anyway, I hope they'll be keen to help.
8. Reduce Waste: Nothing new, just the ongoing re-purposing of glass jars, beer & other glass bottles, toilet roll tubes, bread bags, cardboard boxes & veg/meat trays continues ... as does my campaign against carrier bags! I found a rather interesting book online, all about 'precycling': making the things you would buy ... like shampoo & deodorant, so that you don't buy the packaging in the first place ... will update on that when I have it!

Sunday, 14 December 2008

I'm back!!

not too much been going on from the gardening front until this weekend ... we had major harvesting/planting to do!
Today, DH planted most of the stuff that was delivered on Friday (almost an entire month late!!): Tayberries (3); Goji Berries (3); strawberry plants (25); a damson tree; & then there was the gooseberry bush, 2 rasperry canes & the blackberry cane that have been waiting to be planted since late September. Bad us!! We did have some of those 'stick' apple trees a few years ago ... they got so choked by weeds that they never really established & we got rid when we dug the back garden up. Apparently, we missed a root & when DH was digging it over today, he found 2 new shoots ... healthy & about 4" tall growing on a huge root that he dug up. So we are going to try re-potting & see if we can grow them. Nothing to lose I guess!

We still have 9 rhubarb crowns, 2 apple trees, a pear tree & 3 hazelnut bushes to plant ... just as soon as I decide where they are to go! The plan is to put them in the back garden & then throw some grass seed down in the spring ... in the 'mini orchard' we are creating, we want to try keep a few chickens later next year - still just a thought right now ... need to take a proper look at it before we go ahead! But it is looking good for bumper fruit crops next year ... yummy! The hazelnut bushes won't fruit for 2 years but everything else should be OK for next year!!

In with the delivery were some freebies: 25 Spring Green Tulips, 6 Scabiosa Perfecta (have no idea what they are ... other than a flower, of course) & an extra surprise Christmas gift of 20 mixed daffodil & narcissi bulbs. The plan is to grow them in little pots, which will be prettied up as mother's day/easter gifts next spring ... might even sell a few at local craft fairs if I'm lucky.

Anyway, we harvested most of our remaining crops today too ... we have just started to get a few hard frosts: 3.75 lbs Turnips; 2lbs beetroot & 1.5lbs of mild radish roots. the radishes came from the mixed salad, which had gone to seed & been a li'l bit slug/frost damaged. When DH dug them up, he discovered these large radish-type roots, ate one & decided they are edible. LOL. So we also added a huge amount of green stuff to the compost today too!

Update on the allotment: DH spent a lot of time down there last month ... just rotavating the ground. It has been done 3-4 times now & is ready to plant out in spring! Woo-hoo!! No piccies today ... hope to have something for you soon!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Independence Day #7

1. Plant Something: Still failing miserably on the whole planting front. If I had a bit more space indoors I'd plant some herbs etc ... & if we had actually got as far as making a cold frame I could plant that too - but we haven't - so I didn't! LOL
2. Harvest Something: crops are fast dwindling now ... pretty soon I guess there will be no harvesting until late spring - a sobering thought. But right now we are doing pretty well.
8oz Spring Greens (Value 35p)
1 lbs 13oz New Potatoes (Value £1.30)
12oz Carrots (Value £1.11 )
Herbs for cooking (Value £1.50)
Total Value This Week: £4.26
3. Preserve Something: Still not doing so well on this front. Nothing again this week.
4. Prep Something (clean, mend, declutter, organise, learn new skills - be ready for what might come). Although technically last week, due to the scheduled post I didn't include it. A massive 10 squares of the shaker blanket I've been knitting for what seems like forever (23 squares knitted; 67 to go!)- & that also means I learned 4 new stitches - so I'll count that as my new skill for this week too :o)
The winter weather is just starting to bite here, so our prep involved hanging a couple new doors I took a whole bunch of Christmas cards up to the relatives over half term ... & very well received they were too!
5. Cook Something (experiment for variation!) Ummmm ... nothing earth shattering. But with harvesting our own veggies & potatoes, we have managed a couple of meals that are 75% home grown - next year, I'd hope that would be the case for most of our meals, all year around.
6. Manage Reserves (don't waste bounty). We are getting rather good at using left overs. Much as I'm veggie, I live in a house full of meat eaters ... who eat a lot of fried food (!). We have a bowl of dripping (meat fat/juices) in the fridge to use for frying meat & it gets topped up again afterward. My mum always had one when we were small - saves a fortune on buying oil if you are gonna fry stuff anyway.
I'm also saving any leftover gravy & veg from each meal - great as a base for stews, casseroles & soups.
7. Work on local food systems (buy local, promote green, give away seeds or plants, start local initiatives) Still sharing a few veggies with mum ... mostly greens as I've not finished thinning them yet! LOL. I guess in some way I must be promoting green: mum told me today that she had made a couple changes to save fuel, like cooking 2 meats at the same time *smiles*. I'm gonna take a look at the 'landshare' scheme too ... watch out for an update soon!
8. Reduce Waste: This is getting harder to achieve the greener we are. Our food waste is minimal, especially since we got good at both using leftovers & shopping/cooking to a menu - if you don't buy it, you can't waste it! Our recycling is mostly 'repurposing' nowadays, so there's not much making it as far as the recycling bin. So if anyone has any ideas for further steps ... drop us a comment!!

Friday, 31 October 2008

Counting the Cost: October

3 weeks ago I promised to curb my spending for this month ... & I have had a pretty good go at that. Unfortunately, it was always destined to be an expensive month as we needed to get a skip in & do some major clearance in both the back garden (half filled with rubble from when we cleared the front), the shed (full with old shop fittings) & the loft (who knows/cares what is really up there).
Although we had spent a vast amount on trees, plants & seeds last month, I don't expect to have to that that much more in the future - if at all. The fruit trees might take a little while to establish but mostly we expect to grow loads next year & to harvest some seeds for future planting.
So, this month's expenditure:
Skip = £175

& where we saved money:
More recycling of jars for next year's preserves;
Collecting toilet rolls for long rooted seedlings (we'll use Di's newspaper pots if we need more);
Collecting veg trays (from pre-packed mushrooms) for seedlings;
FREE Allotment - which will allow us to grow soooo much more;
Harvesting the wood from our old sofa for future cold frames;
Borrowing a petrol strimmer instead of buying/hiring one.
I really wouldn't want to hazard a guess at how much that little lot would have cost us ... more than we have going spare I would expect! LOL

Harvested veggies: saving £19.13 - go me!!!

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Independence Day #6

This is actually a scheduled post as I've been away for much of this week (I get home sometime today!) That means I haven't done as much as I might otherwise.
1. Plant Something: nope! I haven't been around to tend to planting this week ... hoping to get some overwintering crops into the allotment soon.
2. Harvest Something: Fairly successful on this front ... we have a bunch of winter veggies in good shape & have been sharing them too.
2 lbs Spring Greens (Value £1.40)
12 oz Turnips (Value 56p)
lbs Potatoes (Value £)
4 oz baby carrots (Value 85p)
Herbs for cooking (Value £1.50)
Total value this week: £4.36
3. Preserve something: I have been a bit slack on this front. I haven't dried any herbs and as we started late in the year, there wasn't an abundance for freezing - next year will be a totally different story.
4. Prep Something (clean, mend, declutter, organise, learn new skills - be ready for what might come): Ongoing decluttering ... &, hardly a green issue but, I have started organising Christmas preparations: gifts that need making, cards etc. I'll be donating a bunch of handmade stuff to DS4's Christmas Fayre too (the deets will be on my craft blog starting early November!)
5. Cook Something (experiment for variation!) Not much experimenting goes on around here but I have cooked the odd meal. I baked apples (yummy!) made a few pasta dishes, made a huge stew.
6. Manage Reserves (don't waste bounty). Not much going on here. We are doubling quantities for much of our cooking ... stuff like white sauces, which we make from scratch & storing the rest in the fridge (it keeps well for a week ... never lasts longer than that! LOL). This week I didn't buy many veggies as the boys don't cook them when I'm away - but the ones I did have to go with a roast; there were too many, so I cooked them all & made a veggie bake (for me) with the leftover veggies & some white sauce from the fridge. Added a bit of grated cheese to the top ~& my next day's dinner was ready to bake in five minutes flat! I had some bruised cooking apples that needed using ... stewed apples anyone?
7. Work on local food systems (buy local, promote green, give away seeds or plants, start local initiatives): My dad came over on a flying visit (he lives in Bulgaria now) & will be sending me some seeds early spring. I gave some excess veggies to my mum (spring greens) & took some up to the in laws with me (more greens, mixed salad leaves).
8. Reduce Waste: I've flat-packed & stored some large cardboard boxes (they usually end up in the recycling) to cover the prepped ground on the allotment ... keeps the soil warmer & the weeds down. The ongoing re-purposing of glass jars, beer bottles, toilet roll tubes, bread bags & veg/meat trays continues ... as does my campaign against carrier bags!

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Allotment Update!

As promised, a li'l piccie of the new allotment as it looked this morning. Yup! That's DH getting in on a photo op there! LOL. So as you can see, there's rather a lot of work to be done. It wasn't possible to get a good picture of the whole plot, maybe I'll try from a different angle next time.

I showed my face down there briefly ... for long enough to take a picture & identify any plants to be saved. So DH dug up a patch of strawberry plants & has left the raspberry canes in situ - we'll move them at a later date as they are in totally the wrong location!
DH has now strimmed the entire plot & when we get back next week we need to start the rather longer job of rotavating & prepping the ground. I still have to measure up, so that I can plan it all out - Exciting stuff!

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Independence Day #5

It's been a better week for me, having seen the doctor last Thursday & got some meds ... I'm starting to feel more like myself again & have a bit of energy too! Anyway, this week's round up:
1. Plant Something - nope! we are busy clearing the new allotment & then I'll be back to planting again!!
2. Harvest Something - Ohhhhh, this was such a good week. Due to the mild weather we've been having, the carrots I put in to overwinter are actually about ready to pull now - actually, I planted them to generously, so the plan was to thin them out - check out the photos ... 1/2lb baby carrots (I steamed them whole & they were sooooo sweet!) plus 1/4 lb of the tiniest thinnings - I guess they could have gone into the compost but if they are big enough to wash, I reckon we can eat them! The potatoes, which we did think we might have planted to late, are about ready too - we didn't bank them up early enough, so no bumper crops - but these were a couple of supermarket spuds that had sprouted in the cupboard - luuuurve freebies! LOL. More spring greens - I am mildly anaemic, so although I'm not a fan of greens (the boys love 'em - I just grow 'em), I am making sure to have a portion every time I cook them.
New potatoes: 1lb 12 oz = value £1.75
Beetroot: 12 oz = value = £1.18
Spring greens: 12oz = value = 60p
Baby carrots: 8 oz = value = £1.70
Carrot thinnings: 4 oz
Herbs for cooking: I don't weigh them!! = value £1.50
Total Saving: £6.73
3. Preserve something: I froze a couple of portions of veggie soup (see 'manage reserves') but that was all this week.
4. Prep Something (clean, mend, declutter, organise, learn new skills - be ready for what might come). The shaker style knitted blanket is an ongoing project; decluttering continues ... a couple more boxes donated to charity.
We had a skip in this week & finally shifted the rubble from the back garden, unwanted shop fittings from the shed & some rubbish from the loft. We also dumped our old sofa (really wasn't worth donating!) in the skip after stripping everything worth re-using ... wood for the cold frame for starters! Not so green, but no other viable option!
I am still cleaning & removing labels from all the jars & beer bottles that are emptied - so far this week only one marmite jar made it as far as the glass recycling. When the shed is cleaned (plaster, sand etc needs sweeping out this weekend) we will finally get to storing them in the shed! My mum was throwing out some spare bedding - so we sorted thru that & snapped up some fleece underblankets (we have no heating, remember!) & a couple of travel rugs. I am still collecting plastic veg trays & toilet roll tubes for seedlings.
Although I've not actually learnt anything new this week, I came across a very useful link to a tutorial on fusing plastic - I see lots of totes etc in my future & I'm currently collecting bread bags for this - honestly, we do seem to be reducing the amount of stuff that ends up in the recycling by re-using much more now!
5. Cook Something (experiment for variation!): nothing experimental - steamed greens, steamed baby carrots & new potatoes with basil mint ... everything tastes soooo much better fresh from the garden!
6. Manage Reserves (don't waste bounty): I am still in the habit of buying too many veggies (not used to having them growing there yet, I guess) & where I've not been well rather too many needed using up - it might be predictable... but I made a big pot of veggie soup & froze a couple of family sized portions (I write the date & contents on the tub with a black sharpie)
7. Work on local food systems (buy local, promote green, give away seeds or plants, start local initiatives). Nothing to give away right now - but we will be working on the allotment & hopefully making new green-fingered friends there.
8. Reduce Waste: I don't know what happened to this category - managed to miss it out on the last post or two.
We are still working on not using carrier bags at all & I guess I've been a little bit more successful than DH on this one ... old habits die hard! I have a total of 4 totes, one of which zips into it's own pocket & is small enough to carry all the time in my handbag (so I have it with me on days I hadn't planned to buy anything!) - so far that has been enough.
Online shopping at Tesco ... they give you an option for delivery without carrier bags (you unload from crates on arrival)
The re-purposing of beer bottles, plastic trays, toilet roll tubes & glass jars has reduced our recycling by much more than I had expected. Now we have added plastic bags (bread bags in particular) to the stuff we can re-use. Our recycling is normally completely full for each fortnightly collection (& on occasions we have put the overflow in the neighbours recycling). The first collection this month was 3/4 full and this time around half.
Using the 'use it before it goes bad' approach to the fridge has also reduced waste - we are throwing out less & gathering some tasty stuff in the freezer!