Friday, December 30, 2011

Uneven Minwax Polystain results!

I take back all of the good things that I said about Minwax polystain. It is beading up, which gives a very uneven surface. It is really very obvious!

I am following the directions for the second coat, and then I will use sandpaper blocks followed by fine steel wool. THEN I will, I believe, rub in a third coat in an attempt to get a more even surface.

Then I will not use this product again. Ever.

It takes longer to dry then they said, which is not a biggie. It means that the project will take longer, is all!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Refinishing the Table!

Solid wood furniture is the BOMB!

The good table is worn and ugly, which is a shame as I have always had a weakness for wood furniture. And, because money is so tight it would be foolish to replace it or even have it refinished it.

So, I went down to Home Depot and for $25 I bought what I needed to refinish it.

They had a bucket full of wood strips that I could match my table to. I could not take the bucket of samples home but I could (and did) bring in a broken arm rest to match the colors. What is even better: I will not have to strip the furniture! Min-Wax brand is designed to go OVER the old finish! And, the can of stain says that there is polyurethane already mixed into the stain and so a separate polyurethane coat will not be needed.

So, I scrubbed and I sanded the table top to make a smooth base, wiped off the dust with a damp rag, and let it dry for an hour.

I then brushed on a layer of stain, being carefull to keep a wet leading edge and it looks AWESOME! I did a GREAT job matching the stain! I will need a second coat that will go on tonight, but this table is going to look brand new! (Actually I think it is closer 30 years old, but have I mentioned that solid wood is AWESOME?)

Next I will have to take a toothbrush to clean some spots on the edge- I am only staining the top as that is all that showes wear- and then I will need to take a toothbrush to the chairs. There is some ground in grime on those chars on the underside, in the cracks where the rungs meat the seats, and so forth. I intend THEM to look as new as the table!

I consider home repair to be every INCH part of homesteading!

Gotta go, now. The sun is getting low and the chickens need to be shut in!!!!!!!!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Strawberries and Sweet Potatos in the Greenhouse.


My greenhouse is not well vented, so even with the open door it will be a problem to keep things watered. Increased heat means increased transpiration which means an increased need for water.

My greenhouse is home made and I got it ALMOST level, and so there is an uphill side that I can take advantage of. If I plant the strawberries in a rather thick row along that edge, I should be able to keep them watered without actually going into the greenhouse. Instead I can walk along the uphill side with the hose, and gravity will take the water into the greenhouse. This will be easier, and it means that I will not have to stand in the over-heated greenhouse in order to water. My heat tolerance has never been very good, and now that I have MS it is far worse!

Instructions on strawberries say to plant them a foot apart, but strawberries in the wild or in a bed grow much more closely than that. I do not expect a problem from planting them that closely.

I am going to plant a double row just 6 inches apart. The roots can spread out to the side.  And, when I fertilize I can spread a line of fertilizer outside of the greenhouse and let the water carry it to the roots!

If I plant the early strawberries I will give up some production as plants bred for an early yield rarely yield as well, but it might be worth it to not be picking after it gets hot! Kansas DOES get hot, and I will not want to be inside the greenhouse at that time. 

I THINK that most nurseries get their bundles of strawberries in February, which would be early enough as February is usually overcast and wet in my area. The greenhouse will not freeze in such conditions, but neither will the plants grow much. So, instead of trying to get them in early I will accept that they will not get planted as early as they could be.

And, since I will be growing them a few feet away from sweet potatos I shall have to go inside every now and then to move any sweet potato vines that threaten to grow over them.

Sweet potatos.

Sweet potatos love heat but they also love water. Instead of going inside to water, I will see what areas inside the greenhouse get boggy when it rains, and I will mark the area. THAT is where I will plant the sweet potatos!

I should be able to run the hose and fill that low-lying area regularly to water the plants nexxt to it. I might dig an inch deep trenchleading to the low area to speed things up a bit.

I do not mind being inside the greenhouse briefly and so I can fertilize easily: since the water will have to run 4 feet to the sweet potatos so it would be best if I put the fertilizer next to the plants. With heat and water and fertility, I expect the sweet potatos to be VERY HAPPY!!!!!!!!!

Weeding is very easy because of the raised beds that I put on top of woven greenhouse floor covering. I filled the raised beds with perlite: for nutrition the fine roots have to go through the woven floor or use the fertilizer that I apply. This keeps the weeds small and they are easily removed. Not that I have MANY weeds as there were no seeds in the perlite that I filled the beds with but I do get a few, now.

Since the sweet potatos will be grown in perlite it should be very easy to remove them: I will just work my hand into the perlite and remove them! I will have to be gentle to protect the woven floor that the fine roots grow through, but I expect no real problem.

Beauregaurd sweeet potatos grow well in my area. If I can I will grow some of them.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

I Am Running Out of Greenhouse Vegetables!

I have enough radishes for just one more salad! And, they are small and slightly frost-damaged, as the temperature unexpectedly fell down to 18 degrees farenheight. I need 2 layers of plastic on the beds when it is that cold and I only had one. All of the plants survived but some damage was done.

And, the turnips still have not bulbed up.

Elliot Coleman, who sells greenhouse vegetables all winter long, stated that vegetables stopped growing when the day length fell to below 8 hours a day. We are getting less than 8 hours of daylight right now. The vegetables should start growing again when the daylength is AGAIN 8 hours, which will not be until the end of January.

I am spoiled: I LIKE having fresh picked vegetables! No vegetable from the store tastes as good as my fresh picked ones! Next Fall I will grow twice as many radishes, as they are good in the middle of winter!

Heck, I might plant greenhouse radishes this winter in January, for early salads!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Kim Il Sung is dead!

I rarely speak ill of anybody, but his people were starving and he did NOT care! If he had cared, he would have allowed the citizens of North Korea to have larger gardens, instead of the tiny ones they were expected to use.

Not that the citizens DID restrict themselves to the tiny gardens that were legal: instead they paid bribes to be allowed to raise their carrots and such in peace!

Many of the refugees also report that a large percentage of the population were eating grass or skipping meals because they could not afford to eat! I suspect that the North Koreans have no idea that most countries no longer have famines, and that in other countries the people have no idea that grass can be eaten....... And WHY would any government try to stop the citizens from having large gardens??????

North Korea is a  land of many mountains. In America the mountains are often grazed by meat animals. In Europe the mountains are planted to vinyards, often with grass between the rows,  and so their hillsides produce fruit and hay, but in North Korea the citizens eat the grass that grows on the mountains instead of feeding it to livestock! And vegetable gardens are restricted. That is CRAZY!

The Winter Greenhouse!

It is the winter solstice, or very close to it.

The radishes are still good, though they have lost a small amount of their crispness.

We ate 2 small turnips at Thanksgiving, which is the end of November in America. Alas, the other turnip roots stopped growing when they were 1/2 inch across. Since the turnip greens are stronger than I enjoy I might be done eating turnips! We shall see: either the roots will continue to get fat or they will not. Either the plants will go to seed or they will not. And, if they DO go to seed then the greens might get milder, and then we could eat the greens!

Thw small onions are growing VERY well, and the scallions appear to be dormant. The parsley and young cabbage are just sitting there.

I wish I could remember when I planted the greenhouse: was it in September? I THINK that it was, and that would appear to be too late in the year for the turnips and cabbage. Though I might get some good greens when they go to seed.

Elliot Coleman, who writes books about using unheated greenhouses in a colder climate than I live in, plants chard, beets, arugula, carrots, lettuce, leeks, parsley, lettuce, scallions, sorrel, spinach, and a few others.

And, I have had good success with small onions, radishes, and parsley. If planted earlier no doubt I would have good turnips. Next year I will try all of those again and add beets and spinach to the mix.

Next SPRING I will try strawberries! Since I do not have to weed hardly at all I should get a good crop, and a very early one!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I am back from my trip, much to my husbands relief!

Apparently my husband does not like my daughter's cooking! And, the house is a mess but she will soon put that right!

To console my husband, tonight we will have sausages, peas, potato cassarole, and a salad of cabbage and of radishes from the greenhouse! Yes, the greenhouse has done well for me, and everything is still alive!

I have no idea how cold it got while I was gone: it is not something that my family would notice.

I remember that men eat partly with their eyes, and so I have sprinkled some peas and some sliced sausage across the top of the potato cassarole, to make it look bright and pretty. Nella Last, an Englishwoman who cooked VERY well during the shortages of World War 2, pointed that out. She  said that her husband one day came home and spoke in horror how the men who worked under him had only vegetables, cheese, and bread to eat for their lunch! His wife was carefull to NOT point out that his last lunch had been vegetable soup and hot toast with cheese melted on top! Apparently her husband felt well fed because he ate lunch at home at a table with flowers and a table cloth on it!

Nella Last was an excellent cook because she could make the rationed food like cheese look like more food than what it was. Cheese was rationed and could have been eaten in a few bites, but by grating it on top of bread and heating it she made it into a filling dish. Also,  instead of eating the raisins they were able to buy, she would only use them to flavor bread and her English puddings. Puddings during the war were mostly bread, but she would use some raisins in the batter and call them a dessert. . By serving it at a table her family felt that they had eaten well.

I have 2 of the books that were written from her notes, "Nella Last's War" and "Nella Last's Peace", and they are both very good!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The greenhouse really heats up on a sunny day!

It is 18 degrees out and, while it is sunny,  there is a sprinkling of snow on the ground. When I went into the greenhouse the heat hit me like a soft, warm pillow.

The plants are now under 2-3 layers of plastic, if you count  both the skin over the greenhouse and the clear plastic tarps that I threw over the plants. The hardiest plants have just one tarp thrown over it but the vegetables have 2.

Today I watered with buckets of warm water, as the plants have gotten way too dry. I kept waiting for a lovely day to water but it never came: it has been overcast and chilly: now it is sunny but cold.

This will be my last entry for a while: I am going to visit family on the coast. I decided that it would be too much to ask for my family to care for the greenhouse, and so I got it as ready as I could to survive for a while without me. Not one of my relatives has any skill with plants: they would either drown them or not cover them properly!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Today I fed the bees.

It is a small hive, and they did not put up enough stored honey to last them for the winter. So, I made a heavy syrup to give to them. They will suck it up and put it in any empty comb in the hive.

The reason that they did not put up enough stores is because that area has a poor Fall nectar flow. I meant to move them, but I decided that I would need help with it and it simply did not get taken care of during the summer. We got a great many OTHER things taken care of, but the hive never got moved!

Another reason is that it was 109 degrees-about 42.8 degree celcius- and I found it difficult to get ANY yard work done!

This feeding for the bees will be the last. It is getting pretty cold, and so soon I will take out the feeding cups and put in some insulation instead.

This hive was a swarm of bees that moved into an empty hive this summer, and it is still not very large yet. They are in an EXCELLENT place to catch swarms: all that I have to do is to set up used bee hives and they simply move themselves in! But, as I said before, there is not much of a Fall nectar flow.

This spring I might sell them, or perhaps I will move them to my home. The city limits me to two hives where I live, but right now I do not have any. I got busy with 2 sick kids and a Mother in Law that was not doing well, and I did not watch the hive closely enough and so I lost the hive.

Bee hives need very little care, but when they DO need care they need care right away! If they do not get it they will PROBABLY leave, or possibly they will die. Bee hives cannot be neglected. And, so I lost my hive and I set out the hive so that more bees would move in, and they have.

I am still not certain I want to work with bees next summer. If another family member gets very ill I will probably sell them to prevent another hive from being lost.

Teenagers can be wonderfull!

I *AM* somewhat handicapped, and because of the recession my oldest child cannot find work. Fine. *I* hired her!

She works for me for about 2 hours a day, 6 days a week, at $5 an hour plus room and board. For me this is working out very well: She does the picking up and the dishes, which both require a lot of walking (tiring for me). She also does the laundry: she runs it through the machines and brings it to me to fold.

While her enthusiasm for picking up the same stuff day after day is waning, and she is starting to  put in fewer hours, this is *STILL* working out well! I really did need the help. I was barely managing until she finished high school.

The money that she earns goes for her half of college (we are splitting the costs), pays for her gas and for hanging out with her friends. I have spoken to her about working enough hours to buy a car, but she is borrowing ours and does not yet see the need. She is not yet thinking ahead yet but that's OK: she is only 18.

Yesterday I had her helping me plant bulbs. In a drizzling rain. I paid her double the usual rate, as I do with other jobs that are particularly difficult. In spite of the light, drizzling rain it was much warmer yesterday than it will be today!

Sooner or later she will find a job that is not from me: with luck my youngest will have finished school by then and I can hire him if he cannot find work! He is 17.

Otherwise we will start using paper plates and store bought lasagna, and we can cook from scratch every other day instead of every day to decrease my work load.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Protecting beds of plants inside the greenhouse

Today I covered the beds inside the greenhouse with clear paint tarps.

I will be traveling next week, and it is not likely that my family will remember to cover the beds if a hard freeze threatens. Having a second layer of plastic down will reduce the amount of light but this is unavoidable: if I do not protect the beds then any weather in the teens will execute the lot!

The radishes are ready to be eaten, and I have picked the first 2 turnips but the others are only about 1/4 of an inch across. With protection I might get a good crop: without it I will lose the vegetables just when they are ready to bear.

I only put radish in the salad and some cabbage from the fridge: I could have taken some pak choi but it has not yet re-grown from Thanksgiving. I have not grown much pak choi so I have no idea when it will stop growing!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Fall Harvest

Winter has, of course, stopped most of the vegetables cold.

On the GOOD side, I am harvesting radishes and greens in my unheated greenhouse, and today I pulled the first 2 turnips to add to a salad.. The turnips tasted fine, but the turnip greens were a little strong-tasting to add, so I didn't. That left me with 2 small turnips, onelarge radish, and the radish greens.

This time of year the store bought lettuce tastes a LOT like crunchy water, and the additions to the salad perked it up and made it taste excellent again!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I am sick, and the store is far away!

Like most people who do not live in cities, the grocery store is far away and my head hurts BAD! And, my stomach still expects to be fed! For that matter, my FAMILY expects to be fed, either by delivery pizza or.....

At times like this I enjoy being a prepper. I simply put a can of stew from the preps on to heat, and I mixed  Bisquick with some milk for biscuits. This will not give me flaky, country style biscuits but we will enjoy them while they are hot anyways!

I call such raids on the preps "Rotating the stores".

And, it cost the family $7 for the meal, while delivery pizza would have cost $25. Cha-ching!!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Do NOT cook the radishes!

I have heard that radishes make good soup, and are often used in Oriental stir-fries, So, I decided to cook some.

I was dissapointed! The radishes still tasted like radishes, but were really not as good. And, as for the greens (which I had cooked very briefly), UGH!

Actually, the raw greens tasted fine, so I tore them up and I put them into the Thanksgiving salad, along with some grated radish.

Grated radish adds just a slight bite to the salad: if you enjoy putting pepper on your salad you might try grated radish as well. I dislike big slices of radish because it is just too much, but grated radish gives it a little bit of a nip and it is just FINE!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The survival garden.

Survival gardening is a little different from the usual suburban garden. A modern suburban garden stresses both flavor and beauty: for the survival gardener this might be a bonus but it is not the POINT!

The ideal SURVIVAL garden puts emphasis on the calorie count of vegetables, the ease of storage, yeild, and has vegetables that can be harvested over as long a period of time as possible. If food is running low, it would be little consolation to have a big harvest in September when the gardener is hungry NOW! And, there are virtually no calories in celery, cucumbers, and other suburban garden favorites.

Below is a list of the higher calorie vegetables that I have grown in the garden: I have arranged them in order of the harvest, from the earliest to the latest.

In my climate a late harvest of radishes and turnips is possible, though many years an early hard frost kills the vegetables just before they are ready to bear.

Radishes -  23 calories per cup
turnips - 35 calories per cup
Fava bean -  187 calories per cup of cooked fava beans
Carrots - 45 calories per cup
peas - 134 calories per cup
potatos - about 100 calories for a medium potato
black-eyed peas - 160 calories per cup of cooked peas
tomatos - 50 calories per cup of cooked tomatos
sweet corn - 140 calories per cup of cooked corn
squash -  30 calories per cup of cooked squash
pumpkin - 50 calories per cup of cooked pumpkin
melons - about 40 calories per cup
sweet potatos - 216 calories per cup of cooked sweet potatos

In my opinion, carrots, potatos, and black eyed peas are perhaps the most important of the survival crops: the yield of all 3 can be very high, and they all store easily.

 Carrots have the added benefit of providing a very long harvest: They can be eaten early when they are bite-sized, or they can be left to grow large. In many climates the bed of carrots can be covered in the fall under a deep bed of mulch to prevent the ground from freezing, and then they can be harvested as needed all winter long. For maximim yeild I plant my carrots 2 inches apart in a grid pattern, so that every foot of the carrot bed has 36 carrots on it. And, I plant them BEFORE the last expected frost date: carrots actually germinate better if they get some frost!

Two OTHER vegetables (that I have never had much success with might) be considered: beets and sunflowers. Alas, I will give no advice concerning either, as I think that I am doing something wrong when I try to grow them! LOL!

Lastly, a garden does not have to be restricted to vegetables: a bee hive on one end can give you 30 pounds of honey per year. Now, I must confess that my hive has never done nearly that well: my hive is more likely to give me 6 pounds of honey instead of 30. But, the honey is far better tasting than what the stores offer, and the bees pollinate the garden and provide me with better yields as well!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

It is looking more and more like the United States economy is going to crash!

It is the politicians that are doing it.

There are a lot of DIFFERENT things that they could do, but they refuse to do them:.

They would rather indulge in a power struggle.

Now there must be a hundred ways to avoid default, but the main thing is to not spend more money than you can either raise or borrow. Preferably they would BALANCE the budget, it is the safest, but that is more than we can expect of this bunch.

Alas, the Democrats want a Democratic bill and will consider no other, and the Republicans want a Republican bill and will consider no other. So, nothing is being done. In fact, one observer said that they are now LESS likely to come to an agreement than they were weeks ago! And, so, nothing is being done.

One politician, Reid, DID write up a bill that incorporated almost all of what both political parties wanted, but it was shot down almost instantly. Apparently, it is more important to make the other party lose than it is for any one party to win!

More and more, it looks like we will all lose.

My house is full of food but I am going shopping today for a bit more. I do not KNOW what will happen to the economy or to the value of the dollar if this stalemate does not break, but, I intend to have the necessities of life stashed away to last us until I know how this will affect us.

This problem is entirely of the politicians making. They do not want to win so much as they want to discredit the other party.

And if this continues for TOO long, the United States economy will probably crash.

It is simply too hot to go outside.

The outdoor thermometer reads 110, but I do not believe it. I think that it is too close to my house, and I think it is in a hot pocket. Still, it is too hot to be outside.

Until last week I could keep the garden picked and watered, but no longer. I feel good if I can put water on the ground in the chicken pen for them to stand in.

The electric bill is going to be horrible. Oh, well!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thoughts about survival gardening.

A milestone has been passed in my garden: the vegetables with real calories are starting to bear.

It is true that we have been enjoying leafy vegetables, broccoli, and zuchhini for some weeks now, and we even got some peas. But, the vegetables with serious calories in them- the corn, beans, tomatos, melons, and root vegetables- have simply been too young to bear until now.

From this time on the garden might give us more calories than is spent on keeping it up. If we ever needed the garden to give us serious calories, it would be unreasonable to expect it to do so before early July when the beans start to bear.

Turnips and Fava beans are earlier, but I had no wish to plant them this year. I suppose I could do it if I had to!

In Medieval England, the spring was calle the "Hungry gap" because the stored food was running out or starting to spoil, and the more nourishing vegetables were too young to provide calories. This makes me very gratefull for supermarkets!!!!!!!!!!!

I am currently dehydrating grated zucchini for this winter. After soaking it, I can add it to cake. The zucchini will pretty much vanish, just leaving the cake extra moist and tender. It seems like cheating to serve a vegetable without people realizing that tey are eating it, but, the vegetable IS eaten, and that is no bad thing!!!!!
My Mother in law has passed on.

I know that it was time, but I cannot help but think that the world is a poorer place for her passing.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I Actually get a Vacation! And, I get to spend it at home!!!!!!!!

My last post did not take, excepting for the title. I will try again.
My husband and son are at Boy Scout camp for 9 days, and my daughter has to do an enormous amount of school work during the next 5 days or she will not finish high school until the fall.
It stopped raining for a bit and so I got in a package of corn. I did not prepare the soil: I just put it in with the watermelons.

Those melons have NOT been coming up properly, so I have reseeded a couple of times. The cold weather probably hurt germination. I see that I have 3 cantelopes (I seeded 8), and a half dozen watermelons that appear to be of 2 different varieties. This makes sense because when the first planting appeared to fail I got an old packet of seeds and I put more in. I also see perhaps 3 volenteer tomatos, one of which is 2 feet tall. And, now I will have Peaches and Cream sweet corn.

I think that I will call that strip my "3 sisters garden", pretend that I did it on purpose, and leave it be!

My Peas are winding down: the next time today that I go out today I think that I will use a dibble and plant bush beans. I have contender bush beans bearing now, and beans are SO! good this year! I have been fixing them like they do on a Chines buffet, more or less. The recipe is below.

Cook the green beans slowly in 1 tablespoon of oil.

Add 1 tablespoon of soy, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.


I was supposed to add chili paste but I didn't have any, and the dish was excellent without it!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am on vacation! I actually get to enjoy my homestead without any housework!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Hello Sue!

I have tried to send you a message, but every time I tried to send it I was put back into the Google sign in page. I am afraid that I am not very good with machines, LOL!

The house is very quiet.

The flies have been swatted, and the two TV watchers have gone off to buy a new camping stove.

My Mother in Law is dying.

She had a stroke almost 2 weeks ago, was returned to the Home where she lives, and was sent back to the hospital almost immediately for having not enough oxygen in her blood. There is something else going wrong inside of her, and nobody knows what it is. Not me, and not the doctors.

I remember that MIL taught me the value of kindness, and of how to enjoy every day life. I remember how she raised rabbits under the avacado tree, and worms underneath the cages of rabbits.

I remember that she was raised in a time and a place where women stayed home until they got married: not her! She got a job at a laundry and moved half way across the country to California!

I remember after staying with us for a year while she recovered from a previous illness, that she announced that she had decided to move back to her home in Arkansas. "Oh, OK. When did you want to leave"? I asked. "Today", she replied. "I have made all of the arrangements", she said.

She knew that we were concerned that a woman in her 80's should not live alone, and so she had hoped to forstall any arguements. That was her way, she was never much on arguing. She would just smile kindly and  quietly do as she pleased! I am pretty sure that, as a very young woman, she gave her parents that same smile as she told them she was moving 3000 miles away to go to California......

I believe that the very elderly have a  target on their backs. She did move back to her home but she was hit by more than one con artist, until we simply insisted that she move back to live near us. She was mad at us for 6 months, but we could not think what else to do. The con men had cheated her out of most of the equity in the house, and with the added cost of a mortgage she could no longer meet her expenses.

The Great Depression, WW2, 2 marriages, 3 kids, moving from Tennessee to California to Brazil back to California again and then to Arkansas and, finally, to Kansas. And, she never seemed terribly busy: she just never stopped moving! Slow and steady describes her perfectly! The afghan she knitted last summer won the Grand Prize at the Johnson County fair: even in the Nursing home she never stopped!!!!!!!!

Her medical condition slowly grows worse: the world will be poorer when she has left it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Plan 2 for Sweet Potatos!

My sweet potato slips died. I got busy and the weather got hot, and I think I should have watered them TWICE a day instead of in a day and a half! The instructions were daily, but, one morning and the next evening was likely too long when it is hot.

Not a big problem, I had sweet 7 potatos left over from the box I bought last Fall so I planted those potatos. They had all sprouted and I was tired of sweets anyways after a winter of hearty eating: in 5 months or so I should be digging more! I should be ready for them by then.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Well, my son's surgery has gone well and he is healing well, but now my MIL is in the hospital with a stroke.

She is doing much better and she is now out of the ICU and into a regular hospital bed. I expect that she will go back to the nursing home soon. I used to take care of her when she got ill, but I no longer can. Well, she is doing some better, at least!

Of course I burned off some nervous energy working outside: that is my nature. I picked the peas. Then I shelled them for dinner.

Now, in the past I have carefully broken open each pea pod and raked the peas out, but this time I dumped the entire lot of whole peas into boiling water and blanched them for 2-3 minutes. I drained them and I set them aside to cool. The pods were somewhat cooked but the peas were still raw and firm.

I then picked up each pod and I squeezed it in the middle. The pod popped open at one end and I slid my fingers along the pod and I stripped the peas out the end. ZIP! 

Now, not EVERY pod popped open at one end, some of them popped open in the middle but no matter WHERE they popped open  I still found it easy to strip the peas out.

It takes a long time to pick the peas, and then they must be shelled. With frozen peas on sale for $1 for 10 ounces, it has to be a labor of love to raise enough peas to feed a family year round. We had enough peas for my family of 4 tonight, but the picking and the shelling had to have taken me 2 hours of work for simply one meal.

For half of that labor I have gotten enough broccoli for 4 meals. And, the broccoli plants take up just half of the space that the peas do.

Speaking of broccoli, I had to go over it 3 times today to make certain that I had gotten out all of the little green worms. I MUST get down to the Family Tree Nursery to get BT to spray on the plants: if I should ever miss a worm and my kids see it, they will likely never eat my broccoli again! For that matter, I would rather not eat any worms myself!

BT is an organic control that is supposed to work extremely well on those green worms, but not affect people at all. It makes the worms stop eating and then they die. It is a shame that the butterfly is so lovely: there are few things more lovely than the white Cabbage Butterflies flitting along a wonderful garden!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I harvested broccoli today!

Memorial day was 3 days ago, and it took 2 smal heads to serve the 4 of us along with the BBQ  ribs and the potato salad and the trimmings. THAT WAS JUST 3 DAYS AGO!
It has been 90 degrees and humid for those 3 days, and I just had to cut the other 5 heads (now medium sized) because they had gone from tightly packed buds to trying to flower. Huh. Gardens go SO fast! The 2 plants that I harvested for memorial day already have good developing sprouts: I will likely have another picking of shoots in about 5 days.
I am trying to decide between freezing these heads, making a broccoli stead stir-fry, or cooking it to serve as a vegetables. Decisions, decisions!!!!!!!!!!
Sudden weather changes is why the midwest is not a big fruit and vegetable producer like the west coast is: our soil is just as rich but the climate makes the produce less PREDICTABLE! Not to mention sometimes killing the fruit trees: elm and oak do better than peach or apricot but people can have good results in their back yard! A little extra fussing and an acceptance of the odd non-producing year is fine for people with 5 trees, but more difficult for somebody will 1000 trees.
This year I expect very little fruit because of a late cold snap. I accept it in the trees and I reseed any frosted spots in the garden with corn. This year i will have a lot of corn!!!!!!!! 8-)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Well, THAT was a week I would not wish to repeat!

A couple of years ago, my son had surgery to correct his scoliosis. OK, fine.


He got a raised sore on his back. I put triple Antibiotic cream on it and the swelling went down, but after a couple of days it showed no sign of healing. Less swelling, yes, but that is not the same as healing.

So I called the doctor and had him seen.

They sent him straight to the hospital, and he had surgery the next morning. The funny looking sore was caused by a slow infection in his back along the rods, and it grew until it forced a passage out.

His back has fused because the rods WERE in for 2 years, and, apparently, not using a joint for that long makes it grow together. So, the doctor says he no longer needs them and they have been removed. My son will be on antibiotics for the next 3 months.

So, the homestead has not been worked and the lawn has not been mowed.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


La Nina strikes again, and I have had just a TOUCH of frost!

The vegetables have mostly been nipped, and it is too early to tell what will survive. The zucchini has some healthy-looking buds at the base, but the bell peppers are in SAD shape! The  buckwheat  on the hillside is dead, and the tops of SOME of the asparagus were lost.

They keep talking about how La Nina is winding down, but it is still cool here in Kansas, and usually it is hot in May. So, while LaNina may be winding doen it is still HERE! And, this year, winding down or not, we have FROST!

Also, the wind keeps shifting my weed barrier. I have tried weighing it down with firewood, burying the edges, and driving pins through it and into the ground. STILL it moves some when the wind blows hard! OTHER people do it in the Midwest, or so they SAY, but for me not much works!

I keep putting it back after every stiff wind: with firewood weighing it down it only shifts a foot or so but it does need frequent attention.

Oh, well. When summer comes the wind will stop blowing. The peas and beans I planted around the edges are doinng very well. This LaNina weather is GREAT for peas and beans, even if it does frost a tad!

I am going to miss those peppers, though.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Part of every homestead, of course, is the EATING! And, the first spring greens are AWESOME! Alas, I will have to wait a bit longer: the greens that I started inside have been nibbled down to stubs.

I have NO idea what is eating them! But, once there is more variety available outside, perhaps my greens will be nibbled less. On the GOOD side, the asparagus is starting to produce.

I like my asparagus cooked very simply. I slice the spears, and I split the fattest pieces in half so that the asparagus cooks more evenly. I simmer them until they are tender-crisp, and then I drain them VERY well! If the asparagus is still dripping then the dressing will slide off.

I then dress them with either mayo or butter and salt, and I enjoy!

After an entire winter of cold-storage vegetables from the grocery store, there is NOTHING! like food that is truly fresh! And, the greens will recover if only the varmints will stop eating them......

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Weed Free Raised Bed

To make a weed-free raised bed is fairly simple.

I started out by making the walls of the bed by simply stacking bricks: I used no morter at all.

I then laid down woven weed barrier across the bottom to prevent strong weeds from coming up. It also prevents voles. Voles are REALLY common in Kansas, and they do eat root vegetables!!!!!!!!

I filled the bed up with vermiculite, which raised nasty clouds of white dust that were no doubt very bad for my lungs. I did try to avoid breathing it but I REALLY should have had a dust mask! They are very cheap at the hardware store but it would have meant another trip to town and so I simply tried to avoid the white stuff! I tend to get excited and impatient when a project is very nearly done!

I now had a filled, raised bed but there was no in it fertility at all. So, I dumped little bags of fertilizer on the top, and then I added powdered kelp for trace minerals. I raked it in and watered it down and then I was ready to plant.

The first year I used the raised bed I grew small plants and a few potatos, but the potatos grew over the small plants and killed them.

On the GOOD side, I did not have to dig up the potatos. I simply stuck my hand into the loose vermiculite and took what I wanted. When I decided to remove the potato plants I simply grabbed the stem and pulled them all up. When I removed the plants I did loose a couple of spuds that I had to fish around for but it was BEYOND easy to get the potatos out!

I am now into my second year, and this year I did not plant potatos, instead I planted lettuce, onions, and carrots. I should get a LOT of carrots because I absent mindedly planted carrots TWICE! Since I planted them 1 inche apart on a grid pattern that will give me 144 carrots per square foot. And, I believe that I planted 8 square feet into carrots. That is a lot of carrots, even when you consider that I take every other carrot while they are still small! Baby carrots are excellent!

One mistake that I did make hen I made the raised bed was that the ground was not very level when I stacked the bricks on it. Slanting ground means slanting walls. I had to repair and re-stack a few spots because some of the bricks fell over!

The weather across the United States is sounding pretty grim this year: the states North of me are flooding and the states South of me are afflicted with a drought. If the rest of the country is like this then I may be glad of my bountifull vegetable garden as the price of produce will be going up!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How To Plant Peas

The best time to plant peas is when the soil is cool but not cold: peas germinate best at 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Peas may be planted when the soil is as cool as 40 degrees or as warm as 86 degrees, but they will germinate best at 75 degrees. While soil thermometers can be bought at many plant nurseries, I can usually tell by touching the freshly turned soil: cool is fine, but cold soil is not yet ready for peas.
Peas prefer damp (not soggy) soil with a PH of between 6 and 7.
Like many seeds, peas grow best if they are planted at a depth of 4-5 times the width of the seed: practically speaking this works out to peas growing well when planted 1-1.5 inches deep. To allow enough room for strong roots, peas are generally planted 1-2 inches apart.
Peas are usually grown in either single rows or in wide rows. To make a single row, plant the peas about an inch apart in a single row. This has the advantage of being easier to keep hoed. A wide row may be solidly seeded with peas 2 inches apart in a strip up to 1 foot wide. This has the advantage of producing much larger yields in a smaller amount of land, but more hand weeding will be needed.
Whether the rows are wide rows or narrow rows, allow 2 feet between rows of peas.
The tall varieties of peas are generally trellised, and the short varieties frequently are. Without a trellis, pea plants might be damaged if a heavy rainfall beats them down into the muddy earth. I have successfully grown short peas without a trellis, but it is a gamble that you might not wish to take.
Peas will be ready to pick between 55 and 70 days: the shorter peas generally need less time to produce than the tall ones. For this reason, if you live in an area with hot summers you may get a better yield with the shorter varieties of peas. If it is 86 degrees or hotter when the peas bloom, then the pollen will be killed and the peas will not produce.
Ideal conditions for peas are sunny, cool, and moist. If you live in a hot area, it would be best to go with very short-season peas.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

How to use Natural Remedies to treat Multiple Sclerosis, and very possibly other auto immune diseases as well.

My doctor tells me that half of his patients use natural remedies on the Multiple Sclerosis. That does not mean that they do not also use conventional medicine: it just means that they also use Natural Remedies.

Personally, I have found Natural remedies to be extremely usefull.

L-CARNITINE.   It all started when my doctor told me that Acetyl L-Carnitine was being used for sleep disruption in patients with MS, and that the results had been so good that they had terminated the test early so that ALL of the patients could go on it! So, I set out to find some for myself.

I did not find what I was looking for at that time but I DID find L-Carnitine, and I started taking 3 pills a day. After 36 hours I started feeling better but sometimes that is the nature of MS: I first feel better and then I feel worse. It might have been a fluke. So, I stopped taking the L-Carnitine and when I started feeling better I went back on it. AGAIN, after 36 hours I started feeling better! It appeared that it was taking away the grinding fatigue that was making it so hard for me to function!

I was sold on Natural Remedies from that moment on. And, with my own body to test them on, I could very quickly find out what worked by testing it on myself. I could be my own guinea pig. And, one of the FIRST things that I discovered was that L-Carnitine worked better than Acetyl L-Carnitine. Not that I minded, of course! I was feeling better and the future was looking brighter!

By trial and error, I discovered that 3 pills a day (1500 mg) was optimum, though I needed to take food with it to prevent indigestion.

More information on L-carnitine and Acetyl L-Carnitine from Web MD:


Surely, if L-Carnitine was so helpfull, other Natural Remedies would work as well? I decided to research other remedies, and try them out on myself. I went through pretty much a boxfull of different items, but I DID find a couple of others that worked!

TURMERIC is a Natural Remedy that is used on Rhumetoid Arthritis, which is a different auto-immune disease. I decided that the logical thing to do was to try it out on my own MS, which is ALSO an auto-immune disease.

To myvery great pleasure, I started regaining feeling in areas that had gone rather numb due to the MS. So, I stopped taking it as a second test, and in a matter of a couple of days the numbness started creeping back. When I went back on the turmeric the numbness started to dissapear again. SCORE!

Turmeric was very easy to find, as it is used in making pickles. I bought it in the spice aisle at the grocery store, and I filled empty plastic capsules that I bought from from Wonder labs to make it easy to swallow.

CUMIN was the third Natural Remedy that I discovered. Cumin is the spice that makes chili taste like, well, like CHILI!

Like turmeric, the cumin resulted in less numbness and more feeling. Like L-carnitine, I needed to take cumin with food to prevent irritation! I also filled the capsules from Wonder Labs to make the cumin easier to take: I have never wished to eat spices straight!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


The symptoms of multiple sclerosis showed up about 5 years ago. We had
JUST! put a down payment on 5 acres of land, so that I could FINALLY fulfill
my life-long dream of being a farmer. Five acres was a little SMALLER that I
had hoped for, but then I figured on raising high-dollar crops like
blackberries and honey.

Now, you would figure that gaining a lifelong dream would have had me down
on the land in an instant, but I was so very TIRED all of a sudden! All that
I really wanted to do was to rest. I put it off for a little bit.

Well, after a few days of this I gathered together my energy and I got
together some metal stakes and I went down to make a more permanent mark on
the corner: that stick of wood with the pink flag was positively NOT! good
enough to mark the corner of my farm.

I was youngish and I was strong-or so I had thought- but I simply could not get the metal stake into the ground. I barely managed to walk to the corner, and the effort made my vision go out of focus. At one point I reached for what I thought was a stick in my pathway: it turned out to be a large and harmless snake!

 I did not know it at the time, but I was having my first flare-up of MS. It
took me a year to get diagnosed, and that fourth corner never DID get

That was then and this is now. Treatment and herbal remedies have slowed the
progression of the disease, but I now barely have the strength to be a
housewife. STILL I am determined to farm! A few more machines, some
high-quality weed barriers, permaculture, crystals to decrease the need for
watering....... I do believe that I can raise food again! LOTS and LOTS of

I might never again have the strength to stand in the hot sun and sell at
the farmers market, but I do believe that I can RAISE it!

Journey with me, if it pleases you, while I re-learn how to raise edibles
even though I am handicapped! I have had many successes already and I will
happily share what has and has not worked for me, as well as my on-going

My goal is to share with people how quantities of food can be raised in
peoples back yards or on their land, and with not much labor. TRUST me on
this: if I can raise food when I walk with a cane and tire very quickly,
then so can most of America! It is just a matter of knowing how.......

My goal is to write 2-3 times a week, year round. There is so MUCH that I
have to share, from natural cures to gardening to my attempts to raise crops
on my 5 acres to easy ways to prepare the produce for the table.......

Pull up a chair, sit down, and visit with me!

Kansas Terri