Garden Update: The corn was definitely ‘knee-high by the 4th of July’

Well, the garden has had time to do some growing, so just a little update to tell how things are going.

remember my Bean Trellis I made with crutches and 6-pack rings?

Here’s what it looks like right now:

It was working beautifully. Then as the weather got warmer, it seems like the plastic started to deteriorate and would just snap. I was constantly mending it. But the beans were growing nicely regardless.

And then this guy got hungry. He cleared the entire thing all by himself.

This is the 2nd woodchuck I caught in the hav-a-hart this summer. The 1st one was sticking to broccoli & cukes. This one ate the beans there (I have more elsewhere,though) , all but 3 swiss chard plants, ALL the brussel sprouts, and some more broccoli.

Hopefully, he’s the last one in the area and the rest of the summer we’ll have peacetime in the garden.

So, here’s what I have growing that I planted on purpose:
~cucumbers ~ yellow wax beans ~ green beans ~snap peas ~swiss chard ~beets ~cauliflower ~kale ~zucchini ~pumpkins ~spaghetti squash ~watermelon ~corn ~peppers~ tomatoes (both cherry & regular)~ okra ~carrots ~parsnips~lettuce ~spinach ~dill ~cilantro~basil ~sage~chamomile~lovage~bergamot~sunflowers(3 different types)~onions ~potatoes

I did not plant lemon balm but I still have it in multitudes. I could start a farm. I also have volunteer plants everywhere. I started the season with 4 regular tomato and 2 cherry tomato plants. I had plants seed themselves all over the place and now I have 25 tomato plants. Who knows what variety and I’m okay with that.

I also have herbs that reseeeded themselves in every crack and crevice.

I have a lot of things that just grow here normally that other people would pull as weeds. Lots of mallow, wood sorrel, plantain,shepherd’s purse, and red clover. I use them to make tinctures & infused oils or dry them for teas & other medicinal uses.

Grey Gardens (the driveway/container garden part of the garden) hasn’t seen any pest activity beyond a few slugs and a chipmunk who thought he should uproot some sunflowers for the fun of it.

The big tubs are quite packed and I might transfer some things out of there soon.

This is the ratty privacy fence that separates the backyard from the back of the bar next door. We mounted rain gutters & planted greens…


Speaking of the bar next door…

We were having problems keeping patrons from peeing (and doing other things) in the garden. This is what I ended up doing:

So far, it’s helped.


The bar decided to build an addition on to the back,so they let us raid the scrap lumber pile. We rescued an old gate and some scraps to build this bike rack.


So, that’s how it’s going.
Haven’t harvested anything other than herbs yet and also haven’t spent any more money since the last update, so we’re still at $21 for our cost.

Lunchtime Links: how to grow beets, a retractable window garden, and an online map for freegans

Here’s today’s things….

how to grow beets, with brian campbell.

It turns out I’m no Dwight Schrute when it comes to beet growing so I really appreciated that. This is only the second time I’ve grown beets. I could not figure out why my seedlings were so close together. I had no idea the beet seed was actually several seeds. And I had so many questions about thinning.

See,ya’ll? Years of gardening experience and there are still things I have to learn.


This is pretty neat. Barreau&Charbonnet created this window garden for people with little space. It extends out during the day so plants can get sun and retracts back in at night.

Retractable Window Planter

Retractable Window Planter

It’s a cool concept. It’s probably not super flexible to different window designs but I bet someone with  DIY skills could build neat custom designs.



Caleb Phillips and Ethan Welty founded Falling Fruit , an online resource map for dumpster divers, freegans, and foragers. I checked out my local locations and no freegan sources have been added but lots and lots of fruit & foraging spots. This is the sort of map that thrives with user input. My hope is that freegans will be conscientious when adding comments about the personal and legal safety for other divers. As I’ve touched on here before, some dumpster divers’ main concern isn’t the food safety but more the risk of harassment and arrest , and other issues to do with privilege. 

Recently, the pair has begun speaking at food justice conferences, contacting online freegan communities and handing out stickers, expanding the site’s fan base. Calling it the most extensive and diverse map of its kind, the pair’s ultimate goal is to shed a bright light on the enormous quantity of food that goes to waste–in this country and abroad.

Phillips and Welty are raising money to create a FallingFruit mobile app for foragers and divers through, a newly launched crowdfunding site specifically designed for food and sustainability projects. They hope to raise $10,000 by the end of May.

To create the dumpster map, men spent months combing the Internet for dumpster location information and painstakingly checking each entry before adding it to their site. Their hope is that other freegan sites such as and will embed the FallingFruit map.

To date, there are at least 2,500 bins on the map with up to five new ones added daily. Welty estimates that around 500 people are using the site every day and he expects the numbers to rise as summer kicks in. Along with most U.S. cities, map users have entered dumpsters in Antarctica, Jamaica, and even the North and South Pole, says Phillips.

“We wanted to take [dumpster diving] from being a secret hobby to something that illustrates first-hand how ubiquitous food waste is,” says Welty. Despite the fact that 40 percent of the food produced in the U.S. goes uneaten, few people spend much time thinking about food waste. But, Welty adds, “You can only feel [the magnitude of] it when you open up a dumpster and see what’s in it.”

via Civil Eats

 You can’t tell these hens what to do.


Lunchtime Links: 20 Protein-Packed Black Bean Recipes, tomato-growing tips, and Tarbuj Ka Chutney

Lunchy links. Writing this as I’m eating leftover tabouleh and fish. Yum

20 Protein-Packed Black Bean Recipes | Brit + Co..


10 tomato growing tips

Good tomato growing tips for you newbies out there.


Tabuj Ka is watermelon rind chutney.
Tarbuj Ka Chutney
4 cups watermelon rind, fruit and outer green skin removed
and cut into 1 /2 “ pieces

1 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup sweetener
1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste

*This chutney pairs well with a spicy main dish.
via here.
Feels like I have ages before watermelon season here.
I haven’t even put mine in the ground.
If you’ve never listened to Leo Kottke, check him out.  He’s one of the most underrated (or maybe just unheard of)  guitar players out there. I love listening to him while I’m getting stuff done around the house.


Garden Enemy #1

Caught this bugger this morning in the Hav-a-Hart trap.

We’re about to hand him off to someone to take far,far away from my garden.

BUT the bad news is, the woodchuck I saw eating out of our garden had a wonky tail. This one doesn’t. So, guess we’ll be resetting the trap.


Lunchtime Link: Drying Clothes Without Electricity

Not much to share today. My hubby got hurt yesterday and is out of work until Monday at the very earliest. We’ll see what happens on Monday. Since he’s home, he’s on parenting duty while I work on Etsy & Ebay listings (something that is harder than you might think with a super helpful 4 year old). He didn’t do it AT work, so this is time off without pay, so trying to make up the difference from what will be missing from his paycheck.

We cannot catch a break,I swear.

Just wanted to share these tips today for drying clothes without an electric dryer or when you have the power shut off. This is one of those things people ask for tips on quite often. I think Mom with a Prep covers it well. We didn’t have a dryer for years and last year at tax return time got the old one repaired. In the summer, drying was easy. In the winter (NY) , not so much… and having a big family probably made it trickier. Pretty much if there was a place that could have a rope strung, it became drying space. The thick cloth diapers were hardest to dry inside but I found that the standard wooden drying racks worked best if I placed them really close to the heater and flipped them occasionally.

How to Dry Your Clothes Without Power - Mom with a PREP //  Whether you are existing in a post-disaster situation with no power or you are choosing to rely less on the grid that provides power for your home, finding ways to effectively dry your clothes, in no matter what amount of space that you have, can be daunting if the only option you've seen is the large telephone-like limbers that take up the entire backyard of someone's home.

How To Dry Your Clothes Without Power

Ironically, it’s raining like crazy here today and I just threw a load of laundry in the dryer.
There’s flooding in parts around us. I peeked out into the garden and some parts are underwater. Sigh.

Nick Drake is always my rainy day music…

Lunchtime Links: Fire Escape Gardening, using Garlic Mustard Greens, and dealing with canned tomatoes

Some good things to pass along today.


Link→  17 Tips For Starting Your Own Herb Garden.

These are all great tips for small space gardening. The tip about buying seedlings versus seeds…might seem counterintuitive since seeds are less expensive but sometimes you have to do that.  do start everything from seed myself but it was a struggle this year to find adequate space. Cats & little kids don’t help.


What I Made Today shows how to use wild Garlic Mustard …the whole thing, leaves to roots. You probably have seen this stuff growing like crazy. I have a ton of it I am constantly pulling from the garden. Go ahead an eat it. It’s good stuff.
Link → Garlic Mustard Love


Lunchtime Links: Food Stamp enrollment declining,freezing food safely…. + + +

Media preview Hey, this might be good news? Enrollment in SNAP has started to drop. (But in the back of my mind, I’m thinking about how GOP reps wanting to emulate California’s success in discouraging enrollment to many eligible low income people.… )

Five Things To Know About Freezing Foods Safely

Safe prep for freezing, safe thawing…and the freezing food things you need to know. This info comes in handy when you hit a cheap produce bounty. Sorry I can’t do more to help with freezer space. Maybe some TARDIS magic to make it bigger on the inside?

Media preview Awesome urban gardening shot by @corneliadlabaja via

Becoming a water wise gardener is . . . GardenWise! Tips on conserving water…

I was thinking about all of you gardeners out there with water issues the other day when watering my garden. We save rain water but sometimes even that doesn’t cut it. Grateful we don’t have a water shortage and that we don’t have to pay a water bill. Here’s hoping this year isn’t too droughty or too floody for us all.

I leave you with some relevant music… This is on my Homestead Mix playlist. Came on while writing this post, so figured I should share.

Lunchtime Links: An app that helps you track down restaurant & grocery store leftovers and a Garden to Cafeteria program in Oakland

foodish things for today…

A new app is coming this fall that lets users buy surplus food from grocery stores and restaurants at a discount. Supermarkets and restaurants will put their excess food inventory into PareUp along with a price and time of availability. Then shoppers using PareUp can see what’s up for grabs and go pick it up.

This could be helpful for low income people who don’t qualify for SNAP. Depending on the food bank, some determine eligibility by whether or not you qualify for SNAP. So, if you don’t get SNAP, you can’t get help from a food bank in some places. This would open up a potential resource for a lot of low income people.

link: via @grist


From seed to tray in Oakland: the power of Garden to Cafeteria programs

Food Corps service member Danielle Nahal shares her story about how the Garden to Cafeteria program in an Oakland school was formed.

I love Garden to Cafeteria and Farm to School programs. I’m fortunate that both schools my children attend have these. When the one school was in the preliminary planning stages, I was SO excited to be a part of it. I went to that first meeting and was so disappointed. I was the ONLY parent from the district there. There were enthusiastic community members attending but mostly just because they love & have experience gardening. I was sure this was a sign that the program would never fly but it’s coming along nicely.

What Danielle says rings true.

I chose to share this story because I believe that there are times in any movement, in any service or work, when it seems that the obstacles in creating what you believe in seem insurmountable, and your faith and your passions seem misplaced. But for each of those, there are moments when you know that you’ve helped to create something positive, something that you know you can believe in. For me, this experience, from the uncertain steps of the first graders into the cafeteria kitchen to the shared stories of watermelon intersecting across cultures and professions, reminded me that there are deeper connections that are being fostered than I can see. This thought sustains my passion for my service, and my belief that the work that so many of us are doing is creating something better, one leaf at a time.”


Life Happenings & Garden Update

We had a great (and  busy) weekend here. It finally seems to be actual Spring . We don’t spend much time inside once the weather warms up. I have no idea why we live in NY since everyone in our family tends to curl up in a ball and cry once the temp gets below 70.

♥ Two of my teenagers went to our “Ramp Spot” and picked ramps! Can’t wait to have them this week.


♥ We went to the first yard sale of the season. There’s another reason I should live where it’s always warm….year round yard sales.  I made sure I set some of our Taxmas money aside specifically for yard sale shopping. Last summer, I think I only went to a couple sales because we didn’t even have $5 left by Saturday to spend at the sales. I buy all our clothes secondhand (on purpose, even before we were poor. But especially now that we need to…) ,so yard sales are one way I can stockpile kids clothes for the upcoming school year. (Yes, we’re fortunate to have a spacious closet for storage). Anyway, forgot to take my camera with me this weekend but maybe this summer I’ll do posts on the things I scored like I did here?

♥ It was my littlest guy’s birthday on Sunday. On my personal blog, I refer to him as Thorkins, so I’ll carry that name over here…
Thorkins is now 4. He is such an amazing little dude. Love this kid. There is not a single picture I have of him where he’s clean. See? Just finished playing in the mud, took a break to feed his lion cub.






We bought a bin of pretend food at the yard sale for $1. The pretend baby bottle was in there. He had no idea what it was. We realized he’s never seen a baby bottle-fed, only breastfed. So, after explaining, he decided his little lion needed some milk. Cutest thing ever.

♥ There is a Hav-a-Hart trap currently sitting in my mudroom. Mr Woodchuck should be in it this evening. My daughter saw him the other day rummaging around in our compost. A crow and the woodchuck had an epic battle over the compost scraps. The crow won and Mr Woodchuck scurried away. Still, he’ll be back. Little bastard.

♥ So far, I have everything but peppers,melons, & tomatoes in the ground. Waiting just a couple more weeks.  We have planted:

-Carrots -beets- swiss chard -lettuce -spinach -kale -broccoli -cabbage -cauliflower -green beans -yellow wax beans -peas -corn -zucchini -spaghetti squash -pumpkins -cucumbers -TONS of sunflowers, in every spot I could squeeze them

And my usual herbs (some have been in the house in pots all winter)
-basil -sage -chamomile -dill -cilantro -rosemary -lovage -bergamot -feverfew -wormwood -parsley -mint – and of course LEMON BALM (long story made short…I love lemon balm and it seems to love me)

♥ I have a few DIY projects for this coming week. Annie left a comment on a recent post about using a baby gate in her garden. I automatically felt dumb that I hadn’t thought of that for our little problem of keeping the people out. It isn’t just the drunk people. The other day, there were two people taking pictures in my backyard, standing right where I just planted marigold seeds. I have no idea what’s wrong with people around here. I get that there’s cool things to take pictures of in back of my house but c’mon… respect,people! It’s obvious people live here.

Anyway…. so, I brought up the baby gate idea to hubby but turns out he really wanted to sell the baby gates we had, but he’s promised to make me a gate from something else.

We’re also going to build a bike rack for the driveway. Family of 8…. lots of bikes, no place to safely put them during the summer when they’re being used. I used to have a nice bike trailer that jerky teenage boys took for a joyride and returned to me with bent axles and popped tires. So,yeah..we need a bike rack we can lock the bikes to. Either out of pallets or pvc pipe.


I think that covers all the going-ons here. Hope you all had a great weekend and have a super week ahead!

Parting shot: The pretty stuff we’ve got going on in back of our house

It’s a climb to get down to it. There are rickety wooden stairs on our (ok,the landlord’s) property that go down into the woods. There’s a small flat space there (enough to put a tent up ) and that’s where we have our compost. Then from there, there’s a steep slope down to the creek .

Garden Update: New bean trellis made from 6-pack rings & a pair of crutches

So, I made this yesterday.

picture credit: my daughter Lilly

picture credit: my daughter Lilly

My husband works at a large grocery store and he’s been saving 6-pack rings from the soda vendor when he comes to fill the machines. I attached them with just little bits of yarn from a leftover ball I had in my stash. I had started with twisty ties but ran out. If I’d been feeling super motivated, I could have made a rainbow or some design with different colors but nah. Anyway, will any luck, it’ll be covered with glorious bean vines!

And if that fails, we have a badminton net?

I plan on making more. I might use it to make a sort of a fence. I just looked up the price of a roll of plastic netting and it’s like $26 for a 80 ft roll that’s only 3 ft high. So, this was free to make for us. Took some time but I did it while watching The Voice (yeah,yeah…it’s my one and only guilty pleasure show… ). My little guy helped cut the pieces of yarn for me. It was tedious but went quick.

We still have signs that our woodchuck enemy is in the vicinity. I ammonia bombed the one hole. I saw him scurry into another hole farther away from the house one day while I was taking the compost out, so I know he’s still around, just relocated slightly. We’re borrowing a hav-a-hart trap from a friend and then, his wagon will be fixed. (I’m thinking Woodchuck Egg Rolls? )

One of the little made these little flag markers, too. They’re sweet. He used scraps of fabric and pieces of old dowels that I think came from an old drying rack we had that broke.

I like this idea and I think I’ll make some of my own.













So, my running total for garden cost is still : $21